Oh what a week we’ve had with history being created, a major upset and a top star being given one of his most serious tests so far. I’m not going to try and tell you the week was amazing from start to end, but there was certainly a number of great fights and memorable moments from a week that provided it’s share of action.
The action began on Monday at the Korakuen Hall, one of 3 shows in the great venue for the week. The headline bout on Monday saw history being created as Japan crowned it’s first 4 weight world champion, Naoko Fujioka (16-2, 5). The talented Fujioka claimed the WBA female Flyweight title courtesy of a 10th round TKO win over Mexican Isabel Millan (18-3-1, 8), who had moments early but was given a gradual beating until the referee saved her. The win for Fujioka sees her hadding the WBA female Flyweight title to previous reigns as the female WBC Minimumweight, WBA Super Flyweight and WBO Bantamweight champion.
In a supporting bout to Fujioka’s fans had the chance to see the world ranked Akihiro Kondo (28-6-1, 15) score a 2nd round win over Thai veteran Patomsuk Pathompothong (33-7-1, 20). The win was never really in doubt for Kondo, who had stopped the Thai just a few fights back, but it seemed like Kondo looked better than he has done in a while and looks to be full of confidence whilst chasing a more significant bout, potentially an OPBF title contest, later in the year.
There was nothing on Tuesday but action was back at the Korakuen Hall on Wednesday as Ayumi Goto (6-0, 4) defeated Filipino Kim Actub (4-7-1, 3) and claimed the OPBF female Super Bantamweight title. Goto was heavily favoured but after 4 rounds the bout was even. Thankfully for the unbeaten Watanabe gym fighter Actub tired in the second half and Goto managed to run away with it in the later rounds.
There was again title action at the Korakuen Hall on Friday, the busiest day of the week for fight fans who follow the Asian scene.
That title bout saw former world title challenger Hidenori Otake (28-2-3, 12) take a unanimous decision win over Filipino Jelbirt Gomera (12-2, 6) to claim the previously vacant OPBF Super Bantamweight title. Otake, who is best known for his bout with Scott Quigg, started slowly but showed his toughness and stamina to over-come the gutsy and diminutive Gomera. The Filipino landed some great shots but it seemed like he was a small Bantamweight up against a big Super Bantamweight, and he always struggled to for Otake to respect him.
That same card also had a domestic treat as Moon Hyun Yun (18-4-3, 4) had a war with Shusaku Fujinaka (15-7-2, 10), with Yun taking the win courtesy of a 7th round technical decision. The bout was an explosive encounter with both men finding their range in the later part of the opening round and going to town on each other in one of the many hidden gems that fans at the Korakuen Hall have had this year.
Later on Friday we saw big punching Filipino slugger Al Rivera (17-3, 15) suffer a controversial upset loss to Russian Aik Shakhnazaryan (20-2, 10). The Filipino seemed to start slowly but when he got going the Russian did all he could to avoid a fight. It wasn’t a case of Shakhnazaryan boxing on the move, but instead he spent rounds running, avoiding a fight and trying to do everything to avoid the powerful but slow footed Filipino. Although Rivera is crude his power is legitimate and and it seemed like Shakhnazaryan wanted to do his best to avoid it after tasting it early.
Also on Friday was the ring return for Thai teenager Stamp Kiatniwat (16-1, 6), who dropped Rajesh (0-1) numerous times on route to a unanimous decision win. For Stamp this was his first outing since suffering a stoppage loss to Kazuto Ioka in Japan in December.
Although we’d seen history made with Fujioka and had a some thrilling action in Japan during the week it’s fair to say that everyone was more excited about the action on Saturday.
The first of two huge bouts to feature Asian fights on Saturday saw Thailand’s Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (42-4-1, 28) score the biggest upset of the year so far. The “unknown” Thai reclaimed the WBC Super Flyweight title as he out battled and out fought Nicaraguan great Roman Gonzalez (46-1, 38) to claim a majority decision in a real FOTY contender. Srisaket put Gonzalez under more pressure in the early stages than anyone else had, and managed to drop the Nicaraguan in the opening round. Gonzalez was hampered by cuts from head clashes, and despite the better skills the Nicaraguan was simply out muscled and out powered by the Thai, who repeatedly forced the little maestro backwards. The Thai may have been unknown in the West but was known as a hidden gem from fans who follow the Asian scene, and the bout may well have gone some way to proving that Thai’s can indeed be brilliant despite some less than great competition.
The second Asian on the card was Kazakh Middleweight sensation Gennady Golovkin (37-0, 33), who scored his most controversial win to date. The unified Middleweight champion was up against WBA mandatory challenger Daniel Jacobs (32-2, 29), and was supposed to stop the “chinny” Jacobs. Jacobs fought to a brilliant gameplan, based on using lateral movement, shutting down Golovkin’s offense and using his hands speed. The American’s game plan made Golovkin look very poor at times, though the power of Golovkin always kept the bout on a knife edge, especially following a 4th round knockdown by the Kazakh. In the end the decision was won by Golovkin, but it seemed like he got more than just a little bit fortunate.
(Scott Graveson covers the Asian boxing scene for www.asianboxing.info)