The Asian hasn’t been at it’s best this past week, but it’s certainly had plenty to talk about in terms of in ring action.
The week’s action began with a Dangan show headlined by former Japanese champion Rikki Naito (16-2, 5). The once touted Naito has struggled in recent years but looked like a man slowly regrouping on Mondy as he out pointed ,the “better than his record suggests”, Yusuke Nakagawa (10-7-1, 6). Although unlikely to ever be the fighter some though he would be Naito is still a talented young man and he’ll likely remain in the domestic title picture for years to come, though he needs a lot of work if he’s to recapture a title.
On the same show was Hiroaki Teshigawara (13-2-2, 7), who stopped Junny Salogaol (12-11-4, 11) in 2 rounds. The exciting Teshigawara is one of a number of Japanese Bantamweights jostling for a title fight, and will have real fire for a fight with current champion Ryo Akaho, who narrowly beat him last year in a genuine thriller.
Also on Monday’s show was the debut of Tetsuya Watanabe (1-0), who took a 6 round decision over Shogo Sakai (6-6-2, 4), and it seems likely that the talented former amateur stand out will be one to keep an eye on over the years to come.
The second show of note took place on Thursday and was headlined by WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight champion Masayuki Ito (21-1-1, 10). The criminally under-rated Ito scored his 5th straight win, following a hotly debated loss to the aforementioned Naito,and made his first defense of this title as he beat Filipino puncher Lorenzo Villanueva (32-3-0-1, 28). The talented Ito dropped Villanueva 3 times en route to scoring a 9th round stoppage.
In a supporting bout fans saw former world title challenger Keita Obara (17-2-1, 15) take a decision win over Indonesian visitor Larry Siwu (24-8, 20), in what was Obara’s first bout since his loss to Eduard Troyanovsky back in September last year. Obara didn’t look sensational, but did more than enough to defeat Siwu and begin his journey towards a second world title bout.
Whilst Obara is looking to move towards a world title bout it’s fair to say that Shuichiro Yoshino (4-0, 2) put himself in the mix for a Japanese title fight as he dominated Yoshitaka Kato (30-8-2, 9) on the same card. The unbeaten fighter showed skills, power and everything he’ll need to claim a title in the near future. As for Kato, a former Japanese and OPBF champion, this could well be the end.
One man who’s thinking about winning more silverware is Kentaro Masuda (27-7, 15), who blitzed Romel Oliveros (8-4-1, 3) on the same card, stopping the Filipino in very 1-sided fashion. The win for the former 2-time Japanese Bantamweight seemed to be his final bout before a potential OPBF title bout in the summer, against Mark John Yap. Being totally frank, Yap Vs Masuda is mouth watering!
The only action on Friday featuring an Asian was in the US where Dmitry Bivol (10-0, 8) destroyed Samuel Clarkson (19-4, 12) to retain the WBA “interim” Light Heavyweight title. The bout saw the talented Kyrgyzstan born Bivol batter poor Clarkson on Showtime to announce himself to those who hadn’t seen him before. Clarkson was down 3 times in total and looked battered and beaten before the eventual finish.
On Saturday fight fans saw WBA female Super Featherweight champion Hyun Mi Choi (14-0-1, 4) retain her title with a unanimous decision over Japanese challenger Kimika Miyoshi (13-10-1, 5). Choi, who won her first world title on debut, was put under pressure by Miyoshi but handled it brilliantly and really showcased her ability to box on the back foot with a very impressive performance.
The highlight on Sunday saw OPBF Middleweight champion Koki Tyson (12-2-2, 11) score his first defense of the title with a 4th round win over the over-matched Korean Sung-Jae Ahn (6-4, 1). Ahn was hurt when Tyson landed his first left hand, and never looked like a man capable of really testing the heavy handed Osakan.
Tyson wasn’t the only Japanese puncher making a statement as Junto Nakatani (11-0, 9) scored a 4th round stoppage against the usually durable Joel Taduran (8-6-1, 2). Taduran had gone 10 rounds with Toshiyuki Igarashi recently, but was stopped in 4 by Nakatani, who looks like another of Japan’s many hidden gems.
Another hidden gem from Japan in action on Sunday was the really exciting Seigo Yuri Akui (10-0-1, 6), who hardly broke a sweat as he smashed Thai visitor Nattawut Siritoem (0-3). Although a gem Akui is a man who has impressed and looks to be well on his way to becoming a title contender on the domestic scene.
Talking about Japanese title contenders it was nice to see Takumi Sakae (15-2-1, 10)score a win over the wild Nayoklek Sithsaithong (1-1, 1). The once touted Sakae has struggled with form recently so it was good to see him over-come a wild test like the Thai was here.
(Scott Graveson covers the Asian boxing scene for www.asianboxing.info)