The last week has been on that has really been a great one for fight fans from Asia who have seen a bit of everything, drama, upsets, action and some amazing fights.
The week’s action began on Monday with a card in Japan. Originally the main event was set to be a Japanese Welterweight title but than was cancelled when Toshio Arikawa suffered a broken jaw. Despite the main event from the card being pulled there was still some notable action, including the second professional bout of Ryusei Kawaura (2-0, 2), who stopped Anucha Pleengam (0-3) inside a round. The bout didn’t make headlines but proved Kawaura is one to make a note of, even at this early stage in his career.
After a few days of quietness we saw notable action return on Thursday as former world title challenger Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr (32-5-1, 17) stopped Indonesian visitor Oscar Raknafa (13-14, 5), and claimed the IBF Pan Pacific Light Flyweight title. The under-rated Thai, best known for his upset win over Ryo Miyzaki and his losses to Katsunari Takayama, Takuma Inoue and Milan Melindo, will be looking to get another world title fight, and this win would suggest he’s going to be going the IBF route once again.
On Friday Japanese fans got the first of a host of title fights for the week, and saw the experienced Tetsuya Hisada (28-9-2, 17) over-come fellow veteran Kenichi Horikawa (32-15-1, 7) for the previously vacant Japanese Light Flyweight title. The bout was a slugfest with Horikawa twice being deducted points, and being dropped, but refusing to just give up against a man he had twice beaten in the past.
On a different Japanese card, fans saw Dominican slugger Vladimir Baez (22-3-2, 20) stop the previously unbeaten Daishi Nagata (8-1-1, 4) in 7 rounds. The heavy handed Baez, who is now based in Japan, was too strong and powerful for Nagata who was saved by his corner in round 7, had Baez had began to really hurt him.
Whilst Nagata lost his unbeaten record the same couldn’t be said for mega-talented youngster Izuki Tomioka (3-0, 1), who shone on route to stoppage win against Shun Shimazaki (8-9-1, 3). Although unknown outside of Japan Tomioka is tipped by those in the know, and this performance showed why. Without trying to sound hyperbolic, this kid is a real talent.
Ernesto Saulong (20-2-1, 8) scored a big domestic win in the Philippines as he out pointed the under-rated Jestoni Autida (9-7, 4) in a genuinely good match up on paper. Saulong may not be a star in the making but he will likely find himself in the OPBF title mix in the near future and a win here helps him target the regional titles.
The first “world” title bout of the week to feature an Asian saw South African Zolani Tete (25-3, 20) dominate Filipino Arthur Villanueva (30-2, 16) for the WBO “interim” Bantamweight title. The talented Filipino was made to look like domestic level fighter by Tete, who once again looked world class. Although dominant Tete did get some criticism for not trying to finish off Villanueva, though the Filipino was dropped and put into retreat mode through much of the fight.
One fighter who out-did expectation and made a statement was Thai Ratchasi Sithsaithong (8-3, 6) who defeated Yutaka Oishi (14-6, 7) to claim the OPBF Light Middleweight title. Oishi was coming in to the bout as a world ranked, by the IBF, fighter, and as the OPBF champion. He began the bout well, dropping the Thai in round 2 and dominated much of the bout, but was stopped in the final 90 seconds as Ratchasi scored one of the biggest come-from-behind victories of the year.
Things went better for Terumi Nuki (9-1, 6), who claimed the OPBF Super Flyweight title with a 3rd round TKO over Thai veteran Nongbua Lookpraiaree (10-14-1, 2), with this bout coming on the same show as the Ratchasi Vs Oishi contest. Nuki was fighting in her second OPBF title fight and this time came out on top, in impressive fashion, stopping a Thai who had only ever been stopped once before.
Olympic champion Fazliddin Gaibnazarov (1-0, 1) made his debut on Saturday in the US and was surprisingly dropped in the opening seconds by Victor Vazquez (7-3, 3). Thankfully for the talented Uzbek the knockdown was a flash one and he recovered quickly before stopping Vazquez in round 2. Although clearly embarrassed to be dropped on debut
Another big surprise was in Thailand, where former world title contender Young Gil Bae (28-6-1, 22) fought to a 6 round draw with Kittisak Boonchaiming (0-0-1). What’s particularly interesting about this result is that Bae was the promoter of the card. If you can’t beat a debutant on a card you’re promoting it might well be a sign to retire!
Although Sunday can be the day of rest it certainly wasn’t a relaxing day in Japan, with a huge number of fights taking place. The biggest of those bouts saw WBA Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (22-1, 13) retain his title with a wide decision win over the teak tough Noknoi Sitthiprasert (62-5, 38). The win for Ioka was his 14th in world title bouts, amazing given he’s only had 23 career bouts, and saw him tie the most wins in world title bouts by a Japanese fighter, tying the record of Yoko Gushiken who famously made 13 defenses of the WBA Light Flyweight title.
Although the WBA Flyweight title bout was the biggest it was probably outshone by the controversy of the WBO Bantamweight title fight between Filipino Marlon Tapales (30-2, 13) and Japan’s Shohei Omori (18-2, 13). The title was stripped form Tapales on Saturday morning after he missed weight. The bout went on, with Omori able to win the vacant title. Unfortunately for Omori he came undone in round 10 from an absolute bomb when both looked tired. The Japanese fighter was dropped hard towards the end of the round and although he made it to the bell he hadn’t recovered by the time Tapales unloaded in round 11, forcing the stoppage. This is Omori’s second loss to Tapales and it seems like it’s back to the drawing bored for the popular WOZ boxing fighter.
The under-card had a number of notable names in mismatches against weak Thai opponents, however there was a notable under-card contest. That saw Japanese based Korean warrior Teiru Atsumi (13-1, 6) battle with Filipino Neil John Tabanao (13-4, 9) in a really good contest that Atsumi won with a 6 round decision.
Another title bout saw the heavy handed Kosuke Saka (16-3, 13) score an 8th straigth stoppage win and rip the Japanese Featherweight title from the hands of Shota Hayashi (29-6-1, 17), who failed to make his way to the end of round 3. Hayashi was looking to make the second defense of his title, and had been unbeaten in his last 15 bouts, but simply couldn’t live with the power of Saka, who made a massive statement here.
(Scott Graveson covers the Asian boxing scene for www.asianboxing.info)