This past week hasn’t been the busiest in Asian boxing circles, but there has been a a number of stories of varying interest.
The first of news was a real success story with Japanese sources reporting that last Sunday’s WBA Flyweight title bout between Kazuto Ioka (22-1, 13) and Noknoi Sitthiprasert (62-5, 38) garneded huge TV figure. The bout gained an average rating of 12.9% in the Kanto region and 15.6% watching in Kansai,setting an average of 8,000,000 viewers!
For those interest the WBO Bantamweight title fight between Marlon Tapales (30-2, 13) and Shohei Omori (18-2, 13) got 7.1% of the audience from Kanto and 9.6% from Kansai, for an audience over 5,000,000!
Staying on the subject of Omori he received surgery this week for a jaw injury, and will be taking the next or saw away from the gym to recover. The details aren’t totally clear, but he either received a fractured jaw, or a broken jaw against Tapales. Interestingly Tapales, who failed to make weight for the bout, has essentially announced he’s heading to Super Bantamweight, and will begin to target a second divisional world title.
Staying at world level it was announced that Tatsuya Fukuhara (19-4-6, 7) has indeed been upgraded from the WBO “interim” Minimumweight champion to the full champion. He’s now expected to make his first defense later in the year against a fellow Japanese fighter.
Sadly we also saw a lot of retirement news. The most notable retirement news was that Kenji Yonekura announce that he would be closing the Yonekura gym in August due to his failing health and age. The legendary promoter developed 5 world champions, and more than 50 champions in total, including current promoter Hideyuki Ohashi.
Staying in Japan we saw 35 year old Noriyuki Ueno (19-14-5, 6) end his career this past week as he announced his retirement, following a bout against a Thai. The veteran, a multi-time title challenger, waved good bye to the sport after having had a memorable domestic career, dating back to 2001. Despite never winning a title Ueno was a staple in, and around, the domestic rankings and had a popular and loyal following in Japan.
A final bit of retirement news is that former WBA “interim” world title challenger Ma Yi Ming (13-7, 7) is now expected to retire, following a loss to Ronnie Baldonado (9-0-1, 6). The Chinese veteran has had a long career, and although he’s pretty much unknown outside of Asia he has been a staple for Chinese boxing, and like Xiong Zhao Zhong is a real forbearer for the current revolution in Chinese boxing.
(Scott Graveson covers the Asian boxing scene for www.asianboxing.info)