This past week hasn’t been a busy one in the rings of Asia, but there has been notable action through much of the Asian boxing scene, with noteworthy shows in Japan, China and the Philippines.
The first of the action was in Tokyo, where fans had an interesting Dangan card on Tuesday, headlined by a pair of title fights.
The first of those title bouts saw OPBF Minimumweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (7-0, 6) score his first defense of the title, as he took a unanimous decision over Filipino Jonathan Refugio (16-6-5, 4). At times Kyoguchi was out boxed by the intelligent Filipino, but Refugio couldn’t keep up the movement and after a few competitive rounds was eventually left running to survive as Kyoguchi looked to up the pressure and hunt a stoppage. Although Refugio was very negative at times this was the sort of bout that Kyoguchi really needed before a potential world title bout.
The other title bout, the main event, saw the exciting Takeshi Inoue (10-0-1, 5) claim the Japanese Light Middleweight title with a 7th round cuts win over Koshinmaru Saito (23-9-2, 13). This was the second big win this year for Inoue, who out pointed Akinori Watanabe a few months ago, and has helped him confirm his place as one of the rising stars on the Japanese domestic scene.
Another very fast rising Japanese youngster on the same card was Kazuto Takesako (6-0, 6) who stopped Thai visitor Singdet Sithsaithong (11-17-1, 8) in 2 rounds. Although not the most defensively sound Takesako is a fighter who oozes excitement and there is a lot of potential for him to become a notable international name in the future.
After an action-less Wednesday attention turned to China for a notable card affiliated with the WBO.
In one of the headlined bouts fans saw Filipino visitor Ronnie Baldonado (9-0-1, 6) stop 26 year o,d Chinese fighter Yi Ming Ma (13-7, 7) inside a round to claim the “interim” WBO Oriental Flyweight title. Coming in to the bout Baldonado was a relative unknown but this win should put him on the regional map.
Another man announcing himself on the regional scene was Xiang Xiang Sun (12-0, 9), who stopped former world title challenger Roy Mukhlis (29-7-3, 22). Sun, one of the most talented fighters in China, took out Mukhlis in 4 rounds to retain the “interim” WBO Asia Pacific Lightweight title, and potentially move towards a fight with Nihito Arakawa. That would be a cracker!
We didn’t have a lot of first action on Friday, but in South Africa we did see Genesis Libranza (11-1, 8)battle former IBF Flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane (33-2, 22) for the IBO Flyweight title. Sadly for the previously unbeaten Filipino he was unable to survive with Mthalane and was stopped in the 4th round.
Action only really took off at the weekend, and on Saturday we had 3 notable shows, each headlined by a title bout.
The biggest of those bouts saw Filipino veteran Donnie Nietes (40-1-4, 22) claim the IBF Flyweight title and become a 3-weight champion. The Thai veteran took a clear decision over Thai visitor Eaktwan BTU Ruaviking (22-4, 15) to claim the title, adding it to previous reigns as the WBO Minimumweight and WBO Light Flyweight champion. The Filipino, only the third Filipino to claim titles at 3 weights, looked great for a fighter who is 34 but has left many wondering what his next step will be.
Staying in the Philippines there was wins for a trio of prospects. The most impressive of those wins was by the very highly touted Mark Magsayo (16-0, 12), who stopped Issa Nampepeche (24-8-4, 11) inside a round. Another prospect was the heavy handed Jeo Santisima (13-2, 11), who scored a wide decision over Indonesian survivor Master Suro (11-9-1, 2), and teenager Virgel Vitor (10-1, 6), who scored an exciting decision win over Michael Escobia (11-15-1, 3).
In Sakai city, Osaka, fans saw Mexican Monserrat Alarcon (9-3-2) defeat local favourite Nana Yoshikawa (7-2, 4), and rip the WBO female Flyweight title for Yoshikawa’s hands. The Mexican started fast, and twice dropped Yoshikawa, before taking a technical decision. The Mexican had suffered a cut from a headclash which forced the bout to be stopped just seconds into round 7.
In the headline bout of another Japanese card we saw Japanese based Filipino Genesis Servania (29-0, 12) dominate Ralph Jhon Lulu (12-2-2, 5) to claim the WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight title. The talented Servania needed less than 2 rounds to see off Lulu who was totally out of his depth.
On the same card there was also a big win for Ernie Sanchez (17-9-1, 8), who stopped the usually durable the tough Hurricane Futa (22-7-1, 13) in 5 rounds. The loss, Futa’s first by stoppages, could begin to spell the end for him, but for Sanchez it was a result that could kick start his career, which has been faltering in recent years.
(Scott Graveson covers the Asian boxing scene for www.asianboxing.info)