Late last week it was revealed that American fighter Mickey Bey (21-1-1-1, 10) had pulled out of a scheduled IBF Lightweight title defense against Denis Shafikov (35-1-1, 19). Bey was stripped for pulling out of the fight, with the IBF making the right decision, though the short notice pull has done no favours for Top Rank, TV, fans or Shafikov who have all been left high and dry.
Thankfully Top Rank have found a late replacement foe for Shafikov with Indonesian fighter Roy Mukhlis (27-4-3, 21) now standing in to face Shafikov.
The Indonesian isn't a world beater by any means but he shouldn't freeze on the big stage and this isn't the most significant bout of his career. In fact the Indonesian fighter has fought at the world level before taking on WBA Super Featherweight champion Takashi Uchiyama back in 2010, though he was stopped in 5 rounds by "KO Dynamite".
Strangely at the time of writing this bout is listed, on the official bout sheet, as taking place at Super Featherweight, we'd however be shocked if Shafikov was coming to the ring at 130lbs given that he had, until very recently, been preparing for a world title fight at 135lbs.
On the latest version of the bout sheet there is 8 bouts for the show. That includes the exciting main event between Ik Yang (19-0-0-1, 14) and Cesar Rene Cuenca (47-0-0-2, 2), who meet for the IBF Light Welterweight title in a very attractive looking match up, and support bouts featuring Nonito Donaire (34-3, 22) and Rex Tso (16-0, 9), who will both be looking for wins ahead of prospective world title bouts later in the year.
For fans wanting to see the full bout list we've included it below as a PDF.
(Image courtesy of toprank)
Note-Our good friend Mikko Marttinen has reliably informed us this bout is actually at 137lbs, not the 130lbs as listed on the bout sheet. As always thank you Mikko.
Just a few hours ago saw the official weigh-ins for this weekends "Ring of Gold" card in Macau and everyone, unsurprisingly, weighed inside their allowed weight.
The fighters in the main event, Zou Shiming (3-0) and Yodthong Kokietgym (15-3, 11) were both inside the Flyweight limit. Shiming was the bigger man weighing 111.8lbs whilst Yodthong was 110.6lbs. This was the heaviest weight that Shiming has weighed, though only marginally.
The IBF Lightweight world title fight between Miguel Vazquez (33-3, 13) and Denis Shafikov (33-0-1, 18) saw both fighters weighing the exact same at 134.8lbs. The surprising thing here was that Vazquez didn't appear to be the 6" taller than the Russian as was widely reported. From what we saw it was, at most 4" and may well have just been 3". Surprising consider that much of the talk was about the Vazquez's impressive height advantage.
In the regional Super Flyweight unification bout between Rex Tso (11-0, 7) and Mao Matsuyama (7-7-1, 3) both men were again comfortably inside the limit. Tso, the heavier man was 114.6lbs whilst Matsuyama was 114.4lbs. Likewise the WBO International Featherweight title fight between Marvin Sonsona (17-1-1, 14) and Akifumi Shimoda (28-3-2, 12) also saw both fighters coming in in similar weight. Sonsona was 125.6lbs whilst Shimoda was 125.8lbs. For Shimoda, who made his name at Super Bantamweight, this was a career highest whilst Sonsona weighed his lowest since defeating Carlos Joan Gaspar Jacobo in 2011.
Sonsona's compatriot, and Japanese boxing star, Ryota Murata (2-0, 2) weighed a career highest 161.4lbs for his contest with Brazil's experienced Carlos Nascimento (29-3, 23) who was just less than a lb lighter weighing in at 160.6lbs. We believe this is Nascimento's heaviest weight since 2004 though it likely won't help him in what we view as being a bit of a mismatch.
The biggest difference in weight between fighters on the card was in the swing bout which saw Kuok Kun Ng (2-0) weighing in at 154.2lbs, his career high and some 3lbs heavier than when we last saw him. Kuok's opponent Rocky Alp Alp (5-10) was over 4lbs lighter standing at 150lbs on the scales. This difference was given a good run for it's money by Egor Mekhontsev (1-0, 1) who was 3.6lbs heavier than Atthaporn Jaritram (4-0, 1). Mekhontsev came in at 177.2lbs whilst Attahporn was well inside the 175lb limit weighing just 173.6lbs.
One other bout with a notable weight difference was Harmonito Dela Torre (11-0, 6) having more than 3lbs on Yakobus Heluka (7-5). De La Torre came in at 131.4lbs whilst Heluka was 128lbs.
In the one remaining bout, the contest between Jerwin Ancajas (18-1-1, 10) and Inthanon Sithchamuang (20-6, 11) was saw Ancajas having a small but notable advantage. The once beaten Filipino weighed 115.6lbs whilst the Thai was 114.6lbs.
(Picture, courtesy of Top Rank's twitter features Ryota Murata and Carlos Nascimento).
Top Rank's exciting looking "Ring of Gold" card has been fully announced and will feature and impressive 10 bouts, including 3 title bouts, 3 Olympic gold medal winners, 4 former world champions and 9 unbeaten fighters.
The card, at the Cotai Arena, Venetian Resort in Macau is expected to kick off with a 4 rounder between local fighter Kuok Kun Ng (2-0) and Rocky Alap Alap (5-10). Although Kun Ng is still a novice we do really like him and with him being the "Macao Kid" we do see the future potential in him as a local star.
Kun Ng/Alap Alap is the only 4 rounder on the show, though is joined in the under with 3 bouts scheduled for 6 rounds.
The 6 rounders include the first of the Olympic champions in the form of Russian Egor Mekhontsev (1-0, 1) who takes on unbeaten Thai Atthaporn Jaritram (4-0, 1). Mekhontsev, who won gold in the Light Heavyweight division, is regarded as a fighter with all the tools needed to be a superstar and we'd expect them to be on show against Atthaporn who, although unbeaten, hasn't faced anyone of any note.
Another of the 6 rounders is set to see Filipino prospect Harmonito Dela Torre (11-0, 6) take on the limited Indonesian Yakobus Heluka (7-5). We like what we've heard about Dela Torre but, as with many Filipino prospects it's hard to know just how good he will end up being. Despite the questions marks are Dela Torre it'd be a huge upset to see him beaten.
The remaining 6 rounder will see China's Ik Yang (14-0-0-1, 9), real name Yang Lian Hui, fighting against Thailand's Petchsamuthr Duanaaymukdahan (8-2, 1). We do like Yang and think he has a very fan friendly style though we've got to admit that Petchsamuthr impressed up last time out going 6 hard rounds with Felix Verdejo. Although this isn't a marquee bout we do expect it to be very enjoyable to watch.
As with the 6 rounder we also have a trio of 8 rounders. Of those the leas interesting to us is one between Filipino Jerwin Ancajas (18-1-1, 10) and Thailand's Inthanon Sithchamuang (20-6, 11). On paper this looks pretty interesting but Inthanon's chin has been cracked when he's faced good foes in the past, including both Rocky Fuentes and Mark Anthony Geraldo. We'd expect Ancajas to do the same.
One of the other 8 rounders sees Chinese icon Zou Shiming (3-0), another Olympic gold medal winner, taking on Thai Yokthong Kokietgym (15-3, 11). On paper this looks like an amazing test for Shiming though Yokthong has been stopped twice, including 2nd round KO to Ryuji Hara, and has never beaten anyone of any sort of note. Shiming may not manage to score a stoppage but should really be able to over-come his Thai rival.
The most interesting of the 8 rounders sees Japanese Olympic champion Ryota Murata (2-0, 2) taking on Brazilian veteran Carlos Nascimento (29-3, 23). This bout shouldn't be difficult for Murata though should allow him another stoppage and a few more rounds at a decent level. Nascimento, once a world title challenger, isn't as big or strong as Murata though could use his experience to give Murata a few questions before finally being stopped.
The first title bout, fought over 10 rounds, will see Hong Kong's sensationally popular Rex Tso (11-0, 7) attempt to unify his WBC Asia Council Continental Super Flyweight title with the WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title. Unfortunately for Tso a victory won't actually mean a lot as he attempts to take on Mako Matsuyama (7-7-1, 3) a very limited Japanese fighter who has won just 3 of his last 8.
In the most recent bout to be announced on the card, and the second title fight, we will see former world champion Akifumi Shimoda (28-3-2, 12) taking on fellow former world champion Marvin Sonsona (17-1-1, 14). This bout, for the WBO International Featherweight title, has been made in the last day or two and keeps Shimoda on the card after Simpiwe Vetyeka was taken from the card due to the WBA. This bout, one we favour Shimoda in, is a good bout on paper, though we do feel that Sonsona probably isn't big enough or strong enough to test Shimoda at Featherweight.
The only world title bout on the card will see Mexico's talented, though unexciting, Miguel Vazquez (33-3, 13) defending his IBF Lightweight title against Russia's Denis Shafikov (33-0-1, 18). This is the hardest bout on the show to call with Vazquez being a very slippery customer though Shafikov is strong as a bull and will always come forward. Great bout and one we can't wait to see.
We hope to have more details on the actual running order sooner rather than later though we'll admit we're really excited about this card.
Top Rank's upcoming "Ring of Gold" card in Macau on February 22nd has really began to take form.
Previously we had known a few details. We had known that the show was to feature two world title bouts as IBF Lightweight champion Miguel Vazquez (33-3, 13) was to defend against Russian Denis Shafikov (33-0-1, 18) and WBA Featherweight super champion Simpiwe Vetyeka (26-2, 16) was to face Japan's Akifumi Shimoda (28-3-2, 12) in what were both very interesting looking contests.
We now know that a third title bout has been added to the card as Hong Kong's popular Rex Tso (11-0, 7) fights against Japan's Mako Matsuyama (7-7-1, 3) in what will be Tso's second defense of the WBC Asia Council Continental Super Flyweight title. As well as the WBC Asia Council Continental Super Flyweight title the fight will also decide the WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight champion.
We also knew the card would feature a trio of Olympic gold medal winners. These included local hero Zou Shiming (3-0) who returns for his 4th professional contest. Shiming is the only one of the Olympic champions to have his opponent named so far, with his opponent being Thailand's Yokthong Kokietgym (15-3, 11). Although the 19 year old Yokthong does have an impressive looking record he was stopped in his most notable bout, a 2nd round KO to Ryuji Hara. On paper it's a good bout though it's hard to see Shiming actually getting tested.
Sadly neither Ryota Murata (2-0, 2) or Egor Mekhontsev (1-0, 1) have yet to have their opponent named, though we are expecting them both to face "decent" opponents though not great ones.
We here at Asian Boxing have been big fans of the way Bob Arum and Top Rank have brought several high profile fights to Macau. It appears that Arum is going to continue doing this in 2014 with one very promising show currently being spoken about.
Arum has apparently spoken about showing off three of his Olympic Gold Medal winners in Macau in early 2014.
Those three men are reported to be Zou Shiming, Ryota Murata and Egor Mekhontsev.
Shiming, a Chinese fighter who won Olympic gold in both 2008 and 2012 is seen as a man with the potential to open up the relatively untapped Chinese market. Although many fans have slated him, the potential he has to start a revolution of sorts is highly exciting and really should be given a bit more fan support.
Japanese fighter Murata, who claimed gold in 2012, is already a Japanese national superstar. Fighting at Middleweight Murata will know perfectly well that he needs the US or European audience to take note of him due to his weight though with his potential he has "superstar" written all over him.
Of the three however it's probably Mekhontsev that has the most direct appeal to fans. The Russian, who also claimed a gold in 2012, will be making his debut in December though the expectation is that he'll be fast-tracked somewhat. If Mekhonstev can help join the Russian fighters who are emerging on mass right now then the country could become a major player in the next 2 years or so.
As well as the Olympic champions there is also talk about the card featuring several top Filipino's. The names we've heard floated about include Genesis Servania and Arthur Villanueva.
A possible main event for the show could see Russian Denis Shafikov taking on Miguel Vazquez in a challenge of the IBF Lightweight title.
Of course there is a lot to happen between now and then. Notably contests for each of the Olympians with Shiming fighting Juan Tozcano on November 23rd, Murata fighting Dave Peterson on December 6th and Mekhontsev fighting a yet to be named opponent on December 7th.
Along side the scheduled fights for the Olympic champions there is also a fight for Shafikov, who fights Bayan Jargal on December 14th.
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