Over the weekend it was revealed that WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (53-0, 18) [วันเฮง ไก่ย่างห้าดาวยิม] may look to delay his mandatory defense against South African challenger Simpiwe Konkco (19-5-0-1, 7), pushing it back to the end of the year.
The reason for that was that Watanabe Gym were wanting to get Wanheng to fight in Japan, though at the time none of the Watanabe gym fighters looked like real options for the unbeaten Thai champion.
Sources are now reporting that it wouldn't actually be a Watanabe gym fighter challenging Wanheng but instead current Japanese champion Norihito Tanaka (18-7, 10) [田中教仁], with the bout being dependent on Tanaka successfully defending his title on June 13th against Naoya Haruguchi (15-10, 6) [春口直也].
The bout would be expected to take place in Tokyo, and according to sources Tanaka has stated he's scouted Wanheng and has seen flaws he feels he can take advantage of.
If a deal is going to be made it's likely to be made later this month, with Konkco being offered a sizable step aside payment, and could be Watanabe's way of clearing an opening for their young super stud Ginjiro Shigeoka (3-0, 2) [重岡銀次朗] to get a shot at the Japanese national title.
Last week we saw WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (53-0, 18) [วันเฮง ไก่ย่างห้าดาวยิม] score his 11th defense, as he took a technical decision win over former WBO king Tatsuya Fukuhara (21-7-6, 7) [福原 辰弥].
That bout was supposed to be Wanheng's final defense before making a mandatory defense against South African challenger Simpiwe Konkco (19-5-0-1, 7), though Thai sources are now reporting that a deal may be in the works for the mandatory defense to be pushed back.
The sources, including SiamSport, have reported that a member of the Watanabe Gym was at ringside for the Menayothin Vs Fukuhara bout last week, and looking at getting Wanheng to fight in Japan in October in a voluntary defense, pushing back the mandatory. It also appears that Konkco's team are likely to allow the bout, for a step aside fee.
Whilst Wanehng fighting outside of Thailand would be big, it does leave to two different lines of thought. Firstly who would he be fighting? And secondly haven't we heard this before?
The Watanabe gym does have a number of Minimumweights, including world title challenger Masataka Taniguchi (11-3, 7) [谷口 将隆], former multi-time world title challenger Shin Ono (23-11-3, 6) [小野 心] and fast rising youngster Ginjiro Shigeoka (3-0, 2) [重岡銀次朗], none of whom would be suitable for an October bout with Wanheng. In theory the gym could be looking to work on behalf of another promoter, and perhaps looking to secure a shot for someone like Norihito Tanaka (18-7, 10) [田中教仁] or Tsubasa Koura (14-1, 9) [小浦 翼], but it would be a rather strange plan from the gym.
What needs to be remembered is that Wanheng was repeatedly linked to a fight in Japan last year, and nothing ever came of it. This could be the same as that, where plans don't come to fruition, or it could be a sign that Watanabe gym have some huge plans between now and October, and we may hear more about the in the coming weeks.
It should also be noted that Watanabe gym's Hiroto Kyoguchi (12-0, 9) [京口 紘人], the current WBA "super" Light Flyweight champion, will be defending his title against unbeaten Thai fighter Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart (11-0, 5), aka Tanawat Nakoon, on June 19th and we may hear more about these plans around there.
Earlier today fight fans in Kumamoto had a chance to see the the mega touted Ginjiro Shigeoka (3-0, 2) [重岡銀次朗], Japan's latest "super prospect". The unbeaten youngster, who had taken out two Thai's in quick fashion to begin his career, wasn't just fighting his third professional bout, but was doing so in a massive step up in class, taking on Filipino Joel Lino (10-2-1, 3) in an 8 round bout.
Prior to today Shigeoka had fought just 4 rounds as a professional, taking out two Thai foes at the Korakuen Hall. Lino on the other hand had suffered just a single loss, a defeat to recent world title challenger Masataka Taniguchi (11-3, 7) [谷口 将隆]. It was a clear leap up in class for Shigeoka, but a leap he made comfortably, and answered some of the questions about his ability, and his long term potential.
Early on both men looked to fight at range, feeling out the other man and looking for their powerful backhands. It wasn't long until Shigeoka began to press more intently, bringing his hooks into play in round 2. With Shigeoka building his momentum Lino became rougher, trying to make the fight messy, and in round 5 a clash of heads left Shigeoka with a cut around his right eye.
With a cut, and with the bout going longer than his first 2 bouts combined Shigeoka was beginning to be asked some questions of his stamina and his mentality. Lino managed to have some success in round 7, one of his best rounds, landing a good right when Shigeoka came inside, but it was a fleeting moment of success with Shigeoka back in control in round 8, landing his straight left hand and his hard right hook on a fairly regular basis.
Despite failing to extend his KO run Shigeoka did take home a clear win, with scores of 80-73, 79-75 and 78-75. It's now expected that he will begin to turn his focus on title fights, with a potential title shot coming later in the year, after the cut has healed. As for Lino it was a game effort, but he was just up against a very special young fighter, who was clearly too good on the day.
Tomorrow fight fans in Kumamoto will get the chance to see the highly regarded Ginjiro Shigeoka (2-0, 2) [重岡銀次朗] take his first major step up in class, to face off with Filipino Joel Lino (10-1-1, 3).
Today the two men took part in their weigh in, an both fighters managed to come in as Minimumweights.
Shigeoka, the much shorter man, was 104.7lbs and comes into this bout as a young man looking to making a statement and take a huge step towards his first title bout. Lino, despite being taller, was the lighter man, coming in 103.6lbs.
Sadly it doesn't appear like this bout will be made available to watch, a real shame given the talent clashing here. There is hope that TKU do make the fight available online in the future, but that's certainly not a given.
(Image courtesy of Watanabe Gym's facebook page)
We've known for a while that the April 14th card in Kumamoto, headlined by Musashi Mori (8-0, 5) [森 武蔵] defending his WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight title against Richard Pumicpic (21-9-2, 6), would feature a host of exciting prospects. Those prospects now appear to have had their opponents named.
One of our most reliable and trusted sources have reported the opponents for Ginjiro Shigeoka (2-0, 2) [重岡銀次朗], Seiya Tsutsumi (4-0, 3) [堤聖也] and Sora Takeda (4-1,1) [竹田宙].
Shigeoka, who is regarded by many hardcore followers of the Japanese scene as one of the best prospects in the country, is listed as being up against Filipino Joel Lino (10-1-1, 3), in what is a brilliant match up.
Shigeoka, who turned professional last year, has looked sensational so far, but this is a worthwhile step up and sees him up against a man who took Masataka Taniguchi 12 rounds last year in a WBO Asia Pacific title bout. This is a real test, and a really tough bout for Shigeoka, who may be able to open eyes in a big way if he forces another stoppage. For Lino this is a chance to make his mark, but it is a very tough match up against one of the best young fighters on the planet.
Tsutsumi is listed as being up against experienced Filipino tough guy Ryan Rey Ponteras (22-13-3, 11), who has never been stopped in his 38 fight career. Given Tsutsumi's aggressive style and Ponteras's toughness this could be an amazingly exciting bout. Ponteras is no world beater, but is much better than his record suggest, whilst Tsutsumi has been out of the ring for a while, due to an injury that saw him cancel a bout in December.
As for Takeda his bout will see him going up against Thai Sanchai Yotboon (4-2, 4), who was stopped in September by a then debuting Shigeoka. The talented Takeda won the 2018 Rookie of the Year at Minimumweight and he should be far too skilled for the Thai visitor here.
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