Just moments ago at the Ulster Hall fans were able to see former unified Bantamweight champion Ryan Burnett (20-1, 10) stop Filipino journeyman Jelbirt Gomera (14-6, 7), in what was Burnett's first bout since his TKO loss to Nonito Donaire in the WBSS.
Gomera, to his credit, came to fight and was on the front foot to begin with. This may have seemed like a good idea, but in reality it made him the perfect foil for Burnett, one of the best counter punchers in the sport. Their was some early rust from Burnett, but by round 2 he was looking like he was having fun, making Gomera miss, countering and showing off his excellent defensive ability.
Although Gomera continued to press the action in round 3 it was clear he was massively out of his depth. He was doing all he could whilst Burnett was trying things, toying with his man whilst trying to lure him into traps and switching between head and body when he chose to attack. Gomera was taking blows well, but he wasn't really looking competitive, despite all of his effort.
In round 5 it was starting to look like Burnett was wanting to score his first stoppage in over 3 years. Gomera was taking things well, but he was taking a lot, with right hands sneaking through on a regular basis. Those were shots that weren't out and out hurtful, but were frequent, clean and not something an fighter wants to take repeatedly.
The Irishman moved up a gear in round 6, and despite being deducted a point for low blows kept with the body attack, hurting Gomera with several good body shots. It seemed like Gomera tried to suggest that they were low whilst turning his back. The referee was having none of it though and waved the bout off, giving Burnett a TKO win.
This was, as mentioned, Burnett's first TKO in years, in fact it was Burnett's first stoppage since he stopped Robert Kanalas in October 2015. Since then he had won 8 decisions, and lost to Donaire. It was, however, Gomera's third stoppage loss, following a 6th round TKO loss to Mark Anthony Geraldo in 2015 and a 2018 loss to current WBA "regular" Featherweight king Can Xu.
Tomorrow at the Qingdao Guosen Gymnasium, in Qingdao, China fans will be able to see Chinese hopeful Can Xu (13-2, 1) [徐灿] take on Filipino foe Jelbirt Gomera (13-4, 7) in a bout at Featherweight. Despite there being no title on the line, and very little Western interest the fight is actually priced up for betting in the UK with several book makers taking bets on the bout.
The Chinese fighter, who is ranked by the WBC, WBA and IBF, is pretty much unbackable priced at 1/100 with most bookmakers and is actually 1/200 with one bookie, making it clear that they think the bout is a massive mismatch. Coming in to this he has won his last 10 in a row, including notable victories over Hurricane Futa, Corey McConnell, Spicy Matsushita and Nehomar Cermeno.
As for the Filipino he is best priced at 16/1, with other book makers pricing him at 27/2 and 10/1. Whilst the Filipino should be the under-dog, especially given be has gone 3-4 in his last 7 and 1-3 in his last 4 bouts, he has been under-rated in the past and gave Hidenori Otake a real battle in March 2017, when the two fought for the OPBF Super Bantamweight title, and did, notably, defeat Omrri Bolivar last time out.
Back in September we saw Filipino fighter Edward Heno (11-0-5, 5) travel to Japan and stop Seita Ogido (11-3-3, 3) [荻堂 盛太] to claim the OPBF Light Flyweight title, doing so in impressive fashion following a draw with Ogido earlier in the year. Sadly for the new champion his reign has already come to an end with a report from the Philippines saying that Heno has been stripped, and boxrec also listing a vacant title fight later this year.
Apparently Heno will be unable to defend the belt at the OPBF convention in November, and rather than the OPBF showing some common sense they have decided to strip the champion and set up a bout between Rey Loreto (23-14, 15) and Ivan Soriano (16-1-1, 8), which will take place on November 10th at the Puerto Princesa Coliseum, in Palawan.
The decision to strip Heno is based on the fighter wanting to spend time with his sick son, and not having enough time to prepare for a fighter like Loreto, especially given that the Heno fight was only a few weeks earlier. The logical idea of having an interim title fight between Loreto and Soriano seems to have passed the OPBF by, despite the fact the same show will have an OPBF "interim" Featherweight title fight on it between Lorence Rosas (8-1-2, 2) and Jelbirt Gomera (12-4, 6), with Gomera getting the shot on the back of 3 successive losses to Asian opponents.
Although the OPBF seem to be hiding behind their rule book, the decision is certainly one that doesn't appear to have been made in great faith and leaves the body open to a lot of questions about their treatment of fighters, like Heno.
(Story originally broken by the fantastic Ryan Songalia of Rappler, with his full story available here)
Last November we saw talented Korean Eun Hye Lee (9-1, 4) [이은혜] claim the WIBA Flyweight title, as she defeated Thai visitor Nongnun Mor Krungthepthonburi in 2 rounds. Sadly since winning the title Lee has been inactive, however we have been informed that she will actually be returning to the ring, on a KBC show, on June 24th as she defends her title for the first time.
The talented Korean will be up against Filipino veteran Jujeath Nagaowa (13-17-1, 8), who ends a run of over a year of inactivity.
On paper the bout does look to be a mismatch, especially with Nagaowa having lost 6 of her last 7, however the Filipino has proven that she can be competitive at world level and has scored a win over Saemi Hanagata, ran Ju Hee Kim very close, and has shard the ring with the likes of Shindo Go, Louisa Hawton, Momo Koseki, Naoko Ikeyama and Su Yun Hong, a real who's who of female boxing at the lower weights. Lee is more talented, and more proven, but we suspect she will have to work hard for the win here.
The under-card for this show will feature a regional title bout, for a WBA Asia title according to the KBC, which will see Nam Joon Lee (9-5-3, 4) [이남준] battling against Jelbirt Gomera (12-2, 6). This Featherweight bout is the biggest bout of Lee's career and will see him looking to build on a 3 fight unbeaten run, that actually dates back more than 4 years, an immediately build on a big win in January over Sa Myung Noh. As for Gomera the bout follows a recent loss to Hidenori Otake in an OPBF Super Bantamweight title bout.
The card will feature 3 other 10 rounders in what looks to be a very stacked card, for a Korean show, including two Korean title bouts.
For fans interested, the card will be shown on MBC Sports +.
Earlier today Japanese fans at the Korakuen Hall had the chance to see a new OPBF Super Bantamweight champion being crowned, following fomorer champion Shun Kubo vacating the title to challenger for a world title in April.
The bout to crown a new champion saw former world title challenger Hidenori Otake (28-2-3, 12) [大竹 秀典] take on Filipino youngster Jelbirt Gomera (12-2, 6) and was a surprisingly well matched bout, despite the gulf in experience between the two men.
It was the young Filipino who looked like the one with a point to prove early one, using his speed to claim the first 2 rounds in what was an exciting start to the action. Sadly for Gomera his early success was all but wiped oyut in round 3, when Otake secured a 10-8 round with a knockdown, an then took round 4 to secure a narrow lead on all 3 cards after 4 rounds.
Gomera's early success was unable to be built on during many of the middle rounds, and whilst he certainly had moments, he looked physically imposing enough to force Otake backwards or make the Japanese fighter show him real respect. Instead it was Otake's pressure and offense that seemed to help him establish a lead during the middle rounds. By the end of round 8, when the scores were announced for the second time, Otake was leading on all 3 cards, with scores of 76-75, 77-74 and 78-73
Being aware he was un a whole Gomera tried to turn things around, but he struggled to make the inroads that he needed until it was too late, clearly winning round 12 but not doing enough to convince the judges to give him the rounds he needed to secure a major turn around. Instead the Filipino had to settle for merely keeping the scores respectable with cards of 116-111 and 115-112, twice.
Following the win Otake seemed to suggest that he was desperate for a second world title bout, something his team have been chasing hard in recent times, whilst Gomera complimented Otake's toughness but seemed to have some regrets about his performance.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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