Over the past couple of days there was two notable Filipino fighters in action in the US, sadly though both suffered set backs in clear decision losses.
The first of those was on Friday, when former OPBF Bantamweight champion Mark John Yap (30-14, 15), who was dominated in Las Vegas by the unbeaten Angelo Leo (18-0, 8). The bout was the main event of a Mayweather promoted card at Sam's Town Hotel & Gambling Hall and those who had their bets on Leo never really looked like losing their money as he out sped, out boxed, out fought and out landed Yap, who looked like a fighter who was out of his depth.
Given that Yap gave Takuma Inoue a really good test last year, and was the OPBF champion less than a year ago, we do wonder whether the 30 year old has slipped a lot, or perhaps isn't as good as he was when he was being managed by the Mutoh gym in Japan, who played a major part in the best run of his career. His split with Mutoh was certainly not a good one, and this was only his second bout since that split. On the other hand Leo looked like a top prospect, and he is certainly going to be one to watch in the years to come.
On Saturday it was Neil John Tabanao (17-6, 11) who was the clearly loser, as he was widely beaten by super talented American Tremaine Williams (17-0, 7). Tabanao, who once promised so much, was unable to get into this fight and instead had to rely on his resilience to see out the 10 rounds against the diminutive but sharp punching Williams, in what was a very 1-sided bout.
It's worth noting that prior to this fight Tabanao had himself lost to Leo, back in April, and rather strangely the losses for the two Filipino does lead us to a rather interesting though that Yap and Tabanao could face off in a real cross roads fight, as could Leo and Williams.
Sadly this was not a good weekend for Filipino fighters and they were both easily out classed by US prospects.
Former OPBF Bantamweight champion Mark John Yap (30-13, 15) has really seen his career slow down since losing in a WBC world title eliminator to Takuma Inoue [井上 拓真] last year, though it now seems like he is set for a well deserve break.
The always excellent Ian Mellodillar recent informed us that Yap will be making his US debut at the end of June, and will do so on a Mayweather promoted card as he takes on the unbeaten Angelo Leo (17-0, 8), who is a highly regarded Super Bantamweight prospect.
For those who look at Yap's record and write him off, he does, genuinely, have one of the most misleading records in the sport. The 30 year old Filipino has turned around a 19-12 (10) record by winning 11 of his last 12. That run has seen him claim the OPBF title, score notable wins over multi-time world title challenger Hiroyuki Kudaka as well as OPBF champion Takahiro Yammaoto and former Japanese champion Kentaro Masuda, with his only loss since the start of 2015 coming to Takuma Inoue, the younger brother of Naoya Inoue.
Leo on the other hand is a 25 year old who turned professional in 2012 and has slowly moved through the ranks. Interesting he has fought a number of Filipino's on his way up, scoring a blow out win against Glenn Porras in 2018 and a wide decision win in April against Neil John Tabanao.
Also scheduled for this card is Jessie Cris Rosales (22-2-1, 10), who will look to bounce back from his stoppage loss to Shakur Stevenson last time out. The 27 year old will be matched against unbeaten American Xavier Martinez (14-0, 10), a 21 year old who is riding a 6 fight stoppage run including a win over Filipino John Vincent Moralde from back in April.
Earlier today the Global Boxing Organisation announced some of the line up involved for the upcoming March 3rd show "Battle of the Asian Rising Star", to be held at the Limketkai Rotunda, in Cagayan de Oro, Philippines.
The fighters announced for the card include former OPBF Bantamweight champion Mark John Yap (29-13, 14), who will be fighting for the first time since leaving the Mutoh Gym, Jess Rhey Waminal (12-2-1, 7), and Marco John Rementizo (9-3, 6), who is looking to build on his big win over Pongsaklek Sithdabnij.
At the moment not all the bouts have been announced, but this is looking like a notable card just from the names already released for the show.
Yesterday the Mutoh Gym in Osaka held a press conference announcing that Keita Kurihara (12-5, 11) [栗原 慶太] would be facing Yuki Strong Kobayashi (14-7, 8) [小林佑樹] on returning to the ring on December 24th to face off with for the vacant OPBF Bantamweight title at the EDION Arena Osaka. The head of the Mutoh Gym had told the press that the title had become vacant after Mark John Yap (29-13, 14) decided to retire.
Mr Edagawa went on to say that Yap had "quit due to neck pains" and had returned home to the Philippines.
After this news was shared the fighter himself commented stating his stance in Filipino:
The statement roughly translates as:
That not true, false news yan! I have returned to Cagayan de oro city because my contract with my former Japanese manager has expired. I went home because my parents were sick thanks, for the memories and support.
Now that's a lot different to the comments made by Mr Edagawa, who seemed surprised at Yap leaving for the Philippines, so it seems like there is some miscommunication between the two sides, and we really hope that can be cleared up. Unfortunately in boxing we see legals between promoters and fighters derail careers far too often, and if that happens again here it would be a huge shame for Yap who looked set to remain a top Bantamweight contender, despite his loss earlier this year to Takuma Inoue (12-0, 3) [井上 拓真] in a WBC Bantamweight world title eliminator.
We'll wait to see where this story does go, as it does appear to be one with at least chapter in the future, though did feel it fair to share Yap's statement and update the original article from yesterday's press conference to include a mention of Yap's statement.
(Unfortunately after this was posted the comment was deleted from Facebook)
Earlier this month we reported that Keita Kurihara (12-5, 11) [栗原 慶太] would be returning to the ring on December 24th to face off with Yuki Strong Kobayashi (14-7, 8) [小林佑樹] in a bout for the vacant OPBF Bantamweight title at the EDION Arena Osaka.
Today that bout was officially confirmed, with the Mutoh Boxing gym not just announcing the bout but also the rest of their show for Christmas Eve, a show that will feature bouts involving two hotly tipped prospects as well as the OPBF title bout.
The OPBF title became vacant recently when Mark John Yap (29-13, 14) decided to retire, following a close loss to Takuma Inoue (12-0, 3) [井上 拓真] in a WBC Bantamweight world title eliminator.
According to Takashi Edagawa, the head of the Mutoh gym, Yap retired after the loss and went back to the Philippines, hence vacating the title, in what a really surprising move from the Filipino given that he had seemingly secured his status as a top contender. We suspect that Yap will return from retirement down the line, but if not it's a shame his career ended so abruptly after such a close loss and it appears that even Mr Edagawa was surprised by the decision.
Update - On Social Media Yap himself has stated that he's not retired but that his contract with Mutoh gym has expired and that he has returned to the Philippines for the next chapter of his career. His parents are ill and he will be in Cagayan de oro City. It would seem like there is some miscommunication between the two, as the Japanese promoter doesn't seem to be aware that the contract has expired and stated that Yap had complained about neck pain, told he he was returning to the Philippines and retiring.
At the press conference along with Kobayashi and Mr Edagawa was Rio Kuwabata (1-0, 1) [桑畑凜生], who has sent a request to change his ring name to a rather unique one. Kuwabata, who debuted in China back in September, will be up against 34 year old Yosuke Taniguchi (7-5-1, 2) [谷口陽祐] in an interesting 6 round contest.
One other highly regarded prospect on this card is Middleweight hopeful Riku Kunimoto (2-0) [国本陸], who is stepping up to 8 round bouts to face off with Toshihiro Kai (6-10-2, 2) [甲斐斗志広].
The card, dubbed "You will be the Champion 9", seems almost certain to be the final Japanese card before Christmas.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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