It's fair to say that 2019 has been a year of upsets, and just moments ago we got another, as highly touted Japanese hopeful Tsubasa Koura (14-1, 9) [小浦 翼] was dethroned of the OPBF Minimumweight title by determined and rugged Filipino challenger Lito Dante (16-10-4, 8).
On paper this looked like a stay busy defense for Koura, who was ranked #3 by the WBC, and was likely expected to be an easy work out for a man many, including ourselves, had tipped as a future world champion. Instead however the bout was a rough, hard, war from the opening moments.
The fight started with Dante applying pressure. In the opening round Koura countered that pressure well, relying on his movement, speed and skills. After that opening round however Dante began to force his fight, forcing Koura into exchanges on the inside and creating a war. Koura had moments, using his more rounded boxing skills, but all too often it felt like Dante was the man forcing the style of fight, making Koura fight his fight.
Through 4 rounds there was little to split the men on the scores cards, with scores of 38-38, 38-38 and 37-39, in favour of the challenger. Knowing he was behind it seemed like Koura decided to try and hurt his man, a tactic that seemed foolish given Dante's reputation as a granite chinned warrior. It was a tactic that proved to be futile when Dante began to land an ever increasing number of shots to the head of Koura. What also didn't help the champion was a couple of cuts caused by head clashes. He tried to fight back, rather than box, and it was the wrong gameplan.
By the end of the 8th round the momentum seemed to be firmly with the challenger, who was leading on all 3 cards, 75-77, 75-77 and 74-78. It was Koura who needed to make big changes, but he was tiring, getting caught by bigger shots and his own moments were few and far between, and becoming less regular. Instead of being able to fight back Koura was seemingly caught in two minds, whether he was going to counter Dante or press the Filipino. Neither tactic seemed to work, he was too tired and damaged to use either gameplan effectively and took eye catching combinations from Dante.
Going into the final round it was clear that Koura was going to need a knockout to win, but he was looking a weary man and Dante was hungry. That hunger showed when the challenger hurt the unbeaten Japanese fighter, following up with a series of unanswered shots in Koura's own corner until the referee called a halt to the action at the 1:18 mark of round 12.
With the win Dante, despite his record, puts himself in the mix for a world title fight, and potentially a third shown down with Vic Saludar, whilst Koura will have to go back to the drawing board. Figure out what he is as a boxer and maybe even move up in weight. This wasn't the flowing Koura we'd seen in recent bouts. Maybe he had over-looked Dante, not trained properly, struggled to make weight or something else. Whatever the reason this was poor from Koura and Dante took his opportunity to score one of the biggest upsets of 2019!
Earlier today at the Korakuen Hall saw OPBF Super Featherweight champion Hironori Mishiro (7-0-1, 2) [三代大訓] make his second defense, defeating veteran Takuya Watanabe (35-9-1, 20) [渡邉卓也] in a compelling 12 round affair.
The bout, promised a lot on paper and genuinely delivered in what was a technical, tactical, highly skilled fight. Both looked to make use of their jab early on, with Watanabe having the slightly heavy jab, whilst Mishiro's was the sharper one. There was little to split the men in the early stages and after 4 rounds the judges had the bout 38-38, 39-37 and a rather harsh 40-36, giving Mishiro the majority lead when the scores were announced for the first time.
Knowing he was behind Watanabe looked to change the tempo in the middle rounds, but Mishiro went with him and refused to be out worked by the older man. This lead to him extending his lead when the scores were announced after 8 rounds, with scores of 78-74, twice, and 77-75 in favour of the champion.
Knowing he had had to do everything in the final stages Watnabe tried to work the body and break down Mishiro, who held his own, showing that even with his novice level of experience he can go 12 rounds with no problems and in fact he was the one finishing hard with a big attack in the final seconds.
At the end off the bout the open scoring had made it clear that Mishiro was going to win, and he did so with scores of 115-113, 116-112 and 117-111, but he had to work hard for it and Watanabe again proved he was no push over, despite now having 9 losses to his name.
For fans wanting to watch this, it was shown live over Boxing Raise, and will be added to their Video on Demand section in the near future.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today in Bangkok local fans were given a number of notable treats. Not only were they able to see Wanheng Menayothin (52-0, 18) [วันเฮง ไก่ย่างห้าดาวยิม] and Knockout CP Freshmart (19-0, 7) [น็อคเอาท์ ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท] take part in an exhibition bout but also a couple of new champions being crowned, as two locals won OPBF silver titles.
One of those new champions is Kanyarat Yoohanngoh (5-2, 3) who defeated Japanese fighter Umi Ishikawa (7-3, 5) [石川海] to become the new OPBF silver Female Minimumweight champion.
Kanyarat, who was seen last year in Japan being stopped by Kasumi Saeki, fought on the back foot early on, and landed the better shots, including some very good counters. Sadly though her good work was often overshadowed by her unnecessary use a few dirty tactics up close, including pushing the laces of her gloves in Ishikawa's face and a few rabbit punches. As the fight went on Ishikawa began to fade, tiring her self out and mentally looking like she had had enough of Kanyarat's tactics. When that happened the local turned the tables, began coming forward, unloading a huge flurry that sent Ishikawa down. She would beat the count but the referee wisely choose not to allow the bout to continue, at an official time of 1:57 of round 3
The other new champion is Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart (11-0, 5) [สะท้านเมืองเล็ก ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท], aka Tanawat Nakoon, who stopped Filipino journeyman Crison Omayao (24-19-4, 8) to become the new OPBF Silver Light Flyweight champion.
Omayao had failed to make weight at the weigh in yesterday, so was unable to win the belt, though never really looked competitive with the Thai. From the opening round Satanmuanglek looked in control, pressed the action and despite being the lighter man at the weigh in looked the much stronger man. It was the educated pressure from Satanmuanglek that was key and he was breaking down the Filipino round by round, with brutal body shots,being the main feature. Those body would send Omayao to the canvas 3 times to force a 4th round TKO win.
Back on December 24th Keita Kurihara (13-5, 11) [栗原 慶太] took a narrow decision win over Yuki Strong Kobayashi (14-8, 8) [小林佑樹] to become the OPBF Bantamweight champion. The bout turned out to be a very controversial one, not because of the scoring but because of the time keeper, who made who made 3 different mistakes.
He gave an interval of 76 seconds, between rounds 5 and 6, allowed round 6 to last 4 minutes and allowed a break of 2 minutes and 2 seconds between rounds 6 and 7.
Today the JBC made their ruling on punishments, and have announced that the time keeper Mr Koshijima, has had his time keeper license indefinitely suspended due to his errors.
The time keeper wasn't the only official to be reprimanded. JBC Supervisor Yukihiro Koike, has been suspended, for the time being and Nobuyoshi Uraya, who is highly ranked in the Kansai boxing scene, has also been "strictly cautioned".
The JBC have also issued an apology for the errors, though seem to have not punished Kurihara or made the bout a no-contest, which had been mentioned as a possibility earlier in the year.
News! We try and give you the most interesting news stories from the Asian boxing world!