The second season of the WBSS doesn't seem like it can catch a break, of any kind. The tournament started with high expectations on the back of a brilliant inaugural season, but has been troubled by various woes, from bad scheduling, poor crowds, a frustrating lack of a TV deal in the UK, the injury of Ryan Burnett and financial problems.
Now the WBSS semi-final bout between Zolani Tete (28-3, 21) and Nonito Donaire (39-5, 25) is off, with Tete suffering an injury, a story broken by Mike Coppinger-
The plan seems to be fore Donaire to remain on the card at all cost, and it seems like he will be matched with 30 year old American Stephon Young (18-1-3, 7), who suffered his sole defeat at the hands of Reymart Gaballo last year in an interim WBA Bantamweight title fight. That would, potentially, become the new semi-final, with Donaire defending the WBA "super" title against Young, in what would be a hugely disappointing match up, but better than seeing Donaire pulled from the card at such late notice.
Young was scheduled for the show anyway, and should be in good condition, though was preparing for someone else and not Donaire. Originally it was Nikolai Potapov, though Potapov himself was removed from the card and replaced by Daniel Lozano at relatively short notice.
If Young does fill in against Donaire the winner of that bout will then be expected to fight in the final, against the winner of the second semi-final, between Naoya Inoue (17-0, 15) [井上 尚弥] and Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-0, 12), with that bout taking place in May. Sadly though the WBO title will not be expected to be up for grabs in the eventual final, meaning the Muhammad Ali Trophy winner will not have either the WBO or WBC titles.
Staying on the subject of the WBO title, depending on the length of Tete's injury he is probably going to be returning to defend the belt against the newly crowned WBO "interim" champion John Riel Casimero (27-4, 18), who won the title this past weekend. Whilst that's a good fight to look forward to down the line, it is not Tete Vs Donaire, and it is not a WBSS semi-final bout.
Earlier today WBA "interim" Bantamweight champion Reymart Gaballo (21-0, 18) put in an incredibly impressive performance as he dominated Japanese visitor Yuya Nakamura (9-3-1, 7), stopping him mid way through round 2.
Gaballo made it clear that he wasn't going to be messing about, and dropped a wild Nakamura after about 35 seconds, landing a clean right hand. Nakamura had been hurt prior to the knockdown and responded by trying to trade with the razor sharp, hard hitting and highly skilled Filipino. That had left him open to the right hand that dropped him. Nakamura got up but was under intense pressure from Gaballo who scored a second knockdown with a sweeping left hook. Nakamura, showing his warrior mentality, got to his feet and seemed to wonder what he had to do to survive, shelling up on the ropes to try and survive. He would clear his head and look to fight back, but did little more than see out the round. A 10-7 round for the Filipino, if the scorecards were going to be needed.
In round 2 Gaballo again forced the action. He was too quick, too sharp and too accurate for the wild and open Nakamura, who swung power punches but missed wildly. Nakamura took some huge shots, to both head and body, before being backed into his own corner. Gaballo would unload, dropping Nakamura for a third time. This time Nakamura struggled to his feet and the referee waved the bout off. Nakamura complained about the stoppage, but in reality the stoppage was a good one, and it would have been ridiculous to allow the bout to continue, given how much of a mismatch the contest had been.
Despite fighting in the talent stacked Bantamweight division Gaballo is a class fighter and we're really looking forward to seeing where he'll go next. Sadly for Nakamura his level is way below this. He's an incredibly fun fighter to watch, but seeing him take damage like he did here will just shorten his career. If matched well Nakamura could be a must watch fighter on the regional scene, but beatings like this will not serve him well. He was in with someone so many levels above him, and his mentality of trying to fight fire with fire was never going to work.
Gaballo, the WBA "interim" Bantamweight champion, will be up against Japan's Yuya Nakamura (9-2-1, 7), who continues to fight outside of the Japanese system with bouts in China, Thailand and the Philippines. Nakamura really caught our attention back in December, when he had an unlucky 6 round draw with Yongu Yu, in what was a thoroughly entertaining contest.
Duno on the other hand will be up against Indian foe Kuldeep Dhanda (7-1, 1), who will be fighting outside of India foe the first time. Not only will this be Dhanda's international debut, but also his first bout since December 2017!
Whilst we love the main event between Apolinario and Vicells, we can't help but feel Gaballo and Duno have been matched relatively easily, a pattern we are seeing a little too often with these ESPN5 shows.
Earlier today Filipino promotional outfit Sanman Promotions revealed that their first show of 2019 will be doubleheader, to be held on February 9th in the Philippines and shown on ESPN5.
One of the two main event bouts will see WBA "interim" Bantamweight champion Reymart Gaballo (20-0, 17) whilst the other will feature Lightweight hopeful Romero Duno (18-1, 14). At the moment neither man has had their opponent for the bout's announced but they will be international opponents and will hopefully beat the typical opponent we've seen served up on the main bouts of the ESPN5 cards, such as Gaballo's last opponent Julias Kisarawe, who was just terrible.
The one bout that has been put together will see Dave Apolinario (9-0, 6) battle against Mark Vicelles (9-0-1, 5) for the WBO Asia Pacific Youth Flyweight title, in what is an excellent step up for both men.
We saw a number of Sanman shows on ESPN5 last year and it really did help fans keep up with Filipino hopefuls, and seems to be something that is continuing into the new year, as the channel once again looks to back Filipino boxing, and developing the sport. Sanman Boxing CEO Jim Claude Manangquil is quoted by ESPN.Com as saying:
"I couldn't have done this without the support of ESPN5. They are doing a very noble mission helping Filipino boxers get the exposure they deserve. (The year) 2018 was such a great year for Sanman, will ensure 2019 will even be a more explosive year for us and for Philippine Boxing. This Gaballo and Duno double treat is our way of starting the new boxing year with a bang. We look forward to more world titles for Fiipino boxers and more big events for Sanman,"
With that in mind it seems obvious that there is big plans for ESPN5 to stay involved in the sport, something really needed to try and recapture the Filipino audience, and give fighters a chance to build their names.
On Sunday in the Philippines WBA "interim" Bantamweight champion Reymart Gaballo (20-0, 17) scored a quick fire win over Tanzania's Julias Kisarawe (29-7-1, 15) live on ESPN5. The bout was part of a Philippines Vs Tanzanian card that saw the locals winning 4-0 (4) in a combined 7 rounds and seemingly do little more than get an easy win on their record.
It's now been reported by Philboxing that today's bout was leading to bigger things with Jim Claude Manangquil telling Philboxing that the 22 year old Gaballo will fight Panamanian based Venezuelan Liborio Solis (27-5-1-1, 12) on November 30th in New Jersey. He not only confirmed the bout but also revealed that the bout would be for the WBA "Regular" Bantamweight title, which is apparently set to become vacant despite currently being held by Naoya Inoue.
Gaballo became the interim champion earlier this year, upsetting Stephon Young in March, and although he missed out on the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) he remained a leading Bantamweight contender with the interim title keeping him in the mix for the eventual winner of the WBSS. Sadly today's bout was his first since his title win.
Aged 36 Solis is a wily old veteran and also a former world champion at Super Flyweight, having held the WBA title in 2013. He won that belt on the road, beating Kohei Kono in Japan, and lost it on the road, failing to make weight for a unification bout with the IBF champion Daiki Kameda. Since moving up in weight he has pretty avoided though did challenge Shinsuke Yamanaka for the WBC title in 2016, dropping the Teiken man twice, and Jamie McDonnell in 2016 and 2017, being unfortunate with the decision in the first bout before the second ended in a No Contest.
We're expecting to see this story develop quickly and we're going to be honest, we're excited about seeing two of the more over-looked Bantamweights getting it on in such an attractive match up. The winner will certainly be in the mix for the winner of the WBSS and it's fair to say that the depth of the division is helping those not included in the tournament stay busy and get big bouts like this one. Both perhaps should have got a place in the 8 man tournament but given they have each other to face off with we can't complain too much about them being absent from the competition.
The Philboxing article that references the Gaballo Vs Solis bout can be read here.
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