Earlier today in China fight fans had the chance to catch a WBC Silver Flyweight title bout, as under-rated Filipino Jayr Raquinel (10-1-1, 7) took on Chinese local Wulan Tuolehazi (9-3-1, 4).
For the Filipino this was a third straight bout on the road, following back-to-back wins in Japan, and he showed no fear of being on the road once again.
For the local the bout saw him riding a 7 fight unbeaten run, including notable wins over Noldi Manakane and Kwanthai Sithmorseng and he knew that another win here would open the door to a potential WBC world title bout.
The fight started with Raquinel on the front foot and it seemed clear he was the more naturally aggressive fighter, something we'd seen from his bouts in Japan. Tuolehazi seemed to feel his best chance to win was to pick his spots, fight off the back foot and look to counter the Filipino. At times that worked for the Chinese fighter, but he struggled to get the respect of the Filipino who knew how to catch the eye.
As the rounds went on we slowly saw Tuolehazi try to become more aggressive, taking a few more risks and build his confidence. That however saw him being punished by the sharp, hard shots of Raquinel and when he started to take more punishment the Chinese fighter looked like a man who began to question himself. Against Raquinel that's not a good thing to do, and the Filipino southpaw began to land with more consistency, chipping away at Tuolehazi, especially in round 5 as the Chinese fight took a real shellacking.
To his credit Tuolehazi took his knocks and continually looked to try and strike back against the Filipino youngster, with round 6 being a better round for the local, with the crowd regularly getting behind him and roaring his successes. This began a solid fight back from the Chinese fighter, who seemed to have a solid seventh round, with Raquinel simply not letting his hands go enough, something we had seen from his when he defeated Keisuke Nakayama for the OPBF title. Sadly this proved to be the start of real problems for Raquinel who seemed to completely turn off, not letting his hands go enough and allowing Tuolehazi back into the bout. Round after round the Filipino waited for something to happen rather than making things happen and this really turned the momentum, without Raquinel ever taking much punishment, or exerting himself.
Going into the later rounds it felt like Raquinel's early control of the contest was a distant memory. He wasn't being outclassed at any point, but he was giving judges a chance to score rounds in favour of Tuolehazi, something that didn't happen early on. It seemed that even Raquinel began to realise it and in round 10 he showed some flashes of his ability, landing some combinations as he had earlier on, and retaking the center of the ring. Having had a good round 10 Raquinel let Tuolehazi back into the fight in round 11, with the Chinese fighter landing quite a few right hands, without taking much in return. One of those right hands from the Chinese fighter seemed to wobble Raquinel late in the round and made things really interesting as we entered the final round.
With both men likely knowing the contest was close we saw a new found energy from both, with Tuolehazi looking to land his straight right hand and Raquinel looking for his own straight left hand. It was to be the power of the Chinese fighter that would be the more telling as he dropped Raquinel with just over a minute of the round left. That seemed to spur the Filipino on, whilst Tuolehazi looked to protect a 10-8 round, that was until the final 10 seconds when they traded, giving the fans a grandstand finish.
In the end the judges saw the bout as a relative clear win for Tuolehazi, the final round really didn't make a difference. Sadly for Raquinel he only has himself to blame. He was the more skilled man, he looked the better fighter, but mentally he seemed to turn off for much of the second half of the fight, and away from home that was always going to be a big mistake. At 21 this is a learning experience for the Filipino, but it leaves serious questions over his head. For Tuolehazi it was a relatively fortunate win, and proved he isn't ready for a world title fight.
Unbeaten Chinese Heavyweight hopeful Zhang Zhilei (19-0, 15) [张志磊] will return to the ring on September 28th in Changsha, China, as he looks make his first defense of the WBO Oriental Heavyweight title and continue a 6 fight run of opening round victories.
The 2008 Olympic Silver medal winner will be up against fellow puncher Don Haynesworth (15-2-1, 13), from New York, USA, who will be having his first bout outside of the US.
Zhilei comes into this bout following and impressive 8 fight stoppage run, but has got a lot of questions to answer in regards to his competition, and on paper this is a credible step up in class for "Big Bang".
Although no world beater Haynesworth is likely to be a good test to see how legitimate Zhilei is. To date Haynesworth has been stopped once, by the world class Bryant Jennings, and this bout will give Zhilei a chance to be compared with the former world title challenger.
Another excellent bout on this card will see China's Wulan Tuolehazi (8-3-1, 4) take on OPBF Flyweight champion Jayr Raquinel (10-0-1, 7) in a bout for the vacant WBC Silver Flyweight title. The 25 year old Tuolehazi lost 3 of his first 5, but has since gone 6-0-1 (4) with notable wins overs Noldi Manakane, Takeshi Kaneko, Kwanthai Sithmorseng and Yokthong KKP, showing that he has got something about him. Raquinel has also impressed, with recent wins in Japan over Keisuke Nakayama and Shun Kosaka, and is a legitimate puncher on the Oriental level. The winner of this one will find themselves pushed way up into the WBC rankings and will close in on a potential world title fight.
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