By Marcus Bellinger (@marcusknockout)
A hectic weekend of fistic action turned out to be a fruitful one for Japan with a new world champion crowned, the consummation of a tasty looking all Japanese dustup and an anticipated super bantamweight clash that produced a world title contender.
We begin at the Civic Center in Kissimmee, Florida as Masayuki Ito took on Christopher Diaz for the vacant WBO super featherweight strap. Ito had started slow in some of his recent fights but the visitor was out of the gate quickly, landing with solid body shots and right hands. Diaz was often standing in mid-range without letting his hands go and was a sitting duck for the right hand and it was this punch that dropped him in round 4 and a knockout win for Ito looked a strong possibility.
To his credit the Puerto Rican not only rallied in the 4th but arguably had his best round in the 5th. Ito controlled the majority of the rest of the contest, repeatedly tagging Diaz with right hands, causing his left eye to shut. Whilst the home man never stopped trying there was no doubting the result at the final bell and Ito deservedly got the unanimous decision.
The narrative throughout the ESPN+ broadcast that Diaz was the more seasoned fighter was baffling considering that Diaz had never gone passed 8 rounds and had never fought anyone of any real quality whilst Ito had had a number of 10 and 12 round bouts with solid domestic and regional foes. This seasoning which is pretty much the norm in Japanese boxing certainly prepares them properly for the step up to world level and although certainly not every boxer from the land of the rising sun is victorious, very rarely are they embarrassed or blown out in a few rounds.
As for where Ito goes next then unless Top Rank were suitably impressed enough to sign him the most logical move appears to be a spot on one of the high profile cards at home until a big often comes in from abroad. The division at the moment is pretty thin in terms of depth but things can change very quickly below lightweight.
As part of a world title doubleheader in China, Sho Kimura successfully defended his WBO flyweight crown against Froilan Saludar. The challenger actually began pretty well, countering effectively over the first 2 rounds leaving the champion slightly confused. Kimura’s pressure then began to tell and the Filipino struggled under the weight of the body shots and it was a blow to the mid-section which saw proceedings come to an end in round 6.
Kimura now takes on former 105 and 108 lb champion Kosei Tanaka in Nagoya on September 24 in a fascinating matchup of boxer puncher versus all out pressure fighter. The rise of Kimura has been a remarkable one, from 10/1 underdog against Zou Shiming to now a world champion who’s made 2 successful defenses and is now in a far better financial position.
Tanaka looked impressive on his flyweight debut against Ronnie Baldonado in March but having been dropped more than once during his career and having suffered fairly serious injuries against Palangpol CP Freshmart it will be intriguing to see how he copes with the brute strength of Kimura. Tanaka’s huge edge in speed should be telling early on but things could get very interesting in the second half of the bout as Kimura’s non-stop pressure and size could come into play.
The less said about the other world title fight on the show the better as Knockout CP Freshmart and Xiong Zhao Zhong served up a dire 12 round shit fest that wasn’t befitting of some of the truly great fights at strawweight over the last decade. Knockout came away with the unanimous decision but a listless display with stretches of laziness that have been evident in recent bouts didn’t enhance his reputation at all. There was talk of an offer being made to Tatsuya Fukuhara but it now seems that mandatory challenger Byron Rojas will be next. The likes of Fukuhara, Tsubasa Koura and Masataka Taniguchi should be queuing up to take on the Thai who looks to be a champion ready to be taken.
Over at a jam packed Korakuen Hall Yusaku Kuga and Shingo Wake squared off for the Japanese super bantamweight title. The fight was built as a potential world title eliminator so there was a lot on the line for both men.
Wake proved to be too sharp and too skilful for Kuga who was dropped early on and never really got to grips with the sharpshooting southpaw. As the defending champion tried to turn the tide this only left more openings for Wake and eventually the towel came in during the 10th and final stanza. Kuga is definitely young enough to come again and as for Wake, he stated afterwards his desire for a world title tilt on New Year’s Eve.
With champions Ray Vargas and Daniel Roman having deals in the US these seem out of the question but if Ryosuke Iwasa comes through his mandatory defense against TJ Doheny in August then that maybe plausible. Also Isaac Dogboe who faces Hidenori Otake in August has shown a willingness to travel so maybe tempted by a trip to Japan.
As a huge advocate of more all Japanese bouts of significance at all levels it was great to see Kuga and Wake face each other as both could have gone in different directions and given the electric atmosphere that was created hopefully we see more of these type of clashes. At super bantamweight alone there’s the likes of Hinata Maruta of the Morioka Gym, Ryo Matsumoto from the Ohashi and Woz Boxing's Shohei Omori attempting to progress their careers. Speaking of Omori, the hard hitting southpaw returned with an excellent second round stoppage of Brian Lobetania which should give him a real confidence boost.
On the same card in Osaka, Masayoshi Nakatani made the 10th defense of his OPBF lightweight strap, eventually stopping Izuki Tomioka in 11 rounds and again a world title fight was mentioned but frankly seeing will be believing given how he has remained at regional level. Sho Ishida scored a 4th round knockout of Richard Claveras but in a crowded 115 lb weight class, opportunities at world level are few and far between. Finally Tatsuya Fukuhara won a 10 round decision over Naoya Haruguchi to keep himself in the minimumweight mix and is capable of giving anyone in the division a hard nights work.
(Image courtesy of Sumio Yamada)
By - TheFightPod
Assan Abdoulaye or Lee Heuk San, is a refugee from Cameroon. He has been naturalized as a Korean citizen. He cannot return to his country because he will face the death penalty. He has some boxing experience and decided to turn pro when he came to Korea. With his lean and lengthy build, he competed at super welterweight, knocking down his new countrymen left and right until he became the KBM Super Welterweight Champion. He moved down to welterweight, won one fight via decision and now has a shot at the WBA Asia Welterweight Championship. The defending champion, another Korean - Maru Jung one of Korea’s top boxers.
Q-Your next opponent is Maru Jung, WBA Asia Welterweight Champion. Unofficial polls on SMS suggest the odds of the fight are pretty even. Any thoughts?
A-I will win the fight. No doubt.
Q-Jung said, “outside of the ring, we can smile and shake hands, but inside the ring, I won’t be as nice.” Thoughts?
A-Boxing is a noble martial art, so sure we can exhange greetings and laugh, but in the ring, I become the lion, making Jung my prey.
Q-It’s fair to say that you are the more powerful puncher, especially with that devastating left straight, but Jung has a durable chin and is a more technical boxer. Do you agree?
A-Yes, Jung is a very skillful boxer, but my superior athleticism and physical strength will allow me to win and beat boxer even more technically skillful than Jung.
Q-You have many fans in Korea. Even people who have zero interest in boxing has heard about you. Can you say something for your fans?
A-I really thank all my fans that have trusted and supported me until now. I will dedicate this victory to the fans who have been with and we will continue further on our journey. Thank you!
Jung was the KBC welterweight champion, became the KBM Welterweight Champion by winning the tournament, then successfully won against the defending WBA Asia Welterweight champion this past February. Just recently, Hyun Mi Choi (Woman’s WBA Champion) and Min Wook Kim (Former OPBF champion) have joined his team. His new teammates are likely to have been a catalyst in studying the sweet science. The results of having superstars in one team will be evident on Sunday.
Q. Your first WBA ASIA title defense is against Lee Heuk San. If you had to predict the outcome, obviously you’d win right?
A. He has a stylistic advantage and so I can’t say I will win for sure. Of course I’ll try, but can’t guarantee it. Only one way to find out right? But that being said, as a professional athlete, I do believe I will win.
Q. Can you elaborate? Are there any specific changes in preparation or training for his style?
A.First of all, he’s a southpaw. Lefties usually assume that their advantage comes from their opposite stance, but I personally believe it’s due to unfamiliar timing so adjusting to a southpaw’s timing is key. I am practicing with southpaws but there aren’t many in Korea, especially at welterweight. So most of the time my orthodox sparring partners just spar as southpaws. That’s how I’ve been practicing to adjust.
Q.What are some other strengths? Do you see any weaknesses in his game?
A.He’s a physical specimen, and his a great sense of rhythm. My biggest obstacle is breaking his rhythm because that’s where timing comes from. So I’ve been practicing disturbing my opponents rhythm and in turn their timing. One weakness is his simplicity. Because he had plenty of time to prepare for this match, it really depends on what he did to use and improve his “simplicity.” I assume he’s trained very hard for this fight.
Q.Anything for the fans?
A. I want to show a great show by having a great match. I will give it my all.
At the press conference for the bout a prediction was asked from both fighters, with both predicting a stoppage.
Q- What is your prediction for this fight?
A-Jung, “I will KO Lee in round 5”
Q- What is your prediction for this fight?
A-Lee’s coach: “We will finish it in either round 4 or 6”
That came out of nowhere!
Editors note -
For fans wanting to watch this contest it will be televised live on SPOTV, between 2PM and 6PM.
All photo's courtesy of BoxingM
On July 29th, 2018, one of Korea's biggest boxing event will take place in Seoul. The WBA Asia Welterweight championship, KBM Lightweight championship, and KBM Middleweight championship titles are on the line. The Lightweight Champion was to be decided through a knock-out tournament, starting a preliminary round of 32, and the main tournament starting with the remaining 16 best lightweight boxers in Korea. The boxers that made it to the finals are Tae Seung Kim and O Gon Kwon. I had the opportunity to have a short interview with the two lightweight finalists fighting for the belt, and $26,560 prize money.
Tae Seung Kim is a veteran boxer and is fighting for the KBM Lightweight Championship at 43 years old this coming Sunday, against a much younger opponent, O Gon Kwon. Kim is known for his knock out power and is highly respected among other boxers for his tenacity, fighting much younger opponents through injuries, while working a regular day job to support his wife and two children. This is likely his retirement fight. http://boxrec.com/en/boxer/530695
Q-Kwon has shown excellent pace and impressive endurance throughout the tournament, but this will be his first time fighting a bout set for 10 rounds, let alone for the championship. In contrast, you are a veteran with several title defenses that were set for 10 rounds. Controlling the pace and having that championship experience is a huge factor. What do you think about Kwon’s stamina, and how much do you think your experience will play a part in the 10 round bout?
A-I don’t think Kwon will have endurance problems going the full ten rounds. He seemed to be in great shape and had no issues going 6 rounds in the semi-finals. Many believe rounds 6 and 7 are the toughest and the remaining rounds depends on mental strength. It really depends on how well he has prepared. Yes, I have had several title matches but did not ever go the full 10 rounds. I can’t exactly claim I experienced the full 10 rounds, but through my preparation and training, I believe I can overcome any endurance issues. Hard work never betrayed anyone, so I might have a small disadvantage due to my work schedule. I work a full time job and cannot train as much as I want to; training with the limited time after work is a vicious cycle that makes recovery difficult. However, I am confident that my mental strength is superior than that of Kwon’s. Guess there is only one way to find out haha.
Q-The prize money for this bout is $30,000 (rounded for convenience). Have you thought about what you are going to do with that money?
A-Well, I got a call from KBM recently telling me that I have to pay 22% in tax. It’s prize money, not fight money, so I am a bit skeptical haha. I have to pay my manager 30% my trainer 10%, which leaves me about $14,400, not as much as it’s supposed to be haha. There are plenty of things I want to do, but most importantly, I want to give my daughter braces before she enters college, but I got a quote for about $10,000 for the dental work…. :( My brother-in-law is the dentist, why is it so expensive? Should I find another dentist? Haha just kidding. That leaves me about $4,400. I want to take out everyone in my gym to dinner and I promised to treat Won Woo Min out (current WBA Asia Super Lightweight Champion).... So that makes my plans for travel a bit difficult hahaha. Anyway those are my plans for now haha.
Q-Almost all of the other Korean boxers respect you and so many fans are rooting for you. Can you say something for your fans?
A-Really? Do I have a lot of fans? Well I want to tell my fellow boxers that I started boxing at a very difficult time in my life, and I worry about my continuous physical injuries, and I know there will be health related consequences. But, I met some of the greatest people through boxing, who have helped me tremendously in life. Some even directly helped my business. The amount of love that the people I met through boxing has given me is something I will never forget and brings me great joy. What I want to say to all the boxers out there, there is nothing more important than perpetually fighting with yourself. If you fail, get up again and fight to give it your all. At some point, you will find a dignified version of yourself in all aspects. To all the younger boxing fans, you don’t have to be the best. If you give it your all, you won’t be afraid of this harsh world. Let’s keep challenging ourselves. Fighting! This is what I want to all boxing fans haha but I’m a bit embarrassed, not sure if I have the right to say such a thing hahaha.
Q-Do you have anything you want to say to Kwon?
A-More than anything, I really want to entertain the fans. Kwon has a very entertaining style, all of his matches are very fun to watch. Regardless of the outcome, I hope Kwon brings his usual entertaining style to the fight. [Without thinking about the obligatory “respect” due to age difference]
O Gon Kwon is 23 year old boxer with amateur experience and is fighting for the KBM lightweight championship against veteran boxer, Tae Seung Kim. He’s known for his quick footwork, hand speed, and very entertaining flashy style, with just enough showmanship to rub people, including the judges, the wrong way. Fans either hate him or love him. But everyone agrees that he is an excellent boxer. http://boxrec.com/en/boxer/749432
Q-You have shown outstanding endurance at a high pace in all your professional matches thus far. However, this will be your first 10 round fight, as well as your first title match. Your next opponent, Kim, is an experienced veteran boxer with multiple championship fights under his belt. How do you feel about your endurance, considering your longest fight was 6 rounds? Are there any significant changes in your training and preparation?
A-I’ve been training just like I have before. As for my endurance, I’ve never went 10 rounds so I’m not certain either.
Q-The prize money is $30,000. What do you plan to do with it?
A-After taxes and all that, I don’t think there will be too much left, but I plan to treat out my friends and give the rest to father.
Q-Kim stated that you always have a very flashy, entertaining style and wants you to bring that type of fight to him as well. Your response?
A-Of course I’d like to have an entertaining fight as well. Oh, and especially considering our age difference, if I fight like I usually do, fans are going to think I’m disrespectful and arrogant. I even thought of fighting more well-mannered and cut down on the showmanship, but I decided to fight the way I usually do. I’m not disrespecting my opponents or anything like that, it’s just my style. I hope people don’t take it the wrong way.
Q-You are one of the most popular boxers in Korea. Can you please say something for your fans?
A-I actually don’t think I have many fans, but since you asked, I’m a bit embarrassed hahaha. Anyway, it’s not like I’m some extraordinary boxer or anything so I want to thank everyone that’s rooting for me and am extremely grateful. I’m going to win this match for sure :)
Originally published - https://jjsjj.blubrry.net/2018/07/24/kbm-lw-kim-vs-kwon/
A huge thanks goes to TheFightPod for this dual interview!
By Marcus Bellinger (@marcusknockout)
On a busy week for Asian fighters with a world title doubleheader from China and a fabulous all Japanese super bantamweight dustup at the Korakuen Hall, Masayuki Ito has the chance to become a world champion when he takes on Christopher Diaz at the Kissimmee Civic Center this Saturday for the vacant WBO super featherweight strap.
Having been in and around the top few spots in the WBO for a while now, Ito finally gets his shot against the undefeated Puerto Rican and the man from Japan has already travelled out to America earlier this month to acclimatise to conditions. Ito has also taken part in training camps in the US so the environment won’t be totally alien to him.
Having turned pro in May 2009 with the little known Banryu Boxing Gym, Ito was held to a 4 round split draw by Tsuyoshi Tameda in September 2011. After defeating Masaru Sueyoshi in July 2012 Ito went on to claim the all Japan Rookie of the year crown at featherweight, overcoming the unbeaten hard hitting Kosuke Saka in the final 5 months later.
A point’s win over Taiki Minamoto followed and given that Minamoto, Saka and Sueyoshi have gone on to win the national title and Tameda is close to a title bout and is part of the thriving Ohashi gym, these wins for Ito look even better in hindsight. An 8 round decision victory over the dangerous big punching Masao Nakamura in July 2014 further cemented Ito’s position as a future potential domestic champion.
Eventually his crack at the Japanese 130 lb crown came against unbeaten Rikki Naito in February 2015. There was barely anything to separate the pair over the 10 rounds but it was Naito who got the majority verdict to hand Ito his first career loss. 6 months later Ito returned and showed no ill effects from the Naito defeat as he confidently out boxed and then stopped Dai Iwai in 10 rounds for the vacant OPBF title. An assured performance saw him score a wide 12 round unanimous decision against Shingo Eto in December 2015.
An 11th round knockout of Ernie Sanchez came in July 2016 before Ito added the WBO Asia Pacific belt to his collection with a dominant points triumph over the rugged Takuya Watanabe on the last day of 2016. In his only defense of the WBO regional bauble Lorenzo Villanueva was stopped in 9 rounds in April 2017 and Glenn Enterina and Vergil Puton were seen off inside the distance in non-title contests.
Inside the ring Ito as a smart boxer with excellent movement and foot work. He relies on a solid jab to set up his attacks and whilst certainly not being a concussive hitter he’s a sharp puncher with the right hand being his main offensive weapon. He can be a slow starter which may cost him against the aggressive Diaz who will surely come out all guns blazing to try and make a statement.
At 27 Ito is probably nearing his prime and given his experience against solid domestic and regional operators he should be very confident of coming away with the belt even on away soil. Diaz has showed promise in recent fights but is untested at this level so we don’t know how good the 23-year-old is just yet. If Ito can get the win then the chance of appearing on big bills at home would become a distinct possibility and also future opportunities in the US could also come into play.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
By Marcus Bellinger (@marcusknockout)
Whilst the attention will be predominantly on Manny Pacquiao in his welterweight clash versus Lucas Matthysse which takes place in Malaysia this upcoming weekend, 3 Asian fighters on the undercard have the chance to massively elevate their careers and shine on a huge occasion.
Featherweight Jhack Tepora takes on Edivaldo Ortega over 12 rounds with the 25-year-old returning after 10 months. His last ring appearance saw him overcome the odds in more ways than one when he knocked out Lusanda Kominisi in 2 rounds to claim a minor 126 lb strap on the road in South Africa last September. Not only did Tepora win in emphatic style away from home, he showed the enormous mental strength to somehow maintain composure after a post-weight-in test came back positive for HIV. As a father this could have had life changing consequences but thankfully a mix up in the lab and follow up tests gave the Filipino southpaw the all clear.
A win for the Cebu City native puts him right in the mix in the stacked 126 lb class and performing on such a big platform will also hopefully propel Tepora onto more future opportunities on major cards. On paper Ortega presents a solid test with the 28-year-old having points wins over Drian Francisco and Juan Carlos Sanchez Jr and a stoppage victory over Tomas Rojas. The Mexican’s only loss came against then unbeaten Eduardo Ramirez via decision and an early career draw is the only other blemish on his record.
In just his second official professional bout China’s Lu Bin takes on Carlos Canizales and regardless of your view of a validity of the regular belt, make no mistake a win for the 23-year-old would be a phenomenal achievement and send out a real statement in the light flyweight division. China at the moment is in the boxing doldrums with Zou Shiming almost certain to retire due to a career ending eye injury and the dearth of talent coming through in the amateurs is a major concern so a victory for Bin would give the sport a timely boost.
Bin enjoyed a successful amateur career claiming world Youth gold in 2012, Bronze at the 2013 Asian Championships and the national crown in 2015 and 2017. After a 10 round contest versus Xion Zhao Zhong which Bin duly won widely on points, he made his official pro debut in September 2017, easily dispatching Chatchai Or Benjamas in 3 rounds.
There’s no doubting that Canizales is a dangerous assignment but the Venezuelan is very one dimensional and completely ineffective fighting on the back foot as was shown after the third round in his contest with Riya Konishi earlier on this year. If Bin can force Canizales backwards in the first 3 rounds or not be too far behind and the half way point then the man from China is in with a good shot of pulling off a terrific win and setting up some sensational matchups in a division teaming with talent.
Finally Muhammad Waseem aims to make history and become the first ever world champion from Pakistan when he squares off against Moruti Mthalane for the vacant IBF flyweight strap. Despite achieving Silver at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and Bronze in the Asian Games of the same year, it’s been a hard road for Waseem with minimal backing from his homeland.
Having grown disillusioned with the amateur code, the 30-year-old turned pro in South Korea in 2015, claiming the Korean bantamweight title on his debut. Waseem was quickly fast tracked and defeated Jether Oliva via unanimous decision in just his 4th bout to pick up the WBC silver belt. Next up he narrowly overcame then unbeaten Giemel Magrano in a close encounter and his shot at the WBC 112 lb crown was moving ever closer.
Unfortunately financial restraints saw a crack at then champion Daigo Higa disappear and Waseem’s future in the sport was up in the air. The IBF tilt against Mthalane came along at exactly the right time and with renowned agent Sean Gibbons now guiding his career and Jeff Mayweather training him, the future now looks a lot brighter for the Quetta born man.
Cricket is by far and away the biggest sport in Pakistan and the side are number 1 in the T20 rankings despite there being barely any international cricket being played in the country due to an attack on the Sri Lanka bus back in 2009 but if Waseem could claim the IBF title then who knows, a new generation could be inspired to swap the ball or the bat for the boxing gloves. Mthalane is a quality operator having beaten Zolani Tete and Johnriel Casimero inside the distance but at 35 and having been inactive for periods in recent times it’s difficult to know how much the South African has left.
When we have some free time we're hoping to add a series of fun articles to the site. Hopefully these will be enjoyable little short features