By- Eric Armit
It was sad to read of the death of Senator John McClain He was a genuine war hero and twice a Presidential candidate but for myself his most relevant influence was through his work to clean up boxing through the development of what came into law in America as the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act which had a huge impact on boxing in the USA. The stated purpose of the Act was “ protecting boxers from exploitation, sanctioning organization integrity reforms, and requiring public interest disclosures to state boxing commissions……. to remedy many of the anti-competitive, oppressive, and unethical business practices which have cheated professional boxers and denied the public the benefits of a truly honest and legitimate sport," The impetus for the whole process that resulted in the Ali Act can be said to have been an IBF title fight back in 1992. The then IBF middleweight champion James Toney won a split decision over Dave Tiberi in Atlantic City. It was seen by many as a disgraceful robbery of Tiberi. His local Senator instituted an investigation and the testaments given sparked John McCain’s decision to push for changes in how boxing was run in the USA and particularly the promoter/boxer relationship and the influence of sanctioning bodies.
I had a minor role in that I had a number of phone calls from a researcher working for the Senator asking me how the “slave” contracts between Don King and his fighters worked and on how the “options” system worked. I explained that under the contracts King put in place there was a clause that said that as long as the boxer was in the world ratings then his contract with King would be automatically renewed. That effectively meant that for the whole of a fighters peak years he could not fight for any other promoter than Don King without King’s permission. I remember an instance in my time with the WBC ratings committee when we took out a prominent King promoted African boxer on the basis of his inactivity which would have made him a free agent. However when I presented the ratings to the Convention King’s influence was sufficient for the rating to be overturned and the fighter returned to the ratings and back under King’s control.
I explained that with options it was customary for the promoter of the world champion to insist on options on the services of the challenger so that if the challenger won then he was under contract to fight only for that promoter unless the promoter decided to sell some or all of the options to another promoter. The usual number of options was three-sometimes less-sometimes more. In addition the purse for each option was an integral part of the option and those purses were inevitably below market value. As an example a champion might get $100,000 for the title defence and the challenger $50,000. If the challenger won the price included in his option and instead of $100,000 that could tie him to receiving $50,000 for each of his three title defences. If the promoter had no market for the new champion then he could sell the options to promoters who could. A typical example was when Charlie Magri unexpectedly lost his WBC flyweight title to Frank Cedeno in his first defence. The British promoter had no way of making money out of his options on the Filipino but a Japanese promoter was anxious to get his fighter Koji Kobayashi a shot at the WBC title so he bought Cedeno’s options from the British promoter.
Naturally there was some watering down of the proposed Act before it was passed but it remains an important milestone in the way boxing is administered in the USA and had a ripple effect that led to other countries reviewing their own processes and procedures.
The Ali Act was only a small part of the work Senator McCain did in his time in government but boxing owes him a great debt of gratitude RIP Senator John McCain.
This has been a memorable week for boxing in Thailand as Wanheng (Chayaphon Moonsri) won his 51st fight. He can’t yet be said to have beaten Floyd Mayweather’s record as what makes Mayweather’s total of 50 significant is that his record is for winning every one of his 50 fights in his career. In order to surpass Mayweather’s record Wanheng has either to retire now with 51 wins or have some more fights and win them also before retiring. if Wanheng continues to box and loses then he still has a great record but there are plenty better records with just one or two losses on them.
The other milestone for a Thai fighter will probably be achieved by the time you read this. The 41-year-old former WBC bantam and super featherweight champion Sirimongkol Singwancha (Sirimongkhon Iamthuam ) has a 95-4 record and on Saturday 1 September will have fight No 100 in a twenty-four-year career. I am not sure if any other Thai fighter has reached that total. He started out as a super flyweight and in fight No 100 will be trying to win the Thai light heavyweight title. Between losing his WBC super feather title to Jesus Chavez in 2003 and losing a fight to Uzbek Azizbek Abdugofurov for the WBC Asian Boxing Council middle weight title in February he coincidentally won 51 fights in a row. He is taking no chances in fight No 100 as his opponent is Ugandan Muhammad Nsubuga with a 0-6 record!
That Sirimongkol vs. Nsubuga contest is typical of many abysmal matches in Thailand. Last weekend Tajik boxer Abdul Buranov lost to WBC No 3 flyweight Noknoi. Their respective records before the fight were Noknoi 66-5 and Buranov 0-3. In his four fights Buranov’s opponents records have been 64-5(Noknoi), 21-1. 15-2 and Noknoi again with 66-5.
Can’t help but be disappointed that the WBSS are going to do another cruiserweight series. Let’s face it this is a competition for the also-ran or never ran. Mairis Breidis, Yunier Dorticos, Krzys Glowacki, Marius Masternak, Maksim Vlasov, Andrew Tabiti and Noel Gevor are all good fighters and Russian Ruslan Fayfer in unbeaten but it was the knowledge that it could end up with Olek Usyk fighting Murat Gassiev that made the original so interesting and this tournament has no such star attraction.
It always seemed likely that the WBA would have to stand by the results of the purse bids-or should I say bid as there was only one-for the Ryota Murata vs. Rob Brant fight for their secondary middleweight title. If they had not done so but instead allowed Murata to fight Jason Quigley then the lawyers would have had a field day. Murata fights Brant in Las Vegas on 20 October and you can be sure that Bob Arum will be looking to get Quigley a fight with the winner or look for some other way to get the unbeaten Irishman a title shot.
African news has Joseph Agbeko returning to action on 8 September in Ho in the Volta Region of Ghana. He will fight fellow Ghanaian Ekow Wilson in defence of his WBO African title.
A couple of heavyweights will be in action on 8 September in Germany as Alex Dimitrenko makes a quick return after his loss to Bryant Jennings but no opponent named. In fact the New Jersey Commission gave Dimitrenko a suspension after the loss to Jennings which does not expire until 17 October!! The other bout features Croatian hope Filip Hrgovic against veteran Amir Mansour. Big test for Hrgovic even though Mansour is 46. This fight is for the vacant WBC International title. In Mansour’s last fight in November, a technical draw against Sergey Kuzmin, the result was changed to No Decision as Mansour tested positive for a banned substance.
Japan has only one fighter in the heavyweight world ratings and that is Kyotaro Fujimoto. The WBO have him at No 7 on the basis of his winning their Asia Pacific title. His opposition has been very modest at best, certainly not enough to be rated above Bryant Jennings or Dereck Chisora-but he is. They are not taking any chances with him. He is due to fight on 25 September with the name being bandied about of Thai Suthat Kalakek a former OPBF super middleweight title challenger who lost his last fight to a 6-0 novice. Hope they come up with something better than this for a world rated fighter.
Former WBO super featherweight champion Jorge Barrios has applied to the Argentinian Boxing Federation for a licence to fight again. Now 42 Barrios was recently released from prison after serving three years and seven months for homicide and culpable injuries. When driving his car he ran down and killed a twenty-year-old pregnant woman and left the scene of the accident. He has served the sentence that they gave him but four years for what he did seems wholly inadequate.
Boxing lost two former fighters from different country with the deaths this month of August of Charley “White Lightning” Brown and Argentinian Farid Salim. Brown won his first 23 fights before losing to Harry Arroyo for the IBF lightweight title in 1984. His career really faded downhill from there but he scored wins over Alfredo Escalera, the 25-0-1 Frank Newton and the 18-0 Louis Burke on his way to the title shot. He also fought Harold Brazier, Saoul Mamby, Greg Haugen, Johnny Bizzarro and Ralph “Tiger” Jones. After more than 60 amateur fights in Salim’s first pro fight in June 1958 his opponent Santos Galvan suffered an injury and died after the contest. Despite that Salim continued his career and went 27-0-2 including winning the Argentinian middleweight title. In his first fight in the USA he outpointed Ted Wright and also scored a win over Joey Giambra but lost to the wonderfully named Yama Bahama, Wilbert McClure, Joey Archer and Ruben Carter. RIP Charley and Farid.
By - George Delis (@Delisketo)
A “Young Lion vs. Old Lion” battle will take place on August 24, as Riku Kano challenges Shin Ono for the Japanese Minimumweight Championship.
One of the most promising Japanese up and comers, Riku Kano (13-3 / 7 KOs) began his professional career in 2013, when he was just 16 years old ! During his first years, he mostly faced debuting fighters and journeymen, in order to gain experience, knocking out many of them and even earning the WBA Asia title, only one year after his debut.
His first big test came when he fought former WBC Asia champion and 2-time world title contender Wicha Phulaikhao (58-8*) on December of 2015. With only 9 fights under his belt, the rookie fought a technical match, controlling the pace and landing good shots, scoring one of the most significant victories of his young career.
Kano proved his worth once more when he went toe to toe for 12 rounds with former WBO World Champion Merlito Sabillo (25-2*) for the interim OPBF title. The Japanese fighter pulled off the big upset again to the surprise of everyone, winning the prestigious belt in the process.
On August 20 of 2016, Kano gained his first ever world title opportunity, as he faced arguably one of the best Japanese boxers of our generation, Katsunari Takayama (30-8*) for the vacant WBO World Championship. This bout was also a milestone for Takayama, who had already held the WBA/WBC/WBO/IBF world minimumweight titles in the past, since that was his last fight as a pro (Takayama retired so he could focus on competing at the 2020 Olympics). The miraculous kid was running roughshod over the legend in every single round. Takayama offered almost no resistant as he kept on taking a beating from the younger fighter. The fans could feel that a change of the guard was imminent. However, bad luck struck Kano as he suffered a bad cut in his left eye, which led to the referee putting an end to this fight, thus depriving him of the chance to become a world champion at 18 years of age.
Kano’s “jinx” continued after he got stopped by Jerry Tomogdan (22-8*), while attempting to claim the vacant WBO Asia Pacific belt. After 2 rebound wins against Naoya Haruguchi and Kittisak Khamlong, he receives another title shot against yet again a formidable foe.
Shin Ono (22-9 / 5 KOs) is a veteran of the sport, already boxing for 17 years, with no indications of slowing down. Through out his entire career, he has boxed with some of the top talent in the world. Whether it’s a win over future world champions like Yu Kimura and Chaozhong Xiong or a loss to Katsunari Takayama and Thammanoon Niyomtrong, in his 2 world title challenges, it’s safe to say that Ono has been battle tested. Right now, he sits at the top of the Japanese Minimumweight division, claiming the crown back in April.
Both men, even though they may compete for Japanese gold, they clearly have bigger plans in their minds. Kano is looking to finally win what was rightfully his in the first place and become one of the youngest world champions, where Ono, at 35, aims to be one of the eldest. Much like Kuga vs. Wake, it isn’t easy to pick a winner here. What I can say is that it will definitely be an intriguing match-up and the winner will be closer to one more world title opportunity.
*Fighter’s record prior to the fight
By - George Delis (@Delisketo)
On August 23rd, Hinata Maruta faces Ben Mananquil at the Elorde South Mall in the Philippines.
Hinata Maruta (7-1 / 6 KOs) is one of Japan’s brightest young up and comers. He began boxing at the Morioka gym, when he was just 6 years old ! Maruta then went to Koyo High School, where he won a bronze medal at the 2013 Asian Junior Championships. His amateur record stands at 55 wins and only 11 losses.
Made his pro debut in 2015, Maruta wasn’t given an easy opponent as he went up against former Filippino champion Jason Canoy (24-5*). The Japanese prodigy put his skills to test against the veteran fighter, showcasing great hand speed and foot work. Despite getting caught a few times, he dominated the majority of the fight and got the decision as well as his first professional victory.
After dispatching Saranyu Kerdsuk on March of 2016, Maruta fought and beat the undefeated Wilbert Berondo (10-0*) for the vacant WBC Youth Bantamweight World Championship. He continued his winning ways by defending his belt against Joe Tejones (6-1*) and Hamson Lamandau (8-0*), knocking them both out.
In less than 15 months, Maruta has proven he was a worthy adversary. Where most boxers usually fight journeymen in their early years, Maruta was facing much more experienced foes and on March 26 of 2017, he met his biggest challenged today, as he went toe to toe with Hidenori Otake (29-2*) for the prestigious OPBF title. A former Japanese champion and world title contender, Otake was the clear favor in this bout. Maruta was playing a safe game, giving the veteran too much room to control the pace of the fight and constantly stay ahead in the judges scorecards. However in the last rounds, almost out of nowhere, Maruta started peppering the champ with a few strong combinations and even got him on the run in the closing seconds of the match. Even though it wasn’t enough to get him the decision, the young lion shocked many fans and critics alike with that performance. If Maruta had chosen to fight like that since the opening bell, he would have probably left the new champion.
Maruta’s next opponent will be Ben Mananquil (16-1 / 4 KOs). The Filippino, since losing to Jing Xiang, has won all of his 6 last fights, his most notable being against Glenn Porras (29-5*) for the WBF International Bantamweight title. This will be a challenge for both men and especially for Maruta as he looks to get back on title contention.
By- Eric Armit
So great to see how boxing is flourishing again in Belfast. Saturday’s show with Carl Frampton defending his WBO interim title against Tasmanian Luke Jackson and Paddy Barnes challenging Cristofer Rosales for the WBC flyweight title in only his sixth pro fight. Frampton is germane to the popularity of boxing in Belfast and this will be a huge step up in standard for Jackson which I am sure will prove too much for him. The real WBO champion Oscar Valdez is still recovering from injury and has said it will be early 2019 before he is ready to return. IBF champion Josh Warrington will be in Belfast issuing a challenge to Frampton and that would be another huge British fight. The ranks of the WBO featherweights are a bit threadbare with Filipino Mark Magsayo, Namibian Sakaria Lukas, another Filipino Genesis Servania and Ukrainian Oleg Malynovskyi filling positions 1 to 4. Good fighters but not exactly star names but you can be sure there is a plan in place for Frampton. Barnes has a tremendous list of achievement as an amateur but he missed out on the biggest ones coming up short at the Olympics and the World Championships. And this is his chance to win the big one as a pro. Rosales lost to Andrew Selby but went to Japan and won the title there by beating an undefeated local which is no mean feat. He has experience over Barnes but is beatable.
And then there is Tyson Fury. I can’t see Francesco Pianeta as any threat to Fury on his way to a world title fight. A Fury vs. Deontay Wilder fight would be big wherever it is held and I hope it happens with the winner and Anthony Joshua meeting in 2019 in the richest heavyweight title fight in the history of boxing with each boxer probably getting around $50 million and to think Joe Louis biggest purse was $626,000. It’s great to see the heavyweight division right up there for interest.
I thought I might have a look at some of the things going on in the heavyweights right now.
How ridiculous can you get? Anthony Joshua is fighting Alex Povetkin on 22 September for the IBF, WBA and WBO titles. The WBA ordered Joshua to fight their No 1 Povetkin. Since Povetkin is also the No 1 with the WBO and there is no mandatory IBF challenger if Joshua beats Povetkin he has fulfilled his mandatory requirements-you think? No, the WBO have said that if Joshua beats Povetkin they may then want him to fight against another one of their fighters effectively ordering another mandatory defence. He may not want to but I can see Joshua being forced to relinquish one of his three titles as the sanctioning bodies are never happy sharing titles.
The IBF eliminator to fill the mandatory spot in their heavyweight ratings between Kubrat Pulev and Hughie Fury looks like landing in Sofia, Bulgaria on 27 October.
The one year suspension handed out to French heavyweight Tony Yoka for missing three test appointments stands. It had been appealed but the appeal was rejected.
Charles Martin has his eyes on another shot at the heavy weight title. He lost the IBF belt when he was knocked out in two rounds by Anthony Joshua in 2016. He had a couple of low level wins last year with the latest in July. He returns from a 13 month lay-off against the 17-0 Adam Kownacki on 8 September on the undercard to Danny Garcia vs. Shawn Porter in New York.
Naturally it will be billed as a crossroads fight when Bryant Jennings and Alex Dimitrenko meet in Atlantic City on 18 August, Jennings took eighteen months out after back-to-back losses to Wlad Klitschko and Luis Ortiz and has won four fights since returning. Dimitrenko, now 36, wins the small ones and loses the big ones and is running out of time.
They old saying that you can’t fool all of the people all of the time was proved true with regard to the fight between Trevor Bryan and BJ Flores for the vacant interim WBA heavyweight title. Not one single TV Company showed interest which must be a first for any version of the heavyweight title. Next up Manuel Charr vs. Fres Oquendo. I did hear that some 14-year-old kid was offered the exclusive rights to show it on his smart phone but he declined as they WBA did not offer him enough-smart kid.
Yet another former amateur heavyweight star will be throwing his hat in the ring. Russian Evgeny Tischenko is scheduled to fight on Sunday in Ekaterinburg against 19-6 Venezuelan Williams Ocando; the 27-year-old Tischenko won a very controversial gold medal at 91kg in Rio looking lucky to beat Italian Clement Russo and in the final Kazak Vasily Levit. He won a silver medal at the 2013 World Championships and gold in 2015 and was also European gold medallist in 2015 so very strong credentials. The main bout in Ekaterinburg. The main bout on the show will see Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov and Robinson Castellanos fighting for the vacant IBO super feather title.
Two of Canada’s top heavyweights will clash in Quebec City on 6 October when Simon Kean 15-0 14 by KO/TKO faces Dillon Carman 13-3. Kean will be defending the WBC Francophone title.
The WBO heavyweight ratings are a joke. The principle behind ratings is supposed to be to rank the best fighters based on the quality of their performances and the opposition they have beaten. If it figures at all that reasoning is foreign to the WBO. They rate you much higher for winning one of their myriad of joke regional titles than for beating quality opposition. Their No 4 is Tom Schwarz a good German prospect who has never faced a rated opponent but has won their Inter-Continental title. In the BoxRec and IBO computerised ratings he is No 19 and 22 respectively. Their No 7 is Kyotaro Fujimoto who is their Asia Pacific champion No 43 with BoxRec and 37 with IBO, No 10 Tyron Spong Latino champion No 75 with BoxRec and No 72 with the IBO, Junior Fa Oriental No 55 BoxRec, No 52 IBO, No 13 Zhilei Zhang former Oriental No 44 BoxRec and 40 IBO, No 14 Ebenezer Tetteh No 203 with BoxRec and not on the IBO list as it only lists the first 100, No 15 tied Jean Pierre Augustin No 85 BoxRec and 82 IBO and Ali Eren Demirezen European champion No 71 BoxRec and No 67 IBO. It is interesting that the two Independent ratings are very close on their idea of where these fighters are rated. The scary things is that anyone in the WBO top 15 is automatically eligible to be a challenger to Anthony Joshua but if Eddie Hearn even thought of matching any of these guys with Anthony Joshua they would cart him to the funny farm. To be fair-occasionally-all sanctioning bodies play this game to some extent.
Enough of the heavyweights for now. Oleg Usyk vs. Tony Bellew is one to savour. There are talks going on but as he showed when winning the WBSS Tournament he has no problem fighting in the other guys back yard so it seem a doable fight to me-let’s hope.
On the cruisers Denis Lebedev will be climbing out of whatever recess the WBA put him-another stupid title-and facing Hinzi Altunkaya in Chelyabinsk on 7 September. Even the heavyweights are in less of a mess. The WBA have a super champion in Usyk. A secondary champion is Beibut Shumenov and an interim champion in Arsen Goulamirian. Now their “champion in recess” has climbed out of the cupboard there is no title left for him. Perhaps they could make him the secondary super champion or the secondary secondary champion or the interim interim champion!!
The fight for the vacant IBF middleweight title between Daniel Jacobs and Sergey Derevyanchenko is finally set for 27 October. It had been put back to 10 November to allow further negotiations between Eddie Hearn and Lou DiBella but they came to a private deal and it was changed to the original date.
Boxing News magazine recently did a piece on an unlicensed show in Aberdeen featuring former WBC heavyweight title challenger Danny Williams, famous for knocking out Mike Tyson14 years ago, and local fighter Lee McAllister a former double Commonwealth champion at lightweight and super lightweight. The “unlicensed” tag within the British boxing terminology means that it was not under the control of the BBB of C who would never have countenanced this. Williams was licenced by the Czech Republic, the fight was for the WBO (German version) heavyweight title and “commissioned”. by the British and Irish Boxing Authority (BIBA), again nothing to do with the BBBof C. I won’t even bother mentioning the result of this “fight” suffice to say that the 53-year-old Williams weighed 260lbs and McAllister was said to be four stones (56lbs) lighter i.e. 204lbs. The last registered weight for McAllister when fighting with a BBB of C licence was a career heavy 146lbs which meant he was carrying an additional 56lbs into this fight and since he had not grown another leg it was mainly around his waist. Naturally the fight drew a storm of scorn and criticism but as if that was not enough realising just how bad this whole thing was the Executive President and CEO of the BIBA Gianluca Di Caro tried to deflect the blame by saying “I did not want Danny to box on a BIBA licence because I felt we would be criticised”. Really WOW !! The BIBA is not a member or affiliated to the EBU but Di Caro reportedly said that the EBU gave permission for the fight and that he went along with it expecting the EBIU to veto it. What a load of BS. Di Caro knows full well that the EBU has no jurisdiction over any fights except those featuring the EBU, EU and EE-EU titles. They are not a licensing body and have no power to give or deny permission for any fight other than that relating to their own titles and certainly not for a WBU German or BIBA fight. This “fight” was a disgrace and the disgrace is the WBU and the BIBA’s alone.
Jamie Munguia is a busy man. His next fight is reported to be a title defence against Canadian Brandon Cook on the undercard to the Gennady Golovkin vs. Saul Alvarez fight. The card will also feature Roman Gonzalez against Moises Fuentes. Gary O’Sullivan is also show as fighting a TBA. One suggestion was that it might be against David Lemieux which would be a great fight but that is just a rumour right now.
Jose Ramirez’s defence of his WBC super light title in Fresno on 14 September has an interesting undercard building with Maxim Dadashev vs. Antonio DeMarco for the NABF super light title. With so many super lights tied into the WBSS it might be a chance for the winner to land a title fight. Also on the card are Alex Besputin, the WBC No 8 super light from Japan Hiroki Okada 18-0 also hoping to impress and get into the title mix, Bryan Vazquez a former holder of the secondary WBA super feather title and Jamal Herring who faces 20-1 Vincent Moralde.
You win some, you lose some. That could almost describe recent purse bids and Top Rank. They won the bidding for the Maurice Hooker defence his WBO super light title against their fighter Alex Saucedo. Top Rank’s bid of $1,625,000 beat Matchroom’s $1, 5550,000 and it looks like it will go on in Oklahoma City, Saucedo’s home base. on November 16 or 17.
The second case was much more complicated over the bidding for Ryota Murata’s defence of the secondary WBA middleweight title against Rob Brant. I guess my lead in is not quite correct as you can’t lose if you never entered the race. There was only one bid for the fight from Greg Cohen of $202,114 as neither Top Rank nor Japan’s Akihiro Honda offer a bid. For some reason of their own the WBA had decided that the purse would be split 50/50 which did not help the situation. They Top Rank and Akihiro Honda both saw it as a stupid move by the WBA in calling for bids for a fight against Brant which was of no interest and dubious validity and Top Rank and Honda had already agreed between themselves to put Murata on a show in Las Vegas on 20 October in a big fight against unbeaten Top Rank fighter Jason Quigley which would be a much better fight that could lead to a fight with the winner of Golovkin and Alvarez. The WBA are in a mess. If they don’t honour the bid process you can be sure Cohen will sue and if they strip Murata they lose a sanctioning fee and incur the wrath of two of the most powerful promoters in the business. Cohen has already said he is aiming to put on the Murata vs. Brant fight on 27 October. We await further developments,
Marcos Maidana has launched a new promoting outfit down in Argentina. It s name is “31KO Sudamerican Boxing” and 31 just happens to be the number of fights Maidana won by KO/TKO.
Yet another new promoter has appeared as 19-year-old lightweight Devin Haney has formed his own promotion company making him probably the youngest promoter in boxing history. He will face Juan Carlos Burgos in Temecula on 28 September.
Gavin McDonnell will get another title shot as he challenges Danny Roman in Chicago on 6 October for the WBA super bantam title. McDonnell lost a majority decision to Rey Vargas for the vacant WBC title in February last year but has rebounded well with impressive wins over Gamal Yafai and Stuart Hall.
By - George Delis (@Delisketo)
On July 17 at the legendary Korakuen Hall, 2 of the most exciting Japanese boxers come face to face, as Akira Yaegashi takes on Hirofumi Mukai.
Akira Yaegashi (26-6 / 14 KOs) is a modern day Japanese legend. A successful amateur, with a record of 56-14, he won the Inter-High School Championship in 2000 as well as the National Sports Festival of Japan in 2002, which is considered to be their national premier sport event.
Turned pro at the age of 22, Yaegashi was thrown into deep waters quickly, as he fought Eagle Den Junlaphan (17-1*) for the WBC Minimumweight World Title, after only 5 fights. Despite his amateur pedigree and already the OPBF champion, he wasn’t quite ready for that level of competition, at that point of his career. However he did manage to go 12 rounds with the Thai fighter, showing his Bushido spirit of never giving up.
Yaegashi continued to grow as a fighter, pilling up victories over the likes of Kenichi Horikawa (17-6*), Junichiro Kaneda (19-3*), Kosuke Takeichi (10-1*), Norihito Tanaka (13-3*) while also collecting another title, this time the Japanese Minimumweight belt.
In 2011, he finally fulfilled his destiny when he stopped Somporn Seeta (23-3*), to become the WBA World Champion, for the first time in his career. Undoubtedly, that was Yaegashi’s breakout performance as he went to war with one of the best minimuweight boxers of all time and came out on top. That match earned him “Fight of the Year” honors from ESPN.com and BoxingScene.com, as well as the WBA's award for “Most Dramatic Fight of the Year”.
8 months later, Yaegashi was in another much talked about fight, when he took on undefeated WBC Minimumweight World Champion, Kazuto Ioka (9-0*) in a double title unification bout. Again a FOTYC as both men brought their A game that night, knowing what’s at stake. In the end, Ioka got the decision and both championships.
It didn’t take long for him to get back to the “gold game” as he fought Toshiyuki Igarashi (17-1*) on April of 2013, this time for the WBC Flyweight World Championship, moving up 2 weight classes. Much like himself, Igarashi was an accomplished amateur, with a record of 77-18. After 12 competitive rounds, Yaegashi left the victor and more importantly a 2 division World Champion (the Ring and Lineal titles were also on the line)
The “Sonic Fist” defended his championship thrice over Oscar Blanquet (32-5*), former world champion Edgar Sosa (49-7*) and Odilon Zaleta (15-3*) before losing it to Roman Gonzalez (39-0*) in another slugfest.
Yaegashi once more decided to switch weight classes, this time dropping to Light Flyweight. His debut at this new division was an unsuccessful one as he got knocked out by the WBC World Champion Pedro Guevara (23-1*). Those 2 back to back KO losses didn’t discourage the Japanese superstar from continuing his journey of becoming a 3 division King. His dream was realized on December 29 of 2015, after he got the decision win over Javier Mendoza (24-2*) and earned the IBF Light Flyweight World Title.
His reign lasted 2 years, consisting of 2 successful title defenses against Martin Tecuapetla (13-6*) and Wittawas Basapean (31-5*). On May of 2017, Milan Melindo (35-2*) pulled a major upset as he put an end to Yaegashi’s IBF reign in the very first round of their encounter.
Since then, the 3 division champion has fought once this year against journeyman Frans Damur Palue (15-19*), stopping him in just 2 rounds. His next opponent will not be an easy one though.
Hirofumi Mukai (16-5*) began boxing at the Nanjing Municipal High School, while serving as a co-chief in his third year, along with future Olympic gold medalist, Ryota Murata. Afterwards, he went to Nihon University and won 3rd place at the All Japan Championships, plus a national title.
Mukai’s first 5 wins as a pro were against much more experienced foes, such as Jin-Man Jeon (13-2*), Anis Ceunfin (15-10*) and future WBC Flyweight World Champion Sonny Boy Jaro (29-9*). In spite of an unsuccessful attempt at the OPBF Flyweight title, he was granted a world title shot against one of the best boxers to come out of Thailand, Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (83-3*). However the match ended in the opening round after Mukai’s suffered a nasty cut from an accidental head clash.
Throughout his career, Mukai holds notable victories over Sooksan Chaichana, Mark John Yap, world title contenders Tanawat Phonnaku (twice) & Konosuke Tomiyama as well as losses to Mark Anthony Geraldo, world title challenger & Japanese champion Shohei Omori, WBC Super Flyweight World Champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Chinese Superstar Rex Tso.
Specifically, his losses to Rungvisai and Tso were critical to proving his toughness in the ring. The WBC, Ring and Lineal world champion went 9 rounds with Mukai and the fight ended after the Japanese corner threw the towel in. Obviously Mukai wasn’t going to win the fight, but at the same time, he never gave up, despite the vicious beating that he took. On the other hand, his bout with Tso was a back and forth affair, a battle that must be considered one of the best fights of 2017. 3 titles were on the line (Mukai’s WBO Asia Pacific and Tso’s WBO International & WBC Asia). Both warriors had an old school brawl that the kept the fans on the edge of their seats. Tso’s hand speed and agility made the difference, as he dropped Mukai three times during the fight.
All in all, Yaegashi and Mukai may have very different careers, but the one thing they have in common is that whether they win or loss, both will always deliver the excitement. Keep your eyes glued to the screen when this fight is on.
*Denotes record going in to the fight
By - George Delis (@Delisketo)
The International Japanese Superstar, Yoshihiro Kamegai returns to the American ring on August 17.
Yoshihiro Kamegai (27-4 / 24KOs) before turning pro in 2005, had an extensive career as an amateur, pilling up 57 wins in 69 outings as well as winning numerous national championships in different weight classes, even beating future stars like Masatsugu Kawachi (2007 World Championships Bronze medalist).
As a pro, he went undefeated close to 8 years ! First as a Super Lightweight, he dominated the regional scene and became the Japanese champion, after stopping Yosukezan Onodera (20-1*) back in 2010. Not long after that, Kamegai graduated to the Welterweight division and scored a huge KO victory over former WBA Lightweight World Champion Jose Alfaro (24-6*). In 2012 he made his inaugural trip to the US, going the distance with Jorge Silva (19-2*). He came back the next year to face future interim world champion Johan Perez for the vacant WBA International title, where he tasted defeat for the first time.
Kamegai made a successful return to Japan in June of 2013 when he knocked out Tim Hunt (16-3*) for the OPBF Welterweight championship. However, in 2014, Kamegai gave the belt up, because he wanted to focus on competing in the US. He soon found himself in a war as he came face to face with former WBA/WBO/IBF World Champion Robert Guerrero (31-2*) at the StubHub Center on June 21st, 2014. Both men had an incredible match, going back and forth, in what it was considered by many the fight of the year. Despite losing via decision, Kamegai established himself as a tough competitor amongst the American fans.
Once again, Kamegai moved up a class, this time trying his luck at Super Welterweight. His record in his last 6 fights has been 3-2-1, including a stoppage win over Jesus Soto Karass (28-10*) and a decision loss to Miguel Cotto (40-5*) for the vacant WBO world title. His next fight is scheduled to take place at the Fantasy Springs Casino against heavy hitter Greg Vendetti (19-2 / 12 KOs). Vendetti has been on a 15 fight winning streak since April of 2015.
At 35 years of age, Kamegai is still looking to become a world champion, in spite of his recent shortcomings. This fight will be a test for both men, since neither of them has ever been stopped in a fight. Who will prevail ? The experienced Japanese veteran or the much younger and stronger American ? We will find out soon.
*Fighter’s record before the fight
(Image courtesy of Boxmob.jp)
By Eric Armit-
A while ago it seemed that Deontay Wilder had only one fight to look at and that was with Anthony Joshua. That fight could have been made but Wilder had an inflated idea of his worth seeming to think that Joshua also had only one option. When Joshua’s team got tired of the back-and-forward mixture of unrealistic offers and social media trumpeting they moved on to Alex Povetkin. Not a great fight but sellable and let’s face it where Joshua is at this time any fight of his is going to be a big event for big money. Now the offers seem to be coming out of the woodwork for Wilder. The WBC has said it would not stand in the way of a return with Luis Ortiz. The elderly Cuban almost put Wilder away in their fight so some grounds for it. Tyson Fury has pitched in saying talks are underway for him to fight Wilder. Again sellable but we won’t know what Fury has by fighting guys such as Francesco Pianeta. The big German-based Italian lost in March to an eleven fight novice. One judge had it 96-94 and one had it 99-91 but they all had his opponent 22-year-old Petar Milas winning. However, for a second fight after thirty-one months out of action, the 6’5” southpaw is a reasonable choice but by no means a measure as to whether Fury will be ready for Wilder by the end of this year. The only name that never appears on Wilder’s dance card is the WBC No 1 Dillian Whyte. In his excellent fight against Joseph Parker Whyte showed his strengths and his weaknesses but he is the man that Wilder should be fighting and the WBC should be making it happen. Since winning the title Wilder has defended against Eric Molina, Johann Duhaupas, Artur Szpilka, Chris Arreola, Gerald Washington, Bermane Stiverne (of which the WBC should be ashamed) and Ortiz and if Wilder dodges Whyte the WBC title will be on its way to being a side show. I happen to think Wilder would beat Whyte but I would like the chance to find out if I am right.
Just when you think the WBA has hit rock bottom you find they are still digging. They are now reported to have recognised a fight between Trevor Bryan and BJ Flores as an eliminator for the No 1 spot in their heavyweight ratings. Currently Bryan is No 4 and Flores No 5 which is a disgraceful manipulation of their ratings but nothing unusual there. Bryan first entered the WBA top 15 in February 2016. To climb from No 15 to No 4 he has beaten Galen Brown (44-33-1) in July 2016, Sandy Soto (2-20) in April 2017 and Francois Russell (2-24) in December 2017. Flores lost to Tony Bellew for the WBC cruiser title in October 2016 being floored four times and stopped in three rounds. Flores made his first appearance in the WBA heavyweight ratings for February 2017 (published 17 March) for beating Jeremy Bates (26-18-1) but that victory won Flores the WBA-NABA title and you get rated for that even if you beat your grandmother. In the 18 months since that win he has fought once stopping Nick Guivas (13-6-2) but by January this year he had climbed to No 6 and now he is No 5. So 15 to 5 for beating Bates and Guivas. Not too surprising that Don King’s fingers are in this pie. It is impossible to take the WBA serious; in fact it is hard not to be disgusted by them. If Bryan and Flores is not ridiculous enough they have 46-year-old drugs cheat Guillermo Jones at No 10 heavyweight when his only fight in two years is a split decision win over Ytalo Perea (10-2-2) and after losing a court case when they tried to screw Fres Oquendo they are forced to have Oquendo in their ratings-he is No 2 –even though he has not had a fight for four years. Hold the press! He is scheduled to challenge Manuel Charr for the secondary title on 29 September. Can’t see any promoter or TV outlet wetting their knickers in excitement over that fight.
So the final of the WBSS super middleweight tournament between George Groves and Callum Smith will be held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on 28 September. Smith kicked off the tournament with a win over Erik Skoglund on 16 September 2017 so the tournament will have dragged on for over a year. It is a great pity but the delay due to the injury to Groves has taken some of the shine of the final. It is a great fight but it would have been ideal if it had happened soon after both won their semi-final now it will be a cold start to the build-up. It is also a pity that such a huge fight between two British fighters is taking place in Saudi Arabia. It is all about money so presumably someone has put a lot of money into the pot to get the fight to Jeddah when commonsense said it should have been held in the UK.
Interested in money? Well Mikey Garcia collected $1 million for beating Robert Easter who received $500,000. Both were world champions holding well respected titles but the purses reflect the respective profiles and entertainment value.
At the other end of the scale Hekkie Budler vacated the IBF light flyweight title rather than fight Felix Alvarado for a pitiful purse. Reportedly there was only one bid for the fight with a purse of $25,000. Budler would have picked up 75% so less than $19,000. Garcia was being paid more than $83,000 per round! Alvarado will now face Filipino Randy Petalcorin for the vacant title.
The purses for Jaime Munguia and Liam Smith were reported as $200,000 for Munguia and $75,000 for Smith and in the WBO super featherweight fight on the same card Alberto Machado’s take was $100,000 and Rafael Mensah’s $35,000.
Can’t get too excited over Rob Brant challenging Ryota Murata for the secondary WBA middleweight title. Brant was outclassed by Juergen Braehmer in the WBSS tournament. In fairness it was at super middle so he might do better at his normal weight. It seems that Brant was promised a shot at Murata when he stood aside to allow Murata a direct return against Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam after the Japanese fighter lost a disputed decision to N’Jikam for the vacant title.The fight is out for purse offers due 13 August with a minimum bid of $200,000 set. It will be Murata’s second defence of the secondary title.
Going back to the super middleweights Jose Uzcategui will put his IBF title on the line against unbeaten Caleb Plant in Minneapolis on 24 August. Uzcategui was upgraded from interim champion to full champion when James De Gale vacated the crown. The No 1 position in the IBF ratings is vacant. Plant can’t fill that spot because he has not beaten a rated fight-but he can get to No 2 without beating a rated fighter!
A couple of weeks back I wrote about the death of Langton Tinago. Langton actually lost his Commonwealth lightweight title to Australian Barry Michael in 1981.Barry made two defences before losing the title to former WBA lightweight champion Claude Noel in 1982. Barry rebounded from that loss and went 10-0-1 in his next eleven fights regaining the Commonwealth title and winning the IBF title with a victory over unbeaten fellow-Australian Lester Ellis in July 1985. He then made three defences before losing the title to Rocky Lockridge in 1987. They say a picture paints a thousand words but words can hide a fascinating story. Barry had trouble getting approved for the challenge to Tinago because he had lost to British fighter Najib Daho, What is hidden in those words is that before the Daho fight Barry had an eardrum grafted into his left ear and went into the fight with a fractured left hand. Barry fought Daho again in 1986 and retained his IBF title with a unanimous decision. He lost his IBF title to Rocky Lockridge in his last pro fight in 1987. Behind those words is the story of a brutal attack on Barry in a nightclub. Four months before the fight with Lockridge Barry was attacked in an Australian nightclub by local gangster Al Gangitano, now deceased, who had at one time been with the team looking after Lester Ellis. Gangitano bit a chunk out of Barry’s cheek and with the other members of his crowd beat Barry up and broke his nose with a large glass ashtray. In the first round of the Lockridge fight Barry had his nose broken again. The story behind the words but there may be a picture to follow as there is a script in preparation for a film covering both Barry and Ellis and revealing the underworld figures who were involved in Australian boxing at that time. Barry, now 63, is a successful promoter so still very much part of the Australian fight scene.
It is a pity to hear that Sergio Martinez is contemplating a return to boxing. It appears that in doing fight scenes for a movie “Maravilla” got the itch again. Hopefully he will get talked out of it. Sergio is now 43 and has been out of the ring since losing to Miguel Cotto in June 2014. Please don’t Sergio.
Some exciting fights scheduled for 8 September. In Inglewood the super flyweights are at it again with Donnie Nietes defending his WBO super fly title against fellow Filipino Aston Palicte, Juan Francisco Estrada taking on Felipe Orucuta and the un-retired Kazuto Ioka vs. McWilliams Arroyo. On the other coast in Brooklyn Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter fight for the vacant WBC welterweight title and over in Birmingham Amir Khan will face Sammy Vargas. Khan should win but he can’t afford any banana skins at this stage of his career. Best fight in Birmingham could be the British middleweight title fight between Jason Welborn and Tommy Langford.
Roman Gonzalez will make his return to the ring on the undercard of the Gennady Golovkin vs. Saul Alvarez fight in Las Vegas on 15 September. It seems incredible that at the start of 2017 Gonzalez was right up there at the top pound-for-pound lists and two fights later he is seen as a shot fighter. He will face Moises Fuentes in Las Vegas and a loss to the former WBO minimumweight champion might spell the end of his career. No opponent named yet but Jaime Munguia is pencilled in for a defence of his WBO super welter title on the Las Vegas card as a taster for a fight with the winner of Golovkin vs. Alvarez and the presence of Gary “ Spike” O’Sullivan on the show might signal an alternative route for Golovkin or Alvarez.
Looks like Julio Cesar Chavez Jr will return to action 7 September in Los Angeles against Sergio Mora. It will be Chavez’s first fight since losing to Saul Alvarez in May last year. Mora returned to action in April with a win over Alfredo Angulo. It has been suggested the fight will be at a catchweight of 171lbs but Mora, although described now as a super middleweight, was only 162 ½ lbs against Angulo and Chavez 164lbs against Alvarez so they should both be comfortable at 171lbs.
Nice gesture in that money from the Rodney Berman and Jeff Ellis “Reach for the Stars” show in Kempton Park South Africa on 10 August will go to the Reach for a Dream charity that works with children with life threatening illnesses. The show will also honour outstanding South African journalist and ring historian Ron Jackson. The main event on the show will see unbeaten 7-0 Rowan Campbell face Renson Hobyani 8-2 for the vacant South African super middleweight title. At all levels boxing does great work for charities but that doesn’t make for headlines so it is very under appreciated.
Plenty of action surrounding already scheduled and still to be scheduled European title fights. Purse offer for Vincent Legrand’s defence against Andrew Selby are due 9 August, James Tennyson’s defence of the super featherweight title will be held either 21 September in Belfast or 22 September in London, Kevin Lejarraga’s welterweight defence against Frankie Gavin will be in Bilbao on 17 November. Unbeaten Pole Kamil Szeremeta 17-0 is to defend the middleweight title against Spaniard Ruben Diaz 25-1-2. No date or venue for that yet. Both super middleweight champion Robin Krasniqi and heavyweight champion Agit Kabayel have voluntary defences in Leipzig on 27 October and then face mandatory defences against Juergen Braehmer and Swede Otto Wallin respectively.
Still on Europe it is planned to have an Italian Boxing Hall of Fame set up in Romagna by October and there are plenty of candidates in both Italian born fighters and in fighters with Italian antecedents. Let’s hope it does get up and running.
We keep hearing that men can’t multi task. Rubbish! During the third round of the fight on Friday between Luis Lebron and Milner Marcano in Barranquilla, Colombia, Marcano slipped on some water that had somehow found its way to the centre of the ring and he went down. The referee stopped the fight and looked around to see who was going to deal with the problem. The answer came in the form of a towel thrown at him from one side of the ring and a broom from the other so he did the job himself.
By - George Delis (@Delisketo)
On August 9th, one of the most anticipated fights in the Japanese scene takes place, as Keita Obara takes on Alvin Lagumbay for the WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title.
Keita Obara (19-3/17 KOs) began boxing at the Iwate Prefectural High School, earning the 3rd place at the 2004 National High School Championships. After turning 18, he joined Tokyo University where he won 2 national tournaments, in 2006 and in 2008 respectively.
After a successful amateur career, he made his pro debut in 2010, at 23 years of age. Despite losing, against the way more experienced Kazuyoshi Kumano (23-9*), he quickly bounced back, stopping his next seven opponents, before winning the vacant Japanese Super Lightweight title. Obara defended his belt twice, over So Takenaka (18-6*) and Tetsuya Hasunuma (7-4*). In 2014, he faced his first international challenge, in Philippino standout and former WBO Asia Pacific champion Jay Solmiano (17-2*), for the vacant OPBF Super Lightweight crown. The Japanese fighter proved to be too much for Solmiano, as he knocked him out in the fourth round, thus gaining another prestigious championship.
Obara continued to impress the fans by knocking out his next four opponents, including former Japanese champion Shinya Iwabuchi (23-4*). In November of 2015, he was set to make his US debut against Walter Castillo (26-3*) in an IBF title eliminator bout. Both men went back and forth in an exciting encounter, which ended in a draw. A rematch was to be made in order to determine the #1 contender, but since Castillo refused to compete, Obara was given the spot and the opportunity to fight the undefeated IBF/IBO World Super Lightweight champion Eduard Troyanovsky (24-0*) in Russia. Things didn’t go as planned, as Obara got smashed in the second round, failing at his first world title challenge.
The former Japanese/OPBF champion, made his return to Japan, 7 months later, but this time, moving up a class, as he entered the Welterweight division, besting Larry Siwu (24-7*). In August of 2017, Obara won his third title, as he KOed former WBC International and Asian champion Narong Bunchan (26-2*) to win the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight championship.
After a successful first title defense over Shusaku Fujinaka (16-7*), Obara was already ranked amongst the top 10 Welterweights by both the WBO and IBF and was on his way for another world title match. However, the unexpected happened, when he came face to face with the unheralded Alvin Lagumbay (9-2*) in April of this year. The Philippino was clearly the underdog in this encounter, with only 11 pro bouts in total as well as no significant victories on his record. Obara was dominating the fight, up until the second round, where both boxers rocked each other hard, resulting in a rare double knockdown. Lagumbay got on his feet first, while Obara was still stunned on the ground, unable to answer the 10 count. In the end, the referee declared Lagumbay the new champion, in what it must be one of the biggest upsets of 2018.
Fast forward 4 months, the rematch is set as Obara looks to exact his revenge and not only regain his championship but also to put himself in world title contention once more. Was it a fluke or could Lagumbay be the breakout star of 2018 ? This question will be answered in less than 10 days at Korakuen Hall !
*Fighter’s record before the fight.
These articles are submitted by guest writers and sites. They aren't submitted by the usual folk behind Asian Boxing and don't fall in line with our editorial stance, giving a fresh view on various boxing issues from the Asian boxing scene.