By Rene Bonsubre
The home fans tried to propel Raymond Poon Kai Ching to victory. But Li Xiang’s hand speed and ring generalship made him the superior fighter Sunday night at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center.
Li, from mainland China, piled up the points using angles . Poon was aggressive and tried to land a homerun punch in almost every round. But he had trouble putting his punches in bunches on many occasions. His single shots were negated by Li’s accuracy. As they grew tried in the later rounds, both were willing to throw defense out of the window and just brawl. But Li’s poise pulled him through.
The scores of the three judges – Edward Ligas (Philippines) – 96-94, Mark Leong (Macao) – 99-91, Mekin Sumon (Thailand) – 97-93. The referee was Surat Soikrachang from Thailand. Li was awarded the vacant WBO Youth light flyweight title as well as taking Poon’s WBC ABCO and ABF belts.
Poon is now 7-2,4KO’s while Li goes up to 7-2-1,2KO’s.
But there was more at stake than just the three belts in the card’s main event. DEF Promotions lost Rex Tso, Hong Kong’s main draw, last year. Tso, after recovering from his eye injury he sustained in a bout against Japanese Kohei Kono in 2017, decided to seek a slot in the 2020 Olympics. This left a void in Hong Kong boxing. The crowd that witnessed the Sunday night card was a far cry from the sell-out, multi-million dollar gate that Tso used to bring at the Hong Kong Convention Center. Poon got the crowd’s admiration for his courage. The Hong Kong fighters on the crowd came up with impressive wins. But it remains to be seen if they can sustain fan interest here in Hong Kong and neighboring Macao where pro boxing is relatively new.
The Japanese contingent finished with 1W-2L. The eye-catching female bout between Japanese Nanako Suzuki and Filipina Renz Dacquel had Suzuki on the canvas in round one. Dacquel held on to her lead with volume punching and came up 39-36 on all cards.
Nibesh Ghale, a Nepalese residing in Hong Kong, battered and bloodied Shogo Yamamoto and stopped him round four. Ren Sasaki, Japan boxing’s 2017 Rookie of the Year, was impressive in the supporting main bout and pummeled a bloody Ma Ge An, from mainland China, forcing the referee to call a halt in the sixth.
Macao’s Cheong Lap Cheong kept his unbeaten record by winning all the rounds against Indonesian Muhamad Wahid in a six rounder. Cheong is now 6-0,4KO’s and has a fan friendly style that could make him a future local attraction.
Lennon Tsoi, a Hong Kong native born in the Philippines, beat Thai Wichet Sengprakhon who quit in his stool at the end of round four. British born Tom Taw avenged his lone career loss by unanimous decision against Jeremy Lee Tsun Yin. In the opening bout, Zhuo Zhiqiang, from mainland China, won his pro debut against Taiwanese Hong Chuan Hsun by unanimous decision. Hong was decked in rounds one and four.
The camp of Chinese promoter Liu Gang celebrated Li Xiang’s win. Li’s two losses came at the hands of Filipinos last year – Miel Fajardo by majority decision in Qingdao, China and Johnathan Almacen by unanimous decision in Pasay City, Philippines. Liu Gang also promotes WBA featherweight champ Xu Can, China’s only world title-holder at the moment. There are Filipino trainers now working in their camp and they will continue to work on Li’s improvement now that he will move up the rankings with this victory.
Photo - Li Xiang celebrates winning three belts
By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
Jerwin Ancajas successfully defended his IBF junior bantamweight title in Stockton, California for the seventh time against Japanese challenger Ryuichi Funai. Ancajas did what was expected. He was a 7-1 betting favorite going into the fight. The Filipino southpaw also needed to bounce back after a lackluster draw against Mexican Alejandro Santiago Barrios last September.
Ancajas in his pre-fight TV interview said that he trained in seclusion in a camp of the Philippine Marines to escape from all the distractions that hounded him in his recent title defenses. This was quite fitting considering that he won his title in 2016 in a fight held inside a Marine and Naval base in Taguig City, Metro Manila against Puerto Rican McJoe Arroyo. Ancajas also formally enlisted in the Philippine Navy reserves last year.
The 27 year old Ancajas rocked Funai in the fourth round. The hail of heavy hooks was enough to cause concern for the ring doctor who checked on Funai at the end of the round. To Funai’s credit he stayed on his feet but the punishment was too much and at the start of the seventh round, the ring doctor recommended to the referee, Edward Collantes of the U.S., that the Japanese has had enough.
This was the 33 year old Funai’s US debut and first world title attempt. He drops to 31-8,22KO’s while Ancajas moves up to 31-1-2,21KO’s.
This performance would have been good enough for Filipino fight fans two decades ago. But Filipinos got spoiled by the unprecedented success of Manny Pacquiao. Now, they demand more from their champions.
With this victory, the question now is will Ancajas get a fight against the other champions or big names in the division?
Another Filipino, Donnie Nietes, who gave up his WBO junior bantamweight crown a few months ago, is also seeking a big money fight with any of the division’s elite.
The Superfly fight cards started in 2017 in California and it brought out the likes of Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (Wisaksil Wangek) of Thailand, Roman Gonzalez of Nicaragua, Naoya Inoue of Japan and Juan Francisco Estrada of Mexico.
Nietes, even when he fought in the second Superfly card in 2018, seemed to have missed his chance to face any of aforementioned three fighters. Inoue would move up to bantamweight. Gonzalez lost to Sor Rungvisai twice and lost his luster in the process. Nietes had to endure a controversial draw against countryman Aston Palicte when they fought for the vacant WBO junior bantamweight title in Superfly 3.
Ancajas travelled to Thailand in October of last year hoping for a showdown against Sor Rungvisai. But with Estrada getting a revenge unanimous decision win over the Sor Rungvisai last month, the Mexican is now the top dog in the 115 lb division.
Last New Year’s Eve in Macao, Nietes faced his most accomplished opponent in the person of Japanese Kazuto Ioka. Both were veteran three division champions. It was a tight back and forth contest but Nietes’ smarts and ability to make in-fight adjustments got him the split decision victory and the WBO junior bantamweight crown.
This win enabled Nietes to join Manny Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire as the only three Filipino champions to win four or more division titles. Nietes has fought at the world championship level since 2007. He holds the record for being the longest reigning Filipino world champion. Nietes broke the seven year record of the great Flash Elorde when he was a WBO light flyweight champion, his second division belt. For the record, Elorde reigned in only one division, junior lightweight, and was an undisputed champion.
Nietes gave up his WBO title in search of a bigger, career-defining fight. This June, Ioka and Palicte will be fighting for that belt in Chiba City, Japan.
Nietes (42-1-5,23KO’s) will turn 37 this May 13. He has yet to make an announcement as to who he will fight next. In casual conversations, Filipino boxing pundits are wondering if giving up the WBO belt was actually the right move. Now, that he has no belt to offer, the other champs who want unification are not calling him out.
Moving up to bantamweight is a future option for Ancajas but maybe not for Nietes, who would be too small for 118lbs. Time is also not on the side of Nietes. But even if he retires at this point in time, Nietes will be remembered as one of the best boxers produced by the Philippines.
Aside from WBC champ Estrada and ex-champ Sor Rungvisai, the other belt-holder option at 115lbs is Khalid Yafai of the U.K., who has the WBA title. The winner of Ioka-Palicte will be added to this fan-friendly mix.
Photo- Jerwin Ancajas (Left) and Donnie Nietes
By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
Over the weekend, the Filipino Flash showed that he may be a lion in winter, but he is still a lion. The highlight reel knockout of Stephon Young of the U.S. was what the doctor ordered for the 36 year old Nonito Donaire.
Donaire has a resume that will certainly make him a first ballot Hall of Famer. But after dropping out of everyone’s pound for pound list following losses to Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux and Jamaican Nicholas Walters five years ago, there were those who thought his best years were behind him. He dropped down from 126 to 122 lbs and captured the WBO junior featherweight title with a courageous performance against Mexican Cesar Juarez in 2014.
In one of his defenses against Hungarian Zsolt Bedak, Donaire set a gate record in Cebu, Philippines where the crowd was estimated to go beyond 30,000.
But after losing his title to Jessie Magdaleno of the U.S in 2016 followed by last year’s lost to U.K.’s Carl Frampton in his attempt to go back to 126 lbs, many thought his career as a top fighter was over.
Last year, he announced he was moving down in weight once again to 118 lbs and join the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) bantamweight tournament. Many doubted if he could pull it off. The last time he fought as a bantamweight was in 2011.
But last November, Donaire won another world title belt when Ryan Burnett decided not to continue fighting in Glasgow, Scotland. Donaire had the WBA super title in his hands and a semis slot in the WBSS. Was it just a lucky break?
He was a dominant boxer from 112 to 118 lbs but many still refer to him in the past tense.
In the semis, he was faced with another injury situation in Louisiana when WBO champ Zolani Tete of South Africa withdrew just days going into fight because of a shoulder injury. Young was tapped as a substitute and he did make a good account of himself in the early rounds.
But a right hand lead from Donaire stunned the southpaw Young near the end of the third round. Donaire stepped on the pressure in the fourth and at the end of the round, Young had the look of a beaten man walking to his corner.
Donaire continued to dish out punishment in the fifth and in the sixth, Young dropped his right hand for a split second and that was all that Donaire need to land his fabled left hook.
It was lights out for the Young and Donaire now awaits the winner of Japan’s Naoya Inoue vs Puerto Rican Emmanuel Rodriguez. Outside of Rodriguez’s immediate relatives, fans are expecting a Donaire (40-5,26KO’s) vs Inoue (17-0, 15KO’s) finals.
Inoue is ten years younger than Donaire. Aside from the WBA regular bantamweight title belt, he has won the WBC light flyweight and WBO junior bantamweight titles. Inoue, a.k.a. the “Monster”, is arguably the most fearsome puncher in the lighter weight divisions today.
Donaire has been in high pressure situations before. He was an unknown in 2007 when he knocked out Vic Darchinyan of Australia for the IBF flyweight title. He has beaten challengers who have held world title belts like South Africans Moruti Mthalane , Mexicans Hernan Marquez ,Fernando Montiel and Jorge Arce, Puerto Rican Wilfredo Vasquez,Jr, Argentine Omar Narvaez and Japanese Toshiaki Nishioka. The list of the world titles he has won is long – IBF flyweight, WBA interim super flyweight, WBO and WBC bantamweight, WBO and IBF junior featherweight, WBA featherweight, his current WBA bantamweight super title and WBC Diamond belt.
It would be unwise to count him out again.
By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
Filipino boxers Joe Noynay and John Riel Casimero delivered big victories in overseas fights last weekend. Noynay garnered another regional title when he stopped Japanese Kosuke Saka in two rounds for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific junior lightweight title at the Edion Arena in Osaka, Japan.
“I wasn’t expecting the fight to end early. But I caught him early, knocked him down twice in the first, the referee stopped it in the second.” Noynay told this writer.
Noynay may be elated with his win but he isn’t thinking about a world title shot just yet. “That really depends…I will just continue to train hard.”
Noynay is now 17W-2L-1D,6KO’s while Saka drops to 18W-5L,15KO’s.
The current WBO world champion in the 130lb division is a Japanese, Masayuki Ito. Prior to this win, the WBO had Noynay at number ten in their latest rankings. Noynay also exorcised the ghost of his loss in Japan when he lost a unanimous decision to Reiya Abe at the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo.
The 23 year old southpaw from Bogo,Cebu, previously held the Youth version of the WBO Asia Pacific title. Two years ago, Noynay was an underdog in Zhongshan,China when he took the Youth regional belt from previously unbeaten Chinese Pan Jinxiang by eighth round technical decision.
Last year, he returned to his hometown of Bogo and defended his WBO regional belt against Mexican Hector Garcia and prevailed by majority decision.
On the same date in a different time zone, former two-division IBF world champion John Riel Casimero rose to the occasion in his U.S. debut and beat erstwhile WBO number one contender Ricardo Espinoza Franco by TKO in the twelfth and final round for the vacant WBO interim world bantamweight title.
Casimero was ranked number six going into this bout that was initially reported to be for the WBO International belt.
But it was reported four days before the contest that it will be for the interim world title. The current WBO champion, South African Zolani Tete, is currently tied up with the World Boxing Super Series bantamweight tournament.
Casimero had to leave without trainer Jhun Agrabio, who had visa issues. Former WBO light flyweight champ, Rodel Mayol stepped up to work in his corner. Casimero left the Philippines ten pounds over the limit but Mayol told this writer that three days before the weigh-in that Casimero would make weight. And he did, at 116.8lbs while the much taller Ricardo Espinoza weighed 117.8lbs.
Agrabio told this writer after the fight that Casimero stuck to their game plan. But, before the fight was stopped the scores after eleven rounds were 105 - 103 Casimero, 105 - 103 Espinoza and 104 – 104. This underscores the heart of toughness of Casimero.
Casimero is now 27-4,18KO’s. Espinoza is 23-3,20KO’s.
What made this win more amazing was that it was only two months ago that he confidently stated that he would be targeting another belt at 118 lbs.
“It was Casimero being a veteran that made the difference in this bout.” Mayol stated.
The 30 year old Casimero, from Ormoc, Leyte, previously held a WBO interim world title in the junior flyweight division.
He captured IBF world titles at junior flyweight and flyweight. He is a noted road warrior, having previously seen action in eight different countries. He is also known for surviving an infamous ring riot in Argentina in 2012.
We will wait and see what happens next and how he will fit in after the WBSS tournament is over.
Photo – Joe Noynay (left) and Johnriel Casimero
By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
Former IBF junior flyweight and flyweight world champion John Riel Casimero of the Philippines made it known a couple of months ago that he would be seeking a third world title belt as a bantamweight. He is penned to fight for the WBO International title in the 118lb division this April 20 and a win will move him one step closer towards his dream.
The 30 year old Casimero (26-4,17KO’s) will face Ricardo Espinoza Franco (23-2,20KO’s), a young 21 year old Mexican, in Carson,California. This will be the first U.S. appearance for Casimero, who has seen action in eight different countries.
After a brief rest following his impressive sixth round TKO win against Japanese Kenya Yamashita at the Skydome in Quezon City, Casimero continued his training in the Philippines under Jhun Agrabio. Casimero has left the Philippines for the U.S. but Agrabio had to stay behind waiting for his visa.
“Casimero is still ten pounds over the limit but I am confident he can lose it before the official weigh-in,” Agrabio told this writer, “I already saw a video of his opponent and we trained so he can knock the guy out.”
Weight issues are nothing new to Casimero. In fact, when he faced Amnat Ruenroeng in their rematch in Beijing in 2016, both reached a point where they were too weak to stand in their effort to make weight. Casimero took Ruenroeng’s IBF flyweight title by fourth round TKO. Casimero also lost his IBF junior flyweight title at the scales in 2014. In between the weight problems, Casimero has given fans memorable action packed bouts. He is currently ranked number six by the WBO.
Two years ago, his plans to win a third world title got derailed when he lost to countryman Jonas Sultan by unanimous decision in an IBF junior bantamweight title eliminator held in Cebu City.
Casimero spent time in the United States last year, where he trained with Morris East, a Filipino former WBA world junior welterweight champ. He had one fight in Tijuana, Mexico, an easy second round TKO win over Jose Pech.
Franco will not be a pushover. He has a high KO percentage and holds the WBO Latino bantamweight title. He has seen action in the U.S. multiple times and he has never been stopped. His last bout was a tenth round knockout win over Panamanian Ricardo Nuñez.
The World Boxing Super Series bantamweight tournament is still ongoing and it would be interesting to see where Casimero will fit in all of this if he gets past Franco.
Photo- John Riel Casimero after winning his fight against Kenya Yamashita
By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
DUBAI,UAE- The Emirates Golf Club in Dubai hosted a well-attended international fight card Friday with eleven bouts and two major ranking belts at stake. Interest in the sport of boxing is growing in this part of the world. Dubai is inhabited by a majority of expats, many of which come from countries where boxing has enjoyed a huge popularity.
The show billed as “The Fight-DXB Uncovered” was made possible by the partnership of Dubai’s Round 10 Boxing Club and MTK Global as well as ESPN AND Top Rank.
The local attraction was Majid Al-Naqbi, who beat Vladmir Lytkin, a Russian based in Thailand, by TKO in round four. This was Al-Naqbi’s professional debut. He stated in his post-fight ring interview that he is only the second in Dubai’s history to fight as a pro. He overpowered his Russian opponent, decked him in the final round and the referee had to step in to avoid further damage.
The lightweight Al-Naqbi was the main reason why Dubai royalty were in attendance. But he attracted boxing royalty as well, with former world champ “Prince” Naseem Hamed seated at ringside for the historic outdoor event.
The headline bout saw Dubai-based Nigerian Aliu Bamidele “Lucky Boy” Lasisi get off the canvas to score a grueling twelve round unanimous decision over Ricardo Blandon of Nicaragua.
Blandon knocked down Lasisi at the end of round three and Lasisi was also deducted a point for a head butt in round four. But Lasisi stormed back and dropped a fading Blandon in round ten to pull out a 114-111 win on all three cards and the vacant WBC International belt.
Lassisi is now 13-0,8KO’s. Blandon goes down to 10-2,6KO’s.
In the battle for the vacant WBO European featherweight crown, Irishman David Oliver Joyce (10-0, 8 KOs) kept his unbeaten record when he stopped Scotsman Stephen Tiffney (10-2, 4 KOs) in the seventh round.
For the rest of the action packed undercards – Dubai based Filipino expat Larry Abarra beat Ghanaian Raymond Commey by unanimous decision, Afghan Hassibulah Ahmadi got a split decision against Thai Manut Comput.
Kazakh Sultan Zaurbek was impressive and he caught China’s Chenghong Tao with a sneaky right to the jaw and knocked him out in the fifth, Uzbekistan featherweight Shakhobidin Zoirov, who captured a gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, won his pro debut with a first round stoppage of Anthony Holt of Indonesia, Australian Mateo Tapia stopped Gaganpreet Sharma of India in the eighth round, Abilkahiyr Shegaliyev of Kazakhstan beat Trimuraz Abuladze of Georgia by TKO in the opening round, Saudi Arabian Zuhayr Al Qahtani won by unanimous decision over Indian Sk Saheb, and in a female boxing match, Armenian Anahit Aroyan beat Thai Nongnum Sor Praithong by unanimous verdict.
Dubai has hosted big events in the past. In 2013, at their World Trade Center, the first world male champion from China, Xiong Chaozhong, retain his WBC straweight title against Filipino Denver Cuello by majority decision.
But regular sanctioned pro cards have been few and far in between. In 2014 and 2015, ALA Promotions of the Philippines brought in their star boxers in a show packed by the Filipino workers living in Dubai. There were always rumors of Manny Pacquiao fighting in Dubai but it never happened.
Boxrec records show that there was only one Dubai fight card in 2018, none in 2017, with two small shows in 2016.
But now they have a local hero to root for in the person of Majid Al-Naqbi. And with the partnership of Dubai’s Round 10 Boxing Club and MTK Global, this could very ignite a boxing boom.
By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
Filipino contender Joe Noynay (16W-2L-1D,5KO’s) is slated to fight Kosuke Saka (18W-4L,15KO’s) of Japan for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific junior lightweight title at the Edion Arena in Osaka,Japan.
Noynay, a 23 year old southpaw from Bogo,Cebu, previously held the Youth version of the WBO Asia Pacific title. He was an underdog in Zhongshan,China when he took the belt from previously unbeaten Chinese Pan Jinxiang by eighth round technical decision in 2017. Noynay dropped Pan twice before the fight was stopped due to Noynay’s worsening cut that was inflicted by an accidental headbutt.
The February 2019 ratings of the WBO has Noynay at number 11 in the 130 lb division.
Saka, a 27 year old Osaka native, won the Japanese featherweight title in 2017 by third round TKO against Shota Hayashi.
Hayashi is known to Filipino fight fans having fought in Bohol,Philippines in 2017 and lost by unanimous decision to Mark Magsayo.
Saka lost in his first defense by fifth round knockout to Takenori Ohashi. The fight had a rather bizarre ending when Saka, who was reeling from a series of hard punches, turned his back during the last ten seconds of the round and was caught by a hard right and went down for the count.
Saka bounced back in 2018 with two wins via the short route against Masanori Rikiishi and Indonesian Gusti Elnino.
The previous holder of the WBO Asia Pacific title, Japanese Masao Nakamura, was reported to have retired in a story posted on asianboxing last March 5.
Noynay informed this writer in a short internet chat that his training is going well. He also said he has seen fight films of Saka.
Videos of Saka’s fights show him to be an all-action volume puncher. This could pose problems for Noynay but it is a style he is all too familiar with. Last year, he defended his WBO regional belt against Mexican Hector Garcia in his hometown of Bogo and Noynay had to dig in deep against the Mexican’s pressure and came up with a majority decision win.
Noynay is a bit anxious about returning to Japan, having suffered his second career loss at the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo last February 28,2017 against Reiya Abe by unanimous decision. Fight report on this website stated it was a close and competitive bout with the final scores of 77-76,77-75,78-75.
“I will just try my best, train hard and leave it up to God,” Noynay told this writer.
The fight against Saka is set on April 20.
(File photo - Joe Noynay winning in China against Pan Jinxiang in 2017)
By Rene Bonsubre
Filipino Vic Saludar came up with another victory on the road and retained his WBO world minimumweight title by unanimous decision against Japanese challenger Masataka Taniguchi at the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo.
Saludar was tentative in the opening canto, with two of the three judges giving the round to Taniguchi. Saludar pulled away in rounds two to six, using his long jab and lateral movement, effectively sidestepping whenever the southpaw Taniguchi tried to close in and land his left. Taniguchi continued to press the action but fell prey to Saludar’s hard counters.
Sensing he was falling behind past the halfway mark, Taniguchi tried to engage at close quarters. His aggressiveness earned him the seventh round. The Japanese’s forward action continued trying to bulldoze his way and disrupt the Filipino’s game plan of fighting on the outside.
Saludar defused the situation. He showed poise and accuracy in the endgame, sweeping the last three rounds in all the three judges’ cards.
The scores - Luis Ruiz (Puerto Rico) - 118-110, Chris Tellez (USA) -117-111 and Surat Soikrachang (Thailand)- 117-111. The referee was Kenny Bayless (USA).
Saludar is now 19-3,10KO’s while Taniguchi drops to 11-3,7KO’s. Trainer Michael Palacios was in Saludar’s corner for this fight. Taniguchi came into this fight with wins against Filipinos Joel Lino, Joey Bactul, Benjie Bartolome, Dexter Alimento, Vincent Bautista and Raymark Taday
“Ring generalship, how he controlled the fight and patience were essential in this victory,” Saludar’s promoter Kenneth Rontal told this writer after the fight.
Saludar’s skill level was sharpened by his stint with the Philippine amateur boxing team. He was a bronze medalist at the 2010 Asian Games in the 52kg category.
When asked if Saludar can defend his title on home soil, Rontal said they haven’t thought about it yet. “We just would like to thank all those who supported us and rest for the meantime.”
This was Saludar’s first defense of the title he won in July of last year in Kobe, Japan against Ryuya Yamanaka.
By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
Fight cards that are free to the public are quite common in the Philippines. They can be seen in small towns during fiestas and even in the major cities. The downside is that these promotions don’t usually get a lot of attention in the major newspapers and television. So it’s up to the truly die-hard fans to monitor where and when these cards are happening.
The Greenery, an establishment in Cebu City that houses restaurants and spas, hosted a seven bout fight card within its grounds. The main event was a slam-bang eight rounder between Clyde Azarcon (14-2-1,5KO’s) and Gary Rojo (9-12-1,5KO’s). Azarcon had previously lost to Rene Mark Cuarto in a WBO Oriental miniflyweight title bout. Rojo, on paper, was not expected to put up much of a resistance. But it turned out to be a nip and tuck affair.
Both boxers were willing to trade at close quarters, much to the delight of the small crowd that gathered on a Saturday night. In the fourth, a sharp one-two combo sent Rojo down. He got up and managed to survive Azarcon’s efforts to finish him. Rojo looked to be in more trouble in the fifth when he dazed and knocked down by an accidental head butt. After being given five minutes to recover, he finished the round by bloodying Azarcon’s nose.
Heavy trading in center ring continued in the subsequent rounds. Just when it seemed Azarcon was headed for a points win, Rojo knocked him down in the final round and managed to save the fight. The three judges came up with a majority draw – 75-75 twice and 76-75.
They were fighting for the vacant VISPROBA light flyweight title, which is a stepping stone to a higher ranking in the Philippines.
In the undercards – Carlo Demecillo decked Jeffrey Stella for the ten count in round four, Mark Rotilles decided not to go on fighting for round three against Rhonvex Capuloy, Brian James Wild stopped Mikey Durano in two rounds.
Taiwanese Ming Hung Lee suffered his first career loss against Matthew Fondales by unanimous decision. Fondales landed the harder punches all night long winning 39-37 twice and 40-36.
April Jay Abne knocked down Marvin Laping three times in the opening round prompting the referee’s stoppage and Arian Melgo dropped Patrick Dakay twice in round one and won by TKO.
The fight card was promoted by Big Yellow Promotions.
During the lean pre-Manny Pacquiao years, it was the free boxing shows that managed to keep the fans interested. In small towns, it is usually the local government that foots the bill. On the negative side, Filipino fight fans expect to watch boxing for free. In fact, in 2016, the IBF world junior bantamweight title fight between Puerto Rican McJoe Arroyo and Jerwin Ancajas was held for free in Metro Manila inside a military base. It is only in Cebu City where promoters have a paying audience. But even in the city known as the Philippines’ boxing hotbed, two promoters have decided to close shop. Still, these free to the public boxing shows will continue because they have become part of the country’s boxing tradition.
By Rene Bonsubre,jr
It was a night filled with brutal knockouts but John Riel Casimero’s beatdown of Japanese Kenya Yamashita had the more veteran observers buzzing. Boxing writers who attended the official weigh-in wondered if he could carry his punching power a couple of divisions higher. One of the reasons for this uncertainty was his lethargic showing against Jonas Sultan in an IBF junior bantamweight eliminator a couple of years ago.
Yamashita did manage to take Casimero’s punches early in the fight. But Casimero added body shots to his offense as the rounds progressed and Yamashita was bruised, bloodied and dazed at the end of the fifth. There was concern already about Yamashita’s well-being with the ring doctor checking in on him before the start of the sixth.
The fight was allowed to continue and a sharp right uppercut sent Yamashita crashing into his corner. Medical personnel attended to him before he was able to leave the ring on his own two legs.
That win last Saturday was Casimero’s warning shot to the bantamweight division. He told this writer during the weigh that he intended to win another world title as a bantamweight. The fight against Yamashita dismissed any doubts as to whether he was still a viable force.
“I heard Jerwin Ancajas is planning a move to 118,” Casimero told this writer, “Well, I am going to beat him to it. I will be going for the big fights before he does.”
There is still an ongoing World Boxing Super Series bantamweight tournament but Casimero did mention recently crowned WBC champ Nordine Oubaali of France as one of those that he would like to fight.
Casimero’s upset loss to Sultan prevented him from being part of the first all-Filipino world title fight in almost a hundred years. Ancajas outclassed Sultan and successfully defended his IBF junior bantamweight title by unanimous verdict.
The chatter after the Yamashita fight was how did an accomplished two-division champion like Casimero lose to an upstart like Sultan. Casimero won IBF world titles at 108 and 112 lbs. He has been a pro for a dozen years now and beat the likes of Luis Alberto Lazarte, Pedro Guevara, Amnat Ruenroeng and Charlie Edwards. Casimero is also a noted road warrior, having fought in eight different countries. He is also known for surviving an infamous ring riot in Argentina after he beat Lazarte. Boxing insiders who gathered at ringside talked about his inconsistencies in training. He does have a history of gaining a lot of weight in between fights. In fact, he lost his IBF junior flyweight title at the scales in 2014.
The 30 year old Casimero is now 26-4, 17KO’s. The veteran boxing writers who followed his career all agree that with dedication and discipline, he can be a world champion again. In his fight against Yamashita, he was reunited with cornerman Jhun Agrabio, who guided him in his revenge fourth round TKO win against the Thai Ruenroeng in Beijing, China in 2016.
Last year, Casimero trained with Morris East, a Filipino former WBA world junior welterweight champ, in Las Vegas. Casimero had one fight in Tijuana, Mexico,an easy second round TKO win over Jose Pech.
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.