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.
By - George Delis (@Delisketo )
We already have talked about the highly anticipated fights coming up at the end of July, in and out of Japan, with Kuga and Wake going toe to toe with so much at stake, Ito taking on Diaz for the vacant WBO Super Featherweight world title, Shohei Omori’s 2018 return. Now let’s take a look at another match-up that takes place during that time frame.
-Tatsuya Fukuhara vs Naoya Haruguchi (29 July):
Tatsuya Fukuhara (20-6) started his career in 2008, fighting in the regional scene for 7 years before earning his first title opportunity in 2015, when he bested Hiroya Yamamoto (9-3*) to become the Japanese Minimumweight champion. Fukuhara defended the championship thrice over the likes of Takumi Sakae (13-0*), Genki Hanai (7-0*) and former OPBF champion and world title contender Shin Ono (19-7*).
On February 26 of 2017, he faced Moises Calleros (25-6*) for the Interim WBO World Minimumweight crown at the Matsushima Athletic Park. Both men, realizing this was their big chance, left in all in the ring, trading punches like there was no tomorrow. After 12 rounds of hard hitting action, Fukuhara won a very close decision and the strap. In April, he was promoted as the undisputed champion, since Katsunari Takayama announced his retirement from the sport. The celebration didn’t last long though, as he lost his title to Ryuya Yamanaka (14-2*) a couple of months later. However, in November, he was given another shot at the gold, this time for the WBC championship, against the undefeated Chayaphon Moonsri (48-0*) in Thailand. Fukuhara got the advantage at the early rounds and even outclassed the champion on numerous occasions.
Much like his bout with Calleros, it was an even fight but this time the judges saw it in favor of Moonsri. Since then, Fukuhara has been looking to climb the rankings of the division and challenge once more for the world title. He defeated Japanese prospect Yuto Takahashi (8-3*) earlier this year and now he faces another rising star in Naoya Haruguchi (15-8), who recently earned a majority decision over former world title challenger Jeffrey Galero (16-3*) this past March. Fukuhara is currently ranked #9 by the WBC whereas Haruguchi is #38. This will be a test for both fighters. For Fukuhara is a chance to prove to that he still has that flame inside him while for Haruguchi is a tremendous chance to boost himself up in the rankings.
By Eric Armit
Manny’s back and all’s well in the world-well not quite. However Pacquiao’s win over Lucas Matthysse was the best result for boxing. The Filipino great is still a major player. Hopefully we can forget talk of a return with Floyd Mayweather Jr and although I would not rule it out I just can’t see Pacquiao wanting to go over old ground against Jeff Horn. Errol Spence, Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia would jump at the chance and fight Pacquiao anywhere, anytime. If it could be made Terrence Crawford would be a big fight but not a good choice for Pacquiao. Just too tough an ask for Pacquiao at 39. Pacquiao is talking about two maybe three more fights including one at the end of this year. If you look past Spence, Thurman, Garcia and Crawford then you are looking at lesser names such as Shawn Porter, Adrien Broner and Jesse Vargas with Amir Khan hoping to get into the mix but the WBSS super light tournament cuts down his options from that division. He is being urged to retire whilst still a champion-OK it’s a secondary title-but there is no talk of that from Pacquiao.
The only caveat about the fight at the weekend is the difficulty over judging how much was down to a refreshed Pacquiao and how much was down to a insipid Matthysse. The Argentinian put up only marginal resistance. What we got was not the Matthysse who beat Lamont Peterson, John Molina and Roberto Ortiz inside the distance and fought a war in outpointing Ruslan Provodnikov but the one who was knocked out in ten rounds by Viktor Postol. None of the three knockdowns was really convincing before Matthysse did his own no mas.
What a great weekend for boxing in the Philippines. Obviously Pacquiao’s victorious return hogged the headlines and to a degree it was a pity that it overshadowed two other outstanding performances by Filipino boxers. On Friday Vic Saludar challenged WBO minimumweight champion Ryuya Yamanaka in Kobe, Yamanaka’s home city, and won a clear unanimous decision. Vic probable looked a safe opponent. Over the previous thirteen months he had lost on points to 8-1-2 Toto Landero, beaten 6-2-2 Mike Kinaadman, 14-8-4 Lito Dante and then Kindaaman again. Nothing to scare Yamanaka there but a “low risk” fight exploded in their faces. On Sunday under Pacquiao vs. Matthysse Jhack Tepora floored and stopped Mexican Edivaldo Ortega to win the interim WBA feather title. Going into the weekend their only world champion was IBF super flyweight king Jerwin Ancajas so a huge boost for boxing in the archipelago of over 7,000 islands.
Things could get even better with Toto Landero challenging Simphiwe Khonco for the IBO minimum title in South Africa on Sunday and Froilan Saludar, the elder brother of Vic, challenging Sho Kimura for the WBO flyweight title in China on 27 July. Additionally minimumweight Mark Barriga could soon be fighting Mexican Carlos Licona for the IBF title as it is expected that Hiroto Kyoguchi will vacate the title. They will have another champion for sure because Donnie Nietes and fellow-Filipino Aston Palicte meet in Cebu City on 18 August for the vacant WBO super fly title. When Jerwin Ancajas outclassed Jonas Sultan in defence of his IBF super flyweight title in May it was the first world title fight between two Filipino boxers for 93 years-now it is two in three months.
Nietes will be aiming to become a four-division champion and if he wins he will be 17-0-1 in 18 world title fights and is currently 30-0-3 in his last 33 fights. Donnie comes from a fighting family. His uncle Dan is a former Philippines champion and now a judge, Uncle Junie had a brief pro career, Uncle Gerson Snr was a good level amateur and cousin Gerson Jr is a former amateur boxer and now trains Donnie alongside ex-Philippines champion Ala Villamor.
The WSBB have managed to pull together interesting lists for their next two divisions. The bantamweight contestants will be Mikhail Aloyan, Ryan Burnett, Nonito Donaire, Naoya Inoue, Jason Moloney, Juan Carlos Payano, Emmanuel Rodriguez and Zolani Tete. At super light we have Ivan Baranchyk, Terry Flanagan, Ryan Martin, Regis Prograis, Kiryl Relikh, Josh Taylor, Eduard Troyanovsky and Anthony Yigit. Both good lists but for me it is the bantams that really excite with four title holders in the competition whereas only Relikh is a champion at super light. I was informed that Prograis had relinquished the WBC interim title before he fought Juan Jose Velasco at the weekend and that their fight was for the WBC Diamond title.
It would have been interesting to see WBA No 4 Mario Barrios in the mix at super light. The 23-year-old from San Antonio, who turned pro at 18, is 21-0 with 13 wins by KO/TKO He faces a good test on 28 July when he meets Jose Roman who is 24-2-1
Floyd Mayweather’s record of 50 wins in 50 fights being the highest unbeaten total for any retired world champion is under threat. On August 28 in Thailand Wanheng (Chayaphon Moonsri) will face an as yet unnamed challenger in defence of his WBC minimumweight title. Wanheng is 50-0 and will be making the tenth defence of his title. Of course for his achievement to get him in the record books he will have to retire with a 100% record so you can be sure the challenger will be very carefully chosen.
Since the parties representing Kid Galahad and Toka Kahn Clary have been unable to come to an agreement over their IBF title eliminator the IBF have called for purse bids by 31 July. Galahad is No 3 with the IBF (positions 1 and 2 are vacant) and Clary is No 9.
Boxing has never been a major factor in Singapore sport but the emergence of Muhamad Ridhwan is sparking some interest. The 30-year-old “The Chosen Wan” has already won WBA Asian, UBO World and IBO International titles and now he is looking to add a more prestigious one. On 29 September in Singapore he faces Namibian Paulus Ambunda for the vacant IBO super bantam title. Ambunda, 37, a former WBO bantam champion, held this IBO title until losing it to Moises Flores in 2016.
It was nice to see veteran Moruti Mthalane regain the IBF flyweight title at the weekend. He vacated the title a few years back after a farcical purse bidding process left him with the prospect of defending his title in Thailand for a derisory amount of money. South Africa will be hoping for another title win on Sunday when Simphiwe Khonco defends the IBO minimum title against Toto Landero (holds a win over Vic Saludar). The fight is part of a show to honour the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth and Khonco’s promoter Rodney Berman has released Khonco so that he could top the bill for the promoter of that show.
It must have been depressing for the Boxing South Africa team to have gone to the trouble of arranging for the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport to give a clinic on this very important subject of doping when only eleven licensees turned up. You can’t help people who won’t help themselves.
Thursday 19 July marked the sixtieth birthday for Azumah Nelson, arguably the greatest African fighter of all time. The “Professor” a former All-Africa, World Military and Commonwealth gold medal winner was WBC champion at feather and super feather. He beat Wilfredo Gomez, Marcos Villasana (twice), Juan Laporte, Mario Martinez (twice0, Calvin Grove, Gabe Ruelas and Jesse James Leija. British fans are unlikely to forget his one round demolition of Pat Cowdell and his dramatic last round stoppage of Jim McDonnell. He drew and then stopped Jeff Fenech in two great fights with the win in 1992 being rated by Ring Magazine as Upset of the Year and his 1995 stoppage of Ruelas was Ring Magazine Comeback of the Year. Azumah only lost two fights over his peak years. After only thirteen fights he came in as a very late substitute against the great Salvador Sanchez in 1982. He was up on one of the three cards before being stopped in the fifteenth round in what was tragically Sanchez’s last fight. His other loss was when he moved up to lightweight in 1992 to challenge Parnell Whittaker and lost a close unanimous decision. Azumah was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 2004. Equally important is the donations he has made to many orphanages in Ghana and the Azumah Nelson Foundation to help the youth of his country. He has been a great ambassador for boxing and for Ghana and the WBC have made arrangements to honour Azumah.
Still on Africa I was advised this week of the death of Langton Tinago. The Zimbabwean “Schoolboy” died on 17 July. For many years Langton was the man in boxing in Zimbabwe. Over a 20 year career from 1967 to 1987 he had 110 fights ending with a 86-20-3,1ND record. He was national champion at lightweight and welterweight and had three spells as Commonwealth champion at super featherweight and lightweight and scored wins over Ken Buchanan, Willie Booth, Chris Sanigar and Australia Graeme Brooke. He fell on hard times after he retired but was a much revered figure in Zimbabwe boxing.
By - George Delis (@Delisketo )
On July 27 at Korakuen Hall, one of the most exciting Japanese fighters makes his first appearance in 2018, as Takuya Kogawa (29-5) takes on Yusuke Sakashita (16-8).
During his 13-year career, we have seen Kogawa in numerous wars, in and out of his native country of Japan. In 2009, he faced world title contender and future world champion Chaozhong Xiong (12-2*). That was Kogawa’s, who himself was 12-1 at the time, first major challenge. The Chinese fighter was coming off his WBC championship match against Daisuke Naito (34-2*), less than 2 months prior to this bout, losing a unanimous decision but still looking impressive, even dropping Naito in the 6th round. It was obvious that Xiong was eager to climb up the rankings again and was looking for a quick KO win, which proved to be a mistake, as Kogawa was constantly catching him off guard and nailing him with some good combinations. After 10 action packed rounds, Kogawa got the decision and a much crucial victory.
One year (and 3 stunning knockouts) later, he was booked to fight Danilo Pena (23-7) for the vacant OPBF Super Flyweight title. Kogawa outclassed the Philippino for 6 consecutive rounds, until the referee was forced to stop the fight (Danilo suffered a deep cut during the match) thus declaring him the new OPBF champion. That fight put Kogawa in contention for the WBC World Flyweight title and on July of 2011, in Thailand, Kogawa got his big opportunity against one of the best fighters of our generation, Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (80-3*). The Thai boxer was clearly the more experienced of the 2 in this outing, as he was already competing for 17 years ! The last time someone managed to stop him was in 1996 while his last loss was at the hands of the aforementioned Dasuke Naito in 2007, which was a decision loss. Wonjongkam, who defeated Koki Kameda the previous year for the WBC, the Ring and Lineal Flyweight title, found himself in a much bigger fight, than he expected to be, against Kogawa, going the distance, in what it was a thrilling encounter. Kogawa didn’t get the decision, but he certainly proved that he can hang with the best of them, considering that this was only his 18th pro career fight.
Kogawa made his return to Japan, on January 26 of 2012, winning the vacant Japanese Flyweight title, in another barn burner, against fellow rising star Shigetaka Ikehara (22-2*) and successfully defending it thrice, over the likes of Tetsuma Hayashi (18-1*), Keita Yamaguchi (8-11*) and Ikehara again in a return encounter, knocking him out this time in the very last round. He eventually lost his belt, in a close call, to Suguru Muranaka (18-2*). However, despite that loss, he received an Interim WBA World title fight, once more in Thailand, this time against Sirichai Thaiyen (33-2*). Despite putting on an amazing performance, the Thai fighter got the majority decision…..a decision some may even call a biased one.
After yet another frustrating missed world title opportunity, Kogawa went on a winning streak that lasted 3 years, defeating top Japanese boxers like Hiroyuki Kudaka (22-12*), Tetsuma Hayashi (25-3*), Masayuki Kuroda (24-6*) as well as regaining the Japanese crown.
At the age of 33, Kogawa, who is currently No.8 in the WBC World Flyweight rankings, will face young knockout artist Yusuke Sasashita (11 KOs) on his way to yet another crack at the gold.
* The fighter’s record before the fight.
(Image courtesy of Miyata Gym)
By Nick Skok:
Twenty-four year old IBF strawweight boss, Hiroto Kyoguchi, is ready for a breakout year. The usual KO provider had a difficult test in Vince Paras on May 20th in Tokyo as a part of the Ryoichi Taguchi - Hekkie Budler undercard, as he went the distance but secured a unanimous decision victory against the pesky filipino.
In the aftermath of the fight, Kyoguchi (10-0, 7 KO’s) told Japanese media outlet Nikkan Sports that “Eventually I’d like to be a unified champion.” The confident fighter reminded those in attendance that “Since he (Paras) is younger than me, I said beforehand that I’d teach him a boxing lesson.” You could say he did just that with all three scorecards reading “117-110.”
Kyoguchi’s esteemed promoter and gym president, Watanabe-san said “we’d like to have the unification.” It’s possible that in his next fight Kyoguchi will have a mandatory due so Watanabe added that Mark Anthony Barriga was a possibility for September before making a unification which would then theoretically be made at the end of the year. “We’d check a mandatory with the IBF [with a Barriga fight].”
The target was going to be WBO champion Ryuya Yamanaka (16-2, 5 KO’s) of the Shinsei Gym in Kobe before he lost just days ago. Said Yamanaka leading up to the fight: “What I need to do now is to keep winning. I’d like to have a unification fight with Kyoguchi once we are both recognized as stronger/better fighters. I saw the article where Kyoguchi said same thing in an interview. [eFight.jp]
While hardcore fans are starting to look in Kyoguchi’s direction and generally love unifications, Yamanaka brought up a valid point in that they’re not generating a lot of interest amongst casual fans at home. Kyoguchi’s fight wasn’t shown live on the Taguchi undercard and was on tape delayed broadcast five days after it took place. The fact that Yamanaka lost to Vic Saludar doesn’t upgrade the potential unification as the Japanese boxing public would be even less interested now.
However, it should be noted that Watanabe-san successfully staged a unification fight on New Year’s Eve last year with his guy Ryoichi Taguchi defeating Milan Melindo. As the New Year’s Eve week fights become more competitive amongst local promoters and networks, no doubt another unification match could garner some interest during the holidays, even amongst the strawweights.
Nick Skok can be reached on Twitter @NoSparring
By - George Delis (@Delisketo )
July is a super stacked month, full of interesting fights and exciting returns. Well this will be no exemption, as on the 29th we will witness the comeback of former Japanese champion Shohei Omori (18-2).
Since his father was also a boxer, Omori took up the sport at an early age, even competed at the 65th National Boxing Tournament during his high school years, reaching second place. Only a year later, he made his pro debut in 2011, knocking out Shuhei Hasegawa. He gathered 10 more victories, mostly against local competition, including Yusuke Tachikawa (7-2*), Kiron Omura (11-2*), Yubon Kaneyama (10-3*), before facing his first serious challenge, in the more experienced Mexican fighter, as well as world title challenger, Christian Esquivel (27-4*). Omori looked like the veteran in this outing, controlling the fight from the beginning and eventually stopping Esquivel in the 4th round, after 3 consecutive knockdowns.
In 2015, he earned the opportunity to fight for the Japanese Bantamweight title, taking on the reigning champion Kentaro Masuda (21-6*) at Korakuen Hall. Omori quickly dominated the match, dropping the champion twice in the 1st. Masuda found himself defending against the challengers nonstop offense, offering almost no resistance, until he got caught in the 3rd with a thunderous left hook, which led to the referee calling for the bell and crowning Omori the 69th Japanese Bantamweight champion.
He successfully defended his crown, 4 months later, against 2-time world title contender and future Asia Pacific champion Hirofumi Mukai (11-3*), to continue climbing the world rankings. However, that momentum came to an abrupt ending when he came face to face with Marlon Tapales (27-2*) on December of the same year. Omori got dropped thrice in the opening round and eventually TKOed, tasting defeat for the first time in his career.
Despite suffering a devastating loss, Omori wasn’t ready to give up. Instead, he came back stronger than before, earning back to back KO wins. In April of 2016, he made short work of Indonesian champion Espinos Sabu (15-8*). He then fought Edgar Jimenez (22-11*) in August. The Japanese put the outsider down in the 3rd round after a plethora of strikes, which rendered him unable to continue. His third victory was on December 31st against former OPBF champion and 2-time world title contender Rocky Fuentes (35-8*). Unlike the other two, this was a completely different fight as both men were highly skilled and well-rounded. Omori fought cleverly, buying his time, a strategy that paid of, as he knocked the Philippino out with a killer uppercut, which came out of nowhere, thus putting him in world title contention.
In 2017, at the EDION Arena in Osaka, Omori challenged for the WBO World Bantamweight championship. Ironically, his opponent and new champion, was non other than Marlon Tapales, who managed to capture the gold after defeating Panya Uthok the previous year. It was almost as fate was giving Omori a chance at redemption. The bout started with both fighters going back and forth, with no one really gaining an advantage over the other. Business was about to pick up though, as Omori hurt the champion in the 5th with a series of body shots, much to the delight of the Japanese audience. Tapales woke up in the 6th round, fighting more aggressively. In the beginning of round 7, Omori rocked him again, and while it looked like the match was almost over, Tapales fired back, gaining some much needed ground. Both warriors went on to have an exciting FOTYC, trading blows within the next rounds, with no man backing down. In the end, Tapales managed to score a knocked down during the last minute of the 10th round, dazing Omori, and then again in the 11th, causing the referee to stop the match. Even in defeat, Omori looked strong, putting on a valiant effort, earning the respect of his opponent as well as the fans.
After 15 months of absence, he finally makes his return to the ring, fighting Philippino standout Brian Lobetania (13-5) on July 29, at the same building he was last seen. This should be a relatively easy win for Omori, who will look to quickly get back into world title contention. At 25 years of age and already a one time world title challenger, it is only logical that we will see him in the main event again in no time.
By Eric Armint-
When I was a kid we had a saying “cheat’s never prosper” boy were we naïve. In September two fighters who have served derisory suspensions for positive tests will make a whole load of money as Saul Alvarez fights Gennady Golovkin and Alex Povetkin challenges Anthony Joshua.
If you put aside the disgust over this cheating then Alvarez vs. Golovkin is a fight we all want to see. With the bad blood that has grown out of the positive tests and extended wait for their return contest hopefully it will be a better fight than their first one. Let’s hope this time Alvarez comes to fight.
Joshua vs. Povetkin is not the fight we wanted but where the heavyweights are concerned, both inside and out of the ring, there seems to be more prima donnas than at La Scala. The WBA were always going to run out of patience over the unification fight between Joshua and the WBC champion Deontay Wilder. It was dumb of Wilder not to take any offer to fight Joshua anywhere. He can make five times more than he can against any other fighter. He is now left in limbo. His No 1 challenger Dillian Whyte -who he does not appear to want to fight- faces Joseph Parker on 28 July so whoever wins that at best it will the end of the year before Wilder can face them. His No 2 is Dominic Breazeale and that is not going to be a big pay day and below Breazeale sit Povetkin, Luis Ortiz, Tony Bellew, Parker and Charles Martin so slim pickings. Joshua vs. Povetkin is not a great fight. Povetkin looked vulnerable against David Price but he is a puncher and Joshua will make big money whoever he fights. The Povetkin fight will be staged on 22 September at Wembley Stadium where Joshua drew 90,000 for his fight with Wlad Klitschko. Povetkin will not be as big a draw but the crowds come to see Joshua so will still be big by anyone’s standard. What must be worrying for Wilder is that Joshua has said that if he gets past Povetkin-and the “if” word is mine not Joshua’s-then his next fight will also be at Wembley. Make sure your passport is up to date Deontay.
With Povetkin being both WBA and WBO No 1and with the IBF No 1 spot vacant a win over Povetkin would take the pressure off Joshua for those other versions of the title he holds.
Looks like no one wants to fill the IBF No 1 position. Pulev was to fight Dillian Whyte in a final eliminator but Whyte has opted for a much more attractive fight against Joseph Parker. Next up was Jarrell Miller but when Pulev’s promoter won the purse bidding and was looking at Sofia as a venue Miller indicated he did not want to fight in Bulgaria and so Hughie Fury’s name suddenly came into the equation. Quite a transformation for Fury from unrated to No 5 for beating Sam Sexton particularly when you realise that even before he lost to Joseph Parker last September the IBF did not even rank him in the top 15. It stinks but then the IBF are desperate and running out of options and you can’t be seen to approve an unrated fighter in a final eliminator.
The question over the money for the Manny Pacquiao vs. Lucas Matthysse fight appears to be resolved with confirmation that the cash is in the bank. That uncertainty is a risk when a big fight goes to country or organisation who are buying the fight for publicity and don’t have a track record for staging big fights. The result of the fight won’t tell us anything new about Matthysse but it will answer a lot of questions about how much Pacquiao has left. It is his first fight since losing to Jeff Horn over a year ago so we, and a lot of boxers around Manny’s weight, want to find out if he still has a future.
The current WBSS series is not yet finished and already plans are well advanced for the next. In the super lights WBA champion Kiryl Relikh vs. Eduardo Troyanovsky will double as a quarter final in the tournament and a mandatory defence by Relikh. In another quarter-final European champion Anthony Yigit will face Ivan Baranchyk. Since the IBF title is vacant and the No 1 spot in the IBF ratings is also vacant then it would make sense that the fight between Baranchyk No 2 and Yigit No 3, be for the vacant IBF title. According to the EBU Yigit is scheduled to defend the European title against Franck Petitjean on 17 November so that European title fight has to be in jeopardy. Josh Taylor and the winner of the fight on 14 July for the WBC interim title between champion Regis Prograis and Juan Jose Velasco are the others named so far. Velasco certainly profited from the ratings elevator going from No 34 to No 18 in the WBC ratings last month and with the next WBC ratings imminent he will probably find his way into the top 15. Missing at this time is WBC champion Jose Carlos Ramirez who defends against Danny O’Connor on Saturday and WBO champion Maurice Hooker. I expect Ramirez to win but I am not sure about Bob Arum letting him fight in the tournament as promoters prefer to pick the opponent for the champions and not leave it to another promoter to do so. It will be interesting to see what other names are added.
There is some question over the participants in the bantamweight WBSS tournament. Originally the names of Ryan Burnett, Zolani Tete, and Emmanuel Rodriguez were announced. Jason Moloney was added later with Nonito Donaire the very latest to sign up. Naoya Inoue and Russian Misha Aloyan are awaiting formal confirmation but there is now some question as to whether Burnett will participate. (Ed's note - Inoue has now been confirmed)
The world is changing too quickly for me with the unique WBSS tournament and professionals boxing at the Olympics. Now Golden Boy is going into partnership with Facebook to show live cards free of charge on the media site. Too much change at my age but let me add one wish of my own and that is the revival of professional boxing in Cuba. That I would welcome. Too often by the time the great Cuban amateurs turn pro they are already past their peak or too set in their styles to make a successful transition to the pros. There are high class fighters such as Lazaro Alvarez, Carlos Banteur, Rosniel Iglesias, Julio De La Cruz, Robeisy Ramirez, Erislandy Savon and Yosvany Veitia who would be great additions to the pro ranks.
Purse bids have been in the news with the postponement of submission of bids for Daniel Jacobs vs. Sergiy Derevyanchenko fight. Originally this was to be an IBF final eliminator but since the IBF stripped Gennady Golovkin of their title that changes the picture with the Jacobs vs. Derevyanchenko fight probably being for the vacant title. As No 1 Derevyanchenko is in the driver’s seat with the No 2 position vacant and Jacobs No 3. Golovkin was stripped for not complying with the IBF instructions to defend against Derevyanchenko. What will happen next is not clear. Lou DiBella insisted that the fight go to purse offers so right now no one knows who will promote the fight or which channels it goes to but as Jacobs is tied to HBO if the purse winner wanted to deal with another channel then Jacobs would be unable to fight. If Jacobs can’t take part then the IBF would have to look further down their ratings which currently read 4) Jermall Charlo, 5) Demetrius Andrade, 6) Tommy Langford and 8) Martin Murray.
There was something very strange about the outcome of the bidding for Adonis Stevenson vs. Oleg Gvozdyk fight. The winning bid was $3,102,000 from Tom Brown who often works with Al Haymon, next highest was $2,100,100 from Yvon Michel and then Top Rank with a bid of $1,670,000. Just 30 minutes after winning the bidding Brown rescinded his bid and since Michel’s bid was next highest he was awarded the fight and he proposes to stage it on 3 November in Montreal. Top Rank have protested and say that a new purse offer process should be undertaken. However if a promoter who won the purse offer relinquishes the right to promote the bout then clause 2.20 of the WBC rules gives the WBC the right to grant the fight to the second highest bidder. The only explanation I can see is the when Brown/Haymon saw they had bid £1 million more than the next highest bidder they realised they had seriously overpriced the fight and ducked out.
TMZ Sports, a Nigerian company, are seeking at least $2 million in damages from Floyd Mayweather Jr over alleged failure to make a number of appearances in Africa. The allegation is that Mayweather took an advance payment of $210,000 but after backing out of the appearances did not refund the $210,000. Of course Floyd could solve the case by buying Africa. If that does not work then anyone who can afford and is stupid enough to pay $18 million for a watch and offer Adrien Broner a $50 million deal can afford to hire some very high class lawyers so best of luck with your action TMZ. No wonder Mayweather was such an accomplished fighter. He put all the class he had into his fights and left none over for real life.
Saturday will see the return to the ring of Beibut Shumenov in Astana, Kazakhstan against German Hinzi Altunkaya. This will be for the vacant secondary WBA cruiser title even though Shumenov has not fought for over two years. The former WBA light heavyweight and one time holder of the same WBA secondary cruiser title announced his retirement in June last year citing an eye injury. He also complained of a lack of activity. With proposed fight falling through he had only one fight in 2015 and one in 2016, but says he is now looking to be more active. The WBA rating of Altunkaya is obscene. In the ratings published 31 March he was unrated and in April he suddenly appeared at No 3 even though he had not had a fight since January when he beat a guy with a 3-7-1 record. There is no honest explanation for blatant manipulation such as this-disgraceful and so typical of the WBA.
Namibian Sakaria Lukas, the WBO No 2 feather, is saying that he is now a free agent. Lawyers for Lukas are claiming that an essential part of the contract between the boxer and MTC Sunshine Academy was access to IBO title fights. However IBO President Ed Levine was reported as saying that MTC was suspended for non-payment of sanctioning fees. MTC say Sakaria is still under contract and with Lukas positioned for an eventual challenge to Oscar Valdez or interim champion Carl Frampton there is serious money at stake here.
Some good European Boxing Union title fights are lined up. On 11 August in Finland lightweight champion Edis Tatli (30-2) defends against Frenchman Marvin Petit (23-1-1). Brit Frankie Gavin will challenge welterweight champion 25-0 Kevin Lejarraga in Bilbao on 17 November. No date yet for Dominic Boesel vs. Enrico Koelling at light heavy. Purse offers have been called for or negotiations are underway for Vicente Legrand vs. Andrew Selby at flyweight, Lee Haskins vs. Georges Ory at bantam, Abigail Medina vs. Jeremy Parodi at super bantam, Marc Vidal vs. Kiko Martinez at feather. For those interested in money the winning bid for Vidal vs. Martinez was Euro 26,113 ($30,437 or £23,000).
Still on the EBU they made the right decision in refusing the German Bund Deutscher Berufsboxer (BDB) application to be reinstated as an affiliated member. This is the body that hid from the EBU a positive test in an EBU title fight by Erkan Teper. Have they improved? When administrative body accepts a fight between Robert Maess (21-1 19 wins by KO/TKO) and Mihaita Cosma (0-18 18 losses by KO/TKO) as an acceptable match you have to wonder what they find unacceptable.
It has been a good few weeks for Erik Morales. Last month he was inaugurated into the International Boxing Hall of Fame and now he has won another honour. In the recent Mexican elections he was voted in as Diputado for District 07 in Tijuana. The Camara de Diputados is the Mexican equivalent of the US House of Representatives.
Isaac Dogboe will make the first defence of his WBO super bantam title against Hidenori Otake in Phoenix on 25 August. Otake the WBO No 5 has a 31-2-3 record with his only loss in his last 24 fights being a wide unanimous decision against Scott Quigg in 2014 for the secondary WBA title. Whilst Isaac Dogboe brought a world title to Ghana the IBO took one away. They have stripped Emmanuel Tagoe of their lightweight title for not entering into negotiations to defend against Fedor Papazov. Since the 28-1 Tagoe is not rated by any of the four major bodies he is going to have to a problem getting a shot at another title.
With Abner Mares having failed in his bid to win the real WBA feather title from Leo Santa Cruz the WBA secondary title is now vacant. The WBA No 2 Jack Tepora 21-0 will fight No 3 Edivaldo Ortega (26-1-1) on the undercard to Pacquiao vs. Matthysse. Just to be consistent in their stupidity on 11 August the WBA No 1 featherweight Jesus M Rojas defends the WBA feather interim title against Joseph Diaz. So the WBA aim is to still have a super champion, a secondary champion and an interim champion so what happened to their vow to reduce the number of champions? Also on the undercard to Pacquiao vs. Matthysse Carlos Canizales will defend the WBA light fly title against Bin Lu of China. Never heard of Bin Lu? Not surprising as although he was an elite level amateur he has had only one pro fight. In September last year he stopped Thai Wanchai Nianghansa who had an 8-9 record. The WBA were so impressed that five months later, without Lu having had another fight, he suddenly appeared in the WBA ratings at No 12. It’s a pity they are not a US based outfit as the FBI might show the same interest as they did when the IBF was selling places in their ratings.
Thai fighters like to keep busy so WBC super fly champion Srisaket has a non-title fight in Thailand on 21 July against Korean Young Gil Bae. Interesting heavyweight fight coming up as Bryant Jennings goes for his fifth win in a row as continues his effort get another title shot. He takes on IBF No 8(7) Alex Dimitrenko on 18 August in Atlantic City. Dimitrenko was to have challenged Agit Kabayel for the European title but has gone for the Jennings fight instead. Jennings, the WBO No 8 lost on points to Wlad Klitschko for the IBF/WBA/WBO titles in 2015.
Tony Yoka has some competition-at home. His wife Estelle Mosseley was World and Olympic Champion and now she too will turn pro later this month. She has been signed up by a TV Channel for a programme of ten fights through to 2020.
Some other of the former stars of French amateur boxing will be in action on 27 July in Le Cannet with Olympians middleweight Christian Mbilli 10-0 and Rio bronze medallist Mathieu Bauderlique 14-1scheduled to appear. Main event will see 17-0-1 Yannick Dehez defend the French welter title against 15-0 Jose Gomez. The show is being promoted by Brahim Asloum, himself an Olympic gold medal winner back in 2000 when he beat Brian Viloria on the way to the final giving France its first Olympic boxing gold medal for 64years. Asloum twice held the WBA light flyweight title and retired when still champion. He is now one of the leading promoters in France
A curious one from way back. In 2006 the USA and Ukraine teams met and at 75kgs Shawn Porter beat Oleg Usyk. It is difficult to imagine a 165lbs Usyk.
In a similar vein US amateur Khalil Coe has to be worth keeping an eye on. Last month in the Chemistry Cup in Germany he won the gold medal knocking out four-time World Champion and Olympic gold medallist Cuban Julio Cesar De La Cruz inside a round.
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.