Prodigious talents in professional boxing are nothing new. Over the years we've seen fighters like Wilfred Benitez and Morris East climb to the top of the world whilst they were just teenagers. Of course whenever a fighter looks sensational as youngster there is always the risk that they are going to fall short expectation. It happens for various reasons but not every fighter can reach the high level of expectancy that some in the media and boxing world expect.
One youngster who has already reached the heady heights of being a world champion but has so much left to give in the sport is Filipino youngster Marvin Sonsona (18-1-1, 15) who is amazingly just 23 despite being a professional for almost 7 years.
In Sonsona's career he has not only had high points, such as his win over Jose Lopez for the WBO Super Flyweight world title and his KO of the year contender against Akifumi Shimoda, but also low points, most notably his sole career defeat.
That loss came at the hands of Puerto Rico's Wilfredo Vazquez Jr (23-3-1, 19) when Sonsona suddenly jumped from Super Flyweight to Super Bantamweight. At the time Sonsona was just 19, he had out grown the Super Flyweight division but hadn't come close to growing into being a Super Bantamweight and it showed with Vazquez looking a much bigger, stronger and more powerful fighter. At the time Vazquez was 25 whilst Sonsona was still a kid and it looked very much like a man against a boy as Vazquez took the best shots of Sonsona without blinking whilst every shot Vazquez landed seemed to hurt the youngster.
Now, more than 4 years on from their first meeting back in February 2010, the men meet again, and this time is seems a much fairer fight than it was the first time they met. Sure the fighters don't enter as unbeaten guys on the way up, as they were when they first fought, but both guys are still world class fighters and both know that a win over the other takes them to within a fight or two of a world title bout in the action packed Featherweight division, where both are currently campaigning.
Since the first meeting things have been interesting for Sonsona who has had a bit of a stop-start career. He took 20 months out following his loss to Vazquez and then took an 18 month break soon afterwards as he went 4-0 (3) in the 4 years that followed his loss. It was certainly a time in the wilderness as many questioned Sonsona's heart and desire. Like most prodigies he needed a break from what he was doing and, unfortunately, he lived the play boy life style for a bit.
Thankfully the stop-start period of Sonsona's career now seems to be over with the Filipino now fighting for the 3rd time in 9 months.
Whilst Sonsona has been somewhat inactive since the first fight with Vazquez he has been unbeaten. The same cannot be said for Vazquez who has gone 5-3 (4) in his 8 subsequent bouts with losses coming to Jorge Arce, Nonito Donaire and, most recently, Yasutaka Ishimoto. There's no shame in losing to that calibre of fighter though some do feel that Vazquez has regressed as a fighter and the loss to Arce was certainly a damaging on with Vazquez running out of steam and being beaten down late in the bout.
At 29 Vazquez should have a lot of time left in his career though we have seen more than one person suggest that he's on a very clear slide and may have already become "shot". We're unconvinced by that but he no longer looks like the fighter he once was. He still looks like a strong fighter but more and more fighters are picking up on his faults and he's been beaten in 3 different ways. Against Arce he was worn down, against Donaire he was out boxed, for the part of the bout, and against Ishimoto he was ultimately out worked. It appears that against the best fighters Vazquez just doesn't have what it takes to win and in fact he may well have gotten as far as he via clever match making and physical strength alone.
Although Sonsona was stopped in just 4 rounds when they first met we actually favour him here. He's developed not just as a boxer but also as a man. He's no longer a child fighting in a division too high for himself but instead he's a fighter who has filled his frame a little, developed his man strength and kept the traits that made him exciting early in his career. He's still fast, he's still got good movement, patience and counter punching ability, as shown against Shimoda, he just now has the body that can do it against someone like Vazquez who has got to be doubting himself due to his results since the first bout between these two.
(Image courtesy of boxrec.com
The video below shows the full Sonsona/Shimoda bout, including the thunder bolt KO landed by Sonsona, courtesy of Matthew del Rosario)
When "Ring of Gold" was announced we had expected two world title fights. One of those was a WBA Featherweight super title fight between Simipiwe Vetyeka, the man who ended the legendary career of Chris John, and Japan's Akifumi Shimoda (28-3-2, 12). Unfortunately that bout got pulled by the WBA who demanded that Vetyeka took on WBA regular champion Nicholas Walters rather than Shimoda, who is a top contender.
It seemed at that point that Shimoda wouldn't be on the card and was unfortunately going to miss out a major opportunity.
Thankfully Bob Arum, of Top Rank, and Teiken have managed to do a great job and kept Shimoda on the card and in a title fight, albeit "just" a WBO international Featherweight title fight. Not only have they kept Shimoda on the card but also got him a fight with a former world champion as he meets once-beaten Filipino Marvin Sonsona (17-1-1, 14).
Shimoda, a former WBA Super Bantamweight champion, is currently on a 6 fight unbeaten run following his shocking KO loss at the hands of Rico Ramos. The loss to Ramos saw Shimoda losing his world title and soon afterwards he moved up in weight filling out to a Featherweight.
Although Shimoda's last 6 fights have come at a "sub-world" level he is still clearly a talented fighter. Not exceptional but still solid with good skills, good movement a decent engine and plenty of experience under his belt. The one thing he genuinely lacks is power and although he was stopped by Ramos that said more about Ramos's power than Shimoda's chin.
At his best Shimoda is a world level fighter, there is no debating that at all. The question about him going in to this bout and future Featherweight bouts is whether or not he's a Featherweight. He's been fighting there but comfortably making the weight and one would assume that if he was offered a Super Bantamweight world title fight he'd be able to make 122lbs with out any problem.
Whether Shimoda is a natural Featherweight or not is unlikely to make a huge difference here as he takes on former WBO Super Flyweight champion Sonsona.
As with Shimoda, Sonsona is a world level fighter when he's on song. He's fast, aggressive, powerful and genuinely fun to watch. He's not the most technically proficient of fighters but he does have enough about him to make life difficult for most fighters when his head is on boxing. Unfortunately Sonsona is a play boy outside of the ring and you can tell that boxing isn't always his focus which is a real shame considering his prodigious talent.
Aged 23 and fighting from the Southpaw stance the expectation on Sonsona is "IF" he can commit himself to boxing he can easily reclaim another world title somewhere down the line. On the other side of that is that if his out of the ring issues rear their head again his career could very easily be over.
In regards to this fight Shimoda seems to be the naturally bigger man, though there isn't much between them in all honesty, he's certainly the more experienced and older man. Unfortunately for Shimoda his relative lack of power and the fact he's "stepping" down after thinking he was fighting for a world title may work against him. We've seen it in the past where a fighter thinks he's fighting one guy, then it's gets changed to a lesser opponent and he just doesn't turn up.
Shimoda could try to use his natural skills to keep Sonsona off balance and neutralise his dynamite left hand. Unfortunately for Shimoda that could be a problem with Sonsona being very fast himself and being capable of throwing whilst taking one.
With aggression and power on his side Sonsona is a man who is hard to bet against here. Shimoda's the more complete fighter but something tells us that Sonsona will manage to land a huge left hand at some point. If Rico Ramos can knock you senseless then Sonsona can do the same.
Unfortunately for the winner of this fight, we don't think they will have much of a chance with the WBO world champion and may need to wait their turn for a title fight in the hope that a weaker champion comes around in 12-18 months. We suspect that Vasyl Lomachenko will beat Orlando Salido in the coming weeks and without trying to sound harsh Lomachenko would have an easy time with either Shimoda or Sonsona. Below Lomachenko though are plenty of beatable opponents and these two will favour their chances against a number of other top challengers.
Having canned the old "Full Schedule" of Asianboxing we have instead decided to concentrate more on the major bouts. This section, the "Preview" section will look at major bouts involving OPBF and national titles. Hopefully leading to a more informative style for, you the reader.