At the moment the Lightweight division is one of the most frustrating divison's in the sport. It had two elite level fighters, Vasyl Lomachenko and Mikey Garcia, though they never looked likely to face off. Then it had a huge number of interesting, solid but unspectacular contenders, all looking to get into the mix at the top of the division. It's not that it's a bad division by any stretch, but one that feels a little bit like it's lacking in star power and real top talent with a lot of evenly matched contenders behind the sensational Lomachenko.
Thankfully with so many evenly matched contenders there are a lot of bouts that could be put together and be very interesting. One such bout takes place on November 10th, and is a WBA world title eliminator, as Indonesian fighter Daud Yordan (38-3-0-1, 26) takes on former world champion Anthony Crolla (33-6-3, 13). On paper this could be a genuinely thrilling match up between two men who like to let their hands fly, and typically find themselves in gruelling wars. Neither man is a big puncher, though both have respectable power, and both have a gritty toughness to them.
Of the two men Crolla is the more well known. He is a very well liked fighter who had a really hard luck career that saw him suffer a number of early losses, including a defeat to Youssef al-Hamidi in 2008 and losses to Gary Sykes in 2009 and 2012. Despite those set backs he has really worked hard, and in 2015 he became the WBA Lightweight champion thanks to a tremendous body shot KO. That title win came in Crolla's 38th bout and had followed a controversial draw to Perez 4 months earlier. Sadly though his reign was a short one, losing in his first defense to Jorge Linares the following year. A loss in a rematch to Linares seemed to show Crolla's level, but he has bounced back with a couple of wins, including a victory over Ricky Burns.
It should be noted that not only was Crolla a hard luck story in the ring, but also a hero out of it, breaking up a burglary in late 2014, before being attacked by one of the burglars and suffering a broken ankle and a fractured skull. Thankfully he has bounced back from that with no lasting issues, and even scored his biggest win following that injury.
Yordan isn't as well known as Crolla, but is without a doubt the most well known Indonesian currently active in the sport, by a long way, and is a fighter with a cult following. His career has been an easier one than Crolla's, but he has mixed with a relative who's who facing off with the likes of Robert Guerrero, Celestino Caballero, countryman Chris John and Simpiwe Vetyeka. At his best he's a little warrior, who comes to fight, and applies a lot of pressure. He can be out boxed, has somewhat flawed defense but really does put on a show, as he showed earlier this year in a huge win in Russia against Pavel Malikov in what was an real all action bout.
Yordan is a fun fighter to watch, but he's very much a basic, rough around the edges pressure fighter, and we can't help but think that Crolla will be too sharp, too quick and too smart for him. The Indonesian will have moments, but we suspect he'll struggle to have them on a consistent basis against Crolla. If, however, Yordan can drag the Englishman into his fight he does have a chance, but we see that as a moderately slim chance.
Unfortunately no matter who wins this they really wouldn't stand a chance against the pheonomal Lomachenko.
On November 10th the Korakuen Hall plays host to an IBF Super Flyweight world title eliminator. The men involved are Japanese veteran Ryuichi Funai (30-7, 21) and Mexican youngster Victor Emanuel Olivo (15-2-1, 7), with the reward for the winner being a potential shot at Jerwin Ancajas in 2019. For Funai the bout is a must win, given he's 33 and he doesn't have time to rebuild his career, whilst Olivo will be looking to put himself on the map at the age of 22.
The Japanese fighter, from the Watanabe gym, has been a professional since 2005 and has carved out a really respectable career, especially when you consider he was 202 after 4 professional contests. In 2012 he got his first shot at a title, but was stopped in 9 rounds by the then OPBF Bantamweight champion Rolly Lunas. That loss to Lunas saw a then 27 year old Funai fall to 17-6 (11) but since then he has gone an impressive 14-1 (10) with his only loss being a razor thin one to Sho Ishida, in a Japanese Super Flyweight title bout.
Although Funai had lost in his first couple of title bouts he has since claimed the Japanese national title, winning that last year from childhood friend Kenta Nakagawa, and the WBO Asia Pacific title, which he won this year by stopping Warlito Parrenas. Since going 0-2 in title bouts Funai has since 4-0 (3) and has edged his way towards a world title fight. Another win when he faces Olivo will secure him that shot and open up the door for a career defining contest.
In the ring Funai is an accomplished boxer-puncher, who has lovely variety in his shots, boxes well behind a solid jab to control the distance. Although not a pure puncher Funai does have very respectable power in his right hand, and not many fighters will be wanting to eat his straight right, with is very straight and very hurtful.
The 22 year old Olivo made his debut at the age of 17 on the Mexican domestic scene. He would win his first 9 bouts, including a good domestic win over Jonathan Sanchez Cantu, before suffering a narrow loss to Milan Melindo in November 2015. Since then Olivo hasn't really faced anyone of any note, whilst going 6-1-1 (3). His sole loss during that time was a narrow decision loss to Jose Briegel Quirino whilst he would fight to a draw with Angel Aviles. Sadly there is little else to comment on from his record, and it's a real mystery as to why the IBF have him in their top 15 ranked fighters.
We've not been able to see much of Olivo, as footage of the Mexican is scarce. What we have seen however is that he's a very capable fighter with the ability to counter punch, as he did brilliantly at times against Melindo, and has the ability to pick up the pace as well. Sadly for him he does look to be a light puncher and it seems like he's also very under-sized for a Super Flyweight, having been no bigger than Melindo, a natural Light Flyweight.
We suspect the size difference could be a key difference here, and whilst we expect Olivo to have success, especially with his counters, we think Funai's size, strength and power will be the key to him taking home the victory and setting up a 2019 clash for the IBF title. If Olivo does manage to score the upset then he'll certainly have his best career win, and would make a bigger statement with a win here than his previous 15 combined. For Funai however a win here wouldn't actually be his most impressive, despite being among his most significant.
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.