The action really kicked off on March 5th with notable bouts in both Japan and Thailand.
The biggest bout of the day came in Thailand where WBA “interim” Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart successfully defended his title against Indonesian veteran Muhammad Rachman with a 12 round decision. Notably this show also saw the return to the ring of Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep, who fought for the first time following his loss late last year to Juan Carlos Reveco.
In Japan fans saw Satoshi Hosono retain his Japanese Featherweight title with a hard fought decision over the gutsy Rikiya Fukuhara. The bout saw Fukuhara recovering well from a knockdown to give Hosono a really good test in the end. On the same show fans also saw Ryo Matsumoto make mince meat of a very poor Thai visitor.
Just a day later Thai fans had more action as Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo, Pungluang Sor Singyu and Kwanpichit OnesongchaiGym all picked up stoppage wins over over-matched opponents in Bangkok. The win for Chonlatarn was the most notable as it saw him reclaiming the WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight title, a title he was forced to give up prior to his unsuccessful world title bout against Vasyl Lomachenko.
A third successive day of action left us with a lot to talk about. Most notable there was the action in Macau which included an upset win for Amnat Ruenroeng against Zou Shiming. Amnat, defending his IBF Flyweight title, failed to shine but still made Shiming look clueless in the ring as the Chinese star suffered his first professional defeat. It wasn't all bad for Chinese fight fans however as Ik Yang moved to within a whisker of an IBF Light Welterweight world title bout whilst Rex Tso did the same to a WBA Super Flyweight title bout. It seems almost a given that those two will fight for world honours later this year.
At the same time as the Chinese action Japanese fans had their own show which saw Hiroki Okada and Suyon Takayama defending Japanese national titles at Light Welterweight and Welterweight. Okada looked as good as he has done since he turned professional however Takayama really struggled to over-come Nobuyuki Shindo, which Shindo actually dropping him very early in the fight.
A long weekend continued with another day of action in the Sunday. The most notable bout there saw Jae Ho Kim annex the Korean Super Featherweight title with a 2nd round KO against Ik Soo Han, who was looking to defend the belt for the first time since winning it last November.
After a few hectic days we then got a break before action resumed on March 14th. Sadly however that return was marred with sadness after a bout in Australia between John Vincent Moralde and Brayd Smith resulted in Smith passing away a few days later.
On a better note however March 14th also saw one of the contenders for the Female fight of the year as Naoko Fujioka over-came Mariana Juarez in an amazing fight for the WBC female International Super Flyweight title. The Japanese fighter really gritted her teeth to get a well deserved victory and we hope that we'll see her in another major bout before the year is over.
On the same day in the Philippines fans saw Renren Tesorio claim the GAB Light Flyweight title with a very hard fought win over Benezer Alolod. This was the second meeting between the two men after Alolod claimed a split decision over Tesorio last year in an equally engrossing and competitive match up. A trilogy anyone?
Thankfully there was then another little break before headline action with the next big fight coming on March 20th when Japanese slugger Yoshihiro Kamegai was sadly out boxed by Alfonso Gomez. On paper this had the hall marks of a FOTY contender and although it was fun an engaging it did fall somewhat short of expectation despite having plenty of action.
On March 21st we saw the return to the ring of exciting Korean fighter Min Wook Kim who made extremely light work of Lizandro De los Santos. It was a mismatch from the second it was made but the key was for Kim to shake some rust we he did very easily before blowing away the over-matched Mexican.
The following day saw history repeating as Rey Loreto scored another upset win and took out Nkosinathi Joyi for the second time. The bout was a rematch of their February 2014 bout, which saw Loreto stopping Joyi in 3 rounds, and this time it took less than a round for Joyi to be stopped. The South African, who holds wins over Katsunari Takayama and Florante Condes, now appears set for retirement.
A fourth successive day of action saw the world ranked Kanat Islam over-come Orlando de Jesus Estrada in 1-sided fashion. Although it was an easy win for Islam it was hard to see him really developing into a genuinely world class talented. Power aside there is little that impresses about Islam. Although Islam failed to impress us we did like what we saw of Zhankhozh Turarov who defeated Dunis Linan. Turarov, a Kazakh Light Welterweight recorded his 11th straight stoppage and showed plenty to get us interested in the 24 year old.
On March 25th we saw the Flash Elorde awards ceremony which included an OPBF Featherweight title fight that saw Vinvin Rufino claiming the title on this third attempt. The experienced Filipino managed to take a technical decision over Mark Gil Melligen in a bout for the vacant title that saw Melligen being dropped twice before a headclash took the fighters to the cards at the end of the 8th round.
The following day we saw former world title contender Go Odaira retain the Japanese Minimumweight title with a narrow decision win over Yutaka Sowano on a show that also saw wins for OPBF and Japanese Middleweight champion Akio Shibata and the much touted Ken Shiro, who really looked like a special fighter.
On April 28th we saw a memorable day for Filipino fans with Donnie Nietes continue his reign as the WBO Light Flyweight champion, following an impressive victory against Gilberto Parra and also saw Nonito Donaire return to winning ways with an easy stoppage victory over a horribly over matched Brazilian foe. Sadly however it wasn't a perfect day as it ended with Rommel Asenjo being stopped in his attempt to claim unified Flyweight titles.
On April 29th South Korean fighter Ye Joon Kim claimed the IBF Asia Super Bantamweight title with a narrow victory over Vergil Puton of the Philippines in an incredibly tight bout that saw Kim just taking the win with a split decision.
To end the month we saw the 2015 Rookie of the Year kick off with the preliminary round of bouts from the Rookie of the East. The tournament will end in December with an All-Japan Rookie of the year being crowned.
(Image courtesy of Pepe Rodriguez)