Courtesy of Boxrec.com
WBA "Regular" champion Kazuto Ioka (11-0, 7) has been one of sensational success stories of Japanese backing over the past few years. Not only was he an out standing amateur but he's proven to be an incredible professional as well.
In the unpaid ranks Ioka (pictured opposite) ran up an impressive 95-10 (64) record and since turning professional he has been a sensation.
In just his 7th professional bout Ioka dethroned the reigning WBC Minimumweight champion Oleydong Sithsamerchai who had entered the ring unbeaten in 36. Not long after claiming a world title the youngster unified it with the WBA title due to an historic victory over Akira Yaegahsi in what was the first ever all Japanese unification bout.
Following the victory over Yaegashi the growing Ioka moved up to Light Flyweight and immediately claimed the vacant WBA Light Flyweight title thanks to a stoppage over Jose Alfredo Rodriguez.
The 24 year old Japanese fighter may only have 80 professional rounds under his belt but to date his record has been excellent and so are his skills. He's shown a sharp jab, excellent movement, good toughness (despite being dropped by Indonesian veteran Heri Amol early in his career) and one of the best body attacks in the sport. Despite his young years and relative inexperience he's already looking like an experienced fighter who knows what's needed and when he needs it.
In the first defense of his Light Flyweight world title Ioka will face Thai southpaw Wisanu Kokietgym (43-8-2, 13) who despite his wealth of experience is only 29 himself.
Have made his professional debut way in 2001 Kokietgym and been in over 50 professional contests it should come as no surprise that he has been in over 300 professional rounds, though unfortunately for the Thai many of those have been against weak opposition. The better opponents that the Thai has faced, for example Z Gorres and Nethra Sasiprapa, have beaten him, and so to have some of the weaker opponents.
For a man with almost 50 wins it may sound odd to say this but Kokietgym's record really is very weak. His best wins have come against fighters who are now widely considered Asian journeymen such as Ricky Manufoe, Jack Amisa and Sammy Hagler. This is a big problem when facing someone like Ioka who is a huge step up from anyone Kokietgym has faced so far.
In the ring Kokietgym is somewhat wild and his left hand often looks wide and slow giving opponents a big chance to shoot down the middle. Although he appears to have a nice jab it's certainly under-utilised as is his body attack. He lacks the power to keep a fighter like Ioka honest and with his weak defense it'll be a shock if he sees his way beyond the middle rounds.
Ioka might not (yet) be one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in Asia but in terms of potential the kid is amongst the very best, it'll take a special fighter to defeat him and Kokietgym isn't a special fighter.
With this looking like little more than a stay busy defense for Ioka, there is hope that he will fit 2 more fights in this year, possibly one with Roman Gonzalez in what would have to go down as a genuine "super fight"
In preparation for this bout we've featured the full fight of Ioka v Oleydong Sithsamerchai below, the bout that put Ioka on to the world stage. This video is thanks to jackyle11787.
Courtesy of Boxrec.com
WBA Minimumweight champion Ryo Miyazaki (18-0-3, 10) may very well be the most unknown Japanese champion right now though he's a fighter who will be looking to make a name for himself in 2013.
Best known as a stablemate of 2-weight world champion Kazuto Ioka, Miyazaki actually won his title after Ioka vacated to move up up to Light Flyweight. Although Miyazaki had to come through former world champion Pornsawan Porpramook to win the belt it was a belt vacated for him to win.
Aged 24 and based in Osaka, Miyazaki came through the tough Japanese amateur scene where he ran up 30 wins from 34 fights stopping a higher than expect 21 bouts early. It was obvious from an early age that despite fighting in the small weights that he was a fighter who could force stoppages.
In 2006, not long after Miyazaki's 18th birthday he turned professional and within 3 years of being a professional he had already claimed the Japanese Light Flyweight title thanks to a victory over Munetsugu Kayo.
After defending the national title once Miyazaki would go on to claim the OPBF Light Flyweight title thanks to a stoppage of Katsuhiko Iezumi. It appeared he was on the fast track to a world title bout though had to wait well over 2 years before that opportunity would arise. Instead of getting the world title bout Miyazaki instead had to do with the OPBF belt that he would defend 4 times before finally getting his shot at the vacant world title.
Although Miyazaki could only manage a split decision against Porpramook the young Japanese fighter genuinely showed characteristics that fight fans need to love. He proved he could take a shot (Porpramook landed enough of them to test out Miyazaki's durability), he proved he could trade with the best of them (often going toe-to-toe with Porpramook) and he could also box on the move (as he did excellently in round 9). Though there are questions with his power (which doesn't look to be as good as his record suggest) and his stamina he does look a pretty decent fighter with genuine confidence and good skills that just needed a little bit of work. Of course it is hard to look good against Porpramook who is relentless, tough and always comes to fight.
The first challenger to Miyazaki's throne is little known Mexican Carlos Velarde (23-2-1, 13) who at 22 years old will be looking for his biggest win by far.
Born in Culiacan and known as "Chapito", Velarde has been a professional boxer since he was 16. On his debut in 2007 he scored a draw with fellow debutant Daniel Contreras Jr before running up a 10 fight winning streak against incredibly limited opponents (who between them had 2 recorded victories).
In Velarde's 12th professional bout he would face his first test as he went up against Jesus Silvestre and unfortunately for Velarde he would come up short suffering a 5th round TKO loss.
Rather than using the loss as a launch pad to fight opponents of a moderate caliber Velarde's team stuck him in with more completely inept opponents as he strung together another 10 wins. Although he did score a notable victory over Jorle Estrada, Estrada's record had been bulked up and he was coming in on the back of 2 defeats.
Like in his first loss Velarde took a giant step up from awful opponents to fringe world level guys and was again beaten as Panamanian Edwin Diaz claimed an 8 round decision over him. Thankfully following the loss to Diaz it appeared that Velarde's men put more faith in him and he added 3 more victories to his ledger including a semi-notable one over Patricio Camacho.
Whilst Velarde hasn't yet competed at the world level he has faced 2 men who have fought for (and one has won) the WBA interim title at Minimumweight, though admittedly he did lose to both.
From watching clips of Velarde he appears to be an offensively minded fighter who stalks an opponent and looks to land his fast left hook on an opponent who comes in. The left hook of Velarde seem to be a punch that he likes to land to the body just as much as the head, though it is wild and he could be punished for the way it loops around. Velarde appears to switch stances at times though it appears to be less a case of choosing to and more a case clumsy footwork, especially when he lets his hands go. Like most Mexicans it appears that he likes a fight rather than a boxing and this is never a bad thing from the point of view of a viewer.
It's unfair to write off Velarde despite his weak opposition so far and in all honesty this looks like it could be a bit of a modern classic. Miyazaki is the sort of fighter can box or brawl and if he looks to brawl the Mexican challenger will return fire with fire in what could end up being an explosive contest. If Miyazaki wants to make life easy for himself he could easily box the socks off Velarde who appears clumsy with his feet and lacking the sort of jab that would trouble Miyazaki, though if the Japanese fighter wants to make a statement he'll do so by causing a tear up.
Although Miyazaki isn't well known, he has the ability to put on memorable bouts and it'd probably be in his best interest here to put on a show that could go viral with boxing fans. Velarde is the perfect foil for such a bout and this could be the type of "youtube classic" that several of Miyazaki's countrymen have been involved in recent years.
For those who haven't seen anything of Ryo Miyazaki the video below shows his full fight with Pornsawan Porpramook.
Courtesy of Boxrec.com
Hard hitting Japanese champion Takashi Uchiyama (19-0-1, 16) may well be one of the hardest hitting fighters pound-for-pound on the planet. In early May the Japanese power puncher will need to show how good he is as he attempts to make the 7th defense of his WBA Super Featherweight and continue his domination of the division as he takes on unbeaten Venezuelan Jaider Parra (20-0-1, 10).
Uchiyama burst on to the international scene back in 2010 when he stopped the previously unbeaten Mexican, Juan Carlos Salgado with 12 seconds left to claim the WBA Super Featherweight title. Salgado at that time was riding a crest of a wave which had seen him shocking the boxing world by stopping Jorge Linares inside a round so Uchiyama's victory opened the eyes of many.
Since claiming the title Uchiyama has been a destructive force stopping 5 of his 6 opponents (and suffering a 3 round technical draw with the other). This has seen him stopping not just weak opponents like Angel Granados and Roy Mukhlis but also current WBC champion Takashi Miura, former WBA "interim" champion Jorge Solis and more recently the then unbeaten Bryan Vasquez.
Aged 33 Uchiyama is perhaps coming to the end of his prime though with just 126 professional rounds under his belt there may well be plenty of miles left on the man now known as "KO Dynamite". His power is certainly going no where and whilst he's not a lazy fighter he's also not a fighter who depends on speed (though he's certainly not slow when he unloads) or work rate to win bouts instead relying on his thunderous power and under-rated toughness to win bouts. He's often a slow starter but when he lets his hands go every shot seems to have an effect on his opponents and this power seems to stay with him from round 1 to round 12. Thinking about it, it may not be Uchiyama's power that is most devastating but the fact that he's able to carry it through a fight.
In Jaider Parra, the younger brother of former WBA Flyweight champion Lorenzo Parra we have a real unknown quantity on our hands. At his best Lorenzo Parra was a highly skilled fighter who traveled on the road on won repeatedly, in fact Lorenzo Parra actually won 3 bouts in Japan (and 1 in South Korea) as he became a road warrior.
With Jaider Parra much less is known about him than his brother. What is known is that at 30 years old Parra is taking a massive step up. So far the best victories on his record are against C if not D level fighters such as Joel Cerrud and whilst he has been scoring victories on the road they have all been in Latin America, a far cry from Japan.
From what little footage of Parra seems to exist he's actually not a bad fighter. He looks relaxed in the ring and has a very nice jab with solid upper body movement and a good understanding of distance as well as a cracking short left hook. Although Parra's record suggests he's not much of a puncher his victory over Johnny Antequera in 2011 seemed to suggest that Parra has got power (although Antequera got to his feet after a knockdown he genuinely had no idea where he was).
Parra, at least from looking at him, has the ability to genuine frustrate Uchiyama. He'll not give the Japanese fighter that many openings, at least not early on and he'll use his feet well to stay away from the dangerous Uchiyama, though he does seem to have a habit of dropping his hands something that could see him punished by Uchiyama.
Not many people will have seen Parra though it wouldn't be a surprise for a few people to see a few people shocked by him giving Uchiyama a tough time early on. If he drops his hands and gets caught early then it could be game over though he certainly has the skills and ability to give Uchiyama a tough 6 or 7 rounds before Uchiyama decides to go through the gears. Parra, despite the eye catching knockdown of Antequera doesn't appear have the power needed to hurt Uchiyama (who seems to have only been dropped by Miura) and it's that that will eventually be his downfall. Parra could possible win a few early rounds but Uchiyama needs only half a chance to end the fight and it's inevitable that he'll get it sooner or later.
To whet the appetite of Uchiyama v Parra it seemed only fitting to include a highlights video of the Japanese fighter so, courtesy of bazooka9303, here we go!
Courtesy of Boxrec.com
Late last year Japanese veteran Kohei Kono (28-7, 11) "won the big one" and surprisingly upset Thai Tepparith Kokietgym scoring a hugely unexpected 4th KO over the highly touted Thai. Whilst it was Kono's 3rd attempt at a world title few really expected him to be little more than another name on Tepparith's growing record.
Having fallen short against both Nabuo Nashiro and Thomas Rojas it did seem as if Kono would be "the nearly man" of Japanese boxing. A 2 time OPBF champion at Super Flyweight and a former Japanese champion he was clearly talented and although but the big one just eluded him.
Now having beaten Tepparith the 32 year old Kono will be looking to make the first defense of his title as he takes on little known Venezuelan Liborio Solis (14-3-1, 7), the former WBA interim champion at Super Flyweight.
In a career dating back to 2000 Kono has been one of the most under-rated in Japan. This is in part due to the losses on his record, including a debut loss to Toshiaki Nitta and another early carer loss to future world title challenger Daigo Nakahiro as well as losses in the aforementioned world title bouts and a loss to recently deposed WBC Super Flyweight champion Yota Sato. Of those losses it's fair to say that the one to Nashiro was unlucky as both Nashiro and Kono gave it their all in a tremendous bout that Nashiro won by split decision with all 3 of the judges scoring it 115-114.
Since losing to Nashiro in 2008 Kono's career has been a roller coaster. He went on to reclaim the OPBF Super Flyweight title (for a second time) and defend it twice before sliding to 3 successive defeats to Rojas, Sato and the highly regarded Yohei Tobe. For many fighters the loss to Tobe would have been the end but Kono got a third chance at a world title and took it against Tepparith, jumping on the Thai early and forcing a stoppage.
For Solis life in the ring hasn't been as interesting. Like Kono the 31 year old from Maracay, Venezuela has also been a professional since 2000 though took several years out of the sport after suffering a technical draw in his 4th professional bout in 2002.
Solis would return to action in 2007 and by the end of 2009 he had claimed the Venezuelan super Flyweight title thanks to a stoppage over Jose Jimenez which saw him moving to 7-1-1 (4) as a professional.
Following the victory over Jimenez, Solis started to fight in Panama and after 2 low level wins he would fight for his first international title. Sadly for Solis he would be out pointed (split decision) by Henry Maldonado in Nicaragua for the WBA Fedebol Super Flyweight title, this was despite dropping Maldonado. Solis would then suffer the 3rd and final of his career as the power punching Ricardo Nunez defeated him on points.
Since losing to Nunez we've seen Solis go on an excellent 5 fight unbeaten streak scoring wins in Panama, Mexico and Venezuela over some credible opponents such as Rafael Concepcion and Jose Salgado. This has seen Solis claim the WBA "interim" Super Flyweight title an make a solitary defense, though that defense was more than a year ago and was Solis' most recent bout.
For a fairly unknown fighter Solis is pretty solid though unspectacular. He's not technically the greatest but he has nice foot speed, a solid, though under-utilised jab a nice looking left hook which he uses well to counter. Despite how nice his hook can look at times he can also be made to miss it and miss it big which does leave him very open to a counter. Defensively he is a little open to a shot between the guard (which is rather wide) or to the mid section as well as a counter right over his hook which he appears to view as his best weapon.
The determined Japanese champion has not only mixed in better company than the challenger but he also seems to have a lot more to his game, especially going forward. Kono's attacks have more variety and are certainly sharper than Solis's. His work is often crisp and his 1-2 is a fantastic combination when he throws it as are his shots to the body which he seems to be able to switch to very easily. Defensively Kono is solid as shown by the fact he has never been stopped despite going in with several world level fighter though he's also a genuine tough guy in the ring, as many Japanese fighters are. His toughness was proven in a big way after he stood up to a monster low blow from Rojas, although the pain was evident he remained on his feet when other men would have crumpled into a heap.
The most over-looked feature of Kono however is that he's actually solid puncher and a really good finisher when he has his man hurt. His stoppage rate is less than 33% but don't let that that fool you into thinking he can't punch because as Tepparith found out, Kono can punch.
On paper neither guy is a big puncher yet both can genuine whack and if they end up battling left hooks there is no chance we're going the distance despite the fact neither man has been stopped. Although a distance contest seems the most obvious on paper this is a massive step up for Solis and it'd certainly not be a surprise to see him stopped late on.
With Kono perhaps feeling that judges are against him in world title bouts there is every chance he will look for the early ending and find it as his body shots wear down the Venezuelan challenger who has never a man quite like Kono.
In preparation for this promising title bout we've included the full Kono v Tepparith bout below to help get fans acquainted with the champion.
Courtesy of boxrec.com
A little over a year ago boxing fans were baying for an all Thai Super Flyweight title unification bout. Those dreams were ended in March 2012 when the over-looked Yota Sato (26-2-1, 12) upset the then WBC champion Suriyan Sor Rungvisai.
Since claiming the title Sato, 29, has been a genuine fighting champion having already recorded 2 genuinely solid victories over Sylvester Lopez and Ryo Akaho. He now looks for his 3rd defense as he travels to Si Sa Ket in Thaialnd to face the hard hitting Srisaket Sor Ringvisai (18-3-1, 17) in what promises to be an intriguing contest with a lot more than just a belt at stake.
For the Rungvisai stable this is a big chance to avenge the loss of Suriyan who was in Japan when he was out pointed by Sato in a genuinely enthralling bout. On the other hand a victory for Sato would be the first ever successful defense by a native Japanese fighter in Thailand (following in the foot-steps of Russian born but Japanese based Yuri Arbachakov a little over 20 years ago).
The Japanese champion (pictured above) is the better known fighter. Internationally he may have only popped on to the world scene when he defeated Suriyan though he had been a Japanese champion for around 2 years (including 4 months as an "interim" champion). As well as holding the national title he had claimed victories over Daigo Nakahiro and Kohei Kono (both had challenged for world titles and Kono has since gone on to claim the WBA Super Flyweight title) as well as the then unbeaten Kenji Oba. All 3 of those were genuinely quality wins.
The 26 year old Srisaket however is much less well known. He's part of the same stable that looks after Suriyan Sor Rungvisai and his younger brother Nawaphon Por Chokchai and so there is quality in the stable and when talking about him Srisaket is a pure puncher, his record has seen him never winning a distance fight (his only decision victory was a 4 round technical decision). At the moment it's fair to say that Srisaket is on a genuine hot streak having won his last 17 straight, after losing 3 of his first 5 (including a debut loss to current WBC Flyweight champion Akira Yaegashi and former Sato opponent Kenji Oba).
In terms of his style Sato is a quick fighter who can brawl (as he had to against Suriyan) and he can box. Sure he's not a huge puncher but he did twice drop Suriyan and when he connect clean he can hurt fighters with his crisp shots. His movement is very good and technically he is very solid. There isn't that much to pick up with him though the fact he can get dragged in to a brawl could be a problem.
On the opposite side of the fence Srisaket is, as mentioned above a puncher who would love a tear up with Sato. He's not the most technical, his footwork leaves plenty to be desired and his punches at times look wild and sloppy, though everyone of them is thrown with bad intentions. Worryingly for Srisaket is the fact he's only ever been beyond 5 rounds twice in his career (he's 0-1-1 in those two fights) and his stamina is relatively untested a real issue when you consider his style.
One of the big issues for Sato, is as mentioned above, no native Japanese fighter has ever defended a world title in in Thailand. The conditions in Thailand for fighters really does work in the favour of the Thai's who are used to not only the heat and humidity but also the peculiar way that the fights are fought outdoors in the middle of the day. This, combined with the crowds often see the Thai's claiming victories over more respected international fighters. Whilst Sato has said he wants to make history it'll be a tough ask.
In a neutral venue it's hard to go against Sato, he's more proven, more skilled, more experienced and a genuine champion. In Thailand however it really toughens the decision and to say it's 50-50 wouldn't be far off. If forced to make a decision one way or another, it'd be with Sato who is likely to see out the first 6 rounds then take Srisaket in to deep water.
In preparation for this promising title bout it made sense to include a short clip from Sato's title winning performance against Suriyan Sor Rungvisai from March 2012 (courtesy of CarlosBoxful). If Sato v Srisaket ends up being half as good then we are in for one fantastic bout.
Courtesy of Boxrec.com
To kick off an excellent series of world title bouts in Asia, veteran Thai Kompayak Porpramook (49-4, 34) takes on Venezuelan Jean Piero Perez (20-5-1, 14) for the WBA "interim" Flyweight title.
The 30 year old Propramook (pictured) will be looking for his second world title after having claimed the WBC Light Flyweight title back in November 2011, winning a FOTY contender with Adrian Hernandez. Although his reign didn't last long the victory did help put the diminutive Thai on the boxing map with many describing the bout as one of the best in recent times.
Since beating Hernandez, Porpramook has claimed a controversial victory over unknown Filipino Jonathan Taconing in his only win of note whilst also losing a rematch to Hernandez, in Hernandez's native Mexico. The loss to Hernandez ended a fabulous run of 24 straight victories for Porpramook following a stoppage loss to Hussein Hussein back in 2006.
Having been a career fighter at Light Flyweight this is the first real test Porpramook will have at Flyweight, one of the most exciting divisions in world boxing right now. Whilst he may not be facing a major name, he is facing a very dangerous opponent in the form of Perez.
Perez, a former WBA "interim" Flyweight champion is a fighter who has been over-looked by many going in to this bout though gave the very highly regarded Milan Melindo a stiff test last year. Although Melindo came through with the victory over Perez he knew he had been in a fight as he was left bloodied and struggling to survive the late rounds.
Although Perez goes into this bout with more losses than Porpramook he has arguably faced better competition with the likes of Melindo, Juan Carlos Reveco and Rafael Concepcion all being high level fighters. He is also naturally a bigger man than the stocky Thai who will be giving away several inches in reach and height.
Aged 32 Perez will know that this could be his last chance at a title and he'll be a very dangerous opponent for Porpramook, however with the Thai being younger and at home it's hard not to favour him in what could turn out to be another FOTY contender. Expect to see this fought in a phone booth with body shots from Porpramook being the order of the day as both men looks to claim a very notable win. With both men there to make a point and with the intimate surroundings that are typical with big fights in Thailand, expect the crowd to roar on the action and drive both the fighters to putting it all on the line.
I'm going with Porpramook via late stoppage with the body shots and the heat wearing down Perez, though a victory for the Venezuelan cannot be ruled out especially with his size advantage. All I can say for sure is that I cannot wait to see what goes on when the two men collide inside the ring.
To help get fans into the mood for this bout I've included the excellent Porpramook v Hernandez I bout from 2011 courtesy of chompupan. Enjoy!
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.