For a second day running we get the chance to see a Super Flyweight world title fight, essentially giving us lower weight fight fans a brilliant one two, and in fact it will be third bout in the division in less than a week.
This time we see Japanese star, and current WBO champion, Naoya Inoue (10-0, 8) defending his title against Thai veteran Petchbarngborn Kokietgym (38-7-1, 18). The bout, the headline bout of a card at the Sky Arena in Zama, sees Inoue returning to fight at home for the first time since he took the Japanese title in the same arena more than 3 years ago. The bouts in between have all taken place in Tokyo. For Petchbarngborn sees him returning to Japan for the first time in almost 3 years, following a 2nd round TKO defeat to Sho Ishida in Osaka.
For the champion this will be his third defense of the title that he won in incredible fashion at the end of 2014, when he demolished Omar Andres Narvaez in 2 rounds. Since that win he has been plagued with hand injuries however he has still light up the boxing scene when he has fought, with a particularly impressive return to the ring last December against Warlito Parrenas.
Despite looking impressive against Narvaez and Parrenas Inoue was made to look human last time out, at times, as he went the distance with mandatory challenger David Carmona. Although he went the 12 round distance for the first time Inoue showed that he had the stamina to do 12 and came close to scoring a stoppage in the final seconds.
At his best Inoue is nothing short of breath taking. He's lightning quick, incredibly fluid and makes the sport of boxing look natural. He's incredibly calm in the ring, controls range with easy and make offensive boxing an art form with combinations that many fighters can only dream of. Not only does he have the speed and skill to do magical things in the ring but the power, with both hands, to really hurt fighters.
The Thai, who boxrec now list by his birth name of Karoon Jarupianlerd, is a bit of an under-whelming challenger for Inoue, though in many ways is a man who knows he has a great opportunity. That opportunity however has arisen mostly on the basis that the top fighters in the division are all booked up with other fights, mostly mandatory title bouts. He has also gotten this opportunity following Paul Butler's inability to make weight, with Butler having had to pull out of an eliminator with the Thai earlier in the year.
Petchbarngborn has experience of fighting in Japan with 5 bouts in country prior to facing Inoue. Sadly for the Thai however he is 1-4 in the country, with his sole stoppage loss coming in his last visit to the country, when Sho Ishida stopped him in 2 rounds. It would be easy to write him off given his form in Japan however he ran Kohei Kono incredibly close 4 years ago and blasted out Tomoya Kaneshiro at the end of 2012.
Coming in to this one the Thai is riding a 16 fight winning run, with 9 wins by T/KO, they may not have come against great opponents but his confidence will be high thanks to that run. He is also an improved fighter to the one who fought Ishida and looks like a fighter who has developed some solid skills. Despite having solid skills he is, all honestly, a long way from having any world class ability, and to beat Inoue a fighter needs to be world class in a lot of areas.
For Inoue the bout really should be a showcase defense, a quick blow out and a chance to test out the hands, both of which were bruised last time out against Carmona. However the pressure is on him to look good with all the attention being on him moving towards a bout with the winner of next weekend's WBC title bout between Carlos Cuadras and Roman Gonzalez. Petchbarngborn will be looking to play the spoiler to Inoue's potential mega-fight however we suspect the Thai's best hopes would be to put on a brave effort in a loss rather than look to score the upset of the year.
This coming month is a really busy one with dozens of interesting bouts all around the globe on an almost daily basis. The first of those takes place on September 3rd and sees exciting Filipino Jerwin Ancajas (24-1-1, 16) getting his first world title fight, as he finally gets in the ring with IBF Super Flyweight champion McJoe Arroyo (17-0, 8).
We say “finally” as this bout was first arranged much, much earlier this year, before Arroyo was forced out of the contest due to an injury, an injury that was only made public about a week before the bout. Despite the wait we're expecting to see both men showing serious hunger and the intent on proving their ability and opening the avenues for some big money title defenses in the near future.
Of the two men the one better known internationally is 31 year old Arroyo, the twin brother of recent Roman Gonzalez opponent McWilliams Arroyo. The Puerto Rican champion was a former standout amateur who has slowly carved out a good career, but that feels relatively under-whelming given his amateur pedigree.
Arroyo turned professional in 2010 and after running up 10 straight wins over limited opponents he stepped and stopped veteran Jose Lopez. Since that win he has gone 6-0 (2) securing solid wins over Hernan Marquez, Mark Anthony Geraldo and, most recently, Arthur Vilanueva. The win over Villanueva saw Arroyo claim the IBF title, but impress nobody winning a pretty poor decision in a fight that was marred bar head clashes and styles that simply didn't gel. Despite that bout failing to set the world alight Arroyo is a talent and his dominant win over Marquez showed that.
In the ring Arroyo, at his best, is a very accurate, well schooled, all-rounder. He doesn't have lights out power or lightening speed but he is a very smart boxer with respectable power, solid speed and excellent timing. He's a thinking boxer and a good one at that. Notably however he hasn't fought in over a year, since the win over Villanueva, and that may hurt his timing coming in to this bout. If his timing is off it will take time for him get up to speed hare against a fast and explosive opponent.
If there is a word that fits Ancajas, to a T, is explosive. He's fast, he's accurate, exciting and hard hitting, as well as being a southpaw. There is however question marks regarding whether his power will hold up at world level and whether he'll be able to fight his usual style against a world class opponent, or whether he will have to tighten up and be less fan friendly.
Aged 24 the Filipino “Pretty Boy” is currently riding an 11 fight stoppage run, following his only loss. That loss, to Mark Anthony Geraldo, was a razor close one and seems to have really helped Ancajas develop into a fighter with more killer instinct. Whilst Geraldo is the best opponent Ancajas has fought he has come a long way since that loss, that occurred more than 4 years ago when both fighters were just 20. Although he has come a long way he still lacks a genuine stand out win, but could change that here.
With home advantage and a hunger to prove himself this is a huge opportunity for Ancajas to add his name to the mix at 115lbs. He's the under-dog but a live one and one who knows he's got everything to gain, including revenge for Arroyo's wins over Villanueva and Geraldo.
Given recent performances by Filipino fighters like, like Marlon Tapales in Thailand, Jonriel Casimero in China and Rene Dacquel in Japan there is some real momentum in the countries boxing scene, buoyed further by Manny Pacquiao's imminent ring return. Given that momentum we suspect Ancajas will over-come his more established foe here.
At the end of this month we get two brilliant world title bouts. There's a WBA Super Flyweight title bout between Kohei Kono and Luis Concepcion, a bout that he was monstrously high hopes for, and a WBA Light Flyweight title bout, which will see Ryoichi Taguchi (24-2-1, 11) defending his title against fellow Japanese fighter Ryo Miyazaki (24-1-3, 15).
Whilst we can fawn over the Super Flyweight bout for days we must admit that the Light Flyweight bout is almost guaranteed to be a thrilling fight it's self and pits men who should gel in the ring to give us a brilliantly exciting war. We don't think it'll over-shadow the Super Flyweight bout but it will be a brilliant bout it's self, and potentially another all-out-war.
The champion will be seeking the 4th defense of his title, a title he won at the end of 2014 when he beat Alberto Rossel. His previous defenses have all ended in stoppage and he looks be developing into a heavier handed fighter than many give him credit for. He has bounced Rossel, Kwanthai Sithmorseng and Juan Jose Landaeta off the canvas multiple times in his last 3 bouts and looks like a fighter who has really come a long way since winning the belt.
For many the stand out of achievement for Taguchi isn't his title win but his 2013 bout with Naoya Inoue for the Japanese Light Flyweight title. That bout saw Taguchi go up against Inoue and show no fear as the two traded in a brilliant 10 round bout, with Taguchi becoming the first man to hear the final bell against Inoue. The bout might have seen the Watanabe gym fighter lose his title to “The Monster” but it was a gallant showing that improved his standing in the sport, along with Inoue's. Since that bout he has gone 6-0 (3) and reached the heights of world champion.
Taguchi is a huge Light Flyweight, standing at around 5'6” with freakishly long arms and real toughness. He's not the most skilled, or the most explosive, but he's a great all-rounder who hits harder than his record suggests, has great stamina, can fight wonderfully on the inside and has really impressive body shots for such a tall man. He's a very talented fighter but one who has been known to give away his height at times, to fight up close, and one who has shown some inconsistency through his career, with a less than stellar performance against Luis de la Rosa at the end of 2015.
The challenger will be seeking to become a 2-weight world champion, having previously held the WBA Minimumweight title. Although he did make his name, on the world level at least, at 105lbs he had previously held the Japanese and OPBF Light Flyweight titles beating the likes Munetsugu Kayo, Katsuhiko Iezumi, Junichi Ebisuoka, Donny Mabao, Jerson Mancio and Michael Landaero at 108lbs.
At Minimumweight Miyazaki became a world champion by taking a narrow decision against Pornsawan Porpramook in a thriller before notching two defenses, a brilliant KO against Carlos Velarde and a majority decision against Jesus Silvestre. After those defenses he felt he had outgrown the division and went in search of a Light Flyweight title. Sadly however for Taguchi he struggled to make weight for his first bout at 108lbs, where he was stopped by Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr in 3 rounds. Since that loss he has managed to get his weight sorted and run up 4 straight stoppage wins to help earn a shot at Taguchi here. Those wins haven't come against top opponents but they have helped re-establish Miyazaki as a contender.
In the ring Miyazaki is an aggressive fighter. Their are defensive flaws but he often uses his offense to mask those flaws and is happy to take one to land one. His shots have thudding power on them, though he has been known to score eye catching KO's as seen in his win over Velarde. That power however hasn't seen him stop a genuinely world class fighter and with his defensive flaws there will be opportunities for all of his opponents, especially given that he is very small for a Light Flyweight.
What we're expecting here is for Miyazaki to come forward, apply pressure and to see Taguchi meet him center ring with the two exchanging in a genuine war. The fight will see shots traded back and forth in a war, though we suspect Taguchi natural size advantage, and ability to box on the back foot as well as the front foot, will see the champion retain the title. He'll be able to take a step back and set up traps whilst Miyazaki just looks for a fight and leaves himself open that little bit too much.
Every so often we get a fight that we genuinely want to see. This year we've already had a few, such as Leo Santa Cruz Vs Carl Frampton and Daigo Higa Vs Ardin Diale. We get another later this month when WBA Super Flyweight champion Kohei Kono (32-8-1, 13) battles against the exciting and hard hitting Luis Concepcion (34-4, 24). The bout is one of the most exciting match ups we could make on paper and is one we had hoped to get earlier in the year, though both men took different options before the WBA ordered them to fight.
For Kono, 35, the bout will be his 4th defence of the title and see him attempting to extend a reign that began back in March 2014, when he stopped Denkaosan Kaovichit. Although his reign hasn't been the best he did create history last year when he over-came Koki Kameda, to win the first ever all-Japanese world title bout on US soil, and effectively retire Kameda.
The Japanese fighter, dubbed the “Tough Boy”, is one of the real success stories of hard work and determination. He began his career with very little amateur experience and lost on his professional debut. That loss was a set back but Kono developed from it and after suffering other losses he eventually climbed his way through the rankings.
In his 21st bout Kono got his first title contest, facing off against Japanese Super Flyweight champion Teppei Kikui. A tough contest saw Kono claim the win, and the title, his first. Since then he has won the OPBF title, twice, and been a 2-time world champion, bouncing back from multiple setbacks to become the fighter he is today.
Although crude Kono is aggressive, tough, determined and hits harder than his record suggests. He's not the best Super Flyweight on the planet, or the best in Japan, but he's a total handful for anyone in the division with his never say die attitude. He's crude, needs to his feet, isn't the quickest to get into position and some times looks rather inactive whilst following an opponent round the ring, an issue that has cost him in the past. He is however someone you outbox and don't try to out fight.
With Concepcion we have another fighter who has been written off, multiple times, before finally getting to where he is today. He debuted back in 2006, as a 20 year old, and won his first 3 bouts before coming up short against Gilmer Baules. A 19 fight winning streak followed, with 17 stoppages, before Concepcion's's next loss. During that excellent winning run he stopped fighters like Omar Salado, Eric Ortiz and Denkaosan Kaovichit, who was dropped 3 times in 90 seconds to claim the WBA “interim” Flyweight title.
That winning run finally came to an end in 2011 when Concepcion fought the first of 3 bouts with Hernan Marquez, losing an 11th round TKO in a FOTY candidate. That was the first time where some suggested Concepcion was on the slide but a rematch 6 months later so many write him off all together, with Marquez stopping him in 109 seconds. That loss left a 26 year old Concepcion being looked at as a “shot” fighter with a record of 23-3 (18), and many felt he was a glass cannon.
Concepcion then went on a 9-0 (5) run, showing serious improvement in his boxing ability and less reliance on his power. He wasn't beating genuine world class fighters, but was over-coming fringe level foes, like Odilon Zaleta, Pablo Carrillo and Nestor Daniel Narvaes, all of whom will be familiar to Japanese fight fans. That run came to an end when he took on WBC Super Flyweight world champion Carlos Cuadras, and lost a wide decision to the Mexican despite putting up a credible effort.
Since the loss to Cuadras we've seen Concepcion score two notable wins, stopping the then WBA "interim" Super Flyweight champion David Sanchez and then out pointing Hernan Marquez, to finally avenge the two losses to the big punching Mexican.
Although Concepcion is a much improved fighter to the one who twice loss to Marquez he is still still an exciting and aggressively minded slugger. His defence is porous, his attitude in the ring isto attack and stalk and he is still looking to march forward and land a big shot. When he faces Kono he'll be in with a man willing to meet him face on and willing to take one to land one, with Kono's own machismo leading us to a fight. Both men can be out boxed relatively easily, but it takes a special fighter to beat either in a fight, and that's what we're going to get this coming Wednesday, a fight.
We'd not like to predict the result of the bout, but we do suggest that everyone tunes in, and we predict that this one could be a genuine FOTY contender between two men who simply like to fight. Don't expect to see the shoulder roll or fighters slipping and dodging, instead expect a tear up, get the popcorn, sit back and enjoy.
There's a bit of a quiet period in Asia during August but that comes to an end on August 20th when we get a brilliant world title bout that could potentially see a “torch passing moment” in Japanese boxing, or the final big performance from a genuine modern warrior. The bout in question sees teenager Riku Kano (10-1-1, 5) [加納 陸] attempt to set a Japanese record as he takes on multi-time world champion Katsunari Takayama (30-8-0-1, 12) [高山 勝成].
Of the two fighters it's Takayama who is the more well known. The 33 year old has been a modern day Minimumweight legend. He has faced a who's who featuring fighters like Isaac Bustos, Eagle Den Junlaphan, Yutaka Niida, Roman Gonzalez, Nkosinathi Joyi, Mario Rodriguez, Francisco Rodriguez Jr, Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr and Ryuji Hara. Whilst he has suffered losses he has never shown fear of fighting the best, and actually just having a fight.
If you like “pure boxing” and fighters who concentrate on counter punching then Takayama isn't a fighter for you. However if you like fighters who get in the ring, have a war and give non-stop action then Takayama is fighter who really is down your alley, as seen in his 2014 FOTY contender with Rodriguez Jr. Sadly however those wars have taken a toll on his flesh and in recent bouts he has been cutting very easily, as a result he has been ripped wide open in two of his last 3 bouts.
Aged 33 Takayama has been a professional for close to 16 years. During his career he has claimed Japanese national titles along with the WBC, WBA “interim”, IBF and WBO titles and been fighting in world title bouts for more than a decade. He is Japan's first “Grandslam” champion and is a man who knows his legacy is set, but feels there is still more in the tank and that a technical loss to Jose Argumedo last December doesn't have to be the end. He's still full of energy, still aggressive and still a world class fighter but his career has certainly taken a toll on his flesh and he's a fighter who doesn't have much longer left in the sport.
Aged just 18 Kano is viewed as one of the rising stars of Japanese boxing, and along with the Inoues, Kosei Tanaka and fellow teenager Hinata Maruta. Unlike many of the other promising youngsters in Japan Kano actually didn't start his career in Japan, instead however he began almost 3 years ago in the Philippines, before establishing himself in Thailand. In the Philippines he went 1-1-1 but really came into his own in Thailand, where he won the WBA Asia title and proved he could go 12 rounds.
Kano made his Japanese debut last year and in his third bout on Japanese soil he out pointed the very experienced Pigmy Kokietgym. This year, in his fourth bout at home, he claimed the “interim” OPBF Minimumweight title, with a split decision win against former world champion Merlito Sabillo. That win was a serious coming of age performance by Kano who showed his skills, energy, toughness. Those traits will have to be seen again here for him to have any chance against the ultra-aggressive Takayama.
Although he already has 12 bouts to his record his upcoming bout is potentially an historic one. If Kano wins he will become the youngest ever world champion from Japan, beating a very old record of Hiroki Ioka who set it back in 1987 when he beat Mai Thomburifarm. The pressure is all on him to break that record and set himself on to the world title picture. That is the sort of pressure than can break lesser fighters and is something incredibly important for Kano to cope with.
At his best this would almost certainly be a win for Takayama. However he's not at his best, his skin is so fragile that he could cut any moment and unfortunately we think that will be the issue here with Kano cutting Takayama and claiming a stoppage as a result, probably in the middle rounds with Takayama starting slowly due to spending the last 8 months away from the ring. We wouldn't be shocked by a Takayama win, but we do suspect Kano will be the man coming out on top.
Sadly for fight fans hoping to see this bout, it will only be aired live in Osaka,and no international streams are expected to be available.
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.