Historically the lower weights have been criminally ignored by fight fans who have often made excuses to ignore the divisions and the specific fighters. Thankfully in the last year or two we have seen a shift with Western fight fans finally waking up to the “smaller guys” thanks to the likes of Naoya Inoue and Roman Gonzalez.
Those fight fans have something to look forward to on November 28th when we get the chance to see another of the exciting little men in action. This time it's the turn of Japan's all-action Koki Eto (17-3-1, 13) who will be challenging WBC Super Flyweight champion Carlos Cuadras (33-0-1, 26) in what looks like a sure fire war.
Of the two men it's Cuadras who is the more established. He's a former amateur star in Mexico who has climbed through the professional ranks over the last 7 years. Not only has the champion climbed through the ranks but he's gone on to reach the pinnacle of the sport claiming the WBC title last year, with a technical decision win over Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. Since winning the title he has since defended it 4 times in just under 18 months.
On his rise through the ranks there was plenty of excitement about Cuadras who 29-0 (24) going into his bout with Srisaket and showed that he could box, bang or brawl. Sadly since winning the title he has failed to really shine and what like a FOTY contender on paper against Srisaket became a frustrating fight to watch with Cuadras fighting scared. Whilst he has defended his title 4 times, the competition hasn't been great and his stand out win as champion was another dull affair with Luis Concepcion, a man who has seemingly been made for great fights.
As mentioned Cuadras is a bit of an all rounder. He can punch, he can fight and he can box. Sadly though can also make for dull fights using his feet a bit too much and not letting his hands go as much as he should when he faces a top quality opponent.
Whilst technically the away fight for this bout, which takes place in Tokyo, Cuadras is the “promoter's boy” have long been associated with Teiken Promotions, who will be the lead promoter for the show. It will also be the Mexican's 6th bout in Japan, where he is currently 5-0 (5), though against very poor opposition.
Whilst Cuadras is the more accomplished it's fair to say that Eto is the more exciting, in fact we've often dubbed him the “One Man Highlight Reel” or the “Human Highlight Reel” due to the way he fights and some of his previous contests. Those bouts have included 3 FOTY contenders in the last few years with the most notable being his decision win over Kompayak Porpramook in 2013, a win that saw Eto claim the WBA Interim Flyweight title. Other have included his 12th TKO loss to Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep and an incredible 8th round KO win against Ardin Diale in an OPBF title fight, a fight that saw Eto snatch victory from the claws of defeat.
In the ring Eto is massively flawed. The idea of defense often seems to offend the Okinawa man who has never been one for looking after his health when he goes into a fight, however his offense has made him a must watch fighter. His offense is full of energy, consists of very high output and very unorthodox. Whilst he's not a technically correct puncher his heart and wildness make him a real handful.
As an out and out brawler Eto is so much fun to watch. As a boxer however he's very limited and seems to lack a plan B or C. That may be an issue against Cuadras and it could well be that wee see the gutsy Eto try and try to bring out the brawler in Cuadras, however if he fails to get Cuadras into a war then he'll almost certainly have a frustrating day.
Notably for Eto this bout is at 115lbs, not the 112lbs where he has made his name. It will be only his third bout above the 112lb limit and will see him going up in weight. Interestingly however he is a very gangly fighter, and stands at about 5'8”, and is likely to boast natural height and reach over Cuadras. If he can take advantage of that then there is a huge chance that he could be the one frustrating his foe and could well find a way to keep Cuadras at range. If he can do that then things really could be interesting.
Given what we know of the two men, it's hard to see Eto winning, however we do expect the Japanese fighter to give his all and give Cuadras some real questions.
Excitingly not only do we have the bout, but we know that the winner will be forced to make a mandatory defense next year against Srisaket with the Thai's team expected to make a huge bid to get the fight in Thailand.
We often hear how low the talent pool is in a number of the lower weight classes. That tends to actually be wrong and a number of lower divisions are very deep, though sadly the best fighters aren't matched against each other nearly enough. That is clearly seen at 108lbs where fighters like Paipharob Kokietgym, Randy Petalcorin, Rey Loreto and Ryo Miyazaki have essentially been frozen out of big fights for a year whilst lesser fighters, like Richard Claveras and Luis De la Rosa are getting shots instead.
Thankfully however we do sit on the verge of a genuinely intriguing bout in the division as WBC champion Pedro Guevara (26-1-1, 17) takes on former Japanese champion Yu Kimura (17-2-1, 3) in a genuinely intriguing bout that sees Guevara return to Japan for the first time since he won the title, stopping Akira Yaegashi last December.
For many lower weight fight fans Guevara is one of the best in the division. His resume includes wins over Karluis Diaz, Jorle Estrada, Raul Garcia, Mario Rodriguez and Ganigan Lopez, though it's the win over Yaegashi that really broke him through into being a divisional star. He's also only lost to a genuinely world class fighter, a split decision to Filipino fighter Johnriel Casimero, more than 3 years ago.
In the ring the champion can box or fight. His power is under-rated though really it's his boxing skills that set him apart from many of the others in the division and it was those skills that lead to his win again Yaegashi. It does however need to be said that he didn't look his best last time out, against Lopez, in a bout that saw Lopez make life very difficult for the champion.
Going forward we suspect Guevara will move up in weight, the 26 year old is a big lump for a Light Flyweight and at some point he'll likely look to establish himself in the more prestigious Flyweight division. For now however he's a handful for anyone at 108lbs and there is no doubting that he is one of the division's key players.
As for Kimura he's a man who has often remained under-the radar for non-Japanese fans, many of whom would likely regard him as a non-puncher with little real potential to change that or to ever make a name for himself. What generally isn't too well known is that he was a solid amateur himself running up a 65-15 (8) record in the unpaid ranks before turning professional back in 2006. As a professional he has done things the hard way on the Japanese scene and suffered a couple of losses as a result, though both losses have come to “names” in Shin Ono and current WBA champion Ryoichi Taguchi.
As a fighter Kimura is a very talented boxer-mover with good accuracy, an intelligent boxing brain and good movement. He does, as his record suggest, lack power though much of that is down to his style which compromises on power due to the movement. His ability has seen him notch up a number of notable victories, including his 2014 Japanese title winning victory, a decision over Kenichi Horikawa, and a notable defense over Yuki Chinen. It's really since winning the Japanese title that Kimura has come into his own and started to believe he could, one day, become a world champion.
Although Kimura has improved massively from the fighter he once was it's still hard to see what he really has to trouble Guevara, who looks to be the worst of the champions for Kimura to be facing. Kimura will struggle to out box the champion and certainly won't be able to hold his own when it comes to power and physical strength. To us this looks like a worth while challenge but one that likely is being used as Kimura's final bout, and a chance to say he fought at the top level. At 32 he's unlikely to get another opportunity as this level and he'll put everything he has into the bout but we really can't see how he beats the very talented Mexican.
With Floyd Mayweather retired at 49-0 some fight fans may be expecting his record to stand for some time. The truth however is that his long unbeaten record is likely to be broken in the coming years with several fighters all chasing it. One of those is WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (39-0, 14) who looks to score his 40th win this coming Tuesday when he defends his title against Korean challenger Young Kil Bae (26-4-1, 21).
The bout marks a rare point of note for Korean boxing which hasn't had a male world title challenger since 2013, when Jung-Oh Son challenged Koki Kameda, and hasn't had a world champion since In Jin Chi retired in 2007. The only other recent world title with a Korean saw Ji Hoon Kim being widely out pointed by Miguel Vazquez back in 2010.
On paper this is a real mismatch.
Bae, also known as Myung Goo Yuh, is a 36 year old fighter who is married to fellow fighter Hee Jung Yuh. Much of his career has been spent in obscurity and in fact he began his career with a faltering 9-4-1 (4) record. Since that start however he has slowly but surely climbed through the ranks with his aggressive and fun to watch style which has seen him slowly make a name for himself in Thailand as well as Korea. During that run he has rattled of 17 straight T/KO victories and claimed the PABA Flyweight title.
On paper Bae's run is impressive though it does say a lot about his competition, which has typically been terrible. Those fights have shown his to be aggressive but predictable, heavy handed but not concussive, exciting but not exceptional. More notable than his run however is the fact he has suffered his last 3 losses have come but T/KO, including a 74 second blow out defeat to Roque Lauro.
Whilst Bae is, on paper, a puncher it's fair to say Wanheng isn't, however the champion is an exceptional pressure fighter who is tough, accurate, can hold a high pace and can grind fighters down both mentally and physically. He's one of the sports most under-rated pressure fighters and combines accuracy, aggression and work rate to really impose his fight style on his opponents.
Whilst technically Bae and Wanheng are very different types of fighters it's fair to say that they have both fought a lot of poor opposition. Saying that however Wanheng has faced the much better competition with the likes of Ardin Diale, Yuma Iwahashi, Oswaldo Novoa and Jeffrey Galero. They might not be amazing opposition but they are solid enough to be regarded as much better than anything Bae has beaten.
Given that Bae likes to fight on the front foot and that Wanheng is a pressure fighter, who love to close the distance, we're expecting this one to be a lot of fun with plenty of exchanges. Sadly for Bae however he'll not manage to cope with the solid defense and accurate offense of Wanheng who will likely grind down the challenger in the middle rounds of a fun but one sided fight.
Every so often a fight comes along that has fight fans feeling like it's Christmas. They know they are in for a treat. One such fight comes on November 21st when Japanese explosive Takashi Miura (29-2-2, 22) defends his WBC Super Featherweight title against unbeaten Mexican challenger Francisco Vargas (22-0-1, 16). To some fans this bout is the supporting bout to Miguel Cotto's WBC Middleweight world title defense against Saul Alvarez, to others however it's the hidden gem that will likely provide a better fight and more action than the supposed main event.
For those who haven't seen the two men in action they really are in for a treat. For those who have seen the men, they will know what to expect when the “Bomber” meets “Bandido”.
The champion is one of the sports heaviest handed champions. On paper his KO% is just 67% but that number really is misleading, and he has dropped almost everyone he has fought, including fellow champion Takashi Uchiyama, and former champions Billy Dib and Gamaliel Diaz, as well as top contenders like Sergio Thompson. In fact one of the thing that has dragged down Miura's KO% is his bouts at Lightweight, where he had to look to find opponents capable of taking his frightening power.
Miura is a 31 year old Southpaw who has really come in to his own in the last few years. To many his break out performance was his contest with Uchiyama, which he lost via 8th round TKO when his face was badly swollen. The loss was a blessing in disguise however and following it he moved over to the Teiken gym, having impressed members of the illustrious gym. It's been under Teiken that he's flourished and he's since gone 9-0 (7), claimed the WBC title and ran up 4 defenses, 3 by stoppage.
Aggressive, intelligent, hard working and of course powerful, Miura is a nightmare to fight. At times he can look wild, maybe a little predictable looking to land his left hand, but he is so devastating, so tough and so dangerous that his reputation can scare opponents. His win over Dante Jardon, another powerful puncher, seemed to prove that perfectly as Jardon fought scared and got battered in 9 one sided rounds as a result.
To beat Miura you need to move, boxer and make sure he can't land the left or over-whelm you. It sounds simple but it really isn't.
Whilst Miura is a puncher the same can also be said for Vargas, though he's less of a raw power puncher and more of a calculating combination puncher who lets his hands go, uses smart footwork to cut opponents off and looks to land a lot of solid shots. Although a solid puncher he has also shown he can box and in recent years has racked up a nice string of wins, beating the likes of Jerry Belmontes, Abner Cotto, Juan Manuel Lopez and Will Tomlinson.
Aged 30 Vargas is a man who has established himself in recent years and now looks to move on to becoming a world champion in one of the sports most under-rated divisions. Un fortunately for him he is stepping, though has looked comfortable fighting on the fringes of world class and his style is one that is always fun to watch, with a lot of punches being thrown. In term of work rate not many will match him, and better yet he's often accurate and intelligent with his output, showing some world class traits in his fights so far.
Watching Vargas, the best trait to have to beat him is to have the power and physical strength to fight him off. That however is much easier said than done and when fighters have tried that with out the power they have typically fared badly, as Lopez and Tomlinson will attest to. Miura however does have that strength and power and will likely be happy to go toe-to-toe with Vargas, which could bring out the boxer in the Mexican, if it does then Vargas will have to hope his plan B works. He can box, but the question would be can he do so against the aggression and power of Miura?
What we're expecting, or at least hoping for, is an all out war. A battle of machismo. A violent, brutal and exciting combat that gives fans a chance to really get lost in the contest. We're also expecting Miura to come out on top with his power eventually wearing away at Vargas after 9 rounds of brutal, exciting and relentless action. If however Vargas can box against Miura we could well see the title changing hands in what would be an enjoyable, but disappointing contest
Monaco may be well known for it's gambling, huge yachts, wonderful scenery and rich people however there is a slowly growing reputation for the countries boxing events, which have been promoted by South African promoter Rodney Berman. This Saturday sees Berman, and his “Golden Gloves Promotions” return to the European principality for a very cosmopolitan card featuring a variety of nationalities.
For us one of those bouts is of a particular interest as Kazakhstan's heavy handed Zhanat Zhakiyanov (25-1, 18) challenges WBA interim Bantamweight champion Yonfrez Parejo (17-1-1, 8), from Venezuela. On paper this is the most significant bout for either man so far and could well help set the stage for some big Bantamweight bouts in 2016.
The champion is a little known Venezuelan 29 year old who turned pro in 2009. His first bout of note saw him defeat the then unbeaten Jean Sampson in 2012 before being stopped, in 8 rounds, by the excellent Hugo Ruiz. Since then he has racked up 6 wins, including a decision win over Angky Angkotta in Indonesia and a win over Luis Hinojosa in 2014 to win his title.
From the footage of Parejo he looks to be a crafty fighter with an excellent and busy jab, intelligent movement and fast hands. Whilst his jab did catch out eye in terms of his punching we were actually more impressed by his calmness and confidence in the ring. He's certainly not the best Bantamweight out there, and he does make mistakes, but there is a lot of positives to take from his previous performances and he does look like the type of fighter who could frustrate fighters on the back foot.
Saying all that however Parejo has lost to the only world class fighter he's faced and hasn't really scored a win of world renown, hence why he's an unknown fighter.
Whilst Parejo is a known to only the hardcore and Latino fans Zhakiyanov is actually known in Europe, where he has spent some of his career under the guidance of the legendary Ricky Hatton. It's been under the watchful eye of Hatton that Zhakiyanov has claimed the European title and climbed the world rankings. Despite the link to Hatton however the Kazakh is a very well traveled fighter having already fought in Kazakhstan, Russia, Uzbekistan, Thailand, Switzerland, the UK, Belarus, Hong Kong, Australia and Bulgaria.
In the ring Zhakiyanov looks like a very limited fighter. In fact to call him fundamentally flawed would be a compliment. What he does have in his favour however is power and physical strength. It's been his power which has resulted in his victories, some of which have been sensational like his win over Karim Guerfi who he iced in style. Watching him it seems clear he can be out boxed but going to war with him seems to be a stupid idea for anyone.
Whilst his flaws will hold him back from ever being a real star Zhakiyanov doesn't have time to waste any more as he turns 32 just days before the fight and it seems it's “now or never” for “ZZ”.
Watching the two men it seems clear that Parejo is the much better boxer, and in fact he clearly has the ability to box his way to a decision. Sadly for him we don't really know how tough he is and there is a good chance that he will be caught hard from a Zhakiyanov shot that ends the night early.
We're expecting Parejo's boxing to be the key early though as he slows down in the middle rounds there will be more opportunities for the Kazakh who will manage to tag the Venezuelan. When he does that, then things will be come interesting and we could see a new champion being crowned.
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.