Whilst the month of May has a number of brilliant looking world title bouts there is one bout that looks out of place and hugely under-whelming. That's the WBA Light Flyweight title fight on May 6th that sees newly crowned champion Ryoichi Taguchi (21-2-1, 8) defending his title against the highly undeserving Kwanthai Sithmorseng (49-3-1, 26).
Before we start we have to say we like Taguchi, he's a very talented, tough and hard working fighter who has already notched notable wins over the likes of Yu Kimura, Yuki Chinen, Florante Condes and, most recently, Alberto Rossel. He's also shown his toughness in surviving the distance with Naoya Inoue and was very unfortunate not to have had a win on his record against Masayuki Kuroda. We feel he's a deserving champion in a division which has seen a lot of new faces winning titles over the last 12 months.
What we don't like however is Kwanthai getting a world title fight when he is less than a year removed from a loss to compatriot Stamp Kiatniwat, a talented prospect but one who is relatively unproven, and less than 2 years removed from a 7th round TKO loss to Kazuto Ioka for the very same title he's challenging for here. We would give him some lee way if he was to have scored a win of note following those losses but he hasn't and his only win against a fighter with a winning record came against Heri Amol, a man schooled by the then debuting Ken Shiro. Sadly this is another example of the WBA sanctioning a bout that shouldn't really be a world title bout.
With that said it'll come as no surprise that we're tipping Taguchi to retain his belt here. The talented Japanese fighter, dubbed “The baby Face Assassin”, has world class ability, freakish size for a Light Flyweight and the confidence of a man who is finally coming to terms with the fact he's a rather good fighter.
At his best Taguchi is a talented boxer-fighter who can box on the move or take the action inside and go to the body. He's not the biggest puncher in the division but he does hit harder than his record indicates and when he tags an opponent clean they certainly begin to respect his power and try to avoid taking too many clean shots from him. From makes him so tough to beat however is his toughness. It was that toughness that forced Naoya Inoue to dig deep in their Japanese title fight in August 2013 and it was the same toughness that saw him climb off the canvas to over-come Florante Condes last July. Despite looking relatively feeble Taguchi is as tough as they get.
As for Kwanthai the Thai was a good fighter. The key words being “was” and “good”. Back in 2010 he did claim the WBA Minimumweight title with a very narrow win over compatriot Pigmy Kokietgym. Hie reign lasted around 5 months before he was upset, in his first defense, by Indonesian veteran Muhammad Rachman. Going in to that bout Rachman was 39 and had lost his previous 4 bouts, yet he still managed to stop Kwanthai in the 9th round exposing the Thai who was 31-0-1 entering that bout.
Since the loss to Rachman we've seen Kwanthai feed on the many Indonesian fighters who fight in Thailand and pick up losses on a regular basis. That includes fighters like Domi Nenokeba, Safwan Lombok, Ichal Tobiba and Samuel Tehuayo. The type of guys that should test a prospect but not be used to help someone get a world title shot. Amazingly however that level of competition helped Kwanthai get a shot at Ioka in 2013 and again here with Taguchi.
Unfortunately Kwanthai's opposition tells us everything we need to know. He's not good enough to beat top drawer fighters and he's not good enough to beat Taguchi. The one question is whether he's tough enough to last the distance with Taguchi. We don't think he is and we're going with Taguchi to stop Kwanthai inside 9 rounds. Hopefully Taguchi will than face a more interesting test such as Randy Petalcorin, who recently looked sensational in stopping Ma Yi Ming, or Ryo Miyazaki, both of which would make for really good fights.
(Image courtesy of http://www.watanabegym.com)
Courtesy of Boxrec.com
Traditionally Japanese fighters have fared badly in Thailand whilst Thai's have been able to have plenty of success in Japan. In fact several Thai fighters in recent years, including Tepparith Kokiet Gym, Suriyan Sor Rungvisai and Pongsaklek Wonjongkam have all enjoyed notable success in Japan
Unbeaten Japanese youngster Kazuto Ioka (12-0, 8) however seems to love fighting Thai fighters. He made his name originally by stopping Oleydong Sithsamerchai back in February 2011 and has since beat more 2 Thai's in his subsequent 5 title bouts, including Wisanu Kokietgym last time out.
In fact in the 12 fight career of Ioka, he has a record of 4-0 (4) against Thai's, not bad for such a young fighter.
He'll be attempting to move that ledger against Thai's to 5-0 on September 11th as he battles former WBA Minimumweight champion Kwanthai Sithmorseng (43-1-1, 22) in what looks, at least on paper to be a very well made match up against a highly ranked WBA fighter.
Although inexperienced as a professional Ioka has been one of the most aggressively matched fighters in the sport. His amateur record of 95-10 (64) shows he's more experienced as a fighter than his professional record may illustrate and the fact that his trainer, and uncle, is Hiroka Ioka, a former 2-weight world champion shows his pedigree.
Ioka may only have a dozen professional bouts to his name but he's a bona fide world level fighter with 6 victories in world title bouts, including notable victories over Oleydong and Akira Yaegashi. In fact in terms of rounds fought 45 of his career 89 rounds in world title bouts showing that whilst professionally somewhat inexperienced he's gotten valuable top level experience.
In terms of his fighting style Ioka has a "non-Japanese" style. He's not a tough man fighter but instead a boxer-puncher. He's capable of fighting a firefight, as he showed against Yaegashi, though at his best he's a boxer with a clever ability to control range and a vicious right hand to the body, a shot with which he's making himself a reputation with.
With 45 fights on his ledger you'd have expected Kwanthai to have been mixing in and around world level for at least a handful of them, especially considering he was a world champion himself. Sadly his world title experience is much less than that of Ioka, with a record in world title fights of 1-1, consisting of just 21 combined rounds.
Although Kwanthai is inexperienced at the world level his 45 fight experienced is genuine in it's own right, especially when you consider many of those bouts have been fought for the PABA Minimumweight title, a title he has held twice. Although the PABA title is prestigious it's fair to say that Kwanthai hasn't been defending against top competition with his best PABA defenses coming against fighters like Jack Amisa and Ricky Manufoe.
At his very best the 29 year old Thai is certainly a capable fighter, his victory for the WBA Minimumweight title over compatriot Pigmy Kokietgym. Though in all honesty a "capable" fighter is probably all he really is and he was fortunate to be fighting in an era with several world titles out there.
With a stoppage loss on his record to Indonesian Muhammad Rachman from a body shot, we find it hard to imagine Kwanthai seeing out the 12 round with Ioka, especially given Ioka's body punching prowess. If Kwanthai isn't taken out with a body blow we really can't see him managing to out work or out box Ioka either.
Despite the large experience edge for Kwanthai it'd be a shock to see him managing to do really much more than becoming #5 on Ioka's list of Thai victims
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.