This past Saturday Filipino fight fans saw national boxing hero Donnie Nietes (38-1-4, 22) continue his lengthy, and excellent, reign as the WBO Light flyweight.
The often over-looked Filipino was in the ring against former world champion Raul Garcia (38-4-1, 23) but made it look like he was in against a real novice.
From the opening stages Garcia was out boxed, out fought and out moved. The domination from Nietes was making Garcia look clueless, well before the Mexican was dropped, twice, in round 3. From then on it seemed less a case of "who would win" and more a case of "how long, would Garcia last?"
As it turned out the Mexican would only last until the end of round 5 when he corner finally pulled him out of the bout, giving him his first stoppage loss in 43 bouts, and giving Nietes his second win over a member of the Garcia-Hirales family, having previously beaten Raul's twin brother Ramon.
(Image courtesy of boxingscene.com)
For much of the last decade the “lower weights” have been the most exciting, most interesting and more varied divisions in the sport. That was again seen when we had a talented, but frustrating, spoiler up against a flawed but exciting puncher.
The bout in question was the second meeting between Amnat Ruenroeng (17-1, 5) [อำนาจ รื่นเริง] and Filipino Johnriel Casimero (22-3, 14), a rematch that came after last year's farcical and foul filled bout in Amnat's native Thailand.
The bout started much like their first. From the opening bell it seemed like Amnat was sharper, stronger, faster and and physically the better fighter. He seemed able to box when he wanted and wrestle when he wanted, almost trying to bully the Filipino mentally, and in fact seemed to stiffen the Filipino part way through the round. The second followed a similar pattern with the Filipino being made to look second best to the defending the champion.
In round 3 Amnat sent Casimero to the canvas, though rightfully it was ruled a push with Amnat scarcely hiding his dirty tactics and dark arts.
Surprisingly the bout flipped on it's head in round 4 when Casimero landed a sweet counter up top that sent Amnat down. The shot would have dropped anyone in the division and Amnart unsurprisingly dropped hard, though amazingly got back to his feet. Although he got up he never seemed to recover and Casimero went on the hunt, smelling blood. Several waves of the Casimero storm were thwarted, with Amnat blocking, holding and spoiling his way through some of the round but a left hand to the body put the Thai down for the count.
With the win Casimero becomes a 2-weight world champion, having previously been the IBF Light Flyweight champion, and leaves the Flyweight picture looking extremely exciting, with him, Roman Gonzalez, Juan Francisco Estrada and Kazuto Ioka all holding titles. As for Amnat this could be the end, unless he fancies a trilogy with Casimero, he's getting on in terms of age and after a stoppage loss like this he may find it very hard to get notable opponents to face him and his dark arts style.
The past few days have been very busy for fans of the Cruiserweight division with 3 "world" title bouts, all for different versions of the WBA title. The first of those bouts saw Yunier Dorticos score a 10th round TKO win over Youri Kayembre Kalenga, in a FOTY contender, to claim the "interim" title, the following day Denuis Lebedev became the "Super" champion as he unified the WBA title with the IBF title, stopping Victor Emilio Ramirez in 2 rounds. Later on Saturday saw a third WBA title fight in the space of around 27 hours.
This time it was the "regular" title on the line with Kazakh Beibut Shumenov (17-2, 11) facing Junior Anthony Wright (15-2-1, 12), in a bout that was put together on less than a week's notice and seemed to be one of the many jokes that the WBA have given us in recent weeks. It was made with a late notice that the bout missed out on TV coverage and was essentially a joke title bout, especially given the other two title bouts.
Despite being a "joke title fight", the bout it's self looked like a good one on paper, between two heavy handed, talented but flawed fighters, both looking to score a noteworthy win. Thankfully the bout proved to be just as good in the ring as it looked on paper.
The fight started well for Shumenov who used his unorthodox boxing to make Wright look out classed, until round 5 when the American fighter dropped Shumenov with a very solid shot. Sadly for Wright however that was a rare moment of success and in round 8 Shumenov twice dropped Wright, who was beginning to have the bout go all his way.
Wright seemed to bounce back from the knockdowns well, but a third knockdown, in round 10, saw his corner immediately throw in the towel to give Shumenov the win.
Sadly for the Kazakh it would seem likely that he will now have to face either Dorticos or Lebedev, who are both likely to really hurt Shumenov if the bouts are made later this year.
Every so often a fighter comes along that looks special, the most recent of those is Dmitry Bivol (7-0, 6) who successfully claimed the WBA “interim” Light Heavyweight title with a dominant win over Felix Valera (13-1, 12).
The talented and hotly tipped Bivol was stepping up in class, as he has done with everyone of his fights, and was expected to be pushed hard by Valera, who had impressed in out pointing Stanislav Kashtanov last year. Instead however he made it look easy as he showed a real maturity and calmness to his boxing from the first round.
The opening round was a slow and patient from both men, with neither looking to take risks. As the fight progressed the risk taking didn't really change, but Bivol managed to up the pressure, force Valera backwards. When he was doing that he was winning rounds with his calm and accurate punching being too much for Valera who was trying to counter, but wasn't given the opportunity. In round 3 that work rate saw Valera struggling, whilst in round 5 Valera seemed to show the first signs that he was worried about Bivol's power.
It was smart of Valera to be wary, but that didn't help and in round 6 he was caught by some bombs from Bivol, who dropped Valera and almost came close to stopping Valera who was very lucky to see out the round, and looked completely done.
Valera had recovered in round 7, but that was a temporary relief with Bivol unloading on Valera in round 8, and against dropping dropping the champion, who was forced to take a huge amount of punishment through the round.
Knowing he was well in the lead, especially given the two knockdowns, Bivol seemed to relax, slow down and take a breather in round 9. The championship rounds again saw Bivol step it up, but it seemed clear that he was happy to take the win without risking too much, he came forward, patiently and intelligently pressed the action and although Valera had his moments it was always a controlled effort from Bivol.
Given the dominant performance their was no doubting the winner, with Bivol taking the bout thanks to scores of 119-107, twice, and 116-111.
Just moments ago Japanese fans, and those international fans with streams for Fuji TV, saw Japanese wunderkind Naoya Inoue (10-0, 8) [井上 尚弥] make the second defense of his WBO Super Flyweight title as he over-came tough mandatory challenger David Carmona (20-3-5, 8) and a serious injury.
In the opening seconds Inoue made his intent known, landing a huge shot up top that seemed to wobble Carmona, who instantly backed up looking and looked to become the counter puncher for the round. It worked in spells, but those spells were few and far between Inoue consistently finding a home for power shots, one of which stunned Carmona just before the bell.
The second round was a more controlled effort from Inoue who picked his shots better than he had in the opening and applied more intelligent pressure looking for holes in Carmona's tight defense. Given how tight Carmona's defense was and how unwilling he was to let his hands go when Inoue was coming forward it seemed that Inoue looked to change tactic in round 3 when he began to back up and almost allow Carmona to let his hands go a little. That didn't last long however as Inoue's aggressive instincts kicked in half way through the round and he just easily walked Carmona backwards. Carmona did however end the round with some aggression and it seemed almost like he had found a footing in the bout.
Having had some success in round 3 Carmona began to fight more aggressively in round 4. The higher level of aggression from Carmona seemed to be want Inoue was wanting and half way through round 4 the Monster found some solid shots through the guard of Carmona. Following those solid shots Carmona went back on to defense and spent almost a minute looking to avoid Inoue. Carmona did try and show some offense late but by then it was too little too late.
Round 5 was another where Carmona was willingly backing up with only moments of offense. Those moments were probably foolish as they ended up really annoying Inoue who went into “seek and destroy” mode battering Carmona around the ring for almost a minute as the Monster smelled blood. To his credit Carmona saw out the round without being dropped but it was a nightmare round for the challenger.
After having shown some vicious intent in round 5 Inoue eased off during the early stages of round 6, but still managed to land the most eye catching shots of the round. Carmona, at one point, got Inoue on the ropes but was given a beating following it and appeared to be a fighter living on grit and determination alone.
At the end of round 6 it seemed that Inoue had hurt his right hand and through round 7 he fought very cautiously, using only his lead hand on a consistent basis, and relying on the experience of his fight with Yuki Sano. Even one handed Inoue seemed to out box Carmona, though was much less explosive than he had been in rounds 5 and 6.
The boxing skills of Inoue were on show again in round 8 as he again fought 1 handed. Carmona had much more success, seemingly realising he was up against a 1-handed fighter. Although Carmona had the hand advantage he lacked the skills and speed to cope with Inoue who found a home for his jab and hook, and did, albeit rarely, unload with the right hand.
By round 9 the pace and excitement of the bout had died. Inoue was too good for Carmona, even with one hand, for the Mexican to try to be too adventurous whilst Inoue was showing caution and when he did, sparingly, use the right hand it was aimed at the body of Carmona.
In round 10 it seemed like Inoue was willing to risk his right hand again and and unloaded a 2-fisted assault on Carmona after hurting the Mexican. Carmona, to his genuine credit, saw out the storm once again.
Round 11 was another quieter round, with Inoue happy to win the round boxing and not take any real risks. In the final round however Inoue began to seek a stoppage again and went after Carmona as the crowd suddenly woke up, dropping the Mexican with about 30 seconds left. Inoue could smell the unlikely stoppage and went off unloading on the Mexican who just did enough to see out the bell, and the 12 rounds.
The 10-8 in round 12 helped secure a wide win for Inoue with scores of 118-109, 118-109 and a bizarrely close 116-111. It also gave him his first complete 12 round bout.
Although Inoue wasn't his most impressive here, or even close to his most destructive, he showed poise and genuine calmness despite the hand injury. He showed that he can cope when he's having to go through real adversity and that he has the skills to cope fighting one handed against a world ranked opponent, something he had done at the Japanese level against Yuki Sano. Sadly however the injury, a recurring injury, does leave us with serious questions about how long Inoue will be out of the ring, and how the hand will hold up in the future. Last time he injured it he was out for a year and to see him waste another year of his career on recovering would be a real shame. Given how he fought in the final round however it could be that the injury isn't as serious as it had been in the past.
When we talk about Japanese fan favourites fer really rival the always fun to watch Akira Yaegashi (24-5, 12) [八重樫 東] who has been in some of the most memorable wars staged in Japanese rings over the last 5 or 6 years. Today he was in another thriller as he successfully defended his IBF Light Flyweight title with a split decision win against the against the exciting and determined Mexican warrior Martin Tecuapetla (13-7-3, 10).
The bout, picked by some as likely to be the fight of the weekend, lived up to the expectation of being an action packed war, with the fight being thoroughly exciting from the off. The opening round saw both having their moments, with Yaegasghi probably just edging the round on his slightly sharper shots.
In the second round Tecuapetla began to warm to the task and brought the fight to Yaegashi in what turned out to be the beginning of a number of very fun rounds between the two men. From the second round to the 5th round Tecupetla brought the action and made the fight his fight, whilst Yaegashi seemed to look somewhat leggy and almost as if he had over-trained.
Despite struggling through some of those earlier rounds Yaegashi began to find his rhythm in round 6, tagging the body of Tecuapetla with ease and he began to get out of the wheel house rather than remain in front of the Mexican. It suddenly seemed like Yaegashi had found his leg, had found his bounce and had found his energy as he began to get in and out, using his excellent speed to make Tecuapetla look like a brave but limited brawler.
In rounds 7 and 8 Yaegashi continued to use his speed and and avoid too many exchanges when he didn't need to engage in a war. By round 9 however the warrior spirit began to kick in and Yaegashi again decided to fight with a fighter, with the final seconds of the round being particularly exciting. That fighting continued in round 10 with Tecuapetla having some real success with his thudding shots and spiteful combinations. Yaegashi wasn't beaten up through the round but there were worrying signs for the Japanese fighter who's face began to show it's familiar swelling around his left eye.
The warring continued in round 11 with Yaegashi this time getting the better of it with his accurate shots and incredibly sharp combinations using Tecuapetla's head as a speed ball. The crowd fed from their hero's success cheering loudly as Tecuapetla was beaten into a shell for much of the round before gritting his teeth in the final seconds. By the final round both were looking like they were fighting on will power alone, and it was amazing they were both capable of standing toe-to-toe just letting shots go at an insane pace. It was a round that seemed to be better for the challenger than the champion, but it was a round that was really won by the crowd who get a 3 minute treat.
Given the fight's close rounds it was clear the cards could be all over the place. Yaegashi's face a swollen mess and Tecuapetla looking like a man who had fought like he was involved in a 15 rounder.
At the end the champion had done enough through the middle stages to claim the win, with scores of 115-113 and 116-113 in his favour whilst the third judge scored the bout 115-113 to Tecuapetla. Despite the win for Yaegashi this performance likely puts a target on his back for other top Light Flyweights who may view him as a man coming to the end of his fantastic career.
World Title Results
Whether you like them or not World Titles add prestige to any bout as a result we've included the results of world title bouts in this special section.