There's long been a reputation of Japanese fighters not being good travellers. The reality is often that they prepare badly for their bouts on the road. Instead of giving themselves time to acclimatise they often travel the week or so before the fight and never really give themselves time to get read to fight a world class opponent.
One man who seemed fully aware that he needed to give himself time to prepare Stateside was Masayuki Ito (24-1-1, 12) [伊藤 雅雪], who put on a career defining performance to take the unbeaten record of Puerto Rican Christopher Diaz (23-1, 15) and become the new WBO Super Featherweight world champion.
The fight started at an amazing pace with both men looking to get their jabs going. It wasn't long until Ito found the range for his right hand and managed to work sharp uppercuts on the inside, proving he could get out on top on both the inside and outside. It was competitive but Ito did seem to be the man landing the cleaner, harder shots. Ito's confidence grew in the second round as he outlanded Diaz and landed the better more painful shots to both head and body. Diaz was becoming more and more wild looking to land something to establish himself but he was really struggling.
The Puerto Rican managed to up the pace in round 3, the first round that could really have gone his way. He upped the tempo and managed to find the range and timing for his left hook. It was a close round but one that certainly went to Diaz. It was however just a short respite for the Puerto Rican fighter who was dropped from a big combination of headshots in round 4, and Ito's accuracy showed as he hammered the face of Diaz, swelling his eye noticable. Diaz, to his credit, fought back and even seemed to hurt Ito, but the Japanese fighter landed some big body shots late on to slow the Puerto Rican's fight back.
Amazingly Diaz had a fantastic bounce back round in the fifth as he seemed to step his foot on the gas again and give Ito some problems. Ito was holding his own for the most part but it did seem like a round that Diaz won, though it was competitive and perhaps felt more like a Diaz round based on how much better he did in the round than he had in the previous one. Sadly though the fight back was a bit of a short lived one with Ito essentially sweeping the middle rounds by out working, out landing and out powering Diaz, who had his moments but always seemed to take shots back with interest.
It wasn't until round 9 that someone could make a case for Diaz to take another round, but he did start a nice little surge and seemed to do enough in round 10 to deserve that too, with Ito starting to slow, and perhaps show signs of tiredness. Not only did Ito seemed slower and less active in round 10 but Diaz began to get his shots off and landed several notable shots, with a right hand looking like it had hurt Ito.
Given the tempo of the fight it wouldn't have been a surprise to see Ito feeling the pace of the action but instead he he seemed to come out for round 11 with more energy, boxing on the move and using his jab early before sneaking inside and working up close. The shots from Ito were worsening the damage on Diaz's face with his left eye essentially swollen shut, and bleeding. Itos was unloading combinations and despite being tagged hard by a left hook it was the Japanese fighter who was controlling the round, one of the clearest of the fight. Diaz, several times, showed how much pain he was in, and was close to fighting with just one eye.
Diaz needed to go for a KO in the final round but he seemed to be worn out, in pain and was on the receiving end of a beating through the round, with Ito looking to close the show. Diaz, to his credit, saw off the aggression of the Japanese fighter, but lost the round, and didn't really come close to scoring the knockout he needed.
Having seen 12 rounds of action we went to the score-cards which were all in favour of Diaz, with scores of 116-111, 117-110 and 118-109.
With the win Ito becomes the first Japanese fighter since 1981 to win a world title in the US, which was when Tadashi Mihara claimed the WBA Middleweight title in New York. Not only did he win the title but he also put himself on the international boxing map, with new fans fans now wanting to follow his fun and fan friendly style.
For Diaz the loss will be a painful one, he gave his all but had all sorts of technical flaws that Ito took advantage of. He showed his heart, and his desire, but he was simply not good enough on the night to over-come Ito, who really did put in the performance of a life time.
Whilst Ito was a clear winner the fight was so action packed, busy and exciting that it should make a shortlist for Fight of the Year. It was high tempo, both men were hurt a number of times, and action packed. Just like every great fight should be.
After a string of great Minimumweight title fights in recent years, such as the recent contests between Hiroto Kyoguchi and Vince Parras and Ryuya Yamanaka and Vic Saludar we got a total stinker today. The bout saw WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart (18-0, 7) [น็อคเอาท์ ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท] battle against against "interim" champion Xiong Zhao Zhong (27-8-1, 14) [熊朝忠] in China, in what was Knockout's first bout outside of Thailand. Sadly what looked like it could have been a good bout just never really got going and ended up being a slow, dull and actionless affair.
The early rounds looked like Knockout was going through the motions. He gave away the first two rounds on our cards without putting up any sort of an effort. It looked like he was on cruise control whilst Zhong did just enough, with his picking and poking, to out work the inactive Thai. It was an embarrassing start from both men given the world title status of this bout, but thankfully the bout did pick up pace in round 3 when Knockout showed a few glimpses of his ability. The Thai finally looked like he had signs of life.
Round 4 was another where Knockout made it easy to give the round to the Chinese fighter. The Thai wasn't actionless but didn't ever press the fight like he could have. It was clear when he did land that Zhong dislikes the sting on his shots, but he rarely put his shots together. That changed slightly in round 5, when Knockout did try to put punches together, but struggled to land them as the small Zhong used his lack of size to avoid the shots of Knockout.
With the styles not gelling in the first half of the fight things only got worse as the two men began to wrestling more and more. The exertion of not boxing seemed to take it's toll on both men who fell into each other repeatedly, got too close and really failed to find any spark. At distance the only work of any note was Zhong's jab, often thrown as he came in with little behind it, whilst on the inside neither man had any real success landing anything relevant. Even the pro-Chinese fans seemed to have been bored, despite their man being involved in the fight.
At the end of 12 rounds it was hard to believe anyone really card about the contest any more, though credit to the judges who showed their commitment to the cause by handing in complete scorecards. They were read out as 118-110, twice, and 116-112 all in favour of Knockout CP Freshmart, who seemed to be so fed up that he even failed to celebrate after the bout.
Despite the win Knockout will have done himself and his career no good here, and no one will be in a rush to see his next bout. Zhong on the other hand will likely be retiring, with his 36th birthday just a few short months away.
Earlier this month fight fans in Japan got a minor upset, with Filipino Vic Saludar defeating Ryuya Yamanaka for the WBO Minimumweight title. Today Vic's brother Froilan Saludar (28-3-1, 19) attempted to double the family's haul of world titles as he travelled to China and faced off with WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura (17-1-2, 10) [木村翔], who was looking to secure his second defense of the belt.
The fight started excellently for Saludar as he boxed off the back foot, neutralising the pressure of Kimura and landing the cleaner, better and more accurate shots. To his credit Kimura took the shots well but it was clearly a round for the challenger. Saludar also seemed to shine in round 2 as he picked off Kimura's pressure, countered excellently and showed off the boxing skills that had seen earn so much hype early in his career.
The fight began to turn in round 3 when Kimura upped the pressure, moving through the gears and and trapping Saludar on the ropes, where he went to work big time. The Filipino had no answer with Kimura showing he had the ability to cut the ring off as and when he wished.
Saludar tried to return the favour in round 4, when he trapped Kimura, but was unable to get the champion's respect and the round finished with Kimura back on top. The pressure of Kimura was beginning to be cranked up and he was forcing Saludar to move move more, use his legs more and wear himself out. That was compounded by the clean body shots that Kimura was landing, with those shots taking the legs from the challenger in round 5. Without his movement Saludar was a sitting duck and was dropped with a shot to the mid-section in round 5 as he began to wear down under the now relentless pressure of Kimura.
The champion seemed confident that Saludar hadn't recovered as we began round 5 and he jumped on the challenger, unloading shots from the off. Saludar began to fight fire with fire and traded blows in what was a wild fire fight, but unfortunately for Saludar he was now running on fumes and a second knock down saw Saludar take the 10 count.
With two defenses now under his belt Kimura is now set to return to make a mandatory title defense against former WBO Minimumweight and Light Flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka, in what is expected to be a thrilling all Japanese world title fight as we head towards the end of 2018.
At the age of 39 Manny Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39) is supposed to have been shot. He's supposed to have been so far past his prime that he would be little more than a name on the record of anyone that he fought. Instead however he is the new WBA “regular” Welterweight champion, having dominated and dethroned Lucas Martin Matthysse (39-5-0-1, 36) in Malaysia earlier today,
After having been out of the ring for over a year, following his 2017 upset loss to Jeff Horn in Australia, many expected Pacquiao to look out of sorts, ring rusty and terrible. Instead he looked fine. It wasn't the Pacquiao who had destroyed fighters like Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto, but it was still a very capable looking Pacquiao who looked sharp and did as he pleased in the opening round against Matthysse, The Argentinian on the other hand looked slow, cumbersome and clumsy. In fact if anything Matthysse looked even worse than he did when he won the title against Teerachai Kratingdaenggym, where he was lucky to be bailed on his power and the poor chin of Teerachai.
Pacquiao's dominance stepped up a level in round 3 when he dropped Matthysse with an excellent left uppercut. Matthysse returned to his feet as the crowed roared on Pacquiao when went for the finish. Matthysse did enough to get Pacquiao's respect, but it was clear that Matthysse was too slow to be of any real danger, unless Pacquiao got reckless.
The Filipino controlled round 4, which was more competitive than the previous 3, as Matthyse cleared his head. The Argentinian would however be down again in round 5, taking a knee following a jab from Pacquiao with seconds left in the round. It seemed strange but looked to have hurt Matthysse who's first shot of note in round 6 was a hard low blow. The shot caused Pacquiao his only discomfort of the bout, whilst Matthysse got a chance to pause the beating he was taking. Pacquiao would however punish Matthysse soon afterwards as the Filipino continued to make the most of his edge in speed and reflexes.
Matthysse looked like he had some hunger early in round 7, landing a rare right hand, but would be dropped after a half blocked left uppercut. During the count he spat out the gum shield and Kenny Bayless stopped the contest immediately.
With the win Pacquiao adds yet another title to his incredible collection and sets himself up for another big fight. He'll likely not want to face one of the rising American threats at Welterweight, such as Terence Crawford or Errol Spence who would likely have far too much for him at this point, but there are options out there for the Filipino icon including a potential rematch with Jeff Horn and a showdown with the controversial Adrian Broner. Notably this completed a great few days for Filipino boxing which has also seen Vic Saludar claim the WBO Minimumweight title and Jhack Tepora claim the WBA "interim" Featherweight title.
With the loss for Matthysse it seems retirement is almost set in stone. He looked terrible against Teerachai but masked it with a win, this time however there was no positives he could take away from the bout.
A busy morning of action in Kuala Lumpur featured a number of title fights. The third of those was a WBA “interim” Featherweight title bout, as Filipino Jhack Tepora (22-0, 17) faced Mexican foe Edivaldo Ortega (26-2-1, 12). On paper this looked liked the potential show stealing, with both men being well matched on paper, both looking to make a statement on the global boxing scene and both looking to claim their first “world” title. Sadly for a bout that promised so much it did seem to fail to really reach the heights expected of it.
The first round was genuinely brilliant as Tepora seemed to try and make an immediate statement, chasing down Ortega and trying to stop him early on. Ortega managed to fire back and we got the opening round that we all expected, with both men unloading big shots. The second was quite similar, though Ortega managed to show more of his boxing and seemed to have a stronger second round as he landed more of his harder shots.
With Ortega using his boxing the action slowed. There were still moments, especially towards the end of rounds, but the fireworks seemed to slowly vanish as both men dropped their output and what action we did have became more and more sloppy.
There were certainly some good moments, and it was really close and competitive, but it seemed somewhat lacking in drama due to the pace and tempo slowing as much as it did. The slowdown in part was due to Tepora boxing really well off the back foot whilst Ortega had tasted the power and didn't feel like letting Tepora land hurtful counters. It was an understandable move from Ortega, to avoid the power, but did feel like Tepora could have done more.
Thankfully we did get drama in round 9 as Tepora's power showed it's self. The Filipino began to hold his feet more early in the round and Ortega seemed to see that as a chance to let his shots go. This finally gave us a return to the fireworks we had been waiting for since round 2. Ortega however ate a huge right uppercut that dropped him hard. The Mexican, with a badly swollen eye, returned to his feet, but looked like he was there for the taking and Tepora chased him before unloading power shots. The referee gave Ortega a chance to respond but after a number of clear shots waved off the bout.
For fans of Tepora the performance may not be memorable but he got the stoppage and claimed a career defining victory for the WBA interim Featherweight title, a win that will clearly put him on the boxing map. It comes just days after Vic Saludar claimed the WBO Minimumweight title and has put some momentum into Filipino boxing going forward.
As for Ortega this will be a hard loss to bounce back from and he really did get smashed by the power of Tepora in the 9th round.
We love to see fighters chasing history, and records. Sadly this morning history wasn't to be made as China's Lu Bin (1-1, 1) [呂斌] failed in his attempt to claim the WBA Light Flyweight title, as he took on hard hitting champion Carlos Canizales (21-0-1, 17) and came up short, despite an impressive performance.
The opening round saw both men come out swinging, and looking to land big shots. The stances of the two men, with Bin being a southpaw and Canizales being orthodox, seemed to cause both men issues connecting in the first 3 minutes. The second round saw both men having more success, with both finding spaces for their power shots, and landing them. Neither man seemed hurt at any point but it was clear that Bin had the more technically correct foot work whilst Canizales looked like the more aggressive fighter with the more damaging power.
The two continued to trade shots in round 3, but by then it was clear that Canizales was the stronger more physical fighter and he was able to back up Bin with ease. His pressure seemed to give Bin fits and despite Bin landing some solid left hands to the body he was taking significantly more shots than he was landing himself.
Canizales would continue to build momentum through rounds 4, 5 and 6 as his pressure was doing damage round after round. Bin was competitive but out muscled by Canizales who seemed to cut the ring off very easily, and find a home for both his straight right hand, his ramrod jab and his left hook. The success of the champion was only really slowed in round 7 as Bin began to use some excellent lateral moment, as he out boxed Canizales and then forced the champion onto the back foot. The same tactics were used by Bin in round 8 and for the first 2 minutes Bin looked in the ascendency. Sadly a hard right hand from Canizales hurt Bin who seemed to have his confidence broken by the shot and went into survival mode for what remained of the round.
The power of Canizales them seemed more potent in every subsequent round. He badly hurt Bin in round 10, dropped him in round 11, with Bin using the ropes to keep himself up right, and continued to pile on the pressure. Sadly for Bin he was looking like a beaten man going into the final round and Canizales seemed determined to chase the stoppage, dropping Bin with a series of hard right hand with only seconds of the bout left. Bin got to his feet but the referee had seen enough, with a second of the bout remaining the bout was stopped.
Bin chased history and was forced to pay as he felt the power from Canizales over, and over, and over. The bout will act as a learning experience for the former amateur standout, though it may come at a serious cost as this ended up being a damaging and painful defeat. For Canizales the win was a great opportunity to raise his profile to a world wide audience, and he will he gained a lot of new fans, who may not have seen his title winning performance against Reiya Konishi earlier this year.
A huge Sunday of fights kicked off earlier today with an IBF Flyweight title fight, that saw Moruti Mthalane (36-2, 24) being crowned as the new champion as he narrowly out-pointed Muhammad Waseem (8-1, 6) in a pulsating and action packed bout.
The contest started well Mthalane who brought the pressure early on and forced Waseem to fight his fight, with the two men trading blows at close range. Waseem tried to keep up with the veteran but Mthalane was finding gaps and landing the cleaner shots through the first 3 rounds as he got off to a perfect start.
Knowing he was behind Waseem changed his game plan, moving more, finding angles and stopping Mthalane from dictating the tempo and distance of the contest. It lead to round 4 being very close before Waseem clearly took the following two rounds, showing his boxing skills as well as his ability to stand and fight. The change in tactics showed that Waseem could make life easy for himself, but by round 7 it seemed like Mthalane was getting a read on the movement of Mthalane and he was starting to counter more and cut the distance, as he had earlier in the bout.
Mthalane would continue to be consistent with his work, there wasn't anything different from him but we was landing consistently, finding a home for his left jab, his left hook and his right hand. Waseem, who seemed to land to the body much more than the South African, wasn't quite getting the snap on his shots to do damage the damage that he was wanting to do.
The two continued to trade a lot of leather through to the championship rounds before we saw Waseem land his best shot, dropping Mthalane in round 11 with a dynamite left hand that dropped the South African. Sadly for Waseem there wasn't enough time left to jump on Mthalane who beat the count.
Having dropped Mthalane in round 11 it seemed like Waseem was going to jump on the South African in the final round.. Instead it seemed that Mthalane was even to it in what was a sensational round of back and forth action, which saw both men looking hurt. Waseem had been hurt in the middle of the round, but came back strong and had a swollen Mthalane badly hurt at the very end of the fight.
Given the close and competitive nature of the fight a decision could have gone either way as we went to the cards. The scores of 114-113, twice, and 116-110 could, conceivably, had gone to either man but unfortunately for Waseem went to Mthalane, who is now a 2-time champion.
For Waseem there will be serious questions asked. Why did he pick up the pace so late? Why did he drop the angles that he used in the middle rounds? Why didn't he pick up the tempo a little earlier? Despite those questions he impressed, he went 12 rounds with one of the most under-rated fighters in the sport and ran Mthalane razor close. There is a real chance that, given a second world title fight, Waseem will come on top with the experience from this loss.
Back in 2015 fight fans saw Vic Saludar (18-3, 10) put himself on the boxing map as he droped the then WBO Minimumweight champion Kosei Tanaka, before being stopped himself whilst up on the card in Japan. Today Saludar return to the Land of the Rising Sun and took on Ryuya Yamanaka (16-3, 5) [山中 竜也] for the same title that he had pushed Tanaka so hard for. This time however things were different and it was Saludar taking home the gold after a career defining win over the Japanese slickster.
The fight started quickly from Yamanaka, who looked to make an immediate impact and catch the eyes of the judge's in the opening few moments, After doing that however the bout then slowed to a near standstill for the final minute of the opening round as both fighters stood off each other and looked for opening, but found none. The bout did then move up a level as Yamanaka showed his speed and skills as he countered the challenger and looked like the world champion had schooled Moises Calleros earlier this year. The confidence of the champion grew in round 2 as he engaged in a war on the inside, a war that he seemed to win with body shots and volume. It seemed like a smart game plan from Yamanaka, to get inside and work away on Saludar, who couldn't get the leverage his power needed up close.
Saludar seemed to realise that the inside battle wasn't going to be the best for him and in round 4 started to back off and disengage, forcing Yamanaka to work harder to get inside, and eat some counters on the way in. It was a tactic that worked even better for Saludar in round 5, as he landed some very solid body shots and left Yamanaka looking second best through the full round. It wasn't until round 6 that Yamanaka would manage to get inside again, and the two men spent the final 90 seconds of the round trading blows in round of the fight. It again showed that Yamanaka was the better man up close, with Saludar lacking the power to get Yamanaka's respect.
Unfortunately for Yamanaka he wasn't able to cut the distance particularly well as and when he wanted to, and that showed in round 7 when he was caught by a full blooded Saludar right hand, that send him down. The Japanese fighter recovered to his feet but was still clearly hurt when he got up. Saludar could smell blood and went hunt, chasing Yamanaka, and would twice wrestle him to canvas as Yamanaka survied the round. Although the defending champion had surrived there was still danger and he didn't look like he had recovered as we headed into round 8. The round saw Yamanaka avoid a fight as much as he could. Saludar brought the pressure through the round but could never land a huge shot to see off Yamanaka, who managed to clear his head through the round.
The 9th round saw a recovered Yamanaka try to box with Saludar. It was a tactic that worked at times, with Yamanaka landing several solid right hands, but it left him open to Saludar's power and the challenger landed a very notable right hand, that had it connected the previous round would likely have spelled game over for Yamanaka. It was clear that Yamanaka was behind and in roudn 10 he did what had worked so well for him earlier in the fight, he got inside and worked the body. It was an effective tactic and at one point it did seem like Saludar's legs wobbled. Round 11 followed a similar pattern to the 10th, with Yamanaka getting in close an working, but it ended with Saludar creating some distance late an landing some of the better shots of the round.
Saludar seemed to feel like he was in a comfortable lead and boxed very smartly in round 12. He let Yamanake come to him, whilst he jabbed and moved, landing clean head shots on Yamanaka, who's face ended up half caked in his own blood. It was a brilliant round from Saludar who took next to no risks and took the round through pure skill and ring craft.
Going to the scorecards we felt Saludar had done enough, as did the fighter himself, and the judges agreed, with scores of 117-110, 116-111 and 115-112 all in favour of the new champion Vic Saludar.
For the Saludar family this is a great boost and comes just weeks before Vic's brother Froilan Saludar battles Sho Kimura for the WBO Flyweight title. Sadly for Yamanaka it spells the end of his reign after just a single successful defense.
Earlier today fight fans had the chance to see the WBA crown a 4th concurrent Cruisierweight champion, as Kazakh Beibut Shumenov (18-2, 12) and German based Turk Hizni Altunkaya (30-2, 17) battled for the frankly ridiculous for the WBA “regular” Cruiserweight title, giving us a WBA Super champion, champion in Recess, Interim champion and now Regular champion.
From the opening round it seemed very clear the men were on very different levels. Shumenov had things his way as he landed a nice flurry about 30 seconds into the bout before going on to drop Altunkaya with a body shot mid-way through the opening round. It looked like we were on for an early finish, but instead the Turk managed to fiddle his way through the round.
From round 2 the bout began to take on a tiresome pattern of Shumenov trying to box and Altunkaya trying to do as little as possible other than survive. The Kazakh showed flashes, as he fought in bursts, but lacked the fire power and intensity to see off Altunkaya. The Turk showed next to nothing of his own, but did survive the bursts with little problem.
The pattern only really changed in round 9, when Shumenov upped the intensity and cornered Altunkaya, dropping him from a flurry of shots. He recovered to his feet but was hammered through much of the round as it was becoming clear he was tired and had mentally given up. To his credit he saw out the round, but was stopped by his corner between rounds 9 and 10.
Despite a 2 year layoff Shumenov looked decent, but really had no one in the opposite corner to test him, and it's unclear as to what Shumenov really has left in the tank. However he is now one of the 4 WBA champions in the division and will likely get some opportunities for a notable fight in the near future.
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.