Courtesy of Promociones del Pueblo
Unfortunately some world title fights look like mismatches on paper as an established and highly regarded champion takes on an unworthy voluntary defense against a limited and less skilled opponent.
Of course not all matches go the way we would expect looking at paper and we almost had a major shock late last night as Mexican Adrian "El Confessor" Hernandez (28-2-1, 17), the defending WBC Light Flyweight champion was unexpectedly sent to the canvas.
Hernandez, defending his belt for the 3rd time since reclaiming it from Thailand's Kompayak Porpramook last year, was facing little known Japanese challenger Atsushi Kakutani (13-4-1, 6). We'd expected Hernandez to start cautiously and slowly break down Kakutani, who had been stopped inside a round by Warlito Parrenas just over 2 years ago.
Instead of the cautious start from the champion we got action from the off and this resulted in Hernandez being dropped in round 1.
Unfortunately for Kakutani, Hernandez managed to recover to his feet and although a war continued through rounds 2 and 3 the fight was turning away from Kakutani who failed to repeat the success off the knockdown as Hernandez started to grind him down with heavier punches in the exchanges.
The grinding effect of Hernandez shots appeared to have taken their effect at the start of round 4 and in the first notable assault of the round Kakutani was sent down for the first time. The Japanese challenger showed the fighters heart by recovering to his feet but his legs lacked the co-ordination that he needed to really recover his senses. With Hernandez smelling blood he jumped on the challenger sending him down again.
Once more Kakutani found his feet though unfortunately after being sent down for the third time in the round the referee was forced to wave it off, probably a good thing considering how little punch resistance Kakutani appeared to have left.
Although this was loss by a Japanese fighter the result may actually "be a good one" for Japanese boxing fans. Kakutani's success against Hernandez, especially in the opening round showed how limited he was. With Kakutani, WBC's #14 ranked fighter, losing here and Naoya Inoue scoring his big win last weekend over Ryoichi Taguchi there may be a case for Inoue climbing into the top 15 and getting a voluntary shot next time out. If this occurs, and we want to make it clear that this is just us talking about it rather than any rumour we've heard, then there is every chance Inoue could claim a world title in fight #5.
In boxing some fighters are very good and others are simply exceptional. This past evening the very good Hiroyuki Hisataka (22-11-1, 10) was made to look simply awful by the very special and very, very talented Argentinian Omar Andres Narvaez (40-1-2, 21).
Although Hisataka's record isn't great he's a much better fighter than the numbers indicate and he's also a much better fighter than Narvaez allowed him to be in one of the most outstanding performance we've seen this year.
Hisataka, known for his toughness and his ability to be competitive with great opponents such as Oleydong Sithsamerchai, Hugo Fidel Cazares, Denkaosan Kaovichit and Takefumi Sakata was simply never able to get into this bout.
Narvaez, although cautious in the opening round appeared to do enough to take it. It was the only round Hisataka came close to making an argument in as Narvaez spent much of it feeling out what Histaka had to offer. It seemed the Japanese challenger had little more than some excellent defensive moment and a predictable right hand.
Following the opening round Narvaez began to take over winning rounds 2, 3 and 4 comfortably whilst boxing well within himself. He appeared to have already figured out that Hisataka's only real weapon was his straight right hand and that his foot work was weak, his ability to avoid hooks was almost none existent and that his body was often a wide open target. The Argentinian's only problem in the early stages was managing to catch Hisataka clean.
By the fifth round Narvaez was beginning to tag Hisataka clean. The quick defensive movements of Hisataka were gone and he seemed to be trying everything he knew to find an opening including dropping his hands completely, something for which he was punished for. This appeared to be the start of the end as Hisataka's confidence quickly began to drain away.
If the fifth round showed Hisataka running out of ideas the sixth showed Narvaez proving he had an extra gear as he dominated Hisataka with every shot in the book, both to to the body and the head. It was the first sign that Narvaez seemed to realise he could hurt Hisataka and a round that very easily could have been scored 10-8 even with out a knockdown.
Having been thoroughly dominated in the previous round Hisataka came out for round 7 like a man who knew he had to do something to turn the bout around. He tried to hurt Narvaez, and through a very long series of shots though unfortunately the clever defensive work of Narvaez saw very, very few connecting.
After having given Hisataka a chance to attack early in round 7 the Argentinian fired back, hammering Hisataka once more with shots up and down as he made it clear that Hisataka wasn't in his league.
Narvaez, who had ended round 7 on fire showed a renewed vigour in trying to stop Hisataka in the following round unleashing nasty shots one after the other. By now Hisataka was totally unraveling, his defense was failing badly, his body and head were being used as target practice and his offensive work was becoming more and more limited. It was starting to resemble a beat down.
The beating continued through round 9 with Narvaez now really punishing Hisataka, every single shot was thrown to hurt the Japanese fighter who was putting on a brave face despite being slowly beaten down by a highly skilled fighter.
Unfortunately for Hisataka, Narvaez's attacks were well measured, he wasn't risking being caught by anything despite the complete control he was having and this meant the referee was in no rush to jump in. That however all changed part way through round 10 as Narvaez turned the screw and hunted the stoppage more intensely than he had in the previous rounds. A series of body shots says Hisataka dropping his hands and follow up shots reigned down on the Japanese fighter until the referee had seen enough to stop the bout.
This will be a very hard loss for Hisataka to come back from. He was totally out classed and beaten down by an "old man" and the loss could totally shatter his confidence. Saying that however Narvaez is genuinely exceptional, there is possibly only two men in the division who we would favour over him and one of those is Srisaket Sor Rungvisai a fighter who, if he faced Narvaez, would surely make for an exhilarating battle.
Hisataka probably won't return to the world stage, there though is nothing preventing him from claiming a Japanese title or even competing for the OPBF belt both of which are great achievements in their own right.
Courtesy of boxrec.com
A little over a year ago Afghan born Canadian Arash Usmanee (20-1-1, 10) was an unknown in boxing circles. His most notable opponent was someone that really wasn't on the world stage and his profile was that of a local Canadian based fighter.
Earlier this year Usmanee launched himself on to the fringes of the world stage with a very controversial loss to the highly touted Cuban Rances Barthelemy.
The bout with Barthelemy, although a loss, had come on ESPN's "Friday Night Fights" series and given Usmanee a huge boost in terms of his profile. His performance there had generated him a new fan base and everyone, from Teddy Atlas, working for ESPN, to fight fans were wanting to see Usmanee in action again.
Usmanee got that chance earlier today as he stepped back in to the ring in front of the ESPN cameras to take on IBF Super Featherweight champion Argenis Mendez (21-2-1, 11) a highly talented fighter who has real skills, speed and unexpected power.
Although everyone who had seen the Barthelemy fight knew that Usmanee was a good fighter many thought that this would be a step too far too soon and he was clearly priced as the under-dog against Mendez.
Despite the under-dog tag Usmanee did what he always does and fought his heart out. He set the tone of the fight from the opening round by pushing Mendez to the ropes and throwing shot after shot at Mendez. Although the champion managed to defend himself well and land a number of solid counters in between Usmanee's shots it was clear that the challenger wasn't here to play the under-dog.
Usmanee's onslaught continued in a similar fashion round after round as he repeatedly forced Mendez on to the ropes, forcing the champion to show off his defensive skills and his counter punching abilities between eating from a torrent of punches. Sure Usmanee wasn't the most accurate fighter in history but his sheer work rate was making life incredibly difficult for his more skilled opponent who was looking for opportunities but not finding enough of them to really catch the judges attention round after round.
Unfortunately for Usmanee, when you throw over 1000 and only around 25% of them connect you leave your self open to some big shots and that's exactly the logic that Mendez used, especially in the middle rounds. Although Usmanee's work rate never really dropped that much Mendez began picking his sports more carefully and claiming rounds with his effective countering.
Although Mendez did do enough for a number of rounds he couldn't maintain it and Usmanee fought back hard looking to claim a number of the later rounds. This forced a tired looking Mendez beginning to hold his feet as the men began to trade in some thoroughly exciting action moments. Neither appeared capable of hurting the other but both managed to land really eye catching shots with both hands as the fight became more and more exciting.
Unfortunately for all of Usmanee's effort, which reflected well with the Barthelemy bout, he was unable to claim enough points to take home the victory and title need to instead settle for a majority decision draw.
Although he "came up short" in the title effort Usmanee again left a lasting impression following an excellent performance and will see many fans calling for him to get a second world title fight. Whilst bouts with Takashi Uchiyama (WBA) and Takashi Miura (WBC) will likely end up with Usmanee taking a beating another bout with Mendez is surely going to be called for.
For the third time in just a few weeks we think we may have seen a new front runner for fight of the year and, like the previous two, it involved a Japanese fighter.
Firstly we were calling the Omar Figueroa/Nihito Arakawa bout the fight of the year, then came the memorable war in Thailand between Koki Eto and Kompayak Porpramook. Well Takashi Miura (26-2-2, 19) against Sergio Thompson (27-3, 25) may well have stolen the honour and if not it's put up a hell of a challenge.
Miura, defending his WBC Super Featherweight title for the first time had been forced to go to Mexico to face #1 challenger Thompson, a man viewed as a real danger. Thompson, who's best win came via 2nd round TKO over Jorge Linares was a guy with a real reputation as a tough and hard hitting fighter who no one would willingly fight and of course Miura was similar with dynamite power and a Japanese mentality.
It was obvious from the moment this was signed that it was going to be special.
We'll admit we had high hopes for this though what we didn't expect was for it to exceed our expectations almost from the off.
The opening round was an interesting one and probably one of the worst. Miura spent much of it scouting Thompson who instead of boxing just winged in wild, loping right hands. It was easy for the Japanese southpaw to avoid many of the swings though he himself wasn't as reckless as Thompson and appeared to shake Thompson near the end of the round with pretty much his first left hand.
The first round made it clear that Miura was technically the better boxer. Thompson, for all of his reputation as a puncher didn't appear capable of setting up his shots and seemed almost unable to understand that he was fighting a southpaw.
Miura started the second quicker than he had started the opening round and managed to drop Thompson who took an "8 count" whilst sitting down before getting to his feet. As soon as the referee allowed them to fight on Miura was back on the attack and seemed almost intent on finishing this quickly rather than dragging it out, Thompson however saw out the round proving his toughness and his will to win.
If the second round was great the third was even better as both men traded bomb after bomb after bomb. This was the sort of action you see more often in a video game or movie than a real fight and it seemed like one man, or the other was going to go down after ever shot. The action raised the crowd who were very pro-Thompson and started chanting "Ye-Yo", the nickname of the Mexican, though couldn't help their man who was being bullied by the end of the round.
The bullying by Miura continued in the fourth round as the Japanese champion really tried to take Thompson out of the fight again. It was beginning to look a bit like a man against a boy and poor Thompson was the boy who was beginning to take a bit of a beating.
It appeared obvious that Miura was in the lead through the first 4 rounds, he had scored a 10-8 round and appeared to be bossing Thompson, but when the open scoring was announced the crowd booed the fact Miura was in the lead. It seemed as if the fans had expected their man to be winning rounds despite taking a beating in several of them.
It wasn't until the fifth round that Thompson really found some traction in the fight as he used his jab and moved much better than he had in the previous rounds. This seemed to suggest that Thompson, if he chose to box, could claim rounds with out being broken up by the power punching and aggressiveness of Miura though of course boxing isn't typically the Mexican mentality.
The Mexican mentality, as we all know, is to say "I have bigger balls than you and I'm here to have a fight" and that's exactly what Thompson did in round 6 as he hurt Miura badly for the first time. Miura seemed ready to go down for the first time in the fight but somehow managed to hold and recover before fighting back and dropping Thompson flat on his face. Some how the referee didn't call a knockdown from Thompson falling though was forced to soon afterwards as Miura scored his second 10-8 round and almost finished off Thompson before the round was over.
Thompson seemed to realise that going to war with Miura was a stupid idea and that it didn't really matter on the size of his balls if he could win the fight so in the seventh round he went back to boxing. With the crowd loudly chanting "Ye-Yo" once again it seemed like Thompson had taken his second clear round and once again had shown that he could beat Miura by boxing.
It's said that success breeds success and that seemed true for Thompson who built on the seventh round by dropping Miura in the eighth scoring his first stoppage. With Miura still hurt Thompson pounced on him trying to turn the fight around in one big assault but the Japanese fighter used his experience to try and hold on. Unfortunately for Miura his holding didn't work but instead his power did as he rocked Thompson, then get rocked himself, then rocked Thompson and got rocked himself again in some insane back and forth action.
Despite Thompson twice being knocked down the crowd again booed when the open scoring for the first 8 rounds were announced. It was again as if they were unable to see their man was losing, putting up a brave fight for sure but losing despite a effort in the seventh and eighth rounds.
Having seen out the hairy moments in the eighth round Miura was again on the front foot in the ninth despite his nose and eye being bloodied. He appeared to rock Thompson once again before a clash of heads saw Thompson going down. It seemed that Thompson, who was ruled fit to continue after the headclash, had all but punched himself out and he struggled to land much of note in a round that allowed Miura to steady the ship.
Miura seemed to be able to sense that Thompson had little left to offer and really went on a hard charge in the tenth round looking to not just win the round but to win the fight. Thompson, to everyone's amazement managed to stay on his feet despite taking an absolute hammering from Miura who seemed intent on keeping the decision out of the judges hands.
Thompson managed to see off the tenth round assault though was again blasted in the eleventh round by Miura who seemed to be sure that he needed a knockout. To a neutral observer he was clearly in the lead though to those watching at the Plaza de Toros in Cancun the fight was close and with a possible robbery playing on the mind of Miura he just kept hunting the knockout.
Surprisingly Thompson managed to see his way through the eleventh and then through the twelfth, a round in which he actually had some success off his own, though it seemed clear that the Japanese fighter had retained hit title in a very dangerous defense.
Unfortunately fighting away from home things are never as clear cut as they seem and the scorecards, announced in Spanish by the classy Jimmy Lennon Jr were bewilderingly close at 113-112, 114-110 and 114-111, though thankfully all 3 were in favour of Miura who certainly made some new fans even if the Mexican's didn't want to full admit it.
Interestingly Cuban Yuriorkis Gamboa was sat ringside cheering on Thompson. There had been talk recently of Gamboa facing Takashi Uchiyama in the US though with Miura's win here it's fair to say Japanese fans will be clamouring to see Uchiyama/Miura II a bout that we've got to admit, we'd love.
Courtesy of Boxrec.com
It's not that often that a Russian fighter gets to make a real impact on world boxing in front of the Western media but Sergey Kovalev (22-0-1, 20) has been afforded that opportunity in recent years. He has been based in American, his fights with both Gabriel Campillo and Cornelius White were big television bouts stateside and he had been creating a genuine buzz.
Although Kovalev had been getting attention he was still seen as a bit of a prospect. A hard punching fighter but one who needed to take the next step up, one who needed to fight a world champion.
Following his victory over White earlier this year Kovalev knew he opened the doors to world title contention. Originally it was expected that he'd fight Bernard Hopkins for the IBF Light Heavyweight title, instead however he had to make do with unbeaten Welshman Nathan Cleverly (26-1, 12), the WBO champion.
Cleverly, who had boasted an unbeaten record, had been the WBO champion for well over 2 and a half years. He had been considered by some as one of the most under-rated champions in boxing, though others felt he had been defended with soft match making by his promoter Frank Warren.
It appeared that this was a step up for both men a real litmus test for both and their first real bout.
Unfortunately for Cleverly things didn't go as he expected and Kovalev started fast using his jab to spear the face of the defending champion from the opening round. The supposed hand speed advantage of Cleverly really wasn't as pronounced as expected and Kovalev was managing to counter his jab almost at will.
The opening round, whilst clearly a Kovalev round, was a calculated round from the Russian. He was set on preventing Cleverly from getting in to a rhythm and was using his jab to open up the rest of his arsenal including a booming right hand that although rarely landing was showing his intention.
After taking the opening round Kovalev just maintain his busy work landing the occasional body shot as he left Cleverly feeling pain both upstairs and downstairs. Although Cleverly himself landed several punches of note he simply being out worked, out landed, out powered and generally broken down by a powerful guy who had traveled to Wales with the intention of winning.
Kovalev's attack, which had been constant in the opening two rounds, finally broke through in the third round when he staggered Cleverly. Kovalev, rather than rushing in and wasting the opportunity took his time and showed a very calm head before hunting for the punches to put Cleverly away.
The chance came quickly and Kovalev pounced dropping Cleverly hard, the first knockdown against Cleverly in his career. The Welshman managed to regain his feet but was still clearly shaken as Kovalev pounced again dropping Cleverly for a second time soon afterwards. Again he rose but it seemed almost a forgone conclusion that the referee was going to have to wave off the bout before Cleverly took further damage but amazingly Terry O'Connor waited and waited with Cleverly looking completely out on his feet.
With the bell going before O'Connor's hand was forced the referee appeared to carry Cleverly to his corner and sit him on his stool before the Welshman's corner, including his own father saw to him. Unfortunately Cleverly's father didn't seem to realise the state his own son was in and instead of saving him he sent him out for another round.
Kovalev, knowing perfectly well that Cleverly wasn't with it, went straight on the offensive and attacked from the off before forcing Terry O'Connor to save the Welshman before any lasting damage could be done. Thankfully it appeared O'Connor came to his senses before Cleverly lost all of his.
With Kovalev now clearly seated as one of the players in the Light Heavyweight division it appears almost certain that we are going to have some really fun fights in the near future. A fight between Kovalev and Adonis Stevenson appears to be at the top of every fight fans list of dream fights, though Kovalev against the likes of Bernard Hopkins would also be incredibly interesting.
No matter who Kovalev fights next, one thing is for sure, many fans will be tuning in to see the destructive Russian in action.
Courtesy of Boxrec.com
Over the past few years it's fair to say Akira Yaegashi (18-3, 9) has given us some of the best bouts the sport has seen. His war of attrition with Kompayak Porpramook was a barn burner from the off, his battle with Kazuto Ioka was was excellent and and tight throughout and his battle with Toshiyuki Igarashi was a bloody war.
It may have been time for Yaegashi to have a sleeper fighter but we'll be honest we didn't expect to see it come against a Mexican fighter, especially when on considers the Latin passion and fury that Mexican's are known for.
Unfortunately Oscar Blanquet (32-6-1, 23) seemed to have less of that Latin machismo than most other Mexican's and instead of putting on, as we expected, a battle with Yaegashi the Mexican was happier to hold, hug and generally spoil.
In his defense Blanquet did start well, he was throwing his fast jabs, using his reach and trying to keep Yaegashi defensively busy. This worked for a number of the opening rounds with Yaegashi fighting as a counter puncher, looking for, and landing, his left hook.
The work of Blanquet, over the first 4 rounds, was keeping the bout competitive and with the WBC's open scoring in effect it was clear to say the judges weren't against him and with scores of 39-37, 38-38 and 37-39 that was a split decision draw through 4 rounds.
After the fourth round Nieves became ever more negative as Yaegashi began to have more and more success. The little Japanese fighter, defending his WBC and Ring Magazine Flyweight titles for the first time really started to look like the fighter we all know and love. He pretty much swept the middle rounds with his classier punching and his aggression whilst Nieves seemed happier to hold, fall down in the clinch, complain and generally try to make things messy.
The messy action ended up effecting everything and Yaegashi twice landed blows that were ruled low, the second of which saw him deducted a point in round 8, the same round that he would score the fight's only knockdown. Although Yaegashi won the round 9-8 as a result of the knockdown and deduction it was obvious he was getting annoyed by an opponent who was less and less co-operative in making a fight.
When the open scoring after round 8 was known it was clear that Yaegashi was in a comfortable lead. His dominance through the middle rounds had opened up a comfortable, but not safe margin. The Japanese fighter made sure that he extended the lead in rounds 9 and 10 as he took both rounds before completely easing off in the final 2 rounds effectively telling Blanquet that he'd now need to make a fight of things.
Blanquet did, at least in the final round, take the initiative a little though by then Yaegashi has secured such a wide margin that the Japanese fighter needed to just stay on his feet to win, something he did with little to no trouble.
Courtesy of Boxrec.com
It's not too often that one country appears to dominate a division but that's exactly what Japan is doing in the Bantamweight division with the WBA, WBC and IBF champions as well as the OPBF champion.
Of the 4 Japanese fighters who hold some major title at Bantamweight one of them really looks a class apart from the others. Shinsuke Yamanaka (19-0-2, 14).
Yamanaka, arguably the best fighter on the planet at 118lbs, proved once again why he is so highly regarded as he blasted out world ranked challenger Jose Nieves (22-3-3, 11) of Puerto Rico in just 160 seconds.
Regarded as one of the hardest punchers in the division, if not pound-for-pound, Yamanaka would make his power felt early and Nieves was on the back foot from the off. A left hand to the body seemed to make Nieves even more cautious of opening opening up though his footwork failed to keep him away from Yamanaka who saw a chance to land his left and took it.
Nieves, put in full defensive mode inside 2 minutes was then tagged again by a straight left upstairs that sent him stumbling backwards in to a corner where he took the full 10 count.
Yamanaka will honestly have had tougher sparring sessions than this, however he'll have struggled to have made a more impressive statment, a statement that is likely to keep him distanced away from both Tomoki and Koki Kameda, two fighters will want no part of Yamanaka on this performance.
Courtesy of boxrec.com
Not many days can be called "historic" in the world of boxing but today truly was.
Not only did the day start with Koki Eto's victory in Thailand over Kompayak Porpramook, the first world title victory for a Japanese born fighter in Thailand but it finished with Tomoki Kameda (28-0, 17) claiming his place in the history books as well.
Tomoki, the youngest of the 3 boxing Kameda brothers was looking to not only become a world champion but was looking to become Japan's first ever WBO champion.
Stood in Tomoki's way however was Namibian Paulus Ambunda (20-1, 10), who like Tomoki, boasted an unbeaten record upon entering the contest.
In the past 2 Japanese fighters had attempted to claim WBO belts, Toshiaki Nishioka, who was stopped by Nonito Donaire in his attempt, and Yuzo Kiyota, who was out pointed by Robert Stieglitz in his. In both of those bouts however the Japanese fighter was seen as a clear under-dog, this time however the Japanese fighter was generally viewed as the favourite, despite being the challenger.
Although Tomoki entered as the favourite it was Ambunda who made a good start claiming the opening round with his pressure whilst Tomoki did little. It appeared that the Japanese fighter was seeing what the champion had to offer and countered occasionally on to the tough Namibian.
Tomoki appeared to begin warming to the bout in the second round as he began to land counters at Ambunda though against the round could easily have gone to the defending champion who was forcing the bout with his pressure. Although boxing on the back foot however Tomoki was beginning to have more and more success using his excellent footwork and superior hand speed to take rounds 3 and 4.
The fifth round was arguably the bouts closest round with Ambunda having success with his right hand to the midsection whilst Tomoki had success of his own with fast combinations and a sneaky left hook that appeared to tag Ambunda time and time again. Whichever way this round was scored mattered little as Tomoki was about to start a charge.
From round 6 onwards Tomoki, still fighting on the back foot, went up a gear and started to landing more and more combinations countering much of Ambunda's work. He began to not only time the Namibian but to actually make Ambunda look 1 dimensional as he walked in time and time again with Tomoki spinning off and landing a flurry before getting back on his toes.
Rounds 6-10 were all Kameda's with very little argument about any of them as the challenger really took over the bout. Ambunda, who had fought with a game plan based around pressure was never able to throw, or land, enough to cause Tomoki any problems at all. Although fighting off the back foot Tomoki was landing more shots than Ambunda and also landing the better shots as the Namibian was made to look incredibly ordinary.
Round 11 was probably the most damning round of the fight as Tomoki took it up another gear and really out landed the champion by a wide margin. Ambunda's guard, at times, was made to look completely futile and did little more than tie up his own hands as Tomoki worked around it and through it with complete ease as he thoroughly dominated the round.
Round 12, like round 5, was a close one, though this was much less to do with what Ambunda was doing and more to do with what Tomoki wasn't doing. The Japanese fighter, feeling in total control did very little as he looked to cruise through to the final bell and take home a well earned decision.
Interestingly, despite the fact being on neutral ground in the Philippines it was clear who the fans were backing and in the early stages every show Tomoki threw got cheered to the rafters. By the end however the decision had been sealed and the crowd, who were still on Tomoki's side, had subsided to only cheering the worth whilst stuff as opposed to almost anything.
Not only did this victory see Tomoki becoming the first WBO world champion in Japanese boxing history but it also saw him becoming one of a trio of Japanese title holders at Bantamweight. Thsi victory saw him joining brother Koki Kameda, the WBA "regular" champion, and Shinsuke Yamanaka, the WBC champion making this the first time in history that Japanese fighters have held 3 of the "big 4" organisation's titles in one weight.
Japanese fighters don't tend to fair well on foreign soil, especially on Thai soil where they have suffered awful luck in world title fights. Of course most recently was Yota Sato's destruction at the hands of Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.
Today however the Koki Eto (14-2-1, 10) helped to change that as he became the first ever Japanese fighter to claim a world title on Thai soil, as he defeated Thai warrior Kompayak Porpramook (50-5, 35) in a genuine Fight of the Year contender. The fight was so good in fact that it may well over-shadow the recent war between Nihito Arakawa and Omar Figueroa, a bout some had already crowned the best fight of the year despite it's somewhat one-sided nature.
Eto started off using his under-rated boxing ability and using his significant size advantage to fire off his jab and keep Porpramook eating a steady stream of shots as the Thai tried to work his way in. Late in the opening round however Eto turned up the screw and went on an all out offensive dropping Porpramook, although it was ruled a slip Porpramook was certainly down from the shots Eto was throwing rather than anything else.
That pace with which Eto had finished the opening round was brilliant and in the second Porpramook matched it as the two men traded shots with little to no regard for defense. Porpramook, who was naturally better suited to the inside war was of course having success but Eto was surprisingly efficient at the inside action himself despite his size, in fact it was Eto's uppercuts that were really the highly of the close action.
It was an amazing second round though the same pace and ridiculous action continued through the third and fourth rounds as both men took the best shots their opponent before firing back, almost taking it in terms to try and batter the other into submission. The hectic pace was simply amazing and neither man seemed willing to really take a backwards step.
Although the bout was an out and out war in the first half of the bout it was Eto who was showing more to his game than the experienced champion. Eto was able to not only hold his own in the trenches but also box and he tried to mix up the two styles when he wanted to slow the pace. This worked great for him as he got to tag Porpramook coming in, as he did relentlessly.
Through the middle rounds it was obvious that the pace was beginning to get to both men, and the body shots of Porpramook, who had really targeted the midsection of Eto, seemed to be slowing the bout. Although the bout was "slower" it was still high paced as both men tried to bomb the other out. It seemed that even the slower rounds were more action packed than the most action packed rounds of many other bouts.
The slower action seemed to favour Eto who getting the space he needed to box and use the jab a bit more. Porpramook was unwilling to just give the Japanese fighter space but the Thai was made to pay for his pressure with Eto again having success on the back foot as well as in the head to head exchanges.
Unfortunately due to Thai TV issues rounds 9 and 10 were almost completely absent from the TV broadcast. When the fight was back on Channel 7 there was little more than 2 rounds left.
Whilst Eto seemed to be in the lead from a neutral's point of view it was clear that he thought the fight was still up for grabs and in round 11 he took the bout by the scruff of the neck and dominated a clearly exhausted, but still teak tough, Porpramook. The Thai, who threw very little through the round had made no argument to try and claim it as the Japanese fighter showed unbelievable energy.
Although Eto had clearly won round 11 he again seemed unwilling to just rely on his work and instead set of for round 12 with the intention of stopping Porpramook. The Japanese fighter unloaded form the bell and staggered Eto around the ring with a serious onslaught that would have taken lesser men out. Porpramook somehow survived the attack and actually fired back himself before a second big attack from Eto managed to drop Porpramook in the corner. This time the referee did give a count, unlike in the first round, and it seemed at last that Eto had sealed it.
Amazingly the knockdown had quenched Eto's desire to take the title and instead he went on a seek and destroy mission rocking Porpramook around before the bell save the Thai.
With the fight being in Thailand there may have been some, including Eto, who expected Porpramook to retain his title. Instead the judges did the right thing and awarded the victory, and the title to Eto who had claimed a well deserved, and action packed, victory against a very game opponent.
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.