In boxing the winner is usually the fighter who takes the plaudits, and rewards, however every so often a loser can be a winner, and that was seen last night when Filipino Genesis Servania (29-1, 12) came up short in when he challenged WBO Featherweight champion Oscar Valdez (23-0, 19), but enhanced his reputation in such a way that he went from relative unknown to a man who pushed one of the top young champions in sport, all the way.
The Filipino started slowly, pressing behind a tight guard and trying to counter Valdez. At the early stages it wasn't a great tactic for Servania, but it was a foundation for his performance as he managed to settle into the fight well. Although reserved early on Servania had moments when he threw to get Valdez's respect, and showed that he could take the much vaunted power of the Mexican.
In round 4the fight came alive as Servania surprisingly dropped Valdez, who was up quickly but had clearly found a new respect for the challenger. Valdez was then hurt again before the round was over, with Servania showing his power and his ability to hurt Valdez. Unfortunately for Servania he was dropped himself the following round, and was shakey as Valdez looked to finish the bout. The recovery of the Filipino was impressive and he ended the round throwing bombs back, despite clearly losing the round.
Rounds 6 and 7 saw Valdez fight well for the most part, but late charges by Servania in both rounds made things very interesting as it was the challenger who left the last memory, despite the more prolonged success from Valdez.
With the action heating up and both having scored knockdowns it fight like the fight still had a drama in it, and Valdez was the one seeking the finish, letting loose with significantly more shots in the middle rounds than the challenger, who pressured and pressed and countered well, but seemed to hold back just a touch. That all changed in the championship rounds as the two men traded bombs, unloading some great shots during a fantastic back and forth, especially in the final round.
By the final bell it seemed clear that Valdez had retained his title, and all the judges had it in favour of the Mexican, but given the performance of the challenger it's almost certain that he will get another shot at a title in the future. His stock rose dramatically with his loss, and in all honesty that can help a career out massively.
The problem with super-fights is they very rarely live up to the hope and expectation. Tonight however we had one of those rare fights that lived up to the marketing, the hype and fans hopes and dreams, and what a fight it was as Middleweight supremacy was settled, and we were able to see something truly memorable. Soured only by the judges ringside who, once again, saw something very different to the reality in the ring.
The bout in question saw Kazakh destroyer Gennady Golovkin (37-0-1, 33) take on Mexican icon Saul Alvarez (49-1-2, 34) in a bout for the WBA, WBC, IBF, IBO and Ring Magazine Middleweight titles. It was a bout that had been spoken about for weeks, every boxing fan had some sort of view on the bout and it promised so much, yet delivered even more.
The fight perfectly for Alvarez who had a dream start as he looked too quick and too explosive for the older, slower Golovkin. The Kazakh struggled to get his range as the Mexican just used his edge in speed and youth to take control and use Golovkin's pressure against him. The early work of Canelo made it look like he was going to find life easy but in round 3 his speed started to decline just a touch and Golovkin began to find his range, with his pressure beginning to take effect.
As the pressure from Golovkin grew so did his success as he repeatedly walked Canelo back to the ropes and unloaded. The pressure forced Canelo to work hard to create openings, and although he was trying to fight as a counter puncher he was taking significantly more than he was giving and often he was forced to take the heavier and more telling shots.
From round 3 to 10 the fight took the same basic approach round after round. Golovkin would force Canelo back, Canelo would fight off the ropes in spurts, but would never be able to earn the respect of the Kazakh who walked through everything without even blinking whilst grinding down the Mexican. Canelo landed huge rights,massive uppercuts but couldn't slow down Golovkin who came through them like the terminator and landed his own shots, in much higher volume than Alvarez.
In the final two rounds Canelo came alive slightly, managing to find the energy to fight hard for about a minute of each round. Though he was then forced back, and the typical action of the fight continued, with Golovkin forcing Alvarez on to the backfoot and limit his activity.
At the end of the fight it seemed clear that Golovkin had won, he had taken rounds 4-10 with no argument at all, and the closest it could have been, giving Canelo every close round, was 115-113. The reality however was that the fight had been more of a 10-2 or 9-3 fight in Golovkin's favour. Somehow though Adelaide Byrd, a judge who is now gaining a really serious reputation for outlandish cards, had scored the bout 118-110 to Canelo, a card that simply made no sense and really needs to be scrutinised in the most serious of fashion. The second card was on the edges of reality, at 115-113 for Golovkin whilst the third was 114-114, forcing a split draw.
After the fight both men were interviewed, and the reactions of the crowd said it all as they cheered Golovkin and heavily booed Canelo. The crowd were pissed about the decision, and had every reason to be as there was a clear winner, denied his glory and the fight was left with a disgusting black mark against due to the judging.
On a huge day for boxing fans around the globe it could be said that fans in the Philippines got the perfect start as they got two brilliant bouts on Pinoy Pride 42, the second of which saw a local hero retain a world title, despite suffering massive cuts over both eyes.
The champion was IBF Light Flyweight kingpin Milan Melindo (37-2, 13), who narrowly defeated South African challenger Hekkie Budler (31-3, 10) in a really dramatic, and engaging contest.
The fight started slow and the 4 rounds were tactically changed rounds with Melindo looking to unleash his counter punches and Budler waiting back, trying to figure out a point of attack. That saw the challenger look to jab, and look to unleash combinations on the inside, though he got punished for both. The one massive incident during those early rounds was a monstrous low blow from Melindo that sent Budler down in a heap.
In round 5 it seemed like Budler finally found something to go with as he upped the pace, and Melindo responded in kind in a round that suddenly saw the fight come alive. Through the round it seemed like Melindo was the bigger puncher, but Budler certainly seemed to land more and seemed to be the one forcing the action as it suddenly looked like we were on for a tear up.
Sadly the action completely died in round 6, arguably the worst round of the fight. Despite the action dying off the end of the round saw the drama begin as a huge headclash left Budler cut over the left eye, with the cut being a long, deep one. The cut could have stopped the fight, and in round 7, when the doctors inspected it, it did look like we were going to have an early conclusion.
Thankfully the doctor decided to let the fight go on and in round 7 Budler had a great round and it seemed things were turning his way, with the cut clearly bothering Melindo. To his credit Melindo fought back fantastically in rounds 8 and 9, as he escaped another inspection.
With the fight finely balanced Melindo suffered yet again, as the two traded blows and their heads connected again. This time it was Melindo's right eye that was left with a gash over it and a bad swelling that made it seem like he was essentially blind in the eye. The swellings drove on Budler in round 11 and although Melindo was clearly fighting with his sight impaired the Filipino had his moments, including a massive right hand late on. It wasn't enough to take Melindo the round but continued to prove he was the power puncher in there.
With the bout close, and with Melindo's face a swollen and cut mess, the final round was always going to play a major role and both fighters knew it. Budler came out hot, unfortunately was dropped in the first 30 seconds. He got back to his feet, complained about it being a trip and then they went to war, with Melindo seemingly hunting a stoppage then Budler turning the tables until they were just trading back and forth in a round that should in contention for round of the year.
When the knockdown occurred it did seem like it would play a massive role, and that proved to be the case when the cards were read, with scores of 115-113 to Budler being over-ruled by scores of 115-112 and 117-110 for Melindo.
With the win Melindo secures his first defense, but he will be out of the ring for quite some time due to the cuts he suffered, which were both nasty ones. Potentially he could be back in time for a mandatory in 2018, or perhaps see an interim champion crowned whilst he recovers.
Although the Light Flyweight lacks the respect it deserves this was the second world title fight the division has seen this week, and like the first it was a thrilling and dramatic defense, with the winner over-coming serious facial damage. Sadly though it could mean that two champions are out of action until 2018.
Earlier today fight fans had the chance to tune into an IBF Super Bantamweight title fight as defending champion Yukinori Oguni (19-2-1, 7) [小國 以載] took on mandatory challenger Ryosuke Iwasa (24-2, 16) [岩佐 亮佑], in what looked like a 50-50 match up on paper.
The fight had had some very friendly build up between two men who have known each other for years and had a genuine laugh in the various pre-fight events. In fact that fun seemed to run all the way to the first bell.
When the bell rang it was Oguni who was fast out of the traps, using his speed, movement and boxing to get off to a hot start. Iwasa seemed slightly surprised but covered up, waited out the early storm and started to fight back, almost instantly finding a home for his thunderous left hand. Towards the end of the round one of those left hands did their job and dropped Oguni, securing a 10-8 round for the challenger, who was probably just losing the round prior to the knockdown.
Round 2 saw Oguni regroup brilliantly and take the early moments, using his speed and more fluid natural boxing ability. Sadly though for Oguni he against had no answer for Iwasa's left hand, and brutal power, being dropped hard late in the round. Oguni's fighting heart helped him got back up and resume, but he was drown again soon afterwards, and facial damage was beginning to show on the champion.
In round 3 it was Iwasa starting faster, and looking to go for a finish as he landed a number of folid left hands on the champion. Oguni to his credit gritted his teeth and had moments, but those moments were all sniffed out when Iwasa threw, with almost every left hand on target actually landing on the challenger. The one respite for Oguni was that the referee was on Iwasa's case for pushing on his head, and actually took a point in round 4 for it.
Not only did Oguni get the “advantage” of his opponent losing a point but he also seemed to become rejuvenated in the 4th as he took the fight to Iwasa in a thrilling back and forth that saw Oguni being hurt several times but unloading on Iwasa and having one of his best rounds. Oguni's power never seemed to trouble Iwasa, but his work rate and aggression through the round gave Iwasa issues, and it was a very close rounds, potentially a 10-8 for Oguni or a 9-9.
Another close round followed as Oguni seemed to begin to feel the momentum shift in his favour. Sadly that momentum was snuffed out later in the round as Iwasa landed a series of big left hands that arguably stole the round for the challenger.
Having snuffed out the momentum of Oguni's at the end of 5 Iwasa went for the finish early in round 6 and really left his shots go early on. Oguni was rocked several times and his face had started to become a crimson mask. The shots of Iwasa's were leaving his gloves painted with Oguni's blood and it looked like a stoppage was imminent. Oguni however, had other thoughts and began to take the fight to Iwasa, cornering Iwasa and unloading.
Following Oguni's success the referee finally seemed to notice Oguni's face, and took him over to the ringside doctor who wave the bout off after a quick inspection. During the inspection Oguni seemed to have some sort of facial fracture, a badly cut lip and serious damage around his eye. Almost forcing the doctors hand.
For Iwasa the win sees him finally fulfilling his potential and claiming a world title in his second shot. Potentially this lines him up as a potential target for good friend Shingo Wake, young sensation Hinata Maruta, former title challenger Hidenori Otake or former champion Tomoki Kameda. As for Oguni it's time to spend a few weeks resting and recovering as that sort of facial damage will need some serious time away from the ring.
Earlier today in Japan fight fans saw talented youngster Kosei Tanaka (10-0, 6) [田中恒成] score his toughest win to date as he stopped heavy handed Thai challenger Palangpol CP Freshmart (14-2, 8) [คู่เอก พลังพล ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท] to defend his WBO Light Flyweight title, in a bout which saw Tanaka dropped, cut, and looking the more beaten up man by the end.
The bout started very slowly, in fact for the two minutes there was almost no action to be excited by. It showed Tanaka was quicker but that was it. Close to the end of the round however Palangpol's power told as he dropped Tanaka with a single right hand that really turned the round on it's head, and secured a 10-8 round for the Thai.
Tanaka never seemed hurt by the knockdown and over the following few rounds found his groove, taking rounds 2-5 with no issues, as he used his speed, skills, movement and variety to look several levels above the Thai. Palangpol however knew his advantage was in his power and strength and every shot he seemed to land seemed to take a more telling toll on Tanaka who's left eye was looking bruised from early in the bout.
After a huge 5th round for Tanaka, which saw him hurting the Thai with body shots several times, it seemed like the end was nigh. Instead however Palangpol gritted his teeth and took the fight to Tanaka, cutting the champion on his right eye, leaving both of Tanaka's eyes a mess. The Japanese fighter suddenly looked worried, and as if his entire self belief had vanished. All the confidence and fire had been taken out of his sails and Palangpol looked like a fighter who was starting to take over.
Bizarrely Palangpol didn't push his advantages in rounds 7 or 8, in fact he seemed too relaxed to press the fight and was perhaps just too tired to take the fight to Tanaka. Had he take it to Tanaka there is a chance we'd have seen a new champion being crowned with Tanaka looking like a man who felt sorry for himself. By the end of round 8 however the chance for Palangpol had gone. Tanaka had started to rebuild his confidence and that showed to begin round 9, as he took the fight to the Thai.
A headshot from Tanaka dropped Palangpol, who seemed to bounce up in a matter of seconds. Tanaka then jumped on him, and they threw shots at each other with reckless abandon. Sadly for the Thai he seemed to still have his head full of cobwebs and he struggled to connect whilst Tanaka landed some huge bombs, eventually forcing the referee to step in after the Thai had stumbled twice.
For Tanaka the win was obvious vital, but given the facial damage he suffered he may well find his proposed December showdown with WBA champion Ryoichi Taguchi being delayed until 2018. That damage is going to take a long time to heal. For Palangpol he really put himself on the map. He lost, but he showed everything needed to be given another shot at a champion down the line, even if he was a real unknown to those outside of Thailand before today. Like Srisaket Sor Rungvisai we saw Palangpol get a chance and shine, despite failing to score the win, and he will be seen as a notable player at Light Flyweight following this contest.
Earlier this year Thailand's Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (43-4-1, 39) [ศรีสะเกษ นครหลวงโปรโมชั่น] scored one of the biggest upsets of the year as he out-pointed Nicaraguan great Roman Gonzalez (46-2, 38) and claimed the WBC Super Flyweight title for the second time. Going in to the bout Gonzalez was seen as one of the top fighters on the planet and the decision was heavily disputed, with many claiming the judges had done the previously unbeaten Gonzalez a disservice. That controversy of their first bout lead to a rematch, with Srisaket again entering as the clear under-dog.
In the opening round we didn't get a feeling out round. Instead we got round 13 of the rivalry between the two men with Srisaket trying to take out Gonzalez early on. The Thai didn't get the knockdown that he did in the opening round of fight #1 but showed that he was there to make a statement, and that he wasn't going to have the public saying he was lucky this time around. There were a couple of minor headclashes in the round, but unlike the first fight they weren't major and neither man was cut from them.
The second round saw the pace from Gonzalez pick up, as both men traded blows in a round that was much more of a back-and-forth round. Gonzalez had moments but there was several massive body shots from Srisaket that seemed to have Gonzalez feeling pain, even though he made sure to fight back through it. It was clear that Gonzalez's leg didn't have the same bounce that they had had in the past and it almost caused him to fight Srisaket's fight. That was the case even more in round 3 as the two men traded blows incessantly on the inside giving us a potential round of the year. It was however a round that Gonzalez put a lot into, and did little to dent the Thai.
In round 4 Gonzalez tried to keep up the pace but sadly for him he eat a monstrous southpaw right hook that sent him down hard. Gonzalez was hurt big time by the shot, but gritted his teeth, showed his fighting heart made it back to his feet. That however left him a bit of a sitting duck with Srisaket on him in an instant. Gonzalez tried to fight back, but an even better left hook sent him down, and almost immediately the bout was stopped, giving Srisaket his biggest stoppage win to date.
With the stoppage under his belt Srisaket has some major options. He could hunt unification bouts with Naoya Inoue, Jerwin Ancajas or Kal Yafai or he could face mandatory challenger Juan Francisco Estrada, eithr way those are going to be big paydays and fights that he will feel he should win.
For Gonzalez this is likely the end to his fantastic career. It's a shame for it to end in this way, but given how much punishment he has received since he moved to Super Flyweight it did seem like it was only a matter of time before it all caught up with him, as he did here. Sadly some fans will have only seen the final few bouts of Gonalez's great career, and those fans really have missed out on one of the sports best fights of the last decade. For those who followed Gonalez over the years however they'll know exactly how good he was in his pomp.
Earlier this evening fight fans around the globe tuned in for the highly anticipated “Superfly” card, featuring two world title fights. The first of those was a WBO title fight which saw saw Japanese sensation Naoya Inoue (14-0, 12) [井上 尚弥] make his US debut, and shine as he dominated American challenger Antonio Nieves (17-2-2, 9).
The opening round could have been a nervy one from Inoue, given it was his first professional bout outside of Japan. Instead however he looked totally relaxed, and not like a man fighting on a major international stage for the first time. He looked controlled with his jab, imposing with his footwork and pressure and in total control. That control took a step up in round two as Inoue stepped up the pace and hurt Nieves with body shots late in the round.
Although Nieves saw out the second round it looked like it was only going to be a case of “how long?” Inoue upped the ante again in round 3 as he began to really hunt the stoppage and was pressing Nieves back at will. With the challenger looking like he simply couldn't handle the power. Nieves had moments, but they were minor moral victories before he was forced to eat something much more significant.
Nieves heart shone and in round 4 he tried to back up Inoue, who obliged and fought a portion of the round on the back foot before coming forward and pumping his let jab into the face of the American who had clearly ran out of ideas. Sadly for Nieves he may have ran out of ideas but Inoue still had plenty, including the idea that he wanted a stoppage. He went about that with a new found intensity in round 5 and hammered the challenger with body shots until he went down. From then on Nieves was in full blown survival mode and a protective corner would have pulled him out after the round had finished. Instead he was sent out for another round, and it became embarrassing for the challenger. Instead of fighting he ran, literally running away from Inoue, who waved him in, raised his hands, taunted and dropped his hands completely. The result of Inoue's taunted seemed to suggest that Nieves didn't want to be there and mercifully his corner saved him at the end of the round.
With his US debut out of the way, and impressively at that, and another defense under his belt the future looks likely to see Inoue in super fights. He's had a US showcase, next has to be big bouts against big names to continue to build his incredible reputation. For Nieves it's likely he'll be back to domestic or continental level, but he'll never want to step in the ring with Inoue again after this one.
For US fans who may not have seen Inoue before, we suspect many will be looking to see him in the future, and at the end of the day, that was the aim of this bout. It was to get fans world wide interested in him, and potential show downs with the likes of Roman Gonzalez, Kal Yafai, Juan Francisco Estrada and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.
After a great start to 2017 for Japanese boxing it seems like the seams are slowly coming apart with a number of high profile losses all coming one after the other in recent weeks, with losses for Shinsuke Yamanaka, to Luis Nery, Yoshihiro Kamegai, to Miguel Cotto, and today we saw Shun Kubo (12-1, 9) [久保隼] suffer his own high profile loss, and lose the WBA Super Bantamweight title in his first defense.
The Shinsei Gym fighter won the title earlier this year, beating veteran Nehormar Cermeno, and immediately planned for today's defense against American Daniel Roman (23-2-1, 9). That planning didn't really seem to help today against a fighter who seemed so much more determined and hungry than Kubo, and looked like a fighter who was much more naturally composed and relaxed in the ring, even under fire.
The first round was a feeling out round, and it saw Kubo getting the upperhand as he used his reach and southpaw stance to control the distance and range behind his jab and stiff left hand. It was a round for the champion in terms of the scorecards, but gave the challenger a lot of details on how Kubo handled pressure, and what his power was like. In the second round Roman began to get more aggressive with his scouting, and apply more pressure. He was forced to eat some very solid left hands as a result, but never looked phased by them, as his engine moved up a gear.
Round 3 and 4 both saw Roman begin to take over the fight. He was a lot less passive with his pressure than he had been and really fired off up close. Kubo did respond at times, and landed some eye catching shots to head and body, but could never discourage Roman and instead it was Kubo who looked to be the one backing off from an exchange. Whilst it was clear Kubo wanted range he never managed to back off and establish it, instead he backed off, and was quickly walked down, again and again. It wasn't until round 5 that Roman showed any signs of slowing, but that was a round where chinks in Kubo became even more glaring, as even when he looked settled he couldn't ever gather his composure in the way Roman did.
The pressure seemed to wane in round 6 until towards the end of the round when Roman clearly hurt Kubo, rocking him hard before the bell seemed to save the now deflated champion. Kubo's body language at the end of the round seemed to be that of a beaten man. Despite looking mentally beaten he went out for round 7, and that was something special with Roman jumping on Kubo almost instantly and going to work on the champion, Kubo looked helpless before being dropped and in other countries that could have been the end. Roman then unloaded as Kubo tried to fire back, with the referee getting several chances to stop the contest. Amazingly after several waves of punishment from Roman Kubo looked alive, and started firing back, with bad intent, drawing loud applause from the crowd, who seemed to be won over by the local man's heart and desire.
Round 8 again saw the crowd getting behind their man, as they tried to re-energise him and help him build some momentum. He tried hard to get things going but in the end Roman's pressure told and just before the bell he was down again.
Now clearly ahead on the cards Roman could afford to take his foot off the gas, but chose not to, instead hunting the stoppage. That stoppage would come following a prolonged assault on Kubo who was out on his feet and unable to fire back, completely worn down and broken up by the pressure.
With the 9th round TKO win under his belt Roman stayed in the ring and gave an interview for the fans, who showed their respect to the new champion, who himself came across as a classy, smart and talented fighter, giving Kubo and the local fans credit. Given the performance he will almost certainly be invited back to Japan to face some of the other Japanese fighters at Super Bantamweight, potentially Tomoki Kameda, Hinata Maruta or Yusaku Kuga. If he wants to fight in the US and defend his title at home we hope fans tune in as he's a really exciting and personable fighter as he showed in this win today, his biggest win so far.
For Kubo it's back to the drawing board. At 27 he has time to bounce back, but needs to really work on his composure in the ring and keeping his confidence, which has been questioned in the past. He's a skilled fighter, but does seem to lack the mental belief and and doesn't have the defense or the power to reclaim a title unless he seriously tweaks his styles. Saying that his fight back in rounds 7 and 8 were great, and for that he deserves serious credit, there is a real gutsy fighter there, but one who perhaps needs more time to develop than he was given, as Shinsei seeked an immediate replacement at the top of their stable for Hozumi Hasegawa.
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.