Boxing has a number of records, which seem odd and look rather unreal. One of those is the record of Japanese fighters in Thailand in world title fights, a record that stands at 0 wins, 23 losses and 1 draw. The latest of those losses however was a controversial one, as WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (49-0, 17) [วันเฮง ไก่ย่างห้าดาวยิม] retained his title with a very questionable win over former WBO champion Tatsuya Fukuhara (19-6-6, 7) [福原 辰弥].
On paper it looked like a mismatch in favour of the Thai, who was looking to equal the 49-0 record of Rocky Marciano and record his 8th defense. It was however the total opposite of what we expected, with Fukuhara setting an insane pace in the opening round and forcing Wanheng to fight fire with fire. It was as if no one had told Fukuhara that he was there to lose, and instead of being respectful of Wanheng's unbeaten record he went straight at the champion. To his credit Wanheng did fight back, and landed the better shots, but was very much taken by surprise by the intense work rate of the challenger.
Wanheng managed to have better success in rounds 2 and 3, as he landed the bigger shots, and actually started round 3 with the initiative, something he hadn't done in the first two rounds. Despite starting well Fukuhara came back at him later in the round, showing good variety and the high tempo which had caused so many issues for Wanheng, not only in the opening stages of this bout bus also against Melvin Jerusalem.
Wanheng also had credible success in round 4, arguably his best round of the fight, as he forced Fukuhara to fight at range, made the most of his technical abilities and prevented the challenger from unloading with volume. It was a round that showed the skill level differences between the two men. After 4 rounds the champion was up on the score-cards, with all 3 judges favouring the local, and although it felt like he was fortunate to be in the lead it wasn't out of the question for him to be up.
The success of Wanheng continued in round 5 as he managed to make the most of his heavier hands, but he wasn't able to discourage Fukuhara who continued to press the action and ended the round looking like a man possessed, despite eating the best Wanheng had to offer. In round 6 Wanheng's pace seemed to drop off as Fukuhara managed to again cut the distance, get to work and press with not only his volume but also some very solid shots, including a big head shot mid-way through the round. Wanheng did land his own stiff right hand late in the bout, but it seemed like a clear round for the challenger.
Fukuhara's success seemed to grow from there, as he pressured Wanheng with serious intensity, landing not only flurries to the body but also some really eye catching head shots, including a big uppercut. Wanheng returned the favour with some body shots of his own, but was clearly out worked through the round, and appeared to be showing signs of tiredness as Fukuhara refused to back off. The challenger was even more intense and driven in round 8 as he thoroughly out worked Wanheng, landing bigger and heavier shots on to a champion who was looking at the referee for every minor incident. It was looking like the champion was frustrated by the fact Fukuhara was always in his face and always refusing to back off, despite the clean shots the champion had been able to land.
With the champion looking like he was flagging the open scores after round 8 seemed like they were going to be very interesting, bizarrely however they were all widely in favour of Wanheng, reading 80-73, 79-73, and 78-74. It seemed clear at this point that Fukuhara wasn't only up against the unbeaten champion, but also the judges.
Knowing that he wasn't going to get the decision Fukuhara changed his tactics in round 9. The high energy and intense assaults were put on the back burner as he looked to land bigger, heavier shots. Those became the key in round 9 as he landed some big shots which seemed to force Wanheng to on to the back foot. Wanheng had his moments, but was again out worked, and out landed by the challenger. Fukuhara continued to look bombs in rounds 10 and 11 as Wanheng looked more and more tired, struggling to even raise his arms at the end of round 11. Fukuhara seemed to ignore his defense at times, instead choosing to just chase Wanheng and unload, and the only real breaks in action happened when Wanheng tired up the challenger, or complained about some small issue, with the referee starting to seem like yet another opponent for the challenger.
The final round saw Fukuhara go all out for the stoppage. He combined power shots with volume and an insane intensity that saw him jump on Wanheng at every opportunity. It was a thrilling final round that saw Wanheng being forced to respond with power shots, until he was spent and forced into pure survival mode. It was a thrilling all action effort from the challenger, but given the scores after round 8 it was clear it wasn't going to be enough to see the title change hands.
With the judges scoring the bout in favour of Wanheng he had now scored 8 defenses, but this is the second time where he could be regarded as very fortunate in recent times, and it does seem like his reign is living on borrowed time. For Fukuhara the bout seems to suggest he can continue fighting at world level, and will almost certainly get another shot down the line.
It's hard to deny that the Super Flyweight division is one of, if not the, best division in the sport right now, with 4 really good world champions. Today one of those was in action, with the IBF champion Jerwin Ancajas (28-1-1, 19) travelling to Belfast to face off with the gutsy and brave Jamie Conlan (19-1, 11).
The Filipino world champion was successful as he made his 3rd defense of the title, and did so in impressive fashion, whilst fighting well within himself to defeat the Irishman.
The opening round was mostly quiet, though Conlan was dropped from what appeared to be a delayed reaction to a temple shot, despite the commentary claiming it was an leg injury to Conlan. The shot came whilst Conlan was trying to box with Ancajas, which seemed the wrong tactic, and was one that seemed to frustrate Ancajas more than come close to really testing him.
In round 2 things went from bad to worse for Conlan, who was badly cut over the left eye. For Conlan to be cut was no surprise, but it really was a bad cut and seemed to spur Ancajas to up his pressure, becoming more methodical as he began to break down Conlan. The Irish man's toughness was really being tested, and in round 3 a body shot saw real cracks began as he winced and backed up, opening the door to an assault from Ancajas that sent Conlan down again.
Conlan was really struggling, and looking beaten up, as we entered round 4, though he showed the fighting spirit that has made him such a fan favourite as he looked to fight back. Sadly the more he threw the more opening Ancajas began to find, and a huge assault from Ancajas left us wondering how the challenger was still in their fighting. Despite the attempt to fight he was dropped again at the very end of the round, and took what seemed like a long count as the bell rang.
Ancajas looked like he had hurt Conlan again but was called for a low blow in round 5, and then another attack later in the round sent the challenger down, but a legitimate looking body shot was again called low, resulting in a 1-point deduction for Ancajas. At the time it seemed like the referee was trying to help Conlan, with neither shot looking like much of a low blow but more boderline shots. It was however not helping the challenger, and instead extended his punishment, which continued in to round 6.
Thankfully the punishment was finally stopped when Conlan his the canvas early into round 6. The shot that sent him down looked like a shot just behind the ear, a borderline illegal shot, but it was clear that the referee had finally seen enough and had willingly saved the Irishman from his own toughness and bravery.
For Conlan the loss will sting, but it was clear that he wasn't in the same league as Ancajas, who never looked like he was out of third gear. The loss will harm his stock a little bit, but the reality is that he's so fan friendly that he will always be popular,and a bout against Rex Tso is about as good as the sport can give us. As for Ancajas his name has been linked to that of WBO champion Naoya Inoue, and recent reports from Japan suggest that Inoue Vs Ancajas could take place in February on “Superfly 2”, in what would be an amazing match up and help continue to build interest and attention for the division.
The Light Welterweight division was, earlier this year, the only division with an undisputed champion thanks to Terence Crawford. Having conquered the division Crawford stated his intent was to move up, and as a result a number of titles became vacant. One of those was the IBF title, which saw a new champion being crowned on Saturday, as Kazakh born Russian based fighter Sergey Lipinets (13-0, 10) out pointed Japan's Akihiro Kondo (29-7-1, 16) [近藤 明広] in a really tough and draining bout.
The fight started really well for Lipinets, who looked too slick, too fresh and too quick for Kondo early on. The Japanese fighter walked forward through some big shots from Lipinets and it was clear that Kondo's toughness was going to give Lipinets problems with the Japanese fighter showing no fear of Lipinets' much lauded power.
As the fight went on Kondo began to pick up the pace, began to find his range and began to press the tempo, with his body shots beginning to connect almost as often as the ones thrown by Lipinets. The Kazakh seemed to have more power on his shots but he never discouraged Kondo who's body assault in round 3 seemed to take a toll on Lipinet's, who was being forced to work harder than he'd have expected. The increase in work from Lipinets showed in round 4, a very good round for him, but in round 5 it slowed and Kondo began to find cracks. A right hand from Kondo part way through the round seemed to clearly buzz Lipinets, who got on his bike late in the round.
In round Kondo's aggression amped up again and when the two men got too close a headclash left Lipinets with a cut on the hairline. The doctor did look at the cut but it seemed clear that the cut was never going to be fight ending. Itstead of threatening to end the fight early the cut was encouragement for Kondo who had one of his best rounds in round 7, and built on that in rounds 8 and 9 as he began to carve into the lead of Lipinets and make things very interesting. Not only was Kondo having success but Lipinets was beginning to tire and that showed in a pretty low action round 10, where Lipinets used a lot of movement, but threw very little.
Despite looking to have faded over the previous few rounds Lipinets managed to find a second wind in round 11 as he used his skills to make the most of Kondo's mistakes. It was a really good comeback round form Lipinets and left Kondo with work to do in the final 3 minutes, and boy did Kondo go for it. The Japanese warrior took the fight to Lipinets through an action packed final round, with Lipinets being forced to work hard to keep up with Kondo.
Having 12 rounds both men showed the damage of war over their faces, with with both having lumps and bumps visible on their face. Sadly for Kondo though the judges weren't impressed by his success and gave Lipinets the bout with scores of 118-110 and 117-111.
We don't think many would argue too strongly against Lipinets winning, but we also don't see how the bout was so wide. We had the bout 115-113 to Lipinets, Steve Farhood for Showtime had it 114-114 and it was certainly a closer contests than the judges suggest. For Lipinets it was a title win that took some shine off his rise, whilst the loss for Kondo certainly enhanced his profile, and he will likely get another big Stateside fight if he wants one. It was a funny old outcome, but a very good fight.
Kyrgyzstan born Russian based Dmitry Bivol (12-0, 10) [Дмитрий Юрьевич Бивол] has been seen by many of the sport's hardcore fans as a future star, and potentially the next big star of the Light Heavyweight division. Today he had a chance to showcase his ability, and make his first defense of the WBA title as he took on Australian Trent Broadhurst (20-2, 12) in Monaco.
The opening moments saw Broadhurst show some genuine ambition as he came out with his jab, though it wasn't before Bivol was himself moving forward, using his intelligent pressure to back up the challenger. The pressure saw Broadhurst going down, and having a knockdown scored against him despite it being unclear whether it was a punch that actually sent him down. Despite coming forward Bivol was incredibly patient, and didn't need to show his high work rate to have the challenger backing up.
In the final seconds of the round Bivol landed a very pure right hand and Broadhurst went down hard. Although the shot didn't seem like a huge punch it was so clean and pure that it caught Broadhurst perfectly and there was no getting up from the shot.
After the fight Bivol gave a great interview, showing some solid understanding of English and making it clear that he wants to be a star in the West, having his bout shown in the UK and US. There are big bouts out there for him, which will test him much more than this one, but this was a great way to announce himself to fans who hadn't seen him before. For those who had been part of the “Bivol Express” this performance just goes a little bit further to showing what a talent Bivol is.
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.