The final bout of 2014 took place in Osaka a few hours ago when Cuban sensation Guillermo Rigondeaux (15-0, 10) successfully defended his WBO and WBA "super" Super Bantamweight titles in what may go down as being one of his most memorable, exciting and interesting bouts. In fact it was a bout that may have seen Rigondeaux retain his titles but suddenly look beatable, fallible and flawed with serious question marks arising about his durability.
The bout was a supposed mismatch as the talented Cuban battled against unheralded Japanese fighter Hisashi Amagasa (28-5-2, 19). Rigondeaux was a 1/100 favourite. On paper it was a show case bout for the Cuban against an opponent who was bigger than him but open, an opponent that really was expected to be made for him to counter, break up and use as a human punch bag. Instead what we ended up with was an entertaining, though relatively 1-sided, affair that had drama in the middle of it and really grotesque and nasty damage done to the challenger.
Early on Amagasa looked hungry and he effectively ran over to Rigondeaux, swung his shots and fought as if he felt he would need to stop Rigondeaux early to have any chance. It was an entertaining start by the challenger, who seemed to have more intent than the last 2 challengers of Rigondeaux's. Sadly for Amagasa it wasn't long before Rigondeaux turned the tables and started making the challenger look clumsy whilst picking him off with his speed and accuracy. The way the Cuban turned the bout around was beautiful in some ways though unfortunately he managed to take what was beautiful and make it dull as he began circling around the ring and using his feet to avoid a fight whilst continuing to pick the Japanese fighter.
Whilst Rigondeaux was too fast his style was frustrating to watch, thankfully Amagasa did occasionally get into range and have success. those moments were few and far between but made it obvious that the challenger wasn't just there to be a showcase foe, he was there to win.
Late in round 7 we had a huge momentum shift as Rigondeaux was caught by a counter right hand from the Japanese fighter and dropped. It was a shock considering how much Amagasa had struggled to land anything clean and it seemed to even shock Amagasa who ran over to the corner to celebrate, unfortunately however Rigondeaux was quickly back to his feet. A follow up attack saw Rigondeaux being bundled down and the referee ruling it a knockdown, Rigondeaux was still groggy but it was far from a legitimate knockdown, it did however result in a 10-7 round.
Amagasa trying to build on his success in round 8 but sadly Rigondeaux managed to recover his sense and by the end of the round the Cuban was back in charge. In round 9 Rigondeaux further reestablished himself as he scored a knockdown of his own and from then on it seemed he was in complete control whilst Amagasa's face began to swell quickly, breaking up after every puncher of Rigondeaux's. Sadly the swelling become more and more grotesque and by the end of round 11 he looked like a extra from a horror movie with what appeared to be a broken cheekbone, a broken jaw and a broken orbital bone. Rightfully he stayed in the corner and accepted defeat rather than have his already broken face further damaged.
We hope we get to see Amagasa back in the ring next year, but the damage done here may well leave him on the shelf for a very long time and even if he returns the chances are he will never be the same. He can take heart from his effort, which was great, but that effort almost certainly cost him long term. Despite the loss we want to thank Amagasa for putting up an amazing effort full of courage even in the most serious of adversity, we're sure he made some new fans with this performance.
For the second day running we saw a small slice of history being created. Yesterday we saw Naoya Inoue becoming the quickest man to become a 2-weight world champion, setting a world record in his 8th fight when he stopped Omar Andres Narvaez in 2 rounds. Today the history was merely a bit of national history for Japanese fighters as Katsunari Takayama (28-7-0-1, 11) became the first ever Japanese fighter to win a version of all 4 major world titles.
Takayama did that earlier today by stopping light hitting compatriot Go Odaira (11-4-3, 1) in the 7th round of their meeting and claimed the IBF Minimumweight title, for a second time, as well as the elusive WBO Minimumweight crown, the one title he had never had in his illustrious career.
On paper the bout promised excitement. Both men are volume punchers usually, both like to let their hands go and both are as reliant on their speed and movement as any other tool in their arsenal. As well as that there had been only a single stoppage defeat between the two men, and that was a more than 11 years ago when an immature Takayama was caught in the 9th round against Masato Hatakeyama in what was Takayama's first title bout. It seemed to go 12 on paper, but of course fights aren't fought on paper and when history is there for the taking sometimes a fighter can find something else in themselves.
The fight started well with both managing to find their range and timing, neither showed great fear of the other's power but neither felt like taking too many risks. It was busy without being brutal, fast without being rushed and in fact Odaira managed to more than hold his own early on with round 4 being a particularly good one for the relatively unknown fighter. Unfortunately as we hit the middle of the bout things began to change and Takayama's shots began to take their toll with Odaira being forced to take body shots, the like of which he had never tasted.
The body shots began to slow Odaira in round 5 and, as we all know, when a fighter is feeling the effects of body shots they can slow quickly and in round 6 it all seemed to unravel for Odaira who suddenly looked like a tiring man, despite still managing to do enough to fight back. Unfortunately for the Hanagata promoted fighter this was the beginning of the end and in round 7 Takayama got his chance and took it, with the finish coming in the a typical Takayama fashion with the “Lightning Kid” unloading shot after shot after shot in a furious bombardment of leather. The shots themselves had a lack of pop but the sheer volume of them was insane and Odaira's exhaustion was showing as the referee was forced to save Odaira who was being swallowed whole by a whirlwind of punches.
Whilst the win for Takayama was historic it also sees him achieving one of his two public aims. It seems him claiming all 4 titles in a career grandslam, the other aim he has spoken about is to become a multi-weight world champion and a move to 108lbs seems likely. Hopefully however he will look to defend his unified crown, possibly against talented teenage sensation Kosei Tanaka who is himself chasing Japanese boxing history as he chases the quickest rise to a world title.
In the main event of the show from Tokyo earlier today fans saw the heavy handed Takashi Uchiyama (22-0-1, 18) successfully defend his WBA Super Featherweight world title with a dominant and clear, though well earned, victory over gutsy Argentinian challenger Israel Perez (27-3-1, 16) who looked like he was up for the biggest fight of his career.
The fight started well with both men trying to establish their jabs, it seemed clear that Uchiyama had the edge in skill and power but Perez wasn't to be intimidated and was happy to let his hands go in an attempt to catch the judges eye and inflict damage on the other man. At times it was a case of both men landing flurries on the guard though it always seemed like Uchiyama's guard was tighter, his offense sharper and his blows heavier.
With both men eventually establishing their jabs we then had a case of the two men attempting to build on them. One the most part that saw Perez getting inside and waling away whilst for Uchiyama it was clear he was hoping to land his hurtful straight right hand, one of the heaviest in the sport. Unfortunately for both their game plans were often neutralised as the other man covered up and soaked the pressure up well before trying to return fire. It made for an interesting affair, and one where Perez was certainly holding his own even if he wasn't quite able to win the rounds. It was certainly compelling.
Although having battled well early on Perez began to be put under more pressure in the middle portion of the fight as Uchiyama began to find a home for his right hand, even if it did sometimes need to be forced through the guard of Perez. Whilst Uchiyama's offense was getting better the same could not be said for the Argentinian who began see his body blows falling low and he received several warning for landing below the belt, though more often than not Uchiyama paid the low blows back with interest. Unfortunately the "wang bangs" seemed to do more to anger Uchiyama than anything and late in round 6 he began to turn the screw and let his wide array of power shots go, Perez saw off the assault but it was clear that Uchiyama had more in the tank.
Uchiayama began round 7 on the offensive, against putting his punches together, though ended the round having taken several borderline low blows as Perez began to struggle more and more with the Japanese fighter, despite showing real grit and toughness. That toughness was tested again in round 8 when Uchiyama against picked up the pace and it began to seem like he was hunting his 18th stoppage. Perez was doing all he could to stop Uchiyama, his tight guard tightening further and although he ate some body shots he was doing his best to survive and try to retaliate when opening arose, by then however Uchiyama didn't seem to care too much about what was coming back as he tried to find a home for his right hand.
Uchiyama continue to pressure Perez and in round 9 that pressure began to resemble bullying with the Argentinian being forced backwards a lot and even being cornered at one point. Perez was beginning to be broken down, hurt and was starting to look tired. He was still tough but his offense had completely shut down and even the low blows had stopped as he did more and more to survive.
The survival of Perez had seen him through 9 rounds but that was all as he retired in his corner between rounds 9 and 10. A beat man who was down on the cards and beginning to be beaten up.
For Uchiyama this was a great return to the ring considering he had been inactive for a year. The hope now has to be that 2015 will be a year where he reestablishes himself rather than sits on the side line like he has done this year, unfortunately. For Perez will likely be his sole major bout and 35 going on 36 we suspect he'll be back in Argentina picking up domestic wins before calling a close on his career with a few more small pay days.
WBA Super Flyweight champion Kohei Kono (30-8-1, 13) successfully recorded the first defence of his title earlier today as he fought to a split decision draw with Dominican slickster Norberto Jimenez (20-8-4, 10). The bout, Kono's first since stopping Denkaosan Kaovichit back in March, saw him defending a world title successfully for the first time, though it has had to come in his second reign.
The “Tough Boy” from Tokyo was forced to chase the faster moving Jimenez around the ring for the most part with the speedy youngster living up to his reputation as a mover, a shaker and a dancer. The movement seem to trouble Kono more than the punches of the challenger though unfortunately the speed difference really help prevent a tear up, though damage was done in the second round with the challenger being cut over the right eye.
Kono's pressing and pressuring began to have success in round 4 though Jimenez managed to answer back with uppercuts of his own, it was however a sign that Kono could cut the distance. He did the same in round 6 as he managed land his powerful right straight though the telling blow in the round was a low blow from Jimenez which saw him being deducted a point.
Through the later middle rounds Jimenez seemed to get back on on his bike and generate the space he needed to get his shots off with out risking himself too much. It was a tactic he knew worked and that's exactly what it did here as he managed to collect a few much needed rounds and slow down the charge of the champion.
The champion continued to try and finish off the challenger in the final rounds but was unable to land the punches needed to stop the Dominican who had a break out performance in some ways though also made himself some enemies with what was at times a performance more about moving than fighting.
At the end the cards were a bit all over the place though the deciding card was the 114-114 that resulted ina draw, an odd card given the point deduction
Sadly for Kono this paints a big bullseye on his back, he is a champion there for the taking, a title that many in the division will view as being easy to win. Of course he's not a poor fighter but he's certainly a beatable one and we'd not be shocked if Hideyuki Ohashi pulled out the stops to get a fight between Kono and either Ryo Matsumoto or Naoya Inoue made for 2015, if Koki Kameda decides to "go another route" now he's fighting in the US.
Just a few moments ago we saw a new WBA Light Flyweight champion crowned as Ryoichi Taguchi (21-2-1, 8) dominated Peruvian fighter Alberto Rossel (32-9-0-1, 13) and easily claimed the biggest win of his career.
For the first two rounds two men were competitive and even with with each other but in round 3 the more complete skills of Taguchi began to take hold with the Japanese fighter beginning to settle, find his range and land clean head shots on to the champion.
The success from Taguchi lead to more success and in round 4 he began to corner Rossel landing the crisper and cleaner punchers whilst Rossel was unable to really answer. Rossel tried to fight back in round 5 but was against unable to over-come the clear reach advantage of Taguchi made use of his size excellently.
In round 6 it appeared the end was nigh for Rossel as Taguchi continued to have success time and time again whilst boxing behind his sharp and accurate jab. Rossell tried his best to respond but his out put was often too little and it looked more like he throwing to try and slow Taguchi's offense rather than to try and win the fight.
Rossel efforts had done well to keep him in the fight going into round 8 but a headclash seemed to bother him, a lot and soon afterwards Taguchi dropped him before continuing a vicious assault on the Peruvian who was really starting to struggle whilst being walked backwards.
Rossel came out for the 9th round though was again given a beating by Taguchi who boxed beautifully on the move and scored another knockdown, albeit a somewhat controversial one with a glancing body blow.
The his credit the champion was showing his toughness but that was almost all he had going for him as Taguchi went on the offensive and tried to see off the veteran champion who was spending large swathes of his time on the backfoot trying to avoid Taguchi before throwing a hayemaker. The shots of Rossel were now completely off balance and desperate whilst Taguchi continued to box brilliant behind his jab and never over-exerting himself.
A tiring Rossel continued to back pedal through out round 11 as Taguchi stalked his prey and came forward relentlessly looking to land power shots behind his jab whilst having no worries about the little that Rossel fired back with.
In round 12 it seemed like Rossel was going to go for an amazing come from behind victory, that however ended quickly and about a minute into the round Taguchi showed intention throwing a howitzer of a right hand that narrowly missed the Peruvian. Moments later Taguchi managed to land a similar punch and in the moments that followed Rossel tried to hold and survive whilst Taguchi began loading up the right hands looking for the KO. The round, and fight, however ended with Taguchi on the ropes with the two men exchanging wildly in brilliantly exciting scenes, unfortunately the those scene only lasted moments.
Whilst Taguchi may have wished to have stopped Rossel the Peruvian showed his toughness, especially in the later rounds. He was a defiant loser, but a clear loser and Taguchi is certainly no long just "the man that went the distance with Naoya Inoue" he is, himself, a world champion and a well deserving one.
(Note this fight is to be aired on TV Tokyo in Japan later today)
In professional boxing it can be very easy to get lost in hype. The American and British boxing media want to hype everyone that is shown on their airwaves. Sadly however sometimes the best aren't shown on "Western TV", the best example of that is Naoya Inoue (8-0, 7) who lived up to his moniker of "Monster" earlier today when he destroyed Argentinian stalwart Omar Andres Narvaez (43-2-2, 23) in the most explosive, destructive and violent performance of his career and claimed the WBO Super Flyweight title, becoming the fastest man in history to become a 2-weight world champion. In fact so perfect was this performance that Inoue may actually be the best fighter on the planet, it might be that Inoue is the only man we would favour over Roman Gonzalez in the lower weights, and more worryingly he's only getting better.
The youngster from Kanagawa started fast. And we mean fast landing big shots almost from the opening seconds, shots that quickly sent Narvaez down. In fact Inoue sent Narvaez down inside a minute, Nonito Donaire couldn't manage it in 12 rounds. Inoue wasn't happy with just the one knockdown however and went looking for a stoppage in same round. Soon afterwards Narvaez was down a second time and Inoue went on the prowl smelling bleed. His prey knew what was coming however and Narvaez went into survival mode, hoping to see off the incoming storm.
Narvaez managed to see out the opening round but then came the second round and Inoue again smelled victory. He went on the offensive quickly and although he was forced to eat a powerful straight it seemed to just bounce off him. Narvaez had nothing and was again sent to the canvas for the third knockdown of the fight. From then on it was a matter of time, time that was cut short as Inoue found the body of Narvaez and hammered away, repeatedly sinking in shots to the gut until Narvaez went down for a fourth time! This time he stayed down, there was no point in attempting to come back.
After the bout the Inoue clan, and the Ohashi gym members, celebrated with Inoue who hasn't just stamped his name in the history books but has stamped his name on the "Fighter of the Year" and "Performance of the Year" awards. For those publications that have already down your rewards, we hope you feel silly given how amazing Inoue looked here.
We suspect Inoue will be back in action in early 2015, at the end of the fight he hardly looked touched, not a mark on his face.
Sometimes action speak louder than words, and this performance speaks a million words.
For those who missed it, the fight can be seen in full here.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
The second of 8 world title fights over the new year period ended in a combination of heart break and disappointment as the insanely popular Akira Yaegashi (20-5, 10) suffered his second successive stoppage defeat, and failed in his attempt to become a 3-weight world champion.
The popular Japanese fighter, a fan favourite with the hardcore and the Japanese, was hoping to capture the WBC Light Flyweight title as he dropped from Flyweight, following a stoppage loss to Roman Gonzalez back in September. Unfortunately however he was fighting a younger, bigger and fresher fighter in the shape of the talented Pedro Guevara (24-1-1, 15). Guevara, a very talented Mexican, had come into the bout as the under-dog though had only lost once, to the fantastic Filipino John Riel Casimero in what was a notable step up in class for the Mexican at the time.
We suspected this one could be a thriller though it started really slowly with a lot of scrappy action in the first two rounds. It seemed the styles clashed as opposed to gelled and although there were moments of action they were few and far between. Thankfully things began to hear up at the end of round 3 and from then on each round became progressively better as the two managed to get a read each other, find their rhythm and get back to what they were good at.
Although the early action was scrappy it was very competitive with neither getting much of an upper hand. That resulted in 4 very hard to score rounds, though rounds that the judges tend to feel Guevara deserved scoring the bout 39-37, twice, and 38-38 when the opening scoring was announced.
The opening score, something that much maligned in the west, seemed to do it's job here and it spurred on Yaegashi who had a tremendous 5th round as he brought the action to Guevara and the two began to trade shots. This was what we had expected from the off, action, excitement and a lot of punches. It seemed that Yaegashi was mounting his charge though his face was beginning to show the trademark damage that he seems to pick every fight.
Yaegashi's drive continued in round 6 as he continued to bring the action in what was the fights best round and a round that again seemed to go Yaegashi's way and saw Guevara bleeding from the right eye. On our unofficial card it had levelled off the fight at 57-57 and it seemed that the fight was swinging Yaegashi's way.
Sadly the momentum shift was short lived and in round 7 it seemed Guevara managed to refind his groove and Yaegashi sudden began looking older and slower. It was as if Yaegashi had put a lot into the previous 2 rounds and, although he was still fighting, he seemed a little bit tired all of a sudden. His desire was there and continued trying though unfortunately received a devastating body which sent him down and kept him down in agony.
It was a shame to see Yaegashi go out like he did, and one would suspect this could be the end for him. Hopefully it's not, but the wars have added up and Yaegashi certainly needs to give his body a long break.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Just moments ago at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium fans saw the popular Jorge Linares (38-3, 25) claim the WBC Lightweight title as he managed to stop Mexico's hard hitting but crude Javier Prieto (24-8-2, 18) in 4 rounds.
The bout started somewhat tentatively with Prieto applying the pressure and Linares being forced to move, pick his spots and fight a controlled fight. At times it looked like it was going to be a battle between Linares skills and speed and the power and pressure of Prieto. Unfortunately for the Mexican however his lack of speed did make things a little bit easier to Linares who managed to avoid many of the wide round house swings of Prieto.
The first 2 rounds were very similar to each other. Prieto trying to land bombs whilst often forcing Linares backwards, Linares picking his spots and landing sharp shots in return. It did however look like Prieto was going to land eventually, and that's what he did in round 3 when he seemed to momentarily sting Linares. That was however as good as it got for Prieto who was then forced to follow the skillful Venezuelan who was caught by anything else all that notable.
In round 4 the ending was sudden. Prieto was on the march towards Linares until the "Golden Boy" landed a sharp jab instantly followed up right hand, right on the ear. This sent Prieto's legs into a wobble for a second before he dropped his hands, a moment later he dropped to his back. It seemed like Prieto had gone down awfully casually and he looked like a man sun bathing, though he took the entire count. From the way the right hand landed we have to suspect that Prieto suffered some sort of damage to his ear or equilibrium though he may have just had enough.
With this win Linares becomes a 3-weight world champion, just the second to have been promoted by a Japanese promoter. Unfortunately for him he will have to defend his title against Omar Figueroa when Figueroa returns from his hand injury and that could be a very painful night for Linares given the power and style of Figueroa. For now however Linares is free to celebrate a victory that puts him back on the boxing map and sees him claiming a world title for the first time since his loss to Juan Carlos Salgado, more than 5 years ago.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
One year ago we were all raving about Canadian based Haitian Adonis Stevenson (25-1, 21) who had taken the boxing world by storm with wins over the likes of Chad Dawson and Tavoris Cloud. He had claimed the WBC Light Heavyweight world title and defended it twice. This year however he has faltered. In his first defence of 2015 he struggled to over-come the unheralded Andrzej Fonfara, who left us asking a lot of questions about "Superman". In his second bout of the year Stevenson took on Russian fighter Dmitry Sukhotsky (22-3, 16), a man we thought give Stevenson some more questions to answer. Sadly Stevenson made Sukhotsky look very basic and negative, or rather Sukhotsky made himself look basic.
From the first round onwards it was clear the men were on different levels. They started by fencing with the lead hands and it seemed that Stevenson's jab was getting through quickly and early whilst Sukhotsky looked clueless as to what he needed to do in one of the worst rounds of the year. The fencing was won by Stevenson who moved on a level in the second round as he clearly out landed the Russian who was becoming more and more negative whilst being dropped in the second round form a push-come-shove.
By round 3 Stevenson had began to find a home for his straight left hand whilst Sukhotsky was beginning to walk into shots. The Russian had no plan B and just followed Stevenson around the ring eating a steady diet of shots. It was embarrassing to think that Sukhotsky was fighting the way he was fighting considering the talent he had shown in previous bouts though he show nothing other than an ability to follow a foe.
In round 4 Stevenson's success continued to grow as Sukhotsky became more and more predictable. It was clear the Russian was out of his depth and had no idea what to do. Thankfully however we were put out of our suffering in round 5 as Stevenson finally upped the ante and dropped Sukhotsky 3 times to record the stoppage.
Althoudgh Stevenson had won with ease he hadn't really really impressed. He had an opponent who was made to order and he did what he was supposed to do. Sukhostky looked like garbage, Stevenson, whilst looking good, didn't look like a sensation. Instead Stevenson looked like a man who had sparred with some sort of novice, not a man defending his world title against a top level foe. Sadly Stevenson, who was interviewed after the fight, blew his chance at making fans by proclaiming himself as the top dog in the division rather than calling out out Sergey Kovalev, the only man people want to Stevenson fight. He had the chance but blew it by letting his ego rule.
The fight wasn't great and it's a shame that Stevenson's desire from last year appears to have gone. Last year he seemed happy to prove his greatness, not he seems afraid to find out he's not all that. Sukhotsky may have been a win that has boosted his ego though the performance of both men suggest that Stevenson really has little to take away from this bout.
The Flyweight division is by far the best in boxing right now. The champions are pound-for-pound fighters, the contenders are recognised top class fighters and better yet the best are fighting the best. Time and time again this year the division has given us highlight after highlight. From Koki Eto's brawl with Ardin Diale to the amazing WBC title fight between Roman Gonzalez and Akira Yaegashi we really have been so lucky with the Flyweight division this year.
The final big Flyweight bout of the year came in Thailand this Friday as the WBA regular and interim titles were unified. Going into the bout Juan Carlos Reveco (35-1, 19) was the “regular” champion whilst Thailand's Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep (34-3, 20) was the interim champion. On paper it was a very good match up, stylistically you had a boxer against a pressure fighter and the bout was, unofficially, a bout to decide who was to defend the title against Kazuto Ioka next year.
The opening round showed a difference in speed with Reveco looking a step faster than the Thai. Yodmongkol tried to neutralise the speed with timing and came forward behind a hgh guard looking to land counter punches though all too often he was tagged and unable to respond before Reveco was out of range. All the major punches in the opening round were from the Argentinian.
In the second round we saw a surprise as a counter right hand from Yodmongkol dropped Reveco in the first minute. From then on things were pretty for the rest of the round leaving us with a clear 10-8 in favour of the Thai fighter. Sadly for Yodmongkol that would be his highlight of the fight and it effectively gave away his entire gameplan which appeared to be based on landing counter right hands whilst applying constant, but not intense, pressure.
In round 3 it seemed Reveco was still feeling the effects of the knockdown early though by the end of the round it seemed Reveco had neutralised Yoxmongkol's gameplan and realised that if he didn't over-commit he wasn't going to give Yodmongkol any chance. Sadly for Yodmongkol his gameplan had allowed Reveco to work his way back into the bout. That success of Reveco grew in round 4 as he began to pick up the pace and seemed to realise that Yodmongkol, whilst tough, was a bit limited and that the Thai's pressure could be used against himself. The 4th not only saw Reveco taking control but also proving he could land what he wanted.
In round 5 we saw Reveco taking away the knockdown of Yodmongkol as he scored his own. Unlike the earlier down however this one saw a man hurt and Yodmongkol never got the chance to recover. As soon as he was up Yodmongkol was up he walked over to Reveco who unloaded on him, backing him to the ropes and unloading, shot after shot after shot, the shots just kept coming until the referee eventually waved off the bout saving Yodmongkol who was standing but eating shots and unable to return fire.
For Reveco this should set him up for Ioka in Spring. For Yodmongkol this was disappointing and is likely to see him fade into obscurity, a shame considering how good he looked when he beat Koki Eto, however it is karmic in some ways considering he did rob Takuya Kogawa earlier this year.
(Image courtesy of Thairec.com)
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.