Japanese boxing has a number of domestic records that have become targets in recent years, if not been broken. The most notable of those records has been the “speed” record, which has been broken three times in recent years courtesy of Kazuto Ioka, who won a world title in fight #7, Naoya Inoue, who did it in 6 fights, and Kosei Tanaka, who did it in fight #5. Another that is thought to be under threat is the “youngest” champion, with Riku Kano aiming for that one, currently held by Hiroki Ioka, and the most world title defenses.
That final record is held by the great Yoko Gushiken, who recorded an impressive 13 defenses of the WBA Light Flyweight world title back in the 1970's and 1980's. That record is coming under serious threat from destructive Super Featherweight Takashi Uchiyama (24-0-1, 20) who notched the 11th defenses of the WBA title today when he stopped Nicaraguan challenger Oliver Flores (27-2-2, 17) in 3 rounds.
Uchiyama, a massive betting favourite, started slowly and carefully against Flores, who was actively looking to land solid shots early on and get a foot hold into the bout. Despite the slow start the accurate Uchiyama was very deliberate and within the first 90 seconds had already shown his intentions, landing with a spiteful right hand.
The deliberate and controlled style of Uchiyama saw him take over the bout after 2 minutes and it quickly became a case of just how long would Flores survive, as he simply couldn't avoid the right hand of the champion.
Within 20 seconds of round 2 Flores rocked to his heels by Uchiyama. The challenger did well to stay in there but it really did look like he had nothing to bother Uchiyama who rarely moved out of neutral whilst landing jab and dangerous right hand will. Those shots took a toll on the challenger who was bruised under the right eye before the end of round 2.
Uchiyama finally moved into first gear in round 3 and it seemed like he had had enough of the exhibition. The start of the end came with a body shot, before two monster right hands up top seem to trouble Flores, it was however a gruesome body shot that finished the show. The shot seemed to lift Flores off his feet and plant him on he canvas face first, where he remained well after the referee stopped the bout.
With defense #11 wrapped up Uchiyama is closing in on the Japanese record, though looks set to make a different type of statement next time out. After the bout a member of Uchiyama's team restated their intention to kick off 2016 with a bout in the US and stated that his intended target was Nicholas Walters, a man whom is thought to have already agreed a bout with Uchiyama for early next year. A win against Walters would be a huge statement win for “KO Dynamite” and would be the perfect way to introduce him to a US audience.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
It's fair to say that 2015 has been a very good one for the Watanabe gym. They started the year with 3 champions and have ended the year with 3 champions, as well as the 2015 Eddie Townsend Award winner and have seen their fighters go 5-0 in world title fights.
One of their final world title fights of the year saw WBA Light Flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi (23-2-1, 10) dig deep to force 9th round retirement of Colombian challenger Luis de la Rosa (24-6-1, 14).
The challenger got off to the perfect start, forcing the pace and tempo of the fight. Not only was de la Rosa forcing the action but he was getting better of it and making Taguchi look very uncomfortable with what was an all out bombardment from the challenger. It was the type of effort we weren't expecting from de la Rosa and it seemed like Taguchi hadn't expected it either.
After the slow start by the champion he began to slowly work his way into the contest and by the middle rounds he was beginning to get back into the fight by fighting fire with fire. It made for some great action though it was a risky strategy that saw Taguchi depend more on his toughness than his boxing ability.
By round 7 de la Rosa was beginning to slow notably but continued to try and force the champion to fight the wrong fight. That however was the start of the end for de la Rosa who unable to land with the ease that he had earlier and now it was Taguchi letting the shots go and landing as and when he wished. That saw Taguchi dominate round 8 and take round 9 as de la Rosa began to break down. The challenger seemed to know that he was on the way out and in round 9 stayed in his corner, retiring from the bout.
At the time of the stoppage de la Rosa was leading on two of the cards, with scores of 87-84 and 86-85, whilst Taguchi was remarkably 87-84 on the other card, the fight however was turning quickly against de la Rosa who likely knew his best chance had gone.
For Taguchi the intention for 2016 seems to be a unification bout with either IBF champion Akira Yaegashi or WBC champion Yu Kimura. Both of those bouts are makable and both would be very interesting and very different types of bouts.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Earlier this year Kazuto Ioka (19-1, 11) became the second Japanese fighter to become a 3-weight world champion as he claimed a narrow majority decision over Juan Carlos Reveco (36-3, 19). The bout, which was competitive, had been described as controversial with some stating it was a robbery and the WBA demanding that the two men do it again in a rematch.
Although a rematch was demanded the WBA did allow both fighters to take an interim bout, which both fighters won, by decisions.
Today that rematch took place and this time there was no controversy at all, in fact the bout was more a statement of intent by Ioka than a competitive fight with the champion retaining his title in very impressive fashion, the fashion that may well alert the rest of the division and prove that he is, finally, a fully fledged Flyweight.
The fight started with Ioka looking accurate, sharp, quick and confident, but very much like a man who was fighting conservatively. There was next to nothing wasted by the champion whilst the challenger tried to force a high tempo, though was in effective missing regularly with shots that either fell short or hit the guard. If Reveco was looking to set the pace his aim failed as Ioka calmly stepped out of range, walked around the ring, rest himself and slowly but surely began to break down the Argentinian.
The breaking down process was beautiful to watch with Ioka setting out his stall early. He wasn't busy but what he was determined, landing numerous solid body blows from very early on, shots that seemed to land with a thud time and time again. Reveco, for the most part, took them without showing any real discomfort but it seemed like the sheer force on them was going to take something away from the Argentinian, especially given his high work rate and the question marks about him struggling to make weight.
Through the first 4 rounds the bout was competitive but it always seemed like Ioka was the boss, he was the one choosing when to fight, the one landing the telling blows and the one who controlled the action, despite Reveco's high out put. That changed slightly in round 5 as Ioka stood his ground more and in round 6 it totally changed with the champion essentially taking the round off. If anything those two rounds gave Reveco hope, though it was hope that was demolished in round 7 as Ioka got back in to things and began to bully Reveco, winning the exchanges and backing up the challenger, who was looking gutsy but out matched.
Things went from bad to worse for Reveco who was starting to wear the damage of the fight around his left eye and was losing his footing frequently when he let his shots go. Unfortunately he was also eating shots to both the head and body through round 8 as Ioka began to smell the finish. The smell became stronger in round 9 when Reveco was left bleeding from his eye and took an absolute pasting, with volley's of shots to the head and body. It was the type of round that constitutes a 10-8 and the sort of round that can be the end of fighters chances.
Following the big 9th Ioka seemed to relax, ease off the gas and know that he had it in the bag. Reveco on the other hand put it all on the line and seemed to swing everything he had at Ioka, though only managed to tag the air, on a very regular basis. It was an embarrassing round for Reveco in terms of his accuracy, but he had shown his true grit by just trying to fight following the previous round.
For all his guts and determination Reveco was looking like a beaten and desperate fighter who had little to offer, other than his heart. Sadly form him even that failed, with a body shot in round 11 sending him down. He beat the count but was ruled unfit to continue, subjecting him to his first stoppage loss, possibly even his final bout at the world level, if not final bout all together.
There are a lot of fighters that we can't help but lose, despite their limitations. One such fighter is the defensively liable Katsunari Takayama (30-8-0-1, 12) who sadly lost his IBF Minimumweight title earlier today, but showed just why we love him as he put on a blood and guts performance against Mexico's tough Jose Argumedo (16-3, 9).
Coming in to this one Takayama was the big betting favourite, it was supposed to be an easy defense against an inactive Mexican foe who had come up short every time he had faced a fighter of name value. In the end however it turned into an all action war, with back-forth action, high intensity and like many Takayama bouts, more trades the New York Stock Exchange.
The first round set the tone for the action with Takayama looking the more sprightly fighter but Argumedo looking like a big, tough solid
lump, and the bigger puncher. The round was one that could have gone either way, depending on whether quality and power trumps activity. Whilst the first was very competitive there was little damage to either man, despite the numerous shots that were landed. That wasn't the case in round 2 when a head clash left Takayama with a cut, a cut that worsened through out the fight. The action during the second was intense, and there was no wonder some blood was being spilled in what was quickly becoming an all out war.
The first was the start of a war that had serious battle through rounds 3, 4 and 5. During those rounds both men seemed to neglect defense, going all out with shots in what made for compelling viewing with round 5 in particular being something exceptional. Despite the action there was little to pick between them, except in round 4 which was a very clear Takayama round with Argumedo being backed up and bullied by the naturally smaller man.
Sadly for Takayama the warrior mentality was taking it's toll on his face and by the end of the 5th it appeared that both yes and his nose were leaking, a result of the shots from Argumedo and the fact he has had such a long and damaging career. The blood was beginning to look like and issue in rounds 6 and 7 but Takayama seemed to like the taste of it and upped the ante, throwing more than he had early in an attempt to break down a slowing Argumedo. The Mexican continued to look the stronger man but his feet were flat and his energy reserves seemed to be wearing away due to the intense tempo of the contest.
The battling spirit in Takayama again saw him forcing back Argumedo in round 8 but the Mexican could see the damage he was doing to the eye when he landed and seemed to target it with his heavy shots and by the start of round 9 the blood was a serious issue, along with the swelling around Takayama's face. The champion was beginning to look a real mess. The mess was so bad that the doctor had a really long, hard and serious look during the 9th round. It seemed as it the doctor was going to pull Takayama out there and then, though he relented, as if to say "you have until the round is over".
Knowing time was running out Takayama went on the offensive throwing everything he had at Argumedo, including the kitchen sink, but could stop the Mexican who saw out the storm and heard the bell. It was then that the doctor decided enough, was enough and called a halt to the bout.
This forced us to the scorecards for a technical decision, the second technical decision that Takayama has been involved in this year, though sadly for him he was to be denied of victory and his title with Argumedo taking a split decision with scores of 87-84, twice, whilst the dissenting judge had it 86-85 to Takayama.
This loss for Takayama will be a painful one, especially given the state of his face, though we doubt it'll be the end of the exciting "Lightning Kid" who seemed to suggest that he was heading to 108lbs next year.
As we all know 2015 is coming to an end, however to end the year boxing fans get 5 world title fights in Japan. The first of those happened earlier today in Aichi where fans saw a WBO Minimumweight thriller between Kosei Tanaka (6-0, 3) and Vic Saludar (11-2, 9).
The fight started fast with Tanaka looking the more polished, faster and intelligent fighter, however Saludar took the shots well, mostly on the guard, and looked like the sort of strong and tough fighter who was going to take a lot to stop. He also looked very dangerous every time he let his hands go, though did struggle to land much of note. It was a round where Tanaka's movement and speed were his key weapons.
The challenger may not have shined in round 1, but he did in round 2 as he gave Tanaka absolute hell. Tanaka gave away his advantages in footspeed and decided to trade on the inside which was a foolish game plan giving Saludar a chance to use his strength and power up close and prove that he wasn't there to just make up the numbers, he was instead there to become a world champion. The success of the challenger continued in round 3 where he finished the stronger man and left Tanaka with a bloodied nose and left fans wondering why Tanaka was continuing to to brawl with a brawler.
The in fighting continued in round 4, a pretty even and exciting round, and again in round 5, a round in which Saludar's power finally told as he dropped Tanaka with an very solid right hand. It was the first knockdown of Tanaka's career and came from as much from his wrecklessness as it did from Saludar's power, as he left himself wide open. Whilst Tanaka was to blame for the knockdown he was up quickly, at the count of 5, and showed his survival skills to see out the round.
By the following round it seemed like Tanaka had recovered his senses, but not his pure boxing, and instead of boxing and moving he continued to apply the pressure and force a fight on the inside. Although, still, fighting the wrong type of fight he did quickly find a home for his left hand into the body of Saludar. The Filipino continued to fight back, but was, eventually, caught by a peach that dropped the Filipino for the count.
It's fair to say that Saludar was over-looked by Tanaka, who was seemingly looking beyond him, towards a move to Light Flyweight. It was however a mistake to do so and it almost cost him, whilst also showing up the champion as a fighter who still has real maturing to do. He needs to get back to what he's good at, which is out boxing, being speedy and not brawling. In fairness to Saludar however, there is a good chance he will have a title reign in the future.
(Image courtesy of Nikkan Sports)
Last December we saw Naoya Inoue (9-0, 8) destroy Omar Andres Narvaez in 2 rounds to stamp his claim as the 2014 Fight of the Year, sadly however that win saw him damage his right hand and spend almost a year out of the ring. That year seems to have seen Inoue build up some pent up frustration that came out today when he destroyed mandatory challenger Warlito Parrenas (24-7-1, 21) in less than a round and a half.
The opening round was a relatively dull one. Parrenas tried to apply intelligent pressure behind a high guard and came forward but seemed very reluctant to let hi hands go. Inoue picked his spots to let shots go, but mostly seemed to hit the guard of Parrenas, though one or two did get through. It had the look of a frustrating night for both The Monster and the fans.
In round two however Inoue had a quick break through and quickly staggered Parrenas with a right hand. Only moments later Parrenas was down, courtesy of another right hand. The Filipino challenger was hurt on the canvas but his fighters instinct saw him get up. Inoue lay in wait, almost licking his lips knowing that the end was imminent. As soon as Parrenas was ready to continue Inoue went on the hunt and only moments later he scored the second knockdown, this time the referee did the merciful thing and stopped the action, putting Parrenas out of his misery.
For Inoue, who has now made the first defense of his title, we're expecting to see a swift return to the ring, and suspicion is that Hideyuki Ohashi will be in talks, possibly later this week, with American TV about getting The Monster Stateside for a bout in Spring.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
We have forever made a point of not doing our annual awards until the year is over, it doesn't make sense to do them until the final bell for the year has been rung, and it's actually a bit disrespectful to do the awards when numerous possible contenders have still got to fight. That was proven today when we had another FOTY contender and arguable the comeback fighter of the year.
The bout in question saw the amazing Akira Yaegashi (23-5, 12) claim the IBF Light Flyweight crown with a stirring performance against Javier Mendoza (24-3-1, 19) and mount an incredible comeback after back-to-back losses in 2014. Not only did he return to claim the title, and become Japan's 3rd 3-weight world champion* but he did so with a performance that summed up his entire career in 36 action packed, bloody and exciting minutes.
From the opening round it was clear that this wasn't going to be a typical boxing bout. There was no feeling out round, instead the pace started fast with Yaegashi using his incredible speed to make Mendoza look like a clumsy fool. Yaegashi hammered the body, landed counters and looked like the younger man despite being the better part of a decade older than Mendoza.
Yaegashi's speed continued to carry him through the first 3 rounds with out any real problems at all. All the problems were Mendoza's and the most notable of those was the fact he was wobbled on the bell to end round 2 as Yaegashi landed numerous straight right hands.
It was until round 4 that Mendoza seemed to really have a break through as he started the round fast and had the early success to build form. Yaegashi took it in his stride however and stood and traded with Mendoza in an action packed sequence of testicular fortitude. The success that Mendoza had in round 4 grew through the middle rounds with the 5th round being close, just like rounds 6, 7 and 8. A case could be made for Mendoza to have won any of them, though they were all competitive.
It seemed during those competitive rounds, especially in round 7, that Yaegashi was beginning to tire and that Mendoza had plenty left in the tank. The reality however was that that was all Mendoza really had and Yaegashi had taken it and fired back every time, despite starting to show the scars of war, with swelling around his face and blood seeping from his eye.
It seemed, that if Yaegashi was going to lose it would be due to a doctors stoppage due to his facial damage, in round 9 however Mendoza joined him in the damage stakes with a nasty cut of his own. That cut seemed to deflate Mendoza who was himself looking like a fighter who knew he wasn't going to be able to change things. Whilst Mendoza was looking tired and flat footed Yaegashi appeared to have a second wind and was bouncing on his toes, further adding insult to injury.
Mendoza would try and turn the action around in round 10 but Yaegashi managed to control the distance and tempo making life very easy for himself overall as he countered the jab of the defending champion and landed huge straight shots. For Mendoza time was running out and it seemed like he summed one final effort to fight in round 11, a round in which he seemed to hurt Yaegashi before almost being stopped himself as Yaegashi unloaded a huge attack on the bell, an attack that seemed to have Mendoza reeling and badly hurt. After the bell Yaegashi roared on the crowd and it looked clear that he knew the title was staying in Japan.
The final round started with Yaegashi looking like a man who knew the win was his and for the first 30 seconds or so he was skipping around, making Mendoza look silly. Then the warrior kicked in and Yaegashi took the fight back to Mendoza, rocking him, hurting him and almost stopping him in the final minute as he unloaded. Mendoza, to his credit, survived the storm but did look like a man who was happy to back track and hear out the final bell.
The scorecards were never in doubt with Yaegashi claiming a wide unanimous decision with scores of 120-107, 119-109 and 117-111, and cementing his place among the modern legends of Japanese boxing. His feat of being a 3-weight world champion has matched that of former rival Kazuto Ioka and Koki Kameda, and it's fair to say that his fights, including this one, will live on long after he has retired.
*Technically he's the 4th Japanese fighter to claim 3-weight titles after female fighter Naoko Fujioka also accomplished the feat.
Every so often we get a fight that isn't expected to anything special, in fact the bout may well be derided as a mismatch, but turns out to be an amazing fight that takes on a life of it's own and leaves fans wanting more. This past Friday we had one such fight as Nonito Donaire (36-3, 23) and Cesar Juarez (17-4, 13) put on something very special for the WBO Super Bantamweight title.
The bout was supposed to be a mismatch, in fact some bookies in the UK had Donaire at almost unbackable odds. Despite the feeling of a mismatch the fight actually ended up being very competitive, thrilling and a bout that really told a story that showed what makes boxing such a special sport.
The bout began like many expected. Donaire was simply too good, too smart, too fast, too accurate and seemingly had too much of everything. The first round saw the landing a monstrous right hand to effectively welcome Juarez into the fight and followed it up with a number of massive right hands up top and left hooks to the body. It looked like the story of the fight was going to be a very short one and it seemed like Juarez simply had no idea what to do with Donaire.
Rounds 2 and 3 were much like the opening round. They were all Donaire with the Filipino seemingly in total control, he couldn't miss and it seemed like Juarez was certain to be stopped. The much vaunted power of Donaire was connecting time and time again, and the shots were clean every time. The only real variance came in the final 30 seconds of round 3, when Juarez finally managed to have some success of his own, albeit only limited success.
Having clearly taken the first 3 rounds Donaire seemed to grow and in round 4 he continued to land right hands. The success of Donaire's clean shots seemed to stagger Juarez who went down as the fighters seemed to tangle feet. It was ruled a knockdown, but was a controversial call. It seemed however that it was going to be incident and not long afterwards Juarez was down again, a legitimate and painful looking knockdown. The second knockdown seemed to hurt Juarez who came out fighting, as if he was wanting to go down swinging rather than just take a loss. The opportunities that Juarez gave allowed Donaire to land further bombs but the Mexican saw off the storm and seemed to win a mini battle with himself. It was a 10-7 round but it was a round that had plenty of positives for Juarez, who had proven just how tough he was.
In round 5 Donaire looked for the kill, he again landed some bombs but they didn't have they effect they had had earlier in the fight. Instead they seemed to spur on Juarez who, near the end of the round, cornered Donaire and got off with some serious offensive work with the Filipino on the ropes. It was a sign that Juarez was there to fight, and wasn't merely there to make up the numbers. He had gone through hell early on and was now ready to pay it back.
The payback from Juarez continued in round 6 as Donaire began the round on his toes, moving but not punching, hit output dropped off completely whilst Juarez moved through the gears and began to cut the ring off, forcing Donaire on to the ropes. It wasn't a clear and decisive round, but it was a notable round, with Donaire slipping late and seemingly injuring his ankle. His corner went to work on it, and did seem like it was going to be dramatic, though it never seemed to clearly effect the fight following the slip.
With Donaire clearly slowing in terms of his output Juarez began to turn it on and round 7 was a massive round for Juarez who regularly pinned Donaire against the ropes and unloaded with flurry after flurry. In the first 90 seconds the action was all Juarez with the Mexican really forcing the issue whilst the second half of the round saw Donaire having some success, but not enough with Juarez continuing to out work him.
Juarez continued to build on his success and in round 8 he continued to press the action. He was forced to eat some counters, some huge counters, but on the whole it was the work of the Mexican that left a lasting impression. The aggressive work of Juarez seemed to be helping him claw his way back into the fight and seemed to really be taking it's toll on Donaire who marking up and being forced to fight Juarez's fight. Despite the complexion of the fight changing it seemed as though Juarez had too much ground to make up, though he wasn't going to just give up.
Rounds 9 and 10 continued in much the same vein, with Juarez forcing the action with an insane work rate and intense pressure. He had mixed success, but in both rounds he managed to get Donaire on the ropes and unload with the Filipino becoming more and more ragged by the round. So ragged was Donaire that it seemed he was knocked down in round 10, though the referee called it a slip. Despite becoming ragged Donaire was landing his right hand counter at will, though it had no effect at all on the Mexican who seemed to just reset himself and come right back at the Filipino star, who must have wondered what it would take to stop his 24 year old foe.
Although rounds 9 and 10 were Juarez's rounds he was still going to need several KD's, if not a KO, to win and he seemed to know it as he came our fast in round 11. That lead to a number of brilliant exchanges with Juarez forcing Donaire to the ropes and Donaire firing back in a flurries of shots, as the two traded, standing toe to toe. The action was dictated, again, by Juarez but Donaire was being forced to hold his own. The round was brilliant and both men deserve credit for their efforts, though the round will quickly be forgotten
The reason round 11 will be forgotten is because the two then gave us a round of the year contender, in fact they may well have given us the best round of the year.
Juarez came out fast and immediately had Donaire on the ropes and began unloading his shots. Donaire eventually got some space and freedom but his respite was short as Juarez charged back in, almost immediate. The assault from Juarez continued until thee was about a minute left. It seemed like Donaire was running on fumes, and then suddenly Donaire fired back stopping Juarez in his tracks. The Mexican regrouped and was tagged again before the two traded solid shots to the bell. It was breath taking, jaw dropping and and all action.
By the final bell it seemed like the early success of Donaire was easy to forget. He had been dragged through hell for the final 6 rounds of the fight. The work of Juarez, whilst not the cleanest, was eye catching, and it seemed that overall Juarez had certainly done enough to make the cards at least close. Sadly the effort wasn't really shown on the cards which were 116-110, twice and 117-109, all in favour of Donaire, who reclaimed the WBO Super Bantamweight title.
Whilst the Filipino got the win, we dare say it's come at a cost and it's unlikely that he'll be the same fighter, in fact the punishment taken here will have aged Donaire significantly and the 33 year old may have just used his “final” good performance in what was a very tough, exciting and brilliant fight.
The intriguing Flyweight division really does have a bit of everything involved in it with the aggression of Roman Gonzalez, the action of Diago Higa, the the boxing of Juan Francisco Estrada and the trickery of Amnat Ruenroeng (17-0, 5). It was that trickery that was on show earlier today when Amnat recorded the 5th defense of his IBF Flyweight title and over-came the gutsy Myung Ho Lee (19-5-1, 6), of Japan.
In the opening round it looked like the bout was going to be an easy one for Amnat who looked too fast, too skilled, too smart and too accurate for the Japanese challenger. It was a round that saw Amnat showing off what he can do when he's not holding, fouling and wrestling.
The second round was a much more competitive one as Lee came out firing, showing real aggression and arguably showing the key tactic to beating the Thai. The challenger closed the distance, was in Amnat's face and forced the Thai to fight and an uncomfortable pace. It was a round that the judges likely scored to the champion but was one that could easily have gone to Lee who really pressed the fight and made Amnat look uncomfortable.
Amnat saw off the early storm and came back in rounds 3 and 4 with some brilliant work, hurting Lee in both rounds, though also showed his lack of killer instinct letting Lee recover without really turning up the heat on either occasion. Despite the lack of an early finish Amnat was impressive during these rounds and an uppercutt in round 4 was nothing short of exceptional showing just how clever and intuitive he is in the ring.
With Amnat failing to see off Lee when he had a chance it was clear that Lee was going to come back into the fight and in round 5 he really pressed the champion, whilst Amnat had a serious lull through much of the round. It was another round that could have gone to the challenger with little debate whilst the champion fought in some very limited spurts and had little success with his counters and traps. It was one of the best rounds for Lee who showed that he was still really in the fight.
Although Amnat is well known for putting on some dreary action we must say that round 6 was brilliant from both men who spent some prolonged periods trading shots in the center of the ring. The action did have lulls through out but was a really good solid round with both fighters having notable success and being forced to take some solid shots during a round of brilliant 2-way action. Sadly for Lee it was a round where Amnat's slightly more varied offense took him the round, but it seemed to show that Lee was forcing Amnat out of his typically slow paced style.
Lee may not have taken round 6 but he really seemed to grow and took the fight to Amnat once again in round 7 as the champion was forced to fight Lee's fight. The Thai held, spoilers, ran and did his best to avoid the rampaging challenger who looked determined to make a statement with a very impressive effort during the round. In a favourable venue the round would have seen Lee close the gap on the scorecards, and in fact the bout could have been 67-66 leading into the final 5 rounds, on the actual cards however things were never going to be that close.
Round 8 started slowly with Amnat holding, holding and holding though he came alive after that slow start and hammered Lee with right hands late in the round. It wasn't the best round but it was a clear round for the champion who simply out landed and neutralised the challenger, who had began to build some momentum over the previous few rounds.
Amnat's success continued in round 9 as he landed some very solid right hands early, though the most notable part of the round was the fact the Thai was deducted a point. The deduction, for holding, seemed to spur on Lee who finished strongly following a slow start to the round. It was a clear 9-9 round but one that seemed to suggest that Amnat was beginning to walk a tight rope with the referee who was unlikely to let him away with the holding that has become one of his trademarks in the ring.
Knowing that he still had half a chance to claim an unlikely win Lee put his foot on the gas and tried to break down the Thai. In round 10 the tactic failed to pay off with Amnat landing counters almost at will. Lee brought the pressure but seemed to fail in terms of connecting with the shots he needed to. Despite the action of the fight the round was really notable for a judo-style-throw from Amnat, a throw that went unpunished from the referee.
For the final two rounds Lee again continued to press the action, force the pace and really make Amnat uncomfortable. As a result the 11th round was a clear one for the challenger who made Amnat look like a tired fighter, unable to string any sort of offensive salvo and instead resort to holding, running and a simple and move. Sadly for Lee his tactic failed to get him success in the final round, as he was instead dropped, though he claimed it was a slip, securing Amnat a 10-8 round which could easily have decided the bout.
At the final bell Lee looked dejected, as if he knew he could have made the fight closer. Amnat however celebrated, as if the win was secure, easy and clear.
The judges sided with Amnat's view point, scoring it 118-108 and 117-109, twice. The scores weren't reflective of the fight, but they did get the right winner. One thing the fight did show however is that Ruenroeng doesn't like pressure, doesn't like someone in his face and doesn't like to have an opponent forcing the pace. He may have come out with the win here, but the bout seemed to show that Roman Gonzalez would have an easier time with him than some may have expected, in fact it's Gonzalez's style that would be the dominant one if the two men wee to meet in 2016, as has been mentioned in recent weeks.
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.