In 2018 we had 2 All Filipino world title fights and, if we're being, they were both really underwhelming and won't be remembered for long. Today we had another, and today's the polar opposite as we had an all action contest with Pedro Taduran (14-2, 11) and Samuel Salva (17-1, 10) trading blows for the IBF Minimumweight title.
Taduran, getting his second world title fight, fought all out with an aggressive mentality. In the opening round that was a tactic that left many questioning what he was doing, as the more technically well schooled Salva countered him regularly with right hands. Salva's defensive skills and counter punching made it seem like he had the answer to Taduran's southpaw stance and pressure.
The second round saw Taduran tweak his tactics slightly, changing from coming forward behind his southpaw left hand to using his right hook. Despite the change Salva still seemed to get the better of it, though Taduran certainly had some moments.
Taduran continued to press, intently, in round 3. Early in the round he paid for it, again, as Salva landed a number of big right hands, however Taduran just refused to back off. Instead of backing up and reconsidering his gameplan Taduran just continued to charge forward and and quickly pinned Salva on the ropes, working away, and hurting his man. Salva never really recovered and quickly put in survival mode whilst Taduran jumped on him, hunting the stoppage. To his credit Salva showed bravery and toughness, but Taduran just refused to give him space to breath. Some how, and we really don't know how, Salva made it to the bell to get a minutes rest.
That minute wasn't long enough and when the fight resumed in round 4 Taduran was again all over him, and forced Salva to resort to headbutting to try and survive. The headbutts were caught by the referee who took a point from Salva in round 4. That really didn't matter and Taduran continued to beat his man up to the bell.
Having taken 2 rounds of serious punishment and seemingly running on fumes Salva remained in his corner at the end of round 4, not coming out for the 5th.
With this win Taduran becomes the latest Filipino world champion whilst it's back to the drawing board for Salva, who lost his unbeaten record here, and took real damage. Salva is still young enough to bounce back, and is still very skilled, but needs to add a lot to his game if he's to reach the top. He also needs to hope this hasn't damaged long term, as it was pretty sustained damage for 6 minutes.
To end a super busy weekend of fights attention turned to the Portopia Hotel in Kobe as Reiya Konishi (17-2, 7) [小西伶弥] challenged hard hitting IBF Light Flyweight champion Felix Alvarado (35-2, 30).
The bout, which had no live TV coverage, promised a lot. Whilst the TV coverage lacked it was streamed via the team of Konishi's and proved to be a genuinely compelling contest, from start to end, with Alvarado's power punching going up against Konishi's physical strength and toughness. It wasn't the all out war we were expecting, but it sure was an engaging, and thrilling contest.
From the opening round it was clear neither man was there just to pick up a pay cheque, with Konishi pressing forward, trying to smother the power of Alvarado, whilst the Champion found room to get his shots off. Konishi, to his credit, got plenty off himself in the early stages, often forcing Alvarado backwards and unleashing flurries of shots to head and body, but it was the blows of Alvarado that caught the eye, especially his uppercuts as Konish came in with his head down.
Konishi's best moments came in the middle rounds, as he landed most of his best work, stopped Alvarado from creating the space here needed to get full extension on his shots. By smothering Alvarado's power shots and pushing him backwards Konishi had real success, and left the Nicaraguan looking a little bit like a bully. It did however come at a cost, and the energy that Konishi had to use, and the shots he took in return for his success, were apparent in the later rounds.
The final third of the bout was Alvarado's best. Konishi had slowed, his work rate had dropped, and his ability to cut the distance effectively was waning. This allowed Alvarado the space he needed to land his thunderous power shots, and in rounds 10 and 11 he hurt Konishi, who was left wobbling and looking ready to go. Unfortunately for the Nicaraguan the bell came to give Konishi both times, but it was clear that Konishi was relying on his toughness by then, and his chance to turn things round had all but gone.
The brave and determined challenger managed to put up a really spirited effort in round 12, despite losing the round. It was clear he knew he'd lost but he'd put up a great effort against one of the hardest hitting champions in the sport.
After 12 rounds the judges had the bout a clear win for the Nicaraguan, with scores of 117-111, 118-110 and 116-112.
In a sign of real class Alvarado stayed with fans on his way backstage, bumping fists with the locals, taking pictures with kids and really spending a lot of time with those who had been cheering on Konishi. The fans however had clearly been won over by the champion, and it was great to see from both sides.
Sadly for Konishi this is the second time he has lost in a world title bout, and it might just be that whilst he is very good, and very strong, he isn't quite good enough to win a world title.
Fighters will, one day, learn not to disrespect Naoya Inoue (18-0, 16) [井上 尚弥]. He hands out beatings when disrespect, as Jamie McDonnell found out last year, and as Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-1, 12) found out just moments ago.
The two men, meeting in the WBSS semi final, had entered as unbeaten champions, with Inoue as the WBA "regular" champion and Rodriguez as the IBF champion. It was supposed to be Inoue's biggest test, his toughest fight and a real chance for him to answer questions, questions that fans who hadn't followed him from the start of career still had. It was however another procession from the Monster, just like his previous two bouts at Bantamweight, against Jamie McDonnell and Juan Carlos Payano. An execution that was likely as quick as it was due to the over-confidence of Rodriguez and his team, who had pushed Inoue's trainer and father Shingo at the media work out in the week.
The first round started well for Rodriguez who landed a good right hand in the opening seconds, before Inoue settled behind his jab, and managed to take the round thanks to a steady stream of jabs left hooks. Inoue landed a couple of right hands during the round but didn't seem to budge Rodriguez who applied pressure, and had one or two moments of his own, but was out landed over all.
Having got a read on his man early in round 2 Inoue began to turn up the hear and let his shots go with the free flowing aggression we've seen of him since early in early in his career. A big body shot hurt Rodriguez who was then given a huge head shot, then a left hook moments later dropped Rodriguez. To his credit Rodriguez got up, but was down again from a sickening body shot. That could have ended the fight but he returned to his feet, narrowly beating the count, before being dropped again. That was it. After just 79 seconds of round 2 Rodriguez, supposedly Inoue's stiffest test to date, was dispatched.
This was the 6th time in a row that Inoue had stopped someone who had never been stopped, including not only McDonnell and Payano but also the teak tough Kohei Kono, a former 2-time world champion. It was also his third second round stoppage following wins against Omar Andres Narvaez and Warlito Parrenas.
More notable for Japanese boxing it is the first time, in history, a Japanese fighter has won a world title fight in Europe, ending a 51 year, 20 fight losing run in the continent.
As for the future this win books Inoue a showdown later in the year with Filipino legend Nonito Donaire, in the WBSS final. That should be a huge fight for Asia, and arguably the most notable opponent that Inoue will have faced so far, certainly the most dangerous. Donaire might be on the slide but he is certainly a lot more proven that Rodriguez and Payano.
The Flyweight division has given us some amazing bouts in recent years, such as 2018's war between Kosei Tanaka and Sho Kimura, and today we got another, as Japan's Masayuki Kuroda (30-8-3, 16) [黒田 雅之] battled tooth and nail with IBF Flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane (38-2, 25) in a sure fire FOTY contender, up there with another of the amazing bouts we've seen in 2019 so far.
The bout started with Kuroda looking to use his slight reach advantage but it wasn't long until Mthalane got up close and drew Kuroda into a fire fight, with both unload a high volume of shots on the inside. It was a great back and forth with both landing their share of solid clean shots. Of the two Mthalane seemed to be the smart man, landing cleaner and defending better, but Kuroda was landing more shots, going to the body excellently.
Through the first 4 rounds there was almost nothing to split the two men. It could have been 4-0 either way with no complaints. Sadly for Kuroda he began to show some signs of tiring in the middle rounds, Mthalane on the other hand remained consistent with his work, cutting the left eye of Kuroda in the process. Kuroda would battle hard, and have a huge burst at the end of the round trying to steal it but it was too little too late. The same again applied in round 6, with Mthalane out working Kuroda through much of the round, before the challenger rallied at the end, with a huge onslaught that was driven by both the crowd and Kuroda's will to win.
In round 7 Kuroda began to show real swelling around his face, and was slowing. He was now picking moments to fire off, rather than trying to to press. He still had his moments, but he was taking more than he was giving, and was struggling to fight hard for 3 minutes. That continued to be the case in round 8, a round that Kuroda managed to land a lot of body shots in, but at the expense of taking a lot of head shots, as he face continued swelling. That was followed by a massive round 9 from Mthalane, who seemed to sense that he could get a stoppage, something that seemed plausible given the state of Kuroda's right eye, which was completely swollen shut by the end of the round.
By now Kuroda was fighting on will power and determination alone. His face swollen, his gas tank emptying and the momentum clearly behind Mthalane. He refused to sit back though and and pressed Mthalane through the round, taking punishment for his desire to be a world champion, landing shots but taking better ones in return. It was a brave and hungry effort, but one that saw him taking so much in return. By now it was becoming clear he would need a KO, and he was aware of it.
In the 11th round Kuroda managed to get his second wind, at least early in the round, but Mthalane soaked it all up and had a huge 2 minutes of the round, pushing Kuroda's determination to near breaking point. Kuroda looked done, completely blind in his right from swelling and like the referee might step in to save him from further punishment. It was a huge Mthalane round, until the dying seconds when, for the first time, he seemed to really hurt Mthalane, forcing the champion into survival mode for the final few seconds of the round.
Given he had hurt his man late in round 11 it seemed clear that Kuroda was going to give all he could in round 12, and he started out hot. Mthalane saw it coming however and boxed, using his foot work, his movement, timing and ring ring craft to see out the pressure before landing some glorious combinations late. Kuroda's desperation left him open and Mthalane was making him pay lighting up his face as we went to the bell.
After 12 rounds it seemed we had a close but clear winner. The first half of the fight had been wonderfully contested, and Kuroda had played his part in the latter stages with his incredible toughness, but there was only one man who looked like getting the win. The judges knew it, the fighters knew it and the crowd knew it, with Mthalane getting the unanimous decision, 116-112, twice, and 117-111.
There was no denying Mthalane was the better fighter, the worthy winner and a true warrior. His future is likely going to be a unification bout, potentially with WBC champion Charlie Edwards or WBO champion Kosei Tanaka, if Tanaka's team can lure him to Japan. For Kuroda a long, long rest will be needed. His face really was a swollen, damaged mess. Hopefully this isn't the end for him, but if it is, we can safely safe that the Last Samurai really did go out on his sword in a true FOTY contender.
After a disappointing performance last time out IBF Super Flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas (31-1-2, 21) knew he had to shine earlier today when he faced mandatory challenger Ryuichi Funai (31-8, 22) [船井 龍一] from Japan.
Although it was a mandatory it did seem like Ancajas had the perfect foil to look good against, with Funai being a slow and basic come forward fighter with a very straight up style. Whilst Funai does have a potent right hand, that was pretty much the only threat Ancajas had to think about entering the bout.
Ancajas looked sharp from the off, much sharper than he had Alejandro Santiago Barrios last September, and quickly found a home for his straight left hand. He looked relaxed, quick and at ease. Funai on the other hand looked slow, tense and although he had a high guard it was being split time and time again by Ancajas. Funai's lack of speed was apparently early on though his style of slowly trudging forward made life incredibly easy for Ancajas.
In round 2 Ancajas began to move up a gear and he began to stand his ground more, lending cleanly and even allowing Funai to trade with him at times, especially at the end of round 3. He was so calm and in control that he was making Funai miss and counter up close. It was really clear that the two guys didn't belong in the ring together.
Having controlled the first 3 rounds without getting beyond second gear Ancajas began to put on a show in round 4, really moving through the gears and battering Funai. The round was as one sided as you could get, with Funai's only success being the fact that he remained on his feet, though he did that was a mystery. Ancajas was landing clean straight left hands, combinations, right hooks, uppercuts and just battering the challenger. It wouldn't have been a surprise to see the referee wave off the contest, and some referees would have done just that, but some how Funai managed to make it to the end of the round.
The damage that Ancajas gave Funai in round 4 forced the referee to have the doctor inspect Funai at the start of round 5. That round was a more cautious one from Funai, who backed off, tried to recover and didn't really do much other than clear his head. That was easier said than done though, with Ancajas continuing to beat him through the round. Although Funai was less willing to walk into the punches of Ancajas he was still on the receiving end of a lot of clean shots.
Round 6, much like round 4, was a one sided one where Ancajas increased his output and went to town on Funai, especially in the last minute. Funai's toughness was again his most impressive trait, but he was giving very little challenge to Ancajas.
At the end of round 6 the referee seemed to request Funai's pull their man from the bout. They didn't so the doctor did, stopping the bout at the very start of round 7.
For Funai this is a huge disappointment and it will almost certainly be his only shot at a world title. As for Ancajas this was perfect. This was the performance he needed, this was what he and his team would have been praying for. It was a sensational outing, beating Funai in an eye catching, fan friendly manner. It was similar in some ways to his first mandatory, against Teiru Kinoshita, where he again showcased what he could do.
Where Ancajas goes next is unclear, but if he can't secure a really big bout it would make sense to get in with another slower come forward fighter, where he can again shine by simply using his speed and skills. If he can't land a big bout for his next defense it would make sense to have him again in with an opponent that makes him look a million dollars. He's in an awkward position, as the only top Super Flyweight signed with ESPN, but there are fan friendly options out there for him.
Just moments ago fight fans around the globe saw Irish-Australian TJ Doheny (21-0, 15) score his first defense of the IBF Super Bantamweight title, as he stopped over-matched Japanese challenger Ryohei Takahashi (15-4-1, 6) in the 11th round.
Takahashi, a huge under-dog, looked outclassed from the opening moments as Doheny landed sharp shots, moved around the ring well, and found a home for his southpaw left hand, to both head and body. Takahashi was coming forward but his limitations were clear and he was always struggling to get close, never mind actually landing anything of note.
In round 2 the fighters clashed heads, with both being cut on the bridge of the nose, despite the cuts Doheny continued to control the action, dropping Takahashi the following round.
As the fight went on Doheny seemed to slow down a touch, picking his shots a little bit more whilst Takahashi began to ramp up his pressure. That pressure wasn't completely effective, due to Takahashi's technical flaws, inaccuracy, poor footwork and limited technique, but he did have moments and was forcing Doheny to fight at a higher pace than he would have wanted.
The second half of the fight saw Takahashi's pressure become more and more intense, and he arguably took a round or two as Doheny seemed to take his foot off the gas just a touch. It was never as if Takahashi was coming close to winning the fight, but just doing enough to perhaps sneak a round or two.
Sadly for Takahashi Doheny began to move back through the gears as we went into the late rounds, landing some sickening body shots. Those shots began to take a toll and although Takahashi continued to come forward he did look like he has visibly slowed a touch.
In round 11 Doheny managed to rock Takahashi and a follow up forced the referee to step in. It was a strange stoppage, but one that not many will really complain too much with given the noncompetitive nature of the fight. Doheny was in a huge lead going into the round, and there seemed to be no chance of Takahashi landing anything big enough to turn things around, so the stoppage certainly didn't feel like it was robbing the fans, or challenger of anything.
Following the win Doheny was joined in the ring by WBA champion Danny Roman, and they spoke about a unification bout. That's looking likely to take place later this year, though it's possible that both may have to fight a mandatory defense before a unification bout.
For Takahashi this was his biggest fight by far, and it's fair to say whilst he came up short he did put up a brave and gritty effort. He'll be unlikely to get another fight at this level, but he will fit well in the mix at Oriental level when he gets back in the ring.
The second, of 3, world title fights in Macau today saw IBF Flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane (37-2, 25) battle against little known Japanese challenger Masahiro Sakamoto (13-2, 9) [坂本真宏]
On paper this was a mismatch, a 2-time world champion, with notable wins against the likes of Muhammad Waseem, John Riel Casimero and Zolani Tete against a man who is best known for losing to a then little known Sho Kimura. It was however a bout that turned out to be a very, very entertaining contest with Sakamoto showing no quit and a lot of ambition.
From the first round it was clear that Sakamoto saw this as his chance to perform on the big stage, even though the bout was only shown in a few countries, not including Japan. He bit down hard on his gum shield and look to land combinations against the crisp punching and defensively sound Mthalane. We, as many, didn't really expect the Mechnical Engineering student to fight with such tenacity, but he did. Sadly for Sakamoto the clean shots from Mthalane were taking a toll.
Through the first 6 round Sakamoto really did much, much better than expected. He was clearly losing, and taking a fair bit of damage thanks to the clean, crisp, accurate shots of Mthalane, but he wasn't giving up. He was taking the fight to the champion and fighting on the inside, looking to wear Mthalane down with flurries.
Sadly for Sakamoto his effort, and the lack of pay off from the effort, took a lot out of him and he was looking exhausted at the end of round 6, with his face reddening and his right eye swelling shut. That eye would and his exhaustion would bee a major issues, with Mthalane landing more and more shots as the rounds went on.
Eventually, with their man a long way behind on the score cards, his face a swollen mess and his energy tank running on empty Sakamoto's corner pulled him out of the bout at the end of round 10.
For such an unknown, and we're not joking when we say that, Sakamoto put up a very brave performance in a bout that even those in Japan gave him little chance of winning. For Mthalane the win was expected, he was given a surprising tough work out here, and will now be looking towards a mandatory defense against another Japanese fight, Masayuki Kuroda in Spring.
After the TV cameras stopped rolling at the Staples Center, following the 12 round classic between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury, there was one more world title bout to take place. That bout featured Filipino Mark Anthony Barriga (9-1, 1) and American Carlos Licona (14-0, 2) with the two battling to crown a new IBF Minimumweight champion.
Sadly for two fighters the audience had shrank, from a few million international viewers to just the handfuls left in the venue for what was essentially a world title bout that acted as a walk out bout.
Thankfully among those in the venue was the excellent Ryan Songalia, who posted a series of tweets regarding the fight, and it seems like it was the most competitive contest on the show, with the two men matching other incredibly well. Licona was the naturally bigger man, the taller, rangier and harder hitting fighter whilst Barriga was the more technically gifted, the one landing the more eye catching shots, but also the one struggling to really leave an impact on Licona.
According to the tweets posted by Mr Songalia the two really hard to split, with both men having some clear rounds, but a number of rounds were a toss up. This was always going to make life tricky for Barriga, given he was fighting in the US in the same state that Licona lives in.
The Light Flyweight delivered another action packed bout earlier today as Filipino Randy Petalcorin (29-3-1, 22) battled against heavy handed Nicaraguan Felix Alvarado (34-2, 30) in a bout for the vacant IBF Light Flyweight title, which had been given up by Hekkie Budler earlier this year. On paper the bout matched one of the best pure boxers in the division against one of the most destructive in a bout that really looked fantastic on paper.
For fans of Alvarado they would have known exactly what to expect from the Nicaraguan, and he fought true to form, bringing his trademark intense pressure. In the opening moments Petalcorin coped with it well, moving around the ring and fighting smart with sharp counter shots, but couldn't force Alvarado backwards or really get his respect.
The second round saw Alvarado pick up the pace, and really take the fight to the Filipino who failed to ever create space in a round that instead saw him being pinned against the ropes. It was a huge show of confidence from the Nicaraguan who looked like a monster. Petalcorin managed to have a better round 3, as he created some space, but was again on the back foot and forced to take some big shots from the Nicaraguan. To his credit Petalcorin landed some tasty counters, creating a welt under the right eye of Alvarado, but he was never able to get Alvarado's respect.
Round 4 saw more pressure from Alvarado as he continued to hunt his man, though his success was limited at times as he began to look sluggish, with the intensity dropping. The lower intensity allowed Petalcorin to have some moments in round 5, especially early on, but he was on the receiving end at the end of the round as Alvarado's pressure began to ramp up. That pressure continued to get more intense from Alvarado in round 6 as he began to really dig heavy body shots into the local favourite. Petalcorin rode a lot of shots well, and even landed some of his own clean counters, but it was clear that the damage was accumulating on the Filipino, who was being forced to take some massive body shots.
In round 7 Alvarado's pressure finally broke through as he dropped Petalcorin in the corner. The Filipino gritted it out and got back to his feet but was dropped again not long afterwards. He looked spent but got to his feet again and fought fire with fire, trading blows with Alvarado. In the trading sequences Petalcorin landed a huge head shot, but was taken apart by body shots, and was dropped again. This time the bout was stopped.
After coming up short to Kazuto Ioka and Juan Carlos Reveco this was third time lucky for Alvarado, who looks like he will be very hard to dethrone, though would make for brilliant fights with Angel Acosta or Hiroto Kyoguchi. For Petalcorin he's young enough to bounce back, but his performance here saw him really struggle with the pressure, and he will have to pick a smart route to a title if he's to go all the way.
On Friday night in Oakland we saw IBF Super Flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas (30-1-2, 20) escape with his 6th defense thanks to a fortunate draw against little known Mexican Alejandro Santiago Barrios (16-2-5, 7).
On paper the bout was a mismatch. The champion had won his last 17, he was in the form of his life, and looked like one of the top fighters at 115lbs whilst Santiago was a relative unknown who had never fought at this level and was taking a notable step up. In reality however it was the challenger who looked the rounded and accomplished fighter.
In the opening round Santiago proved he was not the patsy many had anticipated. Instead he was a smart fighter. Despite the smaller man it was his jab that was landing, and it was he who was controlling the range, totally neutralising the southpaw jab of Ancajas whilst using smart footwork to get in and out. That footwork of Santiago not only worked for him when he was neutralising Ancajas but also when he was letting his own hands go, and after a few rounds he had found the range for his right hand and his left hook. Ancajas on the other hand was often limited to his straight left, which he landed to the body and head.
Many of the rounds were competitive but it always seemed like Santiago was doing enough to take the rounds. He was however leaving the judges an opportunity to give rounds to the slightly busier Ancajas, who's shots were less effective but but seemed to be more consistent. Sadly for Ancajas whilst he was doing more, he was very predictable and looked like a fighter who lacked real fire or a plan B. There no real change in intensity from Ancajas, no change in tactics and at no point did he ever really cut off the ring. Instead he continued the same thing over and over, whilst getting timed by Santiago.
What Santiago really did well was pick up the pace late in rounds, and there was a number of close rounds in which he upped the ante late on and left the lasting impression. It was something that Ancajas could never do, and when he tried to respond he was made to look messy and looked like he was either hurt or flailing at the air.
When we reached the final bell it looked like Santiago had won a clear but competitive bout. He seemed to feel that he'd clearly won as well, celebrating on the corner posts whilst Ancajas looked like a man who knew he hadn't deserved to retain his title. Boxing however does give us some whilst cards, and the first had Ancajas winning 116-112, a bizarre score. The second card had Santiago winning 118-111, another bizarre score but one that seemed to go to the right guy. The deciding had it 114-114 resulting in the draw.
The result really was as good as Ancajas could have got. He kept his title, but got a real scare, and seemingly got very fortunate. His stock has dropped as a result of the draw, despite remaining a champion, and it's clear that he should be guided away from certain fighters in the division. As for Santiago this was a performance that would have put him on the map. It could cause him problems, as he looks a nightmare to fight, but it's the performance that shows he belongs at world level, something few actually expected. The Mexican is unlucky not to be the new champion but will almost certainly get another in the future.
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.