We have often applauded fighters for chasing history, it's why we have been to vocal in our support of fighters like Naoya Inoue and Kosei Tanaka. Of course historical achievements can questioned, such as a fighter who wins a serious of vacant titles or a fighter who pads their record, but it's nice to see fighters do historical things. We mention that as today WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (51-0, 18) [วันเฮง ไก่ย่างห้าดาวยิม] notched his 10th defense and over-came gallant Filipino Pedro Taduran (12-2, 9) to move to 51-0.
Now whilst Wanheng's achievement isn't actually a record, a number of fighters have had better starts to their career, it is potentially setting the stage for history as he has now surpassed the 50-0 record of Floyd Mayweather Jr, who holds the most statistically impressive unbeaten record of any retired world champion. A record that would end tomorrow if Wanheng decided to retire following today's win.
The fight saw Taduran getting into Wanheng's face from the off, with his pressure being impressive straight away. Sadly for the challenger Wanheng's defense and counter punching was equal to the aggression and pressure of the challenger with the champion often landing clean crisp counter shots that caught the eye in the opening round. In the second round both men increased their output, giving us a thrilling round of none stop action, and it seemed like they had both agreed that they would go for a stoppage win with one of the rounds of the year. The round however took a toll on both men and both seemed to slow down in the rounds that followed. Despite the slow down the pattern of the bout during the other early rounds continued, with Taduran pressing and Wanheng countering, with some eye catching and solid shots.
It was a case of accuracy over work rate, and the judges seemed to take Wanheng's side after 4 rounds, scoring the contest 40-36, twice, and 39-37 in favour of the Thai.
The bout continued to slow in the middle rounds, which appeared to suit the more technically solid Wanheng. Taduran still had some solid moments, particularly in round 6 when he managed to get off some solid body shots on the inside and backed Wanheng on to the ropes, but took some heavy punishment of his own. The challenger was also beginning to battle the referee who, very harshly, took a point from the Filipino for a low blow that really really didn't deserve a punishment of any kind. It was harsh certainly didn't help the challenger, but the judges did seem more impressed by him in the middle rounds, with the open scoring showing the scores of 78-74, twice, and 79-74. He was still well behind, but the judges were starting to give him more credit.
The 9th round was one of the most compelling. Wanheng seemed to win the first half of it, he landed some really nasty shots but part way through the round the referee adjusted the champions trunks. Following that Taduran seemed to sense something and let his shots go in a way we hadn't seen since round 2, it forced a response from Wanehng as the two began to trade. The intensity from Taduran continued in the early part of round 10, before Wanheng began to re-establish his control with his defense and clean counter shots.
The result was made a total formality in round 11 when the referee again got involved to the detriment of Taduran, deducting a point from the Filipino for leading with the head. He had been warned about it a number of times, but the deduction seemed harsh, especially given the previous deduction for low blows. It essentially put the bout to bed, despite being a good round for the challenger who showed his desire. Sadly his technical faults showed up and he still took some solid counters.
With the decision essentially in the bag Wanheng seemed happy to spoil and stall through the final round. Taduran, still wanting to win, fought hard but never looked like downing the champion, who held and complained and danced through much of the round.
The win for Wanheng seems him retain the gold and Petchyindee promotions will be happy that their man is still the champion, and has reached the marvellous mark of 51-0. They however will know their man will need to perform better if he intends to win a planned bout in Japan in December. Away from home he may not get the breaks given to him here. He would have still won with out the deductions, given the scores were 118-108, 115-111 and 117-110, but they would certainly have made things a lot more interesting going into the final few rounds.
For Taduran the shot did seem to come a little too early. Given another year or two of seasoning, some technical work on his offensive and balance, he could have potentially over-come Wanheng. Instead he'll have learned a lot in defeat, and will likely improve as a result. He will be wondering why there was a referee with next to know world title experience in the middle of the ring with him but the tough conditions in Thailand have given him a huge platform to build from. And he really did impress here, especially in the rounds when he upped the pace and really let his hands go.
After a string of great Minimumweight title fights in recent years, such as the recent contests between Hiroto Kyoguchi and Vince Parras and Ryuya Yamanaka and Vic Saludar we got a total stinker today. The bout saw WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart (18-0, 7) [น็อคเอาท์ ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท] battle against against "interim" champion Xiong Zhao Zhong (27-8-1, 14) [熊朝忠] in China, in what was Knockout's first bout outside of Thailand. Sadly what looked like it could have been a good bout just never really got going and ended up being a slow, dull and actionless affair.
The early rounds looked like Knockout was going through the motions. He gave away the first two rounds on our cards without putting up any sort of an effort. It looked like he was on cruise control whilst Zhong did just enough, with his picking and poking, to out work the inactive Thai. It was an embarrassing start from both men given the world title status of this bout, but thankfully the bout did pick up pace in round 3 when Knockout showed a few glimpses of his ability. The Thai finally looked like he had signs of life.
Round 4 was another where Knockout made it easy to give the round to the Chinese fighter. The Thai wasn't actionless but didn't ever press the fight like he could have. It was clear when he did land that Zhong dislikes the sting on his shots, but he rarely put his shots together. That changed slightly in round 5, when Knockout did try to put punches together, but struggled to land them as the small Zhong used his lack of size to avoid the shots of Knockout.
With the styles not gelling in the first half of the fight things only got worse as the two men began to wrestling more and more. The exertion of not boxing seemed to take it's toll on both men who fell into each other repeatedly, got too close and really failed to find any spark. At distance the only work of any note was Zhong's jab, often thrown as he came in with little behind it, whilst on the inside neither man had any real success landing anything relevant. Even the pro-Chinese fans seemed to have been bored, despite their man being involved in the fight.
At the end of 12 rounds it was hard to believe anyone really card about the contest any more, though credit to the judges who showed their commitment to the cause by handing in complete scorecards. They were read out as 118-110, twice, and 116-112 all in favour of Knockout CP Freshmart, who seemed to be so fed up that he even failed to celebrate after the bout.
Despite the win Knockout will have done himself and his career no good here, and no one will be in a rush to see his next bout. Zhong on the other hand will likely be retiring, with his 36th birthday just a few short months away.
Back in 2015 fight fans saw Vic Saludar (18-3, 10) put himself on the boxing map as he droped the then WBO Minimumweight champion Kosei Tanaka, before being stopped himself whilst up on the card in Japan. Today Saludar return to the Land of the Rising Sun and took on Ryuya Yamanaka (16-3, 5) [山中 竜也] for the same title that he had pushed Tanaka so hard for. This time however things were different and it was Saludar taking home the gold after a career defining win over the Japanese slickster.
The fight started quickly from Yamanaka, who looked to make an immediate impact and catch the eyes of the judge's in the opening few moments, After doing that however the bout then slowed to a near standstill for the final minute of the opening round as both fighters stood off each other and looked for opening, but found none. The bout did then move up a level as Yamanaka showed his speed and skills as he countered the challenger and looked like the world champion had schooled Moises Calleros earlier this year. The confidence of the champion grew in round 2 as he engaged in a war on the inside, a war that he seemed to win with body shots and volume. It seemed like a smart game plan from Yamanaka, to get inside and work away on Saludar, who couldn't get the leverage his power needed up close.
Saludar seemed to realise that the inside battle wasn't going to be the best for him and in round 4 started to back off and disengage, forcing Yamanaka to work harder to get inside, and eat some counters on the way in. It was a tactic that worked even better for Saludar in round 5, as he landed some very solid body shots and left Yamanaka looking second best through the full round. It wasn't until round 6 that Yamanaka would manage to get inside again, and the two men spent the final 90 seconds of the round trading blows in round of the fight. It again showed that Yamanaka was the better man up close, with Saludar lacking the power to get Yamanaka's respect.
Unfortunately for Yamanaka he wasn't able to cut the distance particularly well as and when he wanted to, and that showed in round 7 when he was caught by a full blooded Saludar right hand, that send him down. The Japanese fighter recovered to his feet but was still clearly hurt when he got up. Saludar could smell blood and went hunt, chasing Yamanaka, and would twice wrestle him to canvas as Yamanaka survied the round. Although the defending champion had surrived there was still danger and he didn't look like he had recovered as we headed into round 8. The round saw Yamanaka avoid a fight as much as he could. Saludar brought the pressure through the round but could never land a huge shot to see off Yamanaka, who managed to clear his head through the round.
The 9th round saw a recovered Yamanaka try to box with Saludar. It was a tactic that worked at times, with Yamanaka landing several solid right hands, but it left him open to Saludar's power and the challenger landed a very notable right hand, that had it connected the previous round would likely have spelled game over for Yamanaka. It was clear that Yamanaka was behind and in roudn 10 he did what had worked so well for him earlier in the fight, he got inside and worked the body. It was an effective tactic and at one point it did seem like Saludar's legs wobbled. Round 11 followed a similar pattern to the 10th, with Yamanaka getting in close an working, but it ended with Saludar creating some distance late an landing some of the better shots of the round.
Saludar seemed to feel like he was in a comfortable lead and boxed very smartly in round 12. He let Yamanake come to him, whilst he jabbed and moved, landing clean head shots on Yamanaka, who's face ended up half caked in his own blood. It was a brilliant round from Saludar who took next to no risks and took the round through pure skill and ring craft.
Going to the scorecards we felt Saludar had done enough, as did the fighter himself, and the judges agreed, with scores of 117-110, 116-111 and 115-112 all in favour of the new champion Vic Saludar.
For the Saludar family this is a great boost and comes just weeks before Vic's brother Froilan Saludar battles Sho Kimura for the WBO Flyweight title. Sadly for Yamanaka it spells the end of his reign after just a single successful defense.
Japan can be one of the best countries for boxing, with a huge number of outlets for fights, a very active scene across the country and some of the most exciting match ups we can see, both at world and domestic level. It can be very frustrating with television outlets not always being able to show the full show, and having so much delay footage. That issues reared it's head again today when TBS failed to broadcast the second defense of IBF Minimumweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (10-0, 7) [京口 紘人], who had to get through some real adversity to over-come Filipino challenger Vince Paras (13-1, 11).
Despite the lack of TV coverage the bout was a cracking contest, with some early drama and the type of excitement that left fans in the arena clamouring to see both men back in action, not just their local champion.
In the build up to the bout Paras had come across as confident, like a man who had travelled with a purpose and wasn't worried about the powerful champion. He started the bout with a tight guard, looking for openings and opportunities to land his power left hook, with an opening in round 3 seeing him connect clean and dropping Kyoguchi. The knockdown was the first that the champion had suffered since turning professional and showed that Paras had the power to trouble the champion.
Kyoguchi bounced back the following round and was in the face of Paras with hard blows as the action heated up. The following round a clash of heads left Paras cut around the right eye and from then on it seemed like the Filipino began to a bit, whilst the champion began to build on his momentum, landing big combinations as we got further into the fight. Paras however showed his toughness and refused to go down.
The final round was a tough one for both fighters, with both men holding their feet and digging to the body. Though neither could put the other down.
In the end Kyoguchi, who showed impressive defense after the knockdown, ran out a clear winner on all 3 cards, taking the decision 117-110, but clearly was left knowing he had improvements to make.
After the bout Kyoguchi seemed to admit his legs were tired later in the fight and questions remain as to how much he is taking out of himself to make the 105lb limit, having had to drop a lot of weight yesterday. It also seems like the type of bout where both men will learn a lot, and fans in the crowd seemed impressed not only by the winner, but also the loser, who at 19 looks a real talent and will certainly come again.
The career of Floyd Mayweather Jr ended last year, at least for now, with the American having amassed an excellent 50-0 professional record. A number his fans celebrated, despite win #50 coming against the debuting Connor McGregor. Mayweather's record is a very impressive one, but today it was tied, as Thai fighter Wanheng Menayothin (50-0, 18) [วันเฮง ไก่ย่างห้าดาวยิม] matched the figure, and recorded his 9th defense of the WBC Minimumweight title. Not only that but he did it in amazingly dominant fashion.
The unbeaten champion was up against young mandatory challenger Leroy Estrada (16-3, 6) from Panama and the bout looked like a man against a child.
The energetic and naturally quicker Estrada had a decent first first round. He looked busy, confident and aggressive as he used his southpaw jab and straight left hand to score with what were clean, but relatively harmless shots. It seemed like all the powerful blows came from Wanheng, but there was few of them, with the Thai instead choosing to use the round to see what the visitor had. Unfortunately for Estrada it was as good as things got for him, and whilst it was a solid round for the challenger, he didnt look like he had the power, the output or the tenacity to really trouble the champion, who looked very relaxed and confident.
The second round saw Estrada try to continue to use his speed and jab, but by now Wanheng was beginning to move through the gears, and rocked Estrada early in the round. A right hand late on again stung the challenger. It was clear by the end of the round that Wanheng had the power to hurt the challenger and was starting to get his timing down as well. Going into round 3 it seemed less a case of whether Wanheng was going to reach 50-0 and more a case of when. That when seemed "soon" when Estrada was dropped early in round 3 as he began to look like a child in there against a more mature, stronger fighter. Estrada showed his heart to get up but was hurt again by a right hand, and dropped with about a minute left, this time his legs were gone. Another right hand saw Estrada wobble again, and it looked like the referee could have jumped in before the challenger fired back and showed signs of fighter.
The third round was a huge 10-7 round for the champion, but Estrada's fight kept him in the bout. Sadly it was for nought as he was again dropped twice in round 4, with Wanheng again dominating the challenger, dropping his man with a big right hand early in the round before scoring another knockdown late to secure back-to-back 10-7 rounds. At the end of the end of the round it seemed almost certain the referee would step in, if not Estrada's corner given that the open scoring had the bout 39-33, twice, and 40-32, in favour of the Thai. Instead Estrada went out for round 5, and was finally stopped, following the bouts 5th knockdown.
For Estrada the bout was a bit of a beating, and one prolonged by a referee who really seemed to hate the challenger, and it showed that whilst he's a very good fighter he's not a top tier one. As for Wanheng, who scored his first stoppage since May 2016, the win sees him match Mayweather's figure and further cement his reign as the WBC champion.
(Image courtesy of Thairec.com)
Last year Japanese boxing had some genuinely great stories, such as that of Sho Kimura, who came out of nowhere to claim the WBO Flyweight title by stopping Zou Shiming. Another was 22 year old Ryuya Yamanaka (16-2, 5), who claimed the WBO Minimunweight title with a very hard fought win over Tatsuya Fukuhara to put his name on the map.
Although he won the title last year Yamanaka was still somewhat of an unknown, and lacked the wider attention that many other Japanese world champions were getting. Today however he made a statement, and opened the eyes of many as he dominated the very solid Moises Calleros (28-8-1, 16), and forced the Mexican to retire after round 8.
Yamanaka looked sharp as a tack from the opening round. He was quick, smart and beating Calleros to the punch. Not only was he landing his own shots regularly but he wasn't taking much return fire, with Calleros looking slow, clumsy and awkward.
The success of Yamanaka continued from round 1, to round 2 and then grow round after round. He not only showed he could box and move, as he began to show incredible variation in his work. Standing his ground and countering, slipping shots just outside the pocket, and pressing Calleros who seemed to begin questioning himself very early on.
By round 4 it looked like Yamanaka's only problem's could be that he might slow down, or that he could be caught by a single bit shot. But he looked so relaxed, so calm and so confident that neither of those things looked likely. Instead he seemed to to just build on what he was doing, landing some more telling right hands up top, nasty uppercuts and hurtful body blows. There no answer from Calleros who was looking a like a fighter who simply hadn't got a game plan for Yamanaka or his movement.
Going into round 8 the bout looked a foregone conclusion, but given Calleros' toughness and Yamanaka's relative lack of power it looked like we'd be going the distance. Surprisingly however Yamanaka hurt Calleros, and then went on the hunt, picking the challenger apart with accurate and hard shots. Calleros looked like a spent fighter, out of ideas and out of energy and both fighters knew it. Yamanaka went for the finish but couldn't find it in the ring. It wasn't to matter however as Calleros retired in his corner following the round.
With the win Yamanaka legitimised his reign almost instantly, and whilst he is the newest of the world champions at 105lbs he looks to be the most pure boxer at the top of the division and could be the divisional dark horse given how sensational he looked here.
The Minimumweight division has often been downplayed by Western fight fans due to a lack of depth, as well as the size of the fighters plying their trade down at the 105lb limit. We do however live in a bit of a divisional golden age with a number of top fighters, not just the champions, and currently the top contenders are generally very good fighters, with the division have talented contenders from both Asia and Latin America,
That mixture of good champions and good contenders was seen again earlier today as WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart (17-0, 7) retained his title with an expectedly tough bout against Filipino challenger Toto Landero (10-2-2, 2), with Landero proving he was world class through out the bout. That's despite the fact the challenger entered as a bit of an unknown, with his most notable results being a stoppage loss at domestic level to Joey Canoy and his most notable wins coming against Vic Saludar and Rolly Sumalpong.
The challenger started fantastically, moving well,picking his spots and landing some eye catching combinations which took advantage of Knockout's less that great defense. The champion came foreward a lot, but looked and sluggish in the early moments as Landero rose to the occassion and put on a show case of his ability. The good start from the Filipino came to an end in round 3, as Knockout upped the pressure and showed why he's a world champion. It was however a bit of a blip as Landero got back to work and reeled off not only a comeback round, but several of them as he kept his nose in front, and put Knockout in a hole that he was going to have to fight his way out of.
Knowing he was behind as we entered the second half of the fight Knockout upped his pace, really hammering some heavy shots at Landero in the clinche and slowing his man with solid body blows. It began a surge from the champion, which was particularly impressive in round 9 as it looked like he was beginning to dismantle the challenger, who had to show incredible heart to see off the charge.
As it looked like Knockout was heading towards a late stoppage the challenger not only gritted his teeth and saw out the storm, but had his second wind, landing some smart counters, and made Knockout look very crude at times, as the champion's relative lack of pace showed. The desire from the champion to make a statement wasn't there and instead Landero finished the bout looking the stronger man, and making a solid claim to have won the fight. Sadly however it wasn't to be, as the judges gave the decision to the Thai, with 1 judge only giving Landero a single round.
The story out of Thailand is that Knockout will now face Xiong Zhao Zhong in his next defense, which was reportedly signed before this bout took place, and it may well have been on the Thai's mind through out this bout. For Landero there will be not only disappointment at not winning, but also some anger at the score cards, which we understand were much wider than the action in the ring suggested. Thankfully for the Filipino he is still very young, and given this performance cements himself as a top contender who will remain in the mix for another title fight down the line.
One of the under-the-radar stories of 2017, from a Japanese perspective, has been that of Hiroto Kyoguchi (9-0, 7) [京口 紘人]. The Watanabe youngster won the IBF Minimumweight title earlier this year, in a lacklustre bout against Jose Argumedo, having previously won the OPBF title even earlier in the year. Today he continued his rise as he became the first man to stop talented Nicaraguan Carlos Buitrago (30-3-1-1, 17) in an unexpectedly one-sided contest.
The bout, screened live on Canal 4 in Nicaragua, saw Buitrago starting well, applying his pressure and taking the fight to he challenger. Buitrago, to his credit, fought back but seemed unable to ever get Kyoguichi's respect with the champion closing the space the space between the two very easily. At close range Buitrago had some success, but lacked the power to do the damage that the champion was doing, as he began to chip away at the challenger with heavy hooks and uppercuts.
By round 4 Buitrago was clearly showing signs of slowing down, his eyes swelling and his output dropping whilst Kyoguchi was looking like a steam train, coming forward no matter what was being thrown in his direction. The pressure continued to tell and round by round Buitrago was becoming more and more negative, backing up on to the ropes and throwing “stay away” punches, rather than anything with serious intent.
By the end of round 6 it began to look like the referee was looking for a chance to stop the bout, but every time it seemed like he was going to Buitrago would have a spurt of action, throw back and make Kyoguchi momentarily back off. It wasn't that the challenger could ever hurt the champion, even clean right hands seemed to bounce off him, but it was enough to show life to the referee.
Sadly for Buitrago that fight just left him taking more punishment and in round 8, after several shots snapped his head back, the referee stepped in for the mercy stoppage. Buitrago was still throwing back at the time, but it was a stoppage that few would have complained with.
Having only debuted in April 2016 Kyoguchi's rise to champion has been incredible. This year he has gone 4-0 (2) claimed a regional and world title, defending both belts once, and has been one of the unheralded stars of 2017. He has answered questions regarding his chin, stamina and ability and in 2018 he's going to be a monster of a champion, who perhaps has his eyes on winning a title at 108lbs or unification.
For Buitrago the bout is a clear sign that he needs to give up fighting at Minmumweight. He had had persistent rumours about weight struggles coming in to the bout and now needs to move up and try to resurrect his career at Light Flyweight, before taking too many beatings like this.
Boxing has a number of records, which seem odd and look rather unreal. One of those is the record of Japanese fighters in Thailand in world title fights, a record that stands at 0 wins, 23 losses and 1 draw. The latest of those losses however was a controversial one, as WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (49-0, 17) [วันเฮง ไก่ย่างห้าดาวยิม] retained his title with a very questionable win over former WBO champion Tatsuya Fukuhara (19-6-6, 7) [福原 辰弥].
On paper it looked like a mismatch in favour of the Thai, who was looking to equal the 49-0 record of Rocky Marciano and record his 8th defense. It was however the total opposite of what we expected, with Fukuhara setting an insane pace in the opening round and forcing Wanheng to fight fire with fire. It was as if no one had told Fukuhara that he was there to lose, and instead of being respectful of Wanheng's unbeaten record he went straight at the champion. To his credit Wanheng did fight back, and landed the better shots, but was very much taken by surprise by the intense work rate of the challenger.
Wanheng managed to have better success in rounds 2 and 3, as he landed the bigger shots, and actually started round 3 with the initiative, something he hadn't done in the first two rounds. Despite starting well Fukuhara came back at him later in the round, showing good variety and the high tempo which had caused so many issues for Wanheng, not only in the opening stages of this bout bus also against Melvin Jerusalem.
Wanheng also had credible success in round 4, arguably his best round of the fight, as he forced Fukuhara to fight at range, made the most of his technical abilities and prevented the challenger from unloading with volume. It was a round that showed the skill level differences between the two men. After 4 rounds the champion was up on the score-cards, with all 3 judges favouring the local, and although it felt like he was fortunate to be in the lead it wasn't out of the question for him to be up.
The success of Wanheng continued in round 5 as he managed to make the most of his heavier hands, but he wasn't able to discourage Fukuhara who continued to press the action and ended the round looking like a man possessed, despite eating the best Wanheng had to offer. In round 6 Wanheng's pace seemed to drop off as Fukuhara managed to again cut the distance, get to work and press with not only his volume but also some very solid shots, including a big head shot mid-way through the round. Wanheng did land his own stiff right hand late in the bout, but it seemed like a clear round for the challenger.
Fukuhara's success seemed to grow from there, as he pressured Wanheng with serious intensity, landing not only flurries to the body but also some really eye catching head shots, including a big uppercut. Wanheng returned the favour with some body shots of his own, but was clearly out worked through the round, and appeared to be showing signs of tiredness as Fukuhara refused to back off. The challenger was even more intense and driven in round 8 as he thoroughly out worked Wanheng, landing bigger and heavier shots on to a champion who was looking at the referee for every minor incident. It was looking like the champion was frustrated by the fact Fukuhara was always in his face and always refusing to back off, despite the clean shots the champion had been able to land.
With the champion looking like he was flagging the open scores after round 8 seemed like they were going to be very interesting, bizarrely however they were all widely in favour of Wanheng, reading 80-73, 79-73, and 78-74. It seemed clear at this point that Fukuhara wasn't only up against the unbeaten champion, but also the judges.
Knowing that he wasn't going to get the decision Fukuhara changed his tactics in round 9. The high energy and intense assaults were put on the back burner as he looked to land bigger, heavier shots. Those became the key in round 9 as he landed some big shots which seemed to force Wanheng to on to the back foot. Wanheng had his moments, but was again out worked, and out landed by the challenger. Fukuhara continued to look bombs in rounds 10 and 11 as Wanheng looked more and more tired, struggling to even raise his arms at the end of round 11. Fukuhara seemed to ignore his defense at times, instead choosing to just chase Wanheng and unload, and the only real breaks in action happened when Wanheng tired up the challenger, or complained about some small issue, with the referee starting to seem like yet another opponent for the challenger.
The final round saw Fukuhara go all out for the stoppage. He combined power shots with volume and an insane intensity that saw him jump on Wanheng at every opportunity. It was a thrilling final round that saw Wanheng being forced to respond with power shots, until he was spent and forced into pure survival mode. It was a thrilling all action effort from the challenger, but given the scores after round 8 it was clear it wasn't going to be enough to see the title change hands.
With the judges scoring the bout in favour of Wanheng he had now scored 8 defenses, but this is the second time where he could be regarded as very fortunate in recent times, and it does seem like his reign is living on borrowed time. For Fukuhara the bout seems to suggest he can continue fighting at world level, and will almost certainly get another shot down the line.
Earlier todaty fight fans in Kumamoto saw a WBO Minimumweight title fight, though sadly for the fans their local hero Tatsuya Fukuhara (19-5-6, 7) [福原 辰弥] was unable to retain the title, as he was out pointed by fellow Japanese fighter Ryuya Yamanaka (15-2, 4) [山中 竜也] in an incredibly competitive bout.
Straight away there was little to separate the two men, with Fukuhara being the more aggressive, and Yamanaka being the better mover, using his legs well to create some space and work at range. Round after round the action was nip and tuck, with neither fighter being able to clearly get contol of the action.
Although the scores weren't publically announced the score cards were 39-37, 38-38 and 37-39 after 4 rounds, showing just how hard it was to split the men, and just how close the bout was in the early stages.
During the middle rounds Yamanaka managed to do enough to take the lead on two of the cards, drawing mistakes from Fukuhara and catching the judges eye with his work, to take a 77-75 lead one two cards, whilst the other had the bout 76-76.
Although it was still a close contest it did just feel like Yamanaka had that little bit extra into the final rounds, and that showed on two of the cards, as he swept rounds 9, 10 and 11, establishing a the lead on all 3 rounds going into the final round. A lead that he refused to give up.
At the final bell it was as if both men felt they could have done enough, but all 3 judges sided with the challenger, scoring the bout 116-112, and 115-113, twice, for Yamanaka.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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.