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.
Jut over 3 years ago Tatsuya Fukuhara (19-4-6, 7) [福原 辰弥] was being beaten by a debuting Takuma Inoue, today however he find himself the new WBO “interim” Minimumweight champion, following a split decision win over Mexican warrior Mexican Moises Calleros (25-7-1, 14). He also finds himself a local hero in Kumamoto and perhaps the most improved boxer of the last few year.
Today he got his big chance, battling against the aggressive and exciting Calleros, and he took that chance showing his skills, toughness and desire to over-come the Mexican.
From the opening moments it was clear that these two were brilliantly well matched with Fukuhara trying to box and move, whilst Calleros came in looking for a fight. The styles clicked immediately action was captivating for the fans in the arena. It was a truly great back an forth, and one where the judges were deciding whether it was the rounded boxing, and the skills on the back foot from Fukuhara or the aggression and pressure of the Mexican.
Through the first 6 rounds there was very little to pick between the two men, though it did seem that, in round 7, Fukuhara got a break though. The Japanese fighter suffered a cut from a headclash but fired back and landed a nasty southpaw left hand to the body that seemed to slow down the Mexican who was again forced to take a solid body attack in round 9 with Fukuhara seemingly finding a new tool in his arsenal.
That body attack became the key to Fukuhara's gameplan in the later rounds as he managed to low Calleros down and back him up, whilst showing his incredible will to win and doing enough to take the narrow decision, with scores of 116-112 and 116-112 which over-ruled a score of 115-113 in favour of Calleros
With the win Fukuhara became the first boxer from a Kumamoto gym to win a world title, even if it is “just” and interim title, and also secured himself a potentially lucrative bout with Katsuunari Takayama later in the year, with the two men set to fight in the next 180 days. Sadly the bout wasn't aired on major TV in Japan, nor was it featured on an online service such as Boxingraise or Asign,but hopefully Fukuhara will earn his chance to impress a wider audience next time out. As for Calleros the loss will be a hard one, but he's certainly a man who can come again with his exciting and committed aggression, which will also go down well with fans.
(Image courtesy of https://boxmob.jp)
World Title Results
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