There's long been a reputation of Japanese fighters not being good travellers. The reality is often that they prepare badly for their bouts on the road. Instead of giving themselves time to acclimatise they often travel the week or so before the fight and never really give themselves time to get read to fight a world class opponent.
One man who seemed fully aware that he needed to give himself time to prepare Stateside was Masayuki Ito (24-1-1, 12) [伊藤 雅雪], who put on a career defining performance to take the unbeaten record of Puerto Rican Christopher Diaz (23-1, 15) and become the new WBO Super Featherweight world champion.
The fight started at an amazing pace with both men looking to get their jabs going. It wasn't long until Ito found the range for his right hand and managed to work sharp uppercuts on the inside, proving he could get out on top on both the inside and outside. It was competitive but Ito did seem to be the man landing the cleaner, harder shots. Ito's confidence grew in the second round as he outlanded Diaz and landed the better more painful shots to both head and body. Diaz was becoming more and more wild looking to land something to establish himself but he was really struggling.
The Puerto Rican managed to up the pace in round 3, the first round that could really have gone his way. He upped the tempo and managed to find the range and timing for his left hook. It was a close round but one that certainly went to Diaz. It was however just a short respite for the Puerto Rican fighter who was dropped from a big combination of headshots in round 4, and Ito's accuracy showed as he hammered the face of Diaz, swelling his eye noticable. Diaz, to his credit, fought back and even seemed to hurt Ito, but the Japanese fighter landed some big body shots late on to slow the Puerto Rican's fight back.
Amazingly Diaz had a fantastic bounce back round in the fifth as he seemed to step his foot on the gas again and give Ito some problems. Ito was holding his own for the most part but it did seem like a round that Diaz won, though it was competitive and perhaps felt more like a Diaz round based on how much better he did in the round than he had in the previous one. Sadly though the fight back was a bit of a short lived one with Ito essentially sweeping the middle rounds by out working, out landing and out powering Diaz, who had his moments but always seemed to take shots back with interest.
It wasn't until round 9 that someone could make a case for Diaz to take another round, but he did start a nice little surge and seemed to do enough in round 10 to deserve that too, with Ito starting to slow, and perhaps show signs of tiredness. Not only did Ito seemed slower and less active in round 10 but Diaz began to get his shots off and landed several notable shots, with a right hand looking like it had hurt Ito.
Given the tempo of the fight it wouldn't have been a surprise to see Ito feeling the pace of the action but instead he he seemed to come out for round 11 with more energy, boxing on the move and using his jab early before sneaking inside and working up close. The shots from Ito were worsening the damage on Diaz's face with his left eye essentially swollen shut, and bleeding. Itos was unloading combinations and despite being tagged hard by a left hook it was the Japanese fighter who was controlling the round, one of the clearest of the fight. Diaz, several times, showed how much pain he was in, and was close to fighting with just one eye.
Diaz needed to go for a KO in the final round but he seemed to be worn out, in pain and was on the receiving end of a beating through the round, with Ito looking to close the show. Diaz, to his credit, saw off the aggression of the Japanese fighter, but lost the round, and didn't really come close to scoring the knockout he needed.
Having seen 12 rounds of action we went to the score-cards which were all in favour of Diaz, with scores of 116-111, 117-110 and 118-109.
With the win Ito becomes the first Japanese fighter since 1981 to win a world title in the US, which was when Tadashi Mihara claimed the WBA Middleweight title in New York. Not only did he win the title but he also put himself on the international boxing map, with new fans fans now wanting to follow his fun and fan friendly style.
For Diaz the loss will be a painful one, he gave his all but had all sorts of technical flaws that Ito took advantage of. He showed his heart, and his desire, but he was simply not good enough on the night to over-come Ito, who really did put in the performance of a life time.
Whilst Ito was a clear winner the fight was so action packed, busy and exciting that it should make a shortlist for Fight of the Year. It was high tempo, both men were hurt a number of times, and action packed. Just like every great fight should be.
The Super Featherweight division had a huge night this past Saturday, with a number of top fighters from the division in action across a host of bouts. One of those bouts was an IBF title fight, and surprisingly saw Japanese slugger Kenichi Ogawa (23-1, 17) [尾川 堅一] take a split decision win on US soil against American slickster Tevin Farmer (25-5-1, 5).
Ogawa looked aggressive in the opening round, and probably took it on the basis of his powerful right hand, which connected a few times against the intelligent Farmer. Farmer however responded be getting into his groove into round 2 and he seemed to clearly out box Ogawa from rounds 2 through to 6 in what was a real show case of Farmer's skills, movement, and counter punching ability.
The skills of Farmer were really impressive during those rounds, and it looked like he could breeze through to the final bell with out needing to find any extra gears. He had made Ogawa miss, look silly and looked second rate at times.
Knowing he was behind Ogawa knew he had to let his hands go more in the later rounds, and in round 7 he had a real through as he managed to really let his shots flow more naturally and landed enough right hands to catch the eye. A case for Farmer out landing Ogawa could be made, but the reality is that Farmer's shots were often pea shooter shots, with nothing on them, whilst Ogawa's shots had impact and did damage,it's true Ogawa was missing regularly, but he was also landing the better shots.
From round 7 onwards it seemed like Ogawa was doing just enough to have a shout. He was landing right hands whilst Farmer posed, used his defense and went for walks around the ring. The offense from Farmer seemed to become very intermittent and rare and it was clear that he had switched off, become over confident and really failed to shine as he should have. In some ways Farmer was letting Ogawa back into the bout, despite the commentary on HBO and Sky Sports, and Ogawa was taking his chance to reel back the rounds he had lost early on.
After 12 rounds it seemed like Farmer's charge in the middle first half had been reeled in somewhat by Ogawa, despite some good stuff by Farmer in the latter stages. It looked like Farmer did enough, but it was close, much closer than the commentary were suggesting, with some of the commentary suggesting the bout to be a near shut out for Farmer, who they seemed to fall in love with from the opening rounds.
Listening to the commentary the decision was a formality, but it did seem much, much closer, and that was shown in the score cards which saw Ogawa claim the split decision, with scores of 115-113 and 116-112 in his favour, against a card of 116-112 for Farmer.
The result saw the commentators incredulous, and their view certainly permeated on to fans, though the fight was much, much more competitive than they were suggesting. Interestingly all 3 judges, and the referee, were American.
To end a great Saturday of boxing we saw Takashi Miura (31-4-2, 24) [三浦 隆司] face off with WBC Super Featherweight champion Miguel Berchelt (32-1, 28), in a mandatory title challenge. Sadly for Miura his age, and stylistic deficiencies, saw him come up short in a bout that promised a lot but fell way short of expectations.
From the opening moments it was clear that Berchelt respect Miura's much vaunted left hand, and instead of standing his ground and engaging he made the most of his natural advantages, notable his speed and movement, to control the range and land on Miura from range. Not only was Berchelt landing be he did so with eye catching shots, including a right-left combination which dropped Miura in the opening round.
From round 1 to round 6 the bout had a very defined pattern, with Miura chasing shadows, hitting air and being tagged by Berchelts shots on a regular basis. Every so often Miura would connect, but his success rate was low, and came in the form of single shots, with no follow ups, allowing Berchelt to get away without any issues at all.
In round 7 Miura began to have success, landing some solid straight lefts that left Berchelt bleeding from the mouth and begin to show signs of doubt. That doubt was slowly becoming clear, but he continued to fight to his game plan, moving and boxing, using his speed and movement to avoid a tear up. In round 8 Miura managed to really have success, with some big body shots, and despite his right eye swelling it seemed like he was starting to get to a tiring Berchelt. The Mexican was still landing the better combinations but the Japanese fighter seemed to be landing the heavier single blows, and the fight seemed to be turning in his favour, even if it was only slightly.
As we moved in to the the final few rounds Miura seemed to get progressively more successful, though Berchelt was never looking second best. In fact whilst Berchelt looked the better fighter, it was clear the fight was much harder than he was expecting, and much more draining than he'd trained for. That showed again when he had to fight incredibly hard in the final round, with Miura clearly looking to land a home run shot, knowing he needed a KO. Miura could never find the shot, but that was only because Berchelt stayed alert, and did all he could to avoid having a final round fire fight.
At the end of the bout it was clear Berchelt had won, though the score cards were rather spread, with one judge scoring it 120-109, another having it 119-108 and the the third having it a more competitive looking 116-111. We were close to the final card, though admit there may have been some bias. The fight was certainly no shut out, but the card of 120-109 suggests several even rounds, given the knockdown in round 1.
The future for Berchelt will likely feature big international fights. From Miura however the future likely consists of retirement, as he's not the high intensity, combination punching warrior he once was. He's still got a warrior mindset, but not longer the energy or intensity to make the most of it, sadly
The bad year for the Watanabe Gym, and on a personal level for Takashi Uchiyama (24-2-1, 20) [内山 高志], continued today with the veteran suffering a second successive loss to Panama's Jezreel Corrales (21-1-0-1, 8), though unlike the first bout this time things were very competitive and Uchiyama had more than a few moments of success.
Uchiyama tried to take control of the pace here by using his deliberate jab to slow the pace of the champion, who simply overwhelmed him with speed when the two fighters faced off back in April. Feeling more confident Uchiyama started to apply some pressure in round 2 but Corrales moved well to neutralise the pressure and landed a powerful left. Uchiyama withstood the blow, which made a surprisingly loud noise, and continued to try and apply pressure.
By round 4 Corrales was switching up his stance and Uchiyama seemed to realise that Corrales' feet could prove problematic. A counter in round 5 gave Uchiyama some worries but the Japanese favourite withstood it before dropping Corrales later in the round, scoring the fights sole knock down. Despite the knockdown Corrales was back to showing his ability in round 6 and seemed to win the round.
The action following was close but it seemed like Corrales flashier shots and movement impressed the judges more than Uchiyama's heavier and more controlled approach, despite the crowd clearly being behind the local veteran. Those close and competitive rounds were ones that the locals would have felt Uchiyama deserved but the judges, who were split on a number of them, seemed to favour the champion in, despite a very good round 10 from Uchiyama where he had real success to the body. Interestingly that was the only round, other than round 5, that one judge actually gave to Uchiyama
Coming in to the final round it seemed the bout was up for grabs, and was going to be decided by what the judges preferred. Sadly though Uchiyama couldn't do enough to impress the judges enough, and came up on the wrong end of a split decision, a decision in which one judge, somehow, gave him only 2 rounds, including the 10-8 round. That lead to cards that read 117-110, a very questionable card, and 115-112 in favour of Guzman whilst the third judge had the bout 113-114 to Uchiyama.
It's worth noting that the judge with the widest card was Belgian Philippe Verbeke, who has frequently judged bouts in Japan but may not be invited again given his scorecard here.
Whether Uchiyama now retires, or looks to continue seems to be an interesting question, though the view from fans seems to be that retirement is looming for the popular puncher. For Corrales the reality is that the first bout flattered him, and he was run razor thin by a post-prime 37 year old Uchiyama here. He'll likely be able to keep the title for a while but would be well advised to avoid a fight with someone like Vasyl Lomachneko who would take care of him relatively easily on this performance.
Yesterday night in Mexico fans had the chance to see experienced Thai Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo (61-3, 41) [ชลธาร อ.พิริยะภิญโญ] take part in his third "world" title bout, as he tool on big punching WBO "Interim" Super Featherweight champion Miguel Berchelt (30-1, 27). Sadly for the Thai it wasn't to be third time lucky as he suffered a painful loss to the talented and exciting Mexican.
Chonlatarn started well in fairness to him and he made it clear that he came to fight as he came forward and tried to put Berchelt under pressure from the opening seconds. That pressure had some success late in the round, as he seemed to tag Berchelt clean, but was caught as the men exchanged punches just before the bell and seemed to struggle with the speed and movement of Berchelt which was allowing Berchelt to tag the Thai as he came in. The following round again saw Chonlatarn applying the pressure and like in the first round he struggled to corner the fleet footed Mexican who ended the round with several solid shots on the Thai.
The Thai tried to apply the pressure again in round 3 but by now the Mexican was totally at ease and and picked his spots to force Chonlatarn backwards with raids on the front foot as well as the smart boxing on the move. With about a minute of the round left Berchelt rocked Chonlatarn and a follow up saw the Thai being forced to take some incredibly hurtful shots as it looked like he as ready to go. To his credit Chonlatarn saw out the round but was left looking like a who was close to being finished.
That finish ultimately came in round 4 with Berchelt biding his time early in the round before exploding with spiteful shots, backing up Chonlatarn and then breaking Chonlatarn with power shots to head and body before a sweeping left hook dropped the Thai hard. Chonlatarn beat the count but was dropped again seconds later from a flurry punctuated with a nasty body shot, this time he stayed down, with an official time of 2:59 seconds of the round gone, though it did seem like a long round.
For the Thai the loss likely finishes his hopes of ever becoming a world champion whilst it sets up a potentially great fight between Berchelt and Vasyl Lomachenko, in what could potentially be a really good test for the highly skilled Ukrainian star.
Every so often boxing gives us a major upset, a shock, a earth shattering shock. That happened today when long reigning WBA Super Featherweight “super” champion Takashi Uchiyama's (24-1-1, 20) [内山 高志] was stopped, inside 2 rounds, by Panama's Jezreel Corrales (20-1-0-1, 8), who dethroned Uchiyama after 11 successful defenses.
The fight with Uchiyama looking to use his 1-2 to ease way into the bout and get a read of the tricky Panamanian. Corrales however seemed to have the edge in speed and ended looked aggressive towards the end of the round with his speed clearly bothering Uchiyama.
In the second round Uchiyama decided to change tact and brought pressure early on. That however played into the hands of Corrales who found a home for his straight left hand which dropped Uchiyama. After recovering to his feet the champion was quickly sent down for a second time and Corrales smelled blood rushing in for the finish. A finish that came moment later when Uchiyama was put down for a third time, following an assault with Uchiyama on the ropes.
The official time was 2:59 of round 2
The shock of the result, which had hit twitter before the bout was aired, sent shock waves through Japanese boxing with a number of fans suggesting that those in the venue had lied about the result though quickly it emerged that those fans at the venue weren't on the wind up and that the long reigning champion had indeed been beaten.
Given the manner of the result Corrales has sent a statement though the boxing world and potentially set himself up for a very long reign in the 130lb division as well as potentially securing the 2016 Upset of the Year. His confidence, speed and skill will make him a handful for almost anyone. For Uchiyama however this bout could well be the end. It's been a frustrating career at times, with injuries and problems securing big name opponents but this isn't the way he'd have wanted to end things.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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)
Over the last few years we've seen Takashi Miura (29-3-2, 22) make a name for himself as a Mexicutioner as he defeated a string of Mexican opponents, such as Gamaliel Diaz, Sergio Thompson, Dante Jardon and Edgar Puerta. This past Saturday he tried to continue to build his reputation though, sadly, came up short in a brilliant bout with another Mexican, Francisco Vargas (23-0-1, 17). The loss was not only Miura's first to a Mexican but also saw him lose the WBC Super Featherweight title, though despite the loss he built on his fanbase and has seemingly became a man that Western fight fans have finally woke up to.
The bout actually started horribly for Miura who was rocked to his core from a hard right hand from Vargas. At that point it seemed almost certain that Miura wasn't going to last long and in fact he was only held up by sheer bloody mindedness. Sadly for the defending champion he was unable to avoid Vargas's right hand and it seemed like a very early night was on the cards.
Vargas's success in the opening round grew and in round 2 he again seemed to be unable to miss Miura who's most notable response was left hands to the body.
It wasn't until round 3 that we began to see Miura finally find his way into the bout, and although his much vaunted power didn't seem to hurt Vargas during the round it was clear that Miura was coming back into it, and was beginning to find his groove.
It was in round 4 that we finally saw the explosive power of Miura in all it's beauty as he dropped Vargas hard, and split his eye. It was a round that saw Miura at his best and it was a round that really acted as a wake up call for Vargas, and the fans, who had perhaps not realised just how hard Miura really punches.
The success from round 4 saw Miura start the following round fast, as if he could smell the blood that was on Vargas's face. Sadly though the Japanese fighter seemed to get over-excited at times and was too intent on loading up rather than using his ability to set up the left hand. As a result Vargas got the time he needed to recover and by the end of the round it was Vargas who was looking the better man again.
The 6th round was one of the most competitive though seemed to show Vargas outworking Miura, who again focused on loading up. Whilst Miura did have some success, especially to the body, he didn't seem to do enough to re-establish the control he had had earlier on. In fact it seemed like Miura was too focused on the knock out and was defensively naive at times, being forced to eat shots whilst trying to land his left.
Despite not looking his best in round 6 Miura was back on top in round 7 and by the end of the round it seemed the end was nigh with Vargas's left eye swelling shut due to the heavy shots that Miura was landing. It was clear that it Miura's power that was the Japanese fighter's key weapon and that Vargas was the better boxer, but the power had made Vargas very wary, and despite the wariness he was being tagged by a lot of clean lefts.
It was a clean left near the end of round 8 that rocked Vargas to his core. A follow up attack seemed to have Vargas in all sorts of trouble before the bell saved the Mexican fighter who genuinely looked spent. The fight looked in the bag for Miura who was expecting to come out for round 9 and finish what he had started before the bell. Instead however it was Vargas with the fast start and a right hand early in the 9th dropped Miura. Sadly it was the start of the end, and although Miura got to his feet, and did his best to survive, he was unable to keep Vargas off him eventually forcing the referee to step in and save the gutsy Japanese fighter.
Since he bout we've seen fans from Europe and the US describe it as a FOTY contender, high praise indeed, whilst news from Japan has suggested that Miura's camp are hoping to secure a rematch for 2016. If a rematch is indeed made we suspect fans will be more hyped it than they were for this first meeting, which was described by some as a bout for boxing hipsters, though turned out to be one of the fights of the year.
(Image courtesy of GBP)
Japanese puncher Takashi Uchiyama (23-0-1, 19) is known by the name “Knockout Dynamite” . He's one of the hardest puncher, pound-for-pound, in the sport and that shown today when he recorded the 10th successful defense of his WBA Super Featherweight title, and iced the previously unbeaten, and teak tough, Jomthong Chuwatana (9-1, 4).
Coming in to the bout we were thinking that Uchiyama, at 35 years old, was on the slide and had seen much better days. We were wrong however as Uchiyama rolled back the clock and put on one of his most impressive performances to date whilst punctuating things with a brutal KO of the year contender.
The bout started tactically with both trying to control the distance, it didn't take long however for Uchiyama to connect with a thunderous right hand that rocked Jomthong and put him on to his heels. A follow up attack put Jomthong in the corner and Uchiyama went for the kill landing a number of huge shots whilst Jomthong tried to recover.
The Thai saw out the storm, some how surviving the onslaught, and managed to fight back at the end of the opening round. It was clear however that he had been hurt.
In the second round things again started slowly with a tactical bit of feeling out. That was until the pace quickened and Uchiyama let his intentions be known with a huge right hand that just whizzed past the challenger. It was clear that Uchiyama wasn't here to play about and was instead intent on finishing this early. Not too much later a right hand did connect sending Jomthong's legs into a stumble before he went down, flat on his back. The referee began the count though waved the bout off mid way through.
It now seems that we may set for much anticipated rematch between Uchiyama and WBC title holder Takashi Miura, unless one of the men managed to get WBO champion Roman Martinez in to the ring in summer, if that happens the rematch may be put off until December.
For Jomthong it's clear he can come back from this, though it may take a while as the Thai seemed to suffer from some notable facial damage.
Note-This was Uchiyama's first defense since being upgraded to the WBA Super Featherweight "super" champion but his 10th defense in total
Every boxing fan is looking forward to Saturday night's mega-fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. That, however, isn't the only bout this weekend and world title action actually kicked off on Friday evening in Japan as WBC Super Featherweight destroyer Takashi Miura (29-2-2, 22) took to the ring in search of the 4th defense of his title. In the opposite corner to Miura was Australian Billy Dib (39-4-0-1, 23), a former IBF Featherweight champion who had fought in major bouts in Macau and the US. In many ways this was Miura's chance to break out and score a win against a fighter "known" in the west.
The Japanese "Bomber" started as the clear favourite and seemed to feel that Dib had nothing to trouble him and didn't really force the issue in a relatively even opening round that saw Miura apply some basic pressure. Dib however looked the "weaker" man and it was clear that Miura didn't feel under any threat as looked for holes for his terrifying left hand whilst Dib was forced on to the retreat.
In the second round things heated up a bit with both connecting, though it was even more apparent that Miura had the clear edge in power and physical strength and Dib's shots did little to deter the champion who found himself more struggling with the holding than the blows as Dib did his best to spoil the action rather than fight. The one thing that did go in Dibs favour was a warning that Miura got for a low blow at the end of the round.
The third began with Miura beginning to turn the screw on Dib and a thunderous left hand rocked the Australian hard with a follow up attack sending him down. Dib's fighting spirit saw him managing to to beat the count though he was stopped with his senses looking scrambled.
For Miura this was easier than expected and, barring a few shots in round 2, he was unscathed and looked like he could return to the ring next week. He will, of course, be very interested in the upcoming WBA title fight between Takashi Uchiyama and Jomthong Chuwatana, and may well be ringside to call out the winner for a unification bout though this win may well have helped boost his profile to the point where international fans may be wanting to see him and fights against the likes of Roman Martinez, the WBO champion, shouldn't be ruled out. As for Dib this is probably the end. He's not got the power or physical strength to live with the guys at 130lbs and he's not good enough to beat the best at Featherweight. He's effectively between a rock and a hard place.
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.