The final world title bout of 2018 saw a new WBO Super Flyweight world champion being crowned as Filipino Donnie Nietes (42-1-5, 23) shocked the gamblers and took a split decision win over Kazuto Ioka (23-2, 13) [井岡一翔] in a brilliant technical match up between two fantastic fighters who fought evenly through out a captivating contest. Not only was it a captivating contest, but it was one fought at such a high skill level that both men showed off technical mastery like so few bouts we've seen this year.
Nietes took the early lead. He was countering well and making the most of the opportunities Ioka was giving him by fighting on the inside. It was brilliant work from Nietes to land the sharper, cleaner, more accurate shots. The early success of Nietes forced Ioka on to the outside.
Boxing at range Ioka had a lot of success in the middle rounds, with Nietes slowing down, showing his age and struggling to catch up with Ioka, who seemed to run through the middle rounds with some ease to take the lead.
Ioka's success saw the bout tighten up, a lot, and going into the final rounds it seemed there was everything to play for. The success wasn't dominant, but was clear and it was obvious that fighting at range Ioka could control things, and if he was able to keep up the out put and the movement he should have been able to win.
In the final rounds however Nietes seemed to dig deep, find that extra bit of energy and close the distance. Ioka on the other hand slowed, began to stand his ground more and slow his movement. That allowed Nietes back into the fight, a fight that had seemed to be Ioka's after his strong middle portion of the fight.
With the final 2 rounds being ultra close, pick em rounds if left possibles score of the bout all over the place, potentially from 116-112 either way.
With the bout going the 12 rounds we went to the score cards and unsurprisingly they were split. Each man taking a 116-112 score card in their favour, though the bout was decided by a bizarre 118-110 card for Nietes, a score that would assume the judge had given Nietes every benefit imaginable.
With the 2 judges having Nietes as the winner he now becomes the third Filipino to become a 4 weight champion, the 3rd man to win world titles in each of the 4 lowest weight classes and a sure fire hall of famer. For Ioka there is strong argument to have a rematch, of if Nietes retires a chance at the title when it becomes vacant again.
For us fans this was the technical back and forth we had all anticipated. It wasn't a dramatic FOTY candidate but was a sensational bout, and the perfect way to close out the new year, even if one of the judges was watching something the rest of us wasn't.
In 2017 Thailand's Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (47-4-1, 41) [ศรีสะเกษ นครหลวงโปรโมชั่น], aka Wisaksil Wangek, put himself on the boxing man as he became a 2-time WBC Super Flyweight champion and ended the long unbeaten run of Nicaraguan great Roman Gonzalez. Since then he has further strengthened his resume with a stoppage win over Gonzalez and a decision win over Juan Francisco Estrada.
Today Srisaket made history by becoming the first man to defend a major world title on a major MMA promotion as he headlined ONE Champion's "Kingdom of Heroes" show in Bangkok. In the opposite corner to the Thai was unheralded Mexican challenger Iran Diaz (14-3-3, 6), a man who proved his toughness and determination despite being the clear loser.
The first round saw Srisaket put the pressure on the Mexican straight away and land a huge number of body shots. The predictions of many was that this bout wouldn't go long and the way the Thai started the bout he seemed intent of living up to the predictions of the fans and media. To his credit however Diaz saw off the storm and made it into round 2. He then slowly began to create a bit of momentum for himself, building round by round and neutralising some of Srisaket's offense. The Mexican wasn't really winning rounds as such, but was giving a much better effort than many expected as he created distance and found a home for counter right hands.
After 4 rounds Diaz had not only lasted longer than expected but had taken a round on one of the judges scorecards, with the open scores being 40-36, twice, and 39-37. It was amazing that Diaz's body was still upright given the punishment he had taken, but he was doing more than just surviving.
Having made things a little bit competitive in rounds 4 and 5 it seemed like Diaz was finding a groove. That was totally destroyed however when Srisaket upped the tempo, particularly in rounds 7 and 8, as the Thai looked to rip Diaz apart with head shots and body shots. Diaz managed to see off the storm, and potentially should have had a knockdown scored in his favour in round, following a flush uppercut that was ruled a slip by referee Jay Nady.
The open scoring after 8 rounds saw scores of 80-72, 79-73 and 79-74 all in favour if Srisaket who had the bout in the back but still wanted the knockout. He hunted it again in round 9 but was again on the canvas, again ruled a slip though again it seemed like there was a punch involved, with Srisaket being caught by a counter right. The Thai repeatedly caught Diaz up top with some vicious head shots from round 9 to round 11 as he seemed intent on closing the show for the local fans, wobbling Diaz badly at one point he couldn't send the Mexican down.
Having been taken into round 12 Srisaket suddenly changed his mentality and rather than being the aggressor, he turned into a slippery counter puncher and had some fun and sliding the shots of Diaz, with the Mexican picking up the tempo and swinging for the fences. It seemed like Srisaket had landed everything in his arsenal and had decided not to fire off any more bombs in the final round, with the bout well and truly in the bag.
At the scorecards both men looked happy with themselves. Srisaket was the clear winner, with the judges scoring the bout 119-109, twice, and 120-108. On the other hand Diaz was likely happy to have seen the final bell and put himself in the mix for good fights, maybe not world title fights but other good fights in a stacked division.
Srisaket's future looks likely to be in big divisional fights, including a potential rematch with Estrada or a unification bout with IBF champion Jerwin Ancajas.
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.
Earlier this year we saw the first All-Filipino world title fight in over 90 years, as Jerwin Ancajas defended the IBF Super Flyweight title against Jonas Sultan. On paper that looked a good bout, but ended up never catching a light and being pretty forgettable. Today we had the second all-Filipino world title fight of the year, as Donnie Nietes (41-1-5, 23) and Aston Palicte (24-2-1, 20) traded blows for the WBO Super Flyweight title.
For Nietes the bout saw him looking to become the third 4 weight world champion from the Philippines, following Manny Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire, and the third man to win world titles in the sport's 4 lowest weight classes. For Palicte it was a chance to emerge from the shadows of Filipino boxing to become a world champion.
The bout was competitive through out. It matched the incredible skills and boxing IQ of Nietes against the imposing physical size of Palicte. From the off both men had moments, and it was a hard one to score either way with Nietes landing the more consistently offensive, but taking the heavier leather, and being pushed on to the back foot through out the fight. It was also the combinations from Palicte, which rarely landed cleanly, that really caught the eye with numerous shots being thrown with so much power that Nietes found his own gloves smashing into his face.
Nietes' ring craft was amazing. At the age of 36 he he was able to set traps on a regular basis, often luring Palicte into clean right hands, and countering brilliantly. He was however unable to get Palicte's respect and the younger man, a natural Super Flyweight, took shots cleanly and seemed to smile, whilst taking them. It was possibly the regular smirk of Palicte that made Nietes' clean shorts seem unthreatening compared to the glancing blows of his own.
There was very few clean cut bouts through the entire fight. It was often a case of picking a winner of a very close round. One of the few clear cut rounds was round 4, a round that Nietes seemed to take off. On the other hand he clearly won round 5, as he picked up the pace and found a home for his right hand, which landed frequently through a brilliant stanza for the veteran. Another clear round was the final one, which saw Nietes landing several of his most eye catching shots. For the most part however there was very, very, little to pick between the two fighters, and a strong case could be made either way.
The close nature of the rounds seemed to give the feeling that no score was really going to be wrong. Despite the commentary playing a strong pro-Nietes narrative through out, cheer leading the skills of Nietes and giving very little credit to Palicte and his work. That close nature of each round showed on the scorecards which were 116-112, in favour of Palicte, 118-110, for Nietes, and 114-114, giving us a split draw.
The HBO team try to play off that the bout was a robbery, quote the always questionable Compubox as part of their narrative. The reality however is that there was very, very little to split them overall. On a round by round basis, neither man did enough to really assert their self. 118-110 and 116-112, either way, were wide, but a strong case could be argued for either of those cards. In the end however the draw seemed the fairest result and the most accurate.
As a result of the draw he WBO title does remain vacant. A rematch between the two is a real possibility, as would be a bout between either man and the returning Kazuto Ioka, who won on the same card against McWilliams Arroyo who had been the WBO #3 ranked fighter behind Nietes ans Palicte.
After 93 years with out an all Filipino world title bout we had one late on Saturday, as IBF Super Flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas (30-1-1, 20) recorded his 5th defense and over-come mandatory challenger Jonas Sultan (14-4, 9). Sadly, given the long wait for an all Filipino world title fight, this wasn't a bout that will sit in the memory for long.
The bout saw the more skilled, and crisper, Ancajas boxing well behind his jab early on. There was little from Sultan early on as Ancajas proved to be too quick, too sharp and too naturally long for Sultan. The challenger would, at times, look to sneak inside but would be punished for any real sign of aggression he showed. Ancajas's foot work was brilliant early on, and whilst the intensity of his output was limited the skills on show were impressive ans he landed jabs, solid left hands and went to the body with regularity.
The one sided yet drama free nature of the bout saw the fans quickly turn on the fight, booing the relative lack of action. The boos from the crowd didn't really change the action, which continued to be straight forward for Ancajas until round 8, when Sultan finally managed to have some success, as Ancajas seemed to switch off.
With Sultan knowing he needed to turn it around he put his foot on the gas in round 9, and finally seemed to win a round as Ancajas began to look as bored as the crowd sounded. The champion would also seem to be switched off in round 10, but even then it never seemed like Sultan could have any sustained success, and Ancajas continued to land his jab and move well as he continued to keep the challenger at bay.
The action did manage to heat up in the final two rounds, but by then it was a forgone conclusion and there was no doubting that Ancajas had done enough to take decision, which the judges went on to confirm with 3 wide cards in favour of the champion, who secured his 5th defense.
It seems likely that Ancajas will be eyeing up a unification bout with WBA champion Kal Yafai, who also defended his title on this show, and that fight would be an interesting one, with more action than this all-Filipino one.
Last year we saw Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (45-4-1, 40) announce himself on to Western audiences as he twice beat Roman Gonzalez to become a 2-time WBC Super Flyweight champion. This past Saturday he returned to the US to make his second defense of the title, facing off with the highly skilled Mexican Juan Francisco Estrada (36-3, 25) on “Superfly 2”.
On paper the bout had all the ingredients to be something very special. It had one of the sports biggest punchers against one of the sports against one of the sports best all round fighters in a contest that fans had been anticipating ever since Srisaket stopped Gonzalez, in their second boud.
The bout started slowly, with both men looking to find their range and timing. It was Estrada who settled quicker and he certainly took the first round with no argument, and also likely the second as the crowd got behind everything he did. It was a crowd that seemed to clearly be cheering on the Mexican though it seemed like he had brought a pistol to a shotgun fight and in round 3 Srisaket started to land body shots with regularity. The success of the Thai seemed to make Estrada a little bit more apprehensive and the middle rounds were strong ones for the Thai, who seemed to out work, out muscle and our power the Mexican.
Despite being out powered Estrada had real moments of success, landing some beautiful single shots. Sadly for him they seemed to just bounce off Srisaket whilst the Thai's shots had a clear impact on the challenge, making sweat fly through the air and buzzing Estrada on a number of occasions.
The middle rounds not only saw Srisaket land his best shots but also seemed to cause Estrada to miss more. He seemed unsure of himself at times and fell short with a lot of shots. He managed to use his feet to keep Srisaket to only throwing singles, but did little to impose himself offensively. Then again even when he did land bombs they didn't do anything to the Thai to discourage him from rushing in as, and when, he wanted.
By round 10 it seemed like Srisaket had done enough to retain his title, if he could stay up right. Despite that Estrada wasn't wanting to just roll over and give up his shot, and it showed as he finished round 11 really strong, before having a huge round 12. In fact round 12 will go down as on of the best rounds of the year as both traded bombs for the 3 minutes. Estrada was the one getting the better off it, by quite some margin with accuracy and work rate, and he even stunned Srisaket at times, but could never quite get enough sustained success to drop the Thai, who was firing back through out the round.
The final round seemed like one that Estrada fought knowing he was behind, knowing he needed a knockdown or even a knockout.
The judges scorecards could have been all over the place, with a number of rounds being close, in the end though the scores were 114-114, 115-113 and 117-111, giving Srisaket the majority decision win and his second defense.
With successive wins over Roman Gonzalez, twice, and Juan Francisco Estrada it's hard to argue with Srisaket's resume, and he has really added to his previous big wins against Jose Salgado and Yota Sato. For Estrada he has proven he can hang with the best Super Flyweights, though will be kicking himself for not turning up the heat and taking more risks earlier in the fight. He really did control the final round, when he forced a war on Srisaket and had he done that earlier in the bout who knows whether Srisaket would have won or not.
It's fair to say that 2017 was a break out year in many ways for Jerwin Ancajas (29-1-1, 20. Despite claiming the IBF Super Flyweight title in 2016 he wasn't really able to use the belt as a launchpad until last year, when he went 3-0 (3) and shone. By the end of the year he had Western audiences suggesting he was the new Pacquiao and many saying he was on the verge of becoming a figurehead for the Filipino fight scene.
Today he return to the ring to kick off 2018, and faced off with the previously unbeaten Israel Gonzalez (21-1, 8), in what was Ancajas' 4th defense of the IBF title and his US debut.
The bout started perfectly for the champion who dropped Gonzalez in the opening round from a left hand. It was the ideal start for the Filipino and proof that his power was enough to hut Gonzalez.
Having got off to such a perfect start it could have been expected that Ancajas would close the show early. Gonzalez however was tough, and he took a gradual and sustained beating over the following few rounds. The game Mexican always looked to fight, but was never able to cope with the speed, power, accuracy or consistency of Ancajas, who chipped away, round after round. There was jabs and power shots both connecting at will from the talented Filipino who did as he wished.
In round 10 a left hand dropped Gonzale for the bouts' second knockdown and a third followed soon after, forcing the referee to save the now beaten Mexican from further punishment.
Ancajas is now 4-0 (4) since winning a world title and an excellent 16-0 (15) since his sole loss, back in March 2012. He has proven he is a truly world class boxer, and despite issues with securing big fights he has the potential to be a very long term champion. The performance, technically, was solid, with perhaps only one real complaint being that he was too methodical. There were times when he could have picked up the pace looked for the kill much earlier. Had he done that he could have made a little more of an impression on the audience. But that really is only a minor complaint, and he really did impress, once again.
The bout also raised an interested little bit of trivia, with Ancajas now defending the title in 4 continents. He has now made defenses in Asia, Oceania, Europe and North America, and it would be interesting to see if they could get him a fight either in Africa or in South America next.
Just moments ago we saw the final bout at Super Flyweight for Japanese sensation Naoya Inoue (15-0, 13) [井上 尚弥], who recorded his 7th defence of the WBO Super Flyweight title and over-came the naturally bigger French challenger Yoan Boyeaux (41-5, 26) in what was really little more than a show case performance.
The opening round saw Boyeaux, a usually aggressive fighter, take to the outside of the ring whilst Inoue brought the pressure and tried to sneak inside on the taller, longer fighter. It was a mostly quiet round, with only one or two real combinations from Inoue, but what he landed he made count, rocking Boyeaux with a right hand before dropping him with a sweet left hand late in the ring. Had the round gone on much longer that could have been the start of the end but the bell realld saved the challenger.
The second round saw a very cautious Boyeaux fighting on the retreat. Inoue pressed the fight, and landed several solid shots, but Boyeaux was moving too much for the shots to have a lot of effect and by the end of the round it seemed like Inoue was toying with him, looking for a home run shot. What was even worse for Boyeaux is after he landed a huge right hand Inoue didn't even blink, as if telling the challenger that he was happy to take one if he had to.
To begin round 3 Inoue went on the offensive, landing several short right hands before a brutal body shot forced Boyeaux to take a knee. The Frenchman was up almost instantly but gave away just how much pain the shot had caused him. A follow from Inoue saw him attack the compromised torso of the challenger who was down again following 3 solid shots to the mid-section. To his credit Boyeaux got up again, looked ready to fight and the crowd showed their appreciation and respect by applauding Boyeaux's guts but by then the fight was all but over. Inoue continued to hunt his pray, landed one top before going to the body again, sending Boyeaux down and forcing the referee to stop the bout, rather than allow the challenger to take any more punishment.
With the win under his belt the intention from Inoue now is to make a move up to the Bantamweight division and chase a third world title, following issues securing a notable opponent at Super Flyweight. The challenges he faces moving up a division should make for more competitive assignments than this one, with bouts against Zolani Tete, Luis Nery and Ryan Burnett all being mooted for the "Monster".
It's hard to deny that the Super Flyweight division is one of, if not the, best division in the sport right now, with 4 really good world champions. Today one of those was in action, with the IBF champion Jerwin Ancajas (28-1-1, 19) travelling to Belfast to face off with the gutsy and brave Jamie Conlan (19-1, 11).
The Filipino world champion was successful as he made his 3rd defense of the title, and did so in impressive fashion, whilst fighting well within himself to defeat the Irishman.
The opening round was mostly quiet, though Conlan was dropped from what appeared to be a delayed reaction to a temple shot, despite the commentary claiming it was an leg injury to Conlan. The shot came whilst Conlan was trying to box with Ancajas, which seemed the wrong tactic, and was one that seemed to frustrate Ancajas more than come close to really testing him.
In round 2 things went from bad to worse for Conlan, who was badly cut over the left eye. For Conlan to be cut was no surprise, but it really was a bad cut and seemed to spur Ancajas to up his pressure, becoming more methodical as he began to break down Conlan. The Irish man's toughness was really being tested, and in round 3 a body shot saw real cracks began as he winced and backed up, opening the door to an assault from Ancajas that sent Conlan down again.
Conlan was really struggling, and looking beaten up, as we entered round 4, though he showed the fighting spirit that has made him such a fan favourite as he looked to fight back. Sadly the more he threw the more opening Ancajas began to find, and a huge assault from Ancajas left us wondering how the challenger was still in their fighting. Despite the attempt to fight he was dropped again at the very end of the round, and took what seemed like a long count as the bell rang.
Ancajas looked like he had hurt Conlan again but was called for a low blow in round 5, and then another attack later in the round sent the challenger down, but a legitimate looking body shot was again called low, resulting in a 1-point deduction for Ancajas. At the time it seemed like the referee was trying to help Conlan, with neither shot looking like much of a low blow but more boderline shots. It was however not helping the challenger, and instead extended his punishment, which continued in to round 6.
Thankfully the punishment was finally stopped when Conlan his the canvas early into round 6. The shot that sent him down looked like a shot just behind the ear, a borderline illegal shot, but it was clear that the referee had finally seen enough and had willingly saved the Irishman from his own toughness and bravery.
For Conlan the loss will sting, but it was clear that he wasn't in the same league as Ancajas, who never looked like he was out of third gear. The loss will harm his stock a little bit, but the reality is that he's so fan friendly that he will always be popular,and a bout against Rex Tso is about as good as the sport can give us. As for Ancajas his name has been linked to that of WBO champion Naoya Inoue, and recent reports from Japan suggest that Inoue Vs Ancajas could take place in February on “Superfly 2”, in what would be an amazing match up and help continue to build interest and attention for the division.
This evening in Wales fight fans saw Japan's Sho Ishida (24-1, 13) [石田 匠] look to create history as he attempted to become the first Japanese fighter to claim a world title in Europe. He was facing the WBA Super Flyweight champion Khalid Yafai (23-0, 14), and entered as the mandatory challenger in what looked like a genuinely interesting contest.
The fight started really slowly as both men spent time trying to figure out what the other brought to the table. There was jabs from both but little more in the first 2 rounds as neither man wanted to take too many risks, instead playing a frustrating game that seemed to almost kill any hope of another Super Flyweight thriller.
In round 3 it seemed like we were on the very of a fight breaking out as Ishida upped the ante and began to go to the body of Yafai. That seemed to force Yafai into holding a bit more and firing back whilst out of range, often hitting the air with what looked like shots that were being thrown with bad intent. It became almost a pattern of Yafai throwing huge hooks whilst miles out of range, and only getting away with them due to Ishida being too passive to try and make Yafai pay for themselves.
The tempo dropped again in round 4, killing off the action that we'd seen in round 3, though Yafai did manage to pick up the pace late and took the round as a result, despite eating some solid jabs. Ishida managed to pick up the pace again in round 5, arguably his best round, as he upped his work rate and really began to settle in what was one of the bouts more fan friendly rounds, with both men landing some clean shots. It was clear that Ishida was finding his groove and Yafai didn't like it, so Yafai came out for round 6 with more energy and seemed to put Ishida into his box for a few rounds.
Yafai's momentum grew as he established a lead, left Ishida's nose bleeding though never seemed to hurt Ishida who seemed to come back strong in the championship rounds, looking to use what was left his energy. That lead to an entertaining round 12, with Ishida clearly having the better off it, but it was far too little too late for the challenger, who had far too much to do.
At the end there was no complaints with the scorecards, which read 118-110 and 116-112, twice, to Yafai.
After the bout Yafai seemed to suggest that he had hurt his hands during the fight, and given the lack of action that may have explained the lacklustre contest, though the reality is that Yafai showed that he was well below the top tier of the Super Flyweight division. The likes of Naoya Inoue, Juan Francisco Estrada, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Roman Gonzalez would all be far too much for Yafai on this performance.
As for Ishida he was too timid and too passive through out. He had some really good moments, though seemed unwilling to gamble too much, and let the scores slip away from him too early. He proved he could compete in, and around, world class, though needs more bouts at this type of level to really help his development. Too many fights against limited Thai's hurt his chances here, but he will almost certainly get more chances, and hopefully will try and grasp the next one with both hands.
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.