Earlier this year Chinese fighter Can Xu (18-2, 3) [徐灿] put himself on the map as he won the WBA "regular" Featherweight title in a sensational performance against Jesus M Rojas on US soil. Today he returned to the US to make his second defense, and again put on a sensational performance with an incredibly high work rate and very smart inside fighting.
The talented champion was defending his title for the second time, as he faced off with the previously unbeaten Manny Robles III (18-1, 8), and just swamped Robles with a tempo that that Robles had no answer for.
It only took seconds for Xu to begin letting his hands go, and he never slowed down. Robles tried to box between Xu's flurries in the first few rounds, but he never did enough to be competitive with Xu who was always landing first, landing last and landing more.
Sadly for Robles the tempo was too high for him, and body shots in round 6 began to hurt him, taking away from his work rate even further. What little success Robles had mustered in the first half were completely non existent in the second half, with Robles taking a beating in rounds 7 and 8, as he slowly had the fight beaten out of him. The only things that let the bout continue were Robles' toughness and Xu's lack of power.
Robles tried to push forward late on but all he did was walk into uppercuts and hooks as Xu continued to beat him up through the championship rounds, putting any possible doubt to bed.
After 12 rounds the scores were tallied quickly, and were easy to tally. 120-108, 119-109 and 118-110 all to Xu.
Following the bout DAZN show punch numbers suggesting there was over 2000 punches thrown, with Xu throwing over 1500! An incredibly amount, in what was a truly fan friendly and entertaining, yet 1-sided, battle.
After the bout Xu called out IBF champion Josh Warrington in what would make for a chaotic and fan friendly bout with a lot of leather being thrown, but one we don't imagine Warrington and his promoter, Frank Warren, will be in a rush to make. Instead we assume that Xu will likely make a mandatory against Hiroshige Osawa sooner, rather than later, in what could well be a bout back in China, before another big bout Stateside.
Just moments after Naoya Inoue's (19-0, 16) [井上 尚弥] younger brother, Takuma Inoue, lost in his challenge for the WBC Bantamweight title the "Monster" walked out to face Filipino icon Nonito Donaire (40-6, 26), played in by the sounds of iconic Japanese musician Tomoyasu Hotei, marking a change from Noriako Sato's "Departure".
The occasion however called on something special, the WBSS Bantamweight final. The bout to crown the Muhammad Ali trophy winner, and to unify the WBA, IBF, WBC Diamond and Ring Magazine titles. It was the conclusion of a tournament that had started more than a year ago, and been a genuinely global tournament with fights in Lafayette, Orlando, Ekaterinburg, Glasgow and Yokohama before concluding with this bout in Saitama.
Many had expected this to be a mismatch. The next quick win for the Monster, he was around 1/9 to win and and it was 1/3 for the bout not to go beyond 4 rounds. This was expected to be little more than a formality. On paper it was the WBSS final the fighters wanted, but maybe not the fans. In the end however it was the final we deserved, and it was a genuine Fight of the Year Contender.
The fight started with Inoue looking razor sharp, and landing everything he wanted against Donaire in the first round. Donaire however never seemed phased until early in round 2, when he was rocked, and hurt for the first time in the fight. Donaire however turned the tide later in round 2 when he landed he patented left hook, cutting Inoue over the right eye, and Inoue the first cut of his career. The cut seemed to make Inoue wary and in rounds 3 Inoue boxed smart, moving, backing off and staying say behind his quicker foot work. That smart boxing allowed him to regain his grip on the bout
In round 4 Inoue began to unload on Donaire with bigger shots as the Filipino walked forward, trying to wear Inoue down. It was a risky strategy from the Filipino but one that he felt could work as he continued to press, walking through shots that would have dropped anyone else in the division. He was hurt a few times, including wobbling in round 5, but managed to come through the storm and leave Inoue with a bloodied nose.
The pressure of Donaire again came at a cost in rounds in rounds 6 and 7 as he was left being out boxed. Inoue combined both smart movement, heavy shots and jabs to chip away at Donaire, and in round 7 it looked like the work of Inoue had done it's job. Donaire was looking slow, and worse for war.
Despite having the moment things changed massively in rounds 8 when he hurt Inoue early in the round with a great right hand. For much of the round Donaire was the boss, and it suddenly seemed like all the pressure from Donaire had began to have the desired effects. By the end of the round blood was streaming down Inoue's face as the cut from the right eye worsened, and he took more punishment in one round than we'd seen from him in his entire career. That was followed by another huge Donaire round, and by the the end of round 9 Inoue had seemingly put his aggressive mindset to bed, boxing and moving, and trying all he could to avoid the power of Donaire.
Momentum again shifted in round 10 as Inoue showed some new found energy, and despite taking some heavy shots himself he managed to hurt Donaire, wobbling him seconds before the bell. Inoue knew it was a big shift and roared to the packed out Saitama arena when he got back to his corner. It was as mush a roar of defiance as a was a war call, telling the fans he was okay, and was going to go back on the offensive. Which he did!
In round 11 Inoue dominated Donaire, as he went for the finish, hurting Donaire badly with a left hand to the body. The shot seemed to put Donaire down for the count, though the referee allowed Donaire up at 10. It was a brave call from the referee but a desire to let a veteran like Donaire go out on his shield, if he needed to. Despite getting to his feet Donaire took a hammering through the rest of the of round as Inoue went all out for the finish. In some places that would have been in. Enough was enough. Here however the fight continued and we went into the final round, something that few expected, and even fewer would have anticipated after the knockdown.
Some how Donaire had recovered by the start of the final round, but Inoue maintained his aggressive mentality and went for the finish again. Donaire somehow saw off the round, with only his incredible toughness keeping him up and fighting back as the two traded shots at the bell.
It seemed like a clear win on the scorecards for Inoue, he had been tested, he had been hurt, he had been cut, he had been shaken, but he had racked up the rounds. And two of the judges agreed, scoring it 116-111, 117-109 and 114-113.
The first two scores seemed about right, and we had it 117-110, giving Donaire rounds 2, 8 and 9, though we really need to query what Robert Hoyle had been watching as he some how had the bout decided by the knockdown in round 11. A bizarre score, that really does need explaining.
With the win Inoue claims the WBA Super title, retains the IBF and Ring Magazine titles and adds the Muhammad Ali trophy to his collection of silverware whilst Donaire likely bows out of professional boxing with one of his greatest ever performances, even if it did come in a loss.
Boxing is a funny sport at times. The key is to win, and that's the first thing that a fighter needs to focus on. A win at all costs mentality is an absolutely must have for fighters in the upper echelons of the sport. Sadly though some fighters miss out on a secondary goal, "to entertain". If you don't entertain fans will struggle to care, no matter how goo you are. Especially if you appear to be cruising fight after fight, in risk free performance after risk free performance. Safety comes first, for sure, but it's not 100% about winning and winning safety.
Without drama there is no reason to watch.
One fighter who needs to realise that fans to appreciate comfortable yet safe cruising is WBA Light Heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol (17-0, 11) who, yet again, appeared willing to kill the entertainment factor to win. And he did so against an opponent who served as little more than a tough, durable, but gun shy foe, in the form of Lenin Castillo (20-3-1, 15).
Going into the bout Castillo had been derided as a poor opponent. In reality he wasn't a poor opponents, he was a lazy one. He had skills, toughness and solid pop, but lacked desire and ambition. That was on show early on here, as Bivol quickly figured his man out, but never pushed. He never fought out of his comfort zone, and Castillo was never forced out of his. When Bivol could have let things go a bit more and force Castillo to show something he didn't. When Bivol knew Castillo didn't want to bite down and fight back he never took the fight too him.
Bivol was in total control, he even dropped Castillo in round 5, but never looked like he wanted to use that control to entertain. He looked like he was happy to simply out box an opponent who was happy to make up the numbers.
The few rare times that Bivol to up the output, such as late in round 8, he had Castillo in problems, and showed he had it in his arsenal. Yet the work rate was never sustained, and he never looked to make a statement. Instead of going in and taking out his man he was happy to just win the roads.
After 12 rounds the bout was scored 120-107 and 119-108, twice. It was however another bout that has further damaged Bivol's standing in the sport and again made him look like he's 100% focused on winning, and has no interest at all in entertaining, making the most of his opportunity or having fans want to see him.
Bivol is massively skilled, but these dreary 12 round decisions wins, which are getting more and more 1-paced and undramatic, will turns fans off him and quickly. He's become tedious to watch and someone in his team really needs to have a word with him. Decisions themselves aren't the issue, is the way he goes about them, fighting in second gear, that is the issue, and is a problem that needs to be solved. Quickly.
The Light Flyweight division might be almost ignored in Western boxing media, but it continues to deliver amazing fights, as we saw today from Osaka thanks to MBS.
The bout in question saw Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) [京口 紘人] successfully retain his WBA "super" and Ring Magazine Light Flyweight titles with a decision win over fellow Japanese fighter Tetsuya Hisada (34-10-2, 20) [久田 哲也]. But simply saying Kyoguchi won a decision doesn't do the fight, or the fighters justice for what was a fantastic 12 round contest that saw both men show their will to win, and saw both men being hurt in what was a truly pulsating, action packed, violent and exciting war.
The bout began with Kyoguchi looking too crisp and sharp, winning the first round with his consistency over the 3 minutes, but Hisada held his own and proved he wasn't there to just make up the numbers. In round 2 we had real drama as Hisada's right hand, which landed a couple of times through the round, twice to seemed to worry the champion, at one point staggering him across the ring. Hisada tried to jump on the hurt Kyoguchi, but the champion put up the ear muffs and saw out the trouble, though was fully aware that Hisada was a dangerous challenger. Not only had Hisada landed solid right hands, but was finding a home for uppercuts as well.
Hisada was put on the back foot in round 3, but again had success, especially up close where his uppercuts again came into play. Kyoguchi's jab and right hand did catch the eye more often, but Hisada wasn't being over-whelmed, and instead fought back, trying to play his part in every exchange. The following round the challenger began to find more space and worked whilst Kyoguchi followed him around. It was another good round for the challenger, and the crowd responded by getting getting behind him with a "Hisada" chant. Despite both men being from Osaka originally it did feel like the crowd were behind the under-dog, who was exceeding expectations.
Despite Hisada's uppercuts catching the eye in the first half of the fight Kyoguchi had been putting money in the bank with solid body shots through out, and those shots paid dividends in the middle rounds as Hisada began to slow. The challenger still had heart, and in round 6 he showed that by finishing the round big, but his moments were coming in isolation, whilst Kyoguchi's successes seemed to be more consistent and pronounced. Surprisingly however it was Kyoguchi who seemed to be wearing his damage more, with the entire left side of his face turning red, a result of the right hands Hisada was landing.
In round 8 it was clear that Kyoguchi had more to offer than he was showing, and he spent much of the round skipping around on his toes, landing big shots and making Hisada look his age. This was where the body shots from early really showed, and Hisada was looking tired, whilst Kyoguchi looked full of energy. Despite slowing Hisada wasn't going to roll over, and in round 9 he came out with gusto, pressing Kyoguchi early in the round, before being punished for his ambition, and being dropped. Although he was quick to his feet he seemed buzzed and Kyoguchi went for the finish, pressing through the 9th round, and landing huge power shots time and time again. It was a credit to Hisada's toughness and will to win that he survived the round.
Despite being in all sorts of trouble in round 9 Hisada gritted his teeth, bit down on his gum shield and fought and inside, toe to toe war in rounds 10 and 11. Again Kyoguchi was getting the better of it overall, but the action was incredible, with both men trading shots on the inside, trying to match each other punch for punch. It favoured Kyoguchi, was quicker, sharp and heavier handed but it made for awe inspiring action as the two fighters just tried to beat each other up. The champion's shot just seemed to much more eye catching, and the two he landed at the end of round 11 were stunning, it was hard to understand how the challenger was staying up at times. It was all action at that point.
In the final round it seemed very much like Kyoguchi was sent out to play safe. It seemed he was in comfortable control on the cards, he had to be up and by quite some margin. Rather than trading he got on his feet, moving around the ring, whilst Hisada threw bombs, looking for the home run punch. That punch never came and in the end it was clear Kyoguchi had done enough to retain his title.
After 12 rounds we went to the socrecards with the judging turning scores of 117-110, 116-111 and 115-112. Whilst the bout was, overall, competitive on a round by round basis, it always felt like Kyoguchi was the clear winner. He was winning the exchanges and doing that bit more overall. Despite that Hisada can hold his head high, he out did what fans had expected.
Whilst Kyoguchi took the win he knew he was in a fight, and his left eye was swollen shut at the final bell. Ideas of unification are still on his mind, but he really needs to tidy up before getting in there with another champion, who could make him pay. As for Hisada, this is probably the curtain call for his career, but he deserves to much credit for his effort and for playing his part in a fantastic bout.
The WBA's multiple world title system is a farce in terms of knowing who is the best in the world. What is does allow however is for some fantastic fights to be mandated to fill the pointless vacancies the WBA creates for it's self. The bouts really should be eliminators, and are often the quality we expect of eliminators, but without the eventual winner getting their shot at the main belt, which gets lost in some world of it's own.
Today we saw a WBA "regular" title fight, fit for any belt, as Uzbek born Batyr Akhmedov (7-1, 6) and American Mario Barrios (25-0, 16) put on a legitimate FOTY contender. Unlike many FOTY contenders this wasn't a hard fight with a lot of competitive rounds, in fact it was a relatively easy fight to score, but one that was still incredibly competitive and close.
The fight started well for Barrios, who was moving well, landing his shots at range and making his natural size count. He looked like he was too big, too powerful and too quick for Akhmedov through the first 3 rounds, neutralising the pressure of the smaller man. In round 4 Barrios's speed and power saw him drop Akhmedov, albeit more of a flash knockdown than anything hurtful, in one of his best moments of the fight.
Whilst Barrios did score the knockdown in round 4 it actually seemed like he lit a fire under Akhmedov who bounced amazingly well. From being dropped part way through round 4 Akhmedov began to up his output and pressure, and began to really hammer Barrios with an incredibly intensity. The increase in work rate saw Akhmedov pretty much sweep rounds 5 to 11 with out too much coming back. Barrios managed to have success in rounds 8 and 9, but it was very limited success, and seemed more a case of steadying a sinking ship, rather than turning it around.
Barrios was looking tired, swollen around the left eye, and relying on his toughness, coming through a real test of his durability. Other fighters would have quit but Barrios, knowing he had a good start, gutted it out, looking to to stay up right, hoping to do something to turn the tide back in his favour. Amazingly in the final seconds of round 12 something did come for Akhmedov, who landed a right hand to score a flash knockdown, his second of the fight. It was completely the run of the round, and was huge.
The knockdown in the final moments seemed to do enough to leave the bout in some debate. Was it a 10-8 or a 10-9? Sadly, but unsurprisingly in the world of boxing, it didn't matter what the round was to be scored. The judges had the bout all in favour of Barrios 114-112, 115-111 and 116-111.
At a push we can see the 114-112 card, the others however, are terrible with the 116-111 card being completely indefensible.
Giving Barrios rounds 1-4, 8 and 9, where he showed something though didn't appear to do enough to win either, and round 12, literally giving Barrios everything you could still doesn't leave it possible to get him a 116 card. That judge should be forced to explain his card. But of course this is boxing, and that won't be happening.
For the fighters this was a bout that lived up to the expectations of being something very special. It was thrilling, the twist at the end with the second knockdown was a dramatic turn, the heart of Barrios to fight through a grotesquely swollen face and the will to win of Akhmedov were amazing. The fight back after a bad start from Akhmedov was great. It's just a shame, once again, the politics in boxing has sullied what was a great fight, from both men.
Unbeaten WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart (20-0, 7) [น็อคเอาท์ ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท] may well be feeling rather fortune right now, following his latest world title defense. A defense that very nearly saw him coming undone to unheralded Filipino challenger ArAr Andales (10-1, 2) in a bout that was much more exciting than many would have anticipated. Not only was it a fun fight to watch, but it was also another that showed just how limited the unbeaten world champion really is.
From the opening round it was clear Andales had no real respect for Knockout, and was entering as the scared little teenager that many anticipated. Instead he entered the bout as the unbeaten challenger, hungry to become champion. Knockout, to his credit, tried to Andales into his shell early on, and seemed to be landing the bigger punches in the early going, with Andales' shots literally bouncing off the champion.
After just a few rounds however Knockout changed tactics.Rather than engaging in a fight with the hungry and energetic Andales he began to revert to type, and spoil the fight. That's something we've seen a lot from Knockout in recent fights and something he really relied on when it was clear Andales wasn't going to be discouraged by his power. Instead of being fought off it was often Andales pressing the action, making a fight of things and letting his hands go whilst Knockout held and tried to stifle the challenger.
The spoiling of Knockout wasn't incessant, but it was enough to give the feeling that he was feeling the heat, much more so than the challenger, who was really stepping up to the occasion.
In round 7 it was clear that Knockout was being given a much sterner test than he or his team had anticipated. Andales lacked the power to hurt him with a single shot, but was landing a lot clean and was really in his face. A minor headclash part way through the round saw both men being told to keep their heads apart as they fought at close range. Only a few moments later Knockout was bleeding from his right eye. It didn't appear to be from the headclash, but it clearly bothered the champion, who stepped up his spoiling tactics. The following round Knockout's left eye would be opened up as well. This was worse than the cut to the right eye and seemed to come from a punch, during a really ugly, mauling sequence.
This cut led referee to take the champion to the doctor, who waved the bout off. Despite no clear headclash causing the cut we were taken to the score cards for a technical decision. Sadly for Andales this was never going to go his way and all 3 judges scored the bout to the local fighter, including one judge gave Andales just a single round and made it clear that he wasn't paying attention to the in ring action.
The official cards were 77-75, 78-74 and 79-73, all in favour of Knockout, who really was fortunate to keep his title here.
Although a very talented fighter this is the 4th straight under-whelming performance from the Thai, who showed a real lack of fire when put under some pressure. As for Andales this might be his first loss, but the teenager appears to be a future world champion in the making and we really hope this loss doesn't discourage him from the sport, as he is a real talent.
Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39) added one more big win to his legendary resume earlier today, as he defeated the previously unbeaten Keith Thurman (29-1-0-1, 22) at the MGM grand to unify the WBA "Regular" and WBA "super" Welterweight titles. That was despite being 40 years old and having been written off numerous times during his long 24 year career.
The fight started pretty competitively with some solid back and forth in the opening round. It was a good opening round that was taken by Pacquiao late when he dropped Thurman with a right hand at the end of the round. That knockdown seemed to spur on Pacquiao in the opening round as the Filipino looked sharp, crisp and used his foot work excellently. Despite being 40 Pacquaio was the faster man and that proved to be a big difference maker.
After 5 or 6 rounds it seemed like Pacquiao was in a comfortable lead. He was dictating the fight, drawing Thurman into a fighter than a boxing contest and Thurman was struggling to get any major momentum. Pacquiao was just too good in those opening rounds for Thurman.
Pacquiao's style has always been a busy one and it seemed from round 7 that that busy style was slowing, whilst Thurman was changing his tactics. Thurman was starting to move, starting to use his legs and his frame, starting to fight at range. The change in style for the fight proved to be a big turning point for Thurman who began to take take rounds by boxing against Pacquiao. The Filipino was stylle having moments in the second half of the fight, including hurting Thurman with a body shot in round 10, but he was struggling to enforce his fight like he had done earlier on.
The final round saw Pacquiao fighting smart, moving more than he had earlier in the bout, as if he was feeling comfortable with his lead, giving the round away. It seemed like he could afford to, due to his early success, but it did give Thurman one more round, essentially by default, with Pacquiao looking like he was the slower, older, more tired man.
With the bout going to the final bell it seemed like Pacquiao had done more than enough, but his celebrations were limited whilst Thurman climbed the corner and raised his hands. It looked like Thurman thought he had won, whilst Pacquiao knew he had won.
After 12 we went to the scorecards, 113-114 to Thurman, a card that seemed hard to fathom given Thurman lost the first half of the fight, was dropped and seemed to lose round 10. The other two judges however got it the same as us, 115-112 to Pacquiao, giving the Filipino great his latest win and unifying the two WBA belts.
The career of Japan's Ryota Murata's (15-2, 12) [村田 諒太] has been filled with much promise, but cursed by a failure to deliver on that promise. The 2012 Olympic gold medal winner was expected to be a mega star in global boxing.He was good looking, had an exciting style, was signed up to Top Rank, along with Misako and Teiken, and seemed to have all the pieces in play to be a huge star. Sadly though things rarely clicked for him, and there always seemed to be something underwhelming about him when he was in the ring.
That about to underwhelm was full on show last year, when Murata lost the WBA "regular" Middleweight title to American Rob Brant (25-2, 17). The loss came in a performance that left many wondering what the big fuss about Murata was, and querying how he won an Olympic medal, and why his team were trying to secure a super fight at a Japanese dome with Gennady Golovkin.
The loss to Brant, on US soil, saw Murata go from being a man regarded as a talented top contender, whilst holding the WBA "regular" belt, to a man who had many, including ourselves, wondering if retirement was going to be next. He showed little more than a rugged toughness against Brant who used him as for target practive.
Today the two men had a rematch, and this time around we finally got a chance to see Murata's potential being unlocked, as he dominated Brant to reclaim his title and score a pretty solid upset win.
The opening round was similar to the way the two men had faced off last year. It saw Brant trying to be the busier man and Murata following Brant around. There was a difference however. This time around Murata's powerful right hand was effective, and so was Murata's pressure, as he managed to actually back Brant up this time, forcing his fighton to the American. Murata's pressure saw him not only landing hurtful right hands up top, something he failed to do cleanly in their first bout, but also landed a steady stream of good body shots, looking to slow the American's legs and work rate.
Unlike their first bout Murata's pressure was immediately successful, he was landing shots of his own, and whilst he was still taking some from Brant, he didn't look like he was inept. He looked like he was boxing to a well thought out game plan, though Brant was still having his moments, and seemed to be landing the higher volume of shots, even if they didn't have the effect that Murata's blows had.
In round 2 that game plan really came into it's own with the pressure from Murata amping up, he was stopping Brant from creating space, stopping the American from unleashing his combinations and really going to the body, before landing a huge right to the head. The head shot caught Brant clean and hurt him, with Murata following up with serious intensity, and eventually dropping Brant. The fact the American had taken so many shots to go down was a testament to his toughness, and his heart lead him to getting up and continuing the fight. That was, however a poor decision with Murata straight on to him, smelling blood, and ripping him with shots to head and body, unloading with everthing he had until the referee finally stepped in, saving Brant from further punishment.
At an official time of 2 minutes 34 seconds of round 2 Murata had excorised the ghosts of losing to Brant last year, shown what he was capable of, and for one of the few times in his career showed that he was a real talent. He had shown glimpses in the past, but this time we saw more than just a few seconds of Murata's ability, what we saw in round 2 here, was easily the best we've seen from Murata so far and hopefully a sign that he has developed from the man who had promised much but under-delivered..
At the moment it's unclear what's next for the two men, though the Japanese media have again raised the possibility of Murata facing Golovkin at the Tokyo Dome. It seems unlikely, though would be a huge fight for Japan, and the two men, however their would be broadcast issues with the bout, and it certainly wouldn't be easy to make given GGG's relationship with DAZN and Murata's realtionship with ESPN and Top Rank.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today fight fans in Japan had the chance to see WBA "super" and Ring Magazine Light Flyweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (13-0, 9) [京口 紘人] make his first defense, as he over-come Thai challenger Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart (11-1, 5), aka Tanawat Nakoon.
On paper the bout looked interesting, with two unbeaten men clashing for the titles. In reality however it was expected to be a mismatch, with the Thai stepping up massively to face a 2-weight world champion, in what was Satanmuanglek's first bout outside of Thailand. Surprisingly though it was neither a mismatch, not a hugely competitive one. Though it was a solid one, with plenty of action, some really good rounds, and some interesting back and forth.
The bout started with Kyoguchi on the front foot, applying pressure and forcing the Thai backwards, as was expected. Satanmuanglek showed, however, that he was a smart fighter, someone who had learned a few things from his long and illustrious Muay Thai background. He managed to neutralise a lot of the pressure that Kyoguchi applied, and although he did get dragged into Kyoguchi's fight at times, including round 2, he managed to have moments of his own, especially at range.
Kyoguchi, who had been expected to be be on the front foot and breaking down Satanmuanglek, did make the Thai's job a little easier, often standing off and not quite showing the intensity and work rate we've come to expected from the fighter from the Watanabe gym. When Kyoguchi did put his foot on the gas he looked excellent, destructive, and exciting, though had to contend with the toughness, smartness and defensive skills of Satanmuanglek, who took the best Kyoguchi had to offer and never looked close to going down.
Whilst the Thai was showing his ring craft, his toughness and his ability to dictate the distance, he did struggle to get Kyoguchi's respect. He was more of a bothersome foe, than a true threat, his punches that landed did little to really hurt the champion, but the champion clearly felt them, hence his lack of all out aggression. When the champion did pick up his work rate the Thai dropped his, notably in the second half with round 10 being a particularly good one for Kyoguchi, but Satanmuanglek would bounce back the following round showing that he was still there, and wasn't going away.
After 12 rounds there was no doubting the winner, with the judges scoring the bout 117-111, 117-111 and 117-112 all in favour of Kyoguchi, but if we're being honest the champion didn't shine as expected, whilst the Thai showed he id a good fighter. Our guess is that, in the future, this win will age well, and Satanmuanglk will bounce back very well with a potential wold title around his waist in the future.
On Saturday night in Ukraine fans had the chance to see WBA Flyweight champion Artem Dalakian (19-0, 14) record his latest defense, as he dominated and stopped mandatory challenger Dennapa Kiatniwat (20-2, 15) [เด่นนภา ตราใบห่อ], aka Sarawut Thawornkham. The challenger, from Thailand, was out gunned and out classed from the off, though showed his toughness and bravery to last as long as he did, though was eventually stopped in round 10.
The Thai had travelled in confident spirit though that confidence couldn't make up for the gulf in class, with Dalakian taking control very early on, and never really being tested afterward, with the Thai rarely able to land clean.
As the bout went on Dennapa's face wore the damage of the action, reddening and and becoming stained with his blood, though he continued to bravely plow on, attempting to turn things around. That effort was wasted effort, and all he did was take more punishment, with Dalakian essentially playing with his food at times, rather than upping the gears and seeing off the Thai, who had been rocked in round 8.
In round 10 the Thai was finally saved, with Dalakian getting the stoppage, his third since winning the title.
Given the depth at Flyweight, a division that isn't as good as it was a few years ago, the hope now has to be that Dalakian considers unification bouts, with the likes of Kosei Tanaka, Moruti Mthalane and Charlie Edwards. As for Dennapa the hope is that he returns back to Thailand to continue on the regional scene, where bouts against the likes of Junto Nakatani or Ryota Yamauchi would be very interesting.
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.