When Naoya Inoue (16-0, 14) [井上 尚弥] turned professional his team spoke as if he was a special talent. Soon after his debut he proved it, beating the talented Yuki Sano essentially one handed in just his third bout. He then claimed the Japanese Light Flyweight title in his 4th bout by defeating Ryoichi Taguchi. In just his 6th professional bout he claimed his first world title, stopping Adrian Hernandez for the WBC Light Flyweight title. Less than 9 months later he moved up 2 divisions and destroyed Omar Narvaez for the WBO Super Flyweight title.
Today he impressed again as he ripped the WBA "regular" Bantamweight title from Englishman Jamie McDonnell (29-3-1-1, 13) in less than 2 minutes.
Inoue had stated he was looking to stop McDonnell before the fight, with the Englishman having never previous been stopped. It seemed a brash comment, but given how Inoue, dubbed the "Monster" has fought his career so far it was one few were doubting.
What no one, and we doubt even Inoue was expecting, was the performance he had. He was dwarfed when the fighters met in center ring for the final instructions from the referee but that seemed to be the only thing going against him. Within seconds he had McDonnell, the bigger fighter, circling the ring, and firing off a few jabs. Inoue just walked his man down and landed a huge shot up top that seemed to hurt the Englishman. Inoue smell blood and went for the kill and dropped McDonnell with a body shot.
To his credit McDonnell got back to his feet, but Inoue could see his wounded prey and went back on the offensive, unloading bombs on McDonnell who went down for the second time. The referee had seen enough and instantly waved the fight off.
Although the WBA “regular” title may not be highly regarded a win like this really launches Inoue into the stratosphere at 118lbs, and should secure him a place in the World Boxing Super Series, as well as a place on every fight fans Pound-for-Pound list, not just that of the real hardcore fans.
For McDonnell the future is certainly going to see him moving up in weight, but to have been blitzed in this manner may well end his career. He was beaten up, not just beaten, in 112 seconds by a man he out weighed by 13lbs on the day of the fight and boasted significant size advantages over. When he moves up those size advantages aren't going to be there, and this loss will be in the memory of every future opponent he faces.
The Bantamweight division is current a mess thanks the WBC's slow decision to tidy up their title situation, as well as the WBA's multiple title situation. Today however we saw the weight class get tidied up a little bit as WBA “super” champion Zhanat Zhakiyanov (27-2, 18) [Жанат Ескендирулы Жакиянов] took on IBF champion Ryan Burnett (18-0, 9) in a unification bout, that helped take one of the titles from the confusing mix of belts.
The fight started in a very messy fashion with Zhakiyanov pressing the action and Burnett trying to fight off the back foot. It was a round full of holding, wrestling and grappling, though there was moments where the fighters did separate and Burnett landed some lovely eye catching shots which were the cleanest blows of the round.
The close, messy, action continued through much of the fight, with rounds 2, 3, 4 and 5 all pretty much identical to each other. They all saw Zhakiyanov pressing the action and the two fighters trading blows between in some messy yet exciting action that seemed to show Burnett was able to fight Zhakiyanov's fight and have success with it, there was however little to separate the men and neither looked capable of hurting the other.
In round 6 we saw a slight change as Burnett looked to have injured his shoulder at one point, before gritting his teeth and resuming the contest, with Zhakiyanov all over him. It was one of the best rounds for the Kazakh, despite some spirited efforts from Burnett late on, and it looked like the momentum was starting to swing n favour of Zhakiyanov. Sadly for the Kazakh the injury to Burnett wasn't as bad as it first seemed and he looked to be just fine over rounds 7 and 8.
Amazingly in round 9 Burnett changed his tactics, got on to his toes and really managed to make life easy for himself as he established some distance and boxed his fight, for the first time in the fight. It was a style that he likely would have wanted to use from the start of the fight, but couldn't due to Zhakiyanov's pressure, but was now able too with the Kazakh slowing down. It was a tactic Burnett used through rounds 10 and 11 to clearly put himself in charge of the bout, before going toe-to-toe in a thrilling 12th round. It was a perfect finish to the fight which had been incredibly tough for the fighters.
At the end of 12 rounds it seemed like a close, but clear, win for Burnett, though the judges didn't even seem to see the bout as competitive scoring it 119-109, 118-110 and 116-112 for Burnett, making it look relatively one sided when it really hadn't been.
With the IBF and WBA titles now around his waist the future looks really interesting for Burnett, and he does have a lot going for him, but this was a draining war and he will be looking to avoid those in the future if he's going to have a lengthy reign. For Zhakiyanov the loss ends his reign, but he certainly didn't shame himself, and he should remain in the title mix going forward.
On Saturday morning we saw the WBO Bantamweight champion Marlon Tapales (29-2, 12) being stripped of his title due to a failure to make weight ahead of his first defense, a bout against Shohei Omori (18-1, 13) [大森 将平] on Sunday.
Due to the stripping of Tapales, and the potential long term vacancy, the WBO seemingly upgraded the status of the bout between Zolani Tete (25-3, 20) and Arthur Villanueva (30-2, 16), which was originally a world title eliminator but later became an interim title fight.
Sadly for Filipino fighter Villanueva the change in status of the bout didn't do him any favours, in fact if anything it may have inspired an even better performance from the South African, with Tete putting on a dominant and one-sided performance.
Villanueva came to win, don't get us wrong, but from the opening seconds it was clear he was out matched with the Filipino being shut down offensively from very early on.
The slippery Tete managed to find a home for his jab early on and chose when to come forward and press the action, with the Filipino only have very rare moments of success, which were almost instwntly forgotten as Tete tagged him soon afterwards.
Villanueva's toughness served him well, but he was dropped in round 11, a flash knockdown, and never really looked capable of having a big final round to turn things around. Instead he seemed to settle for a 12 round decision loss, with cards of 119-108, twice, and 120-107.
If Omori wins tomorrow the signs are that his first defense will have to be against Tete whilst a loss for the Japanese fighter would see Tete being promoted to the status of full champion.
So far this year we've not seen many title changes but late on Friday we did see one title change, as 3-time American Olympian Rau'shee Warren (14-2-0-1, 4) suffered a shock loss to Kazakh pressure fighter Zhanat Zhakiyanov (27-1, 18), and claimed the WBA Bantamweight Super title.
The start of the fight was a nightmare for Zhakiyanov, who was dropped twice in the opening round giving Warren a 10-7 opening round. It seemed like Warren's speed and skills would be too much for the relatively basic Zhakiyanov. Amazingly though Warren failed to build on the good start as Zhakiyanov managed to regroup and have a solid second round, though, again, it was a round that Warren took.
From round 3 onwards the bout seemed to turn, with Zhakiyanov applying intense and breaking through the guard of Warren with regularity. The pressure seemed to have immediate effect and he was unlucky to not to have a KD scored in his favour late in the round.
Warren was again roughed up in rounds 4, 5 and 6 as Zhakiyanov continued to force the action and and really trouble Warren, who continually backed up and invited the pressure from the challenger. It was easy to forget the 10-7 first round and by the end of round 6 it was almost impossible to make a case for Warren being in the lead. Despite being in the lead ZZ seemed to be slowing down and in round 8 Warren began to take advantage of Zhakiyanov's slowing down and stood his ground in the opening minute. Despite the moments of success Warren failed to build on it and quickly let Zhakiyanov push him backwards.
Warren managed to have his moments in the final rounds, though began to look more and more tired with Zhakiyanov seemingly aware that he may need to have a huge finish to impress the judges. He was tired, as would be expected given the huge amount of work he had put in, but his desire continued to show through as he continued to apply the pressure.
With both men standing at the end of 12 rounds the bout went to the scorecards and given the amazing start for Warren it was clear the cards would be close, with Zhakiyanov needing to make up for the 10-7 opening round. The judges were split though thankfully they made the right decision with two of them favouring the Kazakh, who's desire and will to win earned him the victory on two of the cards.
Boxing often sees “controversy” with the scoring of fights thought it must be said that sometimes a judge can have an off night. This past Sunday we dare say that the judges got it right as Englishman Jamie McDonnell (27-2-1, 12) did the double over Tomoki Kameda (31-2, 19) and retained his WBA Bantamweight crown.
The two men, who fought in a thriller earlier this year, were expected to be in another thriller here. Tomoki was favoured by the bookies and the view in many quarters was that he would have learned from his first loss. The hope was that linking up with esteemed trainer Ismael Salas would help Tomoki correct the issues that cost him in his previous bout.
The opening round was close. In fact to split them was almost impossible as both jabbed and moved well in a high paced and highly skilled opening round. To score it either way would have been acceptable, as would a 10-10 round, it really was one of those rounds where the two men fought as near mirror images of each other.
The second round saw Kameda really kick things off and for 2 minutes of the round he looked brilliant putting McDonnell under pressure and landing most notable shots, including a very solid left hook. Having “sealed” the round after just 2 minutes Tomoki seemed to ease off the gas late in the round round and backed up, cruising the final 40 seconds or so. Sadly the backing up, which was final in that particular situation, became the story of the fight.
In round 3 it was McDonnell setting the pace and tempo of the fight as he came forward with a determined and intelligent march. Not only was McDonnell coming forward but he was doing it behind a busy jab that seemed to prevent Kameda from getting into a rhythm. Kameda did have have some success with his counters but his shots were often falling short whilst Mcdonnell out worked him and seemingly bullied him around the ring. It was the start of McDonnell's domination of the bout.
McDonnell built on his success from round 3 and by the middle rounds it seemed that the fight had had it's identity sorted with McDonnell instilling his will on to the fight at the expense of Tomoki who was forced to fight on the back foot, where he wasn't particularly strong. By round 8 it seemed like Tomoki would need to make a drastic change in tactics if he was to claim the victory here. He had managed to make rounds 5, 6 and 7 close, by landing the better shots, but he didn't seem to do quite enough to over-come McDonnell's work rate.
In round 9 we finally saw Tomoki actually shining with some solid right hands that landed clean on McDonnell's head. They didn't ever hurt the Englishman but they were the sort of shots that he was going to need to build his confidence and have any chance of defeating Mcdonnell.
Sadly for Tomoki his success from round 9 wasn't built on like it needed to be and in round 10 McDonnell got back to being in charge with Tomoki moving too much and throwing far too little in a round that had looked like many of the earlier rounds. The same could also be said of round 11 where it seemed clear that Tomoki would need a KO but refused to go for it.
If Mcdonnell hadn't done enough in the first 11 rounds he essentially sealed the deal in round 12 with a knockdown of Tomoki, albeit a slip-come-knockdown, that secured a 10-8 round. Tomoki did fight hard in the dying stages of the round but it was clear that it was far too little to over-come the knockdown, or much of the previous 10 rounds.
At the final bell the judges all favoured McDonnel with cards ranging from 115-112 to 117-111. They were varied but all seemed to be in the “acceptable range” given the competitiveness of rounds 1, 5,6 and 7. Despite the close rounds we couldn't see any way to give it to Tomoki with the best he could have expected expect being a 114-113 defeat.
For Tomoki this is a second successive defeat and it's likely he'll need to seriously rethink his career. He looked small in comparison to McDonnell and may well need to consider a move down to Super Flyweight if he can lose 3lbs. If not he'll likely find himself as a either a perennial contender or, if his confidence is shot, a stepping stone for the emerging generation of Bantamweights, including the really exciting Shohei Omori.
McDonnell has hinted in the past of a move to Super Bantamweight and we expect he'll add the 4lbs and move up. That will leave the title vacant and we wouldn't be surprised to see a number of interesting fighters, including Omori and Ryo Matsumoto, all be linked to that title in early 2016.
Whilst the fight wasn't as good as the first one the big issue we have was the commentary on CBS which seemed to sway people into believing Kameda did better than he really did. We began this by saying the judges can have off days, we dare say the commentator had a bad today. We have a lot of respect and time for the commentator in question so we will put it down to a bad day at the office and would hope that everyone who has scored this in favour of Kameda will rewatch it with the sound off.
Oh how things can change in the space of just 18 months. In November 2013 all 3 Kameda brothers were world champions. Koki, Daiki and Tomoki. They were in the Guinness book of world records for their amazing achievement together. Since then however things have fallen apart and the trio now hold no titles, and the future for them doesn't look anywhere near as good as it once did.
The latest hit to the Kameda's came this past Saturday night when Tomoki Kameda (31-1, 19), the youngest of the Kameda brothers, suffered his first professional loss and failed to claim the WBA Bantamweight title, being narrowly out pointed by Englishman Jamie McDonnell (26-2-1, 12) in a genuinely enthralling contest.
The fight started really well for Tomoki who seemed to claim the first round and, in round 3, scored a flash knockdown to secure a 10-8 round. At that point it seemed like the fight was Tomoki's to lose and that the Japanese fighter was set to become a 2-time world champion.
Rather than Tomoki losing it McDonnell made the adjustments needed and began to really let his hands go, finding a new gear and using his jab excellently to neutralise Tomoki's naturally quicker hand at range. On the inside both men were unleashing great flurries and the action was fantastic with a real see-saw feel to it though it did seem like McDonnell was getting the best of it more often than not.
By round 6 Tomoki's early lead had been eroded and it was clear that there wasn't going to be a lot in it if things continued to be as well fought as it was. Unfortunately for Tomoki he failed to really find another gear and instead he was being forced to fight McDonnell's fight more and more with McDonnell dictating the pace of the fight, as seen notably in round 7.
Tomoki fought back hard and seemed to clearly claim round 8 as he moved up a gear, securing one of the few clear rounds of the fight. Unfortunately for Tomoki it was his final “clear” round and an attempt to steal round 9 was too close to call, despite seemingly wobbling McDonnell late in the round.
It seemed like it was all to play for in the final 3 rounds and unfortunately for Tomoki it seemed like McDonnell was the hungry man taking the fight to the Japanese fighter and, in round 12, completely dominating a very lazy Tomoki. It seemed that Tomoki fought the final round as if he had it in the bag, though in reality it was too close to call. Stupidly for Tomoki the fact he gave the round away cost him with McDonnell taking the decision with scores of 114-113 on all 3 cards. It was one of the rare times that the judges all got the bout spot on, and it was the type of bout that showed just how good boxing can be, less than a week after the disappointing "Fight of the Century".
Tomoki's "strategy" for round 12 was one of the stupidest things we've seen a fighter do as a challenger, it didn't quite match Daiki Kameda's mental break down against Daisuke Naito but it was similarly foolish especially considering how close this bout had been. Sadly Tomoki showed a real lack of character at the end suggesting he had won all 12 rounds though it did show the lack of class that we are familiar with when it comes to the Kameda's.
For Tomoki it does leave him on the outside looking in when it comes to a big fight. He's still seemingly very popular with the Mexican fans but it's going to be a mystery what his next step is, especially considering he's locked out of a number of mouth watering bouts due to his ban from Japan. Strangely however we may have moved a step close to a really promising bout, with McDonnell now being an attractive opponent for WBC champion Shinsuke Yamanaka, in what would be a bout between the two stand out fighters in the division. A bout between Tomoki and Yamanaka seemed really unlikely but McDonnell and Yamanaka is certainly a possibility, and a mouth watering one at that.
For fans who missed this one, you really should hunt it down, it was enthralling and the type of bout that every fight fan wishes to see. For those who saw it, we won't be saying anything new by suggesting that it was something a little bit special.
It's not every day that we get none stop fights but this weekend was one such day as the action began in Macau and then moved over to the UK.
After a trio of title fights, including the very controversial contest between Simpiwe Vetyeka and Nonito Donaire, in Macau we then saw Thailand's Tabtimdaeng Na Rachawat (52-3, 34) attempt to claim the vacant WBA Bantamweight title as he travelled to the UK to fight Britain's very own Jamie McDonnell (24-2-1, 11).
The first round saw McDonnell boxing well with his jab and movement keeping the Thai at bay. From then on though life got difficult for the very talented Englishman who was put under intense pressure round after round by a man determined to make life difficult.
Tabtimdaeng, although not the smoothest boxer in the world, brought waves of pressure, cutting the ring off, getting inside and trying to break down McDonnell with pressure and work rate. It made things really interesting to watch and forced McDonnell to use his feet, use his pure boxing and hand speed to avoid a flat out tear up. It was still entertaining but wasn't a war.
The key problem for Tabtimdaeng wasn't the size in the end but the difference in skills and McDonnell was too defensively sound for Tabtimdaeng's wide swipes and too sharp offensively to miss the Thai. So accurate were some of McDonnell's shots that they made him look world class but for many of the rounds they had little lasting effect on the Thai who was, genuinely, tough as they come and just kept coming forward no matter how many shots he had to take to try and close the distance.
Unfortunately for Tabtimdaeng the more effort he put in the more tired he was becoming and by rounds 8 he was noticeably slowing. The slowing Tabtimdaeng got the easier it was for McDonnell to land his classy bursts both upstairs and downstairs. The Thai was still applying pressure but was have less and less success whilst he slowly becoming a human punch bag. It seemed unlikely McDonnell could hurt him but it also seemed like he was too far behind on the cards to even comprehend beating the Englishman.
The ending came suddenly in round 10 as McDonnell landed a pin point left hook on the chin of the Thai went down hard. The guts and bravery of Tabtimdaeng saw him rising to his feet but he had no idea where he was. It was a shock to see him down, especially considering how tough he had looked in the the first 9 rounds but it was just as shocking to see him rising to his feet. Unfortunately for the Thai was in no fit state to continue and the referee, Terry O'Connor, made the correct decision to stop the contest with the Thai wobbling around the ring.
Although he lost Tabtimdaeng did put up a very, very good effort and we'd love to see him put into the OPBF mix with the likes of Ryosuke Iwasa, Ryo Akaho and Hiroki Shiino, all of whom would make for exciting bouts with the Thai.
As for the winner it's hard to see McDonnell fighting with any of the top Asian's. We'd love to see him fight WBC champion Shinsuke Yamanaka or WBO champion Tomoki Kameda but it seems much more likely that he'll fight either European or American opponents in his coming defences.
When we talk about controversial fighters in this day and age we often think of those who are apt at bending the rules or those who have failed, or been linked to, performance enhancing drug use.
One man however who's name is very closely linked to controversy is Japan's Koki Kameda (32-1, 17) who again had a controversial contest, despite retaining his WBA Bantamweight title.
Fighting outside of his native Japan for just the third time in his career Koki traveled to Jeju in South Korea and battled the relatively unheard of Jung-Oh Son (20-5-2, 6), or Jeong-Oh Son.
Son, although an unknown, knew this was by far the biggest chance of career. He knew the world expected him to lose. He knew everyone, including ourselves, had effectively written him off.
What we didn't know however was that the Korean was a man with a point to prove, a man looking at his destiny and a man who was determined to make a statement. It's fair to also say that Koki didn't expect the Korean fighter to be seeking to make a point.
The fight started well for Koki who found a home for his left hand in the opening round and then built on his initial success with solid body work in the second round. By the end of the third round it seemed clear that Koki had the skills to counter Son at will and win rounds boxing off the back foot. Son, although behind after 3 rounds, was certainly the man making the fight and the man forcing the action even if his work wasn't incredibly effective.
Although down after 3 Son began to really grow in to the bout round after round and by the end of the fourth round he appeared to be neutralising Koki's work whilst having more success himself. It was obvious from this round that Koki wasn't going to do as he wished with Son and that Son had the ability to make things very difficult for Koki.
Things went from bad to worse for Koki as Son hurt him in a very clear fifth round that seemed to prove that Son hit a lot, lot harder than his record indicated. Koki saw out the round though it was clear that Son was able to rattle him, out work him and generally make him incredibly uncomfortable in the ring.
Taking the fifth round as a clear warning Koki managed to change tactics in a huge way for round 6 as he held, clinched and generally spoiled his way through the round. If nothing else the round allowed Koki a chance to clear his head, though it was obvious that the Japanese champion knew a war would be trouble for him.
Koki seemed to turn the bout more in his favour in round 7 thanks to some success with body shots that appeared to be taking the steam out of Son's sails. This body attack of Koki's continued through the eighth round as it began to look like Son had missed his opportunity to upset Koki.
Remarkably Son got his second wind in round 9 and made the action very hard to score as he handcuffed Koki with his assault, an assault that would send Koki down to his knees in round 10. This knockdown saw us going in to the championship rounds pretty much level and with both men knowing they were well in with a chance to claim the victory.
Unfortunately for Son his energy wasn't there for the final 2 rounds. His lack of 12 round experience, a distance he had only completed twice, seemed to just see him running out of steam.
As we got to the cards there was near no certainty. Koki, although taking some of the early rounds and the final round, had struggled through much of the fight and Son on the other hand had taken the middle rounds and landed the more memorable attacks. This had left everyone anticipating close scorecards and rightfully so, unfortunately however Son's hard work seemed to be for naught with Koki's arm being raised as he claimed a narrow split decision.
Using the WBA half point scoring Koki ultimately won with scores of 115-112 and 114.5-114 going against a card of 115.5-113 in favour of Son. The half point in favour of Koki was the difference between a loss and a draw for Son.
The result, which has been widely criticised, was perhaps not a "robbery" per se, but was certainly controversial, mostly due to the 115-112 card which was far, far too wide. No way did Kameda win the bout by claiming 8 of the 12 rounds, which the 115-112 card would indicate.
If there was a silver lining to the loss for Son it's that he knows he's made a statement and could well be able to get himself a bigger fight off the back of this. In fact a fight with Tomoki Kameda would now make a lot of sense. Had Son won however his reign would have been very short with the winner here being forced to fight Anselmo Moreno early next year. For Koki that's already looking like a loss. Moreno, for his lack of power, is an excellent boxer and will really embarrass Koki unless the Japanese fighter can find something very, very special between now and that fight.
The ever popular Koki Kameda (31-1, 17) successfully retained his WBA Bantamweight title earlier today by winning a wide decision over Filipino challenger John Mark Apolinario (17-3-3, 4).
Koki, the first ever 3-weight world champion from Japan seemed to hardly break sweat as took control of the bout from the opening round. There wasn't much action from the off but what there was came mainly from Koki who applied intelligent and controlled pressure. Although Koki himself wasn't throwing much it appeared that Apolinario was throwing even less as Koki stalked and picked his spots when Apolinario was backed on to the ropes.
Offensively it was astute from the champion who, when called upon to be defensive knew what to do as he put his hands up and allowed the powder-puff punches of the challenger to bounce off his guard. It was obvious that when Koki came forward he was effective, not the most exciting but effective, when Apolinario came forward however there little effectiveness and little clean that landed.
In the middle Apolinario did manage to make one or two rounds interesting, though that had more to do with the fact that Koki seemed to be sleep walking through the contest rather than forcing the pace of the bout to step up. The few times Koki did put his foot on the gas he appeared unable to miss with his wicked southpaw left hand.
Despite it being Koki's straight that had caught the eye through much of the contest it was actually a right hook that that put Apolinario down in round 10. Although the challenger appeared to have recovered quickly and even seemed to race over to Kameda following the mandatory 8 count he offered little to no offense in the rest of the round.
With the bout all but sealed on the cards going in to the the final round it was nice to see Koki going up another gear as he searched for the finish that the fans had been wanting. He managed again to drop the Filipino challenger though his assault came probably a round or two too late with Apolinario still having the toughness to see out the attack and reach the final bell.
Following several poor performances and questionable results this was nice to see Koki actually looking confident and relaxed in the ring. Sure Apolinario is far from a genuine world level opponent though it was the type of performance that should help Koki remember why he's a world champion. Don't get us wrong Koki wasn't without faults here but he certainly put on a controlled yet dominant performance, that perhaps only lacked the exclamation point of a stoppage
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.