After a string of great Minimumweight title fights in recent years, such as the recent contests between Hiroto Kyoguchi and Vince Parras and Ryuya Yamanaka and Vic Saludar we got a total stinker today. The bout saw WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart (18-0, 7) [น็อคเอาท์ ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท] battle against against "interim" champion Xiong Zhao Zhong (27-8-1, 14) [熊朝忠] in China, in what was Knockout's first bout outside of Thailand. Sadly what looked like it could have been a good bout just never really got going and ended up being a slow, dull and actionless affair.
The early rounds looked like Knockout was going through the motions. He gave away the first two rounds on our cards without putting up any sort of an effort. It looked like he was on cruise control whilst Zhong did just enough, with his picking and poking, to out work the inactive Thai. It was an embarrassing start from both men given the world title status of this bout, but thankfully the bout did pick up pace in round 3 when Knockout showed a few glimpses of his ability. The Thai finally looked like he had signs of life.
Round 4 was another where Knockout made it easy to give the round to the Chinese fighter. The Thai wasn't actionless but didn't ever press the fight like he could have. It was clear when he did land that Zhong dislikes the sting on his shots, but he rarely put his shots together. That changed slightly in round 5, when Knockout did try to put punches together, but struggled to land them as the small Zhong used his lack of size to avoid the shots of Knockout.
With the styles not gelling in the first half of the fight things only got worse as the two men began to wrestling more and more. The exertion of not boxing seemed to take it's toll on both men who fell into each other repeatedly, got too close and really failed to find any spark. At distance the only work of any note was Zhong's jab, often thrown as he came in with little behind it, whilst on the inside neither man had any real success landing anything relevant. Even the pro-Chinese fans seemed to have been bored, despite their man being involved in the fight.
At the end of 12 rounds it was hard to believe anyone really card about the contest any more, though credit to the judges who showed their commitment to the cause by handing in complete scorecards. They were read out as 118-110, twice, and 116-112 all in favour of Knockout CP Freshmart, who seemed to be so fed up that he even failed to celebrate after the bout.
Despite the win Knockout will have done himself and his career no good here, and no one will be in a rush to see his next bout. Zhong on the other hand will likely be retiring, with his 36th birthday just a few short months away.
The Minimumweight division has often been downplayed by Western fight fans due to a lack of depth, as well as the size of the fighters plying their trade down at the 105lb limit. We do however live in a bit of a divisional golden age with a number of top fighters, not just the champions, and currently the top contenders are generally very good fighters, with the division have talented contenders from both Asia and Latin America,
That mixture of good champions and good contenders was seen again earlier today as WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart (17-0, 7) retained his title with an expectedly tough bout against Filipino challenger Toto Landero (10-2-2, 2), with Landero proving he was world class through out the bout. That's despite the fact the challenger entered as a bit of an unknown, with his most notable results being a stoppage loss at domestic level to Joey Canoy and his most notable wins coming against Vic Saludar and Rolly Sumalpong.
The challenger started fantastically, moving well,picking his spots and landing some eye catching combinations which took advantage of Knockout's less that great defense. The champion came foreward a lot, but looked and sluggish in the early moments as Landero rose to the occassion and put on a show case of his ability. The good start from the Filipino came to an end in round 3, as Knockout upped the pressure and showed why he's a world champion. It was however a bit of a blip as Landero got back to work and reeled off not only a comeback round, but several of them as he kept his nose in front, and put Knockout in a hole that he was going to have to fight his way out of.
Knowing he was behind as we entered the second half of the fight Knockout upped his pace, really hammering some heavy shots at Landero in the clinche and slowing his man with solid body blows. It began a surge from the champion, which was particularly impressive in round 9 as it looked like he was beginning to dismantle the challenger, who had to show incredible heart to see off the charge.
As it looked like Knockout was heading towards a late stoppage the challenger not only gritted his teeth and saw out the storm, but had his second wind, landing some smart counters, and made Knockout look very crude at times, as the champion's relative lack of pace showed. The desire from the champion to make a statement wasn't there and instead Landero finished the bout looking the stronger man, and making a solid claim to have won the fight. Sadly however it wasn't to be, as the judges gave the decision to the Thai, with 1 judge only giving Landero a single round.
The story out of Thailand is that Knockout will now face Xiong Zhao Zhong in his next defense, which was reportedly signed before this bout took place, and it may well have been on the Thai's mind through out this bout. For Landero there will be not only disappointment at not winning, but also some anger at the score cards, which we understand were much wider than the action in the ring suggested. Thankfully for the Filipino he is still very young, and given this performance cements himself as a top contender who will remain in the mix for another title fight down the line.
It's fair to say today, July 15th 2017, is a busy day in world boxing with a number of notable shows taking place around the globe. The first of those was in Thailand where WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart (16-0, 7) [น็อคเอาท์ ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท] retained his title, and over-came mandatory challenger Rey Loreto (23-14, 15) in a hard fought decision.
The began with the Filipino looking strong. His trademark aggression and heavy hands were felt early on and he seemed to cause facial damage to Freshmart very early in the fight, with the Thai fighting through a swollen left eye from the early stages.
After 3 rounds it looked like Loreto was going to be playing the upsetter role once again, as he has a number of times before. Sadly though for him Knockout found a home for his straight right hand to the body, and he milked the shot, landing a number of gut busting blows. They seemed to slow Loreto in rounds 4 and 5 with the effects lasting through the contest, and taking the zip of the Filipino, who struggled to control range.
Loreto had moments, where he would charge in and land nice combinations, but missed too frequently and took too many hard and clean counters in the middle rounds to win them, even though he was often the man on the front foot.
Knockout wasn't just winning round,s but was essentially doing it through one eye, and had a stand out moment in round 9, when he dropped Loreto with a right hand. It was “only” a 10-8 round but essentially sealed him the contest, barring an unlikely KO from the Filipino. Rounds 10 and 11 were again rounds where Knockout landed the more telling single blows, even if he did look to stall at times, before almost giving away round 12, knowing the win was in the bag.
The decision, as expected, favoured the Thai with no real complaints, he had taken the bulk of the rounds and secured that 10-8 round as well. As a result the judges turned in cards of 117-110, twice, and 115-113, all in favour of the Thai world champion.
As a result of the decision Knockout has now scored 3 defenses of the WBA title, to add to 3 defenses of the interim title that he held previously. As for Loreto the bout sees his 7 fight winning run come to an end, and shows the problem with blowing opponents away, as he had only got 9 rounds in his last 4 fights, and 29 rounds in the last 4 years. Hopefully Loreto will bounce back from the defeat a better fighter, because he's fun to watch,. But today it was Knockout walking away with the spoils.
Earlier today we saw Thailand's talented Knockout CP Freshmart (15-0, 7) [น็อคเอาท์ ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท] record his second defence of the WBA Minimumweight title as he scored a 5th round KO win over over-matched Japanese challenger Go Odaira (13-5-3, 1) [大平 剛], who suffered his third stoppage loss at world level.
The bout saw Odaira begin by using his movement, using his speed to to try and neutralise the pressure of Knockout, who was pressing from the very early stages. It turned out not to be the best tactic with Knockout landing almost all the blows of note during the round. The lack of success from Odaira forced a tactical change from the challenger who decided to stand his ground more in round 2 and had some success, particularly from his straight left hand, though he left himself in Knockout's wheel yard and the Thai dominated much of the round.
Odaira tried to turn pure counter puncher in round 3 but was again unable to have the success of the Thai who found a way to hammer home heavy shots, particularly to the body and he seemed to hurt Odaira late in the round. It appeared as if Knockout knew he had hurt Odaira as he started the 4th round fast and despite a spirited fight back from the challenger it wasn't long until Odaira was down, suffering his first knockdown of the fight.
Knockout managed to see out the remaining time in round 4 but Knockout had his man worked out and sensed a stoppage was close. It was stoppage that would come not long into round 5 as Knockout went hunting and dropped Odaira with a beautiful 3 punch combination. This time Odaira would stay down.
With the win for Knockout we've now seen Japanese fighters go 0-22-1 in world title fights on Thai soil and it's almost certainly going to be the end of Odaira's world title dreams. The performance from Knockout was a solid one but with a number of rising fighters at 105lbs it may now be that he has to face some of the more testing contenders, rather than the likes of Odaira and Shin Ono, who he defended the title against late last year.
The Minimumweight division might be one of the more over-looked divisions in the sport but it's one which has plenty to be interested in, with the exciting array of fighters like Katsunari Takayama, Wanheng Menayothin, Jose Argumedo and Knockout CP Freshmart.
Today we saw one of those men, Knockout CP Freshmart (14-0, 6), record his first defense of the WBA title and score his third unanimous decision win of the year as he took a clear victory over Japanese challenger Shin Ono (19-8-3, 3).
Coming in to the bout many, including ourselves, had wondered how Ono had deserved a world title fight given he had come up short in recent bouts to Tatsuya Fukuhara, a more deserving world title challenger, and Kenichi Horikawa in Japanese domestic title bouts. Despite those questions Ono put up a spirited and decent effort against Knockout.
The bout started very slowly with Ono using his longer reach and southpaw stance to control the range off his jab. Knockout did apply some pressure during those early stages but it was very much a scouting mission from the champion who seemingly wanted to get a read on Ono's speed, power and movement.
In round 3 the fight flipped on it's head as Knockout moved into second gear and pressed the action more, landing right hands at will whilst Ono seemed to look lost and was becoming unsure of himself. That lack of confidence was again seen in round 4, though Ono did fire back a bit and seemed to hurt Knockout at one point, arguably scoring a flash knockdown of the Thai that was ruled a slip. Sadly for Ono this success seemed to just irritate Knockout who continued to dominate as he racked up rounds 6 and 7 and seemed to come close to dropping Ono on several occassions.
After dominating much of the fight Knockout began to look seriously tired as we began to approach the championship rounds and in the 8th and 9th he looked like he had run out of ideas, and steam. It seemed the perfect time for Ono to step up the action but unfortunately for him he was unable to with Knockout neutralising almost everything with repeated clinches.
By the time round 10 came along Knockout appeared to have recovered and again had some pepper on his shots, dropping Ono with a solid left hand to score the only knockdown of the fight. The challenger got to his feet but it seemed to put him on the retreat for the rest of the round and it was clear that he didn't want to taste Knockout's power any time soon.
Sadly for the challenger the final rounds were “now or never” and he tamely seemed to suggest his choice was “never” with little real urgency until the final 30 seconds when he began swinging for fence and looking for a huge game changer, by then though he had left him self too little time.
Although Ono had put up a spirited effort, at times, he was widely beaten on the cards with scores of 118-109, 117-111 and 118-110, but certainly earned respect with his performance. For Knockout a question needs to be asked about his stamina and this was a second successive fight where he was flagging late. It could be that his style needs taming to preserve energy or perhaps he's struggling to make 105lbs and a move up to Light Flyweight would be a smart move for the Thai. We'll see what he does in the new year but it's fair to say there is serious work to do in the future.
Every so often we look forward to a fight with the expectation that it will be a modern day classic. On paper the styles should work, the reward for the winner should drive both on to perform to their best and for some reason their appears to be everything there for something special
Sadly they don't all go the way we expect,and that was the case earlier today when Knockout CP Freshmart (13-0, 6) [น็อคเอาท์ ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท] battled Byron Rojas (17-3-3-1, 8) to become the true WBA Minimumweight champion.. On paper the bout had the reward of being the only recognised WBA champion at 105lbs, it had two aggressively minded men and it had the attention of the hardcore fans, not just the local fans of the two fighters, from Thailand and Nicaragua.
Sadly however the bout ended up being mostly a torturous affair with several things ruining what should have been a great fight.
The bout started fast, and Rojas came out like a man on a mission in the opening round before Knockout started to return fire in an opening round that seemed to suggest we were on to something special. The second round was also promising with Knockout showing a fast start and bullying the Nicaraguan fighter around with his physical strength and power.
Sadly the bout then went down hill with both quickly looking tired and as if the unique conditions in Thailand had quickly taken it's toll on both fighters who spend much of the next 10 rounds holding, wresting, spoiling and generally destroying the memories the first two rounds. It seemed that neither could make more than a spurt of boxing in every round, and when they managed that the other found a way to kill the momentum.
With both holding and wrestling the bout became a farcical mess with the referee being just as busy, if not busier, than the two fighters. Had that just been a few of the later rounds then it'd have been fair enough, but with it being vast swathes of the bout it left everyone feeling disappointed.
The holding did keep things competitive, but it was more due to the lack of action that things were close, rather than the back and forth of a truly good fight. It was due to it being a “competitive mess” that their was some genuine intrigue in the scorecards, which could have been completely all over the place. Surprisingly however there were all the same, 115-113 to Knockout CP Freshmart.
Given the expectation of the bout this stank, and despite the scorecards we don't imagine many fans will be calling for a rematch. Both men were guilty of holding, the conditions did the bout no favours but they are merely excuses for a bout that quickly became disjointed and was rarely enjoyable.
In October 2014 Thai fans saw former Muay Thai great Knockout CP Freshmart (12-0, 6) take a very competitive decision win over talented Nicaraguan Carlos Buitrago (28-2-1-1, 16) to claim the WBA "interim" Minimumweight title. The bout was ultra-competitive with all 3 judges scoring it 115-113 to Knockout, though many suggested that Thai won only because of the scoring in his homeland.
Today, more than a year after their first bout, the two men faced off for a second time and this time there was no doubting the winner with Knockout taking a clear and comprehensive decision win over a lacklustre Buitrago, to claim the WBA “regular” title, and become the mandatory for the WBA “super” title.
The fight started well for the visitor who seemed to be employing a smart game plan and used his reach well, launching the jab against the smaller Knockout. It was however a scouting mission of sorts from the Thai who seemed content to lose the round and see what his foe had in the locker, something we've seen Knockout do in the past.
Following the scouting mission Knockout used his knowledge well and began to go through the gears,clearly winning round as he began to come in quicker and landed some solid right hands as well as hard thudding jabs. Not only was the Thai impressing with his offensive work but his defense was also intelligent, with his head movement being very impressive and often making Buitrago look silly.
From the second round to round 7 it was hard to even make a case of giving a round to the visitor who looked dejected and as if he was out of ideas. He was losing the battle of jabs, eating hard right hands and being forced to take solid jabs to the midsection, something that must have been sickening in the high temperatures that the men were fighting in. Not only was Buitrago out of ideas but it was looking clear as he was backing up whenever Knockout wanted him to and was really looking frustrated.
In round 8 both began to look tired, for Knockout it wasn't a problem, he had run up a huge lead and could afford to slow down, but Buitrago, who needed to take advantage, still seemed unable to find anything to trouble the Thai. The pace continued to slow through rounds 9 and 10 with both happy to fall into a clinch and happy to throw less. Again for the Thai it was fine, he seemed to be doing enough to win the rounds without being forced out of his comfort zone, for Buitrago however it was a case of failing to take advantage of the chance to turn the momentum around.
Having pretty much won 9 successive rounds Knockout continued to slow, completely taking his foot off the gas in the final couple of rounds, where he seemed to prefer to clinch, than really fight. He had the luxury of the huge lead on the cards and seemed happy enough to not worry about the rounds, even then they were still competitive and could have gone the Thai's way without too much of an argument.
As the scorecards were read it seemed clear who had won the bout, and despite the cards being read only in Thai there was no doubting the scores were all in favour of the home fighter, who was given the unanimous decision with scores of 119-109 and 117-111, twice. Scores that were fair and reflected the one sided nature of the bout.
Thai fighter Knockout CP Freshmart (11-0, 6) may well have the best name in professional boxing but today he proved he was more than just a great name as he dominated dangerous Venezuelan Alexis Diaz (16-1, 10) in what was a surprisingly 1-sided affair.
Knockout, defending his WBA “interim” Minimumweight title for the second time, had come into the bout amid jokes of a name change to “Unanimous Decision CP Freshmart”. Today however he seemed to take those jokes personally and made sure that he wasn't going to be taken the distance again.
The opening round was a relatively typical feeling out round. Knockout came forward behind hig high guard looking to get a feel for the loose looking Diaz. Diaz looked good, he showed a nice array of shots and nice speed, but seemed to struggle to get the respect of Knockout who took shots on the gloves and managed to land some of his own right hands.
The sound round saw the action hotting up from the off with both letting their hands go more freely. Once again however it seemed that Diaz struggling to land much clean whilst Knockout, who looked crude at times, easily found a home for his right hand. More impressively from Knockout's point of view was how easily he was putting Diaz under pressure and it seemed like Diaz was being forced to work hard to create any real space between the two men.
The ease with which Knockout was applying pressure began to really tell in round 3 as he swarmed Diaz, forcing his will on the Venezuelan who had no real answer for the aggression of knockout. The pressure came with real spite from the Thai who was landing nasty right hands upstairs and downstairs and appeared to be bullying the visitor who was visibly wilting before a body shot sent him down late in the round. Had the bell not come seconds after Diaz had got to his feet it's likely that he'd have been stopped there and then. Instead the bell came and gave Diaz some respite from the onslaught that had begun to really break him down.
Following the third round it was clear that Diaz was going to need to change something quickly if he was to turn things around. Unfortunately for him he couldn't and Knockout was quick to resume his assault. The best Diaz could muster was some clinches to try and slow the Thai but Knockout wasn't to be denied. The champion managed to score his second knockdown with more body shots to a weak looking Diaz who recovered to his feet but had nothing to stop Knockout's follow up assault which forced the referee to intervene as the Venezuelan was heading down for the third time in the bout.
After the bout the handlers of Knockout appeared to call out South African fighter Hekkie Budler. Budler, the WBA “regular” champion is known to have been a long term target of Knockout and on this performance it's fair to say the Thai could be avoided by Budler who will bot be wanting to go to Thailand to defend his title. It's likely to come down to the WBA to enforce a mandatory between the two but it's very clear that Knockouts team will do their best to convince the WBA to “do the right thing”.
For Diaz this set back is massively disappointing. We had been impressed with footage of the visitor but it seemed that he had no idea how to cope with the pressure of offense of Knockout and the way he wilted was terribly disappointing, especially given his recent victories and his apparent confidence in the build up to the bout.
The Minimumweight division continues to enthrall us almost weekly and it did it again this past Saturday in Monte Carlo as China's Xiong Zhao Zhong (24-6-1, 14) put up a great effort in a close and hard fought loss to South African slickster Hekkie Budler (27-1, 9), the current WBA Minimumweight world champion.
The bout saw Zhong fighting in Europe for the first time whilst Budler returned to the scene of his previous defense, an 8th round KO against Pigmy Kokietgym, and it also saw Zhong impressing with a very gallant performance against one of the division's most talented fighters. In fact despite Budler's edge in talent and speed he was put until a lot of pressure, especially early one when Zhong managed to drop the South African champion.
Unfortunately for Zhong the knockdown was effectively neutralised the following round as the taller and rangier Budler began to use his physical tools to his advantage and dropped the diminutive Zhong late in the round.
The subsequent rounds, rounds 4-6, were close with neither man really getting the upper hand in what were really competitive rounds. They could have been scored either way though Budler certainly appeared the more skilled whilst Zhong was the more willed. It was the will and toughness of Zhong that was keep the rounds competitive though unfortunately for him that will couldn't help him in the second half of the fight as the champion found his groove and racked up the rounds needed to retain his titles.
For Zhong this is his second loss this year, following a very disappointing blow out defeat to Oswaldo Novoa. Unlike that defeat he was always competitive here and in fact his performance suggests that Novoa is actually the better and more dangerous fighters in what is quickly becoming one of the sports most must watch divisions, and we suspect it could get even better next year with a possible fight between Budler and someone like Kosei Tanaka or Katsunari Takayama both of which would be fantastic fights.
The first of the major fights this Saturday was in Monaco as Thailand's Pigmy Kokietgym (52-7-2, 22) challenged South Africa's Hekkie Budler (26-1, 9) for the WBA Minimumweight title.
Pigmy, fighting in his second title fight, started slowly and it appeared clear that he was trying to figure out the taller, younger and faster looking champion. Unfortunately for Kokietgym he never really managed to get going and every time he had some success it was quickly neutralised by Budler who fired back every time he needed to.
The only real success Kokietgym had early on was landing counter right hands which Budler could see coming a mile away to avoid or take the sting away from the shots and a very low shot that seemed to hurt Budler more than anything else Pigmy landed.
Although he had had some limited success Kokietgym managed to pick it up in round 3 as he began to find a new gear and get to work on the champion, cutting the distance and unloading for the first time. It showed that Budler was there to be tagged and if a fighter could force him back Budler was poor on the back foot. It was clear however that Kokietgym lacked the pop needed to really force Budler back at will.
Kokietgym began round 4 as he had fought round 3 though at the end of the round an assault by Budler made him touch down. It swung the round from a 10-9 to Pigmy to a 10-8 to Budler.
The short success of Pigmy's seemed to come to a near instant end after the debatable knockdown and quickly Budler took control of the fight winning the 5th round with better boxing and aggression that seemed to begin to slow down the 32 year old Thai. From then on it was beginning to become more and more about Budler who won a competitive round 6 though began finding the body of the Thai with some notable consistency
It was the body shots of Budler that eventually dropped Pigmy in round 7, at the very end of the round. Pigmy managed to get up but the damage was done and Budler jumped on the Thai from the bell to start round 8, Budler, looking for the finish, dropped Pigmy twice more a he kept on a relentless assault that eventually saw Pigmy taking the count and concede the bout to the better fighter.
Although it was a brave effort from the Thai it was clear the fighters were in different leagues. Interestingly however this moves a possible showdown between Budler and Katsunari Takayama one step further. If Takayama can over-come Francisco Rodriguez Jr in August there seems to be plans to match the two in October, possibly in Monaco on a show very similar to this one.
Interestingly this fight was televised in the UK on Boxnation. It was their first ever fight at 105lbs and hopefully it will lead to more Minimumweight title fight being shown on the channel, hopefully including the aforementioned Takayama/Budler contest.
(Image courtesy of Golden Gloves)
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.