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.
In Birmingham, England, earlier this evening fight fans world wide got the chance to see the warrior mentality of Japan's Suguru Muranaka (25-3-1, 8) [村中 優], who gave his all in a losing battle against WBA Super Flyweight champion Khalid Yafai (22-0, 14). It was an effort that saw Muranaka come up well short, but gain incredible credit in a performance that showed his desire, hunger, energy and toughness.
Early on it looked like the bout was going to be a total blow out with Yafai landing bombs whilst Muranaka walked in. Although Muranaka's game plan, like he said before the fight, was based on his pressure, that pressure seemed to be getting used against him as Yafai landed some thunderous shots to both head and body, and scored a very flash knockdown in round 2.
Despite being tagged hard early on Muranaka hardly looked bothered and he continued to press the action through the whole fight. He occasionally looked hurt, occasionally looked tired but always looked hungry and in rounds 4, 5 and 6, he had real success as Yafai seemed to run out of ideas a bit. The champion was still landing the better shots, but it was clear that he wasn't expecting Muranaka to still be there, and still be pressing the fight in the way he was.
Yafai managed to change things up a big in round 7 as he began to use his boxing skills and make the most of his more mobile legs whilst landing some solid shots, shaking Muranaka once or twice, and doing the same in round 8, a round that saw the champion being deducted a point for a low blow, his third or 4th clear low one.
Despite the point deduction Yafai was a mile ahead, and he further extended that lead in the following few rounds. It was however Muranaka who had some of the more eye catching success in round 11 as he went out looking for a stoppage. Although he went looking for it, it never looked likely to happen, though it did force some really big shots form Yafai as he looked to get Muranaka's respect again.
In the final round Muranaka again went looking for the stoppage and turn the bout around but was hurt late and never managed to land the blows he needed to shake up the champion.
The bout was a clear win for Yafai, with the judges scoring it close to a shut out, but Yafai was forced to work incredibly hard in every round and was given his stiffest test as a professional. As for Muranaka he's opened the door to some exciting international bouts, including a potential fan friendly bout against Jamie Conlan in the UK.
The loss sees Japan's hunt to win a world title in Europe continue, but the loss has really helped put Muranaka's name up there as a genuine continued, and helped restore some pride in the fighter following some real issues in the past with his weight. The loss was a clear one, but Muranaka's determination, heart and work rate won him a whole new fan base, and it's fair to say that he will be welcomed into the ring against almost any other Super Flyweight.
Interestingly Muranaka's countryman Sho Ishida is ranked #1 for Yafai's title, and that could be Yafai's next defense, later this year.
The second WBA Super Flyweight reign of popular Japanese veteran Kohei Kono (32-9-1, 13) [河野 公平], a fighter from the Watanabe Gym, ended earlier today as he was out pointed by Panamanian Luis “El Nica” Concepcion (35-4, 24), who entered the bout as the interim champion and unified his title with regular belt that Kono was attempting to defend for the 4th time.
Early on Concepcion's movement and skill prevented Kono from landing much clean with the “Tough Boy" struggling with the distance and tempo as the slower Japanese fighter who fought on the retreat through the opening rounds as Concepcion backed him up at will. Despite the good start for Concepcion's we then saw Kono's fighters mentality kicked in round 4 as we started to get the fight many had been expecting and saw the two exchanging blows. It was during the exchanges that Concepcion's power began to take hold and he forced Kono to back off after taking more solid shots.
Having felt the Panamanian's power Kono changed tactic and began to look for counter shots, knowing that his Plan A wasn't a smart one. Those counters were well timed but Concepcion didn't seem too bothered by them with the visitor adapting and changing the pace of the fight, holding when he needed to and disrupting Kono's assault's when the Japanese fighter started to grow in confidence and come forward himself.
Despite Concepcion looking in control at times Kono did break through in round 9 with a solid right hand and it seemed that, for the first time, he had Concepcion in trouble. Concepcion however rode out the storm and got back to the smart work he had been doing earlier in the bout. Going into round 10 it was clear that Kono had a lot of work to do though unfortunately he was unable to turn things around, despite having success with his right hand through the 10th.
Kono again had success in round 11, as Concepcion seemed to slow further, but was unable to finish off his foe who again used his abilities to thwart Kono's charge, with a nasty headbutt causing visible damage. That charge of Kono's was further slowed in round 12 when he took a painful low blow. The pain was clear but so was Kono's desire and he continued to try to turn the bout around, but it was far too little too late.
At the final bell there was no surprise over who had won with Concepcion a well deserving winner with scores of 116-112, 116-112 and 115-113, with the final card a bit too close in our eyes.
Sadly for Watanabe that's their second champion to lose their title this year, with Takashi Uchiyama losing the WBA Super Featherweight "Super" title to Concepcion's countryman Jezreel Corrales in a genuine upset. Watanabe may be able to secure two rematch for New Year's Eve, however it's clear both Kono and Uchiyama are coming to the end of their careers and it would be no shock to see both hang them up in the very near future. If they do it'll be a horrible time for those in charge of the Watanabe gym, who have also seen veteran Akio Shibata retire this year and it could be that the elder statesmen of the gym all vanish in the space of a year.
For Concepcion the bout opens up a lot of doors in Asia with fighters like Takuma Inoue and Sho Ishida both possibly encouraging their teams to offer the new champion a December bout in Japan for solid money and a potential rematch with Kono also plausible. After today's bout we wouldn't be surprised if Japanese fans wanted to see more of Concepcion.
(Image courtesy of daily.co.jp)
Earlier today Japanese fans in Tokyo saw WBA Super Flyweight champion Kohei Kono (32-8-1, 13) [河野 公平] retain his title with a relatively straight forward win against limited Thai Inthanon Sithchamuang (28-8-1, 15) [อินทนนท์ ศิษย์ชะมวง].
The fight saw the two men gradually ease their way in to the bout with the opening round being a relatively quiet one before the pace picked up in round 2. Unfortunately for the challenger the quicker the pace became the worse it became for him and in round 3 it seemed like Kono was beginning to out work and break down the challenger.
The aggression from Kono continued in round 4 with Inthanon being beaten through the round before finally going down, just seconds before the bell. The bell had saved the challenger but it was clear that Inthanon was being beaten up and broken down with little coming back from him.
The following round saw Inthanon being dropped again, this time their was more time in the round but Kono couldn't quite for the stoppage. Despite seeing out the 5th round Inthanon seemed to be on to a hiding to nothing and bravely came out for round 6.
Surprisingly, given he had been dropped in the previous two rounds, Inthanon had a decent 6th and managed to stay up right for the full 3 minutes. That was however just a momentary bit of success for the challenger who tasted the canvas again in round 7, with Kono coming close to scoring a stoppage with a follow up attack before the bell prolonged the contest.
The Thai looked like he had no hope at the end of round 7 though showed his heart in round 8 to fight back bravely. It was a better round from the Thai and it seemed like he grew in bravery coming out and giving Kono a bit of a battle in round 9, though it looked like Inthanon was a man fighting out of desperation whilst Kono, who was a mile ahead on the cards,
Although Inthanon had had success, from rounds 8 through to 10, it seemed as if Kono had snapped back in to searching for a KO in 11 as dominated Inthanon, though was unable to find a decisive blow that would have finished off the game, but out matched Thai challenger.
Having really gone for it in round 11 it seemed that Kono would again go for a stoppage in round 12. Amazingly however Inthanon refused to buckle and when he needed to he fought back, defying the odds to survive to the final bell and hear the decision, something that seemed remarkable given the beating he had received in the earlier rounds, as well as the championship rounds.
Given the knockdowns and one-sided nature of the bout there was no doubting the scorecards, which had given Inthanon some credit for his bravery in the later rounds, with all 3 reading 119-106 to the Japanese fighter.
Whilst Kono failed to secure a stoppage he was never at risk of losing this one and hopefully a bigger bout will be just around the corner for the popular “Tough Boy”. As for Inthanon he defied the general belief that he would be stopped, though never really seemed competitive here.
*Note- TV Tokyo listed Inthanon as being 43-11-1 (22) entering the bout.
For the first time in history we got the chance to see an All Japanese world title fight take place in the US on Friday night, and we got a treat in a brutal, high paced, all action FOTY contender. And an Upset of the Year contender.
The fight in question saw the criminally under-rated Kohei Kono (31-8-1, 13) shock countryman Koki Kameda (33-2, 18) and retain the WBA Super Flyweight title, whilst potentially setting a big Macau show down.
The bout saw two men, who had been jibing each other for months, go straight to action with both men having a shout to claim an action packed opening round. Despite the great back-and-forth it was clear the referee wasn't going to take any infractions and in round 2 took a point from Kameda for low blows, in a horror round that has also seen him dropped. Another deduction from the challenger was made in round 3 as well and although Kameda was more than holding his own the deductions were certainly not doing him any favours at all.
In the middle the challenger started to set himself. The southpaw bad-boy seemed to manage to hurt the champion, sadly however it was the referee who was beginning to get more attention than the fighters with much being made of Celestino Ruiz's bizarre decisions, which included another deduction in round 9.
Kameda had put a lot into the middle rounds and had failed to make the most of his natural boxing and speed to engage in a war. The decision had been a bad one and in the later rounds his pace began to slow and Kono began to have the fight swing back his way as his energy reserves and toughness took over.
The desire of the champion was simply be too much for the challenger who had fought the wrong fight and had in fact fought his opponents fight. The tactics of Kameda may have made for a great fight, and the terrible officiating of the referee may have been almost inept, but the fight had been thrilling and the wait for the cards was equally so. Thankfully however the judges got it right giving the win to Kono by scores of 113-111, 115-109 an 116-108.
Now there are rumours of Kono looking towards a fight with Rex Tso, however a rematch with Kameda, a unification bout with Naoya Inoue or a clash with interim champion David Sanchez would certainly make interestingly alternatives. For Kameda this hits his dream of becoming a 4-weight world champion, however the performance will likely see fans showing him some respect. Sadly for Kameda however this could well be the sort of result that damages the reputation of the “Kameda Klan” who have now lost 4 fights this year between them, a really worrying figure.
WBA Super Flyweight champion Kohei Kono (30-8-1, 13) successfully recorded the first defence of his title earlier today as he fought to a split decision draw with Dominican slickster Norberto Jimenez (20-8-4, 10). The bout, Kono's first since stopping Denkaosan Kaovichit back in March, saw him defending a world title successfully for the first time, though it has had to come in his second reign.
The “Tough Boy” from Tokyo was forced to chase the faster moving Jimenez around the ring for the most part with the speedy youngster living up to his reputation as a mover, a shaker and a dancer. The movement seem to trouble Kono more than the punches of the challenger though unfortunately the speed difference really help prevent a tear up, though damage was done in the second round with the challenger being cut over the right eye.
Kono's pressing and pressuring began to have success in round 4 though Jimenez managed to answer back with uppercuts of his own, it was however a sign that Kono could cut the distance. He did the same in round 6 as he managed land his powerful right straight though the telling blow in the round was a low blow from Jimenez which saw him being deducted a point.
Through the later middle rounds Jimenez seemed to get back on on his bike and generate the space he needed to get his shots off with out risking himself too much. It was a tactic he knew worked and that's exactly what it did here as he managed to collect a few much needed rounds and slow down the charge of the champion.
The champion continued to try and finish off the challenger in the final rounds but was unable to land the punches needed to stop the Dominican who had a break out performance in some ways though also made himself some enemies with what was at times a performance more about moving than fighting.
At the end the cards were a bit all over the place though the deciding card was the 114-114 that resulted ina draw, an odd card given the point deduction
Sadly for Kono this paints a big bullseye on his back, he is a champion there for the taking, a title that many in the division will view as being easy to win. Of course he's not a poor fighter but he's certainly a beatable one and we'd not be shocked if Hideyuki Ohashi pulled out the stops to get a fight between Kono and either Ryo Matsumoto or Naoya Inoue made for 2015, if Koki Kameda decides to "go another route" now he's fighting in the US.
The highlight of the boxing week took place earlier today at the legendary Korakuen Hall as Japan's very own Kohei Kono (30-8, 13) reclaimed the WBA Super Flyweight title that he lost to Liborio Solis less than a year ago.
Solis, of course, was stripped of the belt prior to his controversial fight with Daiki Kameda, and that had left the title vacant. The WBA had rightfully decided that the way to crown a new champion was to match the top two contenders and that's exactly what they did by matching Kono, #2, with Thai veteran Denkaosan Kaovichit (62-4-1, 26), who was himself ranked #1.
Of course the ranking's don't often tell you the real story of a fighters talent but these two were both bona fide world level fighters, both had been former world champions and both knew that this was their big chance to re-establish themselves on the world stage.
The fight started with both men looking to force their fight. This saw Kaovichit coming forward with a busier work rate, his intentions were clear, he was going to be trying to set a quick pace and rack up the rounds early, as he had done against Kono's compatriot and former rival Nobuo Nashiro last year. Kono however was playing the patient game looking to land his heavier right hands at rather than give away his power for speed. This combination of styles made for some very interesting rounds which could be scored either way depending on whether you preferred work rate or clean accurate punches.
In round 4 the power of Kono was finally felt as he landed a beautiful counter right that dropped Kaovichit hard. The Thai had effectively walked on to the shot, which was one that Kono had been practising through out his training camp. To his credit Kaovichit got to his feet, he was still visibly hurt though had the where with all to see out the round and make his way to the bell.
Despite the knockdown in round 4 Kaovichit did incredibly well in the proceeding rounds seemingly winning both round 5 and round 7 as Kono patiently waited for another chance to land his right hand. There was no sense of urgency in Kono's work just the belief that he was going to get a chance to connect with another big right hand at some point. Though in round 6 the Japanese fighter did land some crisp shots taking advantage of the fact Kaovichit was becoming awfully predictable at times.
Having seemingly known he was up on the cards entering the second half of the fight Kono then took round 7 off. He allowed Kaovichit to do as he wished with little really thrown back in anger. It was a big change from round 6 though it seemed to set up Kaovichit for the fall that was to hit the following round as the Thai was smashed by a stunning right hand that laid him down in round 8. This time the shot was enough to see off the Thai whose career must be all but finished.
Whilst this may be the end for Kaovichit it seems likely to re-ignite Kono's career and a fight with former 3 weight world champion Koki Kameda is looking very likely later this year. Although the Kameda's haven't got a Japanese license right now it's expected that Koki will agree to sign on with another gym for his chance to become Japan's first ever 4 weight world champion on the flipside though Koki will know that he won't be given the "promotional protection" that has helped in some of his more recent bouts. In fact if anything he'll have to fight on a Watanabe show, with Kono being the "home fighter".
(Photo courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
It's all too rare in this sport that we get unification bouts. We as fans, as much as anything else, love them when they come around and wish we'd have more of them.
Less than a week ago it looked nailed on that we would have a unified Super Flyweight champion. The WBA and IBF titles were bound together with Liborio Solis (16-3-1, 7) set to face Daiki Kameda (29-4, 18).
There was just one problem, weight. On Monday Solis, failed to make the Super Flyweight limit. In fact he was closer to the Bantamweight limit than the Super Flyweight limit. This saw Solis stripped of the WBA title and unableto win the IBF belt. Daiki however was eligible still to win the WBA title and unify it with his IBF belt.
Unfortunately for Daiki the weight difference on the scales had multiplied by the time the two men had gotten in to the ring. Daiki, although above the Super Flyweight limit in the ring was physically smaller than Solis who was said to have been around the Lightweight limit.
Sadly for Daiki the weight difference came in to play early on.
The fight began as a phone booth war, a real tear up with both men unloading on each other in the first 3 rounds. There was more action in these 3 rounds than many 12 rounders have combined as both men decided to go to war with each other.
By round 4 the size disadvantage was taking it's toll on Daiki. The Japanese fighter couldn't hurt Solis who took every shot and came back with his own heavier shots. This saw Daiki changing his game plan and trying to box with Solis rather than going to war with him.
Trying to box with Solis didn't really help Daiki who was walked down, hurt and forced to clinch. By now it was clear that Daiki was going to need to move to a third game plan. This involved lots of shoe shining at Solis's body. No shot was going to hurt the Venezuelan but they could catch the judges eye and help Daiki claim the rounds.
By round 9 it seemed like Daiki had the toughness to take the best of Solis shots. He didn't have the fire power to force Solis into thinking twice about letting his hands go however he did have the work rate to make things interesting and the heart to keep going.
It was the heart and toughness of Daiki that was outstanding and in the final 3 rounds he upped his work, his effort and his energy as he tried to close the show and take the championship rounds. Whilst no one would have begrudged him those later rounds it was simply too little too late, he was in a hole and there was no real escape on the cards.
To us it seemed Solis was a clear winner. The cards would have been close, of course they would, Daiki may well have taken 2 of the first 4 and possibly the last 3, but that was about as good as it got for him. He was battered in the middle portion of the bout and rounds 4-9 were clearly Solis's with the Venezuelan having a very good shout to have won the first 3 as well. At best for Daiki we had it a 115-113 loss, at worst it it 117-111 to Solis.
As per usual however the judges saw things very differently to us. They had it, rather remarkably, a split decision. We believe the cards were read out as 115-113, 112-116 and 116-112, though there was confusion with the announcements.
Oddly the reactions of the two fighters were very odd. Solis celebrated as if he had won the lottery or been told he was crowned master of the universe when in fact he had effectively won a fight for naught, he wasn't going to be reinstated by the WBA nor was he to claim the IBF title. Daiki on the other hand looked solemn despite technically retaining his title on a loss.
Interestingly this result has actually set up some very interesting looking possibilities for 2014.
We are likely to see Daiki fighting against Zolani Tete in a defense of the IBF title, that appears to be almost set in stone with Tete claiming a mandatory position this past weekend.
With Solis beating Daiki but unable to make the Super Flyweight limit we'd not be shocked if 2014 brought us a bout between Tomoki Kameda, who retained his WBO Bantamweight belt on this same show, and Solis. It's a bout that allows the Kameda's to gain some form of revenge over Solis and allows Solis a chance to return to Japan for another world title and another decent payday.
The fact the WBA Super Flyweight title is now vacant could also see Koki Kameda aborting plans to fight Anselmo Moreno in a Bantamweight title fight and instead dropping to Super Flyweight. If Koki does that he could potentially be Japan's first ever 4 weight world champion.
One thing is for sure, there was probably more "good" from Solis failing to make weight than their was bad. Sure we failed to have a unified champion but on the other hand we have seemingly gotten a very, very interesting situation.
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.