Last year we saw Daniel Roman (24-2-1, 9) claim the WBA Super Bantamweight title with a stoppage win over the previously unbeaten Shun Kubo in Kyoto. Today he returned to Japan to defend his title against the touted Ryo Matsumoto (21-2, 19) [松本亮], who was stepping up for his first world title bout.
The fight started pretty competitively, with Roman bringing the pressure and Matsumoto needing to respond to it. The Japanese fighter landed some good body shots, but seemed to be out worked, out landed and in same ways out though by Roman, who used a good solid jab and clever footwork to cut the distance against the taller man. The success of Roman continued through the fight, with a lot of close rounds, but a lot of rounds where he simply did a bit more than Matsumoto, who looked to land single shots, namely the jab up top and the left hand to the body. Roman however had more variation to his work, the jab, the right hand over the top, and the body shots.
Although Roman seemed to be doing the better work, there was a lot of competitive action and Matsumoto did more than hold his own in a number of rounds, including round 3, which was one of his best rounds. The problem for him is that Roman really didn't seem to feel his power, and kept coming forward, even the big shots of Matsumoto seemed to be taken with ease from Roman.
In the middle rounds we saw some great trading sequences, as Matsumoto started to hold his ground more, and even when he was backed up he was letting his hands go a bit more often, as he did from the ropes in round 7. Though by being backed up so frequently he was making life a little bit too easy for the judges, who were always going to favour the aggression of the champion over the challenger's shots on the retreat.
In round 8 Matsumoto had another of his stronger rounds, landing some big body shots, though Roman continued to take them well. The champion did seem to feel them more than once, but only needed a second or two before returning fire and putting Matsumoto under pressure again, likely stealing the round with a late assault.
Matsumoto even tried to change his tactics late on, pressing Roman backwards, and whilst he had success at times he couldn't keep it up for long, with Roman turning the pressure around and forcing Matsumoto backwards. It was keeping the fight competitive on a round by round basis, but with Roman always just doing a touch more when he came forward, and seemingly always looking like the man who knew when, and how, to step up the pace. This certainly seemed to be the case in rounds 9, 10 and 11, with Matsumoto looking like he was having good rounds until Roman turned the pressure up and fought back.
The final round was one where Roman really stepped back on the gas from the off. It was as if he was thinking “if all the close rounds go to the challenger, I really might need to make a statement here”. He went out hunting a KO and forced a real fight, with both men taking some huge shots ina thrilling back and forth round, despite being back and forth it was clear that Roman was getting a lot more to land than Matsumoto, who had to reset more often, and backed off during key exchanges.
In there end there was no doubting the winner, and that was shown on the scores cards which read 119-109, twice and 118-108. The fight could have been scored closer, and Matsumoto certainly didn't disgrace himself, but he was the clear loser. Sadly though the score cards make the bout look like a near whitewash, which doesn't reflect the competitiveness of the bout, despite being pretty cards.
(Image courtesy of Daily.co.jp)
After a great start to 2017 for Japanese boxing it seems like the seams are slowly coming apart with a number of high profile losses all coming one after the other in recent weeks, with losses for Shinsuke Yamanaka, to Luis Nery, Yoshihiro Kamegai, to Miguel Cotto, and today we saw Shun Kubo (12-1, 9) [久保隼] suffer his own high profile loss, and lose the WBA Super Bantamweight title in his first defense.
The Shinsei Gym fighter won the title earlier this year, beating veteran Nehormar Cermeno, and immediately planned for today's defense against American Daniel Roman (23-2-1, 9). That planning didn't really seem to help today against a fighter who seemed so much more determined and hungry than Kubo, and looked like a fighter who was much more naturally composed and relaxed in the ring, even under fire.
The first round was a feeling out round, and it saw Kubo getting the upperhand as he used his reach and southpaw stance to control the distance and range behind his jab and stiff left hand. It was a round for the champion in terms of the scorecards, but gave the challenger a lot of details on how Kubo handled pressure, and what his power was like. In the second round Roman began to get more aggressive with his scouting, and apply more pressure. He was forced to eat some very solid left hands as a result, but never looked phased by them, as his engine moved up a gear.
Round 3 and 4 both saw Roman begin to take over the fight. He was a lot less passive with his pressure than he had been and really fired off up close. Kubo did respond at times, and landed some eye catching shots to head and body, but could never discourage Roman and instead it was Kubo who looked to be the one backing off from an exchange. Whilst it was clear Kubo wanted range he never managed to back off and establish it, instead he backed off, and was quickly walked down, again and again. It wasn't until round 5 that Roman showed any signs of slowing, but that was a round where chinks in Kubo became even more glaring, as even when he looked settled he couldn't ever gather his composure in the way Roman did.
The pressure seemed to wane in round 6 until towards the end of the round when Roman clearly hurt Kubo, rocking him hard before the bell seemed to save the now deflated champion. Kubo's body language at the end of the round seemed to be that of a beaten man. Despite looking mentally beaten he went out for round 7, and that was something special with Roman jumping on Kubo almost instantly and going to work on the champion, Kubo looked helpless before being dropped and in other countries that could have been the end. Roman then unloaded as Kubo tried to fire back, with the referee getting several chances to stop the contest. Amazingly after several waves of punishment from Roman Kubo looked alive, and started firing back, with bad intent, drawing loud applause from the crowd, who seemed to be won over by the local man's heart and desire.
Round 8 again saw the crowd getting behind their man, as they tried to re-energise him and help him build some momentum. He tried hard to get things going but in the end Roman's pressure told and just before the bell he was down again.
Now clearly ahead on the cards Roman could afford to take his foot off the gas, but chose not to, instead hunting the stoppage. That stoppage would come following a prolonged assault on Kubo who was out on his feet and unable to fire back, completely worn down and broken up by the pressure.
With the 9th round TKO win under his belt Roman stayed in the ring and gave an interview for the fans, who showed their respect to the new champion, who himself came across as a classy, smart and talented fighter, giving Kubo and the local fans credit. Given the performance he will almost certainly be invited back to Japan to face some of the other Japanese fighters at Super Bantamweight, potentially Tomoki Kameda, Hinata Maruta or Yusaku Kuga. If he wants to fight in the US and defend his title at home we hope fans tune in as he's a really exciting and personable fighter as he showed in this win today, his biggest win so far.
For Kubo it's back to the drawing board. At 27 he has time to bounce back, but needs to really work on his composure in the ring and keeping his confidence, which has been questioned in the past. He's a skilled fighter, but does seem to lack the mental belief and and doesn't have the defense or the power to reclaim a title unless he seriously tweaks his styles. Saying that his fight back in rounds 7 and 8 were great, and for that he deserves serious credit, there is a real gutsy fighter there, but one who perhaps needs more time to develop than he was given, as Shinsei seeked an immediate replacement at the top of their stable for Hozumi Hasegawa.
Every fighter who goes on to major success has their coming of age bout, and today we saw Shun Kubo (12-0, 9) [久保隼] come of age as he claimed the WBA Super Bantamweight "regular" title and forced the retirement of Veneuelan veteran Nehomar Cermeno (26-6-1-1, 15), in what was a brilliant tactical bout between two highly skilled fighters at different stages of their careers.
In their ring walks Kubo looked like a nervous child, a man taking a massive step into the unknown and moving into world class for the first time. Cermeno on the other hand looked calm, calculated and relaxed. Like a man who had been here and done this before. Despite their ring walks it was Kubo who got off to a good start, boxing at his tempo and cautiously picking Cermeno apart with accurate left hands to the head and body of the defending champion. Cermeno looked old and slow during the round, but refused to just hand over his title, and in round 2 the visitor had some genuine moments.
The challenger reasserted himself with a very good round 3, as he out sped, out boxed and out landed the champion, who took some meaty body shots from the patient and cautious challenger. It was the perfect round from Kubo but one that may have left him with a false sense of security with Cermeno upping his pressure in round 4 and giving Kubo a scare or two, despite the fact that Cermeno suffered a notable cut on his right cheek, a result of the straight left hands Kubo was landing. The round was a close one,and one that showed Cermeno was dangerous, despite being behind on the cards.
Kubo took back total control in round 5, as he used his speed and size to land at range on Cermeno, who looked like an old man in there. Although Kubo was the boss Cermeno landed a right hand late in the round to remind Kubo that he was still there. Kubo'sclean accurate punching was again on show in round 6, as he landed some devastating body shots, seemingly hurting Cermeno at one point. Although Kubo landed the better shots through the round Cermeno managed to end the round with some success as he began to force a brawl on Kubo.
Although well behind on the cards there was a sense that Cermeno was a dangerous fighter. That proved to be the case in round 7 when he gave everyone a serious scare. Part way through the round he seriously shook up Kubo with a right hand. The challenger tried to hold and spoil but was eventually dropped as Cermeno went for the challenger. Kubo got to his feet but was hurt again in the final seconds of the round and it suddenly seemed like Kubo's great work was going to come un-done.
Thankfully for the challenger he managed to hear the bell to end the round, though he did come out for round 8 looking unsure of himself and it took much of the round before he managed to reassert himself on the fight. When he did finally refind his feet however Kubo looked just as confident as he had earlier in the fight,and was bouyed further by a loud "Kubo" chant. The chant helped Kubo re-energise but Cermeno still seemed to feel he had a chance and had s respectable round 9.
Cermeno, surely aware that he was behind on the cards, came out for round 10 in an aggressive fashion and seemed to be sent out with a mission. It was a good round for the veteran, and one where he again seemed to hurt the challenger, but Kubo showed his mettle and came through the slight scare to have some success late in the round, possibly stealing the round.
Going into the championship rounds it seemed like we still had a finely balanced fight. Kubo was surely well up on the score cards, but Cermeno had hurt him more than once and looked to be a veteran with the ability to turn it on late. Surprisingly however Cermeno stayed in his corner after the bell to start round 11, technically retiring 5 seconds into the round to hand Kubo the title!
For Cermeno the retirement likely spells the end of his long career. For Kubo it puts him in the mix for major bouts down the line as the champion, and also sees him adding his name to the top Japanese fighters in a division packed with fighters from the Land of the Rising sun. A match up against IBF champion Yukinori Oguni may well be considered, but bouts against the likes of Ryosuke Iwasa, Tomoki Kameda, Shingo Wake and Yusaku Kuga will all be plausible all-Japanese bouts. Likewise a show down with the winner of the upcoming Guillermo Rigondeaux vs Moises Flores bout could also be an interesting assignment for Kubo. The win also sees Kubo moving one step further to becoming he Shinsei gym replacement for Hozumi Hasegawa, who retired late last year.
Earlier this year we saw Chinese hopeful Qiu Xiao Jun (21-4, 10) come up short in his first world title fight, suffering a 12th round TKO loss to veteran Nehomar Cermeno (26-5-1-1, 15) in a bout for the then vacant WBA Super Bantamweight title. Yesterday the two men met in a rematch, with Jun looking to claim the title at his second attempt and the talented, but often under-rated, Cermeno.
From the off we saw an improved Jun, as if the local star has been working hard in training to correct some of the defensive errors that had cost him in the first bout with Cermeno. Despite those improvements he was struggling to cope with Cermeno's clean and quicker blows, with the champion often landing the better shots and the cleaner counters.
Although Jun was applying pressure through much of the fight he never seemed to hurt Cermeno with any regularity, as he would if he was going to be able to defeat the Venezuelan. Jun refused to back down from the fight, and tried to come on strong in the later rounds but hadn't done enough to over-come the more naturally skilled and capable Cermeno.
Although Jun had put up a good effort, and did have home advantage, and left Cermeno with a cash on his right cheek, he seemed to know he hadn't done enough to earn the win. That was shown on the score cards that favoured Cermeno with scores of 118-110 and 117-111, twice.
For Cermeno the win ends a brilliant year which has seen him return with 3 wins in China after having had his career written off and although Jun was beaten again here the Chinese fighter showed enough improvement to suggest that he has a bright future ahead of him and will be able to bounce back, possibly winning a world title in the future.
Just moments ago Chinese fans had the chance to see a WBA Super Bantamweight title fight, that ended with a 3rd round KO win for defending champion Nehomar Cermeno (25-5-1-1, 15) as he stopped previously unbeaten Thai Nop Kratingdaenggym (17-1, 5) [ณพ ฐิติพงศกร] and continued his career run in China, where he is now 2-0 (2).
Cermeno had won the title earlier this year in China, when he stopped Qiu Xiao Jun in the 12th round, to put his career back on the map after a period in the proverbial boxing wilderness. Although the bout had been a bit of an upset, especially given that Cermeno had been inactive and was much older than Jun, he was favoured to retain his title here against Nop who was stepping up massively in class. That step up was unfortunately too much for the Thai.
Nop started the fight fine and actually seemed to be giving Cermeno some, albeit limited, problems with his speed and energy. The first round was relatively even and so to was the second with Nop giving a solid account of himself in the early stages. Although Nop wasn't looking out classed it did seem like he was putting more into things than Cermeno who looked like he was happy to cruise in first gear and see what the Thai had in his arsenal.
In round 3 Cermeno began to up the ante and when he did that Nop seemed unable to cope, almost freezing after being tagged. A combination from the Venezuelan veteran dropped the Thai who failed to recover and looked in agony in his corner some facial swelling.
With the win Cermeno opens up doors to either continue in Asia, possibly fighting in China again next year, or could potentially look to get big fights in the west, maybe even finishing a trilogy with Anselmo Moreno, who has stated he is moving to 122lbs. There are options out there for Cermeno, but his low reward status may make him a champion that some would rather avoid.
For Nop he took an opportunity to fight for a world title and came up short, the suggestion is that he wouldn't ever win a world title and he'd have been stupid turn this opportunity down. Sadly though it's hard to imagine him developing enough to ever be able to compete properly at this level and he will likely drop back down to PABA level and notch up a long winning run before getting another shot by a champion looking for an easy defense.
Over the last decade or so Chinese boxing has been growing, markedly, with a number of Chinese fighters getting attention in the West including the gigantic Taishan Dong, the heavy handed Zhang Junlong and former amateur star Zou Shiming. We have also seen a number of Chinese fighters fight for world titles including the aforementioned Shiming and Ik Yang.
Today we saw another Chinese fighter fighting for a world title, Super Bantamweight Qiu Xiao Jun (20-3, 9), who was regarded by those in China as potentially their best hope for a world title in the coming years. Jun was hoping to become the second Chinese man to become a world champion as he took on Panamanian based Venezuelan veteran Nehomar Cermeno (24-5-1, 14) for the vacant WBA Super Bantamweight title.
On paper Jun had most the advantages. He was fighting at home in China, he was 11 years younger than Cermeno and the rising star of Chinese boxing. Sadly for Jun the advantages didn't really help him as the Chinese slugger was made to look rudimentary through out, with Cermeno, the more polished fighter, picking him off with counters through out.
The bout started slowly but by round 2 it was clear that Cermeno was the much more skilled man and the man who looked in control, scoring a flash knockdown in the second. From then on Jun seemed to really struggle to get into a rhythm or find his range with shots regularly falling wide or going over Cermeno's head whilst Cermeno, the more conservative fighter, was landing counters at will.
In the middle rounds Jun tried to turn the bout around by picking up the pace and forcing Cermeno to work more,that plan however made life easier for Cermeno who found more openings and landed more and more frequently whilst Jun struggled to have any notable success.
Despite the bout being one sided for the most part it did seem like we were on route to a decision, that was until round 12 when Cermeno seemed to stagger a tired looking Jun who failed to respond. A follow up forced the referee to stop the Chinese warrior, who was looking completely spent, despite not going down.
The skill level between the two was huge and although Jun did give it a go he was never really in the fight. Sadly for Chinese boxing this loss comes on the back of other high profile losses for Chinese fighters, including Zou Shiming's loss to Amnat Ruenroeng, Ik Yang's loss to Cesar Rene Cuenca and Xiong Zhao Zhong's recent loss to Jose Antonio Jimenez.
The bad run for Chinese boxing will continue here, but it does seem like the country is on the verge of a boxing revolution. Whether that takes 10, 15 or 20 years it will happen given the growth in the sport. Sadly for Jun it's back to the drawing board.
The final bout of 2014 took place in Osaka a few hours ago when Cuban sensation Guillermo Rigondeaux (15-0, 10) successfully defended his WBO and WBA "super" Super Bantamweight titles in what may go down as being one of his most memorable, exciting and interesting bouts. In fact it was a bout that may have seen Rigondeaux retain his titles but suddenly look beatable, fallible and flawed with serious question marks arising about his durability.
The bout was a supposed mismatch as the talented Cuban battled against unheralded Japanese fighter Hisashi Amagasa (28-5-2, 19). Rigondeaux was a 1/100 favourite. On paper it was a show case bout for the Cuban against an opponent who was bigger than him but open, an opponent that really was expected to be made for him to counter, break up and use as a human punch bag. Instead what we ended up with was an entertaining, though relatively 1-sided, affair that had drama in the middle of it and really grotesque and nasty damage done to the challenger.
Early on Amagasa looked hungry and he effectively ran over to Rigondeaux, swung his shots and fought as if he felt he would need to stop Rigondeaux early to have any chance. It was an entertaining start by the challenger, who seemed to have more intent than the last 2 challengers of Rigondeaux's. Sadly for Amagasa it wasn't long before Rigondeaux turned the tables and started making the challenger look clumsy whilst picking him off with his speed and accuracy. The way the Cuban turned the bout around was beautiful in some ways though unfortunately he managed to take what was beautiful and make it dull as he began circling around the ring and using his feet to avoid a fight whilst continuing to pick the Japanese fighter.
Whilst Rigondeaux was too fast his style was frustrating to watch, thankfully Amagasa did occasionally get into range and have success. those moments were few and far between but made it obvious that the challenger wasn't just there to be a showcase foe, he was there to win.
Late in round 7 we had a huge momentum shift as Rigondeaux was caught by a counter right hand from the Japanese fighter and dropped. It was a shock considering how much Amagasa had struggled to land anything clean and it seemed to even shock Amagasa who ran over to the corner to celebrate, unfortunately however Rigondeaux was quickly back to his feet. A follow up attack saw Rigondeaux being bundled down and the referee ruling it a knockdown, Rigondeaux was still groggy but it was far from a legitimate knockdown, it did however result in a 10-7 round.
Amagasa trying to build on his success in round 8 but sadly Rigondeaux managed to recover his sense and by the end of the round the Cuban was back in charge. In round 9 Rigondeaux further reestablished himself as he scored a knockdown of his own and from then on it seemed he was in complete control whilst Amagasa's face began to swell quickly, breaking up after every puncher of Rigondeaux's. Sadly the swelling become more and more grotesque and by the end of round 11 he looked like a extra from a horror movie with what appeared to be a broken cheekbone, a broken jaw and a broken orbital bone. Rightfully he stayed in the corner and accepted defeat rather than have his already broken face further damaged.
We hope we get to see Amagasa back in the ring next year, but the damage done here may well leave him on the shelf for a very long time and even if he returns the chances are he will never be the same. He can take heart from his effort, which was great, but that effort almost certainly cost him long term. Despite the loss we want to thank Amagasa for putting up an amazing effort full of courage even in the most serious of adversity, we're sure he made some new fans with this performance.
In 2013 Nihito Arakawa made a name for himself on the international stage when he went to war with Omar Figueroa. Prior to that fight Arakawa was hardly known outside of Japan though he left that fight as a man known for his insane toughness and heart. In 2014 it seems another Japanese fighter has done the same, as Hidenori Otake (22-2-3, 9) proved his toughness on route to a clear loss to Britain's Scott Quigg (30-0-2, 22) in a WBA Super Bantamweight title fight.
From the opening round it seemed clear that the two men were on different levels with Quigg showing a better variety of shots, more power and better technique than Otake. What Otake showed however was no sense of fear or intimidation and even when Quigg landed his trademark left hook to the body Otake seemed to shrug it off and come forward with tireless effort. Unfortunately for Otake his skills weren't able to make his toughness or work rate and all too often he found his shots hitting air or the arms of Quigg who showed great defense and movement.
The first 4 rounds or so were dominated by the fast action of both men as they stood in front of each other and let their hands go without thinking too much about boxing. It was a high octane all action start to the fight though a start that was clearly a better one from Quigg, despite the fact Otake was often the man bringing the action.
In the middle of the contest the action changed somewhat. We we from the toe-to-toe action to seeing Quigg get on his toes and box a bit. This saw the champion really easing his way through the middle rounds and showing his extra class as Otake hit the air and took hard counters in return for his misses. It was again showing off Otake's toughness and work rate though certainly showed his technical limitations as he chased Quigg rather than cut the ring off.
At the end of round 9 Otake's eye was beginning to show signs of damage, the result of the clean shots to the head that he was being forced to take. In the following round the cut was worsened by a slicing uppercut from Quigg that left Otake with a cut above his right eye. The cut seemed to give the doctors a reason to stop the bout though they rightfully allowed it to continue noting the cut wasn't a fight ending one, especially not in a world title contest.
Whilst the cut could have discouraged the Japanese warrior it actually seemed to just drive him on more than ever and he upped his work rate attempting to try and break Quigg down. Sadly Otake was unable to really land too many clean shots on the Brit but he did manage to force the unbeaten champion to work extremely hard in what were some very exciting championship rounds.
At the end of the contest there was no doubting the winner. Quigg had taken everything Otake had and came back with interest landing the better, sharper and more eye catching shots and was a worthy winner with cards that read 118-110 and 119-109, twice,, however Otake had impressed and given a fantastic account of himself in his first bout on foreign soil.
It's fair to suggest that this was Otake's one big chance at a world title and although he came up short we do hope that fans from the UK will remember the gutsy warrior from Tokyo who we suspect will, sadly, fade back into relative obscurity on the Japanese domestic scene.
Sometimes the most significant fight on a show isn't actually the "main event" and that was the case today in Macau as Zou Shiming headlined the card with his fight against Luis Dela Rosa whilst the most significant bout was the Super Bantamweight title fight between Cuban sensation Guillermo Rigondeaux (14-0, 9) and Thailand's Sod Kokietgym (63-3-1, 28).
The bout, widely viewed as a mismatch of giant proportions, went the way many expected with Rigondeaux retaining his title though there was certainly an air of controversy surrounding the ending of the contest.
After 80 seconds of the fight starting there was a major headclash which saw Sod dropping to the canvas hard. It was a clear headclash and a hard one even though Sod wasn't left bloodied he was certainly groggy. Sadly the referee failed to give Sod reasonable time to recover from the accidental foul.
Moments after being told to continue Sod went to touch gloves though was caught by a hard left that sent him down hard. He was up at 9 though still groggy, a combination of both the stunning left hand and the head clash, and the referee waved off the bout immediately much to the anger of Sod who felt he had been sucker punched.
Whilst few will make a fuss about the ending, and in fact many will suggest that Sod should have "defended himself at all times", it still won't have done Rigondeaux any favours despite the result being very impressive. It was, as we suggested, a lose-lose situation for Rigondeaux especially if you, like Sod, feel Rigondeaux delivered a sucker punch.
Whilst some fans will have loved the "nasty side" of Rigondeaux others will have questioned the need for the shot that finished off Sod. Some will certainly suggest that Rigondeaux deprived us of a fight, though it was a fight that many didn't want to see anyway and we dare say some people just want to complain.
(Image courtesy of Top Rank)
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.