One of the things that is, unfortunately, universal in boxing are bad decisions. We often see these in high profile fights in the UK, US and Germany who all have a reputation for such things. Sadly however they do happen around the world and today we saw the latest addition to the ever growing list of questionable decisions as Japan's Takuya Kogawa (22-4, 13), pictures, was controversially denied the WBA interim Flyweight title.
Kogawa travelled to Thailand, a country that has been less than friendly to championship level Japanese fighters in the past, and gave his all in a thoroughly compelling contest with Thailand's very own Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep (34-2, 20). It was an effort that should have seen Kogawa claim the belt but some how the judges denied him.
The Japanese challenger started fast. He used his natural hand speed and movement to simply out work Yodmongkol who plodded along with his guard up and. Whilst much of Kogawa's work was blocked enough had gotten through for him to win the round with out much debate. The same also applied in round 2, even though Yodmongkol did manage to find himself landing more than he had in the opening round.
Following the great start of the champion things had began to get interesting and Kogawa was being caught more frequently with some classy punches from Yodmongkol. Whilst the champion was beginning to land the better punches it again seemed to be the work rate of Kogawa that left the lasting impression and not the occasional, albeit heavier, shots of the Thai. It seemed that every time Yodmongkol would land something Kogawa would fire back in a short little flurry of punches that continued to catch the eye.
Through the middle rounds the fight began to change slightly. For the first 4 rounds it was all about Kogawa's high out put against Yodmongkol's heavier though less frequent shots. Kogawa was boxing on the move, creating space with his feet and firing off combinations whilst Yodmongkol applied constant though somewhat ineffective pressure. In round 5 though that pressure began to get him closer to the challenger and the crowd began to encourage their man.
Although behind at the mid way point Yodmongkol seemed a lot fresher than the challenger and in round 7 he began to force his fight on Kogawa. This saw the two men enjoying several exchanges as the fight began to represent more of a toe-to-toe battle than anything else. It was clear that this was what Yodmongkol was going to prefer and what was going to really help him if he was to turn the fight around. Surprisingly however Kogawa's hand speed kept him very much in these exchanges and on numerous occasions he was the one forcing Yodmongkol on to the back foot.
It was clear the pace had increased in round 7 and that Yodmongkol knew he his title was slipping away if things had remained as they were in the first 6 rounds. The Thai continued to up the pace in round 8 and it finally seemed that he was beginning to get the upper hand in the exchanges with the commentators becoming hugely excited at one point with Kogawa forced to take shots. Amazingly though Kogawa recovered and seemed to be on the front foot by the end of the round.
Round 7 and 8 had been great though things were just getting better and in round 9 the pace increased again. This round saw Yodmongkol landing 3 flush shots one after the other and it seemed Kogawa was in trouble for a moment though the Japanese fighter recovered swiftly and fired back in an attempt to say “I've still got more fight in me”. It was a brave effort from Kogawa though one that was probably futile in attempting to win the round even though he did more than just see it out.
Kogawa's work rate was always going to catch up with him eventually and that seemed to happen in round 10 as Yodmongkol came on really strong and Kogawa began to look weary. The sharp combinations from earlier in the fight were starting to look ragged, the footwork was becoming sloppy and the shots that Yodmongkol was landing seemed to hurt Kogawa for the first time. It was a clear Yodmongkol round and it seemed like the beginning of the end for Kogawa who looked like he was on his last legs.
The success of the champion in round 10 was repeated again in round 11 as the Thai continued to come on strong. It was obvious by now that Yodmongkol thought his title was slipping away and that he might even need a stoppage to retain the title. A Japanese fighter's spirit however is hard to break and the round finished with both guys trading shots to the bell as Kogawa summoned up some energy from somewhere.
We have no idea how Kogawa had the gas to finish round 11 so well but he found extra reserves in an amazing round 12. From the opening bell to the final bell Kogawa threw relentlessly his combinations just rained down on Yodmongkol who seemed to have his guard pinned up as a result of the relentless, albeit inaccurate, maelstrom of punches coming from the challenger. For the previous 2 rounds Kogawa had looked spent, like he was running on fumes but in round 12 he looked like the energizer bunny. Yodmongkol did attempt to fire back occasionally and landed some solid shots of his own though they were infrequent and seemed to cause Kogawa to bite down on his gum shield and just unload more shots. It was crazy from the Japanese fighter who was showing his will to win was still there as he went all in.
By the time the final bell came Kogawa must have thrown well in excess of 100 punches in the final round.
Sadly when you fight on foreign soil against the champion you sometimes need a KO for the draw and that seemed to be the case here with Yodmongkol receiving a majority decision win with scores of 114-114, 115-114, 116-113. For purposes of interest, we had it 116-112 Kogawa.
The Japanese fighter had every right to be aggrieved though he seemed too exhausted to even think about complaining. He had put everything in to the fight only to have the judges deny him of a belt he had rightfully deserved. As for Yodmongkol he showed his class and seemed to look like a man who was relieved more than happy. There was little celebration from the champion who went through the formalities and probably thanked his lucky stars for a very debatable and controversial decision.
We know we thought Yodmongkol would retain and we knew the fight would be exciting but we didn't think that Yodmongkol would be so lucky or that the fight would be THIS good. If you missed it, you missed a thriller.
(Picture courtesy of Miyata Gym)
Earlier this year Koki Eto (14-3-1, 10) impressed us all as he went to war with Thailand's Kompayak Porpramook and put on one of the most impressive performances of the year. Having traveled from Japan to Thailand for that fight Eto looked like the man who had been able to conquer the harsh Thai conditions.
In the process of his victory over Porpramook Eto had claimed the WBA interim Flyweight title and become the first Japanese born fighter to claim a world title in Thailand.
Earlier today however Eto got a real wake up call as returned to Thailand to make the first defense of his title and fought Yodmongkol CP Freshmart (33-2, 20).
The fight started well for the challenger who applied intelligent pressure and looked like a man with a statement to make. He was forced to take some shots in return, especially to the body, though never looked bothered by them as he kept coming forward and kept landing the cleaner better shots.
Despite the great opening round for Yodmongkol it seemed that the champion managed to find his way in to things in the second as his body attack become more notable. Unfortunate for Eto however it seemed that his shots simply couldn't discourage Yodmongkol who was landing heavy shots of his own.
The heavy artillery of Yodmongkol rocked Eto hard in round 3 as the Japanese fighter was surprisingly shaken. It didn't take long for him to recuperate but it was still a shock given the fact he took the best shots of Porpramook with out ever looking shaken. By now it was plainly obvious that Yodmongkol hit harder than his record indicated and that Eto wasn't the same fighter who had fought Porpramook.
Eto managed to finally have some success in round 5, his first round on my card, as his body shots began to connect on a regular basis. By the end of the round they appeared like they were taking their effect on Yodmongkol who slowed notably in the final minute or so of the round.
Just as soon as Eto's fightback began it was over as he was dropped very early in round 6. He didn't appear that hurt but it was a clear knockdown from a hard left hook as Eto left himself open. The Japanese fighter was now in a big hole and he knew it as he attempted to over-come the knockdown and moved up a gear. Unfortunately for Eto much of his work was now becoming sloppy and rushed, missing by a mile and further tiring him out as panic began to set in.
Amazingly round 7 saw Eto's work paying off as Yodmongkol did little more than cover up for large portions of the round. It suddenly looked like the Thai was tired and that Eto was about to turn it around. Unfortunately for Eto however his accuracy, or rather lack of, was destroying his own success as he missed time and time again.
Eto's failure to really make the most of his opening in round 7 was repeated the following round as Yodmongkol was again conservative. Despite Eto throwing many more shots he was unable to clearly out land the Thai who was picking his spots excellently and landing the crisper and cleaner punches time and time again. Whatever had forced Yodmongkol to cover up in the seventh was no longer an issue.
By the end of round 9 what ever mini-crisis Yodmongkol had been in was a distant memory as he took the best shots of Eto and landed his own in return. By now it was a case that Eto would need a knockout to retain but he had never managed to visibly hurt Yodmongkol who had managed to shake and drop Eto earlier in the fight.
Although it was Eto needing a stoppage it was Yodmongkol who was looking like the only man likely to score one, as shown in round 11 as he repeatedly shook Eto. By now the only thing keeping the fight going was Eto's heart and toughness. The competitiveness had completely gone from the action and it started to become a beat down by the Thai. Unfortunately for the long term career of Eto he refused to go down and tried to fight back keeping the referee from calling a halt to the proceedings.
The twelfth round saw Yodmongkol taking the decision out of the referees hands. The Japanese fighter was rocked again and this time when he tried to fire back he was caught by another shot scrambling his senses, one shot later Eto hard crashed to the canvas face first and out for the count.
Having lost both his title, the WBA interim Flyweight title, and his senses it may be a very long time before Eto really recovers from this loss which was painful and career shortner. Against Porpramook Eto had looked like a busy, talented, tough fighter who could take it as well as he could dish it out and like a man who could box when he wanted and brawl when he needed. Today however he looked like a man who has forgotten the basics about the sport, forgot about breaking up his brawling with his boxing and looked like a man feeling over-confident.
Whilst we could berate the accuracy and lack of boxing intelligence of Eto it seems much fairer to actually congratulate Yodmongkol. The 22 year old looks like he could b a very difficult man to take the title from. Like many top Thai's he looks very strong at the weight, very tough and has very under-rated technical skills. Sure he looks like he can be out boxed but he also looks like he can grind out many top fighters. This kid could well keep this title for a very longtime if he doesn't burn out.
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.