Earlier today in Thailand we saw the first Thai of 2021 thanks to TL Promotions and their "The Fighter" series of shows. The card wasn't a massive one, but was an interesting one with a major, albeit very faded, name in the main event taking on a man some see as part of the future of the Thai boxing scene.
That main event saw former IBF Flyweight king Amnat Ruenroeng (21-5, 6), best known for his wins against the likes of Zou Shiming, Kazuto Ioka and Johnriel Casimero, battling against the promising Arnon Yupang (7-1, 3). Up for grabs, for the winner, was the vacant WBA Asia South Featherweight title.
From the off it was clear this wasn't going to be the most entertaining bout we'd ever see. It was cagey from the off with neither man in a rush to take risks. The caginess was likely to suit Amnat, who has made a career out of being cagey, and dirty, but it was actually Yupang who made the most of things. He was the quicker man, the younger man, and the sharper man. That speed and youth allowed him to land single shots and get away before Amnat caught him with anything too serious.
To his credit Amnat looked the stronger man, the powerful man and the bigger man. He also looked the more willing to press and pressure, but at 41 years old his tired body couldn't keep up the intensity for long and when the two men did let their hands go for something resembling an exchange it was Yupang who was out landing his man in terms of volume.
Through the first 6 rounds neither man was hurt, though at the very start of round 7 a huge counter left hook from Yupang dropped the former champion. Sadly due to Thairath showing replays from the previous round the knockdown wasn't shown live, and it wasn't until the end of the round that we got to fully understand why Amnat was on the canvas. To his credit, once again, Amnat didn't seem too badly hurt and got to his feet before taking the fight to Yupang, but it was clearly a 10-8 round for the younger man.
Yupang continued to use his speed in the final rounds, not letting Amnat lure him into anything stupid.
After 10 rounds we went to the scorecards, and whilst we didn't get the scoring specifics, Yupang was announced the winner, and the new champion.
Interestingly Yupang is now a 2-time WBA Asia South Featherweight champion, first winning the title in July 2020 when he beat Inthanon Sithchamuang, but lost just weeks after winning it. This time around he'll be hoping for a much longer reign.
Despite the loss Amnat showed that he can continue to be matched at this level, even at 41, and we're really hoping he doesn't call it a day. Instead we're hoping that he takes on more aggressive fighters, which allows him to use some of tricks, rather than younger, faster, speedy boxers like Yupang.
Back in January MTK Global announced a series of shows taking place in Dubai under their "Dubai Fight Series". One of the most interest parts of the announcement was that Filipino legend Donnie Nietes (42-1-5, 23) was set to fight on the third of those shows, set for April 3rd, though he had no opponent named at the time of the announcement.
The bout was set to be the first for Nietes since his split decision win over Kazuto Ioka at the very end of 2018, which saw him win the WBO Super Flyweight title.
The win over Ioka saw Nietes become only the third man in history to win world titles at 105lbs, 108lbs, 112lbs and 115lbs, following Leo Gamez and Roman Gonzalez. Sadly however the Filipino star failed to build on that win, vacating the title and later becoming a free agent, when ALA Gym Closed it's doors last year. That later lead him to signing with D4G Promotions and MTK, hence him being placed on the April show.
Today we finally found out who Nietes would be facing in April, with Ian Melodillar informing us that Nietes would be up against the unbeaten Orlando Penalba (10-, 2), from Panama,
Given he's been out of the ring for more than 2 years we weren't expecting anyone too notable for Nietes here, but we'll admit that Penalba isn't someone we're too familiar with. What is known is that he's a 27 year old, dubbed "El Jaguar", who has never previously fought outside of Panama. So far he's yet to face a recognisable opponent, though he has taken the 0's of Angel Mojica, then 5-0, and Keiver Fernandez, then 20-0-1. He has also picked up the WBO Latino Super Flyweight title. Those wins have done enough to earn him world rankings with the WBO (#13) and WBA (#15), at Super Flyweight.
From the footage of him that's out there he doesn't look too spectacular, though he certainly knows his way around the ring, has a nice jab and decent speed. Sadly though he has been fighting at such a low level that it's hard to read much into his performances so far.
Given Penalba's world rankings a win over him would move Nietes towards a world title fight, however the Filipino is now 38, and that's ancient for a fighter in the lower weights, and he is also coming into the ring after more than 2 years away, so it is very hard to know what he has in the tank. If he's half the fighter he once was he should win this easily, but that is, of course, a big "if".
Earlier today the East Japan boxing Association held their latest general meeting, and it was one that had several notable, albeit relatively minor, stories emerge.
First the Association will begin to set up a external councilor system. This will, essentially, be an independent 5 person body who will be responsible for the hiring and firing of directors and secretaries, as well as the remuneration rates paid to directors and chairman. In the past this has been done internally but the idea to essentially out source it has been done with the aim of improving fairness and transparency. This system is likely to go into force from April.
There was also apologies made in regards to the recent "LEGEND" show, which took place on the same day as a scheduled Champion Carnival bout. There had been a lack of explanation as to why the events were held on the same day, and it was clear there was some frustration with the scheduling of "LEGEND", which was a charity event. Sadly there wasn't really an explanation given for the clash, but there was apologies made for the over-lap.
On the subject of "LEGEND" it's been revealed that the Ohashi Gym, who had a number of fighters involved on the show, have donated ¥5,000,000 to the association from the show. Donations are also expected to be made from the Watanabe Gym, World Sports Gym and Hanagata Gym. The Association will announce the total amount donated in the future, as well as the destination for the money.
Earlier today it was announced by the East Japan Boxing Association Toru Abe had passed away due to a spinal epidural abscess, at the age of 62.
Although not a notable figure internationally Abe had been a significant figure in Japanese boxing for years, acting as both a key figure of the Japanese Professional Boxing Association (JPBA) and a gym chairman.
Abe had become the second chairman of the Abe Gym in 1992, when he took over the gym following his father's death. He had focused much of his time and effort on developing and training fighters at the gym but also went on to contribute a lot of time and energy to the success of the JPBA, where he served as a director. He was also the Chairman of the Champion Carnival Steering Committee, that essentially decided on the direction of the Champion Carnival.
In 2020 Abe retired from a number of his roles, but still remained a popular and respected figure among those in Japanese boxing.
We would like to send our thoughts to Mr Abe's friends and family.
Tomorrow in General Santos City we'll get the chance to see IBF Minimumweight champion Pedro Taduran (14-2-1, 11) defending his title against fellow Filipino Rene Mark Cuarto (18-2-2, 11), in a rare all-Filipino world title bout.
Today the two men took part in their weight in for the contest, and neither man had any issues with the 105lb Minimumweight limit.
The champion was the lighter man on the scales, hitting them at 104lbs exactly, a full 1lb under the maximum allowed. He was out-weighed by the challenger, who hit the limit at 105lbs exactly.
For Taduran this bout will be his second defense, and he will be looking to build on his 2019 title win, against Samuel Salva, and his disappointing 2020 defense against Daniel Valladares, which ended in a technical draw after a headclash forced an early conclusion to a contest that was just starting to warm up. It was an unfortunate ending to the bout, and hopefully we will get to see the two men fight again one day.
As for Cuarto this is his first world title bout, and is, on paper, his toughest bout to date. Despite that he will feel he's as ready as he can be for a bout like this and it'll be great to see if he can raise his game to match the high profile of this bout. He should be regarded as the under-dog but will certainly be a live under-dog and the man looking to step out from the shadows of other Filipino fighters at 105lbs.
Interestingly this is the second "all Filipino world title bout" of the month, following the "we don't know which version" of the WBA Minimimweight title bout, between Vic Saludar and Robert Paradero. On paper this one seems to have the ingredients to be a very, very explosive encounter, and is set to be streamed online via the Powcast YouTube channel.
Related - Taduran takes on Cuarto in All-Filipino world title fight!
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