Earlier today it was announced that unbeaten Japanese fighter Kazuto Ioka (14-0, 9) was set to vacate his WBA Light Flyweight title.
Ioka, pictured, may only have 14 fights under his belt but he has already become a 2-weight world champion and unified world titles. He now seems set to turn his attention to the incredibly packed Flyweight division which features more top class fighters than any other division on the planet.
Prior to vacating Ioka had made 3 defenses of the Light Flyweight title after having previously unified WBC and WBA belts at Minimumweight showing his world class ability in the process.
Upon vacating his Light Flyweight title Ioka requested the WBA to rank him at Flyweight giving him an opportunity to fight for a third divisional world title in his first fight in his new division.
This move has come as a bit of a surprise. Just weeks ago it seemed likely that Ioka was wanting either a unification fight or a bout with WBA #1 ranked Randy Petalcorin. Whilst we knew he was going to move up to 112lbs at some point it seemed like something that would have made more sense had he waited a little longer, especially when you consider just how easily he made weight for his most recent bout.
With Flyweight being a very tough division we'd expected to see in at least 1 if not 2 or 3 bouts to allow him to settle at the weight. There is no easy title there and no obvious champion for him to aim for now that former foe Akira Yaegashi is lined up to fight Roman Gonzalez.
(Picture courtesy of Ioka gym, shows Kazuto landing a right hand on Jose Alfredo Rodriguez in the fight that saw Ioka winning the 108lbs title)
World ranked Filipino Jimrex Jaca (39-7-3, 22) saw an 11 fight winning streak come to an end earlier today as he was stopped in Japan by the big punching Shinya Iwabuchi (23-4, 19).
The bout, the main event of "Dangan 94", saw Jaca starting very well and in fact he managed to score a knockdown early in the fight. Unfortunately for the Filipino he was unable to keep up his early success and Iwabuchi managed to come back in to the fight himself, eventually forcing the referee to save the brave Filipino in round 7.
Jaca, who began the day ranked #12 by the WBO, didn't have his WBO Oriental title on the line, with the bout being fought at 141lbs though will almost certainly lose his world ranking even if the bout was fought "over the weight". Unfortunately for the 30 year old this loss could be the end of his dreams of getting another world title fight, having previously lost to Juan Manuel Marquez in a WBO interim Featherweight title bout.
For Iwabuchi, who lost last time out to Min-Wook Kim in an OPBF title bout, this was the perfect come back fight. He was forced to question himself, he was forced to work hard and he had to show that real fighting character. It's this character that could see him getting another big bout before the year is out. We'd not be shocked at all if he fought for either the OPBF or the Japanese title before the end of 2014.
(Picture courtesy of Dangan Boxing and Boxmob)
Earlier today the OPBF released their updated rankings for February 2014. We, as we do when new rankings are released, took our time and went through them, comparing them to last months rankings.
We were slightly shocked when we started and saw no changes at all to the Minimumweight rankings. Thankfully we were less shocked when we moved through the divisions and began to see changes.
The first change is that Naoya Inoue is no longer the OPBF Light Flyweight champion. Inoue handed that title back ahead of his WBC Light Flyweight world title clash with Mexican Adrian Hernandez. This change was followed by a series of changes lower down the rankings.
The changes at Light Flyweight have seen Yuki Sano (previously #15) dropping out, after announcing his retirement this past week, Yu Kimura (#3) swapping places with Renan Trongco (#4) following Kimura's victory over Kenichi Horikawa (#9) who dropped from #5. Horikawa dropping down the rankings has boosted the rankings of a number of fighters. The changes have also allowed for Hayato Yamaguchi (#12) to climb into the rankings.
At Flyweight we see very little in terms of changes as Thailand's Kwanpichit OnesongchaiGym (#5) swapped places with Filipino Rajah Renoel Pael (#6). This was the only change.
Super Flyweight was also mostly change free. The one big mover was Jerwin Ancajas (#6) who climbed 3 places following his showing on the recent "Ring of Gold" show. Ancajas's movement forced several fighters down a place.
The few changes at Flyweight and Super Flyweight were much more telling than those at Bantamweight. That's because there were no changes at Bantamweight at all likewise there was no changes at Super Bantamweight.
At Featherweight the main changes revolve around Ryo Takenaka (#9) who is a new entrant courtesy of a victory over Rene Bestudio (previously ranked #3). The loss to Takenaka saw Bestudio dropping out of the rankings and as a result numerous fighters were given a one place boost.
At Super Featherweight we again so little in change with the notable difference being Rikki Naito (#3) and Hyuk Kwon (#4) swapping places. The boost for Naito came after he stopped Hiroyasu Matsuzaki (previously #6) who has now dropped out of the rankings.
The Lightweight division sees no change at all with every fighter remaining as they were in January.
At Light Welterweight the only change was an obvious one as Ja Ik Goo (#4) replaced compatriot Taek-Min Kim, who drops out completely. Goo, the new Korean national champion, will almost certainly be excited about the up coming title fight between Keita Obara and Adones Cabalquinto.
Welterweight was another division with no changes, as was Light Middleweight.
At Middleweight Jarrod Fletcher (#4) swaps with Yuki Nonaka (#5) whilst Garth Wood (#10) drops down following his loss to Daniel Geale. Wood wasn't the only fighter who was dropped with Gunnar Jackson (previously #15) dropping completely out of the rankings.
Light Heavyweight was another changeless division though Cruiserweight saw a few alterations made with Daniel Ammann (#3) dropping 2 places whilst Jong-Suk Lee (previously #8) drops out completely.
Unfortunately Heavyweight was another changeless division.
As well as the changes the OPBF listed a number of title bouts that they have got arranged for the upcoming month or two:
March 8th-Koji Numata v Takehiro Shimogawara (vacant OPBF Light Middleweight title)
March 24th-Hisashi Amagasa* v Vinvin Rufino (OPBF Featherweight title)
March 25th-Ryosuke Iwasa* v Richard Pumicpic (OPBF Bantamweight title)
March 29th-Arden Diale v Chris Paulino (vacant OPBF Flyweight title)
March 30th-Ryuji Hara v Donnie Mabao (vacant OPBF Minimumweight title)
April 14th-Keita Obara v Adones Cabalquinto (vacant OPBF Light Welterweight title)
*indicates defending champions
Current rankings can be found here.
(Picture courtesy of the OPBF)
Earlier today the OPBF site had a new bout scheduled on it, a bout for their Flyweight title. The title, vacated recently by Rocky Fuentes prior to his IBF world title fight, will now be fought for on March 29th and will be contest in an all Filipino fight.
One of those men will be OPBF #1 ranked Ardin Diale (23-8-3, 10) a former world title challenger who has won his past 3 fights by T/KO.
Although Diale is no world beater he is a very accomplished fighter who is experienced and has shared the ring with some tremendous fighters such as Rodel Mayol, Wanheng Menayothin, Johnriel Casimero, Julio Cesar Miranda and Juan Francisco Estrada. His key strength, when given decent time to prepare, is his power and his last 6 victories have all come by T/KO.
Amongst those recent victories for Diale was an 11th round KO over the then unbeaten Cris Paulino (13-1, 3). Paulino, pictured, will now be given a chance to avenge that loss as he fights Diale.
Ranked #2 by the OPBF Paulino is a solid boxer though his lack of fire power is likely to hold him back from reaching the top level, however at just 21 years old he is still developing, maturing and improving. Hopefully that improvement will be seen as he faces Diale looking for both revenge and the OPBF title though of course it's not an easy contest at all for the youngster from the Elorde boxing gym.
The bout, an all Filipino battle for the OPBF title is expected to take place in Manila and should help the winner to climb in to the fringes of the world rankings.
(Picture of Paulino is courtesy of Boxrec.com)
The IBF may not be the most popular organisation in Japan but it seems that Japanese fighters are warming to them.
With two IBF champions already, in the form of Katsunari Takayama and Daiki Kameda Japan has an opportunity to add a third in April when Hozumi Hasegawa fights Kiko Martinez for the IBF Super Bantamweight title. It's now been announced that the winner of Hasegawa/Martinez will be facing the winner of an upcoming IBF eliminator between another Japanese fighter, Yasutaka Ishimoto (24-6, 7), and American Chris Avalos (23-2, 17).
Avalos, for those who haven't seen him, is a big punching American who has been shown to have a lot of power, though he does lack somewhat in terms of fundamental boxing skills. Despite his flaws he has scored some notable wins, including a decision last year over Filipino fighter Drian Francisco and a stoppage over Rolly Lunas.
As for Ishimoto, pictured, he made his name on the international stage with a decision over former world champion Wilfredo Vazquez Jr in 2013. He lacks the power of Avalos though has a tricky style, a lot of heart and may well find himself winning another upset against a much fancied American.
The bout, scheduled for May 31st, will be held in Macau on the under-card of Nonito Donaire's world title bout with Simpiwe Vetyeka.
(Picture courtesy of http://boxingnews.jp)
News! We try and give you the most interesting news stories from the Asian boxing world!