In a thoroughly unenjoyable and lacklustre contest fans saw Jesse Espinas (20-4, 11) take a huge step towards securing himself an IBO "world" title fight as he out pointed veteran Denver Cuello (38-6-6, 26). The bout, on paper, had the ingredients of being a good one, but just never seemed to get going as neither man had the work rate or energy to make things exciting.
The first few rounds were truly turgid. They were plagued by inaccuracy, holding, spoiling, wrestling and stalling. The amount of clean, quality shots were minimal and neither fighter seemed to watch to light the touch paper.
If anything it seemed like the 32 year old Cuello wanted it a little bit more, and came forward at least making it look like he wanted a fight, but he rarely let his hands go and his trademark aggression wasn't there. The best he did was an occasional 2 punch combination, that seemed to be more out of impatience and frustration rather than trying to hurt Espinas, who did very, very little.
As we went through the middle rounds it seemed like even the fans had gotten bored of what was going on. There was so little atmosphere in the venue, and it seemed, at times, like the noise was coming from conversations between fans rather than cheering on their guy. Though to be fair there was little to cheer.
In the final few rounds it seemed like Cuello's tank was running near empty and that he wanted to keep something in it, just in case, and Espinas then managed to finally show something to take the last few rounds. That proved vital with Espinas taking the decision, 96-94 and 97-93 twice.
Given how dreary the fight was we can't imagine there will be much demand to see either man again. Cuello, who was once a fearsome and exciting fighter, looks a near shell of what he once was, and Espinas looks so gun shy it's worrying to think what will happen when he faces someone like currently IBO champion Maximo Flores.
For those who missed this one, it's not worth hunting down. It promised something but totally under-delivered.
Today there was a pretty big card at the Angono Sports Complex in Angono, Rizal. The card wasn't a stacked one in terms of world class talent, but did have some pretty notable Filipino fighters on it, with a nice mixture of veterans and youngsters on it.
Among those veterans was the returning was the returning Denver Cuello (37-5-6, 25), who was fighting for the first time since the summer of 2018. The former world title challenger, now 32, made light work of Indonesian journeyman Jack Amisa (21-46-2, 14). Amisa seemed to be hurt by everything he was caught with and was dropped in the opening round, before being taken apart in round 2 and being stopped, with the bout being waved off whilst Amisa was on his knees on the canvas. Given the long lay off Cuello looked good, but clearly wasn't the fighter he had once been and will likely want another couple of fights before facing a notable foe.
Another veteran picking up a win was former WBC Flyweight champion Sonny Boy Jaro (45-14-5, 31), who scored a 4th round TKO win over veteran Indonesian Boido Simanjuntak (24-54-2, 10). A third notable Filipino veteran was former world title challenger Ardin Diale (35-13-4, 17), who scored defeated Richard Rosales (13-9-2, 7), who retired after round 3.
As for the youngsters it was 22 year old KJ Natuplag (8-0-2, 7) who impressed, stopping Robert Udtohan (24-6-3, 15) in the 5th round. On paper this is a goof win, though it is Udtohan's 4th stoppage loss in 6 bouts, and his 5th loss in 6, leaving real question marks as to his desire. Another youngster picking up a good win was Adrian Lerasan (7-3, 1), who took an 8 round decision win over the heavy handed Jeny Boy Boca (12-6, 10)
Exciting Filipino Minimumweight Denver Cuello (35-6-5, 24) has had a frustrating few years plagued by injury and frustrated further by the politics of the sport. Thankfully however he has reason to celebrate this week after the WBC confirmed that Cuello would get a long awaited world title eliminator.
Originally Cuello was supposed to get a shot much earlier this year. Those plans were thwarted when Carlos Ortega lost in a stay busy fight last December after the WBC ordered the two men to fight in an eliminator. Cuello was then supposed to fight Raul Garcia in a bout that never materialised.
Now however the WBC have ordered Cuello to face Mexico's Saul Juarez (22-4, 12) in a final eliminator. Juarez is a man who has been in good form since losing Milan Melindo last December, winning back to back fights against former world champion Adrian Hernandez though will be fighting at 105lbs for what we believe is the first time.
There is no set date on the bout though the winner is now very unlikely to get a world title fight before 2016. That's because current champion Wanheng Menayothin will be defending his WBC title in November against South Korean fighter Young Kil Bae and the winner of Cuello/Juarez will need to wait to face the winner of Wanheng/Bae.
Wanheng Menayothin to defend WBC title against Young Kil Bae on November 27th!
Denver Cuello Vs Raul Garcia penciled in for April 11th
We've known for while that Filipino fighter Denver Cuello (35-5-6, 23) has been eyeing up a potential world title fight with the unbeaten WBC champion Wanheng Menayothin. It would likely that if he was to get that bout at some point later this year he would be expected to fight in Thailand, where Wanheng has relatively powerful and strong financial backers.
Ahead of that possible show down, which we believe is ear marked for December if everything goes to plan, it seems that Cuello is wanting to get experience of the harsh Thai conditions.
In recent weeks the Filipino has been working as part of Amnat Ruenroeng's team ahead of Amnat's IBF Flyweight title defense against Johnriel Casimero. That work will end on June 27th when Cuello takes to the ring to battle against Indonesian journeyman Boy Tanto (9-16, 1)*.
From what we understand the bout is scheduled for 8 rounds at 108lbs to allow Cuello a chance to get used to a fight in Thailand before the possible Wanheng match up. It is however a clear mismatch between a journeyman and one of the top contenders in and around Minimumweight. The idea though is to get through the bout with a win, got some good rounds and get prepared for either a world title eliminator or a world title fight.
The bout was one of a number announced recently for the "Mono 29 Big Fight" card and looks to be the most attention grabbing of the under-card bouts which generally feature a number of young and promising Thia youngsters such as the very promising Atchariya Virotesunobon (3-0, 1) and Denchana Chanadejgym (1-0)
*Tanto's record has been listed differently in the past by Indonesian TV though the general view is that the TV numbers were very wrong.
(Image courtesy of kiatkreerin and thairec.com)
*Huge thanks to Pal for alerting us to this match up!
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