Just moments ago we saw the end of a Top Rank card from Verona, New York, which featured two Featherweight world title fights, each featuring an Asian fighter.
The first of the two fights saw IBF champion Luis Alberto Lopez (30-2, 17) take on mandatory challenger Reiya Abe (25-4-1, 10) [阿部麗也], from Japan.
From the off Lopez was applying constant pressure, making Abe rely on his footwork to create space. Despite Abe using his footwork he couldn’t avoid the sweeping right hands of Lopez in the first round, with Lopez landed several eye catching ones in the first 3 minutes, and some solid body shots. To his credit Abe did try to fire back with some body shots, but he certainly came off second best through the round.
Abe managed to land some better shots in round 2, but the heavy leather of Lopez was taking a toll and midway through the round Abe’s right eye was visibly swollen from the hard left hands of Lopez. The damage to the eye saw Abe getting a doctors inspection before round 3, and with a target on to go after Lopez was all out offense, throwing wild bombs to start the round and walking him down through the rest of the round. Abe did manage to land some good left hands through round 3, but they seemed to bounce off the champion who seemed to hurt Abe late in the round with a body shot. Abe had the eye looked at again before round 4, and although the fight was allowed to continue, again, it did seek like only a matter of time before Abe was going to be stopped, though credit to Abe as he put forward a genuine eye even with one eye essentially shut.
In round 5 Lopez’s work rate seemed to drop off, notably, though when he let his hands go he landed powerful shots, with one notably rocking Abe on to his heels and at the end of the round Abe looked to have been hurt for a second time. Notably Lopez continued to slow in round 6, with the commentators remarking that he was “looking bored”, though given how many wild shots he’d missed, and the progressive success that Abe was having as Lopez slowed down it seemed less like he was bored and slowly becoming a little frustrated. That frustration continued to show in round 7, as Abe refused to hold his feet and continued to make Lopez chase him, though sadly for Abe eye went from bad to worse as Lopez changed tactics and let a higher volume of short, crisp shots go, rather than the wild, sweeping ones that had been missing Abe in the previous few rounds. Having looked frustrated at times at not being able to get rid of Abe, Lopez finally managed to force the referee to intervene in round 8, stopping the bout with a flurry of shots, bringing Abe’s gutsy effort to a close.
For Lopez this was a third successful defense and he’s likely to be seeking a unification bout later in the year. As for Abe this is his first stoppage loss, and it’s hard to imagine him getting another world title shot after this set back.
(On replay, which was shown after round 4, it was clear that the swelling wasn’t caused by a punch, but instead a thumb to the eye. Notably Abe’s team did ask what caused it, asking to confirm it was a punch, but things weren’t clarified. Whilst it’s hard to have envisioned Abe winning the fight, even without the injury, it is interesting that the moment that made the biggest impact to the fight does appear to have been a thumb, and not a punch).
The other bout saw unbeatens collide for the vacant WBA title as Uzbekistani Otabek Kholmatov (12-1, 11) clashed with Raymond Ford (15-0-1, 8) in a truly brilliant high speed, technical bout that saw two wonderfully well matched fighters putting it all on the line. This bout started much more tamely than the other as both men fought in a much more traditional style, both looking to establish their jab and measure the other man, in what was an anxious opening. At the one minute mark we saw the first punch of real note, a left hand from Kholmatov. Kholmatov would land another heavy shot later in the round that seemed to get some reaction from Ford who clearly felt the power of the shot.
In round 2 a lot of the tension from the opening round seemed to vanish, as both men landed some early jabs, before Kholmatov landed a solid body shot. Ford looked the faster man, though it seemed Kholmatov was aware of that as he went to the body trying to slow Ford down, and land the more eye catching shots, including a sweeping left in the final moments. The body shots from Kholmatov continued in round 3, whilst Ford struggled to establish anything other than his jab. Ford had to gamble, to try and get Kholmatov’s respect though when he did that he was made to pay and was tagged hard by a left hand, and forced to hold on in the final moments of the round.
Ford remained the faster man in round 4, but was really struggling to land anything of note, whilst taking big single shots from Kholmatov, including some eye catching blows to the body, further slowing Ford, who realised he had to come forward. Although he turned up the pressure himself, Ford really never let his hands go, and although the style of the fight changed, Kholmatov was still looking very comfortable and landing the bigger shots. To his credit however Ford did have his best moment of the fight midway through round 5, as he backed Kholmatov on to the ropes and landed a good combination, and landed another one later in the round, before taking two big left hands right before the bell. The pressure from Ford continued in round 6, though Kholmatov began to take the play away, letting his hands go, and letting Ford essentially walk into shots, and he responded everytime Ford landed anything eye catching, forcing Ford onto the back foot late in the round.
Ford tried to establish his pressure again in round 7 and walk Kholmatov back, but again it seemed like Kholmatov was letting his hands go more freely than Ford through the early part of the round. As the round went on, the two men took it in turns to unload their offense, with Ford landing some really good body shots, but getting them returned with interest. In round 8 Ford had his biggest moment as he rocked Kholmatov for the first time, it took Kholmatov a moment or two to get his balance back before returning some punishment as the two men began to trade shots back and forth. It was, by far, Ford’s best round of the fight, though he couldn’t capitalise when Kholmatov lost his balance.
Given how Ford was getting momentum it was clear Kholmatov needed to do what he could to turn things back his way. He tried to do that at the start of round 9, as he came forward early in the round and backed Ford up. Ford was starting to look tired, though by the end of the round Kholmatov was back on his feet, creating space picking his moments. Ford was trying to apply pressure by the end of the round, but it seemed the tempo of the bout, and the body shots of Kholmatov had began to sap his energy. The 10th round saw the two men both fight similar to how they had in the opening round, trying to measure each other again, with the first real eye catching moment of the round being a big left from Kholmatov, who landed the better shots through the round, despite a good headshot from Ford late in the round who was out worked for much of the round.
Kholmatov came out for round 11 with more aggression, backing up Ford again, though he was struggling to connect and took several counters, though did chase Ford down soon afterwards and began find his range, landing some bombs. Later in the round a headclash left Ford with a nasty cut under his left eye, which gave Kholmatov a target and he was on a seek and destroy mission. At the bell Ford managed to punish Kholmatov for his aggression, with a great counter, but it seemed too little too late to swing the round his way. The final round saw Kholmatov again applying the pressure and landing some huge shots upstairs to Ford, who was showing his toughness to walk through the shots from the heavy handed Uzbekistani fighter. With just over a minute left Ford landed a solid body shot, but it was a single shot, as time began to tick away on the fight. Amazingly Ford then landed an upper cutt that hurt Kholmatov, who was bundled to the canvas. Kholmatov was still hurt when he got to his feet and Ford jumped on him, throwing the kitchen sink at him, as stumbled into the ropes, with the referee jumping in with just seconds left, ending what had been an excellent back and forth fight with huge drama at the end.
Following the bout Ford suggested he may end up vacating the title and moving to Super Featherweight, as the weight cut took a lot from him. Given his technical skills, and his links to Matchroom, the move up in weight would likely be a good decision. This was a great win for him, a come from behind victory, with drama, action, excitement, and he has clearly announced himself on the world stage as a major player.
Earlier today fight fans in Japan saw the latest in the Dynamic Glove series, and it was a genuinely interesting show stacked with top prospects and hopefuls, with one particular fighter really announcing himself as a prospect heading to the top, and doing so quickly from here on.
One of the many hopefuls on the card was 24 year old Kento Uchigamae (4-1, 1) [内構拳斗], who scored a career best win, as he took a wide decision over Thai veteran One of the many hopefuls on the card was 24 year old Kento Uchigamae (4-1, 1) [内構拳斗], who scored a career best win, as he took a wide decision over Thai veteran Karoon Jarupianlerd (53-15, 27), a former world title challenger who notable faced Naoya inoue back in 2016. Throughout the bout Uchigamae was in control, and did look to finish off the Thai, though real credit to the visitor, who showed his heart and toughness and managed to fire back some leather of his own in the later stages.
In another bout that went the distance the talented and highly promising Katsuya Fukui (7-0, 4) [福井勝也] took an 8 round shut out against Korean visitor Sang Hun Oh (8-3-1, 6) Although Fukui will be disappointed in not getting the stoppage, which he had got in his last 3 bouts, he will likely feel the 8 rounds were good for him, and put him in a great place ahead of any potential title fights, and in all honest it feels inevitable that he will begin fighting for titles sooner rather than later.
The only other bout that went the distance saw the once touted Hinata Maruta (14-2-1, 10) [丸田陽七太] take a wide decision win over the tough and dangerous Phumiritdet Chonlathondamrongkun (15-2, 13) in a bout up at Lightweight. Maruta, who has long been regarded as a top talent, was fighting for just the second time since losing to Reiya Abe down at Featherweight, and it may well be that he has, now, at last, found the weight best suited to his body. Still only 26 years old, Maruta is an undoubted talent, but he certainly hasn’t yet managed to come close to reaching the heights expected of him. He showed touches of brilliance here, but it’s going to be much more interesting when he’s up against someone with a bit more about him than the Thai was here.
The first of 3 bouts that didn’t see the final bell saw the highly promising Kota Kaneko (5-0, 4) [金子虎旦] stopping Filipino Jhunrille Castino (14-5, 4) in the 4th round with a brutal body shot. This had been a pretty solid back and forth through the early stages, but there was no way back for Castino after a left hook to the mid-section. In another Japan Vs Philippines bout, Subaru Murata (6-0, 6) [村田昴] scored a 7th round KO win over Alex Santisima Jr (8-1, 2), to continue his KO streak. The talented Murata, had to work for this as Santissima had moments early on, but in the second half of the fight Murata upped the tempo, amped up the aggression, and left Santissima cut in round 6, before close the show in round 7, with some brutal body work. This was Murata’s first bout since last July, and whilst the break wasn't a really long one, it was a notable one, as he'd been injured, and he’ll be glad to get a good work out, and a stoppage, against an unbeaten fighter on his return.
In the main event we had the only all-Japanese bout, and arguably the most impressive performance of the day as unbeaten prospect Kyosuke Takami (6-0, 5) [高見享介] really announced himself, stopping tough veteran Kenichi Horikawa (41-20-1, 14) [堀川謙一] in 6 rounds. The 21 year old Takami started with a lot of energy and seemed to hurt the 43 year old Horikawa late in the round, who survived and tried to begin a fight back in round 3. The attempt to fight back from the veteran was gutsy, and the sort of thing we've grown used to over the years, but was unable to cope the speed and reach of Takami who was landing hard shots with both hands, despite some good counters from the gritty veteran. Seemingly aware that Horikawa was tough and not wanting to risk burning himself out, Takami slowed the tempo in round 5, picked his spots more carefully. Despite slowing the tempo Takami had plenty left in the tank, and in round 6 upped the action again, rocking Horikawa, and dropping him with a follow up right hand, and closing the show.
Following the bout Takami made it clear he was on the hunt for titles, whilst Horikawa announced his retirement, and whilst Horikawa has had more retirements than many professional wrestlers, it did seem different this time, and even Horikawa himself suggested he didn’t think he’d change his mind this time.
By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
CEBU,PHILIPPINES- Berland Robles (6-0,2KO’s) remained unbeaten when he overcame the more experienced Jerven Mama (12-2-1,7KO’s) in the main event of a nine bout fight card held in Consolacion, Cebu.
It started as tactical battle but the boxers gave in to their instincts and brawled. Mama’s aggression kept him in the fight even when Robles stunned him twice in the eighth round. It was a give and take struggle till the end but Robles did just enough to win.
The scores – 96-94 from judges Edward Ligas and Noel Flores and 98-92 from Neil Papas. Mama announced after the fight a death in the family on that day kept him from giving it his all.
In what would be the best fight of the night, Bryan James Wild (9-0-1, 6KO’s), made a step up in competition and engaged hard man Carlo Demecillo (15-6-2, 8KO’s) in a ten round thriller. The showboating Wild entertained fans with his version of the Ali shuffle. But Demecillo, a former WBO Asia Pacific Youth titleholder, continued to press the action, working behind a peek-a-boo stance and launched power shots when he got in close.
Wild was more effective fighting from a distance but Demecillo’s constant pressure left him no choice but to engage in close quarter hand to hand combat in certain segments of the fight. Wild’s potshots left Demecillo with bruises on his face. Wild also was more accurate in the closing rounds. This saved him the fight,the way the scoring went.
Judges scores – Noel Flores – 98-92 for Demecillo, Neil Papas- 97-93 for Wild, Edward Ligas – 95-95.
April Jay Abne (11-1, 5) survived a series of low blows from Ramel Antaran (5-19-2) and won a lopsided unanimous decision.
Ramil Macado (4-0, 2) beat veteran Renoel Pael (23-13-1, 12) by unanimous verdict in an 8 rounder.
Rhonvex Capuloy (9-2,5KO’s) gave Brix Piala (5-1,2KO’s) his first career loss. Capuloy was bloodied by a cut on the left eyebrow due to an accidental head clash in the second canto. Capuloy was also getting winded as the fight deteriorated into a brawl. But Piala inexplicably, decided to quit on his stool before the start of the sixth.
In a clash of journeymen, - Rodel Wenceslao easily beat Edison Berwela, who decided not to continue at the end of the second round.
For the rest of the card, John Vincent Pangga beat Virgilio Silvano by unanimous decision, Ian Abne won by technical decision over Charlie Malupangue in the sixth of an eight rounder and Yerogge Gura got a unanimous decision over Anthony Gilbuela.
The 7th edition of “ENGKWENTRO” was held Saturday and promoted by ARQ Promotions.
Photo-left to right- Berland Robles, Carlo Demecillo, Bryan James Wild
Earlier today at Korakuen Hall fight fans got the latest show under the Diamond Glove banner of shows. The card was a pretty notable one with several bouts of note on it, including a Japanese title eliminator and a Japanese title fight.
The first of the notable bouts on this card saw second generation fighter Jinya Yamaguchi (2-0, 2) [山口 仁也] score a 4th round win over Filipino visitor Argelo Samson (4-2, 4). Yamaguchi started slowly, and was dropped early in the bout by a right hook. Despite being knocked down Yamaguchi recovered well and then opened up in round 3, wobbling Samson late in the round, before dropping his man in round 4. Samson beat the count but was stopped soon afterwards as Yamaguchi unloaded on him with a flurry.
The second bout of note saw Mikyo Watarai (2-0, 1) [渡来 美響] score his second professional win, as he took a 6 round shut out win over Filipino visitor Romer Pinili (5-2-1, 4). Watarai dominated the bout, but he was unable to stop Pinili, who showed real grit, determination and toughness to see out 6 rounds. Credit needs to go to Pinili for surviving, but he didn't come close to being competitive, and really was relying on his grit, especially in the later rounds.
The third bout of some real note saw another prospect pick up a win as Josuke Nagata (4-0) [永田 丈晶] out boxed and out pointed the explosive Yuki Nakajima (5-2-2, 5) [中嶋 憂輝] over 8 rounds to claim his fourth win, and his most notable to date. The talented Nagata controlled swathes of the bout behind his accurate punching and combinations, which forced Nakajima on to the back foot, somewhere he's never been comfortable. The smart up and down combinations and intelligent defense from Nagata saw him make this look easy, as he shut out Nakajima on two cards, whilst the third judge saw a wat to find a round for Nakajima.
In the chief support bout we saw a Japanese Lightweight title eliminator as Shuma Nakazato (12-2-3, 7) [仲里周磨] defeated Ken Koibuchi (8-5-1, 7) [鯉淵健] over 8 rounds. This was a genuine war with both landing big shots, and head clashes also being a factor, with Nakazato suffering several cuts from head clashes. Despite the head clashes Nakazato did enough to take home the win, though had to take some serious punishment along the way, particularly in round 7 as Koibuchi dug hard and looked to core a late stoppage. After 8 rounds the score cards were 78-74, 77-75 and 76-76 giving Nakazato the majority decision win.
In the main event we saw Japanese Welterweight champion Keita Obara (26-4-1, 23) [小原 佳太] over-come interim champion Takeru Kobata (12-6-1, 5) [小畑 武尊] in 3 rounds. On paper this one always seemed like a mismatch, despite the good recent form from Kobata, though the opening round was tense with both men showing a lot of respect to each other. In the second round Obara seemed to find his groove, though only landed a single notable right hand, which was essentially a warning shot. In round 3 he managed to land another right hand, which sent Kobata down. Although Kobata did recover his feet he staggered forcing the referee to wave the bout off.
Earlier today the Sumiyoshi Ward Center in Osaka played host to the latest show from the Mutoh Gym. The card wasn't a huge one but it was a notable one, with a notable debut, a touted prospect and a regional title fight.
The regional title fight saw the world ranked Ryosuke Nishida (6-0, 1) [西田凌佑] successfully defend the WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight title, as he shut out Filipino challenger Aljum Pelesio (11-2, 6) over 10 rounds.
On paper the bout looked interesting but in the ring it proved to be little more than a show case of boxing from Nishida, who controlled large swathes of the bout behind his southpaw jab and clean right hands. He never really seemed to go into top gear as he simply never needed to. Pelesio did have moments, but they were few and far between, with little coming from them, such a right hand in round 2 that never seemed to trouble Nishida, despite landing well. By round 4 Pelesio was looking frustrated with the fact Nishida was controlling the range, and he clearly wanted things to change, but Nishida refused to change the game plan and continued to land as and when he wanted, whilst neutralising Pelesio. As the rounds ticked by Pelesio became more frustrated and in round 10 he finally had enough as he began to through caution to the wind, though still struggled to tie down the talented champion.
After 10 rounds the judges all turned in identical 100-90 scorecards. After the bout Nishida's team suggested he would be back in action in Spring and were considering fighting overseas.
Prior to the main event Kaito Yamasaki (4-0, 2) [山崎海斗] made light work of Thai visitor Adirek Meesrida (2-1, 2), with the Thai being stopped in 74 seconds, following a knockdown by Yamasaki. Fans also got the chance to see the debut of Takeru Inoue (1-0, 1) [井上彪], who broke down Piya Chaichot (1-1) in 6 rounds. The Thai put up a good effort early on, and showed some real grit and toughness, but in rounds 5 and 6 he was taking a beating and the referee stepped in after a big assault from Inoue.
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