One man who seems impossible to get a read on at times is Filipino fighter Froilan Saludar (31-4-1, 22) who looked fantastic early in his career, and had been expected to go all the way to the top. He then suffered losses in big fights to McWilliams Arroyo, Takuma Inoue and Sho Kimura. Those were understandable, coming against world class opponents.
Since his latest loss however Saludar had strung together 3 wins, stopping the touted Tsubasa Murachi in the third of those bouts, and had claimed the WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title. It seemed that he had turned a corner with his career and was heading in the right direction. Today that changed as he suffered his most disappointing loss to date.
At Korakuen Hall earlier Saludar was looking to make his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title as he took on Japan's Ryoji Fukunaga (12-4, 12) [福永亮次], a heavy handed fighter but a limited one. For Fukunaga this was seen as a step up in class, taking on a fringe world class guy.
The bout started with Saludar quickly showing his ability and power, taking control early on. The heavy hands of Saludar saw him controlling the pace and tempo, and leaving Fukunaga with some serious swelling under his right eye. The swelling was making things incredibly difficult for Fukunaga, who was needing to rely on his toughness.
In round 5 Fukunaga finally had some moments, landing a big left hand to the body which seemed to hurt Saludar. Despite the success, Fukunaga's eye was getting worse. The following round Fukunaga managed to back up Saludar, and get him on to the ropes, though he failed to have much success as Saludar's defenses skills shined. Whilst defensively smart Saludar was slowing down and in round 7 a series of body shots sent down the Filipino.
Saludar beat the count but was spend when Fukunaga rushed in and unloaded, forcing the referee to wave off the bout and save the Filipino, at an official time of 1:40 into round 7.
For Fukunaga this win is a career defining victory, a genuine surprise, and gives his career a launchpad, of sorts, going forward. He will however have a target on his back, and isn't likely to be a long term champion.
As for Saludar this is almost certainly the end for him. It's really hard to see him bouncing back from a win here. The other losses are ones that are to world class fighters, this however is something else. Fukunaga is decent, heavy handed, dangerous and tough, but isn't going to be a test for anyone making their mark at world level and for Saludar this almost certainly ends his dreams of getting a second world title fight.
(Photo by A.McGovern)
Tomorrow at Korakuen Hall we'll see the next Kadoebi card, under their brilliant "Slugfest" banner.
The main event of the card will see WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight champion Froilan Saludar (31-3-1, 22) defending his title against Japanese puncher Ryoji Fukunaga (11-4, 11) [福永亮次], in a potentially very explosive match up.
Today, ahead of their bout, the two men took part in their weigh in and both fighters made weight.
On the scales Fukunaga was bang on the 115lb limit, and was the heavier man, whilst Saludar was significantly lighter, coming in around 114.5lbs.
At the weigh in both men spoke to the media and both sounding very confident.
Fukunaga explained that he was aware of Saludar's power and experience, but stated he was unwilling to lose. Saludar on the other hand seemed away that Fukunaga had power, but again sounded confident of victory, and giving fans a good fight.
Related - Saludar returns to Japan to defend regional title against hard hitting Fukunaga!
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today online subscription service Boxing Raise revealed their schedule for February and sadly it's rather lacking with only 3 shows in total, and only 1 live one. That is however a sign of a quiet February in Japan more than anything, with only 7 shows scheduled for the entire month, including the February 1st card which was shown on G+.
The first of the Boxing Raise cards is actually available already and took place today at Korakuen Hall. The card was a rather small and low key one, featuring only 4 round bouts. Whilst the show didn't get much attention it is good to see the service uploading the bouts on the same day which hasn't always been the case.
The next show to be including on the service this month is the February 14th Kadoebi card. This will be headlined by Froilan Saludar (31-3-1, 22) defending the WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title against Ryoji Fukunaga (11-4, 11) [福永亮次] in what looks likely to be an explosive match up. Other bouts of note on this card will include Ryota Yamauchi (5-1, 4) [山内涼太] facing off with Filipino MJ Bo (8-3-2, 4) and a brilliant match up between Yuki Nakajima (3-1, 3) [中嶋憂輝] and Shisui Kawabata (2-1, 2) [川畑嗣穂].
The only live card for the month will take place on February 27th and is an excellent looking card, headlined by an OPBF Welterweight title bout between Riku Nagahama (11-2-1, 4) [長濱 陸] and Kudura Kaneko (11-0, 8) [クドゥラ 金子] and also featuring the Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament semi finals. Those semi-finals will see Jae Woo Lee (7-2, 6) [이재우] taking on Shingo Kusano (12-8-1, 5) [草野慎悟] and Richard Pumicpic (21-10-2, 6) clashing with Daisuke Watanabe (9-4-2, 6) [渡部大介].
Whilst it's a shame there's so little content this month, it is impressive that Boxing Raise do have 3 of the 7 Japanese cards from the entire month.
Earlier today during Kadoebi's "Slugfest 12" show there was a number of fighters announcing their next bouts, set for Slugfest 13 on February 17th.
The main event will see Filipino power puncher Froilan Saludar (31-3-1, 22) return to Japan to make his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title. In the opposite corner to Saludar will be fellow puncher Ryoji Fukunaga (11-4, 11) [福永亮次], in what looks likely to be a very explosive encounter.
Saludar made a splash in September when he won the title with a brutal KO win over Tsubasa Murachi, and extended his winning run to 3 bouts following a 2018 loss to Sho Kimura in a WBO Flyweight world title bout in China. It was an impressive performance from Saludar after many had written him due to the Kimura loss, ourselves included, and the win has genuinely kept his career alive.
Fukunaga on the other hand is a hard man to get a solid read on. He won the 2016 Rookie of the Year, but has gone 4-2 since then with his wins come against very poor opponents and his losses coming to solid, but unspectacular, foes. He can certainly bang but it's hard to know what he'll offer against a fighter of Saludar's ability and experience.
Also confirmed for this show, though currently opponent-less, Ryota Yamauchi (5-1, 4) [山内涼太], who looks to build on Augusts's win over Alphoe Dagayloan, and Ayato Hiromoto (2-0, 1) [廣本彩刀], who competes in his first 8 rounder.
One other thing to note is that Japanese veteran Takuya Kogawa (30-6-1, 13) [粉川拓也] is looking to make his return on the following "Slugfest" card, pencilled in for March. The details here are less fleshed out however and we suspect he'll be in a supporting bout against a limited visiting opponent.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
The Kadoebi Gym may not have had great performance from some of their most notable fighters today, but a trio of their prospects did shine picking up wins on their latest "Slugfest" card.
One of those was the very exciting Yuki Nakajima (2-0, 2) [中嶋憂輝], who scored a 4th round TKO win against Manop Audomphanawari (1-2, 1). The Thai had come to win, pressing Nakajima, letting his hands go and having some success in round 4 as Nakajima began to soak up the pressure. Sadly for him however when Nakajima turned things around he hurt the Thai and forced the referee to save the visitor.
Another who picked up a stoppage was the hard hitting Ryoji Fukunaga (11-4, 11) [福永亮次], who needed less than a round to take out Thai visitor Kittipong Jareonroy (3-3). This is pretty pretty given that Kittipong had gone 3 rounds with Teiru Kinoshita and saw the final bell, albeit in a very 1-sided bout, with Kenta Nakagawa. The ending came when Fukunaga dropped the Thai with a massive body shot and left him in absolute agony on the canvas.
The only prospect who didn't really shine was the talented Yuichiro Kasuya (12-2-1, 3) [粕谷雄一郎], who could only manage a narrow majority decision over Toru Kiyota (9-3, 7) [清田亨]. On paper Kasuya had the toughest task of the three Kadoebi hopefuls, but was still expected to win without too many problems, given how Ren Sasaki had stopped Kiyota back in 2017. Still getting the win was the key for Kasuya, who had fought only 3 rounds since the start of 2018.
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