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)
Just a few minutes ago WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight champion Musashi Mori (11-0, 6) [森 武蔵] announced the details regarding his next bout.
The youngster will be defending his WBO regional title as he takes on veteran Shingo Kawamura (16-5-4, 8) [河村真吾] in Kumamoto on April 18th as the main event of "Splendid Boxing in Kumamoto Vol 2".
The 20 year old Mori won the title in late 2018, when he beat Richard Pumicpic, and since then has developed significantly, defended the belt twice and began working with legendary trainer Ismael Salas. He's some way from a world title fight, though he has made it known he wants one soon, and this will be a chance for him to further show his improvement under Salas.
Sadly coming in to this Kawamura is without a win in 5 bouts, having drawn his last 3 and losing the previous 2. Despite his poor form he has mixed with good company, facing the likes of Satoshi Shimizu and Ryo Sagawa.
Also booked for this card is a brilliant match up at Light Flyweight between former world title challenger Reiya Konishi (17-1, 7) [小西伶弥] and former Japanese champion Rikito Shiba (4-1, 2) [芝力人], in what should be an excellent supporting bout and matches two men who really need a win following losses last time out. For Shiba this will be his first bout since being stopped in a Japanese title eliminator to Masamichi Yabuki (10-3, 10) [佐藤政道] whilst Konishi is looking to bounce back from a clear loss to Felix Alvarado.
In 2019 Filipino fighter Jhunriel Ramonal (17-8-6, 10) went on a destructive tear in Japan, first he stopped Shingo Wake (26-6-2, 18) [和氣 慎吾] in October before returning to the country and claiming the WBO Asia Pacific Super Bantamweight title with a blow out win over Japanese national champion Yusaku Kuga (19-4-1, 13) [久我勇作].
Earlier today Dino Olivetti Jr, from the Olivetti Boxing Gym which manage Ramonal, announced Ramonal's first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific title.
Olivetti revealed that the bout would be taking place in Tokyo on May 28th and see his charge defending his title against former WBC "interim" Bantamweight champion Takuma Inoue (13-1, 3) [井上 拓真].
For Ramonal the bout would give him a chance to score a third straight upset win on Japanese soil, and really make it clear that he deserves a world title fight. On the other hand it gives Inoue, the younger brother of Naoya Inoue [井上 尚弥], a chance to rebuild following his 2019 loss to WBC Bantamweight world champion Nordine Oubaali.
On paper this is an excellent bout between and heavy handed upset minded champion and highly skilled but light punching challenger. An excellent clash of styles and a potentially very interesting match up.
We expect this bout will be announced by Ohashi Gym, who are almost certainly going to be the promoter of the show, in the near future as Ohashi and team put the finishing touches to the show.
We've known for a while that Chinese fighter Zulipikaer Maimaitiali (12-2-1, 8) [祖力皮卡尔·买买提艾力] would be in action on February 2nd as part of a stacked Chinese card from Top Rank. Until today however his opponent was unknown.
Today saw the reveal that Maimaitiali upcoming opponent would be unbeaten Korean fighter Sung Jae Jo (11-0, 8) [조성재].
It was also confirmed that the bout was going to be for the WBO Asia Pacific Super Middleweight title. Interestingly this title was last won back in August by Tanzanian fighter WBO Asia Pacific Super Middleweight title, which was interestingly won last August by Tanzanian fighter Abdallah Paziwapazi, who stopped Maimaitiali for the belt .
Whilst this will not be the Chinese fighters first shot at the title it will be Jo's first shot at an international title, and will also see him fighting a fully fledged international level Super Middleweight. He is a former Korean Middleweight champion, and will be giving up significant size to the Chinese fighter.
The winner of this will move towards a potential WBO Super Middleweight world title fight, with that title currently held by Billy Joe Saunders. Whilst it would move the winner closer to a shot, they would still be a long way from securing a fight with the unbeaten Englishman and a win here would just be the first step on the road to a potential clash.
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