Earlier today in Korea there was a rush for gold with a trio of WBA Asia titles on the line in Jeonju. The titles might not mean much in the grand scheme of things, but for many of the fighters fighting for them today they are seen as stepping stones towards bigger bouts, and in Korea any sort of stepping stone towards a bout is significant.
The first of 3 WBA title fights came at Super Bantamweight and pit local fighter Min Jang (10-0-2, 2) [장민] Chinese visitor Junhui Zhao (4-6-2 1).
The 19 year old Jang looked the faster, smoother man from the off and controlled swathes of the bout behind his speed and his movement. To his credit Zhao marched forward through out the bout but was made to look slow and clumsy but the local teenager who piled up the rounds without ever really needing to move into any high gears.
After 10 rounds here there was no questioning the decision, with Jang taking the win on the scorecards and claiming his first international title, having previously held one of the Korean Super Flyweight titles last year. On paper this was a good learning experience for the local, though we do wonder whether he has the power to move up through the levels as he matures.
The second WBA Asia title fight was another victory for the Korean fans to celebrate, with 22 year old Woo Hyun Kim (9-1, 1) [김우현] taking a decision win over former OPBF Flyweight champion Keisuke Nakayama (11-6-2, 5) [中山佳祐] for the WBA Asia Super Flyweight title. This was much more competitive than the Super Bantamweight bout and Nakayama was there to win, having genuine moments through out. Kim though played safe, boxed and moved and racked up the rounds, whilst picking his moments carefully. This was a really mature and level headed performance against a good opponent and it's clear Kim has got the potential to go far.
Sadly at the time of writing this bout between Kim and Nakayama is the only one we have scorecards for, with the judging going with Kim 97-93, twice, and 96-94. Those score did reflect the competitive nature of the bout, and like the judges we felt Kim did enough to take the victory.
The third WBA Asia bout sadly didn't go Korea's way with defending WBA Asia Middleweight champion Min Hyun Yang (9-4, 8) [양현민] being out pointed by skilful Italian born Australian based fighter Danilo Creati (6-0, 1) . The very talented Creati dominated much of the bout with his crisp clean punching, quicker hands and smart footwork.
Creati controlled the distance and tempo through out, and limited Yang's success to flashes. The rugged Yang struggled to move through the gears, and despite the occasional clean and solid shot he could never follow up with Creati regaining control quickly every time Yang seemed ready do build some momentum.
After 10 rounds there was no doubting the decision, with Creati the very worthy winner here.
Earlier this year we saw unheralded South Korean puncher Yang Hyun Min (8-3, 7) [양현민] challenge WBO Asia Pacific Middleweight champion Yuki Nonaka (33-11-3, 10) [野中 悠樹], and give the talented Nonaka absolute fits in Osaka. The worry following that bout was that Min would become a hard to match fighter and struggle to get bouts of note. Thankfully however his next bout was announced over the weekend.
KBM announced that Min would be back in action on January 18th when he will defend his WBA Asia Middleweight title against unbeaten Italian born Australian Danilo Creati (4-0, 1).
The hope for Min and his team is that if he can defend the regional WBA belt he will end up breaking into the WBA rankings and bigger fights will follow. Given how he lost to Nonaka we know he wouldn't be favoured against anyone world class, though it does seem like he could be a handful for some of the weaker fighters in the rankings.
Although relatively unknown Creati is a 29 year old who debuted in August 2018 and moved his record to 4-0 by the following March, though has been inactive since then and inactivity could be an issue against the Korean, who managed to fit 4 fights into 2019.
(Image courtesy of boxingM)
One thing we know about Korean fighters is that they come to win, no matte how big of an under-dog they are they won't step in the ring to just accept a loss.
That was seen earlier today in Osaka when the unheralded South Korean puncher Yang Hyun Min (8-3, 7) [양현민] challenged WBO Asia Pacific Middleweight champion Yuki Nonaka (33-11-3, 10) [野中 悠樹]. On paper this was a mismatch, an easy first defense for Nonaka. But nobody told Min he was there to lose.
The bout started slowly, with Nonaka looking to ease his way into the bout and control the distance. It wasn't long before Min began to find success for his own shots, and in round 2 he began to land heavy shots on Nonaka, who struggled to stamp his authority on the action. Nonaka was becoming wary of Min's hard right hand counters and although the Japanese veteran was doing enough to keep Min honest, and keep his nose in the lead, he wasn't controlling the bout as many, including ourselves, had expected.
Nonaka had success with the right hook in round 5, but the following round he suffered a nasty cut to the bridge of his nose from a straight right hand. The shot seemed to rip a hole in the middle of Nonaka's face and it got worse the following round, as Min began to build some moment and drag Nonaka into his fight.
The bout became an even bigger blood bath the following round when Min was cut from a clash of heads, and the fight quickly became a mess, with regularly head clashes between the two men, who were fighting up close. It wasn't the clean action we'd often seen from Nonaka, through his career, but it was compelling, with both men leaking claret all over the ring.
It was tough for Nonaka, but became even tougher in round 9 when he was deducted a point for low blows. Thankfully for Nonaka Min's lack of experience in the later stages of a fight began to show as both men tired. As the tempo slowed Nonaka's jab began to land with regularity, which allowed him to take some of the later rounds and tighten his grip on the bout.
After 12 rounds both men were a bloody mess, Nonaka cut on the nose, swollen on the left eye and bruised around the chest, whilst Min sported huge cuts over both eyes. Despite the messy action Nonaka retained his title with a split decision, thanks to scores of 117-111 and 115-112 in his favour, and a card of 115-112 to Min.
After the bout Min suggested the bout should have been stopped due to Nonaka's cut, and made it clear he was wanting a rematch. Nonaka however showed little interest in going again, stating that he was wanting a world title fight as soon as possible, admitting that his career hasn't got long left. Nonaka isn't going to be seen as a major threat at world level, but he and his team are clearly chasing one big bout. Interestingly that may come in December, if WBA "regular" champion Ryota Murata is in need for dance partner following Jeff Horn's recent loss.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Tomorrow we'll see WBO Asia Pacific Middleweight champion Yuki Nonaka (33-10-3, 10) [野中 悠樹] make his first defense of the title title, as he takes on South Korean puncher Yang Hyun Min (8-2, 7) [양현민].
Today the two fighters took part in their weigh in for the contest and both men made the 160lb Middleweight limit.
On the scales Nonaka came in at around 159.6lbs, and looked strong and powerful on the scales. Min was much lighter, at 158.1lbs.
At the weigh in both fighters spoke about winning, though it's clear that Nonaka enters a big favourite. Despite being the wrong side of 40 Nonaka has the edge in skills, experience and still looks much better than many younger fighters. The move up in weight, from Light Middleweight to Middleweight, is also likely to have given Nonaka's career some extra legs, even after 46 bouts many of which have been at national or regional title level.
Related - Preview - Yuki Nonaka Vs Yang Hyun Min
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
In August Boxing Raise, sadly, under-delivered. For September however it looks like they are looking to make up for that a poor month with 9 cards in total being added to their service, including 4 that are going to be made free to none member and 5 that are members only, with 1 card being live.
The first of the cards will be the September 12th Victoriva 5 show, featuring 2 female world title fights. The service will then get 5 of the cards from from September 15th and 16th. On paper those cards aren't amazing, but 2 of them are Rookie of the Year cards, which will be available for free, another is headlined by Masanori Rikiishi (6-1, 4) [佐藤政法] battling Freddy Fonseca (27-3-1, 18) and another will be headlined by WBO Asia Pacific Middleweight champion Yuki Nonaka (33-10-3, 10) [野中 悠樹] defending against South Korean puncher Yang Hyun Min (8-2, 7) [양현민].
Those shows are expected to be posted through the month, despite all taking place in such a limited amount of time.
We get the one live card for the month on September 21st and it's a cracker. It will feature a Japanese Super Bantamweight title bout, pitting champion Yusaku Kuga (18-3-1, 11) [久我勇作] against Yosuke Fujihara (18-6, 5) [藤原陽介], a WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title fight between Tsubasa Murachi (4-0, 3) [村地翼] and former world title challenger Froilan Saludar (30-3-1, 21), and an excellent Japanese title eliminator between Kai Ishizawa (6-0, 6) [石澤開] and former world title challenger Masataka Taniguchi (11-3, 7) [谷口 将隆]. This is a great card, and we're incredibly grateful for the fact it will be streamed live.
We then end the month with two more Rookie shows, that will be made free to view, likely in early October.
This is a great month to be a subscriber, and a great month even if your not, thanks to all the free content the service is making available!
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