There aren't many Closet Classics that we could legitimately describe as one-sided pastings but in 2013 we had such oddity in a bout that was just incredible, despite being incredibly one sided.It was the heart and determination of one incredibly tough and brave guy up against the power and speed of another, in a bout that was nothing short of compelling. This was an insane bout, but one that everyone who saw it will remember for a long time!
Nihito Arakawa (24-2-1, 16) vs Omar Figueroa Jr (21-0-1, 17)
Japan's Nihito Arakawa was a relative unknown. Promoted by the Hachioji Nakaya boxing gym he was known among the hardcore Japanese fans but wasn't really a star. He had spent much of his career, up to this, fighting at home and although he had won both the OPBF and Japanese titles he wasn't someone spoken about as being a future world champion. He was rugged, tough, with a good engine, but that was about the best that could be said of his ability. He was fun to watch, but wins against the likes of Yoshitaka Kato, Akihiro Kondo and Takehiro Shimada were about as good as it got. Aged 31 at this point he was seen as a lamb to the slaughter.
Omar Figueroa Jr, at this point better known than his sister, was a rising star of American boxing. He was unbeaten, aggressive, hard hitting, and a destructive ball of fury with 4 opening rounds wins in his previous 5 bouts. Although still fundamentally quite raw he was just blasting through opponent and creating a reputation as one of the most promising young Americans at the time. As Mauro Ranallo, commentating for Showtime, described him, "a star on the rise". Despite blotting his record in 2010, with a draw against Arturo Quintero, Figueroa had become a real must watch fighter and wins over Michael Perez and Abner Cotto had done much to enhance his reputation as TV friendly slugger.
Figueroa started exactly as we'd all expected, and was letting bombs go just seconds into the bout. Arakawa responded by trying to fight fire with fire. It seemed a stupid tactic from Arakawa, who took some heavy leather early on and was dropped in round 2. Arakawa took his lumps however and fought toe to toe with the American.
As the fight went on the toughness of Arakawa became more and more impressive as the two continued to trade bombs through out. As the bout went on the momentum began to shift, as Figueroa's engine began to be tested, and his hands began shown signs of being damaged.
It seemed that the gameplan for Arakawa was to come on stronger, in the later rounds and that made things incredibly interesting later on in what was an instant classic.
If you've seen this one it's worth watching once again. If you've not seen it it's well and truly worth your time! With SHOSTATS showing more than 2000 punches thrown between the two men, this was an incredible war! One sided overall but still incredible!
Over the last decade or so boxing in Korea has struggled to make any sort of dent on the international stage. There have been flashes of potential, most notably Min Wook Kim, and fighters who have made a dent at the regional level, like Sa Myung Noh and Jung Kyoung Lee, but they have had very short term success.
The one exception right appears to be the enigmatic Ye Joon Kim (18-1-2, 10). Kim really is the only fringe world level Korean out there right now, but Injuries and inconsistent performances have limited his success and he's not really progressed beyond "fringe contender" over the last 3 or so years. Kim is well beyond being a prospect but he's really only a single good year away from moving from "contender" to "title challenger".
Today we look at the fighters following Kim through the ranks, and take a look at 5 of the top Korean prospects making their mark on the sport today. These are the fighters we see as leading the wave of Koreans looking to put the sport on the map in the country that gave us so many greats in the 1970's and 80's.
Jong Seon Kang (10-0-2, 6)
Exciting 18 year old old battler Jong Seon Kang made his debut in November 2017, only a month after his 16 birthday, and has quickly emerged as one of the nations shining hopefuls. The exciting Featherweight began his career 8-0 (5) in low level bouts in Korea. The most notable of his early wins was over Uzbek Ravshanbek Shermatov, and that put him on our radar. Since then he has gone 2-0-2, whilst notching notable wins on the road in China and Vietnam.
Although not the most polished fighter out there Kang is a very hard working fighter who has shown a great engine, incredible will to win and the desire to shine. There is a talented young kid here who needs real work, but has things you just can't teach a fighter, and his ability to bite down and fight through adversity is incredibly impressive. His win in China over Qixiu Zhang was good but his November win over Tomjune Mangubat was excellent.
Min Jang (10-0-2, 2)
Unbeaten 19 year old Min Jang might have 2 draws against his name in just 12 fights but don't let that suggest that the talented Southpaw isn't a prospect with real potential. The light footed, sharp punching boxer-moved is a real one to watch and has impressed since making his debut at the age of 17 back in 2017. He was unfortunate to mark up his record with a technical draw on debut but followed it up with 3 before another draw in 2018. Since the he has gone on a 7 fighter winning run, winning a South Korean Super Flyweight title and more recently the WBA Asia Super Bantamweight title.
Unlike many Korean fighters Jang isn't someone we would describe as a warrior or a work rate fighter. Instead he fights at range, boxes off the back foot and fights smartly. He fights to his strengths, using his speed and long, wiry arms, and as we saw against Junhui Zhao recently, he can deal with pressure pretty well.
Given his age Jang should certainly be given time to mature, develop and fill into the Super Bantamweight division. When he does that we wouldn't be surprised to see him fighting at OPBF level down the line. If his team are smart they will give him time, let him mature, and develop his power. He'll never by a KO artist, but with a bit more sting on his shots he could be a dark horse for the future.
Woo Hyun Kim (9-1, 1)
At 22 years old Woo Hyun Kim is one of the older prospects on this list, though also the one with strongest achievements. He made his debut back in 2014, at the age of 16, and won a Korean Super Flyweight title back in just his 4th pro bout, back in 2014. In 2015 he suffered his first, and so far only, loss as he came up short to Yo Han Bae. Despite the loss he bounced back quickly and won the interim PABA title in his very next fight. A single defense of that PABA title followed before Kim vanished from the ring for almost 3 years.
Kim returned to the ring last June, taking a 6 round decision win over Chinese foe Junhui Zhao, and built on that win recently with a victory over former OPBF Flyweight champion Keisuke Nakayama, for the WBA Asia Super Flyweight title.
With bouts against international fighters, including Nakayama and Michael Barnor, we've seen Kim fighting above domestic level and genuinely impressing. He's an outside fighter who looks relaxed in the ring, sets a decent tempo and moves around the ring very easily. Sadly he does lack power, and that will likely hold him back more than anything else, but he has the scales to make a mark at the upper echelons of the regional scene.
Da Won Gang (4-0, 2)
Debuting in May 2019 Da Won Gang has raced into the conversation as the best Korean prospect out there right now. The 19 year won the "Battle Royal", the KBM answer to the Rookie of the Year, last year and has already set himself up for a KBM title fight this year. The 140lb fighter looks like a brilliant, yet raw, talent with aggression, skills and power. It took Gang less than 6 months to go from debut to Battle Royal triumph, dominant the older Yoon Ki Kim in the final, and kicked off 2020 with an impressive blow out against Jin Su Kim.
Gang appears to still be a rather raw fighter, who certainly needs some polishing, but with natural ability, an aggressive mentality, and solid power, he is certainly someone worthy of making a note of. The real thing to note is that Gang has time on his side and he should be seen a major hope for Korean boxing in the longer term.
So far he's yet to fight someone willing to make a fight and try to actually beat him, and we suspect that when that happens we'll see the best of him. Sadly his two biggest wins have come against rather negative opponents, and they have made him look a touch cruder than he really is.
Sung Min Yuh (4-0)
Arguably the most naturally gifted fighter on this list is 154lb fighter Sung Min Yuh, who looks to be incredibly well schooled. Yuh won the KBM "Battle Royal", like Gang, last year and looked a natural in the ring with his sharp punching, slick defensive skills and surprisingly solid work on the inside. He's a big, tall fighter who uses his size well and lands crunching body shots, and is a real talent. Sadly Yuh has several major issues. His work rate doesn't match his ability, and he is very much a fighter in the "talented but lazy" mould, he is also someone who seems to want to amuse a very small number of fans, his family and friends, rather than put in dominant displays in the ring.
Later this year the 18 year old Yuh will be fighting for the KBM Light Middleweight title, where he will face former foe Do Ha Kim for the second time. He'll be expected to win, having already beaten Kim, but the issue for us is more his performance. If he can put it all together he won't just beat Kim, but will do so with ease. Sadly that's a huge "if" and we wouldn't be surprised by Yuh's laziness costing him at some point, which would hopefully serve as a wake up call.
In all honesty we're being harsh on the teenager, who only debuted in March 2019, but that's because he is such a natural pure talent. Other fighters would kill to have his gifts.
(Image courtesy of BoxingM)
The Japan Vs Mexico rivalry has given us some incredible fights over the years and today we look at one of those fights for this week's Closet Classic, and this may go down as one of the most over-looked fights in that great rivalry. Despite the fact it's a relatively knew fight and was a sensational war, taking place only a few years ago in 2013. This fight saw knockdowns being traded, power shots thrown and an absolutely incredibly amount of punishment being handed out.
Takashi Miura (25-2-2, 19) vs Sergio Thompson (27-2, 25)
Japan's Takashi Miura had won the WBC Super Featherweight title in April 2013, battering Gamaliel Diaz into submission in 9 rounds. Miura hadn't impressed as a boxer, losing a number of rounds to Diaz, but his power was a difference maker. He had dropped Diaz in rounds 3,6,7 and 9 to secure his victory. Prior to winning the title Miura had been best known for his 2011 bout with WBA champion Takashi Uchiyama, dropping Uchiyama before being stopped himself, and the one thing that was clear, through his career, was that Miura could punch. Going into this bout that power was seen as being his key, as getting a decision on the road is never easy.
Mexican fighter Sergio "Yeyo" Thompson was a relative unknown outside of Mexico, until 2012, when he upset Jorge Linares. That was his big break out win and he followed it up with 5 straight stoppages in the 14 months that followed, leading him to his world title shot with Miura. Although not well known it was clear that Thompson could punch. He stopping people left, right and centre and was unbeaten since a split decision in September 2010 against Alisher Rakhimov, since which he had gone 13-0 (12). Coming into the fight with Miura the Mexican puncher was 29, and it really seemed like it was now or never. A loss here and there was a chance he was never going to get another world title bout, especially with his 30th birthday just a few weeks away.
From the very round round it was clear than neither man wanted to hear the final bell, in fact that should have been obvious before even a punch was thrown. Despite that neither man wanted to take too many risks, and they were both looking for the angle and position to land their power shots. They were both stood at mid range, looking to land their hooks. It seemed "Yeyo" did enough to take a relative quiet opening round, but it wasn't long until the touch paper was lit in round 2 and bombs started to be landed by both men, with Thompson being dropped part way through the round. It was the first of 3 knockdowns between the men who really tried to crack through each others chins.
This wasn't an all action war, though was high action, and got better and better as the fight went on. The deliberate early pace, that built to a growing crescendo made for an edge of the seat spectacle, and it had a continual feeling that a single punch, from either, would be the undoing of the other man. Jabs were almost non-existent, with hooks, crosses, uppercuts being the order of the day.
This was war, this was action, this was brilliant!
On Sunday we finished our Fighter of the Decade countdown, and now we look towards the future with out prediction of who will be the top 10 at the end of this coming decade. Before we start however we'll just reflect slightly.
For the decade we've just seen finish 2 of the top 10, including the winner, actually debuted after the decade began. The other 8 fighters had all debuted before the decade began, with 7 fighters debuting between 2000 and 2009 and 1, Manny Pacquiao, debuting in the 1990's. It's worth noting that two of those in our top 10 debuted in 2009, so essentially 40% of those making it into the top 10 debuted in either the final year of the decade, or in the decade it's self.
Only 3 of the top 10 went unbeaten during the decade, so an unbeaten record isn't necessary to claim a top 10 spot. Also there was 4 men who didn't move weight, showing that good enough competition and dominance in 1 weight class is enough to claim a place on the list. It does however help to have the ability to move through the weights, with that clearly being a big factor for several fighters.
Despite debuting in 2018 we don't expect many fight fans to be aware of Phoobadin Yoohanngoh, but the Thai teenager is someone well and truly worth attention, and is a long term one to watch. He's still only a teenager, and will be for a chunk of the decade, but the 130lb youngster is someone with a lot of potential and he showed that potential in 2019 when he won "The Fighter" tournament. He's still very young, and very much a work in progress, but he has time on his side a lot of room for development and the backing of a notable Thai promoter, with TL Promotion behind him. This is very much a left of center choice, but when looking at this coming decade we are looking at young fighters looking to make their mark over the coming years, and Phoobadin is just that type of fighter.
Having debuted in 2018 Ginjiro Shigeoka has got himself into a great position as we enter the decade. He is already a regional champion and looks likely to fight for a world title in the first year of the decade. At just 20 years old he has time on his side, and we mean a lot of time on his side, and we wouldn't be surprised to see him fight right through the decade, giving him 20 or so fights to build up his record. He has spoken about wanting to run up 20 defenses and given his frame there's a real possibility that he will only really fight in 1 weight class. We rate Shigeoka highly in terms of skills and potential, but his diminutive size will limit his potential to climb up the rankings.
Few Filipino prospects have shown that they have the tools to fly the flag over the next decade or so, but one that has is Dave Apolinario, who has skills, youth, speed and a boxing brain. The youngster was 20 when the decade began, giving him a full decade in the sport to come, and he has all the tools to develop a very credible career off of. So far he is pretty untested, but in reality that's expected to chance in 2020 and 2021 before he climbs through the ranks and begins to mix at a much higher level. In recent years he's been fighting at Flyweight, though could likely move up a couple of divisions before his career is over. He won't be fast tracked like some, but will certainly be worthy of attention when he hits his prime.
For the last decade Naoya Inoue took the #1 place for this decade however we see him sliding down the rankings a lot. Part of that is to do with his age, and what we see him achieving over the next decade. Entering the decade the "Monster" is 26 years old, so if he complete the full decade he'll be 36 by the end of it. We suspect that he'll probably finish his career a year or two before that, and he has mentioned retiring at the age of 35. Of course that is pretty much the full decade, so he has the potential to do a lot but with age and accumulated damage there's a chance he won't be mega active right through the decade. There's also the fact we suspect his maximum effective weight is going to be Featherwieght, which gives him only another 2 weight classes to conqueror. What he did last decade is impressive but has little bearing on what he'll do this decade, other than starting him at Bantamweight. We expect a big decade for Inoue, but not something that matches up with what he did in the 10's.
As mentioned previously 2 of the fighters who made it into the top 10 of the previous decade hadn't debuted by the start of the debut. With that in mind we should look at the fighters who haven't turned professional yet, but could do in the next couple of years. One such fighter is Hayato Tsutsumi, who currently 20 years old, still an amateur and at 5'7" has the size to move through a few divisions. He'll not turn professional until late this year, at the earliest, and could well have the backing of some very significant players in the Japanese when he does turn professional. We see Tsutsumi as being the Japanese ace of the future. Whilst we acknowledge it's a big call putting him this high up the list all signs point towards him being able to make a huge impact in the next decade.
Two things that really are key in how we can rank someone is their age as we enter the decade, and their ability to move through weight classes. Few fighters have the upside in those two categories as Junto Nakatani. He was 21 when the decade began, turning 22 on January 2nd, and standing at 5'7" he has the natural size to fill out his frame and move through the weight as he ages and matures. Just to put into some perspective just how big Nakatani the young southpaw he's more than 1" taller than Nonito Donaire, who managed to have success at Bantamweight. Whilst we're not expecting Nakatani to be the next Donaire we do expect him to be a major star in the next decade and a multi-weight world champion. He has all the tools to be one of the biggest names in Japanese boxing and fit in excess of 20 fights into the decade.
As with Hayato Tsutsumi we're picking outside the box again and looking towards amateur standouts with this pick as Thai teenager Atichai Phoemsap deserves a serious mention for the future. The 19 year old is a standout amateur, a truly brilliant little youngster who has already won gold at the Youth Olympics, World Youth Championships and Asian Youth championships in 2018. Of course amateur success on the Youth scene doesn't guarantee anyone success in the professional ranks, but from what we've seen of Atichai he has the potential to be a star in the professional ranks. Don't be surprised if he turns pro in a year or two and is raced through the ranks, backed by a strong promoter in Thailand and moved in a very aggressive manner. Entering the decade as a teenager and with serious potential Atichai is the dark horse to be a major player in the 20's.
If Uzbek fighter Israil Madrimov was just 2 years younger we would have placed him better on this list, but with his 25th birthday coming in February he'll be in his mid 30's by the end of the decade, and given his style is a very athletic based one we suspect he will be sliding by the end of the decade. Madrimov is a true athletic freak. He's quick, has great stamina, speed, timing, balance and power. Scarily he keeps those traits whether he's fighting orthodox or southpaw and he's going to be a very, very hard man to beat. Along with his age we are also concerned about his lack of stature, and at 5′ 8½″ his ability to move up the scales is limited. We suspect he has the natural tools to make a mark all the way up to Light Heavyweight, late in his career, but he'll likely struggle up there at 175lbs against naturally bigger, stronger men.
At 23 year old when we enter the decade we suspect that Uzbek Bektemir Melikuziev will have a better decade than his slightly older compatriot Israil Madrimov, though we suspect the two men will have very similar careers overall. The big punching, body snatching Melikuziev broke into the pros in June 2019 and ended the decade 4-0 (3) having proven that he can box, move, bang, brawl and fight. Oh and he can pretty much send an opponents stomach out of their body with a shot to the midsection. Although not quite the athletic freak that Madrimov is we see more technical polish with Melikuziev and with the slight age difference and slight height difference he just has those little advantages that we suspect could split the two men at the end of 2029.
Aged just 21 as we started the decade Sadriddin Akhmedov has the world at at his finger tips. He's entered the decade 11-0 (10) and appears to be the all-round star that Kazakhstan needs to replace the ageing Gennady Golovkin. He's heavy handed, technically very good, aggressive, exciting and knows how to box safely when he needs to. We do wonder whether Eye of the Tiger Management have the power to push him to the very, very top, but we suspect they will work with a bigger promoter, if needed, to net Akhmedov the top fights he needs to make the decade his. Given his youth he will fill out his frame and move quite easily from 154lbs to 160lbs and potentially all the way up to 175lbs. This young man is a very, very special fighter and someone we advise every fight to be following very closely going forward.
By Eric Armit
-Jeison Rosario stops Julian Williams to win the IBF, WBA and IBO super welter titles
-Chris Colbert lifts the WBA interim super feather belt by decisioning Jezzrel Corrales
-Eleider Alvarez returns with a win as he knocks out Michael Seals
-Sebastian Formella retains the IBO welterweight title with decision over Roberto Arriaza
-Felix Verdejo outpoints Manuel Rojas as he rebuilds
-Former champion Jonathan Guzman and title challenger Chris Diaz score wins
WORLD TITLE/ MAJOR SHOWS
Philadelphia, PA, USA: Super Welter: Jeison Rosario (20-1-1) W TKO 5 Julian Williams (27-2-1,1ND). Super Feather: Chris Colbert (14-0) W PTS 12 Jezzrel Corrales (23-4,1ND). Super Feather: Jose Luis Gallegos (19-8) W PTS 8 Ricky Lopez (21-5-1). Super Welter: Jorge Cota (30-4) W TKO 5 Thomas LaManna (28-3-1). Middle: Kyrone Davis (15-2) W TKO 4 Antonio Todd (7-2). Super Welter: Paul Kroll (7-0) W TKO 4 Marcel Rivers (7-3)
Rosario vs. Williams
In a major upset Rosario wins the IBF, WBA and IBO titles as he batters champion Williams to defeat in five rounds.
Williams had his jab working well. He was quicker than Rosario and also connected with some sharp straight rights. Rosario was coming forward but not throwing much and being beaten to the punch but he landed enough to raise a bump under the right eye of Williams.
Score: 10-9 Williams
A very good round for Rosario. Now he was letting his punches fly. He found the range for his jab and was firing hooks from both hands. Williams was short with his jabs and was firing one punch at a time whereas Rosario was punching in burst. In the last minute of the round Williams was cut on his left eyelid by a punch. Rosario then bombarded Williams with hooks and uppercuts to the bell.
Score: 10-9 Rosario TIED 19-19
This was a closer round. Williams was visible affected by the cut and Rosario was able to score with some good rights early. Rosario landed a good combination but Williams stopped Rosario in his tracks with a hard right cross and had his jab on target just doing enough to take the round.
Score: 10-9 Williams Williams 29-28
Williams jabbed well at the start of the round but gradually Rosario took control and he was the one connecting with strong jabs. He was putting his punches together well cracking home hooks and outworking and outscoring Williams who was dabbing at the blood from his cut.
Score: 10-9 Rosario TIED 38-38
Williams started the round by forcing Rosario back with his jab. Williams connected with a couple of good hooks but as they traded punches a left hook staggered Williams and he backed up with Rosario in pursuit. Rosario was landing clubbing punches to the head. Williams was staggering and desperately clutching Rosario who spun around and pushed him off with Williams tumbling to the floor. It was no knockdown but Williams had trouble getting vertical again. He indicated he was willing to continue but Rosario drove him to a corner and unloaded with punches until Williams slid along the ropes and buckled at the legs. He stopped himself from going down but the referee rightly stopped the fight.
Miami-based Dominican Rosario had suffered a crushing defeat when he was floored three times and stopped by Nat Gallimore in 2017 and was distinctly unimpressive when drawing with Mark Hernandez in early 2018. From there he rebuilt in style with wins over Justin DeLoach, Jamontay Clark and Jorge Cota to earn the title shot. He is a rangy hard-punching fighter as he showed with the left hook that was the beginning of the end for Williams. There is a return clause in the contract which Williams has said he will enforce. The IBF rules exclude any return bout agreements if they interfere with the mandatory defence and since Williams was the mandatory challenger when he beat Jarrett Hurd a return with Rosario would not contravene that rule so the return could be done but Williams will need a long rest after this defeat.
Colbert vs. Corrales
Colbert wins the vacant WBA Interim title as he decisions Corrales in a poor fight. It was general posing and probing in the first with both fighters unwilling to commit themselves too much. They were still very cagey in the second with the better work coming from Corrales behind his southpaw jab. The third was dire. The fighters spent most of the round posturing and bobbing weaving around punches that only they could see. Colbert tried to be positive but Corrales hardly threw a punch and the crowd was becoming restive. By the fourth the crowd had gone from restive to outright booing as neither fighter was willing to take any chances. Corrales picked up the points with a couple of quick jabs but these two styles were like oil and water. Corrales connected with a couple of good punches at the start of the fifth then he went back to dodging phantom punches and a frustrated Colbert tried clowning with both hands flapping at waist level but Corrales did not take the bait. It was a little bit better in the sixth and seventh with a few more punches thrown and both having some success with Colbert having the edge but again with periods where the fighters just tried to out-feint each other. The fight finally broke out in the eighth and ninth with some trading and Corrales was down in the tenth as he was caught with a left and then touched the canvas with his glove as he fell back avoiding a right that grazed the top of his head. Things got rough in the eleventh as Colbert landed a series of punches that had Corrales grasping him to get out of trouble. Colbert spun around and threw Corrales off with Corrales going out through the lower ropes and almost off the ruing apron and the bell going as Corrales climbed back into the ring. The last saw both fighters trying to turn things their way but neither really dominated an untidy round. Scores 117-110 twice and 116-111 all for Colbert. A disappointing fight and if it had not been for Colbert forcing it at times there would not have been a fight. The 23-year-old from Brooklyn was US National champion in 2015 but chose to turn professional rather than compete at the US Olympic Trials. He earned his shot at the interim title with wins over Alberto Mercado and Miguel Beltran. No one looks good against a spoiler such as Corrales so Colbert is better than he showed in this fight. Panamanian Corrales, a former WBA super feather champion, lost his title when he failed to make the weight for a defence against Mercado and was knocked out in the fifth round of the fight. In his last fight he lost a split decision against Ladarius Miller but he gets a title shot-now remind me where the WBA is based-oh yes-Panama!
Gallegos vs. Lopez
Unfancied Gallegos edges out Lopez over eight competitive rounds. Scores 77-74 twice and 76-75 for Gallegos. After four consecutive losses against good level opposition including then unbeaten Erick de Leon and Jhack Tepora Gallegos has bounced back with three wins. Lopez had put together an 8-0-1 unbeaten run before this one.
Cota vs. LaManna
Cota steam-rollers La Manna to defeat in five one-sided rounds. That Cota should fight as a southpaw was unexpected but that he would march forward throwing hooks and uppercuts was certainly on the cards. The sheer work rate of Cota was just too much for LaManna. Cota never allowed LaManna any room constantly pinning the taller man against the ropes and showering him with punches. When he was able to make some space LaManna was in the fight but he was making the mistake of handing the initiative to Cota and even urging the Mexican to stand and trade which suited Cota. LaManna’s was showing facial damage from the first round. LaManna occasionally managed to stop Cota in his tracks with right counters but each time Cota just took a step back and then came forward throwing hooks, uppercuts and some punches that don’t even have names yet. The Mexican was not looking to block LaManna’s punches preferring to use upper body movement leaving his hands free to keep swinging punches. LaManna was slowly being broken apart and was throwing less and less in response. In the fifth Cota landed a couple of choice uppercuts that drove LaManna back and as the towel came in from LaManna’s corner the referee stepped in to stop the fight ironically just as LaManna was signalling for Cota to bring it on. The 32-year-old Cota was put into some tough fights last year only losing on a split decision to now champion Rosario but being knocked out in three rounds by Jermell Charlo. This win should get him some good paydays. He was No 6 with the WBA and but for the possible return match between Rosario and Williams a case could be made for Cota getting a shot at the title. Since losing to Dusty Hernandez Harrison in 2016 LaManna had gone 7-0-1 against good level opposition but any thoughts of a title fight have gone now.
Davis vs. Todd
Davis stops Todd in four rounds for his sixth inside the distance victory as he settles back in as a middleweight. A former National PAL champion Davis tried to step down a weight but a loss to Patrick Day in March 2018 followed by seventeen months of inactivity has seen him up at middleweight again. Second inside the distance loss for Todd who was beaten on a split decision by Nat Gallimore in August.
Kroll vs. Rivers
Philadelphian prospect Kroll crushes Rivers in four rounds. “The Punisher” just punched too hard for the very modest Rivers. After rattling Rivers a couple of times over the first two rounds Kroll floored him in the third and twice more in the fourth to force the stoppage. Kroll, 24, won the US Olympic Trials for the Rio Olympics but lost in both the Americas and World Qualifiers. He has won six of his pro fights by KO/TKO. Now three losses in a row for fellow-Philadelphian Rivers and this is supposed to be the City of Brotherly Love!
Verona, NY, USA: Light Heavy: Eleider Alvarez (25-1) W KO 7 Michael Seals (24-3). Light: Felix Verdejo (26-1) W PTS 10 Manuel Rojas (18-4). Super Bantam: Jonathan Guzman (24-1,1ND) W KO 3 Rodolfo Hernandez (30-9-1,1ND). Feather: Chris Diaz (25-2) W PTS 8 Adeilson Dos Santos (19-8). Super Feather: Abraham Nova (18-0) W TKO 4 Pedro Navarrete (30-25-3). Heavy: Devin Vargas (22-6) W DISQ 8 Victor Bisbal (23-5). Heavy: Jared Anderson (3-0) W KO 1 Andrew Satterfield (5-3).
Alvarez vs. Seals
Alvarez returns after eleven months of inactivity with kayo of Seals in a slow-paced fight. Alvarez made the more positive start coming in behind his jab and throwing rights. He was off in his timing apart from a strong right cross in the second and Seals was having trouble putting his punches together. By the third an occasional boo from the crowd reflected the lack of any sustained action and it was the same in the fourth with too many untidy clinches and Alvarez doing what clean work there was. Seales showed a bit more fire in the fifth but just before the bell a right from Alvarez staggered Seals. Alvarez upped his pace in the sixth and for a short while there were some fierce exchanges until the clinching started again. Seals was having some success with rights in the seventh but with less than ten seconds to go in the round Alvarez nailed him with a terrific right cross. Seals went down hard landing on his back on the canvas with his head resting on the bottom rope. The referee started to count but saw Seals was not going to get up and just waived the fight over. A great punch to end what had been a disappointing fight. The 35-year-old Colombian is still very much a player in the division in which there are plenty of possible matches for him. . Seales had never gone past six rounds before due mainly to blowing away some substandard opposition and he had managed less than five rounds of boxing in the last 15 months.
Verdejo vs. Rojas
Verdejo takes wide unanimous decision over Rojas but is still some way short of the great prospect he looked three or four years ago. It was apparent in the first that Verdejo had quicker hands and was more mobile as he pierced the guard of Rojas with jabs. Verdejo put more variety into his work in the second and third with combination of hooks and straight rights and he rocked Rojas with a crisp right uppercut. Rojas was effective with his jab bringing a bump under the left eye of Verdejo and a trickle of blood from the Puerto Rican’s nose. Rojas was working hard but Verdejo was more accurate and picking up the points. It was a fast-paced open contest but just did not seem to catch fire. The further the fight went the more important the accurate jabbing and slick movement from Verdejo was in deciding the outcome. Rojas was coming forward over the late rounds but he was never really able to apply any serious pressure on Verdejo and it was the Puerto Rican’s superior skills that dominated the fight. Scores 99-91, 98-92, 97-93 for Verdejo. After being injured in a motorcycle accident and being stopped by Antonio Lozada there were serious questions over the future of Verdejo. Top Rank will give him the opposition he needs to rebuild but on this rather flat performance he has plenty of work to do. After a second round stoppage loss to Andy Vences in 2015 Rojas had put together seven wins but he did not have the skills to match Verdejo.
Guzman vs. Hernandez
A real old fashioned donnybrook sees both former IBF super bantamweight champion Guzman and Hernandez on the floor in three rounds of action between a couple of heavy punchers. Guzman had won 22 of his 23 fights by KO/TKO and it looked like a very early night when he put Hernandez on the floor twice with body punches in the opening round. Hernandez just barely survived and was under fire again in the second. Shortly before the end of the round a big right from Hernandez dropped Guzman hard. He struggled to his feet and this time it was Guzman who only just survived. He was still shaky in the third but half way through the round he connected with a rib-bending left hook that put Hernandez down and he was counted out. Wow! This was Guzman’s first fight for fourteen months and only his second since losing his IBF title to Yukinori Oguni in December 2016. Only 4 of Hernandez’s 42 fights have gone the distance. Unfortunately that includes nine losses by KO/TKO.
Diaz vs. Dos Santos
Diaz gets in some useful work as he easily handles Dos Santos on the way to a unanimous decision. Diaz was taking the fight to Dos Santos early. He was quicker with his jab and stepping in with left hooks to the body and straight rights. Southpaw Dos Santos was mainly on the back foot with Diaz ducking under his jab to connect with hooks. From early in the fight it was clear that Dos Santos was going to be happy to go the distance and that Diaz in his first fight for nine months was boxing well within himself. Diaz put in a big effort in the last driving Dos Santos around the ropes with hooks from both hands but the Brazilian was never in any real danger. Scores 80-72 for Diaz. His two losses have come in big fights against Masayuki Ito for the vacant WBO super feather title and Shakur Stevenson over ten rounds in April last year. With inactivity he has dropped out of the ratings but will be looking to work his way to another title shot. Dos Santos was stopped in two rounds by Jessie Magdaleno in a challenge for the WBO super bantam title in 2017 and has now lost five in a row.
Nova vs. Navarrete
Another blockbuster display by Nova as he dismantles experienced Mexican Navarrete inside four rounds. The 26-year-old Puerto Rican dumped Navarrete on the floor in the second, third and fourth rounds before the fight was halted. Now fourteen wins inside the distance for “Super” Nova a former National Golden Gloves champion. He has largely flown under the radar having fought many of his recent bouts in Belgium but also in Mexico, Dominican Republic and Chile as well as the USA. Now 38 Navarrete slips to 2-10 in his last twelve fights but nearly all of them on the other guy’s territory and he usually goes the distance.
Vargas vs. Bisbal
Vargas wins a clash of oldies as Bisbal is thrown out in the eighth round. Despite being floored in the second round Vargas had built a winning lead after seven rounds over the ponderous Bisbal. He was greatly helped by Bisbal being deducted two points in the fourth for fouls. When Bisbal landed low again in the last the referee disqualified him. Vargas, 38, is on a switch-back with his recent results. Before this win he had suffered a first round kayo loss against Andy Ruiz, an inside the distance victory over Niall Kennedy and a loss on points to Junior Fa. Puerto Rican Bisbal, 39, was 21-1 at one time but this is only his fourth fight in almost four years.
Anderson vs. Satterfield
Yet another new face on the heavyweight picture. Anderson floored poor Satterfield twice ending the fight with thirty seconds left in the opening round. The 20-year-old 6’4” tall prospect from Toledo has won all three of his fights in the first round taking less than five minutes to do so. The opposition has been poor but he has shown real power. He collected gold medals at the 2015 US Junior National Championships, the 2016 US Youth National Championships, the 2017 National Golden Gloves and the US Élite National Champions in both 2017 and 2018. Third first round loss for Satterfield.
Sloan, IA, USA: Super Light: Shohjahon Ergashev (18-0) W KO 1 Adrian Estrella (29-5). Super Middle: Vladimir Shishkin (10-0) W PTS 10 Ulises Sierra (15-1-2). Super Fly: Jarico O’Quinn (14-0-1) W PTS 8 Oscar Vasquez (15-3-1). Super Light: Brandun Lee (18-0) W KO 1 Miguel Zamudio (44-15-1).
Ergashev vs. Estrella
Ergashev ends this one in quick time with a devastating body punch. He had Estrella backing up and threw a southpaw left hook which blasted under Estrella’s too high right elbow and slammed into the Mexican’s ribs. Estrella took a step back and then collapsed in pain writhing on floor whilst the referee completed the count. All over in 92 seconds. The 28-year-old Detroit-based Uzbek “Descendant of Tamerlane” has won 16 of his 18 fights by KO/TKO and is rated IBF 6//WBA 6/WBO 11 and looks a very real threat. Estrella translates as “star” and Estrella is certainly a fallen star. At one time he was world rated and considered one of the best prospects in Mexico with his record standing at 28-1 with 24 inside the distance victories, but his 1-4 in his last 5 fights indicates the direction in which he is heading.
Shishkin vs. Sierra
In a clash of unbeaten fighters Russian Shishkin takes unanimous decision over Sierra. Both fighters claimed they had been affected by pre-fight injuries and it was more noticeable in the sparse use of his left by Shishkin. The fight was fairly even over the first four rounds with both connecting well in the second and Shishkin having a slight edge. From the fifth Shishkin was outscoring Sierra landing strong straight rights and Sierra began to tire. Shishkin dominated over the last three rounds rocking Sierra with rights but a gutsy Sierra refused to crumble and was still there at the final bell. Scores 99-91 twice and 100-90 for Shishkin. The 28-year-old Shishkin, a gold medallist at the Russian Under-22 championships and the World Cup of Petroleum Countries, fought with an injured left arm otherwise he might have stopped Sierra in the late rounds. Sierra was having his first fight since beating Fidel Hernandez in April last year
O’Quinn vs. Vasquez
Detroit hope O’Quinn was made to work hard to get his win over Vasquez. Although Vasquez was giving away 6” to the 5’6” O’Quinn It was Vasquez who made the better start connecting with some good shots in the first. O’Quinn settled into the fight in the second. Vasquez kept pressing the action but the slicked and quicker O’Quinn made him pay on the way in with hooks from both hands and more than matched Vasquez inside. It was close-action stuff in every round with O’Quinn the more accurate and having the harder punch rocking Vasquez in both the seventh and eighth. Three scores of 79-73 on the cards for O’Quinn. The 24-year-old has won his last seven fights and is rated No 10 by the WBO. He was a three-time US Youth champion and looks a good prospect. Vasquez did his job by making O’Quinn work hard but is now 0-2-1in his last three fights. As with Ergashev and Shishkin O’Quinn is trained at the Kronk gym by “Sugarhill” Steward the nephew of the late Manny Steward.
Lee vs. Zamudio
If Lee keeps knocking his opposition out in quick time he is eventually going to get recognised for the prospect that he is. The 20-year-old blasted out more experienced Zamudio inside three minutes for his sixteenth win by KO/TKO and his ninth in a row. Eleven of his wins have come in the first round. Born in California Lee is of mixed Mexican and Korean parentage. He was National Junior Golden Gloves champion three times before turning pro at 17. Mexican Zamudio has been beaten inside the distance fourteen times.
Hinckley, MN, USA: Feather: Ramiro Hernandez (16-0) W PTS 8 Vincent Jennings (6-11-2). Cruiser: Al Sands (21-4-1) W PTS 8 Phil Williams (16-10-3).
Hernandez vs. Jennings
Hernandez gets off the floor to outpoint Jennings. Hernandez took the lead early forcing Jennings onto the defensive with well-timed punches to head and body. In the third as Hernandez continued to come forward a counter to the body put him down but it was as much due to Hernandez being off balance as the punch. Hernandez was not hurt and clawed back the two points in the fourth by flooring Jennings. Hernandez seemed to be cruising to victory but a right from Jennings in the last round staggered him. He recovered and finished the round strongly. Scores 78-73 for Hernandez on the three cards. The 30-year-old from Cleveland needs to win to be in contention for the post of best fighter in his family as his mother is a former martial art competitor of martial arts. Six losses in a row for Jennings.
Sands vs. Williams
Sands gets revenge for an early career defeat as he decisions Williams in a contests between two of the stalwarts of Minnesota boxing. After a couple of slow rounds both connected with good punches in the third and there were some furious exchanges in the fourth. From there Sands made use of his edges in height and reach to outbox southpaw Williams and did enough to earn the decision. Scores 78-74 twice and 77-75 for Sands. “The Haitian Temptation” Sands hovered around the edges of the ratings when he went 15-1 in his first16 bouts but was then stopped inside a round by Williams. That was in 2015 but Sands has finally been able to get revenge. Williams, 42, announced his retirement
Tacoma, WA, USA: Super Light: Dannie Williams (24-3) W PTS 10 Andre Keys (12-2) Being the “house fighter” at the Battle on the Boat does not come with any guarantee of easy fights as Keys discovers. Williams found the target at distance in the opener and Keys did better inside in the second. Williams upped his punch output in the third and used a sharp jab to outscore Keys in the fourth. The fight slowed but better boxing saw Williams take the sixth and seventh. Keys started to get through with heavy punches over the eighth and ninth to make it close and they both had enough success in the last to make that round tight but Williams just outworked Keys. Scores 96-94 twice and 97-93 all for Williams. Now 35 Williams was a national Golden Gloves champion back in 2004. He turned pro in 2006 and was 21-1 before losing on points to Hank Lundy in 2012. He was knocked out in four rounds by John Molina Jr in 2013 and then was inactive for almost six years before returning with a win last April. Keys came in over the contract weight and had to pay a forfeit as well as having his winning run ended at eleven.
Mar del Plata, Argentina: Welter: Luis Veron (18-1-2) W KO 2 Carlos Aquino (18-7-1). Veron gets second win over Aquino. Crisp, accurate jabbing from Veron put Aquino on the defensive in the first and a couple of right crosses from just whistled past Aquino’s chin. Veron continued to press in the second and when Aquino prodded out a weak jab Veron came over the top with a long right that put Aquino down face first on the canvas for the kayo. The 27-year-old local wins the vacant South American title. Important win for Argentinian No 4 Veron after a run of two draws against mediocre domestic opponents and a wide unanimous defeat by Michael McKinson. He knocked out Aquino in 2018. Aquino falls to 1-5-1in recent action.
Hamburg, Germany: Welter: Sebastian Formella (22-0) W PTS 12 Roberto Arriaza (18-2). Cruiser: Roman Fress (10-0) W PTS 10 Matteo Rondena (9-5). Heavy: Peter Kadiru (7-0) W TKO 6 Tomas Salek (11-2). Heavy: Ali Eren Demirezen (12-1) W PTS 8 Andrei Mazanik (13-10).
Formella vs. Arriaza
After a slow start Formella outboxes Nicaraguan Arriaza to retain the IBO title. The pattern over the early rounds was of a stronger looking Arriaza chasing Formella down with Formella showing good footwork but the relentless Arriaza doing the scoring. Formella was a difficult target but Arriaza was catching him with hooks to the body and although cut over his left eye was in front after three rounds. In the fourth Formella was finding gaps for his jab and was throwing more punches. He was picking his moment to stand and trade where his hand speed and accuracy gave him the edge. Arriaza continued to chase Formella but the champion’s footwork was just too classy for Arriaza and he was chasing in vain. Arriaza signalled for Formella to stand and fight in the sixth but Formella kept moving and kept sliding punches through Arriaza’s guard. Arriaza did a bit better in the eighth when he was able to trap Formella against the ropes a couple of times but other than that he was just following Formella around the ring being too slow to pin down the champion. Formella was sticking to his game plan. He was not loading up on his punches but was adding more combinations and a frustrated Arriaza was leaving himself open as he lunged after Formella. Arriaza threw everything at Formella in the eleventh but Formella was the one landing as he countered and moved and then danced his way through the last just looking to stay out of trouble with Arriaza probably edging that one. Scores 118-110, 118-112 and 117-111 all for Formella. The 32-year-old Hamburg port worker was making the first defence of the IBO title. He is rated IBF 11(10)/WBC 15 and will be looking to face tougher opposition to get in the welterweight mix. Some sources have him being German born but others say he was born in Poland and moved to Germany with his family at the age of two. Arriaza was strong but limited. His only loss before this was a third round kayo by Egidijus Kavaliauskas in 2018.
Fress vs. Rondena
Fress remains unbeaten and collects the vacant German International title in a tough and gruelling win over an underrated Rondena. The lanky Fress outboxed Rondena over the early rounds using his longer reach and quick hands to score against the slower Italian. Fress suffered a bad cut over his left eye in the third but still seemed to be in control. In the second half of the fight Rondena’s continued pressing and with Fress lacking the punch to keep the Italian out Rondena began to cut into the Kazak-born fighters lead. The better skills from Fress just gave him the edge in the close rounds and he ran out a good winner but the scores look too harsh on Rondena. The judges saw it 99-92, 98-93 and 96-94 for Fress. Fress is a former German Under-17 and Youth champion who represented Germany at the European and World Championships and is trained by former WBO super middle champion Robert Stieglitz. Rondena was moving up to ten rounds for the first time and had won his last three fights.
Kadiru vs. Salek
Kadiru halts tough Czech Salek in six rounds. In probably his most impressive performance to date Kadiru boxed well against the aggressive Salek and the fight featured plenty of fiery exchanges. His quicker hands and better accuracy gave Kadiru the edge and he built a good lead before ending the fight in some style. As they traded punches Kadiru connected with a right uppercut that put Salek down. The Czech fighter beat the count but the Kadiru landed an even better uppercut and as Salek dropped to his knees the referee stopped the fight. Kadiru,22, wins the vacant WBC Youth title with his third victory by KO/TKO . Salek, 21, a protégé of former European and interim WBO super welter champion Lukas Konecny gave Kadiru a stiff test before the knockdowns.
Demirezen vs. Mazanik
Demirezen returns to action with a routine win. The Turkish hope was just too strong for a very ordinary Mazanik and was able to bully and bulldoze him over the whole eight rounds. Mazanik bled heavily from the nose over the late rounds but was never in any serious trouble. Scores 80-72 twice and 79-73 for Demirezen. First fight for Demirezen since losing on points to Efe Ajagba in Las Vegas in July. Mazanik is 1-4 in his last five fights.
Tokyo, Japan: Middle: Kazuto Takesako (12-0-1) W PTS 12 Charlie Hosokawa (12-5-1) W. Super Welter: Takeshi Inoue (16-1-1) W RTD 2 Cheng Su (14-3-1).
Takesako vs. Hosokawa
For the first time hard punching Takesako has to go the distance for a win as he outclasses Hosokawa to lift the OPBF title. Japanese champion Takesako forced Hosokawa on to the back foot from the opening bell . Both fighters connected with heavy punches but Takesako was beating on Hosokawa with some vicious body punches and was 40-36 in front on the cards after four rounds. Hosokawa tried to get close and smother Takesako’s power over the middle rounds which led to plenty of wrestling and clinching but did nothing to affect the superiority of the challenger who moved to 80-72 in front on the cards. Takesako’s body punching drained Hosokawa and although he had enough left to trade punches furiously with Takesako in the last round he was well beaten. Scores 119-109 twice and 120-108 for the new champion. Takesako, 28, had made three defences of the Japanese title before this victory. A former University student he was 30-11 as an amateur including a loss to Ryota Murata. Hosokawa was making the first defence of his title in his second reign as OPBF champion.
Inoue vs. Su
Inoue brushes aside Chinese southpaw Su. A straight right floored Su at the end of the first round but the Chinese fighter survived and went on the attack in the second. He connected with an uppercut and a couple of hooks but late in the round a pair of rights from Inoue dumped him on the floor for the second time and he did not come out for the third round. Third quick win on the bounce for Inoue since losing to Jaime Munguia in a challenge for the WBO title in January last year. Su had won his last four fights.
Pinamar, Argentina: Welter: Franco Ocampo (13-1) W PTS 10 Walter Castillo (14-6). Ocampo lifts the vacant WBA Fedebol title with unanimous verdict over Castillo. Ocampo floored Castillo with a right to the head in the second and that remained a big punch for him throughout the fight. He landed it time and again. Although shaken on occasion Castillo stayed the distance. Ocampo, 23, the Argentinian No 7 gets his ninth consecutive win. Castillo was having his second shot at this title but drops to 2-6 in his last 8 outings
Quellon, Chile: Super Bantam: Jose Velasquez (28-6-2) W PTS 10 Cesar Paredes (14-3-1). Fighting in his home town “Pancora” Velasquez gets majority decision over Peruvian southpaw Paredes for the second time. It was a typical Velasquez fight as the 5’ 2 ½” Chilean marched forward relentlessly for all three minutes of all ten rounds. Taller southpaw Paredes scored well at distance and with counters as Velasquez came forward with Velasquez doing his best work inside. They both tired late but the cleaner and more accurate punching from Paredes should have earned him at least a draw but the decision went to Velasquez with two judges voting 97-93 and 97-95 for the local fighter and the third seeing it 95-95. That gives 30-year-old “Pancora” his nineteenth win in a row including a stoppage of 21-0 Melvin Lopez in Miami in October. He is rated WBA 11/WBO 13/IBF 14. When these two clashed in December 2018 Velasquez took a split decision and but for a knockdown the decision would have gone to Paredes.
Pili, Philippines: Fly: Michael Mendoza (11-1-2) W KO 1 Stevanus Nana Bau (10-13-2). Welter: Al Sabaupan (26-3-1) W TKO 2 Ray Rahardjo (6-13-5).
Mendoza vs. Bau
Massacre of the overmatched here as Filipino fighters blow away poor Indonesian opposition. Mendoza was the quickest finisher. He was tracking Bau when the Indonesian suddenly lurched forward to be met with a thudding left to the body and went down rolling in agony whilst the referee needless tolled out the ten. Over and done in 102 seconds. The 21-year-old Filipino southpaw gets his sixth consecutive win and takes the vacant WBFoundation International title. Tenth inside the distance loss for an inept Bau.
Sabaupan vs. Rahardjo
Sabaupan also finished his opponent with ease. Rahardjo managed to get through the first three minutes but not the second. Once again it was a left to the body that ended the fight and this time the referee did not bother with a count. It was the first fight since November 2016 for “Captain A” and win No 21 by KO/TKO. Twelfth inside the distance defeat for Rahardjo.
Montevideo, Uruguay: Feather: Caril Herrera (41-3,2ND) W TKO 3 Diego Pedreira (0-6-1). In a ridiculous mismatch little southpaw Herrera wins the vacant National title with third round stoppage of poor Pedreira. Herrera scored heavily in the first but Perrier stormed out for the second. He threw plenty of punches without really troubling Herrera and by the end of the round Pedreira was already tiring. In the third Herrera opened a cut over the right eye of Pedreira and then connect with a vicious body shot. Pedreira did not go down but he looked pleadingly at his corner who obliged and threw in the towel. Now 39 the 5’1” Herrera was actually unbeaten in his first 22 fights before losing to AJ Banal in an IBF super flyweight eliminator and has stayed active with a couple of fights each year. Pedreira turned pro back in 2009 but was then out for nine years-and is still looking for his first win.
Fight of the week (Significance): Jeison Rosario for his upset win over Julian Williams
Fight of the week (Entertainment): Jonathan Guzman vs. Rodolfo Hernandez-less than three rounds but mayhem
Fighter of the week: Jeison Rosario
Punch of the week: The body punch from Shohjahon Ergashev that collapsed Adrian Estrella was fearsome. Honourable mention to the right from Eleider Alvarez that laid out Michael Seals and the uppercut from Peter Kadiru that led to the stoppage of Tomas Salek
Upset of the week: Rosario’s win over Williams
Prospect watch: Ridiculously early but I am going for 3-0 (3 1st round wins) 20-year-old Jared Anderson
Turning professional part way through the decade was always going to make it difficult to be the Fighter of the Decade, but by the end of the 10's there was one Asian fighter on the lips of pretty much every fight fans. Naoya Inoue.
Making his debut in 2012 put him at a disadvantage to those who came into the decade as a known name, but within just 2 years he had gone from debut to world champion, almost instantly putting himself on an even playing field to the more experienced fighters.
Even fighting in the "midget divisions", as certain fans deride them, Inoue has managed to capture the attention of the boxing world during the decade. His fights have become events, and they have managed to attract attention from hardcore fans right around the globe. No other "little man" can say that.
Whilst Inoue was turning heads due to his destructive power and frightening KO's he was also running up an impressive list of achievements. He tied the Japanese record for fewest fights to a domestic title, winning the Japanese Light Flyweight title in his 4th bout from a future unified world champion. He set a new Japanese record record for fewest fights to a world title, 6, then set the Japanese record for fewest fights to 2 and 3 division world titles. Whilst some of his records have been broken, by Kosei Tanaka, he was the standard bearer than Tanaka tried to match. He was also the one travelling for fights. In fact he became the first Japanese fighter to ever win a world title bout in Europe, and is the first man from his homeland to win world title bouts in 3 different continents.
Of course we've done this primarily on results and competition. 19-0 (16) is pretty close to flawless. Then add in that he notched wins against Taguchi, as mentioned, Adrian Hernandez, Omar Andres Narvaez, Kohei Kono, Jamie McDonnell, Juan Carlos Payano, Emmanuel Rodriguez and Nonito Donaire and you have a strong to back up the numbers. In fact only the only other case of one of our top 10 beating another top 10 was Donnie Nietes' win over Kazuto Ioka.
Impressively Inoue went 14-0 (12) in world title bouts for the decade, won titles from all 4 world title bodies and showed that the little guys can bang, just as well as they can box. In fact stoppages over Narvaez, Kono, McDonnell, Payano and Rodriguez saw him becoming the first man to stop those 5 world class fighters, and between them they lasted just 12 rounds. That's dominance and destruction of world class opposition.
Whilst other fights may have had more attention during the decade it's hard to argue that anyone else from Asia has made the decade theirs quite like Inoue. He remained unbeaten, he moved through the weights, he captured the minds of fight fans, and he fought world class opposition. The only niggle is that his Super Flyweight reign didn't see him face the other top guys, though his competition at Bantamweight has made up for that in style.
By Eric Armit
The build up to the hugely important and intriguing return match between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury has already started with exchanges of infantile threats and insults in what now appears to be par for the course for any big fight. Boxing and cage fighting are the only sports where this appears to be an essential part of the build up. You don’t get Roger Federer and Rafal Nadal swearing at each other and football, basketball, baseball, rugby, cricket etc. would never countenance such infantile behaviour. This is a fight that every boxing fan wants. It sells itself I question how many more tickets are bought as a result of this pantomime. I can’t help but feel that Muhammad Ali has to carry some of the blame. He is the first I can recall who shouted and screamed about what he was going to do to his opponents-OK I am overlooking Tony “I’ll murder da bum” Galento- often exaggerating and clowning with tongue in cheek but any trace of parody has disappeared and now we seem to need vitriolic childish behaviour to sell one of the biggest 50/50 heavyweight return fights out there. Not sure what it says about boxing but there again I love listening to Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra but they would probably be considered too boring to reach the finals of one of today’s talent shows so perhaps as with music boxing has moved on and I am still rooted in the past..
Naturally with Wilder vs. Fury set and the Anthony Joshua return still visible in the rear mirror, interest in the heavyweights remains high. The IBF have given Anthony Joshua and Kubrat Pulev a deadline of 31 January to agree terms for Joshua’s mandatory defence. Andy Ruiz is aiming to returning to action in May or June. He is trying to talk up a fight with Dillian Whyte whilst at the same time there is talk of Whyte facing Alex Povetkin.
The Oleg Usyk vs. Dereck Chisora proposed match seems to have faded into the background and being replaced with Usyk vs. Joseph Parker for the vacant WBO title in the event that the WBO strip Joshua for fighting Pulev.
There was talk of Jarrell Miller returning on the undercard to Wilder vs. Fury but that would make a mockery of suspending boxers for positive tests as it would less than a year since he failed three tests. Yet another name to add to the heavyweight mix is Marat Gassiev who is moving up. It has been suggested he will fight on the undercard to Mikey Garcia vs. Jessie Vargas on 29 February but that has not been confirmed and Adam Kownacki returns to action with a fight against Robert Helenius on 7 March in New York
There will of course be huge interest in the proposed fight between Joe Joyce and Daniel Dubois for the vacant European heavyweight title. There are a couple of things to be ironed out on that. Marco Huck is the official co-challenger alongside Joyce but Huck is currently out with an injured hand so that should not be an impediment. Another item to be dealt with is that Dubois was not rated in the EBU ratings for 31 December. This is because he won the WBO European title in March 2019 and under the EBU ratings standards not even winning but also fighting for another sanctioning body’s European title results in an automatic one year suspension from the EBU ratings. That leaves the EBU with a choice of sticking by their standards in which case Dubois would not be eligible to be rated and therefore not able to fight for their title until after the end of March or ignoring their standards and making an exception because of the high profile enjoyed by a Joyce vs. Dubois fight. That’s an ethical question for the EBU to solve. One law for the rich-one law for the poor?
Last piece on the heavyweights features my old “favourites” the WBA. As low as they have gone they are still digging. They have done some unbelievably bad ratings in the past but they surpassed themselves this time. If you look at their heavyweight ratings you will find Christopher Lovejoy at No 12. He is 18-0 with 18 wins by KO/TKO but when you dig into his record his being rated at all is disgraceful. He suddenly appeared at No 10 in their ratings dated 30 September 2019. He had not fought since May-four months before being rated-and that May fight, his only fight in 2019, was scheduled for four rounds against a fighter with a 6-50-2 record who he outweighed by 68lbs. He had not fought since December 2018 when he beat a guy with a 0-3 record in fact in his ten fights since January 2018 his opponents have had combined records of 21-162-8. His bouts have all been scheduled for four rounds apart from two bouts scheduled for six rounds (against guys with 4-23-2 and 4-27-0 records) and one eight round fight against a guy with a 0-3 record(that last fight in 2018). Let’s not forget that as he is No 12 the WBA have made him eligible to fight Anthony Joshua. What a travesty-what a disgrace. Maybe they could use him as an opponent for their reigning interim champion Trevor Bryan who has not fight since August 2018 or Manuel Charr the holder of their secondary title who has not fought since November 2017.
I have to say I was surprised to see talk of Saul Alvarez fighting Billy Joe Saunders on 2 May. First let’s dismiss the “unification” question. Callum Smith is the WBA champion and Alvarez only holds the secondary WBA title so the fight can’t be a unification match. Secondly from a style point of view I am not sure that the tricky style of Saunders would make for an entertaining fight and thirdly Saunders looked very disappointing against ordinary Marcelo Coceres in November. Alvarez’s name would sell the fight. By May Saunders will have been a pro for eleven years and it would be good to see him get a huge purse as a reward for his efforts. It is also proposed that Jorge Linares tackles unbeaten Ryan Garcia on the same show.
Gennady Golovkin, the guy Alvarez should be fighting, has seen his IBF/IBO title defence against unbeaten 21-0 Pole Kamil Szeremeta put back to 28 March with Chicago a possible venue.
When a Chinese outfit won the bidding for Artur Beterbiev’s mandatory defence against Meng Fanlong with a purse of $1.9 million there was some talk of Beterbiev relinquishing the title. That problem has gone away as the Chinese failed to meet the timescale for putting up the required front money. Top Rank, who bid $1.3 million originally now have the rights to the fight with 28 March in Montreal a possible date/venue.
Can’t keep the Filipino’s out of the news. Manny Pacquiao had his first pro fight on 22 January 1995 so next week he will celebrate twenty-five years as a pro-and he weighed 106lbs in that first fight! And John Riel Casimero gets his reward for stopping Zolani Tete as he will face Naoya Inoue in Las Vegas on 25 April in a unification contest that will see Inoue’s IBF and WBA titles and Casimero’s WBO title on the table
The WBSS cruiser final will limp to its end on 21 March in Riga with Mairis Breidis getting home advantage against Yuniel Dorticos. I could not see any value in going over the cruisers for a second time and so it has proved.
Team Sauerland is putting on a show with Universum in Hamburg on 25 January. These two were great rival in the past and were the giants of German boxing. Universum went out of business but a reconstituted Universum is now back on the scene so in a shrinking market it makes sense for some form of co-operation. The main events will feature unbeaten German hopes super welter Abass Baraou who faces Mexican Abraham Juarez and super light Artem Harutyunyan against Argentinian Miguel Antin. Recently SES has grown in stature to a point where they also have a large part of the German market so it will be interesting to see how relations develop in German boxing.
It would be too much to expect the sanctioning bodies to adopt a united front to on anything and it is that way with pros fighting at the Olympics. Both the WBA and WBO have come out with statements supporting the idea whilst the WBC still sticks to their totally anti stance . The WBC has listed a number of genuine concerns around safety with which I sympathise. The problem is that it is happening with Argentinian former top amateurs Yesica Bopp, Erica Farias and Yamil Peralta the latest to declare their intention to try to qualify for Tokyo and the WBC’s concerns won’t be addressed any other way than through a dialogue with the IOC and those now administering the Olympic boxing.
Commonwealth fly champion Jay Harris gets his big chance when he challenges Julio Cesar Martinez for the WBC flyweight title in Frisco, Texas on the undercard to Garcia vs. Vargas . There has also been speculation over a title defence for WBA super fly champion Khalid Yafai against former champion Roman Gonzalez but that has not been confirmed and interim champion Andrew Moloney has threatened legal action over the proposal.
The WBO has designated Kosei Tanaka as super champion at flyweight.. I don’t recall them doing this before but I may have missed it but you can be assured more will follow. Just to fool us in their rules it says “ Current champion status is not required to qualify or continue as a Super Champion” so you don’t have to be a champion to be designated a Super Champion. I tried reading it upside down but it still does not make any sense!
Worrying to hear that former heavyweight champion Leon Spinks is hospitalised due to the prostate cancer he had been diagnosed with having spread to his bladder. He had been released from hospital in Las Vegas at the end of December but is back in there under treatment.
Jorge Rodrigo Barrios is another boxer who recently required hospital treatment. The 43-year-old former WBO super feather champion was stabbed numerous times by an assailant on 31 December but has recovered and left hospital. There is some confusion over the motive for the attack. Reports said his wallet and phone were stolen but also that the assailant, who has since been arrested, had shouted the name of the 20-year-old pregnant woman who was killed ten years ago in a collision with a car Barrios was driving. A death for which Barrios was found culpable and given a derisory sentence of less than four years.
The Past Week in Action
-Jaime Munguia moves up to middleweight with win over Gary O’Sullivan and both Travell Mazion (17-0) and Hector Tanajara (19-0) score wins on undercard
-Joe Smith revives his career with a split decision over Jesse Hart in other fights in Atlantic City Steven Nelson (16-0) wins and Joseph Adorno (14-0) is held to a draw
-Jaron Ennis goes to 25-0 with stoppage of Bakhtiyar Eyubov and on the same show Russian heavyweight Apti Davtaev stops Keith Barr and is now 19-0-1
Atlantic City, NJ, USA: Welter: Jaron Ennis (25-0) W TKO 4 Bakhtiyar Eyubov (14-2-1, 1ND).Heavy: Apti Davtaev (19-0-1) W TKO 3 Keith Barr (20-13-1). 1
Ennis vs. Eyubov
Ennis stops Eyubov in four rounds. Ennis almost overwhelmed Eyubov in the opener. Eyubov was giving away lots of height and reach (5’6” tall with 66 ½” reach to Ennis 5’10 and 74” reach) and as he plodded forward behind a high guard Ennis met him with bunches of fast, accurate hooks to head and body from both hands. A series of head punches had Eyubov stumbling back and he went down on his rump. He beat the count but a blistering attack from Ennis had Eyubov forced back and as Ennis continued to land slashing shots from both hands Eyubov was forced to drop to on one knee to survive. Despite the punishment he took in the first round Eyubov marched forward again in the second and third. He landed some good shots of his own but the punches from Ennis were come too fast and from too many angles for Eyubov and at the end of the round local commissioner Larry Hazzard took it upon himself to warn Eyubov’s corner that unless he saw an improvement in the fourth the fight would be stopped. Eyubov was trying to walk through a storm of punches early in the fourth and was rocked back on his heels. He steadied himself and walked in again firing a couple of hooks then clinches at which point the referee stopped the action the timing of which was a little controversial but Eyubov was only going to soak up more punishment. The tall 22-year-old switch-hitter from Philadelphia looks an outstanding talent and 2020 will almost certainly be a breakthrough year for him. He is rated WBO 13/IBF 15 and now has fifteen inside the distance wins on the spin. Dad Derek Sr. and Brothers Derek and Farah boxed but never fought for a world title but Jaron looks capable of fighting and winning a title. The 33-year-old Houston-based Kazak Eyubov, who is trained by Charles Mooney, who won a silver medal in Montreal as a member of the great 1976 US Olympic boxing team. Suffers his second loss in a row having bean outpointed by Brian Ceballo in June.
Davtaev vs. Barr
Russian Davtaev gets another inside the distance win as he floors and halts Barr in the third. The physical differences in this one were even more pronounced than in the Ennis vs. Eyubov fight with Davtaev at 6’5” to the 5’11” of Barr. Davtaev was able to soften Barr up with jabs and long rights over the first two rounds before ending things in the third. A right cross put Barr down and although he made it to his feet the fight was halted. The 30-year-old “Thunderstorm of the Caucasus” has scored 18 of his 19 victories by KO/TKO but has yet to face anything resembling a test. Eighth inside the distance loss for Barr.
Monte Hermoso, Argentina: Light: Agustin Quintana (12-1-1) W TKO 2 Gabriel Punalef 24-10-5). Quintana batters Punalef to defeat inside two rounds. It was too easy for Quintana who shook Punalef with rights in the first before ending it in the second. Two right to the head put Punalef down. He got up but was unsteady on his feet. A right uppercut unhinged his legs and a couple of rights sent him staggering across the ring to the ropes. The referee gave Punalef a standing count and when he was shaken by more rights the referee waived the fight over. “Sugar” Quintana, 23, wins the vacant WBA Fedebol title with his fifth victory on the bounce. Fifth loss inside the distance for Punalef.
Atlantic City, NJ, USA: Light Heavy: Joe Smith (25-3) W PTS 10 Jesse Hart (26-23). Super Middle: Steven Nelson (16-0) W TKO 8 Cem Kilic (14-1). Light: Joseph Adorno (14-0-1) DREW 8 Hector Garcia (14-7-3,1ND). Super Middle: Chris Thomas (14-1-1) W TKO 1 Samir dos Santos Barbosa (37-17-3). Heavy: Sonny Conto (6-0) W KO 1 Curtis Head (5-5). Welter: Xander Zayas (3-0) W PTS 4 Corey Champion (1-2).
Smith vs. Hart
Smith gets split decision over Hart but ignore the “split” Smith one this all the way. The tactics were set early with Smith striding forward aggressively and Hart on his toes jabbing and moving with Smith indicating for Hart to stand and trade in the first thirty seconds of the fight. As quickly as Hart was moving Smith still managed to trap him on the ropes and land a series of punches to take the opening round. Hart boxed well early in the second but was shaken by rights and rocked by an uppercut later in the round. After the fight Hart said he had injured his right hand in his final sparring session and already he was using the right sparingly. Hart had a better third boxing well on the retreat and connecting with a right uppercut inside. Smith was relentless in the fourth and had Hart in trouble at the end of the round from a right. The fifth and sixth saw more pressure from Smith. Hart’s left jab and left hooks had caused a bump under the right eye of Smith but where a right was required to counter or stop Smith advancing Hart was having to twist his stance to use his left. Smith’s pressure paid off in the seventh. He had Hart reeling and landed a heavy right. Hart went down on one knee briefly touching the canvas. He bounced up immediately and Smith connected with a couple of punches before the referee was able to get between them to give Hart a count. After the count Smith landed a couple of head punches but the bell rang to save Hart. He had a better eighth but was shaky again in the ninth as a left from Smith sent him flying back across the ring and into the ropes. Hart was in deep trouble but the action stopped for the doctor to examine a cut over the left eye of Hart and after brief break Hart connected with some quality left hooks. Smith pressed hard throughout the tenth to emerge a clear winner. Scores 98-91 and 97-92 for Smith and a ludicrous 95-94 for Hart-unbelievable! Much needed win that saves Smith’s career. In a spell of just one fight in each of years 2017, 2018 and 2019 that saw him lose big fights to Sullivan Barrera and to Dmitry Bivol in a challenge for the secondary WBA title he looked to be fading out of the picture. Now he has hopes of a return with Bivol or a shot at Jean Pascal’s secondary WBA title or whoever wins the vacant WBO title. Big blow for Hart as he was No 3 with the WBO and No 4 with the WBA. It would be wrong to judge him on this showing as he was virtually a one-armed fighter so don’t be surprised if the fights for a version of the title later this year. The loss was a double blow for Hart. He had worn an executioner’s mask into the ring indicating he was there to get revenge against Smith for ending the career of Hart’s close friend Bernard Hopkins.
Nelson vs. Kilic
Nelson collects the vacant NABO title with inside the distance win over Kilic. Kilic was competitive over the first five rounds taking the fight to Nelson who was focusing on the body scoring heavily with both hands. From the sixth Kilic tired and although he tried to match Nelson on the inside Nelson was getting the better of the exchanges and slowly broke Kilic down. Nelson rocked Kilic with an uppercut late in the sixth and by the seventh Kilic had slowed and was handicapped by a right eye that was almost closed. Nelson continued to pile on the pressure in the eighth until Kilic’s trainer Buddy McGirt climbed onto the ring apron to signal his fighter’s surrender. Nelson, 31, a former US National, Army and Armed Forces champion who served in Afghanistan was rated No 15 by the WBO before this fight but should climb a few places in their next ratings and is aiming for a title fight this year. Californian-based German-born Turk Kilic was in his first ten round fight and with more experience could come again.
Adorno vs. Garcia
Minor upset as highly touted Adorno fights to a split draw against Garcia in an entertaining fight. Adorno looked sharp boxing on the back foot stabbing home jabs and countering crisply. As the fight progressed Garcia began to press harder and although he was still eating sharp shots from Adorno he was starting to have some success inside. Garcia just kept coming and although he was eating punches nothing Adorno landed was having any effect and more and more Adorno was being forced to stand and trade rather box and move. Adorno had built a slight lead after his more effective early work but Garcia was stronger over the late rounds and the draw looked right. Scores 77-75 Adorno, 77-75 Garcia and 76-76. The 20-year-old Adorno will have been disappointed with his performance but he came through a tough eighth rounds and will take away some lessons from the fight. Garcia did not fight like a guy with a 14-7-4 record but he has never lost inside the distance and faced opposition such as Devin Haney and Juan Carlos Burgos and only lost on a majority verdict against current WBO No 5 Joe Noynay.
Thomas vs. Barbosa
Thomas gets the quickest win of the night as he halts ancient Brazilian Barbosa in 47 seconds. A straight right to the head had Barbosa retreating on unsteady legs. Thomas forced him to a corner and was ramming home head punches when the referee stepped in and stopped the action. It looked a bit of a premature stoppage and Barbosa complained. “Sandman” Thomas, a 21-year-old from New Jersey, moves to eight wins in a row. Barbosa drops to three first round losses in his last three fights
Conto vs. Head
Philadelphian heavyweight hope Conto sends Head to the floor three times for a first round victory. The 6’4” Conto was giving away 53lbs to Head but the excess was all round Head’s waist. A left hook to the body saw Head drop to one knee and although he beat the count he was really finished by that belter of a body punch. After the count as Conto came forward Head dropped to a knee and Conto’s punches seemed to whistle past his head. The third “knockdown” came as Head collapsed from two hooks to the body. Fifth win by KO/TKO for Conto. No sort of test for Conto but fights such as these are a rites of passage for a newcomer. At 23 there is no need to rush Conto a former National Golden Gloves silver medallist who does his roadwork on the same South Philadelphia streets as Sylvester Stallone did for the Rocky film. Head is now 1-4 in his last 5 fights.
Zayas vs. Champion
After two first round wins Zayas gets in some useful ring time as he collects the points in every round against Champion. The 17-year-old Puerto Rican is a former US Under 19 champion who turned pro less than two month after his 17th birthday. Early days but one to follow. Champion did his job by going the four rounds.
San Antonio, TX, USA: Middle: Jaime Munguia (35-0) W TKO 11 Gary O’Sullivan (30-4). Super Welter: Travell Mazion (17-0) W TKO 1Fernando Castaneda (26-14-1). Light: Hector Tanajara (19-0) W PTS 10 Juan Burgos (33-4-2). Super Fly: Joshua Franco (16-1-2) W TKO 9 Jose Burgos (17-3). Super Light: George Rincon (10-0) W TKO 1 Diego Perez (13-10-1). Cruiser: Tristan Kalkreuth (4-0) W KO 1 Blake LaCaze (4-8-2).
Munguia vs. O’Sullivan
Munguia moves up to middleweight and halts a gutsy O’Sullivan in the eleventh round of a bell to stoppage war. Flying start from Munguia who was letting his punches go from the off. He was piercing O’Sullivan’s guard with jabs and then firing hooks to head and body. He put together a ten-punch combination before shaking O’Sullivan badly with a left and a right at the bell. O’Sullivan took the fight to Munguia in the second .He was willing to stand and trade and although Munguia scored with some heavy stuff at the end of the round a right from O’Sullivan clearly hurt Munguia. The fight was developing into a war. Munguia was throwing more punches and landing cleanly but O’Sullivan was absorbing everything Munguia chucked at him and firing back with hooks and uppercuts of his own. Munguia was throwing more and landing more but O’Sullivan was undeterred. He continued to walk forward and even though running into some thundering punches from Munguia he was just taking a few steps back and then marching in again and connecting with some strong punches of his own. The hectic action continued in the fifth and in the sixth with Munguia getting the better of the exchanges but also having to take a lot of incoming fire from O’Sullivan the Mexican went low with a left hook and was deducted a point. Munguia was landing clubbing punches in the seventh but then landed another lusty punch below the belt. O’Sullivan went down in agony and it was some time before he recovered but this time the referee did not deduct a point which made no sense. Munguia dominated in the eighth and ninth as O’Sullivan tired and his work rate dropped. O’Sullivan landed some slashing punches early in the tenth but then Munguia began to drive O’Sullivan back with huge head punches and O’Sullivan was cut and on shaky legs as he went to his corner at the bell. There was discussion in O’Sullivan’s corner over whether to go out for the eleventh round but O’Sullivan went out and took the fight to Munguia until a torrent of head punches had O’Sullivan sliding along the ropes and down and the fight was stopped. A successful move up to middleweight for the 23-year-old former unbeaten WBO super welter champion and win No 28 by KO/TKO. He goes straight to No 1 with the WBO which puts him in line to face Demetrius Andrade with an all-Mexican fight with Saul Alvarez a possibility later in the year. “Spike” O’Sullivan played his part in making this a hugely entertaining fight. The 35-year-old from Cork was 8-1 going into this one with the loss being a one round kayo against David Lemieux. His only other losses have been against Billy Joe Saunders and Chris Eubank Jr. With his small goatee and curled up moustache he looked more like Salvador Dali than Salvador Sanchez but he showed a fighters heart here.
Mazion vs. Castaneda
Another imperious performance from Mazion as he finishes seasoned pro Castaneda inside one minute. The tall Texan was spearing Castaneda with quick jabs and caught Castaneda with a couple of counters as Castaneda came forward. Mazion then connected with a right and just missed with another right before banging home a rib-bending left to the body that saw Castaneda turn away and drop to the floor writhing in agony. Castaneda actually made it to his feet at five but immediately dropped again still in agony from the body punch and the referee stopped the fight. The 6’2” “Black Magic” from Austin gets his thirteenth win by KO/TKO and wins the vacant NABF Junior title. Castaneda was coming off a draw with Tureano Johnson and suffers his eighth loss by KO/TKO.
Tanajara vs. Burgos
Tanajara adds another scalp to his belt as he takes unanimous decision over experienced former world title challenger Burgos. The rangy local fighter was just too young and too quick for Burgos who is not yet completely on the downslide but has not been active of late. Tanajara boxed well on the outside and found plenty of gaps in the Mexican’s defence. If there is a weakness in Tanajara it is that he lacks real power so Burgos was able to keep pressing and forcing Tanajara to fight hard. Gradually Burgos slowed and Tanajara well ahead going into the last with Burgos finding something in the well as they stood and exchanged punches in an entertaining last round. Scores 97-92 twice and 99-91 all for Tanajara. The 23-year-old former US National amateur champion was having his first fight in his home town. He collects the WBC United States title and adds Bustos to a list of victims that already includes Roger Gutierrez and Robert Manzanarez. Now 32 Burgos was having his first fight since losing on points to Devin Haney in September 2018. In three world title shots he lost on points to Hozumi Hasegawa for the WBC feather title and drew with Roman Martinez and lost on points to Mikey Garcia in WBO super feather title matches.
Franco vs. Burgos
“El Profesor “Franco stops Burgos in nine rounds. It was a case of power and accuracy against quantity here as Franco made an aggressive Burgos pay for scorning defence as he tried to overwhelm Franco. Burgos was piling forward launching punches from the opener with Franco countering with strong rights. Burgos was throwing wide shots and was rocked by a right in the second. He continued to fire a bundle of punches but Franco was blocking or dodging most and snapping Burgos' head back with rights. Burgos kept coming and kept throwing but Franco was dominating more and more. In the seventh a right uppercut had Burgos bleeding from the nose and badly shaken. Franco finished it in style in the ninth. A left hook unhinged Bustos’ legs and Franco piled on the punishment driving him to the ropes and unloading with punches from both hands until the referee jumped in to halt the fight. The 24-year-old from San Antonio was coming off a three-fight series of one win and two draws against Oscar Negrete so it must have been nice to fight someone else for a change. A former top amateur Franco gets his eighth win by KO/TKO. Burgos, also 24, had won his last six fights five inside the distance but his opposition has been poor.
Rincon vs. Perez
Texan southpaw Rincon racks up another win but with a scare at the end. A left/right combination floored Perez early in the first and although he beat the count he was soon down again. He tried to take the fight to Rincon but was put down by a counter right. He dragged himself up but went down again from two rights and the fight was stopped. Now five victories by KO/TKO for 27-year-old Rincon. A elite level amateur he won bronze then silver and finally gold at the National Golden Gloves and scored victories over Jamontay Clark, Amir Imam and Robert Easter Jr. After returning to his corner Rincon collapsed reportedly suffering a seizure but he recovered and was able to leave the ring under his own steam. Poor Argentinian Perez has lost three in a row by KO/TKO two of those in the first round.
Kalkreuth vs. LaCaze
Teenager Kalkreuth blows away LaCaze in under two minutes. The 18-year-old 6’4” Texan (his US Amateur sheets says 6’2” but he might have grown since then) was up against a 6’8” opponent in LaCaze but quickly found the range with his jab and then connected with a long left hook that dumped LaCaze on his rump. LaCaze was up at five and Kalkreuth hunted him down. He rocked LaCaze with two rights and then landed a thunderous left hook that put LaCaze down heavily with the referee immediately stopping the fight. Kalkreuth was US Under-17 and Under-19 champion and competed at the Pan American and World Youth championships before turning pro last year three months before his eighteenth birthday. Impressive but much too early to say how far he can go. He showed quick hands and the finishing punch was a blistering shot. LaCaze drops to 1-5-1 in his recent activity.
Mar del Plata, Argentina: Middle: Lucas Bastida (13-1) W TKO 1 Gonzalo Chaparro (9-5-1). Bastida wins the vacant South American title as he overwhelms Chaparro inside a round. The tall “El Tornado” certainly lived up to his name as he came out firing punches. Chaparro tried to stand and trade with him but was caught with a series of head punches that led to two standing counts. A big right sent him slumping into the ropes and the referee jumped in to save Chaparro. The 22-year-old neighbourhood fighter has won his last ten fights. Chaparro suffers his fourth stoppage defeat.
Brussels, Belgium: Welter: Anass Messaoudi (8-0) W PTS 10 Cedric Peynaud (8-7-3). Heavy: Joel Tambwe Djeko (17-2-1) W KO 1 John Cortez (12-7-1). Welter: Mohamed El Marcouchi (24-2) W KO 3 Agustin Lugo (11-12-3).
Messaoudi vs. Peynaud
Local fighter Messaoudi wins vacant BeNeLux title with wide unanimous verdict over Frenchman Peynaud. Messaoudi had height reach and more skill on his side and Peynaud never really threatened Messaoudi’s dominance. Scores 99-90 twice and 99-91for the former Belgian amateur champion in his first ten round fight. On paper Peynaud was a good test having floored Conor Benn in their first fight and beaten 16-1 Mohamed Kani in June.
Djeko vs. Cortez
“Big Joe” blasts out Barcelona-based Colombian Cortez in the first round. The popular 6’6” 30-year-old Brussels-born fighter has won eight in a row. One of five children Djeko initially competed in martial arts before turning to boxing. Six loses in a row for Cortez.
El Marcouchi vs. Santana
Miami Beach-based Belgian El Marcouchi stops Mexican loser Lugo in three rounds. El Marcouchi has lost only one of his last 23 fights and that was on a disqualification but his opposition has been carefully selected. Seven losses in his last seven fights for Lugo.
Fight of the week (Significance): Tied as Munguia’ s win over O’Sullivan put Munguia in the already crowded mix at middleweight and Smith’s win over Hart can lead him to another title shot
Fight of the week (Entertainment): Munguia vs. O’Sullivan action all the way
Fighter of the week: Tied Munguia and Smith who both had significant wins with honourable mention to both Jaron Ennis and Steven Nelson
Punch of the week: The left hook to the body from Travell Mazion that ended his fight with Fernando Castaneda was a real rib-bender. Honourable mention to the wicked left hook from Tristan Kalkreuth that flattened Blake LaCaze
Upset of the week: Hector Garcia (14-7-3) holding (14-0) prospect Joseph Andino to a draw was not in the script
Prospect watch: Texan Super Fly Joshua Franco 15-1-2
(Early to name Xander Zayas and Tristan Kalkreuth but I am sure they will figure eventually
If a fighter's decade could ever be criminally under-rated it's that of Filipino great Donnie Nietes, who did what none of his countrymen managed. He was consistent though the decade, racking up wins, remaining active and moving up through the weights with success. He made one ridiculously stupid decision in 2019, which has seen him essentially sitting out the year, but his body of work over the whole decade has been tremendous and he is, for us, the Filipino fighter of the decade, and #2 on our Asian fighter of the Decade count down.
To begin the decade Nietes was the WBO Minimumweight champion, and had been since September 2007 when he beat Pornsawan Porpramook. He had entered the decade 25-1-3 (14), with 3 world title defenses under his belt. By the end of the decade he had become a 4-weight champion with a string of impressive names on his record, and wins around the globe, becoming a low key road warrior, and a staple of the lower weight classes. He didn't get the acclaim of Nonito Donaire or Manny Pacquiao, due to fighting in the lower weight classes, but his achievements, skills, record for the decade all stand up to scrutiny.
Nietes kicked off the decade with a none-title fight against Jesus Silvestre, who went on to be in the world title mix for a good chunk of the decade and arguably deserves to be the WBA Minimumweight champion in 2013 when he lost a razor thin decision to Ryo Miyazaki. He would then go on to defend his WBO Minimumweight title against future IBF champion Mario Rodriguez, travelling to Mexico for the bout. A move up to Light Flyweight in 2011 saw him claim the WBO title, beating Ramon Garcia Hirales, and he made a string of defenses against the likes of Moises Fuentes, Francisco Rodriguez Jr and Raul Garcia.
Another move up in 2016 saw Nietes defeat Edgar Sosa, Komgrich Nantapech and Juan Carlos Reveco, becoming a 3 weight champion thanks to the IBF Flyweight title before defeating Kazuto Ioka at the end of 2018 to become the WBO Super Flyweight champion, and a champion in his 4th weight class.
In 19 bouts during the decade Nietes has gone 17-0-2 (9), beaten a string of notable lower weight fighters, and moved through the weights. He may not have the huge names on his record that others do, but wins over Fuentes, Rodriguez Jr, Ioka, Reveco, Sosa, even an old Sosa, are very solid. He took the decade and punched his way into Filipino history books, in what has been a brilliant decade for "Ahas", who aged like a fine wine. It's just huge shame that he failed to top it off with any fights at all in 2019 given how big his win over Ioka was at the end of 2018.
When most top smaller men retire in their early 30's Neites was still beating top fighters the wrong side of 35, and was doing it not on power and speed, but on boxing IQ and skills, and that is a real testament to how good "Ahas" has been through decade.
Today we return to the 1990's for a memorable Closet Classic that won the Japanese fight of the year award, and saw a rivalry come to an end with two men clashing, years after they were originally supposed to face off. The bout pit the first true Russian professional boxing star against one of the man tipped to be a Japanese star, and the bout delivered an instant classic, that is now, more than 20 years on, still remembered well by Japanese fans from the era.
Yuri Arbachakov (22-0, 15) vs Puma Toguchi (18-2, 15)
In one corner was the then WBC Flyweight champion Yuri Arbachakov, a Russian born fighter who was based in Japan, where he had essentially been based his entire career. He was a technically brilliant boxer-puncher, combining sensational skills, polished in a long and successful amateur career, with naturally heavy hands, a solid chin and a totally relaxed in ring persona. He was one of two fighters from the former USSR that Kyoei had guided to a world title and wasn't looking to give it up, in fact this was his 9 defence since winning the belt in 1992.
Puma Toguchi, who actually fought under his birth name of Takato Toguchi for this particular bout, was regarded as one of 3 potential Japanese stars at the turn of the 1990's. He, along with Joichit Tatsuyoshi and Katsuya Onizuka, were seen as the trio to watch in Japan. Sadly Toguchi was, unlike the other two, very hard to handle and had had issues with his team in the early 1990's. Those issues had seen him lose the Japanese Flyweight title in 1991, cancelling a scheduled bout with Arbachakov as a result, and had seen him out of the ring for over 2 years as a result. Although a fantastic talent, with heavy hands he was seen as being a clear under-dog here.
With the issues of their cancelled 1991 fight acting as a back drop the two were expected to put on something special when they finally clashed on August 26th 1996. Rather than Toguchi defending the national title, as was the case when the bout was first supposed to take place, this was now a world title fight, and the two men fought as if the belt meant everything.
The first round was a quiet one, with both looking to see what the other hand. From there on however they both began to go through the gears, landing some huge shots, trading blows when they had to. Arbachakov, the better pure boxer, applied constant, heavy pressure, boxing well behind his jab, whilst Toguchi looked to find holes with counters, exploiting the text book approach of Arbachakov.
For those hoping for an all out war, this wasn't that. Instead it was a very well fought boxing contest, with both men having moments, and both fighting through adversity, with Arbachakov badly damaging his right hand which caused him serious issues the rest of his career.
Sadly after this bout neither man really had much success. Arbachakov, who wanted to retire after this win, fought on and suffered a loss to a man he had already beat, whilst Toguchi went 5-1 before retiring, and has suffered with Dementia Pugilistica in recent years.
When we have some free time we're hoping to add a series of fun articles to the site. Hopefully these will be enjoyable little short features