The smaller division's often get derided in the west, by fans who only want to watch the bigger men. Thankfully those who do follow the "little men" they get rewarded with a lot of hidden gems. Today we look at one of those gems from late 2012, in fact it was from very, very late in 2012 being one of the final bouts of the year, and a very late contender for Fight of the Year,
Ryo Miyazaki (17-0-3, 10) Vs Pornsawan Porpramook (27-4-1, 17)
The bout in question was a WBA Minimumweight title bout pitting an unbeaten Japanese warrior against an experienced Thai warrior, who had previously held the title. The belt was now vacant, and this bout was put together, with promises of incredible action.
In one corner was unbeaten Osakan fighter Ryo Miyazaki, a flawed but exciting fighter who had been regarded as the #2 at the Ioka gym, behind close friend Kazuto Ioka who vacated the title to move up in weight. Miyazaki lacked the natural skills of Ioka, but had an aggressive and exciting style that relied on his pressure and physical strength. He fought to his strengths, and didn't try to be a boxer like his friend and stablemate. Notably he had first made a mark at Light Flyweight, winning the Japanese and OPBF titles at 108lbs, and before dropping down to Minimumweight for this fight. It was assumed that if he could make weight without depleting his body too much his strength, toughness and power would make him a nightmare at 105lbs.
In the other corner was Thailand's Pornsawan Porpramook. He was very much a proven quantity at Minimumweight but someone who had come up short in most of his biggest bouts. He had lost to the likes of Donnie Neites, Oleydong Sithsamerchai, Edgar Sosa and Akira Yaegashi, with the Yaegashi fight being something special it's self. Although he had typically come up short he had won the WBA title in 2011 when he travelled over to Indonesia and beat veteran Muhammad Rachman. His reign was short, losing to Yaegashi in his first defense, but he had bounced back with 4 wins to earn a shot at the now vacant title. He would, however, have to return to Japan, where he lost to Yaegashi, to fight for the belt.
Given what we knew of the two men, that both were warriors, both liked to impose themselves and both could fight it was a bout that promised a lot and it delivered.
The two men started rather cautiously, trying to figure the other out in the opening moments. It was a rather slow and cautious build, with neither man wanting to be the first to take a risk. Despite that you could feel that the touch paper was going to be lit sooner or later and that things were going to pick up in a big way sooner or later. There was a flash point towards the end of the first round, and you could tell both were eager to step it up.
In round 2 both men would begin to put their foot on the gas, with Porpramook pressing more and showing the style that had seen him getting dubbed the "Tank", walking down Miyazaki and forcing the Japanese fighter to respond. When that happened the bout began to step up in intensity. Miyazaki wasn't being dragged straight into a war, but the war was being forced onto him why a tank determined to make this more than just a fight.
From round 3 onwards we began to get something amazing, despite Miyazaki trying to box on the back foot he began to embrace the war more and more and the action kept building.
Despite Brad Vocale, the referee, playing too much of a role early on the fight managed to over-come his interjections as the two men just pounded each other, round after round.
If you've not seen this one, it is well and truly worth the time to watch, enjoy and realise just how thrilling these two warriors were and how great Minimumweight fights can be!
By Eric Armit
The Past Week in Action
-Stephen Fulton wins the WBO super bantamweight title with unanimous points victory over champion Angelo Leo
-Raeese Aleem scores four knockdowns and stops Vic Pasillas in the eleventh round to collect the vacant WBA interim super bantamweight title
World Title/Major Shows
Uncasville, CT, USA: Super Bantam: Stephen Fulton (19-0) W PTS 12 Angelo Leo (20-1). Super Bantam: Raeese Aleem (18-0) W TKO 11 Vic Pasillas (16-1). Light: Rolando Romero (13-0) W TKO 7 Avery Sparrow (10-3).Super Bantam: Sharone Carter (12-3) W PTS 8 McJoe Arroyo (18-3).
Fulton vs. Leo
Fulton proves too clever and too strong for champion Leo and wins WBO title with unanimous points victor.
Leo started aggressively but Fulton was spearing him with jabs and connecting with right counters. When Leo managed to get past the jabs he was doing good work inside with clusters of hooks and although Fulton put his punches together well Leo did enough to have an edge.
Score: 10-9 Leo
Fulton changed his tactics and stood inside swopping punches with Leo. He was the stronger and outworked Leo as they both focused on body shots. Leo did enough to make the round close but Fulton did most of the scoring. Leo was cut beside his left eye in a clash of heads.
Score: 10-9 Fulton TIED 19-19
Fulton started this round on the back foot popping the oncoming Leo with jabs and straight rights before moving inside over the second half of the round. Leo made this round closer with hooks to the body but the cleaner work was coming from Fulton.
Score: 10-9 Fulton Fulton 29-28
Leo’s best round so far. He simply outworked Fulton. Leo was blocking Fulton’s jab and scoring well inside. He rocked Fulton twice with rights late in the round.
Score: 10-9 Leo Fulton 38-38
Official Scores: Judge John McKale 39-37 Fulton, Judge Steve Weisfeld 38-38 Tied, Judge Frank Lombardi 39-37 Fulton
A gruelling round as they stood toe-to-toe and swapped punches inside. Fulton was proving the stronger man constantly pushing Leo back and scoring with hooks to the body with many of Leo’s punches blocked or low.
Score: 10-9 Fulton Fulton 48-47
Once again a close-quarters battle. Fulton was outworking Leo with left hooks to the body and snapping his head back with right uppercuts. He used his strength to force Leo back and did a good job of blocking Leo’s punches inside to take the round.
Score: 10-9 Fulton Fulton 58-56
A close round as they both stood trading body punches. Again Fulton was the stronger. He was smothering much of Leo’s work and then putting together a quick burst of hooks and uppercuts throwing more and landing more.
Score: 10-9 Fulton Fulton 68-65
For a change it was Leo doing the better work inside. Fulton was just leaning on and not working hard but Leo kept pumping out his punches and finished the round strongly scoring with a series of head shots as Fulton was pinned against the ropes.
Score: 10-9 Leo Fulton 77-75
Official Scores: Judge John McKale 79-73, Fulton, Judge Steve Weisfeld 78-74 Fulton, Judge Frank Lombardi 79-73 Fulton
Fulton went back to basics in this round. He was on the back foot slotting jab after jab into the puffy face of Leo never letting Leo get inside. Leo just kept marching onto the jab and was too slow to cut the ring off allowing Fulton space to score.
Score: 10-9 Fulton Fulton 87-84
Once again Fulton changed his approach moving into brawling mode and mixing things with Leo. There was not a lot of clean work by either boxer but Fulton was the one doing most of the scoring and doing a better job of blocking incoming punches.
Score: 10-9 Fulton Fulton 97-93
Back to boxing for Fulton. He was finding the target time and again with jabs and occasionally stepping in to connect with hard rights. Leo just kept marching forward but he was dripping blood from the cut and had swelling around his right eye and just could not close the elusive Fulton down.
Score 10-9 Fulton Fulton 107-102
In a repeat of the eleventh Fulton jabbed and moved and as Leo rumbled forward Fulton clobbered him with rights to the head. Leo could not get close enough for long enough to do any damage and Fulton was already waiving his arm in triumph as the second ticked away.
Score: 10-9 Fulton Fulton 117-111
Official Scores: Judge John McKale 119-109 Fulton, Judge Steve Weisfeld 118-110 Fulton, Judge Frank Lombardi 119-109 Fulton
Philadelphian “Cool Boy” Fulton a former undefeated IBO champion was supposed to fight Leo for the vacant title last year but was ruled out by a positive COVID-19 test. He has scored wins over some good level but not outstanding opponents. He will face tougher tests from WBO No 2 Michael Conlan and No 3 Daniel Roman but was a clear winner here. Leo had looked useful in outpointing unbeaten Tramaine Williams to win the title but was shown to be limited and predictable with his march forward tactics and no Plan B.
Aleem vs. Pasillas
Michigan’s Aleem scores four knockdowns on the way to winning the vacant WBA interim title. Pasillas made a confident start but Aleem was quicker and looked dangerous when he connected. Early in the second a right counter from Aleem put Pasillas down. He made to his feet and only just survived follow-up attacks from Aleem. Aleem outboxed Pasillas over the third, fourth and fifth before dropping Pasillas in the sixth. A left to the side of the head dumped Pasillas on his rump he was not badly shaken but protested the punch had been to the back of the head. Pasillas continued to come forward but was rocked in the seventh. He regrouped and did enough to take the eighth. That success did not last and as he again came forward in the ninth he was clipped by a left counter and put his gloves on the canvas to stay upright resulting in an eight count. The knockdowns in the sixth and ninth had not been heavy ones but a solid right counter in the eleventh was the real thing. As Pasillas hit the floor the referee waived the fight over. “The Beast” gets his twelfth win by KO/TKO but the interim title often seems to be a dead end and the WBA already have a super, a secondary and a gold champion in this division. Pasillas had registered a good victory in halting 17-0 Ranfis Encarnacion in September but was out of his depth here.
Romero vs. Sparrow
Romero gets injury stoppage win over late substitute Sparrow. Romero had Sparrow down very early in the opening round. With just 40 seconds gone a hard left jab sent Sparrow back and his mouthguard flying and a second jab saw Sparrow tumble to the canvas. He was not badly hurt and was up immediately. Romero was quicker and more skilful than the crude Sparrow and put together some impressive combinations in successive rounds. Sparrow kept walking through the punches and stalking Romero. As they traded punches in the sixth Sparrow turned away and went down clutching his right knee. He got up and the referee treated it as a slip so no count. Romero tried desperately to finish the fight. Sparrow survived but lost a point for a very low blow. In the seventh Sparrow was noticeably limping and under heavy pressure when his corner signalled to the referee to stop the fight. Romero was to have defended his WBA interim title against Justin Pauldo but Pauldo was 3.8lbs overweight and Sparrow came in at short notice as a substitute in a non-title fight.
Carter vs. Arroyo
Carter springs an upset as he takes the unanimous decision over former IBF super flyweight champion Arroyo. Carter made a fast start and built an early lead. Arroyo began to claw the lead back from the fourth round and it was close from there but Carter just had the edge. Scores 77-75 for Carter from all three judges. Carter improves to 6 wins in his last 7 fights with the loss being against Angelo Leo. Arroyo, 35, is sliding with 4 losses in his last 5 fights.
Maipu, Argentina: Welter: Brian Chaves (12-0) W TEC DEC 8 Franco Ocampo (13-2).
Southpaw Chaves rebounds from his first pro loss and wins the WBA Fedebol title with a split technical verdict over champion Ocampo. A right in the opening round sent Ocampo into the ropes which prevented him from going down so the referee gave him a standing count. Ocampo fired back to shake Chaves in the second but a right and a straight left put Ocampo down. He survived only to suffer a cut over his right eye in a clash of heads in the third. Ocampo worked his way into the fight and in the eighth he knocked Chaves off balance with a right and Chaves put his gloves on the canvas to avoid going down. Chaves also lost a point for a deliberate butt making it a 10-7 round for Ocampo but before the round ended the referee called the doctor to examine Ocampo’s cut and it was ruled too serious for Ocampo to continue. The fight was decided on the score cards with two judges going for Chaves on scores of 76-75 and 75-73 and the other 75-74 for Ocampo. First fight for Chaves since being halted in one round by Jeremias Ponce in October 2017. Ocampo had won his last ten fights,
Tokyo, Japan: Super Feather: Kosuke Saka (21-5) W TKO 6 Takuya Watanabe (37-10-1). Super Bantam: Gakuya Furuhashi (27-8-1) W TKO 9 Yusaku Kuga (19-5-1).
Saka vs. Watanabe
Saka made a successful first defence of the Japanese title with stoppage of experienced Watanabe. Saka took the lead early with his aggressive approach and Watanabe struggled to get into the fight but a clash of heads opened a cut over Saka’s left eye in the fourth. Saka survived a doctor’s inspection and was in charge in the fifth with the open scoring showing him 49-46 in front on all three cards. Watanabe tried to take the fight to Saka but a monstrous right shook him badly and when he went down under a shower of punches the referee immediately stopped the fight. Eighteenth inside the distance win for Sato. First inside the distance loss for Watanabe who is 0-3 in Japanese title fights and may now retire,
Furuhashi vs. Kuga
Furuhashi scores a come from behind victory as he halts champion Kuga in the ninth round. In a fast start Kuga was piling forward putting Furuhashi under pressure with Furuhashi looking to stay inside and punch with Kuga. The first three rounds went to Kuga clearly but from the fourth Furuhashi was battling back strongly and in the fifth Kuga looked to be wilting. The scores after five rounds had two judges having Kuga up 48-47 and the third had Kuga in front 48-47. They exchanged heavy punches through the sixth and seventh with Kuga just having the edge. As Kuga seemed to tire in the eighth he was shaken by a big uppercut just before the bell and only just survived the round. Furuhashi jumped on Kuga and floored him at the start of the ninth. Kuga beat the count but was lurching around the ring under Furuhashi’s attack and the fight was stopped. The 33-year-old Furuhashi wins a National title at his third attempt. Kuga was making the second defence of the title in his second spell as champion.
Tijuana, Mexico: Super Fly: Angel Ramos (26-1-2) W PTS 10 Lamberto Macias (14-1-1).
Ramos wins the vacant NABF Junior title with points decision over Macias. Ramos rocked Macias and floored him early but just could not find the punch to end the fight. As the rounds passed Ramos started taking chances trying to put Macias away but was too wild and his corner told him to cool down and box and he settled for a points victory. Scores 98-90 three times for Ramos. He lost to former undefeated IBO champion Maximino Flores back in 2016 and drew with WBC title challenger Dewayne Beamon in 2018 and has scored eight wins since then. After an early draw Macias had registered eleven wins.
Tijuana, Mexico: Fly: Angel Ayala (11-0) W PTS 10 Giovani Gonzalez (10-1).Light Fly: Hector Flores (17-0-4) W TKO 4 Juan Parra (5-4).
Ayala vs. Gonzalez
Ayala wins this clash of unbeaten fighters and takes the vacant WBC Fecarbox title. Ayala floored Gonzalez with a counter right just ten seconds into the first round and put him down again late in the second with a left to the head. After that Gonzalez tried hard to take the fight to Ayala but was rocked by head punches in the seventh and eighth. He showed guts but could not cope with the hand speed and power of Ayala and did well to be there at the end although a wide loser on points. Useful ten rounds of work for 20-year-old Ayala. Gonzalez had won 5 of his last 6 fights inside the distance
Flores vs. Parra
Flores lives up to his “Rapidito” nickname as he scores a dramatic one-punch stoppage of Parra. Flores had worked his way in front over the first three rounds. Southpaw Parra tried to pressure Flores in the fourth but as he walked in he was met by a booming right cross from Flores which sent him down flat on this back as his gumshield went flying across the ring. Parra’s head thudded onto the canvas and the referee waived the fight off immediately. Eighth win by KO/TKO for Flores who has yet to be tested. Parra had won 3 of his last 4 fights.
Ekaterinburg, Russia: Super Bantam: Asror Vokhidov (9-
0) W TKO 9 Thato Bonokoane (10-4-3). Super Bantam: Vladimir Nikitin (4-1-1) DREW 8 Yerzhan Zalilov (11-3-2). Light: Zhora Hamazaryan (10-2-2) W RTD 4 Dmitry Yun (5-1). Super Bantam: Evengii Liashkov (8-1) W TKO 7 Oleksandr Yegerov (20-5-1).
Vokhidov vs. Bonokoane
Vokhidov wins the vacant WBO Oriental title with stoppage of South African Bonokoane. Vokhidov had big edges in skill and speed but did not push too hard early. He slowly built momentum breaking down Bonokoane with stiff accurate punching. In the ninth Bonokoane was dropped by a series of punches and his corner threw the towel into the ring. Tajik southpaw Vokhidov, 25, was an elite level amateur winning the World Youth title and being a three-time Tajikistan champion. This fight was a quarter-final of a WBO super bantamweight tournament. Sowetan Bonokoane has drawn and lost in two South African title fights but this is his first inside the distance defeat.
Nikitin vs. Zalilov
Nikitin and Zalilov end all even in this quarter-final. Nikitin was in control early taking the fight inside and exerting plenty of pressure but head clashes saw him cut a couple of times. The awkward and strong Zalilov came into the fight over the second half. He was finding the target with jabs and crisp uppercuts. Nikitin kept pressing and just when it seemed Zalilov might tire he found another gear and finished strongly to earn a split draw. With no winner it remains to be seen who goes through to the next round of the tournament.
Hamazaryan vs. Yun
Hamazaryan snaps a run of poor results as he stops Yun in four rounds. The taller Yun was boxing well floored Hamazaryan in the second round and had him in some trouble but the bell saved the Armenian. Hamazaryan battled back in the third and in the fourth a thunderous straight right dropped Yun on his back. He staggered to his feet but wobbled badly seeming to have injured his leg. He was unable to continue due to the injury and had to be stretchered from the ring. Hamazaryan was 0-2-2 in his last four fights. This is his seventh win by KO/TKO. Uzbek Yun was up at eight rounds for the first time. Both fighters are based in California.
Liashkov vs. Yegerov
Liashkov moves into the semi-final of the WBO tournament with stoppage of Ukrainian Yegerov. The fight started badly for Liashkov as he suffered a cut on his left eyelid in a clash of heads in the opening round. Despite this the young Russian handed out plenty of punishment in the second and third with Yegerov forced to use all of his experience to stay in the fight. Liashkov continued to dominate and by the seventh Yegerov had nothing left and the referee halted the fight to save him from further punishment. After losing his first fight the 21-year-old Liashkov has now won eight in a row and already has a win over fellow tournament contestant Zalilov. Four consecutive losses for Yegerov who was 20-1-0 before losing to Luca Rigoldi for the European title in 2019.
General Madariaga, Argentina: Super Middle: Sebastian Papeschi (16-3) W PTS 10 Marcelo Coceres (29-2-1). Welter: Juan Leal (12-1) W PTS 10 Alfredo Blanco (21-9).
Papeschi vs. Coceres
Papeschi climbs off the canvas to a take a split decision over Coceres and gain revenge for a loss in November last year. Papeschi’s better boxing saw him edge the first two rounds but in the third a strong right from Coceres put Papeschi down. He managed to beat the count and luckily for him the bell went before Coceres could land another punch. From there the rounds were close with Coceres just doing enough to stay in front but Papeschi staged a strong finish and fought his way ahead to take the verdict on a split decision. Scores 97-92 and 96-93 for Papeschi and 95 ½ -94 ½ for Coceres. Papeschi wins the interim Argenrinian title. Coceres lost on an eleventh round stoppage against Billy Joe Saunders for the WBO title in November 2019 but has struggled in his two fights with Papeschi. There is talk of a third fight to decide the winner in their series.
Leal vs. Blanco
Leal had problems early with the awkward and aggressive Blanco and fell behind in the scoring. Leal’s cooler, more accurate work saw him come on strong over the middle rounds and then edge ahead as he refused to be drawn into a brawl by Blanco. Realising he was behind Blanco put in a big effort over the last two rounds but Leal remained in control. Scores 97-93 twice and 96-94 for Leal who wins the vacant Argentinian title with his seventh victory in a row. The more experienced and much travelled Blanco was 5-1 going in with his loss being against Alexander Besputin in April 2019.
Villa Carlos Paz, Argentina: Super Light: Hugo Roldan (19-0-1) W PTS 10 Saul Huenchul (11-5).
No problems for Roldan as he is much too god for Huenchul, Roldan was too strong and too busy for Huenchul who was never able to really get into the fight and could not match Roldan’s hand speed. Roldan was finding plenty of gaps for his quick attacks and effortlessly switching guards to keep the inexperienced Huenchul off balance. Only Roldan’s lack of real power allowed Huenchul to last the full ten rounds. Scores 100-93½, 98 ½ -92 ½, 98 ½ -93 ½. Roldan, the Argentinian No 4, will be looking to challenge for the national title this year. Huenchul was stopped in seven rounds by Jose Acevedo in a challenge for the lightweight title in 2019.
Charleville-Mezieres, France: Middle: Bruno Surace (17-0-2) W PTS 10 Diego Natchoo (21-3-4,1ND).
Important victory for Surace as he faces his most difficult opponent so far and emerges with a wide unanimous decision and wins the vacant French title. In a battle of light punchers the speed and skill of Surace overcame the experience of former champion Natchoo. Scores 98-92 for Surace on all three cards. The 22-year-old University student from Marseilles had met only very modest opposition and was in his first ten round fight. “L’indien” Natchoo was on a useful run with just one loss in his last 13 fights.
Fight of the week (Significance): Stephen Fulton’s win over Angelo Leo provides a new champion at super bantamweight
Fight of the week (Entertainment): Gakuya Furuhashi vs. Yusaku Kuga was a war
Fighter of the week: Stephen Fulton the new champion
Punch of the week: Counter right from Hector Flores that flattened Juan Parra was monstrous
Upset of the week: Sebastian Papeschi’s win over Marcelo Coceres was a shock result as was Sharone Carte’s victory over McJoe Arroyo
Prospect watch: None that caught my eye this week
In recent years we've not seen many questionable decisions come out of Japan at the world level. There's been one or two, but mostly the judging in world title bouts in Japan has been fairer than anywhere else on the planet. That hasn't always been the case however, and in the 1990's the country had a reputation for having some truly horrific decisions. Today we cover one of the most controversial of the era as we look at a worlkd title bout from May 1993.
Katsuya Onizuka (21-0, 17) Vs Jae Shin Lim (12-2, 7)
Coming into the bout Japan's Katsuya Onizuka was the WBA Super Flyweight champion, a hugely popular fighter and someone who appealed to not only boxing fans, for a fun in ring style, but also non-boxing fans. He was good looking, stylish, appealed to females and oozed natural charisma. He was the sort of bankable star that was going to draw solid TV figures fight after fight. His popularity had already helped him over-come an in ring controversy, his world title win in 1992 against Thanomsak Sithbaobay. In his third defense, just 13 months later, he was matched with Japanese based Korean Jae Shin Li, also known as Kotaro Hayashi whilst fighting in Japan.
Sporting a 12-2 record Lim, on paper, had nothing for Onizuka to worry about. He lacked the experience to be regarded as a true challenger and the level of competition he had been facing was limited to say the least. He had faced absolutely no one good enough to prepare him for a world title bout. Notably he had won 11 bouts in a row coming into this, but the reality is that those 11 wins came against some very poor opposition, and no one capable of really testing Lim and proving him as a world class fighter.
On paper everything was stacked in favour of Onizuka. He was the draw, the man the crowd was behind, the main with edge in experience, the champion, the one who was proven at world level and the naturally bigger man. Lim however wasn't there to roll over and just be the under-dog. He was there to become the new champion.
From the opening stages Lim looked confident and sharp, making the most of a busy jab through first round and using his footwork to prevent Onizuka from setting himself, making the champion reset time and time again. Onizuka looked the more powerful man in the opening round, but was easily out worked and out boxed by Lim through the first round. Despite the decks being stacked against him Lim put on an excellent showing through the full round.
To his credit Onizuka moved up a gear in round 2, showing more aggression and hunger, landing the occasional shot that drew a roar from the crowd. Those moments of success from Onizuka were however fleeting moments whilst Lim remained consistent, and event seemed to shake Onizuka with a straight. By the end of the round the crowd were well into the fight, cheering on the local star, who seemed to be finding his groove.
Knowing that Onizuka was working his way into the bout Lim got back to what had worked well in the opening round. He was using his jab, his footwork, making use of his clear edge in speed and mobility, and simply outboxing the champion, out landing him and showing a gulf in skill between the two men. Onizuka, when he landed, drew huge roars from the crowd, but any half decent judge would have seen that they were fleeting moments from Onizuka in a round that he was easily out boxed in. The success from Lim continued through rounds 4, 5 and 6 as he began to establish control of the action. Onizuka was looking slow, clumsy, and struggled badly with the movement of Lim who looked much more skilled than the champion, who regularly ate jabs and missed his own shots. Round 5 was a particularly big one for the Korean who backed up Onizuka and battered him on the ropes, as he hunted what would have been a hugely surprising stoppage. It was a very one sided round that could, potentially, have even been scored a 10-8 for the challenger, who looked sensational.
At the midway point it seemed clear that Onizuka had to turn this around very, very quickly. There was no way he could have been in the lead by this point, and even the fact two of the judges were Japanese, as well as the referee, couldn't change that, right?
Onizuka, likely knowing he should be behind, began to try and turn things around in round 7 as he finally let his shots go, though Lim wasn't going to just let his lead go. Lim boxed well, had his moments, and although he probably didn't do quite enough, he made the round close whilst also getting a chance to catch his breath after the busy work rate from earlier in the bout. Onizuka seemed to also look the better man through parts of the 8th round. Sadly it really was just "parts" of round 8, with Lim holding his own through out the round and having some of the most eye catching moments of the round.
After the bout had been nice boxing for the most part through 8 rounds we saw the pace drop off in round 9, with some messy holding early on. About a minute into the round Onizuka had his biggest moment, rocking Lim with a huge right, which forced the challenger to hold on. It seemed like the tide was starting to turn in favour of Onizuka, but Lime smartly held, then moved, creating time to recover, whilst Onizuka failed to inject an immediate burst of pace. Around a minute later Onizuka seemed to hurt Lim again but the Korean saw out the storm, proving himself to be a legitimately tough guy. It was a huge round for Onizuka, but even when he landed his best shots he couldn't send the Korean down.
Impressively Lim had fully recovered by the start of round 10. Onizuka managed to have a nice first minute, landing a few eye catching shots, but lacked the energy to keep up the tempo, allowing Lim's to work his way back into the round, picking his spots well offensively, and taking a notable amount of Onizuka's shots on the arms. Lim also managed to continue picking his spots well in round 11, limiting Onizuka's success to a single shot here and there, whilst landing some huge shots of his own and winning in the exchanges.
It seemed that Lim had a lead, maybe only a narrow one but a lead all the same, as we went into the final round. Surprisingly it was Lim who took the early initiative, easily winning the first minute of the round, before Onizuka began to come back into the round. Even with Onizuka coming back into things it was still Lim out landing him, despite loud chants from the crowd as we went to the bell.
At the end Lim celebrated, Onizuka on the other hand seemed to be reserved. It seemed, at least to us, that Lim had done enough. At worse he had won 7 rounds, and maybe even more. In the end however the judges disagreed, giving Onizuka the split decision victory and pleasing the 11,000 fans in attendance.
The scores at the final bell were 116-115 to Lim, 116-15 to Onizuka and a bizarre 117-113 to Onizuka, a scorecard that we really can't explain.
A rematch would have made sense,sadly though Lim would only fight twice more. He was out of the ring for more than 2 years before returning in September 1995 for a couple of low key fights, both in Korea.
As for Onizuka he would record two more defenses, both of which were very close decision, before losing the belt in September 1994 to Hyung Chul Lee, and retiring following an issue with his eyes.
Today's Closet Classic isn't a fight that we expected many fans have seen, but it is replayed in Japan quite regularly as part of a series shown on Fuji's sister channels as part of their "Diamond Glove Golden Legend" series. It features a man who would later become a cult favourite fighting in his first title bout and taking on a determined domestic champion. The bout pales compared to some bouts that one man would feature in, but is certainly a very, raw and exciting bout that is well worthy of a watch.
Yoshihiro Kamegai (14-0, 12) Vs Yosukezan Onodera (20-1-1, 8)
In later years Yoshihiro Kamegai would become one of the sports best value fighters. When he was in the ring you knew you were going to get excitement with his incredible toughness, impressive stamina and brilliant will to win. When he got in the ring you knew leather would be thrown and his two wars with Jesus Soto Karass were both instant classics, worthy of rewatching any day. Before he began to make a mark on the US scene he was, of course, a Japanese domestic fighter and the action and thrills he gave Japanese fans in these early stages were still there. In April 2010 he got his first title fight.
In the opposite corner to Kamegai was Japanese 140lb champion Yosukezan Onodera. Although Onodera would never make a mark outside of Japan. He was a really good domestic fighter with his only loss at this point coming to Hiroshi Nakamori in early 2007. Since that loss he had gone 5-0-1 (2) with a very notable win over Norio Kimura for the Japanese Light Welterweight title in April 2009, ending Kimura's 5 year reign. He had defended the belt twice, beating Yuji Wauke and Akihito Nishio before facing Kamegai in spring 2010. In the ring he was aggressive, fun to watch and tough with a real fun style.
Despite what fans in the West know of Kamegai now, being a face first brawler, that wasn't always the case. He was never a defensive genius, but there was some nous to what he did at times, slipping on the inside and even using a shoulder roll. Yes, we know how alien that concept is to those who saw Kamegai's later career fights. With that in mind it should be noted he does show some nice defensive touches. Despite those defensive touches he's still Kamagei and he still gets inside but it's not all none stop work from him in the opening round and instead Onodera seems to out work Kamegai at times on the inside. Despite Onodera's work he gets put down in the opening round. That seems to set Kamegai off as we end up with an all out war to finish the round.
Having realised he could hurt the champion Kamegai was again willing to have an inside fight with Onodera, who kept marching forward and looking to have a war with the unbeaten, but untested challenger. In round 2 Onodera was down again, and once again the knockdown resulted in the round finishing in spectacular fashion with Kamegai looking desperate to get an early finish and Onodera weathering the storm and firing back.
We won't ruin the fight any further, but for those who love Kamegai's later career and want to see some of his earlier bouts, this is a genuinely great war. He wasn't quite as raw as he would later become, when he attempted to break into the hearts of Western fans, but he's certainly nothing like a pure technician. In Onodera he had the perfect foil for a brilliant fight and this proved to be something very, very fan friendly. It's not always pretty but it's always fun and action packed!
With just a few days to go until the anticipated Japanese Super Bantamweight title fight between Yusaku Kuga (19-4-1, 13) and Gakuya Furuhashi (26-8-1, 14) we've decided to share 5 of the very best bouts for the title, and it is a title with a long history, date back to the 1960's, well before the WBC and WBA crowned their first champions.
Sadly a lot of the pre-1980's fights aren't ones we currently have access too, however we feel the 5 we're going to share today are really great fights an should help get you in the mood for the violence we're set to get this coming Friday.
(Note - These are listed in DATE order)
Takuya Muguruma (20-1-1, 14) vs Kazuo Osamu (17-4-2, 11) 
Although sadly a forgotten man among Western fight fans Takuya Muguruma was a man who was rarely in a dull fight. Dubbed the "Endless Fighter" Muguruma came to fight and fight hard every time he stepped in the ring. He wasn't the most polished but was a man who threw a lot of leather and later went on to win the WBA Bantamweight title. In his 7th defense of the title he took on Kazu Osamu who had been stopped in 3 of his 4 losses, but came into the ring here with a point to prove, knowing this was likely to be his one and only shot at the title. Together they brought us a pretty damn brutal fight, with round 3 in particularly being thrilling back and forth round. This is high octane stuff from the off, though that was typical of Muguruma fights from the time.
Mark Horikoshi (17-1, 13) vs Naoto Takahashi (15-2, 10) 
When we first thought about doing this article there was one bout immediately put down on the list and that was the sensational 1989 war between defending champion Mark Horikoshi and popular challenger Naoto Takahashi. This bout, still regarded as one of the very best fights in Japanese boxing history, was really something special and managed to thrill everyone at the Korakuen Hall. This one started technically, with the two men finding their range, but picked up rapidly and rounds 3 and were amazing, before the bout found a whole new gear. Sadly neither man would go on to achieve much after this. Takahashi was essentially ruined by wars catching up with him just a few years later whilst Horikoshi would return to the USA, where he born, and go 3-5. Like Takahashi he too was a ruined fighter after this war.
Manabu Saijo (10-1, 7) vs Susumu Toyosato (9-0, 7)
A rarely spoken about fight from 1990 saw the once beaten Manabu Saijo clash with the unbeaten Susumu Toyosato for the vacant Japanese title, which had been given up by the winner of the previous bout. This one was over-shadowed by the previous contest, but the two men fought like a pair of men each looking to leave their man on the sport. It had everything we could hope to see, including a lot of action, a lot of drama and both being men hitting the canvas, in fact both were dropped in round 2. Whilst this isn't the Horikoshi Vs Takahashi bout it is a genuinely sensational fight that at times is uncomfortable to watch, but is thoroughly jaw dropping.
Rikiya Fukuhara (18-1-1, 14) vs Daisuke Yamanaka (18-2, 13)
Another often overlooked bout was the 2006 war between defending champion Rikiya Fukuhara and determined challenger Daisuke Yamanaka who gave us something that was truly spectacular. Coming in to this one Fukuhara was seeming his second defense and he had won his last 9 in a row, with 7 of those wins coming by stoppage. He had been a brutally destructive puncher on the domestic scene and had been one of the men expected to go on to have a lengthy reign and a successful career. Yamanaka on the other hand was riding a 6 fight winning run, with 5 of his wins by stoppage. Both men were known to be heavy handed, both had strong domestic followings and together they had the crowd in a frenzy almost from the off. The in ring mentality of the two men, and their styles gelled perfectly giving us a brutal battle where huge shots were landed time and time again. This was a damn brutal bout that deserves to be seen.
Note - The sound for this video is oddly in mono, so those watching with headphones will sadly only hear sound in one ear.
Ryoichi Tamura (12-3-1, 6) vs Yusaku Kuga (17-3-1, 12) II
To end this we're looking at a super recent fight from 2019, but a super brutal bout between two men who had already shared the ring in an hellacious struggle a few years earlier. Coming in to this the champion was the all action Ryoichi Tamura, a tough nut who threw a lot of leather and despite not being a big puncher always came into the ring looking to have a fight. In the opposite corner was former champion Yusaku Kuga, who had previously beaten Tamura when he held the title. Given their first bout was a brutal war we knew we expected something similar here in their rematch. The two men didn't disappoint in a bout that had intense action, drama and jaw dropping determination. This was brilliant, and for those tuning in on Friday this is well worth a watch.
By - George Delis (@Delisketo)
-Ryota Murata (16-2): WBA World champion
The 2012 Olympic champion could be going up against Chris Eubank Jr. in the coming months.
-Takeshi Inoue (17-1): WBO #8 / WBC #15
Inoue ended 2020 with 1 defense of his WBO Asia Pacific title.
-Keita Obara (23-4): IBF #5
Obara defeated Yuki Nagano last February, winning the Japanese strap once more.
-Yuki Beppu (21-1): WBO #12
Beppu hasn’t fought since his slugfest with Ryota Yada in 2019.
-Andy Hiraoka (16-0): IBF #12
Hiraoka will return to action on March 11th (Opponent TBA).
-Shuichiro Yoshino (13-0): WBO #7 / WBA #11 / WBC #13 / IBF #15
Yoshino defended his Japanese, OBPF & WBO Asia Pacific belts against Valentine Hosokawa this past September. His next fight will most likely be in spring. The unbeaten Hironori Mishiro is said to be the challenger.
-Masayoshi Nakatani (19-1): IBF #10 / WBO #14
Nakatani shocked everyone when he knocked out Felix Verdejo, after being dropped himself twice, to become the WBO Intercontinental champion.
-Kenichi Ogawa (25-1): IBF #3 / WBA #5 / WBO #8 / WBC #15
Ogawa bested Kazuhiro Nishitani 4 months ago.
-Kosuke Saka (20-5): WBO #15
Saka will be defending his Japanese title against former WBO Asia Pacific champion Takuya Watanabe on January 22nd.
-Tomoki Kameda (36-3): WBA #12
The former WBO Bantamweight & interim WBC Super Bantamweight champion is planning his Featherweight debut.
-Musashi Mori (12-0): WBO #4
Mori will put his WBO Asia Pacific crown on the line, in a double title fight, against Olympic medalist and OPBF champion Satoshi Shimizu on May 13th.
-Hiroshige Osawa (36-5): WBA #2 / IBF #8
Osawa has been inactive since 2019.
-Ryo Sagawa (10-1): WBC #8 / IBF #11 / WBO #15
Sagawa will mark the 3rd defense of his Japanese title against Hinata Maruta on February 11th.
-Ryo Matsumoto (24-3): IBF #15
The former world title challenger takes on Takashi Igarashi on March 11th.
-Reiya Abe (20-3): IBF #12
Abe beat the unbeaten Ren Sasaki (10-1) this past October.
-Ryosuke Iwasa (27-3): interim IBF World champion
Iwasa secured the interim IBF title, after stopping Marlon Tapales in 2019. He will unify with the WBA/IBF champion Murodjon Akhmadaliev on March 13th.
-Hiroaki Teshigawara (22-2): IBF #3 / WBC #4
Teshigawara has defended his OPBF championship 4 times overall, all knockouts.
-Ryo Akaho (36-2): IBF #12 / WBO #13
The former 2x world title challenger closed 2020 in spectacular fashion, obliterating Yuto Nakamura with a devastating uppercut.
-Naoya Inoue (20-0): WBA (Super) & IBF World champion
The Monster dispatched Jason Moloney last October. His next title defense could be against longtime mandatory IBF contender Michael Dasmarinas.
-Daigo Higa (17-1): WBA #8 / WBC #15
Higa knocked out Yuki Strong Kobayashi on NYE, capturing the WBO Asia Pacific title in the process.
-Takuma Inoue (14-1): WBC #7 / WBO #7
The former interim WBC champion managed to defeat Keita Kurihara, on January 14th, for the OPBF title.
-Kazuto Ioka (26-2): WBO World champion
Ioka gave the 3 division world champion Kosei Tanaka his first professional loss on New Year’s Eve, knocking him down twice before the referee stopped the match in the 8th round.
-Ryoji Fukunaga (13-4): IBF #9
Fukunaga scored his 13th KO in his recent encounter with Kenta Nakagawa to unify the Japanese, OPBF & WBO Asia Pacific titles.
-Sho Ishida (29-2): IBF #12 / WBA #13
Ishida beat Toshiya Ishii in November.
-Kosei Tanaka (15-1): WBO #1
Tanaka tasted defeat for the 1st time, at the hands of Kazuto Ioka.
-Junto Nakatani (21-0): WBO World champion.
After a masterful performance, Nakatani stopped Giemel Magramo to win the vacant WBO championship.
-Ryota Yamauchi (7-1): WBA #2 / IBF #10 / WBO #10
Yamauchi became the WBO Asia Pacific champion this past August.
-Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0): WBA (Super) World champion.
Kyoguchi recently signed with Matchroom.
-Kenshiro Teraji (17-0): WBC World champion.
The JBC suspended Kenshiro’s license for 3 months, after he drunkenly damaged someones vehicle.
-Katsunari Takayama (32-8): WBA #4
The former king of the Strawweights made a successful Light Flyweight debut against 2x world title challenger Reiya Konishi on December 27th.
-Kenichi Horikawa (41-16): WBC #5 / IBF #7 / WBA #13
The 20 year veteran scored an upset stoppage win over rising star Daiki Tomita.
-Masamichi Yabuki (12-3): WBC #3 / WBA #7 / IBF #9 / WBO #13
Yabuki defended his Japanese title for the first time against Toshimasa Ouchi.
-Riku Kano (17-4): WBO #7 / IBF #12
Kano became the WBO Asia Pacific champion last November.
-Ginjiro Shigeoka (5-0): WBA #10 / WBC #10 / WBO #11 / IBF #12
The WBO Asia Pacific champion’s comeback fight is expected to take place soon.
-Masataka Taniguchi (13-3): WBO #3
Taniguchi recently captured the Japanese title.
-Tsubasa Koura (15-1): IBF #7 / WBC #9 / WBO #12
Koura hasn’t competed since last February.
-Norihito Tanaka (20-8): WBC #11 / WBA #15
Tanaka beat Yuni Takada this past November.
(Image credit - Celes Gym)
By - George Delis (@Delisketo)
-Zhilei Zhang (22-0): WBO #9 / IBF #15
The 2008 Olympic Silver medalist knocked out Devin Vargas (22-7) in his most recent fight.
-Muhamad Farkhan (11-0): WBA #13
Malaysian KO artist Muhamad Farkhan stopped Pascal Abel Ndomba (25-10), back in 2019, to capture the WBA & WBC Asia championships.
-Meng Fanlong (16-0): IBF #1 / WBC #15
No news yet on Meng’s return.
-Ainiwaer Yilixiati (17-1): WBO #14
Much like most Chinese fighters, Yilixiati hasn’t fought since 2019.
-Manny Pacquiao (62-7): WBA (Super) World champion
By the looks of it, Pacquiao may end up fighting former 2 division UFC champion Conor McGregor in 2021.
-Apinun Khongsong (16-1): IBF #13
Apinun suffered a devastating defeat at the hands of Josh Taylor (17-0).
-Daud Yordan (40-4): WBO #9
Yordan has had troubles getting a fight in his native country of Indonesia.
-Joe Noynay (18-2): WBO #6 / IBF #14
Noynay earned the biggest win of his career in 2019 when he dominated Olympic Bronze medalist Satoshi Shimizu (9-1) to retain his WBO Asia Pacific title..
-Can Xu (18-2): WBA (Regular) World champion
The fight with Josh Warrington (30-0) has been delayed again.
-Mark Magsayo (21-0): IBF #4 / WBC #5 / WBA #9 / WBO #9
Magsayo is already back in camp, training for his next match. (Opponent TBA)
-Thattana Luangphon (13-0): WBC #6
Luangphon had an impressive 2020, winning 4 fights, all via knockout.
-Albert Pagara (33-1): IBF #13
The former WBO & IBF Intercontinental champion defeated Filipino journeyman Virgil Puton (18-15) last month.
-Mike Plania (24-1): WBA #6 / IBF #8 / WBC #14
Plania scored a big victory last June over Joshua Greer Jr. (22-2), dropping him twice in their 10 round encounter.
-Marlon Tapales (34-3): IBF #4
The former world champion won his comeback fight against Eden Sonsona (36-12) this past November.
-Jhunriel Ramonal (17-8): WBC #9 / IBF #15 / WBO #15
Ramonal stopped Yusaku Kuga (19-4) in 2019 and captured the WBO Asia Pacific title.
-Jeo Santisima (20-3): WBO #8
Santisima beat Marjon Piencenaves (6-2) a few weeks ago.
-John Riel Casimero (30-4): WBO World champion
A unification match with 2x Olympic gold medalist and the WBA (Regular) champion Guillermo Rigondeaux (20-1) is potentially next for Casimero.
-Reymart Gaballo (24-0): Interim WBC World champion
Gaballo earned a split decision over the former IBF champion Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-2) this past December to capture the interim WBC title.
-Nawaphon Kaikanha (50-1): WBC #2
Nawaphon has been undefeated in his last 14 bouts, including KO victories over former world champions Sonny Boy Jaro (45-15) and Amnat Ruenroeng (21-4).
-Nonito Donaire (40-6): WBC #1
The 4 division world champion could finally meet Nordine Oubaali (17-0) in the ring this year for the WBC title.
-Tasana Salapat (58-1): WBA #4 / WBC #10
Salapat has been on a 10 fight winning streak, since his loss to Takuma Inoue (14-1), all knockouts.
-Michael Dasmarinas (30-2): IBF #1 / WBO #3 / WBC #13
Dasmarinas will finally challenge Naoya Inoue (20-0) for the IBF championship.
-Aston Palicte (27-4): WBO #10 / IBF #13
The former world title challenger has been 2-1 since losing to Kazuto Ioka (26-2).
-Jun Zhao (13-2): WBA #13
Zhao defended his WBA Asia title twice in 2020.
-Vincent Astrolabio (15-3): WBO #9
Astrolabio will face Genisis Libranza (19-1) on February 27th.
-Jerwin Ancajas (32-1): IBF World champion
Ancajas will mark his 9th title defense this April against Jonathan Javier Rodriguez (22-1).
-Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (49-5): WBC #1 / WBO #7
The former 2 time WBC champion will face the winner of Juan Francisco Estrada (41-3) vs. Roman Gonzalez (50-2).
-Sirichai Thaiyen (58-4): WBA #1
The former interim WBA titlist has been 8-0 since losing to Artem Dalakian (20-0).
-Nattapong Jankaew (7-0): WBA #11
Thai rising star Jankaew scored the biggest win of his young career last November when he defeated former world title challenger Karoon Jarupianlerd (44-10).
-KJ Cataraja (12-0): WBO #11
Cataraja dispatched former world title challenger John Mark Apolinario (20-14) last month, with a nasty body shot in the first round.
-Komgrich Nantapech (29-5): IBF #13
Nantapech has won his last 7 fights, mostly against minor opponents.
-Jade Bornea (15-0): IBF #8 / WBC #15
Bornea captured the NABF title early last year.
-Thananchai Charunphak (11-1): WBC #8
2020 was a breakout year for Thananchai, picking up wins over veteran fighter Wicha Phulaikhao (61-15) as well as former world champion Suriyan Satorn (60-11), both stoppages.
-Jayr Raquinel (12-1): IBF #6 / WBC #9
Raquinel is aiming at the newly crowned WBO champion Junto Nakatani (21-0).
-Genisis Libranza (19-1): WBC #12
Libranza will go up against the WBO Oriental Bantamweight champion Vincent Astrolabio (15-3) on February 27th.
-Jayson Mama (15-0): IBF #3
Mama’s IBF title fight with Moruti Mthalane (39-2) was cancelled.
-Dave Apolinario (14-0): WBA #12 / IBF #14
Apolinario kept his perfect record intact in 2020.
-Giemel Magramo (24-2): WBC #10 / WBO #11
Magramo failed to become the WBO champion when he fought Junto Nakatani.
-Wenfeng Ge (12-1): WBO #6
Wenfeng hasn’t competed since October of 2019.
-Christian Araneta (19-1): IBF #5
Araneta added 2 more wins to his record in 2020.
-Tibo Monabesa (20-1): WBC #6
The IBO champion hasn’t been in the ring since he won the belt on July of 2019.
-Mark Vicelles (12-0): WBC #9 / WBO #12 / IBF #13
Vicelles defeated Junuel Lacar (8-6) 2 months ago.
-Edward Heno (14-1): WBC #7
Heno unsuccessfully challenged the WBO World champion Elwin Soto (18-1).
-Andika Fredikson Ha'e (17-0): WBO #10
“D’Golden Boy” much like Monabesa, hasn’t seen action since the summer of 2019.
-Panya Pradabsri (35-1): WBC World champion
Pradabsri became the first man to defeat the unstoppable Chayaphon Moonsri (54-1) and become the new WBC champion.
-Thammanoon Niyomtrong (21-0): WBA (Super) World champion
The undefeated Thai champion is expected to make his 9th title defense in the coming months.
-Pedro Taduran (14-2): IBF World champion
Taduran will take on the challenge of Rene Mark Cuarto (18-2) on February 27th.
-Victorio Saludar (20-4): WBO #2 / WBA #4
The former WBO champion will clash with Robert Paradero (18-0) on February 20th for the vacant WBA (Regular) World title.
-Jing Xiang (17-4): WBO #1 / WBC #7 / WBA #12 / IBF #14
Xiang won the WBO International title on his Strawweight debut.
-Rene Mark Cuarto (18-2): IBF #3 / WBO #8
Cuarto will go for the gold against the IBF champion Pedro Taduran (14-2).
-Chayaphon Moonsri (54-1): WBC #1
Moonsri could be rematching Pradabsri at some point in 2021.
-Lito Dante (17-11): IBF #6 / WBC #14
The OPBF champion hasn’t fought in almost 1 year.
-Robert Paradero (18-0): WBA #5
As mentioned above, Paradero will face Saludar for the WBA (Regular) belt.
-Melvin Jerusalem (16-2): WBC #2 / IBF #4
Jerusalem scored his 10th knockout recently in the Philippines.
-Samuel Salva (18-1): WBO #14
Salva suffered an injury in his match with Taduran, costing him the opportunity to become the IBF champion. He bounced back with a win over Donny Mabao (23-43) last January.
By - George Delis (@Delisketo)
-Alexander Povetkin (36-2): interim WBC World champion.
The 2004 Olympic Gold medalist viciously knocked out Dillian Whyte (27-2) this past August to become the interim WBC Heavyweight champion.
-Evgeny Romanov (15-0): WBO #10
Romanov defended his WBO Global title against former world champion Siarhei Liakhovich (27-9) a few months ago.
-Aleksei Egorov (11-0): WBA Gold champion
Egorov bested combat sports veteran Vasil Ducar (8-3) in his last fight.
-Evgeny Tishchenko (8-0): WBO #4 / IBF #6
The 2016 Olympic champion successfully defended his WBO Intercontinental title, for the third time, against John McCallum (12-2) in November.
-Aleksei Papin (12-1): WBC #2 / WBO #10
Papin stopped Ruslan Fayfer (25-3) last summer in a WBC final eliminator.
-Yury Kashinsky (19-1): IBF #4 / WBA #10 / WBC #12
Kashinsky will challenge the WBA champion Arsen Goulamirian (26-0) probably in spring.
-Artur Beterbiev (15-0): IBF & WBC World champion
Beterbiev tested positive for COVID-19, thus his fight with Adam Deines (19-1) was postponed.
-Dmitry Bivol (17-0): WBA (Super) World champion
Bivol’s 7th defense could be against the former WBO Super Middleweight champion Gilberto Ramirez (41-0).
-Maksim Vlasov (46-3): WBO #3
Vlasov will clash with Joe Smith Jr. (26-3) for the vacant WBO Light Heavyweight title on February 13th.
-Sergey Kovalev (34-4): WBO #5 / WBC #6
The former World champion is set to meet 2016 Olympic Silver medalist Bektemir Melikuziev (6-0) at the end of the month.
Update: The fight was cancelled due to Kovalev testing positive for synthetic testosterone.
-Igor Mikhalkin (23-2): WBC #7
Mikhalkin will have the opportunity to become a 2 time European champion, when he meets Callum Johnson (18-1) in Manchester, for the vacant EBU title.
-Rustam Tulaganov (3-0): WBA #14
The 2016 Olympic Bronze medalist defeated Norbert Dabrowski (23-9) last year to win his 1st professional title.
-Ali Izmailov (5-0): IBF #15
Izmailov enters the world rankings after dispatching former IBF International champion Ruslan Fayfer (25-3) this past November.
-Umar Salamov (25-1): WBO #2
Salamov was meant to fight Vlasov for the vacant WBO title, before he got tested positive for the coronavirus.
-Fedor Chudinov (23-2): WBA Gold champion
Fedor successfully defended his Gold belt for the 1st time over Umar Sadiq (10-2).
-Bektemir Melikuziev (6-0): WBA #14
The 2016 Olympic Silver medalist will face his best opponent yet, when he meets the former Light Heavyweight World champion Sergey Kovalev (34-4) on January 30th in Russia.
Update: The fight was cancelled due to Kovalev testing positive for synthetic testosterone.
-Aidos Yerbossynuly (15-0): WBA #2 / WBO #4 / IBF #6
Aidos defended his WBA International & WBO Global belts twice in 2020, against Issah Samir (19-1) and Nuhu Lawal (27-8).
-Azizbek Abdugofurov (13-0): WBC #6
The WBC Silver champion will be fighting on February 28th. (Opponent TBA)
-Aslambek Idigov (19-0): WBO #6 / IBF #14
Rising star Idigov picked up 2 major wins last year over Ryan Ford (17-6) and former interim WBA titlist Stanislav Kashtanov (36-6).
-Evgeny Shvedenko (15-0): IBF #5
Shvedenko defeated Artur Osipov (16-3) last month to win the vacant WBC International title.
-Vladimir Shishkin (11-0): WBC #7 / WBA #11 / IBF #12
Shishkin will be in action on February 10th. (Opponent TBA)
-Gennady Golovkin (41-1): IBF World champion
Triple G destroyed Kamil Szeremeta (21-1) in his inaugural defense of the IBF title.
-Kanat Islam (27-0): WBO #4 / IBF #14
The 2008 Olympic Bronze medalist was scheduled to make his US in ring return 4 months ago against Jesus Gurrola (27-15) but the fight was cancelled due to visa issues.
-Magomed Madiev (15-0): WBA #2
Madiev defeated Konstantin Mishechkin (16-10) 2 weeks ago.
-Janibek Alimkhanuly (9-0): WBO # 3 / WBC #5 / IBF #11 / WBA #15
The 2013 AIBA World champion knocked out Gonzalo Gaston Coria (16-4) with a crushing left hook to retain his WBO Global crown. Janibek now has his eyes set on Ryota Murata’s WBA Super title.
-Andrey Sirotkin (19-1): WBC #15
Sirotkin won 3 fights in 2020 and also captured the WBC Asia Continental title.
-Meiirim Nursultanov (14-0): IBF #9
Nursultanov only fought once in 2020.
-Magomed Kurbanov (21-0): WBA #5 / WBO #6 / WBC #14
Kurbanov ended 2020 still undefeated. His most recent victory being against former WBC Silver champion Dmitry Mikhaylenko (23-8). A fight with Tim Tszyu (17-0) is in the works.
-Israil Madrimov (6-0): WBA #1
Madrimov dominated Charlie Navarro (29-10) as well as Eric Walker (20-3) last year and is now even closer to a world title opportunity.
-Bakhram Murtazaliev (18-0): WBC #1 / WBO #5
Murtazaliev has knocked out 14 out of his 18 opponents.
-Sergey Lipinets (16-1): IBF #3 / WBO #9
Lipinets fought Custio Clayton (18-0) for the interim IBF title, to a draw.
-David Avanesyan (26-3): WBC#7 / WBA #9 / WBO #10
Avanesyan’s 3rd defense of his European title, against Josh Kelly (10-0), was postponed. A new date will be decided soon.
-Daniyar Yeleussinov (10-0): IBF #9
The 2016 Olympic Gold medalist earned the biggest victory of his pro career last November, when he stopped former IBF & WBA champion Julius Indongo (23-3) with 2 rounds.
-Kudratillo Abdukakhorov (17-0): IBF #1 / WBC #8 / WBO #13
Kudratillo aims to challenge the WBC & IBF champion Errol Spence Jr. in 2021.
-Radzhab Butaev (13-0): WBA #3
Butaev ruined Terry Chatwood’s (9-1) perfect record with a 3rd round KO on December 26th.
-Shakhram Giyasov (10-0): WBA #6
The 2016 Olympic Silver medalist stopped Wiston Campos (31-8) this past August with a nasty body shot.
-Shohjahon Ergashev (19-0): IBF #4 / WBA #8 / WBO #13
Ergashev could be next in line to challenge Josh Taylor (17-0) for the WBA & IBF titles.
-Batyrzhan Jukembayev (18-0): IBF #8 / WBA #13
Jukembayev knocked out Ricardo Lara (22-9) last January.
-Batyr Akhmedov (8-1): WBA #5
After suffering his first loss at the hands of Mario Barrios (26-0), Akhmedov came back last September and finished Rey Perez (24-12) in less than 3 minutes.
-Petros Ananyan (15-2): IBF #14
Ananyan ended the undefeated streak of Subriel Matias (16-1) back in February of last year.
-Zapir Rasulov (35-1): WBA #15
Rasulov scored his 31st knockout last October. He is scheduled to compete again in April. (Opponent TBA)
-Elnur Samedov (11-1): IBF #14
Despite suffering an early flash knockdown, Samedov came back to dominate Alexander Podolsky (11-2), successfully retaining his WBA Continental title.
-Zaur Abdullaev (12-1): IBF #8 / WBC #9
Zaur dropped Pavel Malikov (16-3) multiple times in his comeback fight.
-Mark Urvanov (18-2): WBA Gold champion
Urvanov delivered a stunning KO last year, ending the undefeated streak of Akzhol Sulaimanbek Uulu (15-1) and became the inaugural WBA Gold champion. He was meant to challenge Rene Alvarado (32-9) for the World title, before the Nicaraguan lost his belt to Roger Gutierrez (25-3) at the beginning of the year.
-Shavkat Rakhimov (15-0): IBF #1
The unstoppable Rakhimov was meant to fight Joseph Diaz (31-1) for the IBF championship on February 13th but he recently tested positive for COVID-19 so the match is off.
-Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov (16-0): WBC #6 / IBF #15
Yaqubov earned the biggest win of his career in 2020 when he outclassed former World champion Tomas Rojas (52-19) in Ekaterinburg.
-Tugstsogt Nyambayar (12-1): WBC #3 / WBA #8
The 2012 Olympic Silver medalist unsuccessfully challenged Gary Russell Jr. (31-1) for the WBC World championship in 2020.
-Andranik Grigoryan (12-0): WBA #10
Grigoryan defeated former IBF Intercontinental champion Andrei Isayeu (30-19) half a year ago.
-Murodjon Akhmadaliev (8-0): WBA & IBF World champion.
The 2016 Olympic Bronze medalist will mark his inaugural defense against the interim IBF champion Ryosuke Iwasa (27-3) on March 13th.
-Nikolai Potapov (22-2): IBF #6 / WBO #8
Potapov earned a unanimous decision win over former WBA Intercontinental champion Oleksandr Hryshchuk (16-3) a few weeks ago.
-Mikhail Aloyan (5-1): WBA Gold champion
The 2012 Olympic Bronze medalist will defend his WBA Gold belt against Pablo Carrillo (25-7) this coming spring.
-Olimjon Nazarov (25-5): WBO #5
Nazarov has been on an impressive 12 fight winning streak since 2018.
Back in August 2020 we did one of our weekly "10 facts you probably didn't know about..." articles about former Japanese Flyweight Seisaku Saito. The former fighter, turned actor, comedian and entertainer, was an enigmatic individual who ended up featuring in a series of adverts after his boxing career. We've decided to put a bunch of those together in this edition of "5 times Asian boxers have appeared in commercials!"
One thing to note before we go any further is that after Seisaku Saito retired from boxing he did go by the stage name Tako Hachiro, and became a full time actor. We really don't know how many adverts he was in, but we've included just 5 below, if we stumble on more in the future we will include them in a future article in this series.
Seisaku Saito - Ace Cook Ramen Noodles
We begin this with a really basic Yaki Soba noodle advert for a company called Ace Cook. The advert looks very much late 1970's/early 1980's. Saito is wearing an awful salmon coloured blazer and is in front of a very dull background. Not really sure about this advert at all, but it did make us hungry the first time we watched it, then again we're usually hungry when we see noodles!... Which has actually made this entire article very hunger inducing
Seisaku Saito - Suntory Canned Gin
Ok so what do we want with our noodles? Well how about some canned Gin. The advert sees Saito pulling a woman in a Rickshaw before the two enjoy some Suntory Canned Gin. This is again a rather basic advert, but we do wonder who though giving Saito the attire he's in was funny....because we kinda thing Saito's attire here is more memorable than the product they are drinking!
Seisaku Saito - Kintori Mosquito Repellent
So if we take our noodles and gin outside, and yes drinking in public is allowed in Japan for those wondering, we might have ourselves some flying buggers bothering us. Those damn Mosquito's need keeping away, and to do that we're going to use this! The Kintori Mosquito Repellent! In regards to adverts this is the weirdest one that Saito is in, with Saito playing one of two...crabs. This is short, surreal and weird to say the least!
Seisaku Saito - Kishifort Camera Store
Whilst we're enjoying our day out, and have rid ourselves of those damn Mosquito's, we should take some photographs of our day! Well that's great as Saito was in an advert for a camera store in, or around 1985. This is another rather weird one with Saito playing a musical instrument on the beach. The advert does little to sell the cameras or camera store and sadly turned rather weird when we move from the advert to real life. For those unaware Saito actually drowned in 1985, making this a rather weird one to watch back.
Seisaku Saito - Matsuda Foods Baby Star Cup Ramen
We started this with a food advert and we'll end it with a food one as Saito also advertised a cup Ramen product. The advert here really is one we simply don't get, though in fairness it could be lost in translation. We feel it would have made more sense to see someone eating the product, than sitting in a car with dehydrated noodle cups, similar to Pot Noodles for our UK viewers.
For today's closet classic we roll the clock back to an historic bout from back in 1987, and it's a bout that, sadly, doesn't get the attention it deserves. That's despite the bout being a genuine major one for the division it was in. In fact it was a bout that saw an inaugural champion being crowned and a record being set, that still stands more than 30 years on.
Hiroki Ioka (8-0, 5) vs Mai Thomburifarm (11-1, 4)
The bout in question was the first ever WBC Minimumweight title bout, which took place in October 1987 in Osaka, just 4 months after the inaugural IBF title fight. The division wasn't well-established at this point, but this was a very much a major fight at 105lbs, and pitted an 18 year old Japanese hopeful against a Thai riding an 11 fight unbeaten run.
Hiroki Ioka, the uncle of Kazuto Ioka, had turned professional in 1986 under the guidance of the legendary Eddie Townsend. Ioka had debuted at the age of 17 and debuted in January '86, and had run up 5 straight wins by the end of the year. In 1987 he had beaten Kenji Ono for the Japanese Minimumweight title, setting the record as the youngest Jappanese national champion, before moving on to this WBC title fight. The youngster had been nurtured by Townsend to be an outside fighter, using his long and rangy body to fight off the jab, and with his Japanese title win there was a lot of momentum behind him. Despite the momentum he was still only 18 years and 9 months old. He was looking to set the Japanese record as the youngest world champion, and this was seen as a major step up.
Thai fighter Mai Thomburifarm had lost on his debut, in 1986, but then reeled off 11 straight wins. His competition hadn't been great, though as is always the case with Thai's from that era the records of his opponents are very much questionable and may well be incomplete. What is known is that prior to this fight with Ioka Mai had won the Thai Light Flyweight title. Coming in to this fight he was in his mid 20's but had never previously fought outside of Thailand.
From the off Ioka looked to make the most of size and speed. He got behind his jab, kept it pumped out and tried to neutralise the pressure of the Thai visitor. Ioka's big flaw, through his career, was his relative lack of power and he struggled early on to get the respect of Mai, who continued to come forward. The Thai's hunger and fire kept him coming forward but he continually struggled to get close enough, early on, to get his shots off with much success.
As the bout went on the pace of the bout increased, with Ioka occasionally pushing back Mai and letting his shots go. Mai responded, at times, but generally got the worst of things, as Ioka's clean and accurate punches took their toll on the Thai.
Whilst certainly not an all out war, and very much a show case of boxing, moving and jabbing, this was more exciting than most technical match ups and certainly had it's share of flash points and exciting moments, especially late on as both men started to wear the wounds of their bout.
For those looking for excitement and action this isn't a thrill a minute bout, despite having it's moments. It won't even be remembered as one of the greatest Minimumweight bouts ever. It is however a bout that deserves it's place in the Closet Classic series. It's a bout that helped build the division, and showed that technical and tactical bouts can still be very fun to watch!
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