By Marcus Bellinger-
This past weekend Wanheng Menayothin extended his long unbeaten record to 49-0 17 KOs with a 12 round unanimous decision versus Tatsuya Fukuhara in a fight which so could have easily gone the other way. The Japanese challenger set an insane pace from the off and managed to sustain it throughout but the open scoring after 8 rounds never gave him a chance of victory on points and the champion has displayed a good chin during his career.
The win gave the Thai his 8th defense of his WBC 105 lb crown and saw him equal Rocky Marciano’s record of 49-0 and put him one away from equalling Floyd Mayweather’s 5-0 resume. Joe Calzaghe finished with an undefeated slate of 46-0 and Rene Cesar Cuenca and Roman Gonzalez have all come close but fell before reaching the hurdle of 49 victories. The relevance of these statistics depends on how much stock you put in such numbers but it is at least a nice talking point and for Wanheng it gives him some notoriety that he or his weight class wouldn’t normally receive.
Like pretty much all Thai fighters Wanheng’s record is littered with journeymen and non-title bouts against debutants and boxers with multiple losses. After turning pro in January 2007 Wanheng was moved in to title action in just his third contest where he picked up the vacant WBC Youth minimumweight belt. Before contesting for his first world title he beat the likes of Ardin Diale, Florante Condes, Armando de la Cruz and Crison Omayao who were all decent regional level operators at the time.
Eventually the world title shot came in October 2014 when he gained home advantage against WBC strawweight champion Oswaldo Novoa. The Mexican had made 1 defence after dethroning China’s first ever world champion Xion Zhao Zhong via 5th round stoppage in February 2014 but couldn’t overcome Wanheng who broke him down in 9 rounds in what for large parts was a competitive scrap.
His world championship reign has been mixed with challengers Jeffrey Galero, Young Gil Bae and Go Odaira offering no real threat. His 9th round stoppage over Jerry Tomogdan looks slightly better now on paper as the Filipino went on to stop former world title challenger Rikku Kano in a bout for the WBO Asia Pacific strap.
His first real test came in August 2015 when he made a mandatory defense against Saul Juarez. The Mexican had mixed in good company having shared the ring with Milan Melindo, Jose Argumedo, Juan Hernandez and Adrian Hernandez amongst others. After the first 4 rounds were keenly contested Wanheng managed to pull away, even cruising the last couple of rounds to a unanimous decision which added some validity to his world championship status.
Then unbeaten Melvin Jerusalem gave Wanheng a real run for his money in their January meeting but again after a slow start the champion did just about enough to retain his title. The rough and tough Omari Kimweri was in the opposite corner 6 months later and was always likely to be an awkward obstacle. This proved to be the case early on as Wanheng was cut from a clash of heads but he used his extra class to pound out another unanimous points win.
At 32 which is considered old for a fighter in the lightest weight divisions a loss could come at any time as was the case when Thai great Pongsaklek Wonjongkam was shockingly knocked out by Sonny Boy Jaro back in March 2012. Next up is mandatory challenger Leroy Estrada and a win for the Thai would of course bring up a half century of victories. Just 6 KOs in 16 wins and a shaky chin don’t inspire much confidence of the Panamanian spoiling the party but who knows as with Sonny Boy Jaro he could be in the right place at the right time and his southpaw stance may also help him.
If Wanheng navigates his mandatory then unifications would be highly desirable but a lack of finances make it extremely inconceivable that a clash with countrymen and fellow belt holder Knockout CP Freshmart will come to fruition however, the extra cash that could be on offer in Japan could possibly see him take on other champions Hiroto Kyoguchi and Ryuya Yamanaka or exciting youngster Tsubasa Koura.
Malaysia’s Muhammad Shehran and Theena Thayalan to face 2 of Indonesia’s top seed boxers in respective divisions
MAJOR STEP UP IN CLASS FOR LOCAL BOXING TALENT
Malaysia’s Muhammad Shehran and Theena Thayalan to face 2 of Indonesia’s top seed boxers in respective divisions.
By Anil Kumar
On December 9th 2017, 2 of Malaysia’s finest boxers Muhammad Shehran and Theena Thayalan (4-0, 2 KO) will be eyeing to make a mark for themselves on foreign soil in what’s sought to be an augmentation for the quality of opponents they have faced thus far. Apart from being featured in bouts staged locally and in Singapore the duo will now seek to defend their unbeaten records in a territory that is known to have an everlasting supply of solid boxing talent. Where? This time around it’s Indonesia, in a show promoted under the promotional banner DV Promotions.
Muhammad Shehran (5-0, 1 KO) will be facing Erick Destroyer (10-4-1, 2 KO) of Indonesia. In a bout that is scheduled for 6 rounds or less .The Malaysian featherweight will need to display congenial performance far better than his previous close win against Yulius Mauk.
Erick Destroyer will unquestionably push Shehran to the edge in this upcoming fight. The active Indonesian Marine Corps officer has bagged the national championship 11 times and is a 2 time Indonesian Boxing Commission Super Bantamweight Champion. Erick will be looking to come off his recent defeat against Japanese Hiroshige Osawa. Looking at Shehran, His last TKO victory only came in his second fight as a pro against inexperienced Malaysian Amirulfadzli Pendi, Leaving 4 of his other victories by Unanimous/Majority decision.
When asked on his views for this upcoming fight, Promoter/Manager Vikram Sivapragasam said:
“I think this is a big step up for Shehran. His opponent is an experienced boxer and is ranked much higher than Shehran. Furthermore he will be fighting on foreign soil. From my experience with Qudratillo, I believe this will catapult him to the next level”
Erick who is currently ranked number 2 amongst 31 other ranked featherweight prospects in Indonesia will be Shehrans biggest challenge as of yet. En masse, Shehran is also 2nd in rank below number 1, Aiman Abubakar (7-0, 3 KO) amongst 6 other Malaysian featherweights. Nevertheless, Shehran deserves much applause for taking this leap in facing an opponent far more experienced than any of his other opponents collectively. A surge that is much needed by other aspiring professional boxers in Malaysia.
Malaysia’s number 1 ranked Welterweight Theena Thayalan (4-0, 2 KO) on the other hand, will face seasoned veteran Eddy Comaro (33-30-5, 13 KO). Camaro, An experienced journeyman has fought opponents extensively across Asia primarily Australia, China, Thailand and Philippines. His notable fight was when he faced 2 time WBO interim Lightweight champion Michael Katsidis of Australia. An opponent of this calibre will be excellent exposure for Theena to help him escalate his class to another level. The 19 year old Malaysian prospect is fairly experienced himself coming into this fight having faced 4 of his previous opponents who are all from top Indonesian stables.
“Despite his opponent being more experienced, it will be BAU for Theena. As long as he makes sure the left hand lands flush its trouble for Eddy”
Said Promoter/Manager Vikram.
With the power Theena possesses if he can punch through eddys guard he will clearly impose dominance and end the fight by round 6 or less.
(Image of Theena Thayalan courtesy of Anil Kumar)
By Marcus Bellinger-
The super flyweight division is red hot right now and it was the turn of IBF titlist Jerwin Ancajas to take to the ring as he squared off against Jamie Conlan in Belfast this past Saturday. This was the champion’s third defence of the year having already triumphed on the road in Macao and Australia on the undercard of Manny Pacquiao’s WBO welterweight title loss to Jeff Horn.
After a fairly quiet opening stanza the challenger went down to what seemed like a delayed reaction but wasn’t abundantly clear. For some reason the challenger was attempting to box which only made things easier and more comfortable for Ancajas and a bad cut suffered by Conlan only added to the Belfast man’s problems. A relentless assault to the body proved too much for Conlan who was finally put out of his Mersey in round 6 and the Filipino had impressed yet again on away soil.
So where to next for the 25-year-old? Well, in a weight class that is full of top talent lack of big fights and credible opposition certainly isn’t an issue. Given that TV dates apart from those from the ABSCBN output deal with the ALA Gym are a real luxury, a home defence seems a nonstarter unless promoter Manny Pacquiao somehow manages to put together a final fair well encounter in front of his people. Also because of the poor infrastructure within boxing in the Philippines Ancajas will need to make sure his passport is valid as bouts on the road have become the norm for the vast majority of Pinoy pugilists.
At the top of most people’s lists would be a showdown with WBO boss Naoya Inoue who defends his crown against Yoan Boyeaux in Yokohama on the penultimate day of 2017. The Japanese KO artist has expressed a strong desire to partake in the Superfly 2 card which has been set for 24 February in LA. With HBO televising the bill and now involved at 115 lbs there could be bigger financial rewards on the table and hopefully the camps of Inoue and Ancajas can strike a deal and give us what would be a fascinating contest. The fight was reportedly close to being made for 30 December before Ancajas took the option of facing Conlan.
Another possible unification could come against WBA champion Kal Yafai who has looked solid if not spectacular so far. Both the UK and the US are feasible destinations with Eddie Hearn’s deals with HBO and Sky Sports providing the necessary finance to bring about this unification clash. Nicaraguan Roman Gonzalez has so far hinted at continuing his career and Mexican Carlos Cuadras and Brian Viloria are also other possible alternatives. Japanese warrior Akira Yaegashi has stated he would like to win a 4th world title in as many weight divisions and at some point an all too rare all Pinoy matchup with Jonas Sultan will need to be navigated in a mandatory defence.
Finally Hong Kong’s Rex Tso continues to flourish in and out the ring and is on the lookout for a world title tilt. A genuine draw at home Tso is one of the most fan friendly fighters in the sport and is always value for money.
Whilst much maligned in the West the strawweight division has provided some thrilling and all-time great bouts over the last decade and has been home to some outstanding champions. Currently the division has 2 champions each from Japan and Thailand and a small cluster of capable contenders.
2 men who were looking to enter the world title discussion clashed at the Korakuen Hall this past Saturday as OPBF champion Tsubasa Koura defended his crown against once beaten Masataka Taniguchi. Coming into the contest Koura had stopped his last 5 opponents including forma world title challenger Jeffrey Galero and Jaysever Abcede in July for the vacant regional strap. After losing a razor thin decision in April to Reiya Konishi for the Japanese title, Taniguchi bounced back with 2 low key victories.
What we got was a compelling and highly competitive 12 rounder with both fighting tooth and nail to the final bell. In a battle of the jabs there was nothing to split them over the first 4 rounds with Koura having a slender lead on the open scoring. The challenger then upped the pace, scoring regularly with his left hand and after 8 rounds it really was any one’s guess who would prevail. Koura responded in the final third to eke out a majority win on the cards with judge’s totals of 115-113, 114-113 and 114-114.
Having not gone passed 5 rounds this was a real litmus test for Koura and the 23-year-old showed excellent stamina and the ability to dig in and hammer it out in the trenches in the championship rounds, a valuable trait going forward. An offer has already reportedly been made to Thai belt holder Knockout CP Freshmart for a March 2018 clash and if this comes to fruition the E and J Cassius Gym youngster has shown the ability to compete at the highest level.
As for Taniguchi 2 narrow defeats will feel heart breaking but the 23-year-old Watanabe Gym southpaw has proved his worth at championship level and with a little bit more seasoning there is no reason he can’t pick up titles and who knows, even claim a world strap down the line.
By Marcus Bellinger-
Over the last few years we’ve seen a huge influx of fighters from the forma Soviet Union making waves in professional boxing and now Gennady Golovkin, Sergey Kovalev and Vasyl Lomachenko are all household names within the sport. Given their long and distinguished amateur backgrounds the likes of Lomachenko and Oleksandr Usyk have been moved extremely quickly towards world titles. For those wondering if the invasion is over then the answer is definitively no as there is a colossal amount of pugilistic talent in the amateur ranks that will inevitably turn pro in the upcoming years.
2 nations that possess genuine strength in depth are Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan but so far it has been a trickle making the transition from amateur to professional. The numbers will surely increase in time and here are a selection of amateur boxers from both countries that have the potential to be tomorrow’s stars.
In his first world championships the Kazak middleweight performed brilliantly to reach the final but was unable to overcome the relentless Ukrainian Oleksandr Khyzhniak. Amankul’s only loss in 5 WSB bouts came to Olympic champion Arlen Lopez, a defeat he would avenge in this year’s world championships in Hamburg. A national youth and senior champion as well as a Bronze medallist at the 2017 Asian championships, the 20-year-old is now an integral part of the Kazak team for the Tokyo Olympics. Amankul has a lovely relaxed manor to go with plenty of pop in his punches and a very good boxing brain as well as an excellent temperament.
This 20-year-old welterweight enjoyed a glittering youth and junior career claiming golds at the 2013 Kazak, Asian and world juniors and at the Asian world and Olympic Youth tournaments in 2014. Zhussupov has made a solid start in the senior ranks capturing silver and bronze in this year’s Asian and world championships. On both occasions he was beaten by Shakhram Giyasov but Zhussupov acquitted himself extremely well in both contests. He relies on his excellent skills and boxing fundamentals to defeat his opponents and will only improve given more experience at the highest level.
This hard hitting welterweight powered his way to victory in the 2015 youth world championships in St Petersburg and is also a Kazak champion at the youth level in 2015 and 2016. Akhmedov is just beginning to feature at the senior level and faces fierce competition at his weight but given his crowd pleasing style and heavy hands, we should be guaranteed excitement however his career progresses.
Samatali and Sanatali Toltayev.
This pair of twins made a slice of history by winning the Asian youth championships in July at lightweight and light welterweight respectively. Both have featured at many of the same competitions with Samatali taking Bronze at the world juniors in 2015 and silver at the world youths in 2016 and Sanatali grabbing gold at the Asian juniors in 2015.
2017 has been a fabulous year for the 24-year-old having become Asian and world champion at welterweight. Giyasov’s flamboyant style in a ring and real charisma make him an appealing prospect for the future and someone with real marketing potential if he were to turn professional. After finishing runner up at the Uzbek nationals in 2014 he went one better in 2015 and in his first Olympics in Rio he took home silver, only being beaten by the outstanding Daniyar Yeleussinov. Giyasov will be looking to turn around his 1-3 record in the world series of boxing and this shouldn’t be a huge issue for a man of his quality and if he stays fit expect him to be one of the favourites for Olympic gold in Tokyo.
The Uzbek middleweight will have been thoroughly frustrated having not picked up a medal at the Hamburg world championships having been on the wrong end of a fairly poor decision in the quarter-finals versus America’s Troy Isley. Madrimov won silver medals at welterweight at the 2013 Asian Youth’s and at the 2014 Asian Games and Uzbek nationals before moving up to middleweight to become national champion in 2016. The 22-year-old topped the podium at home in Tashkent in this year’s Asian championships and has an unblemished 3-0 record in the WSB. Arguably his best career performance came in the 5 round format when he produced a mature display to outpoint Cuban Arlen Lopez in May. When in the mood and if afforded time and space Madrimov can be a difficult customer to stop and he has plenty of power and loves to launch marauding attacks which leave his opponents feeling the effects.
Another who enjoyed success at the youth level, the Uzbek is a national and Asian youth champion at light heavyweight. Tursunov gained a very credible world championship bronze medal in August at heavyweight, losing in the semi-final to Russia’s Evgeny Tishchenko. He has also come up short this year against Vassiliy Levit and Erislandy Savon but at just the tender age of 19 time is definitely on his side for him to be able to overcome the highly experienced trio further down the line.
Finally this 17-year-old showed his class when claiming first place at July's Asian Youth championship in Thailand. He overcame Sachin Siwach in the light flyweight final, scoring a knockdown against the gifted Indian in the process. 3 months later he moved up to flyweight and won a silver at the Uzbek youth championships. Kholmurodov also has a national junior gold from 2016 and with the likes of Hasanboy Dusmatov and Shakhobidin Zoirov winning Olympic golds around his weight class, the teenager has tremendous heroes to inspire him.
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