A couple of weeks ago we spoke about a controversial clash from Thailand that saw a man defending the IBF Flyweight title with some help from a referee who seemed like he knew where he was, and who he was there to help. That referee was Pat Russell, who completely botched his job as the third man in the ring. Thankfully for Russell his performance was forgotten just 9 months later when another referee went to Thailand and butchered the officiating even worse. That was Larry Doggett who did his best impression of a heel referee in wrestling.
Amnat Ruenroeng (15-0, 5) vs Johnriel Casimero (21-2, 13) I
As with our article 2 weeks ago this is another Amnat Ruenroeng fight, and was actually his 4th defense of the IBF title. He had won the belt in early 2014 and had, by hook or by crook, defended it against Kazuto Ioka, McWilliams Arroyo and Zou Shiming. He hadn't always looked great but was racking up wins and putting in a solid claim as one of the most under-rated fighters in the sport. In June 2015 he looked to continue hie reign as he took on former Light Flyweight champion Johnriel Casimero.
In 2015 Johnriel Casimero wasn't the world class Bantamweight that he is today. He was a former world champion at Light Flyweight but was better known for the crazy scenes following his battle with Luis Alberto Lazarte in 2012. Although not well known internationally he was deemed a real road warrior and hardcore fans had been rating him fairly respectably given the win over Lazarte and wins over Cesar Canchila, Pedro Guevara and Luis Alberto Rios, all on the road.
On paper this looked like an intriguing match up, but one that could have been a frustrating watch, especially given how Amnat had over-come Arroyo, with clinching being a major part of his arsenal. What we hadn't expected was a total foul fest with clinching being the least of Casimero's issues.
The very early seconds saw Amnat pretty much bull rush Casimero to the ropes and throw him down to the canvas. Within just 10 seconds Amnat was trying to play the dirty bully. Later that same minute Amnat hooked in a headlock as he continued to fight as much as box. With around a minite of the round left the referee did give Amnat a pretty clear telling off for pushing and seemed to be saying "no more or I'll take a point". Despite that Amnat got away with a lengthy hold and a shot after the bell to end the round.
If the gameplan of the champion was to get into the head of Casimero it seemed to work and in round 2 he dropped Casimero, who was rushing in. It made a bad start worse for the challenger.
In round 3 the hugging and holding and wrestling took over again, and was made worse by some farcical behaviour. This included the referee missing a potential knockdown scored by Casimero, letting Amnat away with more headlocks and body holds, a judo throw, almost constant holding and it took around a minute for Amnat to get his shoe laces tied at one point.
Round 4 featured a judo throw from Amnat, who was pissed when Casimero got to his feet and tried to punch him, almost forgetting that this was a boxing contest, and responded with another choke hold. Another headlock followed later in the round with the referee responding by warning Casimero, who immediately got put into another headlock. And then another. The choke holds and headlocks dominated round 5, which again saw Amnat putting some in some form of a judo and some other random throws, and even hitting Casimeroo when he was down. It should be noted that all of this was happening with out any sort of admonishment from the referee who seemed to think he was in charge of an MMA bout not a boxing bout.
Actual boxing action was scarce with Casimero being held and fouled when ever he was close, and Amnat trying to put in an audition tape for some MMA organisation, rather than proving himself as a world level boxer.
We'll not cover the entire fight, as genuinely some of this needs to be seen to be believed, but in round 6 Amnat tried to throw Casimero out of the ring, and in round 8 he mounted him and looked like he was ready to go for a ground and pound. Oh and the hilarious thing, after 11 rounds of fouling Amnat was finally deducted a point. Something that he had been told could happen at the end of the opening round. Doggett however didn't take that point until Casimero had been "dropped" for a second time, from what looked like a trip.
Unsurprisingly Amnat would take the win with a decision, however the controversy later lead the IBF to order a rematch, which took place on neutral soil in China. Thankfully justice was served in that rematch with Casimero stopping the Thai in 4 rounds to help right the wrong of this bout.
Thankfully this appears to have been the final bout refereed by Larry Doggett, who likely realised he was in the wrong profession at this point.
For those who have ever wondered about worst refereeing performances, we nominate Larry Doggett and this fight. This is atrocious to say the least.
A few weeks ago in this series we covered a foul fest that saw the right guy winning a clear decision. That was a bout where the man committing the fouls managed to rile everyone up, and whilst he had fouled through out the bout it was really a final round melt down that highlighted the contest. Today we look at a different type of foul fest. One where the fans are well and truly behind the man breaking the rules, and where the man breaking the rules, is getting away with it.
Amazingly this isn't just a foul fest, but also a bout where the judges seem to be in on things as well, with some questionable score cards, a referee that seems scared to take points and a local favourite who seems to know he can get away with anything.
Amnat Ruenroeng (13-0, 5) vs McWilliams Arroyo (15-1, 13)
Before we get to this bout we need to get to the back story of this one and go back to 2013. That was the year that Moruti Mthalane twice saw bouts with Silvio Olteanu fall through. After those bouts collapsed Mthalane was ordered to take on the then unknown Thai Amnat Ruenroeng, who had been a good amateur but done nothing as a professional. The purse bid for Mthalane Vs Ruenroeng was pathetic, but their was no money in the bout. As a result Mthalane gave up the belt, rather than travel to Thailand for pittance.
In December 2013 McWilliams arroyo was also having problems. He had seen his scheduled bout with Rocky Fuentes be delayed, then was cancelled all together in January 2014 when Fuentes failed to get a visa. That was supposed to be a world title eliminator.
With those bouts falling through we ended up getting a make shift bout in January 2014 that saw Amnat defeat Fuentes for the IBF Flyweight title, in a bout that was put together on very short notice. It wasn't a great bout, but was a big win for the Thai who was now the new world champion. Amnat followed that up by travelling to Japan and beating Kazuto Ioka, in a massive win.
Having seen his bout with Fuentes fall through Arroyo would fight in June 2014, in an IBF Flyweight world title eliminator, where he beat Froilan Saludar to set up a clash with Amnat for the title.
So overall it took us around 10 months to get to this bout but we got there in the end....and the wasn't worth it. At all.
The bout started slowly, both men trying to figure out what the other hand and eased their way into the contest. There was nothing spectacular to begin with, as both men pumped out their jabs. It looked like Arroyo was the stronger fighter whilst Amnat was the slightly quicker, but there wasn't much in it at all early on. Amnat probably did enough to the take first round but did better in rounds 2 and 3 as he established an early lead.
Then the bout started to fall apart. Arroyo had a very good round 4, as Amnat began to try and protect his lead, rather than extend it. He began holding, excessively. Every few seconds in round 4 the Thai smothered, held and did his best cuddly octopus impression. The holding didn't really help slow down Arroyo's pressure and the challenger's success grew, dropping Amnat in round 6 to completely get rid of Amnat's early lead.
It was following the knockdown that the bout totally fell apart.
The clinching became more and more regular, with Amnat trying to sap the ambition and fire out out of Arroyo. Referee, Pat Russell, repeatedly told Amnat to stop, but didn't take any points from the Thai. In fact not only did he refuse to take points but it wasn't until round 10 that he even gave a firm warning. Even after the warning the messy tactics, holding, spoiling and wrestling continued from Amnat, who was warned but never saw a point being taken.
After 12 rounds the bout could have gone either way. Arroyo defintely tried to make the fight, and had real success in the middle of the bout, but the good start by Amnat and the ugly frustrating end of the bout saw him neutralise Arroyo well. But it had been completely ruined by the holding, poor refereeing of Pat Russell and the refusal to take points, in an effort to clean things up.
When we went to the judges the they all turned in scores of 114-113, twice, to Amnat and once to Arroyo to give Amnat the decision. It wasn't a terrible score, but certainly seemed to be influenced by the judges and location of the fight. A single point deduction, which is the least we would have expected, would have seen the turn in a split draw but in reality Amnat could have had 2 or 3 points taken for the repeated holding.
Annoying had we managed to avoid all the clinching, and the very messy portions of the fight, this would have been a brilliant fight. There was a lot of exciting back and forth to talk about, but that was massively over shadowed by the negativity of Amnat between the exciting bursts of action.
Rather notably this wasn't the only controversial bout featuring Amnat, and we will certainly be discussing a much more controversial bout in the future. Though that's for the next future Controversial Clashes!
Starting his career in 2012 at the age of 32 Amnat Ruenroeng (20-3, 6) was always up against it in regards to Fight of the Decade honours, and in fact a general chance to shine. He was too old, and turned pro way too late in the decade to really achieve much. At least that's what we'd have assumed. In fact he only just missed out on the top 10, and did more in 8 years as a professional than most do in significantly longer careers. During his title run he had made a mark on the sport with 2 huge upsets on foreign soil, and notched a couple of other notable wins. Though he he didn't exactly shine, or look great in some of those wins.
Amnat won the IBF Flyweight title in January 2014, in his 12th professional bout. He had only debuted in May 2012 and had raced through the IBF rankings to become the mandatory challenger for Muroti Mthalane. Sadly Mthalane and Amnat wouldn't clash, with Mthalane vacating the belt, rather than travelling to Thailand for a poor payday. That lead to Amnat beating Filipino veteran Rocky Fuentes for the title and begin his messy yet remarkable reign.
Less than 4 months after winning the title Amnat travelled to Osaka and beat Kazuto Ioka in his first defense. The bout was a close one, but given he had travelled to Japan and still got the decision it was an impressive result, even if the performance wasn't amazing. Amnat's second defense was a foul filled, ugly affair against McWilliam's Arroyo. This was controversial and messy, but another big name on his record. Amnat's third defense saw him to Macao and upset local star Zou Shiming, to get a second huge road win. Another messy win followed as he defeat John Riel Casimer in another messy and foul filled wrestling contest.
After an easy defense against Myung Ho Lee we would see Amnat lose in a rematch to Casimero, ending his remarkably messy reign. From there he never really bounced back, going 3-2 (1) in the professional ranks, whilst dipping his toes in kick boxing and Olympic boxing.
Amnat will be remembered for his foul filled bouts, his use of the dark arts, judge throws, headlocks, bear hugs and bending the rules as often as possible. His big wins tended to come with an asterisk due to how badly officiated the bouts were, but few fighters can claim a run like he had over Ioka, Arroyo, Shiming and Casimero. For a guy who turned pro in his 30's his achievements are brilliant, but not quite enough to get his way into our top 10 fighters for the decade.
Images courtesy of:
Image of Amnat courtesy of http://www.kiatkreerin.com
Image of Ioka courtesy of http://ameblo.jp/ioka/
Image of Eto courtesy of http://www.zimbio.com
Image of Shiming courtesy of http://www.toprank.com
Image of Muranaka courtesy of http://flash-akabane.com
All other images courtesy of boxrec.com
With the year coming to a close we've decided to try and remind everyone of the key events of the year month by month, starting with January
On January 3rd, just days into the year we saw the first upset of the year as unheralded Filipino Alie Laurel went to Thailand and stopped the previously unbeaten, and world ranked, Tiger Tor Buamas in 5 rounds. The bout was for the WBO Oriental Bantamweight title that Tiger had won just a few months earlier when he stopped Alvian Bias, incidentally that was also in the 5th round, and it was expected that Tiger would secure another relatively straight forward win to defend the belt. Instead Laurel proved he wasn't just the typical Filipino who travels to Thailand to lose and instead he battered Tiger until the referee was forced to save the home fighter.
Interestingly the Filipino turned turned 22 the following day and would certainly have had a memorable birthday with his newly won title.
We had the first OPBF title bout of the year on January 11th and saw a new champion crowned as Lightweight prospect Masayoshi Nakatani came of age in a big way and out pointed Yoshitaka Kato. The bout was a huge step up in class for the Ioka gym prospect, who at time was fighting for just the 7th time as a professional, though it was a step he managed, despite a wobble or two. Since the win Nakatani has managed to defend the belt twice and has looked better with each defense. As for Kato he has since defended the Japanese title twice and will be looking to score his third win of the year this coming weekend when he fights against nemesis Nihito Arakawa in what will be a 3rd meeting between the two tough Lightweights.
Less than a week after Nakatani had won the first OPBF title fight of the year we saw the first Japanese title fight of the year. This came on January 17th and saw Go Odaira claim the Japanese Minimumweight title with an excellent decision win over Masashi Tada for the previously vacant belt. Since the winning the belt Odaira has defended it twice and will next been seen out on December 31st battling against Katsunari Takayama for the IBF Minimumweight title. If Odaira wins that he deserves to be given a lot of credit for a career defining year. Sadly we've not seen Tada return to the ring following this loss.
Whilst a Filipino had beaten a Thai in the first upset of the year we actually saw Thailand getting the last laugh of the month with Amnat Ruenroeng defeating Rocky Fuentes on January 22nd for the IBF Flyweight title. It was the first time either man had been in a world title bout and unfortunately for Fuentes he came up short in what was his 44th professional bout whilst Ruenroeng, fighting for the 12th time, became a world champion within 2 years of his debut. Since the bout the two men have certainly gone in different directions with Fuentes recently being stopped by Roman Gonzalez whilst Ruenroeng has defended his title twice defeating Kazuto Ioka in Japan and McWilliams Arroyo in Thailand in a mandatory defense.
Amnat's year has been so good that he is now being mentioned in the 2014 Fighter of the Year mix, a great achievement for someone unknown by most at the start of the year.
(Image, of Amnat landing a right hand on Fuentes, courtesy of Johnny Chaichotchuang)
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