On November 27th we'll get a real rarity as we see an All-Thai world title bout between WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (54-0, 18) and the once beaten Petchmanee CP Freshmart (34-1, 22). The bout will only be the 13th time that two Thai's have faced off in a major world title fight, and will be the first in over a decade!
With that in mind we've decided to take a look at the 12 that we've had, look at the winners, the losers, the match ups and what those bouts really meant.
Interestingly in Thailand the bouts are referred to by a phrase that translated into English as "Bloodline Battles" and with that in mind we'll also be going with that phrase. Partly because it's an awesome phrase, partly out of respect, and partly because it's better than anything we could come up with ourselves!
Chartchai Chionoi vs Puntip Keosuriya - July 26th 1967
For the first Bloodline Battle we need to go all the way back to 1967 when the legendary Chartchai Chionoi was the Ring Magazine Flyweight champion, having beaten Walter McGowan for the title the previous December in a sensational fight. He was also recognised by the EBU and the BBBofC as the world champion. Chartchai's first defense of that Flyweight world title reign saw him go up against fellow Thai Puntip Keosuriya in Bangkok.
Chartchai was the second Thai to win a world title, following Pone Kingpetch, and made his first defense by stopping Puntip in the 3rd round, giving him what was reportedly his first and only stoppage loss* (See notes). This would ultimately be Puntip's final bout before he hung them up and went to study in the US and ended up working for the Telephone Organisation of Thailand, and then stting up business for himself.
Despite Puntip retiring after this loss Chartchai would go on to fight through to 1975 being involved in some amazing contests. They included a rematch with Walter McGowan, a bloody 3 fight series with Efren Torres, a bout with the legendary Masao Oba and 2 subsequent reigns as the WBA champion. Notably one of his bouts after this one saw him battle fellow former world champion Berkrerk Chartvanchai, though by then neither man was a world champion.
Khaosai Galaxy v Kongtoranee Payakaroon - January 26th 1988
Khaosai Galaxy v Kongtoranee Payakaroon - January 26th 1988
It would be more than 20 years later before we got the second Bloodline bout, and it featured another legendary Thai, and a big dose of controversy!
Coming in to the bout we had Khaosai Galaxy, the legendary southpaw, as the WBA Super Flyweight champion. He had held that title since since November 1984, when he beat Eusebio Espinal for the vacant title, and had reeled off 6 defenses in 3 years, all by stoppage, before facing fellow Thai Kongtoranee Payakaroon. The then 12-1 Kongtoranee was the brother of the legendary Samart Payakaroon and was getting his second world title fight, following a loss to the sensational Gilberto Roman in 1986 for the WBC Super Flyweight title.
The bout was a really interesting one and saw Galaxy pressing, pressuring and coming forward through out, but round after round Payakaroon's movement, counter punching and ring IQ showed it's self. Galaxy was actually dropped in round 5, and had no answer for the quicker man at times. Although always dangerous Galaxy struggled to land with any consistency and was often chasing Payakaroon, who landed consistently with single shots. Despite Payakaroon looking the better man the judges all favoured Galaxy, giving him his 7th defense of the title and extending his reign.
Notably this was the first time that Galaxy had defended the belt over the 12 round distance, with his other defenses being scheduled for the 15 round distance, which may have played a part in the way the bout was fought.
After this bout Payakaroon retired from professional boxing and returned to his previous sport, Muay Thai. As for Galaxy, he would go on to record another 12 defenses of the title and retired as the champion in 1992, before later being inducted into the IBHOF in 1999.
Muangchai Kittikasem vs Sot Chitalada I - February 15th 1991
Interestingly there were 5 Bloodline Battles in the 1990's. The first of those came in February 1991 when we got the first, of two, bouts between Muangchai Kittikasem and Sot Chitalada, with this taking place in Ayutthaya.
Coming in to this one Sot Chitalada was the WBC, and Lineal, Flyweight champion. He was enjoying his second reign as the champion and had made 4 defenses, including one over Korean great Jung Koo Chang in November 1990. Muangchai Kittikasem on the other hand was a former IBF Light Flyweight champion who was looking to become a 2-weight champion after losing his previous title to Michael Carbajal in July 1990. He wasn't just looking to become a multi-weight champion, but the first from Thailand.
The bout was something special, though was dominated by Muangchai who dropped Sot in rounds 1 and 4, and was rocked himself in round 4. In round 6 Muangchai closed the show, letting shots fly at Sot who was left defenseless on the ropes, forcing the referee to step in.
Given the nature of this bout, and their subsequent rematch, we won't talk about what became of the two men after this one, because they would clash again a year later, but this was a real fun fight.
Muangchai Kittikasem vs Sot Chitalada II - February 28th 1992
Having become Thailand's first 2-weight world champion in February 1991 Muangchai Kittikasem gave Sot Chitalada a chance to reclaim the WBC Flyweight title the following year. This time Muangchai was entering the bout seeking his third defense of the title, following an instant classic in his first defense against Jung Koo Chang and a close majority decision win in his second against Alberto Jimenez. Following his loss in the first bout Sot bounced back with 3 low key wins, building his confidence before getting in with his countryman for the second time.
For this bout we were at the rather unique Crocodile Farm in Samut Prakan, and this time things were more competitive than they were in their first bout. It was as if Sot knew, win or lose, his career didn't have much longer left in it.
From the off this was technical, but exciting. Both guys looked to set things up correctly, but it seemed like it was only ever going to take one mistake, from either guy, for things to catch fire. Credit however goes to Muangchai for taking control for stretches of it with his long, rapier like jab. As the bout went on we began to see the touch paper being lit and the fight becoming more action packed, and being a technical war. In round 7 Kittikasem was deducted for headclashes, but it mattered not to the result. In round 9 he managed to rock the champion, buckling his knees, with the referee stepping in.
This would be Sot's final bout. He hung them up after this loss. As for Muangchai he would lose the title 4 months later to Russian legend Yuri Arbachakov, a loss in a rematch to Arbachakov saw Muangchai leave the sport for 2 years, before picking up 3 wins. He then left the sport for several years, before a one off comeback in 1999, losing to Shigeru Nakazato before retiring for good.
Daorung Chuwatana vs Vichit Lapmee - May 27th 1995
Just over 3 years after the rematch between Muangchai and Sot we got the next Bloodline Battle, which pit the then WBA Bantamweight champion Daorung Chuwatana against unbeaten challenger Vichit Lapmee.
The talented, though now often forgotten Daorung, won the WBA title in July 1994, when he beat John Michael Johnson and made a defense 4 months later against Korean challenger In Shik Go. He then took part in his first "Bloodline Battle" as he took on the then unbeaten Vichit Lapmee. At the time Daorung was 55-5-2 (33) and 26 years old, very much in his prime. Vichit on the other hand was 23 years old and sported an 11-0 (8) record.
Although on paper a total mismatch Vichit had reportedly been a solid Muay Thai fighter and was much, much more advanced than a typical 11-0 fight. That showed when he got in the ring as a professional boxer and was fast tracked to a world title fight thanks to early career wins over Dan Nietes and Visuth Chuvatana. He showed how good he was against Daorung as he earned a 12 round split decision draw with the champion. Sadly this would be his only world title fight. The result saw Daorung record his second defense of the title and extend his reign for a little bit longer.
We've got to speak about what happened to Daorung shortly, however this is Vichit's only Bloodline Battle and what happened to him afterwards is worth noting. He ended up fighting through to 2006, going unbeaten before ending his career with a 27-0-2 (18) record. Sadly in his ring success was marred by an arrest for drug offenses, that kept him out of the ring for the better part of a decade. Had he not had those issues, we really do wonder what his career could have brought between 1998 and 2005.
Daorung Chuwatana vs Veeraphol Sahaprom - September 17th 1995
Just months after his first Bloodline Battle Daorung Chuwatana had his second, as he then took on professional novice Veeraphol Sahaprom, a former Muay Thai great who had a rocket strapped to his back when he turned to professional boxing.
Dur to the draw against Vichit we saw Daorung enter the bout with a 55-5-3 (33) record. He had as many draws as Veeraphol had career bouts, with the challenger entering the bout with a 3-0 (3) record. Sahaprom had only been a professional for 9 months, debuting the previous December and had just 18 rounds of professional experience to his name. His Muay Thai pedigree was incredibly, but this was still an insane match up for such a novice.
Sadly for Daorung he would go on to lose to his countryman here, losing a debated decision to the new, young, upstart who had announced himself on the world stage. This saw Daorung become a world champion in just his 4th bout, 1 off the record held by compatriot Saensak Muangsurin, who amazingly won a world title in his third pro-bout.
Interestingly Daorung would go on to reclaim the title just 13 months later, beating Nana Yaw Konadu for the belt. Konadu had taken it from Veeraphol in Veeraphol's first defense. Sadly for Daorung this reign wasn't a long one, and he lost the title in a rematch with Konadu just 8 months later.
Despite losing the belt in his first defense that wasn't the end of Veeraphol, not by a long shot! In 1998 he won the WBC title, beating Japanese legend Joichiro Tatsuyoshi and would held the title until 2005, making a brilliant 14 defenses of the title before losing the belt to Hozumi Hasegawa. A rematch with Hasegawa saw Veeraphol fail to recapture the title but he was still in the mix all the way up to 2008, losing in an eliminator to Vusi Malinga. His professional career came to an end in 2010, at the age of 41!
Sompoch Harnvichachai vs Kaaj Chartbandit - March 1st 1998
One of the most obscure and low profile Bloodline battles came in 1998 when Sompoch Harnvichachai, the then WBA Light Flyweight title, took on the relatively limited Kaaj Chartbandit, also known as Pornchai Techasinchai or Pornchai Hadao CP. This is one that we suspect few heard of and unfortunately was the final Bloodline Battle of the 1990's.
Coming in Sompoch was looking to make his second defense. He took the the title in December 1996, defeating Keiji Yamaguchi, and made his first defense around 7 months later, beating Sang Chul Lee. That win saw the 22 year old Sompoch move to 18-1 (9). Kaaj on the other hand was a 30 year old challenger sporting a 39-10-1 (11) record. The challenger had fought at a high level before, but not successfully, fighting to a draw with Leo Gamez back in 1994. Kaaj's record was misleading, and he had gone 21-0-1 (5) in his last 22 fights, but on paper he was still a less than stellar challenger.
In the ring Sompoch was too good for his countryman and took a very clear 12 round decision over Kaaj, barely losing a round.
Following the bout Kaaj would fight just once more, losing by stoppage, in 3 rounds, to Medgoen Singsurat just 15 months before Medgoen stopped Manny Pacquiao for the WBC Flyweight, giving Pacquiao his second professional loss.
As for Sompoch he would go on to make 3 more defenses before he was stripped of the title for failing to defend against Rosendo Alvarez in 2000. He would face Alvarez as the challenger in 2002 but come up short against the Nicaraguan, being stopped in the 12th round. His career would continue on until 2007 when he beat Yuki Murai and retired from the sport in his early 30's.
Sadly this was to be the last Bloodline Battle for almost a decade as boxing in Thailand really did go through a bit of a downturn. There was a lack of big name Thai's to act as challengers and a real lack of long term champions for them to face anyway. There were some exceptions, but there wasn't enough to make a Bloodline Battle make sense.
Eagle Den Junlaphan Vs Oleydong Sithsamerchai - November 29th 2007
After a lengthy wait we saw a surge of bloodline battles between 2007 and 2010. The first of those was a big of an oddity with Eagle Den Junlaphan, the then WBC Minimumweight champion, taking on Oleydong Sithsamerchai. This was a really interesting match up for so many reasons.
At the time Den enjoying his second reign as the WBC Minimumweight champion and the highly skilled Thai was looking to make his 4th defense of the title. Although he was a Thai he had carved out his career in Japan and hadn't even fought in Thailand since his 5th professional bout. Since then he gone 13-1 (4) in Japan to compile a career record off 18-1 (6). In the opposite corner was the then 24-0 (9) Oleydong Sithsamerchai, a man who had fought only in Thailand.
With neither man having much power it was likely no surprise to learn that this one went the distance! Throughout the bout the 28 year old Champion seemed the aggressor, coming forward and pressing the action. He was, however, outsped by the 22 year old challenger who looked crisper, more energetic, and sharper, taking a narrow win over the champion.
Sadly this would end Den's career and he would retire from the sport citing a lack of support and being bored with the sport. It seemed very much like he took this fight to try and get the juices going, but it failed. Interestingly he would become a Japanese citizen and lay down roots in Japan.
As for Oleydong, well we need to talk about him more, and this was the first of 3 Bloodline Battles for the "Deadly Candy".
Oleydong Sithsamerchai Vs Pornsawan Porpramook I - November 27th 2008
After winning the WBC Minimumweight title with his win over Den Junlaphan we saw Oleydong go on a lengthy and genuinely notable reign as the WBC Minimumweight champion. In his second defense of the title he was in another Bloodline Battle as he took on Pornsawan Porpramook just a year after winning the title.
At this point the 23 year old Oleydong was 23 years old and boasted a solid looking 28-0 (12) record, but he really needed a notable win to solidify his title reign. Pornsawan on the other hand was old for a Minimumweight, at 30, and boasted a 21-1 (16). The challenger's record looked good on paper but lacked quality wins and the most notable result on his record was his 2007 loss to Donnie Nietes for the WBO title.
The talented, young, fresh faced Oleydong had no problems here. He was too quick, too sharp and too good for the older challenger. To his credit Pornsawan never gave up, and repeatedly came forward, looking to make things testing and tough for the champion, but ended up losing a very wide and clear decision. This was a win that helped legitimise Oleydong as a world class fighter and was soon followed by wins over Muhammad Rachman and Juan Palacios, further solidifying his reign.
Oleydong Sithsamerchai Vs Pornsawan Porpramook II - September 3rd 2010
Almost two years after their first bout Oleydong and Pornsawan faced off in a rematch and this one one was something else. It was dramatic, exciting and gruelling, compared to their first, which was one sided.
Before we get to the in ring action it's worth noting what thee two men had done between the bouts. As mentioned a few moments ago Oleydong had legitimised his reign with wins against the likes of Rachman and Palacious, and had extended his record to 34-0 (12). He was starting to string together a solid reign and was getting his name recognised by hardcore fans, who were seeing him compile a long run of wins. He was actually close in on the then 40-0 Floyd Mayweather Jr. Pornsawan on the other hand had been stopped by Edgar Sosa and had picked up just a single, low key win over a domestic opponent.
This was expected to be another clear win for Oleydong. Things however didn't go to plan, and instead Pornsawan would go on to give the unbeaten champion real trouble. Oleydong would be dropped in round 6 and had struggled to make weight, which resulted in him really unable to perform to his best. Despite the issues, and an apparent leg injury which took much of his movement, he managed to grit it out and earn a draw to retain his title. This would go on to be his final successful defense of the title.
Around 5 months after this bout Oleydong travelled to Japan to take on the then 6-0 Kazuto Ioka, and was stopped by the rising Japanese star. An attempt to reassert himself at Super Flyweight, showing just how much weight he'd been cutting, seemed promising but Oleydong never really managed to get things going at his new weight. As we write this the 35 year old looks to have hung them up with 69-2-1 (29) record.
As for Pornsawan he bounced back from this disappointment to score a career defining win in Indonesia in 2011, beating Muhammad Rachman to claim the WBA Minimumweight title. Sadly his reign was a short one, lasting less than 3 months as he lost the belt in his first defense, to Akira Yaegashi in a sensational bout. He would attempt to recapture the WBA belt in 2012, but lose again in a tremendous bout in Japan to Ryo Miyazaki, then end his career after a 2013 loss to Rey Loreto, hanging up the gloves with a 28-6-1 (17) record.
Pongsaklek Wonjongkam Vs Suriyan Sor Rungvisai - October 8th 2010
Just over a month after we'd got the rematch between Oleydong and Pornsawan we got another Bloodline Battle, and it was a genuine great one in what nearly becam a passing of the torch bout. In one corner was a 33 year living legend, enjoying his second reign as the champion of the world, whilst the other corner played host to a 21 year old unknown challenger, who later carved out a really solid career of his own.
The champion in question was Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, who was sporting a 76-3-1 (39) record. He had had a long and lengthy reign as the WBC Flyweight champion from 2001 to 2007, making 17 defenses, and then re-captured the title in 2010 when he upset Koki Kameda in Japan. At 33 he was an old Flyweight and had 80 bouts to his name. Suriyan Sor Rungvisai on the other hand was just 21 and had an underwhelming record of 14-3-1 (4). On paper this was supposed to be an easy one for Pongsaklek. He was old, but this wasn't supposed to be a test.
Oh boy were people wrong! This was tough for the champion, really tough. Suriyan proved to be quick, sharp and really tough. He boxed brilliantly for such a youngster, showed ring IQ well beyond his years and fought to his strengths. He knew he was quicker, younger and fresher and used that to his advantage, often beating Wonjongkam to the punch. Suriyan also showed real guts, and despite puking up at one point in the fight he gutted it out and ran Wonjongkam all the way in a technical and compelling match up.
Sadly for Wonjongkam this was one of his final defenses. He would defend the belt just 3 more times before being shocked by Sonny Boy Jaro in 2012, a year that also saw him lose to Rey Megrino. His career fizzled out the following year, before a short, and somewhat peculiar, comeback in 2018. On his return he beat Manot Comput, to try and comply with licensing rules in Japan. The JBC refused to license him and instead he ended up fighting an exhibition with Koki Kameda, who had been hoping to avenge his 2010 loss to. Thankfully that is likely to be the last time we see Wonjongkam in the ring, and his career tally of 91-5-2 (47) is likely to be his final record.
As for Suriyan his career really took off after this bout. Less than a year after this loss he beat Tomas Rojas, to claim the WBC Super Flyweight title, which he defended against the tough Nobuo Nashiro. Sadly though his reign came to an end in 2012 when he was dropped twice by Yota Sato on route to a clear loss. In the years that followed Suriyan would become a leading Bantamweight contender, and gave Shinsuke Yamanaka a tough bout in 2014 and later faced Anselmo Moreno in 2016. He fought through to 2017 before ending his in ring career with a 49-7-1 (25) record
Kwanthai Sithmorseng Vs Pigmy Kokietgym - November 5th 2010
Amazingly it's now more than 10 years since the last Bloodline Battle, with the last one coming in November 2010. Weirdly it was the third in successive months in 2010 and it feels odd not to have had another world title bout between Thai's since! Despite that this is one we've not been able to find full video of, and can't really say too much about, despite it being the most recent.
The bout pitted the unbeaten Kwanthai Sithmorseng, then a 28 year old with a 28-0-1 (16) record, against the 29 year old Pigmy Kokietgym, then 42-5-2 (18) in a bout for the vacant WBA Minimumweight title. The title had become vacant after Roman Gonzalez decided to move up in weight and make a mark on the Light Flyweight, and the belt was then left to the Thai Thai's to battle for. On paper neither of the men had really done enough to deserve a world title fight, but both had good looking records and their wasn't much competition at 105lbs at the time, giving us this bout for the vacant belt.
As mentioned there isn't full fight footage of this one, at least that we've managed to find, though reports from the venue and the scorecards show this was a super close bout, with Kwanthai taking a razor thin split decision. This really was over-shadowed by the other two Bloodline Battles from earlier the year, and get the attention they did.
Sadly Kwanthai would lose the title 5 months later, in his first defense, losing to the then 39 year old Muhammad Rachman. Despite his short reign Kwanthai manage to get numerous opportunities afterwards, facing the likes of Kazuto Ioka, Kohei Kono and Ryoichi Taguchi in world title bouts. As we write this we're not 100% his career is over, but he has been inactive since June 2019. He's fallen a lot from being 29-0-1 to being 49-7-1, and at 38 we hope he hangs them up now.
Amazingly Pigmy's career has continued on to this day, and he fought earlier this month. Before we get to that however it should be noted that he's not had the same numerous opportunites that Kwanthai has. He has only had one world title bout since this loss, losing to Hekkie Budler in 2014 in Monaco. Since then he has become a bit of a global journeyman losing in Japan, China and even England. Earlier this month he was almost gutted by talented hopeful Thananchai Charunphak, and fell to 61-14-2 (25)
Wanheng Menayothin Vs Panya Pradabsri - November 27th 2020
On November 27th we get the first Bloodline Battle in over a decade. Regardless of the result this is a huge bout for Thai boxing, and a huge chance for Thailand to grab the attention of the boxing world. This might not be the Bloodline Battle that fans worldwide have called for, but it's great to finally see another all-Thai world title bout.
In regards to statistics Bloodline battles have given us:
10 bouts going to the judges
9 successful defenses
3 T/KO's (the latest of which was in 1992)
3 new champions being crowned (including 1 from a bout for a vacant title)
2 title changes
and 0 unification bouts
*Note - According the Thai sources Puntip's only stoppage came to Chartchai and that he retired 5-6-1 (2), not 7-6-1 (4) as Boxrec list him, and it appears that his KO6 loss to Voravit S Pichitchai, as listed on boxrec, isn't recognised in Thailand. As with many Thai's his record certainly isn't clear
We really don't get many all-Thai closet classics, mostly because Thai fighters, at least top ones, don't face each other. Thai's tend to make for good fights with Japanese, Mexican and Filipino foes, but rarely fellow Thai's. Today however we bring you one of the best all-Thai world title fight in recent years in our latest Closet Classic, and it really is a sensational fight.
Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (76-3-1, 39) vs Suriyan Sor Rungvisai (14-3-1, 4)
In March 2010 Pongsaklek Wonjongkam became a 2-time WBC Flyweight world champion, thanks to an upset win in Japan over Koki Kameda. In July he had blown away Rey Megrino in a none-title bout, in what as Pongsaklek's 80th professional bout, before having his first defense of his second reign. By now he was 33, he had been a professional since 1994 and was a fighter with hundreds of rounds behind him. He wasn't close to his prime, but the win over Kameda showed there was a lot of life in the legs of the legendary southpaw.
Suriyan on the other hand was a relative unknown. He was 21 at the time of this bout and although he was on a 6 fight winning streak none of those wins had come against anyone of any note and he had done absolutely nothing to get a world title fight, but stepped up to the plate and proved in the bout that he was world class. As we all know Suriyan would later go on to become a world champion at Super Flyweight and a stand out contender at Bantamweight, giving the likes of Shinsuke Yamanaka absolute fits later in his career. This was, in many ways, his chance to make a name for himself, and that's exactly what he did.
To begin with Pongsaklek took center ring, looking to use his experience against the younger, less knowledgeable fighter. Despite being on the outside Suriyan used his speed, his movement and his energy to box excellently. The champion continued to press in the early stages, but struggled to land clean as Suriyan moved excellently, slipped, slid and and looked incredibly mature for a fighter taking such a huge step up in class.
As the bout went on Pongsaklek managed to find his range and get some success, building some momentum against his fleet footed and sharp punching foe. The success was there for the champion, but it was relatively limited as Suriyan continued to show case skills that weren't expected from him. As we went into the middle both men began to let their hands go more, standing in center ring. This wasn't a war, yet, but was incredible, high tempo, smart boxing from both. Both looked to gain the advantage, both looked for openings, and both tried to make things happen by finding their distance. It was Pongsaklek who began to land the more eye catching blows, particularly good short shots when Suriyan came inside and good body shots.
Although much of the contest had been boxing, the later rounds took a turn, with Suriyan applying more pressure and round 10 was just a high skilled, inside war, with brutal shots from both.This was what we had built to, and this was a perfect way for both men to show who was the better man. Seriously the bout turned from great boxing to a great war and this was an instant closet classic!
Treat yourself to a rare, thrilling all Thai war here!
Earlier this year we did a number of “Divisional Overview” pieces before taking a hiatus with the Bantamweight division due to the fact there was a number of big bouts lined up one after the other the space of a few weeks. Now we've had those bouts and we can finally let loose with out “Divisional Overview-The Brilliant Bantamweights”.
To begin we look at 9 of the best from Asia, then we take a look at some lesser figures from the Asian boxing scene and then some international fighters. Hopefully we'll help to show just how interesting the division is right now.
Other notable Asians-
Malcolm Tunacao (35-5-5, 20)-Former Flyweight champion Tunacao is 37 and father time will certainly end his career shortly but he's still a real threat in the division and the 2-time OPBF champion still can't be forgotten about given his ability and experience. In fact he gave Yamanaka one of his toughest fights so far back in 2013.
Hideo Sakamoto (16-1-2, 5)-Japanese 29 year old Sakamoto isn't a world beater by any means but he is one of the divisions most over-looked fighters and he is currently on a 6 fight winning streak, dating back 4 years, since losing a close one to Eita Kikuchi. Among those wins are stoppages against Hiroki Shiino and Kazuyoshi Niki.
Yu Kawaguchi (23-6, 10)-Current OPBF champion Kawaguchi isn't the best fighter in Asia but he's a feel good story and his recent win over Takahiro Yamamoto was certainly career defining. We suspect he may be a target for fighters like Omori or Matsumoto if they can't secure bigger fights next time out.
Kazuki Tanaka (2-0, 2)-Japanese prospect Tanaka is viewed as one of the most exciting young fighters in Japan and his team are suggesting he could go all the way. Whilst it's hard to say for now we don't expect to need to wait too long with the view being that he will fight a JBC ranked opponent next time out.
Petch Sor Chitpattana (30-0, 19)-Unbeaten Thai youngster Petch is only 21 but has been racking up wins at an alarming pace since his 2011 debut. His competition so far has been poor to say the least but he already has a WBC world ranking.
Panomroonglek Kaiyanghadaogym (47-2, 27)-Thai veteran Panomroonglek is best known for losing to Koki Kameda though it seems he now has every intention of making a move towards a WBA title fight.
Jamie McDonnell (26-2-1, 12)-Englishman McDonnell recently defeated Tomoki Kameda to retain his WBA "regular" title and it now seems like we could describe him as the #2 in the division. His title might only be a "secondary" title but the win over Kameda was a big one.
Juan Carlos Payano (16-0, 8)-Dominican fighter Payano is the current WBA "super" champion and is the man who eventually defeated Anselmo Moreno, albeit it in controversial circumstances. Payano is "the man" in terms of the WBA but he's yet to defend his title and has done nothing to inspire us into believing he'll be a long term title holder.
Randy Caballero (22-0, 13)-IBF champion Caballero made a splash in Japan last year when he stopped Kohei Oba in an IBF eliminator. A fight later Caballero claimed the IBF title though unfortunately suffered a serious injury before his first defense. On his return he's expected to face Ryusoke Iwasa or...
...Lee Haksins (31-3, 13)-Haskins is another Englishman and will be fighting Iwasa on June 13th. He's a tricky southpaw who holds notable wins over McDonnell and Stuart Hall and has done everything but fight for a world title.
Julio Ceja (29-1, 26)-Big punching Mexican is a serious threat and has spoken of fighting Shinsuke Yamanaka in the past. On paper he's a major threat and a really good boxer-puncher, though he has been beaten by McDonnell and was surprisingly taken the distance by Oscar Blanquet last time out.
Over the last few weeks we've been doing divisional overviews as part of our features. Last week we made an exception to do a feature on Japanese boxing's fast risers. This week we're making another exception as the division we got up to in our over-view is the Bantamweight division. Rather than rush out a Bantamweight over-view we've decided to put that off for a few weeks due to the potential changes the division will see in the month or so. Instead of a divisional over-view we've decided to take a look at some of the divisions up coming bouts and what they may mean for future of the Bantamweight division.
This first major bout is this coming Saturday, March 28th, when Japan's Ryo Akaho (25-1-2, 17) steps foot in the ring against Prosper Ankrah (24-4, 15) in a bout for the WBO International title. Akaho is ranked in the top 15 by all 4 world title bodies, including a #1 ranking with the WBO, and seems to be on the verge of a world title fight. He'll need to over-come Ankrah to get that opportunity but it shouldn't be that difficult for the heavy handed Japanese fighter who has won his last 6 bouts since moving up from Super Flyweight in 2013. This will be Akaho's first bout since signing a 1-year promotional deal with ALA in the Philippines and is expected to be an impressive showing from the confident Japanese fighter.
Just 8 days later, April 5th, we see an OPBF title fight which will see the heavy handed Takahiro Yamamoto (15-3, 12) battle against Yu Kawaguchi (22-6, 10). Yamamoto is from the Ioka stable, which features world class talents like Kazuto Ioka, Ryo Miyazaki and Sho Ishida, and he'll be hoping to follow in their footsteps. Kawaguchi on this other hand comes from a less known stable though is the more experienced man and has previously fought in a Japanese title fight, coming up slightly short there. The match up isn't hugely attractive but it is significant and the winner will be involved in at least one more significant match up later in the year. The two should make for a very competitive match up and the winner will deserve another big bout in the near future, unfortunately however neither is the best Japan, never mind the best in Asia.
On the same show we will get the chance to see the very highly touted Kazuki Tanaka (1-0, 1) in action. Tanaka is regarded as one to watch and those in the know suggest he could be fast tracked at an electric pace. Tanaka should be able to claim a notable and impressive victory here as he takes on Kaname Tabei (10-8-2, 7), though this is a step up from his debut. If Tanaka looks as impressive as our sources say, he should then we suspect he will be moved into 8 rounders in his next bout.
On April 13th we see a brilliant Japanese title fight as the world ranked Kentaro Masuda (21-6, 11) attempts to defend the title against the unbeaten and fast rising Shohei Omori (13-0, 8). Masuda has been in sensational form in recent years winning the title, with a victory Kawaguchi, and defending it impressive fashion against Konosuke Tomiyama and Tatsuya Takahashi. On the other hand Omori is just breaking through though looks to be a very special fighter who understands everything involved in being a top level boxer. The unbeaten youngster will be getting a gut check here but a win will see him moved onwards and upwards fast over the next 12 months.
April 16th sees another title bout as unbeaten WBC champion Shinsuke Yamanaka (22-0-2, 16) defends his title against unbeaten Argentinian challenger Diego Ricardo Santillan (23-0, 15). For us, and many others, Yamanaka is the division's clear #1 fighter and although he didn't look sensational last time out, against Suriyan Sor Rungvisai, his record speaks for it's self. Blessed with a missile of a left hand Yamanka has skills and power and will be expected to see off Santillan without too many problems in this one. Santillan does seem to be confident and a upset win would really shake up the division though a win for Yamanaka is widely expected.
April 22nd will see another unbeaten Japanese fighter, Naoto Uebayashi (7-0-1, 4) put his unbeaten record on the line as he takes on Filipino fighter Giovanni Escaner (12-3, 8) in a really fantastic match up that will give the winner a massive boost towards an OPBF title fight. Uebayashi was a very touted fighter when he turned professional though has failed to really shine in the professional ranks, having been down twice already. Escaner is on the verge of an OPBF title fight and will be hoping to score a career boosting win on foreign soil. Although this bout will go under the radar it is incredibly significant on the Asian scene.
Possibly the best match up comes on May 9th when Tomoki Kameda (31-0, 19) takes on Jamie McDonnell (25-2-1, 12) in a really intriguing contest between two top 15 fighters. Originally it was hoped that this would be a unification of the WBO and WBA “regular” title but the WBO have made the decision not to allow their title to be on the line, and have actually threatened to strip Tomoki. As controversial as the WBO's move is we have to agree with them in principle that the WBA have created too many paper titles. In regards to the fighters Tomoki is a beautiful to watch boxer who throws eye catching combinations, can switch between head and body and can hit a lot harder than his record suggests. McDonnell is a solid all round fighter with great volume punching, though of the two he's the one with more to prove despite being a “2-time world champion”. The winner here will probably be seen as the "#2 champion" behind Yamanaka though will remain a clear second.
Another bout in the pipeline, though one with out a date at the moment, will see Ryosuke Iwasa (19-1, 12) battle against Lee Haskins (31-3, 13) in a contest for the IBF interim title. This is another match up that will pit a pair of top fighters each other and could against set the tone for the division over the remainder of the year. Iwasa is a talented boxer-puncher though is relatively unknown outside of Japan despite being in a nail biting clash with Yamanaka and being a very solid amateur on the Japanese domestic scene. Haskins is a talented but frustrating fighter who has perfected a style that gets him wins but has turned fans away from him. The winner here will be expected to fight Randy Caballero later in the year to unify the IBF and IBF interim titles and then a possible high profile bout may be scheduled for the winter.
With all these bouts either signed and sealed, or in the pipeline, it's clear that the division is going to under-go a lot of changes in the next few weeks. It's also worth noting that later in the year we're expecting to see the debut of Hinata Maruta, who is likely to make a name for himself at Bantamweight.
Also we're expecting big things from the Thai trio of Suriyan Sor Rungvisai (40-6-1, 18), Panomroonglek Kaiyanghadaogym (44-2, 26) and Petch Sor Chitpattana (29-0, 19) who have all been linked to world title fights later in the year just like Kazakh puncher Zhanat Zhakiyanov (24-1, 17). Though these title bouts aren't expected until much later in 2015.
(Images courtesy of boxmob.jp and WBO Boxing)
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