By Troy Parslow
As the Korakuen Hall welcomed fans for a WBO flyweight arrival on Friday, Junto Nakatani pulled Giemel Magramo into his centre and dispatched him in eight rounds.
Opening in a strong, low stance, not struggling for his timing punching down at a shorter opponent as a result, and occupying Magramo's guard at mid-range, Nakatani set the tone: hurting Magramo with an off-beat counter left hand as the visitor was baited into hooking around the jab—swinging a feel-out round and all momentum with it. Being hurt effortlessly, and just the two minutes into the contest, is quite a brutal awakening for someone whose wearing counters is an occupational hazard he so often disregards for their (lack of) consequences.
Whether Magramo was hurt too often to risk shuffling forward through long-mid-short range or disturbed by Nakatani's lead hand, as soon as the head began hanging so precariously over his front foot and the upper body movement—highlighted before the fight in being crucial in keeping Nakatani honest—made way for low, shapeless entries, it felt to this fan that the writing was on the wall. Nakatani punished the Filipino's bent shape, loading both hips—even upon falling short—to finish his combinations with leveraged, arching punches.
Stepping back, around Magramo's front foot, pushing him off before stepping out from the clinch, pivoting into space; Nakatani was able to create separation whenever it occurred to him and, by extension, manage the rounds on his terms. By the fifth, Magramo's exaggerated role as puncher was forgotten and the dynamic flipped. In stealing his rhythm and forcing Magramo to pick up his feet, Nakatani was the puncher—troubling his man with whatever he couldn't anticipate or roll.
If nothing else proving his mettle and industry, it would, however, be wrong to overlook Magramo's successes coming back. On more equal terms rounds two through four and even in the sixth, moving in behind right hand leads with a level change, he managed to find the body and a home for short uppercuts and counters. Head-on-shoulder, trying for space with a forearm and disrupting Nakatani's stance enough to land his own cuffing shots before being turned, or slipping an arm out to unsettle him from underneath in the clinch. Not particularly pretty, sometimes desperate, but getting through all the same.
Still, Magramo met the end of round six and the vanity of his inroads with a grimace. The bodywork seen snaking around the guard, and more so under it, taking its toll and the giant delivering it looking as strong as I've ever seen, Magramo unravelled with his resistance. He couldn't move Nakatani in six rounds and, now struggling to cover the distance behind a right hand, the next two were less kind.
Between last ditch raids and a couple of glances at his corner, Magramo was guided into space or retreating to the ropes as Nakatani played with step-back counters and poked at the body. Ninety seconds left in the eight, a sweeping left hand, disguised with a level change and hidden by a jab, ushered in the finish sending Magramo bouncing each side of the ring as Nakatani timed the rebounds. Falling on his front, Magramo succumbed to his imbalance—climbing to his feet before referee Nobuto Ikehara translated defeat in his gape and waved the fight.
I think Magramo's lack of shape and pressure is the main catalyst for his undoing, and it has a couple of roots. First off, barely trying to apply his normal feints after he was hurt suggests he didn't expect be—hurt, that is—and he very rarely is. He looked panicked, therefore unwilling to to risk playing with his rhythm at mid-range for fear of getting timed again. Then there's obviously Nakatani's ability to make Magramo reset and draw him in again. Case in point at 2:40 of the fourth round: Magramo bites of a couple of foot feints, moving to parry a jab and then throwing a right hand as if to counter another; Nakatani anticipates, stepping back with a counter left hand(just missing) as he guides Magramo past him and the right hand over his shoulder. With Magramo not giving him many looks and entering the pocket predictably, it was too easy for Nakatani to break up any success, reasserting his dominance by creating space and dominant angles.
That's not to say Magramo would win if he could hold the long combinations and counter more on his own time, but it might've looked more the fight we were(I was) expecting. In some respects Magramo looked as he always does:catching or rolling punches, accumulating short counters and shovel hooks to body. A lot of his best work is subtle and even if he was losing those moments to the more proactive and far more consistent wide flourishes of Nakatani, the fight wasn't always mismatched. We knew Nakatani was more complete and he laid it all out there for us again. What we do now know better than ever is his ability to keep his discipline and gameplan against a world class fighter—expertly managing the rounds and punishing the body.
Make no mistake, well beaten and finished, Magramo(24-2) demands your respect. In the heat of a second wave, he saw to the fight being realised(at the sixth time of asking) travelling away to Japan, weathered days quarantined in his hotel—running the hallways and hitting mitts in the rooms for preparation—and walked into the fire until he was burnt out. If Nakatani made sure we wouldn't see 'Pistolero's best version, he allowed for his most audacious. Never looking to survive, his reaction to being hurt was valorous, if a little bit concerning for the success of future challenges. Ever the action fighter, he wins, and looks great, or he goes out on his shield—the full “Skull and Bones” Magramo experience, if you will.
So what of the winner? What's next for Nakatani(21-0, 18)? Whoever's chosen, he's left little doubt he'll be ready. Previewing the fight, I considered him one of the fastest maturing fighters in the sport and, re-watching Friday's coup, it occurred to me that he's only accelerating. Stronger, more powerful, more efficient, improved with every fight, how he managed a talented Magramo and reduced him to a one-speed brawler was upsetting, honestly, and a little bit special at just his 22 years.
The best skill set in the flyweight division is of bantamweight proportions, and you'd be brave to doubt it.
By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
WBO number one flyweight contender Giemel Magramo (24-1,20KO’s) of the Philippines and WBO number three Junto Nakatani (20-0,15KO’s) of Japan were supposed to square off last April for the vacant WBO world
But the match-up got postponed many times due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Magramo remained in high spirits and continued to train. When the go signal was given to travel to Japan, he was ready.
“My training in the Philippines went well,” Magramo told this writer in a short chat, “We are now in Japan, but we have to quarantine. I am continuing to train inside the hotel.”
This bout is for the title vacated by Japan’s Kosei Tanaka last February.
“I’m happy to finally get a title shot. I won’t give any predictions. But this is an opportunity to prove myself. I am praying to God for success.” Magramo stated.
Magramo was also in a disheartening situation last year. He was penned to face Thailand’s Eaktawan Krungthepthonburi on September 7 in an IBF eliminator with the winner set to be the next challenger of IBF flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane of South Africa. But, the Thai boxer was reported to have food poisoning and Magramo had to face substitute Richard Claveras and stopped him in three rounds. This however, did not lead to the title shot he had hoped for.
Nakatani also had his share of frustration. It was reported by asianboxing last March 18 that he left his training camp in the United States due to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases. Nakatani has had cancel sparring with Luis Nery and returned to Japan.
Nakatani’s last two victims were Filipinos – Philip Luis Cuerdo who was knocked out in round one and former IBF world junior flyweight champ Milan Melindo, who was stopped in six. The 22 year old Japanese turned pro in 2015. He also beat three other Filipino boxers, Dexter Alimento,Jeronil Borres and Joel Taduran.
The 26 year old Magramo turned pro in 2012. His only career loss was by unanimous decision to Pakistani Muhammad Waseem in Seoul, South Korea. Magramo’s biggest road win was against the previously undefeated Chinese Wenfeng Ge in Suzhou,China. The fight was stopped at the end of the tenth when Ge suffered an eye injury.
File photo- Giemel Magramo in Suzhou,China last year.
By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
News of the WBO world title fight between Filipino Giemel Magramo (24-1,20KO’s) and Junto Nakatani (20-0,15KO’s) of Japan came as ray of hope in an otherwise gloomy sports landscape in the Philippines. This fight is for the flyweight crown vacated by Japan’s Kosei Tanaka last February and was initially set for April 4 in Tokyo.
Magramo told this writer in a short chat last March that he was told he could be fighting on June 6 and he was continuing to train at the Elorde Gym. But, the dire situation worldwide caused by the coronavirus pandemic continues. Now,it seems the fight will take place in Tokyo’s Korakuen Hall on July 4.
Arrangements for the fight, as well as the safety protocols are among the concerns of Magramo’s manager Johnny Elorde, Japanese promoter Akihiko Honda, Games and Amusements Board (GAB) chairman Baham Mitra ,WBO Asia Pacific chairman Leon Panoncillo,and Tsuyoshi Yasukochi of the Japan Boxing Commission (JBC).
Travelling to Japan will be a huge problem at this time but boxing stakeholders and fans hope things will get better come July.
WBO Vice President Panoncillo made this writer aware last Tuesday of the safety guidelines of the World Boxing Organization for sanction approval which include:
1.Only critical personnel for the staging of the event are allowed inside.
2.If fans are allowed, there should be one section row empty in between and one vacant seat in between fans in the occupied row.
3.Temperature checks, hand santizer sections, masks and avoidance of crowding.
4.Covid-19 testing for boxers, cornermen, and officials.
The entire set of guidelines is more detailed but it can be done.
Another WBO champion, John Riel Casimero (29-4,20KO’s)from the Philippines, (29-4,20KO’s) has also been waiting for the final date for the bantamweight unification bout against WBA/IBF champ Naoya Inoue (19-0,16KO’s) of Japan.
In a conversation with this writer three weeks ago, Casimero strongly stated that he does not want substitute Joshua Greer (22-1-1,12KO’s) of the United States, who is the top contender for his crown.
Casimero told this writer today that he trusts MP (Manny Pacquiao) Promotions chief Sean Gibbons will deliver the Inoue fight in July. Casimero is still in the United States continuing to wait and train.
Another Filipino world champ, Jerwin Ancajas,who holds the IBF junior bantamweight title, is also waiting for the month of July.
Ancajas (32-1-2,22KO’s) was supposed to defend his IBF world junior bantamweight title last April against Mexican Jonathan Javier Rodriguez (21-1,15KO’s) in the U.S.
Ancajas’ manager Joven Jimenez told this writer today that Ancajas is staying in shape and could be defending his belt in July. Ancajas is in the Philippines and will need to travel to the U.S. before the fight can be set.
Here in the Philippines, local fighters are still waiting for plans to restart the boxing industry. These boxers are the sports equivalent of minimum wage earners. They have received government aid but it is still not enough if contact sports is not resumed soon.
Of course, the people in charge will have to weigh their decision to reopen. There is no price tag on a human life. But, the powers that be in the Philippines can learn from what the UFC and German football are doing; two major sports franchises that have resumed activities under strict testing and staging events behind closed doors.
As I have stated in a previous article, only a cure and a vaccine for Covid-19 will make things return to the way it used to be.
PHOTO- left to right – Giemel Magramo, John Riel Casimero, Jerwin Ancajas
By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
The fight for the vacant WBO world flyweight title between Giemel Magramo (24-1,20KO’s) of the Philippines and Junto Nakatani (20-0,15KO’s) of Japan is one of numerous fight cards that have been postponed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The fight, which was set for April 4 in Tokyo, was for the title vacated by Japan’s Kosei Tanaka last February.
Magramo is no stranger to disappointing situations. Last year, he was scheduled to face Thailand’s Eaktawan Krungthepthonburi on September 7 in an IBF eliminator set in Metro Manila. The winner was supposed to be the next challenger of IBF flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane of South Africa.
But, the Thai boxer was reported to have succumbed to food poisoning and Magramo had to face substitute Richard Claveras and stopped him in three rounds. That fight however, was not the final step to a world title showdown that Magramo had hoped.
But last February, Magramo, who is now the number one flyweight contender of the WBO, was reported to be facing the number three Nakatani for the title.
This will be the first world title shot for both boxers. Magramo remains in high spirits in the midst of all the uncertainty. He is based in Paranaque City in Metro Manila, which is now in a state of lockdown due to the coronavirus.
“I am safe, I am feeling good.” Magramo told this writer in a short chat. “I was told we could be fighting on June 6. So, I am still training at the Elorde Gym.”
Nakatani was reported by asianboxing last March 18 to have left his training camp in the United States and returned to Japan. The report stated that due to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., Nakatani has had cancel sparring with Luis Nery and that he will resume training back in Japan rather than taking time out of the gym to relax.
Nakatani’s last two opponents were Filipinos – Philip Luis Cuerdo who was knocked out in round one and former IBF world junior flyweight champ Milan Melindo, who was stopped in six.
It was reported that all shows set until April 30 were cancelled or postponed by the Japan Boxing Commission (JBC) and the JPBA (Japan Professional Boxing Association). The World Boxing Organization (WBO) has posted on their website that due to the current situation worldwide caused by Covid-19, the WBO has postponed all boxing events through June 2020.
It is still in doubt as to whether the situation will improve in Asia a couple of months from now but everyone in the boxing industry are hoping.
World title fights in the United States involving Asian boxers are also affected by postponements notably the unification fight between WBA/IBF bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue of Japan and WBO champ John Riel Casimero of the Philippines as well the IBF junior bantamweight title defense of Filipino Jerwin Ancajas vs Mexican Jonathan Rodriguez.
File photo – Giemel Magramo in Suzhou, China January 2019
By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
Filipino flyweight contender Giemel Magramo (23-1,19KO’s) is one fight away from a coveted world title shot. The man he has to beat on September 7, Thailand’s Eaktawan Krungthepthonburi (25-5,16KO’s) is a familiar face in the Philippines.
“I am familiar with his style,” Magramo told this writer, “I saw his fight against Donnie Nietes.”
Eaktawan, whose birth name is Komgrich Nantapech, lost to Nietes by unanimous decision in Cebu City two years ago in their fight for the vacant IBF world flyweight title. He also lost to Nietes’ stablemate, Albert Pagara, by second round KO in Maasin City in 2012 and to Froilan Saludar by unanimous decision a year later in Makati City.
The 24 year old Magramo turned pro in 2012 and won his first ranking title, the WBC International flyweight belt in 2015. His lone career loss was in 2016, a unanimous decision to Pakistani Muhammad Waseem in Seoul, South Korea for the WBC silver flyweight title. Magramo’s biggest win was against the erstwhile undefeated world ranked Chinese Wenfeng Ge in Suzhou,China last January. The fight was stopped at the end of the tenth when Ge’s swollen right eye got worse, which along with a cut, hampered his vision. This win earned Magramo the WBO International flyweight belt and boosted him up the world rankings in all the four major sanctioning bodies.
“I was confident I would win in China,” Magramo said, “I knew it would move me closer to a world title shot.”
“My training is going well, I have been sparring with Giovanni Escaner and a Japanese boxer, Hisada. But I can’t predict a knockout just yet.”
The 30 year old Eakawan’s last two wins were against Filipinos Crison Omayao and Rollen del Castillo.
Magramo is currently ranked number four by the IBF with Eaktawan at number three. Their IBF eliminator will be held at the Jurado Hall of the Philippine Marine Corps in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City, Metro Manila. The winner will face the IBF world champ Moruti Mthalane of South Africa.
Mthalane will be several steps up in class compared to Eaktawan but Magramo is still confident.
“It is my dream to fight Mthalane, and I know I can beat him.” Magramo stated.
The 36 year old Mthalane (38-2,25KO’s) has held on and off, the IBF world flyweight crown since 2009. His famous loss was against Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire in 2008 due to a cut. He has beaten Filipinos like three time world champ John Riel Casimero, Jether Oliva, Genesis Libranza and Ardin Diale. Last New Year’s Eve in Macao, Mthalane gave Japanese Masahiro Sakamoto a brutal demolition job and stopped him in ten rounds. His last defense was in May, a unanimous verdict against another Japanese, Masayuki Kuroda in Tokyo.
Magramo comes from a boxing family, His father, uncles and grand uncles are all boxers. His father, Melvin went the full route against Manny Pacquiao in Cebu City when they were both flyweight contenders way back in 1997.
The Magramo-Eaktawan fight will be on the undercard of the all-Filipino world title bout between Samuel Salva and Pedro Taduran for the vacant IBF minimumweight crown. This September 7 card is presented by Manny Pacquiao's MP Promotions.
Photo – Giemel Magramo during the weigh-in in Suzhou,China last January
By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
There are no hard and fast ways to assess a boxing prospect. We usually look first for speed and power. But as the fighter’s career moves forward, we examine the quality of his opponents.Then, we look closer at his reactions during a fight. How did he respond to being cut or hurt? Has he really been tested?
Making a list of promising fighters can be both difficult and enjoyable. In a boxing country like the Philippines, you can be sure there are a lot of boxers competing for attention.
These are just a few raring to make some noise in 2019:
ROMERO DUNO (18-1, 14KO’s) – he comes from the talent rich Sanman Gym of Gen.Santos City. His advantage over the other up and comers is the television exposure he got when he was signed by Oscar dela Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions. It all started with his second round knockout win over Golden Boy prospect Christian Gonzalez in Los Angeles.
Five of Duno’s last six bouts were held in the U.S. He continues to improve under the tutelage of former WBC light flyweight champ Rodel Mayol. Duno is scheduled to face India’s Kuldeep Danda in Pasay City, Philippines this February 9.
The Sanman Gym also boasts of Reymart Gaballo, who won the WBA interim bantamweight title last year. They suffered a major disappointment on home soil with the TKO loss of Randy Petalcorin against Nicaraguan Felix Alvarado in their fight for the vacant IBF light flyweight title. The Sanman group is still looking for that elusive regular world title. Duno continuing to fight under the banner of Golden Boy could make that dream a reality.
CHRISTIAN ARANETA (17-0, 14KO’s) – very few fans noticed his upset TKO win against another world ranked Filipino, Jessie Espinas in 2015. Last year, his bone-chilling twelfth round KO of former world title challenger Jerry Tomogdan was also not televised and witnessed by a handful of fight fans in Mandaue City, Cebu.
Araneta doesn’t have an extensive amateur background. His defensive deficiencies are compensated by his uncanny Arturo Gatti-like ability to recuperate. He suffers from a lack of television exposure and has not seen action abroad.
He does have raw power which is obviously a factor why his handlers in the Omega Gym of Cebu are eyeing a world title shot. His current ranking as a light flyweight – WBO number 11, WBC number 10 and WBA number 9.
JEO SANTISIMA (17-2,14KO’s) – fighting under the banner of ALA Promotions leads to more media and TV coverage in the Philippines. But it also means meticulous scrutiny from the fans and pundits.
Santisima is being tagged by the veteran boxing writers in Cebu as having the tools to be the next Donnie Nietes. That is a very high bar, considering Nietes’ body of work. But just like the four-division champ who has been on top for almost twelve years now, Santisima is a low-key but solid boxer.
Three years ago, Santisima had a notable TKO win against countryman Marco Demecillo, who at that point in time was still considered a dangerous puncher here in Cebu. He also had an eye catching TKO against Tanzanian Goodluck Mrema in 2017 and beat Mexican Victor Lopez by unanimous decision last December.
The WBO ranks Santisima at number 10 and he holds the WBO Oriental junior featherweight title.
The other ALA contenders to watch are Albert Pagara – who is still rebuilding after his TKO loss to Cesar Juarez – and KJ Cataraja, who just captured his first major ranking belt last November.
CARL JAMMES MARTIN (11-0,10KO’s) – the Ifugao rising star is set for his Metro Manila debut on February 16 against Thai Petchorchae Kokietgym. Martin has fought foreign foes in his home province winning regional belts with the WBC, WBA and WBO. His fights have been shown live on social media but has yet to be tested against higher level opponents.
He has a fan-friendly all-action style and could wind up becoming a big name if he gets more fights on television.
Martin is the number 10 bantamweight contender of the WBO and ranked number 14 by the WBA.
JOE NOYNAY (16-2-1,5KO’s) – he was an underdog when he won against the previously unbeaten Chinese rising star Pan Jinxiang in Zhongshan,China by technical decision in the eighth round last December 2017. He scored two knockdowns against Pan and took the WBO Asia Pacific Youth junior lightweight title after the fight was stopped due to a worsening head-butt inflicted cut on Noynay.
Noynay’s resolve was tested last year in his hometown of Bogo,Cebu.Promoter Bebot Elorde brought in Mexican Hector Garcia who pushed Noynay to his physical limits and treated the sell-out crowd to a memorable ring war. Noynay got a majority decision win and defended against another Chinese boxer Zhang Qixiu five months later in Pasay City. Zhang was stopped in eight rounds.
The fight in Bogo is the yardstick of Noynay’s present level. He showed heart and toughness. His handler’s will have to match him this year with boxers who will be useful in his continuing development. Noynay is currently ranked number 11 junior lightweight contender by the WBO.
GIEMEL MAGRAMO (23-1,19KO’s) – his victory against one of China’s highly regarded prospects, Ge Wenfeng propelled Magramo to be ranked as one of the top ten flyweights in Ring magazine. Both were ranked in the top ten by the WBO with Ge holding the International title and Magramo the Oriental belt.
Magramo relied on pressure and volume punching and the fight was halted at the end of the tenth, with Ge’s right eye closed shut.
Prior to his win in Suzhou,China, the boxer handled by Johnny Elorde was seen in a local televised fight, stopping Thai Petchorchae Kokietgym in three rounds on the undercard of the IBF world light flyweight title bout between Nicaraguan Felix Alvarado and Filipino Randy Petalcorin .
He is ranked number five by the WBO but he is still a few fights away from being ready to challenge the world champion Kosei Tanaka of Japan. Magramo, who comes from a boxing family, is also ranked by the WBC #5, IBF#9 and WBA#8.
There are Filipinos involved in upcoming crucial eliminators:
Countrymen MICHAEL DASMARIÑAS (28-2-1,19KO’s) and KENNY DEMECILLO (14-4-2,8KO’s) will engage in an IBF bantamweight eliminator in Singapore this March 29.
Dasmariñas already has an IBO world title. He got a lot of attention when he knocked out Karim Guerfi of France last year in the fourth round. He will be going for one of the four major titles for the first time. Demecillo’s career hit a road bump when he was outpointed by another Filipino, Mark Anthony Geraldo two years ago in Hong Kong. But he got a big win in Russia last year, knocking out Vyacheslav Mirzaev in five rounds.
ASTON PALICTE (24-2-1,20KO’s) will face unbeaten Puerto Rican Jose Martinez (20-0-2,13KO’s) in California on January 31 for the right to face WBO junior bantamweight champion Donnie Nietes.
Palicte already fought Nietes and the fight ended in a debatable draw. This was the second all-Filipino world title bout held last year.
ROBERT PARADERO (17-0,11KO’s) was supposed to be involved in an eliminator last December for the WBO minimumweight title held by fellow Filipino Vic Saludar. The fight didn’t push through but Paradero remains the number one ranked WBO contender at 105 lbs.
It will also be interesting to see if Filipinos who came up short in their world title bids can bounce back. Joey Canoy had to settle for a no contest while the likes of Mercito Gesta, Vince Paras, Froilan Saludar, Randy Petalcorin and Mark Anthony Barriga lost.
GENESIS SERVANIA (32-1,15KO’s) remains a potent force. He lost by unanimous decision to WBO featherweight champion Oscar Valdez in 2017. But Servania was signed by Top Rank and bounced back with three straight wins.
He is scheduled to fight unbeaten Carlos Castro (21-0,9KO’s) of the U.S. in California on February 10.
Photo – top row left to right – Romero Duno, Christian Araneta, Jeo Santisima, bottom row left to right – Carl Jammes Martin, Joe Noynay, Giemel Magramo
These articles are submitted by guest writers and sites. They aren't submitted by the usual folk behind Asian Boxing and don't fall in line with our editorial stance, giving a fresh view on various boxing issues from the Asian boxing scene.