On April 2nd fight fans in Paranaque City get a potentially very interesting all-Filipino bout as Jhunriel Ramonal (17-9-6, 10) and Pete Apolinar (15-2, 9) battle for the vacant OPBF Super Bantamweight title. For both men this is a major bout, and a huge chance for them to put their names in the mix for notable regional bouts at 122lbs, whilst the losing will have a long climb back to becoming relevant.
Of the two fighters involved the more notable is Ramonal. The 32 year old veteran is someone who has been around the block a time or two, and despite having a messy record he has scored a number of notable wins, whilst proving he can never be written off. As a professional Ramonal began his career in 2007 and had mixed results through his early years as a professional, going 12-4-1 (6) through his first 17 bouts. By the end of 2014 he was 14-8-4 (7), having gong 2-4-3 in his previous 9 bouts, and it seemed his career was pretty much over. In fact it was more than 3 years before we saw him back in a boxing ring, and on his return he continued to struggle, with draws in his first two bouts back. Surprisingly however in 2019 he had something of a career resurgence, and scored brutal KO wins over Shingo Wake and Yusaku Kuga, showing that he was a tough, heavy handed, fighter and someone not to be over-looked. Sadly though his rise hit a brick wall when the pandemic started, and he lost his moment, without a fight in well over a year. When he returned, in July 2021, he was then upset himself by Landy Cris Leon, in what was a genuine shocker.
In the ring Ramonal isn't quick, sharp, or even the most skilled. What he is however is determined, heavy handed, tough, and a true rugged fighter. He trudges forward, takes a lot of punishment as a result, but has dynamite in his hands. He's not got quick hands, or quick feet, and he hasn't got the best defense, but what he hits he hurts. At regional and domestic level he really is the type of fighter who has a punchers chance against anyone. Above regional level his flaws are an issue, and sadly for him accumulated damage is also a problem, with Ramonal having been cut numerous times during his career, and has lost due to those cuts on several occasions. Against fighters who hold their feet he is devastating, as we saw against Kuga, but if a fighter moves, keeps things at range and boxes safe he can be made to look foolish, slow and awkward, and game plans to beat him will revolve around showing him respect and taking advantage of his lack of speed.
Aged 26 Pete Apolinar is from a newer generation of Filipino fighters, and made his debut in 2014, around the same time as Ramonal's career seemed to be ending. He began his career on the low level Filipino domestic scene, and ran up 5 straight wins before being stopped in a round by Jeo Santisima in 2015. Following that loss Apolinaro rebuilt, winning 10 bouts in a row including wins against the likes of Lloyd Jardeliza, Jetro Pabustan, and Jess Rhey Waminal, who he beat for the OPBF Silver title last year. Sadly for him his winning run came to an end last year when he was stopped by rising Korean hopeful Jong Seon Kang in a WBO Oriental Featherweight title. For this bout he will be moving down in weight, dropping 4lbs to go from Featherweight to Super Bantamweight.
In the ring Apolinar is a pretty tidy fighter, with a nice sharp jab, good movement in the pocket and some slippery tricks in his arsenal. He has good short punches, under-rated defense, and his does slip and roll shots well. Sadly though at Featherweight, where he fought Kang, he issue was with the physicality of the Korea, who kept coming, despite taking taking some low in round 4. Apolinar had success in the bout, but was simply worn down and worn out by Kang, who is known for his energy and work rate. As the bout went on Apolinar's work rate went, and he stood in range way too much against a bigger, stronger man. As he slowed be became more of a target, and was backed on to the ropes too easily, before being wiped out in round 8. Thing he'll have to avoid here against someone like Ramonal.
In terms of skills Apolinar is the much, much better boxer. He has some really advanced skills in his locker, and he really is a very skilled young man. Sadly though skills aren't always the be all and end all. Sometimes heart, desire, power, and determination is key, as we've seen in recent wins for Jordan Gill and Leigh Wood in the UK. We suspect Apolinar's boxing skills will see him take an early lead, but the power of Ramonal will land, sooner or later. When that happens Apolinar will be in trouble, and will begin to be broken down, much like we saw against Kang.
Prediction - TKO6 Ramonal
The year is set to end with a bang thanks to a bumper show from Watanabe. Whilst much of the focus will be on the two main world title fights the card is an interesting one through out, and potentially the most explosive of the bouts will be at regional title level.
The bout in question will see Japan's Yusaku Kuga (19-3-1, 13) clash with Filipino Jhunriel Ramonal (16-8-6, 9) for the WBO Asia Pacific Super Bantamweight title. It's not a bout that will get much attention, or looks particularly competitive, but is one that could be very brutal, and very explosive.
The favourite going in will be Kuga, a big punching Japanese fighter who is the current Japanese national champion. Kuga is fairly basic, but very heavy handed, exciting and aggressive. He's someone who can be out boxed, as we saw last year when he was stopped by Shingo Wake, but is extremely dangerous and is able to have a toe to toe war with pretty much anyone in and around the regional scene, as we saw against Ryoichi Tamura.
After starting his career 6-1-1 (4) Kuga has gone 13-2 (9), avenging one of those losses and notching wins over the likes of Sukkasem Kietyongyuth, Yasutaka Ishimoto, Jonathan Baat and Ryoichi Tamura. Not only has he proven his ability against good domestic and regional level opponents he has also been scoring those wins early on, taking 10 of his wins in the first 4 rounds.
On paper Ramonal looks like a very limited fighter, with 8 losses in his 30 career bouts. In reality however he's a much better fighter than his record suggests. He's not a world beater, a long way from it, but given genuine preparation time, he's a dangerous opponent. Going through his record it is a real mess, an inconsistent mess. He has shown he can mix at the top of the regional scene, fighting to a narrow loss in an OPBF title fight in 2011, but then has lost to a number of domestic level fighters. When he's on point he's talented, but he can be made to look slow, sloppy and can be easily out boxed.
Coming in to this Ramonal is unbeaten in 4 bouts, going back to a 2014 decision loss to Sho Nakazawa. Since then he has fought to a draw with Jenel Lausa and most recently scored a stunning TKO in over Shingo Wake, a win that has essentially put him into this title fight. In that win over Wake Ramonal was cut, being out boxed, but remained a hungry and dangerous fighter, with that danger being realised in frighteningly graphic fashion.
Given that both fighters are heavy handed, both get in the ring to win and both are happy to fire off bombs, this has the potential to be very explosive. It's easy to back Kuga, and he is rightfully the favourite, but given how Ramonal's power took out Wake, it's clear that Kuga can't take a win for granted here. Instead Kuga will need fight smartly, but should manage to break down Ramonal, likely busting him up with his heavy hands and forcing the referee to step in.
We're anticipating a bout with a lot of tension here, some fun exchanges, but eventually the fight will be beat out of Ramonal.
Prediction TKO5 Kuga
Having canned the old "Full Schedule" of Asianboxing we have instead decided to concentrate more on the major bouts. This section, the "Preview" section will look at major bouts involving OPBF and national titles. Hopefully leading to a more informative style for, you the reader.