For around a year Hisashi Amagasa held the OPBF Featherweight title, prior to his fight with Guillermo Rigondeaux. During his reign he made 3 defenses of the title, stopping all 3 challengers, Vinvin Rufino, Maxsaisai Sithsaithong and Ryo Takenaka.
Since the Amagasa Vs Rigondeaux fight we've seen one of the men stopped by Amagasa claim the title. That's current champion Vinvin Rufino (37-16-3, 16), a veteran from the Philippines who made his debut more than 13 years ago and, only earlier this year, scored what is arguably his defining victory. That was his win over Mark Gil Melligen to claim the OPBF title back in May.
For Rufino's first defense he'll be facing another of Amagasa's former victims, Ryo Takenaka (12-3-1, 6). Whilst Rufino was comfortably beaten by Amagasa, sitting several rounds down on the scorecards before being finished off in round 8, Takenaka was actually up on the score cards before being stopped with less than 2 minutes of the fight left.
For Rufino, 33, his loss to Amagasa has helped him revive his career with a trio of wins back home in the Philippines. The most notable of those was his win over Melligen. Interestingly the loss to Amagasa was Rugino's only defeat in his last 8 bouts, though he has, notably, had very mixed fortunes on the road with a record of 2-2 in Japan, 5-6-2 in Indonesian and 7-13-2 on the road in total.
In the ring Rufino is a handful. He's in an opponents face through out the fight and although he lacks concussive power he can hit hard enough to drop, or buzz, opponents, as he did with Melligen. Whilst he's not a big hitter he is the sort of guy who always brings a fight and will be looking to out work Takenaka here.
At 30 years old Takenaka is the younger man, but certainly isn't “young” as such and in many ways is looking towards the end of his career if he loses again here. The Misako gym fighter is a very talented boxer, as shown in his bout with Amagasa, but has been stopped in 2 of his 3 defeats and has sometimes struggled with opponents that he should really have breezed past. Notably he has also only fought once since being stopped by Amagasa and was relatively fortunate to pick up a win in that bout.
Although talented Takenaka lacks the power needed to make the most of his skill and at times has shown enough flaws for fighters to adapt to him. Interestingly, coming in to this bout, Takenaka is unbeaten against Filipino fighters, with whom he has a 2-0 record. They have however come against fighters less experienced and less proven that Rufino.
Coming in to this bout we really know that neither can afford a loss. Unfortunately for Rufino we suspect he's gonna come up short on the cards unless he can stop Takenaka. We know scoring in boxing is subjective but it often goes with the home fighter and we suspect that will be the case again here with a debatable victory for the Japanese fighter.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
On March 25th we get the Flash Elorde Awards ceremony to celebrate boxing in the Philippines and the same show we get some fantastic fights. One of those fights is an All Filipino bout for the vacant OPBF Featherweight title between the highly experienced Vinvin Rufino (36-16-3, 16) and the once touted Mark Gil Melligen (21-4-1, 12).
For southpaw fighter Rufino this will be a third shot at the title having previously come short twice, in Japan. And it may well be his last shot at an OPBF title given that he turns 34 later this year and has already had in excess of 50 fights with 7 stoppages losses in a career that goes back 12 busy years.
Rufino's career has seen him becoming a very well traveled fighter. He has fought an impressive 13 times in Indonesia, 4 times in Japan, twice in South Africa, twice in Thailand and once in Mexico. Sadly for him however it's not seen him enjoying the greatest of success. He has claimed the GAB and LuzProBA titles in the Philippines but fallen short in bouts for international level titles such as the OPBF, PABA, WBC International, WBC Silver and WBC Asian ABCO titles. Unfortunately he's been the best domestically but never quite capable of winning a big one, though he has come close several times on the road.
Rufino's biggest problem is his lack of power above domestic level. On the domestic scene he has scored stoppages, in fact 12 of his 16 stoppages have come in the Philippines. Away from home and against a higher level of competition his power hasn't had the effect he'd have hoped. That's not to say he's been bad on the road, in fact there have been fights away from home that he deserved to win, but the lack of power hasn't helped him.
Aged 27 Melligen is the younger fighter with less wear and tear. He hasn't the level of experience of his compatriot but he's also not got the miles on the road. Whilst there obvious differences there are also similarities between the two men with Melligen also having a less than stellar record, in fact he was 2-2-1 (1) after his first 5 fights. Since that start however he has gone 19-2 with a razor thin loss to Carlo Magali and a stoppage loss in Thailand to Sukkasem Kietyongyuth
On paper Melligen has fought at a much lower level of competition than his compatriot. He has however been in sensational form in recent times with 8 straight wins since his loss to Sukkasem back in 2010. Of those 8 wins 7 have come by stoppage including wins in China and Japan as he's developed into a genuinely promising power punching fighter.
From the little footage that exists of Melligen he does look relatively basic but powerfully built and his southpaw stance and powerful left hand doe appear to be solid weapons that he knows how to use. He's not the busiest or fastest fighter but he does look a confident one deliberate one with some hurtful body shots in his arsenal.
Whilst footage of Rufino is scarce it's clear that he “can” win this but he needs to live up to his nickname of the “hustler”. He needs to hustle, make Melligen fight hard, keep the pace of the bout up and stop Melligen from landing his hurtful body shots from range. If he can't do that then Melligen, with his edge in youth and power, will over-come Rufino
When you see a fighter with a record like 34-15-3 (16) you tend to write them off by default, especially in this day and age of padded records, protected fighters and selective match making. That however can prove to be a costly mistake and sometimes you just need to realise that a record doesn't actually tell us a lot about a fighter. Although we think they do show us something about a fighter a record is rarely the bee all and end all of a boxer's ability.
We had a great example of misleading records just a few weeks ago when Filipino Rey Loreto, who boasted a 17-13 record, upset Nkosinathi Joyi who was 24-2-0-1.
Loreto, like a number of Filipino fighters, has a record that is hugely misleading due to controversial losses, losses in hard fights early in his career and just generally being matched tougher than he should have been. Another Filipino in a similar position to Loreto is Vinvin Rufino (34-15-3, 16) who boasts the record used at the beginning of this preview.
Rufino, the OPBF #1 contender, has won less than 66% of all his fights. Of his 15 losses though at least 6 are highly questionable and 12 have come on foreign soil where results are rarely expected to go in favour of the visiting fighter. If you switch the highly questionable losses to victories Rufino's record would be a somewhat respectable 40-9-3.
On March 24th Rufino will be hoping to shock the boxing world like Loreto did as he takes on OPBF Featherweight champion Hisashi Amagasa (25-4-2, 16) in a bout that is a lot more interesting than the records of the men would indicate.
Amagasa goes in to the bout a clear favourite. That's just stating the obvious, he's at home, he's the defending champion, he's world ranked by the WBC #11, WBO #12 and IBF #13, he's a man in the form of his life with 10 straight victories and he's a tricky customer at the best of times. As we all know however upsets happen and Amagasa will need to be fully aware that he's not fighting an over-matched foe, he's fighting his #1 challenger.
Amagasa won the title last year by scoring a decision victory over former world champion Ryol Li Lee who had beaten Amagasa back in 2010. The victory over Lee saw Amagasa avenging his most recent loss and putting his name on the world rankings in the process. Despite the victory many questioned whether he was fighting the real Lee or a man who was had mentally retired from the sport. Lee, not quite looking himself, managed to keep the fight close and although Amagasa was the rightful winner one has to wonder what a determined Lee could have done that fight.
Interestingly Amagasa had to himself turn around a poor looking record. After just 12 fights he had a record of 7-3-2 (6) and the only decision he had won in that time had come against Yoshiharu Yajima who was 3-2 entering his bout with Amagasa. Of course since then Amagasa has improved though should be fully aware that a bad looking record doesn't tell you how good a fighter is, as he himself has proven by winning 18 of his subsequent 19 contests.
Unlike Amagasa, Rufino doesn't hold a really notable win. His best victories are over the likes of Adones Aguelo and Rene Bestudio. He does however deserve major credit for his losses to Aleksander Bajawa, Naoki Matsuda, in an absolute thriller, and Sipho Taliwe all on the road. A number of which could easily have gone in his favour.
It's fights with South African Taliwe that really show how competitive this bout is. Taliwe gave the popular Daud Yordan a very close fight last year and with Rufino arguably deserving of two victories we refuse to write him off.
Whilst we won't write off Rufino we do think he'll struggle with the both the power and reach of Amagasa. The Japanese fighter is almost 5" taller than the Filipino, much rangier and a very solid hitter. If he uses his strengths then Amagasa should box off the jab, fire in powerful straights and slowly break down Rufino.
Rufino, to his credit, will try and get inside the champion and rough him up with his under-rated power and strength. If Rufino gets his way this could turn into a genuine war and a FOTY contender though the question is whether or not he can get inside. If he can't there is only one winner and it's not the brave and under-rated challenger.
We'll be picking the obvious choice in Amagasa though we do not expect this to be easy for him and we'd expect a least a few hairy moments for the champion who will know he's been in a real fight at the end of it.
This fight is one of two title fights on the same card, the other is the very good looking Japanese Super Bantamweight title bout between Hidenori Otake and Takafumi Nakajima.
(Photo courtesy of Boxmob)
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.