This past weekend saw Asian boxing thrust into the global spotlight thanks to Bob Arum's "Top Rank" who went to Macau and promoted one of the biggest shows of the year.
The show, headlined by Filipino boxing god Manny Pacquiao (55-5-2, 28), was the genuine boxing highlight of the weekend and yet also a morbid curiosity for fans around the world. Pacquiao, fighting for the first time since being rendered unconscious by arch rival Juan Manuel Marquez, dominated American tough guy Brandon Rios (31-2-1, 12)) in a performance that resembled the Paqcuiao of old with blistering handspeed, amazing combinations, excellent movement and vicious punching. Rios, for his part, played the role of human punch bag to the resurgent Pacquiao who claimed the WBO International Welterweight title as a result.
The Filipino congressman, who many had described as “shot”, “done” and “past his prime” showed that the rumours of his demise are well and truly exaggerated. This was damned close to punch perfect from the first bell to the last and Rios, who was brave throughout, was genuinely battered and beaten up by the final bell.
As well as the Pacquiao contest “The Clash of Cotai” was a pack card which also featured a world title bout which saw Russian Evgeny Gradovich (18-0, 9) successfully retain his IBF Featherweight title with a 9th round TKO over Australian Billy Dib (36-3-0-1, 21). This bout wasn't the greatest to watch, no Dib fight is great to watch, but it was fantastic to see Gradovich silencing the big mouthed Australian who may finally be done on the world level.
Of course these Macau cards don't just feature world level fighters but also up and comers and in fact 7 of the 8 undercard bouts featured up and coming prospects at various stages of their career. For American fans the most intriguing of those contests saw Mexican Heavyweight Andy Ruiz Jr (21-0, 15) breaking the heart of American Tor Hamer (21-3, 14) who retired after the third round. Allegedly this loss saw promoter DiBella Entertainment cutting their ties with Hamer who had previously “done a quit job” against Vyacheslav Glazkov.
The other interesting fight for Americans was that of Puerto Rican prospect Felix Verdejo (9-0, 7) who clearly out pointed Thailand's tough but limited Petchsamuthr Duanaaymukdahan (8-2, 1). Duanaaymukdahan lost every round of the fight and was also deducted a point for low blows but still gave Verdejo his toughest contest to date.
For Chinese fans however the most interesting performance was that of Zou Shiming (3-0) who dominated Mexican Juan Tozcano (4-1, 1). Although criticised in many corners for his amateur style this was a professional performance by Shiming who appears to be improving massively as a fighter and whilst we don't don't think he'll go on to claim a world title he is a fighter who should compete on the world stage at some point.
Shiming wasn't the only promising Chinese fighter on the card as IK Yang (14-0-0-1, 9) also claimed a decision victory. Yang, who does appear to have the style to break the US market, as disappointing I only claiming a majority decision over Hero Tito (7-3, 3). Tito was unfortunately one of two Indonesians who suffered losses on this card as Jason Butar Butar (15-12-1, 11) was stopped in the third round by Filipino prospect Harmonito Dela Torre (11-0, 6).
Although stoppages were somewhat rare on the card Rex Tso (11-0, 7) scored probably the most clear forcing the referee to save the completely out matched Susu Sithjadaeng (7-4, 2) inside a round. Tso took charge from the off and his Chinese opponent hardly threw a punch in anger.
The only other stoppage on the card saw Filipino Dan Nazareno Jr (18-10, 14) playing spoiler to Britain's Liam Vaughan (8-2, 2) with a second round TKO. It was a great victory for Nazareno is often an over-looked fighter though proved that he is much better than his record indicates.
For us however the most noteworthy performance, other than Pacquiao's, was that of Macau's very own Kuok Kun Ng (2-0) who took a shut out decision over 4 rounds against You-Jie Zen (5-5, 4). Although somewhat unknown Ng looked like there was a lot of untapped potential there and we are hoping to see him fighting again soon following this impressive performance.
It, of course, wasn't just Macau which hosted a card but there was also a card in the Philippines as the country got ready to see the return of Pacquiao. This card, put on by ALA promotions was only a low level card with eight lesser contests but still served as a nice starter.
The show kicked of with a 4 round decision victory for debutant Junjie Codella (1-0) who decisioned Freddie Bisande (0-1-2). This opening contest was then followed up with a trio of contests scheduled for 6 rounds, none of which went the distance.
From the 6 rounders there was no massive shock as Junel Lacar (3-0-1, 1) defeated Paulo Perono (2-2, 2) in four rounds and Jonas Sultan (3-1, 2) did the same against Rocky Alvarez (2-4, 1) however we'll admit we were left very much shocked by the fact the highly touted Vic Saludar (2-1, 2) was also stopped in the fourth round by Powell Balaba (8-9-1, 5).
Thankfully things went as expected in the two 8 rounders. These saw Brian Lobitania (7-0-2, 5) stopping Nikong Calamba (6-15-3, 3), via third round KO, and Lito Dante (7-3-3, 4) forcing the retirement of Jovel Romasasa (10-12, 4) at the end of the third.
In the chief support contest on this show Albert Villacampa (16-6-1, 4) scored a rare stoppage as he forced the retirement of the over-matched Roger Echavez (7-11-1, 4) at the end of the third round. Echavez's retirement was followed in the main event by Jimmy Paypa (15-2, 5) knocking out Jovill Marayan (8-15-3, 3) in the sixth.
The third major Asian card took place in Japan at the Sunpia Hall in Kochi where there was an eight fight show.
This show began with five bouts scheduled for 4 rounds. These included seeing the previously win-less Go Mitaka (1-3-2) finally scoring his first professional victory as he out pointed Takuya Sugiyama (1-2), Kenji Nakayoshi (2-1, 1) narrowly defeating Kenjiro Shibata (0-2) on a razor thin split decision and a trioof stoppages.
Those stoppages saw Takaaki Kitagawa (2-2, 1) taking out the fragile Kimiharu Oura (0-5) inside a round, inflicting the fifth straight stoppage loss of Oura's career, Takuya Yamamoto (4-7, 3) scoring a second round victory over Hiroshi Okano (1-10, 1), a man who has now been stopped 8 times, and Kazuma Uemura (2-1, 1) stopping Daichi Kan (0-4) in the third round.
Following the 4 rounders we moved up a step and had two bouts scheduled for 6 rounds. One of those, the bout between Toshiya Yokogawa (5-4-1, 5) and Kodai Ueki (3-2-2) ended with 9 seconds left as Yokogawa managed to finally put Ueki away. The other contest over this distance went the distance as the light hitting Johnny Abarca (7-1, 1) took a decision over Hiroaki Yano (4-3, 1).
In the main event Shota Yamaguchi (11-1, 7) took a majority decision over Filipino visitor Raymond Sermona (15-4-5, 8). The fight, a very competitive one, is one that really showed Yamaguchi's limitations, espoecially when you consider how easily Masao Nakamura dealt with Sermona just a few months ago.
Outside of Asia there were mixed fortunate for Asian fighters.
In the Light Heavyweight division Russian Dmitry Sukhotsky (21-2, 16) forced the stoppage of Eduard Gutknecht (25-3, 9) due to swelling around the face of Gutknecht. We believe that this win does take Sukhotsky one step closer to a world title fight but arguably not one that he is ready for.
Talking about world title fights, Heavyweight Denis Boytsov (33-1, 26) has failed to earned his chance at a world Heavyweight title fight against Wladimir Klitschko. Boytsov, who had been rumoured to be just a single fight from a world title tilt, put in a dour performance against Alex Leapai (30-4-3, 25) and suffered his first loss as a result. In all honesty Boytsov, who came to the ring at a flabby 224lbs, looked dreadful through out the fight and was rightfully given the loss in what may become one of the most embarrassing nights of his career.
Not only did Boytsov's loss cost him a prospective Klitschko date but also saw him failing to claim the WBO Asia Pacific Heavyweight title.
Fortunately for Boytsov he did go the distance, something that cannot be said for world title challenger Alexander Alekseev (24-3-1, 20) who was stopped in an IBF Cruiserweight title fight. Alekseev was dropped in rounds 2 and 5 before being stopped by a single shot in the tenth by Cuban champion Yoan Pablo Hernandez (28-1, 14). We're sorry to say this but we don't think Alekseev will ever be the world champion many tipped him to back back when he turned professional.
In lesser bouts Thailand's Rachamongkol Sor Pleonchit (14-7, 6) was beaten in France by Sebastien Allais (16-8-4, 5) via a very competitive 12 round decision. On the same show Russia's Shamil Ismailov (10-1, 9) stopped Armand Andre (8-7-2, 5) in the second round.
Staying on the international theme Jose Maxian (9-3, 7) was unfortunately taken out in quick fashion by Mexican destroyer Adrian Estrella (15-0, 15) in what was a bout for the WBC FECARBOX Super Featherweight title.
We try and give you the latest results on all the fights from Asia.