Over the last few years we've seen the Super Flyweight division getting more attention in the West, in part thanks to the excellent "Super Fly" series but also the way that more promoters from the US and UK are getting involved in the division. We have Eddie Hearn promoting both Juan Francisco Estrada and Kal Yafai, Top Rank in charge of Jerwin Ancajas and Tom Loeffler having his connections to Kazuto Ioka, and the Super Flyweight series of shows. Even the none champions, such as Roman Gonzalez, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Aston Palicte has have backers in the US.
It wasn't always so good for the little men however, and going back just 10 years ago the division was in a very different state. We did have the all action Vic Darchinyan making his mark Stateside, as the WBC champion, but the other champions weren't really that well known. There was Marvin Sonsona, who held the WBO title, but failed to live up to the expectations put on his shoulders, Simphiwe Nongqayi holding the IBF title and Japan's Nobuo Nashiro holding the WBA title.
On paper the division was global, we had champions including an Australian based Armenia, a Filipino, a South African and a Japanese fighter. But the division was very much one that was only really watched by the hardcore. Darchinyan aside there was no recognisable star.
Despite the lack of star power the division was giving us a string of great fights, especially those involving Nobuo Nashiro, who was a tough and aggressive Japanese fighter. In just his 8th bout he claimed he title for the first time, stopping Martin Castillo. The reign was a short one, lasting less than a year, though he would reclaim the title only a few fights later when he stopped Kohei Kono to become a 2-time champion.
Exactly 10 years ago today Nashiro (13-1, 8 at the time) made his second defense, taking on Mexican challenger Hugo Fidel Cazares (30-6-1, 22 then ) in their first, of 2, bouts. On paper this had the makings of a great fight and the fight legitimately lived up to those expectations, with it being a fantastic 12 round bout.
Nashiro, as mentioned, was enjoying his second reign as a world champion but Cazares was himself no push over He had claimed the WBO Light Flyweight title in 2005, beating Nelson Dieppa in Puerto Rico, and had moved up after 2 losses to Ivan Calderon, in very close and hotly contested bouts. He had always looked huge at Light Flyweight and when his body was allowed to fill out he looked really dangerous at Super Flyweight, beating Roberto Vasquez in Panama in March 2009.
Through his career Cazares had repeatedly proven his value on the road. He had scored wins in Puerto Rico, as part of the long and historic Mexico Vs Puerto Rico wars, American, Panama, and being in Japan held no fear for the Mexican.
What we ended up getting wasn't an all out, 12 round brawl, but instead a technical, battle of wills. Cazares was boxing on the move, using his legs and speed to try and rack up the rounds against the tough and rugged Osakan. Nashiro on the other hand tried pressing, making the most of durability and trying to come on strong. What we ended up with was 12 engaging rounds of action. It wasn't a war, but it was a bout well worthy of a watch and a fight that got better the longer it went.
For those who haven't seen the bout before, we've included it below, and today is the ideal day to celebrate what was a great, great fight!
Japanese star Kosei Tanaka has had a number of his bouts streamed worldwide thanks to CBC. Today we look at the 3-weight world champion and bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know about...Kosei Tanaka
1-Tanaka took part in his B license pro-test bout on September 23rd 2013 when he shared the ring with then #9 Japanese ranked Flyweight Yuji Shimizu for 3 rounds. He was then immediately given a pass for a B class license.
2-Despite being unbeaten, and going 8-0 in world title fights, Tanaka has actually been dropped 4 times. He was put down by Vic Saludar at Minimumweight, twice by Palangpol CP Freshmart at Light Flyweight and most recently once by Jonathan Gonzalez. Interestingly he would bounce back from those knockdowns to stop his opponents. Saludar was taken out in round 6, Palangpol in round 9 and Gonzalez in round 7.
3-In 2018, when he defeated Sho Kimura, he tied Vasyl Lomachenko's record for fewest fights to become a 3-weight world champion, doing so in 12 fights. Amazingly he was only 23 when he achieved the feat, whilst Lomachenko was 32. Interestingly Lomachenko achieved the feat only 4 months earlier than Tanaka and took just 3 months less time, having debuted a month before the Japanese fighter.
4-Although known as a CBC fighter, and CBC are an affiliate of TBS, Tanaka has had a fight shown on TBS's Kanto rival Fuji TV. This came in his fourth bout, when he beat Ryuji Hara in a bout for the OPBF Minimumweight title on an episode of Diamond Glove. This is the only time he has had a bout aired in Tokyo on anything other than TBS. This is also the only time, so far at least, that he has fought at the Korakuen Hall.
5-Tanaka's first 14 opponents come from only 6 different countries. He has faced 5 Filipino's, 3 Japanese, 2 Puerto Rican's, 2 Mexican's, a Thai and an Indonesian.
6-His first two professional opponents were both world ranked! His debut came against the then WBO #6 ranked Minimumweight Oscar Raknafa, whilst his second bout came against the WBA #12 ranked Ronelle Ferreras. In fact 5 of Tanaka's first 6 opponents were world ranked by at least 1 of the 4 major title bodies.
7-At the 2013 Asian Youth Championships in the Philippines Tanaka lost to Jade Bornea, 15:13 on the old scoring system. The same tournament also saw rising Uzbek sensation Israil Madrimov pick up a silver medal as well!
8-As a youngster Tanaka went to the gym was headed by former OPBF Super Flyweight champion Hideyasu Ishihara. Like Tanaka Ishihara was regarded as a prodigy, challenging Celes Kobyashi for the Japanese Flyweight title in just his third professional bout. As a professional Ishihara would claim the OPBF title, and twice fight for variations of the WBA title, losing to Martin Castillo in both of those world title bouts.
9-Kosei's ring walk music is "I was Born to Love You" by Queen, as you can see in the video below
10-Whilst we all know Kosei's older brother is also a successful boxer, the family also has another sporting success. That's the Tanaka brother's cousin, Yuhana Yokoi, who's a successful figure skater. Yokoi who came 6th at the 2018 World Junior Championships and 3rd at the 2018 ISU Junior Grand Prix in Armenia, and also competed in the 2019 World Championships.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Last weekend we saw Filipino fighter Froilan Saludar (30-3-1, 21) resurrect his career as a Super Flyweight with a huge KO win against Tsubasa Murachi at Korakuen Hall. For the "Sniper" this was a huge win, and a much needed win after previous losses to Japanese fighters Takuma Inoue and Sho Kimura. The win not only kept alive Saludar's career but also saw him win the WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title, putting him in the mix for a WBO world title fight, down the line. Of course he's not going to suddenly become the mandatory, but he has got himself in the queue for a title fight, and will certainly chase a second world title shot.
With his recent win behind him, we're going to look at Saludar and consider 5 options that may be on the table for the once very highly touted Filipino.
1-Akira Yaegashi (28-6, 16)
With Saludar having scored a big win in Japan last week we'd love to see him return there in the near future. It would seem a world title fight is unlikely, but that doesn't mean he can't face a world class fighter, and Akira Yaegashi would make for the perfect opponent for Saludar, and for fans. The bout would promise excitement, as every Yaegashi fight does, it could be made for December, when Yaegashi is set to retain and the winner would certainly find themselves on the verge of a title fight. This would be a bout both men would see as winnable, and would provide a lot of excitement.
2-Kazuto Ioka (24-2, 14)
If Saludar is to land himself a world title fight in the near future the only real option he has is the WBO champion Kazuto Ioka. The Japanese star is set to defend his title later this year, likely against Jeyvier Cintron on December 31st, but if that fails to come off than Saludar would be an interesting alternative. On the other hand if Ioka gets past Cintron then facing off with Saludar in 2020 wouldn't be an awful choice for a defense. It would seem like a straight forward one for the champion, but is a bout Saludar will be itching for and a bout that could help make Ioka look like a star.
3-Koki Eto (24-5-1, 19)
As with the Yaegashi fight, if Saludar can't land a world title fight he might as well fight against a beatable but exciting opponent, and Koki Eto fits the mould perfectly. In fact Eto may actually come with some extra advantages, given that a fight with Eto could take place Stateside, and this could help increase Saludar's profile. Eto tends to make for fun fights, but is very beatable, and Saludar should be looking to fighters like Eto going forward to build on the win over Murachi.
4-Aston Palicte (25-3-1, 21)
The top Filipino fighters at Super Flyweight are Donnie Nietes and Jerwin Ancajas, and it's unlikely either of those are in a rush to face any other Filipino. As a result the best of the all-Filipino bouts at the weight that we could expect would be a bout between Saludar and Palicte, who would make for a very interesting match up. The edge in power and work rate would certainly favour Palicte but Saludar is no push over and given the fact Palicte was stopped last time out Saludar may well fancy his chances now. This would set the winner up as a legitimate contender for a title and put the other out of the mix. High risk, but high reward.
5-Francisco Rodriguez Jr (31-4-1, 22)
A bit of a while suggestion would be a bout with former unified Minimumweight champion Francisco Rodriguez Jr, in what would be a sensational fight between two men looking to make their mark on the Super Flyweight world scene. In terms of styles this would be compelling, with Rodrgiuez being an aggressive pressure fighter and Saludar being a talented mover, both are looking for a world title fight and the bout has an underlying story. Rodriguez Vs the Philippines. He has fought the likes of Merlito Sabillo, Donnie Nietes, Jomar Fajardo and Elias Joaquino and a bout with Saludar would be another chapter in that story. A brilliant match up for fans and another high risk-high reward one.
This coming Tuesday we'll see an all-Japanese bout the for the WBA Light Flyweight title. One of those involved is Hiroto Kyoguchi, a man who's career we've followed very carefully. The other is Tetsuya Hisada, a relative unknown outside of Japan.
To help introduce Hisada we've decided to include him in one of our new features, and we bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know about...Tetsuya Hisada
1-Hisada competed in both the 2004 and 2005 Rookie of the Year, at Flyweight. Sadly though he failed to get into the latter stages of either competition. Interestingly he did end Yuki Nasu's KO run in 2005, taking the then 5-0 (5) Nasu 4 rounds, though Nasu ended up winning the All Japan tournament just a few months later.
2-Despite the fact Hisada is, at the time of writing 34-9-2 (20) overall he has gone 11-2 (7) when he's fought at Light Flyweight. The losses in those two bouts have come to Ryoichi Taguchi and Kenichi Horikawa, with the loss to Horikawa being avenged!
3-The losses to Taguchi, in 2011, and Horikawa, in 2013, at Light Flyweight both came in Strongest Korakuen Bouts, which were essentially small tournaments to decide the Japanese mandatory title challengers.
4-Despite the losses in Strongest Korakuen bouts mentioned above he would actually secure his first title bout thanks to the Strongest Korakuen in 2016, when he stopped Hayato Yamaguchi in 7 rounds to secure a place at the following year's Chamnpion Carnival.
5-Hisada was 32 years old, and sporting a 27-9-2 (17) record, when he got his first title fight, a Japanese title bout against Kenichi Horikawa, in what was their third bout.
6-Prior to facing Horikawa for the then vacant belt in April 2017 Hisada had been the mandatory challenger for Kenshiro, who vacated the title to pursue a world title fight against WBC champion Ganigan Lopez.
7-When Hisada faces Hiroto Kyoguchi on October 1st he will be the first fighter from the Harada gym to fight for a world title since Tsuyoshi Harada challenged the then WBC Super Bantamweight champion Daniel Zaragoza 1996! Interestingly Tsuyoshi Harada is the son of the Harada gym chairman Jitsuo Harada
8-Despite facing 4 unbeaten men in his first 5 bouts, including a debutant, Hisada hasn't faced an unbeaten opponent in over 14 years and more than 40 bouts! That ends on October 1st when he faces the 13-0 Kyoguchi.
9-During his career so far Hisada has fought 4 men who, at some point in their career, fought for a world title. These were Junichi Ebisuoka, who challenged the then WBC Minimumweight Oleydong Sithsamerchai in 2008, Ryoichi Taguchi, who would go on to have a solid reign as the WBA Light Flyweight champion, Hiroyuki Kudaka, who had 4 world title shots through his career, and Atsushi Kakutani, who lost to the then WBC Light Flyweight champion Adrian Hernandez. Kyoguchi will be the 5th!
10-Prior to his 5th, and final, defense of the Japanese title in November 2018 Hisada had twins! They were born around a week and a half before he faced Akihiro Toya, and retained his title with a 10 round decision win.
(Image courtesy of the Harada Gym)
One year ago we were lucky enough to work with CBC for the first time. We agreed terms to carry the official stream of their international broadcast for the WBO Flyweight world title bout between Sho Kimura (17-1-2, 10 at the time) and Kosei Tanaka (11-0, 7 at the time).
Entering the bout Kimura was looking to make his third defense of the title, building on not only his title win against Zou Shiming but also wins against Toshiyuki Igarashi and Froilan Saludar. He was looking to continue his remarkable ascent from obscurity to star and build on real momentum that had been generated by his 3 wins at world level.
Tanaka on the other hand was looking to etch his place in history and match the record for fewest fights needed to become a 3 weight world champion, a record of 12 fights set just months early by Vasyl Lomachenko. He was looking to become a 3 weight champion at the age of just 23 and less than 5 years after making his debut.
We had high hopes for the bout. Kimura had been wonderfully impressive in recent bouts, not just his world level wins but also his win against Masahiro Sakamoto. He had shown real grit and determination,a great work rate, under-rated power and amazing energy. In fact he seemed to get stronger the longer fights went on. Tanaka on the other hand was an extremely skilled boxer, who got dragged into fights willingly, he had a reputation for getting into wars and had been dropped dropped twice just 2 fights previous by Palangpol CP Freshmart. Despite being skilled their was a sense of vulnerability about Tanaka that could have been his down fall here.
What we ended up getting was something exceeded expectations. It wasn't just a great fight, instead it was a bout that was widely hailed FOTY contender. A back and forth war that left fans on their seat, they styles of the two men gelling, the mentality of the two battling at the top. The fight was the sort of battle that makes people realise just how good fights with the little men can be.
On this anniversary of the bout we suggest you all relive this instant classic!
On November 5th Naoya Inoue will have his biggest bout to date, as he takes on Nonito Donaire in the WBSS final at the Saitama Super Arena. As one of the biggest names in Japanese boxing, a lot is known about the "Monster", but we think we've come up with "10 facts you probably didn't know about" about Inoue
1-Inoue has A Type blood - In Japan the blood type has been linked to personality traits, with Type A being linked to people who are well organised, diligent, attentive, intense and perfectionists, among other things.
2-Music that has been used for several of Inoue's walk outs in the past, including both of his WBSS bouts, was "Departure" by Japanese composer Naoki Sato. He has used other walk out music, but this has been the most regular one for him, and can be heard in full at the end of this article
3-Inoue didn't originally like the nickname of "Monster", as he revealed in a 2015 interview. In the same interview he stated he has never been dropped or cut, as either a professional or amateur.
4-Inoue's first son was born on October 5th 2017
5-His debut was the first time that a Japanese teenager had debuted in an A class bout, over 8 rounds, and was the first fighter to do so since Takeyuki Akagi had done it in 1987. This makes him only the 7th Japanese fighter to debut in such a bout.
6-Whilst Inoue is strongly linked to Fuji TV his first 2 bouts were both shown on rival TV station TBS as part of their "Guts Fighting" broadcasts, and both were televised on delay.
7-Staying with TV, his third bout, against Yuki Sano, was his first on Fuji TV and was the first live, prime time broadcast of boxing on the channel in more than 20 years. Since then Fuji has become one of the most significant channels in Japanese boxing, and works with a number of notable Japanese fighters. Fuji have aired all of his bouts in Japan since this contest, with WOWOW airing his non-Japanese bouts live.
8-As an amateur at the 2011 Japanese Interschool Meet he beat Ryomei Tanaka in the 49KG final. Tanaka is the older brother of Kosei Tanaka.
9-Also when he was an amateur Inoue and Ryota Murata shared a room at a dormitory and Murata described Inoue as being like a younger brother. Despite the significant size difference the two did train together and Murata had spoken glowingly of Inoue's physical strength.
10-Inoue, along with Ryota Murata and Akira Yaegashi, all played small roles in a Japanese TV Drama based on Fighting Harada, and especially Harada's bouts with Eder Jofre.
Last week we saw Japanese female fighter Eri Matsuda (4-0, 1) make her first defense of the JBC female Atomweight title, stopping Mont Blank Miki. The performance was a long way short of a perfect outing from the unbeaten champion, but it was clear she was happy to show more to her boxing than the outside fighting that we had seen in her first few bouts, and she showed she can hang on the inside if she needs to. Given how she has been matched and moved so far it made her an ideal fighter to cover in our "Five for..." series, as we look at 5 fighters who could be next for Matsuda.
1-Mika Iwakawa (8-5-1, 3)
If you're part of Matsuda's team you surely have to believe the focus is on getting her a world title sooner rather than later, which will be a theme through this article. The easiest of the title holders, on paper, is WBO champion Mika Iwakawa. The champion won the WBO title in July 2018, when she narrowly defeated Nao Ikeyama, and hasn't fought since. Instead of being active the 36 year old has been picking up ring rust on the side line, and has only had 14 rounds since the start of 2017. Given her age, her inactivity and her style, which is aggressive but clumsy, she should be the perfect target for Matsuda to pick up her first world title. Don't get us wrong, Iwakawa is a good fighter, but from the champions in the division she's the weak link, and the one with most flaws for Matsuda to pick apart.
2-Saemi Hanagata (16-7-4, 7)
On paper the most interesting, and toughest, bout out there for Matsuda would be a bout with IBF Atomweight Saemi Hanagata. Hanagata, who defended her title last week, is a heavy handed fighter who has shown an ability to box, brawl, fight and move though her career. She's not a destructive fighter or the best pure boxer, but she does everything well, when she's on form. The biggest issue with Hanagata is her inconsistencies and whilst she is a nightmare when firing at 100% she can come up short against fighters she should beat, like she did in 2017 against Shione Ogata and in 2014 against Mida Oda. If Hanagata is on song she'd likely drag Matsuda into a fight and come out on top, but for Matsuda she'd certainly be interested in facing Hanagata, arguably the division's top fighter now, and planting her flag as the best out there.
3-Monserrat Alarcon (13-4-2)
Mexican fighter Monserrat Alarcon recently unified the WBA Atomweight throne, unifying her "regular" title with the interim title of Ayaka Miyao. Last week the talented Alarcon proved she was willing to travel, that she was world class and solid little fighter. She does however lack power, and despite being a good, aggressive counter-puncher she certainly doesn't look unbeatable. If you're part of Matsuda's team you'll have seen Alarcon in action, you'll have been able to scout her recently and been able to pick up flaws with the champion. You could even turn to Miyao as a sparring partner, getting her insight into Alarcon, her flaws and strengths. If you're Alarcon you likely see a bout with Matsuda as a chance to collect another solid Japanese pay day and take a win over their rising star, before Matsuda matures and builds her experience.
4-Ayaka Miyao (23-8-1, 6)
The one fighter on this list that makes sense for Matsuda to pursue a bout with is fellow Japanese fighter Ayaka Miyao. Miyao lost last week to Alcaron, but is still regarded very highly in the division as a former world champion and someone who has a style which could test Matsuda as a boxer. Miyao, even in her mid 30's, is a speedy fighter who uses her foot speed to control distance and her hand speed to land before opponents can respond. At the moment Miyao's career is struggling, with 3 losses in her last 6, but she would likely see a win here as a chance to remain in the title mix. This would be a high-risk bout for both but the winner would be well deserving of a shot at any of the champions.
5-Fabiana Bytyqi (14-0-1, 5)
The final of the champions in the division is the WBC queen Fabiana Bytyqi, from the Czech Republic. The unbeaten 23 year old is a real unknown, despite being the first world champion from the Czech republic. Bytyqi won the WBC title a year ago, almost to the day, by beating Britain's 47 year old Denise Castle, in what was Castle's second world title bout and first bout for more than 4 years, and since then she has defended the belt once, with a draw against Maria Soledad Vargas. She makes for an interesting match up for Matsuda, but on the other hand it will take a solid offer to get her to Japan for a bout, and that makes her the least likely of the world champions for Matsuda to face next.
Last weekend we saw the exciting Pedro Taduran (14-2, 11) claim the IBF Minimumweight title, with an excellent win over countryman Samuel Salva. The 22 year old Taduran looked like a really exciting fighter, who despite being flawed, really just broke down and beat up Salva for the title and the biggest win of his career.
Following Taduran's win we decided to begin our newest feature, "Five For...", where we we look at 5 potential opponents for a particular fighter, starting with Taduran.
1-Wanheng Menayothin (53-0, 18)
For these "Five For..." features we won't be focusing on unification fights, as great as they are, because they are so hard to secure, especially in the lower weights. Saying that however one unification makes a lot of sense for Taduran, that's a bout with WBC champion Wanheng Menayothin. The reason fight makes sense, more than a bout between Taduran and either Wilfredo Mendez or Knockout CP Freshmart, is that Taduran and Wanheng have some history. Two the men fought in August 2018, with Wanheng taking a close and competitive win over Taduran. The loss for Taduran was a bout filled with funny business, including Stephen Blea taking 2 points from Taduran without clear warnings, letting Wanheng get away with a lot of holding and generally being on the challenger's back. This potential unification would have a lot going for it, though obviously depends on Menayothin successfully defending his WBC title in his upcoming mandatory against Simpiwe Konkco in October.
2-Jing Xiang (17-4-2, 3)
Chinese fighter Jing Xiang has been really impressing us in recent years, and his style of being a pure boxer is the complete opposite of Taduran. Where as Taduran is an aggressive, straight ahead pressure fighter Xiang is a boxer-mover, he has some combinations in his arsenal, great timing and speed, but is very much a fighter who will try to avoid a tear and instead use his skills to be and win. At 108lbs he looked strong, despite not being a huge puncher, but at 105lbs there is probably more on his punches than his record suggests. His style should make for the perfect foil for Tadruan's pressure, but will also give Xiang openings of his own, to counter the wild mistakes of the Filipino.
3-Ginjiro Shigeoka (4-0, 3)
Japan's Ginjiro Shigeoka has been put on an incredible trajectory and is already on the fringes of the world rankings, after just 4 bouts and a year in the professional rankings. Shigeoka has already beaten the first man to beat Taduran, more about him later, and would likely love to get a world title fight sooner rather than later. According to rules from the JBC he wouldn't bee allowed to fight for a title next in Japan, but could leave the country for a shot at Taduran. Stylistically this would be an amazing fight, with both men being aggressive front foot, offensive machines. In a perfect world this would be something to get very excited about, though we do suspect Shigeoka will have to wait a few fights to get his shot at a world title.
4-Melvin Jerusalem (15-2, 9)
Ranked #7 by the IBF Melvin Jerusalem would, stylistically, make for an excellent match up with Taduran and is a highly ranked contender for his title. Both men have similar mentalities in the ring, both throw a lot of leather and whilst neither is a 1-punch KO artist both fighters they do get stoppages. Both men have also given really tough bouts to Wanheng and both would be facing off with some moment here. Taduran has obviously just won the biggest fight of his career whilst Jerusalem has won his last 4, including wins over good Filipino domestic fighters like Philip Luis Cuerdo and Toto Landero.
5-Joel Lino (10-3-1, 3)
Fellow Filipino Joel Lino was the first man to bear Taduran, taking a split decision over Taduran back in 2016. Than win saw for Lino move to 3-0 whilst Taduran fell to 6-1 (5). Since then Taduran has, of course, gone 8-1 (6) whilst Lino has gone 7-3 (3) but the desire to avenge his first loss must be there for Taduran and this bout should be a really good one, if they re-run it. The only real problem however is Lino's standing in the sport, and it's unlikely many would accept him as being next for Taduran given he's lost his last 3, including a loss to Ginjiro Shigeoka. If Lino can get a couple of wins under his belt however this fight will become something that would make sense.
Thinking Out East
With this site being pretty successful so far we've decided to open up about our own views and start what could be considered effectively an editorial style opinion column dubbed "Thinking Out East" (T.O.E).