This past week at Korakuen Hall fight fans saw former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (16-1-1, 16) fight to an unexpected draw with the unbeaten Seiya Tsutsumi. Whilst that bout hasn't yet been aired on TV, and won't be until mid-November, we can't help but think the result was a notable set back for Higa, in what was his second bout as a Bantamweight.
With that in mind it's clear Higa needs more time to get used to the power, strength and durability of Bantamweights and with that in mind we've gone with the idea that he is the perfect fight to look at in this week's Five For... article, as we look at 5 potential opponents we'd love to see Higa in with.
1-Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0-2, 4) II
The obvious one to start with, a rematch between Higa and Seiya Tsutsumi. From all accounts fans at the venue thought this was close, very exciting and a bout that was genuine fantastic. Given the nature of the bout, the eventual result, and the friendly-rivalry of the two men, who are friends and twice fought as amateurs, this makes total sense. And fingers crossed TBS don't feel the need to hold the broadcast on ice for 3 weeks. This would be a chance for both men to right the wrong of their draw, it would be a chance for both men to move their careers forward and it would be a chance for fans to enjoy a re-run of what was, supposedly, a really good fight!
2-Yuki Strong Kobayashi (16-8, 9)
The realisation that Higa isn't a world class Bantamweight, yet, needs to be accepted and with that in mind he shouldn't be thinking about fighting the top guys. Instead he should be looking at fringe contenders and regional champions. With that said a bout between Higa and WBO Asia Pacific Champion Yuki Strong Kobayashi would certainly not be something we'd complain too much about. Kobayashi is no world beater, but he's got a regional title, he has no bout booked, and he's on a few fights removed from going the distance, in a dramatic bout, with Keita Kurihara. A bout between Higa and Kurihara would probably be better, but Kurihara is booked for a bout next January, and Kobayashi is free so this would be the only open chance for Higa to take a regional title.
3-Nawaphon Por Chokchai (49-1-1, 39)
Looking outside of Japan there are several really attractive opponents in Asia. Potentially the most interesting of those is Thailand's Nawaphon Por Chokchai, who like Higa was first making waves as a Flyweight before moving up to Bantamweight. Nawaphon, like Higa, is typically an aggressive, exciting fighter to watch, with good work rate and power. Both men are, at the time of writing, ranked in the top 10 with the WBC, and neither man will be getting a world title fight this year. With that in mind we'd love to see the two fighters battle in what would, essentially, be a world title eliminator. We'd see this as a legitimate test for both men, and be sat on the edge of our seats knowing that both men throw shots with nasty intent. This would, almost certainly, be a thrilling war.
4-Aston Palicte (26-4-1, 22)
Higa isn't the only man who is looking to turn a their career around and another is 2-time world title challenger Aston Palicte. Whilst Palicte picked up a win last time out, beating Jonathan Francisco, he is 2-2-1 in his last 5, including a loss to Higa's new stablemate Kazuto Ioka in a WBO world title fight. Higa's relationship with Ioka makes this a really viable match up, and it would also give Higa a chance to face a bigger, taller man who isn't a natural Bantamweight, but does have Bantamweight like proportions. It's also worth noting that both men need a notable win, and facing off against each other would give both men a chance to get a win at that type of level.
5-Petch Sor Chitpattana (57-1, 42)
We're back over to Thailand for our final choice, with a bout between Higa and the tough, aggressive and fun to watch Petch Sor Chitpattana. As with Palicte Japanese fans will have seen Petch, who fought Takuma Inoue at the end of 2018, and he also has a world ranking, in fact he has 2. His style would make for an amazing fight with Higa, his toughness would force Higa to dig deep, the bout would be an easy sell, and action packed contest. It's fair to say that Higa would be the very clear favourite, but in reality Petch is no push over, and his will to win saw him asking real questions of Takuma Inoue. He hits hard enough, and often enough, to keep Higa honest, and would force Higa to work hard every round.
Whilst the draw with Tsutsumi was a set back for Higa his career isn't over, not even close, and there are a lot of interesting match ups out there for him. We've looked at just 5, but there is honestly a huge list of potential bouts out there for him, and with style and popularity fans will continue to follow him. If he's in thrillers, win or lose, we know fans will remain interested in Higa and we wouldn't advise anyone to write him off after the draw with Tsutsumi.
This coming weekend we'll see Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16) make his Las Vegas debut, as he looks to defend the WBA "Super" and IBF Bantamweight titles. In the opposite corner will be Australian challenger Jason Moloney (21-1, 18).
Before this bout we have heard a lot about Japanese fighters and their form internationally, so ahead of this weekend's bout we've decided to look at some recent events where we've seen Japanese fighters in Las Vegas.
The last win by a Japanese boxer in Las Vegas
November 30th 2019 - Andy Hiraoka TKO2 Rogelio Casarez
Just 11 months ago Inoue's stable mate Andy Hiraoka travelled over to the US and beat Rogelio Casarez in 2 rounds to make a successful US debut. This was Hiraoka's first bout under the Top Rank banner, and was the ideal way for him to make a statement and impress the likes of Bob Arum. Unfortunately he failed to build on this momentum and hasn't fought since though he does, at the time of writing, hold the distinction of being the last Japanese fighter to win in Sin City.
An interesting caveat to add here is that Hiraoka actually fights again this weekend. In fact he'll do so before Inoue, as he takes on Rickey Edwards, so there is a chance this fact will be incorrect by the time Inoue fights. If Hiraoka does beat Edwards he'll be one of the very, very few Japanese fighters to have scored multiple wins in Las Vegas!
The last world title fight involving a Japanese fighter in Las Vegas
October 20th 2018 - Rob Brant UD12 Ryota Murata I
Just over 2 years ago we saw a massive upset as unheralded American challenger upset the then WBA "regular" Middleweight champion Ryota Murata with a wide 12 round decision. The bout, a WBA mandatory, seemed like Murata over-looked Rob Brant and paid for it, losing pretty much every round. Thankfully for Murata the two men engaged in a rematch 9 months later with Murata beating Brant in 2 rounds to reclaim the title.
Interestingly this was Murata's third bout in Las Vegas, and he had won the previous 2. This was also the last time a Japanese fighter lost a world title bout in Japan
The last time a Japanese world champion was stopped in Las Vegas
November 21st 2015 - Francisco Vargas TKO9 Takashi Miura
We need to go back to 2015 to find the last time a Japanese world champion was stopped in a world title bout in Las Vegas, and that came in the sensational bout between Takashi Miura and Francisco Vargas. This amazing battle for the WBC Super Featherweight title was one of the best bouts of the year and saw both men being dropped, and dynamite being thrown by both men. If you've never seen this one, you really do your self a watch of it before the weekend!
The last successful world title defense a Japanese world champion in Las Vegas
July 12th 2014 - Tomoki Kameda KO 7 Pungluang Sor Singyu
The last successful world title defense by a Japanese world champion in Las Vegas came more than 6 years ago, when Tomoki Kameda successfully defended the WBO Bantamweight title against Pungluang Sor Singyu, stopping the Thai with a brutal body shot in round 7. Interestingly this was Kameda's Las Vegas debut, and is still his only bout there.
It's also worth noting that on October 1st 2011 Toshiaki Nishioka retained the WBC Super Bantamweight title with a unanimous decision win over Rafael Marquez. This was the first time a Japanese fighter had successfully defended a world title in Las Vegas. Interestingly this was Nishioka's third, and final, bout in Las Vegas and came almost 9 years after his Las Vegas debut. It's worth noting Nishioka's record in those 3 bouts was 3-0.
The last No Contest in a world title fight featuring a Japanese fighter in Las Vegas
December 9th 2017 - Kenichi Ogawa Vs Tevin Farmer
No Contests are always a bit of an oddity and a rarity but in December 2017 we did have one as Kenichi Ogawa and Tevin Farmer had their clash become a No Contest following a failed drug test for Ogawa. This bout had originally seen Ogawa win a controversial decision but that was over-turned due to the drug test, which found a steroid in his sample.
The last draw by a Japanese fighter in Las Vegas
October 21st 2017 - Shoki Sakai D8 Cameron Krael
Given how rare draws are we thought this was worth adding, despite the fact it wasn't a world title bout. The last draw for a Japanese fighter in Las Vegas came in October 2017 when Shoki Sakai fought to an 8 round draw with Cameron Krael as Sam's Town Hotel and Gambling Hall. Unlike most of the bouts here this was on a Mayweather Promotions show and came before the Japanese fight, Sakai, had even fought in Japan.
One interesting thing to note is that no Japanese fighter has ever won a world title in Las Vegas. Only 5 Japanese fighters have actually claimed world titles on US soil, with the most recent being Masayuki Ito and then, going backwards, Tadashi Mihara, Yatsusune Uehara, Kuniaki Shibata and Shozo Saijo.
Any other interesting trivia when it comes to Las Vegas?
This will be the first bout for some version of the WBA Bantamweight title to be held in Las Vegas in 20 years! The last time the title was defended there was Paulie Ayala's 12 round majority decision win over Johnny Bredahl in 2000. For the last WBA Bantamweight title change we need to go back to 1999 when Ayala won the title from Johnny Tapia.
For those wondering the WBA Bantamweight "Super" title has never been fought for in Las Vegas.
The last defense of the IBF Bantamweight title in Las Vegas came in 2012, when Leo Santa Cruz beat Eric Morel in 5 rounds. Incidentally the title actually changed hands a year earlier in Las Vegas, when Abner Mares dethroned Joseph Agbeko in a controversial clash in what is the last time the IBF Bantamweight title was won in the City. Rather interestingly the title has changed hands in 2 of the last 3 bouts where it has been fought for in Las Vegas.
One other interesting fact is that in December 1996 Yuichi Kasai came up short against the then WBA Super Bantamweight Antonio Cermeno. The two men would notable have a rematch the following year which ended with a brutal KO win for Cermeno. Rather interestingly Kasai was is a close friend of Koji Matsumoto, a trainer at the Ohashi Gym, the same Ohashi Gym that Inoue, and Andy Hiraoka, fight out of!
*Note this is not a comprehensive list of all bouts, and is very much focused on recent contests.
We've all heard of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, and we've decided to put our spin on things with "Six degrees of separation" looking to connect Asian fighters you may never have assumed were connected! Today we connect master of the dark arts Amnat Ruenroeng to Korean world title challenger Chang Kil Lee.
Just as ground rules, we're not doing the more basic "A beat B who beat C who beat D" type of thing, but instead we want to link fighters in different ways. As a result we will limit A fought B connections, and try to get more varied connections together, as you'll see here! We also know there are often shorter routes to connect fighters, but that's not always the most interesting way to connect them.
1-Thailand's Amnat Ruenroeng made his professional debut in 2012, at the age of 32. That was frankly ancient for a Flyweight, which makes his success in the sport, becoming the IBF Flyweight champion and scoring 5 defenses, a genuine over-achievement. The first fighter to make 5 defenses of the IBF Flyweight title was Northern Irish fighter Dave McAuley, who racked up 5 defenses in 1989 and 1990.
2-Although Dave McAuley had a short reign he did beat some fairly notable fighters whilst holding the IBF title, including South African great Jacob Matlala, Rodolfo Blanco, who dethroned him in a rematch, and Filipino Dodie Boy Penalosa.
3-It was on February 28th 1982 that Dodie Boy Penalosa made his professional debut, doing so on a card in Cebu City. On that very same day Deuk Koo Kim won the OPBF Lightweight title, taking a decision over Kwang Min Kim to win the title.
4-Although sadly more well known for his untimely death in 1982 Deuk Koo Kim was a solid fighter who managed to make 3 defenses of the OPBF title before facing Ray Mancini, in the bout that bout that would forever link the two men. Another fighter who defended the OPBF Lightweight title 3 times was Japan's Shinichi Kodata, who won the belt in 1970 and lost it in 1972.
5-Despite never winning a world title Shinichi Kadota was very highly regarded and did fight a relative who's who. He took on the likes of Rene Barrientos, Guts Ishimatsu, Rudy Barro, Chango Carmona, and, in his biggest bout, Antonio Cervantes, who retained the WBA Light Welterweight title with a win over Kadota in 1974.
6-Although there is some dispute over Antonio Cervantes' record no one would argue against him being one of, if not the, best Colombian fighters ever. "Kid Pembele" was a 2-time WBA Light Welterweight champion who managed two lengthy reigns as the champion. Not only did he beat Shinich Kadota in one of his numerous defenses but he also beat Korean challenger Chang Kil Lee, who had won both the Korean and OPBF titles at 140lbs but was stopped in 6 rounds by Cervantes, just 7 months before the Colombian great beat Kadota.
From 2003 to 2014 Filipino fight fans had a youngster to get really excited about. That was Rey "Boom Boom" Bautista (36-3, 25). The explosive Bautista never left fans disappointed with his effort and always got in the ring looking to have a fight. More often than not he was in exciting tear ups, and built a cult following, not just in the Philippines but globally, due to his aggressive and exciting mentality.
Sadly Bautista retired young, walking away from the sport at the age of 28. There was a feeling among those close to him that it was time to hang them up, that his style was going to get him hurt and he had gone as far as he was going to go. He was young, but didn't need to continue in the sport and take punishment. He listened to the senior voices around him and wisely walked away.
Despite walking away young, and never winning a world title, Bautista remains an interesting fighter and someone who fans from the time still remember fondly. He's still spoken about within Filipino fight circles, and is used as an example of what to avoid if you're a talented prospect.
Today we're bringing you 5 Midweek facts about Rey Bautista!
1-Bautista made his debut at the age of 16 and was Amazingly he was 20-0 (15) before his 20th birthday! A staggering record for someone so young. Not only had he been busy but he had also been getting placed on some big cards by this point. They included the under-card of Marco Antonio Barrera's first bout with Rocky Juarez, and a card that featured Manny Pacquiao against Hector Velazquez and Erik Morales against Zahir Raheem.
2-On august 11th 2007 Bautista got his only world title fight, when he took on the then WBO Super Bantamweight champion Daniel Ponce De Leon. The card featured 7 bouts in total, all with a Filipino involved. Sadly for Bautista he was the 1 in the 6-1 result for the Philippines, with all of his countrymen on the card winning their bouts, including a huge upset win for Michael Domingo against Mickey Roman.
3-Bautista's 2012 bout with Genaro Garcia Gutierrez was a case of mistaken identity! Bautista's team assumed they were getting multi-time world title challenger Genaro Garica, also known as "Poblanito", who had faced a who's who of the sport. Instead they ended up with a very similarly named fighter, who was known as "Panterita". Sadly the Genaro Garcia they got was terrible, unprofessional, failed to make weight and was stopped in 2 rounds. In fact he was stopped in all 18 of his career losses. There was even more doubt suggesting that it was an even worse fighter than "Panteria" Garcia, in what was a very messy situation for ALA and ABS-CBN, who televised the bout.
4-Bautista holds two TKO wins over Alejandro Barrera, the cousin of legendary Mexican Marco Antonio Barrera.
5-When Bautista retired from the sport he began training boxing at the Philippine Air Force but progressed quickly and later became the boxing coach of the Philippine Military Academy. In the army he has impressed and he was reportedly close to being made a corporal last time the Filipino reported on him, which was more than a year ago!
One former fighter we expect fans to know a little bit about, even if it's not really a lot, is Hideyuki Ohashi. The former 2-time world champion is currently making a name for himself as one of Japan's top promoters, and most well respected people involved in boxing. Although not a huge outside of Japan he can often be seen with his fighters, including the likes of Naoya Inoue and Andy Hiraoka, who have both fought in the US, and is widely regarded as one of the most influential people in Japanese boxing right now.
Although we think everyone who follows Asian boxing has likely seen Ohashi's face in recent years we don't imagine many know too many things about him. With that in mind, here are 10 facts you probably didn't know about...Hideyuki Ohashi!
1-As an amateur Ohashi ran up an excellent 42-3 (27) record before making his professional debut in 1985
2-Ohashi was dubbed the "Phoenix", a name he continues to use in his promotional events which was dubbed Phoenix Battle, and was also described as being the "150-Nen ni 1-ri no tensai,", essentially the genius that comes around once 150 years.
3-Hideyuki's older brother Katsuyuki Ohashi also had a professional career. His career ran from 1978 to 1983 and saw him run up a 12-11 (1) record. On paper's that's bad, though it is worth noting that 3 of his losses came to men who, at some point, held world titles. They were Khaosai Galaxy, Chan Hee Park and Bobby Berna.
4-In recent years Mr Ohashi revealed that he had originally planned to turned professional with the Hanagata gym, but was advised by Mr Hanagata to instead sign professional papers with the Yonekura Gym. The decision turned out to be a wise one, and he would become the gym's 5th world champion in 1990, when he won the WBC Minimumweight title.
5-As a professional Ohashi's record of 19-5 (12) doesn't look spectacular but there are a bunch of things to note about his record. All 5 losses came to fighters who were either reigning world champions, or future world champions. They included 3 losses to hall of fame fighters, Jung Koo Chang, twice, and Ricardo Lopez. When he suffered his losses his opponents were a combined 126-5-2!
6-Ohashi announced his retirement on February 7th 1994, exactly 4 years after winning his first world title. He had been out of the ring for almost a year by that point. His announcement of retirement also came with the announcement that he would be opening a gym, what is now the very successful Ohashi gym.
7-Ohashi is one of a very small number of former Japanese world champions to have gone on to promoter world champions himself, becoming part of a list that also includes Susumu Hanagata and Yoko Gushiken. Like Hanagata and Gushiken he has actually created male and female world champions. Notably he has had more champions than either Hanagata and Gushiken.
8-Not only has Ohashi lead his fighters to world titles but in fact both he has lead fighters to winning some of the same titles he himself held! Both Ohashi and Akira Yaegashi won the WBA Minimumweight title, with Yaegashi winning it 19 years and 10 days after Ohashi won it, but Ohashi also lead Naoya Inoue to winning the Japanese Light Flyweight title. Ohashi held that belt twice in the 1980's and Inoue won it in 2013.
9-Talking about Ohashi leading things, he lead Team Japan against Mexico in Boxing Grand Prix 2007, which was an event held in January 2007 pitting Japanese and Mexican fighters at the Ariake Colosseum. Despite a loss in the main event, for the Ohashi managed Katsushige Kawashima, Team Japan would win by a score of 4.5 Vs 2.5.
10-Ohashi is a licensed real estate agent, and his Phoenix Promotion is involved in real estate.
Extra Fact 1 - Ohashi dropped out of Senshu University, the same University that Shinsuke Yamanaka would later graduate from. Interestingly Yamanaka was the first graduate from the university to win a world title.
Extra Fact 2 - Ohashi went to the same High School as a number of people involved in boxing. These include Koji Matsumoto, who is now a trainer at the Ohashi Gym, Yuichi Kasai, who went on to become a trainer at the Teiken Gym, former world title challenger Naotaka Hozumi. They also include Ohashi Gym fighters Seiichi Okada, Ryo Matsumoto and Andy Hiraoka. For our wrestling fan readers the school also had eternal bad ass Minoru Suzuki attend, who was several years younger than Ohashi.
Extra Fact 3 - As an amateur Ohashi trained at the same gym that had lead Susumu Hanagata to become a world champion, hence why Ohashi had originally intended to turn professional with the Hanagata gym.
Extra Fact 4 - This article went live on the 30th anniversary of Ohashi's loss to the legendary Ricardo Lopez!
Typically the opening round of a fight sees two men feeling their way into a contest, getting a read on their opponent and getting things like their timing and range down. Sometimes however we end up with an opening round which is little more than a flat out war, a tear up and the type of round that leaves both men taking a lot of punishment. Today, in Remarkable Rounds, we look at one of the most exciting opening rounds to take place in a Japanese ring, with two men desperate to win, and two men both willing to lay it all on the line.
Takanori Hatakeyama (23-1-2, 18) vs Hiroyuki Sakamoto (35-4, 25)
In the summer of 2000 Takanori Hatakeyama returned to the ring after almost a year away and stopped Gilberto Serrano to claim the WBA Lightweight title. That win saw him become a 2-weight champion and build on his reputation as one of the most exciting and fun to watch Japanese fighters on the planet. He had, in 1999, lost to Lakva Sim and seemed to suggest that was him done with the sport, but then his hunger came back and h showed, against Serrano, that he still had it.
After his win over Serrano we saw Hatakeyama announce that the man he wanted to face was former world title challenger, and fellow Japanese fighter, Hiroyuki Sakamoto.
Sakamoto was regarded as a quiet fighter out of the ring, but the type of fighter who let his fists do the talking in the ring. He had had an horrific upbringing, which had included being abused by family and later put into a foster home, which had lead to a big fan following in Japan, and with his heavy hands and exciting style he made for great fights. He had come up short against Serrano, in a thriller, and sadly for him his career had been full of bad luck, including the injuries that cost him against Serrano.
The two men both knew how to put on a show, and between them they had been in numerous thrilling wars. This ended up being another war, with a truly sensational opening round.
As soon as the fight started Hatakeyama was half way across the ring, which seemed to fight up Sakamoto who unloaded bombs at mid range. From there on the round became a war, with both men landing monstrous hooks at mid-range, and trying to take the fight on the inside, where Sakamoto's uppercuts landed clean. Just over a minute into the round Sakamoto's left eye was a bloodied mess, but that hardly mattered to him as he continued coming forward, backing Hatakeyama on to the ropes.
After a great barrage from the challenger Hatakeyama came back, unleashing shots with both hands onto Sakamoto, who tried to respond with uppercuts in a round that simply flew by.
Although there was no knockdowns, and both men complained about head clashes, this was still a brutal, brutal way to begin a world title fight. The risks and punishment both men took in the opening round was a sign of what they would put each other through in one of the most under-rated fights of 2000. This was brutal and started in the best way imaginable, with both men landing bombs!
One of the things about upsets is that they can sometimes upset the commentary teams, and studio scores, who seem confounded at the way they have scored the bout. Today we look at one such bout, which saw the TV judges score the bout very much one way, whilst the judges themselves failed to agree with the commentators. In fact the judges had it shut out the other way!
August 11th 2007
Arco Arena, Sacramento, California, USA
Michael Domingo (30-16-3, 14) Vs Miguel Roman (22-0, 16)
Filipino fighter Michael Domingo had fought 39 times before making his US debut in 2007, at the age of 27. By this point Domingo was a tried and tested regional level journeyman who was known to be able to pick up wins, but had lost 16 of his previous 39 bouts and had been beaten in 2 of his previous 3 bouts. Outside of his native Philippines he had only ever picked up wins in South Korea and Indonesia, failing to win a single bout in Japan and Thailand, where he had frequently visited.
In the opposite corner to the Filipino veteran was unbeaten Mexican fighter Miguel Roman, a 21 year old prospect who was looking to score his 4th win of 2007 and his 23rd successive win. Although he was a talented Mexican he had started to make a name for himself in the US, where he had already picked up 4 wins. In the eyes of many he looked like he was going to be a future world champion and that Domingo, who had already been stopped 7 times, was just going to be the next speed bump on Roman's road to the top.
What was supposed to be another quick win for Roman ended up not going the way he had expected.
From the opening round Roman came forward whilst Domingo used his experience to block much of Roman's shots whilst looking to box behind his jab. The aggression was from Roman, but it was, for the most part, ineffective with Domingo regularly returning fire when Roman did have success. Despite the nature of the round the commentators we have here gave the round to Roman, favouring his aggression.
Round 2 saw the tempo of the bout pick up, with both men going to war more frequently. Roman was again the more aggressive man in their but was often countered, forced to chase, and had to cope with the smart work of Domingo, who create space, caught Roman coming in and then repeated things. Roman certainly seemed to be landing the harder single shots, but seemed to be struggling to land with consistency. It was a lot of effort with little success for the talented Mexican.
Roman began to change things in round 3, using his jab more early on and tried to box more. It was a bad idea and became an easier round for Domingo, who was the much more talented boxer. Although Roman boxed more he did, still, come forward at times, though he was looking frustrated and like he was getting annoyed by the Filipino who kept fighting back, unlike many of Roman's opponents. Although Roman had boxed early in the round both men went to the bell unloading in a great back and forth sequence to close out the round.
The TV analyst scoring the bout for Mexican TV had Roman leading 29-28 at the end of round 3, giving Domingo round 3 alone. The seemed to be scoring to the more aggressive man, despite the lack of substance at times. Roman certainly wasn't getting battered, but he was being made to look clumsy at times, and was struggling to land clean with consistency. That proved to be the case again in round 4, with Roman coming forward, and eating shots on the way in, regularly hitting air, and really struggling to make his pressure count. He landed some great shots, but they were few and far between with the youngster again struggling to make an impact on a man he was expected to stream roll.
In round 5 Roman's footwork was slowing, he was essentially walking forward. Although he was active up close he was still struggling to land clean and effective shots. What he landed looked powerful, but there was no consistency and his combinations were rarely landing with success, often only a single punch or two from any string of shots. Domingo was also starting to falter at times, but was much more consistent, making Roman miss and letting his own shots go, knocking out Roman's gumshield late on.
Going into the final round the commentators had Roman in a clear lead, as we ended up getting the round of the fight. The pace picked up again as both men let their hands go. It seemed a better round, at least at times, for Roman who managed to get Domingo to fight his fight, but Domingo still managed to create space, essentially old man Roman, and kill the momentum that Roman was building before the Mexican could come close to hurting him. Of all the rounds this seemed to be the one that Roman put his foot on the gas for, as if he realised he was in need of a big push to get over the line.
With commentary for Mexican TV scoring the bout clearly in favour scoring the bout 59-55 for Roman one would assume it was an easy win for Roman but the judges went the opposite way, scoring it a shut out for Domingo. A decision that drew a "WOW" from the Mexican commentary team.
Interestingly the entire show, despite being in the US, was a Philippines Vs Mexico card, with this bout having 3 American judges. The only Filipino on the show to lose was Rey Bautista, who was blown out in a round by Daniel Ponce De Leon.
Sadly for Domingo this win wasn't turned into a world title fight, and instead he went 11-2 before retiring after a 2012 win over Mudde Robinson Ntambi. As for Roman he's still active and became one of the sports must watch fighters, despite losing a dozen subsequent bouts after this one. Roman has gone on to face a genuine who's who with bouts against Jorge Solis, Miguel Beltran Jr, Jonathan Victor Barros, Javier Fortuna, Antonio DeMarco, Juan Carlos Salgado, Daniel Ponce De Leon, Takashi Miura, Orlando Salido, Miguel Berchelt and Tomas Rojas. For hardcore fans of the sport Roman has become a must watch fighter, with his toughness and will to win.
Sadly despite a huge win here Domingo is a bit of a forgotten name, but this is, without a doubt, his career defining result.
This past Sunday hard hitting Japanese Flyweight champion Seigo Yuri Akui (15-2-1, 10) recorded his first defense of the national title as he defeated mandatory challenger Seiya Fujikita via decision. With that win under his belt the the challenger now for Akui and his team will be to move him from Japanese domestic level to world level.
With that in mind we're going to make Akui the focus of this week's "Five For..." article, where we look at 5 potential match ups for the fighter in question.
1-Sho Kimura (19-3-2, 12)
Arguably the most interesting bout Akui could have on the Japanese domestic scene would see him defending his title against former WBO world champion Sho Kimura, in what would be a brilliant Japanese national title fight. Akui has looked impressive, we know he's a fast starter, a big puncher, and someone who can box. By that same token we know Kimura is the opposite in many ways. Kimura is a slow starter, who gets better the longer bouts go and is very much a pressure fighter. This would have the potential for fireworks early on, and would see Akui getting a chance at a very relevant fighter. It would also give Kimura a chance to claim a big domestic win. This would be high risk for both men, but from a fans point of view, what a fight!
2-Ryota Yamauchi (7-1, 6)
On the subject of great domestic bouts a contest pitting Akui against Ryota Yamauchi would be another sensational bout on the Japanese scene. This wouldn't just be for Akui's Japanese title but also Yamauchi's WBO Asia Pacific title, making it a unification bout between two men in their mid-20's both looking to mount a serious challenge for a world title in 2021. It's worth noting that, at the moment, Yamauchi's world title options are limited due to Japanese rules, but getting the Japanese title would open up more options, whilst Akui would be looking at the world rankings that Yamauchi holds. Maybe this bout doesn't have the well established name and international profile that a Kimura bout would, but it would still be a special fight and a very hotly contest one, with two men eager to prove themselves.
3-Kento Hatanaka (11-0, 9)
Our final all-Japanese bout for Akui would see him in with Kento Hatanaka, and this may actually end up being what we see in 2021. Whilst Akui's last bout was a mandatory defense he will have another one of those next year and as we write this Kento Hatanaka is the #2 ranked contender, with the rankings not yet being updated following Akui's with Fujikita! For us Hatanaka is probably not quite ready for a Japanese title fight, but he's certainly not far off, and a bout before the end of the year, just to season him a bit more, then a shot at Akui in 2021 does make a lot of sense. Stylistically this would be sensational. Both men are solid punches, both can box, both can bang and both can brawl. Of the two we would favour the more proven and more explosive Akui, but Hatanaka is not a push over, and the 22 year old is probably the more technically sound of the two. If this one gets made next year, we are set for a genuine treat as fight fans
4-Jayr Raquinel (12-1-1, 9)
Earlier we mentioned a potential bout that would have seen Akui unify the Japanese title with the WBO Asia Pacific title. Another possible title that Akui could be interested in would be the OPBF title, which is currently held by Filipino puncher Jayr Raquinel. We've Raquinel fight in Japan a few times, he's been willing to be the away fighter and is very much a confident young man with heavy hands. A bout between Akui and Raquinel would be an explosive encounter, it would give Raquinel a chance to collect another decent Japanese payday, and move his career forward, and it would give Akui a great chance to move towards a world title bout. Although not a massive fight on the global scene, and not one likely to get any attention in the West, this would have the makings of a true hidden gem of a fight, for as long as it lasts!
5 -Jaysever Abcede (20-9, 12) II
Akui has suffered 2 losses. One of those was to Junto Nakatani, back in 2017, who is now lining up a world title fight, and the other came in 2018 to under-rated Filipino Jaysever Abcede. Whilst we don't imagine we'll see Nakatani Vs Akui II any time soon, especially given where Nakatani's career is heading, we wouldn't be disappointed at all in seeing Akui get a second bout with Abcede, in fact this would make a lot of sense. Not only would it allow Akui a chance to avenge his loss, which was from injury in the final minute of an 8 rounder, but would also give him a real test, regardless of whether he wins, against a very rugged, under-rated guy who's very ccapable of pushing decent fighters. Abcede may not have a regional title but he does have a WBC world ranking, and he would likely feel confident he'd have the tools to do the double over Akui. If the other 4 men can't be got by Akui's team, then Abcede would certainly be a very, very solid choice!
Last weekend fight fans had the chance to see Japanese Flyweight champion Seigo Yuri Akui (15-2-1, 10) make his first defense of his national title. The heavy handed Akui over-came mandatory challenger Seiya Fujikita (13-5, 6) with a 10 round decision to keep a hold of his belt and move one step closer to a world title fight, but did face a spirited effort from Fujikita, who was certainly not there to just make up the numbers.
With the bout now in the books, and with the sport moving on we though we'd take a look back on the bout and share our take aways before the week cam to a close.
1-The canvas was strange
In the west we typically see a blue ring canvas with sponsorships all over it. It's almost the only way we see rings in the US and the UK. Outside of those two regions however there are various ring canvases used, some are awful, such as a white canvas used a few weeks ago by Shinsei, and others are great, such as the old red and white canvases we used to see in, we believe, Panama. The one used for this show was just weird. It was like it had a blue border, with a white center square, broken into 5 stripes. Very strange and very unique.
2-Fujikita had a really good gameplan
Although he came up short no one can question Fujikita's gameplan. It was all about getting inside, taking away Akui's ability to get full extension on his shots, swarming him like a rabid terrier and breaking him down mentally. Against a puncher most fighters don't want to take risks and get inside, knowing they might get caught on the way in. Fujikita however kept close through long stretches of the bout, and worked the body well. He wasn't good enough to get the win, but the gameplan was a really good one, he just lacked the tools needed to make it count.
3-Akui is developing as a boxer
Akui's strength and power has always been his two big calling cards. He has shown some ability to box, but the reality is that he's been more about his power, early on, and less about his ability to box. We saw something different here however. He has success up close, but also did really well at creating some space to use his jab. His boxing is basic, there's no bells and whistles there, but it is a developing asset of his, and will certainly be a valuable tool when he steps up a level. It is, however, clear that there are still improvements to be made here and this should be regarded as a good test and learning experience rather than a sign he's ready for world level.
4-This was a great fight
Genuinely if you have Boxing Raise and haven't yet seen this bout you really need to go and check it out, it's one of the best in recent weeks. It was, for the most part, a well fought, inside bout with Fujikita giving his all and Akui just being that much better. Akui picked his moments well, picked his shots really well, tucked up when he needed to, and controlled stretches of the bout against a very tough and determined challenger. Fujikita was the under-dog, he travelled for the fight, few gave him a chance, but he backed himself and he really played his part in a fantastic contest.
5-Nobuto Ikehara deserves more chances
It's become a bit of a regular thing in this series, but once again we're being positive about a referee, in this case Nobuto Ikehara. The referee caught the attention more than some Japanese referees, but he did a really good job here. He told both men to watch their heads early on, and then involved himself as little as possible in what was a real inside battle. He did a great job, and we're genuinely surprised to see how little refereeing he does in Japan. We accept boxrec is incomplete, esppecially when it comes to officials, but it appears this was one of his first shows in 2020. A real shame as he did a great job. More Ikehara in the ring please JBC!
When we talk about some of the most eye catching KO's in recent years many of them have involved a Filipino. Whether it was the Filipino fighter scoring them, or receiving them it's hard to ignore how many great KO's have come when a bout has featured a Filipino. Today we take a look at one of the best finishes of 2007 and it was a finish that helped put one rising Filipino fighter on the global boxing map.
Nonito Donaire (17-1, 10) Vs Vic Darchinyan (28-0, 22) I
In one corner was 24 year Nonito Donaire, at the time he was rather unknown and was lacking not just a world title but a win of any note. In the other corner was hard punching IBF Flyweight champion Vic Darchinyan.
At the time Donaire really was an unknown, unless you followed the amateur boxing scene as Donaire was a very solid amateur. He had fought 18 times a professional but hadn't done anything to make a name for himself. His biggest wins weren't big and at this point his brother, Glenn Donaire, was a more well known fighter. Whilst his brother was more well known Nonito was the better boxer, the more rounded fighter and the more intelligent boxer, rather than the hard nosed, aggressive fighter that his older brother was.
Darchinyan on the other hand had won the IBF Flyweight title, made numerous defenses and had defeated Donaire's older brother. At this point in time he was starting to creep into the random pound of pound lists and was feared as one of the sports most destructive little men. He had been talking about unification bouts at Flyweight and the hope was for him to get past Donaire and move into bigger bouts. Bouts that could attract a more notable slot on the card and get more eyes on his contests.
Although not a polished fighter Darchinyan was exciting, hard hitting, willing to take one to land one, loud, brash and and grabbing a lot of attention. Going in this was seen as his next step towards something big.
From the off Donaire was surprising everyone, taking the fight to Darchinyan and showing no fear at all of the champion. Darchinyan had moments, but looked like he was regularly coming off second best against the younger, faster, fresher fighter. Through the first 4 rounds Donaire was doing more than enough to establish himself, and had done more than most had expected.
Despite Donaire looking in control the finish however a bit out of nowhere. Darchinyan rushed Donaire, looking to land a left hand. Donaire countered however, with a brutal and incredibly quick fire left hook. Donaire's shot landed clean, and sent Darchinyan crashing to the canvas.
To his credit Darchinyan got up, but had no idea where he was as the referee waved the bout off, with Darchinyan falling into the ropes.
The bout was regarded by many as the Upset of the Year and the finish was seen as the KO of the Year. It was brilliant, unexpected and helped make Donaire a star.
The shot put Donaire on the map, saw him win the IBF Flyweight title and begin his surge through the sport. Surprisingly it didn't finish off Darchinyan's career, with the Australian based Armenian bouncing back to unify titles at Super Flyweight and being a contender at Bantamweight in the years that followed.
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).