Shocks in boxing can be strange things when we look back on them. Today we look at a bout that, at the time, was a monstrous upset but now, more than a decade on, the newer fans to the sport may not even realise this bout was an upset. In fact many new fans will look back on this and think it little more than a coming out performance, when the reality is that it was a massive upset that helped put a previously rather unknown fighter on the map. Big time. This bout, from 2007, was a huge upset, but on reflection that can be easily forgotten.
July 7th 2007
Harbour Yard Arena, Bridgeport, Connecticut, USA
Nonito Donaire (17-1, 10) Vs Vic Darchinyan (28-0, 22)
In one corner was the "Raging Bull" Vic Darchinyan, an unbeaten Australian based Armenian fighter who had been ripping up the Flyweight division. The Darchinyan wasn't just 28-0 but had been destroying his competition. He had claimed the IBF title in 2004, when he stopped the then 30-0 Irene Pacheco and had made 6 defenses of the title. From those 6 defenses 5 were by stoppage with the one decision being a technical decision over Donaire's brother Glenn Donaire. The 31 year old was aggressive, strong, tough and in great form with some even ranking him in the pound for pound rankings.
Not only was Darchinyan destructive but he was lout, brash, arrogant and getting the Flyweight division a lot of attention outside of the usual markets for the little men, Asia and Latin America.
Whilst Darchinyan was seen as a star of the lower weights not too much was known about the 24 year old Nonito Donaire. He had mostly been fighting as a Super Flyweight but dropped the extra 3lbs to face off with Darchinyan and had lost once, early in his career. Although Donaire was a Filipino he had fought most of his career in the US, but had done so against some relatively weak opposition. In his first 18 bouts the most noteworthy opponent he had faced was probably Ilido Julio, a one time fringe contender, or Kaichon Sor Vorapin, who had fought for a world title in 2005. Neither of whom were particularly notable.
Donaire was seen as the next victim for Darchinyan. The next man for him to chew up and spit out as he continued to steamroll his way into the bigger money fights. Despite that being the view going in no one had managed to convince Donaire that he was there to lose.
From the opening round it was clear Donaire was full of confidence, starting fairly fast and letting his shots go early. It was an unexpected tactic from Donaire, but one that seemed to make a statement of intent. Darchinyan might be the man with the reputation as the danger man but Donaire was going to try to bully the bully. Dachinyan had moments in the first round, but it was a much better round for Donaire than the unbeaten champion.
Despite the good opening round from Donaire we saw Darchinyan start to work his way into the bout. Donaire continued to punish Darchinyan in the second round, though it was a competitive bout as Darchinyan started to find something of a groove. Round 3 however was a very comfortable one from Donaire who was landing big counters when Darchinyan rushed in and controlled the tempo at range without taking the risks he had in the early rounds. The most notable thing about round 3 however was that we saw Darchinyan rocked, hard, by a left hook.
Sporting a cut from round 3 Darchinyan was in a hole as we entered round 4, and unfortunately for the champion he was being timed and countered over and over. Worryingly for Darchinyan his much relied upon left hand was landing but having no effect at all on Donaire, who was taking things with no issue at all.
Darchinyan continued to struggle in round 5, being picked off by some very solid shots. Despite them landing clean Darchinyan was taking them well. And then he didn't.
Midway through round 5 Darchinyan rushed in and was caught by an absolute beauty of a left hook. He hit the canvas hard but managed to get back to his feet just as the referee counted 7, stumbling head first into the ropes as he did so. Moments later Darchinyan was flat back on his back. Although he had got to his feet he hadn't been able to remain on them. Soon afterwards he had his team around him whilst Donaire and his team celebrated.
Amazing since this bout both men have done great things. Donaire is still a relevant fighter today, reaching the WBSS Bantamweight more than 12 years after this win. By the time he had that WBSS final had won world titles up to Featherweight and almost certainly booked a place in the Hall of Fame.
As for Darchinyan he went on to unify the 3 major titles at Super Flyweight, and was a notable contender at Bantamweight. His last fight came in 2017, when he was 41 and although perhaps not a popular choice, he certainly deserves to find his name on the ballot, in the future, for the Hall of Fame.
Over the last few days we've worked our way through the top 10 rankings for the Asian scene at Minimumweight through to Super Flyweight and today we add the Bantamweight rankings, and this is one of the divisions with incredible depth. We feel the #1 is a consensus pick, #2 and #3 are interchangeable and then the other 7 are a mix of really talented fighters in one of the most packed top 10's that we'll be covering. There could be some debate about the placements, but in reality there's not a lot separating some of these guys. However, that's not a bad thing, and it helps show the competitive nature of the division right now.
1-Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16)
The current WBA "Super" and IBF unified champion champion is arguably the face of Asian boxing right now, Naoya Inoue. The heavy handed 27 year old from Kanagawa is already a 3 weight world champion and within just 19 fights is one of the sports genuine stars. After winning world titles at Light Flyweight and Super Flyweight Inoue moved to Bantamweight and decimated Jamie McDonnell, Juan Carlos Payano and Emmanuel Rodriguez, before working hard to defeat Nonito Donaire in the WBSS Finale last November. The bout against Donaire saw Inoue needing to prove his toughness, chin and will to win and proving them in the way he did really boosted his standing in our eyes, and he answered some real questions. Having now shown he can fight through adversity we know Inoue is much, much more than just an offensive "Monster".
2-Nonito Donaire (40-6, 26)
Having given Inoue such a tough bout in the WBSS final it's fair to suggest that Nonito Donaire is #2, or at worst #3, in division in regards to Asian fighters. The 37 year old Filipino veteran is a physical monster at the weight, with huge size advantages over almost everyone else at 118lbs. He's not just big but he's also strong, very powerful, incredibly tough and a nightmare to fight. He's not as quick as he once was, though as he's lost speed he has adapted and certainly throws fewer wild shots than he once did. There is a case of father time being on his back, but the "Filipino Flash", is experienced, skilled, strong, and has become a more intelligent fighter as the years have gone on. We don't imagine he'll have a Bernard Hopkins-esque career, but he did show there is more than just a bit of life left in his career.
3-John Riel Casimero (29-4, 20)
We mentioned that Donaire was either #2 or #3, the man he is potentially interchangeable with is WBO champion John Riel Casimero. Casimero is a 3-weight world champion, and is someone who has long been over-looked by fans of the sport. He's won titles at at 108lbs, 112lbs and now Bantameight. Blessed with confidence, speed and power Casimero is nightmare to face when he's on song. He is however rather unpredictable and he can look both amazing and terrible in the same fight. He won the WBO title last year, stopping Zolani Tete, and seems to be enjoying a good run of form, though that could change at any moment. Originally the plan had been for Casimero to face off with Inoue in April though that bout was cancelled by on going global situation. Now it appears the two men could end up going in different directions with Casimero now looking likely to face Joshua Greer Jr, in a mandatory title defense instead.
4-Keita Kurihara (15-5, 13)
After the top 3 we end up with 4 or 5 guys who are very tricky to split, and matching any of them would give some compelling bouts. Among those "chasing group" is OPBF champion Keita Kurihara, a hard hitting 27 year from Japan. On paper Kurihara shouldn't be here, with 5 losses from his 20 bouts, however those losses don't tell the full story of where Kurihara is now. In fact 4 of his losses came in his first 7 bouts and he has only been beaten once in his last 13, with that coming to Hiroaki Teshigawara. In that time he has beaten Ryan Lumacad, Yuki Strong Kobayashi, Warlito Parrenas and Sukkasem Kietyongyuth. He's not the most talented of the ones in this area of the rankings, through he is very much among the most dangerous.
5-Reymart Gaballo (23-0, 20)
The most overlooked man in the division, by some margin, is 23 year old Filipino Reymart Gaballo. Gaballo is a joy to watch, but also a freakishly good fighter with some absolutely terrifying traits. He's lightning quick, tall and rangy, with frightening power, very confident and despite look a bit raw around the edges appears to take a good shot, and throw and even better one. His best win to date is probably over Stephon Young, more than 2 years ago, and since then has been supposedly decent opponents. We're really looking forward to seeing the leash being off Gaballo and allowing him to back up our high ranking of him as he looks like the sort of fighter who really could stamp his authority on the division.
6-Takuma Inoue (13-1, 3)
Naoya Inoue's little brother, Takuma Inoue, is pretty much the opposite of Keita Kurihara. Whilst Kurihara is all about power Inoue at the cost of skills Takuma Inoue is very much about skills and movement, at the expense of his power. He's a smart boxer-mover, with under-defense, very good movement and sharp punches, but a lack of punching power a strange lack of physical strength, despite visibly looking strong. His 2019 loss to Nordine Oubaali saw him being bullied for much of the fight, though his will to win shined through late on and he pushed Oubaali hard late on, answer questions about his heart and his stamina. We do wonder whether he could drop back down to Super Flyweight, where he fought earlier in his career. If he could he would a great addition there, but instead might find his success being a bit limited at Bantamweight. Saying that however he's only 24 and is still a boxing baby, despite being a pro since 2013. He might not be the generational talent that his older brother is, but don't write him off at after just a single loss.
7-Nawaphon Por Chokchai (48-1-1, 38)
Former Flyweight world title challenger Nawaphon Por Chokchai, also known by various other names, has reeled off 12 wins since being stopped by Juan Hernandez back in 2017. Whilst his competition hasn't been the best he has scored notable victories over Amnat Ruenrroeng, Richard Claveras, Sonny Boy Jaro and Ryan Lumacad since his sole defeat, putting him back among the contenders looking for a shot. His record is padded, but watching him, you know he can step it up and would be a nightmare for many of the divisional elite. Some how he's only 28 at the moment, and right bang in his prime, despite already having 50 bouts to his name. Another fighter we can't right off for just having a loss against his name.
8-Michael Dasmarinas (30-2-1, 20)
There's an argument that 27 year Filipino Michael Dasmarinas should be much higher up this list, and we do appreciate those arguments. Wins over Karim Guerfi and Kenny Demecillo are very good wins. Sadly however we can't the gift he got against Manyo Plange out of our head, and his win over Demecillo was certainly not the clear cut win that many would have expected for a supposed top divisional talent. He's skilled and talented, but we do wonder if he has maybe hit an early peak and is now, perhaps, heading the wrong way. He's been a sparring partner for both of the Inoue brothers, and is technically a mandatory for the IBF title, but we do wonder whether he'd last long with the Monster if, or when, they fight.
9-Yusuke Suzuki (11-3, 7)
Japanese national champion Yusuke Suzuki is another fighter with a record looks out of place in this top 10, but he certainly belongs here. He would also be an absolute nightmare for many in the rankings. The 31 year old southpaw is a solid puncher, teak tough, with an insane work rate and excellent will to win. He can be out boxed, and he cant be out manoeuvred, but but he's a dark horse in the division and certainly deserves a mention. Last time out he over-came some awful facial swelling to out point Yuta Saito. To date he has only lost once at the weight, and that was a split decision in the Philippines to the touted Jeffrey Francisco. Since then he has reeled off 5 wins and come back from a nasty injury. He's not in the mix for the higher positions but is pretty much interchangeable with the man ranked #9.
10-Yuki Strong Kobayashi (16-8, 9)
Another fight who's record doesn't scream "top 10" is Yuki Strong Kobayashi, who is in the list due to his recent results. In the last 60 months he had gone 6-1 (3) with his only loss being a close one to Keita Kurihara. In that same time he has beaten Satoshi Ozawa, Vicent Astrolabio and Ben Mananquil. The win over Mananquil saw him net the WBO Asia Pacific title and score a recent big surprise last year over the talented Filipino. Kobayashi has improved from the fighter he once was, and when he was 10-7 (5) his career very much seemed like it was going nowhere but the 28 year old is now an experienced regional champion and with Muto gym well and truly behind him his future is bright. He's not near the top of this list, but certainly belongs on it. A rematch between him and Kurihara would be good, as would a bout with Suzuki.
On the Bubble:
Ben Mananquil, Kenny Demecillo, Renz Rosia, Yelshat Nikhemttolla, Petch Sor Chitpatttana, and Carl Jammes Martin
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 Kazakhstan's first world champion Vasily Jirov....and Filipino great Manny Pacquiao.
1-As the IBF Cruiserweight champion Vasily Jirov was the first Kazakh to win a world title, but he isn't the only world champion from Kazakhstan, another is Middleweight great Gennady Golovkin.
2-On April 25th 2009 Gennady Golovkin recorded his 16th professional win, stopping Anthony Greenidge in 5 rounds. The main event of that card saw Felix Sturm retain the WBA Middleweight title as he stopped Japanese challenger Koji Sato, who had entered the bout 14-0 (13)
3-Not many Japanese fighters fighters make their debut in the US, though Koji Sato did actually did begin on US soil when he made his debut in 2005, stopping Francisco Valdez in Las Vegas on his debut. Another Japanese fighter who debuted on US soil was Yasutsune Uehara, who debuted in Honolulu in 1972, in fact his first 5 professional bouts were all fought at the Honolulu International Center.
4-In 1980 Yasutsune Uehara claimed the WBA Super Featherweight title for Japan by defeating Samuel Serrano with a 6th round KO win in Detroit. The win was the Ring Magazine Upset of the Year for 1980
5-Another Ring Magazine Upset of the Year saw a then unbeaten Vic Darchinyan being stopped in 5 rounds by a then unknown Nonito Donaire, who put himself on the map with this win, in a big way, and claimed the 2007 Upset of the Year.
6-Nonito's Donaire's win over Darchinyan wasn't just the Upset of the Year, in the eyes of Ring Magazine, but also KO of the year. With that KO Donaire become the second Filipino to win the KO of the Year award, following on from Morris East who win it in 1992 when he stopped Akinobu Hiranaka. The only other Filipino to hold the award is the legendary Manny Pacquiao taking us all the way through to the iconic Pacman.
As an aside Pacquiao has been on both sides of the of KO of the Year. His KO over Ricky Hatton saw Pacquiao win the KO of the Year award, whilst his loss to Juan Manuel Marquez in their fourth bout saw him on the receiving end of the KO of the Year.
Following his win this past weekend the big question now is, what is next for WBO Bantamweight champion John Riel Casimero (29-4, 20). Obviously he called out Naoya Inoue, but that certainly isn't the only for the hard hitting Filipino, who has a lot of potential fighters looking in his direction.
With that in mind we will look at Five For... John Riel Casimero, with Inoue being one of the 5 fighters we'll look at, alongside the WBO mandatory challenger and other interesting potential foes.
1-Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16)
The obvious choice for Casimero is, Naoya Inoue, the man he called out after his win over Tete. The bout would be a huge all-Asian unification bout that could take either side of the Pacific. In Japan the bout would be a huge follow up to Inoue's win over Donaire in the WBSS final, whilst in the US it would be a monster introduction for US fans to the winner in Inoue's Top Rank debut. Obviously Inoue would be the favourite, but Casimero has regularly been the under-dog and hasn't cared about his opponent being the favourite. This could be mouth watering, but really depends on which Casimero turns up.
2-Joshua Greer, Jr (22-1-1, 12)
Loud, brash and confident American Joshua Greer is the #1 contender to Casimero and the WBO title, and is the Inoue bout can't come off, for whatever, then Gree is the man Casimero should be looking to face as quickly as possible. A win over Greer would get rid of him as the mandatory challenger and help to further enhance Casimero's reputation as a road warrior. If we're being completely honest we don't see Gree being competitive over a half focused Casimero, though of course seeing Casimero fighting at less than half of his best is never a surprise. Gree has managed to create plenty of hype with his pillow gimmick, and we suspect that if he got in the ring with Casimero he'd need the pillow himself, rather early on.
3-Jason Moloney (20-1, 17)
The well travelled Casimero has genuinely fought all over the place, but has yet to pick up a stamp from Australia on his well used passport. A trip "down under" to face the talented and heavy handed Jason Moloney would certainly be an interesting assignment, and would come against a legit top level opponent. Moloney proved his ability in 2018, when he beat Kohei Kono and the lost a hotly contested bout with Emmanuel Rodriguez, and would make for a fantastic opponent for Casimero. This wouldn't be as high profile as Inoue or Greer, but from a neutral point of view this would be a brilliant match up between heavy handed and talented fighters.
4-Nonito Donaire (40-6, 26)
One thing we still don't get enough of is All-Filipino world title bouts, and yet we have to truly top level Filipino Bantamweights, both of which are at an interesting cross roads and both are seemingly interested in a future showdown with the same man. Why not have them face off? Both Casimero and Nonito Donaire have made it clear they want to face Inoue down the line, and whilst Donaire has just faced the Monster he wants to go again, and Casimero has made his intention clear. A bout between the two wouldn't just be an Inoue eliminator but would also be a potentially explosive clash between two very heavy handed fighters. This could be made in either the Philippines, in what could be sold as Donaire's last bout, or in the US, with Casimero looking to boost his profile and Donaire being seen as the perfect foil. It would be a potential passing of the torch for Casimero, or one more final hurrah for the Filipino Flash.
5-Jonas Sultan (16-5, 10) II
A left of field choice, but maybe a more personal one for Casimero, would be a rematch with fellow Filipino Jonas Sultan. In 2017 Casimero was out pointed by Sultan in a Super Flyweight world title eliminator, and suffered his first, and only, loss to a fellow Filipino fighter. The bout saw Casimero look totally off, and the cards of Carl Zappia and Glenn Trowbridge really were both kind to Casimero who never looked good at any point against Sultan. Since then Sultan has gone 2-2 and looks like a fighter who has peaked and is on his way down, whilst Casimero looks to be having an Indian summer of sorts. The loss is one that looks wrong on Casimero's record, and the only one which has come to someone who has never won a world title. He has a chance to avenge it, and why wait? Yes this is much less high profile and big name, but we certainly see the appeal of this bout, if Casimero wants to get revenge for what happened in their first bout.
Just over a week ago we saw Nonito Donaire (40-6, 26) put in one of the best performances of his career, despite suffering a loss to Japanese sensation Naoya Inoue. The Filipino icon, even in his mid 30's, proved that he could hang with the very, very best in the sport and showed that he was still a sensational fighter, who is durable, has an incredible will to win, and can bang with the best of them with both the right hand and the left hook.
Given Donaire's performance it wouldn't be a huge surprise to see him continue his career, even at age when most Bantamweights would be hanging them up and enjoying retirement. With that in mind it seems a perfect time to look at Five For...Nonito Donaire
1-Takuma Inoue (13-1, 3)
Having just lost to Takuma Inoue's older brother, Naoya Inoue, in the WBSS final what better bout than to take on Takuma Inoue, and try to get revenge over the Inoue family. Interestingly these two are next to each other in the recent WBC rankings, with Donaire being #4 and Inoue being #5, and both men will be looking to rebound from a loss with a big win to remain in the title mix. This would obviously be a massive ask for Inoue, though after the damage Donaire took against the "Monster" it may be the perfect time to take him on.
2-Aston Palicte (25-3-1, 21)
Whilst Donaire might be wanting to secure a win against a big name on his return to the ring a bout with Aston Palicte would have more than enough intrigue, and would also be a very winnable all-Filipino clash for Donaire. The "Filipino Flash" would have the edge in almost every area, though Palicte is a big, solid Super Flyweight and could well end up suiting the Bantamweight division better than the 115lbs weight class. For "Mighty" the need to get a major bout is certainly there, and a fight with Donaire ticks that box.
3-Rau'shee Warren (16-3-0-1, 4)
After going in with one of the hard hitters in the sport, pound for pound, Donaire doesn't need to face another killer, and instead could look at facing a known name who is also looking for a big win. There's few better choices for that than 3-time Olympian Rau'shee Warren. Stylistically this could be a very tough one for Donaire, but it's not one where he's going to end up being banged up. Warren, now 32 years old, hasn't fought since losing to Nordine Oubaali in January and perhaps now, as he heads to his 33rd birthday, would be the perfect time for Donaire to strike.
4-Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16) II
Hey we loved it the first time so why not do it again, on US soil! A rematch between Nonito Donaire and Naoya Inoue might not be great for either man's health, but Inoue Vs Donaire II would do great business, no matter where it was held. On the back of a 2019 Fight of the Year contender the two men both have things to prove against each other. With Donaire knowing he can hurt Inoue the Filipino would likely love to test himself against the "Monster" again whilst Inoue will look to stop the man he regards to highly. From a fan perspective this his as high profile a bout as either man will get, but is one that is perhaps seen as being unneeded punishment for both men.
5-Prince Patel (21-1-1, 16)
As one of the true good guys of boxing we doubt anyone would ever complain about Nonito Donaire riding into the sunset of retirement on the back of a rare easy fight. If anyone deserves one it's Donaire? So a bout between the sport's classiest act an one of boxing's most unlikeable fighters would make for a compelling dynamic, and there are few people in the sport who rub up people in the same was as Englishman Prince Patel. Patel is a read loud mouth, a man who's mouth writes cheque's that everyone know he lacks the skills to back up, and seeing him go up against the Filipino Flash would just give us an another sub-story to what could be Donaire's final bout.
On November 7th Nonito Donaire will have one of, if not the, biggest fight of his career as he takes on Japanese sensation Naoya Inoue in Japan. The bout, the WBSS Bantamweight final, is expected to have more than 10,000,000 tuning in on TV in Japan alone, and more than 20,000 people in attendance.
Of course, with Donaire being such a big name, and such a well known boxing figure we seem to think that fans know a lot about the "Filipino Flash". Despite that, we've tried to come up with 10 facts you probably didn't know about...Nonito Donaire.
1-Donaire comes from a real boxing family. His brother is Glenn Donaire and his cousin is Richard Donaire, both of whom were professional fighters and his father, Nonito Donaire Sr, was an amateur boxer in the 1990's
2-He attended the same school as Manny Pacquiao
3-Although not well known for his amateur career Donaire actually went 68-8 in the unpaid ranks. Nonito and his brother Glenn Donaire, both took part in the 2000 US Olympic Trials at 48KG's and both were beaten by Karoz Norman and Brian Viloria. Notably they didn't actually face each other though.
4-One other note about his amateur career comes from 1999, when he competed at the Junior Olympic International Tournament. At the tournament Donaire would go on to win the 48KG tournament, among other winners at this competition was Andre Ward, who won the 67KG tournament and the once touted Francisco Bojado, who was victorious at 57KG.
5-With Donaire now set to face Naoya Inoue, in what will be Donaire's Japanese debut, it's interesting to note that he has often visited Japan and is a manga and anime fan. Although his fight with Inoue will be his first bout in Japan he has trained in the country a number of times, and is well regarded in Japanese boxing circles. He's also known to read Hajime No Ippo and has met it's creator George Morikawa, who actually did the second Naoya Inoue Ring Magazine cover!
6-Donaire was the first Asian fighter to claim a world title from all 4 major world title bodies. He won his first IBF title in 2007, his first WBO in 2011, along with his first WBC, and would add a WBA title in 2014. In fact to date Donaire has won 2 IBF titles, 3 WBO, 1 WBC and 2 WBA titles!
7-Donaire featured in an energy drink advert for Cobra Energy Drink in the Philippines, in which he beat up a robot, and an advert for a water product too
8-Donaire also has an acting credit from a movie to his name for his role in "Palad ta ang nagbuot", where he plays a major part. We've included a trailer from this movie below, where you can see Donaire's acting at work.
9-Fellow Filipino-American Nump, recorded a song "Filipino Flash" about Donaire, who was in the music video for the track. As with the trailer for the movie we mentioned, this can also be seen below.
10-As well as being a world class boxer and his acting credit, Donaire is also a talented photographer, and has been known to take ringside photographs for publications in the past.
The month of November is a crazy one for fight fans with notable fights taking place through the month, he we look at the most notable bouts set to take place during the first week of the month in the first part of our look towards a brilliant looking month.
Hiroki Okada (13-0, 10) v Valentine Hosokawa (20-5-3, 9)
The first title fight of a thoroughly hectic month will see Japanese Light Welterweight champion Hiroki Okada defending his title against veteran Valentine Hosokawa,who has come up short in two previous title fights. For Okada the bout will be his 6th title defense,and if he wins there is the thinking he may vacate the title rather than face mandatory challenger Koichi Aso, who he has beaten twice already, and move on to OPBF title bouts instead. For Hosokawa this will likely be his last chance at a title given that he's 35 years old.
Tatsuya Fukuhara (17-4-6, 6) v Genki Hanai (7-0, 5)
We see more Japanese title action early in the month as Minimumweight champion Tatsuya Fukuhara defends his title against the unbeaten, and fast rising, Genki Hanai. For the under-rated champion this is his third defense of the title and he is likely to fight for a world title in 2017, if he can secure a victory here over Hanai. If he gets that chance it will open big doors for the popular Kumamoto man. For Hanai the bout will be his first title bout, and whilst he could claim the title he may also play party pooper to Fukuhara's world title dreams and get himself in the position for a world title bout. A really intriguing domestic level clash for Japanese fight fans.
Daigo Higa (10-0, 10) v Felipe Cagubcob Jr (6-2-5, 2)
The first OPBF title fight of the month comes on a huge day of action as sees exciting Flyweight contender Daigo Higa look to defend his OPBF title for the first time. The “Romagon of Okinawa” will be up against little known Filipino challenger Felipe Cagubcob Jr. The exciting Higa will be looking to join the mix at world level in 2017 but will need to continue his winning ways to do that, with many expecting him to do just that here with a stoppage. For the Filipino challenger, this will be his first bout away from home and see him taking on his best opponent to date, and a man who has enjoyed mowing through Filipino fights thus far through his career
Zou Shiming (8-1, 2) Vs Kwanpichit Onesongchaigym (39-1-2, 24) II
Staying with the Flyweight division we will not only see an OPBF title fight but also a world title fight as the vacant WBO title goes on the line in a bout between Zou Shiming and Kwanpichit OnesongChaigym. These two men met back in 2014, when Shiming came close to stopping Kwanpichit on route to a wide, and now we have the two men going at it again with a world title up for grabs. A win for Shiming is expected, and if he manages to win he will become the second Chinese world champion, but he has failed to reach the heights expected of him and Kwanpichit has rebuilt well since his loss, winning his last 12 bouts, all by stoppage.
Nonito Donaire (37-3, 24) v Jessie Magdaleno (23-0, 17)
The Super Bantamweight division hasn't been the most exciting in recent years, but does look like a division that is genuinely interesting with a mix of experience veterans and emerging youngsters. One of the veterans of the division is 33 year old Filipino sensation Nonito Donaire who defends his WBO title against emerging destroyer Jessie Magdaleno in a bout that could turn out to be the bout of night. At his best Donaire is a real sensation but at 33 he's not the fighter he once was. Magdaleno has shown real promise but this is a huge step for the unbeaten American.
Oscar Valdez (20-0, 18) v Hiroshige Osawa (30-3-4, 19)
At Featherweight we appear to be seeing the emergence of a new Mexican star, Oscar Valdez. In his first defense of the WBO Featherweight title Valdez will be facing Japan's Hiroshige Osawa, a relative unknown outside of the Japanese scene. Valdez really does look like a special fighter and his rise to becoming a star is exciting to watch, though here we see him up against a veteran who is fighting in what will likely be his only shot at a world title. For Osawa it's now or never and he'll give everything he's got, whether that's enough or not is the big question and unfortunatley it's hard to see him winning here unless Valdez has completely taken his eye off the ball.
Jessie Vargas (27-1, 10) v Manny Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38)
Whilst Valdez is a rising star of boxing there is still some megastars of the sport out there, including Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao, who looks to reclaim the WBO Welterweight title as he takes on once beaten champion Jessie Vargas. The bout will see the 37 year old Filipino attempt to further strengthen his legendary status in the sport, and become a 3-time WBO Welterweight champion which is an incredible feat it's self. For Vargas the bout will give him a chance to score a career defining win. With 10 years age difference between these two there is a possible passing of the torch or further proof that Pacquiao really is a truly special fighter.
Ye Joon Kim (14-1-2, 7) v Yuki Strong Kobayashi (10-5, 5)
To end a hectic weekend attention turns to South Korea where world ranked Super Bantamweight hopeful Ye Joon Kim looks to defend his IBF Asia title. In the opposite corner to the Korean hopeful will be Japanese visitor Yuki Strong Kobayashi, who has previously fought for the OPBF Bantamweight title. Kim is regarded as one of the very few Korean's of any real interest and whilst this won't boost his standing in the sport he is someone who could, potentially at least, create a buzz in Seoul. Kobayashi isn't a terrible fighter, but is Kim fails to win here it's more about Kim being inconsistent rather than Kobayashi suddenly being a massively improved fighter.
Over the next 12 months we're expecting to see a lot of changes in the world of professional boxing. As a result we have put together a list of 30 Asian fighters to keep an eye out for 2016. These range from champions to novices but all are expected to make a mark on the sport over the next 12 months. Here is part 2 which looks at 5 young novices who have impressed in 2015 and look likely to do the same over the next year.
For those who missed them the previous parts are available below-
Part 1 is here
Part 2 is here
Part 3 is here
Part 4 is here
The month of December is massive in Asian boxing with the end of year run in being crazy. As a result we've had to split our “things to look forward to...” for December article into two pieces, a pre-Christmas and a post-Christmas article, which is to be posted around Christmas time.
When we say December is busy, we really aren't kidding.
The new month gets off to an almost immediate start with an OPBF title fight coming on just the second day of the month. The bout in question is all Filipino bout for the OPBF title, recently vacated by Koki Eto, and will see Eto's former foe Ardin Diale (26-9-3, 15) take on the once beaten Renoel Pael (19-1-1, 9). It was of course Diale Vs Eto that saw Eto win the title, claiming an amazing 8th round win over Diale in a FOTY contender, but since then Diale has gone 6-0 (5) ans really rebuilt his career. For Pael this is his biggest bout to date, though he did fight to a very controversial loss to the world ranked Noknoi Sitthiprasert back in 2014 in what his only loss to date. This really could be something special for Filipino fans.
Fast rising Japanese prospects seem to be the “in thing” at the moment with numerous youngsters racing through the ranks. One of those is Kazuki Tanaka (3-0, 3) who takes a huge step up in class to face Monico Laurente (27-12, 6) in what should be regarded as a genuine test for the unbeaten 22 year old. Tanaka is regarded very highly, and some view him as a potential star of the Green Tsuda gym, however Laurente is no push over and should test the youngster in ways that he has never been tested before.
Last year we saw several Asian fighters emerge and go from being relatively unknown to being names that were on the tip of the tongue for fight fans. Obviously the biggest example was Naoya Inoue, who really became an internationally recognised name, another was Amnat Ruenroeng (16-0, 5) who claimed the IBF Flyweight title and defended it twice, including a shock win over Kazuto Ioka. He looks to secure his third defense of 2015 as he takes on Japanese challenger Myung Ho Lee (19-4-1, 6) in what looks like a stay busy fight for the Thai before a big fight in 2016, possibly against Roman Gonzalez or a rematch with Ioka.
The first of two “WBA Flyweight title” rematches this month sees Thailand's unbeaten Stamp Kiatniwat (14-0, 6) defending his interim title against Dominican slugger Gregorio Lebron (13-3, 11). Their first bout saw Stamp claim a majority decision to win the title though a petition by Lebron's team has helped their fighter get a rematch for the title. Their first bout was decent and we're expecting another good contest, though we suspect we'll see a better Stamp than we saw the first time around.
The second of the OPBF title fights this month is a farcical one Super Middleweight champion Yuzo Kiyota (28-4-1, 26) battles Indonesian challenger Michael Speed Sigarlaki (16-15-2, 14). Kiyota, who is best known for losing in a WBO Super Middleweight world title fight against Robert Stieglitz, might not be world class but is a solid puncher who really should be defending his title against the best OPBF challengers out there., In Sigarlaki however we have a challenger who is 4-6 (3), according to boxrec, in his last 10. It's worth noting that the challenger was in Japan back in March, losing to OPBF/JBC Middleweight champion Akio Shibata and we can't see anything but a repeat of that journey for Sigarlaki.
Whilst Kiyota's OPBF title defense is the most significant “male” bout of the day it's not the highest level bout in Japan. Instead that's an IBF female Minimumweight world title bout between two former champions. The home fighter is Etsuko Tada (14-2-2, 4) who is looking to become a 2-time world champion as she battles former title holder Victoria Argueta (13-2, 4) in what appears to be a very matched bout. Both fighters have suffered recent losses, with Argueta losing 2 of her last 6 and Tada losing 2 of her last 4, but all of those loses have come to fellow world class fighters. This really could be a fantastic fight for fans in Kobe
On the same show as the Tada/Argueta bout fans will also get a chance to see the fantastic Hozumi Hasegawa (34-5, 15) continue his career, a career we thought was over last year. The former 2-weight world champion will be dipping his toes into the Super Featherweight division as he goes up against the world ranked Carlos Andres Ruiz Machuca (14-1, 5). On paper Machuca looks to be a young, fresh and promising fighter, coming into this on the back of his best win however there is some thinking that Hasegawa's team have hand picked the Mexican to help further Hasegawa's career.
Arguably the most famous Asian in action on December 11th is Filipino star Nonito Donaire (35-3, 23) who faces off against Puerto Rican Cesar Juarez (17-3, 13). The bout, which takes place in Puerto Rico is rumoured to be a potential WBO Super Bantamweight title clash, though that's unconfirmed at the moment. For Donaire this is a great chance to make a statement and move towards potentially big bouts with Carl Frampton, Scott Quigg and Julio Ceja whilst for Juarez it's a chance to notch up a third notable win in a row.
The first of two Super Featherweight title fights on December 14th sees OPBF champion Masayuki Ito (17-1-1, 8) battle against Shingo Eto (17-3-1, 9) in what seems like a brilliant fight on paper. Ito, who won the title last time out stopping Dai Iwai, will be looking to establish himself as another in the long like of brilliant Japanese Super Featherweights however Eto is a very capable fighter looking to claim his first title, after having previously come close to winning the Japanese title last year.
Talking about the Japanese Super Featherweight title we see that champion in action as well as Rikki Naito (13-0, 5) defends his title against the big punching Kenichi Ogawa (16-1, 14). Naito is tipped to go far though we've been less than impressed by his recent performances, which have seen him struggle past Eto, Ito and Nihito Arakawa. Ogawa on the other hand has impressed us and has racked up 8 straight stoppages, whilst also avenging his sole defeat. This is a boxer against a puncher and will almost certainly be a great contest with both men putting it all on the line.
Over the last 12 months we've seen the Bantamweight division change a lot with titles changes hands and new contenders breaking through. Arguably the most exciting of those contenders is the heavy handed Shohei Omori (15-0, 10) who looks to move towards a world title as he fights in a WBO world title eliminator against Filipino fighter Marlon Tapales (27-2, 10). The winner of this will get a shot at either Pungluang Sor Singyu or Jetro Pabustan in 2016 and is a key bout looking forward, and should be a final test for either man before being legitimately considered a threat at the top level.
On the same card as the good looking world title eliminator we will see a Japanese title fight as Omori's stablemate Kota Tokunaga (16-2, 11) defends his Japanese Lightweight title against the little known Kazuhiro Nishitani (15-3-1, 7). This will be the second defense from the heavy handed Tokunaga who will be favoured going into the bout though Nishitani will know there is no pressure on him to perform, in what is a huge, and somewhat undeserved, opportunity.
WBA “interim” Cruiserweight champion Beibut Shumenov (16-2, 10) looks to make the first defense of his title as he takes on former WBC champion Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (49-3-1, 35) in what is a really good match up. We know Shumenov, originally from Kazakhstan though now based in the US, is the favourite but Wlodarczyk will see this as a great chance to become a 3-time “world champion”. As a match up this is a good on and would legitimise Shumenov as a Cruiserweight,something his last win, against BJ Flores didn't really do.
History is made on December 19th as Sri Lankan fans in Colombo get the chance to see professional boxing for the first time since the country gained independence from the British in the late 1940's. The show will be headlined by a female world title fight as WBO Atomweight champion Nao Ikeyama (16-3-1, 4) looks to defend her title against Filipino Jujeath Nagaowa (13-15-1, 8). The bout is an historic one for the Sri Lankan people and great chance for the two fighters to help introduce the sport to a new audience.
WBC female Minimumweight champion Yuko Kuroki (14-4-1, 7) isn't one of the sports biggest names but she is a potential star if she keeps racking up the wins and retaining her title. On December 20th she'll look to do both of those as she battles against former IBF champion Nancy Franco (14-6-2, 4) in one of the best female bouts of the year. Kuroki, 24, has the looks of a movie star and if she can keep building her career momentum there is a chance that she will help become the star that some were hoping Tomomi Takano would be. Franco however is a tough test for anyone and could well derail the Kuroki climb.
All Japan Rookie of the Year Finals
On the same day we get the 2016 All Japan Rookie of the Year finals which will feature a number of bouts with fighters looking to take a huge step towards becoming a star. We won't pretend any of the men are sensational yet, but some of the bouts are great, such as a Light Flyweight bout between Hiroyasu Shiga (6-0, 3) and Masahiro Sakamoto (5-0, 3) as well as a Featherweight bout between Shuma Nakazato (5-0, 4) and Teppei Kayunuma (6-0, 4). This really will be a treat for fans in Tokyo.
The final Japanese title fight before Christmas comes on December 21st and is a genuinely brilliant match up between two men who are both looking to prove themselves, whilst also being at very different stages in their career's. In one corner will be relative newbie Yusaku Kuga (11-1-1, 7, a really promising Watanabe Gym fighter with solid power and a point to prove, in the other corner will be veteran Yasutaka Ishimoto (26-8, 7), a Teiken fighter who will be getting his third shot at a Japanese title and will be hoping that it is third time lucky given that he's now years old and may not get another opportunity like this.
For those who celebrate Christmas, we wish you a great one before the big action returns on December 26th with an OPBF title fight, and then things really go into over-drive as the year comes to a close in wonderful style!
We'll pretend July was the greatest of months but we have had more than enough notable action over the last 4 weeks!
The month began with action in Thailand as the unbeaten Knockout CP Freshmart (11-0, 6) retained his WBA interim Minimumweight title with a 4th round TKO of the previously unbeaten Alexis Diaz (16-1, 10). Diaz was expected to put up a real fight against the Thai but was made to look second rate as he beaten by the defending champion. Following the win talk began of a contest between Knockout and Hekkie Budler.
On July 4th we turned our attention to Mexico where Filipino slugger Warlito Parrenas (24-6-1, 21) found himself feeling robbed as he was held to a very debatable draw against David Carmona (19-2-5, 8) in a bout for the WBO interim Super Flyweight title. It seemed like Parrenas did far more than enough to claim the win here but he failed to convince the judges that he deserved the win. A really unfortunate outcome, but one that still keeps him in the hunt for a potential show down with Naoya Inoue later this year.
We saw Japanese youngster Takuma Inoue (5-0, 1) claim his biggest win to date as he out pointed Mark Anthony Geraldo (31-6-3, 14) and claimed the OPBF Super Flyweight title. This was Takuma's toughest bout to date but also his most impressive and it appeared he has now filled into a full blown Super Flyweight. For Geraldo it's a second successive loss but at 23 he has plenty of time to rebuild and we'd be shocked not to see him at this level again in the near future
On July 7th we had one of the months most interesting match ups as Donnie Nietes (36-1-4,21) took on Francisco Rodriguez Jr (17-3-1, 11). The bout saw Nietes have some problems, especially early, but take a clear decision over the former unified Minimumweight champion. Nietes looks to be the standout Filipino fighter at the moment but at 33 he really is getting on for a lower fighter and although he looked youthful in the ring some are wondering how long he really has left.
On the same day fans saw WBA Heavyweight champion, well “regular” champion, Ruslan Chagaev (34-2-1, 21) retain his title with a very easy win again Francesco Pianeta (31-2-1, 17). Chagaev dropped Pianeta twice inside a round to retain his title.
July 12th saw talented Korean teenager Kyoo Hwan Hwang (2-0, 2) claim his first professional title, the South Korean Light Middleweight title, as he scored a 6th round KO against Chan Hee Park (5-6-1). Hwang, tipped by some as the future face of Korean boxing, showed some really notable skills but it was very clear that he needs a lot of work before stepping up in class.
We saw a new Japanese Flyweight champion being crowned on July 17th as Takuya Kogawa (24-4, 13) clearly out pointed the tough Hiroki Saito (9-5, 5). Kogawa, who previously held this title, is now looking at some excellent domestic show downs, including a potential rematch with Suguru Muranaka, or alternatively passing up the title to chase world honours. For Saito it seems clear that he will come again, though does need some more seasoning against lower level competition rather than continuing to be matched this hard.
On July 18th we unfortunately saw Ik Yang (19-1-0-1, 14) being given a schooling by talented Argentinian Cesar Rene Cuenca (48-0-0-2, 2) in a out for the IBF Light Welterweight title. Yang was attempting to become a the second Chinese world champion though came up very short in this bout, which really showed how good Cuenca was.
On the same card we saw Nonito Donaire (35-3, 23) destroy the completely out gunned Anthony Settoul (20-4, 8). Now it seems likely that Donaire will move towards a WBA title fight with Scott Quigg.
Unfortunately the night ended in disappointment for Filipino fans as Arthur Villanueva (27-1, 14) was controversially beaten by McJoe Arroyo (17-0, 8). The Filipino seemed to do enough to rack up the rounds but the judges all disagreed, giving Arroyo a very wide technical decision when the bout was stopped in round 10.
The same card also saw the US debut of Korean slugger Min Wook Kim (13-1, 10), who easily took care of Luis Alberto Pelayo (11-6, 7). Kim will hopefully return to the US later this year for a more notable bout.
On July 20th we saw the much touted Sho Nakazawa (7-0, 4) take a huge step up in class as he defeated former world title challenger Silvester Lopez (25-10-2, 18). Nakazawa was dropped early in the bout but managed to regroup and clearly out boxed Lopez who proved that whilst he isn't the most skilled he is still very dangerous.
On the same day we also saw South Korean hopeful Ye Joon Kim (12-1-2, 6) retain his IBF regional title as he stopped Yoshihiro Utsumi (12-7-3, 7) in 7 rounds. Kim, the face of the KBF, is one of Korea's most talented youngster and this performance showed that he does have real promise but really needs to be given more progressive tests.
We saw a new star emerge on July 24th as Daigo Higa (7-0, 7) went to Thailand and surprisingly picked up a 7th round KO win against Kongfah CP Freshmart (14-1, 8). The bout was one of the best of the month and lived up the high expectations that we had for the contest. The hope is now that Higa will be defending his belt in Autumn before possibly being matched with a world class foe next year.
Kazakh fighter Beibut Shumenov (16-2, 10) became a 2-weight world champion on July 25th as he claimed the WBA “interim” Cruiserweight title with a clear win over American fighter-come-analyst BJ Flores (31-2-1, 20). Flores showed good power early but Shumenov showed a completely revised style that saw him moving more than he had in the past. It was that movement that allowed Shumenov to claim the win with Flores later complaining about the Kazakh not standing still.
The month ended, in terms of major action, with Thai teenager Stamp Kiatniwat (14-0, 6) claiming the WBA interim Flyweight title with a majority decision win over Gregorio Lebron (13-3, 11) on July 29th. The win has seen Stamp receive some international attention but domestically he's really boosted his popularity and it seems that the 17 year old is being pushed as the new face of Thai boxing.
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).