The final day of September gives us one more Asian world title fight as unbeaten Thai Nop Kratingdaenggym (17-0, 5) faces off against WBA Super Bantamweight champion Nehomar Cermeno (24-5-1-1, 14) in China. The bout isn't a high profile one but could alter the scope of the 122lbs division in some really notable ways and continues to develop the Chinese fight scene.
For the champion the bout will be his first of the title he won back in June. Cermeno's title win came against China's very Qiu Xiao Jun, who he stopped in 12 rounds. That was Cermeno's second bout this year, but just his 5th in 4 years, with some questioning why he had gotten a shot after such a low level of activity. Whatever the merits of his title shot he took the opportunity and easy out skilled the crude Chinese fighter.
Whilst Cermeno will be returning to China for his second bout there this year, Nop will be making his international debut, in what will be his first bout outside of Thailand. In fact it will only be the third time he has fought outside of Bangkok. Not only is it his first bout away from home but it's also a huge step up in class following bouts against a variety of limited domestic fighters and poor imported foes.
Aged 36 Cermeno is a true veteran and has been a professional for close to 12 years. Prior to turning professional he was a solid amateur, fighting at the 2000 Olympics. As a professional he first came to the attention of many fans in 2009 when he twice beat Cristian Mijares. The first of the victories over Mijares saw Cermeno claim the WBA “interim” Bantamweight title, which he would defend twice before losing to Anselmo Moreno, in a bout for the full WBA Bantamweight title.
Following his first loss Cermeno struggled to get going again, losing in a rematch to Moreno before sliding from 19-0 (11), his pre-Moreno record, to 20-5-1 (12). Bouts with inactivity followed but he has since gone 4-0-0-1, winning against Oscar Escandon and Jun.
In the ring Cermeno is a tricky and smart fighter. He's not a big puncher or incredibly quick but he is crafty, smart and experienced. At his best he uses angles brilliantly, judges distances excellently and controls both the tempo and range of a bout with his movement and punch selection.
Whilst Cermeno is a wily old veteran the same cannot be said of Nop, who is 25 and very much an untested prospect coming in to this one. He has 17 fights, 129 rounds and amazingly 12 title bouts so far. However, all those title bouts thus far have been at PABA level, and some have been against very poor opponents. His most notable win, thus far at least, came last year over former world title challenger Nouldy Manakane, though Manakane was never much of a threat to the top guys at his best.
Although Nop's opposition so far has been dire, to say the least, there has been a lot of chances to see him with pretty much every one of his bouts having been aired in his homeland. Unlike a lot of Thai's he's not a an aggression first fighter, but instead he's more of a boxer, who has started to show power. He'll walk down some opponents, using head movement, intelligent footwork and his jab whilst in other fights he has fought on the back foot and used an opponents aggression against them.
Young, big at the weight and with a lot of promise Nop has the ability to win a world title, on day. Here however we suspect his relative inexperience against decent opponents, and inexperience on the road, will be his downfall with Cermeno being too good and too smart for the Thai youngster.
(Image courtesy of Thailand The Champion)
From April 2005 to April 2010 Hozumi Hasegawa (35-5, 15) was the star of Japanese boxing. He was the WBC Bantamweight champion, a pound-for-pound fighter and a man who oozed style and charisma. He wasn't quite the sensation that predecessor Joichiro Tatsuyoshi was, but he was still the star and the face of Japanese boxing. Since 2010 however things have been tough for the Hyogo man who has suffered 3 stoppage losses and has long looked like a fighter holding on to past glories.
This coming Friday we see Hasegawa back in the ring and looking to become a 3-weight world champion as he challenges WBC Super Bantamweight champion Hugo Ruiz (36-3, 32), a huge punching, aggressively minded fighter with a point to prove. He's defending his title for the first time, travelling to a country where he suffered a controversial loss and looking to add a huge name to his record, albeit a faded name.
At his best Hasegawa was a truly brilliant fighter. His record might not show it but he had venom in hands, as Veeraphol Sahaprom found out in their second bout, blistering hand speed and a lighting quick boxing brain. Hasegawa would do what so few can and draw a lead from an opponent, avoid it then counter with a flurry of hard shots.
Fight fans and opponents both seemed to think that Hasegawa was feather fisted but stoppages against the likes of Sahaprom and Vusi Malinga, who he stopped inside a round, showed that Hasegawa had power as well as speed. Sadly though as he got older he got slower and the split second timing that he had in his prime started to fade. As that timing faded his defense began to show cracks and he would go on to suffer stoppages to Fernando Montiel, Jhonny Gonzalez and Kiko Martinez. The loses to Montiel and Gonzalez weren't too painful but he was given a real battering by Martinez in what should really have been his final bout.
Aged 35 and with just 2 wins in the last 3 years ud wonder how Hasegawa has gotten a world title fight but it's clear he knows this will be his final chance.
Ruiz is much less distinguished than Hasegawa but at 29 he's in his prime, at 5'9” he's a huge Bantamweight and with an 82% KO rate he's a really dangerous fighter. It's fair to say he lacks in terms of notable wins, with his best victories coming against Julio Ceja, Yonfrez Parejo and Francisco Arce,but that is one of the very few criticisms that you can make of Ruiz.
The champion won his title back in February when he stopped Ceja in 51 seconds, avenging a 2015 defeat to his fellow Mexican. The defeat Ceja is one of only two losses that Ruiz has suffered in the last 8 years, with the other boxing a split decision in Japan to Koki Kameda, a decision that has left Ruiz wanting to prove a point on his return to Japan. Despite the loss to Kameda the visitor doesn't seem to be worried about the conditions in Japan and seemed to suggest that he wanted to return to defend his title in the country.
Although Ruiz is flawed, particularly in his defense, he is a very devastating and powerful fighter. He's the type of guy who hurts anyone when he lands cleanly and can't be taken lightly, as Ceja found out. He's heavy handed in both hands. Powerful, physically strong and well schooled. He's a little loopy with his shots but they have so much venom that fighters don't seem willing, or capable of, taking advantage.
Ruiz against a prime Hasegawa would have been a brilliant match up that we'd have looked forward too knowing that it could go either way. Against this Hasegawa however we can't see anything but a win for the Mexican who we suspect will be too big, too strong, too fresh,too heavy handed and too powerful for the Japanese veteran. Hasegawa might have his moments but we can't imagine him hearing the final bell here.
Last September we saw a huge, and highly controversial, Bantamweight fight in Japan as Shinsuke Yamanaka (25-0-2, 17) retained his WBC title with a split decision win over Panama's Anselmo Moreno (36-4-1, 12). The bout, a mandatory defence for Yamanaka, saw many suggest Yamanaka had gotten a gift and soon lead to Moreno getting a world title eliminator for a rematch. The Panamanian won the eliminator, defeating Suriyan Sor Rungvisai, and put us where we are today.
In their first bout Yamanaka really struggled to land clean on Moreno. His much vaunted power was neutralised and he was made to look slow and old, like a man struggling to give 100% of himself at the weight. Since then he has fought once, over-coming Liborio Solis in a a bout that saw both men being dropped, twice. For Moreno he's also fought just once since the first bout, scoring the aforementioned win over Suriyan.
At his best Yamanaka was a destructive fighter with a vicious left hand, under-rated skills, and a good boxing mind. He wasn't the quickest or the most defensively sound but he was a big puncher who could take a shot and set them up. As he's gotten older however he's fallen in love with the power, and has become predictable with everyone knowing he's always looking to land the dynamite left hand.
At his best Yamanaka was a real sensation and his resume is incredibly impressive with wins against the likes of Vic Darchinyan, Tomas Rojas, Malcolm Tunacao, Suriyan Sor Rungvisai, Moreno and Solis. The last 3 of those wins however have made Yamanaka look more and more human and not like the force he once was.
At the age of 33 Yamanaka is old for a Bantamweight and he has been making the weight since 2006. It's fair to say the the weight is becoming harder and harder for him to make and at 5'7” he is a big Bantamweight. The age and struggles with weight have likely been plaguing Yamanaka in recent bouts, but he has continued to fight at the weight, a choice that has perhaps cost him in terms of performance.
Whilst Yamanaka is a true puncher the way we'd describe Moreno is as a pure boxer. He's tricky, he's smart and he's technically excellent with a lovely array of punches, intelligent movement, excellent defense and an amazing ability to read distance. In many ways he's an old school fighter with old school skills, and uses those skills, and his freakishly long arms, to neutralise opponents and get his own shots off.
Aged 30 Moreno is still in his prime and his resume is exceptional, with victories over the likes of Tomas Rojas, Volodymyr Sydorenko, Rolly Lunas, Mahyar Monshipour, Nehomar Cermeno, Lorenzo Parra, Vic Darchinyan and Suriyan. It may be noted that he has lost his last two bouts but both were in questionable circumstances and there is little doubting his claim to be one of the truly elite Bantamweights.
With 4 losses to his record the ignorant fan may well see him as a poor fighters but one of those losses was early in his career, one was to Abner Mares at a weight that Moreno looked poor at, and the other two were the questionable defeats, to Yamanaka and Juan Carlos Payano. He's far from a fighter coming to the end of his career and although he hasn't always looked fantastic he usually raises the bar when he's fighting a top opponent, like Yamanaka.
Whilst Yamanaka will be a confident fighter coming in to this fight. It is worth noting however that Panamanian fighters appears to have the number of Japanese fighters this year and we've already seen Jezreel Corrales stop Takashi Uchiyama and Luis Concepcion over-come Kohei Kono in Japan. A win for Moreno would complete a remarkable year for Panamanian fighters in Japan and would continue a great rivalry between the two countries, who have had a rivalry dating back decades.
We suspect that Moreno will come out on top here, with Yamanaka's poor recent performances coming to haunt him against a very skilled fighter. Yamanaka has a chance, a puncher always does, but we suspect he'll struggle again to land on the brilliant visitor, losing a clear cut decision.
It's fair to say that this coming Saturday is a huge day for boxing fans, with so many massive fights. For many the most exciting fights are in the US, with Carlos Cuadras Vs Roman Gonzalez and the Yoshihiro Kamegai Vs Jesus Soto Karass bouts both expected to be brilliant fights. For others however the most significant bout takes place at Middleweight in the UK and sees Kazakh star Gennady Golovkin (35-0, 32) defending his WBC, IBF and IBO Middleweight titles against unbeaten Brit Kell Brook (36-0, 25), himself a world champion albeit the IBF champion at Welterweight. The bout, on Sky Box Office in the UK, is seen as the highest profile bout for Golovkin, who has long been avoided by top names at Middleweight, and is seen as a potential opportunity for Brook to become a real international star.
Golovkin first made his name in the amateurs, where he ran up an impressive resume winning various international competitions and beating numerous fighters who would later leave their mark on the professional scene. As a professional his career was a relative slow burn for his first 18 bouts, all in Europe. He claimed the WBA Interim Middleweight title in 2010 and since then he has become one of boxing's break out stars racking up world title defenses for fun and unifying the WBA, WBC, IBF and IBO titles in a career that has seen him become a star in America.
In the build up to a Golokin bout the typical thing to mention is his power. With a 91% stoppage rate the power is intimidating and it has seen him stop his last 22 opponents, including fighters like Daniel Geale, Marco Antonio Rubio, Martin Murray and David Lemieux. The power however is only part of the story with Golovkin's real strength actually being his skills. Those skills allow him to cut the ring down, get in to the range to land those powerful shots and break opponents down. He does have 1-punch KO power, as Nobuhiro Ishida and Lujan Simon found out, but the key to his power is that every single shot hurts, and eventually they break opponents down.
Unlike many power punchers Golovkin doesn't depend primarily on his power but instead uses his power as one of many weapons along with his timing, foot work, intelligent pressure and shot selection, including his now well known under-cut or sledgehammer shot. There are holes in his game defensively, and one wonders how he'd cope with someone crowding him and smothering him, but those holes are very hard to exploit.
For Brook the bout sees him making his Middleweight debut. He is well known for his career at Welterweight, where he has beaten the likes of Shawn Porter, Matthew Hatton, Vyacheslav Senchenko and Carson Jones, twice. Although highly skilled Brook's career has been an incredibly frustrating one with the last few years spent defending the IBF Welterweight title against very poor opponents, like Jo Jo Dan, Frankie Gavin and Kevin Bizier, who lasted a combined 12 rounds. Given the depth at Welterweight Brook had the chance to make himself an international star but has really wasted that chance with various problems.
In the ring Brook is a fantastic boxer-puncher. He shut down Porter with a disruptive game plan, destroyed Gavin, Dan and Brook with his power and gritted out a decision over Jones in the first bout. Not only is he a great boxer-puncher but he's also a massive Welterweight, and is probably a natural Light Middleweight. That however leaves us wondering how he will be at Middleweight, and we have seen him hurt by shots at Welterweight, with Senchenko wobbling him and Jones almost stopping him late in their first bout.
Tactically Brook has to be spot on to survive here. He has to neutralise not just the natural power and strength of Golovkin but also his pressure. That might mean that Brook has to, essentially, hit and run and run and run. Or it might mean that Brook, who has beefed up for the fight, has to get in and smother Golovkin, rather than let the Kazakh have full extension on his shots.
We suspect Brook will be confident coming in to this one and will feel he has done every thing he can to prepare for the bout with a solid gameplan. That plan however will likely go out of the window when he feels the power of the Kazakh and in the middle rounds that power will be too much, eventually stopping the challenger who will have taken some serious punishment before wilting.
Over the past few years we've began to see more and more fighters being fast tracked. These have included fighters Kosei Tanaka, Vasyl Lomachenko and Naoya Inoue, who have all claimed world titles in double quick time. The next fighter attempting to win a world title in under 10 bouts is Englishman Charlie Edwards (8-0, 3), who is looking to claim the IBF Flyweight title this coming Saturday, in his 9th professional bout. He's looking to take that title from the very well travelled and genuinely world class Johnriel Casimero (22-3, 14), who looks to record the first defense the title he won in May in China.
Usually we're excited to see fighters being fast tracked. Out excitement in regards to fighters like Hinata Maruta is well known. Sadly for Edwards the problem he's facing here isn't that he's being fast tracked, it's that he's being moved from British level to world level without having gained the skills and experience to really have a fighting chance.
The 23 year old British fighter was a good amateur before turning professional last year. In September last year he claimed the English Flyweight title, beating Louis Norman, and defended it once against Phil Smith. He has also claimed the WBC International Silver Flyweight title, with a win over Luke Wilton.
In many ways Edwards has done what has been asked of him. Sadly for him there is a huge gulf, between the level he has been fighting at and world class. In fact he's not just taking a leap up in class but an elevator up and he has shown little to suggest that he should be taking that ride at this time. He been able to go 10 rounds, albeit against British level fighters who looked relatively limited themselves. What would have been better for the youngster would have been to have fought some higher level fighters to develop the skills and test himself well ahead of a world title opportunity.
Whilst there is a huge gulf between British level Flyweights and world class Flyweights a fight with some one like Ramon Garcia Hirales, Masayuki Kuroda, Alberto Rossel or Pablo Carrillo would have done the world of good for the youngster and helped prepare him for a world class fighter.
Whilst Edwards is a talented but possibly unprepared fighter the same cannot be said of Casimero who is experienced, proven, talented and as gutsy as they come. Those guts have seen him become a modern day road warrior and a 2-weight world champion. He's been fighting at world level since December 2009, when he beaten Cesar Canchila in Nicaragua and has since fought in Mexico, South Africa, Argentina, Panama, Thailand and China. Not only has he been fighting on the road but he's been winning there two with his most famous wins coming in Argentina, against Luis Alberto Lazarte, and in China, where he stopped Amnat Ruenroeng earlier this year.
Technically speaking Casimero is bit crude, he's open and defensively he has holes. But he is a world class fighter with explosive speed and thudding power. He's not a steam roller in the ring but having a fight with him is a terrible idea and he's relentless in his pursuit of victory. That was seen when he defeated Lazarte and when he defeated Ruenroeng, with the referee and judges being against him in both fights.
We mentioned that Edwards could have done with facing some fringe level guys in preparation for this bout. As for Casimero, who has faced a who's who including Ardin Diale, Canchila, Ramon Garcia Hirales, Moruti Mthalane, Lazarte, Pedro Guevara and Ruenroeng, twice, his competition is stellar and he has scarcely come up short. In fact the loss where he embarrassed himself was his defeat to Mthalane which came far too soon for the Filipino, and we suspect this opportunity has come to soon for Edwards.
Whilst Casimero is flawed he will know that he needs to keep this out of the judges hands that will likely inspire him to be more aggressive than usual. Edwards will start well, bouyed on by his home fans, but we suspect that Casimero's proven world class ability and power will play their part in the latter stages with Edwards simply being ground down by the Filipino.
We don't see many Japanese fighters making their name above Super Featherweight, this Friday however we get the chance to see Light Welterweight Keita Obara (16-1-1, 15) challenge unbeaten Russian Eduard Troyanovsky (24-0, 21) for the IBF title, in a mandatory title fight.
The Russian won the title last November, stopping the then unbeaten Cesar Rene Cuenca for the belt in 6 rounds. That was Cuenca's first defense, following his title win against Ik Yang, and the Argentinian was simply unable to ever get Troyanovsky's respect. A rematch this past April followed a similar patter with Troyanovsky stopping Cuenca in 7 rounds, to record his first defense.
In the ring the Russian is a somewhat limited boxer blessed with frightening power. He can be out boxed and out moved, with his 36 year old legs not being the most sprightly, however he does cut the ring down well and if a fighter can't get his respect he doesn't mind taking one to land one. He key strength however is his power and it is vicious, with his last 14 wins all coming by T/KO, and in fact he has stopped 20 of his last 21 opponents.
Although powerful the champion is 36 years old, his work rate isn't great and he certainly hasn't got a high energy level or lighting speed. Also at 5'8” he's not naturally a big fighter at 140lbs. He's just very strong and very powerful
For Obara the bout will be only his second bout outside of Japan, with the first being his very controversial draw with Walter Castillo, in what was an IBF eliminator. In that bout he showed his skills to an international audience and clearly deserved the win over 12 rounds, most of which were clearly won by the Japanese fighter. Prior to that bout Obara had claimed the Japanese and OPBF title and had ran up 15 straight wins following a loss on debut back in 2010.
Like Troyanovsky the key strength of Obara is his power which has been responsible for 15 of his 16 career wins. He keeps that power late into a fight, as seen in his 12th round TKO win against Shinya Iwabuchi, but doesn't actually depend on the power and is instead a decent all round boxer who has solid boxing skills to go with his power. He's not defensively the best but he isn't clumsy when it comes to protecting himself.
Obara's sole loss came on debut when he ran out of stamina, after actually dropping his opponent. It was a humbling loss and one that has seen him really work on his flaws. In many ways it was the perfect loss and has lead to him becoming a better fighter faster in his career. Since that loss no one has really troubled him and he has rarely shown what he can truly do. Here we're expecting him to show his best and, hopefully, come home with the title.
The key for Obara will be using his size, speed and movement to not only get the respect of Troyanovsky but also to land the heavy leather needed to beat the Russian. For Troyanovsky the key is patience waiting for the opportunity to land his fearsome power shots. If Troyanovsky can land clean then there is a really serious chance he will be able to stop Obara, if he can't stop him we suspect the score-cards will favour the Russian. With that in mind we suspect that Obara will be looking for a stoppage, probably in the second half of the fight, making the most of the fact Troyanovsky has little experience going beyond 7 rounds.
The odds are in favour of the Russian but we suspect Obara will score the upset here, with the bout being unlikely to go the distance either way.
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.