April 9th is set to be a big day in Japanese boxing with a number of shows being held in Osaka. The most notable of those is a title triple header at the EDION Arena Osaka. The headline bout from that triple header is a WBA Super Bantamweight title fight pitting defending champion Nehomar Cermeno (26-5-1-1, 15) against unbeaten Japanese challenger Shun Kubo (11-0, 8). For Cermeno the bout is his third defense whilst Kubo will be fighting for the first time at world level.
Aged 37 Cermeno is a genuine veteran. He was a noted amateur before turning professional back in 2004 and it didn't take long for him to impress, claiming various regional titles before scoring two huge wins in 2009 against Cristian Mijares, to claim and defend the WBA “interim” Bantamweight title. He would suffer his first two defeats back-to-back in 2010 against Anselmo Moreno, but both were ultra close split decisions to Moreno.
The losses to Moreno weren't shameful but they began a major slump for Cermeno who went from 19-0 (11) before facing Moreno to 20-5-1 (12) in just 25 months. Inactivity then cost Cermeno a chance to have big fights when the division was stacked with talent, but he has bounced back well, and went 4-0 (2) last year with notable wins over Qiu Xiao Jun and Nop Kratingdaengym to claim and defense the WBA title.
Although he is past the age one expects a fighter to be during their prime Cermeno is a talent fighter who doesn't rely on speed and reflexes. Instead he relies on his skills, his ring craft and his experience. He cleverly dictates the pace of a fight and the distance it's fought at. He's offensively crafty and defensively intelligent, knowing how to counter, and control an opponent, whilst also having under-rated power. Whilst not a KO artist, by any means, he does hit hard enough to punish fighters who give him openings, as Nop found out last year.
At 37 it's obvious that Cermeno can't fight at a great pace, but with his skills he has found ways to neutralise younger, fresher, foes and break them down with his accurate and sharp punches.
With just 11 bouts, and 56 rounds, under his belt Kubo will enter as the boy looking to become a man. He will also enter as the fighter that Shinsei Gym view as their heir apparent to Hozumi Hasegawa, who retired at the end of last year having become a 3-weight world champion. Kubo is viewed as the next star from the Shinsei gym, but this is a huge gamble and a massive step up in class.
In his mid 20's Kubo is a fighter coming into his physical prime and although he's only been a professional for about 4 years he has racked up countless rounds sparring with top fighters and has fought in 3 title bouts, winning the OPBF title and defending it twice. His competition hasn't been the best so far, but he does hold notable wins over Monico Laurente and Luis May, both decent fighters. Sadly he's jumping from OPBF level to world level with out fighting a real gate keeper type opponent, a real worry here.
In the ring Kubo is typically a counter puncher, looking to draw leads and fire back. If forced to lead Kubo is happy for a slow pace and to use his height and reach to keep the bout at range and pick his opponent off. Whilst that has typically worked well there are worries in regards to his stamina, and he has only been the distance once, against Benjie Suganob. He has got good natural skills, and size, but there is a question mark as to how tough he is, and how well he takes a shot.
Although there is a lot of questions about Kubo we suspect he and his team are pretty confident that he's a special fighter. He might not have shown that in the ring yet, but there is enough belief that he is something a lot better than we've seen so far. He will certainly need to prove that if he's to over-come Cermeno, but in fairness he is up against the weakest champion in the division.
Coming in to the bout we're not expecting a classic. We're expecting a slow and tactical battle fought at range, with only a few moments of real action. The rounds will be close, with Kubo's size and youth going up against Cermeno's experience and boxing brain. We think that Kubo may have gotten this bout at the right time, and that his team have done a blinder in getting him a shot at Cermeno. However with Cermeno's late career results there is a real chance that he will upset the rising Japanese youngster, just as he did with Jun and Nop last year.
Earlier this year we saw Panamanian based Venezuelan Nehomar Cermeno (25-5-1-1, 15) revive his career out of nowhere as he scored a dominant stoppage win against Qiu Xiao Jun (21-3, 10) to claim the WBA Super Bantamweight title. At the time the win was seen as an upset with Cermeno being a 36 year old who had essentially fought just 23 rounds in the previous 3 years, and the fact he was fighting in front of a very pro-Jun audience in Beijing. In the ring however the bout was a battle of skills and sadly for Jun he lacked them in comparison to Cermeno who gave him a boxing lesson.
Since reviving his career with the 12th round TKO win over Jun we've seen Cermeno shake off some more ring rust as he recorded his first defense of the title, scoring a brutal 3rd round KO against Nop Kratingdaenggym. He again showed his skills, timing and under-rated speed, and it looked like the veteran still had a lot left in the tank and to offer the sport.
At his very best Cermeno was a real handful. He twice defeated the brilliant Cristian Mijares, and twice lost in razor thin bouts to Anselmo Moreno, as well as a very debatable defeat to Victor Terrazas. Sadly for Cermeno the loss to Terrazas saw his career take a slide with a stoppage loss against Fernando Montiel, a draw with Yoandris Salinas and a loss to Alexander Bahktin. Those set backs, which came one after the other, saw Cermeno's record fall from 18-0 (10) to 20-5-1 (12) and saw many suggest his career was over. He would take a while out of the ring but has since gone 5-0-0-1 (3) taking the unbeaten record of Oscar Escandon and Nop, as well as his first win over Jun.
Although Cermeno as once one of the most under-rated talents in the sport he is now 37 and questions have to be asked about how long he can continue to put his body through the rigours of training.
As for Jun the first loss to Cermeno has been put down to an injury, something that was recently revealed in the Chinese press, though there will obviously be doubts about the legitimacy or significance of the injury. Since that defeat however the Dragon has bounced back, dominating Filipino Robert Udtohan en route to a 3rd round stoppage win, with that win coming on the same show as Cermeno's win over Nop. That bout saw an improved looking Jun fighting with more conviction than he had against Cermeno. Whether that was due to the injury from the Cermeno bout having healed or just being more comfortable against the Filipino is however debatable.
At his best Jun is a pretty basic fighter. Like many Chinese fighter's he's a bit crude, a bit physical and a bit rough around the edges, though has a much more traditional style than the wild Ik Yang. The rough edges disguise a genuinely promising fighter who is hard working, determined and showing regular signs of improvement. He is still a bit right hand happy, and it's clear he's not a natural boxer, but his team have worked hard to smooth off his flaws and have developed a solid but basic fighter. Sadly whilst Jun at his best is decent, Jun at his worst is slow, lumbering, open and wild, the type of fighter who is made to order for a skilled boxer like Cermeno.
Although Jun may have been carrying an injury into his first bout with Cermeno it wasn't the injury that decided the result. Instead it was the gulf in skills. That is likely to be the issue again here with Cermeno almost certainly set to retain his title. A fully fit Jun might be able to see out the final bell, but the reality is that Cermeno isn't coming in with a load of ring rust this time around, he's had 15 rounds this year alone, more than he had in 2014 and 2015 combined, and isn't likely to need as much time to get his timing and distance here as he did in the first bout. We wouldn't be shocked to see Jun being stopped again here.
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)
Over the last few years things have been hard on Chinese boxing. We have seen high profile losses for the likes of Xiong Xhao Zhong, Zou Shiming and Ik Yang and it seems like every time a Chinese fighter seems to be on the verge of something notable they suffer a setback or fail to shine in the way they are supposed to.
Thankfully however, given the size of China, there is always going to be someone else coming through the ranks and the next man is Super Bantamweight contender Qiu Xiao Jun (20-2, 9) who finally gets his shot at a world title on June 24th. The under-rated Chinese fighter will be battling for the vacant WBA crown and will be facing Venezuelan born veteran Nehomar Cermeno (23-5-1-1, 13), a 36 year old who debuted back in 2004.
Of the two men it's Cermeno who is the better known. He's a tricky fighter who has really made his name fighting away from home, basing himself in Panama for much of his career though also scoring wins in Argentina, Germany, Mexico, El Salvador and his native Venezuela, whilst also fighting a losing effort in Russia. As well as being a well travelled veteran Cermeno was, once, a very good fighter, beginning his career with 19 straight wins, including two victories over Cristian Mijares and twice pushing Anelmo Moreno all the way.
Since those losses to Moreno we've seen Cermeno struggle, and in fact he has since gone 4-3-1-1, with only a single win in the last 2 years, and even that came against a limited fighter in the form of Lester Medrano.
When we talk about Jun we're talking about one of China's hidden gems. He's not had the amateur background of Shiming, or the Western attention of Ik Yang, but he has had a genuinely interesting career and shown the type of improvement that can turn a fighter into a champion. He has also had sizeable investment put into him in China.
Aged 25 Jun is a youngster though debuted close to 6 years ago and has developed well, despite suffering two early career career set backs to Jonathan Baat in Japan. Since being 8-2 (3) we've seen Jun develop his skills, strength and natural fighting mentality and racked up notable wins. Those wins have seen him avenge his losses to Baat, defeat Jason Cooper, Silvester Lopez, Amor Belahdj Ali and Raymond Commey.
In the ring Jun still has a lot of smoothing off to do, however he is a rough and tumble fighter with heavy hands, much heavier than his record suggests, a decent work rate and a growing Chinese following. He's also a man who has been hungry for a title opportunity and will feel that this bout will be his chance to prove himself.
In his prime we suspect Cermeno would have clowned with Jun, who is still very crude. Today's Cermeno however is a shadow of that fighter and we really can't see him over-coming the younger, hungrier and naturally bigger Jun in this match up.
If Jun does win this one, as we suspect, he will become just the second man in Chinese boxing history to become a world champion, following in the footsteps of Zhong.
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.