Every so often we, boxing fans, get a fight that we're incredibly excited about, even if the non-boxing-fan is unlikely to care about the contest. We get one such fight this coming weekend as heavy handed Japanese southpaw Takashi Miura (31-3-2, 24) [三浦 隆司] challenges WBC Super Featherweight champion Miguel Berchelt (31-1, 28) in a mandatory world title fight. The two men aren't cross over-stars by any stretch of the imagination, but they are fighters who deliver bang for their buck and are both must watch fighters with dynamite in their hands.
Berchelt is making his first defense of the title, a title he won last time out when he stopped Francisco Vargas in a real break out performance. It's worth noting that Vargas had himself taken the title from Miura in 2015, in a FOTY contender, but it did look like Vargas was a shell of his usual self against Berchelt. Now it may have been a case that Berchelt made Vargas look that bad, or it may well have been a case that Vargas had simply been broken down by wars with the likes of Miura and Orlando Salido.
If that win by Berchelt over Vargas was a sign of how good Berchelt was, as opposed to how shop worn Vargas was, then it's a sign that Berchelt is a real threat to anyone at 130lbs, including Vasyl Lomachenko. He looked like a fantastic boxer-puncher, moving brilliantly and delivering heavy shots on the move. Prior to the bout he had been known as a slightly crude boxer, more focusing on his power than his boxing, but against Vargas he showed everything that a fighter can show.
Blessed with natural power Berchelt has the ability to box, bang or brawl. He may not be quite as natural as Lomachenko in terms of his boxing, or as heavy handed as Gervonta Davis, but he combines the traits really well and looks more rounded than Davis already. It's also worth noting that he's only 25, so coming in to his prime, and despite having a loss on his record it does look like a blip, as opposed to a sign of issues. The loss was an opening round defeat to the unknown Luis Eduardo Florez more than 3 years ago, but since then he has gone 10-0 (10) with wins over Rene Gonzalez, Sergio Puente, Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo and Vargas. That sort of run seems to suggest that the loss was one that really helped Berchelt, rather than hindered his career.
For Miura this will be a chance to become a 2-time champion, rebuild his reputation as a Mexi-killer, have another thriller on international soil, potentially kick off a summer of Japanese success in the US and a summer to remember for the Teiken gym.
At his core Miura is a left hand happy southpaw brawler. He's rough around the edges, incredibly crude and a bit slow. But his left hand is pure dynamite and when he lands it any fighter can be in trouble. That should make him seem predictable but like most brawlers his shots aren't the most orthodox and due to his pressure and work rate his shots can come from real varied angles. His left hand is well known about, but almost no one has ever truly avoided it, and even those he hasn't stopped, such as Takashi Uchiyama, Sergio Thompson and Jorge Perez, have been dropped by his power. He really does have dynamite in his left hand, and his 67% KO rate really doesn't do his power justice.
Whilst offensive Miura is a nightmare his biggest issue is his defense. He's a fighter who has often gone with the idea “attack is the best form of defense”, and that has worked well over-all but hasn't been perfect. As a result he's suffered stoppages to Uchiyama, when he face was badly swollen, and Vargas, when he was knocked loopy by the Mexican. Even in bouts he's won, such as his wins over Thompson, Miguel Roman, Seiichi Okada and RJ Anoos he was tagged a fair bit and had his defensive flaws picked at. In fact in some ways the Anoos fight may well be the key bout to look at coming into this one. That may be a strange statement but Anoos made great use of his speed and jab, keeping Miura at range and flicking quick shots into his face, something that Berchelt will likely do.
On paper this could really go one of three ways. It could be a blow out as soon as either guy lands, if they catch their man clean early on it could be an early finish, both are huge punchers and both have the potential to take the other out early. That's shown in the stats, as Miura has 12 wins in the first 2 rounds and Berchelt has 14. We could also see the two men showing the toughness to weather the early storm and engage in a real fire fight, which will see both take a lot of punishment and will give the fans their money's worth in an all out brawl, the fight we all want to see. The third option is that Berchelt's speed and movement will simply be too much for the hunger and desire of Miura and he will put shot from range, using his lighter feet and take control of the bout, before running away with a victory, either by decision or late stoppage.
We all really, perhaps even expect, a brawl. If we get that then the fight is a real 50-50, either man could take the other out. If Berchelt can avoid a brawl, box at range, as he did against Vargas, and use his movement, then he should be able to win. He will however have to try his best to avoid holding his feet and having a fight. The more they stand out trade, the better chance Miura has of taking the win.
We would love to see Miura become a 2-time champion, score his 7th win over a Mexican opponent and his third win on international soil. But we can't help feeling that Berchelt has the advantages needed to retain his title.
Every so often a fight comes along that has fight fans feeling like it's Christmas. They know they are in for a treat. One such fight comes on November 21st when Japanese explosive Takashi Miura (29-2-2, 22) defends his WBC Super Featherweight title against unbeaten Mexican challenger Francisco Vargas (22-0-1, 16). To some fans this bout is the supporting bout to Miguel Cotto's WBC Middleweight world title defense against Saul Alvarez, to others however it's the hidden gem that will likely provide a better fight and more action than the supposed main event.
For those who haven't seen the two men in action they really are in for a treat. For those who have seen the men, they will know what to expect when the “Bomber” meets “Bandido”.
The champion is one of the sports heaviest handed champions. On paper his KO% is just 67% but that number really is misleading, and he has dropped almost everyone he has fought, including fellow champion Takashi Uchiyama, and former champions Billy Dib and Gamaliel Diaz, as well as top contenders like Sergio Thompson. In fact one of the thing that has dragged down Miura's KO% is his bouts at Lightweight, where he had to look to find opponents capable of taking his frightening power.
Miura is a 31 year old Southpaw who has really come in to his own in the last few years. To many his break out performance was his contest with Uchiyama, which he lost via 8th round TKO when his face was badly swollen. The loss was a blessing in disguise however and following it he moved over to the Teiken gym, having impressed members of the illustrious gym. It's been under Teiken that he's flourished and he's since gone 9-0 (7), claimed the WBC title and ran up 4 defenses, 3 by stoppage.
Aggressive, intelligent, hard working and of course powerful, Miura is a nightmare to fight. At times he can look wild, maybe a little predictable looking to land his left hand, but he is so devastating, so tough and so dangerous that his reputation can scare opponents. His win over Dante Jardon, another powerful puncher, seemed to prove that perfectly as Jardon fought scared and got battered in 9 one sided rounds as a result.
To beat Miura you need to move, boxer and make sure he can't land the left or over-whelm you. It sounds simple but it really isn't.
Whilst Miura is a puncher the same can also be said for Vargas, though he's less of a raw power puncher and more of a calculating combination puncher who lets his hands go, uses smart footwork to cut opponents off and looks to land a lot of solid shots. Although a solid puncher he has also shown he can box and in recent years has racked up a nice string of wins, beating the likes of Jerry Belmontes, Abner Cotto, Juan Manuel Lopez and Will Tomlinson.
Aged 30 Vargas is a man who has established himself in recent years and now looks to move on to becoming a world champion in one of the sports most under-rated divisions. Un fortunately for him he is stepping, though has looked comfortable fighting on the fringes of world class and his style is one that is always fun to watch, with a lot of punches being thrown. In term of work rate not many will match him, and better yet he's often accurate and intelligent with his output, showing some world class traits in his fights so far.
Watching Vargas, the best trait to have to beat him is to have the power and physical strength to fight him off. That however is much easier said than done and when fighters have tried that with out the power they have typically fared badly, as Lopez and Tomlinson will attest to. Miura however does have that strength and power and will likely be happy to go toe-to-toe with Vargas, which could bring out the boxer in the Mexican, if it does then Vargas will have to hope his plan B works. He can box, but the question would be can he do so against the aggression and power of Miura?
What we're expecting, or at least hoping for, is an all out war. A battle of machismo. A violent, brutal and exciting combat that gives fans a chance to really get lost in the contest. We're also expecting Miura to come out on top with his power eventually wearing away at Vargas after 9 rounds of brutal, exciting and relentless action. If however Vargas can box against Miura we could well see the title changing hands in what would be an enjoyable, but disappointing contest
It's fair to say that everyone who follows boxing is looking forward to May 2nd and the long awaited mega-fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. Before then however we are set to get a lot of other action, with the first title fight of the month coming on the Friday prior in Japan where the exciting Takashi Miura (28-2-2, 21) gets to defend his WBC Super Featherweight title against Australian challenger Billy Dib (39-3, 23).
Coming in to the bout Miura is a fighter seeking a win to “break out”. At the moment he's a world champion but one who is often seen as being in the shadows of the popular Takashi Uchiyama. He's scored himself notable wins already, including a 2013 FOTY contender against Sergio Thompson, but hasn't been able to really capture fans like his WBA title holding compatriot. As for Dib he's a man needing a win of note to just remain relevant in the world of professional boxing.
Internationally the more well known of the two men is Dib. He first made his name at home in Australia, where he fought many of his earliest fights, before going to the US to challenge the then WBO Featherweight champion Steve Luevano in 2008. Although Dib came up short against Luevano it wasn't long until he got another world title fight and over-came Jorge Lacierva for the IBF Featherweight title.
Unfortunately for Dib his reign came to an end just 20 months after winning the title as he was beaten by the then unheralded Evgeny Gradovich in the US. It was a bout that saw Dib losing his biggest drawing factor internationally and worst of all, frustrating fans with a performance that was ugly to say the least. Since that loss Dib has failed to really reignite his career and struggled past Mike Oliver before being stopped in a rematch with Gradovich, on the Macau card headlined by Manny Pacquiao's bout with Brandon Rios.
For many fans they expected Dib's loss to Gradovich to be the end of him at world level. The Australian boxer-mover was only 28 but already looking like a fighter who was done. He has however picked up 3 low level wins and got himself back into contention.
In the ring Dibb is a spoiler. He's fast and has got some real skill but seems to be happy to make things ugly and frustrate his opponents. At his best he's a fantastic fighter but his best days appear to be behind him and appear to have come against relatively poor opponents, opponents who were unable to cope with his speed, power or style. At the world levels he's never quite looked like fitting in and his IBF Featherweight title reign was disappointing to say the least with defenses against the little known Alberto Servidei, a little known Italian who was finished inside a round form a body shot, and Eduardo Escobedo, a Mexican who retired after 6 rounds of a messy and foul filled bout.
Whilst less well known internationally Miura is a man who is carving his way through the Super Featherweight division and taking no prisoners. He was first noted as a puncher in the amateur ranks where ran up an impressive record of 34-6 (22). Since turning professional in 2003 he has shown that same power and went 12-0-1 (10) before suffering his first loss, in a Japanese title fight to Yusuke Kobori. Despite his power it wasn't until his third Japanese title shot that he finally won and at one point it seemed like that was going to be where his power “topped out” with a number of distance bouts occurring when he faced the top Japanese contenders of the late 00's.
In 2011 we finally saw Miura fighting at the top level as he took on the WBA champion Takashi Uchiyama in a world title fight. Miura did come up short, with a badly swollen face forcing his retirement in that bout, be he had impressed, dropping Uchiyama hard in round 3 and showing his heart through several painful rounds. It was a loss but one with an upside as it saw Teiken taking an interesting in Miura and signing him up, where he has been ever since. Not only has Miura signed with Teiken but he has flourished having won all 8 bouts since the Uchiyama contest. Those bouts have included his world title victory against Gamaliel Diaz, his enthralling war with the tough Sergio Thompson, his 1-sided destruction of the horrible over-matched Dante Jardon and a beat down of the heavy handed but limited Edgar Puerta.
Wins over 4 successive Mexicans has seen Miura become a new “Mexicutioner” though in all honesty we suspect that he's going to have the beating of almost anyone in the Super Featherweight division. He has the style, power, aggressiveness and toughness to give everyone and anyone a tough bout and although he is flawed and he can be hurt he's a very hard man to beat, especially now that he's began to fulfil his potential.
When the two men get in the ring we're expecting to see a number of differences between the two men. Firstly we expect Dib will be quicker, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Dib land the first punch of note, or in fact the first few punches of note. On the other side Miura will be the much stronger, bigger and tougher man in the ring and we suspect when Dib tries to get dirty he will be brushed aside, the hugging and holding will be punished by powerful short shots. At the end of round 4 or 5 Dib will be getting bullied around the ring whilst Miura will be looking to land his potent left hand and within 8 rounds he'll have stopped Dib who we expect will look a beaten and broken man.
We might be wrong but really do see this as a mismatch with Miura having almost all the advantages and Dib being the sacrificial lamb to the champion who deserves a lot more attention than he's been getting from western fans.
Hopefully, if we're right, we'll see Miura in a super fight later in the year against the winner of the upcoming WBA “super” title fight between Takashi Uchiyama and Jomthong Chuwatana. That bout promises to be a lot more competitive than this one and if the winners were to collide it really would be the best fight to be made in the division.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Over the last 2 years we've seen Japanese "Bomber" Takashi Miura (27-2-2, 20) fighting just 3 times yet all 3 of those fights have seen him defeating Mexican opponents in WBC Super Featherweight title bouts. This Saturday we see him looking for 4 in a row as he takes on mandatory challenger Edgar Puerta (23-4-1, 19) in what appears to be a battle of punchers in a sure fire war, as long as it lasts.
Miura first came to the attention of international boxing fans back in 2011 when he fought WBA Super Featherweight champion Takashi Uchiyama and although Miura came up short he did drop Uchiyama, hard, in round 3. For Japanese fans however he he had been "on the scene" so to speak since 2007 when he challenged Yusuke Kobori for the Japanese national title. Against Kobori fans saw Miura coming up short though less than 2 years later he would claim a Japanese title, on his third attempt, as he stopped Yoshimitsu Yashiro in 7 rounds.
As the Japanese national champion Miura would defend the belt 4 times before fighting Uchiyama in what was a huge step up in class.
The loss to Uchiyama was a set back in many ways though it also helped Miura get the attention of the wider boxing public and helped him transfer to Japanese promotional powerhouse Teiken promotions, Under Teiken we've seen Miura improve his skills and become one of the must watch fighters in the 130lb division. We've also seen him claim the WBC world title courtesy of a stoppage victory over Gamaliel Diaz in 2013 and defend the belt twice with a 2013 FOTY contender against Sergio Thompson, in Mexico, and an impressively destructive win over Dante on New Years Eve.
As a fighter Miura has all the qualities that fans love. He's got a monster left hand, an ultra-aggressive mentality, a warriors heart and the ability to beat up and break down foes with relentless aggression. We're not saying he's the most skilled fighter on the planet but that hardly matters when you're as destructive as he is. Defensively he is a bit weak but knows that his best defense is his offense and he seems very happy with that.
The 32 year old Mexican challenger is a man we need to admit we've not really followed despite the fact he has long held a high WBC ranking. Like Miura however he is heavy handed and has stopped 9 of his last 12 opponents whilst going unbeaten for more than 3 years. Whilst it's fair to question his opposition during that run it's hard to argue with his power which has stopped the likes of Javier Prieto, who has now been ordered to fight Miura's stable mate Jorge Linares. Aside from his most recent loss, in 2011 to Ramon Ayala, his other 3 defeats all came during a poor run in 2008 as he was out pointed by Jaider Parra and Daniel Lomeli whilst Jaime Maldonado stopped him in 2 rounds. With those all coming some 6 years ago it's hard to read much into them today with Puerta being a much different fighter to the one who fought back then.
Heavily tattooed Puerta appears to look the part of a hardman and he fights in a way that tough guy generally does with his punches doing the talking tather than defense. Like Miura this means he leaves himself open when he lets his shots go and in some ways it appears he's gotten away with it by being naturally bigger and stronger than some of his opponents, such as Abraham Rodriguez who he dwarfed in their January 2013 bout. Sadly due to his competition it's hard to get a great read on him though it is clear that he's very fun to watch, that however didn't help Dante Jardon when he challenger Miura at the end of last year.
From what we've seen this is a huge step up for Puerta who is really facing his first world class opponent. That doesn't mean Puerta isn't world class himself, just that he's not proven that he's capable of fighting at this level. Miura however is proven and it appears that Puerta is the sort of fighter who Muira loves fighting against, someone else who will meet him center ring and have a fight. With that in mind it's hard to not be very excited about the potential action here with both men enjoying a fight.
One thing we don't think any fighter at Super Featherweight can actually do, is win a war with Miura. Puerta's only style of fighting is to have a war and we suspect he'll go the same way as Jardon and be stopped somewhere in the middle of the bout. We're expecting a better effort than Jardon put up but a similar result over-all.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
It's not that often that man leaves a impression on fans with his first title defense but that's exactly what Takashi Miura (26-2-2, 19) did when he traveled to Mexico and defended his WBC Super Featherweight title for the first time. Miura, who put on an absolutely enthralling brawl with Sergio "Yeyo" Thompson, may well have been involved in the true fight of the year.
Despite how good Miura/Thompson was there is every chance that Miura may actually be involved in an even more exciting fight on New Years Eve as he fights Dante Jardon (24-3, 20). Like Thompson, Jardon is a big hitter with an offensive mindset and a real will to win and like the Thompson fight Jardon has the style to give us fireworks when he meets Miura.
Miura first popped on to the international scene back in early 2011 as he challenged the fantastic Takashi Uchiyama for the WBA title. Although Miura came up short on that day, forced to retire due to severe swelling, he had dropped Uchiyama and given his domestic rival a genuinely tough nights work.
Following the loss to Uchiyama few would have expected Miura to go on a 6 fight winning streak defeating both Gamaliel Diaz and Sergio Thompson in back to back fights to win and then defend the WBC title. That however is exactly what Miura has done and in the process he has scored numerous knockdowns and generated a genuine fan base of his own.
Whilst the Japanese Southpaw can be dragged in to a war, as he was against Thompson, he can also box with real success. We wouldn't describe him as the best boxer in the division but his combination of strong boxing and very good brawling makes him nothing short of a pleasure to watch.
In Jardon we do have a lesser fighter but again we have someone who is a real world level talent. The 25 year old Mexican challenger, dubbed "Crazy", is a man who lives up to his nickname. He is rarely in a dull contest and with his power he's not a man to take lightly.
On Jardon's ledger we have seen him scoring victories over Gamaliel Diaz, Miguel Roman, Ricky Sismundo and Rene Gonzalez. Sure he has lost some along the way, including a very early career loss and a split decision to Miguel Roman, both of which have since been avenged, though he has also been stopped, in a massive upset, by Kyohei Tamakoshi.
The loss to Tamakoshi is perhaps the lingering issue for some about Jardon. That loss, which seemed to be partially from over-confidence, saw Jardon losing for the first time in well over 5 years and also saw him ending an 18 fight winning streak. Take out the fact that it was a "bad night at the office" in terms of the result and Jardon has since proven his worth and it's fair to say that he is world class.
What makes this fight exciting is not only the fact we have 2 top 10 guys in the ring together but stylistically they match up perfectly. Both are free swinging, both are heavy handed and both can be knocked down. It's not quite a case of who lands first wins but neither will want to take more than a few shots at a time and any exchange could be the final exchange.
In regards to brawling both men have the power to stop the other. Of that we have no doubt. When it comes to boxing though Miura's slightly more polished boxing skills should see him being able to win rounds and control the fight a little bit more. Jardon's boxing is quite limited, powerful but limited. It's this difference in boxing skills that make us favour Miura by late stoppage.
The fight is guaranteed to have fireworks, it's guaranteed to be explosive and it could well be a very late runner for the best fight of 2013. Do not miss it, or in fact miss the televised card on Tokyo TV which also features the all-Japanese battle between Takashi Uchiyama and Daiki Kaneko. Hopefully 2014 will see the winners colliding, Miura v Uchiyama II anyone?
For many the top Super Featherweight on the planet is Takashi Uchiyama, the WBA champion.
For those that follow the Japanese scene it's fair to say that Uchiyama is an exceptional fighter who hits like a mule, takes a shot well and knows how to defend himself. Despite the defense and toughness of Uchiyama he has been down once, at the hands of the monstrously hard hitting Takashi Miura (25-2-2, 19).
Although Uchiyama did get up and defeat Miura, it was fair to say that Uchiyama had never felt a shot like the one Miura had landed on him. In fact it was more a shock that Uchiyama got up from the shot than that he was sent to the canvas in the first place.
Since the loss to Uchiyama, Miura has made a genuine name for himself thanks to a run of 5 victories, including a destructive victory over Gamaliel Diaz for the WBC Super Featherweight title.
Miura makes the first defense of his title as he takes on the exciting and dangerous Mexican Sergio Thompson (27-2, 25) on August 17th, in a fight we'd happily ear-mark as a "must watch" contest.
For those who haven't seen Miura he'll not blow you away in terms of skills. In fact with out trying to sound harsh he's actually very basic. What he does do though is bang, and we mean bang. As mentioned in the opening of this, he dropped Uchiyama which is a genuinely impressive feat and had the same shot landed on any other Super Featherweight they'd have stayed down.
As well as possessing a lethal left hand Miura is teak tough and although he was stopped by Uchiyama that was down to serious swelling around his face more than anything else.
When you combine a tough Japanese fighting spirit with dynamite power you know that you any fight they are in could, potentially, be a fight of the year. When you have Sergio Thompson in the opposite corner then you boost the chances of something special ten fold.
Thompson is a fighter who "burst" on to the world stage back in 2012 when he defeated Jorge Linares, of course a fighter who has been under the Teiken banner in the past. The victory over Linares, via 2nd round TKO, was a result that really shook the boxing world with many, ourselves included, really rating Linares highly.
Prior to the Linares win there was very little to really say about Thompson. He had lost in his most notable bout, a split decision at home, to Alisher Rahimov and really had little else of note on his record.
Since the victory over Linares, Thompson has defeated several C level opponents but hasn't managed to get another notable name in the ring. He has, for all intents and purposes, become a member of the "who needs him?" club. Dangerous, very hard hitting, very offensive and very difficult to beat. He was almost cast aside waiting for an opportunity that at one point never looked like it was going happen.
Thanks to Mexican backers however Thompson has managed to get his well earned shot at a WBC title and lured Miura away from Japan.
With Miura being a fun to watch fighter, with power a flawed but offensive style and genuine toughness he's facing a fighter who is actually a bit like himself. However Thompson does seem to have a bit more to his game than Miura inside the ring, he certainly looks more willing to let his hands go for example and looks like a fighter able to wear people down as well as blast them out.
Stylistically the style match up seems to favour the busier Thompson who appears to hit just as hard as Miura but throws more. Saying that though, Miura is more tested having faced Uchiyama, Diaz and a number of Japanese fighters. Yes, the win over Linares is the biggest win between the two men though the quantity of good wins is with Miura who maybe defending his title for the first time but is fighting in his 3rd would title bout.
Going in to this fight we need to admit we do favour Thompson. Fighting away from Japan for the first time won't do Miura any favour and although he's tough and hard hitting he will probably get out worked here and unfortunately ground down.
It'll be a great fight as long as it lasts, don't get us wrong there, but we tend to think that Miura gets stopped in the middle rounds after hurting Thompson at least once.
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.