This coming Saturday fight fans in Las Vegas will see a legendary Filipino name return to world title action, albeit not the man who made the name famous but instead his grandson.
The legendary name in question is Elorde, best known for the great Gabriel "Flash" Elorde who's grand son Juan Miguel Elorde (28-1, 15) challenges WBO Super Bantamweight champion Emanuel Navarrete (28-1, 24) on Saturday at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. For the champion this will be his third defense, since winning the title last December, whilst Elorde will be getting his first bout at this level, and will be entering as a huge under-dog.
The Mexican champion had been on the verge of a break out for a while, with those who follow the Latin American scene tipping him as a hugely talented, exciting, and destructive prospect. Last year he got a chance, taking on Isaac Dogboe, and impressed as he out pointed the popular Dogboe over 12 rounds to claim the WBO title. Since then he has really been on a roll, seeing his standing in the sport increase with a stoppage win over Dogboe in a rematch and a quick blow out over Francisco Da Vaca in August.
In the ring Navarrete is a legitimate monster. He's a strong, powerful, hard hitting and rugged Mexican who, at 5'7" is huge for the weight. Although he's an aggressive fighting machine he's actually quite a smart fighter, and not as reckless as he sometimes appears. He gets inside well, with quick footwork and unloads hooks, uppercuts and straights up close. He combines his excellent offensive output with a real rugged toughness and it looks like it's going to take a very, very special fighter to beat him....unless making weight beats him first. In many ways he's a little bit similar to former Welterweight champion Antonio Margarito, and like Margarito he rarely takes a step backwards, so one thing we would like to see, one day, is a fighter really put him on the back foot. Sadly we don't expect to see that here.
At 32 years old Elorde will be getting his first world title fight, and likely his last. Despite the Super Bantamweight division being a low key solid one he is some how ranked #1 by the WBO, who genuinely have awful rankings in the division. To date his best win was his most recent, a very competitive decision over Japan's Shohei Kawashima, a decision that many felt Elorde was fortunate to get. That was his 18th straight win, but one of very few against fighters of any note, with perhaps the next most notable being a 2018 decision win over Lucky Tor Buamas. That's not to say he's a bad fighter, but one who's going from fringe regional level to world class, having only really touched regional title level a couple of times.
Given that the Philippines, alone, has fighters in the division like Albert Pagara, Marlon Tapales, Jeo Santisima and Mark Anthony Geraldo, an argument could be made that Elorde is only the 5th best in his homeland. And he may actually be outside the top 10 best actually competing in Asia, behind the likes of Ryosuke Iwasa, Yusaku Kuga, Shingo Wake, Tomoki Kameda, Hiroaki Teshigawa and Yukinori Oguni.
Although Elorde's #1WBO ranking is a joke he's technically a decent fighter, with a nice jab, nice footwork, nice speed and good understanding of the ring. He's also one of the very few fighters in the division who is a similar height to Navarette. Sadly however "nice" doesn't cut it at world class and even ignoring his flaws, which include a relatively low work rate, poor punch power, he simply doesn't have any world class traits.
Elorde could have made a very solid career fighting at regional level the last few years. Instead he has been moved safely to this shot. A shot that he doesn't deserve, is ill prepared for but will given his all for. Sadly giving his all won't be anywhere near enough against Navarrete. The Mexican might take a round or two to get his engine going but when that happens we expect him to mow through the Filipino challenger.
Prediction - TKO4 Navarette
This coming Saturday in Glendale, Arizona, we get the chance to see one of boxing best young champions take on one of the toughest old fighters in the sport as WBO Super Bantamweight champion Isaac Dogboe (19-0, 13) faces off with Japanese challenger Hidenori Otake (31-2-3, 14). The bout will be the first defense by the 23 year old from Ghana whilst the 37 year old Otake will be getting his second world title fight. Not only is there a 14 year age gap between the two men but there is also significant differences in natural size, experience and amateur pedigree, which helps to make this match up as interesting as it is.
Dogboe, known as “Brave Son”, competed at the 2012 Olympics in London, where he was living at the time, and was one of the youngest fighters at the tournament. Interestingly he would lose in his only fight at the games to Japanese foe Satoshi Shimizu, the current OPBF Featherweight champion. He made his professional debut the following year, in Switzerland of all places, before picking up early career wins in the Northern Ireland and then the USA before beginning to make a name in Ghana from September 2015.
Although fighting in what was relative boxing obscurity Dogboe was getting some quality opponents, such was Neil John Tabanao and Javier Nicholas Chacon, as he continued his development leading into 2018. To begin this year Dogboe took a huge step up in class, and rose to the occasion, stopping Mexican tough guy Cesar Juarez to claim the WBO “interim” Super Bantamweight title. Less than 4 months later he travelled to the US and scored an excellent 11th round KO of the then unbeaten Jessie Magdaleno to claim the full WBO title. Despite being dropped in the opening round Dogboe was in the lead on all 3 cards at the time of the stoppage and, despite some flaws, he had looked very impressive.
Stood at just over 5'2” Dogboe is a diminutive fighter, even at Super Bantamweight. He is however an unpredictable, explosive, fast and powerful fighter. There are a number of flaws with his boxing, which wouldn't be expected of someone with his amateur background, but he manages to use them to his advantage rather than them really costing him. It could be a case that a big, strong, accurate fighter could make him pay for his wilder style, but there is also a good chance he'll be able to use his lack of size and explosiveness to get in and work away on opponents, drag them into a war and use his supposed disadvantages to his advantage.
Otake is the next in a long line of insanely tough Japanese fighters, who can walk through shots that would leave others on the floor in agony. Saying that however he is more technically skilled than the likes of Nihito Arakawa, Yoshihiro Kamegai and Akihiro Kondo and has got solid, yet basic, boxing skills. He comes forward behind a busy long jab, he uses the ring well and looks to back up opponents behind his boxing, and not behind his physicality. Despite being 37 he has an incredible engine, with his work ethic being one of the best in Japan. All that was shown when he had his first world title fight, back in 2014 losing to Scott Quigg in a WBA title fight.
Since losing to Quigg we've seen Otake go on an excellent run of 9 straight wins, including wins over Jelbirt Gomera, Kinshiro Usui, Hinata Maruta and the hard hitting Brian Lobetania. Those wins have seen him win the OPBF title and make 3 successful defenses of the title. He has shown power late, stopping two of his last 4 opponents in the 10th round, but has also shown an ability to go 12 rounds with no real issue. He has however shown some struggles in his 9 fight winning run, notably struggling past the hard hitting Alexander Espinoza in November 2016.
At the age of 37 Otake is looking to set the Japanese record for the oldest man to win a world title, a record currently held by Hozumi Hasegawa when he claimed the WBC Super Bantamweight title. Despite being 37 he's a young 37, an amazing thing to say about someone who debuted back in December 2005 and has had more than 240 professional rounds. His toughness and physical strength however do explain, perhaps, why he has had such longevity. Notably he will have around 5” of height advantage over Dogboe, as well ad the huge gulf in experience.
Dogboe is, rightfully, the betting favourite. He's the young upstart who has been stopping world class fighters like Juarez and Dogboe and is the defending champion. This is, however a very different test for Dogboe than anything he's faced so far. He's going to be punching upwards against an insanely tough fighter, he's going to be in with a technically solid, though slow, fighter and going to have an opponent who won't back off. Otake has the ability to give Dogboe real problems, especially if Dogboe looks to take him out early and finds the Japanese fighter to be a bit of an immoveable object.
Otake has got a chance, he's the under-dog for a reason, but has the ability to keep Dogboe on the back foot and at range, frustrate him with his long right hand and look to “old man” Dogboe out of rounds. We don't know if he'll be able to do that for 12 rounds against someone as unpredictable as Dogboe, but we certainly see him having some real moments here. Sadly though we think those moments for Otake will be too few and far between, with Dogboe taking a wide decision, but one he will really have to earn.
November 5th is a hectic day with numerous significant bouts and title contests taking place during day, from an OPBF title bout in Japan to the ring return of a boxing icon. With so many action it's hard to pick one bout and suggest it should be the best of them, but if pushed it does seem likely that WBO Super Bantamweight title bout will be the most intriguing of the bunch.
That bout sees reigning world champion, and modern day boxing legend, Nonito Donaire (37-3, 24) making the second defense of his title and taking on the unbeaten, and very highly touted, Jessie Magdaleno (23-0, 17).
The 33 year old champion might not be “Manny Pacquiao” but he is pretty much the #2 Filipino in boxing circles right now, perhaps only challenged by 2-weight world champion Donnie Nietes. Like Pacquiao he has gone through the weight classes, and claimed titles from Flyweight up to Featherweight, though has settled back at Super Bantamweight. Also like Pacquiao he is a fighter coming to the end, he might have one or two fights left in him, or 3 or 4 years but we have certainly seen the best of Donaire.
At his best Donaire was a huge fighter in lower weight classes who had real size advantages, power, skills, speed and appeared to have all the tools for a long and lengthy reign at Super Flyweight, Bantamweight or Super Bantamweight. Instead he rose through the weights looking for challengers and scored wins against a veritable who's who, including Vic Darchinyan, Moruti Mthalane, Hernan Marquez, Fernando Montiel, Omar Andres Narvaez, Toshiaki Nishioka and Jorge Arce. Some of those were under-sized, other were over the hill, but they were top names and helped make Donaire a major lower weight attraction.
As he moved up the weights he hasn't continued to be as amazing as he once was. He is however still a big puncher, he's got solid skills and impressive skills. Over the 12 round distance he has got questionable stamina, and that was shown notably against Cesar Juarez. Saying that however making it to the latter parts of the fight with Donaire has been a challenge in it's self and 3 of his last 4 opponents have failed to hear the bell to end round 3, and it's worth noting Juarez himself was almost stopped in round 4 before mounting a brilliant fight back.
Whilst Donaire is a true veteran, and had his world title fight more than 9 years ago, the same cannot be said of Magdaleno, a 24 year old prospect who is getting his first world title bout. In fact not only is the bout set to be his first world title bout but also his first 12 round bout of any variety. That's a surprise when you consider that Magdaleno has had 23 bouts and been a professional for close to 6 years, with his team raving about him from incredibly early in his career. In fact part of the reason he was so highly touted was because he was a decorated amateur with 120 and including US and national Gold Glove titles.
Through out Magdaleno's career he has shown all the traits of a fighter heading towards a world title. He has impressed with his power, speed and skills whilst his calmness in the ring has been incredible and it's clear that he's a natural. Sadly though he's not been able to shows those abilities against particularly testing opponents, with his best opponents being Raul Hirales and a shop worn Luis Maldonado. Not only has he failed to fight decent competition be he is also very unproven over the longer distances, with only 2 scheduled 10 rounders on his record and he has only been 7 rounds, or more, on 5 occasions.
On paper this could be a passing of the torch bout, with Magdaleno picking up the proverbial torch from Donaire, but he would need to prove so many things to do that. He would need to prove that he's as good as hyped, he'd need to avoid Donaire's power and probably prove he himself can do 12 rounds. If he can't do those things then it's hard to imagine how he can beat someone like Donaire, or any other world class fighter.
Although Donaire is coming to the end of his career we think that he's still too much for Magadaleno given the way the American has been matched so far. And whilst we can see Magdaleno's youth being an issue for Donaire we don't think he'll manage to cope with the power and speed of Donaire in the early rounds. If Magdaleno can survive the first 5 rounds then things will be interesting, but we'll be honest and say that we doubt that'll happen with Donaire such a heavy handed fighter at Super Bantamweight.
This coming weekend is a busy one for Asian fighters with a trio of Asian's fighting in world title fights. One of those is current WBO Super Bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire (36-3, 23), who makes the first of the title he regained last year, who faces little known Hungarian challenger Zsolt Bedak (25-1, 8), who is getting his second world title shot.
The talented, and popular, Donaire has had a brilliant career and turned a 1-1 start into a career that has seen him claim world titles from Flyweight to Featherweight and likely secure a place in the HOF. Sadly however he is coming to the end of the road and has shown a clear deterioration over the last few years, with poor performances against the likes of Omar Andres Narvaez, Wilfredo Vazquez Jr, Jeffrey Mthebula, Vic Darchinyan and Cesar Juarez, as well as losses to Guillermo Rigondeaux and Nicholas Walters.
Although Donaire is on the slide, and has been for a while, he is still better than most fighters and can still show touches of brilliance. That was seen in the early rounds against Juarez, with round 4 being a particularly good one from Donaire, and against Anthony Settoul, who was dominated by Donaire last year. He still carries impressive speed and power, is sharp early on and can be very dangerous, though does look like a fighter who lacks the stamina to go 12 rounds at a good pace, and has started to become a bit predictable with his dangerous left hook.
When it comes to Bedak there is very little on his record, other than his loss in 2010 to Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. That loss was in a world title fight and although Bedak showed some ability early on he did get broken down and was stopped in the 10th round. Since that loss Bedak has scored 10 successive wins, though the competition has been terrible with the most notable win of that run coming against Kenyan tough guy Nick Otieno last September.
As an amateur Bedak was very good and competed at the 2004 Olympics, scoring a notable win over Abner Mares at the Olympics, sadly though his professional career has been a frustrating one, with Bedak, or his team, happy to go along the path of least resistance. Despite that he has scarcely managed to impress and we can't see him impressing this weekend in what is a high pressure situation for the Hungarian, who knows it is now or never.
We don't want to slate world title bodies, but before we get on with our prediction we do need to make a comment in regards of the WBO who should be forced to explain how Bedak has got a world title fight and how he's managed to get a #4 ranking. The ranking is among the most inexplicable in the sport and sadly we suspect that will be shown when the men get in the ring on Saturday.
Whilst we think Donaire is coming to the end he's not a shot fighter, and he does still possess that deadly left hook. We think that will be too much for Bedak who won't see out the first half of the bout. We understand Donaire having an easy first defense, and a homecoming in the Philippines, so won't criticise him too hard given his willingness to face top fighters through his career, but the WBO deserve all the criticism they get for allowing this bout to go ahead.
Some fighters are regarded as being a class above everyone in their division. Fighters like Wladimir Klitschko, Gennady Golovkin and Roman Gonzalez. Another of those it Cuban Super Bantamweight Guillermo Rigondeaux (14-0, 9) who is viewed as so good that others in the division do what they can to ignore him, pretending he doesn't exist and that he'll hopefully retire sooner rather than later. Rigondeaux's seen opponents avoid him like the plague and sadly he has seen promoters and TV cast him as the black sheep of boxing. He is, unfortunately, too good for his own good.
With almost all the fighters in the west now avoiding Rigondeaux it was inevitable he would have to fight in the east, at least for now. There were several possibilities for the Cuban though eventually a bout between himself and OPBF Featherweight champion Hisashi Amagasa (28-4-2, 19) was agreed. The story was one of those “wow” stories for boxing fans, similar to Nobuhiro Ishida becoming a heavyweight, and seems to have genuinely gotten Japanese fans talking.
There is a combination of excitement and apprehension regarding Rigondeaux's venture into Japan though what can't be denied is that this big news and a very, very tough fight for Amagasa, who will be hoping to score a huge upset and claim the WBO and WBA "super" Super Bantamweight titles.
For those who have seen Rigondeaux in action they will know what to expect. He is incredibly skilled, in fact his skills are probably the best of any fighter on the planet. Sadly those skills are combined with a very negative attitude to the combat aspect of boxing and instead of showing off his skills in offensive showcases, as we see with Gonzalez and Golovkin, Rigondeaux would rather box completely off the back foot, neutralising foes with footwork and attempting to take opponents out with single laser like straight left hands. It's pure boxing at it's finest but it can be dull and highly frustrating, especially given Rigondeaux's ability.
As frustrating as he is Rigondeaux really seems to have all the skills a fighter would wish for. He is an explosive puncher, has cat like reflexes, perfect balance, amazing timing and unbelievable speed. Sadly he has flaws that regard his mentality, which is certainly against putting on a show, and perceived issues regarding durability, having been dropped several times in his career. When he's feeling offensive Rigondeaux is a joy to watch and every bit as enjoyable as Roman Gonzalez, but sadly those moments are few and far between leaving many wishing to see more offense from the Cuban.
Rigondeaux is well known, even if he isn't well liked. The same cannot be said of Amagasa who is the OPBF Featherweight champion though is hardly known outside of his native Japan.
For those who don't know about about him Amagasa is a lanky fighter, stood at around 5'10” he was a taller Featherweight and, as he's dropping down to Super Bantamweight for this bout, will look stupidly tall for this bout against a much shorter foe. Sadly the Japanese fighter rarely makes the best use of his height and often comes in swinging wide shots rather than pumping out a sharp jab. If Amagasa had had a reliable and sharp jab he would be a real force on the world scene with his looping shots he often makes himself look beatable with recent foe Ryo Takenaka almost over-coming in his most recent bout.
Although technically limited Amagasa is an aggressive type of fighter with nasty power and he has scored some wonderful looking knockouts, most notable of which came against Koji Nagata back in 2009, courtesy of a brutal uppercut. Of course with his wing span and wide shots he has the ability to land from unusual angles, something that makes his power even more potent. As well as his power he has great work rate, seems to be tough and has real desire to reach the top.
We suspect, like everyone else, that Rigondeaux will be too good, too smart, too sharp and too quick for Amagasa. In fact even the Japanese fighter himself has suggested he only has 1% chance of upsetting that talented Cuban. Despite all the advantages there is a chance, albeit a very small one, that Amagasa may be able to connect with one of his wild swings. It's unlikely but possible that he could connect and send Rigondeaux down and out.
We're expecting an easy looking Rigondeaux win, either by wide decision or by a late stoppage, probably from a body shot. If Amagasa wins however he may well have notched up the upset of the year in one of the final bouts of the year.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
We are huge fans of the Top Rank Macau shows. We'll admit they aren't the best shows, they don't often have the best fights on them nor do they seem to be all that "packed" in terms of match ups. What they do do however is show case some Asian fighters ranging from future stars like Ryota Murata to fringe contenders like Yasutaka Ishimoto, from rising prospects like Rex Tso to tough journeymen like Mako Matsuyama.
On July 19th we see the next Macau card, a show dubbed "Champions of Gold", which features 3 Olympic champions including the amazingly skilled Guillermo Rigondeaux (13-0, 8). Rigondeaux, who has butted heads with Top Rank in recent months, will be taking on an Asian veteran in the form of 37 year old Sod Kokietgym (63-2-1, 28) in a defence of the WBA and WBO Super Bantamweight titles that the Cuban currently holds.
Although very highly experienced in terms of fights, both as a boxer and in Muay Thai Sod isn't a world class boxer. His 63 wins have, on the whole, come against limited imports to Thailand such as Adones Aguelo, Falazona Fidal and Randy Megrino and although he has only lost twice in 66 bouts both losses came to a man that we all know, Daniel Ponce De Leon.
In the first bout between Sod and and Ponce De Leon we saw the Thai give Ponce De Leon real problem, dropping him in the bout though taking a narrow loss. In a rematch however once De Leon showed his power and stopped Sod in amazing fashion to enhance his reputation as one of the heaviest handed fighters in the sport at that time.
Sadly since the losses to Ponce De Leon we've not seen Sod take on a single notable opponent, instead he had been happy to run up a 37 fight unbeaten streak, including 36 wins. Sadly it's not just been a lack of "notable" opponents on Sod's record but also quality opponents. Instead of progressing with experience the slow looking Sod has been beating limited foes that have almost allowed him to regress in the ring despite picking up the victories.
In regards to Rigondeaux we have one of the the true master boxers. If you're a fan of the sweet science and the ideas behind "hit and don't get hit" then Rigondeaux is your cup of tea though his lack of aggression and risk taking can often make his bouts appear tedious, especially given his exceptional skill and speed. It's this tedium of Rigondeaux that has seen the fighter and his promoter and TV giant HBO all fall out. Rigondeaux, for all his talent, can't keeps fans entertained or keep fans in an arena, as we saw in his stink fest with Joseph Agbeko.
The issues between Rigondeaux and his promoter have seen the two parties almost put together this bout to end Rigondeaux's contract. It appears that the bout, for all intents and purposes will be the last time Rigondeaux ever works with Top Rank. Unfortunately for the talented Cuban it's a bout he can't win even if he takes an amazingly impressive victory in the ring.
Priced as a prohibitive favourite at 1/100, or -10000 for our American readers, with some British sports books this is a bout that Rigondeaux is so favoured to win that many feel he need just step in the ring to win. Unfortunately by being involved in such a perceived mismatch Rigondeaux will be slated however he wins. If he beats Sod quickly it'll be a case if "well that was expected" whilst if he puts on a 12 round clinic people will say that he should have stopped Sod. It really is a no win situation.
The differences between the two men are massive. Sod is slow, clumsy, defensively poor, lacks power, and although he has experience he's developed more bad habits than almost any other fighter out there. In comparison Rigondeaux is lightning quick, almost flawless in his defence and has serious power when he lets his shots go, in fact the Cuban's left hand, when he throws it with real with conviction, is a thing of real beauty.
We're thinking that the straight left of Rigondeaux will be the key here and with the bad habits Sod has, including dropping his hands when he throws a shot, it could be a very early night with Rigondaux almost certain to land the left as a counter early on. Sod's chin isn't awful in fairness but we don't see him standing up to many of the powerful left hand shots of the Cuban and this really could be over very quickly if Rigondeaux feels like making a statement.
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.