Some bouts look like mismatches the second they are signed. A punch doesn't always need to be thrown for us to know who's going to win. This was this past Friday night in Mexico as the diminutive Filipino Rommel Asenjo (26-4, 20) stepped up in weight and class to battle against the sensation Juan Francisco Estrada (32-2, 23). For Asenjo this was an opportunity he couldn't turn down, a win, however unlikely, would have have seen him claiming the WBA “super” and WBO Flyweight titles.
Sadly for Asenjo his only real success came in the opening with Asenjo managing to be competitive. What made the round competitive wasn't so much what Asenjo was doing, but more what Estrada wasn't doing. In fact the only really major punch in the opening round was a body shot from the champion who only fighting fighting in first gear.
In the second round the champion slowly began to warm up and in the final minute of the round things started to look very problematic for Asenjo who was looking completely out of his depth. Asenjo tried to counter when he had half a chance but was unable to get Estrada's respect whilst the champion really started to land with hurtful and clean shots, almost at will.
To his credit Asenjo saw out the round before going down, and although he was beginning to take a pounding there was still plenty of fight in the challenger. Sadly however his team seemed to know his time was numbered and less than a minute in round 3 they threw in the towel to save their swollen charge.
The ending was weird with he towel coming in when there was no real danger to the challenger, but the damage to his face was significant and in some ways the decision is an understandable one, it's just a shame it came this early into the fight when there was was a chance for Asenjo to go out on his sword.
Sadly for Asenjo this was the second time he'd come up short in a world title fight and we really can't see him getting a third shot. For Estrada it was too easy and it's now time he faced a real challenge rather than a Filipino foe that signed for the bout only weeks before it was set and had to come up 2 weight divisions fro the bout. He's better than this and should be fighting top competition on a more regular basis.
The main event of Pinoy Pride XXX saw WBO Light Flyweight champion Donnie Nietes (35-1-4, 21) successfully retain his crown with a stoppage win over the tough but outclassed Mexican challenger Gilberto Parra (19-3, 17)
The fight started fast with Nietes taking the action to the Mexican challenger in the opening round. Parra tried his best to fight back but was looking out classed with Nietes fighting in a “seek and destroy” mode. It wasn't the usual start to a Nietes fight but it was fun and exciting with the champion out to make a statement.
The aggressiveness of Nietes continued in the second round when he seemed to hurt Parra who did well to see out the storm but offered little in return, despite Nietes giving him more openings than we'd typically see Nietes give an opponent. It was as if Nietes had no respect of the much vaunted power of Parra and then Mexican was doing little to make Nietes respect him.
In round 3 we saw Nietes come close again to dropping Parra who narrowly avoided a monster right hand from the champion who was intent on giving the fans a show, though they were quieter than we were expecting considering the domination of their man.
To his credit however Parra was taking the blows, for the most part, well and although he ate a big combination in round 4 he did begin to fight back a bit more and then a bit more in round 5. It was if Parra was slowly waking up to the fact he was in a world title fight.
Parra had his best round in the 6th when he landed some solid body shots on the Filipino and then a huge left hook upstairs. For his success Parra was punished and had to take a left to the mid-section that seemed to discomfort him for a second. It was the first truly competitive round of the fight.
Nietes responded well in round 7 and started to use his experience and skills to make Parra look second rate. This ended the mini-fight back of the challenger who was unable to get around the jab of the champion and was on the retreat for the most part.
In the 8 Parra started to show ambition again, at least early in the round. Nietes however seemed to sense the end was nigh and landed a monster right hand that dropped Nietes hard. The Mexican recovered to his feet but then preceded to run away, avoiding all danger until the bell saved him, and earned him a minutes respite. Prior to the knockdown it had been a good round for Parra but not good enough to avoid the 10-8 following the knockdown.
The knockdown appeared to destroy the confidence of the challenger who was on his toes early in round 9. Even being negative didn't help Parra who took another solid right that left him with a nasty cut on the left eye. The cut was a bad one but Parra saw out the round, doing as best he could to avoid a fight with the champion.
Parra got his wish between rounds 9 and 10 as he was stopped on his tool. A merciful decision but the right one for a man who had tried in the middle rounds but been thoroughly beaten, maybe managing to claim just a round from the 9 that had been completed.
We're now hoping to see Nietes move onto a fight with former unified Minimumweight champion Francisco Rodriguez Jr in the summer. That's going to be a much better fight than this one if it gets made. Sadly this always seemed like a mismatch and although Parra had his moments they were few and far between.
(Image courtesy of abs-cbn.com)
In the past we've seen various countries become linked to poor decisions. Countries where a visiting world champion needs to score a knockout if they are to retain their world title. Countries that are next to impossible to take home the win unless you do something very special. They have notably included German, the UK, the US, Thailand and Argentina. We expected to see Macau added to that list at the start of today when Thailand's Amnat Ruenroeng (15-0, 5) traveled to the gambling hotspot of Asia to defend his IBF Flyweight title. Amnat was up against Chinese cash cow Zou Shiming (6-1, 1) a man ear marked for a world title by Top Rank and a man who was potentially the key to opening up the Chinese boxing market.
At the end of the day however we were pleasantly surprised by the judging. For once they got it right. The judges got the fight right and didn't care about who won or lost, just about doing their job and getting the right decision. A real novelty in boxing.
Before we go any further let's just begin with an admission. The fight wasn't great. In fact it was one of the worst world title fights we can remember seeing in recent years. It was however intriguing and telling with both men showing flaws in their game plans as well as their strengths.
The fight started slowly with both men trying to see what the other had. It was very technical but very dull and frustrating with neither man really wanting to let their hands go. Instead we got a round that saw a lot of posturing, a lot of posing and a lot of feinting. In terms of actual punches the most notable thing was the jab of Amnat which appeared to be the only punch with any real consistency. It was a less than thrilling round but was a clear round for the defending champion.
In the second round we saw one of the very few talking points as Shiming scored a controversial knockdown of the champion. It appeared that Amnat slipped but the referee seemed to suggest a punch had landed. It was a harsh call but one that secured Shiming his first round of the fight, a 10-8 round. Immediately after the knockdown Shiming looked confident but refused to gamble, almost as if he knew it wasn't a real knockdown.
In round 3 we did some fire works early on but they didn't last too long with Amnat wisely using his jab to keep Shiming at range and by the end of the round Shiming looked clueless. So clueless in fact that he began to walk over to Amnat's corner until the Thai pointed him in the right direction and laughed at his foe. In some ways this mistake from Shiming summed up the fight, he didn't seem to know quite where he was or what he was supposed to be doing. All too often he found himself on the outside tasting Amnat's jab or rushing in wildly and missing, being made to look awfully silly courtesy of Amnat's clever footwork and frustrating holding that blunted Shiming's few worth while attacks.
Through the middle rounds Shiming let things slip away. He tried to come forward and he tried to act as the counter puncher but neither tactic worked as Amnat continued to use his feet and jab to blunt any momentum Shiming managed to build up. It was negative from Amnat but effectively and helped make Shiming look genuinely inept as the Chinese fighter plodded forward, refused to let his hands go and got picked off, time and time again.
Shiming's few rounds of success in the middle came in rounds 7 and 9 but even those were rounds that could easily have gone Amnat's way. Shiming was simply unable to get going, and when he did he was tagged as Amnat began to mix up both his jab and right hand. The straight right of the champion regularly sliced through the guard of Shiming whilst the short uppercuts from the champion were a thing of beauty when Shiming didn't seem to expect them.
By the start of round 10 Freddie Roach had sensed his man, the challenger, was behind. He urged Shiming to pick it up. It was clear that Roach thought his man was behind and needed to pick it up. Unfortunately for Amnat the best he could do was look silly as he chased shadows, looked amateur like and lost. It was again a case of Shiming simply not being good enough. As hard as the challenger tried he simply couldn't have any sustained success, the best he had was an occasional connect which always seemed to be answered seconds late. Even worse for Shiming was the penultimate round which saw Amnat picking up the pace and showing how world class ability as he landed a number of hard right hands. It was a round that showed how good Amnat really is, but was merely a glimpse of his overall ability.
In the final round it seemed Amnat was confident he had done enough and he did next to nothing for the entire round which he spoiled and gave away. Shiming didn't so much win it as being given it. It was however a consolation round for the challenger who had simply not done enough to win.
There was a few moments of worry after the final bell. Could the judges be set to steal the title from the champion? Could Shiming have been set for a belated Christmas present? Thankfully the answer came quickly and was a resounding no as all 3 judges scored the bout 116-111 to Amnat proving that sometimes they do all get it right.
From what we understand Amnat's next defense will come against the fan friendly Johnriel Casimero of the Philippines. That should be a much better bout than this one, which was a stinker, though there is talk of Amnat delaying that to face a voluntary challenger next time out instead. As for Shiming it's a giant question about where he goes next. He could look at claiming an OPBF title or another fringe title but on the back of this fight he really needs to buckle down and change how he fights.
For us the loss for Shiming is a double edged sword. It's fantastic that Amnat's run continues. He's a great story and the type of person who deserves success. He's gone about things the hard way and defended his title in both Japan, against Kazuto Ioka last year, and now Macau. Sadly however the loss for Shiming will see US TV again ignoring the Flyweight division and probably also a lot of Asia. Shiming was a reason for HBO to be interested in both the Flyweights and Macau, and we may end up losing the opportunity to see regular bouts involving the likes of Rex Tso, who won a FOTY contender on the undercard, and IK Yang, who looked sensational on the same under-card. Hopefully the loss for Shiming won't be the end of Macau boxing for Top Rank though there is a good chance that it will be scaled back. Sadly.
The Minimumweight division may feature the sports smallest fighters but right now the division is one of the most interesting with a number of fighters making their name at 105lbs and a number of interesting match ups being made there.
The most recent of the notable match ups in the division happened earlier today when the wonderfully named Knockout CP Freshmart (10-0, 5) made the first defense of the WBA interim title that he won a few months ago when he defeated Carlos Buitrago. In the opposite corner to the 24 year old Thai was Indonesian veteran, and former 2-time world champion, Muhammad Rachman (65-12-5, 35) a divisional legend looking for a surprising return to the top at the age of 43.
On paper this was notable for 2 reasons. The fighters had a huge gulf in experience, with Rachman being massively more experienced in the sweet science, whilst Knokcout had a 19 year “youth” advantage and is widely seen as one of the most promising fighters in the division, in fact some may suggest he's the second most promising young fighter at 105lbs, only behind super talent Kosei Tanaka.
In the ring, unfortunately, the gulf in age was what told with Knockout being too young, fresh and fast for his ancient opponent who struggled to cope with the tempo of Knockout who started fast, showed his youthful energy and always seemed a step or two ahead of his challenger.
Rachman, who had only been stopped once in his previous 81 bouts, showed why he had been selected as an opponent. He was tough and had a few tricks up his sleeve to teach his younger foe. He was never particularly dangerous in the fight but also refused to go away giving Knockout a chance to learn on the job and get some solid rounds in against a fighter with experience and know how. Sadly though that was the most telling significance of the bout, it was a public training session at times with Knockout on the offensive but unable to land killer blows.
Through much of the first 11 rounds it was all Kncokout. He had things pretty much his own way against a fighter hand selected as a challenger, in fact Rachman really shouldn't have been in a title bout at this stage in his career given he was effectively retired. Rachman did try, and credit to him for trying, but he never managed to really make a round that close. In round 12 however the challenger genuinely came alive, it was as if he sensed this would be the last round of his long career. He let his hands go and for the first time there was a round with real back and forth, unfortunately it was another that was won by Knockout, despite a good effort from the challenger.
Now it's expected that Knockout will try to chase a fight with South African Hekkie Bulder, the WBA “regular” champion, however it may be that Knockout needs to bide his time with Budler said to be eyeing a WBA-IBF unification bout with Katsunari Takayama in the summer. It would seem wise for Knockout to try and get another defense of his interim title before a meeting with Budler, or Takayama if he beats Bulder, later in the year.
(Image courtesy of thairec.com)
World Title Results
Whether you like them or not World Titles add prestige to any bout as a result we've included the results of world title bouts in this special section.