For Chinese boxing to really take off it needs a hero that's not just a big name, like Zou Shiming, but also successful. Today we found out that Ma Yi Ming (12-6, 7) was certainly not going to be that hero as he was obliterated inside a round by exciting Filipino Randy Petalcorin (23-1-1, 18), who made the first defense of his WBA interim Light Flyweight title.
For many this was a mismatch when it was signed, for others it was merely a disappointment. In the ring however it proved to be both.
From the opening bell it was clear that the two men were on different levels. Ming tried to march forward behind a high guard but the razor like Petalcorin split the guard and found a home for his lighting quick strikes. Ming had no immediate response, almost amazed that his guard was being breached as easily as it was. Within a minute the challenger was down. Ming showed his grittiness to get back up but it did him little good with Petalcorin continuing to abuse him until the referee gave another count against the Chinese fighter.
From then on Ming finally realised he had to fight back. He did so flailing his arms widely in the hope of landing something, anything. Sadly for him his wild shots just gave even bigger openings to Petalcorin who hurt him against and forced referee Raul Caiz Jr to call an end to the very 1-sided contest.
Whilst Ming was truly awful Petalcorin looked really impressive. He was sharp from the off, showed amazing speed and every punch looked crisp. It was as good a showcase performance that he could have hoped for and now deserves to be followed up by a genuinely meaningful bout. Although the Light Flyweight division isn't the most stacked it does have some interesting contender type fighters floating around, such as Yu Kimura, Ryo Miyazaki, Rey Loreto, Jonathan Taconing, Paipharaob Kokietgym and even Palangpol CP Freshmart. If we could see Petalcorin in with a fighter of that level next time out then we'll find out how good he really is. If he fights someone at this level again however questions do need to be asked about what his team are doing and whether they lack the belief in him to really over-come fellow world class fighters.
Although there are a number of interesting contender types out there for Petalcorin we would most like to see him face WBA "regular" champion Ryoichi Taguchi in would would be a really good bout later this year. We may however need to wait for that one with Taguchi likely to defend his title against Ryo Miyazaki in the Autumn.
In a number of countries we've seen a spate of weight jumping champions who have picked up straps at multiple weights. In Japan multi-weight champions are relatively rare with many really making their career in one division, possibly two. Amazingly 3-weight champions in Japan are scarce to say the least and at the start of this year only one Japanese born fighter had ever claimed divisional world titles in 3 division. That was the controversial Koki Kameda who had claimed titles at 108lbs, 112lbs and 118lbs. Today Kameda has been joined by the talented Kazuto Ioka (17-1, 10) who claimed the WBA Flyweight title and became the quickest fighter, in history, to become a 3-weight world champion and only the second Japanese born fighter to achieve the feat.
Ioka was fighting in his second Flyweight title bout and found himself up against talented Argentinian Juan Carlos Reveco (35-2, 19), a tough and determined boxer puncher from Mendoza, Argentina. Reveco was himself a 2-weight world champion and a man who had been in fine form winning his last 18 bout, including a victory in a previous visit to Japan against Masayuki Kuroda and a very impressive stoppage of the then interim champion Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep last December.
To us this was one of the most anticipated fights of the year and one that had been talked about for about a year. It was a clash of talented, exciting fighters with differing styles and a lot at stake. For all intents it was a must win for both and it was also a bout that had a sense of possible redemption for Ioka following his loss to amnat Ruenroeng last year in, an IBF Flyweight title bout, his first title bout at Flyweight.
Ioka's problem against Amnat was that he couldn't really get going and the Thai managed to find ways of shutting him down, time and time again. This time around Ioka got going from the off and found a home for his jab almost immediately and he kept Reveco at range during the opening rounds. Reveco tried to slip it but had little success in a very good opening round for the Japanese challenger. From then on though things became a bit tough with rounds 2,3 and 4 being incredibly close. Reveco was determined to get inside and unload flurries whilst Ioka was hoping to use his jab and keep the champion at range. Nether man could have things completely their own way and both managed to make a claim to any of those 3 rounds. We had given 2 of those 3 to Ioka though could easily have seen them go to Reveco.
In round 5 the challenger refound his groove, at least in the early portion of the round. Reveco seemed to wait, biding his time before turning it up late in the round to try and steal it, it was however too little too late for Reveco who, on our card, was 4-2 down.
Reveco seemed to sense that something had to change and he made those changes in round 6 as he put his foot on the gas and started to really take the fight to Ioka with several lovely crisp flurries. It was a really poor round from Ioka who struggled to land anything of note and it seemed that it was the champion who had found another gear. Round 7 was another one for the champion who had quickly close things up on our score card and shown that he had the will to win and the ability to put Ioka under fierce pressure. It was impressive from the champion who was fighting his fight and making Ioka look second best.
The champion tried to continue his success in round 8 but Ioka began to adjust, using his feet to act as the matador to Reveco's bullish assaults. It was the sort of change Ioka needed as the champion was coming on strong and building his momentum. The tactics weren't the prettiest from the Japanese fighter but worked enough for him to repeat them in the 9th round with Reveco failing for find the success he had had just a couple of rounds earlier.
Going into round 10 it was all to play for, we had it 6-3 to Ioka bout could easily have seen it going 6-3 to Reveco with a number of those early rounds being to close to call either way.
It seemed like it was the defending champion who felt the need to change things and in round 10 he really stepped up again in what was one of the fights best rounds with both men landing solid shots as they momentarily traded on the inside. It was a spectacular round though it was quickly forgotten as the 11th outshone it in every way with Reveco seemingly doing enough to take both rounds, though an argument could certainly be had in regard to the 11th. It seemed clear that neither man was sure they'd done enough and that they were going to have to dig deep with shots traded on the outside and the inside.
With rounds 10 and 11 both picking up the pace there was no doubting that round 12 had the potential be the best of the bunch and that's exactly what we got as the two men traded blows, and showed off what they were about. Reveco went all out trying to turn the fight around, as if he knew he had to do something more than the home town hero, Ioka managed to shift between holding his own in exchanges of blows and landing clean accurate counters. Watching Ioka here it was clear he was proving he could do everything he needed to, though at times it left us wondering why he seemed reluctant to trade earlier on. The round was so good that the TYC Sports commentator, Argentinian TV channel, expressed his admiration for the action with an exclamation of "Fantastico", a viewed shared by us and many others.
With the amount of close and highly competitive rounds there seemed to be no clear cut way to call the bout. TYC Sports had the Argentinian well ahead, 116-112, though they had seemed very pro-Reveco through the bout giving Reveco a lead of 78-74 after 8 rounds. We had had it 115-113 to Ioka though could certainly see the same score in favour of Reveco.
Slowly the cards were read out with scores of 114-114, 115-113 and 116-113, giving Ioka a majority decision that was received by tears from his team who know how valuable this win was to his legacy.
For some the result was controversial though in reality it was a bout that was close either way. The momentum shifted several times, the action was high quality from both, many rounds were very competitive and overall the fight was sensational. It was a highly skilled and action heavy fight that saw both men change their tactics throughout. Ioka's jab early saw him taking the lead, Reveco combinations and aggression saw him coming back into things, the Ioka was forced to use his feet before Reveco found a way to cut the distance.
A rematch between the two wouldn't be a bad choice though we expect that Ioka has other plans. The division is a stacked one with bug names, exciting contenders and a lot of good looking match ups. Showdowns with domestic rivals such as Suguru Muranaka and Koki Eto appear to be appealing, a fight with Brian Viloria would be mouth watering, a rematch with Felix Alvarado would also be an exciting proposition. If he's wanting an easier first defense a possible showdown with Noknoi Sitthiprasert may be interesting given Noknoi's run of form which has included more than 50 straight wins.
It really is an exciting time to follow Ioka, though it seems almost certain that we won't see him competing at Super Flyweight. He still seems a bit unsure of himself as a Flyweight and although he seems to have the size to fill into a very good Flyweight we don't seem him really looking comfortable against any of the division's top guys, such as Juan Francisco Estrada or Roman Gonzalez. Those wanting to see an all-Japanese super fight between Ioka and Naoya Inoue will almost certainly be left wanting and in fairness it would appear to be a huge mismatch in favour of Inoue, who is simply too big and too strong for Ioka. Thankfully though with so many exciting options our there Ioka could well be busy with some great fights and not need to look towards his fellow star for a major bout.
(Image, from a post fight press conference, courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
*Note Japanese licensed promoted fighters Roman Gonzalez and Jorge Linares, both of Teiken, have also become 3 weight world champions.
It's been a busy day for Japanese fans today, especially those in Osaka who managed to have a fantastic show featuring a former world champion, a Japanese title fight and a pair of world title bouts. It really was as good a show as many fans could have hoped for.
The first of those world title bouts came at Minimumweight where IBF champion Katsunari Takayama (29-7-0-1, 11) risked his title against upset minded Thai Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr (27-4-1, 15).
For many Japanese fans Sakkreerin Jr is best remembered for his previous fight in Osaka, when he stopped former WBA Minimumweight champion Ryo Miyazaki in 3 rounds, in what was a late contender for the 2013 upset of the year. He returned to Osaka with the same mindset, believing he could shock the bigger name and win score a major shock.
In the opening round things were really close. Takayama was trying to sneak in and out whilst Sakkreerin was boxing well using his reach and height to catch Takayama as he came in. It was close, competitive and, like many opening rounds, one that could have gone either way with out much debate. It was however the only really close round of the fight of the fight.
In round 2 the Japanese fighter began to make a point as he applied intense pressure, back the Thai up and and began to motor threw the gears through a high volume of shots. Not all of them were getting through but it was clear that Takayama was showing his challenger who the boss was whilst Sakkreerin was doing little more than backing up, covering himself and tried to avoid the onslaught. It looked as if the Thai was hoping to ride out the storm and fight back against a tiring Takayama. The Thai's hopes however were slow to come to fruition and by round 5 it was clear Takayama had bounds of energy and was taking a huge lead due to his intense work rate. To his credit Sakkreerin did begin to fire back with some counters though they often appeared to be thrown more out desperation than anything too educated and they were few and far between.
In round 7 we saw Takayama given his first moments of discomfort as his left eye was cut following a clash of heads, a round later his right eye was cut, again from a clash of heads. The blood seemed to throw Takayama slightly as the champion became slightly more cautious and started to pick his spots. It was obvious that the facial injuries were bother the champion who was inspected twice during round 9 before the bout was stopped after 2:19 of the round.
The stoppage elected massive celebrations from the Thai's team who seemed to feel their man had won the bout with a TKO. Takayama looked resigned as he walked back to his corner though all was not as it seemed and a few moments later the men were brought to the center of the ring with the scorecards being read out. It was clear that the Thai's celebrations had come too soon as the cards were announced as being 86-85,90-81 and 87-84, all in favour of Takayama.
The champion, swollen and bloodied, looked like he had been the one taking a beating as his hand was raised. This keeps alive bouts against Kosei Tanaka, who was ringside, and Hekkie Budler, though neither of those will have seen anything here to worry them too much. For Sakkreerin this loss would have hurt considering how he had celebrated, however it seems clear that the Thai is a tough kid and a move back to 108lbs will almost certainly serve him well. Although Sakkreerin lost he will certainly come again given his age, toughness, and willingness to travel to face big names.
(Image, from a post fight conference, courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Over the last 12 months or so we've seen the Bantamweight division heat up and go from a division that few cared about to a division that is really looking like one of the strongest in the sport. Although deep it does have one stand out fighter, a fighter who perhaps belongs on the verges of the mythical pound-for-pound lists. That standout fighter is WBC Bantamweight champion Shinsuke Yamanaka (23-0-2, 17) who recorded the 7th defence of his title earlier today and showed off his much vaunted and thoroughly destructive power once again.
Today he was facing off against the unbeaten Diego Ricardo Santillan (23-1, 15), a man who had come to Japan with a confident attitude though also some arrogance. Although he was unbeaten he had never faced a foe even nearing the world level and worst of all he had seemingly not done his research n the champion, not even knowing that Yamanaka's left hand was dubbed "God's Left" due to it's power. Instead Santillan had said that the only "hand of God" was that of soccer player Diego Maradonna, referring to a controversial goal of Maradonna's against England in a world cup back in the 1980's.
Although Yamanka's southpaw straight left hand is his danger punch he actually showed some restraint today as he made the most of his often under utilised jab, pecking away at Santillan with the lead hand from the opening round. To his credit Santillan tried to fight back but it seemed obvious from the first 3 minutes that these two were in completely different leagues in terms of skills and power.
Although the jabs were the key to a lot of Yamanaka's success it was still the left hand that was the danger punch of the champion and having felt it's power early on the challenger seemed to think it wise to not fight fire with fire. Unfortunately for Santillan he lacked the ability to come forward and push the action with any type of efficiency, instead he was left chasing or forced to eat one of Yamanaka's incredibly accurate shots that rarely seemed to miss. Those shots really began to take their toll in round 5 as Santillan began to bust up the challenger's face.
With blood coming from Santillan and Yamanaka looking completely in charge it was little wonder that Yamanaka's corner seemed happier to wipe his foes's blood from their man gloves than offer much in terms of advice. It was clear however that Yamanaka merely had to continue doing what he was doing. And that's what he did.
In round 6 the continued success of Yamanaka with his 1-2's, his sharp jab and his counter straight, were all it took to further control the fight with a monster left hand putting the challenger down onto the seat of his pants. Were it not for the toughness and game Latino spirit that would likely have been the end of the fight. Instead Santillan did all he could to see out the round, which included a very deliberate spitting out of the gum shield.
The stalling tactics did little for the challenger who managed to make it to round 7 but failed to survive it. Instead he was left on his backside after a thunderbolt left caught him bang on the chin, sending him to the canvas in eye catching fashion. That was it, the fight was over and Yamanaka's "God Left" was again responsible for the demis of another challenger.
After the fight the champion stated he wanted to fight in a bigger bout next time around. Whilst we all hope he faces a notable name it does seem like he'll be forced to wait whilst others play games around him. We know that a bout with Tomoki Kameda is attractive for fans but politics makes that unlikely, the IBF champion is currently injured, and a bout with Juan Carlos Payano is unlikely with Payano rumoured to be fighting with Ryo Matsumoto. There are still some attractive options out there but unification would likely have been what Yamanaka would have been wanting for his next bout.
We'll admit we like Guevara, a lot, and he may well be the best Light Flyweight on the planet right now. Sadly however we don't like mismatches and this seemed like a mismatch from the day it was announced. When it was set Claveras wasn't ranked by the WBC, who put him in just before the fight, and as a result several better fighters were over-looked.
With his first defence out of the way it now seems likely Guevara will have to face more testing foes. Hopefully they'll come soon. The division is a really exciting one, with the likes of Jonathan Taconing and Paipharob Kokietgym waiting in the wings. Hopefully someone of that ilk gets a shot before another untested, though promising and heavy handed, fighter like Claveras. As for the Filipino we hope to see him rebuilding, developing his skills and coming again somewhere down the line. This however was far too early and his team need to ask themselves why they felt he was capable of upsetting a brilliant young Mexican.
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.