It's not every day that we get none stop fights but this weekend was one such day as the action began in Macau and then moved over to the UK.
After a trio of title fights, including the very controversial contest between Simpiwe Vetyeka and Nonito Donaire, in Macau we then saw Thailand's Tabtimdaeng Na Rachawat (52-3, 34) attempt to claim the vacant WBA Bantamweight title as he travelled to the UK to fight Britain's very own Jamie McDonnell (24-2-1, 11).
The first round saw McDonnell boxing well with his jab and movement keeping the Thai at bay. From then on though life got difficult for the very talented Englishman who was put under intense pressure round after round by a man determined to make life difficult.
Tabtimdaeng, although not the smoothest boxer in the world, brought waves of pressure, cutting the ring off, getting inside and trying to break down McDonnell with pressure and work rate. It made things really interesting to watch and forced McDonnell to use his feet, use his pure boxing and hand speed to avoid a flat out tear up. It was still entertaining but wasn't a war.
The key problem for Tabtimdaeng wasn't the size in the end but the difference in skills and McDonnell was too defensively sound for Tabtimdaeng's wide swipes and too sharp offensively to miss the Thai. So accurate were some of McDonnell's shots that they made him look world class but for many of the rounds they had little lasting effect on the Thai who was, genuinely, tough as they come and just kept coming forward no matter how many shots he had to take to try and close the distance.
Unfortunately for Tabtimdaeng the more effort he put in the more tired he was becoming and by rounds 8 he was noticeably slowing. The slowing Tabtimdaeng got the easier it was for McDonnell to land his classy bursts both upstairs and downstairs. The Thai was still applying pressure but was have less and less success whilst he slowly becoming a human punch bag. It seemed unlikely McDonnell could hurt him but it also seemed like he was too far behind on the cards to even comprehend beating the Englishman.
The ending came suddenly in round 10 as McDonnell landed a pin point left hook on the chin of the Thai went down hard. The guts and bravery of Tabtimdaeng saw him rising to his feet but he had no idea where he was. It was a shock to see him down, especially considering how tough he had looked in the the first 9 rounds but it was just as shocking to see him rising to his feet. Unfortunately for the Thai was in no fit state to continue and the referee, Terry O'Connor, made the correct decision to stop the contest with the Thai wobbling around the ring.
Although he lost Tabtimdaeng did put up a very, very good effort and we'd love to see him put into the OPBF mix with the likes of Ryosuke Iwasa, Ryo Akaho and Hiroki Shiino, all of whom would make for exciting bouts with the Thai.
As for the winner it's hard to see McDonnell fighting with any of the top Asian's. We'd love to see him fight WBC champion Shinsuke Yamanaka or WBO champion Tomoki Kameda but it seems much more likely that he'll fight either European or American opponents in his coming defences.
The long Macau card earlier today came to a close with the third successive Featherweight world title fight as South Africa's Simpiwe Vetyeka (26-2, 16) attempted to defend the WBA Featherweight "Super" title against popular Filipino Nonito Donaire (33-2, 21) and referee Luis Pabon.
Unfortunately what should have been a really good bout, and was actually warming up to be something special, was ended, like so many other fights, in disappointing, confusion and with more fans questioning the referee than actually celebrating what should have been a fantastic fight.
The fight started slowly with both men trying to take the counter puncher role. Although the round started slowly it started with a flash point that saw Donaire on the canvas with with blood coming from his eye. Apparently from a clash of heads.
The second round saw more clashes of heads as Donaire began to really complain about the cut. It was clear he was very uncomfortable with the cut and the blood and it seemed that every time Vetyeka landed a head shot Donaire was uncomfortable.
In round 3 Donaire clicked mentally and became desperate as he winged in huge shots left right and centre in an attempt to stop Vetyeka. The attack seemed to rock the champion but in round 4 the power of Donaire did tell as he dropped Vetyeka for the fights only official knockdown. It was great from Donaire who loading up on everything he threw but it seemed he though he needed a knockout to win, as if he knew the cut wasn't called a clash of heads from the referee in the first place.
With the bout warming up in rounds 3 and 4 the referee made the disgusting call to call off the fight ruling the cut to have been caused from a head butt, something he hadn't ruled at the point where the cut caused it. This left us with with a confusing ending though one that favoured Donaire who won the title via a highly, highly debatable technical decision.
Had the cut been ruled a head butt in the first round we'd have expected the fight to have been called off in round 3 as a no contest. Had the referee ruled that the cut had not come from a head clash then it should have been a TKO for Vetyeka
Luis Pabon, who officiated this contest, needs to be banned from officiating after this hilarious screw up that did very little to sell the sport to new fans. It wasn't his first major screw up in high profile bouts, having also botched numerous calls in Wladimir Klitschko's bout with Alexander Povetkin, and right now people need to be calling for his head.
To his credit Donaire did offer a rematch but it seems unlikely that we will actually see it next time out with Donaire more likely to face Nicholas Walters to unify the WBA title and the WBA "super" title and when you consider the cut will keep Donaire out for a few months it seems very unlikely we'll see Donaire Vs Vetyeka II.
(ED-Before someone asks if we dislike Donaire, we don't. We do however dislike awful officiating, suspicious endings and things that make us wonder why we follow the sport. We love the sport, we usually love these Macau cards which show case some fantastic talent to a whole new market and we love fights to come to conclusive endings. This bout gave some excitement when Donaire lets his hands go in rounds 3 and 4 but left us with a very, very sour taste in out mouths and a feeling of that the bout wasn't fought in an environment that even gave an indication of being a "fair fight".)
(Image courtesy of http://www.venetianmacao.com/)
The first of three world title fights in Macau today saw the always fun to watch Russian Evgeny Gradovich (19-0, 9) defended his IBF Featherweight title against Belgian based Alexander Miskirtchian (24-3-1, 9)
Miskirtchain, who entered the bout as the European champion but still a huge under-dog, impressed early on as he fought with with fire and every time Gradovich landed he fired back as if to suggest that he was an equal to the champion. Although it was a solid start by the challenger he was unable to really win either of the opening rounds as Gradovich just did a but more work and just had that little bit extra on his shots.
Although the opening two were fun and competitive we then saw Gradovich moving up a gear and things went from fun to very enjoyable as the two traded shots from mid-range. It was clear neither man had 1-punch power but they were making up for it in out put with a lot of leather being thrown by both men. As the pace picked up so did the damage and by the end of round 3 Miskirtchian was cut around the left eye. Originally it looked like it was from a clash of heads but replays suggest it was from a punch, a ruling that was agreed with the referee.
Despite the cut Miskirtchian wasn't showing any fear and kept up his attempt to match the out put of Gradovich. For the challenger this was a bad idea with Gradovich just being better at everything Miskirtchain was trying to do and the result was that the Belgian's face was gradually becoming more and more marked up with eye and nose both showing signs of damage and giving Gradovich a real target area.
Miskirtchain, to his credit, was trying to take the fight to Gradovich but the Russian was simply too good and showed his under-rated boxing ability as he punched and moved, throwing flurries then getting out of range and repeating. Those flurries were really taking their toll with no single doing damange but the number of them slowly but surely ripping the face of Miskirtchian who's cut on the eye was getting progressively worse.
Although looking in cruise control Gradovich was surprisingly dropped in round 6 by a jab. It was a balance issue from the Russian and, although some may have wanted to score it a 10-8 round for the challenger it seemed more like a round that we'd have 10-9 to Miskirtchian, he had lostthe rest of the round prior to the knockdown. The knockdown seemed to serve as a reminder to Gradovich that he had to keep his boxing on point and in round 7 he got back to what he was good at and continued to rip open the face of Miskirtchian.
After 7 rounds of good, exciting boxing things started to drop off a little bit as the two men fell into each other a little more and were forced into clinches. The were rare but becoming more regular as Gradovich looked to landed heavier shots than earlier on in the fight. The heavier shots from Gradovich were less accurate than his lighter shots from earlier in the fight but they did manage to look very eye catching when they landed.
By round 8 it wasn't just Miskirtchain who was showing signs of being in a fight but also Gradovich who was himself wearing bruises over his face courtesy of Miskirtchian's head shots which were still coming back at the champion but never managing to have a great effect on Gradovich who was correcting small faults round after round. It wasn't a lot of work for Gradovich but he was being given good advice by trainer Robert Garcia who was tryign to stop Gradovich from being knocked down again and telling him to stop trying to launch shots off balance, Gradovich wasn't always listen but he did continue to dominate.
Having fallen well behind Miskirtchian didn't show a lack of desire and he continued to try and fight back in the championship rounds. He was still being out classed but continued to show his gameness and refused to just give up on his dream. As a result we continued to get some good, high paced action through out the final two rounds even though the bout was in the bag for Gradovich.
Whilst we know we love watching Gradovich, who always throws a lot of shots, we'll admit we wouldn't mind seeing Miskirtchain again. The fight may have showed the difference between world class and European class but Miskirtchian gave a really good account of himself despite the scorecards suggesting otherwise. It was a step too far at this point in his career for Miskirtchain but he needs to be given credit for putting up an excellent fight with Gradovich.
The scores, whilst predictable, all favoured Gradovich by a wide margin, as he made the third defence of his title.
This was the second world title set back for Belgian boxers after Stephane Jamoye was stopped by Shinsuke Yamaaka just a few weeks ago in a WC Bantamweight fight.
(Image courtesy of http://www.venetianmacao.com)
Over the past year we've been really critical of Filipino Donnie Nietes (33-1-4, 19) who we felt was on the slide, showing signs of ageing and didn't look like the fighter who had wowed us all with his skills a few years ago. Today however Nietes look sensational, he looked like a rejuvenated fighter and a man who has years left at the top of the boxing world.
Last year Nietes struggled to a draw with Mexico's Moises Fuentes (19-2-1, 10). Today they fought a rematch with the WBO Light Flyweight title of Nietes on the line. We had expected a fight similar to the first one with Nietes looking slow, lazy and old. Instead we got a sharp, sensational Nietes who fought to a gameplan and show off all the facets that have made him such a long reigning champion.
Early on the fight looked tough. The opening round was close with both men struggling to have much in terms of sustained success. It was a round that likely went to Nietes but could easily have been a Fuentes round without much argument . Thankfully for Nietes it was pretty much the only close round before he started boxing and moving making Fuentes look like a slow, one dimensional fighter who was simply unable to compete. The punches from Nietes were crisp and accurate, his defensive work was impregnable and Fuentes was struggling to do much more than land on the arms or flail away at the air and worst of all for Fuentes was his predictability walking straight in and being tagged as a result.
There were moments where Fuentes did mange to have some success, such as in round 5 where Fuentes managed to connect with some solid body shots, but by then Fuentes's eye was reddening and the shots of Nietes were taking their toll on the challenger. Fuentes wasn't looking like a man being beaten up, but he was clearly being beaten by a fighter who had a point to prove and wanted to show the world, and his critics, that he really was one of the truly elite at Light Flyweight.
In round 6 the success of Fuentes started to become less frequent again. Nietes was landing crisp 1-2's on the counter, tucking up tight when Fuentes was on top of him and generally landing neutralising the challenger. This continued round after round with Fuentes becoming less and less successful whilst Nietes began turning the screw.
By round 8 it seemed to be less about who was going to win and more about whether or not the fight would manage to go the distance. Fuentes, who is genuinely a tough guy, was beginning to take a shellacking.
In round 9 we quickly found out whether or not this would be going the distance as Nietes turned up the heat. He managed to knock down Fuentes with nasty body shots-come-low blows then landed a shot as Fuentes was down, being deducted a point as a result. Fuentes got some time to recover from the foul but the damage had been done and soon afterwards Fuentes was down again...and then again. This time the referee waved it off without even bothering with the count, it was clear Fuentes was finished.
With this victory Nietes claimed the Ring magazine Light Flyweight title as well as retained his WBO belt. He is however unlikely to fight the "best of the rest" in the form of WBC champion Naoya Inoue in what would be a divisional super-fight and the real decider of who is the best fighter at 108lbs.
(Image courtesy of boxrec.com)
When we talk about achievements in boxing it's hard to believe only 1 Japanese fighter in history has ever become a 3-weight world champion, Koki Kameda. Just two weeks ago we saw Hozumi Hasegawa fail in his attempt to become a 3-weight world champion when he was stopped by IBF Super Bantamweight champion Kiko Martinez in a bout that left no doubt about the winner or the officiating.
Earlier today we saw Kazuto Ioka (14-1, 9) fail in his attempt to become a 3 weight world champion as he was defeated by Thailand's Amnat Ruenroeng (13-0, 5) in a decision that has certainly raised a few eyebrows, notable due to one baffling card.
Ruenroeng, defending his IBF Flyweight title for the first time since winning it, with a decision victory over Rocky Fuentes earlier this year, was a big under-dog. He was priced, with British online bookmakers Bet365, as a 3 to 1 under-dog though he had a real reason to win, a rumoured huge money clash with Chinese star Zou Shiming.
Unfortunately neither man started the fight like they wanted to win it. The opening round saw very little from either man. It was effectively a stalemate with neither man landing more than 1 or 2 shots of note. The second was somewhat similar though it did seem like 2 combinations from Ioka won the round for him. It was a weird to the fight tactically from both men. Ioka applied somewhat ineffective pressure, staying just outside of range and following Amnat whilst Amnat moved around the ring with out throwing much of note. It was frustrating to watch and it seemed like we weren't going to see a fight breakout.
In round 3 the action began to take off with Amnat finally letting his hands go with some sort of offensive work. It was amazing to see the visiting fighter take until round 3 to get going but when he did throw his shots looked lovely, they were crisp, fast and accurate even if they did lack any major power on them. It was with out a doubt an Amnat round and the first clear round of the fight
Following the loss of round 3 Ioka kicked in to gear and seemed to turn up the heat a bit in round 4. Amnat was equal to it with his lovely jabs, effectively and relaxed defensive work. Although Ioka seemed to be stepping on the gas he still didn't do enough to clearly take the round and there was a possibility that he was 3-1 down after 4 rounds. We had it 38-38 but could have under-stood someone having it 3-1 Amnat.
The fifth was another close one with Amnat's defence and fast rangy punches working well whilst Ioka was starting to land his own right hand and solid shots to the body. It was, at times, messy but the action was slowly building with both men finding their feet in the bout and both managing to go through the gears. It was still strange however that Ioka's pressure was still rather subdued as if he felt he was tiring Amnat out without putting his own foot fully on the gas.
In round 6 Ioka managed to cut the distance off and landed nice shots to both the head and body of the defending champion. The pace suddenly rose from the challenger and he was finding a desire to take the fight to Amnat, despite being tagged with a monster right hand. The best punch of the round was a right from Amnat but over-all the better and more sustained work was from Ioka who looked like he was coming good in the fight. The same success for the challenger was seen in the seventh round as Amnat began to look a little bit tired and sluggish. It was as if Ioka could sense Amnat was struggling and was going totry and turn the screw whilst he had an opportunity.
After 7 rounds we had the bout even 66-67 to Ioka and at worst you had to have given Ioka at least 3 rounds, 2,6 and 7. He had clearly won that trio whilst Amnat had clearly won rounds 3 and 4.
The eighth round was another clear round, this time for Amnat who stopped Ioka's momentum with his busy jab and and quicker hands. It was really impressive from Amnat who, at 34, looked smooth and rapid fire despite being ancient for a Flyweight. This rund saw the bout tied up on our scorecards as we went into the final 4 rounds of the bout.
In round 9 the fight started to progressively turn uglier. Ioka started to walk in a bit more and whilst he was fed a steady diet of jabs he managed to land solid body shots and a cracking left hand before the Thai began holding. The holding resulted in Amnat taking a shot to the back of the head, which he complained about, and was then followed by some wrestling as Amnat seemed to prove his physical strength over Ioka. The early jabs from Amnat were forgotten by the bell as Ioka landed yet another notable body shot with Amnat trying to hold him. It seemed clear that Amnat was struggling and the holding was a result of the Ioka getting to him more frequently than he had earlier.
Despite the holding Amnat didn't seem to be tired, he was standing in his corner between rounds whilst Ioka was looking the more tired man, almost as if the men had traded ages. The 25 year old Ioka was working harder for his successes and did seem tense, both could have resulted in his more tired look, but Amnat at 35 looked as fresh as a daisy stood waiting for the next round.
The holding from Amnat continued in round 10 and finally the referee had had enough and took a point from the champion. The rest of the round was pretty close though Amnat did flirt with a second deduction as he wrestled with Ioka before the challenger mounted a late offensive charge. It was another of the bouts many close rounds, though could have been scored either 9-9 or 10-8 to Ioka.
With a possible 10-8 in round 11 it seemed almost certain that Amnat needed to pick up the pace, especially fighting away from home against a popular and unbeaten fighter. Instead Amnat did the same as he had in a number of the later rounds. He held, he spoiled, he complain about being hit and he fought negatively with Ioka bringing the fight and action to him. It seemed almost impossible to give Amnat the round and, when added to the 10-8 round from the previous round, it seemed likely that Amnat's title was slipping away with out the champion caring too much about it.
Amazingly there was no urgency from the champion in the following round and this was punctuated by Amnat basically running around the ring inthe final few seconds before landing an uppercut. It seemed like one of two things had happened in his head. He had either given up his title willingly or had been tipped off that the fight wasn't being score closely. It was impossible for him to have felt that comfortable in the final round on foreign soil with out one of those two things going on in his hand. He had countered well through much of the fight but had also lost a number of rounds clearly and there was no way to argue that this was anything but close.
The score cards were read out relatively quickly, the first card favoured Ioka, the second was to Amnat and then the third was to Amnat as he secured a split decision.
What we didn't full know immediately after the fight was what the cards actually said, though moments later TBS showed the cards which read 114-113 Ioka, a close score that demonstrated the competitive nature of the fight, 115-112 to Amnat, another close and competitive card even if they did feel Amnat won 8 of the 12 rounds. The other card however read a frankly ridiculous 119-108 to Amnat, a card that has to go down as the worst of the year so far.
Although we had felt Ioka had done enough the fact two judges disagree is fair enough, it was a close fight. What we learned from watching the fight however was interesting. Firstly Ioka's lack of head and upper body movement was mystifying, his head was, round after round, a stationary target making it easy for Amnat's rangy shots to land. As for Amnat he looks like a nightmare for anyone. He's rangy, tricky, calm, relaxed and has very fast hands which could well see him beating anyone in the division on his night.
Another thing that needs mentioning is the Shiming bout. That is rumoured for November in Macau and would be a major pay day for Amnat, we don't mean to start conspiracy theories but there was no chance Ioka was going to go to Macau so could the 119-108 card have possibly been a political card with that bout in mind? Something to think about and if Amnat/Shiming happens it'll be interesting to see if the same judge is anywhere on the show.
One final thing to note, promise this is the last one, this is the second notable win for a Kiatkreerin fighter against an Ioka fight in the last few months following Amnat's stablemate Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr's victory over Ryo Miyazaki on New Years Eve.
(Image courtesy of Johnny Chaichotchuang)
When we talk about our favourite Japanese fighters we always make sure to mention IBF Minimumweight champion Katsunari Takayama (27-6-0-1, 10) who has repeatedly shown a desire to prove that he is the best in the world. He has never shirked an opponent and instead he has chased them around the planet to try and get the biggest and best fights.
When someone has faced a litany of top class opponents, including Eagle Den Junlaphan, Yutaka Niida, Roman Gonzalez and Nkosinathi Joyi we don't mind him fighting a lesser foe and that's exactly what Takayama did today as he faced fellow Japanese fighter Shin Ono (17-6-2, 2) a former OPBF Light Flyweight champion.
Ono had looked like a fighter devoid of confidence at his public work out last week, his team had tried to buoy up his hopes talking about his notable wins over Yu Kimura and Xiong Zhong Zhao. Unfortunately for Ono his lack of confidence seem to reappear at sections in the actual fight, almost as if he remembered he was fighting in a world title fight and he was fighting arguably the best fighter at 105lbs.
The skill difference in the two men was noticeable almost from the off as Takayama just showed he had too many weapons for the challenger and after spending one or two rounds trying to box with Ono, the champion seemed to have a change of tact and went on the offensive realising that Ono lacked the power needed to hurt him. This front foot, offensive march of Takayama saw him landing numerous hard right hands that got the crowd cheering and although he had to take some decent left hands from the southpaw challenger who countered him wonderfully at times to win the odd round here and there.
As we went in to the second half of the fight it was beginning to look like a lost cause for Ono who was being out landed, out worked and back up repeatedly. It was beginning to look more and more one sided and the moments of success for Ono were becoming less frequent. It was as if Takayama was mentally grinding Ono and the challenger was being forced to do all he could to claim a round whilst also learning he couldn't ever get control of the bout.
In round 8 we saw Takayama rocking Ono for one of the first times in the fight as the two men traded solid blows. The similar trading occurred in round 9 though the bigger shots were from Takayama who seemed to hurt Ono again in the final minute as the challenger was backed up from one side of the ring to the other. It was great work from the champion who, although, cut was proving his class despite the televised highlights focussing on the few moments of success from Ono who did land some good lefts, although he was clearly out landed.
With the challenger fading the champion went on determined attack in round 10 and dropped Ono with a long and aggressive flurry. following the knockdown we got to see the lovely footwork of Takayama who danced around the challenger before rocking him hard moments before the bell. By now the bout was sealed and in round 11 a wilting, tiring Ono did what he could to try and fight back against Takayama. The success of Ono in the penultimate round was limited however and instead it was Takayama who was on the offensive landing some lovely shots on to his game but tiring challenger. Ono, to his credit, saw out the round standing.
Going in to the final there wasn't a question of who would win, instead the only question was whether or not Ono would see out the bell. Midway through the round it looked unlikely as Ono was dropped for the second time and Takayama immediately went on the hunt for the stoppage. It was a race against time as to whether or not the champion could force the referee to challenger who was showing the typical Japanese warrior spirit despite the fight being a lost cause and blood seeping from his nose.
With some early rounds having been close and some of the middle rounds having had moments for both the fight was likely to see a range of scores but the two knockdowns in the championship rounds left us with no doubt who the winner was. This was shown in the scorecards which favoured Takayama with scores of 115-111, 115-111 and 117-109 though we do understand some having it close though the first 10 rounds and we do openly confess to being Takayama fans so perhaps we were favouring him as a result.
(Image courtesy of Watanabe Gym)
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.