Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39) added one more big win to his legendary resume earlier today, as he defeated the previously unbeaten Keith Thurman (29-1-0-1, 22) at the MGM grand to unify the WBA "Regular" and WBA "super" Welterweight titles. That was despite being 40 years old and having been written off numerous times during his long 24 year career.
The fight started pretty competitively with some solid back and forth in the opening round. It was a good opening round that was taken by Pacquiao late when he dropped Thurman with a right hand at the end of the round. That knockdown seemed to spur on Pacquiao in the opening round as the Filipino looked sharp, crisp and used his foot work excellently. Despite being 40 Pacquaio was the faster man and that proved to be a big difference maker.
After 5 or 6 rounds it seemed like Pacquiao was in a comfortable lead. He was dictating the fight, drawing Thurman into a fighter than a boxing contest and Thurman was struggling to get any major momentum. Pacquiao was just too good in those opening rounds for Thurman.
Pacquiao's style has always been a busy one and it seemed from round 7 that that busy style was slowing, whilst Thurman was changing his tactics. Thurman was starting to move, starting to use his legs and his frame, starting to fight at range. The change in style for the fight proved to be a big turning point for Thurman who began to take take rounds by boxing against Pacquiao. The Filipino was stylle having moments in the second half of the fight, including hurting Thurman with a body shot in round 10, but he was struggling to enforce his fight like he had done earlier on.
The final round saw Pacquiao fighting smart, moving more than he had earlier in the bout, as if he was feeling comfortable with his lead, giving the round away. It seemed like he could afford to, due to his early success, but it did give Thurman one more round, essentially by default, with Pacquiao looking like he was the slower, older, more tired man.
With the bout going to the final bell it seemed like Pacquiao had done more than enough, but his celebrations were limited whilst Thurman climbed the corner and raised his hands. It looked like Thurman thought he had won, whilst Pacquiao knew he had won.
After 12 we went to the scorecards, 113-114 to Thurman, a card that seemed hard to fathom given Thurman lost the first half of the fight, was dropped and seemed to lose round 10. The other two judges however got it the same as us, 115-112 to Pacquiao, giving the Filipino great his latest win and unifying the two WBA belts.
Last night in the US Tomoki Kameda (36-3, 20) [亀田和毅] fell to his second loss in a boxing ring to Mexican Rey Vargas (34-0, 22), with Vargas successfully defending WBC Super Bantamweight title as a result.
The two men, who had fought in the amateurs, had history coming in to the bout and that history had been on the mind of Kameda in the build up. The Japanese fighter had laid out his plan before the bell, he was going to try and goad the talented Vargas into a fight, and make Vargas give away his advantages.
Sadly for Kameda that game plan failed, badly, and in the ring Vargas did what Vargas does, and used his freakish frame to neutralise Kameda. Vargas was incredibly busy, throwing around 800 punches, and although his accuracy wasn't great, it kept Kameda at range. When the Japanese fighter did get up close, which was rather rare, Vargas snuffed out the problem with some ease, holding spoiling and forcing the referee to split the two men.
Although far, far less busy Kameda did have moments, landing some big right hands. Those shots did little other than catch the eye as his lack of power at Super Bantamweight proved to be another big issue for him.
After 12 rounds there was no doubting the winner, with Vargas comfortably in control for the most part, winning 117-110, with Kameda having been deducted a point late in the fight for punching on the break. It was a deduction that played no real part in the result and seemed to come from frustration in a bout he knew was already out of reach.
For us the Light Flyweight division has been the best in the sport for the last few years. It's had great fighters passing through it, like Naoya Inoue and Kosei Tanaka, and right now has so much depth to it that we really could do a WBSS style tournament with 8 fighters and not have a clear weak link involved.
Today we saw one of the divisions' top stars showing what he can do, with unbeatenWBC champion Kenshiro (16-0, 9) [拳四朗] succesfully defending against mandatory challenger Jonathan Taconing (28-4-1, 22). Not only did Kenshiro retain his title, but he went he did so by stopping the feared Filipino puncher, who had never previously been stopped.
The champion, making his 6th defense, looked relaxed from the off, and showed his sharp punching, his movement and his ring craft straight away. He was able to find a home for his jab almost immediately and controlled the hard hitting challenger with his movement and straight and straight punching. As a thunder punching southpaw Taconing seemed to pose questions that Kenshiro hadn't yet seen, though it appeared that the Japanese fighter immediately solved every question Taconing could ask.
The Filipino showed ambition, came forward, and looked like he had some determination to make the most of his third world title fight, but was just made to look like a rather crude novice against the smooth, sharp and intelligent champion.
Having won the opening round Kenshiro was actually under a bit of pressure in round 2 as the challenger looked to turn things around. Taconing came out really aggressively for the round, but he was struggling to land and was being force fed clean shots by the champion who found a home for some classy blows, including an eye catching uppercut.
Although Taconing continued to be aggressive in round 3 Kenshiro began to move through the gears, landing more straight right hands, timing Taconing, and even holding his feet with the hard hitting challenger, who was becoming incredibly desperate and wild. That wildness lead to a clash of heads in round 3 that resulted in Taconing being cut on his forehead, in what was a genuine accidental clash. Despite it being an accident Kenshiro was deducted a point, as per the WBC's accidental foul rule, resulting in a 9-9 round.
The point deduction didn't play any part in the outcome of the bout however and in round 4 Kenshiro's accurate punching and fantastic timing gave us an early finish. Taconing was still firing off big, wild, reckless bombs, and about 40 seconds into the round he ate a huge counter right hand, then a left immediately afterwards. Taconing crashed face first to the canvas, and although he got to his feet he was glassy eyed and wobbly, forcing the referee to wave off the action and give the champion his latest win.
It's unclear what is next for the champion, though it is worth noting that WBA "super" champion Hiroto Kyoguchi was ringside for the bout, and the two men have spoken about unifying, leaving the mouth watering possibility that they will indeed clash in December, s has been rumoured for much of 2019.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
The career of Japan's Ryota Murata's (15-2, 12) [村田 諒太] has been filled with much promise, but cursed by a failure to deliver on that promise. The 2012 Olympic gold medal winner was expected to be a mega star in global boxing.He was good looking, had an exciting style, was signed up to Top Rank, along with Misako and Teiken, and seemed to have all the pieces in play to be a huge star. Sadly though things rarely clicked for him, and there always seemed to be something underwhelming about him when he was in the ring.
That about to underwhelm was full on show last year, when Murata lost the WBA "regular" Middleweight title to American Rob Brant (25-2, 17). The loss came in a performance that left many wondering what the big fuss about Murata was, and querying how he won an Olympic medal, and why his team were trying to secure a super fight at a Japanese dome with Gennady Golovkin.
The loss to Brant, on US soil, saw Murata go from being a man regarded as a talented top contender, whilst holding the WBA "regular" belt, to a man who had many, including ourselves, wondering if retirement was going to be next. He showed little more than a rugged toughness against Brant who used him as for target practive.
Today the two men had a rematch, and this time around we finally got a chance to see Murata's potential being unlocked, as he dominated Brant to reclaim his title and score a pretty solid upset win.
The opening round was similar to the way the two men had faced off last year. It saw Brant trying to be the busier man and Murata following Brant around. There was a difference however. This time around Murata's powerful right hand was effective, and so was Murata's pressure, as he managed to actually back Brant up this time, forcing his fighton to the American. Murata's pressure saw him not only landing hurtful right hands up top, something he failed to do cleanly in their first bout, but also landed a steady stream of good body shots, looking to slow the American's legs and work rate.
Unlike their first bout Murata's pressure was immediately successful, he was landing shots of his own, and whilst he was still taking some from Brant, he didn't look like he was inept. He looked like he was boxing to a well thought out game plan, though Brant was still having his moments, and seemed to be landing the higher volume of shots, even if they didn't have the effect that Murata's blows had.
In round 2 that game plan really came into it's own with the pressure from Murata amping up, he was stopping Brant from creating space, stopping the American from unleashing his combinations and really going to the body, before landing a huge right to the head. The head shot caught Brant clean and hurt him, with Murata following up with serious intensity, and eventually dropping Brant. The fact the American had taken so many shots to go down was a testament to his toughness, and his heart lead him to getting up and continuing the fight. That was, however a poor decision with Murata straight on to him, smelling blood, and ripping him with shots to head and body, unloading with everthing he had until the referee finally stepped in, saving Brant from further punishment.
At an official time of 2 minutes 34 seconds of round 2 Murata had excorised the ghosts of losing to Brant last year, shown what he was capable of, and for one of the few times in his career showed that he was a real talent. He had shown glimpses in the past, but this time we saw more than just a few seconds of Murata's ability, what we saw in round 2 here, was easily the best we've seen from Murata so far and hopefully a sign that he has developed from the man who had promised much but under-delivered..
At the moment it's unclear what's next for the two men, though the Japanese media have again raised the possibility of Murata facing Golovkin at the Tokyo Dome. It seems unlikely, though would be a huge fight for Japan, and the two men, however their would be broadcast issues with the bout, and it certainly wouldn't be easy to make given GGG's relationship with DAZN and Murata's realtionship with ESPN and Top Rank.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
The Bantamweight division has been dominated over the last 12 months by the WBSS, and the destruction left by Naoya Inoue. Outside the WBSS however we've seen the WBC Bantamweight picture become a mess, with Takuma Inoue claiming the interim title, Luis Nery being in the mix and the crowning of Frenchman Nordine Oubaali (16-0, 12) as the champion.
Today Oubaali made his first defense of the the title, and did so in easy and dominant fashion, stopping over-matched Filipino challenger Arthur Villanueva (32-4-1, 18) in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.
From the opening seconds Oubaali looked in a different class to Villanueva, who looked like a man who wasn't sure he deserved to be in the ring with the champion. The opening round was all Oubaali, even though he was only fighting in first gear he looked in a class of his own. From there on Oubaali chipped away at the Filipino, breaking him down with clean, accurate shots in rounds 2 and 3. There was very, very little coming back from Villanueva, who did enough to look like he was trying, but not enough to get Oubaali's respect.
By the end of round 3 Oubaali was starting to beat up Villanueva who realised he had to fight back. Sadly for Villanueva fighting back lead to him being tagged cleaner, and in round 4 the Filipino was rocked again.The following round the challenger began to look scared once again whilst Oubaali changed tactics. The champion had gone from landing combinations to looking for more hurtful single shots, trying to actually hurt the challenger with every shot. Those shots were doing damage and by the end of the right the challenge's right eye was nearly closed.
In round 6 the continued beating resumes, with Oubaali scoring a knockdown after a combination. It wasn't a combination of hard shots, but they were clean and the Filipino took a knee. Following that Oubaali went for the kill, with Villanueva managing to do just enough to convince the referee not to step in, but he was now a beaten man.
Knowing that he was out classed, out boxed, out punched and being dominated Villanueva took the decision to retire to retire between rounds 6 and 7, making a wise choice.
Whilst this was an unexpected opportunity for Villanueva it was also an undeserved one, and it's hard to see him getting any more opportunities at world level. As for Oubaali he has an interesting future. His next defense if expected to come against Takuma Inoue, though he will also have eyes on the winner of the WBSS, which will be either Naoya Inoue or Nonito Donaire, and will also have the controversial Luis Nery as possible future foe. This was an easy first defense, but hopefully we'll find out how good Oubaali really is in the near future.
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.