Although the boxing day isn't yet over it's fair to say that we have already seen the "Fight of the Day" as Filipino Merlito Sabillo (23-0-1, 12) retained his WBO Minimumweight title in a war with Carlos Buitrago (27-0-1-1, 16).
Sabillo, defending his belt for the second time, knew he was in for a tough fight before the first bell had rang. What he likely didn't expect was just how tough that fight would be as Buitrago, a youngster from Nicaragua, lived up to the high level of expectation put on his shoulders.
The fight started tentatively with both men looking to fight off their jab. Unfortunately for Sabillo this was a style that suited the faster and taller Buitrago who appeared to take the lead after 3 rounds by just out boxing Sabillo.
In round 4 the champion picked up the pace and tried to turn the fight in to a brawl. Buitrago, using his control of range and effective jab, managed to avoid a tear up though Sabillo was coming closer and closer to turning the fight around.
Sabillo, for the first time, managed to cut the distance in round 5 and by round 6 he was beginning to connect with his own shots off on a more regular basis. Buitrago was clearly in the lead but Sabillo's fighting heart was showing through as he fought his back into the fight. Whilst Sabillo was starting to turn it around he certainly wasn't having things all his own way and at several points Buitrago landed bombs on him, shot that would likely have stopped many fighters at 112 never mind 105lbs.
The charge of Sabillo, especially in the later rounds, saw him doing enough to take a number of rounds as he applied more and more pressure. Each round became more about whether you preferred the clear and punching of Buitrago or the tenacity and work rate of Sabillo. By the end however it was clear that neither man deserved to lose. The great start of Buitrago had been a long time ago and with out a doubt Sabillo had closed the gap on the cards during the second half of the fight.
With neither man deserving to lose it's fair to say the judges got it right by scoring a draw. The judges, who were actually split, all agreed it was paper thin with one judge having it 114-114 whilst the others went 115-113 each way leading to a split draw.
Interestingly, for those wanting to allege that Sabillo kept his title due to a "home town decision", the judges were from America, Germany and Japan whilst the referee was American. The close nature of the bout has seen many calling for a rematch and we'd love to see these two up against each other once again, maybe even on a Pacquiao card where the men can have a deservedly large audience.
Note-This was the co-main feature of "Pinoy Pride XXIII", which also saw Donnie Nietes in a action against Sammy Gutierrez of Mexico. Of the two bouts we recommend everyone checks out this one rather than the other.
Some results end up making fighters look better than they are and earlier today we saw one such fight in the Philippines.
WBO Light Flyweight champion Donnie Nietes (32-1-4, 18) hasn't been looking great in recent fights and it's probably fair to say his reign is living on borrowed time. Unfortunately if you saw him earlier today you'd like have thought that he was a very special fighter.
Fighting against faded Mexican Sammy Gutierrez (33-10-2, 23) it was clear that this was a fight supposed to make Nietes looked good.
The Filipino champion, who had been dominated in his previous contest against Moises Fuentes, took control from the off and dropped Gutierrez twice in the opening round. The Mexican, who was a top fighter at 105lbs about 4 years ago, was never able to get going.
Although Nietes couldn't drop Gutierrez in the second round it seemed only a matter of time before this fight was going to be concluded and that's precisely what happened in the third as Nietes sent the challenger down for a third time. This time the referee had seen enough.
If you take this bout in isolation then Nietes looked sensational. In reality however Gutierrez is paying the price of his career. It was the third stoppage loss for him in just seven bouts and likely spells the end of his career.
We're now expecting to see Nietes/Fuentes II in early 2014 with Singapore being rumoured as a venue. If Nietes looks good there then we are happy to give him credit but in all honesty this was a farcical contest that made the fight up in China look like a real world title fight.
For those interested this contest was part of "Pinoy Pride XXIII".
When an opponent is changed at late notice you typically don't expect the replacement opponent to be very. We saw an example of that earlier today in China as the WBC Minimumweight champion Xiong Zhao Zhong (22-4, 12) successfully retained his title for the second time.
Originally scheduled to fight Australian based Omari Kimweri it looked likely that Zhong would face a genuine test. Sadly Kimweri was ruled out of the fight a few days ago due to "passport issues" and instead Zhong took on Thailand's limited Lookrak Kiatmungmee (7-5, 4).The limitations of Kitamungmee were evident from the off as Zhong just walked through the Thai's limp looking jabs.
The Thai, to his credit, tried to use his height and reach advantages but sadly lacked the power to back up the tough and strong Zhong who soon found his way inside the challenger.
On the inside there was no competition. Kiatmugnee had no idea what to do to cope with the short shots inside by the champion who was targeting the body with both hands. Unfortunately for the Thai these body shots were destroying him both physically and mentally and after just 3 rounds Kiatmugmee was looking like a scared fighter. He knew he had no answers lacked the ability to change the action.
With the champion firmly in control after 4 rounds it was beginning to look like the bout would last as long as Zhong wanted it too. As it turned out Zhong didn't want it to last long and continued the attack to the Thai's midsection eventually dropping the Thai. Kiatmugmee showed his bravery by getting up but was soon sent crumbling to the canvas for the 10 count.
For Kiatmugmee this was his one chance in front of the bright lights and television cameras, for Zhong however this could be a regular thing. Hopefully, if it is a regular thing, Zhong will be facing better opponents than this next time out.
Earlier this year Koki Eto (14-3-1, 10) impressed us all as he went to war with Thailand's Kompayak Porpramook and put on one of the most impressive performances of the year. Having traveled from Japan to Thailand for that fight Eto looked like the man who had been able to conquer the harsh Thai conditions.
In the process of his victory over Porpramook Eto had claimed the WBA interim Flyweight title and become the first Japanese born fighter to claim a world title in Thailand.
Earlier today however Eto got a real wake up call as returned to Thailand to make the first defense of his title and fought Yodmongkol CP Freshmart (33-2, 20).
The fight started well for the challenger who applied intelligent pressure and looked like a man with a statement to make. He was forced to take some shots in return, especially to the body, though never looked bothered by them as he kept coming forward and kept landing the cleaner better shots.
Despite the great opening round for Yodmongkol it seemed that the champion managed to find his way in to things in the second as his body attack become more notable. Unfortunate for Eto however it seemed that his shots simply couldn't discourage Yodmongkol who was landing heavy shots of his own.
The heavy artillery of Yodmongkol rocked Eto hard in round 3 as the Japanese fighter was surprisingly shaken. It didn't take long for him to recuperate but it was still a shock given the fact he took the best shots of Porpramook with out ever looking shaken. By now it was plainly obvious that Yodmongkol hit harder than his record indicated and that Eto wasn't the same fighter who had fought Porpramook.
Eto managed to finally have some success in round 5, his first round on my card, as his body shots began to connect on a regular basis. By the end of the round they appeared like they were taking their effect on Yodmongkol who slowed notably in the final minute or so of the round.
Just as soon as Eto's fightback began it was over as he was dropped very early in round 6. He didn't appear that hurt but it was a clear knockdown from a hard left hook as Eto left himself open. The Japanese fighter was now in a big hole and he knew it as he attempted to over-come the knockdown and moved up a gear. Unfortunately for Eto much of his work was now becoming sloppy and rushed, missing by a mile and further tiring him out as panic began to set in.
Amazingly round 7 saw Eto's work paying off as Yodmongkol did little more than cover up for large portions of the round. It suddenly looked like the Thai was tired and that Eto was about to turn it around. Unfortunately for Eto however his accuracy, or rather lack of, was destroying his own success as he missed time and time again.
Eto's failure to really make the most of his opening in round 7 was repeated the following round as Yodmongkol was again conservative. Despite Eto throwing many more shots he was unable to clearly out land the Thai who was picking his spots excellently and landing the crisper and cleaner punches time and time again. Whatever had forced Yodmongkol to cover up in the seventh was no longer an issue.
By the end of round 9 what ever mini-crisis Yodmongkol had been in was a distant memory as he took the best shots of Eto and landed his own in return. By now it was a case that Eto would need a knockout to retain but he had never managed to visibly hurt Yodmongkol who had managed to shake and drop Eto earlier in the fight.
Although it was Eto needing a stoppage it was Yodmongkol who was looking like the only man likely to score one, as shown in round 11 as he repeatedly shook Eto. By now the only thing keeping the fight going was Eto's heart and toughness. The competitiveness had completely gone from the action and it started to become a beat down by the Thai. Unfortunately for the long term career of Eto he refused to go down and tried to fight back keeping the referee from calling a halt to the proceedings.
The twelfth round saw Yodmongkol taking the decision out of the referees hands. The Japanese fighter was rocked again and this time when he tried to fire back he was caught by another shot scrambling his senses, one shot later Eto hard crashed to the canvas face first and out for the count.
Having lost both his title, the WBA interim Flyweight title, and his senses it may be a very long time before Eto really recovers from this loss which was painful and career shortner. Against Porpramook Eto had looked like a busy, talented, tough fighter who could take it as well as he could dish it out and like a man who could box when he wanted and brawl when he needed. Today however he looked like a man who has forgotten the basics about the sport, forgot about breaking up his brawling with his boxing and looked like a man feeling over-confident.
Whilst we could berate the accuracy and lack of boxing intelligence of Eto it seems much fairer to actually congratulate Yodmongkol. The 22 year old looks like he could b a very difficult man to take the title from. Like many top Thai's he looks very strong at the weight, very tough and has very under-rated technical skills. Sure he looks like he can be out boxed but he also looks like he can grind out many top fighters. This kid could well keep this title for a very longtime if he doesn't burn out.
It's not too often that we call top Russian amateurs “flops” but in the case of Alexander Alekseev (24-3-1, 20) that description, at least in terms of his professional career, appears to have been spot on as the Russian once again came up short when competing against a top tier opponent.
The 32 year southpaw, originally from Uzbekistan, though now based in Germany via Russia, was tipped as a future professional star when he began fighting for pay in 2006. He had good reason to be tipped for success after claiming World Amateur gold (2005), World Amateur silver (2003) and European gold (2004). In fact his amateur credentials were nothing short of outstanding despite the fact he had failed to medal at the 2004 Olympics, where he unfortunately ran into Odlanier Solis in his first contest.
Alekseev began his career amazingly well with 16 straight wins, 15 of those by stoppage, as he cruised through the likes of Lee Swaby, Rob Calloway. The all changed as Alekseev came undone against his first notable opponent, Victor Emilio Ramirez, who stopped Alekseev in the ninth round of a WBO interim world title fight.
Unfortunately in the 10 fights following the loss to Ramirez it appeared that Alekseev was a different fighter. A man who was aware of his issues and a man who thought too much about them rather than fighting his strengths. These issues saw him losing, via stoppage, to Denis Lebedev and later being fortunate to get a draw against Firat Arslan.
Despite those set backs Alekseev was given his second world title fight this past weekend as he challenged Cuban Yoan Pablo Hernandez (28-1, 14) for the IBF Cruiserweight title. Some thought this would bring out the best in Alekseev, instead however we saw the same issues we all knew haunted Alekseev, his lack of durability.
The Russian looked sharp to begin with and utilised his crisp jab in the early portion of the fight though at times it appeared that the jab was the sole weapon that Alekseev trusted whilst Hernandez was more willing to vary his shots. It was the varied arsenal of Hernandez that seemed the more impressive with the Cuban happy to land stinging body shots, a vicious right hook and a wicked straight left. Alekseev took the shots well in the opening round though it seemed clear that he was working harder and achieving less than the champion who managed to secure a 10-8 round with an excellent straight that dropped Alekseev with seconds of the opening round left.
With Hernandez aware he had the power advantage the Cuban seemed to relax, even more than usual, as if he knew he could drop Alekseev almost as and when he wished. The power of the champion was once again evident in round 5 as a left hand over the top sent Alekseev down for a second time. This time Alekseev seemed to struggle to his feet and a different referee (such as the one who was refereed Carl Froch v George Groves in the United Kingdom) would have stopped the bout as Hernandez looked for the stoppage there and then. Fortunately for Alekseev the bell saved him though by now he was in a hole.
Having established a lead on the scorecards Hernandez seemed to drop his work-rate, picking is spots more carefully and almost inviting Alekseev in. It was clear Hernandez was looking for another bomb if he had the chance to land it, but wasn't willing to risk blowing himself out to find it.
By the end of round 9 Hernandez had gone from looking conservative to looking like a man who was clearly tiring. It seemed, at last, that there was hope for Alekseev. Unfortunately for the Russian it seemed that Hernandez had more in the tank than he was showing and in round 10 he picked up the pace slightly before landing an incredibly sweet right hook that sent Alekseev down for a third time. This time the referee had seen enough and stopped the contest before seeing if the Russian could get up.
Whilst it clearly took a lot of guts for Alekseev to get up from the previous knockdowns this was probably Alekseev's “final chance”. He is unlikely to get another world title fight and in fact he may well need to have a long, hard think about his future in the sport.
There are some fighters in this sport that we, as a site, genuinely dislike. Something about them rubs us up the wrong way and really love tuning in in the hope of seeing them lose. This past Saturday saw one of those few fighters in action and thankfully we got to see them taking a bit of a beating.
Australian Billy “The Kid” Dib (36-3-0-1, 21), the former IBF Featherweight champion, is a fighter who has really disgusted us over the years. Starting back in 2009 when he punched Kanichi Yamaguchi who was down, Dib has had a bullseye on his back from us as a team.
Unfortunately not only was Dib excused of a DQ loss against Yamaguchi but he also seemed to have this aura of self importance. He was, in our eyes, a dirty, cheating fighter with a self inflated idea of being world class. He often talked about fighting world class opponents, such as Chris John, whilst fighting significantly less foes such as Italian non-puncher Alberto Servidei.
Thankfully Dib's world came crashing down to earth earlier this year as he was upset by Russian Evgeny Gradovich (18-0, 9) who claimed a scrappy decision over Dib.
Just 8 months on from their first meeting Gradovich and Dib fought for a second time, this time over in Macau as part of “The Clash in Cotai” card. This time there was to be no excuses, such as a Dib being a late replacement, there was to be no controversy and most telling this time there would be no suggestion of it being a bad night at the office for Dib.
The fight started on a somewhat even keel with Dib trying to use his boxing skills to neutralise the aggression and work rate of Gradovich. Although the Russian seemed to be winning the rounds they were competitive over the first 3 or 4 with neither man really stamping their authority on the action. Although the action was pretty give and take at times it was obvious that the tempo of the fight was being controlled somewhat by Gradovich who was picking his spots much better and landing the more memorable of the action.
With the pressure and the work rate of Gradovich making life uncomfortable for Dib it was obvious that the Australian needed to find a plan B if he was going to recapture the belt he had held earlier this year. Instead however Gradovich began to grow and grow in to the fight and by the end of round 6 it was becoming clear that Dib was being ground down. Although a knockdown, in the sixth, was only a flash knockdown against Dib it had summed up how the fight was going, Gradovich was simply landing too many for Dib to cope with.
The Russian, growing round after rounds, saw things go from good to better as he found a new gear in round 7 and continued to grind down Dib. The Australian, at times, was looking helpless as Gradovich's aggression, pressure and work rate began to really take their toll. Dib was unable to create space, unable to tie up and unable to force Gradovich to respect him, it was effectively only a matter of time.
Despite the horrible seventh round for Dib he did manage to see through round 8, although it was more a case of “surviving” the eighth rather than doing anything else. Dib was looking like a man who knew his fate. He wasn't just being beaten up by the punches which he was being forced to eat but was also being mentally broken up by a man who refused to give him a break. It had began to look like a bully beating up a helpless child and for us it was fantastic to see Dib being given the beaten he had long deserved.
Just over a minute into round 9 the referee had seen enough and saved Dib. The torment for the Australian had been enough, he had taken the punishment that he had been long deserving and finally knows what it's like to be beaten up by a genuine world class fighter.
What this fight showed, more so than their first meeting, was that Gradovich has improved a lot. He's maintained his high out put but appears to have added more sting on every shot, he's more selective in what he throws and most telling he believes in himself. He's no longer a fighter who will just throw and throw but is instead a man who will throw with the intention of hurting the opponent every shot. This new found confidence could well see Gradovich developing into a seriously devastating fighter.
The story we've been hearing is that Gradovich is in line to face Nonito Donaire next year, though we dare say that a fight with the Chris John-Simpiwe Vetyeka winner would actually be a much, much more interesting test. In fact if Gradovich fights the winner of that contest it also gives Donaire a chance to fight a genuine Featherweight in the interim.
If Top Rank head honcho Bob Arum feels like it, he could well organise a mini-tournament with his Featherweights and include the likes of Vasyl Lomachenko and Orlando Salido, who will be fighting each other early next year, as well as Donaire, Gradovich and even Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. Then again Arum has missed such opportunities in the past and this may be another pipe dream of fans as opposed to the promoter.
For Dib however this is surely the end of the cock-sure Australian at the world level. There really is little appeal in seeing him in action again especially following this contest which should, for once and for all, end his self delusion of being world class.
When we talk about controversial fighters in this day and age we often think of those who are apt at bending the rules or those who have failed, or been linked to, performance enhancing drug use.
One man however who's name is very closely linked to controversy is Japan's Koki Kameda (32-1, 17) who again had a controversial contest, despite retaining his WBA Bantamweight title.
Fighting outside of his native Japan for just the third time in his career Koki traveled to Jeju in South Korea and battled the relatively unheard of Jung-Oh Son (20-5-2, 6), or Jeong-Oh Son.
Son, although an unknown, knew this was by far the biggest chance of career. He knew the world expected him to lose. He knew everyone, including ourselves, had effectively written him off.
What we didn't know however was that the Korean was a man with a point to prove, a man looking at his destiny and a man who was determined to make a statement. It's fair to also say that Koki didn't expect the Korean fighter to be seeking to make a point.
The fight started well for Koki who found a home for his left hand in the opening round and then built on his initial success with solid body work in the second round. By the end of the third round it seemed clear that Koki had the skills to counter Son at will and win rounds boxing off the back foot. Son, although behind after 3 rounds, was certainly the man making the fight and the man forcing the action even if his work wasn't incredibly effective.
Although down after 3 Son began to really grow in to the bout round after round and by the end of the fourth round he appeared to be neutralising Koki's work whilst having more success himself. It was obvious from this round that Koki wasn't going to do as he wished with Son and that Son had the ability to make things very difficult for Koki.
Things went from bad to worse for Koki as Son hurt him in a very clear fifth round that seemed to prove that Son hit a lot, lot harder than his record indicated. Koki saw out the round though it was clear that Son was able to rattle him, out work him and generally make him incredibly uncomfortable in the ring.
Taking the fifth round as a clear warning Koki managed to change tactics in a huge way for round 6 as he held, clinched and generally spoiled his way through the round. If nothing else the round allowed Koki a chance to clear his head, though it was obvious that the Japanese champion knew a war would be trouble for him.
Koki seemed to turn the bout more in his favour in round 7 thanks to some success with body shots that appeared to be taking the steam out of Son's sails. This body attack of Koki's continued through the eighth round as it began to look like Son had missed his opportunity to upset Koki.
Remarkably Son got his second wind in round 9 and made the action very hard to score as he handcuffed Koki with his assault, an assault that would send Koki down to his knees in round 10. This knockdown saw us going in to the championship rounds pretty much level and with both men knowing they were well in with a chance to claim the victory.
Unfortunately for Son his energy wasn't there for the final 2 rounds. His lack of 12 round experience, a distance he had only completed twice, seemed to just see him running out of steam.
As we got to the cards there was near no certainty. Koki, although taking some of the early rounds and the final round, had struggled through much of the fight and Son on the other hand had taken the middle rounds and landed the more memorable attacks. This had left everyone anticipating close scorecards and rightfully so, unfortunately however Son's hard work seemed to be for naught with Koki's arm being raised as he claimed a narrow split decision.
Using the WBA half point scoring Koki ultimately won with scores of 115-112 and 114.5-114 going against a card of 115.5-113 in favour of Son. The half point in favour of Koki was the difference between a loss and a draw for Son.
The result, which has been widely criticised, was perhaps not a "robbery" per se, but was certainly controversial, mostly due to the 115-112 card which was far, far too wide. No way did Kameda win the bout by claiming 8 of the 12 rounds, which the 115-112 card would indicate.
If there was a silver lining to the loss for Son it's that he knows he's made a statement and could well be able to get himself a bigger fight off the back of this. In fact a fight with Tomoki Kameda would now make a lot of sense. Had Son won however his reign would have been very short with the winner here being forced to fight Anselmo Moreno early next year. For Koki that's already looking like a loss. Moreno, for his lack of power, is an excellent boxer and will really embarrass Koki unless the Japanese fighter can find something very, very special between now and that fight.
If there was one Thai that caught our eyes earlier this year that was Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (23-3-1, 21) the man who literally man handled Yota Sato as he claimed the WBC Super Flyweight title.
Although Srisaket has been busy since claiming his world title, with 3 none title fights in the last 6 months, he hadn't actually made a defense of the belt he won back in May.
Earlier today Srisaket did make the first defense of that title as he took on Japan's brave warrior Hirofumi Mukai (9-3-1, 1). Unfortunately Mukai became the 21st victim of the Thai who demonstrated the savagery that we are starting to know, and love, about the Thai monster.
The Thai had bad intentions from the off and whilst Mukai went there to win it was obvious he was up against it by the end of the opening round. It was clear the Mukai lacked the firepower to keep Srisaket off and it was obvious that Srisaket wanted to make a statement.
After taking the opening round Srisaket managed to score the contests sole knockdown in the opening seconds of the second round. Mukai managed to fight his way through the round but Srisaket maintained the nasty intentions that saw him clearly chasing a stoppage.
With the WBC's open scoring in effect there was little doubt on the score after 4 rounds. Srisaket 40-35 up again Mukai, there was no possible way to see the fight scored in any other way. The Japanese fighter, whilst game, had been out fought, out worked and out punched through the first 4.
With the Japanese fighter in a hole after 4 it was great to see him fight back in rounds 5 and 6, by far the closest rounds of the fight. In fact he may well have taken round 5 despite taking some heavy artillery from the champion. Round 6 however he lost in the final few moments as Srisaket rocked him hard as a stoppage began to look imminent.
Mukai's toughness saw him coming out for round 7 though by the end of it he was beginning to look like a man who was genuinely being beaten up. Had it not been for the heart and bravery of Mukai the fight certainly would have been stopped at the end of the round. Instead of pulling their man out the Japanese corner sent their man out for round 8 and the beat down continued with Mukai's boxing really starting to unravel mid-way in to the round. One thing Mukai had been able to do in the earlier rounds was fire back and protect himself though that resistance had been totally beaten out of him.
With Mukai's short lived fight back well and truly over the scorecards should have been enough to have made the Japanese corner think about retiring their man. The cards, which had Srisaket winning 80-71 and 79-72, twice, really did represent the fight which was one sided.
Instead of pulling Mukai his corner sent him out for round 9. Presumably under the warning that if this continued they'd throw in the towel. They did just that in the ninth as Srisaket began to use Mukai as a human punch bag in what was starting to get very ugly.
For Srisaket aren't going to be a hard thing to get. If his promoter wants to keep him busy then he will as he rips through Thai, Filipino and Japanese fighters in non-title fights. Unfortunately he may struggle to get challengers. Mukai was ranked #15 by the WBC and whilst some may say this Srisaket picking an easy opponent we dare say many of the others didn't want to know. This kid looks like a monster every time he steps in the ring.
Although Srisaket lost 3 of his first 5 contests, including a stoppage to Akira Yaegashi, it's going to take someone very, very special to beat him. In fact we're not sure there is a fighter in the division who could stand up to this monster who doesn't just defeat opponents but instead breaks them.
Although three Japanese men currently own portions of the Bantamweight crown it's fair to say only one of them is seen as a real "champion" in one of the sports most packed division. That man is Shinsuke Yamanaka (20-0-2, 15), the destructive southpaw who once again defended his WBC world title against a highly regarded challenger, something that can hardly be said of his compatriots.
Having claimed the WBC title back in November 2011 when he defeated Christian Esquivel via 11th round TKO Yamanaka has slowly become one of the divisions key men. Subsequent defenses against Vic Darchinyan, Tomas Rojas, Malcolm Tunacao and Jose Nieves have all furthered Yamanaka's reputation as a genuinely top tier fighter.
Earlier today Yamanaka defended his world title for the fifth time as he took on tricky Mexican Alberto Guevara (18-2, 6) a man who went the distance with the then IBF Bantamweight champion Leo Santa Cruz, one of the most fearsome fighters in the sport today.
The fight actually started well for Guevara who used his excellent footwork and speed to connect on Yamanaka and get out of range. Even on the ropes the Mexican was elusive and made Yamanaka struggle to connect. For those who had seen Guevara's fight with Santa Cruz this was expected because he had proven to be a very intelligent mover.
Although Guevara was making life difficult for Yamanaka the Japanese fighter was being rewarded by the judges for being the man trying to make the fight and after 4 rounds the WBC's open scoring showed him leading on all three cards. It was perhaps controversial given the bright start from the challenger though it's the problem with being a light hitting "fancy Dan" taking on a hard hitting and popular fighter in their home country.
After the competitive start by Guevara it was Yamanaka's turn to find his rhythm and that's what he began doing in round 5 as he gradually started to connect on the slowing Mexican. By the end of round 6 it was obvious that Yamanaka was turning this into his fight and his success were becoming more and more regular. It wasn't a beat down but it was starting to become one.
Through round 7 the assault of Yamanaka became more and more evident and whilst Guevara was showing the same toughness he had against Santa Cruz it was starting to turn complete against him.
If round 7 had been a bad one for Guevara round 8 was a total nightmare with the Mexican being dropped within the first 30 seconds. Now Yamanaka was on a seek-and-destroy mission and Guevara was doing all he could to survive, holding Yamanaka and back peddling through out. The Latino fire of Guevara was quickly being extinguished despite his refusal to just lie down. Despite refusing to just lose Guevara was dropped a second time late in the round as Yamanaka tried to finish it it there and then.
Guevara was sent out for round 9 though unfortunately for him so too was Yamanaka who dropped him early in the round. This time the Mexican stayed down and took the full count, knowing that this was a battle that he wasn't going to be able to turn around and in fact a battle that was just going to become more and more painful.
Following the contest Yamanaka was interviewed and suggested that he wanted a big fight in the US at either his natural Bantamweight or even Super Bantamweight. We dare say that he would prefer an immediate match up with either Koki or Tomoki Kameda, the WBA and WBO champions though they are unlikely to happen.
With Nonito Donaire stopping Vic Darchinyan on Saturday night, we'd love to begin the calls for Yamanaka v Donaire or Yamanaka v Guillermo Rigondeaux. Two fights that would pit hard punching skilled fighters against each other in what could potentially be a chess match with explosions.
This weekend's biggest bout had the tag line "Prepare for an epic battle!". Unfortunately we got more of a damp squib as Kazakhstan's Gennady Golovkin (28-0, 25) defended his WBA Middleweight title and silenced the big mouth of American Curtis Stevens (25-4, 18).
On the face of it this had the potential to be a firefight. We had two men with serious reputations as power punchers. We had Golovkin taking a 14 fight stoppage streak with him and we had Stevens giving the big old hard man routine. Unfortunately however Stevens failed to deliver on the many promises he had made. It was a classic case of a man writing checks his simply simply couldn't cash.
The opening round saw Stevens causing Golovkin some issues. It wasn't that Stevens was really doing anything that special he was just frustrating Golovkin by tucking up behind a high guard and giving next to no openings. It was the guard of Stevens that really only real problem and when he managed to get around it he scored with hard shots, most notably scoring a knockdown in the second round.
Unfortunately for viewers it appeared that the knockdown was the worst thing that could happen to the fight. Stevens, who was defensively minded from the off, went further into his shell trying to fight off the ropes with occasional flurries in an attempt to take Golovkin out with counters. Whilst we're not going to say that Golovkin can't be knocked out this was a strategy that didn't serve Stevens well and in fact seemed to merely frustrate Golovkin future. The champion, himself fighting with an air of caution, kept looking for holes in the defense though they were limited with only the odd shot slipping through to catch the challenger.
Whilst Stevens seemed to realise that his tactics weren't going to work he struggled when he changed them. Several times the two fighters stood toe-to-toe though Stevens would be tagged and end up back on the ropes as if they were a safe heaven. Whilst it may have seemed safer than centre ring it still wasn't that safe and Golovkin eventually found more and more holes in the defenses of Stevens, most notably to the body.
It seemed that if Golovkin was unable to land clean shots upstairs he'd just slowly chip away at Stevens breaking his resistance bit by bit. This included handcuffing Stevens with flurries of busy jabs as opposed to full blooded ones and a series of nasty body shots through round 8.
With Stevens tiring midway through the eighth Golovkin sensed his chance and went on an all assault. Although he didn't manage to floor the challenger a second time the fight was really starting to turn against Stevens who's left eye was swelling shut and his confidence was completely gone.
The American's corner seemed to know as soon as the eighth round ended that their man was done. Rather than even sitting him down they called for the referee and effectively pulled their man out, saving him for another day.
Considering the pre-fight antics of Stevens, who had famously been pictured with a "GGG" coffin this really was an anti-climatic ending. Whilst Stevens may have been saved from further damage physically it's fair to say that his career may never recover from what appeared to be a bit of a quit job. Of course we'll likely be criticised for saying that but for a man who spoke the way Stevens did this really was a disappointing performance.
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.