When it was announced that Takashi Uchiyama (21-0-1, 17) would be defending his WBA Super Featherweight title against Daiki Kaneko (19-3-3, 12) the bout two very different reactions. From Western fans this bout was viewed as a pointless defense for Uchiyama against an opponent they hadn't heard of, for Japanese fans however this was viewed as the Japanese equivalent for Carl Froch's bout with George Groves.
Like Groves, Kaneko was a youngster who had shown a lot of promise, shown real improvement from his earlier bouts and was seen as a fresh, young fighter with real power of his own. Uchiyama, like Froch, was seen as the long reigning but aging champion who was tough as old boots and in possession of fight ending power. Although we didn't quite go with that view we understood the thought behind it and could see how Kaneko could give Uchiyama some problems, at least early on.
Surprisingly however it was late on that Kaneko gave Uchiyama problems with a knockdown by the challenger coming in round 10.
The fight started with the 2 men looking relatively even for vast swathes of the opening round or 2. Although they were relatively even it just seemed that the more memorable and eye catching shots were from the champion and through the first 4 rounds it was difficult to give Kaneko more than just a single round as Uchiyama looked like he simply knew too much for the challenger.
Although behind on the cards Kaneko did manage to land the best shot of round 4 rocking Uchiyama and proving that it wasn't just "KO Dynamite" who had power. The telling thing though wasn't that Kaneko was behind but that he was taking full blooded counters from Uchiyama with out ever looking hurt, in fact it was Kaneko that was looking the bigger, stronger and more powerful fighter.
The natural strength of Kaneko served him well in round 5 as Uchiyama managed to pick his game back up and land some solid shots which bloodied up Kaneko's nose. Despite the bloodied nose Kaneko still seemed to be the man coming forward as Uchiyama began to boxing on the back foot, using his movement and jab to try and avoid exchanges. The boxing of Uchiyama's continued through round 6 as he managed to claim the round despite only really winning the final 90 seconds of it as Kaneko struggled to land anything of note.
By now it looked like Uchiyama had seen out the storm and had awoken to the fact he was going to have to box to retain his title. Unfortunately for the champion he had done little but buy a temporary reprieve before Kaneko found a totally knew gear and gave Uchiyama an incredibly hard time through round 8. Although the champion looked like he might have stolen the round late it was fair to say that Kaneko probably deserved the round on his early work as he pushed Uchiyama hard.
Round 9 saw Kaneko again move up a gear as he pushed Uchiyama hard with his pressure. By now it was clear that Uchyama was going to do what he could to avoid a tear up with the younger man. The champion had built up a comfortable lead on the cards and wasn't going to risk it by going toe-to-toe with the younger, fresher man who appeared determined to make the most of his opportunity.
Having managed to really push Uchiyama in rounds 7, 8 and 9 Kaneko managed to really give Uchiyama a scare as he landed a perfect land hand that dropped Uchiyama. Kaneko tried to jump on the champion seeing his opportunity though unfortunately the there wasn't enough time left for the challenger to make the most of the opening. Surprisingly Uchiyama seemed to look more embarrassed in his corner between rounds than hurt and was the first off his stool to begin round 11. Although Uchiyama was off his stool before Kaneko it didn't stop the challenger from literally leaping off his to start the round.
With Uchiyama having been down in round 10 it was fair to assume that Kaneko would be trying to take out Uchiyama in the eleventh. As it turned out it wasn't just Kaneko trying to score an eleventh round KO but also Uchiyama as the men traded leather in a late contender for round of the year. The men unloaded bombs, they stood toe to toe and they went for it with reckless abandon. The trading actually favoured Uchiyama who left Kaneko's nose bleeding as he further inflicted pain on the impressive challenger.
The final round saw Kaneko needing a KO and he seemed to know it as he chased Uchiyama around the ring with bad intentions. Unfortunately for the challenger his inexperience worked against him as he walked on to a number of big shots and saw Uchiyama stepping away from his charges. This saw Uchiyama managing to control the round before really unleashing late and he rocked Kaneko for the first time. The round had secured his victory though it had also shown just how good, how tough and how credible Kaneko was as a challenger.
Knowing he hadn't gotten the much needed KO Kaneko didn't celebrate whilst Uchiyama, who knew he had been pushed incredibly hard, smiled almost admitting he had been given a really stiff test. If we looked at the face of the 2 men Kaneko looked like the beaten man, his face was swollen and bloodied but if we looked at the actual fight and performance then Kaneko was the big winner. He had gone from a man relatively unknown around the world to a man many are now tipping as a future world champion.
At just 25 years old Kaneko will certainly come again and if, as expected, he wins a world title in the future this fight will reflect well on both men. Like Takashi Miura, we think that Daiki Kaneko will go on to claim a world title somewhere down the line, and in fact a bout between Miura and Kaneko would certainly be fun to watch.
For those wondering the scores, all 3 judges had it 117-110 to Uchiyama, we had it much closer at 115-112.
When it was announced that WBC Super Featherweight champion Takashi Miura (27-2-2, 20) would be fighting against Mexican Dante Jardon (24-4, 20) we knew we were in for some early New Year fireworks. Both men are fighters first and boxers second, both like to unload and both have real power in their hands. What we didn't expect however was a bout that was disappointingly one sided.
From the first minute of the first round it seemed clear the men were in different leagues. Miura took control from the off and the highly touted Mexican simply had no answer. From first minute the Jardon was put on the back foot, tagged by hard southpaw left from Miura and bossed around. Jardon, a supposedly huge puncher, was simply unable to get Miura's respect and from then on life was always going to be hard.
Jardon tried hard to get some respect early in the second round but Miura seemed to take many of the shots of Jardon on the arms as he continued to break down the Mexican challenger who was beginning to swing in hope as much as anything. Whilst Jardon was looking desperate Miura looked like a man with a point to prove, as if he wanted to make a statement to all those who are writing him off as a second rate champion. It was clear that Miura had some anger to take out and unfortunately he was taking it out on Jardon was taking a pasting.
By the end of round 4 it wasn't a question of who was going to win but more a question of just how long Jardon could survive and whether or not Miura could keep up the electric pace he had set himself, having seen Miura's fight with Sergio Thompson however it was clear that Miura could do this pace for 12 rounds if he needed to.
In round 5 Miura seemed to turn more of his attention to the body of Jardon, it was as if he was wanting to break the Mexican as well as beat him up. Poor Jardon hard no answer to the thunderous body shots which seemed to take their toll early in the round and a follow up flurry eventually sent a beaten looking Jardon to the canvas for the first knockdown of the fight. Jardon managed to show heart to get to his feet though few would have complained had the bout been stopped there with the Mexican's legs looking wobbly, impressively however he saw out the round.
The heart of Jardon seemed to be all he had as Miura continued to attack him through round 6. Jardon was landing clean counters through the round but they were having next to no effect on Miura who took them and fired back as he continued to look for the finish. Jardon seemed to be lost on what to do. When he tried to fight back he was tagged, when he retreated his was walked down and tagged. It was as if there was nothing he could do to prevent the inevitable.
Jardon had done well to see out round 7 and had a very spirited effort in round 8 before being dropped late in the round as Miura secured a second 10-8 round. The WBC open scoring after 8 told us nothing we didn't already know. Miura was a mile ahead on the cards with scores of 80-71, twice, and 80-70 and the best thing Jardon had done was to make it this far. He had been brave, he had been tough but he had been beaten up round after round after round.
In round 9 Miura dropped Jardon for a third time and this time the referee had decided enough was enough waving it off immediately and calling a halt to proceedings with Jardon on his haunches. The Mexican, who was bleeding from the nose, knew that he had given his all but had been clearly beaten by the much, much better man. This wasn't a case of "the better man on the night" winning, but the better fighter winning and the same would happen if they fought again, Miura was simply too much for the Mexican.
When you consider this is the third notable victory for Miura this year, after victories against Gamaliel Diaz and Sergio Thompson, in a FOTY contender, then it's hard to argue with Miura being the Japanese Fighter of the Year. Thankfully due to his very fun to watch style he's a man with a lot of options and we'd love to see him fight either Takashi Uchiyama in a WBC/WBA unification or Mikey Garcia in a WBC/WBO unification. If he can't get a match with either of those men then it may well be a case of taking on easier foe, he deserves an "easy" bout after the 3 impressive results this year.
Could we have seen the birth of a new Mexi-killer this year?
When twi men enter a ring with a combined record of 31-0 (24) you don't tend to expect the fight to go the distance though some how Kazuto Ioka's (14-0, 9) bout with Nicaraguan challenger Felix Alvarado (now 18-1, 15) did just that, even though for much of the fight it seemed impossible that it would last 12.
Ioka, defending his WBA Light Flyweight title for the 3rd time this year knew he was facing one of his toughest tests of his career though few would have expected it to be as tough as it was, in fact it was probably his second toughest career bout behind his 2012 bout with countryman Akira Yaegashi.
Alvarado, a much vaunted puncher, set the tone of the bout from the off applying constant pressure and looking to hammer away on Ioka with uppercuts, hooks, crosses and almost everything in his arsenal. Ioka, who at first tried to box, met the pressure quickly by standing his ground and slipping shots in the pocket firing back his own accurate counters.
As a result of Ioka standing his ground the styles of the two men gelled almost instantly and gave us toe-to-toe action round after round after round which early on made things look extremely competitive. The competitiveness of the early rounds could well have seen the judges with cards 36-40 either way.
Unfortunately for Alvarado he was unable to keep up the same level of competitiveness as the bout went on. His shots became pushed, wider, and slower allowing Ioka to pick his counter opportunities more easily and in fact as we entered round 6 and 7 Ioka was beginning to take total control and take advantage of Alvarado's technical limitation and lack of experience. It was never looking easy for the unbeaten Japanese fighter but it was clear he was beginning to run away with the action.
Ioka's control of the bout wasn't just helped by the limitations of his challenger but also by the physical damage he had inflicted on Alvarado whose left eye had been swollen from round 3 and twice saw the doctor inspect it, at the start of round 3 and round 10. This swelling seemed to be the closest either man came to being stopped as they each took bombs from the other with out ever being too hurt.
By the end of round 11 it was clear that Alvarado was going to need to land something extra special though it was clear that was never going to happen. Ioka was fresh, in total control and seemed happy to fight "Alvarado's fight" as if to say "there is noway you can beat me" and at the end of the day he was right, Alvarado had nothing to worry him down the stretch. Despite being in control however Ioka was happy to trade shots with Alvarado and effectively put on a show for the fans by continuing to fight the challenger rather than get on his bike and cruise.
Although a number of rounds, especially early, had been competitive it was clear well before the judges announced the decision that Ioka had retained his title. Alvarado had shown off his toughness though his faults had seen him picked apart some what by a much more complete fighter who may well be looking to really shine in 2014. Yes this was Ioka's 3rd defense of the year though it was the only one where he really needed to impress, it was the only one where he faced a man who believed they had what it took and it was the only one where Ioka answered serious questions about himself.
From a fan's perspective we're hoping Ioka gets in with someone like Adrian Hernandez, the WBC champion, or former IBF Minimumweight champion Nkosinathi Joyi in bouts that would be enjoyable. We'd have loved him in with Akira Yaegashi again but the fact Ioka was well inside the Light Flyweight weight limit would suggest that bout isn't going to happen in the next 12 months. Going on this performance an all-Japanese bout with Naoya Inoue would be too early for Inoue though it's a bout that is likely to be spoken about a lot over the coming months.
Whilst we all want world champions to be active and defending their belts on a regular basis this isn't always possible. For whatever reason Kazakhstan's Light Heavyweight Beibut Shumenov (14-1, 9) has been one of those inactive champions. The WBA "super" Light Heavyweight champion, for whatever reason, had been inactive for 18 months. Despite the long lay-off though Shumenov was still regarded as a top Light Heavyweight and thankfully we saw why as he made his return to action this weekend.
Fighting little known Tamas Kovacs (23-1, 14), who entered the bout as the WBA's #14 ranked contender, the bout was seen as a mismatch from the off. Despite the fact it was a mismatch it was also clearly a chance to give Shumenov a showcase bout on Showtime under new promoter Golden Boy Promotions. It was a chance to also shake off the ring rust and give Showtime their own Light Heavyweight fighter having seen rival network HBO establish 2 of their own in the past 12 months.
Unfortunately the bout proved to be every bit the mismatch that people thought it would be.
Kovacs started well, but by started well we mean he had a good first 30 seconds. Within a minute Shumenov had began to find his rhythm, timing and by the end of the round he was not looking like a man who had been inactive for more than a year. If anyone was looking rusty it was Kovacs who was dropped very late in the round by a left hook.
For Kovacs the first round was probably his best, or rather Shumenov's worst. The second round saw Shumenov going up a gear and he dropped Kovacs again, this time with a lovely left uppercut that had a delayed reaction. It was clear the men were in completely different leagues in terms of skills and power.
With Shumenov knowing he was in total control he went out for round 3 looking for the perfect shot. He was waiting for a bomb and although he did take one or two in the round he knew he was going to get a chance to drop Kovacs for a third time. That chance came earlier than some would have expected as Shumenov dropped Kovacs for a third time with a powerful straight right. This time the referee wasn't willing to let Kovacs go on. It had only taken 3 rounds but Shumenov had managed to make a statement.
It seemed that Showtime were trying to push a bout between to Shumenov and IBF champion Bernard Hopkins. In all honesty we'd expect Hopkins to win that one if it gets made but unfortunately Shumenov's options are quite limited. It appears that Sergey Kovalev, Adonis Stevenson, Lucien Bute and Jean Pascal are all tied up with HBO, Shumenob however is, as mentioned, a Showtime fighter. We hope that Shumenov can get good fights but it's clear that the best fights out there aren't going to be there for Shumenov, at least in the short term. Hopkins would be one option another would be WBA "regular" champion Juergen Braehmer but apart from those fights it's hard to see an interesting option for Shumenov.
One thing we do see a lot of in boxing is a fighter continuing on despite showing visible signs of being on the slide. We see it time and time again. A great fighter fights on as they are slowing, picking up injuries, and their skills are clearly diminishing. It appears everyone else can see it but them.
Whilst there was no sure fire evidence that Chris John (48-1-3, 22) was "shot" the WBA Featherweight "super" champion did not look amazing back in April when he retained his title with a technical draw against Satoshi Hosono. That fight, which saw John left with a nasty cut from a clash of heads saw John being tagged a few times early on by the Japanese "Bazooka" and many wondered what would have happened had that bout have continued.
Unfortunately for John there was no clash of heads to bail him out today as he took on South African Simpiwe Vetyeka (26-2, 16) and suffered the first loss of his illustrious and memorable career. Worse than just losing however, John was beaten into submission, broken down mentally and physically and finished the bout sat on his stool pondering the future.
The bout it's self was a slow burner. For 2 or 3 rounds very, very little happened. The two men, at times, seemed to perfectly neutralise one another. When one men threw the other blocked, and it looked like we were going to get one of those disappointing bouts where the strengths of each man cancel each other out. It was messy, it was uninteresting and there was very little in terms of clean effective punching. In all honesty the most interesting moments revolved around John twice falling to the canvas.
Round 4 saw the first really notable success from the South African though it was essentially drowned out by the crowd who attempted to sway the judges with a "Chris John" chant. The chant however did little to effect the men in the ring who continued to cancel each other out for the most part. By now though John was slowing. He had been able to land body shots earlier on but now there was very little in terms of clean action from the Indonesian.
We got our first talking point in round 5 as the bout flipped on it's head completely. John appeared to be knockdown around the mid way point of the round, the referee some how ruled a slip but from looking at John when he recovered it was clear that he was a man who was feeling the hurtful effects of something more than a slip. With John clearly hurt Vetyeka went in for the kill.
John would be sent to the canvas again in round 5 and again the referee ignored what was a clear knockdown. Quite what the referee was doing ignoring what looked like clear knockdowns was a mystery, though for John the referees actions didn't help as Vetyeka kept up the assault hurting John in a big way before the bell.
Bravely John came out for round 6 though he was still clearly feeling the ill effects of the previous round. He tried to fight back and tried to survive but again found himself on the canvas. Again it was ruled a slip from a referee who must have thought he was doing John a favour in some sick way. Only moments after getting back to his feet John was down again. This time, finally, there was a count given. Despite getting up and seeing the bell it was obvious that John's 34 year old body had effective said enough was enough. He retired his corner between rounds 6 and 7.
After seeing John remain in his corner an emotional Vetyeka celebrated, not as a man who had merely won a world title but as a man who had a great loss then won, not for himself but for his country, his people and his hero. For John this was a story of a loss of something material, his title. For Vetyeka however the fight was fought in dedication for the loss of the great Nelson Mandela, who had sadly passed away the previous night.
With Vetyeka now holding wins over the two premier names in Indonesian boxing, Daud Cino Yordan and Chris John, he may well need a new country to attack. With the WBA "super" title over his shoulder he'll likely have plenty of options on where to go. Fights with the likes of Nicholas Walters, Evgeny Gradovich or even Nonito Donaire would all hold intrigue and all be real possibilities.
Whilst Vetyeka has a host of options in front of him John's future doesn't look bright. At 34 this may well be his last bout, in fact from rounds 5 and 6 it really should be his last bout. He looked like he still had the speed and the skills in flashes but there was always something missing in this performance. It was like cheap imitation of man who had held some form of a world title for the better part of a decade.
We really hope John returns to Indonesia to a hero's welcome despite the loss. Then after a few days break hopefully he announces his retirement. It'd be awful to see him beaten again by a lesser fighter than Vetyeka, who we regard very highly. There is no shame in losing to Vetyeka, there is shame however in trying to deny that father time effects us all, even the greats like Chris John.
Note-For the picture we've used here, we've selected a younger Chris John, the one who really was one of the top Featherweights on the planet. Not the shadow of that man who fought today
It's rare that Akira Yaegashi (19-3, 9) gives us a dull one. Win or lose he seems to be a magnet for in ring action, great fights and genuine displays of toughness. It was that toughness that was called on again today as he faced determined Mexican veteran Edgar Sosa (49-8, 29).
Yaegashi, defending his WBC Flyweight title for the second time, following a rare "dull" fight in his first defense, knew he was in for a tough night as soon as Sosa become the mandatory challenger.
Sosa, a one time Light Flyweight champion had earned his shot at Yaegashi the hard way, beating other top contenders including Ulises "Archie" Solis and Giovani Segura. This wasn't a Mexican getting a WBC title fight just because he was Mexican, but because he had earned, something that now appears to be forgotten in the world of boxing.
In the first 2 rounds it appeared that earning his fight had taken something out of Sosa who started slowly losing the first two rounds to the faster Yaegashi. Although they were close rounds, fought almost as a chess match, the Japanese fighter seemed to do enough in both to claim them with his slightly better work.
Many, including ourselves, had expected this to be a war. The first couple of rounds may not have looked like the beginning of a war but they were merely the calm before the storm and in round 3 the action caught fire with Sosa starting to connect with his right hand. If Sosa could draw Yaegashi into a war, something that Yaegashi has been known for, then there was much better chance for Sosa and this proved to be the case in round 4 as the Mexican began to grow more and more into the fight.
Although the WBC open scoring had Yaegashi unanimously in the lead with scores of 40-36 and 39-35 twice, it was obvious the fight was slowly turning in the favour of the Mexican challenger. Not just was the style of the fight turning his way but Yaegashi's face was showing signs of battle and puffing up from the right hands that Sosa was starting to land and he seemed to be bretahing much heavier than Sosa.
Yaegashi's case wasn't helped by the fact he was boxing so much off the back foot. This made it look like Sosa was in charge of the action. Sure the Mexican was forcing the fight, but he wasn't managing to get enough success to force Yaegashi to hold his feet that often. Instead Yaegashi controlled the distance and circled before picking his spots to trying and counter Sosa.
By the end of round 7 we were starting to see both men trading shots on a more regular basis. Yaegashi was still using his feet to a great effect but was being forced to answer back when Sosa was having success. This gave us some moments of great action as both men landed bombs on the other. It was in those short exchanges that the hand speed difference between the two men was notable with Yaegashi popping out 3 or 4 punches in a flurry whilst Sosa loaded up with a power shot.
Although we felt Sosa had certainly taken a number of rounds in the middle the WBC judges didn't seem that impressed by the fact he was forcing the fight. After 8 rounds the open scoring had Yaegashi winning 80-72, 79-73 and 77-75. Whilst we had Yaegashi winning Sosa had easily done enough in rounds 3, 6 and 8 to have gotten at least 2 rounds on the board.
Going in to the championship rounds all Yaegashi had to do, at least for 2 of the judges, was stay on his feet. Sosa was in desperate need of a KO if he was to dethrone the Japanese champion.
Unfortunately for Sosa his slow pressure wasn't having the effect on Yaegashi that he'd have been hoping. Yaegashi, despite looking tired between rounds, seemed to have boundless energy in the ring. His movement continued to leave Sosa chasing shadows and whilst it was certainly negative in parts from the champion Yaegashi made up for it when he did hold his feet and let his lightning bursts go.
By the final bell it had become a game of cat and mouse with Sosa the the catand Yaegashi the mouse. The mouse in this case was simply too fast for the cat to catch and in fact the by the end the eye catching connects appeared to be coming from Yaegashi on the counter.
With the open scoring making it obvious after 8 rounds that Yaegashi had won there was no shock when his hand was raised and the scores officially announced after 12 rounds. Unfortunately this a poor example of how the WBC opening scoring system should work. The scores were "wrong" after 8, had they reflect the close nature and all read around 77-75 (with a round either way) then their would have been drama. As it was however, the result was a forgone conclusion.
Interestingly the judge that had given Yaegashi the first 8 rounds appears to have given Sosa 3 of the last 4, as the official cards read 117-111 twice and 116-112. Unfortunately the scorecards will likely over-shadow what was a good fight with the right winner.
The biggest problem, for Sosa, wasn't the fact he was fighting in Japan, or even the judging. Instead it was his age. At 34 years old he simply lacked the speed, reflexes and movement to force Yaegashi to trade with him more. Had Sosa been able to make a total war of this he may well have won. Instead Sosa could only force some skirmishes and after those Yaegahi could get back on his bike and rack up rounds with his movement and pot shotting.
It's all too rare in this sport that we get unification bouts. We as fans, as much as anything else, love them when they come around and wish we'd have more of them.
Less than a week ago it looked nailed on that we would have a unified Super Flyweight champion. The WBA and IBF titles were bound together with Liborio Solis (16-3-1, 7) set to face Daiki Kameda (29-4, 18).
There was just one problem, weight. On Monday Solis, failed to make the Super Flyweight limit. In fact he was closer to the Bantamweight limit than the Super Flyweight limit. This saw Solis stripped of the WBA title and unableto win the IBF belt. Daiki however was eligible still to win the WBA title and unify it with his IBF belt.
Unfortunately for Daiki the weight difference on the scales had multiplied by the time the two men had gotten in to the ring. Daiki, although above the Super Flyweight limit in the ring was physically smaller than Solis who was said to have been around the Lightweight limit.
Sadly for Daiki the weight difference came in to play early on.
The fight began as a phone booth war, a real tear up with both men unloading on each other in the first 3 rounds. There was more action in these 3 rounds than many 12 rounders have combined as both men decided to go to war with each other.
By round 4 the size disadvantage was taking it's toll on Daiki. The Japanese fighter couldn't hurt Solis who took every shot and came back with his own heavier shots. This saw Daiki changing his game plan and trying to box with Solis rather than going to war with him.
Trying to box with Solis didn't really help Daiki who was walked down, hurt and forced to clinch. By now it was clear that Daiki was going to need to move to a third game plan. This involved lots of shoe shining at Solis's body. No shot was going to hurt the Venezuelan but they could catch the judges eye and help Daiki claim the rounds.
By round 9 it seemed like Daiki had the toughness to take the best of Solis shots. He didn't have the fire power to force Solis into thinking twice about letting his hands go however he did have the work rate to make things interesting and the heart to keep going.
It was the heart and toughness of Daiki that was outstanding and in the final 3 rounds he upped his work, his effort and his energy as he tried to close the show and take the championship rounds. Whilst no one would have begrudged him those later rounds it was simply too little too late, he was in a hole and there was no real escape on the cards.
To us it seemed Solis was a clear winner. The cards would have been close, of course they would, Daiki may well have taken 2 of the first 4 and possibly the last 3, but that was about as good as it got for him. He was battered in the middle portion of the bout and rounds 4-9 were clearly Solis's with the Venezuelan having a very good shout to have won the first 3 as well. At best for Daiki we had it a 115-113 loss, at worst it it 117-111 to Solis.
As per usual however the judges saw things very differently to us. They had it, rather remarkably, a split decision. We believe the cards were read out as 115-113, 112-116 and 116-112, though there was confusion with the announcements.
Oddly the reactions of the two fighters were very odd. Solis celebrated as if he had won the lottery or been told he was crowned master of the universe when in fact he had effectively won a fight for naught, he wasn't going to be reinstated by the WBA nor was he to claim the IBF title. Daiki on the other hand looked solemn despite technically retaining his title on a loss.
Interestingly this result has actually set up some very interesting looking possibilities for 2014.
We are likely to see Daiki fighting against Zolani Tete in a defense of the IBF title, that appears to be almost set in stone with Tete claiming a mandatory position this past weekend.
With Solis beating Daiki but unable to make the Super Flyweight limit we'd not be shocked if 2014 brought us a bout between Tomoki Kameda, who retained his WBO Bantamweight belt on this same show, and Solis. It's a bout that allows the Kameda's to gain some form of revenge over Solis and allows Solis a chance to return to Japan for another world title and another decent payday.
The fact the WBA Super Flyweight title is now vacant could also see Koki Kameda aborting plans to fight Anselmo Moreno in a Bantamweight title fight and instead dropping to Super Flyweight. If Koki does that he could potentially be Japan's first ever 4 weight world champion.
One thing is for sure, there was probably more "good" from Solis failing to make weight than their was bad. Sure we failed to have a unified champion but on the other hand we have seemingly gotten a very, very interesting situation.
The youngest of the 3 Kameda brothers, Tomoki Kameda (29-0, 18) successfully made the first defense of his WBO Bantamweight title earlier today as he over-came a second successive Namibian opponent.
Last timeout Tomoki defeated the then champion Paulus Ambunda, this time it was the turn of "The Prince" Immanuel Naidjala (17-1-1, 11) to suffer defeat at the hands of Tomoki.
Despite the challenger showing a good jab in the first round it was Tomoki got off to the better start as he came forward, forced Naidjala back and looked from the off to be a stronger, faster and better fighter. The power of Tomoki, which is often under-rated, showed up in round 2 as he seemed to rock Naidjala and at that point it seemed to be a case of just how long would the challenger last.
The domination of Tomoki became more and more evident in rounds 4 and 5 as he began landing left hands to the body at will, walking through Naidjala's shots and generally doing as he pleased. It looked almost certain that Naidjala wasn't going to see out the distance due to the quality of body shots he was forced to take.
With the fight "in the bag" in terms of the scorecards after 8 rounds, Tomoki seemed to realise that Naidjala was genuinely a "teak tough African" and not the sort of fighter who was going to be stopped with out a real war. The rounds had been clearly Tomoki's up to this point but, other than a the moment in round 2 he had never really hurt the challenger. With that in mind the champion seemed to hit cruise control.
In the final 4 rounds Naidjala began to come on strong. This was partly due to Tomoki himself slowing down and partly due to the urgency that must have struck Naidjala. This saw Naidjala, who really needed a knockout to win, taking a share of rounds 9, 10, 11 and 12. It was however far too little far too late and some of the judges didn't even feel he deserved more than 1 of those rounds.
For Tomoki this is the first defense out of the way though at times, especially late in the fight, he looked a little out of sorts. It was probably the fact he switched off after taking a clear lead though it still a worry of sorts that he'd do that against an unbeaten challenger. The fact he couldn't, or at least didn't, turn up the heat in the championship rounds was a disappointment, though we do think he was cruising due to his early and mid-round domination.
The domination of Tomoki was reflected on the score-cards with Tomoki winning by scores of 119-109, 118-110 and 117-111. Of those cards we'd agree with 117-111 which was exactly what we had.
Sorry to say this but Adalaide Byrd, who turned in the 119-109, turned in yet another questionable card just weeks after her very odd score in the Carlos Molina/Ishe Smith fight in the US. She has also had a poor scores in the Carl Froch/Mikkel Kessler II fight and the Donnie Nietes/Moises Fuentes bouts also this year. She's starting to get a reputation for bad scorecards and if I was a fighter, fighting on away turf I'd certainly question her suitability for any fight right now.
Saying that however the right man won and that's really all that matters in the sport.
One of the saddest things about Asian boxing over the last 3 or 4 years has been the case of Katsunari Takayama (26-6-0-1, 10). The man handed in his JBC license to chase the IBF world title all over the globe and was sadly missed by the Japanese fans who struggled to see him live in action.
Thankfully the JBC welcomed Takayama back earlier this year with the IBF Minimumweight title in tow and he repaid both the JBC and the fans with a performance to remember.
Defending his belt for the first time Takayama took on young Filipino challenger Vergilio Silvano (17-3-1, 10) and made a statement from the off.
The first round saw Takayama rocking Silvano with a hard shot. It didn't put Silvano down, but would have put many lesser men down. This was Takayama saying "don't under-estimate my power" and laying down a marker on power, with many feeling the edge there was with Silvano.
Takayama then slowly started going through the gears, his speed was sensation with both hand and foot and he was nipping in and out at will. Silvano, left to punch at air, must have wondered what he was doing in the ring with Takayama who was like a ghost at times.
Left chasing shadows and being out punched and out landed Silvano appeared a beaten man after just 4 rounds as Takayama moved into third gear. He wasn't hurting Silvano too badly in terms of physical pain but Silvano was clearly struggling and as we all know missing an opponent with shots is draining mentally, physically and emotionally.
By round 5 Takayama's movement had become less "in-out" and more circling in the pocket. It was perpetual movement by a man with an amazing engine and he wasn't just circling the challenger but unload every book in the book. The straight right was like a laser guided shot up stairs, the rights to the midsection were vicious and Silvano simply couldn't cope with the variation or the speed.
The one thing Silvano had in his favour was his toughness. He was being out boxed, out punched and generally beaten by a man who was just far too good. To his credit though Silvano did try coming forward and tried to make a fight out of it. Sadly he was just unable too and when he did come forward Takayama showed off his defensive skills to neutralise the challenger.
Round after round we saw Takayama doing the same thing, though it appeared in round 9 that the champion was deciding to slow down his output and trade it off against landing more meaningful shots. It was as if he thought that he'd like to try and stop Silvano. This saw Silvano given a torrid time in round 10 as Takayama put the hurting on to his body
By round 11 Takayama was ridiculously confident that he was in charge and actually started taunting Silvano who had become a bit of a mini-heavy bag. The Japanese fighter was looking chuffed with his work and with good reason, he had clearly won 10 if not 11 of the preceding rounds whilst Silvano had merely survived them.
With the decision in the bag no one would have blamed Takayama for taking his foot off the gas, instead he fought round 12 just as he had fought many of the previous round. He was busy, active and whilst the stoppage had become highly unlikely he wasn't going to cruise the final round instead taking the fight to Silvano who was probably fortunate it wasn't a 15 round bout. In fact had it been 12, 15 or a fight to the finish we dare say that Takayama would have kept going with the same intensity as he had shown here.
By the time the scorecards were read out there no doubting who had won, though there was some wonderment as to how many rounds the judges could see Silvano taking. These seemed relatively generous to Silvano with 2 of the judges seeing the fight 118-110 whilst the third had a shut out all in favour of Takayama. We had Takayama winning 119-111 giving a pity round to Silvano.
We're really hoping it won't take another 4 years to see Takayama in action in Japan. This guy is too good to keep away from the Japanese audience. Saying that however, we are expecting his next fight to be overseas as he's rumoured to be facing Xiong Zhao Zhong in China next April. On this performance Takayama easily out points the tank like Zhong over 12 entertaining but 1-sided rounds.
Not every fighter is blessed with true lights out power. The thing is when one such fighter comes along we do instantly take a liking to them. There is just something special about a fighter who can destroy the senses of another with a single punch.
It's that single trait that has made Sergey Kovalev (23-0-1, 21) such an exciting and must watch fighter. At the moment we know he's going to connect and when he does we know his opponent is going to down and down hard.
We saw Kovalev showing off that power once again as he made the first defense of the WBO Light Heavyweight title he won when he defeated Welshman Nathan Cleverly.
Fighting against talented Ukrainian Ismayl Sillakh (21-2, 17) it appeared that Kovalev may have been getting a test. This looked the case through the opening round which saw Sillakh moving excellently, establishing his jab and controlling the range. It seemed that if Sillakh could do that for 12 rounds then Kovalev would never get a chance to land his thunderous power shots.
Unfortunately for the challenger he lacked the power on his jab to get Kovalev's respect and the Russian began round 2 by immediately cutting the distance. No longer was he standing at the end of Sillakh's range but instead he was getting to mid-distance, his danger range.
At mid range Kovalev is lethal and it showed as he dropped Sillakh hard very early in the round. Other fighters would have stayed down but Sillakh, to his credit did get to his feet. Unfortunately for the challenger he didn't have time to recover his senses and just seconds later Kovalev had connected with a huge shot that sent Sillakh down hard. This time there was no chance Sillakh was going to get back up.
With this win under his belt and another eye catching and impressive stoppage on his record Kovalev's stock will have risen even more. Sure he did what he was supposed to here but that doesn't mean he anything but impressive.
In a post fight interview Kovalev did call out, when prompted, Adonis Stevenson. Stevenson, an equally big puncher, is pretty the dream fight in the Light Heavyweight division and one that every fan seems to be calling for. A fight between the two in 2014 seems almost inevitable right now and is the sort of fight the sport needs. It's hard to see anyone else giving Kovalev any real problems right now.
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.