The bad year for the Watanabe Gym, and on a personal level for Takashi Uchiyama (24-2-1, 20) [内山 高志], continued today with the veteran suffering a second successive loss to Panama's Jezreel Corrales (21-1-0-1, 8), though unlike the first bout this time things were very competitive and Uchiyama had more than a few moments of success.
Uchiyama tried to take control of the pace here by using his deliberate jab to slow the pace of the champion, who simply overwhelmed him with speed when the two fighters faced off back in April. Feeling more confident Uchiyama started to apply some pressure in round 2 but Corrales moved well to neutralise the pressure and landed a powerful left. Uchiyama withstood the blow, which made a surprisingly loud noise, and continued to try and apply pressure.
By round 4 Corrales was switching up his stance and Uchiyama seemed to realise that Corrales' feet could prove problematic. A counter in round 5 gave Uchiyama some worries but the Japanese favourite withstood it before dropping Corrales later in the round, scoring the fights sole knock down. Despite the knockdown Corrales was back to showing his ability in round 6 and seemed to win the round.
The action following was close but it seemed like Corrales flashier shots and movement impressed the judges more than Uchiyama's heavier and more controlled approach, despite the crowd clearly being behind the local veteran. Those close and competitive rounds were ones that the locals would have felt Uchiyama deserved but the judges, who were split on a number of them, seemed to favour the champion in, despite a very good round 10 from Uchiyama where he had real success to the body. Interestingly that was the only round, other than round 5, that one judge actually gave to Uchiyama
Coming in to the final round it seemed the bout was up for grabs, and was going to be decided by what the judges preferred. Sadly though Uchiyama couldn't do enough to impress the judges enough, and came up on the wrong end of a split decision, a decision in which one judge, somehow, gave him only 2 rounds, including the 10-8 round. That lead to cards that read 117-110, a very questionable card, and 115-112 in favour of Guzman whilst the third judge had the bout 113-114 to Uchiyama.
It's worth noting that the judge with the widest card was Belgian Philippe Verbeke, who has frequently judged bouts in Japan but may not be invited again given his scorecard here.
Whether Uchiyama now retires, or looks to continue seems to be an interesting question, though the view from fans seems to be that retirement is looming for the popular puncher. For Corrales the reality is that the first bout flattered him, and he was run razor thin by a post-prime 37 year old Uchiyama here. He'll likely be able to keep the title for a while but would be well advised to avoid a fight with someone like Vasyl Lomachneko who would take care of him relatively easily on this performance.
The final, of 5, world title fights today saw WBA Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (21-1, 13) [井岡一翔] pull himself off the canvas to retain his title, and stop and the previously unbeaten Thai teenager Stamp Kiatniwat (15-1, 6) [แสตมป์ กระทิงแดงยิม], who genuinely impressed with his incredible toughness.
The first round saw Ioka on the front foot and look to attack the body of Stamp but the Thai wasn't scared of the champion and came back firing bombs in the direction of the Osaka star. Those bombs had a massive effect in round 2 when a huge right hook sent Ioka down, hard. Ioka regrouped but looked hurt and on the retreat until the bell came to end the round. It was clear that Stamp, despite what his record states, hit hard and he shook Ioka up several times again in round 3. Despite showing real power it was the toughness of Stamp which was truly impressing as he walked through some disgustingly powerful body shots from Ioka during the round.
Sadly for Stamp it seemed that, after round 3, he was pretty much depending on his toughness as his work rate slowed dramatically and his combinations became less frequent whilst Ioka stepped up the pace. As Ioka moved through the gears he began to put on an exhibition in body punching, landing hooks and uppercutts to the torso of the youngster. Amazingly Stamp took the blows, and tried to fire back himself,with out buckling through a very tough round 4.
Although round 4 was tough for the Thai things only got tougher as Ioka began to give him a beating in round 5 and 6, a round that was close to being a 10-8 round without a knockdown. Stamp was doing more than surviving, but not much more as Ioka moved, boxed and broke down the Thai.
With Stamp visibly losing his power Ioka engaged him in a toe-to-toe battle in round 7. Up close Ioka was able to land body shots at will and started to use them to launch combinations, switching between the head and body with ease. Eventually the body shots took their toll with Stamp being dropped following a lovely left hand to the mid-section. The Thai was in agony but somehow regrouped to his feet and got up to fight again. Ioka went on the hunt and fired in blows before Stamp swung back, giving Ioka a big opening to the body which he took to score a second knockdown. Stamp got to his feet but wisely spat out his gum shield and the referee saved him from further harm.
For Ioka the win showed both his potency to the body as well as frailties to punchers, and it'd be wise for him to avoid big punchers going forward, though other than Daigo Higa there perhaps is a lack of true punchers at 112lbs. For Stamp the future will be interesting. This was certainly too much too soon, but will the damage linger with the Thai or will he comeback stronger? He could be damaged goods following this, or he could, just as easily, rebuild and come back to be a real star for Thailand over the next decade.
Shocks in boxing happen, not always but they do happen. Today we saw one such shock as the little known Yukinori Oguni (19-1-1, 7) [小國 以載] surprisingly beaten the previously unbeaten Jonathan Guzman (22-1-0-1, 22) and claimed the IBF Super Bantamweight title. Not only was the bout a surprise on paper, but even more so when you consider Oguni's only loss came to Shingo Wake, who Guzman battered earlier this year to win the title in the first place.
Oguni got off to the perfect start surprising everyone, fans and Guzman, by dropping the champion in the 3rd round with a perfect shot to the mid-section. The knockdown was a surprise, especially given that Oguni isn't known for his power, but the placement was perfect. Guzman took the knockdown to heart and came back strong the following round but was unable to land regularly with his much vaunted power as Oguni used his defense see off the storm.
Guzman's work slowed down slightly in the middle rounds and things became worse for him in round 7, when his nose began to bleed, before suffering a cut to right eye in round 8. By then things were becoming increasingly difficult for the defending champion who was struggling to force his will on the fight.
In round 11 Guzman was down for a second time, again from a body shot, though the referee ruled it a low blow and gave Guzman time to recover. A decision that left the fans irate and some even threw plastic bottles in disgust at the decision. It however scarcely mattered as Oguni saw out the final round to earn a very well deserved decision win, with scores of 115-112 across the board.
After the bout Oguni stated that the body work was a deliberate tactic, but even he didn't expect the knockdown. He will now be mandated to defend his title against fellow Japanese fighter Ryosuke Iwasa in 2017, a genuine friend of Oguini's. For Guzman the future is going to be strange. He's part of the “Who needs him club?” a huge puncher who has little financial backing and perhaps the need to link up with someone who will bank roll him towards another title fight, where he could be a danger again in the future.
For those interested in knowing how much of an upset this was, one UK betting company had Oguni as a 10/1 under-dog with several others having Guzman at 1/19 to win!
Over the last few years we have seen Japanese gym Watanabe almost crumble with all of their most established fighters either retiring or suffering notable defeats. The gym, which boasted 3 world champions this time last year, has sadly been hit by loss after loss after their president, Hitoshi Watanabe, became the leading figure at the JPBA.
Today they narrowly escaped another notable loss as WBA Light Flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi (25-2-2, 11) [田口 良一] just retained his title with a split decision draw against little known Venezuelan Carlos Canizales (16-0-1, 13).
Taguchi had entered the bout as the clear betting favourite, in fact it seemed that almost everyone had viewed the bout as a foregone conclusion despite Canizales warning that Taguchi had picked the wrong opponent. Canizales looked to prove that from the off as he attacked the champion from the opening round and established that he wasn't there to make up the numbers and was a real threat as he kept pressing forward and quickly backed up Taguchi.
Taguchi tried to turn things around but couldn't halt the march of Canizales in the early stages and every time Taguchi had any success Canizales swarmed him, preventing taguchi from every really getting any momentum.
The good start from the challenger couldn't be kept up, especially at the rate he was firing off shots, and in the middle rounds he began to slow, letting Taguchi have more success and claw his way back into the bout with some notable body shots. In round 8 Taguchi finally had a break through, with the crowd cheering him loudly and driving him on to turn things around, with the champion building on his success in round 9 with his jab landing on the face of the challenger.
In round 10 it seemed like Taguchi was finally starting to break down the challenger but he was unable to drop, or seriously hurt, Canizales who saw out the final two rounds with clinching and other spoiling tactics, likely feeling that his work early in the fight had been enough for him to take home the win.
At the final bell the scores were announced at 116-112, 112-116 and 114-114 giving us a split draw that both men will feel frustrated about, especially the challenger who seemed to cruise through some of the latter rounds rather than go for the finish
When we talk about young Japanese stars the first name is Naoya Inoue, the WBO Super Flyweight champion who become a 2-weight champion in just 8 professional bouts. Today we saw another Japanese youngster match that achievement as 21 year old prodigy Kosei Tanaka (8-0, 5) [田中恒成] dismantled Mexican veteran Moises Fuentes (24-3-1, 13) to claim the WBO Light Flyweight title.
Tanaka, who had previously held the WBO Minimumweight title, set the tone from the opening round as he used his speed to befuddle Fuentes and land hard right hands up top as well as piercing jabs to the body. Fuentes had no real answer other than to stay there and take them whilst offering an occasional wild swing in return. The second round was marginally better for the Mexican as he had a few moments of his own, but it was another round where Tanaka's speed and accuracy was the key with the Mexican's successes, all early in the round, being over-shadowed by Tanaka's more consistent showing.
Sadly for Fuentes round 3 was a horror round as Tanaka began to not just out box and out speed him but also out fight him, forcing him on to the ropes and landing some massive shots to head and body. Although not quite a 10-8 round it was one where some judges might have leaned that way due to just how one sided things were becoming. It was the same again in round 4, when Fuentes looked totally out of his depth and seemed to be needing a miracle. That miracle was never to come and in round 5 Tanaka let his shots go, hurting Fuentes who backed up to the ropes and took a huge right before being taken down by a flurry of lightening quick shots. With Fuentes down,and having been beaten up, the referee quickly waved off the bout.
With the win Tanaka further cements his place as one of the hottest emerging talents in boxing. A 2-weight champion in just 8 fights and at the age of 21 his career has so much potential and he seems to be improving with every contest. As for Fuentes it's hard to see him bouncing back from a beat down like this.
The second of 7 world title bouts to end the in Japan was a WBO Super Flyweight title bout that saw defending champion Naoya Inoue (12-0, 10) [井上 尚弥] retain his title in a brilliantly fun fight against the aggressive and tough Kohei Kono (32-10-1, 13) [河野 公平] in a genuine exciting fight.
From the opening seconds it was clear that Kono wasn't in the ring to make up numbers and within a minute he was launching hooks and trying to put Inoue under pressure. Sadly for Kono that wasn't hugely effective in the first round as Inoue's speed and skills saw him land some nasty shots, and he seemed to shake Kono in the final moments of the round. Kono is known as the “Tough Boy” for a reason and proved that in round 2 when he continued to apply the pressure and steamed in again in an offensive manner. Again he was punished with Inoue landing some really brutal body shots that would have taken out most other foes. Kono on the some how saw out the round with going down but he had been badly hurt before the bell.
Kono refused to learn his lesson and continued to apply the same game plan in round 3, and again took some abuse to the body. It was however a better round for Kono who seemed to realise that his offense was causing Inoue to put limit what he was doing and despite taking some monstrous body shots he withstood most of the Inoue assault with no real issue. Kono continued to build on that success with an excellent round 4, a round in which he seemed to genuinely win with sheer determination and work rate, despite a vicious combination at the end from Inoue.
We saw Kono continue to attack in an ultra-aggressive manner through round 5 and once again he seemed to have Inoue hadcuffed at times while unloading flurry after flurry. Not every shot from the challenger got through but there was enough getting through to give him half a hope as Inoue seemed to slow down. Although Kono was having success Inoue didn't look too bothered by things, but was clearly under some pressure.
Sadly for Kono the ultra-aggressive tactic became his undoing in round 6 when he was caught by a frighteningly good counter shot from Inoue. The shot sent Kono down hard and it seemed unlikely Kono would beat the count, so much saw that Inoue rushed the corner and started celebrating. Amazingly Kono regained his feet, and the referee allowed him to go on. It was however a futile effort and a follow up from Inoue sent the challenger down for the second time, this time causing the referee to wave the bout off.
For Kono, who suffered his first stoppage loss here, this is probably the end. He was game and brave through the bout, giving Inoue one of his most interesting tests to date, but it was likely a case of “giving everything and going out on your shield to end your career” rather than anything else.
As for the champion his attention surely turns, once again, to unification bouts and other notable opponents with contests against the likes of Roman Gonzalez, Juan Francisco Estrada, Carlos Cuadras, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, Kal Yafai, Johnriel Casimero and Jerwin Ancajas all really attractive propositions in the red hot Super Flyweight division. His stoppage here was a much needed statement after some less than flattering performances recent and it may well have put the division on alert once again, much as he did when he took out Omar Andres Narvaez in 2 rounds at the end of 2014.
The first of 7 world title fights in Japan over the space of 2 days was an IBF Light Flyweight title bout that saw defending champion Akira Yaegashi (25-5, 13) [八重樫 東] put on an educated performance to retain his title and beat down gutsy Thai challenger Samartlek Kokietgym (31-6, 11) [สามารถเล็ก ปูนอินทรียิม].
We had this bout pegged before hand as a potential FOTY contender, given Yaegashi's tendency to be in some thrillers, but instead the bout was a tamer than expected affair with Yaegashi comfortably and safely out boxing the Thai during the early stages with his speed, jab and movement alone. The Thai came to apply the pressure on Yaegashi but was often left following the champion around the ring in the early stages.
In round 4 the Thai challenger began to show more ambition and started to bring the fight to Yaegashi. It was still a round that the champion won but it seemed like Samartlek was getting the engine going and landed a notable right hand and several body shots, the shot that his team had said would be his key weapon. The success from round 4 for the Thai was quickly sniffed out with Yaegashi neutralising him with ease in rounds 5 and 6, and in fact Yaegashi seemed to begin loading up more whilst landing some huge right hand counters.
Although the fight had been relative quiet through 6 rounds there was always a risk a fight was going to break out and in round 7 that happened as Yaegashi changed up his tactics and went to war with Samartlek, and engaging in close combat. This was the Yaegashi we all love and this was the style of fight we had been hoping for. The change in tempo gave the fans a rush of excitement but showed that Samartlek was resilient and he fired back forcing Yaegashi to think twice about having a war.
The aggressiveness of Akira continued to be shown in flashed during round 8, and at one point he got the challenger against the ropes and looked for a finish with some smart body shots. Once again Samartlek saw off the storm but it was clear that he had nothing to trouble Yaegashi with. Yaegashi however had a lot to trouble Samartlek with and seemed happy to prove that again in round 9 as he continued to slowly turn the screw on the challenger and break him down with shots to both head and body. The Thai however showed bravery and toughness to see out Yaegashi's continuing assault, surviving rounds 10 and 11, despite taking a progressively worse beating in those rounds.
Going in to round 12 it seemed the best Samartlek could hope for was to see the final bell, and the referee seemed to looking over him very closely, knowing that whilst he was tough he was taking a beating. With a bout a minute left Yaegashi rocked him, and a follow up attacked forced the referee to mercifully saved the gutsy challenger form any further punishment, even though was only around 48 seconds of the bout left.
Next for Samartlek will likely be a return to Thailand where he will probably spring together some low key wins before being brought back over to Japan to be a test for some of the rising hopefuls. As for Yaegashi his attention will turn to mandatory challenger Milan Melindo with the two likely to face off in April or May
Earlier this year we saw Chinese hopeful Qiu Xiao Jun (21-4, 10) come up short in his first world title fight, suffering a 12th round TKO loss to veteran Nehomar Cermeno (26-5-1-1, 15) in a bout for the then vacant WBA Super Bantamweight title. Yesterday the two men met in a rematch, with Jun looking to claim the title at his second attempt and the talented, but often under-rated, Cermeno.
From the off we saw an improved Jun, as if the local star has been working hard in training to correct some of the defensive errors that had cost him in the first bout with Cermeno. Despite those improvements he was struggling to cope with Cermeno's clean and quicker blows, with the champion often landing the better shots and the cleaner counters.
Although Jun was applying pressure through much of the fight he never seemed to hurt Cermeno with any regularity, as he would if he was going to be able to defeat the Venezuelan. Jun refused to back down from the fight, and tried to come on strong in the later rounds but hadn't done enough to over-come the more naturally skilled and capable Cermeno.
Although Jun had put up a good effort, and did have home advantage, and left Cermeno with a cash on his right cheek, he seemed to know he hadn't done enough to earn the win. That was shown on the score cards that favoured Cermeno with scores of 118-110 and 117-111, twice.
For Cermeno the win ends a brilliant year which has seen him return with 3 wins in China after having had his career written off and although Jun was beaten again here the Chinese fighter showed enough improvement to suggest that he has a bright future ahead of him and will be able to bounce back, possibly winning a world title in the future.
The Minimumweight division might be one of the more over-looked divisions in the sport but it's one which has plenty to be interested in, with the exciting array of fighters like Katsunari Takayama, Wanheng Menayothin, Jose Argumedo and Knockout CP Freshmart.
Today we saw one of those men, Knockout CP Freshmart (14-0, 6), record his first defense of the WBA title and score his third unanimous decision win of the year as he took a clear victory over Japanese challenger Shin Ono (19-8-3, 3).
Coming in to the bout many, including ourselves, had wondered how Ono had deserved a world title fight given he had come up short in recent bouts to Tatsuya Fukuhara, a more deserving world title challenger, and Kenichi Horikawa in Japanese domestic title bouts. Despite those questions Ono put up a spirited and decent effort against Knockout.
The bout started very slowly with Ono using his longer reach and southpaw stance to control the range off his jab. Knockout did apply some pressure during those early stages but it was very much a scouting mission from the champion who seemingly wanted to get a read on Ono's speed, power and movement.
In round 3 the fight flipped on it's head as Knockout moved into second gear and pressed the action more, landing right hands at will whilst Ono seemed to look lost and was becoming unsure of himself. That lack of confidence was again seen in round 4, though Ono did fire back a bit and seemed to hurt Knockout at one point, arguably scoring a flash knockdown of the Thai that was ruled a slip. Sadly for Ono this success seemed to just irritate Knockout who continued to dominate as he racked up rounds 6 and 7 and seemed to come close to dropping Ono on several occassions.
After dominating much of the fight Knockout began to look seriously tired as we began to approach the championship rounds and in the 8th and 9th he looked like he had run out of ideas, and steam. It seemed the perfect time for Ono to step up the action but unfortunately for him he was unable to with Knockout neutralising almost everything with repeated clinches.
By the time round 10 came along Knockout appeared to have recovered and again had some pepper on his shots, dropping Ono with a solid left hand to score the only knockdown of the fight. The challenger got to his feet but it seemed to put him on the retreat for the rest of the round and it was clear that he didn't want to taste Knockout's power any time soon.
Sadly for the challenger the final rounds were “now or never” and he tamely seemed to suggest his choice was “never” with little real urgency until the final 30 seconds when he began swinging for fence and looking for a huge game changer, by then though he had left him self too little time.
Although Ono had put up a spirited effort, at times, he was widely beaten on the cards with scores of 118-109, 117-111 and 118-110, but certainly earned respect with his performance. For Knockout a question needs to be asked about his stamina and this was a second successive fight where he was flagging late. It could be that his style needs taming to preserve energy or perhaps he's struggling to make 105lbs and a move up to Light Flyweight would be a smart move for the Thai. We'll see what he does in the new year but it's fair to say there is serious work to do in the 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.