It's rare to see a huge number of Western fans tuning in to a bout from Thailand, or a bout at Minimumweight but today it seemed like they did just that and saw a changing of the guard at Minimumweight, albeit a controversial and debatable one, in Thailand.
The bout in question saw long term WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (54-1, 18) [วันเฮง มีนะโยธิน], aka Chayaphon Moonsri, finally fall to his first defeat and in the process pass the WBC title, along with proverbial torch for Thai boxing, on to Panya Pradabsri (35-1, 22), aka Petchmanee CP Freshmart. Albeit in very debateable fashion and very, very exciting fashion.
Prior to the bout we'd never seen so many people come to us for a stream for a fight from Thailand, and boy did they manage to tune in to one worth watching.
Wanheng came out like a man with a point to prove, pressing the action, as he typically does. Early on however it was the body shots of the challenger which were catching the eye, and seemed like the better, cleaner, more powerful blows. Wanheng tried to put his foot on the gas more in round 2 but again took some solid body shots, as the challenger looked to be fighting to a very smart gameplan. He was forcing Wanheng to work hard, was landing solid body blows and trying to take the gas out of the tires of the 35 year old champion. This continued through the first 4 rounds, with Panya doing enough to make sure he was in the lead when we went to the open scoring for the first time.
After 4 rounds the scores were shown was 39-37, 38-38 and 38-37, though there is a feeling the final score there was a mistake.
Having his nose in front after 4 rounds Panya had a strong 5th round, and it seemed the tempo and body shots were taking their toll on the champion. It seemed like Wanheng's 6 year reign was coming under real threat. And then the champion dug his toes in and began to fire back, having a very strong round 6, which saw him move through the gears, laying it all on the line and taking the fight to the challenger. This was first of a number of amazing rounds from the bout, as Wanheng fought like a man possessed. It was a huge effort, and one which yielded some real results, but couldn't force any cracks in Panya. Round 7 was another fought at an amazing pace, with Wanheng again setting the tempo, though Panya landed the better single shots, in a scintillating 3 minutes of ferocious action.
It seemed that Wanheng, who had looked tired in round 5, was going deep into his reserves and was going to burn himself out. But he didn't and he seemed to have another solid round 8, though in fairness the tempo was slowing again, and it was a close round. Wanheng was the busier man, but his success was often stifled by Panya holding, spoiling and trying to man handle the champion. Despite a good stretch for the champion the judges saw the bout the other way, with all 3 having the challenger 77-75 up after 8 rounds.
Those scores seemed harsh against Wanheng, but with them being open it seemed clear, he needed to go big in the final 4 rounds and that's exactly what he did. He set electric pace again in round 9, as if he knew he title was slipping away, and he gave a huge effort again, despite some late body work from the challenger. It was a close round than we had seen, but another that seemed to be in favour of the champion. Then we saw the pace, from both, go through the roof again in round 10. Although down on the cards Wanheng didn't want to let that title go and he fought like a man desperate to hold on to it. That drew a great response from the challenger, who finished the round strongly, and may have done just enough to edge it. It was very close round.
We again saw Wanheng go to the well in round 11 as he once again applied intense pressure, letting his hands go, and forced Panya to fight back, which he did in some eye catching bursts. Wanheng again did the better work over all, but there was enough eye catching moments from the challenger to potentially sway the judges, who would have seen him move around the ring, landing eye catching clean single shots. It probably shouldn't have been enough but it could have been if the judges were looking for a reason to give the challenger rounds.
Wanheng started round 12 fast, it seemed like he knew he had to win the final round big, he had to drop the challenger, he had to make sure there was no way the judges could deny him. He had to fire off bombs and drown the challenger. The challenger however soaked it up well in the first minute, then began to create space, and work at range, making Wanheng chase him around the ring. In the final half of the round Panya then began to turn it on, and tried to steal the round again. It was a very strong finish to the round from the challenger, but we had also been a sensational start to it by Wanheng.
The great effort late by Wanheng had seen him finish strong, but was it going to be enough as we headed to the score-cards? The general feeling was that he maybe deserved a close win, but that's not what the judges saw, giving the bout to the challenger, and the new champion.
With this win Panya will be the new torch bearer for Thai boxing, along with stablemate Knock CP Freshmart and the aging Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. This was a close win, a controversial win, but a career defining one, and one which moves Thai boxing on to the new generation. Panya isn't the best of the new of Thai's, and trust us there is a lot of promising Thai's coming through, but he is, for now, the face of the new wave of Thai's.
As for Wanheng he put in a fantastic effort, but he fought like a man who knew the deck was stacked again him. It was as if his promoter told him he needed a knockout to win and he fought like it. That's not to say he was dominant here, but he certainly put in a big shift through out, a surprisingly big effort for a 35 year old Minimumweight with numerous niggling injuries who had stated that he wanted to retire in the summer. We suspect this was his farewell to the sport, and what a farewell it was. This was a fantastic bout, and one that we suspect many waking up in Europe to watch, genuinely enjoyed! This was a fantastic battle and proof, if anyone still needed it, that the Minimumweights can bring the heat and give us great action bouts!
One of the talking points will be the judging, and it's one of those where we don't really want to cast accusations on the judges. Though we do suspect they'll be aware of Wanheng's comments regarding retirement, and his age, and will know that the 29 year old Panya keeps the title in Thailand, something that that a Wanheng retirement may not have done. That may, may, have influenced some of the scoring in closer rounds. Either way we have a new champion, we have seen Wanheng's reign ended, his unbeaten run falling at 54.
Fans of Mayweather rejoice, you can finally point at Wanheng and his "1".
Just moments ago at Korakuen Hall we saw a new WBO Flyweight champion being crowned, in surprisingly 1-sided fashion. On paper the bout looked like a 50-50 clash, but it ended up being a coming out performance for a Japanese fighter who showed he really was something special. Not just a really good fighter, but a special one.
The man in question was Junto Nakatani (21-0, 16) [中谷 潤人], who had long been seen as one of the brightest hopes in Japanese boxing. He was up against Filipino Giemel Magramo (24-2, 20) in a bout that promised to be a really good one.
On paper it was Nakatani's skills, southpaw stance and size, against Magramo's toughness, power and aggression. Both men had impressed in the past, both men had looked really good in their other notable bouts, including an excellent win in China for Magramo last year.
In the ring however it was a a one sided procession. A beating. A bout between men who didn't look like they belonged in the same ring together.
From the off it was clear Nakatani had the size, reach and speed to make things easy at range. He could have boxed completely off the back foot against the slower, cruder Magramo. He however elected not to do that, at least not entirely. He spent much of the opening round boxing at range, but stepped on the gas late in the round and began to genuinely hurt the Filipino with his solid left hands, and his excellent body shots. It seemed like we were set to get a very early finish.
The fact the opening round was as one sided as it was seemed to make Magramo change his mentality, and in round 2 he began rushing in more and more. That wasn't a good idea as Nakatani was dominating on the inside, especially with his wicked body shots and uppercuts. It was another punishing round from the Japanese fighter who seemed determined to damage Magramo.
To his absolute credit however Magramo kept soaking it up, and as the rounds went on he was taking a real beating. Rounds 4, 5, 6 were punishing ones, with Nakatani bossing the fight at range, and dominating up close. It was supposed to be Magramo having success with the men together, but instead he eating leather, consistently. He was having his insides mashed with body shots, and his jaw cracked with uppercuts. It was decidedly one-way traffic and Magramo seemed to have no plan B. His only plan was to get inside, and that was a plan that was just leading to him being tagged over and over, and over.
In round 7 we finally began to see Magramo's resistance and toughness fall apart, with the Filipino clearly hurt towards the end of the round. It seemed as it he was finally coming to terms with the fact he had no answer.
The following round Magramo's toughness failed him. His heart and determination didn't, but durability did, as Nakatani finally dropped him. It had been coming since the end of round 7 and finally it occurred, with Magramo looking exhausted, broken and beaten. He got to his feet, at the count of 9, but Nobuto Ikehara looked at him and waved off the bout. It was a clear case of a former fighter doing what he should do in the referees position. He was looking at a man who had offered little threat, had lost 7 rounds, had been dropped, and needed saving from any more damage. Magramo had no answers for Nakatani at any point, and the referee knew it.
With the win Nakatani sets himself in a really good position. We suspect that Angel Acosta will be in the hunt for a title fight. Alternatively bouts against the likes of Ryota Yamauchi or Sho Kimura would be easy to make. As for Magramo, it is going to take a long, long time to come back from this. He never looked in the fight and is clearly a level, if not two, below world class. He got his game plan horribly wrong, had no plan B and really just took a beating by someone better in every area.
After close to a year out of the ring we saw the long awaited ring return of WBA "Super" and IBF Bantamweight champion "Monster" Naoya Inoue (20-0, 17) [井上 尚弥], who was fighting for the first time since his WBSS triumph last November. Not only did we see Inoue, but we saw him in Las Vegas for the first time, and as a Top Rank fighter, for the first time.
In the opposite corner to the Monster was Australian challenger Jason Moloney (21-2, 18), dubbed "Mayhem". A talented, brave, confident fighter who was looking to make a name for himself. The Australian had talked a good fight before hand, entered full of confidence and seemed to genuinely believe he could shock the boxing world.
Before we got to the opening bell the fighters came out to almost the music you'd expect them to. Moloney, the challenger, came out first to the classic "I come from a Land Down Under" by Men At Work, a song long that many Australian fighters come out to. Inoue on the other hand came out to "Departure" by Japanese composer Naoki Sato, a song that we have seen Inoue use in his ring walk numerous times, including a live performance a few years ago by Akira Jimbo.
The opening round saw both men fighting relatively evenly. It wasn't a typical feeling out round, but it wasn't a round where either man landed too much in terms of power shots. It was very much a round where both men used a lot of jabs, set a high tempo, but boxed within themselves. There was respect from both, and both men took their time to see what the other hand, whilst staying busy themselves.
In round 2 we again saw the jabs of both men being the most used punches, however we did begin to see Inoue going into his arsenal of weapons. By the end of the round we were seeing Inoue's right hand and a left hook, very late in the round. It was a competitive round, as was the first, but both were Inoue rounds, with out too much discussion.
By round 3 we had started to see Inoue changing his tactics. He was starting to get more aggressive, more confident, and was starting to walk down Moloney. To his credit the Australian was taking clean shots really well, including a series of big right hands at the end of round 3, but it did feel like Inoue was starting to feel alarmingly comfortable.
That comfort level for the champion rose again in rounds 4 and 5, as he went into seek and destroy mode, applying intense, and persistent pressure. It was a credit that Moloney was surviving, though he was trying to do more than just survive, and landed one or two shots of his own. Sadly for him those shots did next to nothing to discourage Inoue, who was quickly realising he could take whatever Moloney was going to land without issue. Moloney however, wasn't afford the same benefit and in round 5 he was wobbled for the first time, and was forced to hold on late in the round.
Inoue continued to fight on the front foot in round 6, but it was actually a counter that proved to be his best asset, as he dropped Moloeny for the first time in the bout, doing so with a counter left hook. Moloney was up quickly, but Inoue could smell blood, and spent much of the round piling on the punishment as Moloney began to have his body and confidence eroded.
It seemed like it was only a matter of time until we'd see the end, though how would it come was unclear. As we entered round 7 the referee was making it clear that he wouldn't allow the punishment to continue for too much longer, Moloney's corner were also aware their man was taking a lot of punishment.
They weren't needed however as Inoue closed the show with a massive counter right hand late in round 7. The shot was a beauty, landing clean as a whistle. It dropped Moloney, who then crouched before trying to get up, then stumbled as he tried to get to his feet. He knew where he was, but his body didn't want to do what he told it. The referee instantly waved it off.
Following the win Inoue mentioned that he wanted to face either WBO champion John Riel Casimero or WBC champion Nordine Oubaali, who defends his title in December against former Inoue foe Nonito Donaire.
Interestingly the big worry coming into this was whether Inoue's right eye would hold up, after it was injured against Donaire last November. It did. There was no notable swelling or damage after the fight. Whether it continues to hold up in the future is unclear, but the way it was after this fight was certainly a positive.
Amazingly Inoue's title defense here was only the third time a Japanese world champion has successfully defended a world title in Las Vegas. He follows in the footsteps of Toshiaki Nishioka and Tomoki Kameda. His win was also the first time a Japanese fighter has beaten an Australian in a world title fight away from Japan.
As for Moloney it is going to be hard to comeback from this. He didn't get smashed to bits, or take a career ending amount of punishment, but his confidence, which was sky high when he entered the bout, will take some real rebuilding after this loss. He did however show toughness, bravery, and survived longer than most would have expected.
For both men it's unclear what will be next. We suspect Inoue will want to fight back in Japan in early 2021, potentially the Casimero fight or a mandatory defense of one of his titles, whilst Moloney will need to rebuild his confidence, but hopefully will face a fringe level type of guy, rather than dropping to facing really low level opponents. He's better than that.
It's fair to say that 2020 has been a frustrating year for WBO Bantamweight champion John Riel Casimero (30-4, 21), who had been hoping to face Naoya Inoue in April, before that bout was cancelled. That frustration seemed to give him some real hunger to shine when he stepped into the ring earlier today and took on the previously unbeaten Duke Micah (24-1, 19).
From the opening round we saw Casimero set off to make a statement. There was no feeling out round, instead it was bombs away, and the aggression of Casimero forced Micah to respond, giving us an incredible opening round. Both men were throwing bombs, and both were landing bombs in what was a shoot out.
Straight from the bell we saw both landing bit shots to the body, as they both tried to snap the other in half. In regards to head shots Casimero wasn't throwing too many in the opening round, and was actually caught by the best head shot of the round, but it seemed to bounce off him.
The bombs continued to fly in round 2. Quite early in the round however the power of Casimero turned the fight, with a short, compact left hook wobbling Micah, who stumbled and dropped to the canvas. The knockdown wasn't fight ending by it's self, but did seem like the start of the end, with Casimero all over Micah for the rest of the round. Some how Micah survived the onslaught, and fought back valiantly with some solid shots of his own. Although Micah was showing his toughness he was taking a lot of punishment, as Casimero began to have fun, taunting and loading up on uppercuts.
To his credit Micah survived the round though was given a look over by the doctor just seconds into round 3. It was clear the doctor and the referee was aware he had taken a lot of punishment, and the referee made it clear he had to show something.
Sadly for Micah he was in with someone who wasn't wanting to mess around and Casimero continued to press for a stoppage. Micah continued to show his bravery, landing a big body shot himself, but couldn't stop himself being overwhelmed by Casimero. This forced the referee, Steve Willis, to step in and call a halt to the contest.
The win was real a statement from Casimero, who seemed to realise this was his chance to make a name for himself in front of a US TV audience. He realised he had a chance to become a star, and he took that chance with both hands. This was explosive, exciting, and the type of bout that leaves an impression on fans who, perhaps, weren't too aware of Casimero.
As for Micah he was game, he tried to compete with Casimero, but he was very much out of his depth, and that was clear pretty early on. Despite his loss we suspect he will come again and even in defeat he would have made fans for his heart, toughness, and desire.
Just moments ago Thai fighter Downua Ruawaiking (16-1, 13) [ดาวเหนือ เรือไวกิ้ง], aka Apinun Khongsong, suffered his first loss as he was stopped in the first round by unified IBF and WBA Light Welterweight champion Josh Taylor (17-0, 13).
The Thai came out confidently and looked to land a big right hand from the opening seconds. He looked calm and like he was there to make a statement.
Sadly though as the round was coming to an end a body shot from Taylor landed right on the liver and dropped the Thai in agony.
On first view it looked like there was a headclash, but on replay it was a clean, and nasty body with a left hand that would have put anyone down.
Downua was in pure agony afterwards and it seems likely he suffered a broken rib, given the pain he was in.
Sadly, given the short nature of the fight, which ended after 2:41 of the opening round, there was little to really learn from either man. It was such a sudden ending that it really didn't let us see much of how Josh Taylor looked under the guidance of Ben Davison.
The plan now for Taylor will be took seek a 4 title unification bout with Jose Carlos Ramirez. As for Downua, we expect to see him back in Thailand, picking up wins for a regional title an begin the climb back to a world title fight. Sadly today's experience, whilst painful, would have done little to help Downua's progress going forward, though it may have taught him just how painful body shots can be.
Earlier today in Thailand fans saw WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart (21-0, 7) [น็อคเอาท์ ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท] record his 9th defense, as he over-came Japanese veteran Norihito Tanaka (19-8, 10) [田中教仁], with a clear decision.
Early on Tanaka employed a smart gameplan, making Knockout chase him and miss, lining up some solid looking counter right hands, some effective jabs and one or two very good looking uppercuts. Despite the success of the challenger he never made anything clear, and always seemed to be doing more to frustrate, rather than putting his foot down in any way.
Sadly for Tanaka the champion wasn't in the mood to play about, and went after him with more intensity in rounds 3, dropping the challenger at the end of the round. Tanaka wasn't hurt, but from then on it always seemed like Knockout not only had the answers for the challenger, but had too much of everything for him.
Rounds 4 and 5 were torrid affairs for Tanaka, who had to show his toughness to see out some rocky spells, before the bout started to peter out a bit, with Tanaka becoming more and more negative. Late in round 7 we saw a lot of negative movement from Tanaka who seemed to be looking to stay safe, rather than take risks.
The tactics of Knockout saw him pressing forward through out the bout, and in the middle rounds his body work really had taken much of the fight out of the challenger. Sadly though Knockout never found that extra gear to really go for the finish, something that has been missing from his game for quite a while. He was dominant through out, but never looked like a man who should carry the "Knockout" moniker.
After 12 rounds the scorecards weren't an issue, with the judges scoring the bout 120-107, twice, and 119-108.
For Tanaka this is likely to be his only world title bout, and his loss sees Japanese fighters falling to 0-25-1 in world title bouts in Thailand. As for Knockout it potentially moves him towards a big fight, but it's hard to imagine top names travelling to face him in the outdoor conditions of Thailand any time soon.
Just moments ago we saw WBO Super Bantamweight champion Emanuel Navarrete (31-1, 27) record his 5th defense, as he stopped little known Filipino challenger Jeo Santisima (19-3, 16) in what turned out to be a hugely disappointing bout. Not just for the Filipino and his fans, but in general.
The bout was expected to be a fire fight, Navarrete had built himself a reputation for exciting performances and although Santisima had shown little to get too excited about back in the Philippines, he had shown a willingness to have a fight when he needed to. Sadly instead of a war, we got a rather pedestrian fight that only really had a few rounds of note. Instead of a short action bout, we ended up with something that often resembled a public sparring session, which lacked intensity.
The first round really had very little to talk about. Whilst that's not too unusual for an opening round it was followed by another round in the same vein. It wasn't until round 3 that we saw Navarrete put his foot on the gas, and when he did the fight finally came alive, with Navarrete's free flowing offense, and Santisima landing some eye catching counters. It seemed that Santisima's entire gameplan revolved around Navarrete opening himself up, and the Mexican quickly figured out the Filipino. Santisima had no answer to the jab of the Mexican and only really had moments when the Mexican let his shots go.
In round 4 we saw Santisima land his best shot of the fight, rocking back Navarrete, who came roaring back. The Mexican was made to miss a lot, but wasn't made to pay too much, as his offense handcuffed Santisima. The offensive work from the champion continued in round 5, and once again he was made to miss a lot, though easily out worked Santisima, who landed only a small number of counter shots as he was too busy trying to slip, slide and ride shots to come back with anything of his own. Santisima was frustrating the champion, but not making him pay for his reckless and wild shots.
Round 6 through to round 9 saw the pace dropping again. It seemed like the weight cut from Navarrete, and his increased output in rounds 4 and 5, came at a price. This was a chance for Santisima to strike, but he failed. He was either too tired himself, too set on being the counter puncher or too worried about what was going to come back to risk it. That, unfortunately, allowed Navarrete to recover, get his second win and get back to what he does at his best.
In round 10 the Mexican made his first big effort, since round 5, to take out the Filipino, letting his hands go with free flowing aggression. It was the first time we really saw Santisima hurt, and he was unable to counter, or avoid the shots. By the end of the round he looked done, with his only hope being that Navarrete had punched himself out. The minutes rest seemed to let Santisima recover a bit, but Navarrete wasn't going to let his pray off the hook, and finally forced the stoppage at 2:20 of round 11 as he continued to put it on the brave, but ultimately out matched Santisima.
For the Filipino he showed some good touches, at least early on but the pressure and body shots of Navarrete took the fight out of him. By the later rounds he seemed to be running on fumes, and even before the bout it was known he didn't have the greatest of work rates or stamina. As for Navarrete however the performance, despite being a win, left more questions than answers about him. He looked open, wasteful, and lacked his usual energy at times.
It may have been a 5th defense for Navarrete, but it certainly wasn't the type of performance which would have done much to silence the doubters, who have criticised the level of competition he has been facing. Fingers crossed a bet challenger will be next for the talented, and fun to watch, champion. As for Santisima we'd love to see him mixing at OPBF title level, and a bout between himself and someone like Hiroaki Teshigawara would be a lot of fun.
Back in June 1999 Lakva Sim became the first Mongolian world champion, stopping popular Japanese fighter Takanori Hatakeyama in Tokyo to claim the WBA Super Featherweight title. Today his compatriot Tugstsogt Nyambayar (11-1, 9) attempted to become the second Mongolian to claim a world title as he took on talented American speedster Gary Russell Jr (31-1, 18) for the WBC Featherweight title.
Sadly it wasn't to be for Nayambayar, who came up short against Russell Jr, but proved he belonged at world level, and may have just lacked a little bit of experience coming into this.
The Mongolian started slowly. He applied pressure from the bell, but it was more pressure based on movement, and pressing, rather than letting his hands go and pressuring with output. It allowed the much quicker Russell Jr to get his shots off and get out of range. The jab of Russell Jr, along with his handspeed, kept Nyambayar at a safe range and allowed the first 4 rounds were easy ones to score for the American champion. The pressure was there from Nyambayar but he was struggling to get close enough to make it pay off.
From round 5 Nyambayar finally began to have real success, as he started to let his hands go, at last. The change in output from the Mongolian saw him finally show what he could do, and his pressure finally began to pay off, helped in part by Russell Jr showing more willingness to exchange. The same sort of thing happened in round, though it was very much a case of things only being competitive when Russell allowed them to be. That was similar in round 7, as Russell Jr again took with his movement, and neutralised Nyambayar for the most part.
Despite successes from Nyambayar he was still down, and still struggling to win rounds. That was clear in round 8, which was competitive but one that Russell Jr did more than enough in.
With around 6 rounds, from the first 8, in the bag for Russell Jr he seemed to become more willing to have a fight, and rounds 9 and 10 was fantastic rounds, of high skilled aggressive action. Both were playing high level chess, and both aggressive with it, trying to earn the respect of the other man. For Russell Jr the main shots were up top, with sensational combinations, straight left hands down the middle and real eye catching stuff. For Nyambayar there was some hard shots up top but the key to his work was some big body shots, as he looked to try grind down the much quicker champion.
The action continued to excite in round 11, though it was one where the eye catching work seemed to be the flashy combinations of Russell Jr, in what was a really enjoyable round. At the very worst this round essentially secured Russell Jr a decision. At very worst for him it was his 7th round of the bout.
Knowing he had to go all out in the final 3 minutes Nyambayar started round 12 fast, and dominated the early parts of it, letting combinations go, something he really needed to do in the first half of the bout. Until the round went into a bit of a dull lull in the later stages. It was a Nyambayar round, but it was never going to be enough for the Mongolian, who went into the round needing a knock out.
After 12 rounds we went to the judges, and it seemed that Nyambayar was probably going to need a knockout to get a draw, with cards of 118-110, 117-111 and 116-112 in favour of Russell Jr. Sadly those scores didn't reflect the competitive nature of the bout, over all, and it was close.
Nyambayar's big issue was his super slow start. He had given away 4 rounds, before he really got going. He did really well in the final 8, but not well enough to win. He certainly deserved better than a 118-110 score against him, but a 116-112 card was fairly accurate.
Despite the loss we suspect Nyambayar will learn from this fight and bounce back better. He was competitive with Russell Jr, despite the very slow start. He showed he belonged at this level, and we suspect he'll go on to win a world title in the coming years, eventually giving Mongolia their second world champion. Today however wasn't Mongolia's day.
The final big fight of the weekend saw us shifting our focus to Mexico to see IBF Minimumweight champion Pedro Taduran (14-2-1, 11) face off with Daniel Valladares (22-2-1, 13). This had the potential to be something very special, with both men being willing to let their hands go and fight.
Sadly the bout failed to truly live up it's potential, but it did end up being a fight well worthy of a watch, with 2 brilliantly matched fighters involved in it.
From the opening round it was clear that Taduran hadn't travelled with losing on his mind, and set a high tempo from the opening bell. On the other hand the more technically skilled Valladares looked to create room and space to work with, but it was the pressure of Taduran which seemed to catch the eye, and he seemed to rock the challenger once or twice before the round was over.
Notably the major talking point from the opening 3 minutes wasn't actually a punch, but instead a big accidental headclash that left Valladares badly cut on his right eye. The cut essentially meant that the bout wasn't going to go 12, unless miracles could be done by his corner.
Despite being cut Valladares fought a smart second round and began to control the distance better, limiting Taduran's raids along the way. It was just what the challenger needed to give his cut time to heal.
In round 3 the touch paper was lit, with both men putting their foot on the gas and letting their shots go more freely. The increase in action saw both men having moments as we began to see more and more frequent back and forth fighter, in what an excellent round. It seemed like Valladares may have just sneaked it, but it was close either way and set the platform for an intense and thrilling round 4 that saw almost none stop trading from the two men. This was a sensational round, with both wanting to make a statement.
Sadly the bout was curtailed after the 4th round to the cut, which had become uncontrollable and was covering Valldares' face with claret, and we went to the judges scorecards early. One of the 3 wise men gave the bout to Valledares, but thankfully he was over-ruled by the other 2 judges who both gave the bout to Taduran, who retains his title with a 4th round technical draw.
Given how exciting the bout was, and how it was really warming up when we hit the premature conclusion, we would love to see a rematch here, for both men. However we wouldn't be surprised if both ended ups going in different directions.
Every so often the sport gives us a fight that's really intriguing in a lot of ways going in. A fight that we expect to see fighters answering questions in and giving us competitive, high level pugilistic chess. Just moments ago we had one such bout in Miami, in what turned out to be an excellent contest at Super Bantamweight.
The bout saw unbeaten Uzbek hopeful Murodjon Akhmadaliev (8-0, 6) [Ахмадалиев, Муроджон Кахарович] taking a huge step up in class to take on IBF and WBA unified Super Bantamweight champion Daniel Roman (27-3-1, 10). On paper the bout was excellent, with both men having a lot of questions to answer.
How was Roman going to look after a lengthy lay off? And how was he going to fight after an injury? On the other hand could "MJ" do 12 rounds? Would he be able to survive Roman's pressure?
In the end every question we had before the fight was answered, and in a really positive fashion. Roman looked good after the lay off and injury, MJ could do 12 rounds, and could survive Roman's pressure. And best of all we got a sensationally good fight, from the first round to the final round.
The bout started with MJ on top, establishing himself in the first minute or so, though Roman came back into things well as the round went on.
MJ seemed to have the edge in speed, and power, and used those well early in the fight, making Roman pay with some huge southpaw lefts, followed by stiff jabs. It seemed like most of the big, eye catching shots were landing from MJ, though Roman was starting to find the space for his uppercut.
After seemingly taking an early lead Akhmadaliev was then beginning to be asked questions in the middle rounds as Roman finally began to get a foot hold in the bout, with an excellent in round 4, which began to turn the tide his way. It was around here that Roman's work rate began to amp up and MJ began to take his foot off the gas just a touch. Despite Roman getting more success, MJ did try some veteran tricks, trying to finish rounds with big attacks to steal the round. Those tricks didn't stop Roman's charge, and he continued to have success with his body work.
The game plan was clear for Roman, break down the novice and drown him late. It was the smart gameplan but one that MJ saw off, and as we got into the later rounds MJ got his second win, re-establishing himself with big power shots and some glorious combinations. He seemed to begin breaking down Roman, in what was a surprising turn of events. It was this late charge that gave MJ some breathing space, but not much as we went into the final round.
Rather strangely the unbeaten challenger took round 12 off, skipping and circling around the ring whilst a determined Roman pressed, unleashing an incredibly volume of punches. Roman got inside and unloaded body shots, uppercuts and really forced the tempo whilst the challenger did almost nothing. It was as if Akhmadaliev felt he had already won, whilst Roman was desperate to keep the titles.
After going 12 rounds the bout felt close, and the score cards shown it, with the first card going 115-113 in favour of Roman, then a card of 115-113 to Akhmadaliev, then a third card of 115-113, giving the split decision to Akhmadaliev.
In the end it felt like the right guy got it. He impressed us almost from the first bell to the last and his performance answered a lot of the questions we had about him before the bout. We didn't like the way he fought round 12, and it's possible his power isn't as devastating as originally assumed, though is still very solid, but he genuinely impressed and it's going to be very exciting to see how his reign develops from here.
For Akmadaliev to be a unified champion in just 8 bouts, and to beat a fighter like Roman is outstanding.
As for Roman, we expect to see him remaining in the title mix. He might need to wait for another shot, but given his style, and his approach in the ring another chance will come for the exciting and highly skilled American.
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.