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.
The final world title bout of the 2010's saw Japan's Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14) [井岡一翔] close things out for the year as he has done numerous times during the decade. Taking home a win, and successfully defending his WBO Super Flyweight champion against mandatory challenger Jeyvier Cintron (11-1-0-1, 5) from Puerto Rico.
The bout started well for Cintron, who seemed to use his natural attributes well, making the most of his reach and his speed. He was however consistently under pressure from Ioka, who struggled to get close early on, but began to find his range in round 3. When that happened the bout began to turn from "interesting" to exciting".
With Ioka cutting the distance better from round 3 he forces Cintron to fight his fight, whilst landing some brutal body shots. The game plan from Ioka was simple. Take away the legs of the Cintron, make him hold his ground and go to work. It was a good gameplan, but one that only partially worked. To his credit Cintron's legs never really stopped moving, despite being fed a fairly consistent stream of vicious, hard body shots, especially in the middle rounds.
Cintron's heart and unwillingness to wilt helped him have moments, but his early lead had been destroyed by the body blows and his head shots seemed to do little more than annoy Ioka who continued to walk forward, pressing, looking to sneak more rib buster on to the challenger.
By round 8 it seemed that Cintron would eventually capitulate. He seemed out of energy, out of ideas and out of hope, but instead hit bit down, getting through a some torrid moments in rounds 9 and 10 before actually having some of his best success in the final few rounds. He seemed to refind his ambition, and let his hands go more, doing what had worked for him early on. He was getting his shots off and getting out of dodge, creating space, boxing and moving. It may have been that Ioka felt he had the bout in the bag, or it may have been that Ioka was tired, but Cintron finished the bout well. By then though it really was too little too late.
After 12 rounds the decision seemed an easy one, with only the specific scored in doubt. It seemed impossible to do the mental arithmetic to get to a Cintron win, despite his gutsy and brave performance, and the judges agreed scoring it 116-112, twice, to Ioka and 115-113 to Ioka.
(Photo Credit - A. McGovern)
In the first of two male world title fights on New Year's Eve fight fans had the chance to see WBO Flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9) [田中恒成] put on one of the best performances of his career, despatching Chinese challenger Wulan Tuolehazi (13-4-1, 6) [乌兰] with ease.
Whilst the bout was never seen as hugely competitive on paper Tanaka had a knack of making easy bouts hard for himself, and this was, on paper, one of the bouts where he was possibly going to end up getting himself into un-necessary trouble. Thankfully however the "KO Dream Boy" did what was he was he supposed to do, from the opening bell.
Straight from the off Tanaka looked razor sharp, and started banging the challenger with his jab. Wulan's response was a wild and crazy looking left hook. It was a shot of desperation, very early on, from Wulan.
It wasn't long until Tanaka was backing up the challenger, and finding a home for his body shots, which were a major part of round 2. He kept banging the drum with hard single shots through the second round, and was clearly taking the legs out of Wulan.
Wulan was staying up right through the first 2 rounds but had no answer at all for anything Tanaka did. Tanaka began beating him around the ring in round 3 a double uppercut, through the guard, from the champion finally dropped Wulan. The Chinese fighter lay on the matt, looking up, as the referee began the count, and made little effort to beat it.
Given how Tanaka looked last time, against Jonathan Gonzalez, this was the type of performance he needed. He looked excellent, sharp, defensively aware, and the finish was clinical. It was his most accomplished performance and his defensively intelligent performance in a long time.
As for Wulan, he looked like a lamb to the slaughter from very early on. He never got into this and it really showed that he wasn't world class. He was totally out of his depth.
(Photo Credit - A. McGovern)
With Christmas just a few short days away WBA Middleweight champion Ryota Murata (16-2, 13) [村田 諒太] gave Japanese fans something to celebrate as he successfully defended his title against Canadian challenger Steven Butler (28-2-1, 24), in what was an entertaining fight between two men who believed their power would be the difference.
From the opening round we saw the style of the bout being set. Murata was applying pressure, and Butler boxing and moving. It was what both men had done in their previous bouts and no real surprise we saw it here. In the opening could of rounds Butler had some real success with combination, being thrown and getting in an out, and he landed a huge right hand in the opening round that really caught the eye. The problem for Butler however was that he could never get Murata's respect. The Japanese fighter just continued walking forward, and landed more than enough of his own heavy shots to take the first two rounds.
By round 3 it was starting to look inevitable that Murata was going to stop Butler. The pressure wasn't really changing, but Butler was starting to respond when Murata tagged him, he was showing he was hurt and holding late in the round. Mentally it must have been horrific for Butler to land his best shots and see Murata simply reset and march forward, and then be shaken when Murata landed his own shots.
Murata's success grew in round 4, and he finishes with a huge flurry after really ripping in some sick body shots on to Butler. Butler had taken them well, but they had begin to take away his legs a bit, and Butler's own body shots always looked rather like slaps rather than crisp and clean punches that Murata was throwing. Butler was still giving a good go of everything, but was being broken down, bit by bit.
To his credit the challenger came out fast in round 5. He was trying to turn the tables and stem the flow of the bout. It didn't work. At all. Instead Murata was cutting the ring off with ease, getting Butler where he wanted and landing a growing number of clean shots, to head and body. The cracks in Butler's defense were becoming bigger, and Murata was ramming shots through them. Late in the round a he wobbled Butler, and a follow up dropped him hard with just a few seconds of the round left. The referee wisely called it off.
Ideally ext for Murata will a big name, Gennady Golovkin would be ideal, if not he needs a fighter who will make him look sensational. If Golovkin isn't next a bout with Liam Williams would be a fine filler for a defense, as they styles should make for a great fight. Even if Murata would be massively favoured.
As for Butler, he showed heart and skills, but seemed to realise that his power isn't world class at Middleweight. He has to change his style, boxing more and punching less, if he's to make it to the top. Despite the loss, he could, with maturity and development, become a genuine player in the division. Today however he looked like he was second best through out.
It might take a long time for WBC Light Flyweight champion Kenshiro Teraji (17-0, 1o) [拳四朗] to become a true star, but he's already got a growing cult following, and today he recorded his 7th defense of his world title, as he stopped Filipino challenger Randy Petalcorin (31-4-1, 23) in 4 rounds.
The first round saw little happen. The little that did happen was almost all from Kenshiro's jab as the two men took their time to figure each other out. The second saw the pace step up, with Petalcorin beginning to take risks, but he really had a couple of flash points of success, whilst Kenshiro found the round to land his jab quite regularly. It wasn't as clear cut as the opening round, but felt like the fight was finally starting.
Sadly for Petalcorin the success he had in round 2 didn't carry on into round 3, despite Petalcorin landing the right hook and neutralising Kenshiro's jab. That just meant Kenshiro had to bring another weapon out of his arsenal, and began to rely on his body shots. They were killer and he dropped Petalcorin 3 times in round 3 from body shots. Petalcorin's heart couldn't be questioned, but he clearly couldn't handle the blows to the mid section, and they do stay with a fighter.
Despite suffering a 10-6 round in round 3 Petalcorin came out for round 4 with ambition. It was as if he knew it was now or never. Petalcorin's aggression saw him forcing Kenshiro to back off at the start of the round. It wasn't long however until Kenshiro re-established distance, composed himself and went back to banging the drum. Another knockdown, again from body shots. This time Petalcorin didn't beat the count.
It's unclear what is next for the "Amazing boy" though it would seem likely that he would again pursue a world title unification bout, something that was supposed to happen today until a bout IBF champion Felix Alvarado fell through due to illness. As for Petalcorin it seems clear that he simply doesn't have it at world level, and after today's loss every opponent will target his mid-section.
When people start talking about fight of the year or round of the year when there is still an Akira Yaegashi (28-7, 16) [八重樫 東] fight on the calendar they are making a mistake. They should always wait for Yaegashi to fight for the final time in the year before making any sort of lists! Today Yaegashi finished his year off as he challenged IBF Flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane (39-2, 26), and unsurprisingly we ended with an exciting action fight.
The bout actually began in a less than thrilling fashion with Yaegashi fighting on his bike, using his footwork and boxing smart. It's something he's always had in his arsenal, but was last seen being used properly years ago, when he beat Edgar Sosa, way back in December 2013. If Akira fought smart we weren't going to get a classic, but there's a good chance he could fiddle himself to a decision victory.
That, of course, isn't Yaegashi's style. There's a reason Yaegashi has such a cult fan base and a reason he is regarded as a warrior. That is because smart boxing isn't him. He can do it, but it's not him. Instead having a fight is Yaegashi's style. By the third round, Mthalane was inviting Yaegashi into fight, and Yaegashi took the invitation, standing his ground more and fighting toe to toe with Mthalane, with the two men taking it in turns to unload flurries of shots.
Through rounds 4, 5 and 6 we had none stop action, each of those rounds could be considered for round of the year, with each of the rounds swinging one way then the other. One man seemed hurt, then they responded with a flurry of their own, hurting the other man. Not only were they hurting each other, but they were fighting an insane pace for two men who are the wrong side of 35. Sooner or later the tempo was going to catch up with one of them.
Sadly in round 7 it was Yaegashi was caught by the pace, and by a body shot from Mthalane. He tried to recover, tried to walk it off, and "old man" Mthalane, but the South African was having none of it, and kept the pressure up, not allowing Yaegashi to recover. To his credit Yaegashi's toughness kept him up right, and kept him fight, but it was clearly a diminished Yaegashi, who was starting to run on fumes, and take huge unanswered shots. Those fumes were however running out themselves and in round 8, with Mthalane landing an ever increasing number of shots, a stoppage began to look inevitable.
With Yaegashi's face swelling up, engine running low and the momentum clearly swinging in favour of Mthalane it seemed as if the Japanese warrior was going to need a miracle. Sadly for him that miracle never came as Mthalane continued to beat him up. It was getting one sided and in round 9 the referee seemed to be looking for a moment to stop the fight. His moment was a weird one, given that Yaegashi had stumbled a few moments earlier but was beginning to return fire, but it's hard to complain too much at the stoppage. Yaegashi, as he has often been, was too tough for his own good and the referee knew it.
Given Yaegashi turns 37 in February and has been in far too many wars for his own good it now seems like a good time to bow out, and retire, following yet another sensational fight. Round 4 in particular will be a hard one to forget. He could have made life easier for himself through much of his career, but the high, and lows, of Yaegashi's career have made him a Japanese legend. Hopefully retirement is next for a man who has given the sport so much during his often dramatic, always thrilling, rollercoaster like career.
As for Mthalane, the timeless South African is still a sensational fighter at the age of 37. He's ancient for a Flyweight but rarely have we seen him look his age, or looking on the verge of being stopped. He's tough, smart, and can change the direction of a fight. Whilst we suspect he's probably only got 1 or 2 more big fights, like this, in him he is a man who is racking up a Japanese-Killer reputation, with 3 successive wins against Japanese fighters, and is stacking his record with notable wins. It's a huge shame his first reign as the IBF champion ended the way it did, but he's making up for it in style now. A bout with Giemel Magramo, the highest ranked IBF contender, would be something that would be very appealing, and may well be next for the exceptional champion.
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.