To close the month of February in the Philippines we got a rare All-Filipino world title bout as the defending IBF Minimumweight champion Pedro Taduran (14-3-1, 11) clashed with the unheralded Rene Mark Cuarto (19-2-2, 11). The bout was an interesting one going in, with Taduran having a reputation for his heavy hands and pressure and Cuarto being a talented boxer, but a man taking a big step up in class.
Early on it was the boxing of Cuarto that was the key, with the challenger boxing really well on the back foot. Cuarto seemed fully aware that having a firefight with Taduran in the middle of the ring wasn't going to be a good idea, and instead moved, boxed, and picked his spots, landing some brilliant uppercuts as Taduran came in. It was the boxing, counter punching and movement of Cuarto that allowed him to control the pressure of Taduran, and the clean, crisp, combinations that Cuarto landed allowed him to catch the eye and rack up the rounds.
From the early part of the fight it was round 3 that really got the blood flowing, with Taduran being tagged hard by a Cuarto counter in a thrilling exchange, Cuarto pressed forward himself at one point during the round, before Taduran tried to finish with a strong rally. It was a brilliant round but it was another that showed the obvious skill level of Cuarto, which was higher than that of Taduran.
After 6 rounds it seemed the challenger was comfortably in the lead, but that was only half the task and Taduran wasn't in the ring to hand over his title, or to change tactics, as he kept coming forward. No matter what Cuarto landed Taduran came on, and came on. And had limited success until round 7, when he shook Cuarto to his knees. The challenger was suddenly in trouble, and was clearly hurt for almost a minute of the round, before regrouping, surviving what was left of the round and seeing his way to his corner. He was hurt again in round 8 as Taduran's pressure began to find more and more cracks in Cuarto's resistance.
To his credit Cuarto didn't panic, he didn't worry and he didn't seem to doubt himself. Instead he began to spoil, create distance and try to kill the momentum that Taduran was building. He knew he had to survive, and that's what he was doing, despite being rocked again at the end of round 9. He knew he was in the lead, he knew he only needed to win one of the late rounds and he knew that this was his bout to lose.
Sadly round 10 saw the stream fall apart, though when we were back in round 11 we saw an exciting round, as Taduran continued to try and march forward, hunting a stoppage and Cuarto turned into a seasoned veteran, trying to old man Taduran. He was walking around the ring, landing single shots and getting on his toes. It wasn't the most appealing style at times from Cuarto, but it was exactly what he needed.
Cuarto's toughness and determination saw him surviving round 12 as well, despite looking tired at times and being rocked, again. It was clear he could be hurt, but he was not going to be stopped. Not today, this was his day.
After 12 rounds we went to the scorecards, and it was clearly a close fight, with Cuarto dominating the early rounds with his clean boxing, good movement, and accurate punching, then Taduran coming on strong in the second half. The scorecards reflected the close nature of the bout, with all 3 judges turning in identical 115-113 scorecards. Unfortunately for Taduran they didn't side with him, instead going with Cuarto who's early success saw him do enough to take the title and become the new IBF Minimumweight champion.
Sadly for Taduran this ends a reign that started with a lot promise, following a sensational win over Samuel Salva, though never really got going, due in part to Covid19. As for Cuarto this is a career defining win, and he looked much, much better than the man who lost to the aforementioned Salva in early 2019.
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.
In 2018 we had 2 All Filipino world title fights and, if we're being, they were both really underwhelming and won't be remembered for long. Today we had another, and today's the polar opposite as we had an all action contest with Pedro Taduran (14-2, 11) and Samuel Salva (17-1, 10) trading blows for the IBF Minimumweight title.
Taduran, getting his second world title fight, fought all out with an aggressive mentality. In the opening round that was a tactic that left many questioning what he was doing, as the more technically well schooled Salva countered him regularly with right hands. Salva's defensive skills and counter punching made it seem like he had the answer to Taduran's southpaw stance and pressure.
The second round saw Taduran tweak his tactics slightly, changing from coming forward behind his southpaw left hand to using his right hook. Despite the change Salva still seemed to get the better of it, though Taduran certainly had some moments.
Taduran continued to press, intently, in round 3. Early in the round he paid for it, again, as Salva landed a number of big right hands, however Taduran just refused to back off. Instead of backing up and reconsidering his gameplan Taduran just continued to charge forward and and quickly pinned Salva on the ropes, working away, and hurting his man. Salva never really recovered and quickly put in survival mode whilst Taduran jumped on him, hunting the stoppage. To his credit Salva showed bravery and toughness, but Taduran just refused to give him space to breath. Some how, and we really don't know how, Salva made it to the bell to get a minutes rest.
That minute wasn't long enough and when the fight resumed in round 4 Taduran was again all over him, and forced Salva to resort to headbutting to try and survive. The headbutts were caught by the referee who took a point from Salva in round 4. That really didn't matter and Taduran continued to beat his man up to the bell.
Having taken 2 rounds of serious punishment and seemingly running on fumes Salva remained in his corner at the end of round 4, not coming out for the 5th.
With this win Taduran becomes the latest Filipino world champion whilst it's back to the drawing board for Salva, who lost his unbeaten record here, and took real damage. Salva is still young enough to bounce back, and is still very skilled, but needs to add a lot to his game if he's to reach the top. He also needs to hope this hasn't damaged long term, as it was pretty sustained damage for 6 minutes.
After the TV cameras stopped rolling at the Staples Center, following the 12 round classic between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury, there was one more world title bout to take place. That bout featured Filipino Mark Anthony Barriga (9-1, 1) and American Carlos Licona (14-0, 2) with the two battling to crown a new IBF Minimumweight champion.
Sadly for two fighters the audience had shrank, from a few million international viewers to just the handfuls left in the venue for what was essentially a world title bout that acted as a walk out bout.
Thankfully among those in the venue was the excellent Ryan Songalia, who posted a series of tweets regarding the fight, and it seems like it was the most competitive contest on the show, with the two men matching other incredibly well. Licona was the naturally bigger man, the taller, rangier and harder hitting fighter whilst Barriga was the more technically gifted, the one landing the more eye catching shots, but also the one struggling to really leave an impact on Licona.
According to the tweets posted by Mr Songalia the two really hard to split, with both men having some clear rounds, but a number of rounds were a toss up. This was always going to make life tricky for Barriga, given he was fighting in the US in the same state that Licona lives in.
Japan can be one of the best countries for boxing, with a huge number of outlets for fights, a very active scene across the country and some of the most exciting match ups we can see, both at world and domestic level. It can be very frustrating with television outlets not always being able to show the full show, and having so much delay footage. That issues reared it's head again today when TBS failed to broadcast the second defense of IBF Minimumweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (10-0, 7) [京口 紘人], who had to get through some real adversity to over-come Filipino challenger Vince Paras (13-1, 11).
Despite the lack of TV coverage the bout was a cracking contest, with some early drama and the type of excitement that left fans in the arena clamouring to see both men back in action, not just their local champion.
In the build up to the bout Paras had come across as confident, like a man who had travelled with a purpose and wasn't worried about the powerful champion. He started the bout with a tight guard, looking for openings and opportunities to land his power left hook, with an opening in round 3 seeing him connect clean and dropping Kyoguchi. The knockdown was the first that the champion had suffered since turning professional and showed that Paras had the power to trouble the champion.
Kyoguchi bounced back the following round and was in the face of Paras with hard blows as the action heated up. The following round a clash of heads left Paras cut around the right eye and from then on it seemed like the Filipino began to a bit, whilst the champion began to build on his momentum, landing big combinations as we got further into the fight. Paras however showed his toughness and refused to go down.
The final round was a tough one for both fighters, with both men holding their feet and digging to the body. Though neither could put the other down.
In the end Kyoguchi, who showed impressive defense after the knockdown, ran out a clear winner on all 3 cards, taking the decision 117-110, but clearly was left knowing he had improvements to make.
After the bout Kyoguchi seemed to admit his legs were tired later in the fight and questions remain as to how much he is taking out of himself to make the 105lb limit, having had to drop a lot of weight yesterday. It also seems like the type of bout where both men will learn a lot, and fans in the crowd seemed impressed not only by the winner, but also the loser, who at 19 looks a real talent and will certainly come again.
One of the under-the-radar stories of 2017, from a Japanese perspective, has been that of Hiroto Kyoguchi (9-0, 7) [京口 紘人]. The Watanabe youngster won the IBF Minimumweight title earlier this year, in a lacklustre bout against Jose Argumedo, having previously won the OPBF title even earlier in the year. Today he continued his rise as he became the first man to stop talented Nicaraguan Carlos Buitrago (30-3-1-1, 17) in an unexpectedly one-sided contest.
The bout, screened live on Canal 4 in Nicaragua, saw Buitrago starting well, applying his pressure and taking the fight to he challenger. Buitrago, to his credit, fought back but seemed unable to ever get Kyoguichi's respect with the champion closing the space the space between the two very easily. At close range Buitrago had some success, but lacked the power to do the damage that the champion was doing, as he began to chip away at the challenger with heavy hooks and uppercuts.
By round 4 Buitrago was clearly showing signs of slowing down, his eyes swelling and his output dropping whilst Kyoguchi was looking like a steam train, coming forward no matter what was being thrown in his direction. The pressure continued to tell and round by round Buitrago was becoming more and more negative, backing up on to the ropes and throwing “stay away” punches, rather than anything with serious intent.
By the end of round 6 it began to look like the referee was looking for a chance to stop the bout, but every time it seemed like he was going to Buitrago would have a spurt of action, throw back and make Kyoguchi momentarily back off. It wasn't that the challenger could ever hurt the champion, even clean right hands seemed to bounce off him, but it was enough to show life to the referee.
Sadly for Buitrago that fight just left him taking more punishment and in round 8, after several shots snapped his head back, the referee stepped in for the mercy stoppage. Buitrago was still throwing back at the time, but it was a stoppage that few would have complained with.
Having only debuted in April 2016 Kyoguchi's rise to champion has been incredible. This year he has gone 4-0 (2) claimed a regional and world title, defending both belts once, and has been one of the unheralded stars of 2017. He has answered questions regarding his chin, stamina and ability and in 2018 he's going to be a monster of a champion, who perhaps has his eyes on winning a title at 108lbs or unification.
For Buitrago the bout is a clear sign that he needs to give up fighting at Minmumweight. He had had persistent rumours about weight struggles coming in to the bout and now needs to move up and try to resurrect his career at Light Flyweight, before taking too many beatings like this.
Japanese prospects rising through the ranks quickly seems to be the thing at the moment, and there has been a string of super talented Japanese youngsters racing through the rankings and claiming world titles after just a handful of fights. The latest Japanese fighter to do just that was Minimumweight Hiroto Kyoguchi (8-0, 6) [京口 紘人], who claimed the IBF Minimumweight title earlier today, dethroning Jose Argumedo (20-4-1, 12). The youngster may have had more fights than some of the other Japanese youngsters who have raced to titles, but he had been a professional for just 15 months leading into this bout.
The bout promised a lot. Both are aggressive fighters, both have power and both have been in some entertaining bouts so far. It seemed in the first round that we were set for something a bit special as the two men stayed close, and let their shots off, with both landing some pretty solid and eye catching shots. By the end of the round though it seemed like Argumedo, who had spoke about a war at the signing ceremony, had felt the power of Kyoguchi and didn't want to taste too much of it using a lot of movement to avoid a fire fight.
The movement of Argumedo's continued in round 2, with Kyoguchi struggling to pin his man down, though he did land some eye catching body shots. The movement seemed to frustrate Kyoguchi, but came at an expense in regards to the power Argumedo could land with himself. In round 3 Argumedo decided to change tactic again, looking to land bombs, that came with with the problem of missing and being countered. His solution to that was to smother Kyoguchi, which became a problem through much of the bout, with the action descending into a slop fest of holding, hugging, rabbit punches and leaning on each other.
Argumedo got back on the move in round 4, with Kyoguchi fighting conservatively. Although holding back the Japanese fighter landed a number of body shots, in an attempt to stop Argumedo from hitting and holding, and a huge right hand upstairs that that again showed the danger that he possess. Argumedo ended up trying to throw the kitchen sink at Kyoguchi, but the accuracy simply wasn't there.
Rounds 5 and 6 were nothing short of messy wrestling rounds, with the clean punches kept to a minimum. It was becoming hard to watch, and hard to score. Argumedo had success with his jab, and his right hand, occasionally, whilst Kyoguchi looked to land body shots. It seemed however that both were rushing their work, throwing out of range and generally boxing like idiots, rather than two world class fighters.
Despite the messy action it seemed like both did have the fire power to hurt the other, and that proved to be the case in round 7, when a head shot shoot up Argumedo, who was clearly hurt and lucky that the shot came so late in the round as he began to eat some very hard body shots, and finished the round with a cut on the nose. Frustratingly Kyoguchi failed to build on the previous round, and round 8 was another sloppy round, with Kyoguchi's frustrations boiling over as he pushed Argumedo over. The following round saw Kyoguchi finally have a break through, badly hurting Argumedo and then sending him down legitimately with a follow up to secure a big 10 round, and had the round been 30 seconds longer he may well have closed the show.
Having got his nose into the lead Kyoguchi seemed to let Argumedo off the hook, and round 10 saw both men swing wildly and miss repeatedly in a round that began to sum up just how poor the fight had been. Had either man connected we could have seen the fight turn into something brilliant, but it seemed like neither had the composure, that late on, to really set up their work.
In the final round the mess just got messier, with both being tired, losing their balance, and Kyoguchi going down 3 times, from a combination of tiredness, pushing and balance issues, in what was a very ugly finish to a fight that promised a lot but failed to deliver.
At the end of 12 rounds the scores cards were read out, 116-111, twice, and 115-112, all in favour of Kyoguchi who became the new champion.
The fight wasn't the best showing of Kyoguchi, or of Argumedo in fairness. They styles should have gelled, but they never did, and instead of a FOTY contender we ended up with a really forgettable mess that will be remembered for Kyoguchi claiming a world title, just 15 months after his debut. And very few will go back and watch this one a second time.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
There are a lot of fighters that we can't help but lose, despite their limitations. One such fighter is the defensively liable Katsunari Takayama (30-8-0-1, 12) who sadly lost his IBF Minimumweight title earlier today, but showed just why we love him as he put on a blood and guts performance against Mexico's tough Jose Argumedo (16-3, 9).
Coming in to this one Takayama was the big betting favourite, it was supposed to be an easy defense against an inactive Mexican foe who had come up short every time he had faced a fighter of name value. In the end however it turned into an all action war, with back-forth action, high intensity and like many Takayama bouts, more trades the New York Stock Exchange.
The first round set the tone for the action with Takayama looking the more sprightly fighter but Argumedo looking like a big, tough solid
lump, and the bigger puncher. The round was one that could have gone either way, depending on whether quality and power trumps activity. Whilst the first was very competitive there was little damage to either man, despite the numerous shots that were landed. That wasn't the case in round 2 when a head clash left Takayama with a cut, a cut that worsened through out the fight. The action during the second was intense, and there was no wonder some blood was being spilled in what was quickly becoming an all out war.
The first was the start of a war that had serious battle through rounds 3, 4 and 5. During those rounds both men seemed to neglect defense, going all out with shots in what made for compelling viewing with round 5 in particular being something exceptional. Despite the action there was little to pick between them, except in round 4 which was a very clear Takayama round with Argumedo being backed up and bullied by the naturally smaller man.
Sadly for Takayama the warrior mentality was taking it's toll on his face and by the end of the 5th it appeared that both yes and his nose were leaking, a result of the shots from Argumedo and the fact he has had such a long and damaging career. The blood was beginning to look like and issue in rounds 6 and 7 but Takayama seemed to like the taste of it and upped the ante, throwing more than he had early in an attempt to break down a slowing Argumedo. The Mexican continued to look the stronger man but his feet were flat and his energy reserves seemed to be wearing away due to the intense tempo of the contest.
The battling spirit in Takayama again saw him forcing back Argumedo in round 8 but the Mexican could see the damage he was doing to the eye when he landed and seemed to target it with his heavy shots and by the start of round 9 the blood was a serious issue, along with the swelling around Takayama's face. The champion was beginning to look a real mess. The mess was so bad that the doctor had a really long, hard and serious look during the 9th round. It seemed as it the doctor was going to pull Takayama out there and then, though he relented, as if to say "you have until the round is over".
Knowing time was running out Takayama went on the offensive throwing everything he had at Argumedo, including the kitchen sink, but could stop the Mexican who saw out the storm and heard the bell. It was then that the doctor decided enough, was enough and called a halt to the bout.
This forced us to the scorecards for a technical decision, the second technical decision that Takayama has been involved in this year, though sadly for him he was to be denied of victory and his title with Argumedo taking a split decision with scores of 87-84, twice, whilst the dissenting judge had it 86-85 to Takayama.
This loss for Takayama will be a painful one, especially given the state of his face, though we doubt it'll be the end of the exciting "Lightning Kid" who seemed to suggest that he was heading to 108lbs next year.
Yesterday fans in Osaka had the chance to see the all action Katsunari Takayama (30-7-0-1, 12) take a huge step towards unifying his IBF Minimumweight title with the WBO belt held by Japanese youngster Kosei Tanaka.
Takayama, defending the IBF belt for the second time, was facing former Tanaka foe Ryuji Hara (19-2, 11) and managed to score an 8th round TKO over Hara, who started well but came apart when Takayama upped the pace and showed his ability to go through the gears.
Early on it was Hara with success. He landed a number of solid body shots on to the champion and also managed to re-open a cut over Takayama's left eye, an injury that has been a recurring one in the champions illustrious career. The cut however seemed to spur Takayama on and in round the champion began to up the pace, when he did that Hara struggled to stay with him with a left hook late in the round being just one a number of solid signs that the bout was changing.
In round 5 the bout was becoming more dominated by Takayama, who was in complete control by the end of round 7. Then it seemed only a matter of time with Hara eventually being saved by the referee in round 8.
Following the bout Tanaka challenged the champion and it now looks like a New Year's Eve bout between the two men is likely barring the WBO ordering a mandatory for Tanaka before then.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
It's been a busy day for Japanese fans today, especially those in Osaka who managed to have a fantastic show featuring a former world champion, a Japanese title fight and a pair of world title bouts. It really was as good a show as many fans could have hoped for.
The first of those world title bouts came at Minimumweight where IBF champion Katsunari Takayama (29-7-0-1, 11) risked his title against upset minded Thai Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr (27-4-1, 15).
For many Japanese fans Sakkreerin Jr is best remembered for his previous fight in Osaka, when he stopped former WBA Minimumweight champion Ryo Miyazaki in 3 rounds, in what was a late contender for the 2013 upset of the year. He returned to Osaka with the same mindset, believing he could shock the bigger name and win score a major shock.
In the opening round things were really close. Takayama was trying to sneak in and out whilst Sakkreerin was boxing well using his reach and height to catch Takayama as he came in. It was close, competitive and, like many opening rounds, one that could have gone either way with out much debate. It was however the only really close round of the fight of the fight.
In round 2 the Japanese fighter began to make a point as he applied intense pressure, back the Thai up and and began to motor threw the gears through a high volume of shots. Not all of them were getting through but it was clear that Takayama was showing his challenger who the boss was whilst Sakkreerin was doing little more than backing up, covering himself and tried to avoid the onslaught. It looked as if the Thai was hoping to ride out the storm and fight back against a tiring Takayama. The Thai's hopes however were slow to come to fruition and by round 5 it was clear Takayama had bounds of energy and was taking a huge lead due to his intense work rate. To his credit Sakkreerin did begin to fire back with some counters though they often appeared to be thrown more out desperation than anything too educated and they were few and far between.
In round 7 we saw Takayama given his first moments of discomfort as his left eye was cut following a clash of heads, a round later his right eye was cut, again from a clash of heads. The blood seemed to throw Takayama slightly as the champion became slightly more cautious and started to pick his spots. It was obvious that the facial injuries were bother the champion who was inspected twice during round 9 before the bout was stopped after 2:19 of the round.
The stoppage elected massive celebrations from the Thai's team who seemed to feel their man had won the bout with a TKO. Takayama looked resigned as he walked back to his corner though all was not as it seemed and a few moments later the men were brought to the center of the ring with the scorecards being read out. It was clear that the Thai's celebrations had come too soon as the cards were announced as being 86-85,90-81 and 87-84, all in favour of Takayama.
The champion, swollen and bloodied, looked like he had been the one taking a beating as his hand was raised. This keeps alive bouts against Kosei Tanaka, who was ringside, and Hekkie Budler, though neither of those will have seen anything here to worry them too much. For Sakkreerin this loss would have hurt considering how he had celebrated, however it seems clear that the Thai is a tough kid and a move back to 108lbs will almost certainly serve him well. Although Sakkreerin lost he will certainly come again given his age, toughness, and willingness to travel to face big names.
(Image, from a post fight conference, courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
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.