History is an interesting thing to study, and today we got the latest chapter in a 22 fight saga of Japanese fighters fighting in world title bouts in Europe. A saga that now sees the record standing at 1-21, with the latest loss coming just moments ago, when Joe Cordina (15-0, 9) dethroned Japan's Kenichi Ogawa (26-2-1-1, 18) [尾川 堅一] of the IBF Super Featherweight title, in just 2 rounds.
The bout started interestingly and evenly, with both men finding some success with their jabs, and Ogawa perhaps edging it with some good short right hands and the odd right hook. It was, however, a razor thin and close opening round.
Sadly for Ogawa his success in the opening round wasn't to be replicated in round 2. Instead it was the speed of Cordina that showed as he landed a brutal right hand that sent Ogawa down for the second time in his career, with the first coming just 2 fights ago against Kazuhiro Nishitani. Unlike the Nishitani fight however, he wasn't getting up from this one. Instead he was staying down for the count, despite trying to battle to his feet.
Aged 34 it's almost impossible to now imagine Ogawa getting back to this level, and instead we suspect he might return to Japan for a one off bout before hanging them up. As for Cordina, there appear to be a logical next bout for him against fellow British fighter Zelfa Barrett, who won on the under-card of this bout.
Although Japanese fighters have been willing to travel more often in recent years, it seems hard to think who will give them their second win in Europe, with the only Japanese man so far to have success in Europe at the top level being Naoya Inoue.
Just moments ago we saw Japan's Kenichi Ogawa (26-1-1-1, 18) [尾川 堅一] put in a career defining performance as he beat up slick South African fighter Azinga Fuzile (15-2, 9) to claim the IBF Super Featherweight title, and score the biggest win over his career. By far.
The match up was one that was slow to get going, with both men fighting very technically early on. Fuzile, fighting out of the southpaw stance, took to the ropes early on, fighting on the back foot and trying to lure Ogawa in. Ogawa came forward, but did so at a very controlled, intelligent tempo, as he looked to show that he two was a cerebral fighter. In the first round there wasn't much landed by either man and that was the same through the first 4 rounds if we're being honest. Despite there not being a lot of action, it was high level chess and it was Ogawa who was getting the better of it overall.
After the some what slow start that saw both have moments, not many of them, we saw the action really change in round 5, when an Ogawa right hand dropped Fuzile, hard. To his credit Fuzile got to his feet following the shot, which would have finished off most fighters, but he wasn't all there and he knew it as he got on the back foot and did what he could to survive the round.
The middle rounds were all Ogawa, as he pressured intelligently, backing up Fuzile and landing shots regularly, unlike the earlier rounds where his success was limited. The middle rounds really saw Fuzile struggle to get anything going and instead he ended up having his face bursted up around the right eye and his nose, which was bloodied in round 2, was leaking over the ring. Unfortunately for Fuzile his best shots never had much of an effect on Ogawa, whilst Ogawa's shots were having an effect on Fuzile, and Fuzile wasn't throwing enough whilst he was taking a lot.
In round 9 Fuzile's face got worse after a clash of heads left Fuzile with a bad cut over his left eye, which Ogawa jabbed repeatedly in the final rounds. To his credit however Fuzile had a very strong response to that cut, putting in fantastic efforts in rounds 10 and 11, as he appeared to throw caution to the wind and became the aggressor for the first time in the fight. It was nice to see him try something new, but it seemed like too little too late.
Thinking he was behind came out aggressively for round 12, but it appeared that Ogawa had lulled him in a little bit in the previous 2 rounds, and in round 12 the Japanese finished big, dropping Fuzile twice in the round to put any dounbt about the winner to bed. The first knockdown came with over a minute left and Fuzile got to his feet, but was down again in the final seconds of the bout, securing Ogawa a 10-7 final round.
After 12 rounds it seemed like Ogawa had clearly taken the win, but the judges, being judges, had the bout much closer than expected, scoring it 115-110, twice, and 114-111, a score that suggested Ogawa needed the big final round to win.
For Ogawa this win is, understandably, a hugely emotional one. He had fought in one previous world title bout, winning a decision against Tevin Farmer before being stripped due to a drug violation. This win will help but the ghost of that bout behind him. As for Fuzile, we wonder just what he will have left after this beating which was painful, tough, and punishing.
On Friday night Joseph "Jojo" Diaz (31-1-1, 15) became the former IBF Super Featherweight champion , losing the title on the scales ahead of a mandatory defense against unbeaten Russian based Tajik fighterShavkatdzhon Rakhimov (15-0-1, 12). As well as losing the title Diaz lost 20% of his purse for missing, which he did by more than 3lbs.
Despite Diaz missing weight the bout went on, with Rakhimov able to win the IBF title if he won the bout and the bout remaining vacant with any other result.
Regardless of the pre-fight hiccup on the scales, the bout looked like a fantastic one on paper, between two men liked to let their shots fly and had different styles, but busy styles.
In the opening round it was Diaz who seemed to settle quickly, whilst Rakhimov looked really tense, and the tension of Rakhimov showed through the first 2 rounds before he began to relax. When that happened the Tajik began to really find his groove, and from round 3 his activity seemed to catch the eye time and time again. Prior to that happening however he was tagged by some left hands from Diaz who seemed to try and set a high pace and get his nose in front.
What the Tajik was doing was letting 3 and 4 punch combinations go, then getting out of range, resetting, and doing the same. He was mixing up his hooks, uppercuts and straight shot, and although many shots were landing on the gloves of Diaz he was essentially handcuffing the former champion, out working him, and did enough to leave blood trickling from the former champion's nose.
From rounds 3 to 9 it seemed like Rakhimov was racking up the rounds, and he even managed to shake Diaz twice, as his power showed. Sadly though Rakhimov was doing a lot, and not getting as much success as he'd wanted. He was landing to head, and body, but rarely having sustained success and was visibly slowing by round 9, though Diaz wasn't making him pay.
Sadly for Rakhimov his high work rate in the middle portion of the bout did take a major toll as the went into the later stages, and from round 10 Diaz began to surge. He was forcing Rakhimov back and Rakhimov's own combinations were becoming less and less frequent. In fact if anything it was the clean punches of Diaz that were now catching the eye as the pace slowed. That allowed the American back in to the bout and really closed the gap on the scorecards.
Despite both men being wobbled through the bout, and a solid number of shots being landed by both men, the bout went the 12 rounds, and we got the scores.
The first was 115-113 to Diaz, a score that was within the realms of reasonability. That judge was however over-ruled by two scores of 114-114, resulting in a majority draw.
As a result of the draw the title remains vacant, and we can't help but think that Rakhimov will be kicking himself. He seemed well on the way to winning, but his gas tank ran low and he couldn't keep up his success in the later stages. Regardless we expect to see Rakhimov get another world title shot sooner rather than later.
As for Diaz, he'll be gutted he lost his title on the scales, and we do genuinely, wonder what division he'll be competing at going forward, whether he takes his career seriously and moved back to 130lbs or leaves the division to join the ranks at Lightweight.
The Super Featherweight division had a huge night this past Saturday, with a number of top fighters from the division in action across a host of bouts. One of those bouts was an IBF title fight, and surprisingly saw Japanese slugger Kenichi Ogawa (23-1, 17) [尾川 堅一] take a split decision win on US soil against American slickster Tevin Farmer (25-5-1, 5).
Ogawa looked aggressive in the opening round, and probably took it on the basis of his powerful right hand, which connected a few times against the intelligent Farmer. Farmer however responded be getting into his groove into round 2 and he seemed to clearly out box Ogawa from rounds 2 through to 6 in what was a real show case of Farmer's skills, movement, and counter punching ability.
The skills of Farmer were really impressive during those rounds, and it looked like he could breeze through to the final bell with out needing to find any extra gears. He had made Ogawa miss, look silly and looked second rate at times.
Knowing he was behind Ogawa knew he had to let his hands go more in the later rounds, and in round 7 he had a real through as he managed to really let his shots flow more naturally and landed enough right hands to catch the eye. A case for Farmer out landing Ogawa could be made, but the reality is that Farmer's shots were often pea shooter shots, with nothing on them, whilst Ogawa's shots had impact and did damage,it's true Ogawa was missing regularly, but he was also landing the better shots.
From round 7 onwards it seemed like Ogawa was doing just enough to have a shout. He was landing right hands whilst Farmer posed, used his defense and went for walks around the ring. The offense from Farmer seemed to become very intermittent and rare and it was clear that he had switched off, become over confident and really failed to shine as he should have. In some ways Farmer was letting Ogawa back into the bout, despite the commentary on HBO and Sky Sports, and Ogawa was taking his chance to reel back the rounds he had lost early on.
After 12 rounds it seemed like Farmer's charge in the middle first half had been reeled in somewhat by Ogawa, despite some good stuff by Farmer in the latter stages. It looked like Farmer did enough, but it was close, much closer than the commentary were suggesting, with some of the commentary suggesting the bout to be a near shut out for Farmer, who they seemed to fall in love with from the opening rounds.
Listening to the commentary the decision was a formality, but it did seem much, much closer, and that was shown in the score cards which saw Ogawa claim the split decision, with scores of 115-113 and 116-112 in his favour, against a card of 116-112 for Farmer.
The result saw the commentators incredulous, and their view certainly permeated on to fans, though the fight was much, much more competitive than they were suggesting. Interestingly all 3 judges, and the referee, were American.
Courtesy of boxrec.com
A little over a year ago Afghan born Canadian Arash Usmanee (20-1-1, 10) was an unknown in boxing circles. His most notable opponent was someone that really wasn't on the world stage and his profile was that of a local Canadian based fighter.
Earlier this year Usmanee launched himself on to the fringes of the world stage with a very controversial loss to the highly touted Cuban Rances Barthelemy.
The bout with Barthelemy, although a loss, had come on ESPN's "Friday Night Fights" series and given Usmanee a huge boost in terms of his profile. His performance there had generated him a new fan base and everyone, from Teddy Atlas, working for ESPN, to fight fans were wanting to see Usmanee in action again.
Usmanee got that chance earlier today as he stepped back in to the ring in front of the ESPN cameras to take on IBF Super Featherweight champion Argenis Mendez (21-2-1, 11) a highly talented fighter who has real skills, speed and unexpected power.
Although everyone who had seen the Barthelemy fight knew that Usmanee was a good fighter many thought that this would be a step too far too soon and he was clearly priced as the under-dog against Mendez.
Despite the under-dog tag Usmanee did what he always does and fought his heart out. He set the tone of the fight from the opening round by pushing Mendez to the ropes and throwing shot after shot at Mendez. Although the champion managed to defend himself well and land a number of solid counters in between Usmanee's shots it was clear that the challenger wasn't here to play the under-dog.
Usmanee's onslaught continued in a similar fashion round after round as he repeatedly forced Mendez on to the ropes, forcing the champion to show off his defensive skills and his counter punching abilities between eating from a torrent of punches. Sure Usmanee wasn't the most accurate fighter in history but his sheer work rate was making life incredibly difficult for his more skilled opponent who was looking for opportunities but not finding enough of them to really catch the judges attention round after round.
Unfortunately for Usmanee, when you throw over 1000 and only around 25% of them connect you leave your self open to some big shots and that's exactly the logic that Mendez used, especially in the middle rounds. Although Usmanee's work rate never really dropped that much Mendez began picking his sports more carefully and claiming rounds with his effective countering.
Although Mendez did do enough for a number of rounds he couldn't maintain it and Usmanee fought back hard looking to claim a number of the later rounds. This forced a tired looking Mendez beginning to hold his feet as the men began to trade in some thoroughly exciting action moments. Neither appeared capable of hurting the other but both managed to land really eye catching shots with both hands as the fight became more and more exciting.
Unfortunately for all of Usmanee's effort, which reflected well with the Barthelemy bout, he was unable to claim enough points to take home the victory and title need to instead settle for a majority decision draw.
Although he "came up short" in the title effort Usmanee again left a lasting impression following an excellent performance and will see many fans calling for him to get a second world title fight. Whilst bouts with Takashi Uchiyama (WBA) and Takashi Miura (WBC) will likely end up with Usmanee taking a beating another bout with Mendez is surely going to be called for.
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.