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.
Just moments ago fight fans around the globe saw Irish-Australian TJ Doheny (21-0, 15) score his first defense of the IBF Super Bantamweight title, as he stopped over-matched Japanese challenger Ryohei Takahashi (15-4-1, 6) in the 11th round.
Takahashi, a huge under-dog, looked outclassed from the opening moments as Doheny landed sharp shots, moved around the ring well, and found a home for his southpaw left hand, to both head and body. Takahashi was coming forward but his limitations were clear and he was always struggling to get close, never mind actually landing anything of note.
In round 2 the fighters clashed heads, with both being cut on the bridge of the nose, despite the cuts Doheny continued to control the action, dropping Takahashi the following round.
As the fight went on Doheny seemed to slow down a touch, picking his shots a little bit more whilst Takahashi began to ramp up his pressure. That pressure wasn't completely effective, due to Takahashi's technical flaws, inaccuracy, poor footwork and limited technique, but he did have moments and was forcing Doheny to fight at a higher pace than he would have wanted.
The second half of the fight saw Takahashi's pressure become more and more intense, and he arguably took a round or two as Doheny seemed to take his foot off the gas just a touch. It was never as if Takahashi was coming close to winning the fight, but just doing enough to perhaps sneak a round or two.
Sadly for Takahashi Doheny began to move back through the gears as we went into the late rounds, landing some sickening body shots. Those shots began to take a toll and although Takahashi continued to come forward he did look like he has visibly slowed a touch.
In round 11 Doheny managed to rock Takahashi and a follow up forced the referee to step in. It was a strange stoppage, but one that not many will really complain too much with given the noncompetitive nature of the fight. Doheny was in a huge lead going into the round, and there seemed to be no chance of Takahashi landing anything big enough to turn things around, so the stoppage certainly didn't feel like it was robbing the fans, or challenger of anything.
Following the win Doheny was joined in the ring by WBA champion Danny Roman, and they spoke about a unification bout. That's looking likely to take place later this year, though it's possible that both may have to fight a mandatory defense before a unification bout.
For Takahashi this was his biggest fight by far, and it's fair to say whilst he came up short he did put up a brave and gritty effort. He'll be unlikely to get another fight at this level, but he will fit well in the mix at Oriental level when he gets back in the ring.
Japan's Ryosuke Iwasa (25-3, 16) [岩佐 亮佑] has a reputation of coming up short against the best Southpaw's he's faced. That proved to be the case again today when he lost the IBS Super Bantamweight title to Australian based Irishman TJ Doheny (20-0, 14) via unanimous decision at the Korakuen Hall, with the loss following previous defeats to southpaws Shinsuke Yamanaka and Lee Haskins.
The champion, defending his belt for the second time, had a good start. Both men looked to feel the other out but it was a right by Iwasa that caught the eye as he wobbled the challenger, and left him with a nasty cut on his right cheek. It seemed an almost perfect start. He was however unable to capitalise and the following round a busier, quicker and sharper Doheny was about to out work a one paced Iwasa, who landed another good right hook but spent too much of the round stalking and not enough actually fighting.
Rounds 3 and 4 were also good ones for Doheny who out landed Iwasa and landed some really eye catching head shots. Although Iwasa again had moments he refused to move through the gears, and the good shots he was landing were rarely followed up on, whilst Doheny actually let his hands fly in bursts. By the end of round 4 the challenger wasn't just cut but also swollen under the left eye, but showed little worry of Iwasa's power, often circling with his hands down.
Iwasa managed to have more success in round 5, when he began to feint less and through more. Doheny seemed to feel the power more often, and it certainly seemed like Iwasa had more power than the supposedly heavy handed Doheny, but it against seemed like Iwasa was too concerned on single shots and not his combinations. The Japanese fighter has a really potent straight left hand, but he did little to set the shot up, and seemed to be willing to look for perfect shots as opposed to taking a risk or two.
Round 6 was a stand out round as the two men went tit for tat. Doheny had the early success, and and had a big attack about a minute into the round. Iwasa fired back, and seemed to rock Doheny at one point before fighting back. It again seemed to show that Iwasa was the puncher in the fight and that Doheny's reputation as the puncher wasn't right, but it was Doheny who always seemed to engage the attacks and force the fight. In fact round 7 was another good one for Doheny, who landed a brilliant combination late in the round. The challenger was spoiling up close, but but knew what he had to do to get shots off and to smother Iwasa.
Iwasa had a better round in round 8, as the two both let their shots go with more freedom than they had earlier on. It was clear that neither man was too confident that they were in the lead, but it was Iwasa who was beginning to land more, letting his shots go in bunches and landing some crunching body shots with Doheny's blood from the cut began to drip down his face. The good round from Iwasa was again neutralised by Doheny having a good bounce back round, as he once again out worked the Japanese fighter.
Round 10 was one of the most competitive rounds of the fight. Doheny started really well, but Iwasa managed to come on strong, landing a fantastic right hand late in the round before a body shot seemed to hurt the challenger. The success there was finally built one by Iwasa who had an amazing round 11, his best round, as he finally moved through the gears, let his shots go and hurt Doheny, who looked to be running on fumes. The body shots looked like they had knocked the gas out of Doheny who clinched, spoiled and even wrestled Iwasa to the floor as he tried to see out the storm.
It looked like Doheny was going to be there for the taking in round 12, but amazingly he had his second wind, just when he needed it, and he out worked Iwasa through the round. Iwasa, did little when he really needed to let it all go.
Sadly for the Japanese fighter his failure to fight fire with fire in round 12, among other rounds, was the difference between the two men and Doheny was a worth decision winner, with the judges scoring the bout 117-112, 116-112 and 115-113 in favour of Doheny.
Sadly those watching on ESPN+ in the US had a narrative from Teddy Atlas of a robbery, it wasn't. The right guy win, though 117-112 is wide of the mark the other two scores are spot on, with the best Iwasa could have hoped for was a draw. He let Dohney have his way too much, and the destructive Iwasa who claimed the title in eye catching fashion against Yukinori Oguni was nowhere to be seen here.
Last year we saw the IBF Super Bantamweight end up in the hands of Ryosuke Iwasa (25-2, 16) [岩佐 亮佑], following his sensational performance against Yukinori Oguni. Today he made his first defense of the title, taking on little known Filipino challenger Ernesto Saulong (21-3-1, 8), and taking a wide decision over the gutsy visitor.
Sadly for Iwasa the performance was far from the quality that he showed against Oguni, and was more of a disappointing outing, despite retaining his title with relative ease.
The bout started with Iwasa seemingly fighting well within himself, he was controlling the distance and tempo of the bout at range, finding a home for his powerful left hand and looking very relaxed. A little bit too relaxed at times and it seemed like he really should have been looking to move through the gears, the fans something to remember and continue to show what he can do in the ring.
After 3 rounds Iwasa looked in total control, though Saulong did manage to have some moments in round 4, as he began to utilise a tactic that Richard Pumicpic had also used against Iwasa. That was to cut the distance, swarm Iwasa and force him to fight up close, something Iwasa doesn't ever look comfortable doing. It was however a tactic that Saulong didn't manage to have much consistency with an Iwasa resumed total control the following round.
It wasn't until round 9 that you could make any sort of a case for Saulong to have won another round, as he upped the pace, showed a real lack of respect to Iwasa at last and applied the pressure. The challenger built on that success in the following round and had his best round as he seemed to feel some new found confidence. That confidence was however crushed in round 11 as Saulong was staggered, hurt and rocked back into his shell with Iwasa coming close to scoring a knockdown. It was the only real time that Saulong was hurt and the only time that Iwasa ever looked like he was hunting a stoppage.
To his credit Saulong saw out the storm and came back at Iwasa in the final round, but took some big shots to end the bout with Iwasa never looking in trouble.
It was gutsy effort at times from the challenger, but he really wasn't competitive, and that was reflective on the score cards which read 120-108, 119-109 and 118-110 for Iwasa. The champion retained his title, but lost some of his shine with was a very forgettable win for the hard hitting southpaw,
Earlier today fight fans had the chance to tune into an IBF Super Bantamweight title fight as defending champion Yukinori Oguni (19-2-1, 7) [小國 以載] took on mandatory challenger Ryosuke Iwasa (24-2, 16) [岩佐 亮佑], in what looked like a 50-50 match up on paper.
The fight had had some very friendly build up between two men who have known each other for years and had a genuine laugh in the various pre-fight events. In fact that fun seemed to run all the way to the first bell.
When the bell rang it was Oguni who was fast out of the traps, using his speed, movement and boxing to get off to a hot start. Iwasa seemed slightly surprised but covered up, waited out the early storm and started to fight back, almost instantly finding a home for his thunderous left hand. Towards the end of the round one of those left hands did their job and dropped Oguni, securing a 10-8 round for the challenger, who was probably just losing the round prior to the knockdown.
Round 2 saw Oguni regroup brilliantly and take the early moments, using his speed and more fluid natural boxing ability. Sadly though for Oguni he against had no answer for Iwasa's left hand, and brutal power, being dropped hard late in the round. Oguni's fighting heart helped him got back up and resume, but he was drown again soon afterwards, and facial damage was beginning to show on the champion.
In round 3 it was Iwasa starting faster, and looking to go for a finish as he landed a number of folid left hands on the champion. Oguni to his credit gritted his teeth and had moments, but those moments were all sniffed out when Iwasa threw, with almost every left hand on target actually landing on the challenger. The one respite for Oguni was that the referee was on Iwasa's case for pushing on his head, and actually took a point in round 4 for it.
Not only did Oguni get the “advantage” of his opponent losing a point but he also seemed to become rejuvenated in the 4th as he took the fight to Iwasa in a thrilling back and forth that saw Oguni being hurt several times but unloading on Iwasa and having one of his best rounds. Oguni's power never seemed to trouble Iwasa, but his work rate and aggression through the round gave Iwasa issues, and it was a very close rounds, potentially a 10-8 for Oguni or a 9-9.
Another close round followed as Oguni seemed to begin to feel the momentum shift in his favour. Sadly that momentum was snuffed out later in the round as Iwasa landed a series of big left hands that arguably stole the round for the challenger.
Having snuffed out the momentum of Oguni's at the end of 5 Iwasa went for the finish early in round 6 and really left his shots go early on. Oguni was rocked several times and his face had started to become a crimson mask. The shots of Iwasa's were leaving his gloves painted with Oguni's blood and it looked like a stoppage was imminent. Oguni however, had other thoughts and began to take the fight to Iwasa, cornering Iwasa and unloading.
Following Oguni's success the referee finally seemed to notice Oguni's face, and took him over to the ringside doctor who wave the bout off after a quick inspection. During the inspection Oguni seemed to have some sort of facial fracture, a badly cut lip and serious damage around his eye. Almost forcing the doctors hand.
For Iwasa the win sees him finally fulfilling his potential and claiming a world title in his second shot. Potentially this lines him up as a potential target for good friend Shingo Wake, young sensation Hinata Maruta, former title challenger Hidenori Otake or former champion Tomoki Kameda. As for Oguni it's time to spend a few weeks resting and recovering as that sort of facial damage will need some serious time away from the ring.
Shocks in boxing happen, not always but they do happen. Today we saw one such shock as the little known Yukinori Oguni (19-1-1, 7) [小國 以載] surprisingly beaten the previously unbeaten Jonathan Guzman (22-1-0-1, 22) and claimed the IBF Super Bantamweight title. Not only was the bout a surprise on paper, but even more so when you consider Oguni's only loss came to Shingo Wake, who Guzman battered earlier this year to win the title in the first place.
Oguni got off to the perfect start surprising everyone, fans and Guzman, by dropping the champion in the 3rd round with a perfect shot to the mid-section. The knockdown was a surprise, especially given that Oguni isn't known for his power, but the placement was perfect. Guzman took the knockdown to heart and came back strong the following round but was unable to land regularly with his much vaunted power as Oguni used his defense see off the storm.
Guzman's work slowed down slightly in the middle rounds and things became worse for him in round 7, when his nose began to bleed, before suffering a cut to right eye in round 8. By then things were becoming increasingly difficult for the defending champion who was struggling to force his will on the fight.
In round 11 Guzman was down for a second time, again from a body shot, though the referee ruled it a low blow and gave Guzman time to recover. A decision that left the fans irate and some even threw plastic bottles in disgust at the decision. It however scarcely mattered as Oguni saw out the final round to earn a very well deserved decision win, with scores of 115-112 across the board.
After the bout Oguni stated that the body work was a deliberate tactic, but even he didn't expect the knockdown. He will now be mandated to defend his title against fellow Japanese fighter Ryosuke Iwasa in 2017, a genuine friend of Oguini's. For Guzman the future is going to be strange. He's part of the “Who needs him club?” a huge puncher who has little financial backing and perhaps the need to link up with someone who will bank roll him towards another title fight, where he could be a danger again in the future.
For those interested in knowing how much of an upset this was, one UK betting company had Oguni as a 10/1 under-dog with several others having Guzman at 1/19 to win!
Every so often boxing has a show of pure courage, heart and guts and we all love it when we see it. The pure real life Rocky moments that sees a fighter pulling off the win through adversity. Sometimes however the story doesn't end that we and today we saw such a story as Japan's Shingo Wake (20-5-2, 12) [和氣 慎吾] gave his all whilst coming up short against Dominican monster Jonathan Guzman (22-0-0-1, 22) in an excellent bout.
The fight started quietly but it wasn't long until Guzman's much vaunted power started to show it's self with the Dominican scoring two knockdowns in round 2 leaving Wake's right eye a total mess with a monstrous cut under it. It seems like Wake wasn't going to last much longer and he was down again in round 3, albeit from a push that was scored as a knockdown, with many suspecting Wake's team would pull him out of the bout before he got injured worse.
Wake however was allowed to continue and gave a brave effort in round 4 before being dropped, hard, in round 5. He was then dropped again several seconds after the bell to end the round from a monstrously huge shot, in a move that really seemed fitting for a point deduction that never came.
Looking like a spent fighter at the start of round 6 it would have made sense again for Wake's team to have pulled their fighter from the bout. Instead they sent him out and he seemed to come out with a spring in his step and looking like a hungry fighter. He backed up Guzman and landed several hurtful looking left hands that made it look like he was coming on strong whilst Guzman's work rate began to drop noticeably. The momentum from round 7 continued in to rounds 8, 9 and 10 with Wake having more and more success, and in fairness he should have had at least one knock-down call in his favour, especially given that he had been pushed for one of the knockdowns earlier in the fight.
Unfortunately for Wake his momentum was stopped in round 11 when he exchanged with Guzman and was left with a nasty cut over the left eye that bled straight into the eye and forced the referee to instantly stop the bout, giving Guzman the stoppage win.
What happened between round 5 and 11 however was amazing. Wake had come from the brink of a very early defeat to give Guzman a genuine test, both men left with with an eye swollen shut, for Guzman it was the left for Wake the right, and both men will be out of the ring for a prolonged time whilst those injuries heal. Unfortunately for Wake it was the left eye being cut, and not the huge gash on his right cheek or the swelling around the right, that forced the referees hand, and it was a very nasty cut, in fact both were.
With the win Guzman won the IBF Super Bantamweight title and announced himself as a genuine world class fighter, For a badly swollen Wake the result is a bad one, however the courage he showed and the way he fought himself back into the fight will have won him fans around the world and will likely see him being given another shot in the near future. The performance from both was brilliant and if you missed the fight you really need to find it as it was an amazing contest of guts, power and heart. A tremendous contest.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today saw Japanese great Hozumi Hasegawa (33-5, 15) attempt to become the second 3-weight world champion in Japanese history. Unfortunately the 33 year old southpaw came up short as he fought the bull like Kiko Martinez (31-5, 23) who sadly stopped Hasegawa in 7 rounds to retain his IBF Super Bantamweight title.
The fight started competitively with a good opening round for the Japanese challenger. Unfortunately the round ended with the two men trading and it seemed like that was always going to be a problem against the hard headed Martinez who appeared tougher and stronger than Hasegawa.
In the second round the power of Martinez was on show as he rocked, then dropped Hasegawa. Hasegawa showed off his heart and determination by getting back up but went straight back to trading with Martinez who appeared to be going through the gears. The fact the champion had dropped Hasegawa should have said it all, this guys hits hard, instead it seemed like Hasegawa was determined to go out on his shield.
Thankfully over the following few rounds Hasegawa did start to use his skills a bit, despite suffering a nasty cut in round 4 over his right eye. The cut seemed to spur Hasegawa into using his brain and in round 5 he got on to his toes and began to box on the back foot forcing Martinez to fall short with his shots before firing back. It was a glimpse of Hasegawa at his best, he looked, for one round, like the man we all know and loved a fearsome, counter punching machine who could make world class opponents look second rate. Sadly at 33 Hasegawa was only able to muster up one round of that old magic.
In round 6 it seemed clear the magic had worn off as Martinez went to work and although the champion was deducted a point he was clearly on top as his pressure began to force Hasegawa back in to trading. The shots Martinez was landing were taking a clear toll on Hasegawa who was losing his sharpness and his footwork was beginning to get very sloppy as tried to escape the onslaught from the Spaniard.
By the start of round 7 Hasegawa still didn't look himself and Martinez continued to just walk Hasegawa down, this saw Hasegawa again forced into an exchange before he was dropped for the second time in the fight. The brave Japanese fighter managed to regain his feet but bot his senses and a follow up attack saw Martinez send him down for the third time. This time the referee decided to save Hasegawa from himself and immediately waved the bout off.
After the fight the two men embraced in respect though the shocked and saddened audience seemed to know that this was it, the end of Hasegawa who will almost certainly retire now rather than take any more damage. Thankfully Hasegawa walked out of the arena under his own steam and the sadness that was on the fans faces turned to respect as they clapped him back to the changing rooms where he will consider his future.
Hasegawa, if he does retire as expected, has plenty of options though working in TV would seem the most likely following in the footsteps of Toshiaki Nishioka. Like Nishioka, Hasegawa has given us all a lot of nights to remember and although this was a sad night he still gave us something to remember him by with the fantastic action in round 2, the skills in round 5 and the heart in round 7.
(Image courtesy of Boxmob.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.