This weekend was one that promised a lot, though had seen a couple of bouts we'd expected to be great just fail to deliver the action we'd hoped for. Thankfully however some bouts delivered. And boy did we ever get one that delivered, between two Asian fighters in the US.
Whilst Alexander Povetkin Vs Michael Hunter may end up going down as the bout of the weekend, in terms of action and drama, it was given a great run for it's money by IBF "interim" Super Bantamweight title bout. A bout that saw champion Ryosuke Iwasa (27-3, 17) [岩佐 亮佑] stop Filipino Marlon Tapales (33-3, 16).
The bout saw Tapales enter as the favourite, and with Iwasa's losses all coming to southpaws you could see why people fancied the hard hitting Filipino lefty. We though the southpaw issue would prove to be a major factor in the bout as well.
What we ended up seeing however was a fantastic 2 way bout, at least in the early going, and Iwasa's finest performance to date. A performance that, like his original world title win against Yukinori Oguni, showed he had world class ability, even if we don't see it consistently.
The bout started at a great pace, and although Iwasa was typically getting the better of things, with his higher tempo and using his reach well. It was however notable that Iwasa's power was having an effect and in round 3 he dropped Tapales, for the first time in the fight. Tapales began to change tactics following the knockdown, and looked for a single punch to change the fight. It was a foolish move given he was so much shorter than Iwasa.
As the fight war on Iwasa's domination got more and more commanding and by round 10 it looked like he was going to cruise to a decision. A second knockdown in round 11 changed that though, as Iwasa dropped Tapales for the second time, with a left hand. Tapales managed to beat the count but failed to convince the referee he was fit to continue, forcing the referee to halt the bout.
Given his performance here Tapales looks about done at world level. A shame, given how good his previous world title bouts were. As for Iwasa what ever they did in training for this worked, and they need to keep with it, at times he looked brilliant, and a far cry from the listless fighter who lost to the IBF Super Bantamweight title to TJ Doheny.
In theory next in line for Iwasa is either Danny Roman or Murodjon Akhmadaliev, though it's still pretty unclear what is happening to their bout which was scheduled to take place in September before falling through due to an injury to Roman.
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.
Japanese fighters have, amazingly, never won a world title in Europe. That run sadly continued earlier today as Ryosuke Iwasa (19-2, 12) came up short against Englishman Lee Haskins (32-3, 14) who scored a remarkable stoppage of the Japanese fighter and claimed the IBF interim Bantamweight title.
From the opening round it seemed like Iwasa's game plan was based around coming on strong as Haskins slowed. Sadly for Iwasa he never got to see that plan come to fruition.
Haskins started amazingly well and looked sharp from the off with his right hooks, counters and elusive movement. It seemed that whilst Iwasa was the bigger and naturally stronger man Haskins was the quicker and sharper man. From opening bell it was Haskins who was making the most of his advantages and he took the first 2 rounds with no doubt at all.
It was in round 3 that the fight took it's first turn with Iwasa manage to make the action close, especially in the later part of the round as Haskins looked to be feeling the pace and effect of his own movement. The slowing down of Haskins showed again in round 4 as Iwasa clearly took the round and seemed to find the range of his heavy left hands. It seemed that the bout was turning and that Iwasa was set to come on strong.
Haskins managed to regroup his composure in round 5, though it was a messy and a close round plagued by clinches. It seemed that Haskins was certainly feeling the pace whilst Iwasa looked relaxed, despite being well down on the cards.
Round 6 started well for Iwasa who landed a big right hand and had blood coming from Haskins's nose. It seemed again that Iwasa was set to come until he walked into a monstrous counter shot from Haskins. It will probably go down as the best shot Haskins will throw. The shot was amazing and rocked Iwasa who went down hard seconds later. The Japanese fighter, amazingly, got up to his feet at the count of 7 but a follow up attack forced the referee to step in and stop the contest.
For Iwasa it's back to Japan and back to rebuilding, with a probably move to Super Bantamweight in the near future. As for Haskins he'll now have to await the next step of Randy Caballero. A bout between Haskins and Caballero is likely to happen when Caballero returns from his injury.
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.