The Minimumweight division might be one of the more over-looked divisions in the sport but it's one which has plenty to be interested in, with the exciting array of fighters like Katsunari Takayama, Wanheng Menayothin, Jose Argumedo and Knockout CP Freshmart.
Today we saw one of those men, Knockout CP Freshmart (14-0, 6), record his first defense of the WBA title and score his third unanimous decision win of the year as he took a clear victory over Japanese challenger Shin Ono (19-8-3, 3).
Coming in to the bout many, including ourselves, had wondered how Ono had deserved a world title fight given he had come up short in recent bouts to Tatsuya Fukuhara, a more deserving world title challenger, and Kenichi Horikawa in Japanese domestic title bouts. Despite those questions Ono put up a spirited and decent effort against Knockout.
The bout started very slowly with Ono using his longer reach and southpaw stance to control the range off his jab. Knockout did apply some pressure during those early stages but it was very much a scouting mission from the champion who seemingly wanted to get a read on Ono's speed, power and movement.
In round 3 the fight flipped on it's head as Knockout moved into second gear and pressed the action more, landing right hands at will whilst Ono seemed to look lost and was becoming unsure of himself. That lack of confidence was again seen in round 4, though Ono did fire back a bit and seemed to hurt Knockout at one point, arguably scoring a flash knockdown of the Thai that was ruled a slip. Sadly for Ono this success seemed to just irritate Knockout who continued to dominate as he racked up rounds 6 and 7 and seemed to come close to dropping Ono on several occassions.
After dominating much of the fight Knockout began to look seriously tired as we began to approach the championship rounds and in the 8th and 9th he looked like he had run out of ideas, and steam. It seemed the perfect time for Ono to step up the action but unfortunately for him he was unable to with Knockout neutralising almost everything with repeated clinches.
By the time round 10 came along Knockout appeared to have recovered and again had some pepper on his shots, dropping Ono with a solid left hand to score the only knockdown of the fight. The challenger got to his feet but it seemed to put him on the retreat for the rest of the round and it was clear that he didn't want to taste Knockout's power any time soon.
Sadly for the challenger the final rounds were “now or never” and he tamely seemed to suggest his choice was “never” with little real urgency until the final 30 seconds when he began swinging for fence and looking for a huge game changer, by then though he had left him self too little time.
Although Ono had put up a spirited effort, at times, he was widely beaten on the cards with scores of 118-109, 117-111 and 118-110, but certainly earned respect with his performance. For Knockout a question needs to be asked about his stamina and this was a second successive fight where he was flagging late. It could be that his style needs taming to preserve energy or perhaps he's struggling to make 105lbs and a move up to Light Flyweight would be a smart move for the Thai. We'll see what he does in the new year but it's fair to say there is serious work to do in the future.
When we talk about our favourite Japanese fighters we always make sure to mention IBF Minimumweight champion Katsunari Takayama (27-6-0-1, 10) who has repeatedly shown a desire to prove that he is the best in the world. He has never shirked an opponent and instead he has chased them around the planet to try and get the biggest and best fights.
When someone has faced a litany of top class opponents, including Eagle Den Junlaphan, Yutaka Niida, Roman Gonzalez and Nkosinathi Joyi we don't mind him fighting a lesser foe and that's exactly what Takayama did today as he faced fellow Japanese fighter Shin Ono (17-6-2, 2) a former OPBF Light Flyweight champion.
Ono had looked like a fighter devoid of confidence at his public work out last week, his team had tried to buoy up his hopes talking about his notable wins over Yu Kimura and Xiong Zhong Zhao. Unfortunately for Ono his lack of confidence seem to reappear at sections in the actual fight, almost as if he remembered he was fighting in a world title fight and he was fighting arguably the best fighter at 105lbs.
The skill difference in the two men was noticeable almost from the off as Takayama just showed he had too many weapons for the challenger and after spending one or two rounds trying to box with Ono, the champion seemed to have a change of tact and went on the offensive realising that Ono lacked the power needed to hurt him. This front foot, offensive march of Takayama saw him landing numerous hard right hands that got the crowd cheering and although he had to take some decent left hands from the southpaw challenger who countered him wonderfully at times to win the odd round here and there.
As we went in to the second half of the fight it was beginning to look like a lost cause for Ono who was being out landed, out worked and back up repeatedly. It was beginning to look more and more one sided and the moments of success for Ono were becoming less frequent. It was as if Takayama was mentally grinding Ono and the challenger was being forced to do all he could to claim a round whilst also learning he couldn't ever get control of the bout.
In round 8 we saw Takayama rocking Ono for one of the first times in the fight as the two men traded solid blows. The similar trading occurred in round 9 though the bigger shots were from Takayama who seemed to hurt Ono again in the final minute as the challenger was backed up from one side of the ring to the other. It was great work from the champion who, although, cut was proving his class despite the televised highlights focussing on the few moments of success from Ono who did land some good lefts, although he was clearly out landed.
With the challenger fading the champion went on determined attack in round 10 and dropped Ono with a long and aggressive flurry. following the knockdown we got to see the lovely footwork of Takayama who danced around the challenger before rocking him hard moments before the bell. By now the bout was sealed and in round 11 a wilting, tiring Ono did what he could to try and fight back against Takayama. The success of Ono in the penultimate round was limited however and instead it was Takayama who was on the offensive landing some lovely shots on to his game but tiring challenger. Ono, to his credit, saw out the round standing.
Going in to the final there wasn't a question of who would win, instead the only question was whether or not Ono would see out the bell. Midway through the round it looked unlikely as Ono was dropped for the second time and Takayama immediately went on the hunt for the stoppage. It was a race against time as to whether or not the champion could force the referee to challenger who was showing the typical Japanese warrior spirit despite the fight being a lost cause and blood seeping from his nose.
With some early rounds having been close and some of the middle rounds having had moments for both the fight was likely to see a range of scores but the two knockdowns in the championship rounds left us with no doubt who the winner was. This was shown in the scorecards which favoured Takayama with scores of 115-111, 115-111 and 117-109 though we do understand some having it close though the first 10 rounds and we do openly confess to being Takayama fans so perhaps we were favouring him as a result.
(Image courtesy of Watanabe Gym)
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.