Just moments ago we saw the end of the trilogy between Saul Alvarez (58-2-2, 39) and Gennadiy Golovkin (42-2-1, 37), and it was a bout that lacked the drama and flow of the first two legendary bouts between the men. Instead of being an incredible back and forth between elite level fighters in, or at least near their primes, this was very much a case of a fighter in their pomp facing a fighter who was clearly faded and nothing like the fighter he had once been. Sadly the faded man was the now 40 year old Golovkin, who looked every bit the 40 year old from the off.
The bout began with rounds 25 and 26 of their rivalry, which were somewhat competitive. Canelo looked the quicker, sharper, cleaner fighter in the two rounds, but Golovkin had moments in those rounds as the bout eased it's way into action. Sadly from round 2 the handspeed, youth, explosiveness and energy of Canelo shone through as he controlled a large swathe of the bout. He shut down Golovkin's offense, hammered him with clean head shots, and short sharp combinations and left Golovkin marked up and looking like a beaten fighter after just 5 rounds. It seemed very much like Canelo was heading towards a stoppage of Golovkin in the middle rounds, and that Golovkin's incredible toughness was going to be the only thing keeping him in the fight.
Just as it seemed like Jonathan Banks in Golovkin's corner should consider throwing in the towel Canelo seemed to ease off. He began to lose some of the intensity of earlier in the bout, and almost out of respect dropped his work rate rather than look to punish his man. This allowed Golovkin some respite, and in round 9 Golovkin finally began to show glimpses of the fighter he once was. It wasn't prime Golovkin, but it was a great last stand by a man digging deep and letting his hands go, backing up Canelo for the first time in the fight. Golovkin continued to have success in rounds 10 and 11, though 11 did see Canelo fighting like a man who was happy to conserve some energy late rather than take too many risks when well ahead.
The final round saw Canelo put his foot on the gas a little, and show that he was fighting within himself the previous few rounds, and had more to offer had he needed to. After the final bell it seemed like Canelo had comfortably won. It was hard to give Golovkin more than 3 rounds. Some how however all 3 judges had the bout close, with scores of 116-112 and 115-113, twice, giving the reflection of a very hotly contested bout. Something it really wasn't.
After the bout it was revealed Canelo had damaged his left hand, likely a result of landing numerous left hooks early on, which could have explained why his work rate dropped. It was also clear that this was the end of the rivalry, with the two men showing real respect to each other and seemed to have put to bed any animosity. Notably Golovkin didn;t announce that his career was over, though we wouldn't be surprised to see him either hanging them up, or fighting a single bout before retiring in the new year. As for Canelo, who retained his WBA, WBC, WBO and IBF Super Middleweight titles, it seems a rematch with Dmitriy Bivol is in his sights for 2023.
In late 2018 we saw WBO Super Flyweight title bout in Macau that saw Filipino great Filipino great Donnie Nietes (43-2-6, 23) score arguably the most notable win of his career, becoming a 4-weight world champion as he took a split decision over Japanese star Kazuto Ioka (29-2, 15) [井岡一翔]. Sadly for Nietes he failed to build on that win, vacating the title in pursuit of bigger things, essentially giving up his proverbial bargaining chip. In the end he would sit out for more than 2 years, whilst Ioka went on to win the title Nietes gave up, and then built his own legacy with impressive wins against Jeyvier Cintron and Kosei Tanaka.
Today, most than 3 and a half years later, we saw the men face off again, with Nietes entering as the mandatory challenger for Ioka's title.
This time around the bout really didn't click like their first encounter, with both men looking older, less energetic and less hungry than they did in Macau. Sadly this lead to a much lower, less exciting and less competitive bout.
From the opening round Ioka, the much younger man, looked like someone with a lot more left in the tank. He was quicker, sharper, more active and managed to find the bodu of Nietes. The body work of Ioka, which has long been under-rated, was a key facet through out the fight and he landed a variety of great body shots round after round, tryign to take the legs away from the 40 year old Nietes.
Impressively however Nietes' legs which actually his major asset, along with his time, as he managed to counter Ioka just enough to keep the champion the champion honest and prevent him from marching in without a care in the world. Those counters forced Ioka to remain respectful, but they dodn't stop him from intelligently controlling the bout, round after round, with clean, accurate shots. He simply out working Nietes, who's work at times was incredibly low.
The bout very much felt like one that was very samey through out. Ioka looked classy, intelligent, and like a man who methodically breaking down a decent, but faded veteran. Nietes on the other hand looked to connect with jabs early in rounds, and counter when Ioka upped the tempo. The only real changes seemed to come in the second half, as Nietes would end up on the ropes occasionally, where it seemed like he could be at risk of more body shots, but the veteran manage to avoid taking too much punishment, and actually put up a better effort in the later stages of the fight.
Given the one sided natural of the bout overall it did lack drama, though that changed in round 10 when Nietes suffered a cut on his right eyelid. It was a nasty cut that saw him being taken over to the ringside doctor. He was fit to continue, but the cut did seem to make him even more negative, almost as if he was happy to see the final bell, rather than win.
After 12 rounds there was really no questioning the result, with Ioka taking a unanimous decision. The only question mark was how many rounds the judges could find to give to Nietes. In the end, not many. The scores were 120-108, 18-110 and 117-111, giving Ioka a clear decision win, and revenge for his 2018 loss. It was however a bout that left the question marks about the future of both men. Nietes looks like a man who needs to consider retirement, whilst Ioka seemed to have lost a clear step or two and wouldn't be favoured, or even regarded as evens, against any of the other top 115lbs fighters on the planet right now.
On Friday night Florida played host to a world title fight, as WBO Light Flyweight champion Jonathan "Bomba" Gonzalez (26-3-1-1, 14) successfully defended his title for the first time, as he over-came the talented, but under-sized, Filipino challenger Mark Anthony Barriga (11-2, 2).
Early on the boxing skills of Barriga were on show, as he rocked Gonzalez in the opening round, and seemed to have the skills to out box the champion who looked surprisingly apprehensive at times, despite the fact that Barriga isn't a noted puncher. It was high level, high speed chess early on, with Barriga getting the better of it.
Sadly for the Filipino however as the bout went on his boxing skills proved not to be enough, and although he regularly backed Gonzalez up he couldn't ever pin him down, as the footwork and movement of Gonzalez kept him safe and allowed him to pot shot Barriga, who followed Gonzalez rather than cutting Gonzalez off.
Sadly for Barriga the later rounds did not go his way at all, as Gonzalez began to turn the screw in round 9. He became more aggressive, he was more willing to use his weight, size and try to bully Barriga around. That had success in tiring Barriga out, and left the Filipino more and more open to being caught by the heavier shots of Gonzalez, who could never land clean enough to Barriga, but was being outlanded by the champion who seemed to do enough to eek out a very close but fair victory.
After 12 rounds the judges turned in the scorecards. The first of those was 115-113 with the other two being 117-111. We thought the 117-111 scores were harsh, but it was clear that Gonzalez was the rightful winner, and he showed some nice touches here, but we do worry about him against the best at 108lbs, especially given how Barriga managed to hurt him early on and how he had to rely on his size to over-come Barriga, rather than his boxing. That will be a major issue against fighters like Hiroto Kyoguchi and Kenshiro Teraji, who are both strong and powerful Light Flyweights.
As for Barriga we'd love to see him return to his natural Minimumweight division, where he really can make a mark on the world level. Sadly at 108lbs he lacks the physicality and the power needed against the top fighters in the division, and it's a deep division as well meaning there isn't going to be an easy title for him to grab.
Just moments ago we saw a new WBO "interim" Middleweight champion being crowned as Janibek Alimkhanuly (12-0, 8) absolute demolished the over-matched Danny Dignum (14-1-1, 8), inside 2 rounds, in one of the most one sided "world level" bouts we've seen this year.
From the off Alimkhanuly looked looked crisp, relaxed and like a man with a point to prove as he took the fight to Dignum, using his skills to dictate the tempo and range of the bout, before a combination hurt Dignum. At the end of the combination Alimkhanuly bundled Dignum to the canvas to secure a 10-8 and prove that there really was nothing that Dignum could do rally fight back.
Following the knockdown Alimkhanuly got to his boxing and easily out boxed Dignum for the rest of the round, whilst really not taking anything in return. In fact he looked not just levels above Dignum but almost like the men were competing in totally different sports.
In round 2 it seemed like we were in line for more of the same. That was until a combination hurt Dignum and a follow uppercut sent down the Englishman, with the bout being stopped whilst he was down, ending what was a farcical bout for a title that really shouldn't exist.
The bout, which came about when Demetrius Andrade was allowed to delay a mandatory defense, really showed that Alimkhnauly should be fighting world level guys, like Andrade who has had made it clear that he didn't want this fight, or Jermall Charlo, as he needs a genuine test. As for Dignum, don't be surprised if this ends up being the first of numerous stoppage losses for the English fighter who looked like a punch bag.
Over in Liverpool late on Friday night we saw Englishman Paul Butler (34-2, 15) claim one of the most important wins of his career, as he out pointed Filipino Jonas Sultan (18-6, 11) and claimed the WBO "interim" Bantamweight title.
The bout, which was put on on very short notice, was made when the BBBof C refused to allow Johnriel Cassimero to defend the WBO title against Butler, the mandatory challenger, after he was caught using a sauna. As a result Sultan replaced his countryman, and actually the bout as the betting favourite.
The opening round really so very, very, very little from either man as both looked to see what the other hand. In round 2 however the fight slowly started to come alive as Sultan began to come forward, pressing, and looking to make it into a fight whilst Butler boxed on the move, picked his shots well and really showed what he could do a boxer-mover. Rounds 2 and 3 were some of the best of the fight, with both men having moments, and both showing that their tactics could have success.
Sadly for Sultan after round 4 his limitations and gameplan began to look very predictable. He did little to cut the distance and set things up, instead looking to land single big shots, without creating the opportunities to land them. Instead Sultan was often finding himself being tagged by counters, missing and being made to look slow and clumsy, whilst Butler landed sharp, crisp shots that didn't have much on them, but were accurate.
Through much of the middle portion of the bout the action really was all Butler as he looked levels above Sultan, who sadly didn't change anything. It was the same tactic of trudge forward, chasing Butler, rather than cutting the ring off. He never looked capable of timing the Englishman, or putting together combinations with any regularity. It seemed that Sultan's best chance of winning was Butler tiring himself out with all the movement.
It seemed in round 9, that Butler starting to feel the tempo of the action, and it gave Sultan one of his best rounds, and there did, for a few moments, seem like their could be a sting in the tale. Sadly though Sultan couldn't replicate the success in rounds 10 or 11 as Butler created a lot of space, picked his moments and picked up the rounds, even standing and fighting Sultan at times in those rounds as he looked to prove a point.
Going into the final round Sultan needed a knockout, and it never came. It never looked likely to come. Instead Butler did what he needed to to play safe, and take the fight to the final bell, and the scorecards.
The scores were read out, rather hilariously, as 16-12, 18-110 and 117-111, with the ring announcer seemingly a bit clueless. Though all the scores made it clear that Butler had won a wide decision and the WBO interim Bantamweight title, which may be upgraded in the coming weeks, pending a WBO decision onthe status of John Riel Casimero.
Earlier today fights had the chance to see WBO Minimumweight title champion Masataka Taniguchi (16-3, 11) [谷口将隆] successfully retain his title, as he stopped hard hitting challenger Kai Ishizawa (10-2, 9) [石澤開] in 11 rounds at Korakuen Hall, and put on a career best performance, showing just how good the often under-rater champion is.
Prior to the men getting in the ring there had been drama with Ishizawa missing weight, significantly, yesterday, when he came in above not just the Minimumweight limit but also the Light Flyweight division. As a result he was forced to weigh in again today, just hours before the fight, and managed to make the agreed weight today. Whilst he did make the agreed limit today, there was question marks as to how much making that weight world take out of him, and whether he actually did it on purpose, just to avenge his first defeat.
When they were in the ring it was clear the men were on different levels to each other. From the off Taniguchi relied on his boxing skills, his movement, straight punches and control of distance. He looked sharp, and determined and really was putting together a great start whilst also thwarting Ishizawa's attacks, tying him up when he needed to and using his foot work to keep Ishizawa from setting himself.
In round 3 we saw some success for Ishizawa, in what was easily his best round of the fight as he upped his tempo, and pressed with more success. It was however a temporary moment in the bout and in round 4 Taniguchi resumed control, using his footwork, his upper body movement and his sharp crisp punches to control the action without taking many risks.
In round 6 we saw Taniguchi begin to press more, throwing more combinations and do more damage to Ishizawa, who was being forced to show his toughness against what was becoming a bit of a sustained and gradual beating. The beating for Ishizawa seemed to fire him up a bit in round 9, but it wasn't enough the turn the tide, and was more a last hurrah from Ishizawa who took sustained damage in round 10, and then 11 before the referee saved the younger man from any further punishment,
After the bout Taniguchi spoke about his performance, stating he wanted to "fight cool", added that he though Ishizawa missing weight wasn't deliberate, and seemed to tell the youngster that there was no need to apologise, and added that he wanted to partake in a world title double header with Watanabe Gym stablemate Hiroto Kyoguchi, in Kansai, in the future.
Taniguchi's promoter, Hitoshi Watanabe, stated "I'm glad that the match was established first. I'd like him to have a chance to play a match overseas as well as a defense match in Japan."
As for Ishizawa, he seemed fully aware he was the second best man here and admitted the referee had no choice but to stop it. Fully aware he was taking a beating and had no answer to Taniguchi's skills, movement, accuracy and ring craft.
In the co-main event of the huge show at the Super Arena in Saitama, we saw WBO Flyweight champion Junto Nakatani (23-0, 17) [中谷 潤人] make his second defense, as he dominated fellow Japanese fighter Ryota Yamauchi (8-2, 7) [山内涼太], and scored an 8th round TKO win over his countryman.
From the opening round it was clear there was a gulf in class between the two men, and Nakatani came close to putting Yamauchi down in the first round, with a number of clean, hurtful, powerful left hands. He genuinely came close to dropping the challenger twice in the first round, as Yamauchi learned the difference between regional level and world class.
Things went from bad to worse for the challenger, who was left with a nose that looked broken and a badly damaged left eye in round 2, as Nakatani used Yamamuchi's face as target practice. It seemed obvious this wasn't going to go the distance, but remarkably Yamauchi was showing he was still there, still determined and still incredibly gritty, despite his head being tagged time and time again. Yamauchi showed no quit despite taking punishment round after round. Unfortunately for Yamauchi he wasn't just being tagged, but also being made to miss, time and time., and time again as Nakatani looked to prove his defense as well as his offensive skills. He also chose to trade on the inside, fighting Yamauchi's fight and beat him on the inside as well as landed everything at will. The right hooks, thje jabs, the left straights and the uppercuts were all flowing from Nakatani, whilst Yamauchi was lucky to land a shot here or there in a bout that was becoming a show case for Nakatani.
In round 8 the toughness of Yamauchi finally broke, as Nakatani put his shots together, poured on the pressure and forced referee, Katsuhiko Nakamura to step in and wave off the action, saving Yamauchi after 2 minutes 20 seconds of the round.
For Yamauchi this loss was horribly one sided. He never looked in the bout, and looked a lot worse than he really is. In all honesty he's a decent contender, but was made to look completely out classed. As for Nakatani it's going to be incredibly hard to find him a worth while challenger at 112lbs. We suspect Seigo Yuri Akui will be wanting to face Nakatani before he leaves the division, but the champion obviously has plans to chase career defining bouts, and not re-run a bout with a domestic foe he beat in 2017.
It's pretty fair to say that 2021 was a poor year. A really frustrating year that many of us would love to scrub from our memories. Sadly the disappointment of much of the year continued right through to the final world title bout of the year as WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (28-2, 15) [井岡一翔] retained his title in a damp squib of a bout with fellow Japanese fighter Ryoji Fukunaga (15-5, 14) [福永亮次].
The bout, put on on short notice when Japoan closed it's borders and Fukunaga was a late replacement for Jerwin Ancajas, promised something. Especially given how Fukunaga had been gifted a win in October against Hayate Kaji. It seemed, in paper, like the idea bout for Ioka to show his counter punching skills, like he did a year again ago against the brilliant Kosei Tanaka.
Instead the bout had very much the feeling of an under-enthusued champion, taking on a domestic level challenger and simply going through the motions.
From round 1 it was obvious the two men were on totally different skill levels, but that the challenger was significantly hungrier for the bout than the champion, neutralising some of the skill difference. Fukunaga looked like someone who wanted to win, Ioka on the other hand looked like a man who was happy to go through the motions without coming close to top gear, or even second top gear.
Round by round Fukunaga had success with his jab, and landed the occasional big left hand, but they did little to get Ioka's respect, at least on the whole, whilst Ioka found holes for good combinations up top and the solid body shot. Sadly they were few and far between from the champion, but they were enough to take a lot of rounds. Fukunaga tried, and it's a good thing he did, but he was often lacking that bit of quality and his power looked toothless at world level.
Thankfully Fukunaga did do enough every tound to keep Ioka from falling asleep, but never did enough to make Ioka get out of cruise control,. He landed he landed some good left hands, but Ioka always took the play away with a nice combination, a good body shot and a glimpse of what he could do. It was like a parent playing with a child for the most part.
Sadly for Ioka we never came close to seeing the best of him. That, in the final rounds, was really disappointing and instead we saw Fukunaga come on strong, especially in round 11 as he seemed to hurt Ioka with a body shot, but it was too little too late and Ioka, whilst hurt, wasn't close to being damaged goods, seeing out the round, and cruising through the final 3 minutes en route to a decision victory, with scores of 118-110, 116-112 and 115-113
After 12 rounds Ioka was the clear winner, but he fought like someone happy to just get through the bout and eye bigger things in 2022, like the rest of us. Fukunaga, who was game but second best through out, put up a good effort but was clearly second best and really looked like he had nothing other than heart and determination to offer at this level. He tried to out box Ioka, which was a poor gameplan, even against an Ioka who looked completely unmotivated.
Fingers crossed 2022 will bring a major opponents for Ioka and will see Fukunaga face off in a rematch with Hayate Kaji, after their hugely controversial October bout. On this performance Ioka needs a top opponent to get the best from him whilst Fukunaga, for all his willing and determination, is missing world class traits.
Earlier today much of the hardcore boxing fan base, as well as the Japanese fan base, was focused on a show at the Kokugikan in Tokyo awaiting the return to a Japanese ring of the Monster Naoya Inoue. Prior to Inoue however there was another world title bout.
The world title bout saw Japanese local Masataka Taniguchi (15-3, 10) [谷口将隆] score a career best win and become the new WBO Minimumweight champion as he stopped Wilfredo Mendez (16-2, 6) in 11 rounds to dethrone the skilled Puerto Rican.
Coming in to the bout both men had serious questions to answer. For Taniguchi the question was whether or not he could win the big one. He had come up short in his three most notable bouts prior to this and was a worry among some fans in Japan that he just couldn't get over the line in his big fights. By the same token there was plenty of worries regarding Mendez's inactivity, given he hadn't fought in almost 2 years and had never fought in Asia before.
For those worrying about Taniguchi, their mind was to put ease early on as he controlled the distance for much of the first round, neutralising one of the big strengths of Mendez, who has long been a master at creating space, and using his jab. Mendez had moments through the first round, but he was certainly not controlling things like we'd seen from him in previous bouts. Taniguchi would then get another boost to his confidence as he dropped Mendez in round 2, from a hard straight left hand, showing his power was legitimate at world level.
To his credit Mendez got back to his feet, shook off the knockdown and looked composed when the bout resumed. Sadly for him however he was under pressure from round 4, as Taniguchi began to show his physical side. That was always something he had in his locked than Mendez didn't and it showed as he looked to impose his will on Mendez, making the defending champion work really hard to create space, burning energy and sapping his legs in the process. The pressure from Taniguchi wasn't always hugely effective, but it did it's job in taking the wind out of Mendez's legs, and gave him some counter opportunities at the same time. It also resulted in Mendez being deducted a point for holding in round 6 as he struggled to contain the pressure and determination of Taniguchi.
Being well behind Mendez knew he needed a big finish, and to his credit he tried. He had a fantastic round 8, using his crisp punches well to get Taniguchi's respect and he gritted his teeth to have strong rounds in the 9th and 10, but it came at a cost and he put a lot into those rounds, whilst being a very, very long way down.
In round 11 Taniguchi managed to hurt his man, who tried to get away and make space to clear his senses. Taniguchi however refused to let Mendez have the chance he needed, jumping on him and unloading on him, until the referee was forced to step in and save Mendez, 78 seconds into round 11.
At the time of the stoppage Mendez was the one needing a KO. He was done 97-91 on two cards and 95-93 on the other.
Typically Japanese fighters have not travelled well over the years, and many lost world title bouts on foreign soil. Today however we saw WBO Flyweight champion Junto Nakatani (22-0, 17) [中谷 潤人] take his chance to shine on US soil as he stopped hard hitting mandatory challenger Angel Acosta (22-3, 21) in Tuscon, Arizona. In what was a show case of Nakatani's ability and Acosta's will to win through serious adversity.
The opening round saw Nakatani begin slowly, getting his jab into play early on, before opening up his arsenal, and shaking Acosta several times through the round. Acosta, to his credit, showed no quit, and landed some solid shots through the opening round, but looked under-sized, under-powered and like a man who was really going to struggle with the size and power of Nakatani. Despite this being his US debut, it was the perfect round for Nakatani, and it ended even better with Acosta suffering a suspect broken nose at the very end of it.
That nose would be a major problem for Acosta was was a bloodied mess very early in round 2 as Nakatani continued to land big shots to both head and body. The left hand of Nakatani was a major weapon, landing clean, landing hard and really leaving Acosta in trouble time and time again, but it was the blood that was the major issue and part way through round 2 the doctor took a look at the challenger. After a long deliberation Acosta was allowed to fight on, and he knew he was in trouble, looking to land a hail Mary from when the bout continued. Sadly for him the urge to land something big saw him eating more big shots from Nakatani, who landed numerous big shots, and really didn't seem to feel the power of Acosta, when the Puerto Rican landed his shots.
After Acosta was bloodied, beaten and battered in the first two rounds, it seemed like the bout wasn't going to last much longer. To his credit however Acosta fought like a man willing to give everything, even with a blood pouring from his nose. He looked to land bombs, and did land one or two very clean shots of his own. Shots that, at 108lbs, would have potentially swung the bout his way, or dropped a fighter. Nakatani tasted the power of Acosta and just came forward, looking to break down Acosta. The Puerto Rican managed to get through a second doctor's inspection, but was pouring blood over the ring, taking huge body shots, and not looking like he had what was needed to turn things around. He had the heart and the desire, but not the accuracy, power, skills, or size to get Nakatani's respect.
At the end of round 3 it seemed clear the referee and doctor were both looking to stop the fight. Acosta was desperate for that not to happen and asked for more round. He was allowed out for round 4, but within seconds of the round starting blood was again pouring out of his nose forcing the doctor to say enough was enough, and stopped the bout.
The stoppage was explained as having been due to blood loss, it was a strange decision, though in fairness it seemed like Acosta being stopped was inevitable. He had lost a lot of blood, he had been hurt numerous times and had put a lot into rounds 2 and 3 to no real success, whilst taking brutal body shots. He had the heart of a lion, and that will not be questioned, but he also looked out gunned here by a truly sensational 23 year world champion, who looked a natural in his US debut.
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.