December 27, 2013

Bantamweights & Below - 2013 Boxing Year End Review & Awards

Bantamweight & Below Fighter of the Year Juan Francisco Estrada
By Derek "DBO" Bonnett ~ Bantamweight and Below is nearing one year old. As the writer, this milestone forces to me to sit and reflect upon the year and if my goals for writing this monthly feature at KO Digest have been met. So far, I have enjoyed the attention this article has received and the feedback its readers have provided. Even more so, I have relished the questions this piece has generated from fans and the impetus it has given some to dive further into boxing's other five weight divisions. The article's very purpose was to make readers more aware of what has happened at Bantamweight and Below from month to month and what is On the Horizon.

Unfortunately, most of the world class boxing action between 118 and 105 pounds is not readily available on ESPN, HBO, or Showtime. So, the results section and calendar of upcoming bouts are valuable mediums for me to communicate what's important to readers and fans. Additionally, each month I have featured rankings with a myriad of intentions ranging from divisional standings to the best of a particular nation to those with the most dynamite in their fists. This month, please enjoy my take on the Pound For Pound landscape at Bantamweight and Below. Starting next month, readers can look forward to divisional rankings from a historical or all-time perspective. This was something the readers at KO Digest decided for themselves and this monthly feature will do its best to satiate that desire. These rankings made for interesting talking points in 2013 and I expect that to carry into the New Year. Also in this volume, you will see the Bantamweight and Below Year End Awards. These customary distinctions tend to end up in the hands of larger weight fighters or fighters with greater exposure on network television. Here the little guys will get their just due. Furthermore, you will receive an update on the fighters seen as most deserving of title shots from the Give That Man a Title Shot category. Lastly, you will find a section devoted to various Talking Points of the year. These were topics which did not necessarily fit into the results listings, rankings, or title shot candidates, but were worthy boxing headlines.

You can expect additional surprises from the 2014 volumes. Happy Holidays from Bantamweight and Below.

Bantamweight and Below Year End Award Winners:

Fight of the Year: Giovani Segura KO12 Hernan Marquez

Marquez and Segura went to war in 2013
The term "crossroads fight" gets thrown around pretty loosely by boxing publicists, but this year's FOTY winner between two of Mexico's top flyweights certainly fits the bill. Both Segura and Marquez were desperately searching for the right direction to send themselves back on their way to elite class status in boxing's most densely talent-laden division. Both Segura and Marquez failed to hear the final bell of their matches with Brian Viloria in 2011 and 2012 respectively. Segura rebounded with a shaky win before dropping a close decision to Edgar Sosa in May. He found himself again on the right track in August with a KO of prospect Jonathon Gonzalez. Marquez won two comeback bouts against limited or faded opposition this year before squaring off with Segura.

Each lion must have sensed his last kill might be presenting itself to him as they warred for the better part of twelve rounds. Segura dropped Marquez in rounds four, eleven, and for the finish in the twelfth. Late in the fourth, amid a series of torrid exchanges Marquez seemed to be getting the better of, "Tyson" was dropped by a Segura overhand right. Marquez acquitted himself quite well with crisp counters and power punches of his own, but it was Segura who would not be denied. The difference in their ability to take shots cemented the verdict in this one. That, and Segura's ruthless commitment to the body. Segura showed more versatility in his punch selection than in recent memory. Round eleven was Round of the Year quality as both men let their hands fly, taking turns turning each other's head. However, it was Segura who also worked in time for a basement level attack and he put Marquez down after a barrage of body shots along the ropes. The fight effectively ended then and there as Segura finally broke an exhausted Marquez. A left hook finished a spent Marquez at the 2:59 mark of the final stanza in Bantamweight and Below's 2013 Fight of the Year.

Knockout of the Year: Edgar Sosa KO2 Ulises Solis

Sosa scores the Bantamweight and Below KO of the Year
The significance of Edgar Sosa's second round KO of Ulises Solis went far beyond a great punch. These bitter Mexican rivals once again found themselves competing in the same division among the talent rich flyweights of boxing. National pride was on the line in this genuine grudge match. Solis won a narrow split decision over Sosa twelve years before when the two prospects met in a 2001 six-rounder. Solis repeated his narrow victory in 2003 with a majority decision win for the Mexican light flyweight crown. Since then, the men had once again become equals as world champions at 108 pounds. Now, as flyweights, it was Sosa's time to score the most emphatic victory of their trilogy. Sosa scored a crunching one-punch KO of his rival at 2:12 of round number two. Solis foolishly ignored the lesson of James "Buster" Douglas and threw a left uppercut well out of range. Sosa dipped back and countered with a left hook straight to the chin of Solis and the fight was over. The two-time champion landed flat on his back.

A jubilant Sosa circled the ring after the bout was waved off. He finished his year outpointing Segura and losing a decision to Akira Yaegashi in a flyweight title bout. It was his early magic against Solis which earned him credit for Bantamweight and Below's Knockout of the Year.

Upset of the Year: Srisaket Sor Rungvisai TKO8 Yota Sato

Rungvisai celebrates his big upset of Sato
Going into his May 2013 match with Japan's Yota Sato, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai was a virtual nonentity in regard to world class boxing. Outside of his pro debut, a third round TKO loss to Akira Yaegashi, the Thai challenger's dossier was littered with inexperienced fighters wielding losing records or pro-debuters. That and seventeen KOs in eighteen victories, mostly in the early rounds. Sato, by contrast, own victories over top-flight opposition such as Kohei Kono, Suriyan Sor Rungvisai, Sylvester Lopez, and Ryo Akaho. Sato's name had emerged as one I often slung around in conversation regarding the best fighters at Bantamweight & Below. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai ended that kind of talk, the WBC reign of Sato, and the Japanese fighter's career.

Sor Rungvisai, giving up four and a half inches in height, did well to negate Sato's height and reach with a high-pressure attack to the champion's torso. When Sato was not pinned along the ropes, he was forced to use his legs more than usual to retreat by circling the ring. Sato attempted to fight at long range, but was forced to do so out of range. The extra distance depleted his attack and left him reaching for fear of sampling the Thai-challenger's dynamite. As Sato slowed, he was drawn into fighting Sor Rungvisai's fight, which furthered his undoing as the mighty challenger raked him with powerful hooks to the body and head. With his head hanging over his knees and his movement sloppy, Sato was pinned to the ropes for one final barrage in the eighth round where the champion was stopped on his feet at the 1:26 mark. From nowhere to the top of the super flyweight division, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai had a breakout year in 2013. He fought and won seven times this year with five non-title wins, his title-winning KO of Sato, and a first defense of the WBC crown against Hirofumi Mukai. Coming out of obscurity to KO the highly regarded Sato is what earned Srisaket Sor Rungvisai the distinction of Upset of the Year at Bantamweight and Below.

Comeback Fighter of the Year: Akira Yaegashi

Comeback of the Year fighter Akira Yaegashi
Akira Yaegashi, 19-3 (9), had a scorcher of a year in 2013 and just as easily could've received top honors for Fighter of the Year. Yaegashi was on the losing end of my 2012 Fight of the Year against Kazuto Ioka at 105 pounds. Instead of waiting around for another shot, Yaegashi jumped two weight classes to flyweight and stopped Saenmuangloei Kokietgym in nine rounds in January 2013. That victory earned him a shot at Toshiyuki Igarashi for the WBC title in April. Yaegashi, 30, did not disappoint and fought in his usual Fight of the Year manner to win a wide unanimous decision by scores of 117-108, 116-109, and 115-110. He then made his first title defense in August with a unanimous nod over Oscar Blanquet to the similar tunes of 116-110, 116-110, and 115-111. Lastly, in December, Yaegashi defeated his greatest challenger of the year in Edgar Sosa. Sosa himself was competing for Fighter of the Year honors going into this bout. The action was intense. The judges favored Yaegashi's cleaner power punches over Sosa's effective countering to award the champion his second defense by scores of 117-111, 117-111, 116-112. 

Bantamweight and Below 2013 Fighter of the Year: Juan Francisco Estrada

Juan Francisco Estrada had a great 2013
Estrada, 25-2 (18), had a stellar 2013 calendar year in the ring. The rising Mexican star twice traveled to Cotai Arena at the Venetian Resort in Macao, Macao, S.A.R., China for twenty-four furious rounds, which competed for numerous Year End Award honors. First, on April 6, Estrada met Pound for Pound entrant Brian Viloria over twelve rounds for the WBA/WBO flyweight championships. The pensive Viloria had much to think on going into this bout. "Things came easy for me early in my career which is why I lost my titles. I’ve learned from those experiences. I know at this stage of my career I have to put my full capacity into my training. When your opponent brings his ‘A Game’ you’d better be ready. I have also developed an appreciation of my current reign as world champion that I did not have before. I enjoy being the best in my division. I don’t see this as an easy fight. Juan Francisco Estrada has the ability to be a champion.
He’s very good. My edge over him in this fight will be my experience."

However, after twelve hard-fought, but seemingly decisive, rounds, Estrada was awarded the split verdict by margins of 117-111, 116-111, and 113-115. The bout was an early candidate for Fight of the Year and, because of Viloria's previous three outings, Upset of the Year. Estrada, 23, came into the bout on the heels of a competitive unanimous decision loss to Roman Gonzalez in 2012, which spoke volumes about "El Gallo" as a fighter.

In Estrada's first defense, he took on previously unbeaten Milan Melindo, who rated among the sport's most deserving title challengers. Melindo fought extremely well, but was faced with an even more improved version of Estrada, who won a unanimous decision. Estrada shut down Melindo's best weapon with educated footwork and eventually broke through to score a knockdown late in the fight. The action resembled another Fight of the Year effort, but the scoring lopsidedly favored the champion 118-109, 118-109, 117-109. Boxing fans should have high hopes for the possibilities Estrada has opened up for himself in 2014. Most likely, we'll see him defend against fellow countryman Giovanni Segura, who had an excellent second half of 2013. Also, Roman Gonzalez has followed Estrada up to flyweight and a monumental rematch could be brewing for 2014. The immediate future is bright for Bantamweight and Below's 2013 Fighter of the Year.

Bantamweight and Below Talking Points of 2013:

The biggest talk in 2013 at Bantamweight and Below did not always come from the best of boxing's littlest practitioners. Several names became serious talking points in the sport of boxing for various boxing-related achievements or distinctions. Benchmarks aren't titles, but sometimes they can carry historical significance or their weight in gold.

Boxing's history making Kameda brothers
The Japanese Kameda Clan made history in 2013 by becoming the first trio of brothers to win world championships. Brothers Koki, Daiki, and Tomoki have collectively won titles from 108 to 118 pounds. This feat was achieved on August 1, 2013 when youngest brother Tomoki won the WBO bantamweight title with a unanimous decision over Paulus Ambunda. The trio enhanced their status by also becoming the first trio of brothers to hold their titles simultaneously. Middle brother Daiki won a disputed decision over Rodrigo Guerrero to capture the IBF super flyweight title on September 3, 2013. Oldest brother Koki started the year wearing his belt and kept it throughout 2013. Koki, however, has been the recipient of several questionable decisions in the last year. Before 2013 could end, Daiki was defeated by Liborio Solis, but because the Venezuelan failed to make weight, Kameda was allowed to keep his title. History remains though and the Kameda's have carved out a very impressive benchmark in boxing history.

Ali Raymi is a loud-talking, unbeaten, forty year old minimumweight contender whose reputation appears to be supported more by shadow and light than reality. Raymi appeared on the boxing radar in 2013 as he neared Tyrone Brunson's benchmark of nineteen successive first round knockout victories. Brunson previously dethroned Edwin Valero for this honor in 2008. Raymi scored sixteen first round KOs in 2013 to go along with his four in 2011 to raise the current bar to twenty. Raymi's feat was also achieved against only unbeaten fighters or fighters making their debut; he has never faced a fighter with a defeat. With that said, Raymi never has ventured out of his native Yemen, which apparently now dabbles in boxing along with salmon fishing. Raymi attempted to lure Samson Dutch Boy Gym out of retirement for a battle of unbeatens, but the Thai boxer, 41 and eleven years retired, could not gain clearance into Yemen for the bout.

"5'3" by 39 kills better than a much heavier hammer," Raymi told KO Digest earlier this year in regard to his power and thoughts about moving up in weight."The problem with smaller guys moving up, is they gain more weight. It's like adding a lot of weight to the bullet, it makes it heavier, but slower and weaker at one point."

Shiming was one of the key Talking Points in 2013
Zou Shiming, the thirty-two year old Chinese amateur standout, made his professional debut in 2013 and improved his record to 3-0 throughout the year. The three-time Olympic Medalist (Bronze, Gold, Gold) has helped Top Rank boxing in their laudable foray to make China a new boxing Mecca. The Cotai Arena at the Venetian Resort in Macao, Macao S.A.R., China has emerged as a new boxing metropolis featuring celebrated names such as Manny Pacquiao and Brian Viloria to the stars of tomorrow in Juan Francisco Estrada and Milan Melindo. Shiming's role in this new venture was not without huge compensation as the 3-0 flyweight contender is on pace toward becoming the most heavily compensated fighter from Bantamweight & Below. Shiming's purses for one four and two six-round rounds have reportedly exceeded half a million dollars each.

Bantamweight and Below: Give That Man a Title Shot!

Of the eleven boxers we have highlighted this year on KO Digest for their title shot merits, only three have received a crack at one of the various world title crowns in 2013. Of those three, none were able to unseat a reigning champion.

In June, Denver Cuello suffered a torn rotator cuff in the opening round of his WBC minimumweight title bout against Xiong Zhao Zhong. The Chinese world champion dominated the one handed Cuello for twelve rounds in spite of the close majority verdict. Zhong retained the title by scores of 115-112, 113-110, and 113-113. Cuello's future in the sport remains uncertain as he had yet to return to the ring following surgery. If he returns, it will almost certainly be above 105 pounds.

Melindo (R) against Estrada
In July, Milan Melindo put in a stalwart effort against Juan Francisco Estrada. Melindo boxed less than he should have, but the crafty Estrada took away his best weapons in a high-paced fight. Estrada broke through late in the fight an dropped his challenger in the eleventh. Melindo looked in bad shape, but survived the final round to lose by unfairly lopsided scores 119-109, 118-109, and 118-110. Melindo has since rebounded with a strong showing in a twelve round win over Jose Alfredo Rodriguez. A second title shot in 2014 would not be out of the question for Melindo, who continues to campaign among the mighty flyweight ranks.

Just this month, Edgar Sosa saw his Fighter of the Year hopes dashed by Akira Yaegashi in a hotly contested WBC flyweight match-up, which, again, appeared much closer than the actual scoring. Yaegashi controlled the distance and used uncharacteristically effective foot work to defeat Sosa, who countered effectively in combination. The 117-111, 117-111, and 116-112 unanimous decision went to the champion, but Sosa still remains in the mix at 112 with wins over Ulises Solis and Giovani Segura in the same year. 

Pedro Guevara also won three bouts in 2013. It would be unlikely that he does not receive a title fight in 2014 given his narrow 2012 loss to John Riel Casimero for the IBF belt and his claiming the WBC silver title in 2013. "My first fight I did in the year was the best for me (SD 12 Raul Garcia), because in the fight I had to win the silver flyweight title against an opponent who was also being favored," Guevara told KO Digest in summation of his year and future plans. "[Garcia was a] champion of the world and ranked among the best. In 2014, I'm supposed to fight for the world championship. Much has been said about it. I'm ranked at number four by the WBC. So, I just waiting for fight against Adrian Hernandez."

Segura (R) stops Gonzalez
Giovani Segura went 3-1 in 2013, but did not get on the title fight radar until after his loss to Edgar Sosa in May. Since then, he has made strong claim to Comeback Fighter of the Year in defeating Jonathon Gonzalez and Hernan Marquez by stoppage in the second half of the year. Segura is rumored to be the top challenger for Juan Francisco Estrada's WBA/WBO flyweight titles in 2014.

Hekkie Budler won three times in 2013. His third victory, a fourth round TKO of Hugo Hernan Verchelli earned him the WBA interim minimumweight title, which should ensure he gets a crack at WBA boss Ryo Miyazaki, should be retain his title against Fahsan Sakkreerin on December 31.

Luis Concepcion thrice won in 2013, but, in spite of his explosive style, he seems among the least likely candidates to get another crack at a world title. His big punch is something a champion may want to avoid and his weaker opposition is not enough to force them into fight negotiations. However, when does matchmaking ever truly follow logic like this?

Moises Fuentes went 3-0-1 in 2013. He started his year with Bantamweight & Below Robbery of the Year against Donnie Nietes. He went on to score his three wins and picked up the interim WBO title, which almost guarantees a rematch with Nietes or a shot at the vacated title should he refuse in 2014. 

Carlos Cuadras fought only once, but has one more bout scheduled for December 31. The Mexican power puncher is rumored to be in line to meet Srisaket Sor Rungvisai for the WBC super flyweight title in February 2014.
This battle of power-punchers is a must see match-up.

Two other fighters highlighted on KO Digest in 2013 had good years. Thailand's Oleydong Sithsamerchai and Wanheng Menayothin each went 6-0 this year, but neither has a scheduled world title fight on the horizon.

Bantamweight and Below Featured Rankings: Pound for Pound

El Chocolatito is #1 P4P
1.) Roman Gonzalez (112) 37-0-0 (31) ~ Former WBA Minimum and Light Flyweight Champion ~ Best Win: UD12 Juan Francisco Estrada ~ Best Possible Match-Up: Juan Francisco Estrada rematch

2.) Shinsuke Yamanaka (118) 20-0-2 (15) ~ WBC Bantamweight Champion ~ Best Win: UD12 Vic Darchinyan ~ Best Possible Match-Up: Anselmo Moreno

3.) Juan Francisco Estrada (112) 25-2-0 (18) ~ WBO/WBA Flyweight Champion ~ Best Win: SD12 Brian Viloria ~ Best Possible Match-Up: Roman Gonzalez rematch

4.) Anselmo Moreno (118) 34-2-1 (12) ~ WBA Bantamweight Champion ~ Best Win: UD12 Vic Darchinyan ~ Best Possible Match-Up: Shinsuke Yamanaka

5.) Kazuto Ioka (108) 13-0-0 (9) ~ WBA Light Flyweight Champion; Former WBA/WBC Minimumweight Champion ~ Best Win: UD12 Akira Yaegashi ~ Best Possible Match-Up: Adrian Hernandez

Budler is #6 P4P
6.) Hekkie Budler (105) 24-1-0 (7) ~ Top-Rated Minimumweight Contender ~ Best Win: SD12 Nkosinathi Joyi ~ Best Possible Match-Up: Xiong Zhou Zhong

7.) Akira Yaegashi (112) 19-3-0 (9) ~ WBC Flyweight Champion; Former WBA Minimumweight Champion ~ Best Win: UD Edgar Sosa ~ Best Possible Match-Up: Giovani Segura

8.) Edgar Sosa (112) 49-8-0 (29) ~ Former WBC Light Flyweight Champion ~ Best Win: KO2 Ulises Solis ~ Best Possible Match-Up: Brian Viloria Rematch

9.) Brian Viloria (112) 32-4-0 (19) ~ Former WBO/WBA Flyweight Champion and WBC/IBF Light Flyweight Champion ~ Best Win: KO11 Ulises Solis ~ Best Possible Match-Up: Edgar Sosa Rematch

10.) Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (115) 22-3-1 (20) ~ WBC Super Flyweight Champion ~ Best Win: TKO8 Yota Sato ~ Best Possible Match-Up: Omar Andres Narvaez

Narvaez is #14 P4P at Bantamweight and Below
Honorable Mentions: 

11.) Giovani Segura (112)
12.) Adrian Hernandez (108)
13.) John Riel Casimero (108)
14.) Omar Andres Narvaez (115)
15.) Liborio Solis (115)

Written by Derek Bonnett - exclusively for KO Digest

Find more of Derek's writings at 

You can also contact the author Derek Bonnett on Facebook

December 4, 2013

The Sweet Side of the Sweet Science - Women's Boxing Monthly Vol 10

Braekhus returns to action in January
By Mark A. Jones – The consensus #1 pound-for-pound fighter in women’s boxing, the “First Lady” of boxing, Cecilia Braekhus (23-0, 7 KOs) the WBA, WBO, & WBC welterweight champion is scheduled to return to the ring on January 18 at Arena Nord in Frederikshavn, Denmark, on the “Nordic Fight Night” series against a yet to be named opponent. Braekhus, who impressively dealt upstart Oxandia Castillo (TKO-9) her first loss in September, will defend her titles at Arena Nord, where she enjoys significant fan support. “I love fighting in Frederikshavn, the atmosphere is fantastic. I am back in full training, I want to get better every day, and there are still a lot of things I can learn. I'm keen to defend my titles and give my fans a night to remember on January 18th.” 

During the WBC Convention held in Bangkok, Thailand from November 3-9, it was declared that the WBC female lightweight champion, Erica Anabella Farias of Argentina must defend the title against #1 challenger Delfine Persoon of Belgium. Persoon (27-1, 12 KOs) became the mandated challenger to Farias (18-0, 9 KOs) in March when she knocked out Kremena Petkova in two rounds in a WBC female final lightweight title eliminator bout.
The WBC announced that purse offers will be accepted beginning on December 6.

A look back at November 2013 in women’s boxing: 

A special night for Shelito
On November 2, in Mashantucket, Connecticut, on a Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment & Sports card dubbed “The Connecticut Classic,” rising super-bantamweight prospect, Shelly “Shelito’s Way” Vincent, 123, Providence, overwhelmed Alisha McPhee, 118, Langley, British Columbia, Canada, stopping her in the fourth round of a scheduled six. It was the first knockout win for Vincent (10-0, 1 KO) who said, “That was my first stoppage, and it was a very special night for me.” McPhee (2-1), a full-time elementary school teacher, suffered her first loss. Also on the card making her professional debut, Michelle Cook, 116, Massena, New York, battled to a four-round majority draw (39-37/38-38/38-38) with popular Connecticut bantamweight, Marcia “Pino” Agripino, 117, Groton, Connecticut. Agripino falls to (1-0-1).

On November 9, in Coacalco, Mexico, in front of 5,500 fans former two-time flyweight champion, Arely “Machine Gun” Mucino, Monterrey, Mexico, threw punches in bunches earning a ten-round, split-draw against the #7 ranked pound-for-pound female boxer Jessica “Kika” Chavez, Mexico City, Mexico. In boxing, styles make fights. That old-school cliché held true in this fist-flying affair as Mucino (18-2-2, 10 KOs), a midrange hooking volume-puncher, smothered her counter-punching opponent with a high work rate. Chavez (19-3-3, 4 KOs) had enough moments in the fight to persuade the assigned judges to rule the fight a split-draw (96-94/94-96/95-95) allowing her to retain the WBC Silver female light-flyweight title for the second time. The decision ended the nine-fight win streak Chavez enjoyed since dropping a decision to Esmeralda Moreno in February 2011. Chavez, the former WBF (interim) and IBF light-flyweight champion, is ranked #1 at light-flyweight by the WBC behind champion Ibeth Zamora Silva and Esmeralda Moreno who is recognized as “champion in recess.” Arely Mucino is ranked #2 at flyweight behind champion, Shindo Go of Japan and #1 contender, Ava Knight of the United States. The two combatants have ostensibly agreed to a rematch.

On November 13, in Tokyo, Japan, Naoko Fujioka, 114 ¼, Tokyo, relinquished her WBC minimumweight title and moved up in weight to challenge a fellow top-shelf Tokyo female battler and WBA super-flyweight champion, Naoko Yamaguchi, 115, in front of a capacity crowd at the Korakuen Hall. Yamaguchi was embarking on her third defense of the WBA super-flyweight title that she won in July 2012 with a decision victory over longtime champion, Tenkai Tsunami. What was considered a fight-of-the-year candidate turned into a one-sided whopping as the versatility and boxing ability of Fujioka prevailed over the raw punching power of the now former champion. Until scoring a knockdown in the third round, Fujioka boxed cautiously, wary of the punching power of her Japanese compatriot. Owning superior conditioning and unparalleled late-round punching power, Fujioka dominated the remainder of the contest visibly affecting her opponent with power shots falling just short of a stoppage. With the unanimous decision victory (97-92/97-92/98-91) Fujioka moves to (11-0, 6 KOs) winning a legitimate world title in her second weight class. Relatively unknown by those other than hardcore followers of women’s boxing; Fujioka is now in the discussion as a pound-for-pound elite fighter. Yamaguchi drops to (22-4-3, 18 KOs) and remains a legitimate threat at super-flyweight.

Sugar Munoz punches Lamare in the mouth
On November 30, in Tours, Indre-et-Loire, France, light-welterweight Myriam Lamare (22-3, 10 KOs) of Marseille, France, returned to the ring after a 13-month break with an eight-round points win over Loli “Sugar” Munoz (12-13-3, 7 KOs) of Barcelona, Spain. Lamare, the former WBA, WIBF, WBF & IBF light-welterweight champion, when active, is formidable holding wins over Chevelle Hallback, Ann Saccurato, and women’s boxing pioneer, Jane Couch. Her presence adds excitement to an already strong light-welterweight division boasting Argentine champions Alejandra Marina Oliveras (WBC), Monica Silvina Acosta (WBA), and Fernanda Soledad Alegre (WBO). Klara Svensson (Sweden), Svetlana Kulakova (Russia), and Marie Reiderer (Germany) each hold minor titles and offer future European options for Lamare who has fought outside her home country of France only twice.

A look ahead to December 2013 in women’s boxing:

On December 6, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, six-time world champion and the current WBC featherweight champion, Jelena Mrdjenovich (30-9-1, 15 KOs) Edmonton, Canada, stays busy by hosting Wanda Pena Ozuna (9-5, 3 KOs) Dominican Republic, in an eight-round, non-title affair. Currently ranked #8 pound-for-pound, the 31-year-old Mrdjenovich has a lethal left-hook and Ozuna, of her four knockout losses, has suffered three in the first round; the odds this fight gets past two rounds is unlikely. During her career, Mrdjenovich holds wins over Layla McCarter, Melissa Hernandez, Lindsay Garbatt, and women’s boxing pioneer, Mia St. John.

Hammer Time
On December 6, in Frankfurt, Germany, two top-shelf female boxers, Christina Hammer and Ramona Kuehne appear on the same televised (Germany Sport1) card. Entering the contest as the #3 ranked pound-for-pound female boxer, Hammer (15-0, 7 KOs) Dortmund, Germany, will be defending her WBO and WBF middleweight titles, each for the sixth time against 19-year-old Carmen Garcia (10-2, 5 KOs) Agua Prieta, Mexico. The 23-year-old Hammer is a two-division champion also owning the WBO super-middleweight title which is not involved in this contest. Garcia, who has previously campaigned at welterweight and light-middleweight, has constructed an impressive record against entry-level competition. Of her ten wins, five were making their pro debuts and the remainder combined for a winning percentage of .322. Hammer last saw action in July dismantling popular Swedish contender, Mikaela Lauren winning a lopsided ten-round unanimous decision. With the departure of former WBC and WIBA middleweight champion, Tori Nelson to the welterweight ranks, the middleweight cupboard is bare. After her inevitable victory over Garcia, Hammer, likely out of necessity, will explore the light-middleweight and welterweight divisions for her next opponent.

On the same card, three-division champion, Ramona Kuehne (20-1, 6 KOs) Berlin, Germany, the current WBF, WBO, and WIBF super-featherweight champion, defends her titles against the ever-tough TBA. Kuehne briefly held the WIBF lightweight and light-welterweight straps before winning the WIBF super-featherweight title in 2009. The upcoming defense will be her seventh of the WIBF belt and fifth of the WBO and WBF titles. Kuehne has won five straight, two by stoppage since suffering the lone loss of her career, a six-round technical knockout (cuts) to German featherweight boxing star, Ina Menzer.

On December 6, in Concordia, Entre Rios, Argentina, the #4 ranked pound-for-pound female boxer, Yesica “Tuti” Bopp (25-1, 11 KOs) of Wilde, Buenos Aires, Argentina, defends her WBA and WBO light-flyweight titles against 40-year-old light-flyweight and flyweight contender, Ana Fernandez (14-6, 10 KOs) of Petare, Venezuela. This is a rematch of their 2008 bout in which Bopp won the vacant interim WBA female light-flyweight title with a wide-margined unanimous decision victory over Fernandez. This will be the first action for Fernandez since being stopped in two rounds by the heavy-handed Arely “Machine Gun” Mucino in July 2012. Since losing a hotly contested ten-round decision to Jessica Chavez in June, Bopp shutout former two-division champion, Anastasia Toktaulova (14-12, 2 KOs) over ten rounds in July retaining her WBA light-flyweight title for the thirteenth time and her WBO light-flyweight title for the eleventh. The selection of Fernandez ranked #11 at flyweight by the WBA, is a (stay busy) challenger for the twenty-nine-year-old tiding the longtime champion over until a more significant event materializes in 2014.

On December 12 in Aalst, Oost-Vlaanderen, Belgium, the #9 ranked pound-for-pound female boxer and the current WIBF lightweight champion, Delfine Persoon (27-1, 12 KOs) Roeselare, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium will lace up the gloves for the seventh time in 2013 when she battles the current WIBA, GBU, and WBF lightweight champion, Lucia Morelli (18-3, 8 KOs) Offenburg, Germany, by way of San Servero, Italy. This contest is a rematch of a February 2012 WIBF title fight where Persoon won by knockout in the fifth round. Morelli scraped by the hard-punching Rola El Halabi in January winning the titles mentioned above by a majority decision. Except for that win, Morelli has demonstrated an inability to compete with top-level fighters as was witnessed by her one-sided losses to Cecilia Braekhus, Myriam Lamare, and Persoon. On November 11, in Belgium, Persoon scored a third-round technical knockout of the current IBF welterweight champion, Eva Halasi (11-7, 9 KOs) in a non-title fight. The 28-year-old Persoon, in the prime of her career, has developed into a beastly power-puncher with her right hand rivaled only by Erica Anabella Farias in the lightweight division. In this match-up, the power-puncher from Belgium should have little difficulty duplicating her previous fifth-round stoppage and winning her seventh contest of the year.

Three Questions - Sweet Side Q&A with Franchon Crews

Why box when you can sing or dance?
Baltimore’s Franchon “The Heavy Hitting Diva” Crews, the winner of five national golden gloves titles (2005-08, 2011), and seven US Open National Championships in three different weight classes (154, 165, and 178) began boxing in 2003 to reduce weight for a possible signing career. She quickly adapted to the rigors of the sport; in 2005, Crews won her first of four consecutive National Golden Glove titles with a first-round stoppage of Christine Brown. She also competed in the first-ever U.S. Olympic Women’s Boxing Trails in February, 2012. Franchon credits heart, will, and strength as her greatest assets in the ring and considers her mother her biggest influence. Currently, Franchon is preparing for the 2014 USA Boxing National Championships to be held in Spokane, WA, in January.

Q: In 2004, you competed in the popular reality show “American Idol” impressing the powers that be enough to air your audition as part of the show. Shortly after, you hibernated the golden voice and donned the golden gloves. Why?

A: Honestly, I never did, it’s just boxing started to take off for me and required a lot more time and dedication especially in 2009 when women were allowed to participate in the Olympic Games. Believe me, my ability to sing has grown so much and has matured so hopefully I can flex my singing chops soon.

Q: Your amateur career and your current “Road to Rio” campaign are well documented. The Olympic trials are just over two years away, what boxer is currently your toughest competition at middleweight? 
Have you ever thought about turning professional and punching for pay?

Crews has more medals to win in 2014
A: I still have things to accomplish and goals to achieve before I leave the game, go pro, or live life a little. I am in my prime by the time trials come. I will be a different fighter than I am now. I have been boxing half of my teen life and all my adult life. I am a little behind. Before I blink, I will be 30 years old and never had a chance to "party like its 1999" but I have traveled the world and seen things some people will never see in their lifetime. I am leaving my options open for the pro game, and I have the desire to explore my other talents too. I want my hard work to work for me and have something to show for my time and effort.

Q: As part of a fundraising event for the National Kidney Foundation of Maryland, you rappelled off the roof of the 33-story Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel. You scaled 28 stories in a steady and rain, and in concert with many others, procured over $320,000 for the cause. What stoked your interest in kidney disease?

A: My mother is battling cancer and suffers from chronic kidney disease along with other health issues. It was inevitable that I would be tied to it. She has been going through her illness exactly when I started my boxing career. "She fights to live, I fight to win!" That has been my motto, and being her main caretaker over all these years, it would be ludicrous not to educate myself because one day I may experience this ailment. I also realized that I may not get the recognition I deserve for boxing, but if I use what little I do have for a bigger cause, it will inspire others to be strong, relentless, and continue to fight through any issue or sickness they come across. My mother is my source of strength along with My God and having people support her and send both of us love over the years it has helped me cope and not feel alone. I just want others to know that sickness and illness can happen to and affect anybody, even the Heavy Hitting Diva's family. Also in June, I had to get surgery to repair my hernia. I competed at the 2013 Nationals and won with it and got a silver at the Pan American Continentals with it. So I was like let's go "Over the Edge" for kidney disease.

Read more about the "Heavy-hitting Diva’s Road to Rio" campaign:

KO Digest's Dynamite Dozen Pound-for-Pound Ratings:

#9 Persoon fights very well and very often
1- Cecilia Braekhus (23-0, 7 KOs) Norway
2- Erica Farias (18-0, 9 KOs) Argentina
3- Christina Hammer (15-0, 7 KOs) Germany
4- Yesica Bopp (25-1, 11 KOs) Argentina
5- Ann Sophie Mathis (27-3, 23 KOs) France
6- Marcela Acuna (40-6-1, 17 KOs) Argentina
7- Jessica Chavez (19-3-3, 4 KOs) Mexico
8- Jelena Mrdjenovich (30-9-1, 15 KOs) Canada
9- Delfine Persoon (27-1, 12 KOs) Belgium
10- Diana Prazak (12-2, 8 KOs) Australia/ USA
11- Ibeth Zamora Silva (19-5, 8 KOs) Mexico
12- Naoko Fujioka (11-0, 6 KOs) Japan 

"The Sweet Side of the Sweet Science" is written by women's boxing expert Mark A. Jones - exclusively for KO Digest. You can find more of Mark's work on his women's boxing blog: Boxing Jones

December 1, 2013

KO Digest Interview: Darnell Boone - "I am not a journeyman"

Win, lose, or draw - Boone comes to fight
Darnell “Deezol” Boone is the best below .500 fighter you’ve probably never heard of. His record, currently standing at 19-21-4, is ugly, telling a tale at first glance of a beaten and battered journeyman who is nothing more than another no-name on a local fight card. But like any good story, there’s far more to discover once you look beyond the deceiving cover. Debuting with four straight wins in 2004, Boone showed the promise of a formidable boxer, and had aspirations of reaching the top of the middleweight division. However, the landscape of boxing is one marred by money, and more money means more problems and controversy. “Everybody wants to put my name on their resume, and when they can’t, they find a way to do it,” Boone said.

Boone had the skills, but never the connections, and a series of apparent mismanagements sent him down a murderer’s row of opponents. While many fighters fail to fight the best of the best even while in possession of a world title, Boone’s career resume features a who’s who of the sport, including battles against then up and comers Andre Ward (who he knocked down), Edwin Rodriguez, Erislandy Lara, Jean Pascal, Craig McEwan, Sergey Kovalev, and Adonis Stevenson—who he actually knocked out the first time they fought.

In many of these fights, ringside reports and video would suggest that Boone should have been victorious more than once, but he has been robbed numerous times, most recently on Saturday in W. Virginia. Against undefeated former sparring partner Morgan Fitch, Boone dropped his opponent but only emerged with a split draw. But despite the numerous fraudulent losses, Boone still maintains the fighting spirit that embodies the attitude of the Youngstown bred boxer before him, and no amount of disappointing defeats can discourage him from continuing on in boxing. “No,” he said when asked if these repeated robberies have soured his outlook on boxing. “I know it comes along with the sport. I just like fighting, and the business side I can’t worry about because I need to worry about fighting in the ring. I can’t worry about fighting the judges or the refs. I’m used to it now. It has been going on with me my whole career. The only thing I can do is keep on moving forward.”

Although the train-fight-lose-no-matter-what routine makes it seem like Boone is treading water without the resources to buy his way to the top, he plans on dropping to 160 and is campaigning to fight anyone who wants to fight him. At age 33, Boone is something of a gatekeeper, a litmus test for the promising young fighters tossed into the ring with him, but make no mistake—as anyone who has ever watched or fought Boone knows, he is certainly not a journeyman

Boone's plans to win don't always materialize
KO Digest's Joel Sebastianelli: Journeyman is a word used in sports that often has a negative connotation attached. Do you view this as a negative description or is it something you embrace?

Darnell Boone: It’s just a stereotype. I’m not a journeyman, because journeymen don’t beat guys they aren’t supposed to beat. A journeyman is a guy going in that’s ready to lose or knows he’s going to lose. I’m always going in there knowing that I’m going to win, unless the odds are stacked against me and the politics of boxing kick in. I guess that’s what makes me a journeyman, but I don’t consider myself a journeyman.

KOD: You started your career in 2004 with a series of wins, but soon got thrown into the ring with lions of the division. Fighting the best of the best so often isn’t something that many guys can claim to do, especially away from the world title. 
How did your career take this shape?

DB: I don’t really know, but I’m thinking that after a while, the people I was with didn’t care about what was going on with my career. They were just worried about a paycheck. After I fought Andre Ward, they should have slowed me down, and said “look, this is where we’re trying to go with this.” They kept throwing me to the wolves. I think they probably want to test their guys, and see how far they can get past me, however the situation may happen.
If you can get past me, you probably have some promise.

KOD: Had you been managed differently, do you think you could have been a world champion?

DB: Oh yeah, no doubt in my mind. All the writers and the boxing world can see that if I was managed the right way, I could have been the world champion and it’s not over—I could still make it happen. It’s just about getting the right fights. Who is going to take the chance to fight me? Guys don’t take the chance to fight me unless there’s something in the mix—they know the judges are with them, or that the referee is going to be on their side.
Going into each fight, I know there’s always something that’s against me.

KOD: For many fighters, the motivation to continue stems from fighting for a world title. 
You've fought the best, but never for the ultimate prize. What is your motivation to fight?

Deezol does it for the kids
DB: My kids, my fans, and everybody that believes in what I can do. I fight for the city. I fight for the struggle. The struggle is coming from the streets of Youngstown, a hood rat, a guy that comes from nothing, that didn’t have the glitz and glamor, didn’t have all the money, didn’t have the silver spoon.

I fight for the kids in the neighborhood that don’t think there’s another way out, so when the mothers and fathers talk about me to their kids, they know that there is another way. “He did it.” I do it to motivate the young.

KOD: Do you prepare any differently for fights against highly regarded foes? Is it easier to prepare because there's more video than your typical young fighter?

DB: I train for everybody the same. The only way they can beat me is if they catch me short notice, or the odds are against me and they have everything in their favor. But in a fair and square fight, they can’t beat me. I would like to go down to 160 pounds, and fight guys like Elvin Ayala that are veterans of the game and can actually be beat. Then, after a string of about five wins, I would step back up into the good class.

Boone held Kovalev to a split decision in 2010
KOD: Who is the hardest puncher that you have fought?

DB: The hardest puncher was [Sergey] Kovalev. He knows exactly how to use his height and leverage with punches. He keeps you on the outside, away from getting on the inside on him. He fights tall.

KOD: Many of your opponents have gone on to win or fight for world titles, and have at the very least stayed relevant in the sport. Are they any in particular that you think are overrated by the public, ones that didn’t impress you in the ring? 

DB: I’m not impressed with none of them. The only one doing something was Ward, but everybody was babied. Yeah, they fought the good fighters, but they fight guys when they’re beat up. They have a good record, but boxing made them old, so they are either on their way out or just now coming up in the boxing ranks. Of course you’re supposed to beat guys like that. None of them really impressed me much.

KOD: In 2005, you stepped into the ring with Ward. The acclaimed prospect was only in his seventh professional fight, and you gave him and his undefeated record quite the challenge. To date, you’re the only person to have dropped Ward, and one of few to have given him any sort of struggle. Take us through the fight and your impressions of Ward.

Boone dropped Ward in 2005
DB: I used to watch him fight. I was sitting in my room talking to my girlfriend, and I said “I want to fight this guy. I can beat him.” No sooner did I say that, two or three months later it came about. I knew I could beat this dude. I believe I beat him, everybody that was there thought I beat him, and he knew I beat him.

KOD: What about the knockdown, can you describe it? Also, what do you think is the blueprint to beating Andre Ward?

DB: You can’t let him dictate the fight. Keep him off balance at all times. You’ve got to rough him up. He was hurt with an uppercut-straight right hand. The referee gave him a delayed count, he got up, and he stayed away from me. First three rounds, he won slightly. Second three, I win, then I won the fight with the knockdown, but you know how the politics are.

KOD: What’s your impression of Andre now—how has he evolved since you met him in the ring?
Is he worthy of being ranked as the consensus #2 pound for pound fighter in the world?

DB: Yeah, he definitely got better and earned his spot. That goes for everybody else that’s fighting him too. They try to go in there and knock him out, and use the same blueprint that I fought him with, but that was 2005. He’s not going to fall for that over and over, especially since he was hurt. He won’t get hit with that same shot.
They need to come up with their own gameplan.

KOD: The crowning achievement of your career to date appears to have come in 2010 against Adonis Stevenson. Coming into the fight at 13-0, Stevenson had already established a reputation as a fearsome puncher, but you turned the tables on him and knocked him out in the second round. Tell us about your experience that night in Maryland.

DB: He was stalking me, and I was blocking shots. Going into the second round, I hit him with a right uppercut and a left hook that buckled his knees. I knew he was hurt, and when we came out for the second round, I doubled the jab up and threw the overhand right short. I didn’t even throw it hard, I just threw it and it landed. It really did surprise me, but I told everybody I was going to knock him out. Just like everybody else, he looked at my record and said, “oh, I can beat him,” without knowing what was behind those losses.

Superman takes his revenge on Boone
KOD: Last March, Adonis Stevenson exacted his revenge and knocked you out in the sixth. How did this fight go differently? Was he very much improved?

DB: No, they switched the weight on me, and I was the naturally smaller guy. I was in shape, but he was just too big. With him being bigger than me, he was supposed to do what he did. I never have a gameplan, I just go in there and do the best I can, but I signed the contract at 168 pounds. I’m underweight. Me and my trainer are sitting at the table, and his promoter comes down and says “you might as well eat. He’s going to come in heavy. He’s still 178 right now.” If I decided not to take the fight, would they have still paid me? I’m already up there in Canada and I don’t know what’s going on, so they start throwing money at me. My manager talked to them and got it up to $18,000 and then with him not making the weight, they threw me an extra $2000, so it ended up being $20,000. I took the money. Now we’re fighting at 175. The day before the fight, he’s 178 but gets down to 171.8. With me eating, I hit the scale at 170.8. How much was our weigh in before I even ate? With me losing this weight, I’m there three days, tired, hadn’t been rehydrated right, and this guy is coming down from 190-195. The fight was supposed to go the way it went.

KOD: You seem to never have a concrete gameplan going into your fights.

DB: No, because if you go into the fight with a plan, that plan goes out the window once the fight starts. Now, I do listen to my corner, and see what they see that I’m not seeing, but I don’t ever go in there with a gameplan. You don’t use it. As soon as you get hit in the mouth, that goes out the window. Of all the fights I have lost, I would say at least ten of them were fair and square. The fights against Enrique Ornealas, Brandon Gonzales, Jesus Gonzales, Lajuan Simon, Lennox Allen, I could go on and on about the fights I won but lost because of some situation.

KOD: As we already touched on, you fought both Sergey Kovalev and Adonis Stevenson. Fight fans have begun clamoring for that explosive showdown at 175. If it happens, who do you foresee as the winner, and how?

Boone thinks the Krusher can beat Superman
DB: Kovalev, because he’s the more sound boxer. Both of them are strong and it’s going to be whoever lands the shot first, but I would go with Kovalev on that. They both have what it takes to knock each other out. Both of them are strong, but the thing with Adonis is that he does the same thing in each fight. Paw with the jab, paw with the jab, paw with the jab, left. He never really mixes it up. With Kovalev, he’s throwing combinations, he’s moving, and punching off angles.

KOD: The glamor in boxing is mainly associated with title fights and the cash cows of the sport, but on local cards and fights that occur outside the eye of the TV networks, anything can happen. What's the craziest story that you've experienced in your career?

DB: I never really had the proper camp or preparation time. That’s always been a factor with me. If I don’t take that fight, then I won’t fight for six months. I had an up and down career, ain’t nothing fun about my career—just fighting. The best thing that happened to me is that I won three ringside awards and I got to meet a lot of people.

La Bomba loses to Ward but gets credit from Boone
KOD: What about your 2009 fight against Edwin Rodriguez? Do you think Edwin has what it takes to become a world champion?

DB: It depends who they put him in with. I expected him to do better against Ward, but that exposed him a little bit. Me fighting him, at that time, the people I was with didn’t know what the heck they were dong. They put me in the fight, I went and fought. He was just a better man that night. I was coming from being incarcerated before that. I was out of the ring for 22 months. I’m just coming home from doing a stint; I’m trying to get my money back to where it was before I went in there.

KOD: Did that jail sentence change you?

DB: It did. I don’t trust anybody anymore. It plays into my relationship with females. When I came home, I got back in the ring doing what I was doing. I was falsely incarcerated for something I didn’t do. Some family members were robbing people, and I was at camp preparing for a fight. When I got home from camp, they were arresting everybody, and I had paperwork to prove I didn’t do it and wasn’t around, but they still held me.

KOD: Your resume is a who's who of the sport. Who is the best fighter you've fought?

DB: I get asked this a lot. My favorite fighter that I have fought so far has been Anthony Thompson. He had the same fire that I had. He didn’t make it far because of his religion. He couldn't fight on certain times or certain days. With that being said, if the promoter can’t make you do what they want you to do, they can’t mess with you as much. The thing that set him apart from every other fighter is that he was just so sharp. He was smart in the ring, and he used everything that he had to fight. He would try stuff in the ring and was just so skilled.

The Future of Boxing

KO Digest Interview conducted by Joel "The Future" Sebastianelli

Joel joined KO Digest in January 2013 and has been a fixture on press row in the New England area for three years. In 2012, he served as the host of “The Boxing Fix” on Leave it in the Ring Radio.
Sebastianelli is the future of boxing journalism and broadcasting.  

Joel can be found Tweeting on Twitter @JJSebastianelli

November 25, 2013

Bantamweights & Below - Boxing's Other Five Weight Divisions Vol. 11

Donaire explodes on Darchinyan at Flyweight
By Derek "DBO" Bonnett One of the greatest fallacies promulgated by casual boxing fans in their dismissal of the lighter weight classes is that smaller fighters don't hit hard. Heavyweights score KO's and flyweights go the distance, some say. However, what is being grossly overlooked is that heavyweights sometimes have to hear the final bell as well and the flyweights are often the ones going home early. One's passion for various divisions is often impacted by the body type of the individual who is watching; that person's geographical region also plays a significant role. Even still, it does not make that initial, misguided, sentiment any more true. The truth of the matter is that if a casual fan cannot see the equally explosive nature of the lighter weight classes, then they were simply not paying attention in eras when Ricardo Lopez, Michael Carbajal, Mark Johnson, Vic Darchinyan, Nonito Donaire, Khaosai Galaxy, Ruben Olivares, and Rafael Marquez were regularly taking the scalps of title challengers and contenders without the need of judges or a final bell.

Sure, in that time you had Myung Woo Yuh and Ivan Calderon, who couldn't pop a pimple but the heavyweight division has also had its share of decision earners in Jack Sharkey, James Braddock, Chris Byrd, and John Ruiz over the ages. The bottom line in boxing is: power is relative. A two hundred pound man can hurt another two hundred pound man just the same as a one hundred pound man hitting another one hundred pound man. Some two hundred pound men hit harder than other two hundred pounders and the same rationale applies to the boxers competing at Bantamweight & Below. 

World Class Boxing Results at Bantamweight & Below:

Marquez cracks Segura in a Fight of the Year candidate
On Saturday, November 2, at Centro de Usos Multiples, Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, Hernan Marquez was stopped in the twelfth round by Giovani Segura in a crucial flyweight bout. Segura dropped Marquez in the fourth, eleventh, and twelfth rounds. The fight was waved off with about a minute to go in the fight despite conflicting time reports. Segura raised his ledger to 31-3-1 (27) with the career best win. He now eyes Juan Francisco Estrada for a shot at the WBO/WBA titles. Marquez fell to 36-4 (26) in a game showing. Segura jumped from ninth to fifth among my dynamic pack of flyweights. Marquez fell from fifth to eighth. Luis Concepcion was pushed from eighth to ninth.

Also on this date, at Emperor's Palace, Kempton Park, Gauteng, South Africa, Hekkie Budler dropped Hugo Hernan Verchelli three times in round four of a minimumweight bout. The fight was waved off by the referee. Budler raised his ledger to 24-1 (7). Verchelli fell to 11-2 (6).
Budler affirmed his status as my number one boxer at 105-pounds.

On Sunday, November 10, in Kokukigan, Tokyo, Japan, Shinsuke Yamanaka stopped Alberto Guevara in nine rounds of a WBC bantamweight title bout. Yamanaka dropped Guevara twice in the eighth and once in the ninth. The bout ended at the :25 mark. Yamanaka earned his fifth title defense in raising his record to 20-0-2 (15). Yamanaka left no room for doubt concerning his number one ranking among my assessment of today's bantamweights. Also on the card, Roman Gonzalez stopped Oscar Blanquet in a two rounds of a flyweight bout. Gonzalez dropped Blanquet in the first before finishing him along the ropes at the :27 mark. Gonzalez raised his record to 37-0 (31) as he pursues his third world title in as many divisions. Blanquet crashed to 32-7-1 (23). Gonzalez has moved up in weight to 112 and is ranked number one in my eyes having already defeated Juan Francisco Estrada, who recently had been in the top spot after his defeat of Brian Viloria.

Rungvisai (R) beats Mukai in 9 to defend his WBC title
On Friday, November 15, at Provincial Stadium, Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai defended his WBC super flyweight title against Hirofumi Mukai with a ninth round TKO. The end came at 1:44. Rungvisai made his first defense of the title which sandwiched three non-title fights wins with his title winning effort. Rungvisai improved to 23-3-1 (21). Rungvisai climbed from number two to number one in my super flyweight rankings with the victory. Omar Andres Narvaez fell from first to second. Also on the card, Suriyan Sor Rungvisai scored his eighth win of 2013 with a second round stoppage of Singnamchai Chaiyonggym. Rungvisai raised his ledger to 31-5-1 (13). Chaiyonggym was reportedly making his pro debut.

Kameda (L) came off the mat to beat Son by split decision
On Tuesday, November 19, Convention Center, Jeju, South Korea, Koki Kameda defeated Jung-Oh Son by split decision in a twelve round WBA bantamweight title bout. The South Korean challenger dropped Kameda in the tenth round, but could only manage to sway one judge in his favor. Kameda retained his belt for the eighth time by scores of 115-112, 114.5-114, and 113-115.5. The Japanese champion raised his record to 32-1 (17). Son dipped to 20-5-2 (6). Kameda remains my third ranked bantamweight.

On Saturday, November 23, at Cotai Arena, Venetian Resort, Macao, Macao, S.A.R., China, Zou Shiming outpointed Juan Tozcano in a six round flyweight bout. Shiming opened up a bad cut under Tozcano's right eye. The three judges favored the former amateur star by scored of 60-52 and two counts of 60-54. Shiming raised his record to 3-0 (0). Tozcano dipped to 4-1 (1).

Bantamweight & Below Featured Rankings: Best Punchers

Giovani Segura is the top power puncher 
1.) Giovani Segura (112) 31-3-1 (27) ~ Former WBA/WBO Light Flyweight Champion ~ Recent Stoppages: KO12 Hernan Marquez, KO4 Jonathon Gonzalez, TKO9 Omar Salado ~ Notable Fact:
Segura has eleven first round KO's.

2.) Brian Viloria (112) 32-4-1 (19) ~ Former WBA/WBO Flyweight Champion; Former WBC/IBF Light Flyweight Champion ~ Recent Stoppages: TKO10 Hernan Marquez, TKO9 Omar Nino Romero, TKO 8 Giovani Segura ~ Notable Fact:
Viloria has KO'd six world champions.

3.) Roman Gonzalez (112) 37-0-0 (31) ~ Former WBA Minimum and Light Flyweight Champion ~ Recent Stoppages: TKO2 Oscar Blanquet, TKO7 Francisco Rodriguez Jr., TKO5 Ronald Barrera ~ Notable Fact: Gonzalez started his career with sixteen straight stoppages.

4.) Kazuto Ioka (108) 13-0-0 (9) ~ WBA Light Flyweight Champion; Former WBA/WBC Minimumweight Champion ~ Recent Stoppages: KO7 Kwanthai Sithmorseng, KO9 Wisanu Kokietgym, TKO6 Jose Alfredo Rodriguez ~ Notable Fact: Ioka is 6-0 in world title fights with four of those wins having come inside of the distance.

5.) Shinsuke Yamanaka (118) 20-0-2 (15) ~ WBC Bantamweight Champion ~ Recent Stoppages: KO9 Alberto Guevara, KO12 Malcolm Tunacao ~ Notable Fact: More than half his KO's have come after the seventh round.

6.) Denver Cuello (105) 33-5-6 (21) ~ Recent WBC Minimumweight Title Challenger ~ Recent Stoppages: TKO2 Ganigan Lopez, KO4 Kid Suryana, KO1 Carlos Perez ~ Notable Fact: Cuello once went on a ten-fight KO streak.

Marquez shows why they call him Tyson
7.) Hernan Marquez (112) 36-4-0 (26) ~ Former WBA Flyweight Champion ~ Recent Stoppages: TKO 3 Edgar Ramirez, TKO1 Luis Concepcion, TKO3 Edrin Dapudong ~ Notable Fact: All three of Marquez' title fight wins have ended by stoppage.

8.) Luis Concepcion (112) 30-3-0 (22) ~ Former WBA Flyweight Champion ~ Recent Stoppages: KO10 Carlos Ruben Dario Ruiz, TKO6 Anuar Salas, TKO2 Odilon Zaleta ~ Notable Fact: Concepcion has scored eleven knockdowns in his last seven fights.

9.) Julio Ceja (118) 25-1-0 (23) ~ Recent IBF Bantamweight World Title Challenger ~ Recent Stoppages: TKO10 Juan Jose Montes, KO5 Henry Maldonado, KO2 Eden Marquez ~
Notable Fact: Since his second fight, Ceja has only had to go the distance once in victory.

10.) Carlos Cuadras (115) 28-0-0 (23) ~ #1 Ranked WBC Super Flyweight Contender ~ 
Recent Stoppages: TKO7 Victor Zaleta, TKO7 Ronald Barrera, KO5 Javier Franco ~ Notable Fact:
Fifteen of Cuadras' KOs have ended in two rounds or less.

Honorable Mention: Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (115) 23-03-1 (21) ~ WBC Super Flyweight Champion ~ Recent Stoppages: TKO9 Hirofumi Mukai, KO2 Petch Pitigym, TKO2 Joan Imperial ~ Notable Fact:
After a 1-3-1 pro-start, Rungvisai has stopped eighteen of twenty opponents.

Bantamweight & Below: Give That Man a Title Shot! 

A title shot seems a natural for Segura in 2014
Giovani Segura just might be the 2013 Comeback Fighter of the Year. Since losing a 2011 world title shot against Brian Viloria and disappearing for all of 2012, the Mexican power-puncher has gone 3-1, only losing a narrow points decision to one of the world's best flyweights in Edgar Sosa. In his last two outings, Segura, 31, has appeared stronger than ever in stopping unbeaten Puerto Rican prospect Jonathon Gonzalez and former world champion Hernan Marquez. In each outing, he dropped his opponent three times. The win over Marquez is a strong candidate for 2013 Fight of the Year. It has also been rumored to have secured a world title fight with Viloria-conqueror Juan Francisco Estrada. The WBO ranks Segura, a resident of Bell, California, USA, first while the WBA ranks him second. Estrada presently holds both titles.

Bantamweights & Below — On the Horizon: 

On Saturday, November 30, at Araneta Coliseum, Barangay Cubao, Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, Donnie Nietes versus Sammy Gutierrez in a twelve round WBO light flyweight title bout. The fortunate champion takes on the rugged former titlist on the slide. Also on the card, Merlito Sabillo takes on Carlos Buitrago in a twelve round WBO minimumweight title bout. Milan Melindo also meets Jose Alfredo Rodriguez in a twelve round flyweight bout. The two rising Filipino stars have their work cut out for them.

On Saturday, November 30, in Maguan, China, Xiong Zhau Zhong meets Omari Kimweri in a WBC minimumweight title bout over twelve rounds. China's real star looks to extend his title reign at 105.

On Tuesday, December 3, at Bodymaker Colosseum, Osaka, Osaka, Japan, Tomoki Kameda versus Immanuel Naidjala in a twelve round WBO bantamweight title bout. One third of the historic Kameda clan defends his title for the first time. Also on the card, Daiki Kameda versus Liborio Solis in a twelve round IBF/WBA super flyweight unification bout. Katsunari Takayama also faces Vergilio Silvano in a twelve round IBF minimumweight title bout.

On Friday, December 6, in Kokukigan, Tokyo, Japan, Akira Yaegashi takes on Edgar Sosa in a twelve round WBC flyweight title bout. Mexico's Sosa continues his march to 2013 Fighter of the Year contention.

Written by Derek "DBO" Bonnett - exclusively for KO Digest

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