Junior Bantamweight World Champions & Their Championship Fights (115lbs)
My version of the 'world' championship fight since the weight class kicked off came in 1980 when the top-ranked Jiro Watanabe, the WBA champion, defended his title against Gustavo Ballas, rated number three according to Boxing News. With 57 wins, one draw and one defeat on his record, Ballas had won the WBA title on 12 September 1981 when stopping Sok-Chul Bae before losing it to Rafael Pedroza in his first defence. In Pedroza’s first defence he had been outscored by Watanabe, who was giving Ballas the opportunity to regain his old belt. The Japanese southpaw, who had suffered his only defeat when challenging for the WBC version, had 15 wins to his name.
29 July 1982. Jiro Watanabe w rsc 9 (15) Gustavo Ballas
Venue: Prefectural Gym, Osaka, Japan. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Rudy Jordan.
Fight Summary: Trying to regain the WBA title, Ballas (114¾) was never quite able to get to grips with the tricky Watanabe (115), and despite giving it his best shot he was gradually worn down. Although Ballas had a good eighth round, it turned out to be his final throw of the dice. The ninth session had barely started when Ballas was nailed by a southpaw left to the jaw. When Watanabe unleashed a battery of lefts and rights for the remainder of the round, with the champion on unsteady legs the referee called a halt on the bell.
11 November 1982. Jiro Watanabe w rsc 12 (15) Shoji Oguma
Venue: City Gym, Hamamatsu, Japan. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Marty Denkin.
Fight Summary: With a damaged right optic giving him trouble, at 1.26 of the 12th Oguma (115) was rescued by the referee when his other eye was shut tight following a series of heavy jabs from the champion. Making good use of his five-inch reach advantage, Watanabe (114¾) always appeared to have his fellow southpaw under control.
24 February 1983. Jiro Watanabe w co 8 (15) Luis Ibanez
Venue: Municipal Gym, Tsu City, Japan. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Waldemar Schmidt.
Fight Summary: Showing great speed and excellent footwork, Watanabe (114½) proved far too good for Ibanez (114¼). Well in control, Watanabe eventually dropped Ibanez twice in the eighth with heavy head punches, the second of which saw the challenger counted out on the 1.22 mark.
23 June 1983. Jiro Watanabe w pts 15 Roberto Ramirez
Venue: The Prefectural Gym, Sendai, Japan. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Marty Denkin.
Scorecards: 141-141, 143-141, 143-140.
Fight Summary: Ramirez (114) turned out to be a very stubborn challenger indeed. After taking two compulsory 'eight' counts in the first round before being dropped in the fourth and ninth sessions from heavy rights, he came back to work the body throughout while running Watanabe (114¾) close.
6 October 1983. Jiro Watanabe w tdec 11 (15) Soon-Chun Kwon
Venue: Prefectural Gym, Osaka, Japan. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Vincent Rainone.
Scorecards: 106-99, 108-99, 109-102.
Fight Summary: Having kept the dangerous Kwon (114), cut over the left eye in the sixth, at bay for most of the contest an accidental clash of heads midway through the 11th saw Watanabe (115) reeling away and unable to continue due to a seriously gashed forehead. Under WBA rules, the champion, deemed by the judges to be ahead on points at the time, was awarded the decision.
15 March 1984. Jiro Watanabe w rsc 15 (15) Celso Chavez
Venue: Castle Sports Centre, Osaka, Japan. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Fritz Werner.
Fight Summary: Chavez (112¾), sporting a longer reach than the champion, gave Watanabe (115) all the trouble he could handle, being in with a real chance until he was blasted to the canvas in the dying embers of the 14th. Somehow coming out for the last round, but not in a fit state, Chavez was battered at will until he was rescued by the referee on the 1.50 mark. Watanabe forfeited WBA recognition immediately prior to winning the WBC version of the title on 5 July.
5 July 1984. Jiro Watanabe w pts 12 Payao Poontarat
Venue: Castle Sports Centre, Osaka, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Richard Steele.
Scorecards: 116-113, 115-116, 117-112.
Fight Summary: Although Watanabe was the current WBA champion, unfortunately the commission failed to ratify the bout. The fight itself saw Watanabe (114¾) boxing to instructions, despite being cut over the left eye in the sixth round, to let Poontarat (114¾) punch himself out before coming on strongly over the last third to win the WBC title by a split decision.
29 November 1984. Jiro Watanabe w rsc 11 (12) Payao Poontarat
Venue: Prefectural Gym, Kumamoto, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Joey Curtis.
Fight Summary: Back on song, Watanabe (114¾) made a better job of it than in their first meeting when it was very close. This time around he put Poontarat (115) on the floor with a solid southpaw right hook in the fifth before biding his time until the 11th. Having set up a big attack in that session, the Thai was floored by a straight left and rescued by the referee on the 1.54 mark.
9 May 1985. Jiro Watanabe w pts 12 Julio Soto Solano
Venue: Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Davy Pearl.
Scorecards: 117-114, 120-113, 115-113.
Fight Summary: Solano (115) turned out to be a most worthy challenger, working the body well and providing most of the early aggression, while the southpaw Watanabe (115) stuck to his boxing, countering and utilising the jab. In the final round, to make sure of the verdict Watanabe punched without let up as the Dominican faded and looked to be on the verge of a stoppage win when the final bell came to the rescue.
17 September 1985. Jiro Watanabe w rsc 7 (12) Kazuo Katsuma
Venue: Castle Sports Centre, Osaka, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: James Jen-Kin.
Fight Summary: Scoring with accurate counters, the southpaw champion was well on top of Katsuma (114¾) by the fourth round, dropping him twice during the session. Despite coming back strongly over the next couple of rounds Katsuma was knocked down twice more in the seventh, and on getting up for the second time was at the mercy of Watanabe (114¾) before the referee came to his aid on the 1.26 mark.
13 December 1985. Jiro Watanabe w co 5 (12) Suk-Hwan Yun
Venue: Municipal Stadium, Taegu, South Korea. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Tony Perez.
Fight Summary: Downed once in the first round and twice in the second, Yun (114¾) came back strongly, throwing left-hand bombs at his fellow southpaw, Watanabe (114¾), who coolly stalked his man while waiting for further opportunities. The champion did not have to wait long, putting Yun down twice more in the fifth before a heavy right hook led to the latter being counted out at 2.34 of the session.
Gilberto Roman would be Watanabe’s next challenger, having beaten Paul Ferreri, Diego Avila and Jose Antonio Avelar. With 40 (32 inside the distance) wins and just three losses under his belt, Roman had shown himself to be a heavy puncher as well as a skilful box-fighter with an excellent jab.
30 March 1986. Gilberto Roman w pts 12 Jiro Watanabe
Venue: Castle Sports Centre, Osaka, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Steve Crosson.
Scorecards: 116-112, 116-114, 116-112.
Fight Summary: Although the decision was unanimous it was very close, the action seesawing as both men looked to stamp their authority on the minds of the judges. Despite there being no knockdowns it was pretty intense stuff. While Roman (114¾) offset the reach advantage of Watanabe (115) by persistently ducking under the southpaw lead in order to shoot uppercuts to the body, the champion spent too much time on the defensive to warrant victory.
15 May 1986. Gilberto Roman w pts 12 Edgar Monserrat
Venue: Pierre De Coubertin Stadium, Paris, France. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Rolando Barrovecchio.
Scorecards: 118-111, 120-115, 115-118.
Fight Summary: Despite his summary defeat at the hands of Khaosai Galaxy some months earlier, Monserrat (114¾) was out in front at the halfway stage, using his height and reach advantages to keep Roman (114¾) at bay as the champion continually pressed. Roman finally got on top in the ninth round. Working inside and beginning to hurt his southpaw opponent with big rights as he stepped up the pace, the change of tactics took him through to the final bell and the verdict in his favour.
18 July 1986. Gilberto Roman w pts 12 Ruben Condori
Venue: Sports Centre, Salta, Argentina. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Isaac Herrera.
Scorecards: 118-113, 118-110, 118-112.
Fight Summary: Maintaining a busy schedule the champion easily outpointed Condori (114½), who had gained a crack at the title following his recent win over Gustavo Ballas, the former WBA title holder. Although Condori gave it everything, apart from the second round Roman (115) had matters very much his own way and could possibly have ended it early had he stepped up another gear.
30 August 1986. Gilberto Roman drew 12 Santos Laciar
Venue: Green Pavilion, Cordoba, Argentina. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Ismael Quinones-Falu.
Scorecards: 117-116, 111-117, 116-116.
Fight Summary: A seesaw affair saw Roman (114½) dominating at distance, while Laciar (114¼) looked to get inside at every opportunity. Although Roman thought he was hard done by, the challenger, who had his left eye almost closed tight at the finish, was given a six-round victory by the American judge which would have been a travesty if repeated by the other two officials.
19 December 1986. Gilberto Roman w pts 12 Kongtoranee Payakaroon
Venue: Hua Mark Stadium, Bangkok, Thailand. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Marty Denkin.
Scorecards: 116-112, 119-111, 117-111.
Fight Summary: Over 12 fast rounds in defence of his title, Roman (114½) handed out a boxing lesson to Payakaroon (115), the elder brother of the better-known Samart, despite the Thai aggressively confronting him in the earlier sessions. As the fight wore on it became apparent that weight-making problems were beginning to slow the challenger down as the left jab consistently found its target, and he finished virtually unable to see out of either eye.
31 January 1987. Gilberto Roman w rsc 9 (12) Antoine Montero
Venue: Zenith Theatre, Montpelier, France. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Angelo Poletti.
Fight Summary: Taking control from the third round, Roman (114¾) opened a cut over the challenger’s right eye after consistently countering a man who continued to come forward round after round despite being picked off. In the eighth, Montero (115) was driven back as Roman finally made plans to finish for the night, and although the former made it to the end of the session he was under fire when the referee rescued him after 34 seconds of round nine.
20 March 1987. Gilberto Roman w pts 12 Frank Cedeno
Venue: The Bullring, Calafia, Mexicali, Mexico. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Marty Denkin.
Scorecards: 118-107, 118-108, 117-108.
Fight Summary: Regardless of being put down in the first round and cut over the left eye in the fourth, Roman (115) gained control and never relinquished it, his superior boxing being the key to victory over the tough Cedeno (115), a former WBC flyweight champion. Although the challenger never looked like going down, at the final bell he was under a lot of pressure after Roman had made a run for home.
In what was a return fight, Santos Laciar would be Roman’s next defence. Having gone close last time, the former two-time WBA flyweight title holder, who was undefeated in his last stint, would come into the contest with a record showing 66 wins, 11 draws, including one of the technical variety, and six defeats. Tried and tested, Laciar was a hardy warrior with a never-say-die attitude.
16 May 1987. Santos Laciar w rsc 11 (12) Gilberto Roman
Venue: Rene Thys Stadium, Reims, France. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Angelo Poletti.
Fight Summary: As in their previous contest the return was just as close, with Roman (114¼) having the edge due to his better technique standing him in good stead against the challenger’s determined attacks. Because their heads came together so often it was hardly surprising that Roman was cut over the left eye as early as the second round. Then, after settling down, the cut was reopened by a Laciar (115) left hook in the 11th session, which led to the referee stopping the fight on the advice of the ringside physician. On winning, Laciar became a two-weight world champion on the result.
Laciar’s first defence would be against Bebis ‘Sugar Baby’ Rojas, who had participated in 30 contests, winning 28, drawing once and losing once. In beating men such as Francisco Quiroz, Martin Vargas, Alfonso Lopez (2), Rudy Crawford and Rafael Orono he had proved to be a talented box-fighter who was extremely fast of hand and foot and difficult to pin down.
8 August 1987. Bebis Rojas w pts 12 Santos Laciar
Venue: Tamiani Fairgrounds, Miami, Florida, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Abraham Bernal.
Scorecards: 119-109, 118-111, 117-111.
Fight Summary: Outboxed and outclassed, Laciar (115) never looked like winning as Rojas (114¾) got to the front early, with the jab working like a piston. Even when put under pressure Rojas fought back with two-handed attacks that drove the champion to the ropes. Several times Laciar looked as though he would be dropped when finding Rojas too fast for him, but although bemused at times he stuck to his guns to go down fighting.
24 October 1987. Bebis Rojas w rsc 4 (12) Gustavo Ballas
Venue: Tamiani Fairgrounds, Miami, Florida, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Jesus Arias Torres.
Fight Summary: Giving another impressive display of two-handed punching, Rojas (114½) dominated Ballas (115) throughout. Although the latter initially impressed with his bobbing and weaving tactics he was unable to keep the champion at bay for long, the end soon looking imminent. Into the fourth, Rojas opened up big time to catch Ballas heavily, and following a standing count the latter was rescued by the referee on the 2.39 mark after he had been blasted to the ropes and was defenceless.
Rojas’ next challenger would be Gilberto Roman, a former WBC champion who had lost his title to Santos Laciar almost a year earlier. With a record of 47 wins, one draw and four defeats, Roman was still highly thought of.
8 April 1988. Gilberto Roman w pts 12 Bebis Rojas
Venue: Convention Centre, Miami, Florida, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: John Thomas.
Scorecards: 118-110, 115-111, 115-112.
Fight Summary: It looked as though history might repeat itself when Roman (115) was knocked down in the second round, and cut over the right eye in the third. Ultimately, however, he proved too quick and clever for the taller Rojas (115), even though the latter was the heavier puncher. As the fight wore on Roman took over, scoring well from head to body and cutting the champion’s right eye in the ninth session to run out a good winner.
9 July 1988. Gilberto Roman w rsc 5 Yoshiyuki Uchida
Venue: City Gym, Kawagoe, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Richard Steele.
Fight Summary: Despite putting Roman (115) down in the fourth, Uchida (114¾) was finally overwhelmed in the fifth after being dropped by combination punches at the start of the session. Back on his feet, when Uchida was dumped again, this time by a left hook, the referee wisely called it off after 39 seconds when he was in the act of rising.
4 September 1988. Gilberto Roman w pts 12 Kiyoshi Hatanaka
Venue: Rainbow Hall, Nagoya, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: James Jen-Kin.
Scorecards: 119-108, 117-111, 115-111.
Fight Summary: A strange fight saw Hatanaka (114¾) dropped twice in the first, the second time from a low blow, before being given five minutes of rest to recover. Roman (114¼) was deducted a point, but then dug in another body shot in the third for which the challenger was given a three-minute respite despite the referee agreeing that the punch was legal. From then on, taking no further chances, Roman boxed his way to victory, moving, jabbing and countering to good effect.
7 November 1988. Gilberto Roman w pts 12 Bebis Rojas
Venue: Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Carlos Padilla.
Scorecards: 119-108, 117-111, 117-113.
Fight Summary: Similar to their previous encounter, inasmuch both men kept banging heads, Roman (115) again picked up damage to his left eye. However, not letting it worry him too much he was more concerned on gaining the points with the left jab working overtime. While the awkward Rojas (114) was the taller of the two, unable to make it pay, he slumped to another defeat.
5 June 1989. Gilberto Roman w pts 12 Juan Carazo
Venue: Great Western Forum, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Lou Filippo.
Scorecards: 118-110, 117-111, 116-112.
Fight Summary: Giving yet another excellent display of classy left-hand boxing and counter-punching at its best, Roman (115) took the points decision when subduing the dangerous Carazo (115), who finished with a badly cut cheek but never gave up trying. Despite offering occasional glimpses of aggression, especially in round four when both men hit the floor, the champion was content to box his way home decisively.
12 September 1989. Gilberto Roman w pts 12 Santos Laciar
Venue: Great Western Forum, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Rudy Jordan.
Scorecards: 117-112, 117-111, 118-110.
Fight Summary: Even though he shook the champion up on occasion, Laciar (114½) was generally on the receiving end of the left hand as Roman (114¾) stayed on the outside to avert any danger, jabbing and moving adroitly to avoid getting caught up in a slugging match. The plan worked well, with Laciar, unable to get his punches off apart from the odd success, chasing shadows for most of the time and losing widely.
The unrated Nana Yaw Konadu, a former undefeated Commonwealth flyweight champion, would be the next man to test Roman. A tall, stand-up fighter with solid power in both hands, he would come to the ring with a record of 17 (14 inside the distance) wins and one draw, having beaten Steve Muchoki and Cesar Polanco.
7 November 1989. Nana Yaw Konadu w pts 12 Gilberto Roman
Venue: International Arena, Mexico City, Mexico. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Arthur Mercante.
Scorecards: 116-109, 118-104, 119-103.
Fight Summary: Roman (115), cut over the left eye and floored five times - once in the first, twice in the third and twice in the fourth - before being battered to defeat in a stunning upset. It was there for all to see once Konadu (115) landed the big left hook in the first round, Roman never really getting to grips with him and being lucky to last out the contest.
Konadu’s first defence would be against Sung-Kil Moon, the former WBA bantamweight title holder, who had moved down a division. With ten wins (nine inside the distance) and one defeat to Khaokor Galaxy on his record, he had previously beaten Galaxy along with Edgar Monserrat and Chiaki Kobayashi. Having been the world amateur champion in 1985 he turned pro in 1987, and as a hard-hitting, uncompromising fighter he was a tough nut to crack.
20 January 1990. Sung-Kil Moon w tdec 9 Nana Yaw Konadu
Venue: Exhibition Centre, Seoul, South Korea. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Tony Perez.
Scorecards: 87-84, 86-81, 86-84.
Fight Summary: Having been decked twice in the opener, Konadu (114½) stormed back to drop Moon (115) before the round ended. This was followed by both men standing toe-to-toe. In the third the champion was put down again, although a clash of heads left Moon, who was also floored in the next session, badly cut over the left eye. Thereafter, it was a grim struggle all the way. With claret flowing, at the end of the ninth the referee decided that Konadu’s injuries were too bad for him to continue and went to the scorecards. On winning, Moon became a two-weight world champion.
9 June 1990. Sung-Kil Moon w rtd 8 Gilberto Roman
Venue: Palpal Gym, Seoul, South Korea. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Richard Steele.
Fight Summary: Although the better boxer of the two, Roman (114½) was soon on the floor, being dumped by a sweeping hook in the first. Despite getting up and sparkling at times his poor conditioning ultimately let him down. Cut by the right eye from a butt in the third round the former champion made Moon (115) look foolish at times, but by the end of the eighth, after intimating to the referee that he did not wish to continue, the fight came to an end. Sadly, Roman was killed in a car accident just 18 days later.
20 October 1990. Sung-Kil Moon w tdec 5 Kenji Matsumura
Venue: Hanyang University Gym, Seoul, South Korea. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Jesus Torres.
Scorecards: 50-42, 48-43, 49-43.
Fight Summary: After dropping Matsumura (115) twice in the first round it seemed it was going to be a formality for Moon (115), before he was badly cut in the third and again in the fifth. At the end of the fifth, the ringside doctor decided that the cuts were too bad for Moon to continue. Ahead on all three judges’ scorecards at the time of the stoppage, it was deemed that because Moon had sustained the cuts through clumsy headwork by the challenger he should be returned the winner.
16 March 1991. Sung-Kil Moon w rsc 4 Nana Yaw Konadu
Venue: Prince Felipe Pavilion, Zaragoza, Spain. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Joe Cortez.
Fight Summary: Looking to become a champion, Konadu (114¾) dominated the opening round as telling left jabs found their mark, and seemed to be well on his way with Moon (115) continually hitting fresh air. There was a complete turnaround in the second session as Moon unleashed a windmill of body blows and wild uppercuts, which had Konadu on the floor momentarily and generally under pressure before the bell gave him some respite. Having taken another battering in the third, it came as no surprise when Konadu, swaying from non-stop punishment after being blasted by two heavy uppercuts, was rescued by the referee with just five seconds remaining in the fourth.
20 July 1991. Sung-Kil Moon w co 5 Ernesto Ford
Venue: Ramada Renaissance Hotel, Seoul, South Korea. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Malcolm Bulner.
Fight Summary: Starting well, Ford (114½) won the first two rounds, testing Moon (114½) with lefts and rights to the head. He then cut the champion over the right eye in the third before it all went wrong for him when his rival switched to the body. Having opened a cut over Ford’s right eye in the fourth, Moon dumped the challenger with head and body punches in the fifth and, on him getting up very quickly, a right to the head dropped him for the full count with 2.35 on the clock.
22 December 1991. Sung-Kil Moon w rsc 6 Torsak Pongsupa
Venue: Indoor Gym, Inchon, South Korea. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Jose Medina.
Fight Summary: Ultimately proving too strong for his southpaw challenger, but not without a few shocks along the way, Moon (115) dropped his man in the first round with a cracking right hand before having to fight hard to subdue the heavy-hitting Thai over the next few sessions. It was only when switching his attacks to the body that Moon began to get to Pongsupa (114) with a vengeance, and several heavy uppercuts eventually saw the latter take a mandatory count before being rescued by the referee at 1.48 of the sixth.
4 July 1992. Sung-Kil Moon w rsc 8 Armando Salazar
Venue: Goomin Hall, Inchon, South Korea. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Delgado Bince.
Fight Summary: Having his first fight for over six months, Moon (115) shook off the ring rust to take command and cut Salazar (114¼) on the left eye in the opening round. Although cruising along, the champion had a bad seventh session when Salazar put him under severe pressure, but he came back strongly in the eighth when the referee rescued the Mexican on the 2.59 mark to save him from further punishment.
31 October 1992. Sung-Kil Moon w pts 12 Greg Richardson
Venue: Olympic Fencing Stadium, Seoul, South Korea. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Lupe Garcia.
Scorecards: 119-108, 116-110, 114-114.
Fight Summary: Winning by a majority decision it took Moon (115) more than 11 rounds to catch up with his challenger, knocking Richardson (114¾) down twice in the final session after softening him up with body punches. The American had boxed well over the first five rounds, moving in and out with the left jab, but was slowed appreciably once the body blows got to him. Even then, Richardson still made life difficult for Moon when living up to his nickname of ‘The Flea’.
27 February 1993. Sung-Kil Moon w rsc 1 Hilario Zapata
Venue: Olympic Fencing Gym, Seoul, South Korea. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Toby Gibson.
Fight Summary: Retaining the WBC title for the eighth time, Moon (114½) had to grit his teeth after being outboxed and outpunched in the early part of the opening round. However, eventually getting to grips with the southpaw Zapata (114¾), Moon connected with hooks and combinations before a tremendous right hand sent the challenger crashing. Somehow Zapata got up, but in a bad condition the referee stopped it on the 2.54 mark.
3 July 1993. Sung-Kil Moon w pts 12 Carlos Salazar
Venue: Education and Culture Centre, Seoul, South Korea. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Toby Gibson.
Scorecards: 114-115, 116-112, 116-111.
Fight Summary: Proving both clever and durable, Salazar (114½) showed more power at 115lbs than he had in the lower divisions, thus making life extremely difficult for the champion. Cutting Moon on the left eye in the second round, Salazar put him under considerable pressure and scored a knockdown in the final session with a strong left. In the sixth, Moon (115), bleeding badly, asked the referee to stop the fight to go to the judges, but when the third man ruled that the cut had been caused by a punch and not a butt the fight continued with the aggressive champion just about keeping ahead of the counter-punching Salazar.
Moon’s next defence would be against Jose Luis Bueno, who despite being unrated had beaten Armando Salazar, Elvis Alvarez and Josefino Suarez. With 23 (18 inside the distance) wins, one draw and three losses on his record, although primarily a boxer he had solid punching power to back himself up if needed.
13 November 1993. Jose Luis Bueno w pts 12 Sung-Kil Moon
Venue: The Gym, Pohang, South Korea. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Rudy Ortega.
Scorecards: 117-112, 114-115, 118-110.
Fight Summary: Regardless that Bueno (115) was dropped by a solid left hook in round three, the challenger picked himself up to counter Moon (115) effectively, his hand-speed and excellent movement making life difficult for the latter. Needing to change tack, Moon, his left cheekbone badly swollen, rallied strongly from the ninth onwards but was unable to influence the judges.
Bueno’s first defence would be against Hiroshi Kawashima, the Japanese champion, who had a record showing 13 (12 inside the distance) wins, a draw and two kayo losses since turning pro in August 1988. Having started out as a southpaw slugger he had become more of a boxer since those two defeats, and was currently seen as a well-rounded box-fighter.
4 May 1994. Hiroshi Kawashima w pts 12 Jose Luis Bueno
Venue: The Cultural Gym, Yokohama, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Marty Denkin.
Scorecards: 114-113, 114-112, 116-110.
Fight Summary: Making his first defence, Bueno (114¾), despite being a skilful boxer and an accurate puncher, was outrun by the southpaw Kawashima (115), who was in and out before being caught. In the second half of the contest Kawashima began to boss matters, eventually putting Bueno on the deck with a left-hand delivery in the 11th round. Although the champion recovered and chased after Kawashima until the final bell, he had not done enough to warrant the verdict.
7 August 1994. Hiroshi Kawashima w pts 12 Carlos Salazar
Venue: Ariake Coliseum, Tokyo, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Vince Delgado.
Scorecards: 118-110, 117-113, 115-113.
Fight Summary: In a battle between fellow southpaws, it was the jabs and one-twos of the speedy Kawashima (115) against the aggressive and durable Salazar (115), whose speciality was getting to close quarters to throw overarm punches. Both men gave it everything and were pretty much exhausted by the final bell, but it was the cleaner punching of the champion that won the day.
18 January 1995. Hiroshi Kawashima w pts 12 Jose Luis Bueno
Venue: Cultural Gym, Yokohama, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Arthur Mercante.
Scorecards: 118-109, 116-111, 115-114.
Fight Summary: Generally outworked, Bueno (115) had great difficulty in staying with Kawashima (114½), but was assisted by the latter’s often wayward punching. However, once the current champion got into his stride he pulled away from the former champion, who responded by winging in punches more in desperation than at the target. In the seventh, following a clash of heads, Bueno was actually counted over. Although the final stages saw Kawashima in control he could not finish the challenger off, Bueno coming with a gallop when winning the last two sessions to narrow the gap.
24 May 1995. Hiroshi Kawashima w pts 12 Seung-Koo Lee
Venue: Cultural Gym, Yokohama, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Lupe Garcia.
Scorecards: 117-112, 116-111, 116-111.
Fight Summary: Defending for the third time, Kawashima (115), who proved to be too fast and clever for the tough Lee (114¾), used the jab well to gain a clear points lead over the first seven rounds. In the eighth, however, the challenger cut loose with some effect, and in the tenth he dropped Kawashima, who was saved by the bell. Following that, the champion kept himself out of range in the 11th before mixing it up to run out a clear winner on all three cards.
8 November 1995. Hiroshi Kawashima w rsc 3 Boy Aruan
Venue: Ryogoku Sumo Arena, Tokyo, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Carlos Padilla.
Fight Summary: Having survived a nasty moment when he was decked after the referee had called for the men to break, Kawashima (115) came back strongly in the third round to drop Aruan (114½) twice. Outgunned, the slow-moving challenger was rescued by the third man on the 1.57 mark immediately following the second knockdown, when despite being on the way up it was felt that he would not last much longer.
27 April 1996. Hiroshi Kawashima w pts 12 Cecilio Espino
Venue: Ryogoku Sumo Arena, Tokyo, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Lupe Garcia.
Scorecards: 120-107, 119-110, 118-109.
Fight Summary: Espino (115) gave it everything he had in the opening two rounds as he looked to take the champion out of his stride but having failed Kawashima (115) took over to run out a clear points winner. It was clear that Espino lacked the experience required to be fighting at this level.
12 October 1996. Hiroshi Kawashima w rsc 2 Domingo Sosa
Venue: Ryogoku Sumo Arena, Tokyo, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Laurence Cole.
Fight Summary: Despite making the running from the opening bell, Sosa (115), the taller of the two, finished the round under pressure as Kawashima (115) got his combinations going and looked to take his man to the ropes where he could work him over. The second started very much the same as the first before the champion again worked Sosa to the ropes where he landed punch after punch without response, and when the latter’s legs buckled the referee had seen enough, intervening with 35 seconds of the session remaining.
The fifth-ranked Gerry Penalosa, a hard-punching southpaw, would be the next man to test Kawashima. Carrying a record of 35 (24 inside the distance) wins, one draw and one defeat, and with victories over Ric Magramo, Rolando Bohol and Rolando Pascua he was ready.
20 February 1997. Gerry Penalosa w pts 12 Hiroshi Kawashima
Venue: Ryogoku Sumo Arena, Tokyo, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Richard Steele.
Scorecards: 116-112, 115-114, 114-115.
Fight Summary: Kawashima (115), nicknamed ‘The Untouchable’ due to his fine defensive skills, lost on a split decision when outscored by Penalosa (114½) in a battle between fellow southpaws. Both men had their moments, but it was the challenger who came through on the scorecards after taking the last three rounds having stalked the rapidly tiring Kawashima. Despite Kawashima being floored from a left to the temple just as the bell rang to end the second round, it was ruled a slip by the referee.
14 June 1997. Gerry Penalosa w co 9 Seung-Koo Lee
Venue: Mactan Air Base, Cebu, Philippines. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Lupe Garcia.
Fight Summary: Making his first defence, Penalosa (115) was too powerful for Lee (115), who was dropped towards the end of the first round and rarely threatened from then on, thus allowing the champion to pull away on the scorecards with southpaw jabs and one-twos without much response. Having picked it up in the sixth Penalosa got closer to Lee, and in the ninth a right-left put the South Korean on the canvas where he was counted out at 0.56.
23 November 1997. Gerry Penalosa w co 10 Young-Joo Cho
Venue: Indoor Gym, Songnam, South Korea. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Luis Carlos Guzman.
Fight Summary: Penalosa (114¾) had to take a count in the first round, but got up to gash the challenger’s right eye and force the fight from there. Ultimately proving too strong for Cho (115), the Filipino lashed in a heavy right to the body that floored his rival in the tenth. It was a blow which proved to be the last of the contest, the referee counting the unfortunate Cho out on the 1.15 mark.
25 April 1998. Gerry Penalosa tdraw 2 Joel Luna Zarate
Venue: Cuneta Astrodome, Manila, Philippines. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Richard Steele.
Fight Summary: Clearly an unsatisfactory finish with barely any action having taken place, heads came together in the second round which left Penalosa (115) badly cut on the right eye. At that point, with 2.56 of the session completed, the ringside doctor advised the referee to halt the contest as in his opinion the champion’s cut was too bad for him to continue. Although extremely unlucky, as a mandatory challenger, Zarate (113½) would get another opportunity.
Penalosa’s next defence would be against the unranked In-Joo Cho, who was described as having a hit-and-run style and bags of stamina. With only 12 fights on his record despite turning pro in 1992, he had won all of them and had beaten Abraham Torres, Reynante Jamili and Tacy Macalos along the way.
29 August 1998. In-Joo Cho w pts 12 Gerry Penalosa
Venue: Ritz Carlton Hotel, Seoul, South Korea. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Nobuaki Uratani.
Scorecards: 116-113, 117-115, 112-116.
Fight Summary: This was a difficult fight to score, apart from in the seventh when the southpaw Penalosa (115) was nearly downed by a left hook. Unfortunately, with both men being counter-punchers it was a negative affair, and even when Penalosa went forward from round nine onwards the good defensive skills of Cho (115) made him miss with far too many punches.
10 January 1999. In-Joo Cho w pts 12 Joel Luna Zarate
Venue: Ritz Carlton Hotel, Seoul, South Korea. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Tony Perez.
Scorecards: 116-112, 115-114, 114-114.
Fight Summary: Defending for the first time, Cho (115) disappointed yet again with another negative display, his hit-and-run tactics good enough to just about beat Zarate (114½) but not for the fans who expected more from him. Although the Mexican tried to make a fight of it he was not able to draw the champion into one, the contest petering out over the last four rounds as Cho was content to clinch and hold.
13 June 1999. In-Joo Cho w co 8 Pone Saengmorakot
Venue: Sheraton Walker Hill Hotel, Seoul, South Korea. Recognition: WBC. Referee: James Jen-Kin.
Fight Summary: After a string of negative performances, Cho (115) came good against Saengmorakot (114¾), who found himself up against it from the opening bell against the upright champion. Outjabbing and outspeeding the Thai, Cho cut loose in the sixth round and dominated the seventh with well-directed punches. He then set about Saengmorakot in the eighth, eventually dropping him with a perfectly timed right counter that led to the count-out at 2.44 of the session.
5 September 1999. In-Joo Cho w pts 12 Keiji Yamaguchi
Venue: Ryogoku Sumo Arena, Tokyo, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Laurence Cole.
Scorecards: 114-110, 117-107, 117-108.
Fight Summary: Controlling the fight from the first to last bell, the improving Cho (115), despite being cut on the left eye in the third, boxed his way to a wide decision over Yamaguchi (115) who lacked the ability to find a way inside his guard other than in the ninth. The upright champion, who impressed with his extended left which nullified the southpaw leads of Yamaguchi, put the seal on a good performance when flooring his man twice in the last session, initially from a left hook and then a left-right combination.
2 January 2000. In-Joo Cho w pts 12 Gerry Penalosa
Venue: Sheraton Walker Hill Hotel, Seoul, South Korea. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Marty Denkin.
Scorecards: 115-112, 116-113, 114-115.
Fight Summary: Obviously a clash of styles, as in their first fight it was a dull affair with Cho (114) struggling to find a rhythm and the aggressive Penalosa (114¾), who apart from the odd occasion had difficulty landing his big southpaw rights. Although the champion’s punches lacked steam, there were enough of them to warrant the decision, especially after Penalosa had a point deducted in the tenth for his corner’s failure to keep water off the canvas following several warnings.
14 May 2000. In-Joo Cho w pts 12 Julio Cesar Avila
Venue: Sheraton Walker Hill Hotel, Seoul, South Korea. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Richie Davies.
Scorecards: 118-109, 118-109, 117-111.
Fight Summary: Sporting a five-inch-reach advantage, Cho (115) certainly made it pay when using his fast footwork to keep Avila (114¾) on the end of his left jab throughout. Too slow to make up the ground, the challenger, still trying to get to close quarters, was also caught heavily with well-timed uppercuts in the middle rounds before making it to the final bell.
The unranked Masamori Tokuyama, a tall, upright North Korean with fast hands and a sharp jab, would be the next challenger for Cho. With a record of 21 wins, one draw and two defeats, as an improving fighter he had beaten Randy Mangubat, Hiroki Ioka, Pone Saengmorakot and Jack Siahaya.
27 August 2000. Masamori Tokuyama w pts 12 In-Joo Cho
Venue: Prefectural Gym, Osaka, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Lupe Garcia.
Scorecards: 119-107, 117-109, 116-110.
Fight Summary: Having cut Cho (115) over the left eye in the second and then dropping him with a left-right combination in the fourth, Tokuyama (114¾) became the first North Korean to win a world title after boxing his way to a clear points win over his South Korean rival. Although Cho came back well at times it was never enough, the new champion being too fast and too elusive.
12 December 2000. Masamori Tokuyama w pts 12 Akihiko Nago
Venue: Maishima Arena, Osaka, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Frank Cappuccino.
Scorecards: 118-108, 117-109, 117-109.
Fight Summary: Although one-sided, Tokuyama (115) had to get off the floor himself in the sixth before continuing to dominate Nago (114¾). The southpaw challenger, who rarely got into the fight, was a huge disappointment to his supporters.
20 May 2001. Masamori Tokuyama w co 5 In-Joo Cho
Venue: Sheraton Walker Hill Hotel, Seoul, South Korea. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Tony Perez.
Fight Summary: The return fight between the pair saw a fairly uneventful four rounds contested before heavy left-right combination punches delivered by Tokuyama (114¾) left Cho (115) taking the full count after 45 seconds of round five.
24 September 2001. Masamori Tokuyama w pts 12 Gerry Penalosa
Venue: The Arena, Yokohama, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Larry O’Connell.
Scorecards: 116-113, 115-113, 115-113.
Fight Summary: In an exciting fight, Penalosa (115) went close to landing the win as his persistent body punches continually hurt Tokuyama (115), but he was badly hampered from the middle rounds when sustaining nasty gashes on both head and face. Not as sharp as normal, the champion came back towards the end to outpunch the Filipino to maintain his status as the top man in the division.
23 March 2002. Masamori Tokuyama w rsc 9 Kazuhiro Ryuko
Venue: The Arena, Yokohama, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Kazumasa Kuwata.
Fight Summary: Walking through the rounds, Tokuyama (115) was a scintillating winner over the southpaw challenger, who was thought to be a danger but ultimately posed no real threat. Having had his nose broken in the second round, and on the receiving end of some fairly hefty punches, Ryuko (115) went all out in the ninth before a heavy right-hand counter sent him crashing to the canvas. Realising that Ryuko was through for the night even though he had got to his feet, the referee called the contest off with 18 seconds of the session remaining.
26 August 2002. Masamori Tokuyama w rsc 6 Erik Lopez
Venue: Super Arena, Saitama, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Frank Cappuccino.
Fight Summary: Retaining the WBC title for the fifth time, the taller Tokuyama (114¾) made such good use of the left uppercut that Lopez (115) was pulled out of the fight by the referee at the end of the sixth when his right eye was completely closed. Lopez was never able to get into range due to the champion’s ability to keep on the outside.
20 December 2002. Masamori Tokuyama w pts 12 Gerry Penalosa
Venue: Castle Sports Centre, Osaka, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Eddie Cotton.
Scorecards: 116-111, 114-113, 113-114.
Fight Summary: Yet again Tokuyama (115) almost lost against Penalosa (114¾) before ultimately prevailing, despite being docked a point in the third when a butt opened up a bad cut on the challenger’s forehead. The game Penalosa was always in Tokuyama’s face but a big offensive in the tenth swung it for the champion.
23 June 2003. Masamori Tokuyama w pts 12 Katsushige Kawashima
Venue: The Arena, Yokohama, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Nobuaki Uratani.
Scorecards: 116-114, 116-112, 116-112.
Fight Summary: Calling on his excellent footwork and movement, Tokuyama (115) controlled the fight with his jab until damage to his left hand in the sixth round forced him to hit-and-run for the rest of the bout as the challenger stormed forward. Energised from the middle rounds, Kawashima (115) began to get in some pretty solid punches when taking the last two rounds clearly, but his work had been too sporadic and was not enough to overhaul Tokuyama’s lead.
3 January 2004. Masamori Tokuyama w pts 12 Dmitry Kirillov
Venue: Central Gym, Osaka, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Vic Drakulich.
Scorecards: 117-111, 117-112, 116-112.
Fight Summary: Starting as he meant to continue, the champion immediately got his left jab working effectively against a cautious Kirillov (114½) who rarely got into the fight until making a late challenge. Using the jab well, and throwing in right crosses for good measure, Tokuyama (115) really opened up in the 11th, almost dropping Kirillov with a smashing right counter. Surprisingly, Kirillov stormed into Tokuyama in the final session with solid combinations, but it was not to be his night.
Katsushige Kawashima, a game and aggressive banger with a hard right-hand punch, would be Tokuyama’s next challenger. Having already had an unsuccessful crack at Tokuyama he was hoping that the experience would benefit him this time around. Although unranked, with 25 wins and three defeats on his record, victories over Napa Kiatwanchai and Yokthai Sithoar would hold him in good stead.
28 June 2004. Katsushige Kawashima w rsc 1 Masamori Tokuyama
Venue: The Arena, Yokohama, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Jay Nady.
Fight Summary: Aggressive from the start, the challenger tore into Tokuyama (115), unloading left-right combinations before sending in a vicious right to the head that dropped the champion on all fours. Somehow Tokuyama made it to his feet, but still on shaky legs he was set about by Kawashima (115) who saw his chance and took it when hammering in punches from all angles. When a cracking right to the head sent Tokuyama crashing again the referee did not even bother to count, and at 1.47 of the opening round the fight was over.
20 September 2004. Katsushige Kawashima w pts 12 Raul Juarez
Venue: Bunka Gym, Yokohama, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Bill Clancy.
Scorecards: 114-110, 113-111, 117-107.
Fight Summary: The newly crowned hard-punching Kawashima (115) made a good start in his first defence, flooring Juarez (114¼) with a smashing overarm right in the second round to show his intent. Back in the fray, and despite being unable to hurt Kawashima, the durable Juarez made life difficult for the champion as he looked for the finishing punch. Dropped twice, in the sixth and seventh rounds, before having a point deducted for spitting out his gum-shield in the seventh failed to deter Juarez, who staggered Kawashima in the eighth and won two of the last three sessions before going down on the cards.
3 January 2005. Katsushige Kawashima w pts 12 Jose Navarro
Venue: Ariake Coliseum, Tokyo, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Mark Green.
Scorecards: 109-120, 115-114, 115-113.
Fight Summary: In a battle of skill versus power, although the hard-hitting Kawashima (115) won it was much closer than one of the scorecards suggested, the lanky southpaw challenger proving a tough test. There were no knockdowns to report, but Kawashima was cut over the right eye in the second round before being similarly damaged on the left eye in the fifth. Subsequently, the action swayed to-and-fro, with Navarro (114½) displaying good skills and Kawashima beginning to concentrate on the body following a lack of success upstairs. Even though fading towards the end Navarro continued to keep his boxing together as the wild-swinging Kawashima poured in the leather, receiving warm applause at the final bell from an audience appreciative of his skills.
Kawashima would next be challenged by Masamori Tokuyama, the man he won the WBC title from. Having taken over a year away from the ring and relatively fresh, Tokuyama had 30 wins, one draw and three defeats on his record.
18 July 2005. Masamori Tokuyama w pts 12 Katsushige Kawashima
Venue: Central Gym, Osaka, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Ian John-Lewis.
Scorecards: 118-109, 115-112, 117-110.
Fight Summary: Trying to reverse his shocking one-round defeat at the hands of Kawashima (114¾), the former champion started well, especially with the jab and left-right combinations, and soon began to pick up the points. This time around, Tokuyama (115) was proving a more difficult proposition for the somewhat pedestrian Kawashima to handle, his speed and movement being a decisive factor. After taking the first six rounds, Tokuyama started to tire and began to get caught by overarm rights and left hooks before cleverly turning to hit-and-hold tactics to defuse the situation as Kawashima went for broke. Eventually, in the 12th, Tokuyama was put down by a countering right. On his feet again, Tokuyama had to hang on for all his worth as Kawashima looked to turn things around, but he remained upright to regain the title when the latter missed time and again with wild swings.
27 February 2006. Masamori Tokuyama w pts 12 Jose Navarro
Venue: Central Gym, Osaka, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Mark Green.
Scorecards: 117-113, 116-113, 116-113.
Fight Summary: Cut over the right eye in the first round did not help the southpaw challenger's chances, Tokuyama (115) taking full advantage of the situation when targeting the damage with lefts and rights. Realising that he was falling behind, Navarro (114¾) came on hard in the seventh and eighth before Tokuyama took over in the ninth with jabs and left-rights. The last three sessions saw both men tiring rapidly, but just when Navarro looked to be getting on top Tokuyama opened up in the 12th to make sure of the win.
After Tokuyama relinquished the WBC title on 6 December due to weight-making difficulties, the next time my version of the 'world' title was up for grabs came when the fifth-ranked Fernando Montiel met the top-rated Martin Castillo in defence of his WBO title on 16 February 2008. Castillo, with 33 wins and two defeats on his record, had previously held the WBA version of the title after defeating Alexander Munoz. He had then gone on to make successful defences against Eric Morel, Hidiyasu Ishihara and Munoz, before losing the belt to Nobuo Nashiro. His opponent, Montiel, had been the undefeated WBO flyweight champion before moving up in weight. After becoming the WBO junior bantamweight champion on 22 June 2002 when beating Pedro Alcazar, Montiel next defended the title against Roy Doliguez before losing it to Marc Johnson. Not deterred, Montiel came back to beat Ivan Hernandez for the same title on 9 April 2005. With 36 wins, one draw and two losses on his slate, this would be the sixth defence of his WBO title, having turned back challenges from Everth Briceno, Pramuansak Posuwan, Z Gorres, Cecilio Santos and Luis Melendez.
16 February 2008. Fernando Montiel w co 4 Martin Castillo
Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Joe Cortez.
Fight Summary: Getting away quickly the champion powered into Castillo (115) from the opening bell, slamming in punches that ended with a left hook to the head dropping the latter heavily. Although Castillo came back gamely it was clear that he would continually be at risk from the left hook and in the fourth, after Montiel (115) had scored with a solid left-right followed by such a punch to the body, the challenger was down again. Clearly in pain, Castillo was counted out at 1.56 of the session in the act of rising.
31 May 2008. Fernando Montiel w rsc 3 Luis Maldonado
Venue: The Bullring, San Luis Potosi, Mexico. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Raul Caiz Jnr.
Fight Summary: Starting like a train, the champion was soon slamming in solid left hooks up and down, and it was not too long before a hard right-left had Maldonado (115) down on one knee. In the second it was more of the same, Montiel (115) flooring Maldonado with a left-hand counter that put the latter under even more pressure. With Montiel going for a quick win in the third, Maldonado was happy to punch it out until being put down by a countering right. That should have been it, but allowed to fight on Maldonado was rescued by the referee with just two seconds of the session remaining when under fire from solid head punches.
Montiel relinquished the WBO title on 10 January 2009 in order to contest the organisation’s vacant bantamweight crown. This was followed by Vic Darchinyan, who already had three of the four main titles under his belt, being accorded 'world' title status in line with my formula. A former top amateur, Darchinyan moved from Armenia, his birthplace, to box as a pro out of Australia in 2000. With 31 (25 inside the distance) wins, one draw and one defeat he had held the IBF flyweight title before being deprived of it by Nonito Donaire. The strong southpaw then moved up to win the IBF junior bantamweight title, beating Dmitry Kirillov, before adding the WBA/WBC versions to his CV when defeating Cristian Mijares.
7 February 2009. Vic Darchinyan w rsc 11 Jorge Arce
Venue: The Pond, Anaheim, California, USA. Recognition: IBF/WBA/WBC. Referee: Lou Moret.
Fight Summary: With his three championship belts on the line, Darchinyan (115) forced Arce (115) out of the contest at the end of 11th round, having won all rounds bar the third. Taking it to the ‘interim’ title holder from the opening bell, Darchinyan banged in southpaw uppercuts and rights and lefts to keep his man well occupied and, although the latter got some solid shots off in the third and fourth, he maintained the pressure. Carrying a cut and swollen left eye from the fourth and tiring, when Arce picked up a cut on his right eye in the ninth and took some heavy shots in the tenth and 11th the ringside doctor advised the referee to bring matters to an end.
Darchinyan vacated the IBF version of the title on 27 July.
12 December 2009. Vic Darchinyan w rsc 2 Tomas Rojas
Venue: Agua Caliente Casino, Rancho Mirage, Ca, USA. Recognition: WBA/WBC. Referee: Raul Caiz Jnr.
Fight Summary: Putting his titles on the line Darchinyan (114½) made short work of the taller Rojas (113½), despite being made to miss and countered by rights and lefts early on. However, there were warning signs towards the end of the opening round that Darchinyan was getting closer. Having taken a big punch from Darchinyan relatively well in the second, the follow up blow, a terrific left to the jaw, sent the ‘interim’ title holder crashing to the floor, whereupon the fight was stopped at 2.54 of the session after a short count to allow the latter to be given aid. Both men were southpaws.
6 March 2010. Vic Darchinyan w pts 12 Rodrigo Guerrero
Venue: Agua Calianta Casino, Rancho Mirage, California, USA. Recognition: WBA/WBC. Referee: Ramon Corona.
Scorecards: 117-111, 120-108, 118-110.
Fight Summary: Proving to be one tough hombre, Guerrero (114) took all that the champion could throw at him over the full distance without ever being floored. Showing plenty of aggression, Guerrero, a fellow southpaw, certainly came to fight, but whilst Darchinyan (115) normally found the mark with his blows the Mexican's were wild despite being power laden. Cut over the right eye in the fourth, the injury worsening as Darchinyan worked on it, the last two sessions saw Guerrero hit with heavy punches from both hands, his pride intact.
On 31 August, Darchinyan forfeited the WBA and WBC and titles when it was recognised that he had moved up in weight, and it would not be until 3 May 2013 that my version of the 'world' title became available again. That was when the second-ranked Yota Sato defended his WBC title against the world’s number three, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai after the top-ranked Omar Narvaez had failed to meet anyone from the top ten since April 2011. With a record of 26 wins, one draw and two defeats, Sato was making the third defence of the title he had won when beating Suriyan Sor Rungvisai and had successfully defended against Silvester Lopez and Ryo Akaho, while Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, a hard-hitting southpaw, had a record of 18 (17 inside the distance) wins, one draw and three defeats, which were all suffered in his first five contests.
3 May 2013. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai w rsc 8 Yota Sato
Venue: Khonmuangsri Stadium, Si Sa Ket, Thailand. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Guido Cavalleri.
Fight Summary: Taking the fight to the champion right from the opening bell, Sor Rungvisai (115) proved much too strong for a man making his third defence. Concentrating on the body, Sor Rungvisai moved in on Sato (115) at every opportunity, and in the fourth and seventh rounds he almost had the latter out of it when heavy southpaw shots found their target. In the eighth, Sor Rungvisai, recognising that Sato had nothing left to offer, pushed him into a corner and belted away with both hands until the referee stopped the contest on the 1.23 mark. It was a timely intervention as Sato was not fighting back despite still standing.
15 November 2013. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai w rsc 9 Hirofumi Mukai
Venue: Provincial Stadium, Rakhon Ratchasima, Thailand. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Malcolm Bulner.
Fight Summary: Dominating virtually throughout, the champion started aggressively, throwing solid southpaw blows up and down, and although Mukai (115) tried to match him he lacked the power to do too much damage. Knocked down in the second by a right-left to the head, Mukai was under pressure from thereon in as Sor Rungvisai (115) banged in shots, especially to the body, that weakened his man. Having continued his forward march into the ninth, Sor Rungvisai was sending in so many blows that the referee called the fight off at 1.40 of the session after Mukai's corner threw the towel in.
Rungvisai’s next defence would be against the second-ranked Carlos Cuadras, an all-round technician who carried power in both fists. Having run up 29 straight wins as a pro, with only five men lasting the distance, he had beaten Ronald Barrera and Victor Zaleta, and was one place above the champion in the ratings.
31 May 2014. Carlos Cuadras w tdec 8 Srisaket Sor Rungvisai
Venue: Agustin Melgar Arms Hall, Mexico City, Mexico. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Jay Nady.
Scorecards: 78-73, 77-74, 77-75.
Fight Summary: Boxing off the back foot, his fast left jab unsettling the southpaw champion early in the fight, Cuadras (115), who had a reputation as a warrior, changed tactics for this one. When they did come together the action was fierce, but Cuadras had a game plan and stuck to it. Having been docked a point in the fifth due to an accidental head butt that cut Cuadras on the left eye, Sor Rungvisai (115) chased the challenger with no great success. Unfortunately for him, the fight was halted by the referee after 13 seconds of the eighth had elapsed on the advice of the ringside doctor when Cuadras' injury was deemed too bad for him to continue. Upon going to the cards early, the technical decision favoured Cuadras.
20 September 2014. Carlos Cuadras tdraw 4 Jose Salgado
Venue: Baseball Stadium, Guamuchil, Sinaloa, Mexico. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Jay Nady.
Fight Summary: Much the taller man, Salgado (114¾) failed to make it pay before heads came together and left him with a bad cut on the left eye. The contest was then halted by the referee at 2.28 of the fourth following an inspection by the ringside doctor, who considered it too bad for him to continue. A round earlier an accidental head butt had fractured Salgado's nose. Even though the scorecards showed that Cuadras (114¾) had won all three completed rounds, because the contest finished prior to the end of the fourth it was automatically recognised as a technical draw under WBC rules.
13 November 2014. Carlos Cuadras w rsc 6 Marvin Mabait
Venue: The Hilton, Washington DC, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Eddie Claudio.
Fight Summary: Coming in at two weeks’ notice when Sonny Boy Jaro had visa problems, not surprisingly Mabait (113¾) failed to make a dent in Cuadras (114½) before going down to defeat. Despite the referee not counting over the southpaw challenger in the fourth when he fell to the floor, stating that the fighters' feet were tangled, he was given a count in the fifth when the ropes held him up after some heavy blows had landed. Having been floored by a right to the head before going down again in the sixth, the referee rescued Mabait with 36 seconds of the session on the clock.
4 April 2015. Carlos Cuadras w pts 12 Luis Concepcion
Venue: Martin Alarcon Sports Complex, Metepec, Mexico. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Laurence Cole.
Scorecards: 117-111, 117-111, 118-110.
Fight Summary: Making his third defence, Cuadras (114½) negated much of the challenger's aggression when using good movement to make him miss, coupled with a solid left jab. Concepcion (114) came back in the fourth and sixth with several blows that did get through, but by the seventh Cuadras was picking it up again. By the ninth, although both of Concepcion's eyes were swollen he was still coming forward throwing punches from both hands, and even though his success rate was not high he continued in that vein right up until the final bell. Cuadras, who could never relax, won nine of the 12 rounds.
15 August 2015. Carlos Cuadras w rsc 5 Dixon Flores
Venue: Alberto Vega Flores Baseball Stadium, Guamuchil, Mexico. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Frank Garza.
Fight Summary: Although the challenger started well when taking the opening round, from the second onwards it was all Cuadras (114¾), going up and down with solid shots and throwing fast combinations. Hurt in the third and fourth, after Flores (114¾) came out for the fifth within moments he was on the floor from a left hook before being allowed to continue. With Cuadras now in full flow, slamming in punches from both hands, Flores was under real pressure, and at 1.11 of the session the fight was all over when the referee deemed the latter unfit to continue after he had been dumped again and had got to his feet.
28 November 2015. Carlos Cuadras w pts 12 Koki Eto
Venue: Xebio Arena, Sendai, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Hector Afu.
Scorecards: 117-111, 117-111, 116-112.
Fight Summary: Working off the back foot against the taller challenger, Cuadras (114½) was happy to circle around before jumping in with solid left hooks and uppercuts and moving away again. Although Eto (114½) stalked Cuadras he was unable to make full use of his extra reach when dropping the first five rounds on the cards. Having felt Eto's power in the sixth when taking an overarm right to the head, Cuadras dropped back into his hit-and-run tactics in an attempt to avoid further heavy blows. By the ninth, with Cuadras tiring, the stalking Eto stepped it up with body shots as he looked to take the fight by the scruff of the neck. However, unable to catch Cuadras cleanly as he held and moved, Eto was unable to build on his extra power.
23 April 2016. Carlos Cuadras w rtd 8 Richie Mepranum
Venue: Multipurpose Centre, Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Tom Taylor.
Fight Summary: Right from the opening bell the challenger began driving in blows from his southpaw stance in a bid for an early kayo, but Cuadras (113¼) easily repelled the attacks before hitting back hard and often. Making his sixth defence Cuadras was soon banging in solid blows from head to body, with Mepranum (112¾) being forced to take them. In the fourth it had become very one-sided as Mepranum was hit with everything but the kitchen sink, although the Filipino was still able to hit back at times. With the pace subsiding it allowed Cuadras to really get his punches off, and at the end of the eighth Mepranum was retired after taking a rare battering in that session.
Roman Gonzalez, the current WBC flyweight champion, and a former undefeated WBA champion at mini flyweight and junior flyweight, would be the next man to challenge Cuadras. Bringing an unbeaten record of 45 wins since turning pro in 2005, the brilliant Gonzalez had finished off all but seven victims inside the distance. With his lightning-quick combinations and power to go with his defensive skills, Gonzalez was recognised as one of the best fighters of his generation.
10 September 2016. Roman Gonzalez w pts 12 Carlos Cuadras
Venue: Fabulous Forum, Inglewood, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Tom Taylor.
Scorecards: 117-111, 115-113, 116-112.
Fight Summary: At the top of his game, Gonzalez (114½) picked up his fourth world title at different weights after taking the unanimous decision at the end of an excellent contest with Cuadras (114¾). It was never going to be easy against a class champion such as Cuadras, but Gonzalez, who got away the faster before being pegged back in the middle rounds, came again to make sure of the win. The recognised stats from CompuBox made it 323 punches landed by Gonzalez to Cuadras' 258. With his ability to close Cuadras down, Gonzalez, who finished with swellings around both eyes, showed himself to be top-drawer when landing classy shots up and down from both hands. Cut over the right eye in the ninth, Cuadras gave it everything he had, only to come up short. On winning, after deciding to stay put at junior bantam, Gonzalez relinquished his WBC flyweight title on 29 September.
The fourth-rated Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, with 42 wins, one draw and four defeats on his record, would be Gonzalez’s first challenger. A former WBC champion, Sor Rungvisai had lost just once in his last 42 contests and was a man to be reckoned with.
18 March 2017. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai w pts 12 Roman Gonzalez
Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Steve Willis.
Scorecards: 114-112, 114-112, 113-113.
Fight Summary: Unbeaten in 46 contests coming into this one, the champion quickly realised that Sor Rungvisai (114) meant business when a right to the body decked him in the opening session. From then onwards the fight went back and forth as both men hammered in solid blows in an effort to end matters. Despite being cut on the right eye in the third Gonzalez (114½) merely got on with it as Sor Rungvisai continued to pile in, the latter earning a point deduction in the sixth after repeated head butting. With the southpaw Thai also bleeding from a cut by the right eye it had become a war of attrition, and although Gonzalez made the stronger finish it was Sor Rungvisai who took the majority decision.
9 September 2017. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai w rsc 4 Roman Gonzalez
Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Tom Taylor.
Fight Summary: Happy to take on Gonzalez (114¾) in a return match, even though there were many who thought that the latter deserved to win their last fight, the southpaw champion jumped in hard and fast right from the opening bell. With hardly any jabs landed it quickly became a heavy punching affair, with both men landing their Sunday best. Having targeted Gonzalez’s body, in the fourth Sor Rungvisai (114¾) sent in a terrific right hook that had the former crashing on to his side. After getting up and fighting back, the referee stopped the contest at 1.18 of the session after Gonzalez had again been smashed down by another heavy right to the head and needed immediate treatment.
24 February 2018. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai w pts 12 Juan Francisco Estrada
Venue: Inglewood Forum, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: WBC/The Ring. Referee: Jack Reiss.
Scorecards: 115-113, 117-111, 114-114.
Fight Summary: In what was a relatively close fight, the southpaw champion was pushed all the way by Estrada (115), who began the contest countering his man before being forced into concerted activity in the third. With the hard-hitting Sor Rungvisai (114¾) getting in with heavy shots Estrada tried to match him, although his punches made less of a dent as both mixed it up. While Sor Rungvisai had settled into a countering mode by the eighth Estrada began to adapt, sending in quick combinations off the back foot before moving on. With both men realising that it was close, they came out for the 12th throwing heavy punches throughout, both up and down. CompuBox showed that 187 blows were delivered in what was a round that surely qualified for ‘Round of the Year’.
In his next defence, when the top-ranked Sor Rungvisai met Estrada, rated number two, The Ring would recognise the winner as their champion.
6 October 2018. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai w pts 12 Iran Diaz
Venue: Impact Arena, Pak Kret, Thailand. Recognition: WBC/The Ring. Referee: Jay Nady.
Scorecards: 120-108, 119-109, 119-109.
Fight Summary: Right from the off the southpaw champion went after Diaz (114¾), but unable to maintain the pace he began to fight in bursts. Although Diaz proved to be sound defensively and countered well at times, his punches lacked the authority required to take Sor Rungvisai (114½) on at his own game. Even then, Sor Rungvisai found it difficult to pin Diaz down long enough to finish the job, and while landing to both head and body on occasion he ultimately had to settle for the points win.
Sor Rungvisai’s next defence would come against his leading challenger, Juan Francisco Estrada, a man he had outpointed on 24 February 2018 in what was a close, well-matched contest. With a record of 38 (26 inside the distance) wins and three defeats, the former undefeated WBA/WBO flyweight champion had beaten Brian Viloria, Milan Melindo, Richie Mepranum, Giovani Segura, Carlos Cuadras and Felipe Orucuta.
26 April 2019. Juan Francisco Estrada w pts 12 Srisaket Sor Rungvisai
Venue: Inglewood Forum, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: WBC/The Ring. Referee: Ed Collantes.
Scorecards: 116-112, 115-113, 115-113.
Fight Summary: According to a former great, Sugar Ray Leonard, the champion made a big mistake in thinking that for much of the contest he could box Estrada (114½) off in an ordinary stance rather than sticking to his normal southpaw routine. Taking full advantage of the situation, the speedy Estrada continuously beat the out-of-sorts Sor Rungvisai (114¼) to the punch, whether it was with the jab or with combinations, and it was only from the ninth onwards that the latter pulled himself together. However, winning the last four rounds on the cards proved futile as Sor Rungvisai was unable to find the punch that would end the fight, even though Estrada was happy to meet him head-on. On winning, Estrada joined the ranks of two-weight world champions.
24 August 2019. Juan Francisco Estrada w rsc 9 Dewayne Beamon
Venue: Multiple Use Centre, Hermosillo, Mexico. Recognition: WBC/The Ring. Referee: Abdiel Barragan.
Fight Summary: Proving far too good for his determined challenger, Estrada (114½) was soon on the front foot in the second after a relatively close opener. Starting confidently, he scored two knockdowns, the first a left/right combination to the head and the second a solid body shot and follow-up right that had Beamon (114½) complaining that he had slipped on both occasions. Although Beamon fought back spiritedly at times, especially in the fourth, fifth and sixth, he was never able to get on top of Estrada, being subjected to hurtful body shots throughout. Stung by a heavy right to the head at the end of the seventh, Beamon bravely continued into the ninth before running out of gas and stumbling into the ropes prior to the referee calling it off after 51 seconds of the session had ensued.
23 October 2020. Juan Francisco Estrada w rsc 11 Carlos Cuadras
Venue: Aztec TV Gym, Mexico City, Mexico. Recognition: WBC/The Ring. Referee: Lupe Garcia.
Fight Summary: Although he was forced to touch down in the third round following a right-left to the jaw that sent him tumbling, and having lost the opening two rounds, the WBC champion, Estrada (114½), quickly regained his composure to pick up the next four rounds. Estrada and Cuadras (114½) had put up a terrific back-and-forth fight in a previous meeting and this was being contested along similar lines. Even though Estrada had his nose in front Cuadras came back strongly in the eighth and had a solid tenth before Estrada cut loose in the 11th. Having been dropped by a left-right combination, Cuadras picked himself up only to smashed down again by a heavy right hook. Surprisingly making it to his feet he was rescued by the referee at 2.22 of the session when he was under a severe attack and not fighting back. Both men finished with badly damaged features as you would expect from such a hard fight, Estrada cut on the left eye and Cuadras carrying swellings around his right eye.
Estrada would next meet Roman Gonzalez, the WBA champion, in a unification contest.
13 March 2021. Juan Francisco Estrada w pts 12 Roman Gonzalez
Venue: American Airlines Centre, Dallas, Texas, USA. Recognition: WBA/WBC/The Ring. Referee: Luis Pabon.
Scorecards: 117-111, 115-113, 113-115.