By Derek Bonnett: It’s been over a year since I communicated my thoughts regarding the organizing bodies to boxing fans through this medium. Yep, it’s been since August of 2014 that I felt compelled to write a volume of Title Shots Here! Getcha’ Free Title Shot! That’s not to say there haven’t been an undeserving pretender since then that hasn’t conveniently popped into the rankings of an organizing body just prior to a title fight being announced. There certainly has, but, overall, things have been balanced. Well, guess what boxing aficionados? During the Christmas season a lot of gifts are being handed out. Just so readers know that I don’t watch the lighter weight classes blindly, I have targeted flyweight, light flyweight, and minimumweight in this volume. So, once again, enthusiasts of professional fisticuffs, we must ask: What did these fighters do to deserve a title shot?
The WBC are absolved of wrong doing this month as they are not responsible for any of the four bouts in question. I am sure they will find other ways to screw the fighters and fans come the new year. The WBO is also absent, but the WBA checks in with one count of contender fraud. The IBF is this month’s big winner with three highly questionable title affairs coming off just before the start of 2016.
Here we go!
Myung Ho Lee, 19-4-1 (6), may not even be a household name in his own household. All kidding aside, the Japanese flyweight will be meeting Amnat Ruenroeng, 16-0-0 (5), in a twelve round IBF title affair in the champion’s native Thailand. Ruenroeng, 35, exposed Zou Shiming to start 2015 and then alienated fans by turning in one of the most disgraceful performances in recent memory with his foul-filled wronging of John Riel Casimero back in June. Well, the IBF has pretty much guaranteed Ruenroeng will remain champion come the new year by installing Lee, 33, as a top ten contender in their October ratings, which are the most recent posted for the flyweight division. At this time, Lee was ranked tenth. The Japanese contender is not ranked by any of the other three major sanctioning bodies. Even BoxRec can only grant Lee status as the fifth best flyweight from Japan at the moment.
Lee is not a stranger to world class opposition, he just hasn’t proven himself capable of beating any. Back in 2012, Lee lost back to back decision to Rocky Fuentes and Edgar Sosa. The Sosa defeated was handed down narrowly, but that loss was soon followed by an eight round unanimous decision loss to streaking journeyman Rey Migreno, who at the time was still a losing fighter at 19-20-3, in spite of the occasional upset. To find Lee’s most salient victory, you have to dig back to 2011 when he defeated a waning Shin Ono. Over the last two years, Lee has gone 3-0-1. First, he drew with faded veteran Hirofumi Mukai over eight rounds. Three wins followed over a trio of boxers with a combined dossier of 24-8-9. Takashi Omae and Akiyoshi Kanazawa were comparable domestic talents without a wealth of experience even on the national level. Neither had even contested for a regional title on record. Lee outpointed both. Dawut Manopkanchang, who was a second round KO victim sandwiched between the aforementioned foes, came into the bout with a record of 0-2, having been stopped early in each bout. Simply put, Lee is not qualified to contest for a world championship. Barring a huge upset, Ruenroeng will easily defend his title come December 7 in a bout better served as a non-title affair.
Akira Yaegashi will always be remembered fondly by this boxing nut. The Japanese two-division champion will be looking for a belt in his third weight class for the third time since September of last year when he takes on Javier Mendoza for the IBF light flyweight belt at home. Unlike Lee, Yaegashi has proven he can hang with and beat the best. Since losing a narrow decision to Kazuto Ioka in their 2012 all-time great minimumweight title bout, Yaegashi picked up a flyweight title and posted quality wins over Toshiyuke Igarashi, Oscar Blanquet, Edgar Sosa, and Odilon Zaleta. However, Yaegashi finished 2014 being decimated twice in mid-round stoppage losses to Roman Gonzalez and Pedro Guevara. Yaegashi failed to contend at any point in either contest and did not return to the ring until this May. Yet, he held a number ten ranking from the IBF as of their latest ratings posted in October.
Since then, Yaegashi has posted two very nondescript victories over Songseanglek Phosuwangym and Said M Said. Hardly murderer’s row candidates, the two trial horse fighters owned a combined ledger of 3-13 and provided as much resistance as a double-end bag would for the faded Japanese champion. Songseanglek , 1-11 (0), had fought only once in each of the last three years. His quality of opposition was exceptional, but he could not get past the second round with either Ryo Akaho or Carlos Cuadras. He failed to do the same with Yaegashi. Said came in 2-2, riding a two-fight losing streak and only lasted into the third with Yaegashi. This title fight is not an atypical match-up. Mendoza, while capable, is hardly a recognizable name. A solid win over the veteran former titlist Yaegashi would go a long way, but even Yaegashi’s fans recognize that his third recent title fight has nothing to do with merit. In light of Guevara’s recent upset loss to Japan’s Yu Kimura, Yaegashi might be better served pulling out of the Mendoza fight and seeking out his countryman. Mendoza is not a huge puncher, but he should be able to produce and accumulation of punishment type TKO on December 29.
There is absolutely no argument for Jose Argumendo’s upcoming challenge of IBF minimumweight champion Katsunari Takayama on December 31. For starters, Argumendo, 15-3-1, has not fought in over a year. Somehow, he was rated eighth in the IBF’s October rankings.
Argumendo’s latest victory in November 2014 came against the 7-12-3 (1) Irving Requena; he won by TKO in two rounds. Earlier in 2014 came a ten round split decision loss to Carlos Velarde. Had Argumendo won, I might feel differently about this title challenge. Several years back, the Mexican "contender" completed a trilogy with eventual minimumweight "Cinderella Man" Oswaldo Novoa going 1-2 overall. He also defeated eventual contender Saul Juarez, but at the time the name meant little. Argumendo looks like Takayama will be taking it easy after a pretty stiff schedule since 2011! However, fortunately for fans, Takayama is never in an easy fight and he always entertains.
Arguably, the fighter most gifted with a title shot this month is Luis De La Rosa. De La Rosa will take on Ryoichi Taguchi for the WBA light flyweight title on the same card as Takayama’s next defense. De La Rosa is not without his experience or exposure; since 2013, he has faced four world class opponents. The downside is that he never came close to winning any of those bouts. In 2013, he was stopped in eight rounds by Merlito Sabillo. After that, he was blasted in one round by Moises Fuentes. He then went ten rounds in losing to Zou Shiming before being brushed off once again in the first round by Alexis Diaz. Sadly, that’s the upside to De La Rosa’s career and it was enough to warrant a number seven rating by the WBA.
Only once in his 24-5-1 (14) record, has De La Rosa defeated a fighter with a winning record. This is not unusual for Colombian fighters, but there is no evidence supporting a title shot for De La Rosa. Since 2013, De La Rosa has not managed to win two fights back to back. In this time he has gone 3-4 with the losses outlined above. His three conquests had a combined record of 24-97-7. After losing to Sabillo, he won a shut-out over Alfonso De La Hoz, who saw his record dip to 13-47-6 afterward. After getting crushed by Fuentes, De La Rosa won by second round TKO over Deivis Narvaez, who fell to 0-21. Back to back losses to Shiming and Diaz followed before De La Rosa got back in the win column (and title hunt apparently) with a second round stoppage over Gustavo Cortes, who came in 11-31-1. Cortes has not registered a victory since 2008. Make no mistake, Taguchi is looking to go out with a bang in 2015. The smart money on the one is that he will.
I don’t know why I am so intent on spoiling any holiday cheer for these challengers! Of these four title fiascos, I will admittedly watch them all given the chance . My main purpose is to inform the fans so they know what to expect and what they will likely be getting. 2015 has revealed many upsets so far. Maybe the fans will be treated to yet another.
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December 3, 2015