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19 JUNE 2018

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'Ring of Gold' undercard action


By Mark G. Butcher, reporting from ringside in Macao: Bangkok’s Atthaporn Jaritram looked like he’d been on the pad thai more than the pads and was blown away by Olympic gold medal winner Egor Mekhontsev, 2-0 (2), in the second round of a light-heavyweight bout optimistically scheduled for six.


The gulf in class was evident from the first bell. Not long into the first, a right hand rocked back the head of the overmatched fighter from Bangkok. A sustained barrage of blows sent him to the deck in the second as the unbeaten Russian landed at will.


Shipping heavy punishment, Jaritram was saved from his own bravery by referee Danrex Tapdasan at 2.19 of the second.


In a battle between two former world champions and southpaws, a picture perfect left uppercut from Filipino Marvin Sonsona knocked Japan’s Akifumi Shimoda out stone cold in the third round to claim the vacant WBO international featherweight crown.


It was a truly sensational shot and a total bolt from the blue as former WBA super-bantamweight champion Shimoda seemed on top after the first two rounds.


Ex-WBO super-flyweight king Sonsona, who has always had great talent but struggled with personal problems outside of the ring, looks a live contender at 126-pounds. He may never land a better punch in his life.


Sonsona, now 18-1-1(15), is still just 23 years old. Shimoda, who falls to 28-4-2 (12), thankfully recovered from the hammer blow with no ill effects.


The end of the contest was timed at 1.17. Referee was Danrex Taopdasan.


Charismatic Rex Tso, 12-0 (8), brought a considerable following over the water from nearby Hong Kong, but was given a testing encounter by Japanese pressure fighter Mako Matsuyama, 7-8-1 (3), before triumphing in the eighth round of a give-and-take battle.


Tso had apparently not slept for 24 hours before Friday’s weigh-in as he worried about making the 115lb weight limit and had only eaten a solitary apple in the preceding 30 hours. He fought with great appetite.


The classier Hong Kong southpaw floored his game Japanese opponent with a short left in the second round, but found himself under sustained pressure from Matsuyama in the following session.


The Japanese was warned in the fourth for rabbit punching before the two fighters traded blows by the ropes and brought the pro-Tso crowd to its feet. Matsuyama had his right eye checked in the fifth but was allowed to carry on. Tso showed good footwork to step in and out of range to punish the gutsy Japanese who fought through the pain to give the Hong Kong fighter all he could handle.


But the greater quality of Tso shined throughout. In the seventh, three hellacious rights seemed to knock the stuffing out of Matsuyama and, in the eighth, a barrage of non-stop blows coupled with exhaustion sent the Japanese fighter to the canvas for a second time. His corner immediately threw in the towel and referee Danrex Tapdasan stopped the bout after 1.27 seconds of the eighth.


The WBC Asia Continental junior bantamweight and vacant WBO Asia Pacific super-flyweight titles were on the line. It was scheduled for 10.


Showing the measure and poise of a trained assassin, Japanese puncher Ryota Murata, 3-0 (3), broke down the body and spirit of former world title challenger Carlos Nascimento, 28-4 (22), before halting him four rounds into a scheduled middleweight eight-rounder.


Brazilian Nascimento came to fight and attempted to punish the body of the tall, rangy Olympic gold medal winner from Japan. But Murata showed a poise and maturity that belied his limited professional experience in the opening two rounds.


In the third, a big right sent Nascimento toppling backwards into the ropes. Murata coolly moved in for the finish. Moments later, a sweeping left hook had the Brazilian keeling over for a count but he managed to survive the round.


But his respite was brief and a sustained bombardment from the Japanese prospect prompted referee Danrex Tapdasan to make a perfectly times stoppage after 43 seconds of the fourth round. Murata can fight.


Local favourite Kuok Kun Ng, 3-0 (1), drew a huge roar from the Cotai Arena and he delighted his fans in Macao by overwhelming the wonderfully named Rocky Alap Alap, 2-10 (0), in three rounds of a super-welterweight four-rounder.


It was a painfully one-sided contest. A right hand sent Indonesian Alap toppling to the deck in a delayed reaction in the second and he spent the remainder of the fight withstanding a sustained battering and on the verge of defeat.


Another heavy right saw Alap sink to the canvas for a second time in the third round prompting referee Sawaeng Thaweekoon to mercifully call a halt at 1.17 seconds of the round.


In a super-featherweight six-round bout, Filipino Harmonito Dela Torre, now 12-0 (7), evaded the wild swings of Indonesian trialhorse Yakobus Heluka, 3-4 (0), to score a perfect one punch knockout.


The opening minute resembled a bar fight between a drunk and sober man. Heluka’s looping, telegraphed shots drew ‘oohs’ of dismay from the crowd but Dela Torre retained his cool to coldcock his limited opponent with a right hand to the temple for referee Tony Peson’s full count of 10 at 2.17 seconds of round one. Thankfully, the outgunned Heluka rose within a minute and left the ring under his own steam.


Filipino super-flyweight hope Jerwin Ancajas, now 17-1-1 (10), had far too much firepower for outgunned Thai Inthanon Sithchamuang, 19-7 (10), in the six-round show opener at the Cotai Arena.


Ancajas took a minute or so to feel his way into the first round behind a crisp jab before teeing off with impunity. A left cross off the southpaw jab floored the Thai heavily in the first who bravely rose and somehow survived a torrid end to the round.


It was merely delaying the inevitable as the heavy-handed Filipino poleaxed his foe with a huge left hand in the second to end the contest. Referee was Sawaeng Thaweekoon. Official time was 1.30 of round two.

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