Between August 31st and September 11th we’ll see every major Super Flyweight title being fought for in 2 weeks of potential chaos for the division. It’s a period that could help open up the doors for some potentially brilliant unification bouts, it also helps to get rid of some mandatory obligations and could provide us a FOTY contender.
The pandemonium begins on August 31st in a bout that I’ve personally been waiting for since the start of the year. The bout will see WBA champion Kohei Kono (32-8-1, 13) face off with mandatory challenger, Luis Concepcion (24-4, 24).
Those of you who saw Kono’s win over Koki Kameda will be aware that Kono is a gutsy, exciting punching machine. He may lack some of the subtleties seen in the top fighters but he’s a full on warrior and lives up to his moniker of the “Tough Boy”. The Tokyo fighter is one of the truly “gritty” fighters and is someone who turned around a faltering career, in 2011-2012, into a memorable one with hard work and determination to become a 2-time world champion and being responsible for upsets over Kameda and Tepparith Singwancha.
When it comes to Concepcion we have a free swinging Panamanian who has been in with a number of top names, including Denkaosan Kaovichit, Hernan Marquez and Carlos Cuadras. Blessed with spiteful power Concepcion is probably best known for his first bout with the then WBA Flyweight champion Hernan Marquez, a crazy 11th round war and contender for FOTY. Since then he has out grown the Flyweight division and reinvented himself as a Super Flyweight scoring a stellar win over David Sanchez last year and gaining revenge over Hernan Marquez.
Just a few days later, on September 3rd, we will see unbeaten WBO champion McJoe Arroyo (17-0, 8) face his mandatory Jerwin Ancajas (24-1-1, 16). These two were meant to meet in April but Arroyo had to pull out and the bout was put back to September.
The champion won the title last year when he defeated previously unbeaten Filipino Arthur Villanueva for the vacant title, in what was a very competitive bout. That win was a relatively lucky one for the Puerto Rican who has scored other notable wins over Mark Anthony Geraldo and Hernan Marquez. Arroyo is talented but like many talented fighters he’s lazy and can be seen taking rounds off. When he’s at his best however he’s a genuinely brilliant boxer with very under-rated power and a determined toughness, like his twin brother McWilliams. Notably however he has been out of the ring for well over a year.
The challenger is relatively unknown by those who don’t follow the Asian scene. Those who do follow the scene however will tell you he’s an excellent, explosive and exciting fighter with a fun style and venomous punches that can be thrown at amazing speed. Ancajas started his career as a teenager and began 13-1-1 (5), with his sole loss coming to Geraldo. Since then he has scored 11 straight stoppage wins. With his power, speed and confidence he’s a dangerous challenger and could be a real nightmare given Arroyo’s inactivity.
A day later one of the divisions genuine stars is in action as WBO world champion Naoya Inoue (10-0, 8) defends his title against Thailand’s Karoon Jarupianlerd, better known as Petchbarngborn Kokeitgym, (38-7-1, 18). The bout is seen as a “stay” busy for Inoue.
For Inoue this bout will be his third defense of the title and, on paper at least, his easiest since winning the belt at the end of 2014 against Omar Narvaez. The Japanese “Monster” was made to look human last time out when he fought to a decision win against David Carmona. That bout aside Inoue has looked like a future legend in the making and in many ways his “human-like struggle” has allowed him to prove he can do 12 rounds and has shown that he can fight with one hand injured.
The challenger was supposed to fight Englishman Paul Butler earlier this year in an eliminator but that bout fell through when Butler failed to make weight, as a result the Thai has been given this opportunity. In the ring he’s shown to be flawed but has mixed it with some decent fighters and has scored a win over Wandee Singwancha, ran Kono close and has only been stopped once, from a crunching body shot by Sho Ishida. Despite being the under-dog Petchbarngborn will know he has nothing to lose here.
Just 6 days later we see the most anticipated Super Flyweight bout in years as WBC champion Carlos Cuadras (35-0-1, 27) defends his title against Roman Gonzalez (45-0, 38). The bout will be the end of the Summer of Super Fly’s and potentially a FOTY contender.
The unbeaten Cuadras won his title just over 2 years ago, when he claimed a technical decision win over Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, and has made 6 defenses against some abject competition. Despite that he’s an unbeaten champion who will be the naturally bigger man against Gonzalez and is a former amateur stand out looking for a big win, which he knows could come against the incredibly highly regarded Gonzalez. He will also know that this is a great opportunity to open up avenues for other major bouts.
For Gonzalez the bout is a chance to become a genuine 4-weight world champion, and to amazingly win a 4th divisional world title on the road. The Nicaraguan sensation started at Minimumweight and has climbed his way through the weights whilst scoring numerous notable wins. To the casual fans he might just be an offensive wrecking ball who has appeared over the last 12 months but the hardcore fans have seen him beat the likes of Katsunari Takayama, Juan Francisco Estrada and Akira Yaegashi before HBO started to hype him. A win over Cuadras would be huge and would further legitimise him as the #1 pound-for-pound fighter on the planet.
With those big fights already set, and other contenders like Takuma Inoue in action over the coming weeks, the division is going to undergo some major changes by the middle of September.
Scott Graveson covers the Asian boxing scene for www.asianboxing.info