WBC World super flyweight champion Masamori Tokuyama has rejected an offer from the Pride fighting organization in Japan to jump ship from boxing to MMA. The Japanese superstar has been out of action since February and recently suggested he will retire from boxing unless presented with a worthy opponent. Tokuyama is big news in Japan and a move to MMA from boxing would be a huge draw for the Pride organization. According to Tokuyama, though, he flatly declined a bout with MMA superstar Takanori Gomi.
“I originally thought it would be like an exhibition. My opponent is in the 70 kg class though and the 20 kg difference is too much.”
“It would be a huge challenge,” he added. “If I avoid a difficult opponent, I am not a true fighter.”
“The man who made me this offer has visited with me many, many times but if I fight with boxing rules in the Pride ring and an MMA fighter defeats me, it’s damaging to the boxing world,” Tokuyama explained.
“Boxing fans may not understand the weight difference but instead would just think MMA defeated boxing,” he continued. “I respect boxing so I will reject all offers as long as I am a boxer.”
The WBC’s super flyweight division is ripe with talent, Jorge Arce, Katsushige Kawashima, Devid Lookmahanak, Z Gorres and Masibulele Makepula all would beat or give Tokuyama a good fight so it is unclear why he believes there is no worthy opposition available.
Tokuyama may be waiting to face the winner of the WBC’s super flyweight interim championship between champion Christian Mijares and Katsushige Kawashima; a fight with Kawashima would be the fourth meeting between the two fighters. Tokuyama holds the edge in the rivalry 2-1. Although he denies having problems making the super flyweight limit, there are also talks of him moving up to meet WBC bantamweight king Hozumi Hasegawa should he get past Genaro Garcia on November 13.
At the recent WBC convention in Croatia, the sanctioning body postponed a decision regarding Tokuyama’s position in the division until they received confirmation of his status from the Japan Boxing Commission.
The deadline for Tokuyama’s mandatory defense is February 27, 2007.
* * *
Katsunari Takayama (18-2, 7 KOs) snatched the WBA interim minimumweight belt when he won a technical decision over Panamanian Carlos Melo (16-5, 2 KOs) in Osaka, Japan.
WBC flyweight king Pongsaklek Wonjongkam looks to extend his record for consecutive title defenses to seventeen on November 17th in Korat, Thailand when he squares off against Monelisi Myekeni of South Africa. The Thai is making the first mandatory defense of his title in three years and the former IBO light flyweight champion Myekeni should provide Wonjongkam with his most difficult defense in years. Boxing insiders are predicting an upset as Myekeni has steadily improved in the last two years, however as the bout takes place in Thailand, Myekeni is fighting an uphill battle and needs to win convincingly.
* * *
Golden Boy Promotions has signed WBA #1 ranked lightweight Prawet Singwancha (30-2-1, 18 KO’s) of Thailand and will pit their new charge against WBA lightweight Juan Diaz. Singwancha has gone undefeated in seven years, but with the exception of recently crowned PABA lightweight champion Dennis Laurente (25-3-5, 12 KOs), he’s faced absolutely no one of championship caliber.
As to be expected, De La Hoya pumped up the Thai, “Singwancha has truly earned his shot at a title,” he said.
Tell it like it is Oscar…you may fool the fans but you can’t fool everyone.
In his last six fights and over the course of a year and a half, Singwancha has knocked out debuting fighters Nicky Amhad and Armier Ranjah, Chinese fighter Xia Yu Qing (2-2-1) and decisioned Teofilo Tunacao (27-33-0, 7 KOs), Dodie Boy Agrabio (6-3-4, 1 KO) and Supachai Mahasapcondo (1-2-0).
These days it doesn’t matter who you win against, just that you win.
Prediction: Diaz via brutal blowout ala Manny Pacquiao – Fahprakorb Rakkiatgym.
* * *
Veeraphol Sahaprom is hopeful for a bout with compatriot Ratanachai Sor Vorapin early next year. The fight would be for an interim title; which one has yet to be determined but the WBC or WBA’s version seems likely. A bout between Sor Vorapin and Sahaprom would be the battle of the aged and would be huge in Thailand. Sahaprom must first get by Michael Bayoma of Tanzania on October 10. Sor Vorapin has fought three times since his TKO loss to Jhonny Gonzalez in October of 2005, winning all by KO.
A rematch with Venezuelan Jose “Cheo” Rojas (23-5-1, 15 KOs) is likely to be the next title defense for WBA featherweight champion Chris “The Dragon” John (38-0-1, 20 KOs) of Indonesia. The two met once before in December of 2004 but a clash of heads caused their first encounter to end in a dissatisfying technical draw.
Rojas should provide a stiff challenge for “The Dragon.” The Venezuelan has been in with Antonio Cermino, John Michael Johnson, Yober Ortega, Genaro Garcia and scored a KO win over current super bantamweight ruler Celestino Caballero. He was also ahead on two of the three judge’s cards after three rounds in their first bout and is the only blemish on the Indonesian’s ledger.
Scheduled date for the bout is February 17 of next year in Borneo, Indonesia.
* * *
IBF Minimumweight Muhammad Rachman (60-5-5, 30 KOs) is slated to face Benji Sorolla (21-9-3, 6 KOs) on December 23rd. The bout will take place in Jakarta at the same venue where Rachman knocked out Omar Soto of Mexico in his last bout, the Senayan Indoor Tennis Stadium. Rachman has said he would be willing to face WBO champion Ivan Calderon in Puerto Rico however, the fight has yet to materialize. Rachman fought Sorolla in 2002, winning a unanimous ten-round decision.
Freddie Roach says “Manny Pacquaio (42-3-2, 33 KOs) is right on target for his fight with Erik Morales” and Shelly Finkel is predicting a KO.
With just over a week left until the Pacquiao – Morales get-together, most journalists are not giving Morales much of a chance. Erik Morales (48-4, 34 KOs) claims he’s being underestimated.
“I am going to work a few more days in here in the Otomí Mountains of Mexico City and we are now sharpening our strategy and near the weight. I will win!”
Referee Vic Drakulich gets the call to ref the bout while the scoring will be determined by judges Glenn Towbridge (U.S.), Doug Tucker (U.S.) and Guido Cavalieri (Italy).
* * *
Manny Pacquaio isn’t the only Filipino fighter worth reading about at the moment; Jimrex Jaca’s on-again, off-again title fight with WBO interim featherweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez (45-3-1, 34 KOs) is apparently back on. Jaca (27-2-1, 12 KOs) travels to Hidalgo, Texas on November 25 to try to wrest the title Marquez won from Thailand’s Terdsak Jandaeng in August of this year. Marquez was extremely sharp against Jandaeng and is a prohibitive favorite.
Solomon Egberime of Nigeria is out, Australian Eddie “Pyscho” Delic (11-6-2, 2 KOs) is in. In training for his WBF title fight with Dondon Sultan (13-7-2, 7 KOs), Egberime suffered an injury and was forced to withdraw from the bout. Delic and Sultan square off November 25 at the Suntec Convention Centre in Singapore for the vacant WBF welterweight championship. Also on the card, Emmett Gazzard takes on Saensak Singmanasak, Mohammad Nor Rizan goes against Pornthep Kawponkanpim and Singaporean cruiserweight David Alexis is in action in a four-round bout.
The WBC featherweight title fight between champion Rudolfo Lopez (19-2-1, 13 KOs) and Korean challenger In Jin Chi (30-3-1, 18 KOs) in Seoul, Korea has been rescheduled to December 17.