By: Sergio L. Martinez
A special “Solo Boxeo” from Macao, China featured bouts from the “Fists of Gold” undercard boxing event promoted by Top Rank. The televised fights showcased the promotional giant’s younger and relatively unknown stable of fighters. There was plenty of excitement and potential on exhibition.
The opening televised bout displayed popular Chinese super flyweight, Rex Tso (12-0 with 2 NDs and 8 KOs) taking on Japanese trial horse, Mako Matsuyama (7-7-1 with 3 KOs). The bout was scheduled for 10 rounds and Tso’s two minor belts were on the line. The Wonder Kid, a southpaw, found himself countering in the opening round as Matsuyama came out swinging. Tso was successful in landing solid combinations and often found a home for his long left hand. The second saw Tso using lateral movement in the opening minute of the round as Matsuyama attacked. As the round progressed, Tso began to attack and strafed the Japanese veteran with a hard left hand that sent Matsuyama down. He beat the count and went into survival mode for the duration of the round. An all-out war broke out in the middle rounds as both fighters stood their grounds and fired bombs at will. Matsuyama was brave but clearly outgunned as the stronger, quicker and better skilled Tso landed the more telling blows. Matsuyama was cut over the right eye in the sixth round due to a head-butt. In the seventh, Tso came out looking to end it as he viciously punished the Japanese warrior, landing hard shots to the head and body. Matsuyama fired back but his punches had little power.
Although it was clear that Matsuyama no longer had a chance to win and was at risk of being seriously hurt, neither the corner nor the referee took a proactive approach and allowed Matsuyama to finish the round; he was barely erect when the seventh came to a close. The fight finally came to an end in the eighth as Tso continued to punish Matsuyama and the Japanese hit the canvas just as his corner threw in the towel. The official time was one minute and twenty-eight seconds of the round. Tso is looking to challenge for a world title within the next two fights and Top Rank seems to really be behind this kid.
The next televised bout featured Japanese 2012 Olympic gold medalist Ryota Murata (2-0-0 with 2 KOs) taking on Brizilian veteran Carlos “The Butcher” Nascimiento (28-3-2 with 12 KOs). The middleweight bout was scheduled for eight rounds. Murata, a tall and imposing-looking 160 pounder, flashed a solid jab, powerful body shots and good upper body movement in the first round. Nascimento attempted to get some offense going but the Olympic champion defended well and landed in return. Murata showed a great understanding of distance in the second as he used his powerful jab to keep Nascimiento at bay while he stunned the Brazilian with straight, hard right hands to the head and body. Murata also utilized a hard left hook that caused damage. Nascimiento was not able to mount any kind of offense throughout the fight.
Nascimiento was seriously hurt in the third via a hard uppercut and eventually went down after a follow-up barrage of shots. He would beat the count and survived to see the fourth but it would be a moot point as Murata came out and went to work, landing at will, causing the referee to stop the fight. The official result was a technical knockout victory 43 seconds into the fourth round. With the win, Murata improved to 3-0-0 with 3 KOs and looked impressive.
The main event of the evening featured Filipino featherweight and former world title challenger, Marvin Sonsona (17-1-1 with 15 KOs) locking horns with Japanese contender, Akifumi Shimoda (28-4-2 with 12 KOs). The contest was scheduled for 12 rounds with the vacant WBO International Featherweight title on the line.
Both Sonsona and Shimoda are southpaws and came out jabbing, trying to set up scoring opportunities. There was a lot of movement in the first round as both fighters were attempting to outmaneuver the other. The nervous energy led to a couple of head-butts in the round. The pace was upped in the second as Shimoda started to attack the body prompting the Pinoy fighter to fire at the head. Shimoda kept the pressure on throughout the round but was caught with sharp left hands on several occasions. Still, neither fighter had clearly asserted himself at this stage in the fight. The third stanza saw Sonsoma began to land his left hand at a higher tilt as the Filipino confused Shimoda with quick feet and lateral movement. As the Japanese fighter attempted to move in, Sonsona landed a venomous left uppercut that immediately deposited Shimoda onto the canvas as if he had been shot. The referee, seeing that Shimodo was knocked out, did not bother completing the count and immediately stopped the bout. It was an exciting win for the Pinoy bomber and one that is likely to get him back into a title bout soon.
Boxing in Macao, China seems to be in full swing as there was plenty of fan support and appreciation shown. The televised bouts provided abundant action, and exciting knockouts for all to enjoy. Top Rank has basically bet its immediate future in this market and so far, the gamble appears to be paying off.