By Carlos Costa
New Year’s Celebrations in awesome Macao have got so much more exciting with the confirmation of three world title fights set to thrill boxing fans December 31 in the former Portuguese Colony.
In the evening’s main event, 3-division world-champions Kazuto Ioka (23-1, 13 KO’s) of Japan and Donnie Nietes (41-1-5, 23 KO’s) of the Philippines collide for the vacant WBO Super Flyweight World Title.
Ioka, 29, handled by boxing manager Taku Nagashima, aims at becoming the first Japanese boxer in history to claim world titles in four weight classes; while the veteran, ring-savvy Donnie Nietes, 36, guns at cementing his legacy as one of the most durable and consistent Filipino boxing champions.
Both men have forged stellar boxing careers, reigning has world champions at minimumweight, light flyweight and flyweight world champions. Who will came-out victorious?
For Nietes’s long time manager Michael Aldeguer of Cebu, Philippines, the rumble could not be more electrifying as boxing fans will see two skilled 3-division world champions at each other in combat.
“These are two legendary Asian fighters going for a 4th division world title, involving powerhouses boxing countries (Japan and the Philippines). This may go down as one of the best fights ever made in Asian boxing history,” shared Aldeguer, president & CEO of ALA Boxing Promotions.
BUDLER VS KYOGUCHI
In the co-main feature, 2-division beltholder Hekkie Budler (32-3, 10 KO’s) of South Africa defends his WBA Light Flyweight World Title against unbeaten, dangerous former IBF Minimumweight World Champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (11-0, 8 KO’s) in a classic match of the classy, technical stylist (Budler), against Kyoguchi, a warrior who presses forward, searching for his opponent’s demise.
Budler, 30, comes from dethroning tough-as-nails Ryoichi Taguchi (27-3-2, 12 KO’s) last July in a high-caliber, intense, close, blow-by-blow 12-rounder war that the talented South African won with heart and toughness by a razor-thin margin.
Meanwhile, Kyoguchi, 25 ravaged then unbeaten Indonesian Tibo Monabesa (18-1-2, 8 KO’s) last September, stopping him in four… and now the undefeated Japanese wants to scalp the elusive, very accomplished Hekkie Budler.
MTHALANE VS SAKAMOTO
The third world title clash this New Year’s Eve at the plush Wynn Palace Cotai in Macao will feature veteran South African Moruti “Babyface” Mthalane (36-2, 24 KO’s), defending his IBF Flyweight World Strap against 27 year-old tough brawler Masahiro Sakamoto (13-1, 9 KO’s) of Japan.
Mthalane, 36, is a two-time IBF 112 lbs world champion, having held the title since July 2018, and previously from 2009 to 2014.
In his last battle, Moruti Mthalane survived a rough eleventh round knock down and furious attack from opponent Muhammad Waseem (8-1, 6 KO’s) to win a close unanimous decision last July in Malaysia.
Now the man on Mthalane’s sight is the heavy-handed Masahiro Sakamoto.
“Yes, we will go to Macao to defend my title against Sakamoto. And I will be ready for him,” shared Mthalane, who is currently training in Johannesburg with his top South African coach Colin Nathan.
Will the veteran Mthalane still has the necessary weaponry to deal with the glory-hungry Japanese challenger?
Or will the highly motivated, young samurai Sakamoto overpower the more accomplished, more experienced African warrior?
The triple world title event in Macao, China, on New Year’s Eve is a joint effort of Tom Loeffler’s 360 Promotions, Good Luck Good Life Sankyo, TLAROCK, Life Time, Michael Aldeguer’s ALA Boxing Promotions, DEF, Tokyo Broadcasting System and ABS CBN Sports + Action.
The author Carlos Costa is a Panama-born boxingscene.com fight reporter based in Cebu, Philippines. He will attend this boxing card in Macao. Carlos can be reached by email [email protected] and Whatsapp: +639184538152.