By Teodoro Medina Reynoso
Two Filipino road warriors, Rey Loreto and Jhunriel Ramonal will try to end a roller coaster year for Philippine boxing on a winning note as they clash against separate top Japanese opponents on New Year’s Eve in Japan.
Loreto a world rated veteran internationalist with a deceiving 25-14-0 fight record will tangle with undefeated Ginjiro Shigeoka (4-0 ) for the WBO Asia Pacific minimumweight title.
Ramonal on the other hand will try to get back to world ranking and win the vacant WBO Asia Pacific super bantamweight title against world rated Yusaku Kuga.
Both will be fighting in the undercards of the double main event at the Ota Prefecture Gym in Tokyo City featuring Kosei Tanaka and Kazuto ioka in world title defenses against Wulan Toulehazi of China and Jeyvier Cintron of Puerto Rico respectively.
Tanaka is the reigning WBA flyweight champion while Ioka is the WBO super flyweight titleholder who will be making the first defense of the title vacated earlier this year by Donnie Nietes that he won by TKO over Aston Palicte last June.
Loreto has mostly fought in foreign rings in his career including twice in South Africa where he won and defended the IBO world title against Nkosinathi Joyi in 2014 and Thailand last year in a failed WBA title try versus long reigning champion Thamanoon Niyontrong.
The battle tested Loreto will attempt to bolster his current world ranking and add another belt to his collection against Shigeoka. In his last fight in Japan in 2016, he stopped Koji Itakagi.
Meanwhile, Ramonal (16-8-6, 8 KOs) will try to barge back to world ranking and win an international title against Kuga (19-3-1, 10 KOs) who is rated number 8 by the WBC in the super bantamweight division.
In his last fight, Ramonal avenged an earlier loss to then world rated Shingo Wake by knockout in their 10 round bout held at the Korakuen Hall also in Tokyo last October. That win pushed him to a world ranking in November but he is not currently listed in the latest ratings of any of the four major world boxing bodies
Just this last Monday, two Filipino campaigners lost their bouts in Japan with Randy Petalcorin falling to WBC light flyweight champion Ken Shiro Teraji and journeyman Diomel Diocos succumbing to former triple weight division world champion Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzales, both by knockout.
It has been very difficult for Pinoy ring campaigners to win in Japan with Nonito Donaire as the most prominent casualty this year, losing on points in a gallant battle against ‘The Monster’ Naoya Inoue last November in their World Boxing Super Series bantamweight finals where their world titles aside from the Ring Magazine bekt were at stake.
Ramonal, former WBO minimumweight titlist Vic Saludar, and current IBF Asia Pacific super featherweight titlist Joe Noynay are among the few Pinoys who have been relatively successful in the Japanese ring thus far this year.