By Alexey Sukachev
His ninth year (counting from the split decision win over Oscar Leon for the interim title in September 2003) as the WBA featherweight champion, Indonesian icon Chris John (48-0-2, 22 KOs) still looks to be a man on a mission. Making the 17th defense of his title (and the sixth as the "super champion"), the 33-year old Dragon repelled a very determined challenge of previously undefeated Thai Chonlartarn Piriapinyo (now 44-1, 27 KOs), winning a wide unanimous decision over twelve rounds.
Piriapinyo, a notorious slow-starter, was doing little in the first half of the fight. The first two or three rounds were all John. He marched forward behind a stiff jab and landed hard overhand rights, the so-called Dragon punches, time and again. Piriapinyo, 27, who was ranked #1 by the WBC, #2 by the WBO and #7 by the WBA coming into this, looked content to eat all of Indonesian's arsenal and not to take a single step back. John was very active, landing at every possible occasion and not forgetting to land hard body punches.
Things started to heat up in the sixth, when the Thai import finally got going. Piriapinyo, well sure of his chin (and rightfully so) started to press the champion, throwing looping left hands and letting his hands go. John ate some leather in that stanza, and he ate much more in the seventh - the best round of the bout, which saw both of the boxers repeatedly hurt but still going on nevertheless. Piriapinyo rallied at the end and staggered John with a couple of very hard left hooks. John looked hurt a bit in the eighth as well but dug deep and, as a real champion, found something in his belly to turn back the tide.
From round nine, his domination continuously became more and more visible. In the tenth and in the eleventh he was backing his opponent off. Piriapinyo lost his mouthpies a couple of times, and his tapes were placed wrong, creating pauses in the match. Both combatants engaged in a very heated the twelfth and final round, and Chris John came out as better man.
At the end, all three judges were in agreement: 117-111 (Takeshi Shimakava) and 119-109 (Francisco Martinez and Stanley Christodoulou) - for the defending titleholder. BoxingScene saw it 116-112 - also for Chris "The Dragon" John, who took another step into being considered for the Hall of Fame once he retires.
In an all-Asian encounter between fighters from areas which aren't exactly boxing hotbeds, IBO featherweight champion Daud Cino Yordan (30-2, 24 KOs) successfully retained his title by dominating determined Mongolian challenger Choi Tseveenpurev (36-6, 24 KOs) over twelve hard-fought rounds.
Both combatants let their fists fly, and that resulted in a crowd-pleasing affair at Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore, almost a domestic arena for the defending titlist. IBF #8 and WBA #9 Yordan, 25, smoothly boxed off the ropes, while Choi, sixteen years his older, showcased his trademark activity and bulldog's determination in hunting (unsuccessfully) his opponent down. Yordan landed a number of hard shots, specifically down the stretch of the bout, when Choi, 41, started to run out of gas. However, he was unable to become the first one to stop the rugged Mongolian. Both boxers put all they had in the final round, and Yordan was much more consistent in doing so.
Scores were unanimous in favour of Daud Yordan: 117-111 (Bruce McTavish), 118-110 (Cherdchai Srirat) and 119-110 (Steve Marshall). Colonel Bob Sheridan had it 118-112 - also for the Indonesian.