Today we return to the 1990's for a memorable Closet Classic that won the Japanese fight of the year award, and saw a rivalry come to an end with two men clashing, years after they were originally supposed to face off. The bout pit the first true Russian professional boxing star against one of the man tipped to be a Japanese star, and the bout delivered an instant classic, that is now, more than 20 years on, still remembered well by Japanese fans from the era.
Yuri Arbachakov (22-0, 15) vs Puma Toguchi (18-2, 15)
In one corner was the then WBC Flyweight champion Yuri Arbachakov, a Russian born fighter who was based in Japan, where he had essentially been based his entire career. He was a technically brilliant boxer-puncher, combining sensational skills, polished in a long and successful amateur career, with naturally heavy hands, a solid chin and a totally relaxed in ring persona. He was one of two fighters from the former USSR that Kyoei had guided to a world title and wasn't looking to give it up, in fact this was his 9 defence since winning the belt in 1992.
Puma Toguchi, who actually fought under his birth name of Takato Toguchi for this particular bout, was regarded as one of 3 potential Japanese stars at the turn of the 1990's. He, along with Joichit Tatsuyoshi and Katsuya Onizuka, were seen as the trio to watch in Japan. Sadly Toguchi was, unlike the other two, very hard to handle and had had issues with his team in the early 1990's. Those issues had seen him lose the Japanese Flyweight title in 1991, cancelling a scheduled bout with Arbachakov as a result, and had seen him out of the ring for over 2 years as a result. Although a fantastic talent, with heavy hands he was seen as being a clear under-dog here.
With the issues of their cancelled 1991 fight acting as a back drop the two were expected to put on something special when they finally clashed on August 26th 1996. Rather than Toguchi defending the national title, as was the case when the bout was first supposed to take place, this was now a world title fight, and the two men fought as if the belt meant everything.
The first round was a quiet one, with both looking to see what the other hand. From there on however they both began to go through the gears, landing some huge shots, trading blows when they had to. Arbachakov, the better pure boxer, applied constant, heavy pressure, boxing well behind his jab, whilst Toguchi looked to find holes with counters, exploiting the text book approach of Arbachakov.
For those hoping for an all out war, this wasn't that. Instead it was a very well fought boxing contest, with both men having moments, and both fighting through adversity, with Arbachakov badly damaging his right hand which caused him serious issues the rest of his career.
Sadly after this bout neither man really had much success. Arbachakov, who wanted to retire after this win, fought on and suffered a loss to a man he had already beat, whilst Toguchi went 5-1 before retiring, and has suffered with Dementia Pugilistica in recent years.
One of the stellar names of Asian boxing over the last 10 years or so has been Gennady Golovkin who had a great decade. During the 00's Golovkin went 22-1-1 (20), scored wins in Panama, Kazakhstan, Germany, Ukraine, USA, Monaco and the UK and unified the WBC, WBO and IBF Middleweight titles. He did all that whilst struggling, for much of the decade, to secure bouts with the best fighters in the division.
After missing out on bouts with the likes of Felix Sturm, Arthur Abraham, Sergio Martinez, Peter Quillin, Andy Lee and Billy Joe Saunders it seemed that Golovkin had to make do with top contenders, rather than fellow champions for much of his prime years. By the time the top fighters, such as Daniel Jacobs and Saul Alvarez, were willing to get in to the ring with Golovkin he was in his mid 30's and looking like a man who was starting to slip. Things were also not helped by a unification bout with Dmitry Pirog falling through in 2012, before Pirog was forced to retire due to injury.
Having struggled to get top competition Golovkin's record is littered with decent contenders, like Matthew Macklin, Martin Murray, Marco Antonio Rubio,Vanes Martirosyan and Sergiy Derevyanchenko, along with former title holders, like Daniel Geale, Kassim Ouma. Wins over David Lemieux and Kell Brook looked good at the time, but went on to age badly and really didn't enhance his record, on reflection. At least not in the way his 2017 win over Daniel Jacobs, and controversial draw against Saul Alvarez.
Talk of moving up in weight had some intrigued in whether Golovkin's power could carry up to 168lbs, especially for a bout with Andre Ward, but we never found out whether he could have success in a second weight class as he chose not to chase a second divisional title. This was a big shame, as he could have had a much more interest prime rather than the busy but unfulfilling prime we saw Kazakh have.
Whilst it's easy to hate on Golovkin's competition his performances were often brilliant. He was always exciting to watch, with thunder in his hands and a boulder in his chin. He put on the "Big Drama Show" and opened the door to Central Asian fighters to follow, holding the door open for the likes of Ali Akhmedov, Israil Madrimov, Sadriddin Akhmedov and others. His importance in boxing is likely to be felt for a long, long time after his retirement and his success cannot be questioned.
We suspect that the boxing world will be incredibly thankful for what Golovkin did, proving that Central Asian fighters can be stars in the west, but the big hope is that those top fighters from the former Soviet States, won't struggle for career defining bouts when they are in their physical prime.
Today we want to take a look at something different to usual. There is, after all, a real lack of actual fights taking place right now and whilst we are chomping at the bit to talk about in ring action there's not a lot of it to talk about. There doesn't appear to be much being announced either and we're sort of sat an impasse until the year kicks off properly.
With that in mind we've decided to look at some out of the ring work some fighters have done in recent years, and look at how some fighters have kept themselves in the minds of fans between fights. Here we look at 5 commercials featuring fighters from Asia. Whilst some of these are for relatively obscure local companies others are for international giants.
Tomomi Takano - Kitchen Punch
Japanese fighter Tomomi Takano is one of the most marketable looking fighters in the history of the sport. Incredibly easy on the eye, with looks that will instantly get peoples attention. She has been in a host of commercials over the years but the one that intrigued us the most was this one for "Kitchen Punch", which...certainly could raise questions in the political correct West about the "women in the kitchen" stereotype. Still it's an amusing advert, features a woman who should have been in far more adverts, and the item they are selling has punch in it's name. Clever from those involved!
Rex Tso - Nike
This 2017 Nike advert features a man who was, at one point, the face of Hong Kong sport. Rex Tso was involved in a lot of adverts, he seemed to be linked to almost every major Hong Kong company from Hauwei to HongKongBroadbandNetwork and even the Hong Kong International airport. Here though we see him being featured in a 2017 advert for Nike.
One odd thing about Tso's adverts is there was quite a few where he knocked down as a boxer, perhaps not helping the star of your advert look good here folks!
Nonito Donaire - McDonald's
One fighter who has always been willing to poke fun at himself has been Nonito Donaire, and he has been in a number of adverts for various products over the years. Here we share an old advert of a much younger looking Donaire helping promote McDonalds in the Philippines...maybe this is how he made the move Featherweight!
Koki Kameda - Snickers
We've all seen some form of the "You're not you when you're hungry" adverts that have done a world of good for Snicker's. What you may not have known is they did something similar in Japan. One of the Japanese adverts featured a Karaoke setting and Koki Kameda. This is one where you don't need to know the language to know exactly what the commercial is doing.
Daisuke Naito - Haseko Corporation
It only makes sense to from a commercial with Koki Kameda that makes complete and utter sense to everyone to a Daisuke Naito advert that has us scratching our heads at what is going on. This commercial features a smiling singing Naito, along with a lot of other people, in an advert that has us wondering whether this was actually a success or not
We know we'll get some stick for having the legendary "Pacman" so low on this countdown, and we understand that their will be some backlash, but bear with us whilst we explain why Manny Pacquiao fails to break the top 3.
Let us start by saying that official results were a key part of the criteria we used, not the media and consensus results, but the actual, official results. With that in mind Pacquiao has gone 12-4 (1) for the decade. Their can be debate about his losses to Timothy Bradley and Jeff Horn, the official results show losses, just like they show a win for his third bout with Juan Manuel Marquez.
By it's self those numbers only tell half a story, but when we figure out who some of those wins have come against things begin to stack up against Pacquiao. Wins over Joshua Clottey, a 39 year old Shane Mosley, Brandon Rios, Chris Algieri, Jessie Vargas, Lucas Matthyse and even Adrien Broner, don't really leave us with a fighter of the decade resume. Wins over Keith Thurman, Timothy Bradley, Juan Manuel Marquez and Antonio Margarito are however excellent, it's just a shame there is such a drop off between his top few wins and the rest.
Also the fact Pacquiao's performance, for much of the decade, felt like he was dialling it in didn't help. There was certainly fights where he looked brilliant, but the wins over Mosley, Algieri and Rios seemed very much like a guy who was missing his top gear. As did his loss to Jeff Horn, where he only managed to put his foot on the gas for a few rounds.
The fact Pacquiao beat Keith Thurman in 2019 was amazing, but the fact he hadn't managed that level of performance through the decade did come back to bite him here in our rankings.
Had this list been compiled on what a fighter had done since the year 2000, or from 2000 to 2009, Pacquiao would have topped the list. That was the decade where he planted himself on the boxing world, won world titles from 122lbs to 147lbs, and took out hall of fame level competition regularly. That was the decade where he smashed Marco Antonio Barrera, broke down Erik Morales, battered Miguel Cotto, destroyed Ricky Hatton, and crushed Oscar Dela Hoya. During that same decade he went 23-1-2 (20). Comparing the two decades it's remarkable just how different Pacquaio and his performances where.
Although no where near as impressive as he was in the previous decade Pacquiao continued to entertain, score notable wins and, even at the age of 40, proved he was still one of the top fighters in the world. His 2019 win over Keith Thurman was incredible, and earlier in the decade, when he beat Antonio Margarito, it was impossible no to be impressed. Sadly though too much of the decade was spent fighting faded forces or less names to push Pacquiao further up this list. He is however, strengthening his legendary status with every win.
Much like countryman Takashi Uchiyama, we saw Shinsuke Yamanaka enter the decade as a virtual unknown outside of his homeland, yet go on to make a a huge statement, and become the man who many regarded as the best in his division. Unlike Uchiyama however Yamanaka did it from an even lesser stand point, and scored more wins that resonated internationally.
At the start of the decade Yamanaka was still fighting in 8 rounders, blasting out Kazuharu Morimoto inside a round in his first bout of the decade. A fight later and he was the Japanese champion, stopping Mikio Yasuda for the title. His reign was a short one, but included a tremendous 2011 win over future world champion Ryosuke Iwasa. Just 8 months after making his sole defense of the Japanese title Yamanaka would get his first world title bout, and would stop Christian Esquivel in 11 rounds to claim the WBC title, and begin a legendary reign.
Going through the early part of Yamanaka's reign reads like a who's who of the lower weights from the turn of the decade. His first defense saw him out point Vis Darchinyan, before scoring a KO of the Year contender of Tomas Rojas. In his third defense he stopped former WBO Flyweight champion Malcolm Tunacao, giving the Filipino only his second ever stoppage loss.
Sadly his reign then took a nose dive, and opponents like Jose Nieves, Alberto Guevara and Stephane Jamoye did little for Yamanaka's legacy.
Thankfully his reign picked up again towards the end with really solid wins over Suriyan Por Chokchai, Anselmo Moreno, twice, and Liborio Solis. Those wins were big, career enhancing victories with the second Yamanaka fight and the Solis one, being particularly exciting bouts with both men being dropped.
Sadly Yamanaka's great reign came to an end in 2017 when he lost to Luis Nery, who had failed a pre-fight drugs test. A rematch with an over-weight Nery in 2018 saw Yamanaka lose again, to end his career with back to back losses to the same man, a lot like Uchiyama did with Jezreel Corrales.
Although technically a very flawed fighter, and a very basic one, Yamanaka's success and wins over notable fighters earns him a high ranking here. He wasn't a true pound-for-pound boxer, he was far too limited for that, but what he did was fight to his strengths, make the most of his dynamite left hand and had great success despite his technical limitations. Although it's harsh to say it, Yamanaka was a genuine over-achiever, and legitimately became one of the biggest Asian stars of the decade.
For those who haven't seen much of Yamanaka, we've included his wins over
By - George Delis (@Delisketo)
-Zhilei Zhang (21-0): WBO #10 / IBF #14 / WBC #29
The 2008 Olympic Silver medalist defended his WBO Oriental title against Andriy Rudenko (32-5) in Monaco.
-Muhamad Farkhan (11-0): WBA #15
Malaysian knockout artist Muhamad Farkhan stopped Pascal Abel Ndomba (24-10), on December 29th, to capture the WBA & WBC Asia championships.
-Meng Fanlong (16-0): IBF #1 / WBC #14
Meng defeated Adam Deines (19-1) in June to become the mandatory challenger for Artur Beterbiev’s (15-0) IBF title. The fight however might not take place due to Beterbiev’s reluctance to travel to China.
-Manny Pacquiao (62-7): WBA (Super) World champion
Pacman’s looks to former World champions Danny Garcia (35-2) and Shawn Porter (30-3) as his potential opponents for 2020.
-Apinun Khongsong (16-0): IBF #1
The undefeated Thai fighter is next in line to challenge Josh Taylor (16-0) for the IBF strap.
-Daud Yordan (40-4): WBO #11
The former world title contender earned his 28th stoppage victory last November, over Michael Mokoena (15-5), back in his home country of Indonesia. Yordan aims at competing for a WBO championship next.
-Xiangxiang Sun (16-0): IBF #13
Sun defended his IBF Asia title against Monico Laurente (30-16) last year.
-Joe Noynay (18-2): WBO #5 / WBC #16
Noynay earned the biggest win of his career this summer as he dominated 2012 Olympic Bronze medalist Satoshi Shimizu (8-1) to retain his WBO Asia Pacific crown. His defense over Kenichi Ogawa (24-1) ended in a technical draw.
-Xiao Tao Su (11-1): WBO #14
The Chinese fighter dispatched Shota Yukawa (11-6) in one round to win the vacant WBO Oriental title.
-Can Xu (18-2): WBA (Regular) World champion
The Chinese star defended his belt in a one sided affair against Manny Robles III (18-1) on November 23rd. His next goal is to face Josh Warrington (30-0) for the IBF crown.
-Mark Magsayo (20-0): WBC #7
Magsayo beat the former 2 time World champion Panya Uthok (53-8) back in August.
-Jhack Tepora (23-1): IBF #3 / WBA #10 / WBC #9
The Filipino prodigy suffered his first professional loss at the hands of Oscar Escandon (26-5) on December 21st.
-Albert Pagara (32-1): WBO #1
The WBO Intercontinental champion made short work of Ratchanon Sawangsoda (12-4) last summer. Pagara now eyes a future world title tilt with Emanuel Navarrete (30-1).
-Alie Laurel (17-4): WBO #14
Laurel recently scored a win over Ernesto Saulong (22-6) to capture the WBO Oriental title.
-Jeo Santisima (19-2): WBO #5
Santisima made Rene Dacquel (20-10) retire on his stool after 3 rounds.
-Ye Joon Kim (18-1): WBA #13
Joon defeated Ryo Kosaka (17-5) 8 months ago.
-Marlon Tapales (33-3): IBF #3
Tapales lost to Ryosuke Iwasa (27-3), on December 7th, in an interim IBF title match.
-John Riel Casimero (29-4): WBO World champion
Casimero dispatched Zolani Tete (28-4) within 3 rounds, becoming a 3 division World champion in the process. A unification fight with the WBA (Super) & IBF title holder Naoya Inoue (19-0) in April looks very possible.
-Nawaphon Kaikanha (48-1): WBC #2
Nawaphon has been undefeated in his last 12 bouts, including KO victories over former World champions Sonny Boy Jaro (45-15) as well as Amnat Ruenroeng (20-3).
-Nonito Donaire (40-6): WBC #1
The 4 division World champion has been named mandatory challenger for Nordine Oubaali’s (17-0) WBC title.
-Tasana Salapat (53-1): WBC #8 / WBA #8
Salapat scored his 38th knockout over Aries Buenavidez (13-4) in less than a minute.
-Michael Dasmarinas (30-2): IBF #1 / WBO #7 / WBC #12
Dasmarinas is next in line for an IBF title match.
-Reymart Gaballo (23-0): WBA #4 / IBF #6 / WBO #15 / WBC #32
The former interim WBA champion outclassed Chaiwat Buatkrathok (32-3) on December 14th.
-Karoon Jarupianlerd (44-9): WBA #12
Karoon earned a unanimous decision over Renz Rosia (16-9) this past September.
-Vincent Astrolabio (15-3): WBO #12
Astrolabio defended his WBO Oriental title against Wilbert Berondo (14-5) a few weeks ago.
-Jun Zhao (12-2): WBA #14
Zhao will put his WBA Asia title on the line against Jay Francis Buray (11-1) on January 6th.
-Jerwin Ancajas (32-1): IBF World champion
Ancajas successfully defended his championship for the 8th time last month, against Miguel Gonzalez (31-3).
-Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (47-5): WBC #1 / WBO #7
The former 2 time WBC champion is expected to return to the ring soon.
-Donnie Nietes (42-1): IBF #4 / WBC #6
No news yet on the 4 division World champion’s future.
-Sirichai Thaiyen (55-4): WBA #3 / WBC #16
The former interim WBA Flyweight World titlist has been 5-0 since losing to Artem Dalakian.
-Jade Bornea (14-0): IBF #10 / WBA #15
Bornea will face fellow unbeaten prospect Ernesto Delgadillo (11-0) on January 30th of 2020 for the vacant NABF title.
-Froilan Saludar (31-3): WBO #9
Saludar became the WBO Asia Pacific champion, after knocking out Tsubasa Murachi (4-1) in September.
- KJ Cataraja (11-0): WBO #12
Cataraja expanded his undefeated streak when he beat Crison Omayao (24-21) a few months ago.
-Sarawut Thawornkham (21-2): WBA #13
Thawornkham TKOed Samuel Tehuayo (21-46) winning the WBA Asia title as well.
-Jayson Mama (14-0): WBO #8 / WBC #26
The undefeated Filipino fighter had an impressive 2019, with victories over Teeraphong Utaida (39-7) and former World champion Ekkawit Songnui (49-7).
-Giemel Magramo (24-1): WBO #1 / IBF #3 / WBC #5 / WBA #5
Magramo defeated Richard Claveras (18-7) in September.
-Wenfeng Ge (12-1): WBO #7
Wenfeng earned the biggest victory of his career when he outboxed 2 division World champion Suriyan Satorn (60-8) to capture the WBO Global title.
-Dave Apolinario (13-0): WBA #14
Apolinario added 4 more wins to his record in 2019.
-Jayr Raquinel (12-1): WBC #13
Raquinel returned after almost an entire year of inactivity this past summer, and stopped former world title challenger Takuya Kogawa (30-6) as well as Indonesian journeyman Jack Amisa (21-47)
-Genisis Libranza (19-1): IBF #7 / WBC #15
Libranza has been 8-0 since losing to the IBF champion Moruti Mthalane.
-Wulan Tuolehazi (13-4): WBO #10
Tuolehazi suffered a devastating loss to Kosei Tanaka (15-0) on New Year’s Eve.
-Tibo Monabesa (20-1): WBC #8 / IBF #14
Monabesa fought and beat Omari Kimweri (17-5) this past August. The Indonesian now wants to compete for the WBC title against Kenshiro Teraji (17-0).
-Panya Pradabsri (30-1): WBO #3 / WBA #7
Pradabsri knocked out former world title challenger Jerry Tomogdan (29-11) on December 20th in less than 2 minutes.
-Andika Fredikson Ha'e (17-0): WBA #2 / WBO #9
“D’Golden Boy” defended his WBA Asia title against Richard Rosales (14-11).
-Thanongsak Simsri (13-0): WBA #14
Undefeated Thai fighter Simsri won a very close decision over Christian Bacolod (12-1) in Japan.
-Edward Heno (14-1): WBO #10
The longtime OPBF king unsuccessfully challenged the WBO World champion Elwin Soto (16-1) in October.
-Mark Vicelles (11-0): WBO #11 / WBC #15
Vicelles defeated Jesse Espinas (20-4) this past July.
-Christian Araneta (17-1): IBF #9
Araneta lost an IBF eliminator to Daniel Valladares (22-1) 4 months ago.
-Thammanoon Niyomtrong (20-0): WBA World champion
The undefeated Thai champion has defended his belt 7 times.
-Pedro Taduran (14-2): IBF World champion
Taduran captured the vacant title when he beat Samuel Salva (17-1) in September.
-Chayaphon Moonsri (54-0): WBC World champion
Moonsri outclassed Simpiwe Konkco (19-6) back in October to mark his 12th successful defense.
-Jing Xiang (17-4): WBO #2 / WBC #6
Xiang won the WBO International title on his Strawweight debut.
-Lito Dante (16-11): WBC #7 / IBF #10
The OPBF champion will face Sulis Barrera (4-7) on February 8th.
-Rene Mark Cuarto (18-2): IBF #4 / WBO #10 / WBC #38
Cuarto defeated Jayson Francisco (5-2) on December 15th.
-Vic Saludar (20-4): WBO #3
The former WBO World champion knocked out Mike Kinaadman (7-13) on December 21st.
-Rhenrob Andales (10-2): WBA #7
”ArAr” got knocked out by Joel Lino (11-3) on November 15th.
-Joey Canoy (15-4): IBF #8
Canoy lost to Nkosinathi Joyi (29-5) on December 16th.
-Robert Paradero (18-0): WBO #1 / IBF #7 / WBA #15 / WBC #20
Paradero hasn’t fought since April of 2019.
-Melvin Jerusalem (15-2): WBC #1 / IBF #5 / WBO #6
Jerusalem defeated Reymark Taday (9-11) in August.
-Samuel Salva (17-1): IBF #9
Salva suffered an injury in his match with Pedro Taduran (14-2), costing him the opportunity to become the IBF champion.
By - George Delis (@Delisketo)
-Alexander Povetkin (35-2): WBC #6 / WBA #7 / IBF #10
The former Olympic & World champion fought Michael Hunter (18-1) on December 7th, to a draw. There are already talks about a potential rematch in 2020.
-Evgeny Romanov (14-0): WBO #8 / WBC #21
Romanov has kept his undefeated record intact throughout 2019 and has also become the inaugural WBO Global Heavyweight champion.
-Sergey Kuzmin (15-1): WBA #13 / WBC #28
Kuzmin’s fight with Zhang Zhilei (21-0) was cancelled due to the Russian suffering an injury during training.
-Aleksei Egorov (10-0): WBA Gold champion
Egorov bested Ukrainian veteran Roman Golovashchenko (20-5) within 3 rounds to be declared the new WBA Gold champion. He defended his belt on December 7th against Serhiy Radchenko (7-5). Egorov now stands next in line for Arsen Goulamirian’s Super title.
-Beibut Shumenov (18-2): WBA (Regular) World champion
No news yet on Shumenov’s return to the ring.
-Evgeny Tishchenko (6-0): WBO #9 / IBF #13 / WBC #26
The 2016 Olympic champion won the vacant WBO Intercontinental title after knocking out Abraham Tabul (16-2) in the opening round and defended it against Issa Akberbayev (20-1) on November 2nd.
-Ruslan Fayfer (25-1): IBF #1 / WBC #3 / WBA #11 / WBO #6
Fayfer defeated Yury Kashinsky (18-1) for the right to become the mandatory challenger for the IBF World championship.
-Dmitry Kudryashov (24-3): WBC #7
The former WBC Silver & WBA International champion won a controversial decision over Vaclav Pejsar (14-9) on December 21st.
-Aleksei Papin (11-1): WBC #11
The former Kickboxing star & 2 time IBF International champion has expressed his wish for a revenge match with Ilunga Makabu (26-2).
-Artur Beterbiev (15-0): IBF & WBC World champion
Beterbiev ended Oleksandr Gvozdyk’s (17-1) undefeated streak and unified the IBF & WBC World Championships.The Russian was meant to defend the IBF title against mandatory challenger Fanlong Meng (16-0) but refused to travel to China for political reasons. If the fight doesn’t take place then he will have to vacate and move on to a WBC defense.
-Dmitry Bivol (17-0): WBA (Super) World champion
Bivol’s 7th defense is rumored to be against the undefeated former WBO Super Middleweight champion Gilberto Ramirez (40-0), probably late March or early April.
-Maksim Vlasov (45-3): WBO #4 / IBF #10
Vlasov defended his WBO Global title against 2 time world title challenger Isaac Chilemba (26-7) in July, plus avenging his 1st professional loss. He also beat Emmanuel Martey (15-1) on November 30th. Vlasov and Umar Salamov might square off for the now vacant WBO World championship.
-Igor Mikhalkin (23-2): WBC #5 / IBF #11 / WBO #13 / WBA #14
Mikhalkin earned a unanimous decision victory over Timur Nikarkhoev (21-3) thus becoming the interim IBO champion.
-Umar Salamov (25-1): WBO #2 / IBF #4 / WBA #9
Salamov successfully retained the WBO International title for the 3rd time after knocking out Emmanuel Danso (31-5) in September. As mentioned above, he and Vlasov could meet for the vacant WBO World title.
-Sergey Kovalev (34-4): WBO #5 / WBC #7
The former WBA, WBC, WBO, IBF World champion aims to continue his career in 2020.
-Fedor Chudinov (22-2): WBA Gold champion
Fedor fought 4 times in 2019. He most recently outclassed Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam (37-5) in Vladikavkaz, Russia, to capture the WBA Gold championship. Chudinov will return to the ring this coming March.
-Aidos Yerbossynuly (13-0): WBA #2 / WBO #8 / WBC #35
The unified WBA International, WBO Global & WBC Asia Continental champion put his belts on the line on December 21st, against Omar Garcia (15-3), whom he knocked out in the 8th round.
-Aslambek Idigov (17-0): WBO #6
Idigov picked up a unanimous decision victory over Robert Racz (22-2) on September 19th and remained the WBO & IBF European champion.
-Bektemir Melikuziev (4-0): WBA #15
The 2016 Olympic Silver medalist made his pro debut in 2019, winning 4 fights in a row and also capturing the WBA Continental Americas title. His next fight could take place on February 14th against Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam (37-5).
-Vladimir Shishkin (9-0): WBC #12
Shishkin will meet fellow undefeated boxer Ulises Sierra (15-0) on January 17th.
-Ali Akhmedov (16-0): WBC #14
Akhmedov defended his WBC International Silver title against Andrew Hernandez (20-8) on October 5th.
-Evgeny Shvedenko (13-0): IBF #9 / WBC #27
Shvedenko has remained unbeaten in 2019, with victories over Nadjib Mohammedi (42-8) and Nuhu Lawal (27-6).
-Azizbek Abdugofurov (13-0): WBC #2
The WBC Silver champion made a successful comeback this past summer.
-Gennady Golovkin (40-1): IBF World champion
Triple G earned a decision victory over Sergiy Derevyanchenko (13-2) on October 5th to become a 2 time IBF champion. His inaugural title defense will take place either in February or March. The undefeated Kamil Szeremeta (21-0) will most likely be his opponent.
-Kanat Islam (27-0): WBO #5
The 2008 Olympic Bronze medalist made his triumphant return after a 2 year hiatus and demolished Julio De Jesus (27-2) in 14 seconds to become the new WBO International champion. He marked his inaugural title defense, on October 26th, against former world title challenger Walter Kautondokwa (18-2).
-Magomed Madiev (14-0): WBA #3
Madiev won a hard fought battle with Evgeny Terentiev (15-2) in July and defended his WBA Asia title for the 3rd time. He fought again on December 21st, earning a unanimous decision over Dmytro Bohdanov (4-2).
-Janibek Alimkhanuly (8-0): WBO #6 / WBC #13 / IBF #14
The 2013 AIBA World champion knocked out Albert Onolunose (24-3) on November 9th to successfully defend his WBO Global & WBC Continental Americas titles.
-Meiirim Nursultanov (13-0): IBF #9 / WBC #24
Nursultanov took a unanimous decision over Christian Olivas (17-6) to win the WBC US title this past November.
-Anatoli Muratov (22-2): WBA #10
Muratov knocked out Ilias Essaoudi (16-2) in September to capture the WBA Intercontinental championship.
-Bakhram Murtazaliev (17-0): IBF #1 / WBO #2 / WBC #12
Murtazaliev has scored victories over Elvin Ayala (29-13), Bruno Leonardo Romay (21-8) and Jorge Fortea (20-2) throughout the year.
-Magomed Kurbanov (18-0): WBA #5 / WBO #7 / WBC #7
Kurbanov defeated former interim WBA World titlist Diego Gabriel Chaves (27-6) on November 2nd, to become a 2 time WBO International champion.
-Israil Madrimov (4-0): WBA #4 / WBC #33
Madrimov has fought and beat Frank Rojas (24-3), Norberto Gonzalez (24-14) and Alejandro Barrera (29-6) in 2019, earning the WBA Intercontinental championship in the process.
-Artem Oganesyan (11-0): WBO #14
The Russian rising star has added 3 more victories to his perfect record.
-Alexander Besputin (14-0): WBA (Regular) World champion
Besputin went to war with Radzhab Butaev (12-1) on November 30th and emerged the new WBA champion. His first challenger could be Olympic Bronze medalist Yordenis Ugas (24-4).
-Kudratillo Abdukakhorov (17-0): IBF #1 / WBC #4 / WBO #8
Kudratillo bested Keita Obara (22-4) to become the #1 contender for the IBF title. He then defeated former WBA World champion Luis Collazo (39-8) in October. Rumor has it that Kudratillo and Lipinets might face each other for the interim IBF World championship on February 22nd of 2020.
-David Avanesyan (26-3): WBC #5 / IBF #6 / WBA #6 / WBO #9
The former interim WBA World title holder stopped Kerman Lejarraga (29-2) to become the EBU European champion. Those 2 met again in September with the same result. He then made short work of Jose Del Rio (29-9), knocking him out in just 2 minutes. Avanesyan’s next fight will likely be against the WBA International champion Josh Kelly (10-0) in March.
-Sergey Lipinets (16-1): WBO #2 / IBF #3 / WBC #7
Lipinets stopped 2 division World champion Lamont Peterson (35-5) in early 2019.
He added another finish to his record in July, after he dropped Jayar Inson (18-3) to win the vacant WBO Intercontinental title. As mentioned above, he and Kudratillo could fight for the interim IBF strap next year. At the same time, Mikael Zewski (34-1) has also expressed interest in a fight with Lipinets, which the Russian has accepted.
-Nursultan Zhangabayev (8-0): WBA #7 / IBF #8 / WBO #15 / WBC #29
Zhangabayev was supposed to defend his WBA Intercontinental title against Ernesto Espana (30-2) on December 21st but the match was cancelled due to injury.
-Shakhram Giyasov (9-0): WBA #8 / IBF #15 / WBC #21
The 2016 Olympic Silver medalist knocked out the former interim WBA World champion Darleys Perez (34-5), on August 24th, in less than a minute, to defend his WBA International title.
-Zhankosh Turarov (24-0) WBO #9
Turarov made short work of Mauro Maximiliano Godoy (32-5) last summer, thus becoming the new WBO Intercontinental champion.
-Eduard Troyanovsky (28-2): WBC #7 / IBF #13
The former IBF World champion defeated Josef Zahradnik (11-4) in his comeback match.
-Shohjahon Ergashev (17-0): WBA #6 / IBF #6 / WBO #13 / WBC #30
The undefeated Ergashev will go up against Adrian Estrella (29-4) on January 17th.
-Batyrzhan Jukembayev (17-0): IBF #11 / WBC #11
Jukembayev scored a major victory, this past September, defeating longtime World Lightweight title holder Miguel Vazquez (41-9) to become the WBA Continental & IBF Intercontinental champion. He is scheduled to fight Maximiliano Ricardo Veron (12-3) on January 25th.
-Sergey Vorobiev (9-0): WBA #15
The undefeated rising star Vorobiev earned another win on December 21st against Vazir Tamoyan (12-3).
-Batyr Akhmedov (7-1): WBA #5 / WBC #16
Akhmedov and Mario Barrios (25-0) are very likely to meet again for the WBA (Regular) title in 2020.
-Roman Andreev (23-0): WBO #3 / IBF #10 / WBC #35
The former WBO European & Intercontinental champion has signed with Top Rank. He will make his US debut in 2020.
-Pavel Malikov (16-1): IBF #9 / WBO #14 / WBC #36
Malikov earned a majority decision against former world title challenger Isa Chaniev (13-3) on October 12th.
-Zapir Rasulov (34-1): WBA #15
The Russian knockout artist will face Augusto Pinilla (16-14) on April 21st.
-Zaur Abdullaev (11-1): WBC #6
Zaur suffered an injury during his interim WBC title fight with Devin Haney (24-0) and couldn’t capture the gold.
-Shavkat Rakhimov (15-0): WBC #4 / IBF #5
Rakhimov knocked out Azinga Fuzile (14-1) to become the number 1 contender for the IBF World championship.
-Akzhol Sulaimanbek Uulu (15-0): WBA #6
Sulaimanbek stopped both Pipat Chaiporn (47-13) and Milner Marcano (21-9) in 2019 to defend his WBA Asia title.
-Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov (15-0): WBC #7 / WBO #9 / IBF #15
The undefeated WBC International champion marked his inaugural title defense against former interim WBA World titlist Emanuel Lopez (30-12) and his second one against Abraham Montoya (18-2).
-Mark Urvanov (17-2): WBO #13
Urvanov earned the biggest win of his career on November 2nd when he knocked out former world title challenger Evgeny Chuprakov (21-2) to capture the WBO International championship.
-Denis Shafikov (40-4): IBF #10
Shafikov hasn’t fought since February of 2019.
-Tugstsogt Nyambayar (11-0): WBC #1 / IBF #4
The 2012 Olympic Silver medalist will challenge Gary Russell Jr. (30-1) for the WBC World championship on February 8th.
-Murodjon Akhmadaliev (7-0): WBA #1
The 2016 Olympic Bronze medalist finally faces Daniel Roman (27-2) for the WBA & IBF titles on January 30th.
-Nikolai Potapov (21-2): WBO #9 / IBF #10 / WBC #19
Potapov got the DQ victory over Nasibu Ramadhani (29-15) on October 30th.
-Mikhail Aloyan (5-1): WBA Gold champion
The 2012 Olympic Bronze medalist made a successful in ring comeback on December 10th, besting Ronal Batista (12-2) to capture the WBA Gold championship.
-Olimjon Nazarov (20-5): WBO #11
Nazarov has been on an impressive 7 fight winning streak since 2018. He recently earned a unanimous decision over Chaiwat Buadkratok (32-3) in Vietnam.
On paper Nonito Donaire's 18-5 record for the decade is rather dire, but the reality is that he did more in the decade than most will realise. He went up and down the scales, one of the very few fighters to actually have success whilst going back down in weight, and proved to be incredibly competitive in mid 30's, years after many wrote him off. He is a man who has revived his career multiple times in the decade and proven so much more than many would have realised during a 10 year span that saw him move from Super Flyweight all the way up to Featherweight, then back down to Bantamweight. Not did he do that, but he took some big scalps along the way and remained one of the most classy and humble competitors the sport has ever seen.
Beginning the decade Donaire had abandoned the Flyweight division and had just claimed the WBA "interim" Super Flyweight title, stopping Rafael Concepcion. He didn't remain at 115lbs for long, though did take a very notable TKO8 win over Hernan Marquez before leaving the division to compete at Bantamweight. It was at Bantamweight that he looked his best, dominating Volodymyr Sydorenko in his Bantamweight debut before scoring a sensational win over Fernando Montiel, to claim the WBC and WBO Bantamweight titles. His pursuit of a challenge saw him unify the WBO and IBF Super Bantamweight titles, winnign the WBO belt from Wilfredo Vazquez Jr before beating Jeffrey Mathebula for the IBF title. Sadly his reign at 122lbs left something to be desired, as he went legend chasing with wins over Toshiaki Nishioka and Jorge Arce, rather than legacy chasing.
A loss to Guillermo Rigondeaux in 2013 lead Donaire to move up to Featherweight where he looked poor, yet still ended up picking up the WBA title. Wins over Vic Darchinyan and Simpiwe Vetyeka came in some poor performances and a loss to Nicholas Walters showed that the weight wasn't a good one for the "Filipino Flash" who moved back down to Super Bantamweight and reclaimed the WBO title there. The reign was a short one, losing a very competitive bout in his second defense against Jessie Magdaleno, and it was here that many thought he was a spent fight. A loss to Carl Frampton in 2018 seemed to further prove that.
After the loss to Frampton we saw Donaire move back down to Bantamweight to compete in the WBSS and was given no chance by many and was a 34/1 outsider for the tournament. Many thought that a former Featherweight champion making Bantamweight was going to be too much, but the reality is that he made the weight really well and looked big, strong, powerful and tough. A nightmare for anyone. He would defeat the much fancied Ryan Burnett, the #1 seed and the #2 favourite, in his quarter final bout and then stop Stephon Young toe reach the final, where he gave Naoya Inoue a real test.
It's expected that Donaire will get another big fight in 2020, and we wouldn't be surprised at all if he ended up picking up another world title. Even in his late 30's he still looks a real handful and has had a very impressive decade, no matter what his record states.
We really don't get many all-Thai closet classics, mostly because Thai fighters, at least top ones, don't face each other. Thai's tend to make for good fights with Japanese, Mexican and Filipino foes, but rarely fellow Thai's. Today however we bring you one of the best all-Thai world title fight in recent years in our latest Closet Classic, and it really is a sensational fight.
Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (76-3-1, 39) vs Suriyan Sor Rungvisai (14-3-1, 4)
In March 2010 Pongsaklek Wonjongkam became a 2-time WBC Flyweight world champion, thanks to an upset win in Japan over Koki Kameda. In July he had blown away Rey Megrino in a none-title bout, in what as Pongsaklek's 80th professional bout, before having his first defense of his second reign. By now he was 33, he had been a professional since 1994 and was a fighter with hundreds of rounds behind him. He wasn't close to his prime, but the win over Kameda showed there was a lot of life in the legs of the legendary southpaw.
Suriyan on the other hand was a relative unknown. He was 21 at the time of this bout and although he was on a 6 fight winning streak none of those wins had come against anyone of any note and he had done absolutely nothing to get a world title fight, but stepped up to the plate and proved in the bout that he was world class. As we all know Suriyan would later go on to become a world champion at Super Flyweight and a stand out contender at Bantamweight, giving the likes of Shinsuke Yamanaka absolute fits later in his career. This was, in many ways, his chance to make a name for himself, and that's exactly what he did.
To begin with Pongsaklek took center ring, looking to use his experience against the younger, less knowledgeable fighter. Despite being on the outside Suriyan used his speed, his movement and his energy to box excellently. The champion continued to press in the early stages, but struggled to land clean as Suriyan moved excellently, slipped, slid and and looked incredibly mature for a fighter taking such a huge step up in class.
As the bout went on Pongsaklek managed to find his range and get some success, building some momentum against his fleet footed and sharp punching foe. The success was there for the champion, but it was relatively limited as Suriyan continued to show case skills that weren't expected from him. As we went into the middle both men began to let their hands go more, standing in center ring. This wasn't a war, yet, but was incredible, high tempo, smart boxing from both. Both looked to gain the advantage, both looked for openings, and both tried to make things happen by finding their distance. It was Pongsaklek who began to land the more eye catching blows, particularly good short shots when Suriyan came inside and good body shots.
Although much of the contest had been boxing, the later rounds took a turn, with Suriyan applying more pressure and round 10 was just a high skilled, inside war, with brutal shots from both.This was what we had built to, and this was a perfect way for both men to show who was the better man. Seriously the bout turned from great boxing to a great war and this was an instant closet classic!
Treat yourself to a rare, thrilling all Thai war here!
By - George Delis (@Delisketo)
-Ryota Murata (16-2): WBA (Regular) World champion
The Olympic champion got his revenge on Rob Brant (25-2) last summer, reclaiming his WBA crown. Murata then knocked out Steven Butler (28-2) in his inaugural title defense on New Year’s Eve. A match with Canelo or Golovkin could be realised in 2020.
-Takeshi Inoue (15-1): WBO #10 / IBF #14 / WBC #20
Inoue made short work of Thai veteran Komsan Polsan (39-12) to become the WBO Asia Pacific champion for the second time. He is scheduled to face Cheng Su (14-2) on January 18th.
-Keita Obara (22-4): IBF #4
Obara will challenge Yuki Nagano (17-2) on February 1st for the Japanese title.
-Yuki Beppu (21-1): WBO #14
In what was an absolute thriller, Yuki Beppu came back from 5 knockdowns and stopped Ryota Yada (19-6), capturing the WBO Asia Pacific title in the process.
-Koki Inoue (15-0): WBO #15
Ending 2019 with a spectacular KO over Jheritz Chavez (9-4), Koki Inoue is now the unified Japanese & WBO Asia Pacific champion.
-Andy Hiraoka (15-0): IBF #14
The Japanese youngster earned the biggest win of his career, this past July, over former world title challenger Akihiro Kondo (32-9). He also made a successful US debut against Rogelio Casarez (13-9) on November 30th.
-Shuichiro Yoshino (11-0): WBO #13 / WBC #23
Yoshino knocked out Harmonito Dela Torre (20-3) in just one round to become the unified Japanese, OBPF & WBO Asia Pacific champion. He will meet Izuki Tomioka (7-2) on February 13th.
-Masayuki Ito (26-2): WBO #6 / WBC #13
The former World titlist will be involved in a WBO final eliminator, on February 2nd, as he takes on the undefeated Global champion Yongqiang Yang (13-0) in China.
-Kenichi Ogawa (24-1): IBF #3 / WBA #4 / WBO #8 / WBC #23
Ogawa challenged Joe Noynay (18-2) for the WBO Asia Pacific championship, on December 7th, but the match ended in a technical draw.
-Kazuhiro Nishitani (21-4): IBF #12
Nishitani beat Filipino veteran Monico Laurente (30-16) a few weeks ago.
-Musashi Mori (11-0): WBO #6 / WBC #23
Mori defended his WBO Asia Pacific title twice in 2019, against the former champion Richard Pumicpic (21-10) as well as Takuya Mizuno (17-2).
-Hiroshige Osawa (36-5): WBA #1 / IBF #12 / WBC #18
The former world title challenger defeated Jason Butar Butar (30-27) back in October.
-Ryo Sagawa (9-1): WBC #11 / WBO #15
Sagawa defended the Japanese title for the first time, on December 12th, against Ryo Hino (13-2).
-Ryosuke Iwasa (27-3): interim IBF World champion
In a clash of former World champions, Iwasa stopped Marlon Tapales (33-3), on December 7th, for the interim IBF title, in New York.
-Hiroaki Teshigawara (21-2): IBF #7
Teshigawara has defended his OPBF championship 3 times in 2019, against Yuki Iriguchi (10-3), Shohei Kawashima (18-4) and former world title challenger Shohei Omori (20-3). All knockout victories.
-Yukinori Oguni (21-2): WBA #3
The former IBF champion defeated Sukpraserd Ponpitak (24-11) 8 months ago.
-Tomoki Kameda (36-3): WBC #4
The former WBO Bantamweight & interim WBC Super Bantamweight champion is looking to move to Featherweight in 2020.
-Naoya Inoue (19-0): WBA (Super) & IBF World champion
The Monster is most likely to be involved in another unification match on April 25th, either with the WBO champion John Riel Casimero (29-4) or the WBC title holder Nordine Oubaali (17-0).
-Daigo Higa (15-1): WBC #7
The former WBC Flyweight World champion will make his Bantamweight debut on February 13th against Jason Buenaobra (7-4).
-Keita Kurihara (15-5): IBF #5
Kurihara scored 2 knockout wins in 2019 over former world title challenger Warlito Parrenas (26-10) and the IBF Pan Pacific champion Sukpraserd Ponpitak (24-11).
-Yuki Strong Kobayashi (15-8): IBF #12 / WBO #14 / WBC #23
Kobayashi defended his WBO Asia Pacific title against Ki Chang Go (8-4) on December 22nd.
-Takuma Inoue (13-1): WBC #6
The former interim WBC champion came up short in the unification battle with Nordine Oubaali (17-0).
-Kazuto Ioka (24-2): WBO World champion.
Japan’s first ever 4 division World champion broke the undefeated streak of Jeyvier Cintron (11-1) to successfully retain his WBO title on New Year’s Eve. Ioka is already aiming at a bigger opponent next, specifically at the WBC champion Juan Francisco Estrada (40-3).
-Kosei Tanaka (15-0): WBO World champion
Tanaka obliterated Wulan Tuolehazi (13-4), this past week, in just 3 rounds. The 3 division World champion has expressed his wish to move up to Super Flyweight and challenge Kazuto Ioka.
-Yusuke Sakashita (19-8): WBO #12 / WBC #31
Sakashita stopped former world title contender Masahiro Sakamoto (13-3) to become the new WBO Asia Pacific champion. He then knocked out Naoki Mochizuki (16-5), in a revenge match from 2016.
-Ryota Yamauchi (5-1): WBA #3
Yamauchi beat the WBA Asia champion Alphoe Dagayloan (14-3) this past August.
-Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0): WBA (Super) World champion.
Kyoguchi has defended the WBA strap twice this year, against Muay Thai champion Tanawat Nakoon (11-1) as well as 15 year veteran Tetsuya Hisada (34-10).
-Kenshiro Teraji (17-0): WBC World champion.
The unstoppable Kenshiro marked his 7th title defense, on December 23rd, over former interim WBA champion Randy Petalcorin (31-4).
-Sho Kimura (18-3): WBO #7 / WBA #10
Former World champions collide as Sho Kimura squares off with Merlito Sabillo (27-7) in the Philippines, on February 15th.
-Daiki Tomita (14-1): WBO #13
Tomita earned the vacant WBO Asia Pacific championship after defeating Hayato Yamaguchi (15-8).
-Yuto Takahashi (11-4): WBC #4 / IBF #6
Takahashi defeated the veteran Kenichi Horikawa (40-16) to become the new Japanese champion. He will put his title on the line against Masamichi Yabuki (10-3) on March 15th.
-Reiya Konishi (17-2): IBF #8 / WBC #16
Konishi failed to capture the IBF title from Felix Alvarado (35-2).
-Tetsuya Hisada (34-10): WBC #3 / IBF #4
Hisada’s impressive 13 fight winning streak came to an end, when he challenged Hiroto Kyoguchi for the WBA (Super) title.
-Kenichi Horikawa (40-16): WBC #6 / IBF #13
Horikawa lost the Japanese title to Yuto Takahashi (11-4) on October 10th.
-Ginjiro Shigeoka (5-0): WBA #9 / WBO #15 / WBC #25
Shigeoka knocked out former world title challenger Rey Loreto (25-15) on December 31st to retain his WBO Asia Pacific championship.
-Norihito Tanaka (19-7): WBC #3 / IBF #3 / WBO #5 / WBA #13
Tanaka defended the Japanese title this past June against Naoya Haruguchi (16-11).
-Masataka Taniguchi (12-3): WBO #4 / WBC #10
Taniguchi defeated Kai Ishizawa (6-1) in September.
-Takumi Sakae (22-3): WBO #11 / IBF #13 / WBC #39
Sakae has fought thrice this year and has knocked out all of his opponents.
-Tsubasa Koura (14-1): WBC #8 / IBF #14
The former OPBF champion is scheduled to return on January 28th.
When we have some free time we're hoping to add a series of fun articles to the site. Hopefully these will be enjoyable little short features