So, that's that and 2015 is finally over and we can begin looking back on what was a genuine tremendous year of boxing. The year had some amazing wars and here we take a look back over 6 of the bouts that were have grouped as the Asian Fights of the Year, meaning they either took place in Asia or featured an Asian fighter.
Moon Sun Jung Vs Sung Hwan Kim
The year may not ave been a great one for Korean boxing fans, as the country continues to struggle to make a mark in the world of boxing. However they did kick the year off with a thriller between Moon Sun Jung and Sung Hwan Kim. The bout saw both being dropped, saw blood being shed and saw two novices really putting it all out there in a wild and exciting brawl.
Rex Tso Vs Michael Enriquez
This expected war came back in March and was supposed to be another easy win for the “Wonder Boy” Rex Tso, instead however it turned into a real FOTY contender with both men being hurt, and both putting their all into what was an exciting and wild brawl. The quality may not have been world class but the action was from the first round to the 10th and final round.
Kongfah CP Freshmart Vs Daigo Higa
We saw some really great bouts in Thailand this year, though not was quite as memorable as the thrilling WBC Youth Flyweight title bout between local favourite Kongfah CP Freshmart and Japanese visitor Daigo Higa. The two men, who were 20 and 19, had had a combined 20 fights, all wins, with 14 stoppages and both really wanted to keep their perfect records intact. This July brawl was one of the real boxing highlights of the summer.
Masao Nakamura Vs Daiki Kaneko
Just weeks after the Kongfah/Higa bout we had something special in Japan as Super Featherweights Daiki Kaneko and Masao Nakamura beat the ever living snot out of each other in a high intensity, all action war for the Korakuen Hall faithful. How this bout missed out on the TV cameras was a mystery but thankfully fan cam footage was posted online soon after the bout allowing the world to see what was a very special bout.
Kohei Kono Vs Koki Kameda
It took over a year for us to finally see Kohei Kono and Koki Kameda get it on in a mandatory defense of Kono's WBA Super Flyweight title, but boy was it worth the wait! Both men had a point to prove and put it all on the line in an all action fight in the US which left American fans in awe. The bout, which was historical due to the fact it was the first All Japanese world title bout to take place in the US, brought Western attention to both the fighters and the division and it's fair to say that winner has gained long term fans from this one.
Takashi Miura Vs Francisco Vargas
The final bout of our 6 best bouts of the year was also in the US and was another knock-down-drag-out affair. The contest saw Takashi Miura make his US debut and go to war with mandatory challenger Francisco Vargas. Both were hurt, both were down, both were bloodied, both showed their toughness in what is widely regarded as one of the best bouts to have taken place in the US this year.
Whilst we understand everyone having their favourites, we've been unable to split them for their own reasons so we've featured them all as our best Asian bouts of 2015. We've also witnessed over a dozen others that just missed out on this list, like the sensational Nonito Doniare Vs Cesar Juarez bout, or the all action Akira Yaegashi Vs Javier Mendoza contest.
In the west we've see a lot of fight fans complain about the poor quality of matches that they've had to endure from promoters who seemed more interested in matching their men softly than giving fans value for money. Whilst some fights in the west did end up being unexpectedly good, for example the Lucas Matthyse Vs John Molina bout or the Tommy Coyle Vs Daniel Eduardo Brizuela, it's fair to say they were unexpected treats as opposed to bouts that always looked like sure fire hits. In the west however we had a bit of everything with unexpected treats, dream match ups and bouts that lived up to all our hopes and expectations.
Unfortunately as there were so many brilliant bouts it was really hard to decide on the fight of the year, and infact there were 2 very good bouts outside of Asia that featured Asians and a host of top bouts that deserve a notable mention.
Terdsak Kokietgym Vs Orlando Salido-In September we had a bout that was more up-and-down than a yo-yo with Thailand's Terdsak Kokietgym dropping Orlando Salido 3 times whilst being dropped himself 4 times, including a staggering KO in the 11th round. This bout was one of the best bouts fought in the west though at times it did seem a little bit one sided, and that was reflected somewhat in the scorecards which read 96-91 in favour of Salido at the time of the stoppage. A great bout with a lot of drama though one that had become one-sided by the end.
Katsunari Takayama Vs Francisco Rodriguez Jr-In August we had another thriller in Mexico as Katsunari Takayama traded blows with Francisco Rodriguez Jr in a bout to unify Minimumweight titles. If you enjoy wars, toe-to-toe slug fests, action, heart and mindless bloody violence this is a must watch. It had everything a fight fan could want with both drama in the ring and real significance. Unfortunately it also had a blind man, John Madfis, at ringside turning in a repulsive 119-108 scorecard that really was unbelievably bad.
Akira Yaegashi Vs Roman Gonzalez-Another bout of major significance saw the all action Akira Yaegashi battle against Nicaraguan sensation Roman Gonzalez. The bout was brilliant in a lot of ways though in the end the brave Yaegashi was just simply beaten into submission by the brilliant Gonzalez, who become a 3-weight world champion with this win.
Kongfah Narkornluang Vs Den Sithsaithong-A real hidden war in Thailand saw the unbeaten Kongfah Nakornluang go toe-to-toe with Den Sithsaithong in a bout that was little more than a 6 round phone booth war. For us this was our “favourite” bout of the year but couldn't really be a contender for Fight of the Year given it's total lack of significance and it's real lack of skill, thankfully however it was exciting. (Note Sithsaithong is named Den Baansuan Samlansaraburi in the linked video)
Koki Eto Vs Ardin Diale-For much of the year this was our pick for the best fight and it appeared to tick all the boxes. It had knockdowns, it had competitiveness, it had action, soul and heart and it was brilliant. Diale, for the most part, was brilliant and through 7 rounds was well ahead with Eto looking almost certain to lose...until he managed to turn it around in the 8th round with an effort that bordered on the ridiculous. It was an insane come back a brilliant ending and ridiculously great fight.
We know we're a bit controversial but we believe we saw a perfect fight. That was the OPBF Minimumweight title bout between the then champion Ryuji Hara and the ultra-fast rising Kosei Tanaka. The bout had 2 unbeaten prospects in action in a bout that was going to send the winner on to the verges of a world title fight. Not only were both men unbeaten but both were sensationally well schooled, lightning quick and brilliant to watch. The fight wasn't a war but was an incredibly high speed and aggressive game of chess. For 8 rounds this was pretty much equal with Tanaka finally pulling away from his more experienced for in round 9 and answering questions about his stamina in the process. The bout may not have been the most violent contest of the year but it managed to combine fighting with boxing and gelled it all into a perfect bout that saw both men coming out better fighters than they had been when they had stepped into the ring. Really sensational stuff from both.
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