If you’re like me then you probably ate like a king, drunk far too much alcohol and watched a copious amount of sport over the Christmas and New Year’s Eve period but now that’s long gone as we begin yet another year. I won’t patronise you with the “New year new me” bollocks that may have infested your various social media feeds or bore you with meaningless New Year’s resolutions that I don’t make anyway but here are a few things I would like to see occur in boxing in Asia and generally in 2018.
More high level all Japanese world title fights and at least 1 all Japanese unification.
Given their deep history in the sport it’s astonishing to think that the June 2012 clash between Kazuto Ioka and Akira Yaegashi was the first ever all Japanese unification bout to take place as the pair put their respective strawweight titles on the line. Unfortunately an injury to Kosei Tanaka put pay to a 108 lb unification with Ryoichi Taguchi which would have taken place on New Year’s Eve but there are still potential matchups to be made at 105, 108, 112 and possibly 122 lb that would provide a second unification between 2 pugilists from the land of the rising sun.
Naoya Inoue v Kohei Kono, Yukinori Oguni v Ryosuke Iwasa and Sho Kimura v Toshiyuki Igarashi are 3 of the most high profile all Japanese world title scraps seen in the last couple of years and hopefully we see many more of such fights in 2018 especially with very few barriers preventing them from happening given there is a far more flexible approach when it comes to promoters working together and the TV divides are few and far between. At super bantamweight alone there are numerous good quality fights that could be made involving the likes of Ryosuke Iwasa, Ryo Matsumoto, Tomoki Kameda, Shingo Wake, Yukinori Oguni and Yusaku Kuga.
A world class fighter to get in the ring with Naoya Inoue.
When Inoue blitzed Omar Narvaez in 2 rounds at the end of 2014 in one of the most scintillating performances of recent times, we were witnessing the birth of a new boxing superstar. Whilst hand injuries kept him out for a period and David Carmona and Kohei Kono were solid opponents, taking on the likes of Ricardo Rodriguez, Antonio Nieves and Yoan Boyeaux simply hasn’t advanced his career as it should have been.
With fellow belt holders and top contenders avoiding him like the plague Inoue and the Ohashi Gym have seemingly now ran out of patience and the 24-year-old now intends to make a run at bantamweight. A dustup with WBO 118 lb champion Zolani Tete certainly has got boxing fans talking and there seems to be a willingness to make it from all involved as both are craving a true challenge. If Tete should overcome mandatory challenge Omar Narvaez in February then there would be nothing from preventing this salivating clash from taking place with Japan being the likely destination given Inoue’s star power and Fuji TVs resources and even the South African’s promoter Frank Warren conceded this point on the Boxnation podcast.
More all Filipino bouts at all levels.
Again this may seem like a strange request but for some unexplainable reason putting 2 boxers together from the Philippines can often be a bit of a taboo subject and a complete no-no and the last world title tussle between 2 Filipinos came way back in 1925 which is a staggering statistic. The reason often given is that having more Filipino world champions is the priority but this short sighted approach needs to change to prevent the decline and stunted growth of boxing in the country.
Brian Viloria v Donnie Nietes, Mark Magsayo v Genesis Servania, Jerwin Ancajas v Jonas Sultan and Jhack Tepora v Jeo Santisima are just 4 all Pinoy contests I would love to see happen this year and there are many others I haven’t mentioned.
TV channels in the Philippines to start giving boxing the coverage it deserves.
Apart from ALA’s Pinoy Pride series on ABSCBN, boxing viewing was scarce and even Milan Melindo’s meetings with Akira Yaegashi and Ryoichi Taguchi were only shown on delay which in this day and age is utterly pointless. More channels investing in the sport would also be highly beneficial and it would allow promoters to properly develop the many talented fighters that are in the country and enable them to be seen and gain a far greater profile.
Thais to be referred by their fighting name and not their birth name.
Boxrec looked to have started this annoying trend with other outlets following and now researching Thai fighters is quite frankly a right pain in the arse. Boxers from Thailand fighting under a name of their Gym or sponsor is simply part of the culture and for identification purposes going with the first name E.G Srisaket, Knockout or Wanheng is preferable as there are a number of Kokietgyms, Freshmarts and Kratingdaenggyms for example. So please, no more Wisaksil Wangek, Thammanoon Niyomtrong or Chayaphon Moonsri references and let’s just leave things be and stop creating any unnecessary confusion.
Finally a few general wishes, can we outlaw the terms super welterweight and super lightweight? Can the WBA just have 1 champion in each division? And lastly can various commentary teams from around the world stop insulting their viewers by persisting with predetermined narratives and just call fights as they happen.