Over the weekend we had the pleasure of catching up with unbeaten Japanese prospect Andy Hiraoka (12-0, 8), from the Ohashi Gym. The 21 year old prospect is the current Japanese Youth Light Welterweight champion and is regarded as one of many big hopes for the Japanese boxing scene in the years to come.
Asian Boxing-Hi Andy, thanks for being willing to answer a few questions.
Andy Hiraoka-Hi Scott, thank you for having me in mind.
AB-So firstly, what got you into boxing originally?
AH-My father got me into boxing at the age of four.
AB-You made your professional debut back in 2013, did you have any sort of an amateur career before that?
AH-Unfortunately no, but I was under fifteen champion at age of twelve. Then we decide to quit for some reasons.
AB-I believe you spent time taking part in some training in the US, what was the biggest lesson from that training? Does American training differ massively from that done in Japan?
AH-Yes, I spent several times in the U.S. training. Thinking of I can get a chance over there. The difference between Japan and U.S. is that you may have knowledge of boxers in the gym to spare with.
AB-Of course you're based in the Ohashi gym, whats that like? Given you get to train alongside elite fighters like Naoya Inoue, I guess that really helps you develop your skills
AH-I believe Ohashi gym is one of the best in Japan now. So I feel great being one of them. Yes, Mr. Naoya Inoue and Mr. Akira Yaegashi are more than inspiration to me.
AB-What's been your toughest bout so far?
AH-My toughest bout was the fight with Takahiko Kobayashi.
AB-I'm sure some of our readers will be aware you made it to the 2014 All Japan Rookie of the Year final, but you were unable to fight in that final. How did it feel to miss out on the chance to be the Rookie of the Year?
AH-I did not fight rookie of the year the final duo to sickness, but I came back to fight the same opponent and won by K.O.
AB-On a bit of a lighter note, last year you claimed the Japanese Youth title at 140lbs, how did that feel?
AH-In the chances nothing too small so yes I was happy when claimed the Japan youth title but know body wants to challenge me for it.
AB-Whilst I'm sure a lot of fans will have heard your name, there's a chance not that many will have seen you in action. Could you explain your style for those who haven't had the chance to see you in action?
AH-My boxing style? I have more than one style.
AB-Looking towards the future, what are your plans for the rest of 2018? And longer term, where do you see your career?
AH-My time is coming, and I will give the fans the best they want.
AB-Finally, is there any message you'd like to send to fans looking to follow your career?
AH-Tell the boxing fans they should hold on for I have something special.
AB-Thanks Andy, this means a lot to us.
(Image courtesy of the Ohashi Gym)
On June 14th Japanese based Filipino fighter Warlito Parrenas Jr (26-7-1, 23) will battle against Ryuichi Funai for the WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title. Ahead of that bout we caught up with the hard hitting former world title challenger, and asked him a few quick questions about his past, including his bout with Naoya Inoue, and his upcoming bout against Funai.
Asian Boxing- Good morning Warlito, thanks for agreeing to answer a few questions for an interview at such a busy time.
Warlito Parrenas- Good day thank you for your interview.
AB-Firstly, what got you into boxing?
WP-Boxing is my life. Boxing helped me a lot because my life came from poor family and because of my talent as a boxer I managed to buy a house and a car and I have small business after my fight to inoya inoue. I also now have a stable job as a boxing trainer at Morioka boxing gym.
AB-What was your amateur career like?
WP-I travelled a lot and fought in in different countries. I recieved gold medals in different tournament and got the best boxer award in the Tammer cup tournament held in Finland and South East Asian championships held in Vietnam, and I had a lot of experiencec in amateur boxing before I turned professional.
(Ed's note - Warlito won the 51KG division at the 2005 Tammer Cup and the 2005 South East Asian Champions in Vietnam)
AB-Most fans, at least those in the western boxing world, will remember you best for your bout with Naoya Inoue. How would you describe facing the Monster?
WP-Naoya Inoue is a good fighter strong, fast and very talented boxer. He is so different to any other boxer that I've encountered. He is gifted
AB-Aside from Inoue you have faced other world class fighters, such as Marlon Tapales, Jonathan Taconing and David Carmona. Who did you enjoy facing the most? And which fight do you think taught you the most?
WP-Maybe Marlon Tapales. The fight that taught me most is my fight against Carmona it was a hard fight for me.
AB-Having been a professional for over a decade, what sort of advice would you give to an aspiring young professional?
WP-Don't under estimate your opponent, work hard, be determined and have self discipline.
AB-What would you regard as your biggest win, or best achievement, as a professional fighter?
WP-When i got my no.1 WBO Super Flyweight world ranking and my fight as a world championship challenger, against the tough boxer of the world like Naoya Inoue.
AB-You're currently a trainer at the Morioka gym right? The gym seems to have a real star in the making with Hinata Maruta, how far do you think Maruta can go in the future?
WP-Hinata Maruta is a good fighter, smart and strong boxer. He will be a world champion in the future
AB-Later this month you'll be facing Ryucihi Funai for the WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title. What do you know about Funai?
WP-I saw his fight on youtube. He's strong and a good boxer, he has a tactical style. I study a lot of his boxing style and have prepared for that.
AB-Could you describe your style for fans who maybe haven't seen much of you?
WP-They will see the new Warlito Parrenas Jr. We have a good training program. i train hard they will see my improvement with the help of my boss Kazunori Morioka, at the Morioka boxing gym.
AB-Finally do you have any messages for fans following you?
WP-I will surprise you guys! i will do my best and god will do the rest. See you all this coming June 14th.
AB-Thank you so much for your time, and good luck on June 14th
(Image courtesy of Morioka Gym)
Boxing in Singapore has began to capture some attention in the last few years thanks to a number of shows featuring notable Uzbek prospects. Despite the rise in attention that the country has been having in the boxing world not many home grown fighters have began to get much traction or build a name for themselves. One man looking to change that is unbeaten prospect Hamzah Farouk (4-0, 2), who made his professional debut in February 2017. Earlier this week we were able to have a small interview with Hamzah, talking about his start in boxing and his future in the sport, ahead of his bout this coming weekend.
Asian Boxing - Firstly, professional boxing doesn't have too much of a history in Singapore, what made you pursue the sport as a professional fight?
Hamzah Farouk-Just love. I love boxing more than anything else. And of course, thanks to the few boxers who turned professional before me. They paved the way and showed that it's possible to make something out of being a professional fighter and leaving a mark on the world boxing scene, even though Singapore does not have much history in professional boxing. So I decided, why not try to achieve something in the sport that I love so much.
AB-On a similar theme, what, if any, amateur experience did you have before making your professional debut last year?
HF-I was fighting in the amateurs from 2005, right up to 2012. I was also 4 time national champion during that time. However, I never had the chance to go to the South East Asian games as the stars were never aligned. But I did represent the country in other regional and international competitions such as the King's Cup in Bangkok, and some invitational competitions in Indonesia, Hong Kong, Laos, and Malaysia.
AB-Likewise what attracted you to boxing in the first place?
HF-My dad. He loved the sport, and he was always watching VCRs of his hero Muhammad Ali and some of the great fighters of his generation. I would watch along with him and I remember seeing Ali win the Heavyweight title for the first time against Sonny Liston, and they interviewed him after the fight. I remember him saying how he was a "bad man" and how he "shook up the world". Seeing his triumph gave me goosebumps even as a 5-year-old and I knew that was what I wanted to do. Oh and of course, the Rocky movies.
AB- Do you have any favourite fighters to watch, or anyone you were a big fan of?
HF-So many of them! Currently some of my favourite active fighters to watch include Jorge Linares, Vasyl Lomachenko, Naoya Inoue, Terence Crawford, Dimitri Bivol, just to name a few.
As for favourite boxers of the past, there are too many to name. But notable ones I would always watch are Ricardo Lopez, Johnny Tapia, Oscar de la Hoya, and Juan Manual Marquez. Of course the greatest of all time, Muhammad Ali.
AB-Could you describe your style for fans who haven't had the opportunity to see you in the ring? Is there anyone you'd maybe compared yourself to?
HF-Smooth boxing - that’s what I would call my style. Keeping it smooth, and in control. I can box from the outside, but I can also fight on the inside if I need to. A smooth puncher who uses his IQ more than his physical attributes.
Not anyone in particular. I study a lot of fighters and try to incorporate some of their moves into my game. I mix it all up, and create my own style.
AB-We know you're back in action on May 5th, what do you know about your opponent Samson Elnino?
HF-I've watched some of his fights on YouTube and I don't see anything he brings that could be a threat to me. However I do know he is experienced and he's got 16 professional victories, so I am not taking anything lightly this Saturday. I plan to box to my best ability and may God protect us both in the ring.
AB-Is there any plans for your next bout after the one with Samson?
HF-No plans at the moment as I’m staying focused for Saturday and not thinking ahead of that.
AB-Could you talk us through your team please?
HF-I am currently signed to Golden Glove Asia Promotions, who are promoting me and taking my career to the top.
I have my Strength and Conditioning (SnC) coach, Dzul, who was also the SnC coach for the Singapore Silat Federation.
I have my boxing coaches, Chouib Kabbab – who has been in boxing for his entire life – and Syakir Farouk – who is my brother and has been working with me since the start of my professional career.
Also, the good people at The Ring Boxing Community, led by founder Mr. Ruchdi Hajjar, who provided me a boxing home when I had nowhere to train
AB-What are your aspirations in boxing?
HF-I plan to win a regional title first and take it from there one step at a time. My ultimate end game is to perhaps fight in Las Vegas one day. I don't expect to headline any shows there but to have just 1 fight there would be a dream come true for me.
I hope to leave some kind of good impression on the world boxing scene and pave the way for other Singaporeans and maybe inspire them to do the same, just like how the ones before me have done so for me.
AB- Do you have any messages for the fans reading this?
HF-Do follow my career as we progress through the ranks, one fight at a time. I work hard everyday as I firmly believe hard work, sacrifice, and discipline pays off. I hope anyone reading this can give me your support as it would mean the world to my team and our cause.
I believe we are all fighting our own battles and have adversities to overcome. But keep the faith and continue working towards your goals and never give up no matter what happens, like a naive child untainted by limiting beliefs. Stay positive and believe in yourself that you can do it. I sincerely hope we all make something out of this life, and achieve what we set out to do. I look forward to seeing more of you at my fights, and keep a lookout for me to make a splash in boxing real soon!
AB-Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions
HF-Thanks very much
We'd like to wish Hamzah good luck for his up coming bout bout against Samson Elnino (16-17-3, 5), this coming Saturday from Singapore and thank him and his team for taking time out of their schedule to take part in this interview.
One of the most exciting aspects of Japanese boxing right now is the rise of the youngsters, which has helped to put Japanese boxing in to a Golden Age of sorts. Interestingly within that young group of Japanese fighters is a sub-group, and that's the rise of young Okinawan boxers. This has been lead by the brilliant Daigo Higa but also features the likes of Shuma Nakazato, Owan Ryuto and Shawn Oda.
This past week we managed to catch up with one of those fighters, 19 year old Lightweight prospect Shawn Oda (6-0, 6), who took time out of his schedule to answer a few of our questions.
Shawn came to the attention of many fight fans in Japan in 2016, when he claimed the Rookie of the Year crown at Lightweight, and despite only fighting once in 2017 he looks set for a big 2018.
Asian Boxing-Firstly can we start with asking how did you get in to boxing, or what got you into the sport?
Shawn Oda-How I got into the sport was this one man that mom knew that happened to be Uehara Yasutsune brother Uehara Shouei. He told my mom since I was small that I should box and after trying lots of sports I tried boxing in the 5th grade and loved it!
AB-Although we had the pleasure of watching you winning the 2016 Rookie of the Year some fans reading this may not have seen you. Could you describe your style and in ring mentality for them?
SO-I would say a boxer fighter is the best way to describe my style. I go into the ring thinking of all the work I did for the fight knowing I am going to win. I know I only have 6 fights so far but you gotta have this type of mentality to fight!
AB-What are you dreams and goals in boxing? Did you exceed your expectations by winning the Rookie of the Year? Or even the way you did it, stopping all your opponents.
SO-I have not exceeded my expectations by winning the Rookie of the Year, I think this is just the beginning! My goal is to get to the top and get a world title belt but I know it ain’t gonna be easy and I gotta put the work in but I’m up for it! This is my life!
AB-You're one of the few Japanese fighters who speak English, do you see this as an advantage in your career and getting fights in the West, or is that not something that particularly bothers you?
SO-It is good Knowing that it will be easier to communicate with people in the West, but other than that I do not see an advantage because my gym handles all of the managing and setting my fights up.
AB-Is there any idea of when you'll be back in the ring?
SO-I actually have a fight coming up on February 4th! (Ed's note- Shawn will be fighting in the chief support bout of Daigo Higa's bout with Moises Fuentes)
AB-Over the last few years we've seen Okinawa really begin to have a resurgent boxing scene, what's it like to be part of that growth in the region?
SO-I’m happy the name of my home is gaining popularity again from boxing and I’m a part of it!
AB-Staying on the theme of Okinawa, who do you see as your best friends in boxing?
SO-I would say Yoshigai Ukyo, Hiranaka Nobuhiro, and everyone I train with right now in the Shirai•Gushiken Gym. Owan Ryuto, Kimura Yoshimitsu, Yamashita Kenya, Nagahama Riku, and Higa Daigo. (Ed's note – The Shirai Gushiken gym is run by Japanese boxing legend Yoko Gushiken, himself a former Okinawan fighter)
AB-What was it like training with the excellent Daigo Higa?
SO-I am blessed to have that amazing experience and able to train with all these great boxers all the time now!
AB-Who do you look up to as a boxing hero?
SO-I don’t really have a hero but I’ve always liked the way Ioka Kazuto fought since I started boxing.
AB-Outside of boxing I know you enjoy Skateboarding, is there any other notable hobbies or out of the ring interests you spend a lot of time doing?
SO-I spend a lot of time listening to music and skate mostly on my free time when I don’t have a fight coming up.
AB-Finally, is there any sort of message you want to send out to fans?
SO-Imma keep working everyday to reach my goal and get the next, hope to have a fight in the West sometime soon!
AB-Thanks for your time Shawn, it's much appreciated, and the best of luck for your fight in February.
(Image courtesy pof boxmob.jp)
Earlier this year former world champion Malcolm Klassen (33-6-2, 17) signed with Asian manager Alexander King Shah. After signing with Shah we were able to send some questions to Malcolm ahead of the next chapter in his career.
AB-What drew you into boxing?
MK-What drew me into boxing was the fact I was one of those kids who never backed down from a fight, I always stood my ground and never ran away from fights then my moms brother took me to a boxing gym because he saw what I could be, he is also the person that raised me.
AB-You made your debut almost 20 years ago, what advice would “old” you have for “young” you if you could speak to yourself before your debut?
MK-Normally I tell a lot of young fighters that boxing isn't a easy game nd if you are a fighter you need to train hard, if not if you and disrespect the game you can get knocked out badly.
AB-As you may be aware many fight fans around the world struggle to watch fights in African nations, and sadly they may not have seen many of your fights other than your 2009 fight with Robert Guerrero. Do you think this has hindered your career on an international basis with things like getting credit for your ability?
MK-On my site I never worried whether another fighter disrespect or undermine they see it in da ring who I really am and after fights they always confess how hard I punch and good I am.
AB-Staying on a similar theme, how would you describe your style to those who haven't seen you? And do you feel like your style has changed over the years?
MK-I can adapt to anyones fighting style I can fight on the back foot I can attack.
AB-Whilst Alexander Shah has been a great promoter in the Asian region your decision to sign with him seemed a little bit peculiar to some. What was it that drew you to Alex, especially so late in your career?
MK-Mr Alexander King. He is a good Promoter and manager and got connections in the industry and he looks after his fighters thanks to him we secured several big fights in 2017 and the first is against Mikhail Alexeev.
AB-At 35 years old you are around the age where most fighters consider retirement, yet you are currently on a solid 6 fight winning run with good wins against the likes of Justin Savi and Paulus Moses. Do you feel your body has a set number of fights left, or do you feel as young as ever?
MK-My age isnt a factor you only feel as old as you are, I mean I got good hand speed and I'm a accurate puncher.
AB-In your 41 fight career you have shared the ring with a real list of notable foes, like Jeffrey Mathebula, Mzonke Fana, Cassius Baloyi, Robert Guerrero, Will Tomlinson and Paulus Moses. Who would you say was the best fighter you've faced?
MK-The best fighter between Will Tomlinson and Paulus Moses I would say Paulus is a good fighter, I mean he is also a former World Champion my record speaks for it self.
AB-It's clear on twitter that you're trying to secure big bouts and you've called out numerous notable fighters. If you could hand select your next opponent, who would that be?
MK-If I would hand select any fighter to fight for now I would say I would wanna fight anyone....
AB-Finally, is there any idea of when we will be able to see you in the ring next? And what should fans be looking for when you do get back in there?
MK-My nxt fight will be in August in Russia on the 26th with me its fire works and good entertainment thats why im called "The Stone" I will fight Undefeated russian WBC champion (Ed's note - WBC Youth Super Featherweight champion) Mikhail Alexeev and hope I will get Lomachenko or Leo Santa Cruz soon to come. I also wanna say thanx to my Russian Promoter RCC Promotion Mr German Titov and my manager/promoter Mr Alexander King Shah for believing in me and in giving me the opportunity again.
(Image courtesy of boxrec.com)
Over the last few years Alexander King Shah has been putting on some great shows in Asia, winning awards and creating a buzz for his fighters. Although his fighters are getting more and more attention he has mostly gone under-the-radar for fans who haven't followed the growth of boxing in, and around, Singapore and Malaysia.
Thankfully we were able to send some questions off to Mr Shah recently, and get to know him a bit better, whilst getting to learn not only about Mr Shah, but also drove him into boxing, and what he has in the pipeline as he looks to continue to build his reputation in the sport.
AB-Firstly Mr Shah, what drew you into being a boxing promoter, and manager?
AS-I grew up watching Ali and Tyson fights on TV , and also my interest to promote is wanting to be just like Don King during those times promoting big huge fights
AB-Building on that, boxing isn't particularly well linked with Singapore historically, is there any reason you've stuck to Singapore for most of your shows rather than spread into more well defined and established markets like Thailand, Japan and the Philippines?
AB-If you look deep in history of Singapore boxing Singapore actually do have more than 200 local pro boxers recorded by Boxrec, this was like 40 to 50 yeas ago and it was confirmed by many senior citizens in Singapore most of those have passed and some can't be found.they have kept themself at a low profile level .
Singapore was the Mecca of boxing in Asia this was also confirmed by many
That is why I am doing most of my promotions in Singapore to revive back the interest among the public but I'm not closing my doors I do have vision and would love to promote elsewhere too I did promote this Jan in JOHOR Malaysia
AB-As a promoter you've had a real mix of fighters on your card, and worked with some of the best prospects from Central Asia, which of those fighters would you say puts on the best fights for the fans?
AS-I've got alot of feedback from fight fans there are 3 fights tat gave them goosebumps
Qudratilo Vs Adonis cabalquinto
Azizbek Vs Martin Rios
Farkhan Vs Kaseba
AB-And staying on that note, which fighters do you work with? Is there quite a big stable of contracted fighters that you have or is it a case of working on a fight-by-fight basis with fighters?
AS-I have signned 2 fighters World Champion Malcolm Klassen from south Africa and former 2 times Wbc Asia champion Roman Zohailov from Uzbekistan, I just signed them exclusively and will be working closely with them , Malcolm klassen first comeback fight will be in Russia this august agaisnt Russian 10-0 undefeated super Featherweight Mikhail Alexeev
AB-Although your shows have been stacked with really interesting match ups I can't say I've been able to see streams of many of them, has there been problems getting TV coverage in Singapore for your shows? If so has there been thoughts of working with television companies like Boxnation in the UK to try and increase coverage of your fighters?
AS-Most local singapore TV stations don't pay for TV rights but I'm working on something we have been approach by a foreign TV stations and will looking into negotiating with them
AB-Outside of the fighters you manage, and as a fan, what is the one dream bout you wish you could make before the end of 2017? And likewise using a fighter you do work with, what fight would you like to make with one of those?
AS-My Dream is to promote the WBC world title and to make Malcolm Klassen a WBC World champion , there have been talks about lomachenko vs Klassen in the near future to come many fight fans wants to know about it what I can say that it might happen and if it does it will be a dream fight for me and Malcolm and the whole of Africa
As you know lomachenko is the best in the world nobody have yet to beat him* he was supposed to fight Gamboa but it didn't happen and klassen to was supposed to fight Gamboa and it didn't happen
But Lomachenko Vs Klassen I hope it will happen I know there are rumours about this matchup as for now we will concentrate fighting Mikhail in Russia we go one at a time
*(Ed's note- at 130lbs Lomachenko is unbeaten)
AB-Of course you won the 2016 Asian Boxing Promoter of the Year, would you regard that as your biggest honour in boxig so far?
AS-I was honoured and emotional all hard work paid off without the help of many like my partner's family and friends non of this would happen also the Singapore fans have been fantastic , this is th biggest award I received from WBC , the first award I received from WBC was when I promoted 4 Wbc Asia titles in a single nite breaking Brico Satig records , I laugh but we are friends
AB-Could you tell us anything about your future plans? Is there any more big shows coming up in 2017 from yourself or any other big signings on the horizon?
AS-Currently we are in talks for Farkhan Vs Manus boonchanung, the history Manus was an Olympic gold medallist and a Thai superstar ,Farkhan beat him in sea games that put Manus into retirement after that fight and now both are in the pro boxing and Manus wants a rematch but in a pro fight this fight will happen in Malaysia and it will be a Superfight I hope to get the fight on Live TV in Malaysia and Thailand
We are also looking to sign Female pro boxers we have been scouting and in talks with some of them hope it will happen soon
AB-I see you've left Cartel Promotions (Alex recently tweeted that he'd left), can I ask what the reason for the split was?
AS-I left Cartel International Promotions because I have other plans like signing and managing fighters also to build up my own branding e.g Alexander King Management although we split i am still In good terms with the board of directors
AB-Finally, any final words for our readers?
AS-2017 is still the begining winning the Wbc Asia promoter of the year award signing World champion Malcolm Klassen. I how fight fans around the world could give Singapore a chance watch and support fights here we have several other promoters promoting their own events and I hope they too get the most of support from fight fans around the world
AB-Thank you very much for your time Alexander, it's much appreciated and good luck in the future, especially with your two new signings.
(Image courtesy of boxrec.com)
Over the weekend we had a chance to send an interview the way of Japanese based American Brandon Lockhart (8-5-1, 7). The Light Middleweight-come-Middleweight celebrates his 6th year as a professional fighter in 2017 and looks to continue on a career which has seen him share the ring with a world title challenger and reach the final of the All Japan Rookie of The Year. Although not a huge name Brandon has always been of interst to use as a foreign fighter making his way in Japan and really charmed us a little whilst back with an apearance in a Morioka Gym video promoting one of their shows
Like many fighters who fight away from their land of birth Brandon has had a great reaction from the fans in his new home and has really made himself a part of the local community, as you'll find out during the interview, which we really do want to say a huge public thank you for.
Asian Boxing-Hi Brandon, thanks for agreeing to this interview, it means a lot to us and our readers, especially given the language barrier a lot of Western fans have with Japanese boxing in general. That leads nicely into my first question, how hard was it to adapt to life in Japan as a "Gaijin" in the country? And what originally attracted you to Japan to in the first place?
Brandon Lockhart-In my opinion, moving to a foreign for anyone is a huge leap into the unknown. Small things we don't pay attention to or take for granted can become bigger things in other countries. My transition to the Japanese life style was smooth in my opinion. I previously studied abroad here for 4 months in college, so I had a feint idea about life here. Even though my time abroad here helped, there were many things I was not prepared for such as long periods of isolation, working in a different culture and system, and being totally independent. But I learned to adjust and had an open minded which I think is the most important thing to have living in a different culture.
I first came to Japan because I just wanted to experience something different. Up until that point I had never been abroad in my adult life. I just wanted to get away in a sense and have a story to tell.
AB-Along a similar line, what attracted you to boxing?
BL-Boxing has always been something I have been interested in. Growing up my family and friends would get together and watch matches on cable TV. Huge stars such as Mike Tyson, Riddick Bowe were from my city of Brooklyn, so it filled us with a sense of pride. At a young age basketball was a common and readily accessible sport so that's what I came to love. It wasn't until I came to Japan that I found a boxing gym near my house, so then I decided to give it a shot.
AB-Again staying with your early boxing, did you have much of an amateur career or not?
BL-In the beginning, it was just for fun and fitness but then I started to become serious. Without any experience I decided to become pro. So I learned along the way, which has been difficult but rewarding. I learned so much about myself in the ring. My fears, worries, strengths and ability to persevere after a hard lose. My biggest learning experience has been the lesson of controlled aggression. KOs are great but just brute strength is not enough in this sport. Thinking, adjusting, pacing and timing are keys to be great in this sport. Watching better fighters than myself and losing fights have taught me to be mentally strong as well as physically.
AB-During your career you've faced a few notable fighters, who would you say the toughest you've faced, and what about them made them tougher than the others?
BL-To date I think my hardest fight was the Fuchigami fight. Not so much that he was a better fighter than me, but because there were so many new things I wasn't accustomed to. Being a main event fighter, going to fight so far from home, him having so much more experience than me and having the pressure put on myself that I would lose on the score card if the fight went the distance. I was overwhelmed by the experience so when I knocked him down twice I kind of tightened up and went for the kill too early and ran out of gas. But because of this experience, I became a better fighter.
[Editors note - Makoto Fuchigami is a former Japanese an Oriental Middleweight champion best known for facing Gennady Golovkin in a world title bout. Brandon fought him in June 2016]
AB-Is there any idea when you'll be back in the ring? Or who your team are looking at get you in with next?
BL-Not too sure on my next opponent yet but hopefully soon there will be talks soon. I'm ready to get back in the ring.
AB-I know you're part of the Morioka gym, which also has Naoto Iwai and Hinata Maruta among others, what's the general feel of the gym?
BL-The gym is like family. I'm so proud and honored to be apart of Morioka gym. We support each from the small kids to the pros to the regular gym members. We all want to achieve the best for each other. We are taught not to be just good fighters but also good human beings. Greetings and how you conduct yourself are important points in life that are reinforced in the gym. It's something's difficult to fit in Japan being a foreigner, but I feel right at home in Morioka gym.
AB-Away from boxing I understand your a teacher, what was it about teaching that appealed so much?
BL-Well, I have always wanted to be a teacher. I lost my way in college and really didn't have a clue in what I wanted to do in life. So I came to Japan on a program called J.E.T. It's a program where native english speakers come to assist in schools around Japan. I enjoyed teaching but was put in a very limited role due to the emphasis of test based English rather than conversational English. So with the help of a friend, I run an English conversational school in my city. It has its up and downs but I enjoy it very much.
AB-And moving further away from boxing what do you enjoy to do in your spare time?
BL-In my down time I like to play video games, watch movies and enjoy time with my kids. I have 2 girls aged 10 and 8, and a boy who just turned 2. So I'm always doing something. Lol. It's great being a father.
AB-Also is there any messages you'd like to leave fans with? Any parting words?
BL-Just want to let everyone know that life is a strange and wonderful thing that we don't know where it will take us. Just enjoy the ride, give thanks and take it for what it is.
Again we'd like to say a huge thanks to Brandon for taking time out of his week to answer our questions and we wish him, and the rest of the Morioka gym, the best of luck in the future.
(Image of Brandon courtesy of the Morioka gym)
On July 2nd fight fans in Japan will Charles Bellamy (25-3-1, 17) return to the Yano Fitness Center in Zama, his third bout at the venue, for his first contest of 2016. That will see the Japanese based American, also known as "Charlie Ota", face Elfelos Vega (6-3, 4) in the co-main event. Ahead of that bout we managed to put some questions to Charlie, asking generally about his boxing career.
Asian Boxing- Firstly, what got you into boxing in the first place?
Charles Bellamy-I liked fighting. Growing up I enjoyed fighting more than playing sports actually. But people get confused on when a person says they enjoy fighting with a person who just bullies and picks on people. I could go somewhere agree to fight someone it ll be a good fight then go chill and hang out with them. So it was easy to get into all types of fighting sports Taekawondo, karate, wrestling etc. As I got older I needed to do something official cause only a very few people could enjoy fighting without taking it personal. Being a huge Roy Jones Jr fan there was a gym near the place I was staying so I started going and kept getting better so I wanted to see how far I could get.
AB-Presumably you had an amateur background, so could you perhaps tell us something about your days in the unpaid ranks?
CB-Well when I first started going to the gym I fought about 7 amateur matches and won them. Within those 7 wins I was able to win a pretty big amateur tournament out here in Japan. (Where I began boxing.) So I decided to start taking it more serious.
AB-Of course most fight fans will be aware that you're one of the more notable “gaijin” fighters, could you tell us what made you want to make a name for yourself in Japan rather than the US?
CB-I was in the Navy and was stationed out here in Japan. When I was getting out of the military honorable discharged I went back to my hometown in Maryland for a while. At that time the economy wasn't doing so well in the States plus other situations were not looking good. Before I left Japan I applied for a few jobs, one of them teaching/tutoring English. To my surprise at that time I got the job so I decided to stay in Japan after the military. I found it easier to live in Japan than in the U.S.
AB-Could you perhaps also tell us something about your team in Japan. Who are the key figures at the Hachioji Nakaya Boxing Gym?
CB-I was with Hachioji Nakaya Boxing gym for a long time. Little by little we didn't see eye to eye on things and separated. By chance I was able to start training at Teiken gym and that is who I am with now.
AB-Staying with your career in Japan, where you've fought 26 of your 29 professional bouts, what was the toughest bout in the country?
CB-Boxing takes a lot of energy as we all know. I had to start of fighting 6 rounds which was tough without much experience. Then soon I had to fight an 8 rounder against a fighter named Tsuyoshi Kamiishi. He was a swarmer type that threw a lot of punches. I just remember being dead tired and I have to keep fighting back while fatigue and soreness were setting in. They next day I was very sore. (Note- Charlie beat Kamiishi with a unanimous decision)
AB-How do you feel the Japanese fans, and officials, have treat you in the country since you began your career there almost 10 years ago?
CB-I would say I've been treated well by both. Of course at first it's hard not knowing many people but slowly I gained respect, put on some good fights and in general been a good dude so more people started to show appreciation.
AB-What fight do feel was your best performance?
CB-Hmmm it still hasn't come yet. A little more. But I felt I had good fights vs Shibata the second time (WTKO6), vs Marumoto (WTKO6) and vs Numata (WKO9).
AB-Fans in the US will of course remember your bout with Jermell Charlo (LUD12) from 2014. Whilst you lost that bout you did leave an impression on Charlo, dropping him in round 3, would you say he was your most well schooled opponent so far?
CB-Yes he is. The thing that really stood out to me about that fight was the teamwork his team displayed to prepare their fighter.
AB-On a little bit more of a personal level, who do you consider as your best friends in the sport?
CB-A few guys I hang with that make music out here in Japan known as The Bridge.
AB-If we remember correctly there was a close friendship between yourself and Nihito Arakawa, was he one of the key figures when you two were stable mates?
CB-Nihito is a good friend of mine. He also decided to part ways with Hachioji Nakaya Boxing gym a little before I did but we are still cool. He's doing very well for himself now. (Nihito recently won the Japanese Lightweight title)
AB-Also what are the plans for this year? Will you be making another run at a Japanese or OPBF title? Or maybe thinking of a change in weight class? Finally, is there anything you'd like to say to the fans?
CB-Well I was gone for a little while because I had to deal with some personal matters. Now I am back active I'm shooting straight up step by step. Get ranked, eliminator, title match. First I have to do it on the Domestic and Region area then be ready to step up to world class. Thank you to the people who always show True support. Always, I appreciate it.
AB-Thank you for your time Charlie and good luck on July 2nd
(Image courtesy of the excellent boxmob.jp)
Recently we were in touch with our good friend Mikko Marttinen, who is the international manager for Indonesian teenager Iwan Zoda (8-1, 7). Through Mikko we managed to ask Iwan some questions ahead of his April 2nd fight against unbeaten Hungarian Szilveszter Kanalas (8-0, 6).
Asian Boxing-Hi Iwan, can we ask what first got you into boxing? Was it your trainer or were you a fan of the sport before hand?
Iwan Zoda-"I was nine years old and I joined my friends at Damianus Yordan's gym. First it was just for fun but little by little I started to enjoy it more and more. My parents and grandmother (who he was living with at the time) were against me boxing. They said nothing good would come out of it. I had my first amateur fight at 13 and won. I didn't know anything about boxing before going to the gym."
AB-Could we if he has any amateur experience or whether it has been a "learn on the job" type of thing so far?
Mikko Marttinen-He had about 40 amateur fights and lost 4 times. When he was 17 he knocked out Julio Bria in a national tournament. Bria has twice represented Indonesia in world amateur championships. When Iwan was not selected for the national team despite knocking out the number one amateur in the country he decided to turn pro.
AB-Could you tell us something about Iwan's team?
MM-His trainer is Damianus Yordan, the older brother and former trainer of Daud Yordan. My role is advisor and international agent. The Indonesian airforce supports him but he's not employed by them and he is not under contract with any promoter.
AB-What do you feel are your best assets are in the ring, and what flaws would you like to build on?
IZ-"I can fight as both orthodox and southpaw. I still need to develop my physique."
AB-As we all know your big break out win to many was the rematch over Petchchorhae. Could we ask how it felt losing to Petchchorhae the first time around? What you learned from the loss? And how you felt when you avenged the loss?
IZ-"I was still inexperienced in the first match, having only one six-round points victory in the pros before the fight. I learned that I needed more weight in my punches. For the second fight my trainer convinced me I can beat him. After beating him I felt extremly happy. It was the proudest moment of my life."
AB-What his current aim is in boxing, is it money, glory, legacy, a combination of those things or something totally different?
IZ-"My goal is to achieve something where people can not look down on me anymore."
AB-Do you feel a lot of pressure on yourself now before fights given the fact that some view you as the next star of Indonesian boxing?
IZ-"I hope they are right. I don't feel any pressure at all, in the contrary, it gives me strength and confidence."
AB-With boxing in Indonesia being quite small at the moment, does you feel you have any domestic rivals?
IZ-"So far nobody has been able to match me."
AB-What does he know about his upcoming opponent?
MM-He has seen highlights of Kanalas's last fight. He believes it will be a challenge but one that he can manage.
AB-Any predictions for your up coming bout?
IZ-"I will win inside ten rounds."
AB-Are you shocked that international fans are paying attention to you?
IZ-"I was not aware that people know me outside of Indonesia. I only concentrate on my training."
AB-Any messages for fans who are following you?
IZ-"Thank you for following me. I would love to get to know my fans from abroad."
We'd like to say a huge thanks to both Iwan and Mikko and we, of course, with Iwan the best of luck in his upcoming bout. For those who haven't seen Iwan before we have featured the video of his brilliant win over Petchchorhae Kokietgym from last year, a win that helped Iwan earn some well deserved international attention.
For those wanting to follow Iwan's career, we suggest following his team on twitter @iwanzoda.
Earlier this month we sent a number of interview requests to various Asian promoters. One of those promoters to return our request was Dr. Siraphop OneSongchai Ratanasuban, the head of OneSongchai. Dr Sirahop kindly passed on some questions we had for current WBO Bantamweight world champion Pungluang Sor Singyu, who is currently enjoying his second reign as the WBO Bantamweight champion, and returned the answers to us earlier this week.
The exciting and fun to watch 27 year old has been a professional since 2004 and has run up an excellent record of 51-3 (35) with wins over Eden Sonsona, Monico Laurente, Rey Megrino, AJ Banal and most recently Ryo Akaho. The aggressively minded Thai is now set to return to the ring on February 12th as he defends the title against Filipino challenger Jetro Pabustan
AB-Could you perhaps tell our readers something about yourself, for example what got you in to boxing? Did you have much of an amateur or Muay Thai background?
PSS- I got in Professional Muaythai with more than 100 fights first, then I go into boxing as a replaced boxer, then I was good. So I turn to Prof. boxing right away.
AB-And staying on that theme, how would you describe yourself as a boxer?
PSS- I am training hard. It is ืnot god gifted. I am diligent.
AB-Who currently makes up your team? And have you worked with those particular people since the start of your career?
PSS- I have promoter madame Pairyakorn Ratanasuban, manager Sorjor Sanya Sor Singyu, trainer Aek.
AB-As we are just a few weeks away from your first defense, of your second reign, as WBO Bantamweight championship can you tell us how your
preparations have gone so far? Have you been sparring with anyone different to usual?
PSS- I got Philippine trainer. My promoter invests me with good basic trainer.
AB-What do you know about Jetro Pabustan, your upcoming opponent?
PSS- I am not worry. If I fight in Thailand. I know Jetro is from Philippine with strong Manny Pacquio backed him up. The best boxer in the world.
AB-We know all 3 of your losses have come when you have fought outside of Thailand, do you feel there was a reason for those losses? If there an advantage of fighting at home in Thailand?
PSS- Home town always rule 100%. I won for sure in Thailand because I train well with good foods, good used to weather.
AB-Given that you have fought a lot of notable names, could you tell us who the best opponent that you've faced has been?
PSS- I remember my best opponent are boxers who beated me. They teach me not to be careless and train harder
AB-Thanks for answering our questions
PSS-Thank you very much
Not sure this needs to be explained! But here are out interviews with fighters!