A fighter having a loss in Japan is certainly not the end of their career, as it can be in some other countries. In fact often when a fighter has a loss to their name it's how that loss came about that is significant, along with their style and the value they bring. With that in mind our "introducing" this weeks looks at the entertaining, but somewhat fragile, Kazuki Saito (7-1, 5), who suffered his first loss in 2018 and looks like he has chin issues, but yet is such a wonderful talent with incredible skills. He's the sort of fighter who you watch thinking he could score an easy win...or be taken out whilst in total control. The type of fighter who we know can deliver drama and excitement due to his limitations, just as much as his strengths.
Before turning in 2016 Saito was very highly regarded from his time in the amateur ranks. He won the numerous trophies and ran up an incredible 83-14 record. That type of amateur background saw him turn to the pros with a lot of expectation on his shoulders, though his style needed some work before he began to face real tests.
In his first 2 bouts Saito took on real no hopers from Thailand in 6 round bouts. Both of those foes were made to look worse than they were by Saito who dominated both and stopped them in a combined 5 rounds whilst show casing incredibly crisp punching, a fantastic jab and really clean combinations. His amateur pedigree was clear immediately.
Following those first 2 bouts, both of which are on Boxing Raise for those interested, he took a notable step up in class to take on Filipino Jimmy Borbon. It was against Borbon we saw the first cracks appear in Saito, when he was dropped with a sweeping left hook 2 minutes into the bout. This was the first time had began to question Saito's chin, though to his credit he got to his feet, saw out follow up attack and stopped Borbon in the 6th round.
If Saito's team were worried about his chin they didn't show it, as his came against the then 8-1 (7) Alvin Lagumbay. The hard hitting Lagumbay, who later went on to have a very notable win over Keita Obara, wobbled Saito in the opening round but struggled to cope with the movement, jab and boxing skills of Saito. In round 4 Saito hurt the Filipino and a follow up forced the referee to save Lagumbay, who was on the ropes at the time.
Having notched another win over a Filipino fighter, Marbon Bodiongan, it looked like Saito was on the right track and that he was able to look after his chin. Perhaps even showing that it was inexperience and not a questionable chin that caused him to be dropped by Borbon. Sadly however it was made clear it was his chin that was an issue in July 2018 when he was stopped by Amphol Suriyo, aka Pharanpetch Tor Buamas, in 2 rounds. Saito had won the first round without any issues but in round 2 the visiting Thai showed a bit more aggression and rocked Saito to his boots with a wild right hand. Moments later Saito was down. He got up, still wobbly legged and was dropped almost instantly before the referee waved the bout off.
Since his loss Saito has picked up 2 decisions wins, but with his suspect chin there is always a chance he's going to be dropped in any fight. However he is such a natural boxer, with gorgeous offensive skills, lovely combinations and heavy hands. In many ways he is like a lower level Jorge Linares, a clear talent but such a questionable chin.
Saito's next fight comes on October 26th when he takes on Izuki Tomioka in a Japanese Lightweight title eliminator. On paper that's a safe fight for Saito's chin, but Tomioka is a skilled fighter himself and should be a very solid test for Saito.
This past week hasn't been the busiest, yet there was still a lot to talk about, and whilst the bouts that took place weren't high profile, it was a week that delivered a lot of interestings action.
Fighter of the Week
Kudratillo Abdukakhorov (17-0, 9)
Unbeaten Uzbek fighter Kudratillo Abdukakhorov did amaze or blow anyone away, but did look very good in taking a wide technical decision over former world champion Luis Collazo. The Uzbek fighter moved excellently, threw lovely little combinations on the back foot and simply used Collazo's pressure against him, until a head clash in the 10th round curtailed the bout a minute early. We don't think Abdukakhorov has proven he has the talent to win a world title, but this was still a very good performance from a very good fighter and someone who deserves to be inside the division's top 15, albeit at the lower end of the top 15.
Performance of the Week
Tuguldur Byambatsogt (1-0)
Aged just 20 years old Tuguldur Byambatsogt really, really impressed us, and yet seemed to fight well within himself as he easily out pointed Japanese veteran Shusaku Fujinaka. What was more impressive than just beating Fujinaka was the fact that Byambatsogt did it on his debut, and did with relatively ease. He out boxed, out fought and out brawled Fujinaka and although he was a bit too cautious and negative at times this was still a very accomplished performance for a young man making his debut. Keep an eye on this youngster going forward.
Xiang Li Vs Ryu Horikawa
We'll admit we had very high hopes for this one going in and in fairness it exceeded our expectations. It started relatively slowly but built into a very, very entertaining and exciting fight. As the fight went on and Li began to tire Horikawa tried to turn it on, going for the stoppage, making for some amazing action up close and some fantastic heart from Li, who tried to always fire back. The final rounds were amazing, and it really did get better and better as the fight went on, making for a fantastic bout. Rounds 9 and 10 of this were both great, even if they were a little on the sloppy side, and we would happily watch these two fight again in the future.
Marvin Esquierdo vs Koichi Ito (Round 1)
The first ever round of the Knockout Dynamite Tournament kicked off the tournament in style, with Marvin Esquierdo and Koichi Ito standing and unloading bombs on each from the opening seconds. This was thrilling action, with both men looking to claim the top reward for an opening round win. The fight may not have been a technical show case but it was all action and very, very exciting. Well worthy of a watch, and despite being on Boxing Raise the website has made it available for none-subscribers, so we suggest you check it out here.
Sadly there was no valid KO this week.
Suzumi Takayama (3-0, 3)
Whilst Tuguldur Byambatsogt and Ryu Horikawa were both in the running for this, as was Chainoi Worawut, we've gone with the newly crowned Japanese Youth Super Flyweight champion. Takayama got off to a great start, dropping Tetsuro Ohashi in the first round, got knocked down himself in round 2 but eventually broke down Ohashi in an excellent performance over 8 rounds. This was a great bout, with a great performance from both and Takayama really does deserve a lot more attention than he appears to be getting. Keep an eye on him over the coming years.
Seigo Yuri Akui (13-2-1, 9) vs Shun Kosaka (16-5, 4)
There is a lot of good fights coming up over the next 7 days. For us the best one is likely to be the Japanese Flyweight title between the fast starting and all aggression Seigo Yuri Akui and tough guy Shun Kosaka. This should be a lot of fun, and a real test to see how legit Akui's power is. Whilst Akui's record only has 9 T/KO's in 16 bouts, 8 of those were scored in the opening round and he is very much a fast starter. Kosaka is rugged and could be the sort of fighter to get the very best out of Akui.
The last week of October isn't a crazy one in terms of big fights, but is a very good in terms of noteworthy fights, with a world title bout, a Japanese world title bout a bunch of Japanese title eliminators, several notable prospects and a very good cross roads fight.
Wanheng Menayothin (53-0, 18) vs Simpiwe Konkco (19-5, 7) - Thailand
On Friday October 25th we'll see WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin make his next defense, as he takes on mandatory challenger Simpiwe Konkco from Aouth Africa. The unbeaten Thai is the longest reigning active champion, and whilst his competition, overall, hasn't been great this is a solid defense against a very under-rated challenger. Sadly Wanheng's best wins so far have come against the likes of Tatsuya Fukuhara and Pedro Taduran and he lacks consistency, so a win here will bolster his standing before a potential US debut. For Konkco the bout is a second world title shot a win would put him on the map, big time.
Sadriddin Akhmedov (9-0, 8) vs Johnny Navarrete (33-15-2, 15) - Quebec, Canada
Hard hitting Kazakh prospect Sadriddin Akhmedov fights for the first time as a married man as he takes on Mexican veteran Johnny Navarrete. The hard hitting Akhmedov will be strongly favoured here, and is expected to blow through the Mexican in terms to return for a December card at the Bll Centre. To dat Akhmedov has squeezes 3 fights and his weeding into 2019 and is a busy boy, but given his natural talent, and power, we have no reason to think this will be anything short of a blow out.
Kazuki Tanaka (11-2, 8) Vs Kyosuke Sawada (13-2-1, 6) - Tokyo, Japan
In a very even looking Japanese Bantamweight title eliminator we'll see the aggressive Kazuki Tanaka take on the skilled and smart Kyosuke Sawada. This pits puncher against boxer and should be a very interesting match up between two talented fighters with very different in ring mindsets. We expect Tanaka to press and Sawada try to keep behind his his jab, though we have seen Sawada dragged into a fight before and sooner or later we expect this one to break out into a war.
Hinata Maruta (9-1-1, 7) Vs Takenori Ohashi (17-5-2, 11) - Tokyo, Japan
The wonderfully smooth Hinata Maruta takes on the former Japanese Featherweight champion Takenori Ohashi in a Japanese Featherweight title eliminator. Although very talented Maruta has faltered in his biggest bout to date, losing a competitive decision to veteran Hidenori Otake in an OPBF title match, but has bounced back with some impressive results and will be looking to build on his recent wins over Tsuyoshi Tameda and Coach Hiroto. On the other hand Ohashi is no slouch, and whilst technicall he's slow and clunky he has lights out power, and is a danger through out a bout. This really is boxer against puncher in what could turn out to be the gem of the Japanese title eliminators taking place on October 26th.
Kazuki Saito (7-1, 5) Vs Izuki Tomioka (6-2-1, 2) - Tokyo, Japan
Another Japanese title eliminator will be taking place at Lightweight and will see the talented, but somewhat chinny, Kazuki Saito take on the skilled, but light hitting, Izuki Tomioka. This is a bout that pits two men who have real potential, but big flaws, against each other. Saito is a joy to watch offensively, but his durability issues cannot be ignored, and he has been down in a number of fights and we do worry about him whenever he's caught. Izuki gave Masayoshi Nakatani fights in a 2018 bout for the OPBF Lightweight title, but looked worried against Shuya Masaki just a few months later. Izuki is an excellent and fighter, but his lack of stopping power is a major question mark, even at this level.
Keita Obara (21-4-1, 19) Vs Toshiro Tarumi (12-3-3, 6) - Tokyo, Japan
Former world title challenger Keita Obara drops back down to domestic level for a Japanese Welterweight title eliminator against Toshiro Tarumi. Obara has proven to not be world class, but isn't too far behind and bouts against the likes of Kudratillo Abdukakhorov have shown some of his limitations. Despite that Obara has still only ever been beaten by 1 Japanese opponent, and that was on his debut. Tarumi is a solid domestic fighter, but this is a massive step up in class for him, and we suspect it's too much too soon for him. Tarumi lacks the power needed to get Obara's respect and isn't sharp enough to be able to replicate Abdukakhorov's gameplan.
Wenfeng Ge (11-1, 6) Vs Kompayak Porpramook (60-7, 41) - Chongqing, China
Chinese 32 year old Wenfeng Ge looks to bounce back from a loss in January to Giemel Magramo, which saw him being stopped in the 10th round. The Chinese fighter will be taking on former WBC Light Flyweight world champion Kompayak Porpramook, a 37 year old Thai who has been in some amazing bouts during his long career. We suspect the local fighter will have the energy and speed to avoid an all out tear up with Porpramook, but the Thai never stops trying and we'd expect at least some exciting exchanges here in a bout both men will see as a must win.
Seigo Yuri Akui (13-2-1, 9) vs Shun Kosaka (16-5, 4) - Okayama, Japan
In a bout to crown a new Japanese Flyweight champion we'll see the exciting Seigo Yuri Akui battle the rugged Shun Kosaka. So far we've seen both of these two lose to their best opponents, in fact both share a loss to Junto Nakatani, but they should make for a very interesting domestic title bout, with Akui's quick start and intense aggression being matched against Kosaka's toughness. If Akui can take out Kosaka early this would be very impressive, however the longer it goes the more and more Kosaka's toughness will play a part. A very interesting match up and one that feels very hard to call.
Shu Utsuki (5-0, 4) vs Somphot Seesa (4-2, 4) - Tokyo, Japan
Fast rising Japanese hopeful Shu Utsuki looks to continue his rapid rise as he takes on Thai foe Somphot Seesa. On paper this is, arguably, Utsuki's easiest bout to date and it has a "stay busy" feel to it for the hard hitting Watanabe gym fighter. Seesa has a bit of experience but he was stopped in both of his previous visits to Japan, to Daisuke Sugita and Ren Sasaki, and it's hard to imagine him lasting long with Utsuki here.
Yudai Shigeoka (0-0) vs Manop Audomphanawari (3-2, 3) - Tokyo, Japan
Former amateur standout Yudai Shigeoka, the older brother of Ginjiro Shigeoka, makes his professional as he takes on Thai foe Manop Audomphanawari. In reality this should be a simple win for Shigeoka, but we're looking forward to seeing him in the ring and seeing his rise, especially given the incredibly quick rise of his brother.
The Japanese scene seems to red hot with emerging talent, and this year, probably more than any other recently, we've seen fighters decide to abandon the amateur code and begin their professional campaigns. There's a long list of fighters who have turned pro this year, and one of the most highly regarded among them is Ryu Horikawa (2-0, 1) who has signed with the well established Misako Gym and looks to be their next big hope.
At the moment the Misako gym is absolutely on fire, 5 Japanese champions. The success of Norihito Tanaka, Kenichi Horikawa, Ryo Sagawa, Yusuke Suzuki and Shuichiro Yoshino has got the gym bouncing whilst other names are also making their mark there. The confidence in the gym is high and with Horikawa there they seem to have a real star for the future.
Aged 19 Horikawa is seen as one of the faces of the future for Japanese boxing. He turned professional earlier this year, following a 37-8 amateur career. That amateur record included a good run in the 2018 Japanese High School Selection Tournament, where he lost in the semi-final to Shogo Tanaka, the eventual winner.
In his debut the youngster didn't really impress in the way he should. He seemed over-eager to impress and rather than using the boxing skills he had in his arsenal he came out aggressively and took some solid counters from Jun Ishimoto. The aggression however did pay off when Ishimoto corner stopped the bout in round 3. By that point Horikawa had began to show more maturity and composure, though had been rocked early in the bout.
His debut left question marks, though thankfully his second bout put minds at ease as he out pointed fellow promising youngster Yukji Nakajima in a B class tournament bout. This was a real 50-50 type bout, with both men facing off super early in their careers and both expected to go a long way. Whilst a loss, this early, wouldn't have been the end it was still high risk for both fighters. Impressively Horikawa put on a incredibly mature performance, boxing behind his jab, being aggressive yet smart, and showing real sharpness to his punches. Given his reckless debut this was an incredible transformation and he really did out box Nakajima. After 6 rounds Horikawa was the worthy winner of the bout, taking a clear decision.
Next time out Horikawa will face off with Xiang Li (7-2-1, 2) in a WBO Youth Light Flyweight title bout. That bout, which will take place on October 17th, isn't just Horikawa's first bout but will also be his first bout outside of Japan, with the contest taking place in Shanghai, and his first 10 rounder. Although likely to be the under-dog, given the fact he has to fight in China against a Chinese local, Horikawa will see this bout as a winnable one and a real chance to make his make outside of Japan.
Given his talent, his eagerness to face stiff competition and the strong team behind him, the future is very bright for Horikawa and we're really looking forward to seeing how far he goes, and how quickly he gets there!
This past week has been a busy one, an exciting one and an interesting one with a lot of action taking place right through the week, with a trio of notable mid-week shows in Asia. The bouts might have all been great but there was some outstanding fights, thrilling action, a huge upset, frighting KO's and some excellent rounds.
Fighter of the Week
Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (12-4-1, 11)
The heavy handed Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa became a 2-time OPBF Middleweight champion this week due to an excellent win over Koki Tyson, in a bout that left Tyson looking disfigured which huge gruesome looking swelling around his right eye. The performance certainly wasn't flawless from Hosokawa, but he showed his fighters mentality and took his lumps before forcing the doctor to step in and save Tyson. Not only did Hosokawa become a 2-time champion but following the bout it was revealed he would be making his first defense in a unification bout Kazuto Takesako
Performance of the Week
Jhunriel Ramonal (16-8-6, 9)
At the age of 30 Filipino, and fighting for just the 4th time in 4 years, Jhunriel Ramonal secured the best win of his career, by far. The rugged Filipino battled through a cut, battled through adversity and refused to accept defeat before finally breaking through and dropping the world ranked Shingo Wake. Wake would get up from the first knockdown but not long afterwards Ramonal would drop the former world title challenger, hard. The Filipino was bleeding badly by the time he scored the stoppage, but heart, determination and finish all roll into him earning the Performance of the Week.
Heuk San Lee vs Gyung Mo Yuh
The KBF title might not have huge standing in the sport, but it's hard to refute the fact that some of the KBF title fighters are amazing fights. One great example of that happened this week, when Heuk San Lee and Gyung Mo Yuh tore lumps out of each other in all action 10 round war for the KBF Welterweight title. This bout swung from being a good fight for Lee boxing on the move to an all out war as his feet slowed and Yuh's pressure began to take hold. In the later rounds this was thrilling, none stop, crazy, crude slugging and a must watch bout for those who want to know what the KBF title means to fighters in South Korea. Don't get us wrong, this wasn't a technical show case, but it was thrilling action. Just a shame the judging was a little bit questionable.
Kenichi Horikawa vs Yuto Takahashi (10)
We had some solid rounds this last week, though the one that takes the award for us was the gruelling and tiring final round of the Japanese Minimumweight title bout between Kenichi Horikawa and Yuto Takahashi. This wasn't pretty, and it wasn't a round full of clean action, but this was two men fighting for the decision, using all their heart to try and win the bout. It was messy, it was rough, it was hard and was ugly. It was a exciting mess of a round, and fought at a high quality level than the bout in Korea, which had rounds were more wild, but less tough.
Jhunriel Ramonal TKO3 Shingo Wake
On paper it seemed Friday's bout between Shingo Wake and Jhunriel Ramonal was little more than a tune up for Wake against someone he had already beaten. Instead however it ended up being the worst night of his professional career. Was was supposed to be an easy win for sharp shooting southpaw ended with him being dropped twice, and being left flat out thanks to a huge left hook from Ramonal. The KO blow, at the very end of round 3, was a huge left hook right on the chin that dropped Wake hard. This was brutal, this visually impressive and this was nasty to re-watch with Wake dropping on the spot. This is up there with the best KO's of the year.
Notable mention Shuichiro Yoshino TKO1 Harmonito Dela Torre
Thanongsak Simsri (12-0, 11)
The unbeaten Thanongsak Simsri saw his perfect KO start come to an end this week but he answered a lot of questions as he took a clear and wide decision win over fellow Thai Lerdchai Chaiyawed. The talented Thanongsak found someone he couldn't blow through and instead proved he could go rounds, and out-box a capable opponent. Lerdchai might not be well known but he's a very decent regional journeyman and the 19 year old Thanongsak really did well here to make things look as easy as they were. He's certainly one worth making a note of going forward.
Xiang Li (7-2-1, 2) vs Ryu Horikawa (2-0, 1)
On Thursday we see a mouth watering WBO Youth Light Flyweight title bout as exciting Chinese fighter Xiang Li takes on fast rising Japanese teenager Ryu Horikawa. Neither of these men are big names, yet, but we suspect that both will go on to achieve notable success in the future. Li impressed in his title win, earlier this year in Hong Kong with a win over Raymond Poon KaiChing, whilst Horikawa, who has only been a pro since June, shone in August when he beat the touted Yuki Nakajima. This has the potential to be a thriller, and to put the winner on to the fact track for some very big regional fights.
Over the last year or two we've seen a real down turn in boxing in Thailand. The country had a thriving boxing scene only a few years ago, but now a days the regular shows have slowed down and we've gone from a televised show almost every week, to a show every few weeks. Sadly it doesn't appear like the country is set to turn things around in the next year or two however there is some exciting and emerging talent in the country that fans should be aware of.
Here we take a look at 5 of the most promising prospects in Thailand.
Thanongsak Simsri (11-0, 11)
Right now it seems like the pick of the emerging Thai hopefuls is young puncher Thanongsak Simsri. The 19 year old is promoted by Kiatkreerin along side Green Tsuda in Japan, who appear to have been impressed enough by the youngster to have agreed to help train and develop him. At the moment he does have the hall marks of a flawed fighter, but is developing and is a long way from the raw fighter he was just a year ago. When he first started he was raw and rough around the edges, but a naturally strong and powerful teenager. Today however he is quickly understanding more about balance and defense. There is still work to do, but his improvement has been rapid and noticeable.
Dubbed "Srisaket II" in the Thai press Thanongsak is the most exciting young fighter in Thailand right now, and although it's far, far, too earlier to get compared to Srisaket it's something we expect to see the Thai media continue to push. Notably that comparison isn't just due to the youngster's power though, but also the fact that he is from the same area as Srisaket, Si Sa Ket.
Theeraphan Polsongkarm (2-0, 1)
The 22 year Theeraphan Polsongkarm, also known Oscar Mastertoddygym, may not have much experience as a professional but is already showing what he can do and developing a reputation as one to watch. Apparently his record on boxrec is wrong, with the TV showing a graphic suggesting he was 11-0 (8) entering his last contest, but whatever his record what can't be denied is his talent, potential and understanding in the ring. The youngster already boasts a win over former world title challenger Inthanon Sithchamuang and holds a minor WBA title.
In the ring Theeraphan appears to have good balance, good timing, a solid understanding of how to control a bout and is looking to learn about his opponent. He took a while to get a reed on Inthanon, and his southpaw stance, but got there in the end and ended up really beating him up in the stages of the fight. Defensively there is issues, though he appears able to take a good shot, and when he moves through the gears there is a lot to like about his offense. Tweaks need to be made before he steps, especially defensively, but there is so much to like about the youngster who looks like he could be one of the main faces of the Thai scene in the coming years.
Thattana Luangphon (7-0-1, 7)
Thattana Luangphon, who fights as Chainoi Worawut, is only 22 years old but very much an impressive fighter with scary power and a lot of potential. He made his pro debut in 2018 and has been moved aggressively, with Work Point getting behind him and his career. Defensively the youngster has areas to work on, and technically he's far from perfect, but he has impressive composure in the ring and the scary power can really change the game. He fires off power shots to head and body and is an offensive monster.
To date Chainoi's competition has been rather mixed, but wins over Yuya Nakamura, Muhammad Ashiq and Matthew Arcillas aren't bad for a guy with only 8 pro bouts to his name. He's young, heavy handed, exciting and very promising, certainly one to keep an eye on going forward, and on October 19th he'll be back in the ring as he takes on Filipino foe Alvin Medura.
Songsaeng Phoyaem (9-2, 4)
It's can look weird to consider a guy with 2 losses in their first 10 bouts as a top prospect, but Songsaeng Phoyaem has proven more in those 2 losses than many fighters prove in 10 wins. In those losses he showed he could bite down, fight at a high pace, and give as good as he got. His first loss was in just his second bout, against Dynamic Kenji up at Bantamweight, whilst his second came in a fantastic performance against Kento Hatanaka earlier this year. He's not going to be marked out for a world title, especially not this early in his career, but with his youth, toughness, energy and skills he's got the potential to go far.
Since losing to Kenta Hatanaka in March this year Songsaeng has reeled off 3 wins on the Thai scene, and recently won the Thai Flyweight title with a 3rd round TKO Wisitsak Saiwaew, who was down 3 times in 3 rounds. If he can get some better seasoning he could be one of those fighters who really builds on the tools he has. One to keep in mind for the long term, and hopefully his team do know what they have on their hands here.
Parinya Khaikanha (4-0, 4)
The competition for Parinya Khaikanha has certainly not been impressive, and typically his level of competition wouldn't have got our attention, or earned him a place on this list. We do however make an exception here for Parinya due to the fact that boxing is in his blood, and his family have real pedigree. His pedigree is seen in the fact that his older brothers are world ranked Nawaphon and former world champion Suriyan Por Chokchai.
Parinya has been training with Suriyan, and footage of some of that training was released earlier this year. Although he didn't look like a star in the making he did show some clear promise. Sadly footage of him fighting as a pro is scarce but again being part of the Kaikanha family, and the training footage that was available suggests he has got promise. Fingers crossed we see a step up from the 24 year old next year.
It's worth noting that we had once viewed Apichet Petchmanee (5-0, 2) as a star in the making and whilst he is still unbeaten the 29 year old has had a less than outstanding 2019. He dropped down to Lightweight to face Shota Suito and looked like he had lost something before twice struggling to beat Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo. Whilst a win over Chonlatarn is noteworthy the veteran really showed some limitations with Apichet, who turns 30 later this month.
The idea of these "Introducing" segments isn't just to put a light on young up and comers but also exciting fighters, fighters who are worthy of some attention, no matter their age, record or ability. If there's a reason for fans to be interested in someone they get considered for weekly feature. We say that because we're about to look at a 30 year old with a less than stellar looking record, but a man who really does excite every time he steps in the ring. Win or lose it's always worth making a mental note of when Cristiano Aoqui (14-7-2, 10) fights. The Brazilian-Japanese puncher is a flawed fighter with dynamite in his hands!
Aoqui has been raised in Japan, though has strong roots to his Brazilian culture. Those roots are often shown on his shorts which usually have a combined Japanese and Brazilian flag on them. The background has seen fans from both countries following his career and his fights.
Prior to turning to boxing Aoqui had been training in Karate, he then turned to boxing and made his professional debut in 2006, at the age of 17. He turned professional without having any amateur bouts, and having only been training for a couple of years at the Suruga academy.
The exciting, but raw, style of Aoqui had some mixed success early on. He won his first 3 bouts but quickly saw his record fall to 3-2 by the summer of 2008. He then took more than 3 years away from the ring and seemed to retire before getting a call that inspired him to return to the ring. On his return success was quick to return and he'd go 4-0-1 over his following 5 bouts before losing in a 2013 Rookie of the Year bout to Ryuji Ikeda.
The Rookie of the Year loss was a set back, but Aoqui bounced back well winning 3 of next 4 and breaking into the Japanese and OPBF rankings, thanks in part to 2 wins over Quaye Peter. That rise was stopped in late 2015 when he lost a razor thin decision to Valentine Hosokawa, in what was a brilliant 8 round fight. Less than a year after the loss to Hosokawa we saw Aoqui get a huge shot, as he faced off with the then Japanese Light Welterweight champion Hiroki Okada. Against Okada we saw a brilliant, aggressive and exciting effort from Aoqui, though sadly he would come up short, losing a technical decision to the then unbeaten Okada.
The loss to Okada was followed by defeats to Noriaki Sato and Koki Inoue in 2017, with the loss to Inoue coming due to an injury that ended what seemed like a brilliant match up at that time. Notably after these loss Aoqui left the Suruga Gym and joined up with former foes Okada and Hosokawa at the Kadoebi Gym since joining the Kadoebi gym we've seen Aoqui fight 3 times and score 3 wins, all by TKO.
In the ring Aoqui is a charismatic, exciting, aggressive fighter. He's flawed, and defensively not the best. In fact he often over-commits in his combinations, but this is why he's worth watching. He's explosive, a monstrous puncher, when he has opponents hurt he goes for the kill and he's a big puncher. When he lands clean he hurts opponents, if he doesn't out right clean their clock.
Aoqui's next fight will be on October 21st, when he battles in a Japanese title eliminator against Daishi Nagata. That bout should be something incredibly special, given the styles of the two men. Win or lose Aoqui will be looking to put on a show and will be worth following well after the bout.
Here we've included his bout with Filipino foe Anthony Marcial. This isn't the most exciting bout of Aoqui's but the brutal finish shows just how damaging his shots can be.
It feels like September began an eternity ago, though it only came to an end a week ago. Despite being a long month, with some dry patches in it terms of top boxing, it was a month that really delivered more than expected. It gave a legitimate contender for KO of the Year, Fight of the Year and Round of the Year. It had prospects who were willing to step up and some notable upsets. All in all September was a good month, even if we did have some slumps in action.
Fighter of the Month
Pedro Taduran (14-2, 11)
The 22 year old Pedro Taduran will never be described as a world class boxer. The reality is that he's not a world class boxer in any way shape or form, and he will find himself being out boxed on a regular basis. What he is, is a fighter, he's a warrior, he's a world champion and he is well and truly deserving of September's Fighter of the Month award. His win over Samuel Salva on September 7th saw him needing to come back from an opening round knockdown, and boy how he came back. He turned into a raw street fighter and despite being blatantly headbutted in round 4 he just battered Salva into submission.
Fight of the Month
Batyr Akhmedov vs Mario Barrios
The best fights, for us, swing one way then the other, with dramatic swings and changes in momentum of high tempo and high skilled action. On September 28th we got an incredibly bout that had it all. Uzbek born Batyr Akhmedov was dropped in round 4, roared back with 7 amazing rounds of high intensity action, but was dropped in the final minute by a swollen and exhausted Mario Barrios. The drama in the final rounds, as Barrios looked to survive the storm, then pulled out the late knockdown, were amazing. This was amazing and deserves to be considered at the end of the year for the Fight of the year.
KO of the Month
Bakhodir Jalolov KO1 Richard Torrez
Amazingly the KO of the month came in the amateurs and saw Uzbek giant Bakhodir Jalolov laying out American hopeful Richard Torrez in brutally eye catching fashion. We don't often see clean KO's in the amateurs, even with the removal of head gear, but here we saw one that left a massive impression and saw the head of the WBC complain about Jalolov competing in the amateur competition. The huge left hand from Jalolov was brutal and left Torrez out cold on the canvas. This will be up there with the best KO's we'll see in boxing in 2019 and deserves a lot more attention than it has got.
Taku Kuwahara (6-0, 4)
Japan's Taku Kuwahara might not be a name that international fan are aware of, but the youngster is fast rising through the ranks, and his win over world ranked Filipino Jonathan Refugio on September 17th was a big step up in class, and a very impressive win. This 24 year old is tipped for big things and we suspect he'll be pushed into title bouts in the next 12 months. If he can pick up a title in the middle of next year we expect to see Ohashi strap a rocket to him and push for him to get a world title fight sooner rather than later. His performance against Refugio was excellent and we only see him getting better and better.
Amazingly we couldn't find a single noteworthy upset from the month, which is a genuine surprise given how many bouts took place of the 30 days of September.
Masataka Taniguchi Vs Kai Ishizawa (Rd 6)
The Japanese eliminators, for which the winners will get a title fight at next year's Champions Carnival, promise a lot this year, and the Minimumweight bout between former world title challenger Masataka Taniguchi and hard hitting youngster Kai Ishizawa delivered, in spades. The fight was an amazing 8 round war, with the 6th round being the best of them. It was back and forth, both men being hurt, both biting down on their gum shields and both giving everything they had. We could not have asked for more from the two men. An amazing round, from an amazing fight.
This past week has been a bit of a strange, and frustrating, one. We've had 2 legitimately fantastic bouts shown, but we've not had much else being shown, with the major Japanese card from the week being aired next week, and there was nothing of note featured on boxing Raise. There was a Filipino card, but the stream for it was poor to say the least, and it very much feels like a week where there was only the widely available stuff to watch.
Fighter of the Week
Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9)
Whilst the week wasn't great overall it's hard to deny that this was a week where two bouts stood out. One of those was the fantastic IBF Middleweight title bout between Gennady Golovkin vs Sergiy Derevyanchenko and the other was the equally as good WBA Light Flyweight "super" title bout between Hiroto Kyoguchi and Tetsuya Hisada. Both bouts saw the under-dog giving the favourite all they could handle over 12 amazing rounds, and these two bouts would have been highlights in any week. Of the two winners we have to give Fighter of the Week to Kyoguchi, who enhanced his reputation with his win, whilst Golovkin seemed to show that he was one step closer to retirement than anyone had anticipated.
Performance of the Week
Tetsuya Hisada (34-10-2, 20)
One of the things that allowed Kyoguchi to take our Fighter of the Week award was his dance partner, Tetsuya Hisada. In the eyes of many Hisada was an undeserving challenger, an old man with 9 losses on his record going into the biggest bout of his career. He had never scored a win above domestic level, and was an unknown outside of Japan, and even that it was only the hardcore fans in the country who really much about him. What he did however was put up one of the best performance of 2019, holding his own with a much young fighter. For those who were impressed by Derevyanchenko against Golovkin, Hisada's effort was very, very similar.
Hiroto Kyoguchi vs Tetsuya Hisada
It'll come as no surprise that there were really only 2 bouts in contention for the Fight of the Week, the Gennady Golovkin Vs Sergiy Derevyanchenko and the Hiroto Kyoguchi Vs Tetsuya Hisada fight. In many ways both were very, very similar. They both had the under-dog massively out performing expectations, despite being dropped. The winner of both fights were hurt and the fights were back and forth action fights. In reality the Golovkin fight was closer, and more competitive, but for us the better fight was actually the other one. Both were fantastic, both deserve to be in the fight of the year short list, but we we found Kyoguchi Vs Hisada more enthralling over the course of the fight.
Gennady Golovkin vs Sergiy Derevyanchenko Round 8
With 2 great fights we were treat to some amazing rounds, for this however we have to side with Golovkin's big effort in round 8 against Derevyanchenko. It was one of the few rounds that the Kazakh seemed to put his foot on the gas and was one of the few rounds that saw both men going tit for tat, rather than than Golovkin being backed up and landing the better shots. This was a great round of action, both men were hurt and both looked tired, but they dug deep and delivered a fantastic 3 minutes of action.
No suitable contender
Ali Akhmedov (16-0, 12)
The week was a really odd one for prospects. There was plenty in action, but they were in mismatches, and very few of them had to answer and real questions. For us Israil Madrimov isn't a prospect but a contender, and the we almost said the same of Ali Akhmedov. Problem is that if we had, we wouldn't have had a candidate for this category, as no one faced anyone of any note. Even then Akhemdov's opponent, Andrew Hernandez, almost saw him ruled out. Akhmedov stopped Hernandez with the only notable punch and took an opening round TKO. An awful week for prospects looking to announce themselves.
Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (11-4-1, 10) Vs Koki Tyson (14-3-3, 12) II
The first bout between Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa and Koki Tyson had the chance to be great, but fell short, in part due to a lack of fitness from Tyson who took the bout on short notice. This time both men have had plenty of time to prepare and we are expecting this to be a genuine thriller between two fighters who can bang, can fight and can put on a show. This might not be a major globally, but it has the fighters to be a truly excellent fight.
Following a pretty interesting start to the month things get really intense in the days to come with a lot of notable action, in not a lot of time.
Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (11-4-1, 10) Vs Koki Tyson (14-3-3, 12) II - Tokyo, Japan
In a rematch for the OPBF Middleweight title we'll see Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa take on Koki Tyson, with both men looking to take the currently vacant title. These two fighters fought to a draw earlier in the year and will be going in again to try and take the title that was vacated by Yuki Nonaka. Given that both Hosokawa and Tyson are aggressive, heavy handed but technically flawed fighters we are expecting a very exciting contest here, and hopefully it avoids some of the messy action that their first bout had.
Shingo Wake (26-5-2, 18) Vs Jhunriel Ramonal (15-8-6, 8) II - Tokyo, Japan
Former world title challenger Shingo Wake is pursuing a second world title fight, and to tick over he will eb facing former foe Jhunriel Ramonal. These two fought back in in 2013, when Wake stopped Ramonal in 3 rounds, and it's hard to imagine anything other than a repeat here. Wake should be far too good for the Filipino visitor, but it's still a botu worthy of noting given that Wake is likely to fight for a world title sooner rather than later.
Dmitry Bivol (16-0, 11) Vs Lenin Castillo (20-2-1, 15) - Illinois, USA
Unbeaten WBA Light Heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol was hoping for a big fight but will likely close out his 2019 with a bout against Dominican challenger Lenin Castillo. The champion has improved his resume with solid wins in recent years, but hasn't looked the dynamic and exciting fighter he once was, instead looking to win rather than to dazzle. He should have too much in the locker for Castillo, but the challenger is no "bum" and could give Bivol a genuine test herein he's being over-looked.
Wulan Tuolehazi (12-3-1, 5) vs Satoshi Tanaka (7-5, 1) - Shanghai, China
China's Wulan Tuolehazi has been carving out a solid resume in recent years, with wins over the likes of Jayr Raquinel, Kwanthai Sithmoseng, Ardin Diale and Ryota Yamauchi. He's now looking likely to get a world title shot sooner rather than later and will be defending his WBA International Flyweight title here against Satoshi Tanaka, a relatively weak Japanese challenger. This should be a show case for the champion if we're being honest.
Xiang Li (7-2-1, 2) vs Ryu Horikawa (2-0, 1) - Shanghai, China
We love seeing youngsters face off, with questions being asked of fighters when they are young, rather than seeing records padded before a fighter steps up. With that in mind we love the WBO Youth Light Flyweight title match between China's crafty Xiang Li and Japanese skillster Ryu Horikawa. This should be a real test for both, and despite the risk of some monkey business with the scorecards we're really excited by the contest, which should be a genuinely intriguing one from the first bell to the final bell.
Kudratillo Abdukakhorov (16-0, 9) vs Luis Collazo (39-7, 20) - Pennsylvania, USA
Unbeaten Uzbek Welterweight contender Kudratillo Abdukakhorov looks to continue his drive towards a world title fight as he takes on former world champion Luis Collazo. The unbeaten Abdukakhorov has shown a lot of promise, but has also shown flaws, and issues, and his lack of power is something has left some questioning whether or not he can make it at the top. At his best Collazo was world class, but at the age of 38 there are question marks about just what he has left in his legs. Collazo is a very skilled fighter, and should test the Uzbek in what is a very interesting match up.
Tetsuro Ohashi (7-0-1, 2) Vs Suzumi Takayama (2-0, 2) - Hyogo, Japan
The Japanese Youth title scene continues to give us great fights, and here we'll see the unbeaten pairing of Tetsuro Ohashi and Suzumi Takayama clash for the Youth Super Flyweight title. The 20 year old Ohashi won the Rookie of the Year back in December and this will be his second bout since that win, as he looks to build on his growing reputation. Takayama on the other hand lacks the experience of Ohashi in the pro ranks, but was a solid amateur and has looked very impressive since making his debut this past February. This will be Ohashi's boxing against Takayama's aggression in what should be an excellent match up.
Yusuke Sakashita (18-8-3, 13) vs Naoki Mochizuki (16-4, 8) II - Tokyo, Japan
In a really interesting rematch we'll see Yusuke Sakashita make his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Flyweight title as he takes on Naoko Mochizuki. These two fought back in December 2016, when Mochizuki took a clear win over Sakashita, but since then the two men have had contrasting careers. Mochizuki has gone 5-3, struggling for momentum and was stopped in February by Junto Nakatani. Sakashita however has gone 4-0-1 and claimed his title last time out in May, stopping Masahiro Sakamoto. This could be one of the real hidden gems of the month.
Cristiano Aoqui (14-7-2, 10) vs Daishi Nagata (13-2-1, 5) -Tokyo, Japan
Every so often we see a fight that gets us really excited due to the style match up and the mentality of the two men involved. That is the case here as the exciting Cristiano Aoqui and the rugged Daishi Nagata battle in a Japanese Light Welterweight title eliminator, with the winner getting a shot at the belt in the 2020 Champion Carnival. This bout has two men involved who enjoy a tear up, through heavy leather and should gel stylistically.
This is just an opinion, maaaan! It's easy to share our opinions, and that's what you'll find here, some random opinion pieces