In September we were lucky enough to strike a deal where we worked alongside CBC in Japan to bring the fans the fantastic FOTY contender between Kosei Tanaka and Sho Kimura live. On paper the bout looked brilliant but it easily exceeded our expectations, going from what we suspect would be a very good fight and was instead a real instant classic.
Prior to us reaching out to CBC it seemed like the bout would be limited in scope to only having a live audience in the Chukyo region of Japan.
Those who know Japanese boxing they will be well aware that the region isn't one of the major boxing markets, like Toyko and Osaka are. Instead the area has a small, but solid, boxing market, with the likes of Kosei Tanaka and Kento Hatanaka really being the rising local names. In the 1990's Kento's father Kiyoshi Hatanaka was the big name and he's now the key promoter in the region, and actually has his shows on CBC.
When we approached CBC it did take a while for them to get back to us and it seemed like they were unsure what they were going to do in regards to doing an international broadcast of the fight. I suspect our original request may have caught them off-guard. Thankfully though they took the request seriously and the Producer for International Co-production got in touch with us, which eventually lead us discussing boxing and quickly striking an agreement to show the WBO Flyweight title bout, for free, to anyone outside of Japan. This was a massive coup for us, and whilst the bout was free on youtube the fact we played a part in making it accessible was massive for us as a website.
We'll admit that prior to the stream actually going live we were worried. We spent over a week trying to raise as much interest as we could. We knew fight fans in the West were interested in Kosei Tanaka's rise through the ranks, as he attempted to tie Vasyl Lomachenko's record for fewest fights to become a 3-weight champion. We also knew Western fans wanted to see more of Sho Kimura, following his 3 big wins coming in to the fight. We also knew that American fans were having to stay up incredibly late to watch the bout, whilst European fans may have booked the day off work.
There was genuine fear that things would go down, that the stream would be buggy and poor, that the feed would pause at a key moment. That fear turned out to be incredibly misguided. From the moment the live countdown stopped to the post-fight interview with Tanaka the stream was amazing. It was high quality from the off, with no issues at all, it was smooth and worked perfectly. The fact their was no commentary at all was amazing, and helped us all soak up the atmosphere of an amazing fight. It really was fantastic and the only complaint we can even think about making is that we didn't get the chance to see some of the undercard as well.
In this day and age of paid apps and internet subscription services it's kinda funny that one of the very best bouts of the year was put on a free international stream that no one paid for.
Prior to the stream going live we had set a relatively respectable target of 300 live viewers. Compared to the numbers possible for a high profile bout on a weekend in the US or UK that's a tiny number, but given the day and time of the fight and the fact it was two Japanese fighters fighting in a Flyweight bout we thought it was a fair target. We never told anyone at CBC that we would see that number as a success.
Amazingly however it peaked at well over double that number and over the days that followed, it ended with nearly 10,000 views, on the official video. That, to us, easily out did any expectation we had. We have to thank CBC for putting the stream on, and you, the readers of this, for their support of boxing in Japan and hopefully that support will continue and that Tanaka's next bout will also be available for free.
The first weekend of October is huge for fight fans who follow the Asian scene, as we covered in “What's to come in October - Part 1”. Thankfully there is still a smattering of action during the rest of the month.
Hiroaki Teshigawara (17-2-2, 10) Vs Glenn Suminguit (21-3, 11)-Japan
The first of two OPBF title fights on October 11th will see Japan's Hiroaki Teshigawara and Filipino Glenn Suminguit battle for the vacant OPBF Super Bantamweight title, a title that was vacated by Hidenori Otake earlier this year. Teshigawara is rarely in a bad bout, due to his aggressive styles which is defensively open but yet very exciting. Suminguit is a relative unknown out side of the Philippines but should be a tricky assignment for the Japanese fighter given his smart movement and accurate counter punching.
Rikki Naito (20-2, 7) Vs Daishi Nagata (11-1-1, 5)
The second OPBF bout for the day will see Light Welterweight champion Rikki Naito defending his belt against Daishi Nagata, in what will be Naito's second defense. The champion narrowly scraped a win last time out, against Jheritz Chavez, and showed that he can be hurt, especially late. Despite that Naito is a talented boxer-mover and will feel confident of a win here. Nagata on the other hand has reeled off 3 wins since his 2017 stoppage loss to Vladimir Baez and looks to have rebuild his form and confidence. We expect this will be a highly skilled battle between two light hitting but talented fighters.
Ryota Murata (14-1, 11) v Rob Brant (23-1, 16) – USA
In the US on October 20th we see two major Middleweight bouts. One of those will see WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders defending his title against Demetrius Andrade whilst another will see WBA “regular” champion Ryota Murata defending his title against Rob Brant. Sadly the Murata bout is the weaker of the two contests and is expected to serve as little more than a straight forward mandatory defense for Murata, as he continues to pursue Kazakh icon Gennady Golovkin. This really should be a straight forward win for Murata, who is seen as being levels above Brant, but the Japanese fighter will be looking to impress and not just do enough to win. He know that to add interest to the Golovkin fight he needs to look great and that will be in his mind when he steps in the ring.
Kenny Demecillo (14-4-2, 8) Vs Lee Haskins (35-4, 14)- Philippines
On October 21st we get another notable show, this time in the Philippines. One of the biggest bouts on the card will be an IBF Bantamweight title eliminator, with the winner becoming the future mandatory for the IBF title and likely getting a shot at the belt at the end of the WBSS. The bout will see Filipino fighter Kenny Demecillo facing off with English visitor Lee Haskins, in what will be one of the very first bouts where an Englishman has travelled to fight in a bout of note in the Philippines. The visitor will be favoured, given he is a former world champion, but give he is 35 and has had a long career this could where father time catches up with him. Demecillo on the other hand is 26 and comes into this out on the back of a career defining win over Vyacheslav Mirzaev in Russia. A very interesting match up.
Randy Petalcorin (29-2-1, 22) v Felix Alvarado (33-2, 29) – Philippines
Whilst the Demecillo Vs Haskins bout is an interesting one it pales, massively, compared to the main event on the same card, which will see Filipino Randy Petalcorin take on Nicaraguan Felix Alvarado for the vacant IBF Light Flyweight title. The Filipino has been hovering on the world scene for a while but due to various issues he hasn't been able to secure a world title fight until now, and is being pitted with arguably the most dangerous man in the division. Petalcorin is a sharp boxer-puncher with lovely movement and an intelligent ring style, though perhaps isn't quite as destructive as his record suggests. Alvarado on the other hand is one of the sports most fearsome punchers, and whilst a little bit crude and rough around the edges he is a real dangerman that no one will be in a rush to face off with. This could be the bout of the month, and promises a lovely battle between boxing skills and frightening power.
It's also worth noting that on October 12th there will be a show with 6 Japanese title eliminators on it. The bouts are only Japanese domestic level fights but could prove to be significant in the new year, with the winners all getting a chance to fight in the 2019 Champion Carnival.
A new month is upon us and once again we have a lot to look forward to, in fact just over the first 8 days of the month we have more action than we typically get in a month, with some absolutely huge bouts taking place in Japan and in Thailand!
Joana Pastrana (13-1, 4) Vs Samson Tor Buamas (40-4, 22) – Spain
The month, for us, kicks off on Friday in Spain and will see Thai female veteran Samson Tor Bumas, aka Siriporn Taweesuk, take on IBF female Minimumweight champion Joana Pastrana. The Spanish fighter will be making her first defense of the title whilst Samson will be looking to roll back the clock and score her biggest win in over a decade.
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (46-4-1, 41) Vs Iran Diaz (14-2-3, 6) – Thailand
Thai icon Srisaket Sor Rungvisai returns to ring Saturday to make his third defense of the WBC Super Flyweight title, taking on Mexican foe Iran Diaz. The destructive Thai had a huge 2017, defeating Roman Gonzakez twice, and began thus year with a win over Juan Francisco Estrada. This bout however is huge for another reason, with it headlining a One Championship card. For Diaz this is a huge step up in class but he has nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Hironori Mishiro (6-0, 2) Vs Masaru Sueyoshi (18-1, 11) – Japan
Srisaket's bout isn't the only major bout on Saturday as OPBF Super Featherweight champion Hironori Mishiro takes on Japanese champion Masaru Sueyoshi in a compelling title unification bout. The unbeaten Mishiro claimed his title in June, when he defeated Carlo Magali, but this is a very tough first defense. On the other hand Sueyoshi on the other hand has made two defenses of the title and is much more experienced in the professional ranks.
Kirill Relikh (22-2, 19) Vs Eduard Troyanovsky (27-1, 24) – Japan
The first part of a triple header in Yokohama on the first Sunday of the month will see WBA Light Welterweight champion Kirill Relikh defending his title against Eduard Troyanovsky, in a bout that will see both men kick off their WBSS campaign. This has the potential to be very explosive, given that both have solid power, and being a real treat for fans tuning in. We know the WBSS is a big attraction and this bout could well be the real gem of the first round bouts
Ken Shiro (13-0, 7) Vs Milan Melindo (37-3, 13) – Japan
The second part of the Yokohama triple header is a brilliant looking Light Flyweight title bout between WBC champion Ken Shiro and former IBF champion Milan Melindo. The bout pits two very high skilled fighters against each other and although neither is a huge name on the global scene but are notable fighters globally. Both are genuine top 10 fighters in one of the toughest divisions in the sports and both are continuing to face tough opponent after tough opponent to make a name for themselves.
Naoya Inoue (16-0, 14) Vs Juan Carlos Payano (20-1, 9)– Japan
The final part of the triple header sees WBA “regular” champion Naoya Inoue take on former champion Juan Carlos Payano in another WBSS bout. The “Monster” is hotly tipped to win the WBSS tournament but is up against a talented southpaw here, who has nothing to lose and everything to gain. Payano is a former 2-time Olympian but is seen as being as little more than fodder for the Japanese sensation.
Unfortunately October looks to be a somewhat front heavy month with a lot of the highlights coming in the first weekend. We will however cover the rest of the month in part 2, which should be available to read in a couple of weeks time!
Earlier this month we looked at some of the most notable bouts of September to feature an Asian fighter. Here will be the second, and final, part covering the notable bouts which are set to take place from September 22nd too September 30th and there really is some great fights set to take place over the last week or so of the month.
Jonathan Taconing (27-3-1, 22) Vs Vince Paras (13-1, 11) – Philippines
Hard hitting Filipino fighters collide as former 2-time world title challenger Jonathan Taconing defends his WBC International Light Flyweight title against youngster Vince Paras. Both of these men have fought at world level, have exciting styles and a lot of power, so we're expecting serious fire works here!
Sho Kimura (17-1-2, 10) Vs Kosei Tanaka (11-0, 7) – Japan
WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura seeks his third defense as he takes on the unbeaten Kosei Tanaka, who is looking to become a 3-weight world champion in just 12 bouts! This is set to pit will against skills and we're expecting both men to have their moments in nail biting all-Japanese world title bout.
Hiroto Kyoguchi (10-0, 7) Vs Tibo Monabesa (18-0-2, 8) – Japan
Former IBF Minimumweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi begins his Light Flyweight campaign as he takes on unbeaten Indonesian Tibo Monabesa. This is a tough first bout at a new one for Kyoguchi whilst Monabesa will know that a win here would almost certainly open the door to a world title fight for him. A really significant contest.
Kyotaro Fujimoto (19-1, 11) vs Suthat Kalalek (12-9, 11)- Japan
If we did this list based sole on how competitive they were this bout wouldn't be here, but with the WBO Asia Pacific and OPBF Heavyweight titles on the line the bout between Kyotaro Fujimoto and Suthat Kalalek needs to be mentioned. The contest is a significant one, even if we do strongly favour the champion.
Yasuyuki Akiyama (12-7-1, 9) Vs Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (10-3, 9) – Japan
Another WBO Asia Pacific and OPBF title bout will see Yasyuki Akiyama defending the titles against hard hitting challenger Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa. Akiyama won the titles last year, in somewhat controversial fashion, but this will be his first defense and comes against a man he narrowly beat 18 months ago
Wulan Tuolehazi (8-3-1, 4) v Jayr Raquinel (10-0-1, 7) – China
In form Chinese hopeful Wulan Tuolehazi takes a big step up in class to face OPBF Flyweight champion Jayr Raquinel for the WBC Silver Flyweight strap. Raquinel has impressed this year, twice scoring stoppage wins in Japan to win and then defend the OPBF title but will be taking on a man in the form of his career.
Jerwin Ancajas (30-1-1, 20) Vs Alejandro Santiago Barrios (16-2-4, 7) – USA
IBF Super Flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas continues to to face less than stellar competition as he defends his belt against little known challenger Alejandro Santiago Barrios. Ancajas is one of the best fighters at 115lbs and this will be his 6th defense of the belt, but it does feel like Top Rank are matching him far too softly with bouts like this.
Janibek Alimkhanuly (2-0, 1) Vs TBA – USA
On the same card as Ancajas' bout with Barrios we'll see the US debut of former Kazakh amateur standout Janibek Alimkhanuly. Sadly his opponent for the contest isn't yet known, though we do have a feeling that fans will be very excited about the Egis Klimas managed boxer-puncher.
Tsubasa Koura (13-0, 9) Vs Daiki Tomita (12-0, 4) – Japan
OPBF Minimumweight champion Tsubasa Koura looks to record his third defense as he takes on fellow unbeaten youngster Daiki Tomita. This has the potential to be one of the best bouts of the month and could, potentially, lead to a world title fight for the winner. The edge in power and competition is with Koura but Tomita cannot be over-looked here!
Yuko Kuroki (18-5-1, 8) Vs Saemi Hanagata (14-7-4, 7) III- Japan
On the same card in Japan fans will get an IBF Atomweight title fight with Yuko Kuroki battling against Saemi Hanagata, in what will be their 3rd bout. So far Hanagata is leading the series, winning the first bout before the two fought to a draw. Since then both have proven to be world class fighters and this should be action packed from the first bell to the last.
Muhamad Ridhwan (11-0, 8) Vs Paulus Ambunda (26-2, 11) – Singapore
In Singapore local fans will get the chance to see their best prospect Muhamad Ridhwan take a massive step up in class as he faces former world champion Paulus Ambunda in a bout for the IBO Super Bantamweight title. Ridhwan is a talent, and should be favoured over the shopworn Ambunda, but at 30 he really does need to kick on if he wins here.
Takuya Watanabe (34-8-1, 19) Vs Paiboon Lorkham (19-10, 8) – Taiwan
In Taiwan we see the biggest show in the countries history, headlined by a contest between the teak tough Japanese fighter Takuya Watanabe and Thailand's Paiboon Lorkham. The bout, for the OPBF Silver Super Featherweight title, is expected to be a straight forward win for Watanabe but is still a massive deal for boxing in Taiwan.
September seems set to be the month where the boxing schedule really kicks off and we begin to get a lot more fights of note featuring Asian fighters. As a result we've broke the month into two, looking at some of the most notable fighters involved fighters from the Asian boxing world.
Sadriddin Akhmedov (3-0, 3) Vs Bruno Leonardo Romay (21-5, 18) – Canada
On September 7th Kazakh prospect Sadriddin Akhmedov takes a huge step up in class to face tough Argentinian Bruno Leonardo Romay. This will be the biggest test so far for the 20 year old Kazakh who is fighting out of Canada.
Donnie Nietes (41-1-4, 23) Vs Aston Palicte (24-2, 20) – USA
As part of Superfly 3 we will see Filipino's clash with former 3 weight world champion Donnie Nietes taking on Aston Palicte. This bout will crown the WBO Super Flyweight champion and should be a very interesting match up, with Nietes being the older, smaller but smarter fighter.
Kazuto Ioka (22-1, 13) Vs McWilliams Arroyo (17-3, 14) - USA
After almost 17 months away from the ring Japan's popular Kazuto Ioka returns, making his US debut on Superfly 3. In the opposite corner to the former 3 weight champion is McWilliams Arroyo, a 2-time world title challenger who is looking to defend his WBC Silver Super Flyweight title.
Dave Apolinario (7-0, 5) Vs Michael Camelion (10-9-1, 8) – Philippines
Teenage prodigy Dave Apolinario goes for his first title as he faces the limited but hard hitting Michael Camelion. There is serious expectations on Apolinario's shoulders, with the 19 year old southpaw expected to be the goods, and this bout should tell us something about how good he is.
Mark John Yap (29-12, 14) Vs Takuma Inoue (11-0, 3) - Japan
Fans at the Korakuen Hall get a real treat as Japanese based Filipino Mark John Yap takes on Takuma Inoue, the younger brother of Naoya Inoue, in a WBC Bantamweight world title eliminator. We have this down as one of the best match ups of the month and could end up being a real thriller!
Naoko Fujioka (17-2, 7) Vs Irma Garcia (30-7-1, 8) - Japan
Japan's first ever 5 weight world champion Naoko Fujioka looks to defend her WBA Female Flyweight title. In the opposite corner will be interim champion Irma Sanchez of Mexico. It's hard to see past the Japanese boxing queen here, but at 43 years old we do wonder how long she has left.
Hiroki Okada (18-0, 13) Vs Cristian Rafael Coria (27-6-2, 11) – USA
Former Japanese Light Welterweight champion Hiroki Okada makes his US debut, as he battles veteran Coria. The bout is the start of a multi-fight deal between Okada and Top Rank with the intention being to have him fight WBC champion Jose Ramirez somewhere down the line!
Jing Xiang (14-4-2, 3) Vs Merlito Sabillo (27-5-1, 13) – China
Chinese prospect Jing Xiang goes for gold as he faces former Filipino world champion Merlito Sabillo in a bout for the WBC Silver Light Flyweight title. Jing is riding a 6 fight winning run coming into this bout and Sabillo really can't afford another defeat, or that could be the end for him.
Aidos Yerbossynuly (8-0, 7) Vs Rufat Hajiyev (7-0, 7) - Kazakhstan
Unbeaten puncher's collide as Kazakhstan’s Aidos Yerbossynuly takes on Azeri foe Rufat Hajiyev in a bout for a regional WBC Super Middleweight title. This may not be a bout featuring big names but given the style of both men, and their power, this could be a very explosive encounter!
Gennady Golovkin (38-0-1, 24) Vs Saul Alvarez (49-1-2, 34) II - USA
The biggest bout of the month, by some margin, will see the two pre-eminent Middleweight fighters collide in a highly anticipated rematch. In one corner will be Kazakh puncher Gennady Golovkin and in the other will be Mexican star Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. Nothing else needs saying here!
Aaron Lai (10-4, 9) Vs Shintaro Matsumoto (14-6, 10) – Australia
Heavy handed OPBF Light Heavyweight champion Aaron Lai looks to make his second defense of the title that he won in February 2017, as he faces off with Japanese foe Shintaro Matsumoto, a former OPBF Super Middleweight champion. This could be a very explosive and short contest!
Given how stacked the end of the month is, we'll be putting part 2 up towards the final couple of weeks, and it really does look like a sensational way to end September 2018!
Earlier today WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (51-0, 18) [วันเฮง ไก่ย่างห้าดาวยิม], aka Chayaphon Moonsri, recorded his 10th world title defense and moved ahead of Floyd Mayweather Jr in regards to unbeaten records. In fact if Wanheng retired later this week he would have the most statistically impressive record of any unbeaten world champion, but what does 51-0 actually mean? How impressive is Wanheng's unbeaten record? And what value do we get from digging into the numbers?
The Thai made his debut way back in January 2007, beating fellow debutant Roel Gade of the Philippines. At the time Wanheng was 21 years old and not someone who was immediately tipped as being a future boxing success. Despite that it wouldn't take long for Menayothin to claim his first title, winning the WBC Youth Minimumweight title just 2 months later, in his third bout, by stopping Yiming Ma of China.
Wanheng's reign as the Youth champion followed a similar reign from countryman from Oleydong Sithsamerchai, aka Kittipong Jaigrajang, who made 16 defences between October 2002 and August 2006.
As the Youth champion Wanheng would record 8 defenses, winning the title in March 2007 and making his final defense in October 2009. Those defenses included wins against a number of novices as well as decent Filipino fighters like Armando de la Cruz and Ardin Diale.
Wanheng second professional title was the interim WBC International Minimumweight title, which he won against Jayson Rotoni in December and defended twice before winning the WBC International silver title, defending that 3 times between January 2011 and September 2011. It was whilst defending that title that Wanheng would record his first victory over a former world champion, defeating former IBF king Florante Condes in June 2011.
The full version of the WBC International Minimumweight title was the next for Wanheng to claim, in November 2011, and he would hold that title for several years whilst building up his unbeaten record and edging up the WBC rankings.
In 2014 he had become the WBC mandatory challenger, and was waiting for a world title shot. By the end of his waiting period he was 35-0 (11) and was securing a long awaited shot as WBC king Oswaldo Novoa, who had upset Xiong Zhao Zhong for the belt in China and recorded his first defense, stopping Alcides Martinez. Despite being the challenger Wanheng seemed to be the boss for the most part, before stopping Novoa in the 9th round to claim the WBC Minimumweight title, a title he still holds now, almost 4 years later.
As a champion Wanheng's reign has been a mixed back. Hisfirst two defenses came against Filipino challengers Jeffrey Galero and Jerry Tomogdan, neither of which really seemed like suitable challengers. The gutsy Galero lasted 12 rounds before losing a decision whilst Tomogdan was stopped in 9 rounds.
Following those bouts was a stay busy contest, something we often see Thai's take part in with greats like Pongsaklek Wonjongkam fighting in them to stay sharp and keep a pay cheque coming in, against Ardi Buyung. Just a month later he would record his third defense, stopping Korean puncher Young Gil Bae in 9 rounds. Next was Japanese challenger Go Odaira, who lasted less than 5 complete rounds with the Thai.
Another stay busy bout, this time against Edo Anggoro, allowed Wanheng to tune his skills before a mandatory defense in August 2016 against talented Mexican Saul Juarez. Juarez was competitive through out but was out pointed over the 12 round distance.
Following the mandatory against Juarez was another stay busy in December 2016 against Silem Serang. The next month Wanheng would score his 6th defense, narrowing over-coming the hungry Melvin Jerusalem. That was the start of a busy year for the Thai who would fight stay busy bouts in March, against Jaysever Abcede, and August, against Jack Amisa, as well as world title defenses against Omari Kimweri in June and former WBO champion Tatsuya Fukuhara in November.
To begin 2018 Wanheng would make a mandatory defense against Panamanian youngster Leroy Estrada. Estrada proved to be a boy against a man and was dropped at will be Wanheng en route a 5th round stoppage win for the Thai, who reached 50-0 with the victory, tying the record of Floyd Mayweather Jr. A record he surpassed earlier today when he defeated Filipino challenger Pedro Taduran in his 10th defense.
Few will suggest that Wanheng is one of the all time greats, or a future hall of famer. His 51-0 record looks great on paper but the quality hasn't been fantastic and if we're being honest he's never come close to really proving his quality. There's been chances to unify, with fighters like Katsunari Takayama, Knockout CP Freshmart, Hiroto Kyoguchi, Byron Rojas, Ryuya Yamanaka and even Kosei Tanaka all having had world title reigns and making for attractive bouts with Wanheng. Though none ever came off, the closest we got was his his bout with Fukuhara, who had lost the WBO title 3 months earlier.
There is also a case to be made that he should have moved up in weight if he really wanted to prove himself. Whilst that does hold some weight he deserves some serious credit for making 105lbs right through his career. A fighter sticking at one weight, Heavyweight aside, through a 10 year career is impressive. It's a sign of his commitment to making weight and how strong he can be at one weight.
A very valid criticism, along with his competition, is his lack of travel. Everyone of his 51 fights has been in Thailand. Whilst not all great fighters travel, it's hard to believe that he didn't get good offers to fight in Japan, the Philippines or Mexico. It would have been really interesting to have seen him travel and fight on the road. Travelling to Tokyo or Osaka to fight a leading contender in Japan, or Tijuana to face a leading Mexican or Manila to face one of his string of Filipino challengers.
At the age of 32, an age that many Minimumweights have outgrown the division or retired, one thing that Wanheng really deserves a lot of respect for is his longevity. It's impressive to fight 51 times, something that most fighters don't do, but the fact he's now surpassed over 400 professional rounds is also a real credit. He's not got much in terms of wear and tear and given his relative lack of power his bouts are going long, with 13 compete 12 rounders under his belt including 6 in world title bouts.
So on to the numbers:
Reigning world champions faced:1
Former world champions beaten: 3
and Tatsuya Fukuhara
World title defenses: 10
Jeffrey Galero - UD12,
Jerry Tomogdan - KO9,
Young Gil Bae - TKO9,
Go Odaira - TKO5,
Saul Juarez - UD12,
Melvin Jerusalem - UD12,
Omari Kimweri - UD12,
Tatsuya Fukuhara - UD12,
Leroy Estrada - TKO5
and Pedro Taduran - UD12
Countries fought in:1
World titles won: 1
Total title bouts:
Debutants faced: 2
Roel Garde - UD6
Kuk Chol Jon - TKO6
Record: 51-0 (18)
Career rounds: 411
With it being 5 years to the day that Naoya Inoue [井上尚弥] claimed his first professional title, defeating Ryoichi Taguchi [田口良一] for the Japanese Light Flyweight title we thought it an ideal time to look at what we feel were Inoue's 5 best career performances, and document some major events in the “Monster's” career so far.
the right eye from the relentless jabs and hooks Inoue had landed. It was a performance that instantly turned Inoue from a prospect to a contender, winning the Japanese title just a few months later.
The win got Inoue some consideration for the 2014 Fighter of the Year awards, completing an astonishing rise to stardom, and saw him begin his second reign as a champion. Narvaez has since gone on to fight for the WBO Bantamweight title, sharing the ring for 12 tedious rounds with Zolani Tete.
The bout was the gut check that Inoue really needed, and a chance to show that he was more than just an offensive monster. It wasn't a flawless performance but it was a big win, and statement, stopping a fighter who had never been stopped before and had been a staple at the world level for close to a decade.
McDonnell's camp had been confident of making the weight with no issues but the reality was that McDonnell was unfit getting into the ring. He looked like he was mentally and physically ruined and as soon as Inoue tagged him clean he looked like he had felt something he had never felt before. It wasn't a 100% fit McDonnell, but Inoue's performance but the Bantamweight division on alert and secured his place in the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) as the tournament favourite.
Earlier this week Hiroto Kyoguchi (10-0, 7) [京口 紘人] confirmed that he would be making a fully fledged move to Light Flyweight, and would be returning to the ring on September 25th to take on unbeaten Indonesian prospect Tibo Monabesa (18-0-2, 8), in what is an excellent match up to introduce Kyoguchi to the 108lb weight class. The plan is, if Kyoguchi defeats Monabesa at least, for the Watanabe gym fight to move into a bout with WBA super champion Hekkie Budler (32-3, 10) in late December.
Although Kyoguchi Vs Budler looks to be “agreed in principle”, the move up in weight for Kyoguchi does leave the already strong Light Flyweight division with some more dream match ups, and it was a division with more than a handful of those to begin with. With that in mind we've had a look at 3 possible wars for Kyoguchi to get involved in down the line, though the reality is this list could easily have gotten to 10 or so bouts!
Vs Ken Shiro (13-0, 7)
We don't get enough all-Japanese world title bouts, which is a huge shame, but it's hard not to salivate over a potential bout between the all action Kyoguchi and the baby faced Ken Shiro to decide the #1 in Japan, if not the world, at 108lbs.
Kyoguchi, at 24, would be the younger man and naturally the bigger puncher, but whether he could apply his trade mark pressure on the intelligent and technically excellent Ken Shiro would be a major question. If Kyoguchi could apply his pressure another massive question is whether or not Ken Shiro would be able to get Kyoguchi's respect in the pocket, and provide a more durable target himself than the fighters that Kyoguchi had been beating at Minimumweight.
As the WBC champion Ken Shiro has already defeated the likes of Pedro Guevara, Gilberto Pedroza and Ganigan Lopez. He has proven himself to be a real talent who has matured as the champion, and his knockout of Lopez earlier this year showed how much more confidence he has now he's the champion. He's certainly not unbeatable, but the longer his reign as a world champion goes the more accomplished his boxing will become.
Sadly the biggest issues with this bout taking place is television, with Kyoguchi's promoter working with TBS whilst Ken Shiro is being built as a star by Fuji TV. It's unlikely that either man would want to leave their current network, but it's a great potential bout, that could happen down the line.
Vs Angel Acosta (18-1, 18)
Whilst Ken Shiro is the most proven Light Flyweight champion, at the moment, it could be argued that the most dangerous is the once beaten WBO king pin Angel Acosta. The 27 year old Puerto Rican has shown a willingness to travel and has fought in front of a Japanese audience before, battling Kosei Tanaka in May 2017 when he suffered his sole defeat. With Kyoguchi being a big puncher himself this has the makings of being something special.
Following his loss to Tanaka we've seen Acosta go on to win the WBO world title and made one defense back in June against Carlos Buitrago, a man that Acosta and Kyoguchi have both stopped. Having been out of the ring since June we suspect that Acosta will be looking to fight a notable name on his return and what would be better than travelling over to Japan to take on another of their young upstarts?
For Kyoguchi the bout would be all about trying to out do Tanaka's unanimous decision over Acosta and ripping the title from the champion. It wouldn't be a simple task at all, and Acosta isn't just a tough fighter but someone with a reputation of being a very dangerous fighter, much like Kyoguchi. If Kyoguchi decided to go to war with Acosta he could be made to pay and dragged through hell, win or lose.
This one makes a lot of sense, if the Budler bout falls through, and would almost certainly be fire works from the opening round. There's no television deal in the way and the only real problem could be a potential mandatory defense that Acosta might have to deal with sooner rather than later.
Felix Alvarado (33-2, 29)
Acosta is probably the most dangerous champion at 108lbs, but Alvarado has the title as the most dangerous fighter in the division. At the moment the Nicaraguan 29 year old doesn't hold a world title, though will be fighting or the vacant IBF title on October 21st against Randy Petalcorin. Given the timing there is almost no chance that he will be available again to fight in December, but in 2019 he'll certainly be looking to stay busy.
Alvarado is, without a doubt, one of the most avoided men in the sport. Both of his losses have come at world level, to Kazuto Ioka and Juan Carlos Reveco, and neither man really wanted to go toe-to-toe with Alvarado, who has improved since those defeats. He has gone 15-0 (14) since the back-to-back defeats and stopped notable contenders like Luis de la Rosa, Karluis Diaz, Jose Antonio Jimenez and Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr during that run.
Kyoguchi, as mentioned, holds a win over Buitrago but his countryman is a totally different kettle of fish. Unlike Buitrago we wouldn't be seeing Alvarado back off him. Instead we could see Kyoguchi being forced to box off the back foot, and that would tell us a lot more about the Japanese fighter. If he elects to stand toe-to-toe with Alvarado he in real danger, though we can't help but feel like he will, at some point.
From the perspective of wanting to see two fighters who like putting opponents away face off this is probably the most mouth watering bout at 108lbs, and is one that is really hard to call. As with Acosta we know that Alvarado will travel and would go to Japan for the right money!
(Image courtesy of http://www.watanabegym.com)
Earlier this week Fuji Next did one of their Diamond Glove shows where they show fights from the past. One of those bouts was Yohei Tobe the Japanese Super Flyweight title victory against Taiki Eto from back in April 2014. That bout saw Tobe stop Eto in the 9th round to advance his record to 8-1-1 (5) and had him claim his first professional title. It was a coming together of what Tobe was supposed to be, the Misako man beginning to deliver on his promise and potential. Sadly however he never really managed to deliver with the consistency that he needed and instead of being one of the stand out Japanese fighters of his era, as some had tipped when he turned professional, he was a fighter who will be forgotten to annals of time. Or a fighter who will be remembered as a “what if?” story. A real shame given the expectations on his shoulders and the incredibly bright start to his professional career.
Unless you follow me personally you're unlikely to be aware that Tobe was actually one of the fighters who helped inspire me to follow Japanese boxing in depth, and crave out the footage and resources to develop a site like this and to follow the best of the Japanese prospects in the way that I do now.
After just 3 bouts as a professional I became hooked on following him. He was on the fast track to success, he was a trail blazer, he was a sensation. He was the sort of fighter Japan was producing. He was the next Kazuto Ioka, the next Japanese fighter to claim a world title in just a small number of fights. Sadly though all that failed to materalise.
So what exactly went wrong for Yohei Tobe?
Yohei Tobe (currently 13-3-1, 9) [戸部洋平] was a fantastic amateur, running up a 42-10 (20) record. He was a fixture on the national scene and a fighter who was turning professional under the guidance of the well established Misako Gym, who were also putting Keita Obara on the fast track despite a debut loss for the heavy handed Light Welterweight. The gym he was with looked to create champions, they would push their fighters and not cover them in cotton wool. It should have been an environment that suited someone like Tobe, a former amateur stand out with big dreams. Sadly though it could have been part of his downfall.
The Misako Gym had created champions at all levels. Fighters like Koichi Wajima, Tadashi Mihara and Tadashi Tomori had won world titles under the guidance of the gym and they had created numerous OPBF and Japanese champions. It was a gym of champions. Sadly though it was a gym that wanted to fast track their fighters as they had done with the likes of Yamato Mitani in the 1990's and Kuniyuki Aizawa in the 00's. It was also a gym that never wrote a fighter off for suffering a loss, a loss was a learning experience, and if you were going to be fast tracked a loss at a higher level it was surely only going to aid your eventual development.
In fact Aizawa was a perfect example of that, with his 2006 loss in a Japanese title fight to Teppei Kikui coming just 17 months before Aizawa faced Alexander Munoz for a WBA World. The loss wasn't a bad thing.
He would finish off 2011 by scoring what is still probably his best win to date, an 8 round decision over Kohei Kono. By that point in time Kono was a former Japanese and OPBF champion who had twice fought for world titles. He was going through a bit of a career crises, with back-to-back losses to Tomas Rojas and Yota Sato, but was less than 17 months removed from being the OPBF Super Flyweight champion. In fact Kono so far from being done that he would go on to claim his first world title just over a year later. Tobe was under a lot of pressure from Kono but used his jab brilliantly, moved fantastically and countered when he had the space to work with. It was a fantastic and mature performance from Tobe under extreme fire.
In 2012 Tobe kicked off the year with a dominant win over Ryan Bito whilst eyeing up bigger and better opportunities. He was starting to get a lot of attention with those in the boxing media referring to him as the “Golden Rookie”. He looked like he was something special and his team knew it, putting him in with OPBF Super Flyweight champion Ryo Akaho in just his 5th professional bout. Some had suggested it was perhaps too early but given how impressive he had looked and the confidence of the fighter and his team, and in fact the history of the Misako gym, there didn't seem to be any doubt in putting him in with someone like Akaho this early in his career.
Sadly for Tobe the bout against Akaho would see him suffer his first defeat. It wasn't all a case of being inexperienced but also the style match up, with Akaho's unorthodox, wild and aggressive style being too much for Tobe. Tobe's boxing, at times, looked good but he was never allowed the freedom to work as the tough Akaho trudged through his leather and bowled him over in round 8 to retain the title.
The loss seemed to show Tobe's biggest issue, it wasn't a lack of experience as such, but a lack of true natural toughness. It would be something that would be his undoing several years later as well.
On his return to the ring in 2013 Tobe was held to an 8 round draw by the then unheralded Richard Pumicpic. The result was considered a major set back at the time, though since then Pumicpic has become a very appreciated fighter in and around the Oriental scene. He has given Ryosuke Iwasa fits in an OPBF title fight, gave Cesar Juarez a war in 2016, and claimed the WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight title in 2017 with a win over Hisashi Amagasa.
With a loss and a draw in successive bouts Tobe was matched a little bit softly through the rest of 2013 whilst rebuilding his confidence. That saw him score wins against Chatchai Or Benjamas / Chatchai Or Benjamas, Ken Achiwa and Yoshihito Ishizaki.
Of those only the win over Ishizaki was really note worth as it was in the Strongest Korakuen final and secured Tobe a shot at the Japanese Super Flyweight title in 2014. He would stop Ishizaki in 5 rounds to move on to that title shot, which saw him fight Taiki Eto for the vacant title, which had been vacated by Teiru Kinoshita ahead of Kinoshita's IBF world title bout with Zolani Tete.
Much like the loss to Akaho it wasn't a lack of experience or skills that saw Tobe come up short against Rodriguez but instead his punch resistance and his inability to control the type of fight he was having. He was significantly bigger than Rodriguez, and should have used that to his advantage. He should have found a way to establish his jab, used his speed and boxed, but instead he got dragged into a war and couldn't deal with the fire power of Rodriguez.
At the time of writing Tobe has a record of 13-3-1 (9) and is 31 years old. He turned professional at the age of 23 and had so much potential but now he sits as one of the biggest “what ifs” in Japanese boxing. What if he hadn't been thrown in with Akaho so early? What if he had avoided the momentum killing stretches of inactivity? What if he had racked up more experience before winning a Japanese title, and then taking a different route?
There is no doubt in my mind that, with the right team behind him and some fortunate timing Tobe could have claimed a world title, the win over Kono just over a year before Kono stopped Tepparith Singwancha almost seems to prove that. Instead he had a 6 month reign as a Japanese champion and an inconsequential reign as the WBA International Super Flyweight champion. He showed touches of genius but instead of becoming part of the Golden Era he is likely best remembered for his time as the “Golden Rookie”.
Tobe does still have time, his career isn't over, but it's hard to not think his best years are behind him and that he will never come close to what he could, and probably should, have been.
(All images courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Over the last few days there have been a number of stories that have linked together to suggest that the Light Flyweight division, arguably the best division in the sport right now, is set to be shaken up. So rather than cover all the news pieces individually we've decided to roll a number of them into one and look at the possible knock on effects to the division.
Hiroto Kyoguchi heading up
The first bit of news is that hard hitting Japanese youngster Hiroto Kyoguchi (10-0, 7) [京口 紘人] will be vacating the IBF Minimumweight title. There had been talk about the Watanabe gym fighter remaining at Minimumweight for a potential unification bout at the end of 2018 but it now seems like those plans have changed and he is set to vacate the IBF title and move to Light Flyweight.
The exciting 24 year old had made 2 defenses of the title, stopping Carlos Buitrago and taking a decision win over Vince Paras, but had spoken about weight struggles and suffered cramps from weight loss during the bout with Paras in May.
Ryoichi Taguchi returns
Former WBA "super" and IBF champion Ryoichi Taguchi (27-3-2, 12) [田口良一], who is a stablemate of Kyoguchi at the Watanabe Gym, returned to the gym recently. Although he hasn't set his flag out on what he's going to be doing going forward he is certainly back in the gym and getting back into fighting shape. Originally it seemed like he was going to return at Light Flyweight, but it now seems to be for Taguchi to move up in weight and compete in the Flyweight division, which is going through a lot of changes at the moment.
Hekkie Budler vacates IBF
The man who beat Taguchi for the WBA "super" and IBF titles was Hekkie Budler (32-3, 10), who is now set to vacate the IBF title rather than defend the title against mandatory challenger Felix Alvarado (33-2, 29). This is likely to lead to a bout between Budler and Kyoguchi for the WBA "super" title, in what will be a very exciting and action packed bout as Kyoguchi looks to become a 2-weight champion.
The knock on of the IBF title becoming vacant is that the heavy handed Alvarado will fight for the vacant belt. At the moment Alvarado is ranked #1 by the IBF with the #2 ranking being vacant and the #3 position being held by Filipino fighter Randy Petalcorin (29-2-1, 22), in what would be an incredibly good fight for the vacant title. Another possible option to be Alvarado's opponent would be Japanese national champion Tetsuya Hisada (32-9-2, 19) [久田 哲也], who is ranked #4 by the IBF.
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