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.
Earlier this week we looked at a number of Kazakh hopefuls in the first of 2 articles looking at the rising hopefuls of Kazakh boxing, and the fighters that will be looking to build on the success of Gennady Golovkin, Beibut Shumenov and Zhanat Zhakiyanov. For those who missed that it can be read here - The Kazakh Hopes! - Part 1 and for those who did read it, part two can be found below, looking at the Light Middleweight division and below.
Sadriddin Akhmedov (2-0, 2) – Light Middleweight
Quebec based 20 year old Light Middleweight Sadriddin Akhmedov is one of the more obscure fighters on this list, but is likely to be one that will give his team the most frustration going forward. That sounds like an insult but the reality is that Akhmedov already looks too good for his own good and that's a major problem given he only debuted in April, when he stopped Tony Barreras in 31 seconds. He returned to the ring in May, stopping Ariel Alejandro Zampedri in just 84 seconds. Whilst that might not sound too impressive it's worth noting that it took the talented Jayde Mitchell 3 rounds to stop Zampedri.
At just 20 years old Akhmedov might be the best hidden gem from Kazakhstan. His professional start has been impressive and as an amateur he was also pretty impressive, winning the World Youth Championships in 2016 and winning a pair of Kazakh Youth titles. Given his power, which is genuinely terrifying, his amateur skillset, his youth, his speed and timing, and his relaxed nature in the ring it really does seem like Kazakh boxing may well have a star in the making here. Of course it is, very, early in his career but we're been very impressed and suspect Akhmedov will impress again in June, when he's expected to have his third professional bout. With his quick blow outs his team will be wanting to keep him busy, step him up and test him sooner rather than later, as he's likely to just smash through lower level fighters with too much ease.
Zhankosh Turarov (22-0, 15) – Welterweight
One of the most experienced fighters on this list is Welterweight Zhankosh Turarov, a 27 year old who has been a professional since 2009 and slowly worked his way towards the fringes of the world rankings, in what is one of the most high profile divisions in the sport. Having turned professional at 18 he isn't a big name former amateur but has been developed carefully by his team who have had him fighting in Kazakhstan, USA, Dominican Republic and Colombia. It should be noted that whilst he has travelled for fights, on a regular basis, he is actually based in the US and could well find himself on some high profile US televised cards in the near future.
Sadly Turarov hasn't yet made a step up to battling many notable names, though he does seem to be getting matched better in the last couple of years. If that continues in 2018 he could well find himself in with some notable names, which will tell us a lot more about him. From what we have seen of Turarov he looks like a fun, flashy and confident fighter, but that could have a lot to do with the competition he has been facing not being able to punish him for his defensive flaws and allowing him to look better than he actually is. He is a fun fighter, but will need to improve his defense if he's to win at the highest levels, as he can often be seen dropping his guard against his lower level opposition.
Daniyar Yeleussinov (1-0, 1) – Welterweight
Another Welterweight prospect, and arguably a better one than Turarov, is 2016 Olympic gold medal winner Daniyar Yeleussinov. The former amateur star, didn't just win Olympic gold as an amateur but also took gold as the World Amateur Championships and the Asian Games and was one of the top Kazakh amateurs over the last few years. It's little wonder that a top promoter signed him up when he was ready to turn professional and it's fair to say that Matchroom have signed a genuinely top tier prospect here.
As a professional Yeleussinov made his debut on April 28th, and looked a tiny bit unsure of himself to begin with, before stopping the unbeaten Noah Kidd in round 3. It seemed like the 27 year old needed a round or two to adapt to the professional ranks, but in round 3 he turned it up and looked like the class act he was as an amateur. He'll be returning to the ring for his second professional bout on June 6th and will likely try to fit in another 2 or 3 fights before the end of the year, against progressively better opposition. Given his talent and amateur pedigree it's going to be hard for Matchroom to hold him back, so expect him to be moved much quicker than Turarov.
Batyrzhan Jukembayev (13-0-0-2, 11) - Light Welterweight
Another Quebec based Kazakh is Batyrzhan Jukembayev, a Light Welterweight puncher who is on a good role after a bizarre start to his professional career which saw him begin with 2 No Contests. Since then he has been matched aggressively, with all of his opponents having more wins than losses, and has scored notable wins over the likes of Cecilio Santos, Cosme Rivera and Noe Nunez. It's clear that he's yet to face a fellow contender, or prospect, but he's building a reputation for himself and looking damned good doing it.
At 27 years old it does seem like Jukembayev is ready to be let off the leash. He fought 4 times last year and already has a couple of wins this year, suggest they are going to keep him active in 2018. If they step him up again he could well be finding himself in with a contender before the end of the year and could be charging through the world rankings in 2019. He has power, a really nice style, a southpaw stance and a team who seem very confident in his abilities. There is, of course, work to do in his development but he's on the right track and and is likely to be finding himself really making a mark on television very shortly.
Ruslan Madiev (12-0, 5) - Light Welterweight
Another US based prospect from Kazakhtan is 140lb hopeful Ruslan Madiev, who is based in Big Bear, California. Madiev has been a professional for over 5 years, having made his debut on May 26th 2013, but would have a stop-start beginning to his career and take 17 months before returning to action. It wasn't actually until last September that Madiev got much attention, following a big win over the then 23-1-1 Abdiel Ramirez, and since then he has scored two more notable wins over Martin Angel Martinez and the then unbeaten Jesus Perez.
As a stablemate of Gennady Golovkin we know Madiev is in good hands. He also has WSB experience, which has sort of explained “his lack of activity”. That WSB experience shows in just how relaxed Madiev looks in the ring, even when he's under pressure, and he does look like a very composed fighter, who knows his way around the ring, throws very solid body shots and, unlike some on this list, seems to enjoy boxing on the back foot with his counters and movement, as opposed to coming forward and looking destructive.
Bekman Soylybayev (12-0, 4) - Super Featherweight
The Super Featherweight division is a strong one and it's one where Kazakhstan are a bit lacking, though they do have 27 year old Bekman Soylybayevn. Soylybayev has only actually fought a single bout in Kazakhstan, having racked up fights in Ukraine, USA and Mexico and is getting stamps on his passport and getting international experience. His sole bout in Kazakhstan came more than 2 years ago, when he stopped Nikoloz Kokashvili in 2 rounds. It's fair to say that Kokashvili isn't a particularly notable opponent, but Soylybayev has scored other wins against the likes of German Meraz and Fernando Vargas which are worthy of note.
In terms of his boxing style Soylybayev is a pretty patient fighter and looks loose and relaxed in the ring. There is perhaps a sense of laziness at times when watching Soylybayev but he does look a real talent who can fight on the front foot but looks like he's happier on the back foot, and seems very happy fighting off the ropes when he needs to. There is a lot of technical ability here, and a lovely variety to his work. Sadly though he may be held back by his relative lack of power, and 4 stoppage wins from 12 bouts suggests that he may have problems getting respect of world class opponents.
Mussa Tursyngaliyev (7-0, 6) – Featherweight
At Featherweight Kazakh fans have Mussa Tursyngaliyev to get excited about, and he really could be one of the most interesting fighters on this list. Around the start of 2016 he had seemingly signed with AK Promotions in Korea, though would never actually fight for AK and wouldn't actually make his professional debut until November 10th 2017. Amazingly by the end of November he had raced away to 6-0 (5), beating 6 opponents in just 19 days, and made up for lost time with that level of intense activity. Notably he has fought just once since then, scoring a very notable win against Luis Hinojosa this past March, and claiming the WBA NABA USA Featherweight title.
Although it's hard to track down much footage of Tursyngaliyev as a professional he was a pretty accomplished amateur and looked pretty good back in his amateur days. Sadly however that amateur footage is very dated now and it's to imagine him being the same fighter today. Thankfully it does sound like he's going to be chasing bigger and better bouts in the near future and could well be a break out fighter this year, and make it to have some televised contests. If he does then we'll finally be able to see what the hard hitting 23 year old has to offer. From what we understand he will be fast tracked this year and hopefully will get some sort of exposure to help throw some light on exactly how good and how promising Tursyngaliyev actually is.
Madiyar Zhanuzak (4-0, 1) – Flyweight
There isn't a lot of Kazakh fighters in the lower weight classes, though it's worth making a note of Madiyar Zhanuzak, a 23 year old who has fought twice in Russia and twice in Macau, all since July 2017. His competition hasn't been massively impressive but he has already completed a 10 round bout, scored a notable win on the road and looked really impressive so far. From the footage of him he's aggressive, constantly applying pressure has a tight guard to bring that pressure with. He does look a little bit open when letting his shots go, but given he's still a novice that's to be expected. What he perhaps lacks is power but he may well mature into a more powerful puncher.
From what we understand Zhanuzak will be back in action on July 8th on a stacked RCC Boxing Promotions card in Ekaterinburg in a 10 rounder. His opponent hasn't been announced for that bout, yet, but we're hoping it'll be someone who can really test the youngster, who has only lost around 3 rounds in his career so far.
Of course these aren't the only prospect from Kazakhstan, but in our eyes they arre the best of the bunch to begin their professional careers.
Images courtesy of:
Eye of the Tiger Managament
Over the last 6 years Kazakh boxing, at least in the professional ranks, has been dominated by Gennady Golovkin, who has spearheaded the countries boxing scene. Although he's not solo he has pretty much been the focal figure for the country's success in professional boxing, with only Zhanat Zhakiyanov's short reign at Bantamweight and the controversial and much maligned Beibut Shumenov for company as a world champion. At 36 years hold however Golovkin won't be able to lead the Kazakh charge for too much longer.
With that in mind we've decided to take a long over-due look at the rising Kazakh boxing hopefuls, who will look to rise through the ranks and become the new faces of Kazakh boxing, and the ones to continue the good work that Golovkin, and to a lesser extent Shumenov, and Zhakiyanov have done in recent years.
Ivan Dychko (5-0, 5) - Heavyweight
Former amateur star Ivan Dychko has long been on the radar of fight fans, who have followed him since he was a youngster in the unpaid ranks. He first made a mark at the 2008 AIBA Youth World Championships, claiming a silver medal at Heavyweight before growing into a Super Heavyweight. At the heavier division he claimed a number of major medals, including bronze at the 2012 Olympics and the 2011 World Amateur Championships, as well as Silver medals at both the 2013 and 2015 World Amateur Championships.
Stood at 6'9” at weighing in at around 245lbs he has the size of a fully fledged Super Heavyweight and he's already looking to charge through the division. He made his professional debut last September, stopping Aubur Wright in just over 2 minutes, and has needed just 9 rounds to race out to a 5-0 record. He has, admittedly, fought poor competition so far but will look to make a notable step up in class shortly. He's pencilled to face Michael Marrone in June, a step up of sorts, but won't want to waste too much time at this type of level given how strong his amateur pedigree is.
Ali Akhmedov (11-0, 8) – Light Heavyweight
The 22 year old Ali Akhmedov is one of a number of US based Kazakh hopefuls, though is also well travelled having already notched up professional wins in Kazakhstan, Poland and the US. Not only has he been willing to travel for fights but has also been matched pretty well with notable wins against Patrick Mendy, Curtis Hill, Justin Thomas and DeShon Webster. Impressively he has only been a professional for around 2 years, making his debut in May 2016, but has been active, aggressively matched and his team are stepping him up.
Given his age Akhmedov has a lot of time on his side but it's unlikely he or his team will be looking to waste that time and instead he'll likely be matched hard and allowed to develop against decent competition. His boxing is already solid technically and like a number of fighters from Central Asia he seems to have very heavy hands and an aggressive exciting style. He's perhaps not a concussive puncher, but every shot seems to be damaging, and he has that exciting flair that the new era of Central Asian fighters seem to have, wanting to put on a show as well as win.
Zhanibek Alimkhanuly (2-0, 1) - Light Heavyweight
Another former amateur star is 25 year old Zhanibek Alimkhanuly, who shone at the 2013 World Amateur Championships, where he claimed gold, and was tipped as a medal contender for the 2016 Olympics, where he lost in the quarter final. He made his professional debut, unless you include his fights in the World Series of Boxing, in October 2016, blitzing Milton Nunez inside a round, before returning to the amateur code. He would again surface as a professional in September 2017, taking testing 6 round decision over Gilberto Pereira dos Santos.
At the moment it's pretty unclear on what Alimkhanuly plans to do. He has the world at his feet in any form of boxing, professional, amateur or one of the AIBA professional systems. We're hoping he commits to professional boxing, and if he does he really could be fast tracked. He's a very sharp, accurate and powerful puncher with brilliant movement and a high boxing IQ. He's got the tools to do a lot in the sport, but one does wonder about his mentality, and that could be the biggest question mark over his potential.
Nurzat Sabirov (6-0, 5) - Super Middleweight
There are a number of Kazakh hopes rising through the Canadian scene at the moment, one of whom is Nurzat Sabirov. The Quebec based 24 year old made his debut in July 2017 , scoring an opening round win over Kasjan Inglot, and has since been slowly stepping up his competition. Not only has he been stepping up in terms of quality opposition but he has continued to impress, stopping all of his foes, but going a few rounds in the process. He's expected to have a busy 2018 so it could very interesting to see where his career is at the end of the year.
From the footage of Sabirov he looks like a very exciting fighter, with a high level of ring craft and defense as well as explosive offensive capabilities. There is clearly a lot of development that his team will be wanting to do with him, and at 24 there is a lot of time for that development to take place, but he has a lot to work with. That includes impressive handspeed, nice ring IQ and really impressive variation in his shots.
Meiirim Nursultanov (6-0, 5) -Middleweight
When a fight skips the 4 round stage of their career you tend to take notice of them, and that was the case when Meiirim Nursultanov made his debut in November 2016, scoring a 6 round decision over Henry Beckford. Since then he has been matched well and consistently impressed as his team have matched him harder and harder as his career has gone on. That saw him being matched with Ismael Bueno in September 2017 and then the unbeaten Eric Moon just 2 months later. Not only is he being matched well but with Egis Klimas managing his career you know that he has a great team behind him.
As you may have guessed from Klimas' involvement Nursultanov is based in the US and the 24 year old has been getting himself on high-profile under-cards already, with his last 2 bouts coming at Madison Square Garden on shows headlined by Sergey Kovalev. Not only has he been on big cards but he's been shining when fans have had the chance to see him, and his body show KO of Lanny Dardar was a sickeningly brutal one. He's a fighter with serious power and a man who will be looking to make a name for himself in the not too distant future. Given he's a Middleweight he may also be the one to take over Golovkin's role as the country's leading man at 160lbs.
Aidos Yerbossynuly (7-0, 6) – Middleweight
Another potential successor to Golovkin at Middleweight is Aidos Yerbossynuly, a 26 year old fighter who is actually based in Kazakhstan, a bit of a rarity for a prospect from the country. Despite being based in the country of his birth he has also travelled for fights and has already picked up wins not only Kazakhstan but also Ukraine and the USA. So far he has looked exciting, talented and yet flawed, and was dropped early in his career, though has certainly improved since then and his win over over Jonathan Geronimo Barbadillo last September showed that he was one to watch.
Although very exciting and very aggressive there is an openness to Yerbossynuly that he will need to sort out before stepping up too far, but we suspect that will be sorted when he steps up and he will start to contain the wild aggression that he does occasionally show. When that happens we'll have a talented, exciting and hard hitting fighter, who could well give Nursultanov a good run to become the leading Kazakh Middleweight. For now though he looks a step behind his countryman and fighting in Kazakhstan may not help him with his profile internationally, though it is good to see a prospect actually staying in Kazakhstan given how many of them have gone to the US or Canada.
Nursultan Zhanabayev (3-0, 2) – Light Middleweight
We've already mentioned fighters skipping the 4 round phase of their career, but amazingly Nursultan Zhanabayev skipped straight to 10 rounders to begin his career, making his debut in 2016 and taking a 10 round decision over Xingxin Yang to kick off life as a professional boxer. On paper that debut win relied on a 10th round knockdown of the then 11-4-3 Chinese fighter, to claim a split decision, but the reality is that Zhanabayev deserved a very clear and very impressive debut win. He has since built on that debut win with a stoppage against the Joel Dela Cruz and a blast out win against Alex Sandro Duarte.
Zhanabayev seems to have an issue with staying active. He has his first 2 bouts just 2 months apart, bout would be out of the ring for 9 months. He's now been inactive since September 2017, and we do wonder when he returns. He's a genuine talent, and could go a very long way with the right sort of promotional and managerial backing, but without that he could become one of the many lost talents this sport has had. If a team can get behind him, guide him properly then the sky is his limit. Thankfully he is only 25 and has certainly got time to build his career, though may not want to wait too much longer before getting back to action.
Part two of this series will be posted shortly and will feature some of the other top prospects from Kazakhstan, who are going to be worth following over the years to come.
Images courtesy of:
A thanks to Matt Horan for pointing out Zhanat Zhakiyanov's world title reign.
In part 1 of “The Uzbeks are Coming” we looked at the fighters who had fought at the 2016 Olympics, where the Uzbek team had really shone. Whilst those fighters are certainly getting a lot of attention they aren't the only Uzbek fighters work making a note of. In fact there are two other Uzbek fighters already in the world rankings, another who is rising through the ranks at an impressive pace and a number of novice prospects who appears to be on the fact track to the top.
If you missed part 1 that's available to read here - The Uzbeks are coming - Part 1 - The pros from Rio!
Kudratillo Abdukakhorov (14-0, 9)
The most proven Uzbek as a professional right now is Kudratillo Abdukakhorov, who's name is also transcribed as Qudratillo Abduqaxorov. At the time of writing he is in the top 10 with the WBA, WBC and IBF at Welterweight and has looked like someone with a lot of confidence and self belief. Not only that but he's been willing to proven himself time and time again.
The "Punisher" was a decent amateur before turning professional in 2015, as the age of 22 and after starting his career in low key bouts in Uzbekistan he began to come into his own in 2016, with wins over Larry Siwu and Adones Cabalquinto. He has subsequent scored very notable wins over Charles Manyuchi and Dmitry Mikhaylenko, whilst claiming and defending the WBC silver Welterweight title.
Abdukakhorov has emerged from the shadows of the Uzbek scene by fighting in Maylasia, Singapore and Russia and looks likely to continue to score big wins outside of native Uzbekistan. Saying that however he has no problem returning home to fight, and he'll be doing this coming May against a yet to be announced opponent. That bout is likely to lead to bigger contests down the line and by the end of this year we're expecting to Abdukakhorov on the verge of a world title fight
Azizbek Abdugofurov (10-0, 4)
Abdukakhorov is one of two Uzbek fighters who have been strongly connected, the other is Super Middleweight Azizbek Abdugofurov. There's no intention of the two men to have some bizarre catch weight bout, but instead both have regularly been featured on the same shows in Malaysia and in Singapore and both have been matched hard on those shared shows.
Abdugofurov was a good amateur himself, though hadn't been a major star before turning to the professional ranks in 2016 at the age of 24. he was immediately matched hard and won his first 4 bouts by stoppage, including an opening round KO over Chaloemporn Sawatsuk. Since then life in the ring has gotten harder, but he has scored notable wins over Sirimongkol Singwancha and Martin Fidel Rios. Sadly though his last 4 bouts have been steps backwards.
The unbeaten Abdugofurov looks set to step back up on May 5th, when he takes on Russian Dmitrii Chudinov in a bout for the WBC Silver Super Middleweight title. A win there will put him into the world rankings, though it's a very tough ask.
Shohjahon Ergashev (11-0, 11)
The second world ranked Uzbek right now is the charismatic and hard hitting Shohjahon Ergashev, who is ranked by the WBA at 140lbs. He announced himself on the Western boxing scene earlier this year when he stopped Sonny Fredrickson in a real coming out performance. Prior to that bout the "Descendant of Tamerlane" had really done nothing of note since his debut in 2015.
Blessed with power and natural flair Ergashev has the potential to be a very TV friendly fighter. There is certainly a lot of style to him, and whilst we do need to see what substance is beneath that style we have been impressed by the 26 year old, who has created his own buzz and will be looking to build on that when he returns to the ring on April 28th.
As mentioned Ergashev will be in action shortly, taking on China's Zhimin Wang. It's a bout that Ergashev is expected to win and one that could really boost his standing, especially if he can stop the Chinese fighter who has previous taken the hard hitting Ivan Baranchyk the 10 round distance. If he can stop Wang then expect to hear a lot more about Ergashev over the next few years.
Ulugbek Khakberdiev (4-0, 2)
Russian based Uzbek hopeful Ulugbek Khakberdiev is a 25 year old Middleweight-come-Super Middleweight who debuted in March 2017 and reeled off 6 wins before the year was over. Whilst that's not amazing he did score a huge win over former world title challenger Dmitry Sukhotskiy, stopping him in round 6 of a very 1-sided bout.
Sadly Khakberdiev has seen his rise slow since that win, having had 3 fights fall through since that victory. It'd be a shame for him if his career can't kick on from such a big win. He has twice been scheduled to face Kazakh Aidos Yerbossynuly and that would be a great fight, fingers crossed it's third time lucky for that fight.
If Khakberdiev does fail to build on his big win through the rest of this year there is a good chance he will get forgotten about and lost in the shuffle. Given his age, and how open the Middleweight division looks set to become, he will have time to get his career back on track. We would however love to see him have a strong second half to this year, and make a move towards the world rankings before the end of 2019. He'll not be ready for a world title fight for some time, but has got the tools to become a champion in the years to come.
Jasur Akhmadjonov (4-0, 3)
Abdugofurov and Abdukakhorov are both promoted by Vikram Swapragasam, who also promotes 22 year old Light Welterweight Jasur Akhmadjonov, who turned professional at the end of 2017, having previously fought in the WSB, but is already making a name for himself and holds a win over former world title challenger Roy Mukhlis, who is admittedly a shadow of the fighter he once was.
Akhmadjonov debuted on December 17th last year in Uzbekistan and would fight twice in his native country in January before defeating Mukhlis in Singapore. He's pencilled in to fight again on May 5th, though his opponent hasn't been announced yet, and could well look to kick on from the victory over Mukhlis.
At 22 years old Akhmadjonov has got time on his side and won't be rushed, despite his clear talent. He's a boxing baby and there is no reason for Swapragasam to throw him in with killers yet, though as with many of the Uzbek fighters we see rise through the ranks there may be some aggressive match making for Akhmadjonov once he matures, and he could be in with notable names in 2019.
Ravshanbek Umurzakov (3-0, 3)
Another Russian based Uzbek is Ravshanbek Umurzakov, who has fought entirely in Ekaterinburg, where he has taken out his first 3 foes in a combined 6 rounds. He hasn't stepped up too much, but did stop the previously unbeaten Merab Turkadze this past weekend.
Stood at 5'10” “The Prince” is a tall and gangly Lightweight who's body doesn't look like it has quite filled out yet. Despite that the southpaw is heavy handed, can dig to the body and has a good understanding of the ring. There is still a lot of work that he needs to do before thinking of world titles, but there is a lot to like about him and there is a lot for his team to work with, including a sharp jab and a brutal left hand to the liver.
At the moment Umurzakov's biggest issue is that he looks like he could be pressured a bit too easily, and perhaps just needs a few more easy fights to develop his in ring composure. He has looked a little bit worried at times in these early stages of his career, but it's hard not to like him at this early stage, especially given he only debuted in December. His next bout will be in May against the tough Denis Lashin and should see the the the unbeaten man answer some new questions/
Ulugbek Sobirov (4-0, 2)
Another of Vikram Swapragasam's many Uzbek hopefuls is 19 year old Ulugbek Sobirov, who debuted in January and has already impressed whilst picking up wins in Uzbekistan, India and Malaysia. Yes, despite only being a professional since January Sobirov has already fought in 3 countries and notched 4 wins! The best of those saw him travel to New Dehli to defeat Siddharth Ravindra Varma in February.
Despite his young age Sobirov has shown that he understands how to use the ring, and looks like he is a natural in the ring, with amazing composure for someone so young. He has a nice jab, looks like a naturally strong young man and has a lot of tools his team can mould. At times he looks a little too relaxed, his shots sometimes need tightening up and he will have to show more urgency if he's to become a threat. However at 19, he really does have time on his side and he looks like the sort of fighter who will mature into a monster in the years to come.
Sobirov is set to return on May 5th, as part of a stacked Uzbek card in Tashkent, and although his opponent hasn't been announced. We don't expect anyone too tough for the teenager, but hopefully someone a bit more ambition than Hamis Mwakinyo, who hardly looked like he wanted to be in the ring when he fought Sobirov.
Although we wouldn't be surprised by some of these fighters failing to reach the top, there is so much talent coming through the ranks that we're expecting to see the start of a golden age for Uzbek professional boxing. A number of fighters from the country have the potential to be world champions and it's going to be very fun to follow them in their journey's to the top.
(Images courtesy of Boxrec and the WSB)
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