This past week has been an interesting one in many ways. The quantity of shows has dropped off, noticeably, but the quality was high through out with two major Japanese cards from the Korakuen Hall as well as several other noteworthy cards.
Fighter of the Week
Ryo Sagawa (8-1, 4)
On Friday we had a hugely anticipated show at the Korakuen Hall, featuring a number of notable Japanese fighters, with many of them being in ultra competitive contests. The man who won the most significant of those was Ryo Sagawa, who defeated Reiya Abe for the Japanese Featherweight title. The bout was an ultra competitive contest over 10 excellent rounds, and for Sagawa it completes a remarkable run of results, which also includes a win over Ryo Matsumoto and Al Toyogon. Given how close it was it keeps Abe in the title mix, but Sagawa is well deserving of the Fight of the Week award, and we expect to see him in some much bigger bouts in the coming years.
Performance of the Week
Masanori Rikiishi (7-1, 4)
Japanese fighter Masanori Rikiisi isn't someone Western fans will be too aware of, though they may see his name breaking into the world rankings sooner rather than later, especially his match makings, and this weeks performance. The unheralded 25 year old stepped up massively to take on his first non-Asian opponent, and completely schooled Nicaraguan Freddy Fonseca. Fonseca is best known by American fans for losing earlier in the year to the Jo Jo Diaz, and whilst Rikiishi couldn't stop Fonseca he did drop him twice and totally dominate him over 8 rounds to secure his best win to date.
Saemi Hanagata 915-7-4, 7) Vs Nao Ikeyama (18-6-4, 5) III
After 2 thrilling bouts, both of which ended in draws, we got exactly what expected when Saemi Hanagata and Nao Ikeyama took to the ring to end their trilogy. From the first round to the last this was an engaging, competitive bout, that never seemed easy to score and always looked like both fighters felt they had what it took to take home the win. We love competitive back and forth and this was just that, even if neither fighter had the power to hurt the other. The momentum shifts, action and gelling of styles between these two is great, and it's a shame their rivalry now seems to be over after 30 extremely competitive rounds.
Note - Unfortunately the A-Sign card hasn't been made available, had been out there there's a good chance that 3 bouts from that card would have been in the mix for this award.
Ayaka Miyao vs Monserrat Alarcon (Rd 10)
Fans of female boxing were treat this past week. Not only did they have the big Amanda Serrano Vs Heather Hardy bout in the US but there was also a Japanese card that completely focused on female boxing. The card didn't get a lot of attention, but it should have given the quality of action on the show. The highlight for us was the final round of the WBA Atomweight title bout between Ayaka Miyao and Monserrat Alarcon. This was a sensational round of action, with so much leather thrown as both fighters tried to secure victory in an incredibly close bout. If you like female boxing this is well worth hunting down.
Note-As with the fight of the week some of the best rounds haven't yet been made available to watch due to one of the cards being put on a tape delay to much later in the month.
Muhammad Waseem KO1 Conrado Tanamor
Pakistani fighter Muhammad Waseem had been out of the ring for over a year until returning in a cameo on Friday in Dubai. The cameo was very short, lasting just over a minute with Waseem taking out Filipino fighter Conrado Tanamor with a brutal body shot. The bout was a mismatch, but the shot was still a beauty and it's clear that if Waseem can shake some ring rust, against a decent opponent, he could well find himself back in the world title mix before the end of the end of 2020.
Iskander Kharsan (7-0, 6)
Unbeaten US based Kazakh prospect Iskander Kharsan has some how remained under the radar despite showing the potential to be someone very special. That ability, power punching and confidence was on show this weekend when he stopped Isidro Ochoa in the 5th round. The Kazakh youngster applied intelligent pressure and sharp punching to take control, dropping Ochoa in round 5 with an excellent straight right hand. Ochoi, to his credit, saw out the round but retired in the corner as Kharsan picked up best win to date.
Taku Kuwahara (5-0, 4) vs Jonathan Refugio (21-6-5, 7)
There are a number of solid bouts coming up over the next week or so, but the one that really stands out is a match up between fast rising Japanese hopeful Taku Kuwahara and experienced Filipino Jonathan Refugio. On paper this is a massive step up for Kuwahara, but the body punching phenom from the Ohashi gym is tipped for big things and will be expected take home the win here. Refugio is no world beater, but the Filipino is a durable, skilled and tough fighter, who can do enough to test rising hopefuls. This should be a great chance to see just how good Kuwahara is, and how quickly the Ohashi team can move him.
August wasn't the biggest month for Asian boxing, but was a solid month overall, which had plenty of shows to be excited about and a very few real breaks between something of note.
On paper September looks like it will be a lot less interesting than August was. It looks to start slowly, peak with a flurry of major bouts in the middle, then tail off in forgettable fashion. With that said lets have a look at what's to come in the first part of the month.
Samuel Salva (17-0, 10) Vs Pedro Taduran (13-2, 10) -Metro Manila, Philippines
The first world title bout takes place on the 7th and is an all-Filipino battle for the vacant IBF Minimumweight title. The bout pits the unbeaten Samuel Salva against hard hitting youngster Pedro Taduran. For Salva this is his first world title bout, and a chance to announce himself after a relative slow build on the Filipino domestic scene. As for Taduran the bout will be his second world title fight, following a 2018 loss to Wanheng Menayothin. The winner of this will be seen as the weakest of the champions at 105lbs but they'll have had a very credible win to take the title regardless.
Giemel Magramo (23-1, 19) vs Eaktwan BTU Ruaviking (25-5, 16) - Metro Manila, Philippines
On the same card as the Salva/Taduran bout we also get an IBF Flyweight world title eliminator, as once beaten Filipino hopeful Giemel Magramo takes on former world title challenger Eaktwan BTU Ruaviking, aka Komgrich Nantapech, in what could end up being one of the best bouts of the month. The winner will likely get a shot at Moruti Mthalane, though will almost certainly have to go through a real war to get that title fight. Both of these men like to come forward, through shots and press the action, so we're expecting a bit of a phone booth tear up here. On paper Eaktwan is the more experience and proven but Magramo looks to be the more naturally talented and smarter. Either way we're in for something very special here.
Yuki Nagano (16-2, 12) vs Makoto Kawasaki (11-7-1, 2) - Tokyo, Japan
In a Japanese Welterweight title fight we'll see Yuki Nagano defending his title against veteran Makoto Kawasaki. On paper this looks like an easy first defense for Nagano, though we really can't begrudge him an easy one after successive wins over Riku Nagahama, Yuki Beppu and Ryota Yada. With a 14 fight winning run Nagano is in great form and full of confidence. The 35 year old Kawasaki on the other hand likely knows retirement is looming and a loss he will almost certainly push him into hanging up the gloves. Kawasaki isn't a bad fighter, but we really don't know what he has in his arsenal to test the in form champion.
Jorge Linares (45-4, 28) Vs Al Toyogon (10-4-1, 6)
Former 3-weight world champion Jorge Linares has fought around half of his carer in Japan, though amazingly he's not fought in the Land of the rising Sun in well over 4 years. The wait for his Japanese return ends here as he takes on Filipino Al Toyogon, who looks to end a 2-fight losing run. The exiting, but vulnerable, Linares is in a position where his career is likely over as a world class operator with another loss. Toyogon comes into this on the back of losses to Ryo Sagawa and Shuya Masaki, but will know a win here will get the boxing world talking about him, and there is no better time to face Linares.
Saemi Hanagata (15-7-4, 7) Vs Nao Ikeyama (18-5-4, 5) III - Tokyo, Japan
All female cards are rare, but when they happen in Japan they tend to be stacked with some excellent match ups. On September 12th we get once such card, headlined by the third bout between IBF Atomweight champion Saemi Hanagata and former WBO Atomweight champion Nao Ikeyama. After drawing in the first 2 fights of their rivalry both will be desperate to take home a win here and we're expecting an all out thriller, much like their previous bouts.
Ayaka Miyao (23-7-1, 6) Vs Monseratt Alcaron (12-4-2) - Tokyo, Japan
Another fantastic looking female world title bout on same card will see the WBA Atomweight title being unified. In one corner will be regular champion Monseratt Alcaraon whilst the other will house interim champion Ayaka Miyao, together they should make for a brilliant match up. Miyao is an aggressive veteran who uses a lot of speed and a high output whilst Alcaron is a smart fighter with an aggressive counter punching style. This should be a bout that really sees the style gel.
Eri Matsuda (3-0) Vs Mont Blanc Miki (4-2-1, 1) - Tokyo, Japan
A third Atomweight title bout on the same card will see Eri Matsuda make her first defense of the Japanese Atomweight title, as she takes on the limited Mont Blanc Miki. Matsuda is one of the pure talents in female boxing, and she will likely be targeting one of the winners from the world title fights on this show. Miki on the other hand has been stopped in both of her defeats, both at a low level, and a win here for the challenger would be a a big surprise.
The second half of November is fast approaching and it's set to be a busy one for fans who follow Asian boxers. We have a nice mix of Youth, world, regional and female title fights coming up over the next 2 weeks or so
Tetsuya Hisada (32-9-2, 19) Vs Akihiro Toya (8-4, 1) - Japan
We kick off the second part of the months with a Japanese Light Flyweight title bout, as defending champion Tetsusya Hisada seeks his 5th defense, and takes on the unheralded Akihiro Toya. On paper this should be a mismatch, in favour of Hisada who is approaching a world title fight, but he can ill afford any sort of set back right now. The champion is now 34 and will know that even a serious cut here could end his dreams of a world title fight. For Toya this will be an unexpected chance, given he has lost 2 of his last 3, but he could pull out the upset if Hisada over-looks him.
Chaoz Minowa (6-1, 5) Vs Ibeth Zamora Silva (29-6, 12) - Mexico
On November 17th we'll see Japanese fighter Chaoz Minowa challenge Mexico Ibeth Zamora Silve, for Zamora's WBC Female Flyweight title. This will be Minowa's second shot t a world title, and another loss really will harm her hopes of ever winning a world title, despite her strong amateur credentials. Silva won the title earlier this year, and this will be her first defence, though she is a world class fighter and had a prolonged reign at Light Flyweight. A win for Silva will establish her reign, though she'll likely be looking for bigger and more notable fights, if she can over-come the aggressive but flawed Minowa.
West Japan Rookie of the Year Finals- Japan
The All Japan Rookie of the Year finals gets the second set of fighters as the West Japan representatives are decided on. The show's winners will be back in action just before Christmas as they take on their East Japan representatives in the crucial All Japan final. The regional final has a number of really good bouts on it, and if they manage to claim bot only the West crown but the All Japan one they will be expected to be moved into title fights in the relatively near future. This is a key show on the Japanese calendar, and is a very significant show for fans on the domestic scene.
Ryuto Oho (11-4-1, 3) Vs Yuta Nakayama (6-1-1, 3) - Japan
Just a day after the West Japan Rookie final we see youngsters colliding in a Japanese Youth Light Flyweight title bout. The bout will see 2013 All Japan Flyweight Rookie of the year Ryuto Oho making his first defense of the Japanese Youth title as he takes on the once beaten Nakayama, who is riding a 5 fight winning streak into this bout. Oho won the title back in April, stopping Tetsuya Tomioka, and looks to be a better fit at 108lbs than he was at 112lbs. Nakayama on the other hand looks to be stepping up a level, and may well face his stiffest test to date in what looks like an excellent match up.
Ayaka Miyao (22-7-1, 6) Vs Nao Ikeyama (18-4-3, 5) III - Japan
It's not often that we support WBA "Interim" title bouts but with WBA “regular” Atomweight champion Monseratt Alcaron suffering an injury we can't help but support an “interim” title here as Ayaka Miyao and Nao Ikeyama face off in an excellent rematch. The first bout between these two came in 2016, when Ikeyama beat the much younger Miyao due to a nasty knee injury that kept Miyao out of the ring for over a year. That win for Ikeyama was her last victory, and she would lose the WBO Atamweight title this past July. Aged 49 a win for Ikeyama would be a massive statement whilst a win for Miyao would see her getting revenge for the loss a few years ago. A brilliant match up, and a rare example of the WBA using their “interim” titles properly!
Kudura Kaneko (8-0, 5) Vs Toshio Arikawa (15-5, 13) - Japan
Not every great match up needs a title, and we can't help but get very excited about the Japanese Welterweight bout between rising youngster Kudura Kaneko, a Japanese-Afghan prospect, and former champion Toshio Arikawa, fighting for the first time since losing the title. Both of these men have real belief in their power and this could end up being a shoot out, as well as a potential passing of the torch on the Japanese domestic scene. The bout won't get much attention globally, but that doesn't take away from the interest the bout has from us, and Japanese domestic fans.
Dmitry Bivol (14-0, 11) vs Jean Pascal (33-5-1-1, 20) - USA
Outside of Asia the biggest fight with an Asian as we get towards the end of the month will see Kyrgyzstan born Russian Dmitry Bivol defending his WBA Light Heavyweight title against Canadian based Haitian Jean Pascal. The talented Bivol, now widely regarded as one of the top Light Heavyweights on the planet, had looked at other opponents but due to various issues ended up with the 36 year old Pascal. The Canadian regularly makes for exciting bouts, due to his style, and he is still popular but he is 4-3 in his last 7 and has twice been stopped by Sergey Kovalev in the last 4 years. This should be fun, but comfortable for the champion.
Richard Pumicpic (21-8-2, 6) vs Musashi Mori (7-0, 5) - Japan
Filipino fighter Richard Pumipcic makes it 3 in a row in Japan as he returns to defend his WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight title against teenager Musashi Mori. Pumicpic won the title when he defeated Hisashi Amagasa in Tokyolast year. His only defense of the belt saw far saw him defeat Yoshimitsu Kimura, in a clear but competitive bout, and now he returns to take on one of the country's best teenager. Mori has impressed, winning the All Japan Rookie of the Year, but this is a monstrous step up in class and if he wins he could find himself on the verges of the world rankings. It's a big risk with a huge reward for the challenger, but he is clearly the under-dog.
Knockout CP Freshmart (18-0, 7) Vs Byron Rojas (25-3-3, 11) II - Thailand
The final bout of note for the month comes from Thailand, as WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart defends the WBA title against former champion Byron Rojas, the man he actually beat for the belt back in back in June 2016. Since beating Rojas we've seen Knockout make 5 defenses, including wins over Shin Ono, Rey Loreto and Xiong Zhao Zhong, but he's failed to really impress on a consistent basis. He's a solid champion, but one who doesn't seem to look spectacular. Rojas is 8-0 since the loss to Knockout, but has only been fighting at the Nicaraguan domestic level and it's a little bit unclear on how good he's been since losing the belt. In saying that however he's incredibly hungry for this bout and does seem determined to take the title back to Nicaragua. This could be a great way to end what looks to be a fantastic month of action.
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