Another week has passed us by and it's time, once again, to look at the good, the bad and the ugly from the last week! And this has been a week where the good have outweighed the bad and the ugly. It's not been a perfect week, but it's certainly been a week that has started the see things move forward for the year.
1-Boxing is back under way!
It's fair to say that 2020 has moved slowly, we might only be 12 days into the year but after the hive of activity to end 2019 it sort of feels like boxing fell off a cliff after the clocks rang in the new year. Thankfully the last few days we have seen normality resume and we've had some great action, some fantastic performances and we have so much more to look forward to. It's take a little while, bot boxing is back baby!
2-Guts Fighting set to bring us Shigeoka Vs Loreto
Whilst it was a huge shame that TBS didn't air the New Year Eve's bout between Ginjiro Shigeoka and Rey Loreto, especially give that they could have put it on one of the satellite channels that TBS run, it's now been confirmed that the bout will air on free to air TV later this month! The bout, along with Miyo Yoshida's world title defense, are set to be aired in just over a week. As a bonus it appears one of the TBS sister channels is also set to air Yoshida's world title win from the summer at the end of January! Infact TBS have been great so far, showing a number of semi-recent bouts on TBS and doing a special "Chihara Junior Presents Boxing Champion Legend Revived Great Game! KO Collection" last Friday on BS TBS. They might not have given us Shigeoka live, but credit to them for pumping out a lot of stuff since the new year.
3-Female Fights shine in the US
The last few years we've seen a lot of female fights on TV, and we've seen a general backlash from fans who were "sick of having them forced down our throats". We've always taken a different view on female boxing. We are sick of mismatches involving female fighters. This weekend we had two excellently matched bouts, with Elin Cederroos and Alicia Napoleon Espinosa giving us a sensational bout on Friday night before Alejandra Jimenez and Franchon Crews Dezurn followed up with a cracking fight the following night. Female boxing can be great, genuinely female fights can be amazing. But they need to be well match. These two were well matched, and they were great fights. They will have done more to improve the standing of female boxing than almost anything else in recent years. More of these please folks! Less trying to force fabricated records down our throats and more giving us evenly matched bouts.
4-Boxnation is given a life line!
The best bit of boxing news this week came from the UK when it was revealed that British boxing channel Boxnation had been given a life line thanks to a new strategic partnership with Premier Sports. Fingers crossed the channel can be run profitably going forward, and can help give British fans a wider outlet for international fans. The British fans need a third player in the game after being let down in recent years by Sky Sports and BT Sports, so fingers crossed Boxnation, with the backing of Premier Sports, can play a major factor in getting more eyes on the sport and giving an outlet to shows that would otherwise not be picked up.
1-Knock Out Dynamite Tournament gutted
When the Knock Out Dynamite Tournament Final card was announced we were really excited. We were set to get 3 tournament final bouts, the return of Shuhei Tsuchiya and an interesting bout for Shohei Omori. Sadly though one of the finals was cancelled, Omori's replacement was an under-sized Filipino, who proved to be tough nut not particularly competitive, and Tsuchiya's bout was cancelled due visa issues in regards to his opponent. With this being the first Japanese card of 2020 it wasn't a good sign, and will hopefully turn out to be little more than a stumble to begin the year, than an omen for the year to come.
1-Speculation regarding Alejandra Jimenez's gender
Sometimes boxing fans are complete dicks! We've all seen it over the years, and unfortunately a small number of fans have shown this again this past week suggesting, with some confidence in some cases, that Alejandra Jimenez's is a man. Whilst she might not look like the most "girly girl" out there, speculation like this doesn't help the sport and in fact helps makes fans in general seem like cave men. Lets stop being stupid, stop making forum posts stating she's a man, or that she used to be a man (as we saw on one forum), and realise people look different to each other. She put in a great performance and credit to her for it.
2-James Kinney's scorecard
Whilst we find the comments made about Jimenez genuinely disgusting there was one man who certainly wasn't commenting on the looks of Mexican Super Featherweight. That was James Kinney, who seemed to be blind on Saturday night whilst scoring the Jesse Hart vs Joe Smith Jr fight. He was almost certainly the only person who, some how, found a way to score it to Jesse Hart and we need to question how he managed to get the 95-94 score in favour of Hart. This wasn't like two fighters looked the same or could be easily confused. This was a judge who really needs to be quizzed, and potentially kicked out of the sport. The card was absolutely terrible from Kinney, and leads to a lot of questions, questions the commission should be asking Kinney in the coming days.
So we're into a new year and we've already had some good, some bad and some ugly! Yes the year waits for no man!
1-Da Won Gang - Korean teen to get excited about
Korean teenager Da Won Gang went pretty under the radar in 2019, despite winning the Battle Royal at 140lbs. It seems hard to imagine him still being under the radar at the end of 2020 though, and in fact it seems very likely that he will end up winning the KBM titles before the end of the year. A really exciting one to watch.
2-Ginjiro Shigeoka - The Rising Shines Again
On the final of 2019 Ginjiro Shigeoka took a huge step up to face Rey Loreto, and stopped the Filipino veteran in 5 rounds. Whilst the stoppage, by the referee, wasn't amazing there was little to take negatively from Shigeoka, who looked sharp, tough, exciting and heavy handed. There is obviously still work to do, but the youngster already looks like a nailed on future world champion, and given his lazy of physical stature it's likely he'll be at 105lbs for a long time.
3-Jhunriel Ramonal - New Japanese Killer on the Prowl
The Philippines may well have the spiritual success to Jess Maca at last, Jhunriel Ramonal completed a 2019 that saw him earn the Japanese Killer tag. Maca, for those unaware, was a thorn in the side of Japanese boxers in the late 90's and early 00's and after the year Ramonal had he's now set to take that same tag. In 2019 Ramonal travelled to Japan and upset Shingo Wake before returning and scoring another upset over Yusaku Kuga. The reality is that Ramonal is beatable, but no one can take liberties with him, and he'll almost certainly be back in the Land of the Rising Sun in 2020, with Japanese fighters looking for revenge and Ramonal looking to build on his current moment.
1-Korean Promoters streams on a phone?
The first Asian show of 2020 was streamed on Youtube on January 5th, and it appears that it was streams on a phone left on top of a corner. Whilst a stream, even one this bad, is better than nothing, it's still a shame that they couldn't have a better quality stream. The card it's self was exciting enough, but the blurry image didn't do it any favours. It was also strange that it seemed the fights were fought in a ring set up in a corner in a gym. Very weird set up overall.
2-No set TV date for Shigeoka Vs Loreto..if it will ever be televised
Japanese boxing on TV is awkward at times. The G+ shows, which air the full card live, and the Boxing Raise cards, which are either live or on demand, are great. Sadly though shows on Fuji TV and TBS are less great as a viewer. For the most part the channels only air world title bouts live, and then put other broadcasts together with tape delay footage. In theory they should, at some point, show Ginjiro Shigeoka's win over Rey Loreto on tape delay but as of the time of writing there is no set date for that. The leads to another bad. Both TBS and Fuji have alternate channels, available through satellite, which tend to show rather random stuff at the best of times. Why the channels don't put undercards on those is a genuine mystery. Come on Japanese TV channels, sort it out! Give us the undercards dammit!
Thankfully we've not really had any ugly so far this year. Though we haven't really had much of anything so far. Action does pick up in the middle of the month, so expect some questionable decisions, poor stoppages and bizarre boxing politics to kick in in a week or two, but for now nothing is ugly as such!
In saying that however it does leave a bad taste seeing the January 30th show in Florida being sold primarily on the back of Jake Paul Vs Ali Eson Gib...this appears to be the way of modern day boxing folks!
As we cross into a new year we've not really had much to talk about, despite that we did have results from New Year's Eve, and an obscure Korean show taking place in the last 7 days, and that's enough for us to be happy with!
Fighter of the Week
Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14)
The fight of the week was an easy call, with Kazuto Ioka taking the award on the back of his hard fought win over Jeyvier Cintron on New Year's Eve. Whilst Ioka was always expected to win it was great to see him being tested, and being pushed. Cintron wasn't there to make up the numbers, and instead the Puerto Rican was in the ring to win, using his size and skills to ask a lot of questions of the Japanese star. Also real credit goes to Cintron for fighting to the end of the bout, something we didn't expect when Ioka's body shots started to land with alarming consistency.
Performance of the Week
Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9)
With a nigh on punch perfect performance Kosei Tanaka retained his WBO Flyweight title and looked fantastic. From the opening moments it was clear that Tanaka was happy to use his tools to make life easy and dominate a challenger who was too slow, too clumsy and too open for him. This was exactly what Tanaka needed after a struggle last time out, against Jonathan Gonzalez.
Kazuto Ioka Vs Jeyvier Cintron
This was a long, long way, from Fight of the Year conversation, however it was a truly compelling 12 round championship level match that swung nicely back and forth. The early rounds were high level chess, with Cintron taking the early lead, before Ioka found his range and hammered the body of the Puerto Rican. Ioka seemed on the verge of a stoppage at one point, before Cintron bit down on his mouth piece and finished strongly. Not a fight of the year, but still a very high quality fight.
Jae Hyun Jo Vs Chul Hyun Lim (Round 6)
We really didn't have many stand out rounds if we're being honest though we did enjoy the final round of the relatively obscure bout between Jae Hyun Jo and Chul Hyun Lim on Sunday morning. It may have been our craving for boxing speaking but it felt like both men put their foot on the gas for the final 3 minutes and delivered something rather fun. Nothing special, but fun all the same.
Kosei Tanaka KO3 Wulan Tuolehazi
This was an easy pick with Tanaka's triple uppercut KO win over Wulan. This was spiteful, this was nasty and this was Tanaka using his speed to and boxing IQ to find a hole in Wulan's defense, breach it then again and again. A gorgeous KO, and one that will send Tanaka into the new with another highlight KO on his resume. After a relatively tough year this was the perfect way to finish it from the "KO Dream Boy".
Ginjiro Shigeoka (5-0, 4)
It's hard to give even consider giving Prospect of the week to anyone other than Ginjiro Shigeoka, following his win over former world title challenger Rey Loreto. We all expected Shigeoka to win, but few would have anticipated him dropping Loreto in the opening round, then battling with Loreto, a feared puncher, before scoring a second knockdown. Shigeoka was rather honest post fight, explaining that he had injured his hand and ear drum and questioned whether he could have gone 12 rounds, but in the end that didn't really matter. He battled through some adversity and stopped a legitimate contender.
Jaron Ennis (24-0, 22) vs Bakhtiyar Eyubov (14-1-1-1, 12)
Sadly our pick for this week has been picked almost by default. Whilst Jaron Ennis, a fantastic US prospect, is a fantastic prospect this isn't a bout we'd typically get too excited about. Sadly there is very, very little else on in terms of fights involving Asian's this week. Eyubov, from Kazakhstan, has looked very limited when he's stepped up and we wouldn't be surprised to see him getting blasted out here.
As we head towards the new year we've had a big look at the current scene and come up with "20 fights we'd like to see in 2020", yeah another series ahead of the new decade!
As is always the case with what we do, these articles will have an Asian flavour, and every bout we mention in the series will have at least 1 fighter from Asia involved. So for those of you expecting us to talk about Deontay Wilder Vs Anthony Joshua, that won't be listed.
What we'll be looking at is well matched contests with either some form of back story, a great stylistic clash or bouts with some form of significant meaning. If they tick all the boxes then that is even better! Each fight will be given it's own article and each of these will come with an introduction to the fighters, and why the bout is being featured in the list.
Wanheng Menayothin (54-0, 18) Vs Ginjiro Shigeoka (5-0, 4)
The Minimumweight division seemed to be on standstill for much of 2019 with the two longest reigning champions really....not doing much. The WBO title was fought for a few times but hardly set the world on fire and IBF title was vacated before Pedro Taduran claimed it in the summer, then sat on it and didn't do anything with it. We expect changes in 2020 and there are 3 very notable novices sniffing big chances in the new year. Here we look at one of those novices, and a bout against the longest reigning male world champion currently in the sport!
Wanheng Menayothin, the man who broke Floyd Mayweather's 50-0 record, may not be well known in the west but the Thai is a solid fighter. His 54-0 record might not be the strongest record out there, but he's managed to run up 12 defenses and is actually a very good fighter, even if his performances are inconsistent at times. During his reign he has beaten a mix of world class challengers, like Tatsuya Fukuhara, Simpiwe Konkco and Pedro Taduran, as well as lesser challengers, like Go Odaira and Jerry Tomogdan. A lack of unification bouts has hurt his career, but at 34 it's now likely too late for him to land the divisional super fights, and it may be best for his career to repeal the next generation of fighters. Score wins that will age well, if you will.
In Ginjiro Shigeoka Japanese boxing has a fast tracked sensation. The 20 year old boxer-puncher has been a sensation since turning professional in 2018 and has made it clear that he wants to fight for a world title as soon as possible. At the end of 2019 he became only the second man to stop Rey Loreto and a that win, although tough, would likely have helped solidify his belief that he's ready for a world title fight. Stylistically the champion that makes the most sense for him to fight would maybe not be Wanheng, but if he wishes to make the biggest splash, which he appears to want to do, then there probably isn't a better option for him than the unbeaten Thai.
The match up would pit a defensively sound, sharp combination punching Thai veteran, who turns 35 in October, against a young sharp prodigy who is lightning quick, bullish strong and full of confidence. It would, on paper, be either a passing of the torch fight for the Minimumweight division or an old lion repelling the challenge of a young cub, too eager to make his mark. Either way the bout would have real intrigue.
Whilst this bout likely wouldn't occur early in the year, there's no reason this couldn't be set up for later in 2020, potentially after both men have fit in a bout earlier in the year, moving to 55-0 and 5-0. Both men seem to want an international bout, so maybe even popping this on the lower end of a DAZN card Stateside wouldn't be impossible either, given that Wanheng has signed with Golden Boy Promotions.
Our final "Introducing" of 2019 isn't going to be one of our usual articles looking at a specific fighter but instead a look back at some of the fighters we've mentioned during the last 12 months, ahead of the changes we'll be making to these articles in the coming year.
Since we started this way back on January 8th we've looked at some winners, some losers and some fighters who's future isn't as clear as we'd have hoped. We won't go through all 50 fighters here, but we will talk about those who have have shined the most, and those who have disappointed the most.
The first Introducing saw us talk about Mikito Nakano, who was 1-0 (1) at the time and has since added 3 wins, all inside the distance. He has gone from a good novice into a fine prospect and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him fighting for a title in 2020.
Just a week later we spoke about Ginjiro Shigeoka, who was also 1-0 (1) and his rise has been legitimately meteoric. In just his fourth bout he claimed the WBO Asia Pacific Minimumweight title and if he picks up a win on New Year's Eve, against Rey Loreto, there is no doubt that he will be in the world title mix in 2020.
We spoke about Shokichi Iwata in week 25 and since then he has scored back to back TKO5 wins, with both of those victories coming on massive Japanese cards. The 23 year old Teiken prospect looks like he has the potential to go all the way to the top, and to do so quickly. He has shown he can box, or brawl, and whilst he may not quite have figured out his style in the ring he already looks like a special talent.
What a year Andy Hiraoka has had! We featured him in week 26, when he was then 13-0 (9) and since then he has scored the biggest win of his career, signed with Top Rank and made his US debut. The talented 140lb'der showed he could go 10, as he did in victory over Akihiro Kondo, and looked very good in his American show case in November.
Another man who has had a great year is Toshiya Ishii, who was covered in week 33. He made his debut in April, took the unbeaten record of Fumiya Fuse in August then took the Japanese Youth Bantamweight title in December. His win Fuse, who we covered in an introducing article in week 4 was impressive but his war with Ishikawa was something special and we advise all fans to give that a watch.
In week 34 we looked at Yudai Shigeoka and although he didn't debut for a few weeks after that he has shone since some much. His debut was an easy win over a Thai, but despite the ease of the win he showed so much ability, brilliant crisp punching, fantastic movement and ring IQ. He then followed that up with a win over Lito Dante and looks set to have a monstrous 2020, following in his brother's footsteps.
In week 9 we looked at Yoji Saito, who entered the year 1-1 (1) and looked like a huge punching monster. He fought twice in 2019, and went 0-0-2. Notably his first bout of the year, a draw with Aso Ishiwaki, looks very good on reflection and Ishiwaki used that bout as a great opportunity to shine, and was the focus of his own "Introducing" in week 38!
In week 17 we discussed Tsubasa Murachi and his year is a really tricky one to try and dissect. On one hand he impressed, in his win over Raymong Tabugon, and there was clearly skill and ambition with the youngster. But on the other hand he ended the year in September, following a brutal KO loss to Froilan Saludar, and the road back up to that level is going to be a rough journey for the 22 year old. Don't write him off, but he's going to have to go back to the drawing board.
Another man who is hard to get a good read on was Kai Ishizawa who may take more credit from his loss to Masataka Taniguchi in September, than most fighters take from a win. He was fantastic in defeat, he showed his toughness, his braveness, his power and his will to win. Sadly he lacked in technical areas, and Taniguchi was too good for him, but the reality is that both men came out with enhanced reputations. Sadly it was still a loss, and his one other bout this year was a blow out against an over-matched Indonesian
We love watching Christiano Aoqui, who we introduced in week 40, and despite a loss to Daishi Nagata following our article it's hard to write off the hard hitting Japanese-Brazilian, who has lost in the past and bounced back. He's never going to be a world beater but we expect him to remain in the domestic title mix next year.
Well we got that one wrong
In week 35 we spoke about the return of Teppei Kayanuma, who was supposed to fight in September. Though didn't. And we're not totally sure why. We are hoping that changes, and that he does return to the ring, but with more than 3 years since his last bout it now seems unlikely.
For week 46 we spoke about Dominique Kenshin, by this point we were trying to tweak the formula slightly and pick fighters who were in action during the week of the article, and as a result felt Kenshin was the man to cover. That was the wrong choice and he was was stopped in a round by Hiro Ichimichi. He's not fought since, and being honest he has a lot of work to do, in every part of his boxing.
Changes Will be Made
So as for 2020, "Introducing..." is changing. We are taking it more international, and instead of being exclusively Japanese fighters, as it was in 2019, we will be looking around Asia for fighters to cover. Whilst the key focus will, again, be prospects, we aren't going to be too rigid in that and we'll look at covering other fighters we find interesting as the year goes on. This could mean anyone from novice, to journeyman, fringe contender to prospects. The only fighters we'll not cover in this section are clear world level fighters. We want to shine a light on a fighter without much attention, and the hope is that we help a bring a fans attention to a fighter they aren't aware of. In 2019 we generally had good success picking our prospects, and we hope that continues in 2020.
See you in the new year for the next "Introducing...", and the next chance to see a light shined on a fighter you may not have even knew existed!
(Image credits - Kadoebi and Teiken)
So the year is coming to a close, and this will be our final weekly awards for 2019! Despite this being the last one of the year there really wasn't all that much worthy of discussion sadly, but with Christmas in the middle of the week we were never expecting too much to speak about here. Thankfully though we did get one big show at the start of the week, and a splattering of bouts here and there, to fill things up.
Fighter of the Week
Ryota Murata (16-2, 13)
Japanese Middleweight Ryota Murata completed his year of redemption in style, not only beating Steve Butler, but stopping him, breaking him both physically and mentally along the way. Murata took the best shots of Butler, and walked through them, making a feared puncher question themselves before chipping away at them with heavy shots. It was an expected win, but one that was still impressive, smart and a signal of intent. The fact it was followed by huge statements from Bob Arum about getting Murata a major name at the Tokyo Dome in 2020 just added to the whole week for the 2012 Olympic gold medal winner.
Performance of the Week
Kenshiro Teraji (17-0, 10)
When a fighter drops a world class opponent 4 times, in 4 rounds, all from body shots, then it's hard not to be impressed. We won't pretend it was a flawless performance from Kenshiro, but his victory over Randy Petalcorin was very impressive. He hardly seemed to get out of second gear and still broke down a very accomplished rival, who had gone 7 rounds with the dangerous Felix Alvarado in 2018. To have this level of performance with all the changes going on, a change of opponent and a change in whether the bout was being televised live in Japan or not, showed that no matter you through at him, Kenshiro Teraji finds a way to adapt.
Akira Yaegashi Vs Moruti Mthalane
It was the week of the old men! On Saturday American fans got a thriller between Jean Pascal and Badou Jack, a genuine global Fight of the Year contender and another example of why end of year awards should wait until the end of the damn year! A few days earlier fans who follow the Asian scene got a similar, though less competitive treat, as Akira Yaegashi and Moruti Mthalane gave us a thrilling 9 round war. The bout had it all. It had skills, it had action, it had intensity, exchanges, raw violence, drama, both men looking hurt. This was, in many ways, what you'd expect of a 36 year old Yaegashi, and was a great pre-Christmas treat!
Akira Yaegashi Vs Moruti Mthalane (round 4)
The round of the week, came from the fight of the week, and boy what a round it was. It was the round that really began the start of the end for Yaegashi, who showed he was willing to fight the wrong fight, but it was also the round that sent nothing but adrenaline through the veins of everyone watching. This was high octane, back and forth thrilling stuff, the sort of action that has helped make Yaegashi one of boxing cult fan favourites. Sadly for the Japanese warrior he was just up against a more defensively smart, less shop worn, smarter, more accurate and heavier handed South African genius and this wasn't going to be the way Yaegashi was ever going to win.
Musheg Adoian KO2 Noppadol Khongchana
The obvious choice this week was Ryota Murata's win over Steven Butler, which was a fantastic looking KO. That however was pipped on the final day of the week by an obscure, but brutal KO by Thai based Armenian-Russian puncher Musheg Adoian in Singapore, as he took out Noppadol Khongchana. This was genuinely brutal, as a right hand from Adoian knocked the Thai clean out. This was another, of the many highlights shared this year by our good friend @Hock1717, who is well and truly worth a follow by all boxing fans.
Ju Wu (9-0-2)
Chinese youngster Ju Wu is not someone many would have expected to see on the final weekly award article, but it's hard to ignore just what he did on December 26th. Not only did he make his European debut, but he actually took a win, in Switzerland, against the local favourite Alain Chervet, winning a solid upset. The Chinese fighter boxed wonderfully in Berne and recorded his third solid win of the year. After drawing 2 of his first 3 career bouts the youngster has developed fantastically. Fingers crossed that he'll develop some confidence in his power, and build on his punching power in 2020 as that's the one area he's lacking at the moment.
Ginjiro Shigeoka (4-0, 3) vs Rey Loreto (25-14, 17)
Although this fight won't be made immediately available to watch it's impossible to deny just how much we are looking forward to this one! It's a gut test for Japanese youngster Ginjiro Shigeoka, as he defends his WBO Asia Pacific Minimumweigt title against a former world title challenger. Despite their being world title fights coming up this one has us much, much more interested than the those world title bouts, and we are really interested to see what happens here, in a fantastic contest to end 2019.
The final part of December, in fact the final part of 2019 and the last part of the decade, is set to go out with a bang as we get a lot of action in the last few days.
Sho Ishida (28-1, 15) vs Israel Gonzalez (24-3, 11) - Osaka, Japan
In a really meaningful bout in Osaka we'll see two former world title challengers clash in an IBF Super Flyweight world title eliminator. In one corner will be Japan's Sho Ishida, looking to secure his second title fight, whilst his opponent is aggressive Mexican Israel Gonzalez, who has come up short twice in world title bouts. On paper Ishida, with home advantage, will be favoured but Gonzalez is no push over and will have travelled with the intention of not just winner, but of setting up a second clash with IBF champion Jerwin Ancajas. We expect this to be really exciting bout, and Gonzalez is better than he looked against Ancajas.
Joe Shiraishi (9-0-1, 4) Vs Jukiya Washio (7-4-1, 2) - Osaka, Japan
In a Japanese Youth title fight we'll see Japanese Youth Flyweight champion Joe Shiraishi defending his title against Jukiya Washio. The talented, yet relatively unknown Shiraishi, is slowly making a name for himself and a win here would help push him towards a potential domestic title fight in next year or two. For Washio this is a second title fight, and whilst he is the under-dog, he's a live fighter who will be in there to win. This could be a very fun, if some what over-looked, bout.
Tokyo, Japan [TBS - Live]
Kazuto Ioka (24-2, 14) Vs Jeyvier Cintron (10-1-0-1, 5) -Tokyo, Japan
In what will be the final world title bout of the decade WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka will defend his title, for the first time, and take on mandatory challenger Jeyvier Cintron. Ioka won the title earlier this year, when he stopped Aston Palicte, to become the first Japanese man to become a 4-weight world champion, and will be looking to end a fantastic decade as a champion. For Cintron this will be his first title bout and is a huge step up from the competition he has been facing.
Kosei Tanaka (14-0, 8) vs Wulan Tuolehazi (13-3-1, 6) -Tokyo, Japan
Rising Japanese star Kosei Tanaka looked poor last time out, when he scored his second defense of WBO Flyweight title with a win over Jonthan Gonzalez, and will be hoping for a better performance here as he takes on Chinese challenger Wulan Tuolehazi. The Chinese challenger has been a thorn in the side of Japanese boxing recently, and with wins against the likes of Ryota Yamauchi and Takeshi Kaneko, but this is a massive step up in class for him. Win or lose it's expected that Tanaka will move up in weight shortly and hunt a world title at Super Flyweight in the new year.
Miyo Yoshida (13-1) vs Li Ping Shi (5-2, 2) - Tokyo, Japan
A third world title bout on this card will see WBO Female Super Flyweight champion Miyo Yoshida hunt her first defense. The talented Yoshida will be looking to defend the title she won earlier in the year, when she out pointed Casey Morton, as she takes on aggressive Chinese challenger Li Ping Shi. Although Yoshida will be the favourite here, we do suspect that Shi will be there to win, and she could be a real nightmare for the champion with her aggression and physicality.
Ginjiro Shigeoka (4-0, 3) Vs Rey Loreto (25-14, 17) -Tokyo, Japan
Prospect of the year contender Ginjiro Shigeoka looks to end the year with his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Minimumweight title, as he takes on former world title challenger Rey Loreto. The 20 year old Shigeoka has looked fantastic since making his debut but this is a massive step against a heavy handed, tough and expected fighter who has score a number of upsets during his career. A win for Shigeoka would take see him take a huge step towards a world title fight in the new year, whilst a win for Loreto would be another upset victory for the unpredictable Pinoy puncher.
Yusaku Kuga (19-3-1, 13) vs Jhunriel Ramonal (16-8-6, 9) - Tokyo, Japan
Another WBO Asia Pacific title fight will see heavy handed Japanese fighter Yusaku Kuga take on Filipino slugger Jhunriel Ramonal for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Super Bantamweight title. For Kuga it's a chance to become a double champion, adding the belt to the Japanese title he won earlier this year, whilst Ramonal is looking to build on his huge upset win over Shingo Wake. We suspect this could be a genuinely explosive fight, between two hard hitting fighters who will both be looking to the title and a KO win. We expect this to be a lot of fun.
Marina Sayama (4-1-1, 2) vs Yume Hirayama (4-0)- Tokyo, Japan
One more title fight to close out the year will see Marina Sayama and Yume Hirayama battle for the vacant Japanese female Flyweight title, in what will be a second bout between the two women. The first time these two met Hirayama beat Sayama with a decision over 4 rounds, and if she does the same here she'll be a champion at the age of just 19! On the other hand Sayama is a former football player, and a win here would see her become a rare case of a competitor being a success in different sports.
As we head towards a new year we've decided to look into our glass balls, our tea leaves and our palms to come up with 20 predictions which will be posted over the coming weeks for what we think will happen in 2020. So far our predictions haven't been the best though they've not all been wrong.
In 2013 we predicted that Naoya Inoue, his brother Takuma and Kosei Tanaka would all win world titles. Between them they've won a few world titles, though Takuma has yet to win a proper world title. That same year we also predicted a growth in Chinese boxing, and this arguably happened despite the fact the Macau side of things has died off. We also predicted a growth in Asian fighters making a name for themselves in the US, this was before Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, Naoya Inoue or Kazuto Ioka had fought on US soil, and before the wave of Uzbek's had began to attract US attention.
Unlike the past, where we have made all of our predictions in 1 article, we'll be spreading these ones out with 1 prediction per article, and going more in depth than we have in the past.
PREDICTION 1 : Ginjiro Shigeoka to win a world title in 2020
The Minimumweight division has long been a maligned weight class, where casual western fans are happy to turn their nose up at the action, despite it's quality and excitement. Despite that we do have a lot of talent in the ranks at 105lbs and 108lbs. Among the talent there is young super stud Ginjiro Shigeoka, who we are predicting to win a world title in 2020.
At the time of writing Shigeoka is 4-0 (3) but has impressed so much in those 4 fights that a world title fight as early as summer isn't out of the realms of possibility, though we suspect it will be later in the year. It does however depend on how he looks on New Year's Eve when he faces former world title challenger Rey Loreto, in what is a very good test for the youngster at this stage in his career, and if he can stop Loreto he may well end up with a world title shot as early as Spring.
The former amateur standout, who went 56-1 in the unpaid ranks, would likely be the under-dog against any of the 4 world champions if he faced them tomorrow. However with another bout or two, including the Loreto bout, under his belt, and if Watanabe could secure him home advantage, we could see the odds swing his way very quickly.
If we were guiding the youngster the only champion we would advise Ginjiro away from is IBF champion Pedro Taduran, who looks a stylistic nightmare for the youngster, but the likes of Wanheng Menayoythin, Knockout CP Freshmart and Wilfredo Mendez shouldn't be seen as unbeatable, and Shigeoka may well be ready for any of that trio sooner rather than later.
The talent is there, the power is there, the aggression is there, the style is there. The only thing lacking at the moment is the experience, but that will come through the year, and a world title being over Shigeoka's shoulder wouldn't be a surprise at all by the times the bells ring on December 31st 2020.
(Image courtesy of Watanabe Gym)
One of the areas of professional boxing that has started to get more and more attention in recent years has been Japan, thanks in a big part to Naoya Inoue's growing success, and the great work CBC have done in making Kosei Tanaka fights widely available. Whilst a lot of the emerging Japanese talent is competing in the lower weight classes it doesn't change the fact the country is over-flowing with talented youngsters all looking to make their name and become one of the countries next big stars.
With that in mind it seems the perfect time to try and predict who will be the next big Japanese star, and bring attention to 5 of Japan's brightest young prospects.
Although Shigeoka has only had 4 bouts it's impossible not to be impressed by what he has shown. He's an aggressive yet intelligent fighter, he presses well, has amazingly crisp punches, switches between head and body with ease and has nasty spiteful power, something we don't often see at 105lbs. Going forward the one issue will be a question of how much weight he can add to his frame, and at just over 5' he likely doesn't have the frame to hit the weights which get Western attention. Still he looks like a nailed future world champion, and we're really excited to see how his brother, Yudai Shigeoka goes with his career as well.
Kuwahara began his career as a Light Flyweight, but has now moved up to the Flyweight division and the reality is that he's grown into the 112lb weight class. It's fair to say Flyweight is currently a division that lacks in terms of depth, unlike Light Flyweight and Super Flyweight, and there's no reason why Kuwahara can't have a big 2020 and pick up a national or regional title as he climbs towards a potential world title fight in the next year or two.
Nakano looks to be a man with a real understanding of the ring, understands his advantages, and how to use them effectively. He's a very sharp puncher, a smart boxer and although he's certainly not untouchable he minimises the effect of shots when he has to take them. Fighting out of the Teiken gym it's clear he's getting top sparring, and with Kenichi Ogawa, Masaru Sueyoshi and Shuya Masaki there is real talent at the Featherweight and Super Featherweight divisions in the gym. Unlike many youngsters Nakano isn't in love with his power, but knows how to deliver it to head and body.
Although not a big puncher Iwata looks to have enough power in his shots to get the respect of his opponents, and combines that with brilliant footwork, handspeed, movement and a very smart boxing brain. There is obviously a feeling that he will be moved quickly, as most promising Japanese fighters are in the lower weights, and he's already in the JBC rankings, however we don't expect him to be fighting for a title for another year or two due to the depth at 108lbs.
Suzuki looked fantastic on debut, showing great composure, defense, stamina and clean punching to beat the dangerous Antonio Siesmundo last November. Since then he has notched 2 more wins, taking a decision over Filipino Kelvin Tenorio and stopping Kosuke Arioka. After just 3 fights he is already ranked by both the OPBF and the JBC and has proven to a be a strong fighter 140lb, never mind 135lbs.
Limiting this list to 5 was incredibly difficult, given the likes of Ryota Yamauchi, Yuki Yamauchi, Seiya Tsutsumi, Rikito Shiba, Shu Utsuki, Tomoya Ishii, Kuntae Lee, Ryu Horikawa and so many others. What this proves, more than anything, is the depth in Japan and the future is very, very bright for fight fans in the Land of the Rising Sun.
Although the last week has lacked world title bouts for Asian fighters it has been a exciting one, with several fantastic shows from around the continent. Better yet a lot of those shows were available to watch, with YTV, Boxingraise and Paravi all having cards from Japan available live. That has allowed us a good feel for what has been an unheralded week of action, and a week that has seen more attention given to the negative issues of boxing.
Fighter of the Week
Ginjiro Shigeoka (4-0, 3)
The fighter of the week, for us, was teenage sensation Ginjiro Shigeoka, who only needed 72 seconds to wipe out Clyde Azarcon and become the new WBO Asia Pacific Minimumweight champion. The youngster, who has been hyped since his debut, was expected to be asked serious questions by the much taller and more experienced Azarcon, but a great body shot put the Filipino down for the count and it's now clear that Shigeoka is deserving of the plaudits. This kid isn't just good, he's very, very special and it's going to be hard to predict just how far he can go.
Performance of the Week
Ginjiro Shigeoka (4-0, 3)
For a second week running our Fighter and Performance awards are won by the same fighter. Last week it was a man who, at the age of 40, is coming to the end of his career, rolling back the clock to score one of his most notable wins to date. We wouldn't say Pacquiao's win over Thurman was one of his best, but at the age of 40 it was notable. For Shigeoka however it was picking up his first regional title after just 10 months as a professional that impressed and taking out a fighter who appeared to have so many advantages, so quickly, so easily, really was a performance that made us realise this kid is for real. Shigeoka has predicted a 4th or 5th round finish, but even he has to have been impressed by finding the killer blow after just over a minute.
Jin Minamide (3-0, 3) Vs Tetsu Araki (14-1-1, 2)
The God's Left Bantamweight tournament is a really good idea, a brilliant concept in fact and we can't wait for the other divisions to be covered, something that has been announced but yet to be put into action. The best bout from the recent quarter finals was the 6 round war between Jin Minamide and Tetsu Araki. On paper this was, by far, the best of the quarter final bouts and it delivered in the best way, giving us competitive, exciting action right through the contest. This won't go down as a Fight of the Year contender, but it will go down as a fantastic example of what good match making and a shared winners mentality can give us.
Jin Minamide vs Tetsu Araki (Rd6)
The fight of the week also had the round of the week, with the 6th round of Minamide's bout with Araki being insane, bloody, wild, exciting action. It wasn't a pretty round, and wasn't a round you'd show to any prospect looking to develop their skills form watching a battle, but it was amazing.The round was 3 minutes of violent chaos, with the final seconds just having the two men stand and trade blows in what may go down as the Japanese sequence of the year. This was brilliant and well worth the Boxing Raise subscription price for the month.
Unfortunately no KO really stood out, though Shigeoka's KO of Azarcon with a body shot was impressive it wasn't really something we felt deserved a KO of the week award.
Yusuke Mine (1-0)
Turning professional after a notable amateur career can be tricky, especially to deliver a great performance on your debut. For Yusuke Mine the biggest issue he had was a cut caused by the head of Jesel Guardario, a cut that curtailed the bout in round 4. Prior to the conclusion Mine showed a lot to get excited about, with his skills, movement, timing and jab, a really clean and crisp jab. The youngster would likely have wanted to score a stoppage here, and failed, but did look every bit of a super prospect, and it's clear that the Mutoh Gym will be pushing him hard going forward.
Kazuto Takesako (10-0-1, 10) vs Shuji Kato (10-1-2, 6) II
This coming week we see a lot of really interesting match ups, including two really intriguing rematches. One of those is rematch between Koki Eto and Jeyvier Cointron and the other is the Japanese Middleweight title bout between Kazuto Takesako and Shuji Kato. We're picking the second one of those bouts as out one to watch due to the fact their first one was so brilliant. Their first didn't end with any weird and bizarre ending was instead a 10 round war that swung one way then the other, with Takesako narrowly retaining his title with a draw. We know these two are well matched, we know they are ultra-competitive and we know we could be set for something very, very special.
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