The last 7 days have been relatively quiet in the world of Asian boxing, with little in terms of noteworthy shows, but with December looming there is a lot around the corner, a lot to be excited about, and potentially some late contenders for Fight of the Year.
1-John Riel Casimero
Although not always the most professional of fighters, or the most consistent, John Riel Casimero showed what he could do, again, as he travelled over to England and stopped Zolani Tete to become the new WBO Bantamweight champion. Casimero, now a 3-weight world champion, immediately called out Naoya Inoue and seems like the sort of fighter who genuinely wants to fight the best, rather than just talk about fighting the best. It was great to see Casimero win and even better to see him actively calling out Inoue.
2-Korea is live and kicking
It may have been obvious, given the low level of the fights, but there was a card in Korea in the past Saturday. More notable than that card was the announcement of a quadruple header in January, a title fight in late December and the full details of Hyun Mi Choi's unification bout with Maiva Hamadouche. Korean boxing is still not it was, and probably never will be, but this past week has proven their is still life left in the country's boxing scene and fingers crossed that will grow and grow in 2020.
3-Taiwan has Talent
Whilst Korean boxing seems to be growing again after years of inactivity we're just as excited about the activity we saw in Taiwan this past Saturday....or rather the activity of two Taiwanese fighters. Whilst the wins by Daisuke Sugita and Ryoichi Tamura are the two which got the attention of fans watching the show we loved the look of Yi Hung Chiang, who looks so excited, and Kai Ting Chuang, who looked so polished for a debutant. Taiwan might not be a country known for it's boxing scene but with these two emerging through the ranks we are excited to see what happens with Taiwanese boxing over the coming years.
1- Haasan Mwakinyo Vs Arnel Tinampay
Oh where do we start here? The bout had issues before the opening bell, with the fighters having their gloves changed before a punch was thrown, the online feed went down, the bell rang early a number of times and the judging all made this feel very amateurish. Given that the Tanzanian boxing market is relatively obscure it may well be a good idea for them to bring in officials from abroad to try and help them develop their know how. If they bring in some Japanese judges and for example, like Dubai has for their shows, things could be a lot smoother. If they can smooth off some of those rough edges there is real potential for Tanzania to become a notable scene. Sadly though images like the ones from Friday night are more likely to do harm than good.
2- JR Magboo
The Filipino fighter was far too happy to take his loss on Saturday against Yongqiang Yang for us to say anything positive. Had this been a his first loss that would have been one thing, but this is was his third stoppage loss in 4 fights, all in round 2. It very much feels like he will give it a go for a round, if that fails he will just accept a loss when he has an excuse to go down. Inb his last 5 fights he has either scored a win in the first round, or accepted a second round loss. In his 19 fights prior that 5 fight stretch he had never been stopped, and had been very competitive with the likes of Jhon Gemino and Jhunriel Ramonal.
3- The officiating of Tamura Vs Yor
Whilst we loved seeing the two Taiwanese youngsters show what they could do the officiating of the Ryouchi Tamura Vs Moensaku Yor fight, we believe by referee Yuji Fukuchi, left a lot to be desired. Tamura was never in any trouble, at all, but he should have been warned for hitting Yor when he was down. This wasn't a one off blow from Tamura but instead several shots when Yor was down. We understand the referee not disqualifying Tamura, but he could, or rather should, had admonished the Japanese fighter.
The balls on Andres Gutierrez must be massive! The Super Featherweight, or should that be Welterweight, missed weight to face Oscar Valdez, by 11lbs. He wasn't just above the divisional limit, but was above the limit 2 divisions higher! From what we understand Bob Arum kicked him out of the hotel and sent him packing back off home. The bout for Valdez was saved in the end by Adam Lopez, though in reality Valdez almost slipped up against a late replacement and no one won out of this whole situation.
Over the last few years British referees have become a huge joke. They've earned a reputation for early stoppage, when it favours the promoter, carrying fighters back to the corner, like we saw when Nathan Cleverly fought Sergey Kovalev, and allowing some fights to just continue for no reason, like Shannon Briggs being allowed to go 12 rounds with Vitali Klitschko. This weekend it was Steve Gray's chance to embarrass himself. He did everything he could do give Zolani Tete some help, holding Tete up, letting Tete go on when he should have been stopped, several times, and was so busy pushing Casimero to the neutral corner that he couldn't hide what he was doing. The reality is that, for Tete's health, this should have been stopped after the first knockdown. Allowing it to continue was serving the South Africa no favours. Very, very poor refereeing that could have ended up with much worse results.
(Images courtesy of boxingnews.jp and boxmob.jp)
This past week has certainly not been a banner week for Asian boxing, or boxing in general, but there was more than enough to talk about, and some stuff that was well hidden, hey we're looking at you Korea!
Fighter of the Week
John Riel Casimero (29-4, 20)
Filipino warrior John Riel Casimero has long been a road warrior, a true "had gloves, will travel, and fight anywhere" kind of fighter. Despite being one of the best road warriors in world boxing he has also been a fighter who blows hot and cold. When he's on fire he is excellent, but as we saw against Jonas Sultan in 2017 he can also turn up and not care about what happens in the ring. Thankfully he showed how hot he can be, at least for around a minute, as he claimed the WBO Bantamweight title and stopped Zolanu Tete to claim one of his biggest career wins.
Performance of the Week
John Riel Casimero (29-4, 20)
It's rare that a "Performance of the Week" will go to a man who really did nothing for 2 rounds but, lets be honest, what Casimero did in the third round made up for the nothingness of the first 2. He dropped Tete with a fantastic right hand just over a minute into the round and never let Tete back into things, in fact really the referee should have stopped things there and then. It was an awful showing by the referee but a brilliant round of destruction by Casimero.
Lei Wang vs Marlon Paniamogan
If we're being totally honest this past week was a weird one. There was little to really get excited about and looking for a fight that stood out, on a quiet week to begin with, was always going to be a struggle. Other than Casimero's bout with Tete nothing really got the juices flowing going into the week, and given how nothing happened for 2 rounds of that fight it massively under-delivered as an actual fight. Thankfully we did get some fun and games in China with Lei Wang and Marlon Paniamogan putting on a fun fight in Qingdao. Paniamogan brought the fight, walked through bombs and refused to go down, whilst Wang showed off some real skills. This wasn't a fight of the year contender, but it was the best of a weak bunch in a poor week of fights.
Hyun Je Baek vs Joo Hwan Suh (2)
With no major bout delivering a round to get excited about we had to turn out attention to a club level Korean show, and in fairness they do tend to deliver great action at the very lowest of levels. That was shown again this week when Hyun Je Baek and Joo Hwan Suh just stood their ground and lets shots fly. This was the sort of fight that trainers would hate their fighters for getting involved in, but for a week that was so lacking in action this was a highlight. Sadly the round involved a fight ending headclash that ended in a technical draw. Regardless what we got here was fun!
No suitable contender
It should be noted that whilst there was no suitable KO this week, the right hand that Casimero dropped Tete with was easily the punch of the week. A brute of a shot!
Yi Hung Chiang (4-0, 3)
The obvious choice for Prospect of the Week would have been Andy Hiraoka, who made his US debut with a quick win on the Top Rank show on Saturday night. We, however, have never been one for sticking with the obvious when someone else deserves a mention and the reality is that we were really impressed by two novice Taiwanese fighters. One of those was the debuting Kai Ting Chuang and the other was Yi Hung Chiang, who looked so exciting that it was hard to not be impressed. We don't imagine either fighter reaching the top of the sport, something Hiraoka could potentially do, but we do expect to be thoroughly entertained every time we see Chiang in action.
Joe Noynay (18-2-1, 7) vs Kenichi Ogawa (24-1, 18)
There may be bigger and better bouts out there next week, including a world title fight in Mexico and an interim world title fight in the US, but the one we are looking forward to the most is the WBO Asia Pacific title bout between Joe Noynay and Kenichi Ogawa. This year has been a huge one for Noynay, and another win here puts him well and truly in the world title mix, whilst Ogawa is still battling to redeem himself following his failed drug test in 2017. We expect explosive action here, and this should be a little bit of a gem in a very, very busy day of fights.
Maybe it's just me but it's beginning to feel rather chilly, and the weeks are starting to become more and more packed with fights! It must mean we're heading towards December, when this are really set to go a little bit crazy! This past week has been a stellar week for action, and although we've not had any massive names fighting we have seen several great fights, amazing rounds a big upset and a world champion retaining his belt. Sure this past week hasn't been the best, but it's been very, very solid.
Fighter of the Week
Can Xu (18-2, 3)
The fighter of the week was an easy one this week with China's Can Xu showing us what a fighter does. The light punching WBA Featherweight champion controlled the previously unbeaten Manny Robles III with output, and although Xu couldn't get the stoppage he hurt Robles a number of times late in the bout. Xu might not be the most amazing fighter in the sport but in 2019 he has quickly become one of the most must watch fighters on the planet, and he showed his all action style against Robles. Whether boxing on the front foot or the back foot Xu unloads so much leather that it's hard to take your eyes off him, and the way he challenged Josh Warrington straight after his win shows his desire to become the best in the division. A fantastic performance by one of Asian boxing's true gems.
Performance of the Week
Shingo Kusano (12-8-1, 5)
Being dropped twice in the opening round of a 6 round fight would mark the end for most, but for Shingo Kusano it seemed to do the opposite. Instead of wilting following a 10-7 round Kusano steadied himself, dug deep and went on to break down Qiang Ma in a thrilling bout at Korakuen Hall. Kusano isn't a world beater, in fact we suspect he loses next time our when he competes in a tournament semi-final bout, but that really doesn't change the fact that his performance this week was excellent and he really did deserve his victory after such a horror start.
Jae Woo Lee vs Tsuyoshi Tameda
Whilst the Kusano Vs Ma bout was a brave fight back through adversity from Kusano it wasn't even the best bout on the show. That honour fell to the intense and incredible war between Korean fighter Jae Woo Lee and Japanese slugger Tsuyoshi Tameda. Any other month of the year this would likely be nailed on for fight of the month honours. It was two guys who both came with the same gameplan, and that gameplan was to throw bombs on the inside, to fight with fire, and to try and break down the other man. This ended up having styles that gelled instantly and from the opening bell to the eventual ending this was a fire fight. If you like inside wars this is really a must watch fight, and saw hooks and uppercuts being thrown shot after shot, with little use, from either man, for a jab. Exceptional, yet short, war!
Jae Woo Lee vs Tsuyoshi Tameda (2)
Given the way the Lee Vs Tameda fight was fought either of the first 2 rounds could have been the round of the week, with both rounds being nothing short of breath taking, none stop action. This is what we watch boxing for! We favoured the second, over the first, as it seemed both ended the round having been damaged at some point. Lee had been rocked early in the round and Tameda ended the round bloodied. But both rounds should be considered among the very finest rounds of action we've had in 2019.
Jhon Gemino KO5 Arnold Alejandro
We didn't have a lot of clan KO's this week, despite how much action we had, but there was one or two, with one really standing out. That standout was Filipino fighter Jhon Gemino taking out the previously unbeaten Arnold Alejandro in the US in spectacular fashion. A huge right hand from Gemino landed as flush as could be on Alejandro, breaking his nose and cleaning his clock. This was a thunder bolt of a right hand. Whilst the result was an upset we can't say it was a huge shock as Gemino is building himself a reputation as a fighter who regularly scores upsets, and this was his third big away from home in less than 12 months! Still in terms of the wonder of the KO it will go down as one of his best.
Ryusei Kawaura (7-0, 4)
Despite there being a lot of action this past week there really wasn't a lot of fighters we'd describe as being prospects. The one man who did fulfil the description of a prospect was Ryusei Kawaura, who continued his careful be intelligent climb up the rankings as he over-came Joy Joy Formentera of the Philippines. This bout was a great test for the unbeaten Japanese fighter and he had to be on point through out an excellent 8 round chess match. He's not a well known prospect, in the grand scheme of things, but Kawaura is certainly one to keep an eye on in 2020.
Zolani Tete (28-3, 21) Vs John Riel Casimero (28-4, 19)
Next week is another without a massive name in Asian boxing in action, but it is a week that has a massive fight, as South African Zolani Tete takes on Filipino John Riel Casimero in a mouth watering WBO Bantamweight title clash. This is a huge fight and the winner instantly finds themselves in the Inoue sweepstakes. Tete hasn't looked great in recent bouts, and is coming back from an injury, and Casimero does blow hot and cold but we still expect this to be a very exciting and entertaining bout over in sunny England!
Although November has been a rather bitty month, with a great start and a weak middle, there is plenty to be excited about in the last couple of weeks of the month, with a very interesting mix of fights coming through in what's left of the month.
Eruka Hiromoto (5-0) vs Sana Hazuki (7-4-1, 2) - Yamaguchi, Japan
In Yamaguchi on the 17th we'll see OPBF female Minimumweight champion Eruka Hiromoto defending her title for the first time, as she takes on the aggressive Sana Hazuki in a very interesting match up. The teenage champion looked less than spectacular in her title win, but is a very clear talent with a lot of potential and ambition, and her team have spoken about her challenging for a world title in 2020. Hazuki isn't a big name but she's a handful at this type of level, win or lose, and she could be the sort of fighter who makes Hiromoto pay for her lack of power.
Riku Kano (15-4-1, 8) Vs Tetsuya Mimura (8-1, 1) - Kobe, Japan
Former world title challenger Riku Kano looks to continue his career rebuild as he takes on the once beaten Tetsuya Mimura, a 2018 Rookie of the Year finalist. This should be a really interesting fight between two talented youngsters, and although it's unlikely to end early it is a really meaningful fight, and the winner will almost certainly see themselves in the mix for some form of regional title in 2020.
Daud Yordan (39-4-0-1, 27) Vs Michael Mokoena (15-4, 10) - Batu, Indonesia
It's hard to deny that we all love Daud Yordan, the Indian veteran has been flying the flag almost solo for Indonesian boxing the last few years. Here we see him look to claim the WBO Oriental Light Welterweight title as he takes on Tanzania's Michael Mokoena. We suspect Yordan will have to much for Mokoena, but the Indonesian has taken a lot of punishment during his long career and he could end up feeling the effects of that long career at any point.
Ongen Saknosiwi (7-0, 7) vs Marco Demecillo (24-8-1, 19) - Batu, Indonesia
Whilst Yordan has flown the flag solo for Indonesian boxing several prospecta have come and gone, including the likes of Iwan Zoda, Defry Palulu and most recently Jon Jon Jet. The latest rising Indonesian looking to make their mark is Ongen Saknosiwi, who takes a massive leap up in class here as he faces Filipino veteran Marco Demecillo. A win here will give Saknosiwi's career a monster boost and put him on the fast track, whilst a loss will see him become the latest Indonesian prospect to have his career derailed before it really got going.
Can Xu (17-2, 3) vs Manny Robles III (18-0, 8) - California, USA
One of the biggest bouts from the second half of November will see China's Can Xu defending his WBA Featherweight title against the unbeaten Manny Robles III. On paper this looks brilliant, and in the ring we expect it to be even better. Xu, despite his lack of power, is a very strong fighter who walks through hell fire and brimstone if he needs to. Robles is a more technically capable fighter, but often finds himself fighting the wrong fight and if he gets into a war with Xu we could have a legitimate contender for Fight of the Year on our hands. Xu's pressure will be key as will Robles' concentration, and we are expecting a very, very fan friendly bout here.
Zolani Tete (28-3, 21) v John Riel Casimero (28-4, 19) - West Midlands, United Kingdom
Another world title towards the end of the month will see South African fighter Zolani Tete return to face Filipino John Riel Casimero. Tete, who has been out of the ring for more than a year, enters the bout as the WBO Bantamweight champion whilst Casimero is the interim champion and will be looking to pick up another big win on the road. Coming in to this both men will be looking at a potential showdown with WBA and IBF champion Naoya Inoue, and will need to win here to keep that potential bout alive.
Zhilei Zhang (20-0, 16) Vs Sergey Kuzmin (15-1, 11) - Monte Carlo, Monaco
There is, of course, something about the Heavyweight division that intrigues us all and we'll actually have a rare bout with an Asian interest in the division at the end of November when unbeaten Chinese hopeful Zhilei Zhang take on once beaten Russian Sergey Kuzmin. Both of these fighters were former amateur standouts, and although both are the wrong side of 30 this could still be a very significant bout, with the winner likely to find themselves in the world title mix. Sadly coming into this Zhang has been out of the ring for more than a year whilst Kuzmin was beaten last time out, with both of those facts taking some shine off what this contest could have been 6 months ago.
Andy Hiraoka (14-0, 9) v Rogelio Casarez (13-8, 5) - Nevada, USA
Unbeaten Ohashi gym prospect Andy Hiraoka makes his US debut at the end of the month as he takes on Rogelio Casarez in what looks like an easy introduction to the American boxing scene. Hiraoka, a Japanese-Ghanaian fighter, has trained over in the US in the past and is regarded highly in Japan, though this will be a very different test to anythign he's faced before. Casarez will be the under-dog but will come out looking to upset the unbeaten hopeful. A nice teast for Hiraoka's first bout on US soil.
The end of August really is a week where we go out with a bang, with 3 world title bouts and a number of top prospects all in action in the final 7 days of the month!
Kosei Tanaka (13-0, 7) v Jonathan Gonzalez (22-2-1, 13) - Aichi, Japan
Arguably the most interesting of the world title bouts will see WBO Flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka make his second defense as he takes on mandatory challenger Jonathan Gonzalez of Puerto Rico. After a few wars for Tanaka we're now expecting to see him put on a more sound boxing display. Gonzalez is a former amateur stand out, but he has shown vulnerability in his 2 losses and we suspect those vulnerabilities will show again here.
Kento Hatanaka (9-0, 9) v Jaysever Abcede (19-8, 12) - Aichi, Japan
In a really good supporting bout to Tanaka Vs Gonzalez we'll see fast rising Japanese youngster Kento Hatanaka takes on world ranked Filipino Jaysever Abcede. This is a big step up for Hatanaka, but the talented "Prince" is tipped for the top and a win here will help push him into the world rankings. On paper Abcede isn't someone who looks like a challenge for a top prospect but the Filipino has scored recent wins over Stamp Kiatniwat and Seigo Yuri Akui.
John Riel Casimero (27-4, 18) v Cesar Ramirez (18-3, 11) - Metro Manila, Philippines
Staying in Asia we'll see WBO interim Bantamweight champion John Riel Casimero make his first defense, taking on Mexican challenger Cesar Ramirez. The talented Filipino won the title back in April, when he stopped Ricardo Espinoza Franco in the 12th round, and will be further wanting to make his make on the talent packed 118lb division. Ramirez on the other hand is a very limited challenger who has done nothing to earn a shot at a title fight, and was nearly shut out the last time he faced a world class fighter.
Vic Saludar (19-3, 10) v Wilfredo Mendez (13-1, 5) - San Juan, Puerto Rico
In Puerto Rico we'll see former Tanaka opponent Vic Saludar making his second defense of the WBO Minimumweight title as he takes on mandatory challenger Wilfredo Mendez. The under-rated Saludar is a heavy handed boxer-puncher who has really shone in his last two, beating Ryuya Yamanaka and Masataka Taniguchi and despite being on the road, for the third fight in a row, he will again be favoured. Mendez is a talented fighter but is taking a massive step up in class here for what will be his toughest bout, by far.
Shakhram Giyasov (8-0, 6) Vs Darleys Perez (34-4-2, 22) Sonora, Mexico
Unbeaten Uzbek fighter Shakhram Giyasov takes on his most notable opponent to date as he returns to a Mexican ring, for the second time. The talented Giyasov, who didn't look great last time out against Emanuel Taylor, will be up against former world champion Darleys Perez. Giyasov is a talent, and an Olympic silver medal winner, but as a professional it's seemed very much like he either blows opponents away with raw power or struggles. Perez, at his best, was world class, but with a 2-3-3 record in his last 7, with all 3 losses by stoppage, it's hard to know what he has left at this point.
Haruki Ishikawa (7-1, 5) vs Atsushi Takada (6-1-3, 3) - Tokyo, Japan
The Japanese Youth title picture is a really interesting one and although none of the fighters in Yoyuth title bouts are big names they are often emerging talents. In a really good looking JBC Youth Bantamweight title Eliminator we'll see the once beaten Haruki Ishikawa take on Atsushi Takada. The talented Ishikawa suffered his only loss in the 2018 Rookie of the Year final, by majority decision, whilst Takada's only loss was to Tetsu Araki in a Youth title fight. This should be a very good fight.
Fumiya Fuse (8-0, 1) v Toshiya Ishii (1-0, 1) - Tokyo, Japan
Another JBC Youth Bantamweight title eliminator will will see Rookie of the Year winner Fumiya Fuse take on the recently turned professional Toshiya Ishii. The talented Fuse has been impressive since his Rookie of the Year win back in 2017 and has notched some solid wins since his rookie triumph. Ishii on the other hand only debuted back in April but looked excellent on his debut win over Adam Wijaya, though did have a solid amateur career. Despite looking like a mismatch this should be a compelling contest of skills.
The winner of the two eliminators will fight for the vacant title later in the year.
Yuki Nakajima (2-0, 2) vs Ryu Horikawa (1-0, 1) - Tokyo, Japan
On the same card as the two eliminators we'll also see a B Class Tournament bout that pits former amateur standouts against each other, with Yuki Nakajima and Ryu Horikawa facing off. Despite only 3 fights between them this should be a very hotly contest, high skilled battle between two youngsters who, win or lose, will still have a very bright future. The winner of this may "only" have beaten a novice, but will be on the fast track to some much bigger bouts in the very near future.
It's fair to say that April has been an up and down month, rather than a spectacular month. It's given us some really good highlights, but those highlights were spread through the month and often at a relatively lower level. It's not been a bad month, but it instantly looks disappointing given that two of the months biggest bouts were underwhelming, and we have an incredible May just around the corner.
Fighter of the Month
John Riel Casimero (27-4, 18)
The month didn't have a major standout for the Fighter of the Month award, there were a number of contenders, but no one took the month by the scruff of the neck quite like John Riel Casimero. The inconsistent, though hugely talented, Filipino claimed the WBO "interim" Bantamweight title when he score a final round KO win ocer Ricardo Espinoza Franco, in an off TV bout. The bout was level on the cards going into the 12th round, and it really was all to play for, with Casimero turning it on, and taking out the Mexican in the first minute of the round. A great victory and one that instantly puts him in the Bantamweight mix. Potentially Casimero could face Zolani Tete next, in what would be a really good match up between two world class, though often frustrating, fighters.
Fight of the Month
Yoji Saito vs Aso Ishiwaki
Whilst some categories were stacked this month, it's hard to think of a bout that stood out for all the right reasons and was a genuinely good, 50-50 type bout, that didn't end in the opening round, more about that in a minute. Looking back over the month the best of the bunch, for us, was the 6 round thriller between Yoji Saito and Aso Ishiwaki, who really went to war and tried to take each other out. The fight was expected to go Saito's way to begin with, given his amateur pedigree, but Ishiwaki saw off the early storm and was perhaps unfortunate to not take a notable win in what was a thriller. A really good bout, in a month lacking sensational contests.
As we mentioned there was really good 1-round fights, or rather 1 round shoot outs. These included the brilliant Boxing Raise exclusive between Seigo Yuri Akui and Yoshiki Minato, and the similarly entertaining contest between Yuki Yazawa and Kazuki Nakamura.
KO of the Month
Nonito Donaire KO6 Stephon Young
We had a lot of competition in this category, with great KO's scored in Asia by Cristiano Aoqui, Koiki Tyson and Chainoi Worawut, among others. The pick of the KO's however came on a higher level as Nonito Donaire's much famed left hook left Stephon Young looking up at the lights, but with no idea where he was. Donaire, even at the age of 36, may well have the most powerful left hook, pound for pound at least, in the sport and Young just became another victim to the shot. Not only was it a beauty to look at, in it's gorgeous and sudden violence, but it was also incredibly significant, as it put Donaire into the WBSS final later in the year.
Ginjiro Shigeoka (3-0, 1)
One of the toughest categories this week was the Prospect of the Month, with a number of prospects in action, such as Olympic champion Shakhobidin Zoirov, Seiya Tsutsumi, Riku Kunimoto, and our eventual pick, Ginjiro Shigeoka. The Watanabe Wondrer Kid impressed as he beat Joel Lino in what was a huge step up in class, and it seems clear that he learrned more in the bout than many of the other prospects who were in action. He not only learned a lot, but also clearly beat a very talented fighter, and a title bout is surely just around the corner.
Kanehiro Nakagawa vs Seiichi Okada and Masayasu Nakamura vs Tatsuya Takahashi
A real rarity here, but we have a draw here with two genuinely notable upsets, both of which are impossible to split for which is the best or biggest.
On one hand we had Kanehiro Nakagawa (7-6, 4) out-point former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Seiichi Okada (22-7-1, 13) and on the other we had Masayasu Nakamura (7-3-1, 6) take a decision over former Japanese Bantamweight title challenger Tatsuya Takahashi (30-9-5, 21), in what was Nakamura's first bout in almost 3 years.
Whilst fingers can be pointed at both fights, both wins are huge for the under-dogs who should be able to use their victories as a launch pad.
Seigo Yuri Akui vs Yoshiki Minato - Round 1
One of the final shows of the Heisei Era gave us a full on shoot out, as Seigo Yuri Akui and Yoshiki Minato tore into each other, with neither showing any intention of going to the final bell. Within 20 seconds Akui had staggered his man, and Minato decided to fight fire with fire, dropping Akui with a huge left hand. When the bout resumed Minato went hunting Akui who took a few moments to regroup, turning the tables with some huge shots of his own. About 80 seconds into the round Akui had scored his own knockdown, then another 20 seconds later. Minato, who had picked the wrong fight, tried to gut it out but was stopped shortly afterwards. This may not have been technically solid, but was full on, non-stop entertainment.
This past week hasn't been the best in Asian boxing, but we have had plenty of stuff going on, so with that said, who won our weekly awards over these past 7 days?
Fighter of the Week
John Riel Casimero (27-4, 18)
Talented Filipino veteran John Riel Casimero might have only had his recent bout seen by a handful of fight fans, but he was the clear fighter of the week. The 30 year old "Quadro Alas" travelled to the US, fought off TV and stopped Ricardo Espinoza Franco in the final round to claim the WBO "interim" Bantamweight title. Less than 2 years ago we saw him putting in a relatively hopeless performance against Jonas Sultan, at Super Flyweight, and to think he's dug deep to score a 12th round stoppage to claim a "world" title at a third division is incredible. Obviously he won't be favoured against the eventual WBSS winner, but for this week he deserves so many plaudits.
Performance of the Week
Joe Nonay (17-2-1, 6)
Travelling to enemy territory can always be daunting but for a fighter, but Filipino fighter Joe Noynay made things look easy as he travelled to Japan and stopped former Japanese Featherweight champion Kosuke Saka in 2 rounds to claim the WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight title. Noynay dropped Saka early and forced the referee to interject in round 2. The Filipino, who isn't known for his power, looked devastating with his left hand, and this is the sort of performance that will help put him on the map. Marvellous.
Sadly due to a lack of footage from the week no fight really stood out as being worthy of a mention for Fight of the Week.
Yuta Saito Vs Hayato Kimura (round 4)
The Japanese Bantamweight unification bout between Yuta Saito and Hayato Kimura promised a lot, though failed to really give us the 50-50 match up we had hoped for. What it did deliver, however, was an amazing 4th round, that saw both fighters trading blows on the inside in a round is worth rewatching again and again. This was heavy handed trading at close range, for 3 hard fought minutes, and is among the best rounds in a Japanese title fight this year.
Notable mention - Nihito Arakawa Vs Denys Berinchyk (round 12)
Chainoi Worawut TKO2 Muhammad Ashiq
Thai puncher Chainoi Worawut claimed the WBC Youth Super Bantamweight title this Saturday with a big KO win over Singapore's Muhammad Ashiq. Ashiq was totally out of his depth but the finishing blow, a huge right hand, was brutal and left Ashiq out. This wasn't once of the biggest KO's of the year, but was a still a brutal one, and came from one of the hottest prospects in Thailand. Keep an eye on this young man over the coming years.
Toshiya Ishii (1-0, 1)
We love watching young fighters go from debutant to contender, and we suspect Toshiya Ishii will be one such fighter following his classy debut performance this past week.Ishii had been a a decent amateur on the domestic scene and although he was only up against Adam Wijaya of Indonesia there was still a lot to like about his performance here. He dropped Wajiya with body shots, twice, and showed fantastic variety, speed and composure. This is the sort of performance that showed Japan has another great prospect on their hands.
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (47-4-1, 41) vs Juan Francisco Estrada (38-3, 26) II
Arguably the most obvious choice of the year. The fight we're most looking forward to this coming week is the rematch between Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Juan Francisco Estrada. The bout is a do-over of their 2018 Fight of the Year contender and we're expecting something really, really special here. This WBC Super Flyweight title fight should be something every fight fan is excited about!
The final part of February is a really interesting one, with a lot of action in less than 2 weeks including world title bouts, prospects, world title eliminators and a regional title fight.
Dave Penalosa (14-0, 10) vs Marcos Cardenas (19-6-1, 15) - Metro Manila, Philippines
For a second straight week we see a Filipino prospect called Dave in a notable step up on ESPN5. First there was Dave Apolinario and now we get Dave Penalosa, who looks to over-come Marcos Cardenas for the WBO Oriental Featherweight title. Penalosa, who carries a legendary surname, showed early promise but inactivity has cost years of his career, and he will now be looking to get back in the right track. Cardenas is heavy handed but this is a huge step up for the Mexican.
Johnriel Casimero (25-4, 16) vs Kenya Yamashita (13-4, 10)- Metro Manila, Philippines
Former 2-weight world champion John Riel Casimero returns to a Filipino ring for the first time since losing in a world title eliminator to Jonas Sultan back in September 2017. In the opposite corner is flawed, but exciting, Japanese youngster Kenya Yamashiita, who should make for a really interesting opponent. Casimero should be favoured, but he has been disappointing at times and he may well be on the slide.
Carl Jammes Martin (11-0, 10) vs Petchchorhae Kokietgym (17-2, 8)- Metro Manila, Philippines
Another exciting prospect on this card is the unbeaten and prodigiously young Carl Jammes Martin, who will be making his TV debut in a bout against Thai visitor Petchchorhae Kokietgym. This looks like a really tough match up for Martin's first bout on TV, but a win here will really allow him to announce himself on the Filipino fans who may not have had a chance to see the youngster yet. The Thai is no pushover but has lost his two most notable bouts to date.
Ryosuke Iwasa (25-3, 16) Vs Cesar Juarez (23-6, 17)- California, USA
In the US we'll see an IBF world title eliminator at Super Bantamweight, as former world champion Ryosuke Iwasa takes on the always entertaining Cesar Juarez in what should be a very entertaining battle. Iwasa needs to impress to remain in the mix, and this will be his US debut after having had a previous Stateside aborted when his opponent failed to make weight. Juarez lost his last bout at world level, being stopped by Isaac Dogboe, but has bounced back well and will be really up for this contest, in what could be a very, very entertaining bout and potentially the highlight of the weekend.
Yesenia Gomez (14-5-3, 6) vs Erika Hanawa (10-3, 4) - Quintana Roo, Mexico
In a female world title fight we'll see Japan's Erika Hanawa challenge WBC Female Light Flyweight champion Yesenia Gomez. Despite being a world title fight few would consider either of these as truly world class, with both suffering set backs in recent bouts. It's those setbacks, and the need to shine brightly here, that makes this bout more intriguing than if both were in good form, and neither can afford a loss. Sadly though in a division with Yesica Yolanda Bopp, Kenia Enriquez and Tenkai Tsunami it's hard to see the winner of this bout as truly top level fighter.
Akihiro Kondo (31-7-1, 18) Vs Downua Ruawaiking (14-0, 11) - Tokyo, Japan
A second IBF world title eliminator is set to take place at Light Welterweight, as the teak tough Akihiro Kondo battles unbeaten Thai prospect Downua Ruawaiking. This is a really interesting match up that not only lets us see what Kondo has left in the tank, after 2 straight forward bouts since his loss to Sergey Lipinets, but also see what Ruawaiking has to offer. The Thai has looked good so far, but this is a big step up in class, and his first bout outside of his homeland. A win for Downua would put him on the map, but this is a really stiff test for him.
Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (11-3, 10) Vs Yuki Nonaka (32-10-3, 10) - Osaka, Japan
Potentially the fight of the month will see the big punching Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa defending his WBO Asia Pacific and OPBF Middleweight titles against skilled veteran Yuki Nonaka. This bout will likely be brawn against brain and should be a real thriller. Hosokawa only fights one way, and that is with intense aggression, the sort of thing Hosokawa has made a career out of soaking up, countering and using against fighters. We really do see this as a highlight and can't wait to see Boxingraise posting the fight on demand.
Vic Saludar (18-3, 10) Vs Masataka Taniguchi (11-2, 7) - Tokyo, Japan
Another potential highlight will see WBO Minimumweight champion Vic Saludar defending his title for the first time, taking on Japanese challenger Masataka Taniguchi. Both of these men are aggressive, heavy handed, skilled and exciting. We're expecting bombs to be traded, though not in a wild way. Instead this should be a compelling chess match with shotguns and rocket launchers. A potentially brilliant contest, that is only really harmed by the fact TBS won't be broadcasting the fight live but instead showing it on tape delay.
Fans of “the little guys” have had a wonderful few weeks with a load of notable bouts across 108lbs, 112lbs and 115lbs but maybe what the future holds is even better than what we've just had, and what we've just had is a huge shake up at both Flyweight and Super Flyweight.
For those who are perhaps just dipping your toes into the lower weight class lets go back a few weeks.
On August 31st Ryoichi Taguchi (25-2-1, 11) successfully defended the WBA Light Flyweight title defeating mandatory challenger Ryo Miyazaki (24-2-3, 15) with a 12 round decision. This now leaves Taguchi open to defend his title on December 31st on a yet to be announced show in Tokyo in a voluntary defense of the title.
On the same day the WBA Super Flyweight title changed hands, with Taguchi's stablemate Kohie Kono (32-9-1, 13) losing the title to Nicaraguan slugger Luis Concepcion (35-4, 24) in a 12 round decision. The future for Kono now looks unclear, with some suggesting he may be heading for retirement, or an easy bout at the end of the year. For Concepcion the rumour is that a world title unification may be around the corner with the WBO champion, but more about that later.
On September 3rd we saw a second Super Flyweight title change hands with Filipino Jerwin Ancajas (25-1-1, 16) announcing himself to the international boxing world by claiming the IBF title. The unheralded Filipino took a miniscule payday to face the unbeaten McJoe Arroyo (17-1, 8) but made the most of his chance and clearly beat the Puerto Rican.
The following day we saw a champion actually retain a title at Super Flyweight as WBO kingpin Naoya Inoue (11-0, 9) over-came the gutsy but outclassed Petchbarngborn Kokietgym (38-8-1, 18), scoring a 10th round win. After the win it reported that Inoue was seeking a unification bout and it now seems like terms are set for him to face Concepcion in December, with December 30th looking the most likely. The bout would see two of the titles unified and should see us move into 2017 with 3 title holders.
On September 10th we saw Filipino road warrior Johnriel Casimero (22-3, 14) travel to the UK where he notched the first defense of his title, with a 10th round TKO win against the previously unbeaten Englishman Charlie Edwards (8-1,3). The win saw Casimero being too good and too powerful for the novice and since the win he has called pretty much everyone else at the weight claiming that he now wants to unify the titles.
The very same night we saw Roman Gonzalez (46-0, 38) become the third new champion at Super Flyweight in the space of 2 weeks as he defeated Mexican Carlos Cuadras (35-1-1, 27) in a 12 round war. The win netted Gonzalez the WBC title and saw him become a genuine 4 weight world champion.
Since Gonzalez's win we've seen the team of his mandatory challenger, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (41-4-1, 38), state they would be happy to travel to the US to face the Nicaraguan. We've also seen Gonzalez's promoter suggest late 2017 would be the ideal time for their man to face Naoya Inoue.
Earlier today, September 14th, we saw further developments in the ever changing picture of the lower weights with former Gonzalez foe Juan Francisco Estrada (33-2, 24) vacating the WBA “super” and WBO Flyweight titles as he joins the fray at Super Flyweight, in pursuit of a rematch with Estrada. Gonzalez's WBC title is also expected to be made vacant in the coming days.
With all the title changes, vacating, weight changes and the such we have seen a real shake up at both 115lbs and 112lbs. Essentially we have seen Super Flyweight become, arguably, the hottest division in the sport and we've seen Flyweight suddenly become one of the most open with a title dash expected over the next 12 months.
At Super Flyweight we have a division with a leading list of Inoue, Gonzalez, Ancajas, Concepcion, Cuadras, Srisaket and Estrada. Below those we have fighters looking for opportunities like Sho Ishida, Khalid Yafai, Aston Palicte, Rex Tso, Norasing Kokietgym and Jose Martinez
At Flyweight we could end the weekend with only two recognised champions, Kazuto Ioka and Johnriel Casimero. However the division will be blown wide open with fighters like Donnie Nietes, Brian Viloria, Pedro Guevara, Moruti Mthalane, Takuya Kogawa, Juan Carlos Reveco, Daigo Higa, Zou Shiming, McWilliams Arroyo, Nawaphon Por Chokchai, Giemel Magramo, Muhammad Waseem, Andrew Selby, Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep, Kwanpichit OnesongchaiGym and Kompayak Porpramook all likely looking at joining the mad dash for title fights.
At the moment the rumours are that the WBO title will be fought for in November between Zou Shiming and Kwanpichit OnesongchaiGym and that the WBC title will be on the line between Nawaphon Por Chokchai and Juan Hernandez, also in November, though there is a good chance both the IBF and WBA titles will be defended before the year is out.
Despite Estrada and Gonzalez both moving up in weight they have arguably made Flyweight more interesting, with the mad dash for world glory almost certain to give us some great fights, and have strengthened the already brilliant Super Flyweight division. At 108lbs it seems like we could see Taguchi, Akira Yaegashi and Kosei Tanaka all in action in December, with potential unification bouts coming in 2017.
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