The month of November has a been weird one, with stretches of time without anything happening, and then flurries of action. It's been an inconsistent month, but a month that, overall, massively over-delivered, with several sensational bouts, a host of upsets, and some massive KO's. This was less a month of consistency and more a month of highlights!
Fighter of the Month
The Fighter of the Month was one of the easiest categories this month, with Naoya Inoue clearly taking the honours here. His 12 round decision win over Nonito Donaire is one of the best wins of the year, and came in one the best bouts of the year. The bout, of course, was the WBSS Bantamweight final and saw Inoue walk away with the WBA, IBF and Ring magazine titles as well as the Muhammad Ali Trophy. He was tested, he was rocked, he was caught and he answered more questions in 12 rounds than he had in all of his previous bouts combined.
Fight of the Month
Naoya Inoue Vs Nonito Donaire
The WBSS Bantamweight final wasn't the final most people really wanted but it was the final we deserved, and turned out to be a sensational 12 round bout, mixing pulsating back and forth, with drama, both men being hurt and top level boxing. The fight saw two men fight with vastly different styles, but those styles gelled perfectly and we ended up with something very special. Inoue looked the better overall boxer but Donaire's power always looked a threat, and the amount of punishment both men took was staggering. This was one of those bouts that it all, and was for the very highest of stakes. A great bout.
Takuya Watanabe Vs Taiki Minamoto
Jae Woo Lee Vs Tsuyoshi Tameda
KO of the Month
Luke Boyd KO1 Jon Jon Jet
Sadly this month the KO of the month saw an Asian fighter being on the wrong end of it, with previously unbeaten Indonesian Jon Jon Jet being taken out by the crude but hard hitting Luke Boyd. Boyd was swinging for the fences from the off, and a huge right hand landed clean as a whistle on Jet who crashed to the canvas in eye catching fashion. This wasn't great for Indonesian boxing, given that Jet was regarded as a bit of a hopeful, but it was a brilliant KO.
Despite their being a lot of great fights and a number of solid upsets, which we'll get on to shortly, there was strangely a lack of standout performances from fighter we regard as prospects. Thankfully though their was one performance that did catch the eye and that was the US debut of Andy Hiraoka. The Top Rank promoted 23 year old had the perfect US debut as he took out Rodelio Casarez in 2 rounds and took his chance to shine. Whilst his opponent wasn't up to much this was perfectly acceptable for his first bout outside of Japan, and he is certainly going to be someone turning heads in the coming years.
Kenbati Haiyilao vs Nick Frese
One thing we had a lot of in November was upsets. They might not have come at the top level, but they did come rather frequently. The one that shocked us the most was the victory by Chinese fighter Kenbati Haiyilao, who defeated the touted Thai based Dutchman Nick Frese. The unheralded Haiyilao was fighting out of China for the first time, and was 2-2-1 in his previous 5. There was nothing to suggest he was any kind of a threat to Frese's unbeaten record, but he shocked us all by out boxing Frese in a real surprise of a result. Frese was never hurt, but was regularly coming off second best and struggling with the basics from Haiyilao, something that was a genuine surprise.
Jhon Gemino Vs Arnold Alejandro
Jae Woo Lee Vs Tsuyoshi Tameda
Johnriel Casimero Vs Zolani Tete
Naoya Inoue Vs Nonito Donaire (11)
We go full circle here, and head back to the WBSS final for the brilliant Inoue Vs Donaire fight. It had a number of great rounds, but the best of them was the 11th, which had incredible drama, weird officiating, and amazing action. The round saw Inoue really hurt Donaire for the first time, dropping him with a body shot. It saw the referee body check the Monster as he went in for the finish, it saw Donaire some how get back to his feet, withstanding some huge shots, and then rocking Inoue late in the round. It had everything that was great about the fight, all compacted into 3 minutes of sheet brilliance. This was one of the vert best rounds of the year, not just the best round of the month.
So we've just had the latest week of fights and whilst it's been a great week overall we've decided to look at The Good, The Bad and The Ugly from the last 7 days of Asian Boxing.
1-Naoya Inoue Vs Nonito Donaire - in the Ring
We all know that this wasn't the match up that fans were really pining for in the final, but my god did it every deliver, over-deliver, and then deliver again. What was supposed to be a mismatch in favour of the monster ended up being the bout that allowed him to answer far more questions than anyone would have anticipated, and gave us a FOTY contender in the process. This was brilliant, and despite the injuries Inoue suffered I doubt either man would want to go back in time and undo what they did here.
2-Naoya Inoue Vs Nonito Donaire - out of the Ring
Whilst the fight it's self was amazing we also need to talk about the out of the ring situation with the fight. From the WBSS draw in 2018 to fight, and afterwards in fact, the two men showed nothing less than full respect to each other. They were classy in the build up and classy afterwards. Inoue notably let Donaire borrow the Muhammad Ali trophy to show his children and Donaire seemed genuinely disappointed to learn that Inoue had suffered several facial fractures. The bout proved that boxing doesn't need fake beef to sell a fight if the fight is good enough. The fact this fight was trending around the world shows what happens when fans actually want a fight, rather than being sold something they aren't too bothered by. Promoters need to learn from this!
3-Takuya Watanabe Vs Taiki Minamoto
It wasn't all about the WBSS final, and the fact that we got an 8 round thriller between Takuya Watanabe and Taiki Minamoto was an added bonus on Saturday. This bout, which was a Japanese title eliminator, was absolutely brilliant and had it come on nearly any other week we'd have been raving about it more in this article. This is again what happens when well matched fighters face off, and have a reason to give their all. Whilst this is tucked away on Boxing Raise, for those who missed it, it again shows the incredible quality of Japanese domestic match ups and was another brilliant eliminator, coming only weeks after the Minimumweight tear up between Masataka Taiguchi and youngster Kai Ishizawa.
1- Kenya Yamashita pulls out of God's Left Tournament
The much anticipated God's Left Bantamweight semi-final between Seiya Tsutsumi and Kenya Yamashita was cancelled the night before the weigh in when Yamashita was taken to hospital for "poor physical condition", code words for dehydration caused by trying to lose weight. We really though Yamashita Vs Tsutsumi was going to be special, so to see the bout cancelled at such show notice can't be regarded as anything but bad.
2-Japanese TV ignores Shokichi Iwata vs Alejandro Cruz Valladares
In the US DAZN subscribers had the chance to see the 6 round Light Flyweight bout between Shokichi Iwata and Alejandro Cruz Valladares, yet Japanese didn't. Whilst we understand the main Fuji TV broadcast not showing the bout due to time constraints, they actually went over the scheduled time limit with what they did show causing some issues with recording and downloading software, we don't understand why WOWOW didn't show it on Saturday. Iwata is a huge talent, this was a fun fight, and this should have been a great chance to show what the 23 year old youngster can do. A real missed opportunity.
3-Silem Serang pulls out
We're not 100% what happened with Silem Serang but he pulled out of a bout on Saturday causing a cancellation in the ring return of former OPBF Minimumweight champion Tsubasa Koura. We were looking forward to seeing what Koura was going to be like after being beaten up and battered last time out, in a huge upset loss to Lito Dante, but it now seems like we may need to wait until 2020 to see the once touted Koura in action again.
1-Alejandro Rochin and Robert Hoyle
We suspect this feature will be full of issues with judges going forward, though we don't imagine many judges will leave us scratching our heads as much as Alejandro Rochin and Robert Hoyle have this week. Rochin, some how, had the Nordine Oubaali Vs Takuma Inoue bout a shut out at 120-107, a score that nobody else could possibly have come to if they were watching the bout. Hoyle on the other hand had Naoya Inoue beating Nonito Donaire by a single point, 114-113, essentially needing the 11th round knockdown to take the win on his card. Thankfully both judges got the right winner, but both of those cards are just awful, and both judges should be forced to explain how they got to their tallies.
2-Jon Jon Jet gets taken out
In an ugly, yet beautiful moment, we saw previously unbeaten Indonesian prospect Jon Jon Jet lose his unbeaten record and suffer one of the most visually stunning KO losses of 2020. The then 10-0 (8) Jet was left out cold on the canvas by Aussie puncher Luke Boyd (now 8-0, 8). Whilst it wasn't great to see Boyd celebrating before we knew Jet was fine, it's hard to complain too much about the Aussie. What was ugly though the length of time Jet was down, and we do need to wonder if he will ever be quite the same fighter again. This really was up there with the most nasty KO's we've seen this year.
It took until Tuesday for Sky Sports to confirm they were airing the WBSS final bout, which was taking place just 2 days later! Whilst we know the bout it's self was on an awkward day for UK fans, with Thursday being a typical work day, there was no excuse to not give fans a genuine chance to watch it. The fight should have been signed and sorted the previous week, at the latest, giving many fans the required 1 weeks notice to request a day off work to watch the bout. It was great for Sky to pick it up, but given they had covered the previous WBSS final and Inoue's previous bout, it very much feels like they shot themselves in the foot and reduced the amount of fans watching. It was also odd that they didn't manage to pick up the co-feature bout between Takuma Inoue and Nordine Oubaali.
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