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.
One of the big issues with boxing this year, at least for us, is how inconsistent things have been. Some weeks have there's been almost nothing with an Asian interest, and other weeks there has been an overload of activity. Not only is there a huge variation in quantity of fights but also the quality of activity.
This past week wasn't a quiet one, by any stretch, but was one where some of the best fights went with out broadcast exposure, and was one that perhaps did lack in terms of real quality. We had some great names in action but the competitiveness from the bouts was certainly lacking. With that in mind, this actually is one of the weakest weeks for our Weekly Awards.
Fighter of the Week
Mark Magsayo (19-0, 14)
One of the few categories with a few notable mentions was the Fighter of the Week, though in reality we struggled to see past Mark Magsayo here following his return to the ring, after more than a year out of action. The Filipino wasn't up against anything too testing, in the form of Erick Deztroyer, but managed to show case his speed, skills and destructiveness as he broke down the Indonesian journeyman in a very 1-sided affair. Given the long lay off this was an impressive win, and hopefully it will be the start of big things to come from Magsayo.
Notable mentions: Shuichiro Yoshino, Musashi Mori, Seiya Tsutsumi
Performance of the Week
Kanehiro Nakagawa (7-6, 4)
When a fighter enters the bout with no real expectations but then scores a notable upset, even at the domestic level, they tend to automatically be in the running for Performance of the Week. With that in mind it's hard to not be impressed by Kanehiro Nakagwa this week. The Misako gym fighter scored a major upset on the Japanese domestic scene this past Monday, when he defeat former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Seiichi Okada. Whilst Okada isn't the fighter he once was few expected Nakagawa to take the win, and he deserves real attention after this victory.
Notable mentions: Seiya Tsutsumi, Ginjiro Shigeoka.
Sadly there was no Fight of the Week that stood out. Partly this was an issue with a lack of fights, none of which were worthy of attention, and that the better fights haven't been made available to watch outside of very select markets. It's a shame that this is the first week of 2019 not to have an explicit winner of Fight of the week.
Much like the lack of Fight of the Week we've not managed to see a round which has jumped out as being something special.
A third straight "none award" is the KO of the week. We've sadly not been able to see Seiya Tsutsumi's KO of Ryan Rey Ponteras, which was said to have been brutal. All we've seen is an image of Ponteras flat on his back, and this is a shame given that he had never previously been stopped. A lot of the other KO's from the week were less than spectacular.
Please note that if you do have a suggestion for any of the 3 awards that weren't given please do nominate them in the comments.
Ginjiro Shigeoka (3-0, 2)
The Japanese teenager shone again, albeit away from the TV cameras, as he took a clear and wide win over Joel Lino. It's not going to be long before we stop considering Shigeoka as a prospect and more like a regional, or national, contender and in fact we suspect today's win will have served as chance to for his team to judge whether he's ready for a title fight. Given how he answered a lot of questions here, it's hard to imagine his team not just pushing him into something big later this year.
Nihito Arakawa (32-6-2, 18) Vs Denys Berinchyk (10-0, 7)
This coming weekend has several really good looking match ups, and for us the most promising, at least on paper, is the clash between Japanese tough guy Nihito Arakawa and Ukrainian destroyer Denys Berinchyk. Whgen this bout was first announced our thoughts were "this is gonna be violent" and that hasn't changed. This could be a low-key FOTY candidate between two men are who likely to put on a fairly high skilled war. A really interesting match up and likely to be a very, very exciting and hard hitting one.
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