Another week has passed and whilst it wasn't the biggest week it clearly had some stand out moments, and one very clear standout fighter.
Fighter of the Week
Manny Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39)
It's not every week that the Fighter of the Week is the easiest award, but this week is one where their is really no other contender than Filipino legend Manny Pacquiao, who showed, even at the age of 40, that he is a fantastic fighter. From knocking down Keith Thurman in the opening round to skirting around the ring in the 12th Pacquiao did as he pleased against the previously unbeaten American. Thurman had moments in the second half, but by then he was needing a KO as Pacquiao took his foot off the gas. The punching senator might not be the supreme wrecking machine he was a decade ago but even this older, slower Pacquiao appears to be one of the top fighters in the sport.
Performance of the Week
Manny Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39)
A rare double win here for our Fighter and Performance award as Pacquiao takes this one too. He was up against a younger fighter and still seemed able to out box, out speed, out punch and out think his foe. Thurman struggled with Pacquiao's foot work early on, as well as his timing, and whilst Pacquiao has long been known for his thunderbolt straight left hand it was his right hook that was a major tool here. This wasn't a punch perfect display from Pacquiao, and it likely won't go down as one of his top 5 performances, but it was the stellar showing from the week.
Han Bin Suh (4-0-2, 3) vs Jong Won Jung (5-7-2)
On Monday we had a little card in South Korea which was headlined by a brilliant little gem between Korean Super Bantamweigth champion Han Bin Suh and challenger Jong Won Jung. This was a million miles away from the glitz and glamour of the MGM, and seemingly fought in front of only a scattering of fans, but was a thrilling action fight, and the sort of thing that has made Korean boxing, to all it's limitations, worthy of following. Much of the fight was fought up close, with offensive taking a clear priority over defense, and combinations taking a preference over smart footwork and single shot counters. The fact only a handful of people is a shame, as this is worth every minute it'll take to watch.
Manny Pacquiao Vs Keith Thurman (10)
The Pacquiao Vs Thurman fight was, for the most, pretty easy to score, though one round really stood out as being the best, round 10. The round saw Thurman taking risks and having success early on before being hurt from a body shot, in a round that swung one way then the other and left us all wondering whether he could recover for the bout's penultimate round. This wasn't a Round of the Year contender, but was a very entertaining and exciting 3 minutes
Despite the week being a good one, no KO really stood out as being something to talk about. The closest we got was Sergey Lipinet's brutal shot to Jayar Inson, who some how rose to his feet and was stood standing and smiling. Inson clearly wasn't aware of where he was.
Koshin Takeshima (4-0, 3)
Japan's Koshin Takeshima isn't getting much attention, mostly due to the fact he's fighting in the lesser reported markets of Japan with fights in Kariya, Gifu and Nagoya. Despite that he's creating a bubble of expectancy and that showed again this Saturday when he defeat Jon Jon Estrada over 8 rounders. Prior to the bout Takeshima had fought a total of just 8 rounds but went 8 with no issue against a tough and dangerous Estrada. Although the Filipino has now lost 3 in a row, and 7 of his 19, Estrada was the sort of fighter that Takeshima needed to face and the win was a big statement from the 23 year old Japanese fighter.
Ginjiro Shigeoka (3-0, 2) vs Clyde Azarcon (15-2-1, 5)
Over the coming days we have some great fights coming up, and one amazing one between Tsuyoshi Sato and Rikito Shiba which was cancelled though could be rescheduled for later in the year. Despite how good some of those fights are the one we are most interested in the WBO Asia Pacific Minimumweight title bout between fast rising youngster Ginjiro Shigeoka and Filipino Clyde Azarcon. For Shigeoka this is a chance to really land with a wallop and claim his first title in just his 4th professional bout, whilst Azarcon will be looking to upend the fast rising Japanese fighter in what we think is the most interesting bout this week...a week that also includes the quarter final bouts for the God's left tournament and a mouth watering Japanese Bantamweight title bout.
The middle portion of July is incredibly packed with a lot of action coming in just a few days, including 4 world title bouts, a regional title bout and several notable hopefuls. It really is set to be an insanely busy few days.
Unbeaten WBC Light Flyweight champion Kenshiro looks to make his next defense as he battles against hard hitting Filipino challenger Jonathan Taconing, who enters as the mandatory challenger. At the moment Kenshiro is arguably the most under-rated world champion in the sport, and is certainly the most under appreciated fighter in Japan. This however is no gimme for the champion and Taconing brings a real air of danger with him thanks to his hard hitting southpaw style. On paper this may end up being the bout of the month, and is a true boxer Vs banger affair.
After a few disappointing weeks of action, or rather a lack of action, things got going again this past week and it has been an excellent week with a great FOTY contender and several impressive performances from prospects.
Fighter of the Week
Kosei Tanaka (13-0, 7)
There was a clear star this week, and you'll be seeing his name mentioned a lot in this article. That is WBO Flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka, who was the clear Fighter of the Week, defending his WBO title in a fantastic 12 round contest with Ryoichi Taguchi. Although Tanaka wasn't impressed by his own performance, we were and it really was an excellent win and another thrilling bout from the "KO Dream Boy" who has now been in back to back FOTY contenders.
Performance of the Week
Koshin Takeshima (3-0, 3)
One of the many fighters who will end up being over-looked from this past week is Koshin Takeshima, who looked sensational, exciting and destructive as he stopped Jian Wang. Takeshima dropped his Chinese opponent in the opening seconds, then bulled him around until the resolve of Wang went and the referee was forced to step in and stop the bout. The level of the bout might not have been high but we are only a few months removed from Wang going 10 rounds in a regional youth title bout. Very impressive from Takeshima.
Kosei Tanaka (12-0, 7) vs Ryoichi Taguchi (27-3-2, 12)
The fight of the week was, clearly, the aforementioned WBO Flyweight title bout between Kosei Tanaka and Ryoichi Taguchi. It was, in the end, one sided but was still truly exciting, action packed and all action. Tanaka had too much of everything for the 32 year old Taguchi, but the heart and desire of Taguchi kept him in the bout and kept firing shots back at Tanaka. Yes it was one sided, but 12 rounds of pulsating action at a very high level!
Kosei Tanaka Vs Ryoichi Taguchi - Round 3
There was several great rounds in the Tanaka Vs Taguchi bout, several of which could have been considered the Round of the Week. For us round 3 gets it though, as it was the only round where Tanaka seemed shaken, with his legs buckling at one point. It was one of the few moments that Taguchi looked like he had a chance, and it was long after the round that Tanaka began to really dominate the fight. It was a great back and forth, as the first few rounds were, and really, really fun to watch.
Takuya Mizuno KO2 Piched Chianawa
There is something to really love about body shots, and that was what we got when Takuya Mizuno took out Piched Chianawa. The bout was a farcical mismatch, but it was still closed in style by Mizuno who left the Thai journeyman in agony from a perfect liver shot.
Kento Hatanaka (8-0, 8)
It wasn't only Kosei Tanaka shining from the Hatanaka gym this week but also youngster Kento Hatanaka, who impressed with a thrilling action packed and eye opening win over Songsaeng Phoyaem. The bout, which was streamed live on CBC's international fee, was exciting with Hatanaka eventually breaking down the Thai to claim the win and successfully defend his WBC Youth title. His aggressive and exciting performance certainly put him on the map for more fans and it's hard to imagine that it'll be much longer before he's in much bigger bouts.
Ricky Sismundo (35-12-3, 17) Vs Maxim Dadashev (12-0, 10)
This coming week has a lot going on, though perhaps the fight which gives us the most to be excited about is a bit of a hidden potential gem. The fight in question will see highly experienced Filipino journeyman Ricky Sismundo take on Maxim Dadashev in what could be a truly compelling contest. Sismundo is much better than his record suggests whilst Dadashev if taking a step up in class and risking his unbeaten record. This could be something very telling about both men.
It's nice to see how wide ranging the Japanese scene is, and whilst much of the focus is on fighters from Tokyo, Kanagawa or Osaka there are other places that are providing great talent at the moment, and the Chubu region is one of those with a great crop of youngsters coming through at once. Of course that charge is lead by Kosei Tanaka but below him are fighters like Kento Hatanaka and, the man we want to talk about here, Koshin Takeshima (2-0, 2) [竹嶋宏心], who is a Featherweight fighting out of the historic Matsuda gym in Nagoya.
The Matsuda gym isn't a hugely well known one in the west, and it would be easy to walk past it on the street without know it's historic place in Japanese boxing, but it has developed two world champions, Kiyoshi Hatanaka and Yasuei Yakushiji, several domestic and regional champions and 7 All Japan Rookie of the Year winners. It's a traditional gym, set up in 1943, and is now the basis for several very talented young fighters. Including Takeshima.
Takeshima was a standout amateur. In the unpaid ranks he went 82-19 and placed in the top 3 of numerous notable national competitions, whilst also captaining his University team. He didn't managed to make a mark internationally, but with over 100 amateur bouts in Japan he was certainly an experience and accomplished fighter before deciding to turn professional.
Having decided to turn professional in 2018 Takeshima would make his debut as the Aioi Hall in Kariya when he took on Indonesian fighter Yohanis Tatul. The bout, which is available on Boxing Raise, saw Takeshima look crisp, sharp and a natural in the ring. He looked razor sharp from the opening bell, with lighting quick combinations, a laser guided southpaw left hand and not only had the punches in his arsenal but also the footwork, getting in and out of range with ease. Tatul was an awful opponent though he was good enough to allow Takeshima to show a bit of everything, from body punching to counter punching before Takeshima secured a 3rd round TKO.
Takeshima's second bout came in September, when he was on the under-card for Kosei Tanaka's bout with Sho Kimura. He was again up against an over-matched Indonesian foe, this time Kiki Marciano, who was stopped in the 2nd round of the bout. Sadly footage of this isn't available, though we have been informed that Marciano was put down hard from a solid body shot that left him in agony. The bout was nostly a show case for Takeshima's body shots, and even prior to the knockout he had dropped Marciano with body shots.
Takeshima's next bout is pencilled in for March 16th, as part of the Kosei Tanaka Vs Ryoichi Taguchi card, and will see him take on Chinese visitor Jian Wang (7-1-1, 2). Wang isn't an amazing fighter, but he does have a good work rate, he's tough and he's a very clear step up for Takeshima. Wang was involved in a 10 round thriller with Seong Yeong Yang back in January and we're really looking forward to seeing how Takeshima deals with Wang in an 8 round contest.
If Takeshima, as expected, defeats Wang it's almost certain that he will be Japanese and OPBF rankings by the end of the year, with a potential title fight in 2020 or 2021.
The Middle of March is somewhat packed, with several notable fights taking place in the space of just a few days. These include World and Youth title fights and a very interesting JBC and OPBF female title unification bout,
Eri Matsuda (2-0) Vs Nanae Suzuki (8-2-1, 1) -Tokyo, Japan
The first major bout during the middle section of March will see Eri Matsuda risk her OPBF Atomweight title against JBC Atomweight champion Nanae Suzuki in a mouth watering unification bout. The unbeaten Matsuda has impressed in both of her bouts so far, but this is a very stiffer test than hew two previous bouts. For Suzuki this is a huge chance to put her name on the boxing map.
Miyo Yoshida (11-1) Vs Yoshie Wakasa (6-0, 2) - Tokyo, Japan
On the same card as the Matsuda Vs Suzuki bout we'll also see Miyo Yoshida defending her JBC female Bantamweight title, as she takes on unbeaten challenger Yoshie Wakasa. This is a great example of the bouts the JBC female title will give us, and really does look like a fantastic defense for Yoshida, who also holds the OPBF female Bantamweight title, but won't be defending that here.
Daniyar Yeleussinov (5-0, 3) Vs Silverio Ortiz (37-23, 18) - Pennsylvania, USA
2016 Olympic Gold medal winner, Daniyar Yeleussinov will look to extend his unbeaten run, as he takes on Mexican veteran Silverio Ortiz. The Kazakh struggled to settle to the pro-style of boxing in his first few bouts but has settled recently with a couple of good performances. This is expected to be another win for Yeleussinov, but he may need to work for a stoppage as Ortiz has proven to be relatively tough, with just 6 stoppage losses in his 23 defeats.
Kosei Tanaka (12-0, 7) Vs Ryoichi Taguchi (27-3-2, 12) -Gifu, Japan
Potentially the best fight of the month comes right bang in the middle of March and will see Kosei Tanaka make his first defense of the WBO Flyweight title, as he takes on Ryoichi Taguchi. Tanaka won the title last year in a FOTY contender against Sho Kimura and has long been linked to a fight with Taguchi. Taguchi will be fighting as a fully fledged Flyweight for the first time, and we wouldn't be surprised if his body was more suited to Flyweight than it was at Light Flyweight. This has the potential to be a very, very special and exciting match up, with styles that should gel well.
Kento Hatanaka (7-0, 7) Vs Songsaeng Phoyaem (6-1, 1) - Gifu, Japan
On the same show we'll see Kento Hatanaka defending the WBC Youth Flyweight title against Thai visitor Songsaeng Phoyaem. Hatanaka, the son of former world champion Kiyoshi Hatanaka, has looked really exciting so far and we'd expect to see him win here, but the key at the moment is following his progression and development as a fighter. The Thai hasn't scored a win of note, but he will see this as a chance to put himself on the map.
Koshin Takeshima (2-0, 2) Vs Jian Wang (7-1-1, 2) - Gifu, Japan
Also on this card, in an interesting bout, is Koshin Takeshima who will be expecting a really tough test as he goes up against Jian Wang from China. Takeshima has shown a fair bit of promise and talent but this is a clear step up and it will be very, very interesting to see how he deals with the technically limited but tough Wang. Wang will be fighting for the first time since January's war with Seong Yeong Yang and in that draw he showed toughness, work rate and stamina. This could be very fun.
Batyrzhan Jukembayev (14-0-0-2, 12) Vs Carlos Jimenez (14-9-1, 8) - Quebec, Canada
Unbeaten Canadian based Kazakh fighter Batyrzhan Jukembayev will be fighting for the first time since falling out with Eye of the Tiger Management, though their relationship has now seemingly recovered. He'll be up against Mexican foe Carlos Jimenez in what looks like an easy bout but should be a bit of a test for Jukembayev, who's very promising and exciting despite having a number of technical flaws.
Nurzat Sabirov (8-0, 7) vs Cesar Hernan Reynoso (15-11-4, 7) - Quebec, Canada
Another Kazakh prospect in action here is Nurzat Sabirov, who will be up against Cesar Hernan Reynoso. The unbeaten Sabirov scored 4 solid wins last year and although this is a step backwards from those bouts he should be able to shine, show power and move his career forward. Reynoso is no push over, but we don't imagine he can hang with Sabirov here.
Mercito Gesta (32-2-2, 17) vs Juan Antonio Rodriguez (29-7, 25) - California, USA
Former 2-time world title challenger Mercito Gesta continues his career when he takes on Juan Antonio Rodriguez. This looks solid on paper, though in reality it should be a straight forward win for Gesta, who will likely be hunting another world title fight before his career is over. Gesta is probably never going to win the big one, but he does look like he's going to remain on the fringes of world level for the rest of his career.
Michael Dasmarinas (28-2-1, 19) Vs Kenny Demecillo (14-4-2, 8) Metro Manila, Philippines
All Filipino world title bouts have started to become a thing in recent years, after 90 years with out, and now we're starting to see a growth in all Filipino world title eliminators. That's the case here as Michael Dasmarinas and Kenny Demecillo battle in an IBF Bantamweight world title eliminator, to potentially get a shot at the WBSS winner. The IBF title is currently held by Emmanuel Rodriguez, who faces Naoya Inoue in May, and whilst Dasmarinas and Demecillo would be the under-dog against either man they do make for an interesting addition to the world title mix.
Samuel Salva (16-0, 10) Vs Rene Mark Cuarto (16-1-1, 9) -Metro Manila, Philippines
A second All-Filipino world title eliminator on this card is a match up between Samuel Salva and Rene Mark Cuarto, who battle in an IBF Minimumweight world title eliminator, to potentially get a crack at Deejay Kriel. This bout is an interesting contest between two youngsters each looking for their break out win and we're really looking forward to see how it plays out. On paper it's a very even match up and should make for compelling viewing.
Akzhol Sulaimanbek Uulu (13-0, 6) Vs Mike Tawatchai (45-12-2, 28) - Ekaterinburg, Russia
Unbeaten Russian based Kyrgyzstan born Akzhol Sulaimanbek Uulu will look to continue his winning run as he takes on Thai veteran Mike Tawatchai, aka Pipat Chaiporn. Following strong recent wins over Leonardo Padillo and Jon Jon Estrada Uulu will be expected to take care of the Thai with no real issues. At 33 Tawatchai can't afford any more setbacks but has yet to win outside of Thailand, and it would be a huge shock to see him changing that here.
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