After a couple of quiet weeks, with only a single show or two of note, we had boxing really pick up this past week with notable cards in the Japan, the US and even Vietnam. Not only did we have notable shows but we also had a world title fight, and it now seems like the sport is starting to get into the swing of things.
Fighter of the Week
Manny Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39)
Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao turned 40 in December, an age that many fighters turn whilst they are retired. Not is Pacquiao 40 years old but this week he proved he was still a top class fighter, as he defeat Adrien Broner in the US. Pacquiao appeared to be giving away significant size to Broner, and was 11 years old than the American, but looked in total control through out their 12 round bout, even staggering Broner in rounds 7 and 9. It wasn't a vintage Pacquiao performance, by any stretch, and he did look like a faded version of his prime self, but it was still a comfortable and controlling display against the cocksure Broner. Sadly the performance, whilst it was controlled, did seem to show how far Pacman had slid from his destructive best, though at the age of 40 that is to be expected!
Notable mention - Shingo Wake
Performance of the Week
Reiya Abe (19-2, 9)
We think that we'll be mentioning the name Reiya Abe a lot in 2019, and we don't believe that that's a bad thing! This week he shut down the talented and aggressive Daisuke Sugita in Tokyo, dropping Sugita twice and hardly losing a minute of the bout in what was a thoroughly controlled performance. For much of the fight Abe simply stuck to his boxing, using his skills to neutralise Sugita, before dropping his man twice. There was no real urgency from Abe, but he didn't need to be, he was just showcasing his skills from the first round to the final bell, only really going through the gears in the 8th round as he started to look to close the show. This wasn't an exciting fight, but it was a fantastic performance that showed what Abe can do.
Kenshin Oshima (4-1-1, 3) vs Ikuro Sadatsune (9-2-3, 3)
We stay in Japan for our Fight of the Week, an 8 round contest between two youngsters each looking to shine. This wasn't an all out war, like some Fight of the Weeks, but it was a bout that swung one way, then the other. It saw both men hurt, both having to over-come adversity and both digging deep in a fight that really exceeded expectations. The competitive nature of the bout will leave the door open to a potential rematch somewhere down the line. The was skills involved, making this more of a technical chess match at times, but they upped the pace regularly enough to give us some brilliant moments
Shohei Yamanaka vs Tatsuhito Hattori (Round 4)
There is something about these lower level Japanese bouts, over 4 rounds, that keep delivering fantastic rounds. This was seen perfectly this week when the debuting Shohei Yamanaka battled Tatsuhito Hattori in a bout that was easy to overlook. Yamanaka, as mentioned, was debuting whilst Hattori was fighting his 6th professional bout, more than a decade after his previous contest. Yamanaka had done enough to claim the first rounds on our card, but was dropped in round 3, meaning it was all to play for in round 4 ant they both went out there seeking to do enough to take the victory. A fantastic and thoroughly engaging round.
Notable mention - Round 3 Oshima Vs Sadatsune
Mikhail Lesnikov KO Afrizal Tamboresi
It's taken a while but 2018 finally has a brutal KO thanks to Russian Mikhail Lesnikov, who blasted out Indonesian fighter Afrizal Tamboresi in Vietnam. Tamboresi was rocked hard from an uppercut, somehow remaining upright. That however wasn't a good thing for him and he would be caught by a brutal left hook just seconds later. He was dropped hard and stayed down. A gorgeous KO for the Russian, who had never previous scored a KO.
Vikas Krishan (1-0, 1)
We have a feeling that Indian boxing is going to be huge over the coming few years, and part of that rise will be linked, directly, to the "Indian Tank" Vikas Krishan. Krishan made his debut on Friday, against Steven Andrade, and looked like a pro-ready fighter immediately with his intense pressure style, sharp punching and intelligent footwork. His amateur background, which is arguably the best of any Indian fighter, shone through here and it seems like he has the ambition, drive and age to really progress. There are still things he needs to work on, but he showed enough here to get excited about.
Notable mention- Fazliddin Gaibnazarov
Tugstsogt Nyambayar (10-0, 9) Vs Claudio Marrero (23-2, 17) (January 26th)
It feels like we've lacked a really explosive fight so far. We've had some excellent action fights, some brave performances but nothing truly explosive. That's likely to change next week when unbeaten Mongolian Tugstsogt Nyambayar takes on Dominican puncher Claudio Marrero. With a combined 33 wins, 26 by T/KO, it's hard to imagine this one goes the distance. Both men have been down and we would not be surprised to see both hitting the deck in what could end up be an early contender for Fight of the Year.
Vic Saludar (18-3, 10) Vs Masataka Taniguchi (11-2, 7) [and undercard]
After weeks of waiting we finally saw the announcement of the WBO Minimumweight title bout between Vic Saludar and Masataka Taniguchi. The bout was one of the worst kept secrets in the sport, but we were still awaiting the confirmation until this week. The bout is a really good looking one. Both are aggressive, both have nasty power, and both have exciting styles that should gel really well. Although the bout looks like it won't be televised live, unfortunately, it does look almost certain to be a really fun fight, when TBS finally get around to airing it.
As well as the main event we also saw the under-card being revealed, and includes Shu Utsuki (3-0, 2), Fumiya Fuse (7-0, 1), Ginjiro Shigeoka (1-0, 1) and the debut of Suzumi Takayama.
After a slow start January picks up in the middle of the month, as we get a host of notable fighters in action.
Manny Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39) Vs Adrien Broner (33-3-1-1, 24) - WBA Welterweight title
One of the first world title fights with an Asian fighter in this coming year will be a WBA "regular" Welterweight title fight, as Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao defends his title against 4-weight champion Adrien Broner. For Pacquiao's it's a chance to show that his win over Lucas Matthysse wasn't just a case of getting the Argentinian puncher at the right time, and to take a huge step towards a potential rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr. For Broner this is another chance, one of many, to show that he is as good as the early hype suggested. Broner has been, for the most part, a disappointment, known more for his personality than his boxing. If Broner can perform to his best, this could be very interesting. If Broner instead fights within himself, this could be very forgetable.
Jhack Tepora (22-0, 17) Vs Hugo Ruiz (38-4, 33) - WBA "interim" Featherweight title
Prior to the Pacquiao Vs Broner fight we'll see another Filipino looking to establish their reign as WBA "interim" Featherweight champion Jhack Tepora takes on Mexican Hugo Ruiz. Both of these men are heavy handed, hard hitting and exciting fighters, suggesting we'll be given an explosive contest here. Tepora is the more wild fighter here, but is a natural Featherweight. Ruiz is technically the stronger fighter, he understands the ring more and has the better ring IQ. He also has the more suspect chin and has been stopped at the lower weights. Interestingly Ruiz is the much taller and longer man, despite having first made his name at Bantamweight.
Shingo Wake (25-5-2, 17) Vs Takafumi Nakajima (29-11-1, 13)II
Japan's Shingo Wake has lost twice in the last 9 years, one of those was to Jonathan Guzman, in an IBF title fight, and the other was to Japanese domestic fighter Takafumi Nakajima. Now Wake gets a chance to avenge that loss to Nakajima, more than 6 years after it happened, as the two face off for the second time. A win for Wake is expected, as he continues his charge towards a second world title fight, however Nakajima will feel like this is a huge opportunity to get a second win over Wake, and give his career a huge shot in the arm. A possible mismatch, but one with some history behind it!
Reiya Abe (18-2, 9) Vs Daisuke Sugita (4-0, 3)
On the same card in Tokyo fight fans will also see world ranked Featherweight Reiya Abe, as he takes on former amateur stand out Daisuke Sugita. The talented Abe has been on an excellent run, since losing in early 2015 to Shingo Kusano. He hasn't just avenged the loss to Kusano but also strung together solid wins over the likes of Ryo Hino, Tsuyoshi Tameda and Satoshi Hosono. Sugita is taking a huge step up in class here, but is highly touted following his amateur career and his team are certainly not wanting to protect him. This could be a very interesting technical show case between two very talented fighters.
Jung Kyoung Lee (6-2-1, 2) Vs Samuel Colomban(25-10-1, 11)
Korean fans will get the chance to see local hopeful Jung Kyoung Lee take on veteran Samuel Colomban in a bout for the vacant OPBF Light Middleweight title. It's been a while since we've seen a Korean fighter fighting for an OPBF title so this bout will get attention on that basis, it will also get attention due to the fact it's the first card under the Annihilation banner, which has been formed by several MMA promotions working with the KBF. Lee is taking a huge step up here, but Colomban has seen better days and it's hard to know what he really has left to offer the sport. This should be a pretty interesting match without being anything huge.
Having already looked at 12 rumoured bouts, it makes sense to cover more bouts that appear to be getting spoke about, before we start to see action picking up in the coming days.
If you missed part 1 and part 2 they are available:
6 bouts rumoured to be in the works for 2019
6 more bouts rumoured to be in the works for 2019 (AKA Part 2!)
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (47-4-1, 41) vs Jerwin Ancajas (30-1-2, 20)
In part 1 of this mini-series, if you will, we mentioned that IBF Super Flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas had a mandatory title defense against Ryoichi Funai hanging over his head. In part 2 we mentioned that WBC Super Flyweight Srisaket Sor Rungvisai had his own mandatory looking against Juan Francisco Estrada. Interestingly however both Srisaket and Ancajas have expressed a desire to unify the WBC and IBF titles, and that bout has been rumoured as being something both fighters are targeting for March. It would seem likely that the two world title bodies would allow the champions to unify if, and only if, they can get the bout sorted sooner rather than later. We suspect March has been given to both parties as a sort target with April likely the hard deadline for the bout. If it gets made it will be a very special bout and we've got out fingers tightly crossed that this one does get made sooner rather than later!
Kosei Tanaka (12-0, 7) Vs Ryoichi Taguchi (27-3-2, 12)
WBO Flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka and countryman Ryoichi Taguchi were meant to meet when both were Light Flyweight world champions, but injuries suffered by Tanaka derailed those plans, before he moved up in weight. Now the two are supposedly targeting in a late Spring date for the match up, with Taguchi moving up to chase Tanaka. Of the two Tanaka is the more naturally gifted talent, and the more internationally well known due to his rapid rise to being a 3-weight world champion. Taguchi on the other hand is the naturally bigger fighter, the more experience man and arguably the fighter the fighter who's body will suit Flyweight better. The teams are said to be working on this bout and it's one both fighters want, and one without any TV issues, with the two fighters essentially both fighting on the same network. There really is no reason for this bout not to get made this year!
Moruti Mthalane (37-2, 25) Vs Masayuki Kuroda (30-7-3, 16)
At the end of 2018 we saw Moruti Mthalane make his first defense, of his second reign, of the IBF Flyweight title, stopping Masahiro Sakamoto. Going in to that bout the two men knew he would have a mandatory defense against Japan's Masayuki Kuroda in 2019, with the IBF giving the winner 90 days to make that defense. Mthalane is one of the most over-looked and under-rated fighters out there, and although he has spoke about unification bouts it's unlikely he'll get one without facing his mandatory first, as the IBF do tend to enforce mandatory defenses. Kuroda is best known for losing in a WBA Flyweight world title bout against Juan Carlos Reveco, though has since re-established himself with a number of decent performances on the talent laded Japanese scene. Mthalane would be the favourite, but Kuroda is a live under-dog.
Ryosuke Iwasa (25-3, 16) Vs Cesar Juarez (23-6, 17)
Originally rumoured for December 2018, though now seemingly delayed until 2019, is a world title eliminator between former IBF Super Bantamweight champion Ryosuke Iwasa and exciting Mexican warrior Cesar Juarez. When the bout was first mentioned it appeared Iwasa was still unsure about his future, but in recent weeks he has been training for a comeback to the ring. This is the sort of stylistic match up where we see heavy handed fighters face off, one is a more pure boxer, Iwasa, whilst the other is an aggressive pressure fighter and together it should make for some real fireworks.
Shakhram Giyasov (6-0, 5) Vs Shohjahon Ergashev (15-0, 14)
A lot of the Uzbek fighters seem to be good friends, however in recent weeks we've seen 2016 Olympic Silver medal winner Shakhram Giyasov and fellow unbeaten Light Welterweight puncher Shohjahon Ergashev doing a TV Face-Off and allowing a lot of talk about the two fighting each other. The two are already world ranked, both had huge 2018's, with both climbing into the world rankings and scoring notable wins, and both can bang. It's hard to predict a winner between these two, but it would certainly be a very special bout between two fantastic fighters. Although they are already building hype in the bout there is a chance that the bout will be held off until one, if not both, hold a world title, adding a even more prestige to the contest.
Floyd Mayweather Jr (50-0, 27) Vs Manny Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39) II
Although it's unlikely, at the time of writing, there has been talk of a rematch between Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao, with the Filipino recently signing with Al Haymon, something that was seen as making the bout even more likely. These two clashed in a massive, yet well over-due, bout in May 2015 and could end up rematching again this year. Both are said to be keen on raising their profiles in Japan, with Mayweather recently featuring on Rizin 14 and having business interests in the country and Pacquiao also stating he wanted to fight in the country, following a deal with a fitness company. They could also fight in the US, where both are major names, even if fans are cynical based on their original contest. This has been rumoured, and we wouldn't be surprised if it's not rumoured every year going forward, even as the men both slide further and further beyond their primes.
Last weekend Filipino legend Manny Pacquiao (56-5-2, 38) showed he still has what is needed to compete at the top as he out pointed American Timothy Bradley (31-1-0-1, 12) and reclaimed the WBO Welterweight title. I think we all accept that it was a great win for Manny and the sort of thing that he needed just to prove he still had. Unfortunately however he is 35 and at that sort of age a fighters career is certainly on the slide and we'd not expect Manny to be fighting for more than 2 years.
With that in mind I've been asking myself, who is the next Filipino star? Can anyone ever even be comparable to Pacquiao in terms of success, popularity and the effects he has had on both his sport and his people?
The likely answer is that there isn't anyone who will compare to Pacquiao but there are emerging Filipino stars coming through. They are all still in the shadow of Pacquiao but there are enough out there to have Filipino fight fans excited about the future and with that in mind let me introduce you to some of the emerging Filipino prospects. Some of these might not go all the way, others almost certainly will but the one thing they all have in common is that they all hope they can have a career than can be compared to the great Pacquiao.
The unbeaten Genesis Servania (24-0, 10) is one of the highest regarded youngsters in the Philippines and at just 22 years old he is a talent that is just getting better and better.
Early in his career Servania's natural talent was obvious as he quickly became "one to watch". That early natural talent kept Servania racking up wins though unfortunately for him it didn't seem like he had the power to score knockouts or score the eye opening knockdowns. He was talented but not sensational.
In recent fights for Servania that has changed and he has stopped 4 of his last 5 whilst also competing in an absolute barn burner with Konosuke Tomiyama. The worries that Servania wouldn't be exciting enough have certainly vanished in recent fights and he's been able to add excitement to his skills and is now one of the most watch prospect in world boxing.
Ranked very highly by the WBO Servania will likely be moved into a world title fight in the next 12-24 months and if he wins he'll have to expect the comparisons to Pacquiao even though the two are vastly different in styles.
When we talk about the forgotten men of Asian boxing few compare with Froilan Saludar (18-0-1, 11). The talented "Sniper" seems to have been promising a break out year for as long as we can remember and unfortunately he's yet to deliver. We think he will at some point and with several world rankings it's hard to see Saludar sitting and waiting much longer.
Like Pacquiao the unbeaten Saludar is heavy handed and has great speed. He combines those traits with tremendous timing, well schooled boxing, plenty of patience and an understanding of the ring. That might not seem that Pacquiao-like when we think of Pacquiao as a whirring dervish type of fighter but Pacquiao at his best has the immaculate sense of timing that he showed to great effect against Ricky Hatton.
Aged 25 Saludar has to start thinking about pushing on with his career though with just 2 fights last year his career has really hit a wall after it seemed he was set to fight for an IBF title in 2013. From what we under-stand he's not got the best of promoters and should either try to get away from his team or hope that his management can link up with someone more significant to help him reach his potential.
Although he's a Flyweight Saludar is big 112lbs, he's exciting, he's strong and he's the sort of fighter fans like to see.
One of my favourite Filipino prospects is Mark Magsayo (5-0, 4) who at just 18 years old possess all the traits you want to see in a young and promising fighter. He has fire in his hands, he has speed, skills and desire and most importantly he's a very mature 18 year old who is swiftly becoming one of the fastest rising youngsters in Filipino boxing.
ALA may be hyping him a little domestically but we'd be genuinely shocked if this hotly tipped young star doesn't, somewhere down the line, go on to fight at the world level. He may not become the next Pacquiao be he looks like the sort of kid who does have all the triats that will draw comparisons with Pacquiao.
We're hoping ALA can get the most out of this talented youngster though realise he's already becoming very difficult to match. He's only had 5 fights but is already competing in 6 rounders and we'd not be shocked if he is moved quickly up to 8 round bouts as his talent and skills live up to his nickname of "Magnifico". I cannot say enough positive things about Mark Magsayo and if he does become "the next Pacquiao" many will say "I told you so"
Mark Andrew Acub
When you think Manny Pacquiao you think hard hitting southpaw and in Mark Andrew Acub (13-0, 10) we have a hard hitting southpaw who combined speed and sting as well as a good amateur pedigree, something that of course Pacquiao lacks.
Aged 24 Acub is a Super Featherweight/Lightweight who is powerful, fast, not the most skilled but developing his skills. Unfortunately at 24 he is starting to reach his physical prime but yet hasn't really been stepped up and it's hard to see how good he is from his competition so far. In fact in Acub's most notable bout to date he really struggled with the teak tough Rene Bestudio.
Whilst many will look Acub and go "oh he almost lost to Bestudio" others, myself included, suggest that 10 rounds with a fighter like Bestudio will do more for a fighters development than 20 wins against easy opponents who fall over when you hit them. Bestudio withstood the assault and showed Acub that not everyone will be hurt by his power, an incredibly important lesson for a young fighter to learn.
It'll be interesting to see Acub develop but I don't think he'll quite have what it takes to go on to OPBF titles though he'll be a lot of fun to watch.
One man who we really like the look of is Mark Bernaldez (12-0, 8) who, like Pacquiao, has plenty of power to his game. At 22 he's a boxing baby, but a fighter who is likely to become a major name.
What Bernaldez has done really well so far is step up a level. He's no longer feasting on domestic journeymen and novices but it taking on international opponents and has already stopped Khunkhiri Wor Wisaruth of Thai and Indonesian pair Arief Blader and Marangin Marbun. With ALA behind him it's likely he will be kept in with international opponents for a whilst longer then progressively stepped up.
What Bernaldez has going for him is a lot. He's young, got a great team behind him, has power, he's fun to watch and as he's fighting in and around the Featherweight division there will be interest to see him in the US and in Mexico both countries that have a lot of at interest at 122lbs and 126lbs. As he get older there is no doubt he'll fill in to a 130lb or 135lb fighter and if his power carries up he could easily find himself becoming a fighter that fans on both sides of the pacific tuen in to watch
Others worth at least thinking about are:
The much spoken about Joebert Alvarez (14-0-1, 6) who is actually known as "The Little Pacman"
The 20 year old Harmonito Dela Torre (12-0, 7) who has massive potential and is being showcased in Macau and Australia
The very fun to watch Albert Pagara (20-0, 14) who is as exciting as they come and is likely to burst on to the world rankings in the next year or two
The very touted Jhaleel Payao (8-0, 5) who is the current Philippines Boxing Federation Super Flyweight champion despite being just 20
The very heavy handed Dodie Boy Penalosa Jr (12-0, 11) who is of course the nephew of Gerry Penalosa a man closely linked to the Pacquiao team
The fast rising Neil John Tabanao (6-0, 5) who scored a very impressive stoppage over Elmar Francisco last year
(All pictures courtesy of boxrec.com other than the picture of Mark Magsayo)
If there has been one bout that has managed to remain on every boxing fans list of "fights we want" it's been Manny Pacquiao against Floyd Mayweather, a bout that we have all been wanting for the better part of 5 or 6 years. Unfortunately that bout has failed to materialise for various reasons with both sides accusing the other of various stalling tactics and other issues that have put the bout on the back burner.
The fighters, who were for a long time the #1 and #2 fighters in terms drawing value and pound-for-pound status, have been inextricably linked in the boxing equivalent of "will they-won't they". So far they've failed to get in the ring together despite the calls of the boxing community, casual fans and television networks.
There was hope however that the bout would finally happen after the WBC instilled Pacquiao as the #1 challenger for Mayweather's Welterweight title. This was a decision that was roundly supported in the boxing world as a title awarding body doing the right thing for boxing and trying to help create the biggest bout that boxing could possibly have right now. Unfortunately however the WBC's move may not work in the way we had all hoped.
We had of course hoped that the WBC would have forced the Mayweather against Pacquiao as a mandatory title fight in 2014. This seemed to be the intention of the #1 ranking of Pacquiao and it seemed clear that if the bout was forced as a mandatory the negotiations would be easier than if the parties involved with both fighters were forced to do it themselves. For example going through the typical purse bid procedure would see both men given their "just" purses.
The WBC's rules state that by default a purse bid for a fight would typically be split 70-30 in favour of the champion. In this case that would be Mayweather getting the lions share. The WBC do however allow modifications to this typical split in extreme circumstances:
2.12 Division of Proceeds in a Purse Offer. The net purse offer (after deduction of the WBC certification
Unfortunately the past few days has seen Mayweather has make his intentions regarding the bout perfectly clear. The title doesn't matter to him.
Whilst this isn't a clear "duck" it does seem that Mayweather and the WBC aren't singing from the same hymn sheet and instead Mayweather will do as Mayweather wishes, something he has repeatedly proven over the course of his career.
From where I'm sat it's always looked like everyone has been posturing and as a result everyone has been to blame for the fight not happening. Mayweather's demand of "Olympic Style Drug" testing involving blood tests seemed to be one power play whilst Arum and Pacquiao's request of a 50-50 purse split was another, Mayweather's demand that the fight was to be fought under the Mayweather banner was another one whilst another was the venue with Arum originally wanting the bout in the Cowboys stadium or a temporary outdoor arena.
Those issues seemed to stand in the way of a fight that both probably wanted, but didn't want it enough. The fight, back in 2009, 2010 or 2011 was by far and away "the fight". It was almost bound to break records in terms PPV sales, purses, gate and almost every conceivable record.
Whilst it's still a fight that boxing fans want the allure of it has certainly dropped with Pacquiao suffering a controversial defeat to Timothy Bradley and a shocking KO defeat to Juan Manuel Marquez. From my point of view Mayweather has the ball clearly in his court due to those losses. Pacquiao's drawing ability has dropped significantly, his supposedly "invincibility" has been shattered and he's dropped well down the mythical pound-for-pound charts. Mayweather on the other hand is still unbeaten, he's been granted a huge money deal on Showtime and needs a major opponent and probably more importantly he'd also get the lions share of purse if he took this bout as a mandatory as one would expect.
Whilst Pacquiao's options are limited in terms of opponents things aren't actually much better for Mayweather. The American needs a big name opponent. He needs someone bigger in terms of name than Robert Guerrero, who he faced earlier this year, and whilst options include Amir Khan and Marcos Maidana neither is likely to bring the big money and big sales that please Showtime. That would leave Mayweather in desperate need for someone able to sell big numbers and the only real fighters that can do that are Miguel Cotto and Manny Pacquiao.
If Mayweather is willing to give up his title, as he claims, then it's almost impossible for people to defend Mayweather. He's got a chance to satisfy everyone, fans, himself, Showtime and the WBC. If he turns it down it may be hard for Mayweather to get the respect that he craves, especially given that he right now holds the better cards.
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