The last 7 days has been relatively quiet in Asian boxing, though that doesn't mean we've not found some things that were good, bad and ugly....even if we did need to look a little further afield than usual for one of our ugly's this week!
1-Iwasa Vs Tapales is official!
This wasn't a particularly big surprise, given it has been rumoured for a while and had been all but set, but it was still nice to see an official announcement being made this week by the Celes Gym to confirmed the IBF "interim" Super Bantamweight title fight between Ryosuke Iwasa and Marlon Tapales. We are really excited about this one and think that the styles of the two men will make for something a little bit special
2-Hasanboy Dusmatov's debut
After weeks of frustration, rumours, speculation, and changes, we finally saw 2016 Olympic gold medal winner Hasanboy Dusmatov make his professional debut. The talented Uzbek stopped Jesus Cervantes Villanueva in 2 rounds on Saturday night in Mexico and he is now off the board with a win. The performance was a long way from flawless, but there was a lot to like and we're really excited to see where he can go in the pros, and how quickly he'll get there. He's a genuine talent, but given how frustrating it was to see him make his debut there has got to be some worries that his career will be a very frustrating one to follow.
It felt like a throw back weekend with a rare Indonesian televised show on RCTI. It feels like it has been far, far too long since Chris John was in action and there was a real reason to watch a show from Indonesia but this week was had one thanks to Ongen Saknosiwi and Daud Yordan. The bouts weren't the best, but they were both fan friendly and easy to watch. They showcased the biggest name in Indonesian boxing, and one of the rising stars and the match ups were both compelling from a stylistic point of view. This was great for Indonesian boxing, and fingers crossed RCTI do began to show case more boxing from Indonesia. The country has talent, but their boxing scene needs investment, money and effort.
Whilst we have just praised RCTI we also need to complain about them. They showed the entirety of Daud Yordan fight with Michael Mokoena live, but they missed the first 6 rounds of the co-feature. It would have made so much sense to have broadcast every round of Ongen Saknosiwi's bout with Marco Demecillo. Yordan is the star of Indonesian boxing, still, but the need for the new generation is there and they could have helped promote Saknosiwi here had they shown his entire bout. The 6 rounds we got were great, but it feels like a genuine mis-step by the broadcaster who could have shown all 12.
1- Sky Sports Box Office price for Ruiz Vs Joshua II
Not an Asian boxing issue as such, but an ugly issue for boxing in general is the abuse British fight fans are getting at the hands of Sky Sports Boxing office. The service announced that rematch between Andy Ruiz and Anthony Joshua will cost £24.95. That's higher than an average Sky Sports Box Office show, and suggests the bout really is all about money. The bout has been widely criticised for where it's taking place, in Saudi Arabia, and with an increase in PPV money along side a monster site fee it really does leave a bitter taste in the mouth. Things like this push some people away from the sport, and others to illegal streams. A terrible move by all involved, who appear to want another pound of flesh from boxing fans.
2-Masashi Noguchi's continued losing run
One of the feel good stories of the week was Takuya Yamaguchi picking up his 4th win in 17 fights. We love Yamaguchi and the way he has continued to fight on despite set backs, making up for his limitations. Sadly though this weeks win for Yamaguchi came against a man who is now more than 3 years removed from a win and has now lost 7 in a row. That is Masashi Noguchi, who challenged for the Japanese Lightweight title in December 2016, losing to Shuhei Tsuchiya, and has suffered 6 straight losses since. There now, surely, needs to be someone in his team telling him to hang them up before he gets hurt.
(Image courtesy of Olamsport, Matchroom Sport)
In the last few years we've seen more and more bouts between Asian fighters and European fighters. Unfortunately it hasn't often been the best from the two continents colliding, but it has been a start with two continental forces of world boxing clashing and opening the doors for inter-continental growth between the scenes which have often been kept away from each other.
Sadly we have typically seen a lot of mismatches. These have included bouts like Naoya Inoue's recent defence against Yoan Boyeaux, Daigo Higa against Thomas Masson, Jerwin Ancajas against Michael Conlan, Scott Quigg against Hidenori Otake and Kal Yafai against Suguru Muranaka. Bouts where the favourite wasn't really given too much of a challenge by the under-dog.
Sure we have seen some interesting bouts, such as the two bouts between Ryota Murata and Hassan N'Dam and, on paper, the Lee Haskins Vs Ryosuke Iwasa bout, but they haven't been as regular as they really should be. And that's not due to a lack of possible match ups. In fact right now there is a real host of fantastic fights that could be made at the world level between the two continents. Here we'll look at some of those possible bouts.
At the moment there is two Flyweight bouts that have some talk behind them, and they would both be very interesting.
One of those is a proposed WBC title bout between destructive world champion Daigo Higa (14-0, 14) and unbeaten Welshman Andrew Selby (10-0, 5). This bout was spoken about during 2017, though Selby seemed to suggest that he was against travelling to Japan where Higa is now a break out star and backed by the financially solid Fuji TV. The bout would put the most destructive fighter at Flyweight against one of the most decorated European amateurs, and would be a real clash of styles between ultra-aggressive champion and silky outside fighting challenger.
With a high WBC ranking it does look like this would be the shortest route to a world title for Selby, but he would be up against arguably the best Flyweight on the planet, and would almost certainly have to travel.
The other bout, and one that has had a public call out of sorts, is a WBO title fight between Sho Kimura (16-1-2, 9) and 2-time Olympic bronze medal winner Paddy Barnes (5-0, 2). Interestingly if this bout was made it would see Kimura taking on a third Olympian, following stoppage wins over Zou Shiming and Toshiyuki Igarashi, and a win could see him continue what has been a really surprising run of results. Barnes had targeted former amateur rival Zou Shiming earlier in his career, but may now see the man who stopped his amateur nemesis as the man to fight.
Given that Barnes is 31 later this year he may not want to wait around long for a fight at world level and Kimura hasn't been a fighter making big purses so far. A large offer could get Kimura over to Ireland for the fight, though he has got other options, including a domestic showdown with 2-weight world champion Kosei Tanaka and may look to delay a showdown with Barnes for now.
In 2017 there was several obvious bouts to make at 115lbs. That's because we have a world champion from Europe and several from Asia. But for whatever reason we never saw them face off. Thankfully however not all the doors are shut here, despite the fact Naoya Inoue is leaving the division rather than continue to get frustrated at the other top fighters.
Arguably the most even of the match ups we could get here would be an IBF/WBA unification bout, with Jerwin Ancajas (28-1-1, 19) defending the IBF title against WBA champion Kal Yafai (23-0, 14). Both men seemed to turn down Inoue, and it'd be very hard to favour either man against WBC champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (44-4-1, 40), but against each other they should make for a compelling contest. The bout shouldn't be too tricky to make, with both fighters looking to make a huge name for themselves this coming year. The two teams, Top Rank and Matchroom, have worked together in the past and both could see this as an opportunity to get their guy in a position to make big money.
Sadly lower weight unification bouts have long been a troublesome issue. Both fighters will want to be financially compensated for taking on another top rival, and with the talent in the division it may make more sense to milk a title for a little while longer. A bout between the two is one that we'd love, and we suspect most fans would love to see, but it may be that the two men simply have other plans and too many other options.
Having mentioned Naoya Inoue (15-0, 13) a few times above it only makes sense to mention him here, seeing that he has stated his intent is to fight at Bantamweight in 2018. The “Monster” has been linked to pretty much every notable Bantamweight since mid-December.
Two of these options have some British link. One of those is WBO champion Zolani Tete (26-3, 21), who is South African but is promoted out of the UK and has began to build a cult status in the country. The bout has been spoken about by both teams and Inoue has stated he's willing to travel to the UK for the bout, showing his hunger for a big contest and a third divisional world title. The other British option would be a bout with the talented Northern Irishman Ryan Burnett (18-0, 9), the current WBA and IBF unified champion.
A bout with Tete seems the most likely given that the two teams are talking about the contest. However Inoue could get a unified title by beating Burnett, and get some revenge for the struggles he had at Super Flyweight. The one big spanner in the work for the Burnett bout may be Burnett's promoter Eddie Hearn, who seemed happy to keep Kal Yafai away from Inoue and would likely want to do the same for Burnett, unless life changing money was on offer for his man. Given that financial issue we're much more likely to see the Tete bout than the Burnett one.
Inoue isn't the only fighter moving up in 2018, another is Englishman Jamie McDonnell (29-2-1, 13). The former Bantamweight champion scored notable wins over Tomoki Kameda at Bantamweight and is now moving up to Super Bantamweight, which is stacked with Asian fighters. The amount of interesting match ups McDonnell could have at 122lbs really is huge, and he could have fights with someone like IBF champion Ryosuke Iwasa (24-2, 16) or the skilled and sharp shooting Shingo Wake (23-5-2, 15).
For us though the bout that has the most interest here would be a bout between McDonnell and Filipino warrior Marlon Tapales (30-2, 13). The bout may not have the big name quality of others, but stylistically this would be a lot of fun. Both men can let their hands go, both have pretty good styles and when put under pressure McDonnell can be involved in some real thrillers, as his first bout against Liborio Solis was. Although not a star Tapales is a tough, come forward fighter and could well bring the best out of McDonnell in a back and forth war, with the winner well deserving of a world title fight, and a chance to become a 2-weight world champion.
Unification bouts feel natural for us fans, and there are few more enticing than a Middleweight clash between IBF/WBC/WBA Middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin (37-0-1, 33) and WBO counterpart Billy Joe Saunders (26-0, 12). The bout would leave us with an undisputed champion at 160lbs and would be a brilliant match up between two unbeaten men with very different styles.
On one hand Kazakh fighter Golovkin is one of the sports purest punchers, with thudding power, a chin of rock and a very high intensity pressure style. One the other hand Saunders is a southpaw boxer-mover who moves like a much smaller man, and at his best is one of the purest boxers in and around the division. The questions about the contest would be whether or not Golovkin could cut the ring off and break down Saunders, or whether the fleet footed Englishman could avoid the Kazakh for 12 rounds.
On a much lesser level we'd also love to see a clash between Irishman Jason Quigley (13-0, 10) and Japanese champion Hikaru Nishida (17-8-1, 8). On paper this bout wouldn't get much attention in the build up but the action in the ring would be sensational, as would a bout between Nishida and Gary O'Sullivan (27-2, 19). If either of the Irish fighters are looking for someone with a fan friendly style they could do a lot worse than taking on the aggressive Nishida in a sure fire barn burner.
(Images courtesy of boxmob.jp and boxrec.com)
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