As we head towards the new year we've had a big look at the current scene and come up with "20 fights we'd like to see in 2020", yeah another series ahead of the new decade!
As is always the case with what we do, these articles will have an Asian flavour, and every bout we mention in the series will have at least 1 fighter from Asia involved. So for those of you expecting us to talk about Deontay Wilder Vs Anthony Joshua, that won't be listed.
What we'll be looking at is well matched contests with either some form of back story, a great stylistic clash or bouts with some form of significant meaning. If they tick all the boxes then that is even better! Each fight will be given it's own article and each of these will come with an introduction to the fighters, and why the bout is being featured in the list.
Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16) Vs John Riel Casimero (29-4, 20)
to finish this mini series we look at a bout that has been rumoured for a while, and by the time you read this it may actually have been officially announced. Despite that it's a bout that seems an obvious one to make and is one we're very excited to see, pitting two hard hitting Bantamweights against each other to unify 3 of the 4 major titles. It's an all Asian bout and continues the long and stories Japan Vs Philippines rivalry.
One of the fights probably needs no introduction. Naoya Inoue, the Monster, the face of Japanese boxing, is one of the most notable fighters on the planet right now. He's cemented a legacy as one of the Japanese greats, despite being a professional for less than a decade. He only has 19 fights to his name but 14 have been at world level and he has gone 8-0 (6) against world champions, including established international names like Adrian Hernandez, Omar Andres Narvaez, Jamie McDonnell and Nonito Donaire. He's skilled, quick and freakishly destructive for a fighter of his size, with some of the most brutal body shots in the sport.
In the other corner we have Johnr Riel Casimer, a fighter who should be more well known than he is, but has long been under-the-radar despite notable success for over a decade, often on the road. The 30 year old Casimero has won world titles at Ligth Flyweight, Flyweight and Bantamweight whilst showing freakish power himself, an unorthodox offense and skills that are still developing this far into his career. Casimero has proven himself against the likes of Luis Alberto Lazarte, Amnat Ruenroeng, Charlie Edwards and Zolani Tete, all of whom felt the power of the Filipino. At his best Casimero is a threat for anyone at Bantamweight, and only needs a split second to turn a fight around. Sadly though he is inconsistent, and when he's off form he really is poor.
This is arguably the most interesting possible bout at Bantamweight. It pits two men with fight changing power against each other, it unifies titles, taking us a step closer to an undisputed champion, and it's a fantastic all Asian fight that looks set to headline a card in the US.
The bout is said to be pencilled in for April 25th in Las Vegas, and is likely to be announced any day soon. It will be a great test for two men each looking to make a statement. Inoue would clearly be the favourite but as we see time and time again, we can never write off Casimero, who loves to give the boxing world a shock every time fans see him as the under-dog.
As we head towards a new year we've decided to look into our glass balls, our tea leaves and our palms to come up with 20 predictions which will be posted over the coming weeks for what we think will happen in 2020. So far our predictions haven't been the best though they've not all been wrong.
In 2013 we predicted that Naoya Inoue, his brother Takuma and Kosei Tanaka would all win world titles. Between them they've won a few world titles, though Takuma has yet to win a proper world title. That same year we also predicted a growth in Chinese boxing, and this arguably happened despite the fact the Macau side of things has died off. We also predicted a growth in Asian fighters making a name for themselves in the US, this was before Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, Naoya Inoue or Kazuto Ioka had fought on US soil, and before the wave of Uzbek's had began to attract US attention.
Unlike the past, where we have made all of our predictions in 1 article, we'll be spreading these ones out with 1 prediction per article, and going more in depth than we have in the past.
Prediction number 11- A portion of boxing fans turn on Naoya Inoue
One thing we, as fans, often say is that we want to see the best fight the best. We want champions to face each other, or champions to go in against legitimate top challengers. We don't want to see fighters pussy footing around challenges to just keep their titles, and have a look reign against badly mismatched opposition.
One fighter who has often faced tests, looked for challenges, and thrown down the gauntlet to the boxing world is Japanese star Naoya Inoue. In just his 4th fight he took on Japanese champion Ryoichi Taguchi, in fight 6 he won his first world title, became a 2 weight champion in fight #8 before moving up to Bantamweight in 2018. Then winning the WBSS at Bantamweight in 2019.
He is a fighter who has done everything he can to get universal acclaim, and whilst his record at Super Flyweight didn't feature the best fighters he didn't wait too long to move up again whilst the WBC title went through a bit of a mandatory mess. It would, of course, have been great to see Inoue fight Roman Gonzalez, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, Jerwin Ancajas, Kal Yafai or Juan Francisco Esrrada, but it takes 2 to tango and for whatever reason, be it mandatories, circumstance or something else, those bouts never came off.
Since moving to Bantamweight Inoue has already notched wins over Jamie McDonnell, Juan Carlos Payano, Emmanuel Rodriguez and Nonito Donaire. He has created history by becoming the first Asian fighter to win the Muhammad Ali trophy and the first Japanese fighter to ever score a win in a world title fight in Europe. After just 19 fights he has almost certainly staked a claim as being in the top 3 Japanese fighters of all time, if not the #1 position.
Sadly success in boxing brings hate, and with Inoue recently signing with Top Rank he will get a lot more exposure to the US market. That will bring with it a new group of haters, a group that easily ignored him to this point as he was out of site and out mind.
In 2020 we predict there will be a surge of anti-Inoue backlash from fans who are unhappy about everything in his career. Even things that aren't his fault. An obvious example of this will be Inoue not fighting Luis Nery, a PBC fighter who has repeatedly shown an unprofessional attitude. Sure the bout would be great, but with Nery unable to consistently make weight it's likely a bout between the two would be cancelled due to Nery missing 118lbs, not for the first time. Likewise fans calling for him to move up, rather than face the other leading Bantamweights, like Nordine Oubaali, and hating him for wanting to face the best at his own weight.
Whether he faces easy opponent, tough opponents or unifies we suspect there will be a small, but very vocal, surge of anti-Inoue comments online. Those comments will come no matter what he does and who against.
(Image courtesy of Ohashi Gym)
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.
What a week we've had! It may not have been day to day action and huge news, but what a week! We have had the WBSS Bantamweight final, and it was clearly worth the wait, we have seen the God's Left final being set, and we know who will challenger for the Japanese Super Featherweight title at the 2020 Champion Carnival. We've also seen Kazakh prospects shine Stateside and a lot more! Sadly though the awards have been dominated by 1 fight, though in fairness it was a little bit special!
Fighter of the Week
Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16)
Going into this week we all knew that Naoya Inoue was an offensive machine, he was stopping top fighters with ease and blitzing through the likes of Jamie McDonnell, Juan Carlos Payano and Emmanuel Rodriguez. What we didn't know was how he took a shot, how he handled real adversity, and what he'd do when a fighter didn't just wilt under his power and pressure. Was he going to break mentally? Was he chinny? This week Inoue's win over Nonito Donaire answered those questions in style. Inoue fought through his first professional cut, he gritted through Donaire's incredible hook, and even battled hard though what turned out to be a fractured orbital and a broken nose. He not only battled through injury but he did so against a really dangerous puncher, and should, really, have become the second man to stop Donaire, who was only allowed to continue after a 10 count in round 11 due to some bizarre work from the referee. Now the IBF and WBA Bantamweight champion and the Muhammad Aliu Trophy winner, there was never any doubt over the Fighter of the Week was
Performance of the Week
Nonito Donaire (40-6, 26)
A real rarity is a fighter who loses being given the Performance of the Week honours, but it's hard to argue with Nonito Donaire deserving almost as many plaudits as Naoya Inoue. The Filipino was expected to be destroyed, taken out early on and was hardly given a chance heading into the WBSS final. Many wanted to complain about how he'd reached the final, the injuries to Ryan Burnett and Zolani Tete and hoe he had essentially gotten to the WBSS final by default. He however knew he got there on merit, and was a legitimate top Bantamweight, even at the age of 36. Up against Inoue, as a massive under-dog Donaire put in one of his greatest ever performances. He managed to not only take the best shots of the Monster, but also injured Inoue, fracturing Inoue's right eye and nose, cutting Inoue and rocking Inoue. He managed to get up from a sickening body shot in round 11 and gave a performance that was truly exceptional. Even in defeat the "Filipino Flash" showed what a credit to the sport he was.
Naoya Inoue Vs Nonito Donaire
When the Fighter of the Week takes on the man who had the Performance of the Week it's fair to say they also had the bout of the week. In fact they had one of the bouts opf the year. The fight swung one way, then the other with several notable moment shifts, notably swinging to Donaire in round 2, Inour in round 3, Donaire in round 8, then back to Inoue at the end of round 10. Not only was there momentum shifts, but there was drama, with Inoue being cut early on, Donaire being rocked several times before being dropped, Inoue himself being rocked. Not only was it dramatic but it was also a technical war, with clean, power shots being landed by both. This was a war, but a very technical one, with massive punches, respect and heart from both. It was the WBSS final we deserved, more than 1 year after the tournament began.
Takuya Watanabe Vs Taiki Minamoto
Naoya Inoue Vs Nonito Donaire (Rd 11)
We should really just sub-title this weeks awards as "The Inoue Vs Donaire award week" as they have also taken the Round of the Week award for the dramatic and amazing 11th round. The round was the only 10-8 round in the fact, despite what one judge ended up doing, and in fact it could actually have been a 10-7 round. Despite that it was a round that was simple amazing, with the only complaints being about the referee. Inoue gone into the round with confidence rebuilt after some tough rounds and part way through the round he landed a huge left hand to the body which sent Donaire down. Inoue looked go for the finish before Donaire went down, but was essentially blocked by the referee who also gave Donaire a very long 10 count. Despite being robbed of the stoppage Inoue went for the finish through what was left of the round, hurting, wobbling and damaging Donaire. The Filipino some how stayed up right before for the full round in what was a sensational battle of aggression against heart. This was one of the best rounds of the year, despite being relatively one sided.
Takuya Watanabe Vs Taiki Minamoto (3)
Souhadou Traore KO1 Ekarat Gordon
We obviously need something obscure in our weekly awards right? Right! Well we head over to Thailand for the KO of the week as Thai based Souhadou Traore, originally from the Ivory Coast, blasted out 19 year old debutant Ekarat Gordon. The 34 year old Traore connected with a brutal right hand behind the ear that completely flattened Gordon. Thankfully Gordon did get up by himself after the bout, but was clearly out cold following the shot.
Shokichi Iwata (4-0, 3)
There were a number of prospects in action this week, though the one who impressed us the most was unbeaten Japanese youngster Shokichi Iwata, who stopped Alejandro Cruz Valladares live on DAZN. The performance wasn't flawless, in fact it was very flawed, but very exciting and saw Iwata fight to his opponents weaknesses. Valladares was lacking in power and Iwata knew he could take the shots of the Mexican whilst also being aggressive himself. Eventually the difference in punching power paid off, with Cruz being stopped in what was a fun bout, and a smart move from Iwata's team. Interestingly this bout wasn't shown on Japanese TV, but was on the American DAZN.
Keita Kurihara (14-5, 12) Vs Sukkasem Kietyongyuth (24-10, 16)
After a few really good weeks there is a bit of a downturn in bout quality this coming week, however we really like the look of the scheduled 8 rounder on Friday between Keita Kurihara and Sukkasem Kietyongyuth. This bout won't be for Kurihara's OPBF title, but does pit two world ranked fighters against each other and we're expecting a genuine fire fight here between two men who do believe in their power. Kurihara, should he win, will likely be moved towards a potential world title eliminator, so is risking a lot against a very under-rated Thai foe.
This past week was a busy week, without being a huge week, it was an interesting week, without being a banner week. It was the type of week where the little fights were allowed to shine, and one of the big talking points was what we didn't get, rather than what we did get.
With the IBF Super Flyweight title bout between Jerwin Ancajas (31-1-2, 21) and Jonathan Javier Rodriguez (21-1, 15) falling through late on we did miss out on world title action but we did still get a lot of good stuff!
Fighter of the Week
Hironobu Matsunaga (16-1, 10)
One of the strangest categories this week was the Fight of the Week. There was no huge bout, and the bigger bouts saw Asian fighters losing, an often losing in rather disappointing fashion. As a result we had to dig a little deeper than we'd have hoped for out Fighter of the Week, though we did get a deserving winner, with Japanese Light Middleweight champion Hironobu Matsunaga successfully defending his title in a thrilling win over Koki Koshikawa. Matsunaga had to dig deep, work hard and ended up showing what he could do, in what was the biggest win by an Asian fighter this past week.
Performance of the Week
Akio Furutani (8-4, 3)
It's nice to get the chance to highlight someone who wouldn't have gotten a mention in a bigger week, and with Akio Furutani this is likely the only time he will ever be mentioned in one of our award articles. The unheralded fighter put in the best performance of his career to upset former OPBF Flyweight champion Keisuke Nakayama. From the opening round to the last minute Furutani came forward, coming to fight and Nakayama really had no answer for the aggression of Furutani over the 8 round schedule. A great and very unexpected performance from 21 year old, who has now won 4 in a row following a loss in the 2018 Rookie of the Year competition.
Hironobu Matsunaga Vs Koki Koshikawa
The weekend's Dynamic Glove card was, overall, a disappointment, but one bout really stood out. That was the 4 round war for the Japanese Light Middleweight title. In one corner was the 32 year old champion, a diminutive figure, in the other corner was former amateur stand out Koki Koshikawa. From the off this set off at an amazing pace, and swung one way, then the other, in what was a really thrilling fight. It was a bit one sided by the time of the stoppage, but up to that point it had been great, with both showing their heart and will to win, and both getting through some sticky moment. A real gem on a card that lacked to quality action.
Hironobu Matsunaga Vs Koki Koshikawa (2)
We go back to our Fight of the week for our Round of the week, and what a great, great round this was. The first round for the Japanese Light Middleweight title bout between Hironobu Matsunaga and Koki Koshikawa was great but the second was even better. By now Matsunaga had began to find his groove, pressing the fight and forcing Koshikawa to respond in a round that was back and forth, exciting, and had power shots from both. This wasn't always pretty, but tense and the final 30 seconds or so really raised the roof as both looked to leave an impression on the judges. This won't go down as a Round of the Year contender, but was a brilliant and exciting round, from a fantastic fight.
Tatsuya Tsuge TKO3 Kyota Shinya
Although we had a lot of fights, and we mean a lot, we didn't get many KO's during the week, at least no clean ones. Thankfully this lead to us finding the wonderful, and very hidden uppercut uppercut finish from Tatsuya Tsuge, who stopped Kyota Shinya on a Dangan 4 round show. Whilst Shinya wasn't out cold or anything this was still a beauty to see. Tsuge landed a brilliant left uppercut that turned Shinya's lights off, before a follow up right hand clipped him on his way down. For Boxing Raise subscribers this one is worth looking for.
Yudai Shigeoka (1-0, 1)
The debuting Yudai Shigeoka may not have looked flawless in his 2nd round win over Thai visitor Manop Audomphanawari but he did impress with a real beating of the Thai. It seemed, for the most part, that Shigeoka only fought in the first couple of gears, and even that was impressive, especially with his body shots. We'll admit we were more impressed when his brother, Ginjiro Shigeoka, made his debut but this was still an excellent showing from a genuine elite level prospect.
Naoya Inoue (18-0, 16) vs Nonito Donaire (40-5, 26)
It was never going to be anything else, was it? The WBSS Bantamweight final between Naoya Inoue and Nonito Donaire is one of the most anticipated bouts of 2019 and it takes place this coming Thursday from the Saitama Super Arrena. The bout will potentially enhance Inoue's status as a modern great even further, or cap off a legendary career for Donaire. We're expecting fire works, an incredible atmosphere and something big here. Easily the one fight to keep an eye on this coming up this week!
Sandwiched between an awesome October and a brilliant looking December is a somewhat more normal November. It's not a bad month, by any stretch, but it does look a lot less interesting than the month that has come before it, and the month that is set to follow it. Despite that it does start in amazing fashion with a very hectic start to the month!
Jerwin Ancajas (31-1-2, 21) Vs Jonathan Javier Rodriguez (21-1, 15) -California, USA
Jerwin Ancajas looks for his next defense of the IBF Super Flyweight world title as he takes on Mexican challenger Javier Rodriguez. The talented Ancajas should have no problem at all with the Mexican, who has just a single win of note on his record, though we do wonder what motivation Ancajas has after a string of less than great challengers. He's a very talented fighter, but he needs to question why his team aren't matching him with any of the other notable fighters in the division.
Hiroki Okada (19-1, 13) Vs Javier Molina (20-2, 8) - California, USA
Japan's Hiroki Okada returns to the US for his third bout in the country as he takes on 2008 Olympian Javier Molina. For Okada the bout will be his first since being stopped by Ray Beltran in a thriller earlier this year, and it'll be interesting to see how he bounces back from that loss. For Molina the bout will be seen as a very winnable one, and a chance for him to continue a nice little winning run that's been going for a coupel of years. Neither man can really afford a loss here and so we're expecting a very good contest.
Romero Duno (21-1, 16) Vs Ryan Garcia (18-0, 15) - Las Vegas, USA
Months after the bout was first touted we now get Romero Duno against Ryan Garcia, in what looks like a mouth watering clash. The Filipino is a huge puncher, but technically rough around the edges, a bit crude and open and not particularly polished in how he fights. Garcia on the other hand is a talented pretty boy, who has a very flash and quick style. It'll be Duno's heavy hands against the speed and combinations of Garcia, in what could be one of the most intriguing bouts of the month.
Meiirim Nursultanov (12-0, 8) vs Cristian Olivas (16-5, 13) - Las Vegas, USA
Talented Kazakh Meiirim Nursultanov looks to continue his unbeaten record as he faces off with Cristian Olivas, a very tough guy. Nursultanov will be going into this with momentum behind him and will know that if he keeps winning a big fight will come his way, but this is legitimately a tough one. Olivas has lost his last 3 but has never been stopped, is tough and rugged and will see this as a great chance to pick up a win against a touted prospect. We expect to see Nursultanov have to work for the win here.
Hironobu Matsunaga (15-1, 9) Vs Koki Koshikawa (9-1, 6) - Tokyo, Japan
The once beaten Hironobu Matsunaga will look to make his first defense of the Japanese Light Middleweight title as he goes up against Koki Koshikawa. The talented Matsunaga has rebuilt amazingly well following a loss, years ago, to Yuki Beppu in the Rookie of the Year final and his current run has been excellent. Koshikawa on the other hand was tipped for success when he turned professional but has yet to really live up to the expectations put on his shoulders when he began his pro career. On paper this is a decent bout and we expect it to be even better in the ring. This could be a very fun title bout.
Nobuyuki Shindo (20-5-2, 8) Vs Yuto Shimizu (13-4-2, 5) - Tokyo, Japan
Interestingly the Japanese Middleweight title bout is joined on the same show by a Japanese Light Middleweight title eliminator, as former champion Nobuyuki Shindo takes on Yuto Shimizu. Both of these are big Light Middleweights, at least by Japanese standards, though they have very different styles. Shindo a very rangy southpaw who will look to back off the back foot, whilst Shimizu is a more come-forward slugger. We don't expect this to be a great gelling of styles, but it should be a compelling match up and both men will be battling hard to secure a Japanese title fight at the Champion Carnival in 2020.
East Japan Rookie of the Year finals - Tokyo, Japan
We won't go into all the bouts, but Korakuen Hall plays host to the East Japan Rookie of the Year finals and there are a number of excellent match ups on this card. The show is full of promising young fighters and this should be a very good watch, albeit on tape delay a week later.
Naoya Inoue (18-0, 16) vs Nonito Donaire (40-5, 26) - Saitama, Japan
The biggest bout of the month, by far, will see the IBF/WBA Bantamweight titles being unified in WBSS final between unbeaten Japanese sensation Naoya Inoue and Filipino icon Nonito Donaire. This bout is one of the most anticipated bouts of 2019 and whilst it's taken a long time to get to the bout it's still a huge contest, and has sold out the venue weeks in advance. The winner of this will be seen as the de fact #1 in the division, though we wouldn't be surprised to see the winner move up in weight in 2020. This is a huge bout, and something we're really looking forward to.
Nordine Oubaali (16-0, 12) vs Takuma Inoue (13-0, 3) - Saitama, Japan
A second Bantamweight title bout will see WBC Bantamweight champion Nordine Oubaali take on interim champion Takuma Inoue. This is a fantastic match up and will put two very skilled, though often over-looked, fighters against each other. For Oubaali the bout will be his second defense whilst Inoue will be fighting for the first time since winning the interim title back in December, though has been out some of that time due to an injury. Whilst this bout will be over-shadowed by the WBSS bout we do expect a fantastic, high skilled and very good match up between two legitimate top 10 Bantamweights.
Back in December we looked at some boxers who were involved in music, either with their own recordings, or when they inspired songs. Now we've decided to look at other times Asian boxers featured in media outside of the sport. We've tried to find some pretty interesting examples and whilst we know there are thousands of examples, we've tried to feature some that are less well known, or rather amusing.
Samart Payakaroon in "The Body Guard"
One of the fighters we featured in the songs by Asian boxers was Thai great Samart Payakaroon. Samart wasn't just a boxer who turned to singing however but also acting, and did so in a number of roles, including a rather humorous role in Thai movie "บอดี้การ์ดหน้าเหลี่ยม", aka The Bodyguard.
Samart's role in the movie wasn't a massive one, but was a tongue in cheek comedy role in the movie, and it's genuinely fantastic to see what he was able to do in 2004 film. Incidentally the movie also features Khaosai and Khaokor Galaxy, who place twins in the movie, however the clip below is just Samart in what is genuinely a a clip worthy of 3 minutes of any ones time.
Katsuya Onizuka's Boxing video game
In the last few years the clamour for a new boxing game has grown, with Fight Night Championship now being a rather old and dated. Notably however former Japanese Katsuya Onizuka had a game that took his name back in the 1990's!
"Onizuka Katsuya Super Virtual Boxing" was a Japanese only Super Famicom game released in late 1993. Back then Onizuka, known as "Spanky K", was the WBA Super Flyweight champion and one of the most popular fighters in Japan. Interestingly the game was released around 3 weeks after his rematch with Thanomsak Sithbaobay.
Unlike most boxing games this one actually uses a first person mode, similar to Punch-Out!!
Onizuka has also featured in some other media, and is now known in Japan due to art work, with his paintings getting attention in his homeland and being available to buy.
Zou Shiming makes cameo in Transformers 4
Bob Arum's big hope to have a Chinese expansion was built primarily on the shoulders of Zou Shiming, a former Chinese amateur standout. Sadly the idea of making Macau an Asian boxing hub has failed, and Shiming's career has sadly been cut short due to injuries. Saying that however he is still very popular in China and a big name in his homeland.
Before his in ring career faltered he had a small part in Hollywood blockbuster Transformers 4. It wasn't a long cameo, or even a particularly long one, but it was a notable one with the producers of the film wanting to use Shiming to try and make the movie bigger in China, and tap into the growing Chinese film market.
This is less humours than the Samart Payakaroon clip, but still worthy of a few minutes to see Shiming trying to act!
Some thing totally different to everything else on this list is this old item that used to be sold on the Kameda shop. This was the "Kameda Roll", a food item that the Kameda brothers put their name to.
Back in 2010 this was pretty big news in Japan, back when all 3 of the Kameda brothers were active fighters. It was a collaboration between the Kameda brothers and Kitahorie Charbon, a cafe in Osaka. For those who know about Osaka they will know the area is regarded as having some of the best food in Japan and this roll was certainly interesting.
It was described on www.excite.co.jp as being a "melon bread-like biscuit dough with a two-layer structure of fluffy sponges with plenty of egg yolk", and was apparently a success back when it was released. Sadly though it hasn't been the raging, long term success of the George Foreman grill.
Rex Tso in HUAWEI Honor advert
Boxers being used in adverts isn't a new, or unique thing, but the partnership between Hong Kong's Rex Tso and Chinese phone giant HUAWEI was more than just Tso being used to advertise the phone. It was actually a solid partnership that ended up with HUAWEI streaming some of Tso's fights on their facebook page as the brand looked to make the most of their deal with the fighter.
The art featuring Tso for the phone is a pretty weak one if we're being honest, showing more of Tso training than any real attempt to sell the phone. The focus was clearly more on merely raising the brand awareness than showing what the phone could do, which is a shame as the Honor 6 was a fantastic phone. Still seeing Tso in this role was rather weird and it's clear that's, not the most natural of actors, despite his incredible charisma.
Other adverts that were considered included Gennady Golovkin's adverts for Apple Watch, which again did little to make us think anything positive of the device.
Naoya Inoue's under pants advert
We finish this article with one more advert, the Body Wild Airz advert featuring Japanese star Naoya Inoue, Unlike the Rex Tso advert this does try and sell the product, which are underpants.
Inoue became the face, and body, of the advertising campaign for the Body Wild underwear and whilst it was really smart marketing in many ways it does seem a rather peculiar of using one of the biggest stars in Japanese boxing. It also makes the product easy to rip, which does seem the best of ideas for those behind the product, even if that wasn't the idea behind the advert. Of all the adverts we came across featuring Asian boxers seemed the most bizarre. A boxer, selling boxers!
We now head into June, and we do so on the back of a huge May that had everything a fight fan could wish for. We had regular, frequent action, at every level, we had fantastic fights, brilliant performances, and a month that is going to be one of the very, very best of 2019.
Fighter of the Month
Naoya Inoue (18-0, 16)
We had some great performances through the month, but it was clearly only one man who was in the running to be regarded as the fighter of the month, and that was the Monster. Inoue not only boosted his profile to a point of international star, progressed to the WBSS final, claimed the IBF Bantamweight title, but did so in a fashion that seemed to tell the world how good he was, stopping the unbeaten Emmanuel Rodriguez in 2 rounds. This was the type of win that made those, who dind't know of Inoue, sit up and take note. And for those who had long supported the Monster it was vindication that he wasn't just a normal fighter, in fact he was an historical fighter, becoming the first Japanese fighter to win a world title fight in Europe.
Fight of the Month
Taiki Minamoto (16-5, 13) vs Reiya Abe (19-2, 9)
May really did have a lot going on it, with a huge number of fights, but we actually go back to the very start of the month for our Fight of the Month. That was the Japanese Featherweight title fight between between the hard hitting Taiki Minamoto and Reiya Abe, a bout that was sensational, with momentum shifts, excitement, skills, power, heart. Abe, the more skilled fighter, was dropped twice, but gritted his teeth and earned a draw in what wasn't a warm it wasn't a brawl, but it was a brilliant, high skilled, boxing contest. We love wars, and we had those through the month, but this was a brilliant fight and is a must watch for any fight fan.
KO of the Month
Takenori Ohashi TKO7 Shun Wakabayashi
When a fighter is being out boxed, out sped, out fought and out skilled there is always a chance he can bail himself out, if he's a puncher. That's what we saw when Takenori Ohashi landed a brutal uppercut, leaving Wakabayashi out cold, flat on his back and rendering any of Wakabayashi's success as moot. It was proof of the adage of "it only takes 1 punch" and proof that when a fighter is a puncher, they are always in the fight. A massive KO and a huge statement for Ohashi.
Lap Cheong Cheong (6-0, 4)
Although we saw more notable prospects, and we saw bigger wins, we were really impressed by Macao's 22 year old Lap Cheong Cheong this month, as he took an excellent win over Muhammad Wahid in Hong Kong. The unbeaten Macau man pressed the fight through out, took the fight to his foe and tried to break him down from the first round the final seconds. Wahid's toughness prevented the stoppage, but Cheong couldn't have impressed much more. We loved hi style, mentality and hunger, and he looks like a really exciting young fighter.
Masafumi Ando KO3 Toshio Arikawa
Japanese domestic level journeyman Masafumi Ando scored the biggest win of his career, by far, by stopping former Japanese Welterweight champion Toshio Arikawa in 3 rounds. Ando, who had won just 1 of his previous 4 bouts, was a huge under-dog against Arikawa and when he was dropped himself things seemed to be against him. That however instantly changed when he dropped Arikawa and sent him into retirement. What's particularly remarkable about this win is that Ando hadn't scored a stoppage in well over 5 years, and had only beaten 1 opponent with a winning record, the then 1-0 Masanori Iwai.
Ryoichi Tamura Vs Yusaku Kuga II (6)
We had some amazing fights during the month, in what was a truly amazing month. Among the best was the 10 round rematch between Ryoichi Tamura and Yusaku Kuga. The bout had some amazing rounds, the pick of which was the 6th round, as Tamura, who knew he was well behind, moved through the gears and began to push Kuga back. Kuga held his ground more than he did in the later rounds, and gave us a really special 3 minutes of damaging and brutal action. An excellent 3 minutes in what was a fantastic bout, and is well worthy a watch by anyone who likes hard hitting wars.
This past week has been an incredible one in the grand scheme of things. We've had Asian fighters fighting for world titles on 3 different days, we've had a whole host of prospects, Japanese title bouts, two live streamed shows on Boxing Raise, more streamed action from Thailand and Taiwan and it really has been a week to remember. With that in mind it's been a really great week for our weekly awards, and an incredible hard one to decide in terms of some winners.
Fighter of the Week
Naoya Inoue (18-0, 16)
We suspect that there will be no argument at all with us selecting "The Monster" as our fighter of the week. He really was the talk of the boxing world through the last 7 days, not only in the build up to his WBSS semi-final bout with Emmanuel Rodriguez but also afterwards, with his 2nd round demolition of the Puerto Rican really being something very spectacular. Whilst we did feel that Rodriguez perhaps had an overly inflated reputation coming in to the bout there was no questioning Inoue's performance. He took a round to get a read on Rodriguez, then destroyed him to become the first ever Japanese fighter to win a world title fight in Europe. This was the Monster announcing himself, and doing so in a way that leave no doubt about the Japanese star.
Performance of the Week
Naoya Inoue (18-0, 16)
For the first time ever our Fighter of the Week, generally given to the fighter who scored the best win, and our Performance of the Week, the fighter who impressed us the most, are the same man. We won't bother to repeat ourselves, though we will say that if you've not yet seen the performance this was something amazing.
Despite Inoue picking up the double we will just add that the performances form Yusaku Kuga, Tsubasa Maruchi, Masayuki Kuroda and Reiya Konishi were all very impressive and all would likely have been a serious contender had we not had the Monster do what he did in Glasgow.
Moruti Mthalane Vs Masayuki Kuroda
We loved the rematch between Ryuichi Tamura and Yusaku Kuga, and the thriller between Tatsuya Yanagi and Koichi Aso, but the reality is that Monday's world title fight between Moruti Mthalane and Masayuki Kuroda was a level above the other bouts. This was something to behold, a 12 round war, with the skills of Mthalane put against the heart and desire of Kuroda. The champion retained his IBF Flyweight title relatively comfortably in the end, but that cannot take away from the fact that the bout was sensational. It was a really, really exciting, well fought contest that deserves to mentioned as a FOTY contender
Ryoichi Tamura vs Yusaku Kuga II (6)
There was so many amazing rounds this past week. We had things like Yosuke Fujihara v Naoya Okamoto, round 3, Koichi Aso v Tatsuya Yanagi, round 7, and and several rounds from Moruti Mthalane vs Masayuki Kuroda bout. For us however the Japanese Super Bantamweight title bout between Ryoichi Tamura and Yusaku Kuga had the best round of the week. It's difficult to pick one, though we're edging with round 6, which was the round where the fight really came alive. Tamura, who was losing the bout quite clearly after 5 rounds, picked up his pace and we ended up with a 3 minute fire fight, that began the second half of a sensational fight. This was the sort of bout that we love, for the action, but hate knowing that there's a chance neither man will ever be the same. A truly brutal fight, with some truly amazing rounds.
Kenta Nakagawa TKO7 Ryosuke Nasu
For such an amazing, action packed week, we didn't really have many standout KO's on show. Whilst Naoya Inoue's stoppage of Emmanuel Rodriguez was impressive Rodriguez wasn't out cold. Arguably the best of the bunch was Kenta Nakagawa's brilliant left hand against Ryosuke Nasu, that left Nasu out in Nakagwa's corner. The bout hadn't been thje mopst notable but the stoppage was huge and really showed that, despite his limitations, Nakagawa can bang at this level.
Ryusei Kawaura (6-0, 4)
If we're being totally honest the Prospect of the Week was one of the harder categories this past week, even hard than the Fight and Round of the Week. We had notable wins for not only our winner, Ryusei Kawaura, but also Batyrzhan Jukembayev, Shakhobidin Zoirov, Elnur Abduraimov, Eric Pen and Tsubasa Maruchi. For us Kawaura's win over Renoel Pael, and the manner of that win, was what won him the award, but in reality it was really close and we got a real glimpse at some amazing talent this past week, talent that will make a mark at a much higher level in the near future future.
Carlos Canizales (21-0-1, 17) vs Sho Kimura (18-2-2, 11)
As with the week we've just had there is a lot to look forward to over the coming 7 days. For us the highlight, at least on paper, is the WBA "regular" Light Flyweight title bout between Carlos Canizales and Sho Kimura. This has the potential to be a sensational bout, and a true FOTY contender. Canizales, looking to make his second defense of the title, is the natural Light Flyweight, and is a strong powerful guy at 108lbs, whilst Kimura is dropping down from Flyweight for this. If Kimura makes the weight safely we should be in for something truly, and gruesomely violent.
We mentioned them at the start of this but they need mentioning again, Boxing Raise were tremendous. They gave us two live shows, one of which was totally free whilst one was for their members. The first of those shows was arguably the show of the week and featured a trio of amazing match ups, once again showing the level of service their cards have.
TVK were a real mixed bag, winning the first ever "Half assed" award. Whilst they were big winners on Monday, live streaming the IBF Flyweight title bout between Masayuki Kuroda and Moruti Mthalane, we are really disappointed that they've not uploaded the bout to their youtube channel for a chance to rewatch what was a FOTY candidate...come on folks!
Masafumi Ando, who scored a huge upset by stopping former Japanese Welterweght champion Toshio Arikawa. Ando was expected to be taken out but completely ripped up the script to score a career defining win, and prove that even with his poor record he can still be a banana skin to much more well known fighters.
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