In the Middle part of September things get a little bit crazy, with a host of fights all crammed into a very small window of time.
Masayuki Ito (25-2-1, 13) Vs Ruben Manakane (25-18-1, 14) - Tokyo, Japan
Former WBO Super Featherweight champion Masayuki Ito fights for the first time since his world title loss, and takes on Indonesian foe Ruben Manakane. This bout is little more a confidence building home-coming bout for Ito, who should really dominate Manakane and force a mid-round stoppage. Despite that it's nice to see Ito back in the ring after his loss to Jamel Herring. We're expecting a simple, straight forward win for Ito here, but the rest of the card is much harder to predict.
Reiya Abe (19-2-1, 9) vs Ryo Sagawa (7-1, 4) - Tokyo, Japan
Talented Japanese Featherweights Reiya Abe and Ryo Sagawa clash for the vacant Japanese title, which has been vacated by Taiki Miniamoto. On paper this one of the best match ups of the entire month, it's a 50-50 type fight between two men in good form, who have really impressed in recent years. Both have contrasting styles that should gel well, and we're expecting a genuinely fantastic back and forth bout here. This is a tough one to call and should be very entertaining.
Gakuya Furuhashi (25-8-1, 14) vs Ryoichi Tamura (12-4-1, 6) - Tokyo, Japan
In a potentially thrilling 8 rounder we'll see Gakuya Furuhashi and Ryoichi Tamura battle in a Japanese Super Bantamweight title eliminator. Furuhashi is a 2-time title challenger, having failed to pick up victory against Yasutaka Ishimoto and Yukinori Oguni, but is a very fun to watch fighter and did push Oguni very close. Tamura on the other hand won,and lost, the Japanese title this year and has developed a reputation for being in great fights due to his intense work rate, toughness and pressure. This should be an all out war between two men desperate for another shot at the title. Expect this one to be brutal.
Rikito Shiba (3-0, 2) vs Shisui Kawabata (2-0, 2) - Tokyo, Japan
Unbeaten youngster clash here in a Japanese Youth title bout, with the touted Rikito Shiba and Shisui Kawabata both risking their unbeaten records at this very early stage in their careers. Of the two we've been more impressed by Shiba, though Kawabata has previously been a sparring partner for Naoya Inoue and has come to the pro-ranks with a very good reputation from his days in the amateur ranks. On paper this might look like two novices in a nothing bout, but given their pedigree this is much bigger than that, and the winner will likely be fast tracked to a senior title next year. This is a huge bout given how early it is in the careers of both men.
Emanuel Navarrete (28-1, 24) vs Juan Miguel Elorde (28-1, 15) - Nevada, USA
The Elorde is one of the most famous in Filipino boxing and on the 14th of September we'll see Juan Miguel Elorde, the grandson of the legendary Flash Elorde, challenger WBO Super Bantamweight champion Emanuel Navarrete. The once beaten Navarrete has looked like a monster through much of his career and this very much has the hall marks of a cash out for Elorde who has done little to deserve a world title fight. On one hand it would be great to see another Elorde at the top of the sport, but the reality is that he will almost certainly be a lamb to the slaughter here.
Yuki Nonaka (33-10-3, 10) Vs Yang Hyun Min (8-2, 7) - Osaka, Japan
Japanese veteran Yuki Nonaka looks to make his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Middleweight title as he goes up against Korean challenger Yang Hyun Min. The talented Nonaka, who is still showing what he can do past the age of 40, is hoping to get a world title fight before his career is over and knows keeping his regional title is the key to landing a shot at the big time. Min on the other hand enters as a bit of an unknown. On paper Min is a puncher, but in reality his competition has been so bad that it's hard to know what he really has to offer
Daiki Tomita (13-1, 5) vs Hayato Yamaguchi (15-7-1, 2) - Osaka, Japan
Another WBO Asia Pacific title fight takes place at Light Flyweight and will see Daiki Tomita take on Hayato Yamaguchi, in a bout for the vacant title. For Tomita this will be his second fight, following a loss last year in an OPBF Minimumweight title fight against Tsubasa Koura. At 21 years old Tomita's future is bright, but another loss here will leave him with a lot of rebuilding. On the other hand Yamaguchi is 30 years old and has gone 3-3 in his last 6 bouts, stretching back almost 5 years, a loss for him will almost certainly send him into retirement. Interestingly this will only Yamaguchi's second bout since the start of 2017 and that type of ring rust will almost certainly be an issue against the very capable Tomita.
Tomoko Okuda (5-2-1, 1) vs Kanako Taniyama (2-0, 1) - Osaka, Japan
Another title bout will see the Japanese Female Bantamweight title being fought for, as the unbeaten Kanako Tamiyama takes on Tomoko Okuda for the currently vacant title. Okuda is the more experienced boxer however Taniyama has got more combat experience than her record suggests following a successful career in kick boxing, a career that was ended due to a knee injury. With both women in their 30's it's hard to see where the loser goes, but the winner will likely look to move from domestic level to regional level and then, potentially, landing a world title fight before ending their career. In many way's it's a shame Taniyama turned to boxing just before her 31st birthday as she has shown some touches of potential. At 36 Okuda is showing signs of being old in the ring already and is 1-1-1 in her last 3.
This past week was a really crazy one with so many shows, especially over the weekend, making it almost impossible to watch everything. Over the weekend alone there were cards in Thailand, Japan, Indonesia, South Korea and the Philippines in what was low key one of the busiest most hectic couple of days of the year. There wasn't just a lot going on but also some hidden gems, so thrilling performances and some exhilarating action.
Fighter of the Week
Pedro Taduran (14-2, 11)
The star for the weekend was Filipino warrior Pedro Taduran, who scored a TKO win over Samuel Salva to become the new IBF Minimumweight champion. Taduran set out his stall early on, applied constant pressure and despite being dropped in the opening round he eventually broke down Salva in very impressive, and destructive, fashion. In regards to the Fighter of the Week award he won the biggest fight of the weekend, and looked great doing it. He was exciting, aggressive, tough, rugged and very fun to watch, making the most of his second chance to win a world title.
Performance of the Week
Pedro Taduran (14-2, 11)
We're sticking with Taduran again for the Performance of the Week as well the Fighter of the Week. His performance, where he simply walked through the unbeaten Samuel Salva was incredibly impressive. He didn't show a great deal of technical excellence, but fought to his strengths, broke down his more skilled foe and battered Samuel into submission with intense pressure and 2-handed offense. It was brutal, beautiful and brilliant from Taduran.
Tae Gwang Park (0-0) v Sang Min Oh (2-0, 2)
Having just described something as brutal and beautiful it goes without saying that most fights in Korea are beautifully brutal, and that was the case in the 4 round rookie bout between Tae Gwang Park and Sang Min Oh. This 4 rounder wasn't a technical masterclass, in fact it wasn't technical in the slightest, but it was violent, exciting and all brutal, with heavy leather being thrown by both through the 4 round contest. It somewhat slowly but got better round by round and ended up being a very hard hitting and hurtful war. This is was rock em sock robots, with defense not really being in the vocabulary of either man.
Pedro Taduran Vs Samuel Salva (Rd 3)
We head back to Pedro Taduran's fight with Samuel Salva for our Round of the Week, and what a round it was! After Salva seemed to win the first two rounds we saw Taduran move through the gears in round 3, but eat a number of clean right hands at the start of the round. From there on however Taduran managed to hurt Salva, and kept the pressure on, through an insane amount of leather whilst Salva went into survival mode. How Salva stayed up right is a mystery, but over 3 minutes was wonderfully chaotic action and the success for Taduran was the momentum shift that lead to his victory.
Hikari Mineta KO1 Yuji Oba
The KO of the Week was an interesting category with a lot of eye catching finishes. For us however the one that stayed with us the most was the huge right hand KO of Hikari Mineta. She shot sent Oba crumbling to the canvas, his legs bending under his body as he went down. He was seemingly aware of his surroundings, but couldn't respond at all to the 10 count following one of the sweetest shots Mineta will ever land. This was a wonderful visual to see and a fantastic finish. We're also glad to report that Oba was complete fine and there was no leg injury, despite the was his body crashed to the canvas.
Katsuya Fukui (1-0, 1)
We're staying in Japan for our Prospect of the Week, Katsuya Fukui. The debuting Fukui, who was a solid amateur, was up against Korean visitor Sang Hoon Kim who we expected to give the new professional a decent test. Instead Fukui smartly boxed behind his jab, approached the bout with a real viciousness to his work and took Kim out relatively easily. The result, a 2nd round KO, wasn't the impressive thing however. What impressed was his approach to the fight. Despite being in total control the debutant didn't take big risks, instead boxing smartly to defeat Kim, applying smart pressure and boxing behind his jab. His performance showed a real maturity and it's clear that he's someone Teiken can get excited about.
Reiya Abe (19-2-1, 9) vs Ryo Sagawa (7-1, 4)
This coming week sees things get a little bit crazy with a lot of potentially brilliant action coming up. Despite a host of great fights being on the docket the one that has us more excited than all the others is the Japanese Featherweight title bout between Reiya Abe and Ryo Sagawa. This bout is a 50-50 type match up, between two very skilled fighters, who have styles that should work well together. Sagawa is technically smart offensive fighter whilst Abe is a technically smart sharp shooting fighter, and when those styles gel we can get some thrillers. This should be hotly contested, highly skilled chess, and we're gonna love seeing how it goes!
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.
We've finally seen the end of April and entered May, a month set to be one of the most hectic and crazy of the year. The move from April to May is certainly an exciting one, and this past week has certainly seen action pick up with a host of notable bouts featuring Asian fighters. We've already had some fantastic fights on US pay TV, Japanese streaming services and for free on Youtube. Boxing is certainly picking up and doing so fast!
Fighter of the Week
Jerwin Ancajas (31-1-2, 21)
After a couple of disappointing performances Filipino world champion Jerwin Ancajas needed to shine, he needed to re-excite fans and show what he could do when he was on point. This past Saturday he got the perfect chance to show fans, and really did all he was asked of. He dominated mandatory challenger Ryuichi Funai of Japan in a highly impressive fashion, forcing the doctor to save the challenger in at the start of round 7. Although Funai was the perfect foil for Ancajas it was the type of performance that reminds people what the Filipino can do, and why he should be regarded as a top fighter in one of the sports toughest divisions.
Performance of the Week
Ryo Sagawa (7-1, 4)
Whilst our Fighter of the week was a Filipino who stopped a Japanese fighter our performance of the week came from a Japanese fighter who dominated a Filipino. once beaten Japanese fighter travelled to the Philippines and put on a show, beating Al Toyogon to claim the WBA Asian Boxing Council Silver Super Featherweight title. This was Sagawa's first bout outside of Japan, and his first fight at Super Featherweight, but he fought like a man determined to win, dominating the middle and later sections of the fight after a competitive start. Although Sagawa should have been on the map of fight fans before the bout, this win was certainly something that will get more fans talking about him.
Taiki Minamoto Vs Reiya Abe
Their was some real contenders for fight of the week, but for us the Japanese Featherweight title bout between Taiki Minamoto and takes the award. The fight had everything! There was drama early, with Abe being dropped in each of the first 2 rounds, it had heart, as Abe battled back from his poor start and Minamoto fought through a badly swollen eye, it had skill, from both fighters, and it was so close to call that the draw fight entirely fair. It wasn't an all out war but was a marvellous 10 round domestic title fight that showed what both could do and left fans wanting more. Whether we get a rematch or not is unclear, though it certainly appears to be something fans want. If a rematch doesn't happen it's likely due to Minamoto moving up weight and if he adds himself to the regional mix at 130lbs then that's not going to be a bad thing either!
Ryo Sagawa Vs Al Toyogon (round 11)
After being out boxed for 6 straight rounds Al Toyogon knew he had to turn things around, in a big way, and he came out fighting in the penultimate round of their bout. Sagawa was willing to respond and we got 3 minutes of brilliant action, with the Filipino giving all he had into trying to take down Sagawa. The bout was a little bit one sided overall, but this round really stood out as being something very special, and was one of the few where they both went for it. This was sustained action from start to end. A fantastic round!
Sadly their was no KO of note this past week, though we were very impressed by the shot from Kudura Kaneko that dropped Rikuto Adachi, who was stopped when he got to his feet rather than clean KO'd.
Shokichi Iwata (2-0, 1)
The prospect of the week was one of the toughest to pick this week. Their was great performances from so many young fighters, such as Kudura Kaneko, impressive debuts for former amateur standouts Criz Russu Laurente and Criztian Pitt Laurente and Hinata Maruta. The most impressive however was Shokichi Iwata, who totally schooled 2018 Rookie of the Year Daiki Kameyama. This was a sensational domestic debut from Iwata and it is going to be a very exciting journey to see how far he can go. Notably he revealed he only showed 20% of what he feels he's capable of, if there's another 80% to go then we really do have another Japanese super talent ready to make a name for themselves.
Keita Kurihara (13-5, 11) vs Warlito Parrenas (26-9-1, 23)
We all love a good shoot out and the upcoming OPBF Bantamweight title bout between Keita Kurihara and Warlito Parrenas is expected to be a full on shoot out, with both men believing in their power more than their boxing skills. We're not expecting a display of boxing IQ and nuances defense, but we are expecting a thrilling war for as long as this one lasts.
As we head into May, which us set to be a crazy month we bow out of April, and to be fair to April it's not been the worst month even if there has been inconsistent action. This past week was one of those where there wasn't a steady stream of notable bouts, but there was certainly enough to be entertained. Sadly the biggest bouts of the week both failed to live up to expectations, with Srisaket Sor Rungvisai fighting with some of the strangest tactics we've seen and Zolani Tete needing to pull out of his bout with Nonito Donaire. Despite those issues this week was certainly worthy paying attention to.
Fighter of the Week
Nonito Donaire (40-5, 26)
Whilst Donaire may have seen original opponent Zolani Tete pull out of the scheduled WBSS semi final that really can't take away from the fact Donaire himself turned up, and took out Stephon Young to move forward towards the WBSS final.The Filipino veteran, now aged 36, walked down Young before stopping him in 6 rounds to retain the WBA "Super" and WBC Diamond Bantamweight titles. The performance showed that Donaire is still young enough to over-come speedy younger southpaws, though the reality was that this was a massive step down to what had been planned.
Performance of the Week
Kasumi Saeki (4-0, 3)
Japan's Kasumi Saeki may not be a name that is on the lips of many fight fans but her performance this past Saturday was fantastic. Fighting in her first world title bout, in just her 4th professional bout, Saeki was up against Mexican foe Elizabeth Lopez and shone. Saeki would totally dominate Lopez before stopping in 6 rounds to become a new world champion, just 11 months after her debut. For those who haven't yet managed to see Saeki they really should be looking to follow her, she's a very, very special young fighter.
Seigo Yuri Akui vs Yoshiki Minato (Round 1)
When we get a 1 round fight that's something special it's sometimes hard to know if this belongs in "Round of the Week" or "Fight of the Week". We had this issue again this week thanks to the brilliant opening round of Seigo Yuri Akui's bout against Yoshiki Minato. The round saw both men swinging for the fences from the opening moments. Akui would be dropped, before bouncing back and dropping Minato twice, then stopping Minato on his feet. It was crazy, intense and thoroughly amazing action, the sort of 1-round thriller that we all love. The bout was one that we had been looking forward to, and will be uploaded to Boxing Raise in the coming days, we suggest that those who use Boxing Raise make sure to give this one a watch
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai Vs Juan Francisco Estrada II (Round 11)
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai put in one of the strangest ever performanes of a world champion this past Friday. The hard hitting southpaw actually fought out of the orthodox stance for the most part, giving away some of his biggests strengths. In round 11 however the Thai finally began to fight as a southpaw, reverting to his typical stance, and this lead him to have real success, taking the fight to Estrada, who let machismo kick in and gave us a great round. Srisaket picked up his pressure and Estrada was forced to respond. This was a great round, and it's just a shame that Srisaket spent so much of the fight, fighting the wrong fight.
Nonito Donaire KO6 Stephon Young
We're back with the Filipino Flash who's much vaunted and thoroughly destructive left hook landed clean on the chin of Stephon Young in the 6th round of their clash. Donaire has been looking for the shot through much of the bout, landing it less flush a few times, but the one that closed the show was truly fantastic, landing clean and sending Young crashing to the ring, hard. That was it, with Young left looking up at the lights, with the lights on but nobody home.
Han Bin Suh (4-0-2, 3)
We're off to Korea for our prospect of the week, as 19 year old Han Bin Suh gets the plaudits from ourselves. The youngster, who had scored back to back draws prior to his bout this week took the Korean Super Bantamweight title with an 8th round TKO win against Dae Young Lee, Whilst Lee was nothing special to be put into a 10 round bout this early in his career Suh is certainly one to make note of. He's perhaps a little bit fortunate that there was many other prospects in action, but that shouldn't devalue the teenager winning such a big bout so early in his career.
Taiki Minamoto (16-5, 13) Vs Reiya Abe (19-2, 9)
This coming week is set to be a very busy week, and for us the most interesting match up will see Japanese Featherweight champion Taiki Minamoto defending his title against slick southpaw challenger Reiya Abe. The bout might not have a world title on the line, but it's a sensational match up and could end up being one of the best bouts on Japanese soil this year. The styles should gel, the desire of both men will be huge and we really are expecting something very, very special here.
It's fair to say that May is typically a busy month in world boxing, with things picking up globally. It's with that in mind that we feel we don't really need to say that the month is going to be a hectic in terms of Asian boxers, with a host of notable fights taking place through the month. Here we look at the first part of the month, and it is set to be a huge first week for the month of May.
Taiki Minamoto (16-5, 13) Vs Reiya Abe (18-2, 9) - Tokyo, Japan
The first title bout takes place on May 1st and it's a brilliant match up, pitting hard hitting Japanese Featherweight champion Taiki Minamoto up against slick southpaw Reiya Abe, in a mandatory defense of the title. Minamoto will be looking for his second defense, and will be hoping to putt in a performance more a kin to his title winning victory than his first defense, which was a poor performance. Abe on the other hand will be looking to extend his impressive winning run and make the most of his first title opportunity.
Hinata Maruta (8-1-1, 7) vs Coach Hiroto (13-2-2, 4)-Tokyo, Japan
On the same show as Minamoto's bout with Abe is a brilliant contest between highly tipped prospect Hinata Maruta and the experienced Coach Hiroto. Maruta is looking to build on an excellent win over Tsuyoshi Tameda late last year and move towards a potential title shot later in the year, possibly even against the winner of the Minamoto Vs Abe bout. Hiroto on the other hand is looking for redemption after essentially being kicked out of the Kadoebi gym following issues making weight last year. If Hiroto is up for this it could be very, very interesting.
Kudura Kaneko (9-0, 6) Vs Rikuto Adachi (12-1, 9) - Osaka, Japan
We often over-look the Japanese Welterweight scene, but the reality is that it is pretty interesting, and looks set to become more interesting in the coming years thanks to some good emerging young talent. Two of those talented youngsters clash here in a battle for the JBC Youth Welterweight title. In one corner is unbeaten champion Kudura Kaneko, an Afghan-Japanese fighter who really impressed last year when he stopped Toshio Arikawa. In the other corner is Hiroki Ioka protege Rikuto Adachi, talented boxer-puncher. This has the potential to be a sensational bout, and the winner will likely find themselves in the mix to face newly crowned national champion Yuki Nagano in the near future.
Masaru Sueyoshi (18-1-1, 11) Vs Ken Osato (15-2-1, 4) II - Tokyo, Japan
The second Japanese title fight of the month will see Super Featherweight champion Masaru Sueyoshi defending his title against his mandatory challenger, Ken Osato. This is a rematch of a 2018 encounter that saw Osato scoring a knockdown before being stopped himself and we're again excepting a competitive contest. Since their first bout both have improved, with Osato gaining some valuable experience and building his confidence whilst Sueyoshi has fought to a draw with OPBF champion Hironori Mishiro. The champion will be favoured, but he is in with a live challenger
Shokichi Iwata (1-0, 1) vs Daiki Kameyama (7-2-1, 2) - Tokyo, Japan
On the same card we'll also see touted prospect Shokichi Iwata make his Japanese debut, taking on 2018 Rookie of the Year Daiki Kameyama in a 6 round contest. Iwata made his professional debut in the US, among some solid fanfare, but this is a big step up in class and and Kameyama has won 4 in a row, including the Rookie of the Year title, winning that in December. This might look amazing on paper, but we're expecting a very good bout.
Al Toyogon (10-2-1, 6) vs Ryo Sagawa (6-1, 4) - Metro Manila, Philippines
At the same type of time as the Tokyo show there will be an ESPN5 broadcast in the Philippines headlined by an amazing match up between WBC ABC Silver Super Featherweight champion Al Toyogon and talented Japanese fighter Ryo Sagawa. This has the ingredients of an excellent match up, with Toyogon's exciting but crude offense against Sagawa's skilled boxing, but somewhat questionable toughness. This may not get the attention the Japanese card gets, but could be an even better contest.
Jerwin Ancajas (30-1-2, 20) vs Ryuichi Funai (31-7, 22) - California, USA
Another big bout of note on May 4th sees attention turn to California as IBF Super Flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas takes on mandatory challenger Ryuichi Funai. For the champion this will be his 7th defense of the title, and follows a couple of disappointing performances including a forgetable win over Jonas Sultan and a draw with Alejandro Santiago Barrios. Funai on the other hand will be getting his first world title bout, and also having his first bout outside of Japan. If Ancajas fights like he has in his last 2 bouts this could be very, very tough for the champion, though he will clearly be favoured over the little known challenger.
Riku Kano (14-4-1, 7) Vs Mektison Marganti (5-10-1, 3) - Hyogo, Japan
Former world title challenger Riku Kano battled to repair his career when he fights for the WBC Youth Light Flyweight title. The talented Kano has had a tough time in recent years, losing to the likes of Katsunari Takayama and Shin Ono, but will feel confident of picking up a win here against limited Indonesian Mekitson Marganti, who has interestingly shared the ring with Wanheng Menayothin. This is a must win for Kano, and in fact he needs to win and look good.
Hikaru Matsuoka (15-4-3, 2) Vs Kyohei Tonomoto (8-2, 4) - Hyogo, Japan
More Japanese youth title action will be on this same Hyogo show, with Hikaru Matsuoka making his first defense of the JBC Youth Featherweight title. Matsuoka won the title late last year, scoring his third straight win, but does have a lot of questions to answer in regards to his long term potentnial. Tonomoto, who reached the Rookie of the Year final all the way back in 2014, will be looking to claim his first title and this should make for a very, very interesting match up, even if it's only at domestic youth title level.
Arata Matsuoka (7-6, 4) Vs Jukiya Washio (7-2-1, 2) - Hyogo, Japan
Hikaru Matsuoka's brother Arata Matsuoka also looks to make his first defense of a Japanese youth title, as he defends the JBC Youth Light Flyweight title against Jukiya Washio. Matsuoka, who also won his title late last year, has the clear edge in experience here, but Washio is very much a lice challenger and enters on the back of 3 straight wins. This is the weakest of the 3 bouts on the Hyogo card, but could end up being the most competitive.
Yukinori Oguni (20-2-1, 8) Vs Sukkasem Kietyongyuth (22-9, 14) - Tokyo, Japan
Former IBF Super Bantamweight champion Yukinori Oguni returns to the ring for his second bout since losing the world title. The talented Kadoebi gym fighter had some ring rust lats year, when he ended a lengthy break from the ring, and will be looking to shake a bit more here as he goes in with a world ranked Thai. Although world ranked Sukkasem is nothing hugely special, and has lost the last 7 times he's fought outside of Thailand with 2 of those losses coming in Japan. Given Oguni's inactivity this could be tough, but he should still come out on top.
It's not often that you see someone leave a policeman wobbling around, bloodied and beaten. Even rarer that you see that happens in public, without absolutely no punishment at all, no one jumping in to save the police officer or try and prevent further harm to a public servant.
This past Saturday however that's what we saw, we saw a officer of the law being beaten up, by a world class fighter. We saw the policeman show all the bravery of someone willing to get into a battle that they can't win and show their determination.
What I'm reference here is the bout that saw Japanese Featherweight Reiya Abe (19-2, 9) beat up policeman Daisuke Sugita (4-1, 3), in front of a packed Korakuen Hall. Not only did Abe beat up Sugita, but Sugita himself seemed to see the contest as a positive, explaining on social media that it was a good experience and that he will be back.
We don't see many policemen getting involved in boxing, with former Italian amateur great Roberto Cammarelle being the most famous, but Sugita has long been a fighter. He racked up over 140 bouts in the amateur ranks, and won 110 of them. Not only was he an experienced amateur, but also an accomplished one, winning a number of competitions in Japan. That amateur background lead to him making his professional debut last year, and fighting as a man who wanted a legacy, not money. In fact due to his job with the police Sugita was unable to collect his purposes, and was clearly boxing for the challenge and love of the sport.
Sugita made his debut in April 2018, and spoke like a man who was looking to have an exciting career. On debut he was up with big punching Filipino Jun Blazo, and essentially shut out Blazo over 6 rounds. Just 3 months later he stopped former Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Masaaki Serie, who had never previously been stopped!
Just 9 months after his debut Sugita would step in the ring with Abe, a man who had been avoided by most top Japanese foes. Abe was ranked in the top 15 by both the IBF and WBC, he also had an assured Japanese title fight, win or lose against Sugita, set for May 1st against Taiki Minamoto. The lack of fear from Sugita showed, and his willingness to get in the ring with Abe showed the type of man that Sugita is. He's up for a challenge, he's mentally tough and brave, the type of man who will always give his all.
The step up proved to be far, far too much for Sugita who failed to win a round against Abe, who was too sharp, too smart and too accurate. Abe managed to work his way into the bout, neutralising the power of Sugita and taking advantage of Sugita's relative lack of speed. Abe, who is world ranked and is a fantastic fighter on a great run of form, just showed the gulf in skill between the two men as he advanced to a May showdown with Japanese champion Taiki Minamoto.
Sugita, who really was given a lesson here, is likely to drop back down to Super Bantamweight, a weight class where his physical traits to do him a lot more favours than Featherweight. It seems that his future should lie at 122lbs, and he could well find himself in the domestic title mix at the weight, with a bout against Ryoichi Tamura being a very tasty looking bout on paper.
The loss will be a hit to Sugita, especially in the way he lost, but we should certainly not be writing him off. At the age of 30 he still has time to bounce back and we would be very surprised if he doesn't fight against a notable fighter again next time out. The Watanabe gym clearly have plans for him, and he obviously still wants to continue his career and his development in the sport.
(Images courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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.
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