The month of March is over and whilst it hasn't been an amazing month it has had it's moments, and has had a very clear Fighter of the Month, Fight of the Month and Upset of the Month. It's a month that had some down time, and didn't seem to be as memorable as either January or February, but was still a pretty good month in terms of highlights.
Fighter of the Month
The "KO Dream Boy" managed to really shine in the middle of the month, retaining his WBO Flyweight title in style as he clearly out pointed former unified Light Flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi. The bout, like most Tanaka fights, was high tempo, exciting and saw the talented Hatanaka promoted fighter trying to put on a show. Tanaka, who at 13-0 is already a 3 weight world champion, is one of the real young stars of world boxing and his performance this month was sensational. He is clearly going looking to create history and it's now assumed that he only has a fight or two left at Flyweight before seeking a 4th divisional world title.
Fight of the Month
Kosei Tanaka Vs Ryoichi Taguchi
Whilst we could wax lyrical about Tanaka it does take two to tango and his bout with Ryoichi Taguchi was clearly the best bout of the month. It was relatively one sided, but was highly skilled, hugely entertaining and pitted the desire and hunger of Tanaka against the guts and heart of Taguchi. To his credit Taguchi refused to lie down and quit, and despite being clearly beaten his will to win cannot be questioned. A fantastic bout, and as good a 1-sided bout as we'll see this year.
KO of the Month
Israil Madrimov vs Frank Rojas
Uzbek fighter Israil Madrimov is no normal prospect. His first 2 professional bouts have both been title bouts, over 10 rounds, with fighters holding records with more wins than losses. He isn't just a fighter with ambitious match making but also real skill, confident, and as seen this month, dynamite punching. The way he took out Venezuelan Frank Rojas on March 9th was clinical and brutal with the final left hook being as brutal a shot as they come.
Canadian based Kazakh Sadriddin Akhmedov has long been a bit of a hidden secret with fight fans who don't follow the Asian scene or the Canadian scene in a hardcore fashion. This month Akhmedov fought in Kazakhstan for the first time and whilst it wasn't his best performance to date he did clearly beat Indonesian tough guy John Ruba over 10 rounds, and prove he had the stamina to go 10 rounds, with out any problem. It's just a shame he was later diagnosed as having suffered an injury in his bout.
Lito Dante TKO12 Tsubasa Koura
The biggest upset of the month, and in fact one of the biggest upsets of the year so far, saw unheralded Filipino tough guy Lito Dante break down the previously unbeaten Tsubasa Koura. Koura, who was ranked #3 by the WBC, seemed set to make one final defense of the OPBF title before moving on to a world title fight, but those planned have been destroyed by Dante. The Filipino had given Koura fits through out the bout before finally forcing the referee to save the Japanese fighter in the final round. A huge upset!
Kosei Tanaka Vs Ryoichi Taguchi - Round 2
We go back to the Kosei Tanaka Vs Ryoichi Taguchi for our round of the month, which gave us an amazing second round. The round was high skilled back and forth, and despite being one of the only really competitive rounds from the fight was a round that gave us everything. Skills, action, intensity, back and forth, guts and desire. This is what boxing is about and this is why we all love this sport.
This past week has been an under-the-radar week, with a lot of action, even if there wasn't a lot of headlines. We've had some really interesting and eye catching moments, and it is certainly a week that will go down as being an over-looked one at the end of the year.
Fighter of the Week
Samuel Salva (17-0, 10)
There was a couple of world title eliminators this week and whilst neither really delivered in terms of being a FOTY candidate, it was good to see Samuel Salva put on a career best performance to over-come Rene Mark Cuarto. Salva hadn't looked great in some previous bouts, but the 22 year old showed a lot to like here, and had certainly improved from the fighter that had previous had footage available. Whether he goes all the way or not is yet to be seen, though he is now firmly in the mix for a world title fight.
Performance of the Week
Sadriddin Akhmedov (8-0, 7)
Kazakh fighter Sadriddin Akhmedov has been carving out a real reputation due to his performances in Canada but this week he returned to his motherland and put on a show for the fans in Kazakhstan, beating up tough Indonesian John Ruba. The bout, for a regional title, saw Akhmedov take the fight to Ruba round after round, though was surprisingly taken the 10 round distance. The "Soldier of Q" will have been disappointed in losing his 100% KO rate, but did get a chance to answer any questions about his stamina and work rate. A fantastic showing.
Ricky Sismundo Vs Maxim Dadashev
Although there was a lot of minor fights from Asia one of the most interesting fights from the week to feature an Asian came from the US as Ricky Sismundo took on hard hitting Russian Maxim Dadashev, and really forced the fight to be a good one. The fight won't be recalled as a Fight of the Year contender but had a great momentum swing and come back. In round 2 Sismundo dropped the unbeaten Russian and seemed confident of attacking Dadashev, before being taken out by a huge 2-punch combination in round 4. A very entertaining contest, even if it's nothing that will be remembered highly at the end of the year.
Notable mention - Jon Jon Estrada Vs Vladislav Krasnoshein
Akzhol Sulaimanbek Uulu vs Mike Tawatchai Round 3
We had some great rounds this past week, and one of the best was the third round of the bout between Akzhol Sulaimanbek Uulu and Mike Tawatchai. The bout overall was 1-sided, with Uulu beating up the Thai veteran, but the 3rd round really saw the Thai gritting his teeth and taking the fight back to Uulu, almost fighting out of desperation. It wasn't an effective tactic for Tawatchai, but did make for some really exciting action before he was broken down.
Roy Nagulman KO2 Angelito Merin
We had a few great KO's this week, including one suffered by Ricky Sismundo, though none was as good as the one score by Filipino teenager Roy Nagulman, who left Angelito Merin out cold, and requiring a stretcher to get out of the ring. The shot that left Merin down was a huge right hand that could not possibly have landed any cleaner. At 17 years old Nagulman looks to be a real prospect and this performance was as much of an eye opener as he team could ever have hoped for.
Yuki Yamauchi (3-0, 2)
Japan's Yuki Yamauchi may not be on the radar of many fight fans yet, despite our recent "Introducing..." article about him, but it's only a matter of time before fans will begin talking about him. He stepped up this week and took the unbeaten record of Claudevan Sese in 3 rounds. Yamauchi could be the best Japanese fighter you're not aware of, and is well worth following. Unlike most Japanese prospects the 23 year old has international amateur experience and fighting at Super Bantamweight he's someone capable of making a big mark on the international stage.
Hironori Mishiro (6-0-1, 2) vs Takuya Watanabe (35-8-1, 20)
We sometimes get amazing match ups that make us lick our lips in anticipation, despite average fans not caring too much. We think we have one such bout this week, as OPBF Super Featherweight champion Hironori Mishiro takes on Takuya Watanabe. This has the potential to be a very, very special bout between two talented fighters. These might not be a world title bout, or even a world title eliminator, but it's a bout we're incredibly excited about and we suspect we'll be getting something very special here.
Earlier this week we looked at a number of Kazakh hopefuls in the first of 2 articles looking at the rising hopefuls of Kazakh boxing, and the fighters that will be looking to build on the success of Gennady Golovkin, Beibut Shumenov and Zhanat Zhakiyanov. For those who missed that it can be read here - The Kazakh Hopes! - Part 1 and for those who did read it, part two can be found below, looking at the Light Middleweight division and below.
Sadriddin Akhmedov (2-0, 2) – Light Middleweight
Quebec based 20 year old Light Middleweight Sadriddin Akhmedov is one of the more obscure fighters on this list, but is likely to be one that will give his team the most frustration going forward. That sounds like an insult but the reality is that Akhmedov already looks too good for his own good and that's a major problem given he only debuted in April, when he stopped Tony Barreras in 31 seconds. He returned to the ring in May, stopping Ariel Alejandro Zampedri in just 84 seconds. Whilst that might not sound too impressive it's worth noting that it took the talented Jayde Mitchell 3 rounds to stop Zampedri.
At just 20 years old Akhmedov might be the best hidden gem from Kazakhstan. His professional start has been impressive and as an amateur he was also pretty impressive, winning the World Youth Championships in 2016 and winning a pair of Kazakh Youth titles. Given his power, which is genuinely terrifying, his amateur skillset, his youth, his speed and timing, and his relaxed nature in the ring it really does seem like Kazakh boxing may well have a star in the making here. Of course it is, very, early in his career but we're been very impressed and suspect Akhmedov will impress again in June, when he's expected to have his third professional bout. With his quick blow outs his team will be wanting to keep him busy, step him up and test him sooner rather than later, as he's likely to just smash through lower level fighters with too much ease.
Zhankosh Turarov (22-0, 15) – Welterweight
One of the most experienced fighters on this list is Welterweight Zhankosh Turarov, a 27 year old who has been a professional since 2009 and slowly worked his way towards the fringes of the world rankings, in what is one of the most high profile divisions in the sport. Having turned professional at 18 he isn't a big name former amateur but has been developed carefully by his team who have had him fighting in Kazakhstan, USA, Dominican Republic and Colombia. It should be noted that whilst he has travelled for fights, on a regular basis, he is actually based in the US and could well find himself on some high profile US televised cards in the near future.
Sadly Turarov hasn't yet made a step up to battling many notable names, though he does seem to be getting matched better in the last couple of years. If that continues in 2018 he could well find himself in with some notable names, which will tell us a lot more about him. From what we have seen of Turarov he looks like a fun, flashy and confident fighter, but that could have a lot to do with the competition he has been facing not being able to punish him for his defensive flaws and allowing him to look better than he actually is. He is a fun fighter, but will need to improve his defense if he's to win at the highest levels, as he can often be seen dropping his guard against his lower level opposition.
Daniyar Yeleussinov (1-0, 1) – Welterweight
Another Welterweight prospect, and arguably a better one than Turarov, is 2016 Olympic gold medal winner Daniyar Yeleussinov. The former amateur star, didn't just win Olympic gold as an amateur but also took gold as the World Amateur Championships and the Asian Games and was one of the top Kazakh amateurs over the last few years. It's little wonder that a top promoter signed him up when he was ready to turn professional and it's fair to say that Matchroom have signed a genuinely top tier prospect here.
As a professional Yeleussinov made his debut on April 28th, and looked a tiny bit unsure of himself to begin with, before stopping the unbeaten Noah Kidd in round 3. It seemed like the 27 year old needed a round or two to adapt to the professional ranks, but in round 3 he turned it up and looked like the class act he was as an amateur. He'll be returning to the ring for his second professional bout on June 6th and will likely try to fit in another 2 or 3 fights before the end of the year, against progressively better opposition. Given his talent and amateur pedigree it's going to be hard for Matchroom to hold him back, so expect him to be moved much quicker than Turarov.
Batyrzhan Jukembayev (13-0-0-2, 11) - Light Welterweight
Another Quebec based Kazakh is Batyrzhan Jukembayev, a Light Welterweight puncher who is on a good role after a bizarre start to his professional career which saw him begin with 2 No Contests. Since then he has been matched aggressively, with all of his opponents having more wins than losses, and has scored notable wins over the likes of Cecilio Santos, Cosme Rivera and Noe Nunez. It's clear that he's yet to face a fellow contender, or prospect, but he's building a reputation for himself and looking damned good doing it.
At 27 years old it does seem like Jukembayev is ready to be let off the leash. He fought 4 times last year and already has a couple of wins this year, suggest they are going to keep him active in 2018. If they step him up again he could well be finding himself in with a contender before the end of the year and could be charging through the world rankings in 2019. He has power, a really nice style, a southpaw stance and a team who seem very confident in his abilities. There is, of course, work to do in his development but he's on the right track and and is likely to be finding himself really making a mark on television very shortly.
Ruslan Madiev (12-0, 5) - Light Welterweight
Another US based prospect from Kazakhtan is 140lb hopeful Ruslan Madiev, who is based in Big Bear, California. Madiev has been a professional for over 5 years, having made his debut on May 26th 2013, but would have a stop-start beginning to his career and take 17 months before returning to action. It wasn't actually until last September that Madiev got much attention, following a big win over the then 23-1-1 Abdiel Ramirez, and since then he has scored two more notable wins over Martin Angel Martinez and the then unbeaten Jesus Perez.
As a stablemate of Gennady Golovkin we know Madiev is in good hands. He also has WSB experience, which has sort of explained “his lack of activity”. That WSB experience shows in just how relaxed Madiev looks in the ring, even when he's under pressure, and he does look like a very composed fighter, who knows his way around the ring, throws very solid body shots and, unlike some on this list, seems to enjoy boxing on the back foot with his counters and movement, as opposed to coming forward and looking destructive.
Bekman Soylybayev (12-0, 4) - Super Featherweight
The Super Featherweight division is a strong one and it's one where Kazakhstan are a bit lacking, though they do have 27 year old Bekman Soylybayevn. Soylybayev has only actually fought a single bout in Kazakhstan, having racked up fights in Ukraine, USA and Mexico and is getting stamps on his passport and getting international experience. His sole bout in Kazakhstan came more than 2 years ago, when he stopped Nikoloz Kokashvili in 2 rounds. It's fair to say that Kokashvili isn't a particularly notable opponent, but Soylybayev has scored other wins against the likes of German Meraz and Fernando Vargas which are worthy of note.
In terms of his boxing style Soylybayev is a pretty patient fighter and looks loose and relaxed in the ring. There is perhaps a sense of laziness at times when watching Soylybayev but he does look a real talent who can fight on the front foot but looks like he's happier on the back foot, and seems very happy fighting off the ropes when he needs to. There is a lot of technical ability here, and a lovely variety to his work. Sadly though he may be held back by his relative lack of power, and 4 stoppage wins from 12 bouts suggests that he may have problems getting respect of world class opponents.
Mussa Tursyngaliyev (7-0, 6) – Featherweight
At Featherweight Kazakh fans have Mussa Tursyngaliyev to get excited about, and he really could be one of the most interesting fighters on this list. Around the start of 2016 he had seemingly signed with AK Promotions in Korea, though would never actually fight for AK and wouldn't actually make his professional debut until November 10th 2017. Amazingly by the end of November he had raced away to 6-0 (5), beating 6 opponents in just 19 days, and made up for lost time with that level of intense activity. Notably he has fought just once since then, scoring a very notable win against Luis Hinojosa this past March, and claiming the WBA NABA USA Featherweight title.
Although it's hard to track down much footage of Tursyngaliyev as a professional he was a pretty accomplished amateur and looked pretty good back in his amateur days. Sadly however that amateur footage is very dated now and it's to imagine him being the same fighter today. Thankfully it does sound like he's going to be chasing bigger and better bouts in the near future and could well be a break out fighter this year, and make it to have some televised contests. If he does then we'll finally be able to see what the hard hitting 23 year old has to offer. From what we understand he will be fast tracked this year and hopefully will get some sort of exposure to help throw some light on exactly how good and how promising Tursyngaliyev actually is.
Madiyar Zhanuzak (4-0, 1) – Flyweight
There isn't a lot of Kazakh fighters in the lower weight classes, though it's worth making a note of Madiyar Zhanuzak, a 23 year old who has fought twice in Russia and twice in Macau, all since July 2017. His competition hasn't been massively impressive but he has already completed a 10 round bout, scored a notable win on the road and looked really impressive so far. From the footage of him he's aggressive, constantly applying pressure has a tight guard to bring that pressure with. He does look a little bit open when letting his shots go, but given he's still a novice that's to be expected. What he perhaps lacks is power but he may well mature into a more powerful puncher.
From what we understand Zhanuzak will be back in action on July 8th on a stacked RCC Boxing Promotions card in Ekaterinburg in a 10 rounder. His opponent hasn't been announced for that bout, yet, but we're hoping it'll be someone who can really test the youngster, who has only lost around 3 rounds in his career so far.
Of course these aren't the only prospect from Kazakhstan, but in our eyes they arre the best of the bunch to begin their professional careers.
Images courtesy of:
Eye of the Tiger Managament
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