This past week has been a busy one, with fights all over Asia at various levels, from Rookie of the Year to world title bouts. It's not been the best of weeks at the top level, but it has been a very interesting week!
Fighter of the Week
Kazuto Takesaka (11-0-1, 11)
After blowing out his first 10 opponents Kazuto Takesako found out that Shuji Kato couldn't be steam rolled when the two fought to a draw earlier in the year. This week Takesako and Kato had their rematch and Takesako showed so many new strings to his bow that he looked like a fighter who had not only vicious power but also added skills to go with that power and it was obvious from the performance that he has come a long way from their draw. He again struggled with Kato's jab, southpaw stance and movement, but went on to break down his man in a career best win.
Performance of the Week
ArAr Andales (10-1, 2)
We often praise winners, and over-look the efforts of losers, but this week it was ArAr Andales that impressed, despite losing in a WBA Minimumweight title bout to Knockout CP Freshmart. The Filipino teenager really was up against it, and in fairness would likely have needed a KO to have had any chance of winning, but gave the bout everything he could, before the bout was terminated in round 8 due to a cut to Knockout, that the referee ruled was from a headclash. Prior to the early finish it seemed like Andales was coming on strong and he certainly looked like someone who was going to come again and win a world title in the future. A great performance, despite the loss.
Kazuto Takesako (10-0-1, 10) vs Shuji Kato (10-1-2, 6) II
The Japanese Middleweight title really refuses to give us a stinker, and this Saturday fight fans at Korakuen Hall got a barn burner as Kazuto Takesako made his third defense of the title and beat Shuji Kato into submission. The bout wasn't a re-run of their first bout, which was an ultra-competitive back and forth, but it was a war and neither man came out of this unscathed with both looking like they had taken a lot of punishment at the end of the bout. After back to back wars against each other we now hope, for their health, they both avoid a war next time out.
Shuhei Hamano vs Nobuo Maruoka (Rd1)
We don't why but these year we've seen so many thrilling shoot outs between Japanese novices. The latest of those came on July 31st when Shuhei Hamano and Nobuo Maruoka met in an East Japan Rookie of the Year semi final bout. From the opening moment to the last these two were engaged in a phone booth tear up. The quality of punching might not have been amazing but the heart, desire and action were brilliant. This is Rookie of the Year action, and this is why Rookie of the Year is always worth following.
Lee Si-Woo KO1 Jeong Ho-Jun
Korean fights tend to be worthy of attention due to the Korean mentality of "punch, punch, punch". They tend to be action fights, with exciting back and forths and high intensity action. This week however it delivered one of the best KO's of the Year, if not the best, as Lee Si Woo brutally took out Jeong Ho Jun in a KBC Rookie of the Year fight. The two men were in the first round of their bout when they started to fight up closes, with Woo landing two right followed by a huge left that sent Jun falling face forward. The only thing breaking Jun's fall was Woo's shoulder, and even that didn't stop Jun from eventually face planting the canvas. A truly sensational KO and one we need to thank @Hock1717 for bringing to our attention.
Takuma Takahashi (4-0, 4)
As seems to be a regular thing recently there was a number of prospects in action the last week. One who caught our attention was Japan's Takuma Takahashi, who answered a lot of questions and really showed that he is one to watch. The hard hitter from the World Sport Boxing gym scored a career best win as he stopped tough Thai foe Sitthidet Banti, who had never previously been stopped. Takahashi, who had only a handful of rounds as a professional prior to this bout, showed he has a decent gas tank, that his power is legitimate and that he can mix up his work more than previously thought. There are still flaws, but this was a very good win for the 25 year old.
Hiroaki Teshigawara (19-2-2, 12) vs Shohei Omori (20-2, 15)
This coming Thursday we get a truly amazing OPBF Super Bantamweight title fight as hard hitting champion Hiroaki Teshigawara takes on former world title challenger Shohei Omori. This is as good a bout that we'll see at OPBF level all year, and on paper might be the best since Kosei Tanaka challenged Ryuji Hara. Both "Teshi" and Omori have eyes much bigger things than the OPBF title but they will have to get through the other man to get there.
The month of August is set to be a hectic one, both in terms of boxing and our personal lives. Despite being hectic it's a month that doesn't have many huge fights through out it, with pretty much all the big ones taking place over a single day, but does have a lot of notable right through the month. We have Japanese title fights, Japanese youth title bouts, OPBF title bouts, prospects in action and so much more, even if we don't have a huge number of world title bouts.
Knockout CP Freshmart (19-0, 7) Vs ArAr Andales (10-0, 2) - Bangkok, Thailand
The first major bout of the month is one of the few world title bouts and will see unbeaten WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart return to the ring for his first bout of 2019. In the opposite corner to the unbeaten champion will be unbeaten Filipino youngster ArAr Andales, who looks to become one of the few Filipino's to have won a world title as a teenager. Knockout has had a frustrating reign, often showing glimpses of brilliance but crowding them with long stretches of tedium and his fanfare has certainly eroded, with the mocking name of "Unanimous Decision CP Freshmart" seeming a lot more apt than his actual name. Andales on the other hand was an unknown 12 months ago, but a regional title has boosted him to this fight and a chance to end the tiring and dull reign of the Thai champion.
Koki Eto (24-4-1-1, 19) Vs Jeyvier Cintron II (10-0-0-1, 5) II - Florida USA
A few hours later our attention turns to the US as we see Japanese slugger Koki Eto and unbeaten Puerto Rican hopeful Jeyvier Cintron go again. The two men fought just 3 months ago, with the bout ending in a No Contest due to a clash of heads, and they will both be looking to avoid a similar fate here. The winner will be the leading challenger for the WBO Super Flyweight title, currently held by Kazuto Ioka, though both men will bee annoyed that they have had to wait, given they would have expected a shot at the end of the year, had it not been for their headclash. From their first bout Cintron clearly looked the better fight, but Eto did look dangerous, especially with his booming and hard right hand. If we avoid a similar conclusion to last time we could be in for something very exciting.
Takeshi Inoue (13-1-1, 7) Vs Patomsuk Pathompothong (38-10-1-1, 24) - Tokyo, Japan
Recent world title challenger Takeshi Inoue returns to the ring for the first time since losing to Jamie Munguia, and will re-enter the title mix immediately as he battles against Thai veteran Patomsuk Pathompothong for the WBO Asia Pacific Light Middleweight title. This really should be a straight forward win for the aggressive and physically strong Inoue, as he takes on a naturally smaller, older and limited for. For the Thai, who has been stopped in his last 2 bouts in Japan, this really will be his last chance at this level and another loss could well end his career.
Kazuto Takesako (10-0-1, 10) Vs Shuji Kato (10-1-2, 6) II - Tokyo, Japan
Another title fight on the same card will see Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako take part in a rematch with Shuji Kato. The two men had a real thriller earlier in the year, which resulted in a draw that pleased neither man. This rematch will see both men desperate to avoid another draw, though given how well their styles gelled the first time around we're struggling to see anything but another close one. Takesako, seeking his third defense here, is the big punching favourite but Kato is the smarter boxer, and his southpaw jab gave Takesako all sorts of issues in their first match up. This might not be a Fight of the Year contender but will certainly be a very entertaining and intriguing bout all the same.
Takuma Takahashi (3-0, 3) vs Sitthidet Bantti (11-4, 5)
The fast rising Takuma Takahashi looks to continue his perfect start as he takes on Thai visitor Sitthidet Bannti. The hard hitting Takahashi may not have polished his style, yet, but looks like a natural dangerman and wins in hs first 3 against Joepher Montano and Jonel Dapidran are impressive.He'll be a clear favourite here and will, hopefully, face a domestic opponent later in the year to begin moving towards some form of a title bout. Bantti on the other hand has never been stopped and has been in with some good fighters, including Atchariya Wirojanasunobol, Xiangxiang Sun and Saddam Kietyongyuth. A win for Takahashi is expected, but the way that win comes will be very interesting.
Issei Ochiai (0-0) Vs Lerdchai Chaiyawed (1-2)
Celes Kobayashi's big new signing Issei Ochiai makes his debut, with a lot of expectations on his shoulders. The Celes gym has failed to develop many guys, but their success with Ryosuke Iwasa is fairly notable and Ochiai is one of the more talented amateurs that the gym has signed since Iwasa won a world title. Although talented he should be asked some real questions here by a Thai who a win over Samartlek Kokietgym and gave tough 8 round bouts to Ryoki Hirai and Seita Ogido when fighting in Japan. The visitor is no bum, and this is a real test for the Japanese novice.
Takayuki Okumoto (22-8-4,10) Vs Dynamic Kenji (11-3, 7)- Osaka Japan
Japanese Super Flyweight champion Takayuki Okumoto looks to put 3 very close bouts behind him and score his third defense of the title he won last year as he takes on the heavy handed, though very unheralded, Dynamic Kenji. Okumoto is a true veteran, who debuted at the age of 15, and has been given a number of chances, before finally making the most of one last year when he usurped Hiroyuki Kudaka, since then he has narrowly retained the title and is a rather lucky champion. Kenji on the other hand is getting his first shot at this level, and he's unlikely to be in the mix again if he losses, given his lack of a big name promoter and his rather low profile. This is a hard bout to call, and like the Takesako Vs Kato bout certainly has one guy being much more skilled and the other being the much bigger puncher.
Toshiki Shimomachi (9-1-2, 5) Vs Kenta Nomura (6-2, 3) - Osaka Japan
Another title bout from Osaka will see Toshiki Shimomachi and Kenta Nomura battle for the currently vacant Japanese Youth Super Bantamweight title. Coming in both fighters have some momentum, with Shimomachi on a good unbeaten run following an early career and Shimomachi looking very powerful since moving up to Super Bantamweight after fighting mostly at Super Flyweight. This bout should be very exciting and could well give the winner a huge shot in the arm ahead of some bigger an better bouts over the next 24 months.
Thanongsak Simsri (9-0, 9) Vs Melianus Mirin (10-5, 6) - Osaka, Japan
Whilst the Osaka show will be a notable one thanks to the Japanese and Japanese youth titles it's hard to ignore that Thai youngster Thanongsak Simsri, who looks to score his 10th straight T/KO win and live up to the "Srisaket II" moniker the Thai boxing press have given him. In the opposite corner to the 19 year old Thai prospect will be the limited but tough Melianus Mirin, who has yet to be stopped and has fought stiff competition, including Wanheng Manyothin and
Daud Yordan (38-4-0-1, 26) Vs Patomsith Pathompothong (21-11, 10)- Pattaya, Thailand
The popular Indonesian fighter Daud Yordan gets his return from a 2018 loss to Anthony Crolla as he travels to Thailand to battle the limited Patomsith Pathompothong. The well travelled Yordan, who has fought will be fighting in his 6th different country in as many fights, will be strongly favoured here and will obviously be hoping to get his career back in track after inactivity and the Crolla loss. The Thai on the other hand has picked up 4 wins this year, but his level of competition has been incredibly low. Despite Yordan being the man on the road he has to be the favourite.
Hiroaki Teshigawara (19-2-2, 12) Vs Shohei Omori (20-2, 15) - Tokyo, Japan
Arguably the pick of the early month bouts is an OPBF Super Bantamweight title bout pitting hard nosed champion Hiroaki Teshigawara against the excellent Shohei Omori. For Teshigawara this is a big step up in class and a win will mark him a definitive fringe contender, at worst. He's on a good roll already and has been notching good wins over regional opposition, but this is a step up. Omori on the other hand is rebuilding following his second loss to Marlon Tapales, and has looked fantastic since moving to Super Bantamweight. The hard hitting southpaw challenger was once tipped as the successor to Shinsuke Yamanaka at Bantamweight but he really appears to have found his better weight 4lbs north and could see a win here as a launch pad to a second world title fight. An excellent match up and one we're really looking forward to.
Kenichi Horikawa (40-15-1, 13) Vs Ryuto Oho (12-5-1, 4) - Tokyo, Japan
Japanese veteran Kenichi Horikawa looks to extend his second reign as the Japanese Light Flyweight champion as he takes on youngster Ryuto Oho. The often under-rated veteran, who holds the record for most wins of any active Japanese fighter, is heading towards his 40th birthday but continues to fight with the vigour and fire of a much, much younger man. Horikawa's reign isn't likely to lead to a world title fight, but we're certainly glad the little warrior is having some success towards the end of his career. Oho is a talented youngster but has shown durability issues and will need to rely on his youth and speed to survive Horikawa's aggression here. An interesting match up, but one where the champion enters as the clear favourite.
Masahiro Suzuki (2-0, 1) Vs Kosuke Arioka (9-3-1, 8) - Tokyo, Japan
Talented Japanese prospect Masahiro Suzuki might not be getting much fan fare but the highly skilled 24 year old has impressed us in both of his pro bouts so far and now he takes on his first domestic opponent. The excellent Suzuki has shown a lot in just 12 rounds of professional boxing, we know he's a smart fighter, we know he can fight on the front foot or the back foot and we know he's a very sharp puncher. His promoter now wants us to see how he copes against a puncher. Although fairly limited Kosuke Arioka can bang and he'll be expected to give Suzuki a real chin check before the unbeaten youngster looks to climb through the national rankings.
The World Sport Boxing Gym is a criminally over-looked one, which has started to sign up some pretty notable amateur fighters from across Japan. One of their most notable recent signings is Welterweight Takuma Takahashi (3-0, 3), who joins the likes of Takeshi Inoue, at Light Middleweight, and Kazuto Takesako, at Middleweight, in the heavier weights for Japanese fighters. The 25 year old has long been tipped for big things, and was a former amateur star on the domestic scene.
Born in the Sumiyoshi Ward of Osaka, Takahashi had a stellar amateur career. During his years in the unpaid ranks he went 77-24 (68) showing not only a habit of winning, but also hitting hard. That amateur record didn't just result in some pretty numbers but also actual achievements, with 4 amateur championships.
Although full details of what he won, and when, is hard to find we do know that he shone at the 2010 Japanese Junior Selection Tournament in Gunma, stopping Takayuki Nishii in the final, and reached the semi-finals of two national championships, losing in 2012 to Kiyoshi Hattori and in 2013 to Kazuki Saito.
Following his long amateur career Takahashi turned professional, signing up with the World Sport Boxing gym in Tokyo. He would take part in his protest in April 2018, sharing the ring with Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako for his pro-test bout. The pro-test saw Takahashi showing off good skills and under-standing of the ring and made a number of people within Japanese boxing circles take note, especially given that his debut was pencilled in for just a few weeks late, on June 2nd.
On his debut Takahashi took on Thai foe Weerayut Wannasri and looked a pretty promising talent, though not like a fighter with over 100 amateur bouts. There was a sense of stiffness to his work, his straight punches looked flawed and like there was work to do. He lacked the fluidity that we see in a lot of Japanese amateurs who turn professional. What he did show however was that he threw smart body shots and was heavy handed, with a commitment to forcing opponents on to the back foot. He would stop his Thai foe in the second round, and clearly show his team that whilst he was powerful there was real work to do.
In his second bout Takahashi's defensive issues reared their head as he dropped from a big right hand by Filipino Joepher Montano, a crude but heavy handed visitor. Despite being dropped he was composed when he recovered to his feet and quickly caught Montano with a counter to stop the Filipino and move to 2-0 (2).
Takahashi's most recent bout came in March, when he took on Filipino Jonel Dapidran. On paper this was a notable step up, but proved to be a relatively pointless match with Dapidran looking very poor, and Takahashi scoring an opening round win. Again Takahashi looked defensively flawed, open and stiff, but seemed to have worked on his defense, become more relaxed, and landed a gorgeous right hand to drop Dapidran, and stop the bout. There was still work to do, but he was making the right strides, especially at such an early stage in his career.
The unbeaten Takahashi clearly has a lot of work to do, but as a promising puncher there is real potential for him to be in some fun to watch bouts. He is crude, he is unpolished and he is flawed, but those issues will only make him more and more fun to watch, knowing he can be hurt, just as easily as he can hurt others.
At the moment his next bout hasn't been arranged, those we're hoping it'll be in the summer and be another step forward for his development.
March is always an interesting month in Asian boxing, as bouts across the globe began to ramp up, after a relatively quiet start to the year. The month this year is packed with bouts right across the continent, including a lot of promising prospects.
Kazuto Takesako (10-0, 10) Vs Shuji Kato (10-1-1, 6) - Tokyo, Japan
The first major bout in March will see unbeaten Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako defending his belt against mandatory challenger Shuji Kato. The bout is expected to be another KO win for the champion, but the champion is certainly not unbeatable and Kato comes into this bout full of confidence following an upset win over former champion Hikaru Nishida.
Takuma Takahashi (2-0, 2) Vs Jonel Dapidran (10-3, 6) - Tokyo, Japan
Touted and unbeaten prospect Takuma Takahasi made his debut last year, and has scored back to back early wins against visitors. Now he takes a step up in class going up against Filipino opponent Jonel Dapidran. Dapidran was beaten in 3 rounds last October, by Rikuto Adachi, but we're expecting a better performance form him here. It's also worth noting that this will be Takahashi's first 8 round bout.
Masahiro Suzuki (1-0, 1) Vs Kelvin Tenorio (4-4, 2)- Tokyo, Japan
We were incredibly impressed by Masahiro Suzuki on his debut, showing all the touches of a future star, and we're really excited to see him return to the ring here as he takes on Filipino foe Kelvin Tenorio. We suspect this will be easier for Suzuki than his debut, which came against a very dangerous foe, but he's certainly not being matched softly at this early stage.
Jin Minamide (2-0, 2) Vs Marjun Pantilgan (18-7, 14) -Tokyo, Japan
Unbeaten Celes Kobayashi managed fighter Jin Minamide has fought for just over 3 minutes as a professional, taking out two experienced Filipino's already. Now he'll be taking a major step up in class to take on Marjun Pantilgan, who has been brought over to Japan a couple of times and tested very good prospects. Pntilgan is tough and will come to win, making this a very risky bout for Minamide at this stage in his career.
Charly Suarez (1-0, 1) Vs Justin Cabarles (4-0, 2) -Davao del Norte, Philippines
We travel over to the Philippines for the next notable bout, as former Olympian Charly Suarez goes for his first title. The 2016 Olympian will be up against fellow unbeaten Justin Carbarles in a bout for the MinProBA Lightweight title. It's hard to imagine Suarez losing, but he will need to be fast tracked after this bout if he's to make the most of his talent, as he is already the wrong side of 30.
Denver Cuello (36-5-6, 24) Vs Jack Amisa (21-45-2, 14) - Philippines
Former world title challenger Denver Cuello has been out of the ring for well over 3 years but returns this month to take on Indonesian journeyman Jack Amisa. Cuello was once seen as a potential star of the Minimumweight division, and had huge support from Filipino fans due to his hard hitting style, but injuries destroyed a number of his prime years. It's unclear what he has left, but it is great to see him return, and give the sport one last chance.
Sonny Boy Jaro (44-14-5, 31) Vs Frans Damur Palue (15-21-3, 10) - Philippines
Cuello isn't the only Filipino veteran in action today, as former WBC Flyweight champion Sonny Boy Jaro returns to the ring for his 64th professional bout. Jaro has been a professional since 2001 and faced a real who's who, so Indonesian journeyman Frans Damur Palue will not pose much of a threat. At the age of 36 however we do wonder how much longer Jaro has left in the tank.
Robert Paradero (17-0, 11) Vs Wilfredo Mendez (11-1, 4) - Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico
The on again off again match up between Filipino Robert Paradero and Puerto Rican Wilfredo Mendez is pencilled in again here, in what will be a WBO Inter-Continental Minimumweight title bout. This bout was supposed to take place in December, being arranged for, then re-arranged for the month, so we'd not be shocked to see this being cancelled, but it is a very good match up and hopefully does take place this time around.
Dmitry Bivol (15-0, 11) vs Joe Smith Jr (24-2, 20) - Verona, USA
Kyrgyzstan born Russian Dmitry Bivol will be making his next defense of the WBA Light Heavyweight title as he takes on big punching American Joe Smith Jr in what should be a very exciting contest. Bivol is the much more rounded fighter, but Smith is tough, heavy handed, and has proven to be very dangerous at the fringe world level. This should be a clear win for Bivol, but he won't be able to get cocky against someone who hits as hard as Smith does.
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