This past week has been a hectic one with a lot of notable action, some big and some small. We've had world title bouts, regional title bouts, domestic title bouts, shows almost constantly,and so much action that we know we've missed things! Rather than waxing lyrical about what we've had, lets take a look at our weekly award winners.
Fighter of the Week
Wanheng Menayothin (54-0, 18)
Unbeaten Thai Wanheng Menayothin has been guilty of cruising through recent defenses and looking worse than he is. This week however he shone, and completely dominated mandatory challenger Simpiwe Konkco in what is one of the best performances from Wanheng. The Thai eased his way into the bout and then really shut down the South African challenger as he took a clear and wide decision win. Their are question about Wanheng's overall competition but there is no doubting how he good he looked here, and if he kept this level of performance up going forward he really could end his career with a 60-0 type record with some more genuinely solid defenses under his belt.
Performance of the Week
Edward Heno (14-1-5, 5)
It's rare to get the Performance of the Week to a fighter who lost, but this week we were incredibly impressed by Edward Heno in his very competitive loss to Elwin Soto. We rate Soto highly and Heno pushed him all the way in a fantastic and contest that was only won by a couple of late rounds. Heno's skills were on show through the middle rounds, though sadly he did end the bout feeling the effects of the Soto's body shots, and had clearly slowed as we went into the championship rounds. Despite the loss we expected to see Heno back at world level sooner rather than later, and that's in part to to how good his performance, in a loss, was.
Ryo Tanimoto (4-2, 3) vs Yusaku Sekishima (8-2, 4)
Every so often Japanese boxing gives us a little cracker hidden down card on a much bigger show. This week get one such bout as Ryo Tanimoto and Yusaku Sekishima gave us a sensational little 6 rounder at Korakuen Hall. The bout started slowly, with both looking to box their way into the fight, but by the final 30 seconds of round 3 the pace was already increasing and from then on it just got better and better with the two getting closer to each other and letting bigger shots go on the inside. This wasn't an all out war, by any stretch, but was a thrilling, competitive, fight that combined boxing with brawling and got better round by round. This was a great little hidden gem for the week and a bout we really enjoyed.
Seung Hee Lee vs Jin Soo Kim (4)
We won't lie and pretend that the Korean bout between Seung Hee Lee and Jin Soo Kim was a technically show case of high tempo boxing and the the perfect combination of technical boxing and exciting action. What we got instead was rock em sock em robots as two novices just swung bombs at each other. Every round here was entertaining, sloppy wild and crazy. Every round of this fight was fantastically fun to watch, but as the two men got more and more tired their movement slowed to a standstill and the bombs were just launched back and forth. This was just great fun to watch, but the type of round that much make trainers pull their hair out.
No KO was considered for this award this week.
Sadriddin Akhmedov (10-0, 9)
Talented Kazakh youngster Sadriddin Akhmedov showed there was more to his boxing than just power punching and aggression as he out boxed Mexican foe Johnny Navarrete, who retired in his corner after 7 rounds. It feels like Akhmedov is just about beyond the prospect stage of his career, but it's not to be impressed by the very talented and promising 21 year old, who looks every bit a world champion in the making. We suspect that this time next year he will be a definite contender and he is seriously one to keep an eye on.
Romero Duno (21-1, 16) Vs Ryan Garcia (18-0, 15)
There's a lot of fights coming up over the next few days, and one of those is a mouth watering clash between hard hitting Filipino Romero Duno and flash American Ryan Garcia. This bout is likely to see bombs thrown, both fighters getting hurt and be a real test for both men. Garcia is certainly the more well schooled and sharper fighter but Duno has legitimately destructive power and we are really looking forward to seeing what happens when these to face off.
The last week of October isn't a crazy one in terms of big fights, but is a very good in terms of noteworthy fights, with a world title bout, a Japanese world title bout a bunch of Japanese title eliminators, several notable prospects and a very good cross roads fight.
Wanheng Menayothin (53-0, 18) vs Simpiwe Konkco (19-5, 7) - Thailand
On Friday October 25th we'll see WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin make his next defense, as he takes on mandatory challenger Simpiwe Konkco from Aouth Africa. The unbeaten Thai is the longest reigning active champion, and whilst his competition, overall, hasn't been great this is a solid defense against a very under-rated challenger. Sadly Wanheng's best wins so far have come against the likes of Tatsuya Fukuhara and Pedro Taduran and he lacks consistency, so a win here will bolster his standing before a potential US debut. For Konkco the bout is a second world title shot a win would put him on the map, big time.
Sadriddin Akhmedov (9-0, 8) vs Johnny Navarrete (33-15-2, 15) - Quebec, Canada
Hard hitting Kazakh prospect Sadriddin Akhmedov fights for the first time as a married man as he takes on Mexican veteran Johnny Navarrete. The hard hitting Akhmedov will be strongly favoured here, and is expected to blow through the Mexican in terms to return for a December card at the Bll Centre. To dat Akhmedov has squeezes 3 fights and his weeding into 2019 and is a busy boy, but given his natural talent, and power, we have no reason to think this will be anything short of a blow out.
Kazuki Tanaka (11-2, 8) Vs Kyosuke Sawada (13-2-1, 6) - Tokyo, Japan
In a very even looking Japanese Bantamweight title eliminator we'll see the aggressive Kazuki Tanaka take on the skilled and smart Kyosuke Sawada. This pits puncher against boxer and should be a very interesting match up between two talented fighters with very different in ring mindsets. We expect Tanaka to press and Sawada try to keep behind his his jab, though we have seen Sawada dragged into a fight before and sooner or later we expect this one to break out into a war.
Hinata Maruta (9-1-1, 7) Vs Takenori Ohashi (17-5-2, 11) - Tokyo, Japan
The wonderfully smooth Hinata Maruta takes on the former Japanese Featherweight champion Takenori Ohashi in a Japanese Featherweight title eliminator. Although very talented Maruta has faltered in his biggest bout to date, losing a competitive decision to veteran Hidenori Otake in an OPBF title match, but has bounced back with some impressive results and will be looking to build on his recent wins over Tsuyoshi Tameda and Coach Hiroto. On the other hand Ohashi is no slouch, and whilst technicall he's slow and clunky he has lights out power, and is a danger through out a bout. This really is boxer against puncher in what could turn out to be the gem of the Japanese title eliminators taking place on October 26th.
Kazuki Saito (7-1, 5) Vs Izuki Tomioka (6-2-1, 2) - Tokyo, Japan
Another Japanese title eliminator will be taking place at Lightweight and will see the talented, but somewhat chinny, Kazuki Saito take on the skilled, but light hitting, Izuki Tomioka. This is a bout that pits two men who have real potential, but big flaws, against each other. Saito is a joy to watch offensively, but his durability issues cannot be ignored, and he has been down in a number of fights and we do worry about him whenever he's caught. Izuki gave Masayoshi Nakatani fights in a 2018 bout for the OPBF Lightweight title, but looked worried against Shuya Masaki just a few months later. Izuki is an excellent and fighter, but his lack of stopping power is a major question mark, even at this level.
Keita Obara (21-4-1, 19) Vs Toshiro Tarumi (12-3-3, 6) - Tokyo, Japan
Former world title challenger Keita Obara drops back down to domestic level for a Japanese Welterweight title eliminator against Toshiro Tarumi. Obara has proven to not be world class, but isn't too far behind and bouts against the likes of Kudratillo Abdukakhorov have shown some of his limitations. Despite that Obara has still only ever been beaten by 1 Japanese opponent, and that was on his debut. Tarumi is a solid domestic fighter, but this is a massive step up in class for him, and we suspect it's too much too soon for him. Tarumi lacks the power needed to get Obara's respect and isn't sharp enough to be able to replicate Abdukakhorov's gameplan.
Wenfeng Ge (11-1, 6) Vs Kompayak Porpramook (60-7, 41) - Chongqing, China
Chinese 32 year old Wenfeng Ge looks to bounce back from a loss in January to Giemel Magramo, which saw him being stopped in the 10th round. The Chinese fighter will be taking on former WBC Light Flyweight world champion Kompayak Porpramook, a 37 year old Thai who has been in some amazing bouts during his long career. We suspect the local fighter will have the energy and speed to avoid an all out tear up with Porpramook, but the Thai never stops trying and we'd expect at least some exciting exchanges here in a bout both men will see as a must win.
Seigo Yuri Akui (13-2-1, 9) vs Shun Kosaka (16-5, 4) - Okayama, Japan
In a bout to crown a new Japanese Flyweight champion we'll see the exciting Seigo Yuri Akui battle the rugged Shun Kosaka. So far we've seen both of these two lose to their best opponents, in fact both share a loss to Junto Nakatani, but they should make for a very interesting domestic title bout, with Akui's quick start and intense aggression being matched against Kosaka's toughness. If Akui can take out Kosaka early this would be very impressive, however the longer it goes the more and more Kosaka's toughness will play a part. A very interesting match up and one that feels very hard to call.
Shu Utsuki (5-0, 4) vs Somphot Seesa (4-2, 4) - Tokyo, Japan
Fast rising Japanese hopeful Shu Utsuki looks to continue his rapid rise as he takes on Thai foe Somphot Seesa. On paper this is, arguably, Utsuki's easiest bout to date and it has a "stay busy" feel to it for the hard hitting Watanabe gym fighter. Seesa has a bit of experience but he was stopped in both of his previous visits to Japan, to Daisuke Sugita and Ren Sasaki, and it's hard to imagine him lasting long with Utsuki here.
Yudai Shigeoka (0-0) vs Manop Audomphanawari (3-2, 3) - Tokyo, Japan
Former amateur standout Yudai Shigeoka, the older brother of Ginjiro Shigeoka, makes his professional as he takes on Thai foe Manop Audomphanawari. In reality this should be a simple win for Shigeoka, but we're looking forward to seeing him in the ring and seeing his rise, especially given the incredibly quick rise of his brother.
This past week hasn't been a big one for Asian fighters, unfortunately, as we hit the June slump, but there was still a fair bit of action, and some solid performances.
Fighter of the Week
Wanheng Menayothin (53-0, 18)
Unbeaten Thai Wanehng Menayothin extended his unbeaten record this past Friday, when he took a technical decision win over Tatsuya Fukuhara. The bout wasn't a great one, but again saw the talented Thai show off the skills, accuracy and sharp punching that has taken him to over 50 wins. It's a shame the bout ended when it did, with Fukuhara seemingly coming on at the time of the conclusion, but there is no doubting that Wanheng was value for his win.
Performance of the Week
Junto Nakatani (19-0, 14)
It didn't take long for Japanese Flyweight champion to go through Filipino foe Philip Luis Cuerdo, in what looked like an interesting assignment on paper. Instead of being a good test against a naturally bigger southpaw Nakatani took him out inside half a round to move a step closer to a world title fight. Whilst this won't prepare Nakatani for someone like Moruti Mthalane or Charlie Edwards it was a great statement win and the next step forward.
Mugicha Nakagawa vs Jin Miura
There wasn't a FOTY contender in Asia this past week, in fact there was little in terms of amazing bouts in general, there was however a solid, well contested and exciting bout on Friday in Tokyo, as Mugicha Nakagawa and Jin Miura fought to a draw. This was entertaining without ever becoming anything special. Just unfortunately the week lacked in terms of great fights, with lots of solid action and nothing spectacular.
Kook Min Moon vs Yo Sub Lee (1)
Sometimes the best rounds aren't the ones fought at the highest level, but instead the ones where we see some intense action and give a great sense of "action per second". There are few rounds this year that gave us more action second than the opening round of Kook Min Moon's battle with Yo Sub Lee, which featured 3 knockdowns in just over a minute. The quality wasn't amazing, the skills on show were limited, but the action was intense.
There was no valid KO for the award this week
Kai Ishizawa (6-0, 6)
Hard hitting Japanese youngster Kai Ishizawa used Indonesian foe Silem Serang like a yo-yo, dropping him several times on route to a 4th round TKO win. Whilst the win was always expecred this was the sort of performance that Ishizawa needed after sych a tough bout against Yuga Inoue last year November. This was a sign that Ishizawa was still the destructive monster he had looked in his first 4 bouts, and fingers crossed he'll build on this win with a big step up later in the year.
Carl Jammes Martin (12-0, 11) vs Rakesh Lohchab (6-0, 2)
The Filipino fight scene has had a strange year, with ALA beign eerily quiet and the likes of Gerry Penalosa and Sanman beign the key promotional players this year. Although ALA, and their stable are quiet, there are a number of rising Filipino fighers bringing action and excitement to Filipino viewers. For us the most exciting rising prospect in the country is the all action Carl Jammes Martin, who takes on unbeaten Indian Rakesh Lohchab this coming weekend, and we are really looking forward to seeing Martin back in the ring. He is one of the most exciting fighters on the planet, and every fight of his going forward will be must watch TV, including this one.
The action really doesn't stop this month, and the final third of the month gives us 5 world title bouts along with a lot of other great action as we really end the month with a great flurry of fights.
When we first started this site, heading towards over 6 years ago now, the Thai boxing scene was one of the most active. In 2013 there was 148 shows in the country, many of those were televised with, Channel 7 (CH7) showing fights pretty much weekly and Channel 3 (CH3) also doing regular broadcasts.
To put that number into some perspective Japan had 233 shows in 2013, Philipines had 126, Indonesia had 95 and South Korea had 31.
There wasn't just an incredible level of activity but that activity was mostly about developing fighters as part of the next wave of the Thai boxing scene. An example of that was between January 25th and January 28th 2014 there was fights for Yodmongkol Vor Saenghtep, Wanheng Menayothin, Petch Sor Chitpattana, Suriyan Sor Rungvisai, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Nawaphon Por Chokchai.These men were allowed to be active, were allowed to fight frequently on television shows and build their profiles.
In that year alone Wanheng and Srisaket, two of the biggest Thai names right now, each fought 7 times. They weren't the only busy fighters, but are certainly the two who appear to have benefited the most from that high level of activity.
As well as the emerging fighters, which also included Amnat Ruenroeng and Knockout CP Freshmart, we also saw the end of the legendary Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, who fought 3 bouts during the year before his retirement. Yes he came back in 2018 for 2 bouts, including the infamous rematch with Koki Kameda, but his career really ended in 2013. Like wise it was the last year that Denkaosan Kaovichit scored a win of note,
It was a transition year for the country, but a great year all the same, and a year that gave us some amazing fights, such as Kompayak Porpramook's FOTY contender with Koki Eto, and the entertaining bout between and Pornsawan Porpramook abd Rey Loreto.
At the time it seemed like the Thai scene, along with the Filipino and Japanese scenes, was amazingly healthy and as we entered 2014 we also seemed to be on the verge of a break out year for Fahlan Sakkreerin, Jr, who had stopped Ryo Miytazaki in Japan at the very end of 2013.
Sadly though things have gone backwards for Thai boxing since then. Activity has dropped, with no year since ever having the same amount of shows. Although 2015 boasted 140 cards that numbers declined to just 99 in 2016 and 2017 wasn't much better with 105. Although it climbed slightly in 2018, when there was 115, it was still a massive reduction from what we had seen just 5 years earlier.
That decline is despite the huge success of Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, the 52 fight unbeaten streak of Wanheng and the emergence of Knockout CP Freshmart.
Worryingly yet, there has only been 31 Thai shows this year as we write this. That's less than 8 a month and it doesn't appear that the trend is set to change, in fact the upcoming scheduled seems to be worryingly scarce. We are well on course for the lowest number Thai shows since the millenium, and we need to go all the way back to 1998 for a year with less than 8 shows a month. That was a year where there was only 71 shows in Thailand, and even then there was unique circumstances behind things. After all 1998 was a year that had followed a massive financial crisis through out Asia, a financial crisis which began in 1997 in Thailand.
Thailand has long been one of the Asian boxing powerhouses, but right now it's a country floundering and a country that is paying for it's mistakes in the sport. Despite the attention given to Srisaket.
For years it has delivered awful match ups, packing records with wins, but not developing fighters. The focus has seemingly been to turn away from fighters carrying the name of top gyms, and instead to carrying the name of a sponsor, showing a shift in focus. Gone are the days of regularly seeing fighters reprresent OnesongChaigym, Kokietgym and Kratingdaenggym, and now are the days of seeing fighters carrying names like CP Freshmart or Ruawaiking. There are a few exceptions, but the gym names being part of a fighters identity are a lot rarer than they used to be.
The TV companies, including long time boxing support CH7, have gradually changed their view on the sport. In fact CH7 have changed their policy on the sport so much that what were once weekly broadcasts are now a near rarity, with the channel only airing world title bouts. We've gone from having shows aired on different channels at the same time, to waiting weeks for a televised show, and even longer for one with some intrigue. The main channels of the past have fallen by the say side in some ways and been over-taken by a relative new comer who have raised the production standards and quality expected of a Thai show
That new channel is WorkPoint, who have really managed to step in, put money into the sport and been putting in what resembles quality control. That had been lacking at times, but was really needed when they moved into the sport last year. In 2018 Work Point put on 11 shows under their "WP Boxing" banner, and despite not always being huge shows, they were consistently worth watching. They were different to what other channels were putting on, and were a shining light in what was becoming a rather dark and dreary Thai sign.
With Workpoint it's not all doom and gloom, and boxing in Thailand isn't dead. It's not like Korea, where it's hanging on by it's finger nails. But it is hard in seeing what the next wave of Thai contenders is going to look like, and just how long their top names of today can remain relevant.
At the moment the top 3 fighters in Thailand are Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, who is 32, Wanheng Menayothin, who is is 33, and Knockout CP Freshmart, who is 28. Srisaket, of course, lost last time out to Juan Franisco Estrada, Wanheng is 52-0 but is showing signs of aging in recent fights and will likely see his perfect record come to an end sooner rather than later, and Knockout has bored fans with dull performances.
Aside from the top 3 it's really unclear what is actually worth caring about in the Thai scene.
Their are prospects, like Apichet Petchmanee, Singsayan CP Freshmart, up coming world title challenger Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart and Chainoi Worawut and Thanongsak Simsri but they are few and far between. To get big bouts they will need to travel, their is little money backing the prospects and securing home advantage against good journeymen, gatekeepers and fellow hopefuls. If these fighters can get the bouts they need they could give us towards a new era in Thai boxing, but the feeling is that they won't be given the development match ups they need. They will either pad their records, and climb the rankings on the back of a lengthy unbeaten run, or be thrown to the wolves.
There is also the worrying trend for Thai fighters to be on the way down at a young age. The promising Fahlan Jr is looking to be on the slide at just 25 years old whilst the once touted Stamp Kiatniwat, at just 21, is looking like his career might be over before many fighters even turn pro.
Whilst there is clearly a lot to the downfall in the Thai scene, despite the huge success of Srisaket, the main thing is that it's happening, and that it's clearly happening. This isn't some gradual thing, but is something that is happening alarmingly fast. The change in CH7's policy is a big change, but the downturn was happening well before that, though it is hard to pin point when this downturn began. In fact it is likely a combination of the issues we've mentioned and a lot more.
There is, of course, one thing we've not yet mentioned, and that is the effect of ONE, which held it's first show in Thailand in 2016, the same year that there was less than 100 boxing shows in Thailand. The competition from other combat sports, including the traditional Muay Thai, is there and no longer is boxing the best alternative source of income for a top Muay Thai fighter who can join something like ONE. It's also worth noting that in 2013 the Sports Authority of Thailand lifted a ban on MMA, which may also have played a notable role in the decline of boxing.
It's hard to know for sure how much of an impact the rise of MMA had, but longer term we suspect it will deny the sport the chance to acquire some top Muay Thai fighters, something that has been a key source of talent.
One other thing to note is the strengthening of the Baht in recent years, meaning the Thai currency is stronger than it was in 2013, meaning domestic are essentially costing more than they did.
Despite all of this, it is not the end of Western style boxing in Thailand, it is however the start of a worrying trend. A trend that needs to end quickly of Thai boxing isn't going to be into a proverbial dark age. Hopefully the rise of Srisaket will kick start the next generation of Thai fighters, if it doesn't then it's hard to see what it will stop the current in decline in boxing in Thailand., though as mentioned there are a few beacons of hope and hopefully those will become the game changers Thailand needs right now.
We saw the sport bounce back from the big issues in the 1990's, and we've seen Thai boxing producing a gem when it's needed one in the past. Fingers crossed they produce another and the sport will be given another shot in the arm for what has been a major player for the Asian scene ever since Pone Kingpetch won the World Flyweight title back in 1960.
Whilst March started somewhat quietly it certainly ends with a crescendo of action, thanks to a huge flurry of fights in the last week or so of the month. While they are of varying quality they do come thick and fast!
Yuki Yamauchi (2-0, 1) Vs Claudevan Sese (7-0-3, 1) - Hyogo, Japan
In a meeting of unbeaten fighters touted Japanese prospect Yuki Yamauchi battles against unbeaten Filipino Claudevan Sese. We're bit on Yamauchi, and this looks like a really good test for the former Japanese amateur standout, even if Sese hasn't shown much in terms of power through his career. It's not a huge bout, by any stretch, but we do love seeing touted amateurs tested and this should be an ideal test for Yamauchi.
Sergey Lipinets (14-1, 10) Vs Lamont Peterson (35-4-1, 17) - Maryland, USA
Kazakh-Russian Sergey Lipinets looks to continue the rebuilding process following his 2018 IBF world title loss to Mikey Garcia. In the opposite corner is another former world champion, Lamont Peterson, himself needing to rebuild from a loss to Errol Spence. This isn't an amazing match up in terms of names but in the ring the styles should gel to provide us with something very exciting and very enjoyable, with the volume and strength of Peterson against the explosive power and ruggedness of Lipinets.
Hironori Mishiro (6-0-1, 2) Vs Takuya Watanabe (35-8-1, 20) - Tokyo, Japan
The potential hidden gem of the month will take place on March 27th and will see OPBF Super Featherweight champion Hironori Mishiro defending his title against Slver champion Takuya Watanabe. Both of these men are very talented boxers, both can be dragged into a war and both can put on a show. Mishiro is the more natural talent, with amateur polish and the promising prospect tag, but Watanabe is a gritty veteran who has seen it all before. This really could be one of the best bouts of the month.
Wanheng Menayothin (52-0, 18) Vs Tatsuya Fukuhara (21-6-6, 7) II - Thailand
After several changes in regards to the date, we now finally see the rematch between unbeaten WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin and former WBO champion Tatsuya Fukuhara. We though their first bout was incredibly close, actually feeling as if Fukuhara's work rate should have earned him a win, but since then the Japanese fighter has failed to shine. Wanheng however has moved past Floyd Mayweather's 50-0 record and is unlikely to be just giving up the WBC title any time soon. An interesting match up that should tell us a lot about the future of both men.
Ryota Yamauchi (4-0, 4) Vs Wulan Tuolehazi (10-3-1, 5) - Shanghai, China
Touted Japanese youngster Ryota Yamauchi takes a huge step up in class, in his first bout away from Japan, as he battles world ranked Chinese foe Wulan Tuolehazi. The Japanese prospect has impressed from the off, with a couple of notable wins already, but this is a massive leap up in what will be his first bout scheduled for 12 rounds, and to do that in enemy territory shows his confidence. Tuolehazi isn't the most polished of fighters, but he's strong, makes fights ugly and is riding a good winning streak into this, including an excellent win over Jayr Raquinel.
Baishanbo Nasiyiwula (15-2-1, 6) Vs Yusuke Konno (14-4, 7) - Shanghai, China
Another China Vs Japan bout will see Baishanbo Nasiyiwula take on Yusuke Konno, in what should be a chance for Baishanbo to look good. The Chinese hopeful looked less than brilliant against Ernesto Espana last time out, but has shown plenty to get excited about in the past, with a usually fun style, a rugged toughness and a dislikable streak of mean arrogance. Konno looks like the clear under-dog on paper but he's been enjoying a solid run of performances coming into this and will feel confident enough of over-coming the Chinese hopeful.
Sho Kimura (17-2-2, 10) Vs Pigmy Kokietgym (60-10-2, 24) - Shanghai, China
Arguably the biggest fight on the card, in terms of name value, is also the biggest mismatch, with former world champion Sho Kimura battling against Thai veteran Pigmy Kokietgym, himself a former world title challenger. For Kimura, who is still hugely popular in China, this will be his first bout since losing the WBO Flyweight title to Kosei Tanaka in 2018. Pimgy is a veteran, but a veteran who has lost 7 by stoppage and is already 37 years old. The Thai has gone on too long, and is likely to be used as little more than a confidence booster for Kimura.
Kudratillo Abdukakhorov (15-0, 9) Vs Keita Obara (20-3-1, 18) - Pennsylvania, USA
Unbeaten Uzbek Kudratillo Abdukakhorov takes on Japanese puncher Keita Obara in an IBF Welterweight eliminator, to earn a shot at the title later in the year. The unbeaten Uzbek is the more naturally gifted boxer and the more rounded fighter, with a good boxing brain, good movement and speed, but he is a relatively light punching fighter compared to Obara, who is technically less impressive but a solid hitter. This should make for an interesting dynamic, and both will see this as a potentially career defining bout, leading to a massive fight in the near future.
Tsubasa Koura (14-0, 9) Vs Lito Dante (15-10-4, 7) - Kanagawa, Japan
Also at the very end of the month will be the next OPBF Minimumweight title defense from unbeaten Japanese fighter Tsubasa Koura, who will be taking on limited but tough Filipino challenger Lito Dante. On paper this looks like a total mismatch, but in reality it should be a lot more competitive than it looks. Not to say we don't Koura will win, but he will have to work for the win against the very under-rated Dante, who has never been stopped and has faced world class fighters numerous times during his 29 fight career.
Although not many fights for 2019 have been officially announced there are numerous contests rumoured and others that are thought to be in the pipe line, such as mandatory title challenges. Here we take a look at some of those fights.
Hiroki Okada (19-0, 13) [岡田 博喜] Vs Raymundo Beltran (35-8-1-1, 21)
Supposedly set for February 10th in California is a bout between former Japanese and WBO Asia Pacific Light Welterweight champion Hiroki Okada take on former WBO Lightweight champion Raymundo Beltran. The bout would have fireworks written all over it, and push the winner onto a potential title fight, with Jose Carlos Ramirez likely be an option. It now seems like the bout won't be taking place in February, but could end up happening later in the year.
Vic Saludar (18-3, 10) Vs Masataka Taniguchi (11-2, 7) [谷口 将隆]
Rumoured to be set for February 25th we'll be seeing WBO Minimumweight champion Vic Saludar return to Japan to take on Japanese challenger Masataka Taniguchi. Both of these men are hard hitters in the lowest class, both have under-rated skills and this should make for a really exciting match up. The champion would, rightfully, be favoured, but it is a very dangerous first defense and could be a potential FOTY candidate, given the styles of the two fighters.
Wanheng Menayothin (52-0, 18) [วันเฮง ไก่ย่างห้าดาวยิม] Vs Tsubasa Koura (14-0, 9) [小浦 翼]
WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin is rumoured to be making his international debut later in the year, to take on unbeaten Japanese fighter Tsubasa Koura in Tokyo. This bout began to be rumoured after Wanehng's last bout, and has excited fan much more than a previously rumoured contest between the Thai and Japanese national champion Shin Ono, in a bout that didn't really get the juices flow. Koura would be the under-dog, but would be a very live challenger for the unbeaten Thai champion.
Angel Acosta (19-1, 19) vs Jonathan Taconing (28-3-1, 22)
Considered as a possible world title fight for Spring we could see WBO Light Flyweight champion Angel Acosta defending his belt against Jonathan Taconing, who is highly ranked by all of the 4 world title bodies. Taconing had been ordered to fight in a WBC world title eliminator, and may go that route, but a shot at the WBO champion certainly shouldn't be ruled out given he is ranked highly by the Puerto Rican organisation. This has the potential to be a very special bout, and something to get very excited about given that both men are hard hitters who fight with bad intentions.
Carlos Canizales (21-0-1, 17) Vs Tetsuya Hisada (33-9-2, 19) [久田 哲也]
WBA "regular" Light Flyweight champion Carlos Canizales has twice fought in the Land of the Rising Sun and put on a show in both, fighting to a draw with Ryoichi Taguchi and taking a win over Reiya Konishi. He's now expected to return for a third visit to defend his title against veteran Tetsuya Hisada, who is the WBA's #1 contender for the title. Hisada vacated the Japanese title in late 2018 and is expected to make the most of his top ranking with the Panamanian outfit. He would be a very clear under-dog against the Venezuelan puncher, but at 34 years old it really is now or never for the Osaka.
Jerwin Ancajas (30-1-2, 20) Vs Ryuichi Funai (31-7, 22) [船井 龍一]
If a much anticipated showdown between IBF Super Flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas and WBC counterpart Srisaket Sor Rungvisai can't be made in the coming weeks Ancajas is expected to be ordered to make a mandatory defense of his title against Ryuichi Funai, who earned his mandatory shot by stopping Victor Olivo in November. The Filipino champion would be favoured, but has under-delivered in recent bouts and Funai will be fully aware that this could be his one and only shot at a world title. This all Asian bout is likely to be pushed for hard by Funai's team, at the Watanabe gym, though Ancajas does have other options on the table including a move up in weight.
With 2018 coming to a close we're already excited about the coming year and what the sport may have in store for us in 2019. Here we look at 5 potential bouts involving Asian fighters at world level, we'll be doing a similar article at Oriental/Asia Pacific level in the coming days.
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (47-4-1, 41) Vs Kal Yafai (25-0, 15)
The Super Flyweight division is one of the most packed at the moment, with a good handful of fighters who could all mix in some interesting fights. Among those possible fights is a WBC/WBA unification bout that would pit Asia Vs the UK. The match up in question would see murderous puncher Srisaket Sor Rungvisai take on unbeaten boxer Kal Yafai, in a bout that could go some way towards sorting out the division.
In theory it's not the out and out best bout the division could give us, or even the most obvious, but we would love to see this bout, and suspect it could end what has been a poor reign from the Englishman. It would also leave Juan Francisco Estrada available to have a long awaited rematch with Roman Gonzalez and a potential WBO/IBF unification with the winner of Donnie Nietes Vs Kazuto Ioka taking on Jerwin Ancajas.
Wanheng Menayothin (52-0, 18) Vs Tsubasa Koura (14-0, 9)
The Minimumweight division is particularly exciting right now with a lot of young talent emerging to challenge the champions at the top of the division. The longest reigning champion in the sport right now is Thailand's unbeaten Wanheng Menayothin, who has held the WBC Minimumweight title since November 2014 and already ran up 10 defenses. One of the most promising of the emerging contenders is Japan's Tsubasa Koura, who is exciting, skilled, hard hitting and one of the brightest youngsters in Japan.
This bout has been mooted for Spring 2019, and seems almost certainly a done deal to our understanding. It would be a big step up in class for Koura but he's really looked tremendous so far and if he can lure Wanheng to Japan he has a great chance. For Wanheng it'd be another bout against a young upstart, but one that could see him silencing more of his doubters and further extending his impressive unbeaten record.
Tomoki Kameda (36-2, 20) Vs Shingo Wake (25-5-2, 17)
Back in November Tomoki Kameda claimed the WBC "interim" Super Bantamweight title, he's expected to face "regular" champion Rey Vargas in 2019, however there is some talk that bout may not be next for either man, with Vargas expected to face WBA champion Daniel Roman. If that happens it could open the door for Kameda to defend the interim title before facing Vargas. There's one man who has been very public about fighting him, and that's Shingo Wake, who has publicly called Kameda out, a number of times.
If this All Japanese Super Bantamweight clash was made it would pit two skilled fighters against each other in a mouth watering bout that could end up deciding the #1 Japanese fighter in the division, though Ryosuke Iwasa and Yukinori Oguni could also involve themselves in that argument. It would however have to wait until late Spring given that Wake will be fighting on January 19th and would need time to prepare for Kameda, who doesn't seem to have been excited about facing Wake in the past.
Vic Saludar (18-3, 10) Vs Masataka Taniguchi (11-2, 7)
Filipino fighter Vic Saludar travelled to Japan earlier this year to rip the WBO Minimumweight title from the hands of Ryuya Yamanaka, and sadly retired Yamanaka in the process. A return to Japan to defend the title against Masataka Taniguchi would be a potential FOTY candidate with Saludar and Taniguchi both being heavy handed fighters, with solid boxing skills, a good amateur pedigree and exciting, free flowing attacking styles. It's rare to get two solid punchers up against each other at 105lbs and this bout would give us just that.
This bout had been rumoured for New Year's Eve but didn't come off, it could however end up taking place in 2019, with Taniguchi having won the WBO Asia Pacific title since the bout was first rumoured. This could be put on a bumper card in the Golden Week and would make for a great supporting world title bout.
Angel Acosta (19-1, 19) Vs Jonathan Taconing (28-3-1, 22)
It's hard to say what the best bout possible to make at Light Flyweight really is, with a number of match ups that could end up being FOTY contenders featuring many of the top fighters in the division. Not only are there a lot of fantastic fighters at 108lbs but there are a lot that stylistically match up for great fights. One such fight would see WBO world champion Angel Acosta taking on Filipino slugger Jonathan Taconing, who would be getting his third world title fight. This wouldn't be a mega skilled bout, but would be ultra exciting, with both being heavy handed, tough, and having solid stamina.
On paper this is a real possibility, given that Taconing is ranked #2 by the WBO, though Acosta is pencilled in to make a mandatory defense against Ryuji Hara in Spring. If the bout takes place in Summer 2019 then we'd be ecstatic and looking forward to some real unbridled violence. This really would be something special, though either man could be replace with Felix Alvarado, Carlos Canizales, Hiroto Kyoguchi or Christian Araneta and we'd still get a very special bout!
Earlier today WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (51-0, 18) [วันเฮง ไก่ย่างห้าดาวยิม], aka Chayaphon Moonsri, recorded his 10th world title defense and moved ahead of Floyd Mayweather Jr in regards to unbeaten records. In fact if Wanheng retired later this week he would have the most statistically impressive record of any unbeaten world champion, but what does 51-0 actually mean? How impressive is Wanheng's unbeaten record? And what value do we get from digging into the numbers?
The Thai made his debut way back in January 2007, beating fellow debutant Roel Gade of the Philippines. At the time Wanheng was 21 years old and not someone who was immediately tipped as being a future boxing success. Despite that it wouldn't take long for Menayothin to claim his first title, winning the WBC Youth Minimumweight title just 2 months later, in his third bout, by stopping Yiming Ma of China.
Wanheng's reign as the Youth champion followed a similar reign from countryman from Oleydong Sithsamerchai, aka Kittipong Jaigrajang, who made 16 defences between October 2002 and August 2006.
As the Youth champion Wanheng would record 8 defenses, winning the title in March 2007 and making his final defense in October 2009. Those defenses included wins against a number of novices as well as decent Filipino fighters like Armando de la Cruz and Ardin Diale.
Wanheng second professional title was the interim WBC International Minimumweight title, which he won against Jayson Rotoni in December and defended twice before winning the WBC International silver title, defending that 3 times between January 2011 and September 2011. It was whilst defending that title that Wanheng would record his first victory over a former world champion, defeating former IBF king Florante Condes in June 2011.
The full version of the WBC International Minimumweight title was the next for Wanheng to claim, in November 2011, and he would hold that title for several years whilst building up his unbeaten record and edging up the WBC rankings.
In 2014 he had become the WBC mandatory challenger, and was waiting for a world title shot. By the end of his waiting period he was 35-0 (11) and was securing a long awaited shot as WBC king Oswaldo Novoa, who had upset Xiong Zhao Zhong for the belt in China and recorded his first defense, stopping Alcides Martinez. Despite being the challenger Wanheng seemed to be the boss for the most part, before stopping Novoa in the 9th round to claim the WBC Minimumweight title, a title he still holds now, almost 4 years later.
As a champion Wanheng's reign has been a mixed back. Hisfirst two defenses came against Filipino challengers Jeffrey Galero and Jerry Tomogdan, neither of which really seemed like suitable challengers. The gutsy Galero lasted 12 rounds before losing a decision whilst Tomogdan was stopped in 9 rounds.
Following those bouts was a stay busy contest, something we often see Thai's take part in with greats like Pongsaklek Wonjongkam fighting in them to stay sharp and keep a pay cheque coming in, against Ardi Buyung. Just a month later he would record his third defense, stopping Korean puncher Young Gil Bae in 9 rounds. Next was Japanese challenger Go Odaira, who lasted less than 5 complete rounds with the Thai.
Another stay busy bout, this time against Edo Anggoro, allowed Wanheng to tune his skills before a mandatory defense in August 2016 against talented Mexican Saul Juarez. Juarez was competitive through out but was out pointed over the 12 round distance.
Following the mandatory against Juarez was another stay busy in December 2016 against Silem Serang. The next month Wanheng would score his 6th defense, narrowing over-coming the hungry Melvin Jerusalem. That was the start of a busy year for the Thai who would fight stay busy bouts in March, against Jaysever Abcede, and August, against Jack Amisa, as well as world title defenses against Omari Kimweri in June and former WBO champion Tatsuya Fukuhara in November.
To begin 2018 Wanheng would make a mandatory defense against Panamanian youngster Leroy Estrada. Estrada proved to be a boy against a man and was dropped at will be Wanheng en route a 5th round stoppage win for the Thai, who reached 50-0 with the victory, tying the record of Floyd Mayweather Jr. A record he surpassed earlier today when he defeated Filipino challenger Pedro Taduran in his 10th defense.
Few will suggest that Wanheng is one of the all time greats, or a future hall of famer. His 51-0 record looks great on paper but the quality hasn't been fantastic and if we're being honest he's never come close to really proving his quality. There's been chances to unify, with fighters like Katsunari Takayama, Knockout CP Freshmart, Hiroto Kyoguchi, Byron Rojas, Ryuya Yamanaka and even Kosei Tanaka all having had world title reigns and making for attractive bouts with Wanheng. Though none ever came off, the closest we got was his his bout with Fukuhara, who had lost the WBO title 3 months earlier.
There is also a case to be made that he should have moved up in weight if he really wanted to prove himself. Whilst that does hold some weight he deserves some serious credit for making 105lbs right through his career. A fighter sticking at one weight, Heavyweight aside, through a 10 year career is impressive. It's a sign of his commitment to making weight and how strong he can be at one weight.
A very valid criticism, along with his competition, is his lack of travel. Everyone of his 51 fights has been in Thailand. Whilst not all great fighters travel, it's hard to believe that he didn't get good offers to fight in Japan, the Philippines or Mexico. It would have been really interesting to have seen him travel and fight on the road. Travelling to Tokyo or Osaka to fight a leading contender in Japan, or Tijuana to face a leading Mexican or Manila to face one of his string of Filipino challengers.
At the age of 32, an age that many Minimumweights have outgrown the division or retired, one thing that Wanheng really deserves a lot of respect for is his longevity. It's impressive to fight 51 times, something that most fighters don't do, but the fact he's now surpassed over 400 professional rounds is also a real credit. He's not got much in terms of wear and tear and given his relative lack of power his bouts are going long, with 13 compete 12 rounders under his belt including 6 in world title bouts.
So on to the numbers:
Reigning world champions faced:1
Former world champions beaten: 3
and Tatsuya Fukuhara
World title defenses: 10
Jeffrey Galero - UD12,
Jerry Tomogdan - KO9,
Young Gil Bae - TKO9,
Go Odaira - TKO5,
Saul Juarez - UD12,
Melvin Jerusalem - UD12,
Omari Kimweri - UD12,
Tatsuya Fukuhara - UD12,
Leroy Estrada - TKO5
and Pedro Taduran - UD12
Countries fought in:1
World titles won: 1
Total title bouts:
Debutants faced: 2
Roel Garde - UD6
Kuk Chol Jon - TKO6
Record: 51-0 (18)
Career rounds: 411
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