This past week has certainly not been a banner week for Asian boxing, or boxing in general, but there was more than enough to talk about, and some stuff that was well hidden, hey we're looking at you Korea!
Fighter of the Week
John Riel Casimero (29-4, 20)
Filipino warrior John Riel Casimero has long been a road warrior, a true "had gloves, will travel, and fight anywhere" kind of fighter. Despite being one of the best road warriors in world boxing he has also been a fighter who blows hot and cold. When he's on fire he is excellent, but as we saw against Jonas Sultan in 2017 he can also turn up and not care about what happens in the ring. Thankfully he showed how hot he can be, at least for around a minute, as he claimed the WBO Bantamweight title and stopped Zolanu Tete to claim one of his biggest career wins.
Performance of the Week
John Riel Casimero (29-4, 20)
It's rare that a "Performance of the Week" will go to a man who really did nothing for 2 rounds but, lets be honest, what Casimero did in the third round made up for the nothingness of the first 2. He dropped Tete with a fantastic right hand just over a minute into the round and never let Tete back into things, in fact really the referee should have stopped things there and then. It was an awful showing by the referee but a brilliant round of destruction by Casimero.
Lei Wang vs Marlon Paniamogan
If we're being totally honest this past week was a weird one. There was little to really get excited about and looking for a fight that stood out, on a quiet week to begin with, was always going to be a struggle. Other than Casimero's bout with Tete nothing really got the juices flowing going into the week, and given how nothing happened for 2 rounds of that fight it massively under-delivered as an actual fight. Thankfully we did get some fun and games in China with Lei Wang and Marlon Paniamogan putting on a fun fight in Qingdao. Paniamogan brought the fight, walked through bombs and refused to go down, whilst Wang showed off some real skills. This wasn't a fight of the year contender, but it was the best of a weak bunch in a poor week of fights.
Hyun Je Baek vs Joo Hwan Suh (2)
With no major bout delivering a round to get excited about we had to turn out attention to a club level Korean show, and in fairness they do tend to deliver great action at the very lowest of levels. That was shown again this week when Hyun Je Baek and Joo Hwan Suh just stood their ground and lets shots fly. This was the sort of fight that trainers would hate their fighters for getting involved in, but for a week that was so lacking in action this was a highlight. Sadly the round involved a fight ending headclash that ended in a technical draw. Regardless what we got here was fun!
No suitable contender
It should be noted that whilst there was no suitable KO this week, the right hand that Casimero dropped Tete with was easily the punch of the week. A brute of a shot!
Yi Hung Chiang (4-0, 3)
The obvious choice for Prospect of the Week would have been Andy Hiraoka, who made his US debut with a quick win on the Top Rank show on Saturday night. We, however, have never been one for sticking with the obvious when someone else deserves a mention and the reality is that we were really impressed by two novice Taiwanese fighters. One of those was the debuting Kai Ting Chuang and the other was Yi Hung Chiang, who looked so exciting that it was hard to not be impressed. We don't imagine either fighter reaching the top of the sport, something Hiraoka could potentially do, but we do expect to be thoroughly entertained every time we see Chiang in action.
Joe Noynay (18-2-1, 7) vs Kenichi Ogawa (24-1, 18)
There may be bigger and better bouts out there next week, including a world title fight in Mexico and an interim world title fight in the US, but the one we are looking forward to the most is the WBO Asia Pacific title bout between Joe Noynay and Kenichi Ogawa. This year has been a huge one for Noynay, and another win here puts him well and truly in the world title mix, whilst Ogawa is still battling to redeem himself following his failed drug test in 2017. We expect explosive action here, and this should be a little bit of a gem in a very, very busy day of fights.
Maybe it's just me but it's beginning to feel rather chilly, and the weeks are starting to become more and more packed with fights! It must mean we're heading towards December, when this are really set to go a little bit crazy! This past week has been a stellar week for action, and although we've not had any massive names fighting we have seen several great fights, amazing rounds a big upset and a world champion retaining his belt. Sure this past week hasn't been the best, but it's been very, very solid.
Fighter of the Week
Can Xu (18-2, 3)
The fighter of the week was an easy one this week with China's Can Xu showing us what a fighter does. The light punching WBA Featherweight champion controlled the previously unbeaten Manny Robles III with output, and although Xu couldn't get the stoppage he hurt Robles a number of times late in the bout. Xu might not be the most amazing fighter in the sport but in 2019 he has quickly become one of the most must watch fighters on the planet, and he showed his all action style against Robles. Whether boxing on the front foot or the back foot Xu unloads so much leather that it's hard to take your eyes off him, and the way he challenged Josh Warrington straight after his win shows his desire to become the best in the division. A fantastic performance by one of Asian boxing's true gems.
Performance of the Week
Shingo Kusano (12-8-1, 5)
Being dropped twice in the opening round of a 6 round fight would mark the end for most, but for Shingo Kusano it seemed to do the opposite. Instead of wilting following a 10-7 round Kusano steadied himself, dug deep and went on to break down Qiang Ma in a thrilling bout at Korakuen Hall. Kusano isn't a world beater, in fact we suspect he loses next time our when he competes in a tournament semi-final bout, but that really doesn't change the fact that his performance this week was excellent and he really did deserve his victory after such a horror start.
Jae Woo Lee vs Tsuyoshi Tameda
Whilst the Kusano Vs Ma bout was a brave fight back through adversity from Kusano it wasn't even the best bout on the show. That honour fell to the intense and incredible war between Korean fighter Jae Woo Lee and Japanese slugger Tsuyoshi Tameda. Any other month of the year this would likely be nailed on for fight of the month honours. It was two guys who both came with the same gameplan, and that gameplan was to throw bombs on the inside, to fight with fire, and to try and break down the other man. This ended up having styles that gelled instantly and from the opening bell to the eventual ending this was a fire fight. If you like inside wars this is really a must watch fight, and saw hooks and uppercuts being thrown shot after shot, with little use, from either man, for a jab. Exceptional, yet short, war!
Jae Woo Lee vs Tsuyoshi Tameda (2)
Given the way the Lee Vs Tameda fight was fought either of the first 2 rounds could have been the round of the week, with both rounds being nothing short of breath taking, none stop action. This is what we watch boxing for! We favoured the second, over the first, as it seemed both ended the round having been damaged at some point. Lee had been rocked early in the round and Tameda ended the round bloodied. But both rounds should be considered among the very finest rounds of action we've had in 2019.
Jhon Gemino KO5 Arnold Alejandro
We didn't have a lot of clan KO's this week, despite how much action we had, but there was one or two, with one really standing out. That standout was Filipino fighter Jhon Gemino taking out the previously unbeaten Arnold Alejandro in the US in spectacular fashion. A huge right hand from Gemino landed as flush as could be on Alejandro, breaking his nose and cleaning his clock. This was a thunder bolt of a right hand. Whilst the result was an upset we can't say it was a huge shock as Gemino is building himself a reputation as a fighter who regularly scores upsets, and this was his third big away from home in less than 12 months! Still in terms of the wonder of the KO it will go down as one of his best.
Ryusei Kawaura (7-0, 4)
Despite there being a lot of action this past week there really wasn't a lot of fighters we'd describe as being prospects. The one man who did fulfil the description of a prospect was Ryusei Kawaura, who continued his careful be intelligent climb up the rankings as he over-came Joy Joy Formentera of the Philippines. This bout was a great test for the unbeaten Japanese fighter and he had to be on point through out an excellent 8 round chess match. He's not a well known prospect, in the grand scheme of things, but Kawaura is certainly one to keep an eye on in 2020.
Zolani Tete (28-3, 21) Vs John Riel Casimero (28-4, 19)
Next week is another without a massive name in Asian boxing in action, but it is a week that has a massive fight, as South African Zolani Tete takes on Filipino John Riel Casimero in a mouth watering WBO Bantamweight title clash. This is a huge fight and the winner instantly finds themselves in the Inoue sweepstakes. Tete hasn't looked great in recent bouts, and is coming back from an injury, and Casimero does blow hot and cold but we still expect this to be a very exciting and entertaining bout over in sunny England!
What a week we've had! It may not have been day to day action and huge news, but what a week! We have had the WBSS Bantamweight final, and it was clearly worth the wait, we have seen the God's Left final being set, and we know who will challenger for the Japanese Super Featherweight title at the 2020 Champion Carnival. We've also seen Kazakh prospects shine Stateside and a lot more! Sadly though the awards have been dominated by 1 fight, though in fairness it was a little bit special!
Fighter of the Week
Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16)
Going into this week we all knew that Naoya Inoue was an offensive machine, he was stopping top fighters with ease and blitzing through the likes of Jamie McDonnell, Juan Carlos Payano and Emmanuel Rodriguez. What we didn't know was how he took a shot, how he handled real adversity, and what he'd do when a fighter didn't just wilt under his power and pressure. Was he going to break mentally? Was he chinny? This week Inoue's win over Nonito Donaire answered those questions in style. Inoue fought through his first professional cut, he gritted through Donaire's incredible hook, and even battled hard though what turned out to be a fractured orbital and a broken nose. He not only battled through injury but he did so against a really dangerous puncher, and should, really, have become the second man to stop Donaire, who was only allowed to continue after a 10 count in round 11 due to some bizarre work from the referee. Now the IBF and WBA Bantamweight champion and the Muhammad Aliu Trophy winner, there was never any doubt over the Fighter of the Week was
Performance of the Week
Nonito Donaire (40-6, 26)
A real rarity is a fighter who loses being given the Performance of the Week honours, but it's hard to argue with Nonito Donaire deserving almost as many plaudits as Naoya Inoue. The Filipino was expected to be destroyed, taken out early on and was hardly given a chance heading into the WBSS final. Many wanted to complain about how he'd reached the final, the injuries to Ryan Burnett and Zolani Tete and hoe he had essentially gotten to the WBSS final by default. He however knew he got there on merit, and was a legitimate top Bantamweight, even at the age of 36. Up against Inoue, as a massive under-dog Donaire put in one of his greatest ever performances. He managed to not only take the best shots of the Monster, but also injured Inoue, fracturing Inoue's right eye and nose, cutting Inoue and rocking Inoue. He managed to get up from a sickening body shot in round 11 and gave a performance that was truly exceptional. Even in defeat the "Filipino Flash" showed what a credit to the sport he was.
Naoya Inoue Vs Nonito Donaire
When the Fighter of the Week takes on the man who had the Performance of the Week it's fair to say they also had the bout of the week. In fact they had one of the bouts opf the year. The fight swung one way, then the other with several notable moment shifts, notably swinging to Donaire in round 2, Inour in round 3, Donaire in round 8, then back to Inoue at the end of round 10. Not only was there momentum shifts, but there was drama, with Inoue being cut early on, Donaire being rocked several times before being dropped, Inoue himself being rocked. Not only was it dramatic but it was also a technical war, with clean, power shots being landed by both. This was a war, but a very technical one, with massive punches, respect and heart from both. It was the WBSS final we deserved, more than 1 year after the tournament began.
Takuya Watanabe Vs Taiki Minamoto
Naoya Inoue Vs Nonito Donaire (Rd 11)
We should really just sub-title this weeks awards as "The Inoue Vs Donaire award week" as they have also taken the Round of the Week award for the dramatic and amazing 11th round. The round was the only 10-8 round in the fact, despite what one judge ended up doing, and in fact it could actually have been a 10-7 round. Despite that it was a round that was simple amazing, with the only complaints being about the referee. Inoue gone into the round with confidence rebuilt after some tough rounds and part way through the round he landed a huge left hand to the body which sent Donaire down. Inoue looked go for the finish before Donaire went down, but was essentially blocked by the referee who also gave Donaire a very long 10 count. Despite being robbed of the stoppage Inoue went for the finish through what was left of the round, hurting, wobbling and damaging Donaire. The Filipino some how stayed up right before for the full round in what was a sensational battle of aggression against heart. This was one of the best rounds of the year, despite being relatively one sided.
Takuya Watanabe Vs Taiki Minamoto (3)
Souhadou Traore KO1 Ekarat Gordon
We obviously need something obscure in our weekly awards right? Right! Well we head over to Thailand for the KO of the week as Thai based Souhadou Traore, originally from the Ivory Coast, blasted out 19 year old debutant Ekarat Gordon. The 34 year old Traore connected with a brutal right hand behind the ear that completely flattened Gordon. Thankfully Gordon did get up by himself after the bout, but was clearly out cold following the shot.
Shokichi Iwata (4-0, 3)
There were a number of prospects in action this week, though the one who impressed us the most was unbeaten Japanese youngster Shokichi Iwata, who stopped Alejandro Cruz Valladares live on DAZN. The performance wasn't flawless, in fact it was very flawed, but very exciting and saw Iwata fight to his opponents weaknesses. Valladares was lacking in power and Iwata knew he could take the shots of the Mexican whilst also being aggressive himself. Eventually the difference in punching power paid off, with Cruz being stopped in what was a fun bout, and a smart move from Iwata's team. Interestingly this bout wasn't shown on Japanese TV, but was on the American DAZN.
Keita Kurihara (14-5, 12) Vs Sukkasem Kietyongyuth (24-10, 16)
After a few really good weeks there is a bit of a downturn in bout quality this coming week, however we really like the look of the scheduled 8 rounder on Friday between Keita Kurihara and Sukkasem Kietyongyuth. This bout won't be for Kurihara's OPBF title, but does pit two world ranked fighters against each other and we're expecting a genuine fire fight here between two men who do believe in their power. Kurihara, should he win, will likely be moved towards a potential world title eliminator, so is risking a lot against a very under-rated Thai foe.
This is just an opinion, maaaan! It's easy to share our opinions, and that's what you'll find here, some random opinion pieces