Generally December is a very Japan centric month in Asian boxing, with the end of shows and Rookie of the Year. This year things seemed even more Japan centric than usual with a host of cards through the month. As a result December's awards were pretty much all in Japan, though that doesn't take away from what was a very interesting month.
Fighter of the Month
In December we had a host of world title fights, some were competitive, some weren't but for us the guy who shone the brightest was Kazuto Ioka. Ioka was in tough with a 2-time Olympian, who was tall, longer and faster. After taking a couple of rounds to figure his man out however Ioka began to adjust and slowly broke down Jeyvier Cintron in what was an excellent over all performance in a fantastic bout. Cintron, we suspect, will win a world title in the future and this is a win that will end up looking very good in a few year's time.
Fight of the Month
Yuki Beppu Vs Ryota Yada
Few fights can truly be described as dramatic, but with 6 knockdowns, bombs being traded through out, and a huge come from behind win it's hard to suggest that anything other than the WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title bout between Yuki Beppu and Ryota Yada was going to win this. There were other great bouts, the rookie of the year bout between Kodai Honda vs Yasutaka Fujita being among them, but nothing was every going to compete with Beppu Vs Yada. A genuine must watch war.
KO of the Month
Mammoth Kazunori TKO5 Lerdchai Chaiyawed
It seemed that December wanted to try and provide us with the best of everything, and the brutal KO scored by Mammoth Kazunori, against Lerdchai Chaiyawed, tried to steal the KO of the Year with just over 2 weeks of the year left. This was originally doing the rounds from a fan cam, but when the bout was upload to Boxing Raise a few days after it took place the KO looked even better. A single solid left hand turned Lerdchai 's lights out...and then he hit the canvas. This was as clean a shot as Kazunori will likely ever land, and the way Lerdchai hit the canvas was just nasty.
Yudai Shigeoka (2-0, 1)
With a win against an OPBF champion in just his second professional bout, it was hard to give this award to anyone else. Shigeoka might not be as brutal as his younger brother, Ginjiro Shigeoka, but out pointing Lito Dante this early in his career was fantastic and a real statement of intent for someone wanting to be fast-tracked.
Amazingly Yudai's brother stopped Rey Loreto and Bektemir Melikuziev out pointed Vaughn Alexander, in just his 4th bout, during the month. This was an excellent month for prospects.
Renz Rosia UD8 Aston Palicte
The "Filipino fighters are involved in upsets" trend continued through December. Jhack Tepora being stopped by Oscar Escandon, Jhunriel Ramonal stopping Yusaku Kuga and Renz Rosia beating Aston Palicte were the short list for the month. For us Rosia's win gets the award due to the fact he completely out boxed, out fought and out though Palicte. This wasn't a wild shot, or beating someone before they warmed up. This was beating them round, after round, after round. This was Rosia exposing Palicte's flaws, and given where Palicte was at the start of this year was a genuine surprise. What made this really stand out is that Rosia was 1-4-1 in his previous 6 bouts! A genuine shocker.
Toshiya Ishii vs Haruki Ishikawa (Round 2)
We had some amazing rounds this past month, and round 4 of Akira Yaegashi Vs Moruti Mthalane will certainly be a hard one to forget. For sheer drama and too and fro action however the pick from the month was round 2 from Toshiya Ishii's incredible battle with Haruki Ishikawa. Ishii was dropped in the opening seconds, regrouped, the two men staggered each and both were hurt several times before the round concluded. This was sheer, unadulterated awesomeness. A real round of the ages, and came in a Japanese Youth title bout, proving that even this low level of title is worth putting it all on the line for.
Our final "Introducing" of 2019 isn't going to be one of our usual articles looking at a specific fighter but instead a look back at some of the fighters we've mentioned during the last 12 months, ahead of the changes we'll be making to these articles in the coming year.
Since we started this way back on January 8th we've looked at some winners, some losers and some fighters who's future isn't as clear as we'd have hoped. We won't go through all 50 fighters here, but we will talk about those who have have shined the most, and those who have disappointed the most.
The first Introducing saw us talk about Mikito Nakano, who was 1-0 (1) at the time and has since added 3 wins, all inside the distance. He has gone from a good novice into a fine prospect and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him fighting for a title in 2020.
Just a week later we spoke about Ginjiro Shigeoka, who was also 1-0 (1) and his rise has been legitimately meteoric. In just his fourth bout he claimed the WBO Asia Pacific Minimumweight title and if he picks up a win on New Year's Eve, against Rey Loreto, there is no doubt that he will be in the world title mix in 2020.
We spoke about Shokichi Iwata in week 25 and since then he has scored back to back TKO5 wins, with both of those victories coming on massive Japanese cards. The 23 year old Teiken prospect looks like he has the potential to go all the way to the top, and to do so quickly. He has shown he can box, or brawl, and whilst he may not quite have figured out his style in the ring he already looks like a special talent.
What a year Andy Hiraoka has had! We featured him in week 26, when he was then 13-0 (9) and since then he has scored the biggest win of his career, signed with Top Rank and made his US debut. The talented 140lb'der showed he could go 10, as he did in victory over Akihiro Kondo, and looked very good in his American show case in November.
Another man who has had a great year is Toshiya Ishii, who was covered in week 33. He made his debut in April, took the unbeaten record of Fumiya Fuse in August then took the Japanese Youth Bantamweight title in December. His win Fuse, who we covered in an introducing article in week 4 was impressive but his war with Ishikawa was something special and we advise all fans to give that a watch.
In week 34 we looked at Yudai Shigeoka and although he didn't debut for a few weeks after that he has shone since some much. His debut was an easy win over a Thai, but despite the ease of the win he showed so much ability, brilliant crisp punching, fantastic movement and ring IQ. He then followed that up with a win over Lito Dante and looks set to have a monstrous 2020, following in his brother's footsteps.
In week 9 we looked at Yoji Saito, who entered the year 1-1 (1) and looked like a huge punching monster. He fought twice in 2019, and went 0-0-2. Notably his first bout of the year, a draw with Aso Ishiwaki, looks very good on reflection and Ishiwaki used that bout as a great opportunity to shine, and was the focus of his own "Introducing" in week 38!
In week 17 we discussed Tsubasa Murachi and his year is a really tricky one to try and dissect. On one hand he impressed, in his win over Raymong Tabugon, and there was clearly skill and ambition with the youngster. But on the other hand he ended the year in September, following a brutal KO loss to Froilan Saludar, and the road back up to that level is going to be a rough journey for the 22 year old. Don't write him off, but he's going to have to go back to the drawing board.
Another man who is hard to get a good read on was Kai Ishizawa who may take more credit from his loss to Masataka Taniguchi in September, than most fighters take from a win. He was fantastic in defeat, he showed his toughness, his braveness, his power and his will to win. Sadly he lacked in technical areas, and Taniguchi was too good for him, but the reality is that both men came out with enhanced reputations. Sadly it was still a loss, and his one other bout this year was a blow out against an over-matched Indonesian
We love watching Christiano Aoqui, who we introduced in week 40, and despite a loss to Daishi Nagata following our article it's hard to write off the hard hitting Japanese-Brazilian, who has lost in the past and bounced back. He's never going to be a world beater but we expect him to remain in the domestic title mix next year.
Well we got that one wrong
In week 35 we spoke about the return of Teppei Kayanuma, who was supposed to fight in September. Though didn't. And we're not totally sure why. We are hoping that changes, and that he does return to the ring, but with more than 3 years since his last bout it now seems unlikely.
For week 46 we spoke about Dominique Kenshin, by this point we were trying to tweak the formula slightly and pick fighters who were in action during the week of the article, and as a result felt Kenshin was the man to cover. That was the wrong choice and he was was stopped in a round by Hiro Ichimichi. He's not fought since, and being honest he has a lot of work to do, in every part of his boxing.
Changes Will be Made
So as for 2020, "Introducing..." is changing. We are taking it more international, and instead of being exclusively Japanese fighters, as it was in 2019, we will be looking around Asia for fighters to cover. Whilst the key focus will, again, be prospects, we aren't going to be too rigid in that and we'll look at covering other fighters we find interesting as the year goes on. This could mean anyone from novice, to journeyman, fringe contender to prospects. The only fighters we'll not cover in this section are clear world level fighters. We want to shine a light on a fighter without much attention, and the hope is that we help a bring a fans attention to a fighter they aren't aware of. In 2019 we generally had good success picking our prospects, and we hope that continues in 2020.
See you in the new year for the next "Introducing...", and the next chance to see a light shined on a fighter you may not have even knew existed!
(Image credits - Kadoebi and Teiken)
As boxing fans we love to complain about the sport, and talk about the negatives. We highlight so much bad that we sometimes forget why we even enjoy the sport. This week however we remembered why we love boxing, and for one of the few times this year we had a week that had a lot more good than bad. It wasn't a flawless week, but it was a great week, both in Asia and internationally, with some great fights, amazing action and brilliant match ups. We had some bout, of course we did, but that bad was easily outweighed by the good.
As a result we've mixed up the format for this week's "The good, the Bad and the Ugly" with extra goods, and fewer negatives...after all 'tis the season to be jolly!
1 - Hironori Mishiro Vs Yoshimitsu Kimura
Seeing bouts exceed expectations is sort of a hope now a days in boxing. We don't often see it though, and more often than not a bout fails to meet the bare minimum that we'd expect. This week the OPBF Super Featherweight title fight between Hironori Mishiro and Yoshimitsu Kimura easily out did anything we'd have expected, with the two men putting on a really competitive, exciting and action packed fight. Their was a lack of drama at times, but it was a fight that was consistently good for 12 rounds and swung one way then the other. This was a captivating and truly enjoyable bout where both fighters came out looking better than they had going in.
2 - Mammoth Nakayama's massive KO against Lerdchai Chaiyawed
On Sunday in Kariya the 20 year old Mammoth Nakayama scored a late contender for KO of the year as he completely cleaned the clock of Thai visitor Lerdchai Chaiyawed. The hard hitting Nakayama had been out of the ring for over a year and was taking on an opponent who had never been stopped, and had taken some good fighters the distance, but was totally laid out by a monster of a left hand. This is as sweet a shot as Nakayama will ever land and boy did it look sensational to see Lerdchai's body instantly turn off.
3 - Yuki Beppu Vs Ryota Yada video released
A week ago Yuki Beppu and Ryota Yada battled in a FOTY contender, with 6 knockdowns, power shots from both, excitement through out and serious amounts of heart. Their was a worry that the bout wasn't going to be made available, but in the middle of the week it was finally uploaded to the A-sign boxing youtube channel and, man what a fight!
4 - Yudai Shigeoka shines
We love prospects being fast tracked, and they are rarely put on a trajectory quite like that of Yudai Shigeoka, who beat OPBF champion Lito Dante in just his second professional bout! Whilst this was a 6 round non-title bout it was clear that Shigeoka had the gameplan to beat Dante over a longer distance and it seems very clear that the Watanabe Gym will be pushing their talent youngster into a title bout of some kind in the new year. We love fast tracking, and it's hard not to love the ambition of the Shigeoka brothers.
5 - Bek Bully shows a softer side
After disposing of his first 3 opponents in just 6 rounds Bektemir Melikuziev wasn't expected to show he could box this week, but he did. And by that we mean he completely boxed the socks off the tough Vaughn Alexander, shutting out the American over 10 1-sided rounds that saw him not only land at will but essentially shut down the American, who failed to land more than a handful of shots per round. As mentioned already we love seeing fighters fast tracked and it's clear Melikuziev is being fast tracked. Better than just seeing someone being fast tracked is to see them showing something different to their game, and to see Melikuziev box and move, with the ease he did, was a real positive for his career going forward.
1 - The WBC choose to create another Lightweight title!
It wasn't that long ago that the WBA were alone in creating new titles, but now the WBC have seen the benefit of giving world titles out like they are candy. In the space of just a few months we've gone from having 0 WBC Lightweight champions to having a Franchise champion a Champion in recess and a now vacant title, which will have it's vacancy filled in 2020. We couldn't understand why they made the decision to make Vasyl Lomachneko the Franchise champion or why Devin Haney, who has no legitimate world class win, was given the full version of the title. The WBC should have just made it clear that Haney would get a shot in 2020, either at Lomachenko or the winner of the planned 4-title unification bout. Instead they have made a mess, and it was a mess that never needed to be made.
2 - Michael Conlan Vs Vladimir Nkitin
We're trying to be positive, really we are, but it's hard to take many positives from the 10 round stinker between Michael Conlan and Vladimir Nkitin, round 8 aside. This was just purely dull, unexciting and did little to make us want to watch Conlan again. As a person the 28 year old Irishman is someone we like, he comes across as honest, and a BS type of guy, but in the ring his bouts are tediously dull and unexciting. We understand why this bout was made, and the story behind it, but did next to nothing to make us want to see either man again.
1 - Danny Williams's situation
The world of boxing is a strange one at times, and Saturday night in Germany it got strange, strange turn of events. British Heavyweight veteran Danny Williams had been scheduled to fight in Germany but then pulled out. Unlike most pull outs however it doesn't appear that anyone other than the fighter himself knew he wasn't going to be fighting. Most day of fight pull outs see the fighter make the promoter aware. Williams however got to the ring, dressed in street clothes, and then just flat out told the fans he wasn't going to be fighting. We understand a fighters health being the utmost priority but there are so many issues with this bout that Williams' health needs to be questioned to begin with. Why are promoters still using him? Why didn't Williams let the promoter know that he would be cancelling the bout before he got in the ring? And why the fuck is Danny Williams still fighting?
As we head towards Christmas it appears boxing has decided to give us some earlier gifts, and this past week was full of them, with several brilliant match, great fights and even the delay release of an amazing fight from a week earlier. This was a genuine fantastic week, even if it wasn't a week with high profile Asian action. One of those rare weeks where the less known fighters got their chance to shine, and delivered.
Fighter of the Week
Hiroaki Teshigawa (21-2-2, 14)
The past week had a lot of title fights on the regional and domestic levels. The one man who made it clear that he was well above the level that he was fighting at was Hiroaki Teshigawaa, who destroyed Shohei Kawashima in 5 rounds to retain his OPBF Super Bantamweight title. The talented "Crush Boy" did what neither Cristian Mijares or Juan Miguel Elorde could do, and that was stop Kawashima. After the bout it was clear Teshigawara wanted a world title fight and given he has proven to be above regional level it does make sense for he, and mentor Koichi Wajima, to push for a world title fight in the new year.
Performance of the Week
Bektemir Melikuziev (4-0, 3)
After going just 6 rounds in his first 3 bouts we had a lot of questions we were wanting to see answered from Uzbek fighter Bektemir Melikuziev. This week he answered them as he took a 10 round shut out win over tough American Vaughn Alexander. The power of Melikuziev wasn't on show as much as usual, but instead we saw him taking a 10 round decision and prove he could go deep in fights, he could box and move, he could fight behind his jab, a cut wasn't a big issue and he wasn't just a 1-trick pony. This was as impressive as we could have hoped from him against someone like Alexander and it's clear that Melikuziev and his team will look to face more interesting tests next year.
Hironori Mishiro Vs Yoshimitsu Kimura
The week had some great action though perhaps the best of it was the 12 round back and forth bout between OPBF Super Featherweight champion Hironori Mishiro and Yoshimitsu Kimura. The bout wasn't a fight of the year contender, but it was a fantastic, high level, hotly competitive 12 round back and forth. This was the sort of bout that whilst never the incredible heights of some bouts, was consistently very exciting and never looked like it was getting too sloppy or too slow. It was consistently engaging, and truly competitive. The sort of bout that won't attract new fans to the sport, but will please every one who is already a fan.
Toshiya Ishii Vs Haruki Ishikawa (Round 2)
We've really enjoyed the Japanese Youth title fights, which had typically been really well matched and exciting contests between two young men who come to fight. That was shown again this past week in a 4 round shoot out between Toshiya Ishii and Haruki Ishikawa, who traded blows for the Japanese Youth Bantamweight title. The bout was exciting from the off, had 3 knockdowns in 4 rounds and a sensational second round that saw both men being rocked hard. This was 3 minutes of amazing violence, intense action real danger from both men. This was a great round that everyone should check out before the year is over.
Kazunori Nakayama TKO5 Lerdchai Chaiyawed
We originally posted this with no set winner, as when the article was first posted we hadn't managed to see some footage of under-card bouts from across the shows. Only moments afterwards we spotted a twitter post from @takayukimonaco which showed one of the KO's of the year. The bout between Kazunori Nakayama and Thai Lerdchai Chaiyawed ended in truly brutal fashion as a single right hand from Nakayama knocked the Thai clean out. The referee could have counted to 50, instead of instantly waving it off, and there was still no way Lerdchai was getting up.
We also want to give a mention to Toshiya Ishii's TKO finish against Haruki Ishikawa. The shot, a counter right hand, completely scrambled Ishikawa's senses an sent him stumbling forward before falling over one of the middle ropes. Given a 10 count we suspect Ishikawa would have "beaten the count" but wouldn't have been deemed fit to continue. A brilliant finish, even if it wasn't lights out.
Yudai Shigeoka (2-0, 1)
Whilst Bektemir Melikuziev was incredibly impressive the reality is that he isn't really a prospect, he's already a contender in our eyes and his recent title win has already seen him claim a regional title and potentially a world ranking. Instead our prospect for the week was Yudai Shigeoka, who out boxed, out sped and out thought OPBF Minimumweight champion Lito Dante over 6 rounds. The bout may end up with Shigeoka taking a world ranking, given that Dante was world ranked himself, but with this only being a 6 rounder there's a chance he'll miss out. What is clear is that this young man is a sensational boxer and he is someone worth getting behind, as he is going to be raced to a title very, very soon.
Apichet Petchmanee (5-0, 2) vs Ari Agustian (8-0, 8)
This coming week is an interesting one with a number of shows, though very few 50-50 match ups. One of the few even looking contests, other than the Rookie of the Year show, is an excellent looking encounter between unbeaten Thai Apichet Petchmanee and Indonesian puncher Ari Agustian. We've not been impressed by Apichet this year, and tipping him highly in 2018, whilst Agustian has failed to build on his 2018 win over Baolin Kang. This could be very entertaining and tell us a lot about what both men are capable of. One of the rare bouts in Thailand that has us genuinely excited.
This past week has been a rather interesting one, with a lot happening, and some fantastic action, some great performances and some real disappointments. It's been a week where the awards were mostly easy selections, though we did have a problem with award, and we have noted it accordingly.
Fighter of the Week
Ryosuke Iwasa (27-3, 17)
Japan's Ryosuke Iwasa has been been a man who has long promised a lot, but has struggled to deliver. He has been inconsistent, he has slipped up too much and he has failed to live up to what he is capable of. This week however he delivered, his stoppage of Marlon Tapales was a notable upset with the bookies and saw Iwasa do it on the big stage. It wasn't a flawless performance but it was the best we've seen from him, and it showed what he can do, something we've not seen enough of. Fingers crossed he can build on this one and go on to become the fighter many expected him to be.
Performance of the Week
Kosuke Saka (20-5, 17)
In just over two years Kosuke Saka has had a career that has gone down, up, down and is up again. The way he lost the Japanese Featherweight title to Takenori Ohashi was embarrassing, his win over Masanori Rikiishi looks great on on reflect, his loss to Joe Noynay was a major set back. This weekend Saka was essentially fighting for his career, and it showed as he battered, beat up and broke down Masaru Sueyoshi in one of, if not them, best performance of his career. He pressed and pressured Sueyoshi, eventually dropping him and stopping him to become a 2-weight Japanese national champion. An excellent performance, a great win and a victory that sets up a mouth watering encounter with Takuya Watanabe in 2020.
Ryosuke Iwasa vs Marlon Tapales
Whilst we didn't have a Fight of the Year contender this past week we did have some solid bouts, including the IBF "interim" Super Bantamweight clash between Ryosuke Iwasa and Marlon Tapales. This was exciting to begin with, slowed in the middle then finished in style. It was a solid action bout early on and is well worth a watch, as long as you're not jumping in expecting a FOTY contender. Solid and high level stuff, but not quite a spectacular fight.
Note - Due to a lack of footage at the time of writing the 10 round, 6 knockdown thriller between Ryota Yada and Yuki Beppu wasn't able to be considered, though going off all reports this likely was the Fight of the Week.
Daiki Funayama vs Suradech Ruhasiri (RD4)
Sometimes the best rounds are just crazy, and round 4 of the contest between Daiki Funayama and Suradech Ruhasiri was crazy. The bout wasn't a great one, in fact it was one sided for the most part, but the effort Ruhasiri put in, and the beating he took, during the round make it thrilling. Funayama hurt his man early in the round and went for the kill. The Thai fought back, landing some huge right hand counters, making for a round that was truly amazing to watch. This won't be in the discussions for round of the year, but watching live, this is one that deserves a rewatch.
Sadriddin Akhmedov KO7 Jose Antonio Villalobos
We had a number of impressive KO's this week, but the best of the bunch was scored by Kazakh prospect Sadriddin Akhmedov, who brutally took out Argentinian foe Jose Antonio Villalobos in the 7th round. This came from a monstrous right hand and really left poor Villalobos wondering what sort of thunderbolt he had been caught by, a really impressive and eye catching KO from the future of Kazakh boxing.
Thanongsak Simsri (13-0, 11)
Aged 20, a professional for less than 18 months and now with just 38 rounds under his belt Thai youngster Thaniongsak Simsri proved he was one to watch. The youngster claimed the biggest win of his career this weekend when he narrowly, though fairly, out pointed world ranked Filipino Christian Bacolod over 8 rounds. The Thai was the stronger man and finished better than his talented Filipino foe, and showed that whilst there is still a lot of work to be done he is a top prospect rising through the ranks at a rapid pace. The man from Si Sa Ket might be dubbed "Srisaket II" by those in Thailand, but don't be surprised if he ends up making a name for himself in the coming years. This kid is a talent.
Yudai Shigeoka (1-0, 1) Vs Lito Dante (16-10-4, 8)
We love seeing fighters on the fast track, so for a man with just 1 fight to his name to face on an OPBF champion we were always going to jump all this. Yudai Shigeoka, the older brother of Ginjiro Shigeoka, is stepping up massively to take on rugged Filipino Lito Dante in what should be a really serious test of the youngster. A win for Shigeoka will put him in the title mix in the new year, but a win is certainly not a foregone conclusion and Dante is never an easy man to over-come. This is a serious test, and this is the sort of risk we love seeing from prospects.
The action involving Asian fighters really doesn't stop for breath in December, the middle part of the month is packed with some great fights, promising rising stars, title bouts, and everything we could have wished for as an early Christmas present!
Hironori Mishiro (8-0-1, 3) vs Yoshimitsu Kimura (12-1, 7) - Tokyo, Japan
Unbeaten Super Featherweight hopeful Hironori Mishiro looks to extend his reign as the OPBF Super Featherweight champion as he defends his title against the once beaten Yoshimitsu Kimura in an interesting looking bout. On paper the champion will be favoured, with his strong amateur background and early professional success, however Kimura will not be in the ring to lose and this could end up be a genuine thriller between two young men who are both expected to make their mark on the sport in the coming years.
Yudai Shigeoka (1-0, 1) Vs Lito Dante (16-10-4, 8)-Tokyo, Japan
Just weeks after making his professional debut Japanese prospect Yudai Shigeoka takes a huge step up in class to battle against OPBF Minimumweight champion Lito Dante. This is a monstrous step up in class for Shigeoka but a win here will instantly put him in the mix for a title fight, whilst Dante gets a second success bout against a touted and unbeaten Japanese fighter. With this bout being over 6 rounds Shigeoka's team have taken a calculated risk, but Dante will be there looking for the scalp of the very talented youngster.
Tsuyoshi Sato (9-1-1, 5) vs Masashi Tada (13-6-3, 8) - Tokyo, Japan
Although most the bouts on this list are title bouts, or something of some notable standing in the boxing world we felt the need to talk about this interesting little bout between Tsuyoshi Sato, who has smashed his way into the Japanese rankings, and 2-time Japanese title challenger Masashi Tada. This isn't an eliminator or anything like that, but Sato has quickly become one of the must watch youngsters in Japan and his future is going to be so much fun to follow. Whilst this bout might not be an easy one to see it's one worth having in the back of your mind, and we really do suggest that fans give Sato a follow, win or lose he's going to be great to watch in the coming years.
Hiroaki Teshigawara (20-2-2, 13) vs Shohei Kawashima (18-3-2, 4) - Tokyo, Japan
The in form Hiroaki Teshigawara looks to continue his impressive run of form as he defends the OPBF Super Bantamweight title against fellow Japanese fighter Shohei Kawashima. The talented Teshigawara has been edging towards a world title fight for a while now, and wins over the likes of Teiru Kinoshita and Shohei Omori have shown what he can do. The highly skilled Kawashima is no push over, but we don't see him having the physical tools to deal with the powerful and exciting Teshigawara, who may well be in the world title mix next year.
Ryo Sagawa (8-1, 4) vs Ryo Hino (13-1-2, 8) - Tokyo, Japan
Talented Japanese Featherweight champion Ryo Sagawa looks for his first defense as he takes on mandatory challenger Ryo Hino in a great match up, at leats on paper. Sagawa has been in sensational form since an early career stoppage loss, and wins over the likes of Ryo Matsumoto, Al Toyogon and Reiya Abe really have shown that he has a very, very high ceiling. Hino on the other hand has failed to build on a 2017 win over Sho Nakazawa and has seemingly got this shot due to the mess of a good division, rather earning it on merit. Still this should be a very good first defense for Sagawa.
Haruki Ishikawa (8-1, 6) vs Toshiya Ishii (2-0, 1) - Tokyo, Japan
A third title fight on the same card in Tokyo will see a new Japanese Youth Bantamweight champion being crowned, as the heavy handed Haruki Ishikawa takes on professional novice Toshiya Ishii. Both of these youngsters took part in a 4 man tournament to earn their shot at the the title, and both impressed. Albeit in very different ways. Ishii beat Fumiya Fuse, and looked like a really talented young boxer whilst Ishikawa battered Atsushi Takada into submission. This boxer Vs puncher and should be a very compelling contest.
Tenkai Tsunami (26-12-1, 15) vs Jessebelle Pagaduan (12-1-1, 5) - WBO Female Light Flyweight
The only world title fight during this stretch of the month is a female world title fight, though given the quality of regional title bouts we don't think the lack of world titles is a major issue. The bout will see WBO female Light Flyweight champion Tenkai Tsunami make her second defense as she battles aggressive Filipino Jessebelle Pagaduan, who is hoping it's third time lucky. This isn't a huge profile bout, but we can't stop thinking that it'll be an action packed and hotly competitive one.
Kyohei Tonomoto (9-2, 4) vs Ryotaro Motohashi (9-1, 2) -Osaka, Japan
In his first defense of the Japanese Youth Featherweight title Kyohei Tonomoto will take on the once beaten Ryotaro Motohashi in a very evenly matched bout on paper. Of the two men it's the champion who has impressed more, and he was the runner up in the All Japan Rookie of the Year way back in 2014, though Motohashi will be hungry for his first title and looking to build on a 7 fight winning run. This isn't the most appealing bout we'll see before the end of the year, but it is certainly an interesting match up all the same and the winner will be ear marked for more title glory down the line.
Kotatsu Takehara (15-12-3, 8) Vs Ryu Ueda (8-1-1, 5) II - Kariya, Japan
In a bit of an oddity we'll see a new Japanese Heavyweight champion crowned, as Kotatsu Takehara takes on Ryu Ueda, in a second bout between the two men. Takehara, a real veteran at the age of 41, stopped Ueda in their previous meeting, way back in 2016, but since then has aged whilst Ueda is now, technically, in his peak years. This is an interesting match up, but the reality is that the Japanese Heavyweight title will remain a bit of a joke, no matter who wins.
Rikito Shiba (4-0, 2) Vs Masamichi Yabuki (9-3, 9) - Kariya, Japan
In a really, really, good match up we'll see talented and unbeaten Rikito Shiba take on the hard hitting Masamichi Yabuki in a Japanese Light Flyweight title eliminator. Shiba has impressed us ever since turning professional and he looks like a genuine star of the future, but this is a real test of the youngsters ability to take a shot. Of course this isn't all about Shiba and Yabuki has been knocking on the door of a title fight for some time now, and has bounced back well from a loss to Daniel Matellon last year.
Tomomi Takano (11-5, 8) Vs Sachiko Kondo (2-4-2) - Kariya, Japan
In a pretty low level, yet very notable bout, we'll see Tomomi Takano return to a Japanese ring for the first time in over 2 years. The former world title challenger, who fellow out with her former gym and began fighting in Mexico, is certainly not looking for a test as she restarts in Japan against Sachiko Kondo, but in reality it's just great to see the enigmatic model-come-boxer back in action. Given how instantly marketable Takano is, we need to suspect their are big plans for her, and a win here will move those plans along to the next step.
Genesis Servania (33-2, 16) Vs Pungluang Sor Singyu (53-7, 35) - Ishikawa, Japan
Sometimes it's better late than never, and in reality we would have loved a clash between Genesis Servania and Pungluang Sor Singyu when both fighters were in their primes. Now though it feels like both are well past their best. Yes they are both very capable fighters but both have slipped. Regardless of being on the downslide a bout between the two just fills us with a little bit of Joy, as we suspect this could be one the gems of the month. Both fighters have similar styles, both like to have a fight, and both are rather flat footed. We suspect this is going to end up a very fun fight.
Jung Kyoung Lee (7-3-1, 3) Vs Saddam Kietyongyuth (28-6, 22) - Seoul, South Korea
To end this section out attention turns to South Korea as former OPBF Light Middlweight champion Jung Kyoung Lee takes once touted Thai fighter Saddam Kietyongyuth, in a bout for a regional WBO title. Coming into this Lee will be looking to rebuild following his title loss to Akinori Watanabe earlier in the year. Although once regarded highly Saddam host lost 4 of his last 6, and seems very unlikely he'll make anything notable of his career.
This past week was a busy week, without being a huge week, it was an interesting week, without being a banner week. It was the type of week where the little fights were allowed to shine, and one of the big talking points was what we didn't get, rather than what we did get.
With the IBF Super Flyweight title bout between Jerwin Ancajas (31-1-2, 21) and Jonathan Javier Rodriguez (21-1, 15) falling through late on we did miss out on world title action but we did still get a lot of good stuff!
Fighter of the Week
Hironobu Matsunaga (16-1, 10)
One of the strangest categories this week was the Fight of the Week. There was no huge bout, and the bigger bouts saw Asian fighters losing, an often losing in rather disappointing fashion. As a result we had to dig a little deeper than we'd have hoped for out Fighter of the Week, though we did get a deserving winner, with Japanese Light Middleweight champion Hironobu Matsunaga successfully defending his title in a thrilling win over Koki Koshikawa. Matsunaga had to dig deep, work hard and ended up showing what he could do, in what was the biggest win by an Asian fighter this past week.
Performance of the Week
Akio Furutani (8-4, 3)
It's nice to get the chance to highlight someone who wouldn't have gotten a mention in a bigger week, and with Akio Furutani this is likely the only time he will ever be mentioned in one of our award articles. The unheralded fighter put in the best performance of his career to upset former OPBF Flyweight champion Keisuke Nakayama. From the opening round to the last minute Furutani came forward, coming to fight and Nakayama really had no answer for the aggression of Furutani over the 8 round schedule. A great and very unexpected performance from 21 year old, who has now won 4 in a row following a loss in the 2018 Rookie of the Year competition.
Hironobu Matsunaga Vs Koki Koshikawa
The weekend's Dynamic Glove card was, overall, a disappointment, but one bout really stood out. That was the 4 round war for the Japanese Light Middleweight title. In one corner was the 32 year old champion, a diminutive figure, in the other corner was former amateur stand out Koki Koshikawa. From the off this set off at an amazing pace, and swung one way, then the other, in what was a really thrilling fight. It was a bit one sided by the time of the stoppage, but up to that point it had been great, with both showing their heart and will to win, and both getting through some sticky moment. A real gem on a card that lacked to quality action.
Hironobu Matsunaga Vs Koki Koshikawa (2)
We go back to our Fight of the week for our Round of the week, and what a great, great round this was. The first round for the Japanese Light Middleweight title bout between Hironobu Matsunaga and Koki Koshikawa was great but the second was even better. By now Matsunaga had began to find his groove, pressing the fight and forcing Koshikawa to respond in a round that was back and forth, exciting, and had power shots from both. This wasn't always pretty, but tense and the final 30 seconds or so really raised the roof as both looked to leave an impression on the judges. This won't go down as a Round of the Year contender, but was a brilliant and exciting round, from a fantastic fight.
Tatsuya Tsuge TKO3 Kyota Shinya
Although we had a lot of fights, and we mean a lot, we didn't get many KO's during the week, at least no clean ones. Thankfully this lead to us finding the wonderful, and very hidden uppercut uppercut finish from Tatsuya Tsuge, who stopped Kyota Shinya on a Dangan 4 round show. Whilst Shinya wasn't out cold or anything this was still a beauty to see. Tsuge landed a brilliant left uppercut that turned Shinya's lights off, before a follow up right hand clipped him on his way down. For Boxing Raise subscribers this one is worth looking for.
Yudai Shigeoka (1-0, 1)
The debuting Yudai Shigeoka may not have looked flawless in his 2nd round win over Thai visitor Manop Audomphanawari but he did impress with a real beating of the Thai. It seemed, for the most part, that Shigeoka only fought in the first couple of gears, and even that was impressive, especially with his body shots. We'll admit we were more impressed when his brother, Ginjiro Shigeoka, made his debut but this was still an excellent showing from a genuine elite level prospect.
Naoya Inoue (18-0, 16) vs Nonito Donaire (40-5, 26)
It was never going to be anything else, was it? The WBSS Bantamweight final between Naoya Inoue and Nonito Donaire is one of the most anticipated bouts of 2019 and it takes place this coming Thursday from the Saitama Super Arrena. The bout will potentially enhance Inoue's status as a modern great even further, or cap off a legendary career for Donaire. We're expecting fire works, an incredible atmosphere and something big here. Easily the one fight to keep an eye on this coming up this week!
On a personal level October feels like a month that has been a lot, lot longer than it has been. It's hard to believe that it was only at the start of the month that we had a brilliant Light Flyweight world title bout and whilst the month has been inconsistent at times we have had a bit of everything, with two genuine Fight of the Year contenders, some brutal knockouts and more than a splattering of great prospects.
Fighter of the Month
Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9)
For us the fighter of the month was WBA and Ring Magazine Light Flyweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi, who kicked off the month with a win in a fantastic all Japanese bout against determined challenger Tetsuya Hisada. The bout was, for us, the best bout of the month, with great back and forth, and although Kyoguchi was a pretty clear winner by the end of it, the bout had given us a fantastic narrative of the unbeaten champion up against the determined but over-looked challenger, who simply would not give up. The fight was exciting, highly skilled and one that every fan owes themselves a chance to see.
Fight of the Month
Hiroto Kyoguchi vs Tetsuya Hisada
Having just spoke about how good Kyoguchi's bout with Hisada was it's needless to say that it took the award for the Fight of the month, narrowly beating out another world title fight that took place just a few days later. As with the IBF Middleweight title bout, between Gennady Golovkin vs Sergiy Derevyanchenko, this was just fantastic with neither man giving up, both being hurt, and both giving everything they had. In the end Kyoguchi did what he needed to win, but Hisada played his part in a genuine 2019 Fight of the Year contender.
KO of the Month
Jhunriel Ramonal TKO3 Shingo Wake
Filipino fighter Jhunriel Ramonal picks up 2 awards this month! the first of those is the KO of the Month award, which he earns for his big KO against the highly regarded Shingo Wake. The bout had started with Wake in control, and looking like he was going to get his second win over the Filipino. That was until Wake was dropped in round 3. The Japanese world title contender could never get his bearings and was brutally knocked out not much later as Ramonal put in his contender for KO of the Year. This was brutal and is a KO worth subscribing to Boxing Raise for.
Yudai Shigeoka (1-0, 1)
There was a lot of prospects in action in October, and we really do mean a lot. As a result this was the toughest category for the month, however the prospect who left most excited after their performance was Yudai Shigeoka, who really looks like he's going to be a very, very special fighter. The talented southpaw never seemed to get out of second gear in his debut, yet showed wonderful hand speed, accuracy, patience, timing and shot selection. There is a lot left for him to prove in the years to come but for a debut this left yearning for more, and we suspect we will see a lot, lot more from the promising 22 year old.
Jhunriel Ramonal TKO3 Shingo Wake
We're back with Jhunriel Ramonal for our upset of the month, and his KO win over Shingo Wake really was a huge upset, one of the biggest of 2019 in fact. The Filipino was expected to suffer his second loss to Wake, who looked almost certain to get a world title fight in 2020, but was left out cold on the canvas from a shot from hell. We're glad that Wake has revealed his career will go on, but this upset will be a hard one to bounce back from, whilst it immediately sets Ramonal up for another Japanese pay day, if he wants it.
Gennady Golovkin vs Sergiy Derevyanchenko (Rd 8)
Whilst we picked the Kyoguchi Vs Hisada bout as our fight of the month it's hard to argue too strongly with anyone who preferred the fantastic Gennady Golovkin vs Sergiy Derevyanchenko bout. For our money the 8th round in the Golovkin vs Derevyanchenko bout was the best single round of the month, a back and forth action round that saw both men digging deep and and landing some huge power shots. Both men proved their fighting spirit and their toughness here in a reall sensational 3 minutes of action.
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.
The Japanese scene is full of talented new blood this year with a host of young fighters all turning professional. This year, more than any other, seems to have been the year where those talented youngsters have almost abandoned the amateur system, rather than remain in the unpaid ranks and make their way to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. It's strange, given how big the Olympics will be for Japan, that so many fighters are turning professional and ditching their Olympic dreams but it's also really exciting how constant the stream of top youngster turning to the professional ranks is.
One of the latest names to begin their professional career, rather than seek a place at the Olympics, is Yudai Shigeoka (0-0). He would almost certainly have been in the running for the Japanese national team next Summer, but instead has followed his younger brother, Ginjiro Shigeoka, to the Watanabe Gym and to the professional ranks.
Aged 22, just a few years older than Ginjiro, the talented Yudai was a fixture at the top of the national amateur scene for years. He ran up an excellent 81-10 (20) record in the unpaid ranks and his achievements really are worth looking over.
As a youngster Yudai won the 2015 Japanese High School Invitational Tournament in Okayama, among other high shool tournaments. The high school success was followed by consecutive finals in the Japanese National Sports festival, losing in the 2017 final to Tomoya Tsuboi and to Tosho Kashiwazaki in the 2018 tournament. He was unlucky to lose to Kashiwazaki in the 2017 Japanese National Championship semi-final but would take home the top prize in the 2018 version of the tournament.
Not only was Yudai repeatedly getting to the business stages on the domestic scene but he was also getting valuable international experience. He reached the final of the 2018 World University Championships, losing to local hero Edmond Khudoyan in the gold medal bout, and showed that he belong at a very very high level.
After seeing his brother made his debut for the Watanabe gym it seemed Yudai was intrigued by following him into the paid ranks. When the Light Flyweight division was dropped from the Olympic plan for 2020 he essentially had the decision made for him. He wasn't comfortable moving up in weight, and likely knew his chances of reaching the games was reduced by the fact his natural division was no longer an option. Rather than waste time following those dreams he decided to turn professional.
Whilst Yudai's professional debut has yet to be announced he impressed in his B license pro-test bout. That test saw him sparring 3 rounds with former world title challenger Masataka Taniguchi, and looking every bit the top tier prospect that you'd expect. He looked sharp, with great variety and defensively smart. He looked very much like an elite prospect, similar in a way to his slower but heavier handed younger brother. He's a southpaw, like his brother, and is very sharp, accurate and skilled, with a more style more suited to boxing, than his brother's hard hitting pressure style
With the Watanabe behind Yudai's professional ascent up the rankings it's obvious Yudai won't be held back. His brother fought for his first title in just his 4th bout, 10 months and 2 days after his debut, and we wouldn't be shocked if we saw something very similar for Yudai.
Yudai, like Ginjiro, has real ambition and he spoke, already, about wanting to become a world champion alongside his brother. Given the ability of both men that is a real possibility.
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