Young Japanese talent really is coming through the ranks at an alarming rate, and a lot of it is signed to a handful of major gyms. One of those gyms that is now signing up fantastic fighters on a regular basis is the Ohashi Gym, lead by former world champion Hideyuki Ohashi. In recent years the gym has developed Naoya Inoue into an internationally recognised star and other fighters are joining the gym in the hope of making their name on the international stage as well.
Among those coming through the ranks is 23 year old Light Flyweight Taku Kuwahara (3-0, 2) [桑原拓], who looks like he will be the next fighter at the gym to be fast tracked to a title, and to making his mark on a wider stage.
Kuwahara began boxing at a young age and ran up a reported amateur record of 50-18, winning several notable titles along the way, including the 2013 National Light Flyweight crown.
He would join up with the Ohashi gym in 2018 and pass a B license pro-test before making his debut in May, on the same show that saw Kenshiro retain the WBC Light Flyweight title against Ganigan Lopez and saw Naoya Inoue defeat Jamie McDonnell to claim the WBA "regular" Bantamweight title. Although Kuwahara was only up against Indonesian journeyman Mochamad Sholimin he still impressed, stopping the visitor inside a round.
Kuwhara would face an Indonesian foe in his second bout as well, blitzing Ardi Tefa in 46 seconds last September.
Having stopped a pair of Indonesian foes Kuwahara was then matched against fellow unbeaten Japanese hopeful Takamori Kiyama, himself a former amateur standout and a very talented southpaw hope. This was a much better test of Kuwahara's skill, but a bout that really allowed Kuwahara to showcase his skills, as he took a clear 8 round decision win over the talented Kiyama, proving not only that he was skills, sharp, and could move but also that he could fight for 8 rounds, at a good pace. As a result of going 8 rounds Kuwahara answered some questions about his stamina and engine, whilst leaving many talking about just how promising he looked, and in fairness how talented Kiyama was.
At the moment it's unclear when Kuwahara will return to the ring to kick his 2019 off, but it's expected that he will be fighting for titles by the end of 2020, at the very latest. In fact we wouldn't be surprised to see him fighting for a belt this year, just given his natural talent, and how the Ohashi have allowed their talented youngsters to be fast tracked in recent years.
It's not often that you see someone leave a policeman wobbling around, bloodied and beaten. Even rarer that you see that happens in public, without absolutely no punishment at all, no one jumping in to save the police officer or try and prevent further harm to a public servant.
This past Saturday however that's what we saw, we saw a officer of the law being beaten up, by a world class fighter. We saw the policeman show all the bravery of someone willing to get into a battle that they can't win and show their determination.
What I'm reference here is the bout that saw Japanese Featherweight Reiya Abe (19-2, 9) beat up policeman Daisuke Sugita (4-1, 3), in front of a packed Korakuen Hall. Not only did Abe beat up Sugita, but Sugita himself seemed to see the contest as a positive, explaining on social media that it was a good experience and that he will be back.
We don't see many policemen getting involved in boxing, with former Italian amateur great Roberto Cammarelle being the most famous, but Sugita has long been a fighter. He racked up over 140 bouts in the amateur ranks, and won 110 of them. Not only was he an experienced amateur, but also an accomplished one, winning a number of competitions in Japan. That amateur background lead to him making his professional debut last year, and fighting as a man who wanted a legacy, not money. In fact due to his job with the police Sugita was unable to collect his purposes, and was clearly boxing for the challenge and love of the sport.
Sugita made his debut in April 2018, and spoke like a man who was looking to have an exciting career. On debut he was up with big punching Filipino Jun Blazo, and essentially shut out Blazo over 6 rounds. Just 3 months later he stopped former Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Masaaki Serie, who had never previously been stopped!
Just 9 months after his debut Sugita would step in the ring with Abe, a man who had been avoided by most top Japanese foes. Abe was ranked in the top 15 by both the IBF and WBC, he also had an assured Japanese title fight, win or lose against Sugita, set for May 1st against Taiki Minamoto. The lack of fear from Sugita showed, and his willingness to get in the ring with Abe showed the type of man that Sugita is. He's up for a challenge, he's mentally tough and brave, the type of man who will always give his all.
The step up proved to be far, far too much for Sugita who failed to win a round against Abe, who was too sharp, too smart and too accurate. Abe managed to work his way into the bout, neutralising the power of Sugita and taking advantage of Sugita's relative lack of speed. Abe, who is world ranked and is a fantastic fighter on a great run of form, just showed the gulf in skill between the two men as he advanced to a May showdown with Japanese champion Taiki Minamoto.
Sugita, who really was given a lesson here, is likely to drop back down to Super Bantamweight, a weight class where his physical traits to do him a lot more favours than Featherweight. It seems that his future should lie at 122lbs, and he could well find himself in the domestic title mix at the weight, with a bout against Ryoichi Tamura being a very tasty looking bout on paper.
The loss will be a hit to Sugita, especially in the way he lost, but we should certainly not be writing him off. At the age of 30 he still has time to bounce back and we would be very surprised if he doesn't fight against a notable fighter again next time out. The Watanabe gym clearly have plans for him, and he obviously still wants to continue his career and his development in the sport.
(Images courtesy of boxmob.jp)
After a couple of quiet weeks, with only a single show or two of note, we had boxing really pick up this past week with notable cards in the Japan, the US and even Vietnam. Not only did we have notable shows but we also had a world title fight, and it now seems like the sport is starting to get into the swing of things.
Fighter of the Week
Manny Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39)
Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao turned 40 in December, an age that many fighters turn whilst they are retired. Not is Pacquiao 40 years old but this week he proved he was still a top class fighter, as he defeat Adrien Broner in the US. Pacquiao appeared to be giving away significant size to Broner, and was 11 years old than the American, but looked in total control through out their 12 round bout, even staggering Broner in rounds 7 and 9. It wasn't a vintage Pacquiao performance, by any stretch, and he did look like a faded version of his prime self, but it was still a comfortable and controlling display against the cocksure Broner. Sadly the performance, whilst it was controlled, did seem to show how far Pacman had slid from his destructive best, though at the age of 40 that is to be expected!
Notable mention - Shingo Wake
Performance of the Week
Reiya Abe (19-2, 9)
We think that we'll be mentioning the name Reiya Abe a lot in 2019, and we don't believe that that's a bad thing! This week he shut down the talented and aggressive Daisuke Sugita in Tokyo, dropping Sugita twice and hardly losing a minute of the bout in what was a thoroughly controlled performance. For much of the fight Abe simply stuck to his boxing, using his skills to neutralise Sugita, before dropping his man twice. There was no real urgency from Abe, but he didn't need to be, he was just showcasing his skills from the first round to the final bell, only really going through the gears in the 8th round as he started to look to close the show. This wasn't an exciting fight, but it was a fantastic performance that showed what Abe can do.
Kenshin Oshima (4-1-1, 3) vs Ikuro Sadatsune (9-2-3, 3)
We stay in Japan for our Fight of the Week, an 8 round contest between two youngsters each looking to shine. This wasn't an all out war, like some Fight of the Weeks, but it was a bout that swung one way, then the other. It saw both men hurt, both having to over-come adversity and both digging deep in a fight that really exceeded expectations. The competitive nature of the bout will leave the door open to a potential rematch somewhere down the line. The was skills involved, making this more of a technical chess match at times, but they upped the pace regularly enough to give us some brilliant moments
Shohei Yamanaka vs Tatsuhito Hattori (Round 4)
There is something about these lower level Japanese bouts, over 4 rounds, that keep delivering fantastic rounds. This was seen perfectly this week when the debuting Shohei Yamanaka battled Tatsuhito Hattori in a bout that was easy to overlook. Yamanaka, as mentioned, was debuting whilst Hattori was fighting his 6th professional bout, more than a decade after his previous contest. Yamanaka had done enough to claim the first rounds on our card, but was dropped in round 3, meaning it was all to play for in round 4 ant they both went out there seeking to do enough to take the victory. A fantastic and thoroughly engaging round.
Notable mention - Round 3 Oshima Vs Sadatsune
Mikhail Lesnikov KO Afrizal Tamboresi
It's taken a while but 2018 finally has a brutal KO thanks to Russian Mikhail Lesnikov, who blasted out Indonesian fighter Afrizal Tamboresi in Vietnam. Tamboresi was rocked hard from an uppercut, somehow remaining upright. That however wasn't a good thing for him and he would be caught by a brutal left hook just seconds later. He was dropped hard and stayed down. A gorgeous KO for the Russian, who had never previous scored a KO.
Vikas Krishan (1-0, 1)
We have a feeling that Indian boxing is going to be huge over the coming few years, and part of that rise will be linked, directly, to the "Indian Tank" Vikas Krishan. Krishan made his debut on Friday, against Steven Andrade, and looked like a pro-ready fighter immediately with his intense pressure style, sharp punching and intelligent footwork. His amateur background, which is arguably the best of any Indian fighter, shone through here and it seems like he has the ambition, drive and age to really progress. There are still things he needs to work on, but he showed enough here to get excited about.
Notable mention- Fazliddin Gaibnazarov
Tugstsogt Nyambayar (10-0, 9) Vs Claudio Marrero (23-2, 17) (January 26th)
It feels like we've lacked a really explosive fight so far. We've had some excellent action fights, some brave performances but nothing truly explosive. That's likely to change next week when unbeaten Mongolian Tugstsogt Nyambayar takes on Dominican puncher Claudio Marrero. With a combined 33 wins, 26 by T/KO, it's hard to imagine this one goes the distance. Both men have been down and we would not be surprised to see both hitting the deck in what could end up be an early contender for Fight of the Year.
Vic Saludar (18-3, 10) Vs Masataka Taniguchi (11-2, 7) [and undercard]
After weeks of waiting we finally saw the announcement of the WBO Minimumweight title bout between Vic Saludar and Masataka Taniguchi. The bout was one of the worst kept secrets in the sport, but we were still awaiting the confirmation until this week. The bout is a really good looking one. Both are aggressive, both have nasty power, and both have exciting styles that should gel really well. Although the bout looks like it won't be televised live, unfortunately, it does look almost certain to be a really fun fight, when TBS finally get around to airing it.
As well as the main event we also saw the under-card being revealed, and includes Shu Utsuki (3-0, 2), Fumiya Fuse (7-0, 1), Ginjiro Shigeoka (1-0, 1) and the debut of Suzumi Takayama.
The Watanabe Gym is currently a thriving environment in Japan, with a number of notable names, including Hiroto Kyoguchi, Ryoichi Taguchi, Ryuichi Funai, Masataka Taniguchi, Nihito Arakawa and Shin Ono, among them. It's a gym that has began snapping up young promising talent who are looking to turn professional, and not only signing but also fast tracking them, something that has made the gym really attractive to talented youngsters.
One of the many youngsters to sign up with the gym in recent years is Ginjiro Shigeoka (1-0, 1) [重岡銀次朗], a fighter who had a sensational amateur career before turning professional with Watanabe last year, and instantly making a brilliant impression on the professional scene.
Ginjiro began his combat sport career as a kid who took up Karate in Kumamoto, though followed his older brother into boxing. As an amateur Ginjiro went 56-1 (17), with his only loss being a loss to his brother in a local tournament bout, where their father threw the towel in just seconds into the bout rather than see his two kids fight each other.
With his excellent amateur pedigree Shigeoka had the opportunity to pick his gym, and left Kumamoto, where the boxing scene is rather limited, to sign with Watanabe in Tokyo. His amateur background also saw him earning a B Class license in his pro-test, allowing him to begin his career fighting in 6 round bouts.
On his debut, in September 2018, the then 18 year old faced off with the Sanchai Yotboon of Thailand. Yotboon had a record of 4-0 (4), but looked like a very limited novice as Shigeoka immediately put him on the backfoot and dominated him. The Thai was able to survive into round 3 but was dropped twice in the round with the referee halting the bout after the second knockdown.
Whilst Yotboon was certainly not an amazing opponent for Shigeoka the actual performance from the Japanese teenager was sensational. He looked sharp with everything he did, his punches were crips, his movement was swift, his power looked scary, his defense was impressive, and his ability to apply pressure was amazing.
Since his debut word has come out from the Watanabe gym about the youngster impressing the more well known fighters at the gym and it seems clear that he's being viewed as their next star. He's young but already having more established fighters raving about his ability. He has been holding his own with much more well known fighters, and impressing regularly in sparring sessions.
News recently broke that Shigeoka's next bout would be in February, with a date yet to be announced, before a bout in Kumamoto in April. He's made it clear that he's targeting Japanese ranked fighters for this year and clear has his eye on getting a Japanese title fight sooner, rather than later.
The first week of 2019 wasn't a huge on for Asian boxing, and sadly neither was week 2, though we did have enough action to talk about, and to hand out our second weekly awards! As with last week's awards pretty much everything was focused on one show, which is a shame, but is set to end with the boxing calendar picking up significantly in the coming weeks
Fighter of the Week
Ryoichi Tamura (12-3-1, 6)
The new Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Ryoichi Tamura shines the brightest this weekend with an excellent performance against the insanely tough Matcha Nakagawa. From the first round to the final one Tamura pressed Nakagawa incessantly, setting a high tempo, finding holes in Nakagawa's defense and generally handcuffing his opponent. Although it wasn't a flawless performance, he did get caught a lot with uppercuts, his willingness to walk through fire to get his own shots off mentally defeated Nakagawa and showed why Tamura will be such a tough guy to dethrone.
Performance of the Week
Norhito Tanaka (18-7, 10)
33 year old Japanese fighter Norihito Tanaka became the first new Japanese title holder of 2019 as he surprisingly stopped former world title challenger Shin Ono in what turned out to be relatively 1-sided bout. Tanaka was regarded as the under-dog but that never really showed. He spent the first round scouting Ono before breaking the 36 year old down, rocking him in round 2, dropping him in round 3 then stopping him in round 7. He forced Ono to fight his fight and drowned the veteran. It's worth noting this is only the 4th time Ono has been stopped, only the second time since the start of 2011 and the only time at Minimumweight!
Shu Nawai (0-1) Vs Kengo Hatsushika (0-1-1)
The first Japanese fight of 2019 saw the unbeaten pairing of Shu Nawai and Kengo Hatsushika battle in a 4 round bout, and it was a pulsating all action fight as both men dug deep and looked to score their first win.The skill level wasn't high but the action was and it was a fantastic, competitive, exciting back and forth. In the end Nawai did just enough to take the decision and we'd love to see these two go at each other again down the line. Sadly with the bout taking place on Boxingraise we can't show footage from the fight, but it is well worth a watch if you're on the subscription service.
Shin Ono Vs Norihito Tanaka (Round 6)
After Shin Ono learned he was down on the scorecards in his Japanese title defense against Norihito Tanaka the defending champion upped the pace in round 6 and took the fight to Tanaka. It was, tactically, an awful misjudgement, but for the action it gave us it was a clear round of the week and again a real treat for Boxingraise subscribers. It was a round that saw the two men standing essentially toe-to-toe and trading blows with Ono setting the pace and Tanaka responding in the pocket. There was good competition for round of the week, with round 3 of Nawai Vs Hatsushika being a very notable it's self, but in the end the quality of Ono and Tanaka shone through.
No fit contender - Unfortunately there wasn't any great KO's this week, that we deem worthy of attention, however if you feel there was please drop it in the comments!
Daiki Imanari (2-0, 2)
Unfortunately we were really limited in terms of prospects this week, and unfortunately Daiki Imanari has essentially won by default. The 21 year old Imanari defeated fellow novice Keiichi Inoue in 2 rounds to advance his record. It was a solid performance from the southpaw youngster, though it's really unclear what he'll go on to achieve.
Jhack Tepora (22-0, 17) Vs Hugo Ruiz (38-4, 33) (January 19th)
We see action really pick up over the next week or so and next weekend we do have a lot to get excited about. For us the pick of the bunch is the WBA "interim" Featherweight title bout between Jhack Tepora and Hugo Ruiz. The bout isn't the biggest match up on paper but stylistically it's a hard one not to get excited about. Both men have real power, with Ruiz the more pure boxer and Tepora being the more aggressive, both men are flawed and together we suspect those flaws could be exposed on both sides. This is a really mouth watering clash and one that we're incredibly excited about.
Kosei Tanaka to face Ryoichi Taguchi, March 16th!
The biggest story of the week, by far, came on Wednesday when a press conference was held to announce the WBO Flyweight title bout between Kosei Tanaka (12-0, 7), the defending champion, and former IBF and WBA Light Flyweight "super" champion Ryoichi Taguchi (27-3-2, 12). The bout will take place in Gifu and is the first huge bout to be announced for Japan this year. Better yet the bout will be aired across Japan, not just in the Chubu region like many of Tanaka's bouts. It was always going to be hard for anything to match up with this story, but it was also nice to hear that Gonte Lee would be making his debut on February 2nd.
Despite a rather dry January we do see action pick up, in a big way, in the end portion of the month with several major fights featuring Asian fighters.
Jesus M Rojas (26-2-2-1, 19) Vs Can Xu (15-2, 2) - WBA "Regular" Featherweight title
Talented Puerto Rican Jesus M Rojas will be looking to defend the WBA "regular" Featherweight title, just a week after interim champion Jhack Tepora attempts to defend his title, as he takes on Chinese fighter Can Xu. For Rojas, who won the title way back in September 2017, this will be just huis first defense of the title, as Joseph Diaz failed to make weight for a clash last August. Rojas is a fantastic fighter, but alack of activity through his career has been a major issue. Xu on the other is fighting for just the second time in the US and is fighting in his first bout at this level, in fact a win for Xu would see him become the first Chinese fighter to win a "world" title above 112lbs.
Jaime Munguia (31-0, 26) Vs Takeshi Inoue (13-0-1, 7) - WBO Light Middleweight title
On the same card in Texas we'll an Inoue in action, as the little known Takeshi Inoue challenges WBO Light Middleweight champion Jaime Munguia. The champion was the breakout star of 2018, going 5-0 (4) and went from being not allowed to fight Gennady Golovkin in May to the WBO Light Middleweight champion with 2 defenses under his belt. Whilst Munguia was becoming a star in 2018 Inoue, no relation to Naoya, was stuck in negotiation hell with a fighter against Julian Williams seemingly being in negotiations for months before he managed to secure this match up with Munguia. With this bout now set Inoue will know he will be in a major bout, but one where he is a massive under-dog.
New York, USA
Tugstsogt Nyambayar (10-0, 9) Vs Claudio Marrero (23-2, 17)
In an excellent match, perhaps the best of the month, we'll see unbeaten Mongolian puncher Tugstsogt Nyambayar battle against explosive Dominican fighter Claudio Marrero. This is about as good as it gets, and will set the winner up for a Featherweight world title fight later in the year. Both of these men have brutal power, both of these men have been down, and together we expect to see them producing fire works of the highest order. Nyambayar is the more technically gifted of the two men, but he has shown some poor balance issues and has been tagged before. Marrero on the other hand has a raw dangerous quality about him, defensively and offensively, and is incredibly quick. This could be an early runner for FOTY.
Aston Palicte (24-2-1, 20) Vs Jose Martinez (20-0-2, 13)
The final bout of note in January is a WBO Super Flyweight world title eliminator, as Filipino puncher Aston Palicte takes on Puerto Rican fighter Jose Martinez. This bout, which will be shown on UFC Fight Pass, will set the winner up for a world title fight later in the year. Palicte came to the attention of the boxing world in 2018 when he fought to a controversial draw with Donnie Nietes on Superfly 3, since then he has been inactive though comes into this fight with a lot of hunger. Martinez on the other hand is best known for two fortunate draws against the under-rated Alejandro Santiago Barrios, who proved himself against Jerwin Ancajas last year. Despite being unbeaten we've yet to be impressed by Martinez and this looks like his toughest test so far.
Earlier today Japanese fighter Kohei Kono (33-12-1, 14) took part in his retirement ceremony, ending his boxing career. The "Tough Boy" who made his debut just a day before his 20th birthday, was a remarkable action fighter who gave us some of the best action bouts of recent times. Win or lose Kono was always worth watching, with his aggressive style, incredible durability and fantastic work rate.
With his retirement ceremony behind us, we felt it was the perfect time to look at 3 of his most action packed bouts.
May 2013 Vs Liborio Solis
In May 2013 Japanese fight fans got an all out treat as a then 28-7 (11) Kono took on Venezuelan Liborio Solis, then 14-3-1 (7). Coming in to the bout Kono was the WBA Super Flyweight champion, having won the title from Tepparith Kokietgym about 5 months earlier whilst Solis was the interim champion, having held the interim title since December 2011. With the unified WBA crown up for grabs fight fans got a treat, and saw the two trade knockdowns in a competitive and compelling match up.
Although Kono had been in numerous good bouts before this one it really put him on the map internationally as a must watch warrior, and laid down the marker for the type of fights we would get to see him compete in on a regular basis. Just for this bout he came up against someone with a similar mentality, and that really helped elevate this contest.
September 2015 Vs Koki Kameda
In March 2014 Kono became a 2-time champion, stopping Denkaosan Kaovichit in 8 rounds to claim the WBA title for the second time. His second defense of the that title saw the then 30-8-1 (13) Kono make his US debut, and take on fellow Japanese fighter Koki Kameda, then 33-1 (18). Kameda was looking to become a 4-weight champion and was the mandatory for Kono's crown.
This bout was the first ever all-Japanese world title fight held on US soil and saw Kono create an even bigger international fan base than he had had previously, and show what happens when two Japanese fighters face off in a world title bout. The best thing about this bout is it got widespread coverage in the US due to it being shown as part of a PBC broadcast.
October 2017 Vs Rex Tso
In 2017 we saw Kono travel to Hong Kong to take on local star Rex Tso. By this point Kono was 36 years old, his record was 33-10-1 (14), and he was less than a year removed from his first stoppage loss, to Naoya Inoue. On the other hand Tso, the biggest name in the Hong Kong boxing scene, was unbeaten with a record of 21-0 (13), he was a rising contender and seemed on the verge of a world title fight. Given the styles of the two fighters we knew we were going to be in for something special, and they delivered in a big way.
Sadly this bout saw Tso suffer and eye injury, that essentially put him him on the shelf for a year before he announced that he was going to the amateur ranks in pursuit of Olympic glory, whilst Kono would only fight once more, losing to Jason Moloney in 2018.
One of the new series we want to look at for 2019 is the "Introducing" series, where we try and shine a light on a new fighter, who perhaps hasn't had much exposure in the West, and sometimes not much in the East either. These aren't supposed to be lengthy biopics but a quick overview of a fighter that we'd like to out on your radar. They will also be put on youtube, as voice overs only to begin with.
The first fighter to be covered in this series will be a prodigy signed to the world famous Teiken Gym in Tokyo, in fact it's someone who will almost certainly be among the future faces for the gym as they look to rebuild following the recent retirements and losses of some of their biggest name fighters.
The gym that was, until recently, the major one in Japan right now has no world champions and is really looking to acquire top amateur talent to rebuild their ranks. Among those amateur standouts is Mikito Nakano (1-0, 1) [中野幹士], a talented southpaw looking to make his name in, or around, the Featherweight division.
Prior to turning professional last year Nakano had been a true amateur standout for Japan. He had gone 68-9 (48), winning a number of national titles and competed internationally at the Asian Students Championships and the President's Cup. His amateur credentials may not be on par with a Naoya Inoue or a Kosei Tanaka, but they were strong and he had impressed in competitions time and time again. He had been a name on the radar of most professional gyms and in 2018 decided the time was right to go pro.
He would make his professional debut last October, though missed out on live TV exposure due to other programming. Despite his debut not being shown live, we did get the chance to see the bout soon afterwards, as G+ showed the contest on tape delay. On his debut he defeated Thai visitor Thanawat Yancharoen at the Korakuen Hall, and looked razor sharp, aggressive and talented. He was the instant eye grabbing fighter than Ginjiro Shigeoka was, but you could see some of the things he was doing weren't typically in the arsenal of a debutant. The way he moved, the way he knew where he had to be and how he could control Thanawat with his feet were really impressive.
Since making his debut there hasn't been too much fuss about Nakano, though we do now know that he will be back in the ring on February 2nd as part of the live G+ broadcast of the Dyanmic Glove card. He will be one of the supporting bouts for Kenichi Ogawa's ring return against Roldan Aldea. Sadly his opponent hasn't been named for that bout, but we're not expecting anyone too testing for Nakano at this early stage in his career.
After a slow start January picks up in the middle of the month, as we get a host of notable fighters in action.
Manny Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39) Vs Adrien Broner (33-3-1-1, 24) - WBA Welterweight title
One of the first world title fights with an Asian fighter in this coming year will be a WBA "regular" Welterweight title fight, as Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao defends his title against 4-weight champion Adrien Broner. For Pacquiao's it's a chance to show that his win over Lucas Matthysse wasn't just a case of getting the Argentinian puncher at the right time, and to take a huge step towards a potential rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr. For Broner this is another chance, one of many, to show that he is as good as the early hype suggested. Broner has been, for the most part, a disappointment, known more for his personality than his boxing. If Broner can perform to his best, this could be very interesting. If Broner instead fights within himself, this could be very forgetable.
Jhack Tepora (22-0, 17) Vs Hugo Ruiz (38-4, 33) - WBA "interim" Featherweight title
Prior to the Pacquiao Vs Broner fight we'll see another Filipino looking to establish their reign as WBA "interim" Featherweight champion Jhack Tepora takes on Mexican Hugo Ruiz. Both of these men are heavy handed, hard hitting and exciting fighters, suggesting we'll be given an explosive contest here. Tepora is the more wild fighter here, but is a natural Featherweight. Ruiz is technically the stronger fighter, he understands the ring more and has the better ring IQ. He also has the more suspect chin and has been stopped at the lower weights. Interestingly Ruiz is the much taller and longer man, despite having first made his name at Bantamweight.
Shingo Wake (25-5-2, 17) Vs Takafumi Nakajima (29-11-1, 13)II
Japan's Shingo Wake has lost twice in the last 9 years, one of those was to Jonathan Guzman, in an IBF title fight, and the other was to Japanese domestic fighter Takafumi Nakajima. Now Wake gets a chance to avenge that loss to Nakajima, more than 6 years after it happened, as the two face off for the second time. A win for Wake is expected, as he continues his charge towards a second world title fight, however Nakajima will feel like this is a huge opportunity to get a second win over Wake, and give his career a huge shot in the arm. A possible mismatch, but one with some history behind it!
Reiya Abe (18-2, 9) Vs Daisuke Sugita (4-0, 3)
On the same card in Tokyo fight fans will also see world ranked Featherweight Reiya Abe, as he takes on former amateur stand out Daisuke Sugita. The talented Abe has been on an excellent run, since losing in early 2015 to Shingo Kusano. He hasn't just avenged the loss to Kusano but also strung together solid wins over the likes of Ryo Hino, Tsuyoshi Tameda and Satoshi Hosono. Sugita is taking a huge step up in class here, but is highly touted following his amateur career and his team are certainly not wanting to protect him. This could be a very interesting technical show case between two very talented fighters.
Jung Kyoung Lee (6-2-1, 2) Vs Samuel Colomban(25-10-1, 11)
Korean fans will get the chance to see local hopeful Jung Kyoung Lee take on veteran Samuel Colomban in a bout for the vacant OPBF Light Middleweight title. It's been a while since we've seen a Korean fighter fighting for an OPBF title so this bout will get attention on that basis, it will also get attention due to the fact it's the first card under the Annihilation banner, which has been formed by several MMA promotions working with the KBF. Lee is taking a huge step up here, but Colomban has seen better days and it's hard to know what he really has left to offer the sport. This should be a pretty interesting match without being anything huge.
With a new year comes new ideas, and one of the new things we'd like to try in 2019 is our weekly awards, and further to that an attempt at monthly awards as well. We know some weeks, and months, will see a lot of contenders for awards, and we're really hoping that that sparks debate with you, the readers, as well as feedback. That feed back will be looked at and potentially included in a follow up article .
Just as some basic ground rules, weeks run from Monday to Sunday, so the end of week 1 is Sunday January 6th. These pieces will be posted between Sunday and Tuesday, depending on time, and what fights take place when. Also all awards are for Asian fighters or bout that take place in Asia, or feature and Asian fighter, so please remember that!
As a general rule we want to recognise fighters and fights in the following categories:
Fighter - Straight forward, which fighter impressed the most during the week
Performance - Which fighter put on the best performance of the week
Fight - Which fight was the best of the week (where possible a video will be supplied)
Round - Which round was the best of the week (again where possible a video will be supplied)
KO - Which KO was the best of the week (again where possible a video will be supplied)
Prospect - Which prospect impressed us most during the week
Upcoming fight - Which fight, during the following week, are we the most excited about
As well as a "notable mentions" category, which are essentially for doing something that doesn't fit in one of the above categories or where someone is narrowly pipped.
We suspect over the next few weeks we'll see this whole thing change slightly, but hopefully by the Spring we'll have settled on a format that works. We also know not all fights are available to watch publicly, for example those on boxingraise, where that's the case we will look to add a notable mention for another fight.
So....with all that said, I would like to get on to the Asian Boxing Awards for Week 1 2019!
Fighter of the Week
Giemel Magramo (23-1, 19)
There wasn't too much action this past week, what with the year just starting at all that, but there was really only 2 contenders for this award. They were Jiang Xiang of China and Giemel Magramo, of the Philippines. For us Magramo gets the win by a nose hair. He went over to China and stopped the previously unbeaten Wenfeng Ge, to unify the WBO Oriental and WBO International titles at Flyweight. Not only beating someone highly regarded, like Ge, but to do it by stoppage in their back yard gets Magramo our first ever Fighter of the Week recognition.
Performance of the Week
Jing Xiang (16-4-2, 3) [向静]
Whilst Magramo's stoppage against Ge was an impressive result, we thought Magramo actually was pipped in terms of his performance by Jing Xiang, who dominated former world champion Kompayak Porpramook over 12 rounds to retain the WBC Silver Light Flyweight title. The bout Chinese fighter was taking on a determined visitor and ended up schooling the Thai veteran, hardly dropping a round, and actually putting the Thai down. For us this was the much better performance, with Magramo's having the better result. We were thoroughly impressed by how Xiang shut down the pressure from the Thai, despite some tough moments.
Jiang Wang (7-1, 2) [王健] Vs Sung Young Yang (6-2, 3) [양성영]
Despite being a dominant win for Jing Xiang over Kompayak Porpramook we were totally captivated, from the first round to the last. Sadly, it was too one-sided to be our fight of the week, however the walk out bout from the same show, which saw Jian Wang and Sung Young Yang battle to 10 round split decision draw was just what we wanted. It was exciting, action packed and highly competitive. These two lacked the skills of some other fighters on the card but in terms of action they delivered, in a big way, often taking it in turns to wail away on each other from close range. If you love technical mastery you'll be disappointed in our choice, but for pure wild entertainment this was just fantastic.
Giemel Magramo Vs Wenfeng Ge (Round 2)
Although there wasn't a lot of action this past week we got more than our share of great rounds. Rounds 9 and 10 from the Wang Vs Yang bout were amazing, round 7 of Xiang Vs Kompayak was sensational, however our pick for the week was round 2 of Magramo Vs Ge. The round wasn't just a high intensity one, but also featured a high level of skill, with both men showing ring craft and skills. As the bout went on the contest became 1-sided, but this round was an ultra competitive one and a very entertaining contest, that seemed to give us a glimpse of a very special fight, that sadly we didn't really get.
No fit contender - Unfortunately there wasn't any great KO's this week, that we deem worthy of attention, however if you feel there was please drop it in the comments!
Xiang Li (4-0, 3) [李想]
Chinese novice Xiang Li may not get many mentions through the next 12 months, but he did more than get this honour by defeat. He took on tough Filipino Arvin Yurong, who had travelled with the intention of claiming the WBO Oriental Youth title. Li, a 22 year old puncher from Nanjing, managed to stop Yurong in the 4th round, enduring some problems from the hungry and gutsy Filipino who had travelled to fight and was really in Li's face. Whilt we don't imagine we'll see Li getting many mentions this year he certainly impressed today, and hopefully he'll be busier in 2019 than he has been the last few years.
Mugicha Nakagawa (24-5-1, 14) [武田勇太] Vs Ryoichi Tamura (11-3-1, 6) [田村 亮一]
There's not many fights this coming week, but we do like th elook of the January 12th Japanese Super Bantamweight bout between Mugicha Nakagawa and Ryoichi Tamura, in what could be a very exciting contest. The styles should gel well, and with a national title on the line we suspect both men will give all they've got to make their mark. Tamura is rarely in a bad fight, and we Nakagawa is the type of battle who will happily engage in a war. Potentally a thriller at the Korakuen Hall!
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