Through out this month we've been doing our "19 for 19" list of prospects. Here is part 4 in our series, and it looks at 4 men with perfect records, not just in terms of 100% winning rates, but also a 100% KO rate. This part of the list features an Indonesian fighter, a Japanese fighter and a couple of fighters from Uzbekistan.
If you missed the previous parts they are here. The first part 19 for 19: Part 1 - The Teenage Prospects, the second part is here 19 for 19: Part 2 - A Rookie, an Uzbek puncher, a Pinoy Prodigy and an Olympic champion and the third part 19 for 19: Part 3 - Unbeaten novices from China, Uzbekistan, Thailand and Japan!
Ari Agustian (7-0, 7)
Indonesian fight fans don't usually have much to get excited about, but Ari Agustian could be the fighter to change that, with an exceptionally fun style, a lot of power and no fear of going away from home. Agustian was a decent amateur before turning professional in 2017. In his first 12 months as a professional he was 6-0 (6) and has since added a big win over Baolin Kang, in China, to his record. Sadly he's not fought much this year, but there is talk of him facing Khunkiri Wor Wisaruth in the near future. He's exciting, hard hitting and very aggressive. The sort of fighter who will get the attention of fight fans.
Kai Ishizawa (5-0, 5)
Japanese Minimumweight Youth champion Kai Ishizawa is a flawed but thrilling fighter, who isn't the most technically apt, but is very heavy handed, with under-rated boxing skills and a good ring IQ. He lacks in terms of speed, but fights with an intense pressure that breaks down good fighters, as we saw earlier this year when he stopped Yuga Inoue in a thrilling fight. Ishizawa certainly needs to work on his technical skills if he's to progress to the top, but he's still one to watch in 2019, as he will be taking on better competition, staying busy and looking to retain his Youth title. Due to his aggression he's going to be a fighter who is always worth watching.
Bakhodir Jalolov (4-0, 4)
We don't get to talk about real Heavyweight prospects very often so it's always a good thing to bring attention to Uzbek Heavyweight giant Bakhodir Jalolov. Jalolov was a former amateur standout who turned professional earlier this year, debuting in May. Jalolov's amateur credentials are brilliant with an Asian Championships gold medal and a world championship bronze medal among others and he's adapted to the professional ranks really well. Sadly his competition hasn't been great but he has been doing what he's supposed to do and taking his opposition out quickly. With his size, amateur background and age, he's only 24, there is so much to like about Jalolov.
Elnur Abduraimov (3-0, 3)
It's rare we see a fighter in action almost monthly but former amateur standout Elnur Abduraimov, from Uzbekistan, debuted in September and managed to fight in October and November. Whilst his competition hasn't been great, lasting a combined 4 rounds, it's hard not to be impressed by how good he's looked. He's aggressive, yet picks his shots amazingly well and has some frankly disgusting body shots. As he steps up in competition we expect activity to drop off massively, but at 24 he looks to be a Lightweight who wants to hit the ground running and get involved in big fights as quickly as he can.
Through out this month we've posted Part 1 and Part 2 of our 19 for 19, looking at Asian prospects, and here's our third part. If you missed the first part that's here 19 for 19: Part 1 - The Teenage Prospects and the second part is here 19 for 19: Part 2 - A Rookie, an Uzbek puncher, a Pinoy Prodigy and an Olympic champion
Here we are looking at 4 novices, with a combined record of 7-0 (7) but all 4 men involved have looked incredibly promising and appear to be well worthy of attention.
Lei Wang (1-0, 1)
It can be easy to get over-excited about Chinese prospects, and we might be heading that way with Lei Wang, however there is a lot to get excited about. The 28 year old Chinese fighter was a very good amateur and when he made his debut this past September he did so in style, stopping Filipino Anthony Sabalde in 5 rounds, doing what Nihito Arakawa and Wang Zhimin both failed to do. On debut Wang looked razor sharp, both on defense and offense, he looked like a fighter with a great boxing brain, a flashy style and like someone incredibly exciting. He looks incredibly relaxed in the ring and we're hoping to see a lot more of him in 2019.
Israil Madrimov (1-0, 1)
Uzbek fighters all look like they are trying to out do each other at the moment, much like the Ukrainians did in the wake of the 2016 Olympics. So far we've seen several Uzbek fighters all begin their careers with aggressive match making, though no one rivals Israil Madrimov, who debuted in a 10 round bout and took a minor WBA title in his very first professional contest. The 23 year old, dubbed "The Dream" looks to be a phenomenal switch hitter who is a natural in the ring, sharp with both hands and has an excellent boxing brain. We've got a lot of questions to see him answer, but we've also been hugely impressed by Madrimov's sole professional outing.
Apichet Petchmanee (1-0, 1)
Former Thai amateur stand out Apichet Petchmanee made his debut this past October, at the age of 28, but did so in a notable bout against the then 13-0 Attanon Kunlawong. He'll be back in the ring on December 22nd, when he fights for the OPBF "silver" title at 140lbs and he may well find himself fighting for the full OPBF title in 2019. He really impressed on debut and we're expecting a really bright future for him, given how strong his amateur background is. Sadly he is now 29 years old, though we suspect he will be fast tracked and will end up fighting notable international opponents before the end of 2020.
Ryota Yamauchi (4-0, 4)
At the end of 2017 we were raving about Ryota Yamauchi, who was then 2-0 (2). During 2018 he doubled that record, and scored a big domestic win over Yota Hori, but a lack of activity has left the 23 year old Flyweight failing to reach our predictions for the year. Despite failing to build massively on his impressive start he has continued to develop and the hope now will be for 2019 to be his break out year, and if he can fit 3 fights into the year he should well be in the mix for a title by the end of the year. He's aggressive, quick, heavy handed and managed by the highly recognised Kadoebi gym, who just need to keep him active, and well matched next year
Earlier this week we posted part 1 of our 19 for 19, looking at Asian prospects. If you missed that it's available to read here 19 for 19: Part 1 - The Teenage Prospects.
Here's part 2. Unlike the first part there isn't a set theme to this, but we have included a trio of youngsters, taken fighters from 4 different countries, including an Olympic champion, a rising Uzbek, a Filipino prodigy and a Japanese Rookie of the Year.
Fumiya Fuse (7-0, 1)
The unbeaten Fumiya Fuse impressed last year, when he not only debuted but also went on to win the All Japan Rookie of the Year at Bantamweight. This year he has only fought twice, but has really impressed, taking the unbeaten record of Yohanis Tatul and shining on the road in Korea, where he schooled Dong Young Lee over 6 rounds. Although lacking power the 20 year old is gorgeous boxer to watch in action, with clean crisp punching, great movement a fantastic engine and a very good boxing brain. The only issue really is his lack of power, and hopefully that'll change as he matures.
Ulugbek Sobirov (9-0, 5)
The Uzbek scene is red hot right now, with a number of rising youngsters coming from the country. One of the youngest is 20 year old Light Middleweight boxer-puncher Ulugbek Sobirov, who looks freakishly mature for such a youngster. He only debuted in January, but has stepped up through the year whilst picking up international experience with bouts in India, Malaysia, the Philipines and Thailand. He's lacking a real break out win, but has been fighting experienced regional opposition and been looking very good so far.
KJ Cataraja (9-0, 7)
The Philippines has, for a long time, relied on it's trio of aging legends, Manny Pacquiao, Donnie Nietes and Nonito Donaire, to keep interesting in boxing high. Thankfully however it's got a number of amazing prospects, the best of which may well be Kevin Jake "KJ" Cataraja. In fact he may well be one of the world's very best prospects, with an offensive and free flowing style that combines skills, speed, power and under-rated defense. Cataraja is still some way from fighting for a world title, but at 23 years old he has a lot of time to mature before being thrown in with world class opponents, which could come by the end of 2019.
Daniyar Yeleussinov (5-0, 3)
At the 2016 Olympics we saw Daniyar Yeleussinov take his most notable amateur tournament win, winning the gold medal in the talent laden 69KG division. Since then the Kazakh has began to make a mark in the professional ranks. Originally he didn't look like he suited the professional style though his last two fights have changed that opinion, a lot, and he looks like he is now settling into the professional ranks in a very fashion. He still has a lot of questions to answer, but the story out of Kazakhstan is that he will be moved into minor title fights in summer 2019 and so we should see those questions being answered in the near future.
The new year is only a few short weeks away and wonderfully there is so many prospects to get excited about as we enter what could be a very big year for professional boxing. With that in mind we've compiled a 19 for 19 list, looking at 19 of the top prospects in Asian boxing.
Before we get into part 1 of this series of articles we just want to, quickly, determine what fighters will and won't qualify as a prospect. We've not set an age limit or fight limit for this article, though most fighters have only had a handful of fights. One limitation we have applied here however is that a fighter isn't allowed to be world ranked on December 6th 2018. This rules out Shakhram Giyasov, Carls Jammes Martin, Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov and Murodjon Akhmadaliev, who are all in at least 1 top 15 world ranking.
We've also ruled out fighters where we've not been able to get some sort of video of the men in action, as we feel sharing footage of the men included is vital. This has ruled out fighters like Taku Kuwahara and Junjun He among others.
Right so lets begin by having a look at part 1 of this list, which will feature only men who are under the age of 20. The men in this part are proper professional novices in terms of experience, but all of them have impressed us in 2018 and we expect to see them do the same in 2019.
Ginjiro Shigeoka (1-0, 1)
Japanese 19 year old Ginjiro Shigeoka turned professional earlier this year, following a 56-1 career in the amateur ranks, and immediately impressed, stopping Thailand's Sanchai Yotbooon. Although he was in with an over-matched opponent it was clear that Shigeoka was a special talent, with amazing shot selection, exciting aggression, and very explosive hands. His debut performance saw the East Japan Boxing Association award him with their newcomer of the month, for September, and with Watanabe backing him there is massive potential for him to go a very long way, very quickly.
Musashi Mori (8-0, 5)
By the time you read this Musashi Mori may have creeped into the world rankings, but at the time of writing he isn't. The 19 year old Japanese boxer really burst on to the domestic scene in 2017, when he won the All Japan Rookie of the Year at Super Featherweight. Since then he has gone 3-0 (1) and claimed notable international wins against Filipino pair Allan Vallespin and Richard Pumicpic, claiming the WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight title in the process. He has shown great development this year and his performance against Pumicpic is by far the best of his career.
Dave Apolinario (9-0, 6)
Filipino boxer-puncher Dave Apolinario is another 19 year old who has really impressed, since his debut in June 2017. In 2018 he has gone 5-0 (3), stepped up his competition well and claimed the WBC Asian Boxing Council Youth Flyweight title, with a win over Michael Camelion. Interestingly for such a young fighter he had already gone 8 rounds twice, and looks to be learning from the mistakes of older brother Mark John Apolinario. It's worth noting that he was a very good amateur on the domestic scene and shows those traits every time he's in the ring. Hopefully he'll have a busy 2019 and continue to step up his competition as he did in 2018.
Jeong Han Cha (3-0, 3)
It's nice to get excited about a Korean fighter against and Jeong Han Cha is someone worth getting excited about, especially now that it seems the Korean scene is finally calming down and settling into some sort of order, after years of being a mess. Like the best Koreans of the past Cha is an aggressive fighter, with a little bit of a "rough around the edges" style, but at 18 years old, with power, heart and decent fundamentals he looks like someone who could, potentially, make a mark for himself on the international scene. It will take time and effort to develop him, but Korea do have a talent on their hands here.
Note - Cha will be fighting on December 9th
Yesterday we saw the International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHOF) announce their next class of inductees. Those inductees included 3 fighters from the "Modern Category". Those were Donald Curry (34-6, 25), Julian Jackson (55-6, 49) and James "Buddy" McGirt (73-6-1, 48). The selections were pretty widely criticised by fans and left the IBHOF open to the same criticism that many have made in the past, that it's very US centric, with all 3 men having made their names Stateside, with Curry and McGirt being American's and Jackson being from the US Virgin Islands.
The three men all had great careers.
Curry had a reported record of over 400 amateur wins before turning professional in 1980 and fighting through to 1991, before making an ill fated comeback in 1997. During his career he would go on to hold the WBA, IBF and WBC Welterweight titles, and the WBC Light Middleweight title. He would go on to have a 9-5 (7) record in world title fights with notable wins against Marlon Starling (twice), Milton McCrory, Carlos Santos, Lupe Aquino and Gianfranco Rosi. Sadly though he would lose to Lloyd Honeyghan, Mike McCallum, Rene Jacquot, Michael Nunn and Terry Norris, whilst in his prime, and to Emmett Linton in the second bout of his comeback.
Julian Jackson is widely regarded as one of the greatest punchers of all time. The "Hawk" went 10-4 (9) in world title bouts and scored wins against the likes In Chul Baek, Buster Drayton, Terry Norris and Herol Graham, and was a 3-time champion. Sadly for Jackson all 3 of his world title reigns came from winning titles and he would be stopped in all 6 of his career defeats. His career as a professional ran from 1981 through to 1998 and he will always be remembered from his freakish power, that bailed him out famously against Herol Graham. Sadly however losses to Mike McCallum, Gerald McClellan (twice), Quincy Taylor and Verno Phillips leave him looking a little short of elite.
McGirt is now widely regarded as one of the most accomplished trainers in the sport, with a huge list of notable fighters who have had success under his tutelage. As a professional he also had real success, winning 73 of 80 professional bouts. Sadly though many of thos wins were against less than formidable opposition. His professional career began in 1982 and ended in 1997 and saw him claim the IBF Light Welterweight title and the WBC Welterweight title. Sadly however he went 5-3 (2) in world title fights, with his most notable wins as a professional Saoul Mamby, Joe Manley, Simon Brown, Patrizio Oliva, Genaro Léon and Livingstone Bramble. He would however lose to exceptional talents, Pernell Whittaker (twice) and Meldrick Taylor.
Whilst all 3 were fantastic fighters, truly fantastic, none of them seemed as if they were the elite of the elite. Or the fighters that did something exceptional. Instead they seemed like safe choices from a voting panel that are perhaps biased in terms of a pro-American stance, behind showing an over-abundance of fighters of voters from the region. It also seemed to be a very weird class given that all 3 had careers that began and ended in a very similar time period. All began their career between 1980 and 1982, and all retired for good in the late 1990's, though as mentioned Curry really ended his career in 1991 before his late comeback. They also all fought in similar divisions, with all 3 men fighting between Light Welterweight and Middleweight.
Among those on the ballot paper were fighters who had much more distinguished reigns, though weren't from the US or didn't fight much of their career in front of a US audience.
Mexican puncher Rafael Marquez (41-9, 37) who held world titles at Bantamweight and Super Bantamweight, going 9-4 (7) in world title bouts. Marquez would fight from 1998 to 2013, and despite fighting mostly in the US didn't fight in a a glamour division. Instead he made his fights glamourous with wars aplenty, including an infamous 4 fight series with fellow Mexican Israel Vazquez, a series that essentially ended both men's prime. He would hold notable wins over Mark Johnson (twice), Vazquez (twice), Tim Austin, Mauicio Pastrana (twice) and Silence Mabuza (twice). Sadly late career losses to Juan Manuel Lopez, Toshiaki Nishioka, Cristian Mijares and Efrain Esquivias do mark his record up.
Korean punching machine Sung Kil Moon (20-2, 15), who only fought professionally between 1987 and 1993 yet compiled a 13-2 (8) in world title fights, scoring wins against Khaokor Galaxy, Nana Konadu (twice), Gilberto Roman, Greg Richardson, Hilario Zapata and Carlos Gabriel Salazar. Moon was one of the many Korean stars of the late 1990's and rose the attention for boxing in Korea, even from those outside of Korea, due to his all action style and ferocity. His losses, to Khaokor Galaxy in 1989 and to Jose Luis Bueno in 1993, were both by decision. During his career he first won the WBA Bantamweight title before taking the WBC Super Flyweight title, making him one of the very few fighters to drop in weight to win multiple weight title titles. Notably only one of Moon's fights was outside of Asia, a 1991 TKO win over Nana Yaw Konadu.
Mexican Technichian Gilberto Roman (54-6-1, 35), who went 12-3-1 in world title fights and was a 2-time WBC Super Flyweight champion. His career saw him defeat the likes of Antonio Avelar, Jiro Watanabe, Frank Cedeno, Sugar Baby Rojas (twice), Kiyoshi Hatanaka, and Santos Benigno Laciar. Unlike most Roman was very well travelled, winning the title in Japan and defending it in France, Argentina, Thailand and then going on to regain it in the US, before losing his final bout to the previous mentioned Moon. His career ran from 1981 to 1990, before he died in an automobile accident at the age of 28.
Japanese based Russian destroyer Yuri Arbachakov (23-1, 16). The fearsome Flyweight was one of the first group of group of Russian and Central European fighters to turn professional, doing so in 1990 when he signed with Kyoei in Japan, who took on a number of other top fighters from the region. His career would end in 1997 but during his 24 fights he would go 10-1 (5) in world title fights, beating the likes of Muangchai Kittikasem (twice), Hugo Rafael Soto and Chatchai Sasakul. His impact is being felt today with his success being part of the rise of the Soviet fighters in the professional ranks, and his reign as the WBC Flyweight champion was also as the Linear champion.
Whilst the fighters I've mentioned are certainly not the only choices one could have selected from the ballot, and aren't necessarily the best choices anyway, they do show there was options to pick outside of the Light Welterweight to Middleweight to Middleweight bracket and the US rationality. I do find it very odd that all 3 men have so many similarities, with weight, era and the US bases for all 3 fighters, and whilst all 3 inductees were very good, none were truly outstanding as professionals.
Despite the Heavyweighg division being regarded as the blue ribbon division, and the most significant, historically, their has never really been a huge surge in Asian fighters making their mark there. The South East Asian fighters their body types don't really suit Heavyweight boxing, with average weight and height being a long way from the behemoths that rule the roost in boxing's heaviest divisions.
Thankfully however the last few year's we've seen more and more Central Asian fighters turning professional, and with that we've finally started to see an emergence in genuine Heavyweight prospects from the region. At the moment we have several and whilst some of those are "old" for prospects the division has suddenly got a real interest for Asian fight fans.
Bakhodir Jalolov (3-0, 3)
Uzbek hopeful Bakhodir Jalolov is the youngest man to make it on to this list, and the 24 year old giant really is a modern day Heavyweight monster. Stood at over 6'6", reports suggest he's anything from 6'6" to 6'9", and fighting out of the southpaw stance Jalolov is a long term project at Heavyweight, but one that looks to have a lot of naturally exciting traits added to a strong amateur background.
As an amateur Jalolov shone, winning a World Amateur Championship bronze medal in 2015, as a 21 year old, before competing at the 2016 Olympics and then claiming the 2017 Asian Championships gold medal.
There's plenty of tall rangy Heavyweights out there right now, but there's very few with Jalolov's power, explosiveness, quickness or the southpaw stance, all of which combine to make a very promising young heavyweight. Sadly though his handlers seem to be wanting to guide him slowly and since his debut in May he has stopped all of his opponents, in a combined 8 rounds. Fingers crossed that stiffer competition will come his way in 2019.
Ivan Dychko (7-0, 7)
If Jalolov is to be lauded for his amateur achievements then they pale in comparison to 28 year old Kazakh Ivan Dychko, a 2-time Olympian, winning a Bronze medal in 2012, a 2-time World Amateur Championship silver medal winner and a genuine amateur stand out. Not only was he an exceptional amateur but like Jalolov he is a physical freak and also stands at around 6'9". Not only is he huge but he also has a terrifying aura around him, which will put fear into low level opponents.
At 28 there isn't years to develop Dychko, but there isn't that much that really needs developing. His amateur style was pretty pro-ready and he could well end up fighting in minor title bouts in 2019. He's naturally quick, heavy handed and very fluid for such a big man. The one big question about physical traits is his chin, and he was stopped in frightening fashion by Magomedrasul Majidov at the 2013 World Amateur Championships.
As well as a potentially suspect chin Dychko also seems to have a problem with his match making, His first 7 bouts, spaced out over 15 months, have lasted a combined 11 rounds, and he has only been beyond round 1 in 2 of his 7 professional bouts. He was supposed to have his 8th bout in November but that fell through and he'll now be out of the ring until the new year, prolonging his step up.
Zhan Kossobutskiy (7-0, 6)
As we mentioned it's the central Asian fighters who are making a mark as prospects, and some are older than a typical prospect. That includes 30 year old Kazakh hopeful Zhan Kossobutskiy, who made his debut in September 2017 and has slowly been building a reputation on the European circuit, with bouts in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. Sadly, given his age, the time for developmental fights should be long gone and standing at 6'3" he's a relative dwarf compared to them fighters at the top of the division.
Footage of Kossobutskiy shows a heavy handed fighter who is explosive, well schooled and promising. Sadly though he is older than most of the rising hopefuls in the division, he's also shorter than many and lacks the impressive international level amateur credentials of many contemporaries.
[Note - Kossobutskiy will fight on November 29th]
Damir Toybay (0-0)
Another Kazakh, and a bit more of a wild card, is youngster Damir Toybay, who is still an amateur and doesn't appear to be in a rush to turn professional. Whilst he's not in a rush to fight for pay he is certainly worth a note here given the 2018 he has had, which has included winning the Asian Junior Championships in Thailand in April, and coming runner up in both the AIBA Youth World Championships and the Youth Olympic Games.
Toybay is still young but is clearly a prodigy and we're looking forward to him turning professional, one day. Even if that day is in 5 or 6 years time we're still looking forward to it.
Going in to 2019 we'll be hoping to see the emergence of a number of new fighters. At the moment there a number of very promising fighters who are starting to create a buzz despite having only had a single professional bout. Here we take a look at 5 such fighters who are going to potentially have a big year ahead of them and be fast tracked to success.
Tsendbaatar Erdenebat (1-0) - Mongolia
Mongolian amateur standout Tsendbaatar Erdenebat made his professional debut in China this past September, and did so in relative obscurity with sources originally listing him as "Tsendbaatar Tsendbataar", likely an issue with translating his name from the Chinese bout sheet. On debut he dominated Chinese based Filipino Joseph Omana over 6 rounds, to take a unanimous decision and he looked really exciting with his performance.
In 2016 Tsendbaatar lost in the Olympic to eventual silver medal winner Shakur Stevenson but would go on to win the 2018 Asian Games gold medal. Those were among the highlights of a very long and successful amateur career that should give him the grounding for a bright professional career.
Makhmud Gaipov (1-0, 1) - Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan are turning out talent like no ones business right now, and they have two fighters on this list. One of those is 22 year old Makhmud Gaipov, who debuted in November stopping Tanzania's Iddi Mkwera in the 3rd of a scheduled 4 rounds, having dropped Mkwera 4 times. He seems to have been signed with RCC Promtoions, who will keep him busy, keep him active and move him aggressively on their shows. The best thing about fighting under the RCC banner however will be the exposure, with thm streaming their cards internationally.
Gaipov, like everyone else on this list, was an experienced amateur who came runner up in the 2014 Asian Youth Championships and also competed in the WSB, giving plenty of "pro-style" experience. There is work to do but given how he looked on debut there is a lot to be excited about here.
Israil Madrimov (1-0, 1) - Uzbekistan
The second Uzbek to make it to this list, and the more well known of the two, is Israil Madrimov, who made his debut recently on the under-card of Dmitry Bivol's win over Jean Pascal. Unlike most debutants he matched in a 10 rounder to begin his career, and quickly claimed a minor WBA title in the process, as he stopped Mexican Vladimir Hernandez in 6 rounds. The performance he put on was exciting, confident and really showed what he could do in the ring, switching stands, trading when he wanted to and really digging in brutal body shots. With World of Boxing behind him the future is incredibly bright for him.
Given he debuted in a 10 round bout it should be no surprise that he was a decorated amateur, winning gold at the 2018 Asian games, the 2017 Asian Championships, a Silber medal at the Asian Youth Championships in 2013 and picking up numerous national and minor titles.
Apichet Petchmanee (1-0, 1) - Thailand
Thailand, who do often fast track stand out kicks boxers, may have a gem among their ranks with Apichet Petchmanee who was a former amateur standout who made his professional debut back in October, dominating Attanon Kunlawong, aka Kongthara KKP. Apichet is tipped to be a success and his performance against the then 13-0 Kunlawong really was a statement of a result, and an incredible performance, though one that should have been expected.
At 29 years old Apichet doesn't have a lot of time to waste, though with a strong amateur background, WSB experience and a style that already looks suited to the professional ranks it may not need much time to fly through the rankings, especially if Workpoint get behind his rise. The only problem he might have is getting suitable regional competition whilst fighting at 140lbs.
Ginjiro Shigeoka (1-0, 1) - Japan
The youngest fighter on this list is Japanese teenager Ginjiro Shigeoka, who debuted in September and really looked the part, as we expected given his 56-1 (17) amateur record. At just 19 years old there is no for the Watanabe gym to out and out rush him, though we suspect his desire will be to be moved fast in 2019, and there is also a chance he will fit in another fight at the end of this year. He is one of the most exciting little men in the sport and will likely have a similar career trajectory to fellow Watanabe gym fighter Hiroto Kyoguchi.
Whilst his amateur record is impressive it is worth noting that his sole was a family issue, where he would have faced his brother in a prefectural tournament final, and sadly he lacks in terms of international amateur experience. That aside we're struggling for reasons not to gush over Shigeoka's potential
The new year is fast approaching and I'll be honest I'm really excited about the coming year. It's fair to say that 2018 has been a great year for boxing, despite being a pretty poor year on a personal level, but I'm expecting 2019 to be even better as the sport continues to develop, and be reshaped into something more and more spectacular. If I'm being honest I suspect 2019 may well be one of the best year's the sport has had in a very long time, building on the momentum of a great 2018.
With that in mind I've put together 5 predictions for the new year, and how I think they will effect the boxing world in general
Naoya Inoue wins the WBSS
An obvious one to start with. Japan's Naoya Inoue is strongly favoured to win the WBSS Bantamweight series and for good reason. "The Monster" is one of the few fighters who really lives up to his reputation every time he steps in the ring, and in 2018 he quickly despatched recognisable foes Jamie McDonnell and Juan Carlos Payano without breaking a sweat. I suspect that his current impressive run takes him to the Muhammad Ali Trophy in the coming year, beating Emmanuel Rodriguez in the Spring before winning the final in the Summer. After that it's unclear whether he'll immediately look for bigger challenges at Super Bantamweight or will look to clean up at Bantamweight, with a potential fight against Luis Nery certainly a possibility.
Fast Tracking continues
If we've seen anything really come to the fore these past few years it's been that fast tracking has really exploded. No longer is it just a Japanese and Thai thing but we're seeing Europeans, and Central Asian's fighters all stepping up incredibly quickly. I suspect that actually intensifies in the coming year, with more and more fighters shrugging off the usual preliminary stages of their professional careers and being moved aggressively. Lu Bin was too aggressively matched, but I expect others, like Murodjon Akhmadaliev, Apichet Petchmanee, Ginjiro Shigeoka and Israil Madrimov, to be competing for world titles within 7 fights. Top amateur fighters making their debuts next year will also be pushed hard early on.
A big year for India
Top Rank have made a very conscious effort in signing two of the most notable Indian fighters, Vijender Singh and Vikas Krishan, and I suspect that will only be the start for what could be a massive year for Indian boxing. The market is ripe for surge, and top young amateur fighters like Amit Panghal and Gaurav Solanki could well have professional promoters trying to snap them up as key figures for the long term growth of Indian boxing. The sport isn't huge in India, yet, but with over 1,000,000,000 people living there the potential is massive, if a promoter can sign the right fighters and work well with the local media. It will be a risky market to jump into but given the right promoter it could end up being a game changer. I also expect to see aforementioned Vijender Singh challenge for a world title before the end of 2019.
Boxing Grows in non-Boxing Countries
It's not just India that I expect to see boxing grow in but also Vietnam, Teipai, Malaysia and Singapore. We've certainly seen Singapore and Malaysia develop their scenes recently, but Vietnam and Teipai will likely follow suit, albeit for different reasons. Malaysia and Singapore are key hubs for the area, and money in those countries towards boxing has grown due to the promoters wanting to build the scenes. For Vietnam and Teipai however it seems likely that the OPBF will be the fulcrum behind their growth, and the development of the OPBF Silver titles, specifically in those two countries, will be key. In fact we could see that extending into other locations like Mongolia as the OPBF become more than just a title body but also, in association with the JBC, an overseer of several, non-boxing countries as they plant seeds of potential growth.
An Uzbek Take Over
It's hard to believe that only two Uzbek fighters have ever won world titles, Artur Grigorian and Ruslan Chagaev. This coming year I'm expecting that to change and wouldn't be massively surprised to see that number double in 2019, with the likes of the aforementioned Akhmadaliev along with Shakhram Giyasov, Elnur Abduraimov and Kudratillo Abdukakhorov all likely to be fighting for world titles by the end of the year. The Uzbek take over will be a hostile one, as the fighters look to put not only themselves on the boxing map, but also their country and we suspect the number of Uzbek amateurs turning professional will grow substantially in not only 2019, but also 2020. Uzbek fighters who miss out on the 2020 Olympics will likely jump at the chance to turn professional, and I expect them to do so with a lot of ambition to climbing the rankings as quickly as possible.
Over the last few years Japan has gained a reputation for ending the boxing year in style, with major shows in the final few days of the year. Typically those bouts get announced through November, as promoters officially announce the bouts and put their shows together along with major domestic television companies.
As we enter November we thought it would be fun to look at some of those rumours for the month, and some of the confirmed bouts, as well as those that have been mentioned as possible, and those on the verge of being officially announced.
We'll start by looking at what we know, with the confirmed notable bouts from the month.
December 1st is set to be a crazy day with several major shows.
In Tokyo we'll get a card televised by G+ which will be headlined by Valentine Hosokawa (23-6-3, 10) defending his Japanese Light Welterweight title against Takashi Inagaki (20-17-2, 9). The card will also feature a brilliant match up between Seiya Tsutsumi (4-0, 3) and Matcha Nakagawa (13-1-1, 5) as well as the ring return of former IBF Super Bantamweight champion Yukinori Oguni (19-2-1, 7)
On the same day in Osaka we get two Shinsei Gym cards, featuring a combined 6 title bouts. The shows will be Real Spirits vol 60 and Real Spirits vol 61, with the first card featuring 4 female title bouts, including a WBO female Minimumweight title bout between Kayoko Ebata (12-7, 6) and Etsuko Tada (17-3-2, 5) and an OPBF Atomweight title bout between Eri Matsuda (1-0) and Minayo Kei (6-3, 1).
The second card will see former world title challenger Reiya Konishi (16-1, 6) defending the WBO Asia Pacific Light Flyweight title against Richard Rosales (13-7-2, 7) and a potentially thrilling contest between Masao Nakamura (24-3, 23) and Carlo Magali (23-10-3, 12) for the WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight title.
December 3rd will give us a single big show, headlined by OPBF Featherweight champion Satoshi Shimizu (7-0, 7) and Takuya Uehara (16-0, 10), with a brilliant supporting bout between Hinata Maruta (7-1-1, 6) and Tsuyoshi Tameda (18-3-2, 16), which is one of the bouts we're most looking forward to!
On December 9th things get a bit crazy again. We will get a Japanese Welterweight title fight, as Ryota Yada (17-4, 14) defends his belt against Shusaku Fujinaka (16-9-2, 10), and a Japanese Super Flyweight title bout, with Takayuki Okumoto (21-8-3, 10) making his first defense against Masayoshi Hashizume (16-0-1, 10). These bouts have been officially announced and confirmed.
The same day we're set to see to see Shohei Omori (19-2, 14) taking on Takahiro Yamamoto (21-5, 17) and Sho Ishida (26-1, 15) taking on Warlito Parrenas (26-8-1, 23). These bouts haven't been formally announced, though teams from both have confirmed they are taking place, and will be at the EDION Arena Osaka. It's unclear if they will share the same card as the other bouts or if the EDION will host another double dose of boxing with two shows. There is also some speculation that if this is a second show there will be one more big bout to add to the card.
On December 13th we'll see Japanese Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (8-0, 6) defending his belt against Kazumasa Kobayashi (10-7-1, 6) at the Korakuen Hall and a week later we'll see Nobuyuki Shindo (20-4-1, 8) and Akinori Watanabe (37-7, 31) fight to unify the Japanese Light Middleweight title.
The only other show of real significant that has been confirmed is the Japanese Rookie of the Year final on December 23rd. Nothing after Christmas, but before the start of 2019, has really been announced. But we have had a lot of rumours, speculation for December!
One bout that is supposed to be, finally, made is the long awaited IBF Light Middleweight world title eliminator between Takeshi Inoue (13-0-1, 7) and Julian Williams (25-1-1-1, 15), a bout that has seemingly been delayed, rescheduled and redelayed several times already this year. Fingers crossed this is actually made before the year is over, as it seems both fighters have wasted a lot of this year waiting for this bout to take place. Interestingly this could be the only bout to actually take place outside of Japan.
Another IBF eliminator which is rumoured to take place in December is a Super Bantamweight title eliminator between Ryosuke Iwasa (25-3, 16) and Cesar Juarez (23-6, 17). This bout is supposedly set to take place in Tokyo, though no date has been made public. If this is confirmed then we are in for a treat as these two, together, should be an amazing contest, with both being heavy handed and flawed. Fingers crossed we get this one announced shortly!
Staying on the subject of IBF title fights there has been speculation in Japan that Masayuki Kuroda (30-7-3, 16) may get an unexpected shot at Flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane (36-2, 24). This rumour has come about after a scheduled eliminator with Kuroda and Eaktwan BTU Ruaviking fell through after the Thai suffered an injury. Kuroda's seemed to suggest this would be a long shot, but they are chasing the bout and it could, potentially, be on.
The first of the rumoured big cards to end the year is expected to be on December 30th and is expected to be the Fuji TV card. The strongest rumour for this show is a WBO Super Featherweight title defense for Masayuki Ito (24-1-1, 12), with the named linked to him being Evgeny Chuprakov (20-0, 10). This bout is expected to be confirmed in the coming days, or at the very least Ito's part of it is, with Chuprakov perhaps not being the opponent. The same date is also pencilled in as a potential date for Kenshiro (14-0, 8) to make his next defense of the WBC Light Flyweight title, though no opponent has been linked to him.
The December 30th Fuji card has also been set as the potential date for a WBC Bantamweight title bout between Petch Sor Chitpattana (48-0, 33) and Takuma Inoue (12-0, 3). This bout depends on another bout not taking place, as per an order at the WBC convention in early October, so we should see this bout being either confirmed or not very quickly. There is also a rumour that Takuma's stable mate at the Ohashi gym, Akira Yaegashi (27-6, 15) may also be involved on the same show.
If the rumours for December 30th are a bit of an exciting mess things get even crazier for New Year's Eve. For weeks we've been hearing that WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (51-0, 18) would be defending his title against Shin Ono (23-9-3, 6). This was rumoured to be part of a triple header, which has changed a few times but new seems most likely to feature a rematch between Ryoichi Taguchi (27-3-2, 12) and Hekkie Budler (32-3, 10), with Taguchi looking to reclaim the WBA Light Flyweight title from the South African. Along with that rematch is rumoured WBO Light Flyweight title bout between Angel Acosta (19-1, 19) and Hiroto Kyoguchi (11-0, 8). If this triple header is done, then TBS would be expected to show at least 2 bouts live on their Kyoguken show.
Things get more complicated when we consider the other rumours, which include a potential WBO Flyweight world title defense by Kosei Tanaka (12-0, 7). His could be squeezed on TBS as an early bout, or could be used to stack the show to a quadruple header or could end up being only CBC live, with TBS showing it on tape delay. It's really unclear how he fits in, but he will almost certainly be wanting to fight on a year ending show, after missing out on the chance last year due to injury.
Last, but certainly not least, is the rumoured WBO Super Flyweight title bout between Kazuto Ioka (23-1, 13) and Donnie Nietes (41-1-5, 23), a bout so big that TBS have seemingly given Ioka the option to take the date and broadcast if he wants it. This was rumoured strongly in September, and Japanese sources were suggesting that it could take place in the Philippines with TBS still airing it live, however the rumours did quieten quickly. It should be noted that Ioka's not been one for leaking news in the past, this could be well in the works. Given how silent things have gone however we may well see this bout being delayed into 2019, potentially as part of the next Superfly card.
(Bottom image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
It's not often I write from a personal standpoint but today I felt like I should, and it's a positive stand point right now.
The last few weeks have made me really appreciate technology and the advancements we've seen. These advancements have been part of the overall growth in how boxing in Asia, is now building a wider a wider audience.
When we started this website we had to use a programme called Keyhole TV, which some of you may remember, to watch Japanese boxing from outside of Japan. This wasn't a bit of software to watch the odd show here and there, but at one point the only way to watch any show televised on terrestrial TV in Tokyo. So this meant that if a show was on TV Tokyo, TBS, NTV or Fuji TV you had to use Keyhole TV.
My god what a nightmare that was. Long term fans will remember just how bad it was. The stream was nearly unwatchable, it would regularly kick you out of the software, it was clunky and awful to use. Even their premium version offered a poor service, that was less than worthy of the small price they were asking.
Sadly there was no other option, and you had to catch it live. There was no replay facility, not way to watch later, no watching anything outside of Kanto, no watching the CS or BS channels.
KeyholeTV was followed by fengyunzhibo.com, which offered some fantastic streams though was relatively short lived. The streams were very high quality, but with service not really lasting long it failed to ever make much of a mark. We also had
Since the days of KeyholeTV we have seen things really take off in how we can watch TV from through out Asia.
We've long had access to Thai streams, ranging from the awful Thai SD3 streams to the brilliant streams of CH7 through various websites and youtube feeds of Workpoint and Thairath.
We also now have ESPN5 from the Philippines using youtube to show boxing, something they did twice in one weekend recently, and paid service boxingraise showing shows that wouldn't be televised at all, DAZN showed this past weekend's show from Yokohama and we've had our good friends at CBC recently show the Kosei Tanaka Vs Sho Kimura bout.
The move from amateur looking software like Keyhole TV to the brilliant Isakura and ForjoyTV to watch Japanese TV, giving us not only the terrestrial channels in Tokyo but also some CS and BS channels as well as a 14 day replay facility, has been massive for improving the quality of footage we can get from Japan. Despite both services costing money to get the most from, and they aren't cheap, they offer so much for boxing fans that we get not only the live and tape delay stuff but some high quality classic footage.
The way the access to the Asian scene is going at the moment we suspect we'll see a lot more Asian fighters, and Asian shows being shown in the west. And this is genuinely amazing. We have spent the last 6 years trying to help push these fighters to a wider audience and we're so glad to see it happening.
We still see some fight fans talk in a negative and derogatory fashion of the little men, fighters fighting in the lower weight classes, but it does seem that thanks to the rise of fighters Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Naoya Inoue that negatively is slowly turning to respect. We might never see some fans bother tuning in, but the lighter weights are getting more and more respect. It seems clear that more Asian fighters want to raise their profiles in the West as well as at home, and it seems like the Western fans are becoming more open, with a growing fan base
We know that the Asian "niche" is still small outside of the region, but in the last few months we have certainly seen a lot more fights being broadcast internationally. We hope that continues and that the memory of Keyhole TV and scrambling around for a working stream will be little more than a distant memory, that won't ever be repeated. Hopefully the rise in international attention will also push domestic broadcasters in Japan to up their game, and rather than having Fuji TV and TBS showing so much content on tape delay they will show things live, even if it is on sister channels and Satellite stations.
Anyway, I hope I'm not the only one currently enjoying the current growth in coverage Western fans are getting and that as quality and accessibility continue to grow we see more and more fans deciding to give stuff a watch, and become hooked!
Thinking Out East
With this site being pretty successful so far we've decided to open up about our own views and start what could be considered effectively an editorial style opinion column dubbed "Thinking Out East" (T.O.E).