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!
This past Monday we had the chance to see an excellent All Japanese world title fight, with Kosei Tanaka narrowly defeating Sho Kimura to claim the WBO Flyweight world title. It was the latest in a long line of amazing All Japanese world title fighters dating back over 50 years. Here we take a look at 5 memorable all Japanese world title bouts.
Yoshiaki Numata (33-4, 9) Vs Hiroshi Kobayashi (50-6-2, 7)
December 14th 1967 - Kokugikan, Tokyo, Japan
The first ever all Japanese world title fight saw Yoshiaki Numata battle against Hiroshi Kobayashi. Coming in the the bout Numata was the WBC and WBA Super Featherweight champion, having taken the titles from the legendary Flash Elorde. When he won the titles he was the 5th ever Japanese world champion. In his first defense Numata faced off with the much more experienced Kobayashi. Kobayashi had made his name on the Japanese domestic scene mainly, where he had been the Featherweight champion, making 7 defenses before moving up in weight to challenge Numata.
The bout was an action packed one and would be award the Japanese fight of the year. Notably both men went on to have success after this bout and when the WBC and WBA titles split there was an 18 months time window when the two men were both world champions. The bout also got 41.9% of the audience tuning in from the Kanto region, one of the highest ever for a boxing contest!
Masao Oba (31-2-1, 13) vs Susumu Hanagata (34-10-8, 4) II
March 4th 1972-Nihon University Auditorium, Tokyo, Japan
Amazingly it would be more than 4 between the first and the second all-Japanese world title fight, though the wait was worth it with WBA Flyweight champion Masao Oba, one of the greatest Japanese fighters of all time, battling against Susumu Hanagata. This was a rematch of a bout the two men had had in 1968, when an 18 year old Oba was beaten by Hanagata, suffering his second career loss. Following their first bout Oba had become one the best fighters in the division, reeling off 15 straight wins and making two world title defenses. Hanagata had gone 10-2 following their first bout, with both losses coming on the road in world title bouts. This was high work rate and very exciting from both men.
Interestingly Oba's bout with Orlando Amores was voted the Japanese fight of the year for 1972 and unfortunately Oba would pass away less than a year after this bout, following a motor vehicle accident. Hanagata would go on to fight for a few more years and would actually score a huge win over Chartchai Chionoi in 1974 to put his name in the history books.
Yasuei Yakushiji (22-2-1, 16) Vs Joichiro Tatsuyoshi (10-1-1, 8)
December 4th 1994-Rainbow Hall, Nagoya, Aichi, Japan
Almost 30 years after the first ever all Japanese world title fight we had the first “unification” bout between two Japanese fighters as WBC Bantamweight champion Yasuei Yakushiji and Interim champion Joichiro Tatsuyoshi faced off at the Rainbow Hall. This bout was massive for Japanese boxing with Tatsuyoshi being the face of boxing in Osaka, due to his charismatic and exciting style. Yakushiji on the other hand was the more technically correct boxer, but was over-looked by some due to the popularity of Tatsuyoshi. That was despite the fact Yakushiji was the “real” champion and was looking to make his third defense.
This bout would achieve an audience number of 39.4% in the Kanto region, another of the highest ever in Japan, and like the Tanaka Vs Kimura bout it would live up to all the expectations with high tempo action, heavy shots landed by both and very little to split the men, both of whom were looking worse for wear at the end of the bout. This would be another winner of the Japanese Fight of the Year award.
Takanori Hatakeyama (23-1-2, 18) vs Hiroyuki Sakamoto (35-4, 25)
October 11th 2000-Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan
In 2000 Japanese fight fans had another all-Japanese Fight of the Year as WBA Lightweight champion Takanori Hatakeyama and Hiroyuki Sakamoto beat the ever living snot out of each other in a bloody, violent, thrilling clash. Hatakeyama was the champion going into the bout, he enjoying his second reign as a world champion having previously held the WBA Super Featherweight title, and had won the Lightweight belt in brilliant fashion stopping Gilberto Serrano, with this being his first defense. Sakamnoto had lost two other world title fights, including one to Serrano, but had won the OPBF and Japanese titles. This was mostly an inside war fought between two men who did not want to hear the final bell.
As mentioned this was a Japanese Fight of the Year and seemingly took a lot out of both men. Neither man would go on to score a win of note, and in fact between them the only real good result was a draw in 2001 between Hatakeyama and Rick Yoshimura. This fight essentially ruined both men.
Kazuto Ioka (9-0, 6) Vs Akira Yaegashi (15-2, 8)
June 20th 2012-Bodymaker Colosseum, Osaka, Osaka, Japan
Almost 20 years after the brilliant Yakushiji/Tatsuyoshi bout we had the first true unification bout, as WBC Minimumweight champion Kazuto Ioka faced off with WBA champion Akira Yaegashi. The bout was a brilliant contest with a combination of skills and heart, with Yaegashi fighting through badly swollen eyes for much of the fight and managing to drag Ioka into his fight. Ioka always looked like the guy with more rounded skills, and speed, but Yaegashi's heart, determination and sheer will to win made this into a fantastic bout. It managed to give us some of the best rounds of the year and was another of the All-Japanese world title bouts to be awarded the Japanese Fight of the Year.
In the years since this bout both men have moved through the weights, with both claiming world titles at Light Flyweight and Flyweight, and now, remarkably, both are competing at Super Flyweight as they look to become 4-weight champions.
It's worth noting that there has been a lot All Japanese title bouts than we've covered. These range from the controversial, such as Daisuke Naito's bout with Daiki Kameda, to the frankly massive contest between Daisuke Naito and Koki Kameda which got a ridiculous 43.1% audience share. They also include other Japanese fights of the year, such as Takashi Uchiyama's bout with Daiki Kaneko.
Amazingly there has only ever been one all-Japanese world title fight to end in the first round, and that was the second bout between Masamori Tokuyama and Katsushige Kawashima. Interestingly the trilogy between Tokuyama and Kawashima saw Tokuyama win 2-1 taking decisions in both of his wins. Amazingly there has only ever been 1 draw in an all Japanese world title fight, that came in 2001, in the aforementioned bout between Takenori Hatakeyama and Rick Yoshimura.
For those who care about TV numbers all 3 of the high rating bouts were screened on TBS.
We've decided to look at these two men in our first ever “A Vs B”, where we look at the two and try to predict who will have the better future.
Given that Yeleussinov [Данияр Маратұлы Елеусінов] won the Olympic gold medal we'll start by looking at him first.
The Kazakh was an outstanding amateur fighter who had essentially been the best at 69KG's for several years.
Between 2008 and 2016 he had claimed major international medals on a consistent basis. These included a silver at the Youth World Championships in 2008, Asian Games gold medals in 2010 and 2014, gold medals at the 2013 and 2015 Asian Championships, a gold at the 2013 World championships, and a silver at 2015 World Championships as well as the 2016 Olympic gold medal.
Following his sensational amateur career Yeleussinov's signature was one that many promoters were chasing, with Matchroom Sports managing to edge out others and sign the Kazakh. Since then here has hardly put a foot wrong, winning his first 3 professional bouts. Despite the good start there are many suggesting his style is still very amateurish and he's not yet learned to really sit on his shots yet. He's very much showing signs of being an overly patient and skilled counter puncher, who unfortunately hasn't been matched with aggressive opponents and instead of being given show cases around his strengths he has almost struggled to shine.
Whilst not yet impressive in terms of his professional performances Yeleussinov has shown some glimpses of genius. His hand speed is fantastic, his timing is brilliant and his understanding of distance is unquestionable. It's not his skills that are underwhelming, just his style in the ring which needs a lot of tweaking is he's to become a star.
Although Giyasov did come up short against Yeleussinov in the Olympics he didn't have a particularly bad amateur career himself. In fact not only did he claim an Olympic silver medal but he then went on to claim the gold medal at both the Asian Championships and the World Championships in 2017. By the time he was done with the amateurs he was seen as one of the hottest properties, but did remain outside of the professional ranks whilst he finished his time in the WSB, preparing him as a pro-ready fighter before his debut.
Given he was a sensational amateur and had been through the WSB experience there was no wonder that several promoters chased his signature, before he signed with World of Boxing, the promotional power house run by Andrey Ryabinsky, with Giyasov signing along fellow Uzbek amateur standout Murodjon Akhmadaliev. Although he's a Uzbek promoted by a Russian he's actually based in the US, where he will be able to get fantastic sparring and training.
Having had a stellar 2017 as an amateur Giyasov made his professional debut this past March with a lot of expectations on his shoulders. It amazingly took just 15 seconds for him to get his debut over and done with, stopping Nicolas Atilio Velazquez with pretty much the first combination of the bout. Since then he has looked fantastic, exciting, aggressive, offensive and a touch arrogant. Not only has he looked great since turning professional but he has also been stepping up his competition and in August he scored an excellent win over Albert Mensah.
In our eyes the more polished professional skills, and the style of Giyasov is more likely to see him having a stronger professional career. He is already a step ahead of Yeleussinov in terms of competition and we think he may be more aggressively matched. We wouldn't be surprised to see both men win world titles, but we expect Giyasov's reign to be a better, longer and more impressive one. But feel free to vote in the poll below.
(Image courtesy of Sky Sports and World Boxing Series)
Traditionally the Indonesian boxing scene hasn't been that impressive, with only 4 fighters from Indonesia ever winning world titles. Despite that the country has been able to generate some buzz, and has actually given us a few fighters of note, along side the world champions. They include Daud Yordan, who really should be regarded as the biggest boxing star in Indonesia by quite some distance.
Despite Yordan being the Indonesian face of boxing the country does have some interesting fighters rising through the ranks right now and we could, potentially, be on the verge of a golden era for Indonesian boxing.
low stoppage rate. Offensively here's a little on the wide side, but with time that can certainly be sorted. Sadly though his next bout, with Kyoguchi, does look to be a touch too much too soon. But we'll see for sure in September.
it was a performance that saw him certainly show some flaws, but it was the performance that sees a fighter instantly make new fans, whilst the body shot to finish the fight was one of the most brutal body shots we've seen this year. Win or lose Marupa is going to be a lot of fun to follow.
Aside from the win over Kang there is little to get too excited about on Agustian's record but he does hold a second round win over the once serviceable Zun Rindam, in a bout that saw Agustian pick himself off the canvas to stop Rindam in 2 rounds.
He looks legitimately like a rough diamond who just needs polishing, and if his team can do that then they'll have a real talent on their hands and someone who can help put Indonesian boxing on the map. The problem however is that if he only fights twice a year he's not going to develop as he should or get the opportunities he deserves.
Of the fighters on this list we suspect Jet might be the least likely to succeed internationally but may be the easiest to match, with managers from through out Asia potentially looking to match Jet against one of their prospects. And as a result he may find himself getting more opportunities than some of the other, more talented fighters listed.
Other prospects from Indonesia perhaps worth following include 22 year old Light Flyweight Andika D'Golden Boy (14-0, 7), Light Welterweight southpaw Rivo Kundimang (4-0-1, 1), Super Flyweight hopeful Patrick Liukhoto (7-0, 5) and Flyweight novice Ken Neparasi (1-0, 1). Sadly a lack of footage have prevented us from really talking in depth about any of these men like we have with the 5 above.
Recently the new broke that Japanese Heavyweight Kyotaro Fujimoto (19-1, 11) [藤本京太郎] would be defending his unified WBO Asia Pacific and OPBF Heavyweight titles against Thai foe Suthat Kalalek (12-9, 11). The bout, inspired little excitement, and if we're being honest it was actually a huge disappointment given that Kyotaro is a triple crown winner, having unified the Japanese title along with the two regional belts, and is a world ranked fighter. He should have been looking to move towards a big Heavyweight clash, not face someone best known for challenging for an OPBF Super Middleweight several years ago.
Yes you read that right, Kyotaro's next opponent is a blown up Super Middleweight, who faced off with Yuzo Kiyota in 2015 for the OPBF title at 168lbs, suffering a third straight loss with Kiyota stopped him in the 10th round.
It would be easy to defend Kyotaro's position if he was fighting in a 10 round stay busy fight, but this will be his first bout since May, when he took on chinny Australian Aaron Russel. For a man who has unified two regional titles his competition has been terrible, and it's actually hard to excuse given the ranked contenders for the OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific title. It's not like when Kyotaro was defending the Japanese Heavyweight title in a very shallow talent pool, with no interesting competitors, bar Nobuhiro Ishida who shocked us all and gave Kyotaro two tough bouts well above his natural weight class.
Rather than criticise who Kyotaro is facing we've decided to look at some of the alternative contenders that he could have faced, or could face in the future. These are fighters that would have given him a more serious test and really interest fans in a way that the Thai can't and have competed for the unified belts that Kyotaro holds.
1-Zhang Zhilei (19-0, 15) [张志磊]
One of the most obvious contenders is former Chinese amateur star Zhang Zhilei, who like Kyotaro is world ranked by the WBO and would make for an exceptionally interesting dance partner for the Japanese fighter. Not only is Zhilei higher ranked than Kyotaro with the WBO, holding a #6 ranking to Kyotaro's #7, but he is also a leading contender for both of Kyotaro's titles, with a the OPBF #1 ranking and a WBO Asia Pacific #2 rankings.
The Chinese fighter has an imposing record, and looks to be a puncher, but the bout would be as much of a step up for him as it would for Kyotaro. Like Kyotaro there has been a lot of criticism about Zhilei's competition, with his last 6 opponents all being stopped inside a round. The Chinese fighter would have not only the titles to win but also some respect, just like Kyotaro would. Also at the age of 35 Zhilei may see a win over Kyotaro as a chance to boost his WBO ranking and move towards a potential rematch with Anthony Joshua, who beat him in the 2012 Olympic games.
Sadly it appears that the 2009 Asian Boxing Championships gold medal winner has as little interest in Kyotaro as Kyotaro has in him, but the reality is that, from a fans perspective, the bout makes more sense than any other bout for the two men.
2-Junlong Zhang (19-0, 19) [张君龙]
A second Chinese fighter who would make a lot of sense for Kyotaro to face is Junlong Zhang, a 36 year old dubbed the “Dragon King”. Unlike his countryman Zhang doesn't currently hold a world ranking, though has been in and out of the WBA rankings over the last year or two. He now needs a ring return, having not fought since December 2017, but would immediately be able to make up for lost time with a win against Kyotaro.
Like both Zhile and Kyotaro there has been criticism of Zhang's competition but with wins over the likes of Jason Gavern, George Arias, Saul Farah and Victor Emilio Ramirez he does actually have a number of wins that are pretty solid. He would also enter as the #9 ranked WBO Asia Pacific contender, though is conspicuously absent from the OPBF's rankings.
Although western fans may anticipated a Zhilei Vs Zhang bout it does seem like a Zhang Vs Kyotaro bout does have more interest in China, with Kyotaro having been mentioned by the “Dragon King” as someone he wants to fight. There is however no clear reason why the two haven't fought, and sadly we suspect the bout will continue to be one of those “what if” contests, despite how much sense it makes.
3-Junior Fa (15-0, 8)
Outside of the two Chinese fighters we have a number of fighters from Oceania who would almost certainly love to share the ring with Kyotaro, one of which is 28 year old Kiwi Junior Fa , who is currently ranked #12 by the WBO in their world rankings, #1 in the WBO Asia Pacific rankings and #15 with the OPBF. The unbeaten Far hasn't looked untouchable as a professional, with a few close bouts, but would make for a very suitable opponent for Kyotaro, who has also not looked lawless.
Fa is a former amateur standout, and he holds a very notable amateur win over Joseph Parker, but has yet to set the professional scene on fire. A win over Kyotaro would boost his WBO rankings, set up a potential rematch as a professional with Parker and see him claim the biggest win of his career. So there is real reason for Fa to take the bout. For Kyotaro it would see him defeat a top contender for one of his titles and legitimise his regional champion claim.
Sadly hopes of this bout are a bit strained. Of Fa's last 6 bouts 3 have been in the US and it's almost certain that the long term plan isn't for him to stay in the regional scene for long. Added to that is his recent struggles and it could be that his unbeaten record, and as a result some of the allure of a Kyotaro showdown, could end sooner rather than later.
4-Lucas Browne (25-1-0-1, 22)
Just days after Kyotaro's bout with Suthat fans will be able to see Lucas Browne take on Julius Long in Australia. Given how both Kyotaro and Browne and in need of a win to get give their career a kick start a match up between the two seems ideal, even if we will need to wait until December to get it. And by that time we should see Browne pick up a comeback win following his brutal 6th round KO loss to Dillian Whyte in March
Browne, 39, is a a heavy handed and popular slugger who can't afford any more set backs if he's to land another big fight, and a win over the world ranked Kyotaro would fast track him to a big fight. For Kyotaro it'd be a chance to claim a big win over a fighter who has name value in Europe, specifically the UK, and put himself in the mix for potential UK fights against some of the Heavyweight that Britain has to offer, and the pay days that come with those fights.
Although not the most attractive match up on paper, given Browne's age and recent KO loss, it's a fight that has a lot of reward for Kyotaro if he wins. Of course that reward comes with a high risk and if he gets caught by a Browne howitzer there is a chance his career will be in tatters. A brilliant high risk high reward bout and one that would certainly be interesting, even if it'd wouldn't be action packed.
5-Joseph Parker (24-2, 18)
Talking about high risk and high reward we come to former WBO world champion Joseph Parker, who had been linked to a fight with Kyotaro for a while before winning the WBO world title in later 2016. So the bout has history behind it and given the fact Parker has lost his last 2 bouts there is also a case of perhaps getting him at the perfect time, with the Kiwi having low confidence and needing a win to re-enter the mix following a loss to Dillian Whyte in July.
For Parker, who is only ranked by the WBC, a win would put him straight into the WBO title mix and potentially help him set up rematches with Whyte or Anthony Joshua, who defeated Parker to take the WBO title form him. For Kyotaro the bout could reward him with a huge win over a former world champion, a WBC ranking and a chance to shut up his critics, who suggested he was scared of a then unbeaten Parker.
Sadly this bout has been organised and fallen through a few times with various reasons given for the bout falling through. It would be a shame if we don't see it at some point, given the two are the most notable Heavyweight's in the region, but we wouldn't be surprised to see Parker ignore Kyotaro now, given that he's been facing much bigger fish.
It's a shame that Kyotaro, who once promised so much as a professional boxer, has spent the last few years facing such limited competition given the quality of regional rivals out there. We hope, sooner rather than later, that the Japanese fighter does take on a notable foe from the Asia Pacific region, but given current form we suspect he'll continue to take the path of least resistance whilst hoping for an undeserved pay day against a world champion.
(Images courtesy of Boxmob. Sina, Loop Tonga, Hatton Boxing and stuff.co.nz)
The sport of boxing is full of promising prospects. Some of those will fall short, whilst others will achieve a lot more than expected. Today we'll look at 5 of the best teenage prospects from Asia, some of whom have already won their first titles, whilst others will be chasing them in the very near future.
Although not fighting an impressive calibre of opponent, yet, it's hard not to be impressed by Sobirov, who looks very strong for a teenager, very accurate and has brilliant ring IQ with fantastic ability to apply intelligent and intense pressure. With his amateur background we're expecting him to step up massively in 2019 and could well find himself fighting for titles in the next 12 to 18 months!
The past few days have been interesting ones for fight fans excited about the rise of Central Asian fighters with a number of very good prospects being in action in a very short amount of time. Not only was there a lot but there was also some excellent performances by fighters from the "Stans" with those fighters all looking like they are wlel on their way to doing something special in the professional ranks.
Also on Sunday we had very impressive performances from Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov (12-0, 7), who took out Mexican Victor Alejandro Gonzalez (18-2, 9) with a brutal body shot inside the opening round and Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (13-0, 10), who destroyed the upset minded Robinson Castellanos (24-14, 14) in 2 rounds with Castellanos being dropped 4 times.
It's also worth noting that Uzbek Ravshanbek Umurzakov (5-0, 4) scored a big win over Eden Sonsona (36-9-2, 13) on Sunday, stopping Sonsona in the opening round. Sadly whilst it's a great result the performance wasn't really anything special with Sonsona going down after 58 seconds and taking the 10 count, robbing Umurzakov of any chance to shine.
Whilst we don't think any of the fighters mentioned here are ready for a world title fight, yet, all the Central Asian fighters who picked up a win took a huge step towards getting a shot at a world title, and all will be chasing gold in the very near future.
The action for November continues over the coming week or saw with 7 title bouts in the space of just 4 days, and whilst some of the bouts aren't great they do tend to feature at least one fighter of real note in every one of the bouts.
Of those 7 title bouts 5 come on November 23rd's show in Osaka, with the title number selling the show as being something special, though the reality is that the show just simply has some well matched, or interesting looking fights on it.
Dwight Ritchie (14-0-0-4, 1) v Koki Tyson (10-2-2, 10)
One of those title bouts will see the unbeaten Dwight Ritchie defending his OPBF Middleweight title against Japanese puncher Koki Tyson, with Ritchie looking for this first defense of the belt and Tyson looking to become an OPBF champion at the second time of asking. Ritchie impressed in Japan earlier this year, when he ripped the title form Hikaru Nishida but will be facing a totally different stylistic match up here against the crude but heavy handed Tyson, who has shown fragility but can certainly bang.
Takayuki Hosokawa (28-10-5, 9) v Yutaka Oishi (13-5, 7)
The other OPBF title bout on the card will see OPF Light Middleweight champion Takayuki Hosokawa defending his title against fellow Japanese fighter Yutaka Oishi. For Hosokawa the bout will be his second defense of the title and see him trying to put a very poor performance against Koshinmaru Saito behind him, with many feeling that Hosokawa was lucky to get the draw in that bout. For Oishi the bout is his first for an OPBF title, though he has previously fought for a regional title in Australia, and he could genuinely play a spoiler to Hosokawa's hopes of fighting for a world title in the future.
Hinata Maruta (3-0, 2) v Joe Tejones (6-1, 2)
In a WBC Youth title fight we'll see fast rising Japanese prospect Hinata Maruta take on Filipino southpaw Joe Tejones. For Maruta this will be his first title defense, and he will be looking to build on an excellent win over Wilbert Berondo. The bout will however be Maruta's first against a southpaw and the focus will be on getting some rounds against a lefty. For Tejones the the opportunity is a big one, but it's hard to imagine him living with a fighter as naturally talented as Maruta and it is the visitor taking a huge step up in class.
Hirofumi Mukai (12-4-3, 2) Vs Inthanon Sithchamuang (30-8-1, 18)
In a WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title fight we'll former world title challengers collide as Hirofumi Mukai, a former 2-time world title challenger, faces Inthanon Sithchamuang in a really intriguing type of match up. Mukai is probably one of the least qualified 2-time world title challengers of recent times, having faced Pongsaklek Wonjojngkam and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, but is still talented and is a nice pure boxer. Inthanon challenged Kohei Kono earlier this year in a gutsy, but out gunned, performance and given the limitations of the two men this should prove to be a really interesting bout.
Masahiro Sakamoto (8-0, 4) v Sho Kimura (12-1-2, 6)
A second WBO Asia Pacific title bout comes at Flyweight where the unbeaten Masahiro Sakamoto takes on the once beaten Sho Kimura in a wonderfully well matched bout that should test the ability of both men and their potentials. Sakamoto is stepping up in a big way here but was impressive last time out, taking a wide win over Il Che, and was the 2015 Flyweight Rookie of the Year. Kimura hasn't really scored a win of any note, but does come in to this bout on a 14 fight unbeaten run following a knockout loss on debut.
Milan Melindo (34-2, 12) Vs Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr (31-4-1, 16)
On December 30th we'll see IBF Light Flyweight champion Akira Yaegashi return to the ring, his supposed opponent will be either Milan Melindo or Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr, who face off just 5 weeks earlier for the interim title. This bout will see Melindo getting a third shot at a “world title” and his first t home having had to travel to Macau and Mexico for his previous bit bouts. For Fahlan the bout is his second shot at a world title, after his controversial loss to Katsunari Takayama, and a win could see him return to Japan for another big bout, following bouts with Takuma Inoue, Ryo Miyazaki and the aforementioned Takayama. This bout will be a fun one and we wouldn't be shocked by any result.
Muhammad Waseem (4-0, 3) v Giemel Magramo (17-0, 13)
To end the month our attention turns to Korea where fast rising Pakistani fighter Muhammad Waseem takes on the unbeaten Giemel Magramo. Waseem, the most notable Pakistani born boxer since Hussain Shah, is looking to make his first defense of the WBC Silver Flyweight title and move towards a 2017 world title bout. For Magramo the bout is a huge step up and his first bout away from home, he's unbeaten but has never faced anyone with the pedigree or ability of Waseem, likewise Waseem has never faced anyone as hungry as Magramo.
The middle of November is hectic with fights involving Asians at domestic, regional and even world level. The huge names might not be in action lots of solid fighters are.
On November 11th Japanese fans get a real treat with an OPBF title Quadruple header.
Merlito Sabillo (25-3-1, 12) v Ryuya Yamanaka (12-2, 3)
The lowest weight title being competed for on the OPBF quadruple header show is the Minimumweight title and will see former world champion Merlito Sabillo take on Japanese youngster Ryuya Yamanaka for the vacant title. Sabillo. In recent years Sabillo has struggled, and has gone 2-3-1 in his last 6 bouts, suggesting his career is hanging by a thread. Yamanaka is much less well known, but has been suggested as a possible future WBO title challenger and will have to win here if he's to get a shot in 2017. It should be noted however that this is a huge step up for the 21 year old Japanese fighter who is being thrown in with a proverbial shark here.
Takahiro Yamamoto (18-4, 15) v Mark John Yap (24-12, 10)
A much more interesting bout comes at Bantamweight where we'll see heavy handed champion Takahiro Yamamoto defending his title against Japanese based Filipino veteran Mark John Yap. On paper this doesn't look hugely interesting given that Yap has double digit losses, however his record, like that of many Filipino's, is misleading and in recent years he has been stringing together good wins, including two over Hiroyuki Hisataka and one over Tatsuya Ikemizu. Saying that however Yamamoto is a talented fighter, with heavy hands and an ultra aggressive style which makes him look like a fighter who is going to be very hard to beat at this level.
Shun Kubo (10-0, 7) v Jin Wook Lim (8-4-5, 2)
At Super Bantamweight we'll see the unbeaten, and world ranked, Shun Kubo attempting to defend his title against Korean visitor Jin Wook Lim. Kubo is talented and is seen as the future of the Shinsei gym however it does seem like his team are wanting to develop him at OPBF level before having him follow in the footsteps of stablemate Hozumi Hasegawa, and this will be his second defense of the OPBF title. Lim will be making his international debut here and comes in to the bout as a former Korean Bantamweight champion, and one who holds a win over Sa Myung Noh and a draw with Ye Joon Kim, this is however a huge step up for Kim and one that he's making on the road. A very tough assignment for him against a very talented hopeful.
Masayoshi Nakatani (12-0, 7) v Allan Tanada (14-5-3, 6)
At Lightweight we have OPBF champion Masayoshi Nakatani looking to extend his reign, and take it into a third year, as he takes on former OPBF Super Featherweight champion Allan Tanada. The under-rated Nakatani holds notable wins over the likes of Yoshitaka Kato, Ricky Sismundo and Shuhei Tsuchiya and will likely be adding another notable win to his record here. Tanada holds goof wins himself over the likes of Jose Ocampo, Rikiya Fukuhara and Roy Mukhlis but has lost 3 of his last 4 and few would back him here against the much taller Nakatani, however he is upset minded and won't fear Nakatani's reputation.
Momo Koseki (22-2-1, 8) v Chie Higano (6-4, 2)
On a separate Japanese card fight fans will be able to see Japan's longest reigning active world champion. That's WBC Atomweight champion Momo Koseki who has held her title for more than 8 years and looks to extend that reign with her 17th defence! The frightening Koseki will be up against domestic foe Chie Higano in what should be a straight forward win for Koseki who looks to extend various Japanese records here. For Higano the bout is a huge step up from facing domestic class foes to facing a nightmarish world champion in what really should be a mismatch.
Toshio Arikawa (13-4, 11) v Yasuhiro Okawa (14-12-3, 5) II
On November 14th we go back to Japanese title action here as Japanese Welterweight champion Toshio Arikawa attempts to make the first defense of his title. On paper this looks like a mismatch, and Arikawa is in great form winning his last 4 bouts with stoppages against Akinori Watanabe and Nobuyuki Shindo in his last 2 bouts. Saying that however Okawa holds a relatively recent win over Arikawa, and has lost only once in the last 5 years. This looks like a mismatch but should turn out to be a very interesting bout.
Iwan Zoda (11-1, 10) v Jeronil Borres (7-1-1, 5)
Our favourite Indonesian prospect returns to the ring on November 18th to defend his IBF Youth Flyweight title, and move towards a potential world title fight. The exciting Iwan Zoda will be up against fellow youngster Jeronil Borress, a once beaten Filipino who has has never been stopped and recent took on former world title challenger Richard Claveras. This is far from an easy defense for Zoda and instead it's a chance for him to prove himself, and his power, and the bout could end up telling us a lot about both fighters.
Ryosuke Iwasa (22-2, 14) v Luis Rosa (22-0-0-2, 10)
One of the most notable non-title bouts of the month for Asian fight fans sees former world title challenger Ryosuke Iwasa take on the unbeaten Luis Rosa in an IBF world title eliminator at Super Bantamweight. On paper this is a must win for Iwasa, who is best known for losing to Lee Haskins and Shinsuke Yamanaka, For Rosa the bout is a step up following a string of bouts against relatively limited opponents, like German Merez and Luis Hinojosa, but he's touted as a potential world champion and will be wanting to show his ability here. Interestingly the winner of this could find themselves up against the winner of the upcoming Jonathan Guzman/Yukinori bout.
The month of November is a crazy one for fight fans with notable fights taking place through the month, he we look at the most notable bouts set to take place during the first week of the month in the first part of our look towards a brilliant looking month.
Hiroki Okada (13-0, 10) v Valentine Hosokawa (20-5-3, 9)
The first title fight of a thoroughly hectic month will see Japanese Light Welterweight champion Hiroki Okada defending his title against veteran Valentine Hosokawa,who has come up short in two previous title fights. For Okada the bout will be his 6th title defense,and if he wins there is the thinking he may vacate the title rather than face mandatory challenger Koichi Aso, who he has beaten twice already, and move on to OPBF title bouts instead. For Hosokawa this will likely be his last chance at a title given that he's 35 years old.
Tatsuya Fukuhara (17-4-6, 6) v Genki Hanai (7-0, 5)
We see more Japanese title action early in the month as Minimumweight champion Tatsuya Fukuhara defends his title against the unbeaten, and fast rising, Genki Hanai. For the under-rated champion this is his third defense of the title and he is likely to fight for a world title in 2017, if he can secure a victory here over Hanai. If he gets that chance it will open big doors for the popular Kumamoto man. For Hanai the bout will be his first title bout, and whilst he could claim the title he may also play party pooper to Fukuhara's world title dreams and get himself in the position for a world title bout. A really intriguing domestic level clash for Japanese fight fans.
Daigo Higa (10-0, 10) v Felipe Cagubcob Jr (6-2-5, 2)
The first OPBF title fight of the month comes on a huge day of action as sees exciting Flyweight contender Daigo Higa look to defend his OPBF title for the first time. The “Romagon of Okinawa” will be up against little known Filipino challenger Felipe Cagubcob Jr. The exciting Higa will be looking to join the mix at world level in 2017 but will need to continue his winning ways to do that, with many expecting him to do just that here with a stoppage. For the Filipino challenger, this will be his first bout away from home and see him taking on his best opponent to date, and a man who has enjoyed mowing through Filipino fights thus far through his career
Zou Shiming (8-1, 2) Vs Kwanpichit Onesongchaigym (39-1-2, 24) II
Staying with the Flyweight division we will not only see an OPBF title fight but also a world title fight as the vacant WBO title goes on the line in a bout between Zou Shiming and Kwanpichit OnesongChaigym. These two men met back in 2014, when Shiming came close to stopping Kwanpichit on route to a wide, and now we have the two men going at it again with a world title up for grabs. A win for Shiming is expected, and if he manages to win he will become the second Chinese world champion, but he has failed to reach the heights expected of him and Kwanpichit has rebuilt well since his loss, winning his last 12 bouts, all by stoppage.
Nonito Donaire (37-3, 24) v Jessie Magdaleno (23-0, 17)
The Super Bantamweight division hasn't been the most exciting in recent years, but does look like a division that is genuinely interesting with a mix of experience veterans and emerging youngsters. One of the veterans of the division is 33 year old Filipino sensation Nonito Donaire who defends his WBO title against emerging destroyer Jessie Magdaleno in a bout that could turn out to be the bout of night. At his best Donaire is a real sensation but at 33 he's not the fighter he once was. Magdaleno has shown real promise but this is a huge step for the unbeaten American.
Oscar Valdez (20-0, 18) v Hiroshige Osawa (30-3-4, 19)
At Featherweight we appear to be seeing the emergence of a new Mexican star, Oscar Valdez. In his first defense of the WBO Featherweight title Valdez will be facing Japan's Hiroshige Osawa, a relative unknown outside of the Japanese scene. Valdez really does look like a special fighter and his rise to becoming a star is exciting to watch, though here we see him up against a veteran who is fighting in what will likely be his only shot at a world title. For Osawa it's now or never and he'll give everything he's got, whether that's enough or not is the big question and unfortunatley it's hard to see him winning here unless Valdez has completely taken his eye off the ball.
Jessie Vargas (27-1, 10) v Manny Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38)
Whilst Valdez is a rising star of boxing there is still some megastars of the sport out there, including Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao, who looks to reclaim the WBO Welterweight title as he takes on once beaten champion Jessie Vargas. The bout will see the 37 year old Filipino attempt to further strengthen his legendary status in the sport, and become a 3-time WBO Welterweight champion which is an incredible feat it's self. For Vargas the bout will give him a chance to score a career defining win. With 10 years age difference between these two there is a possible passing of the torch or further proof that Pacquiao really is a truly special fighter.
Ye Joon Kim (14-1-2, 7) v Yuki Strong Kobayashi (10-5, 5)
To end a hectic weekend attention turns to South Korea where world ranked Super Bantamweight hopeful Ye Joon Kim looks to defend his IBF Asia title. In the opposite corner to the Korean hopeful will be Japanese visitor Yuki Strong Kobayashi, who has previously fought for the OPBF Bantamweight title. Kim is regarded as one of the very few Korean's of any real interest and whilst this won't boost his standing in the sport he is someone who could, potentially at least, create a buzz in Seoul. Kobayashi isn't a terrible fighter, but is Kim fails to win here it's more about Kim being inconsistent rather than Kobayashi suddenly being a massively improved fighter.
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).