We've all heard of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, and we've decided to put our spin on things with "Six degrees of separation" looking to connect Asian fighters you may never have assumed were connected! Today we connect Kazakhstan's first world champion Vasily Jirov....and Filipino great Manny Pacquiao.
1-As the IBF Cruiserweight champion Vasily Jirov was the first Kazakh to win a world title, but he isn't the only world champion from Kazakhstan, another is Middleweight great Gennady Golovkin.
2-On April 25th 2009 Gennady Golovkin recorded his 16th professional win, stopping Anthony Greenidge in 5 rounds. The main event of that card saw Felix Sturm retain the WBA Middleweight title as he stopped Japanese challenger Koji Sato, who had entered the bout 14-0 (13)
3-Not many Japanese fighters fighters make their debut in the US, though Koji Sato did actually did begin on US soil when he made his debut in 2005, stopping Francisco Valdez in Las Vegas on his debut. Another Japanese fighter who debuted on US soil was Yasutsune Uehara, who debuted in Honolulu in 1972, in fact his first 5 professional bouts were all fought at the Honolulu International Center.
4-In 1980 Yasutsune Uehara claimed the WBA Super Featherweight title for Japan by defeating Samuel Serrano with a 6th round KO win in Detroit. The win was the Ring Magazine Upset of the Year for 1980
5-Another Ring Magazine Upset of the Year saw a then unbeaten Vic Darchinyan being stopped in 5 rounds by a then unknown Nonito Donaire, who put himself on the map with this win, in a big way, and claimed the 2007 Upset of the Year.
6-Nonito's Donaire's win over Darchinyan wasn't just the Upset of the Year, in the eyes of Ring Magazine, but also KO of the year. With that KO Donaire become the second Filipino to win the KO of the Year award, following on from Morris East who win it in 1992 when he stopped Akinobu Hiranaka. The only other Filipino to hold the award is the legendary Manny Pacquiao taking us all the way through to the iconic Pacman.
As an aside Pacquiao has been on both sides of the of KO of the Year. His KO over Ricky Hatton saw Pacquiao win the KO of the Year award, whilst his loss to Juan Manuel Marquez in their fourth bout saw him on the receiving end of the KO of the Year.
In recent year's Korean boxing has been a mess, with political wrangling and ego's preventing the once excellent Korean boxing scene from being what it could be. For many newer fans they may never have even seen a Korean world champion. The latest of those was more than a decade ago, when legendary tough guy In Jin Chi had his second world title reign.
Whilst fans of the sport perhaps are aware of Chi, and his fights against the likes of Erik Morales and Michael Brodie, there are lots that is unknown about Chi. With that in mind we bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know about...In Jin Chi.
1-Chi first began boxing in first grade, and made his debut as a teenager due to the fact he needed to make money.
2-Chi, like Bernard Hopkins, Alexis Arguello, Rafael Marquez, Kohei Kono and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, lost on his debut before later going on to win a world title. Chi's debut loss was a decision to fellow debutant Tae Sun Park in 1991, in what is Park's only recorded bout. According to reports in Korea he was actually dropped twice in this bout.
3-Aside from his debut loss, the only other marks on his record came at world level. These were his 2001 loss to Erik Morales, his 2003 draw with Michael Brodie and his 2006 loss to Takashi Koshimoto. All 3 of these results occurred outside of Korea.
4-Chi reportedly kept the equivalent of $10,000 from his bout with Rodolfo Lopez, with his team taking around the same from him. This later lead to him describing his career as being like that of a "modern slave" before he retired.
5-Staying on the subject of money, which was an issue throughout Chi's career, he was working part time when he was a Korean champion and worked on a construction site in the mid 1990's, after winning the OPBF title. Sadly Chi never got to defend the OPBF Bantamweight title and cash in on that success.
6-When Chi regained the WBC Featherweight title, with his win over Lopez, he dedicated his win to his daughter. At the time he had one daughter and one son.
7-In 2004 there was talk in the Korean press of Chi facing Juan Manuel Marquez, in what would have been an IBF/WBA/WBC Featherweight unification bout. Donga.com reported that there could be up to $500,000 as a purse for Chi for that bout. Sadly for Chi that bout never came off.
8-At the time of writing Chi is the last Korean male world champion, last holding a title more than a decade ago. He has however been followed by several female world champions, including Hyun Mi Choi who won her first world title on her debut.
9-After finishing his boxing career Chi turned to K-1 and beat Ryuji Kajiwara in his kickboxing debut in Japan.
10- Following the end of his combat sport career Chi has gone on to run a boxing club, and still plays a role in Korean boxing, though obviously the sport is a long, long way from where it once was in the country. His club was responsible for the development of female fighter Su Yun Hong, who also went on to win a world title. Interestingly he has also enjoyed golfing since his retirement from being an active fighter.
The month of December was an incredibly busy one, with things like the Rookie of the Year, the New Year's Eve show, the Fuji show on the 23rd, and a host of other cards giving us a truly crazy month.
It was also a month that Boxing Raise actually didn't shine, with just 6 tape delay cards, and nothing live. It did however have some interesting, intriguing and exciting bouts hidden away on the service. And now we'll have a look at some of the highlights the services provided during the month.
Before we start however we will just make everyone aware that we are totally ignoring the Kadebi promoted "Slugfest 12" card. The reason for this is that the content featured on that show isn't exclusive to Boxing Raise, it's been uploaded to youtube by Kadoebi themselves giving all fans a chance to see all the action from the card without the need of a Boxing Raise subscription.
As with our previous "Best of Boxing Raise" article all the fights featured here can be accessed by subscribers by logging into Boxing Raise and adding the "movie/####" to "https://boxingraise.com/".
Compelling more than excelling - Musashi Mori (10-0, 6) vs Takuya Mizuno (17-1-1, 14) [movie/7134/]
The WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight title bout between the unbeaten champion Musashi Mori and the heavy handed Takuya Mizuno never really caught fire in the way we had hoped, but in terms of being compelling this was always interesting. Just sadly lacking true drama. Mori, who is just 20, was fighting for the second time under Ismael Salas and it's clear he is developing with every fight, but sadly the styles never really worked here. Still if you want to see one of the brightest Japanese youngsters you could do a lot worse than giving this a watch and getting a head up on Mori before he lands a big international fight. The youngster, is talking about moving into world title level later this year and he's certainly one to be aware of.
Boom goes the Dynamite - Mammoth Kazunori (5-2-1, 5) vs Lerdchai Chaiyawed (2-4, 1) [/movie/7188/]
We had a lot of brilliant knockouts in 2019 and one of the final ones came in mid-December, tucked away on a Japanese under-card bout. The fight saw big punching Japanese hopeful Mammoth Kazunori take on Thai tough guy Lerdchai Chaiyawed and, well, lets just say this ended in spectacular fashion. The bout hadn't been the most thrilling, but the ending makes it worth a watch. A seriously eye-catching KO!
A prospect to watch - Ryosuke Nishida (1-0, 1) vs Pablito Canada (7-17-4, 1) [movie/7219/]
The December 22nd show from Muto gym was a bad idea from the off, putting it on the same day as the All Japan Rookie of the Year, and having one of their brightest beaten in a round. Thankfully though it wasn't all bad news and it was a good chance to see what the hype was regarding Ryosuke Nishida. And in fairness to the 23 year old, he looked damned good. He was the less hyped of 3 Muto prospect and yet was the only one who really shined. If you get the chance give this a watch and keep a close eye on Nishida
A change in tactic proves vital - Yusuke Mine (2-0, 1) vs Ardin Diale (35-15-4, 17) [/movie/7221/]
Whilst we seriously think Muto will want to forget about their December 22nd show we suspect they will also be proud of the promising Yusuke Mine who showed a lot, both good and bad, in his third professional bout. Taking on Filipino veteran Ardin Diale we saw Mine being dropped in rounds 1 and 3, raising real questions about his chin, balance and durability. Then he bit down on his gum shield and pressured, in an attempt to turn the bout around. His change of tactics, and desire are real positives, but being dropped twice will be a worry. A very interesting bout that had genuine drama.
A debut to view - Kantaro Juri (0-0) Vs Makruf Bambali (0-4-1) [/movie/7233/]
Although many debuts are a mismatch they do give us a chance to see what a fighter can do, and we were genuinely impressed by what Kantaro Juri shows in his debut, against the horribly over-matched Makruf Bambali of Indonesia. Juri, who is a bit of a hidden gem, looked a natural in the ring with a very sharp jab, some nice picking and very fast hands. It'll be an interesting journey to follow with him, but we liked him a lot and the Nakazato gym might have someone a little bit special on their hands here. Polish needs to be done, but they have a genuine diamond in the rough.
Wild and even eliminator - Hiroyuki Kudaka (26-18-3, 11) vs Yuta Matsuo (15-4-1, 8) [/movie/7206/]
A Japanese title eliminator at Super Flyweight matched together Hiroyuki Kudaka and Yuta Matsuo in what proved to be, unsurprisingly, a really good fight. These two let their shots fly through out and provided plenty of action in a fun 8 rounder. With the men involved we always expected something special could be on the cards, and whilst this wasn't truly spectacular it was a very fun back and forth battle with some truly brilliant moments. The final round of this was truly excellent, as the two tired men put it on the line.
IBF eliminator provides action - Sho Ishida (28-1, 15) vs Israel Gonzalez (24-3, 11) [/movie/7242/]
The final bout of the month for the service was the best, as Sho Ishida and Israel Gonzalez battled in an IBF Super Flyweight world title eliminator. This was actually fantastic to watch, and it was most down to Gonzalez, who brought so much action and pressure through out. He let his hands go, he forced the fight and it wasn't until late on that Ishida managed to find a foot hold in what was a real gem. It's a shame this wasn't given some form of TV coverage in Osaka as it should have had a bigger viewing audience than it got, but still a very good fight and one that Boxing Raise subscribers should make an effort to watch whilst we're still lumbering through a quiet month of fights.
(Images courtesy of boxmob, and Boxingraise)
One of the world champions who defended their world title at the very end of 2019 was WBO Flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9). The man from Chukyo made his third defense of the title in impressive fashion, putting on a near punch perfect display against Chinese challenger Wulan Tuolehazi, before clinically closing the showing with some sensational uppercuts.
With 3 defenses behind him and a potentially massive 2020 ahead of him it seems we're now at an ideal time to give Kosei Tanaka the "Five For" treatment, and look at five potential match ups for the "KO Dream Boy". Here are 5 options he, and manager Kiyoshi Hatanaka, should be looking at if they want to have a huge year!
1-Moruti Mthalane (39-2, 26)
A bout between Tanaka and South African Moruti Mthalane would be a sensational match up between two men who are incredibly talented and smart in the ring, but go about things very differently. Mthalane, the current IBF champion, is a defensively sound fighter, with clean punches and a willingness to press forward behind a tight guard to force mistakes and open up counter opportunities. Tanaka on the other hand is a speedy fighter who likes to let his hands go, and will involve himself in a war far too easily. This could end up being a brilliantly exciting, yet high skill, war, though with Mthalane now in his late 30's we'd want this sooner rather than later.
2-Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14)
Leading into the end of year show to close out 2019 it seemed TBS and the WBO were both building to a potential all Japanese show down between Tanaka and WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka. The bout would see Tanaka leaving the Flyweight division, just as it seems to be heating up, but for a bout against a Japanese icon like Ioka, with a 4th divisional title on the line it'd have been hard to fault Tanaka for going this route. Sadly since the show on New Year's Eve this bout has began to seem unlikely, at least for now. It seems both are on different paths, and if they do cross, it could well be 2 or 3 years from now.
3-Julio Cesar Martinez (15-1, 12)
Although it seems WBC champion Julio Cesar Martinez won't be available until the middle of the year, given he's pencilled into defend his title in late February, this is still a match up that genuinely intrigues us. On one hand you'd have Tanaka, a lightning quick boxer-puncher, blessed blink and you miss it speed. On the other hand you have "El Rey", a destructive freak of nature, who walks through opponents, with intense pressure and brutal power. Speed against power is always fun to see, and we can't help but view this as a super competitive bout between men with very different abilities, but abilities that would gel well. Oh and it'd be a unification bout!
4-Artem Dalakian (19-0, 14)
Another unification bout, and another we'd have to wait until summer for, would be a clash between Tanaka and WBA champion Artem Dalakian. Tanaka might not yet have truly shined as a Flyweight, though has beaten decent competition in his defenses, but Dalakian has completely wasted the good will of his title win. Despite being an excellent fighter Dalakian has done little of note since winning the belt in the US against Brian Viloria. Dalakian set to make his 4th defense in February, against Josber Perez, and that should be his final easy bout. With Dalakian turning 33 in August he needs big bouts, and he needs them soon, what better than facing Tanaka, in a unification bout in summer?
5-Sho Kimura (18-3-2, 11) II
The dark horse bout, though it really shouldn't be, would see Tanaka take on former foe Sho Kimura in a rematch of their 2018 Fight of the Year. Their first bout was a sensational war that helped put Tanaka on the map, and for him to give Kimura a chance to reclaim his title would be the right thing to do. If we ended up with a rematch half as good as their first contest then we wouldn't be complaining at all! We do imagine Tanaka would win a rematch easier than he won their first bout, but we'd still absolutely love to see these two share the ring one more time!
The name Hiroto Ogushi isn't one that will be familiar to fans outside of Japan, in fact many newer fans in Japan are unlikely to recognise his name. Yet one summer day in 2001 he did something truly remarkable, something so odd that fight fans really do need to know about Ogushi, and the the incident that saw him getting an indefinite suspension by the JBC.
So what was the Ogushi incident?
To begin with we need to take you back almost 20 years, to July 16th 2001 in Tokyo. The main event of a show at Korakuen Hall that day saw Takefumi Sakata retaining the Japanese Flyweight title with a highly controversial draw against Daisuke Naito. Many of those in attendance felt that Naito had done enough to deserve the decision but was denied, in a botu scored a majority decision, a decision that saw both men keep their unbeaten records intact.
What followed was the Ogushi incident, however before we get on to that lets just explain who Hiroto Ogushi was.
Ogushi was a promising fighter from the same gym, the Miyata Gym, as Naito. At the time he was 24 years old, a close friend of Naito's and had a record of 15-4 (11). He was, for all intents, a talented young Super Featherweight puncher who had won the All Japan Rookie of the Year, and despite suffering a string of setbacks was beginning to find his groove again. He had sparred with several notable Japanese fighters of the time, and his left hook was regarded as a monstrous punch.
Sadly Ogushi wasn't the most pragmatic of young men, or the type of fighter who trained, trained and trained.
After watching his friend seemingly get robbed of the Japanese title Ogushi rushed the ring, along with Naito's corner man. Whilst that's not too unusual, the issue was that Ogushi appeared to be holding a knife, whilst also appearing rather intoxicated. And he wasn't just in the ring loudly talking, in fact he appeared to be on the verge of physically attacking people. He was furious, and his anger really refused to die down. Even when he was ushered into the corridors near the changing rooms, in an attempt to calm him down, the anger was spewing from the hard hitter.
Ogushi's anger saw him ranting outside the referees room. Then go into the officials room, and continue to berate them.
The Miyata Gym Chairman and Ogushi would be punished by the JBC just days later, with Ogushi having his licenses suspended indefinitely, being the first boxing in Japan to receive that punishment without having committed some form of serious criminal act.
Ogushi was actually given a chance to apologise for actions, but foolishly turned them down, stating that his reason for not not seeing the JBC was that he "didn't have a suit to wear at the time". A petulant response to say the least.
In a rather odd twist to the whole story both Naito and Sakata would go on to win world titles, holding them at the same time in fact. Naito would claim the WBC Flyweight title and Sakata the WBA title, though no rematch ever occurred, even with the history of the two men that would have made it a massive event.
Despite a clear, and long term rivalry, the two men were pictured together in 2008 at the annual boxing awards, and they appeared to be able to share a joke, even if they weren't best buddies.
As for Ogushi, he did talk about a comeback, but nothing ever materalised, and his career was essentially over after his night of madness.
At the time of writing the OPBF Minimumweight title hasn't been fought for since Lito Dante shocked Tsubasa Koura in March 2019, despite that we thought it was an interesting title to look at for our latest "Did You Know" feature...
-The first ever OPBF Minimumweight champion was Samuth Sithnaruepol, who was in the final ever 15 round world title bout. Samuth would defend the OPBF title 4 times before winning the IBF Minimumweight title, defending it twice. Interestingly he lost the IBF title to Nico Thomas, who later went on to win the OPBF Minimumweight title as well!
-Samuth and Thomas aren't the only 2 OPBF Minimumeight champions to win world titles. Others include Hi Yong Choi, Rodel Mayol, Akira Yaegashi, Merlito Sabillo, Kosei Tanaka, Ryuya Yamanaka and Hiroto Yamanaka. Interesting Thomas wasn't the only man to win a world title before winning the OPBF title, with Xiong Zhao Zhong doing the same, winning the WBC title before taking the OPBF belt
-As mentioned Samuth Sithnaruepol was the first champion and he made 4 defenses of the belt. That 4 defenses record is actually a record for the most defenses of the title title. Samuth is also the only Thai to have won the title.
-The title has been held by fighters from Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Philippines and China. Whilst that might not seem something worthy to mention it is actually the only OPBF title to be held to be held by fighters from those 5 particular countries. In fact it's the only one to have ever been won by a Chinese fighter!
-The first 4 champions, and 16 of the combined 22 title reigns to date, have ended with a champion vacating the title!
-Given the title has changed hands 5 times, rather than being won from a vacancy as it has been 17 times, it's interesting to note that it's only been won from a reigning champion ONCE by unanimous decision. This unique result saw Yasutaka Kuroki defeat Toshikazu Waga on November 16th 2008.
-From the 53 title bouts 3 have ended in a draw, including 1 technical draw. Amazingly the most recent of those was more than a decade ago!
-There wasn't an OPBF Minimumweight title bout in 2013, 2001, 1997, 1996 and 1994
-Incidentally the longest reign of a fighter was 3 years and 11 days, from February 11th 1995 to February 22nd 1998, by Nico Thomas. It is worth noting however that for more than 24 months of his reign he didn't actually defend the belt.
We've all heard of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, and we've decided to put our spin on things with "Six degrees of separation" looking to connect Asian fighters you may never have assumed were connected! Today we connect Daigo Higa and...Ki Soo Kim.
1-Former Japanese world champion Daigo Higa, who returns to the ring in February to finally restart his career after being suspended by the JBC, is promoted by former Light Flyweight king Yoko Gushiken, who has guided Higa through his career so far, from his debut to his world title triumph to his title loss in 2018.
2-Back in the 1970's and 1980's Yoko Gushiken ran 13 defenses of the WBA Light Flyweight title, a Japanese male record that still stands too this day.The 11th of those defenses was a controversial one over Yong Hyun Kim, whilst we won't into the controversy here, as we plan to do a full article on the Poison Orange Incident in the future, the defense was one of the final ones of Gushiken's career and he would lose the belt the following year.
3-On September 26th 1981 Yong Hyun Kim lost in an OPBF Light Flyweight title fight to Siony Carupo. On that very same show Thailand's Satanfa Pratip also lost in an OPBF title fight, up at Welterweight. The Thai was stopped in 5 rounds by Chung Jae Hwang.
4-Although Satanfa Pratip, who went 3-3 as a professional, isn't a big name, he did fight a notable trio of Thai fighters. One of those was Chung Jae Hwang, as mentioned, another Jun Suk Hwang and the the third was future world champion In Chul Baek.
5-Whilst In Chul Baek is well known internationally for reaching the pinnacle of the sport, and winning the WBA Super Middleweight title late in his career, his first career title was the OPBF Light Middleweight title, which he won back in 1981, when he stopped Sang Ho Lee. Another man who held that very same OPBF title was Sae Chul Kang, in fact Kang was the first man to hold that title.
6-On October 1st 1961, November 1st 1961 and December 14th 1963 Sae Chul Kang battled with, and lost to, Ki Soo Kim. The first of those bouts was actually Kim's professional debut, following his outstanding amateur career.
The early era of Korean boxing is often ill remembered. Whilst many fans remember the 1980's and even early 1990's for Korean success what happened in the 70's is rarely talked about, despite it being a really interesting era for boxing in the country. Today we take a look at one of the early Korean world champions, Jae Doo Yuh, who was a national hero in the mid to late 70's, and a man who was responsible for several Korean records.
Whilt Yuh is remembered that well he is a very, very interesting fighter and with that in mind we bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know about...Jae Doo Yuh.
1--Yuh was the third Korean world champion, following Ki Soo Kim and Soo Hwan Hong. Rather oddly Kim and Yuh both held world titles at 154lbs and the OPBF (or OBF as it was known) title at Middleweight, and defended both, switching between the two weight classes.
2-In 1975 there was a biographical movie released about Yuh, entitled "눈물젖은 샌드백", which appears to translate as "Tearful Sandbag". That movie, in full, can be seen below this article.
3-In 2012 Yuh revealed that boxing did take a toll on his health and that his eyes were faltering. It appears his sight wasn't terrible but he did add that he doesn't drive at night time due issues with his eyes.
4-With 21 officially recognised defenses of the OPBF Middleweight title, or OBF title as it was known for much of his reign, he has more defenses of Oriental title in a single reign than any other fighter! Interestinestly a number of those defenses came whilst he was also holding a world title at 154lbs!
5-Had Yuh beaten Koichi Wajima in their second bout in 1976, the plan was for Yuh to face the then WBA champion Carlos Monzon.
6-Interestingly rumours have circulated that Yuh was actually drugged ahead of the Wajima rematch. The theory has long been that strawberries Yuh ate were poisoned hence him losing to a fighter he had beaten just 8 months earlier. In 31 bouts against Japanese fighters this was Yuh's only loss, going 29-1-1 in total against Japanese opponents.
7-Yuh's title win over Koichi Wajima was the first time a Korean fighter had ever scored a knockout in a world title bout. With that win he became the first Korean to win a world title by T/KO
8-Similarly when Yuh defeated Masahiro Misako on November 11th 1975 he became the first Korean fighter to successfully defend a world title on the road. Sadly like Ki Soo Kim and Soo Hwan Hong he went on to lose the title on the road. A second note about that win over Misako, is that it was also the first time a Korean world champion had defended a title by T/KO.
9-Yuh's popularity in Korea saw him being regularly invited to take part in politics. He has however declined, preferring to focus on boxing and creating a new generation of Korean fighters.
10-Interestingly Yuh was born in a era of Korean history where he was technically born when Korea was under the rule of the United States Army Military Government in Korea (USAMGIK). As a result some places list him as having been born under the American flag, rather than a Korean one. Though the USAMGIK would end only months after Yuh was born.
Extra Fact (potentially) - At least two sources stated that Yuh was supposed to compete at the 1968 Olympics, but was disqualified. due to a weighing mishap. Sadly though it's hard to get much in terms of solid and concrete details about his amateur career.
In the final world title bout of 2019 we saw WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14) make his first defense. After the bout there was 3 names linked to him, and whilst one of those is now looking less and less likely, it is an interesting point in Ioka's career, especially if the rumours of him going independent and setting up his own gym turn out to be true. If he does that it would essentially give him the chance to call the shots on his career in a way that was never previously possible, and give him full flexibility in terms of match making.
With that in mind Ioka seems the perfect fighter for the first "Five For" of 2020!
1-Juan Francisco Estrada (40-3, 27)
The main Ioka has publicly stated is his ideal opponent is Mexican Juan Francisco Estrada, the current WBC Super Flyweight champion and a former WBO and WBA Flyweight champion. The two do have some history, with Ioka being the mandatory back when Estrada was a Flyweight champion, before the Mexican vacated to pursue Super Flyweight action. They also have rather similar styles, with both being technical and adaptable fighters. Estrada is the more pure boxer of the two, but both are fantastic, and have found ways to adapt to over-come naturally bigger fighters. Despite being technicians both are happy to let their hands go and this would be amazing high speed chess.
2-Roman Gonzalez (48-2, 40)
Another name mentioned by Ioka in a recent article is Nicaraguan great Roman Gonzalez, who like Ioka is a 4-weight world champion having won titles from 105lbs to 115lbs. Although now seen as a faded force Gonzalez is still one of the biggest names in the lower weights and recently returned to a Japanese ring for the first time in over 5 years. Various reports from Japan suggested that Gonalez's fight on December 23rd was designed to help build this potential show down, and it's one that would certainly be a big fight, still. The two have circled each other for years, but never shared the ring, and it would be a great shame if we don't get to see them face off at some point. In his prime we suspect Gonzalez would have been too much for Ioka, but with Gonzalez slipping, this would be a real test to see what he has left in the tank.
3-Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9)
In the lead up to the New Year's Eve show this year there had been a lot of talk in Japan about Kazuto Ioka potentially facing WBO Flyweight Kosei Tanaka in 2020, with Tanaka moving up to Super Flyweigth for the bout. The talk of that has quietened a bit since, with Tanaka suggesting he was happy to remain at Flyweight for now. The bout certainly isn't dead in the water, but it does seem likely the two men will continue on different trajectories, at least for now. Despite that the bout is a brilliant all-Japanese bout pitting two of TBS's top fighters against each other in what would be a sensational high speed fight. The reality is that it's "bad" for Japanese boxing, particularly for TBS, though it would be good for fans. If this one waits a year or two we don't think many would complain, as long as both face fitting competition.
4-Jerwin Ancajas (32-1-2, 22)
If Ioka is going to go with his own gym and does want a unification bout it wouldn't be a bad idea to do that by working with Bob Arum and taking on IBF champion Jerwin Ancajas. The Filipino is known in Japanese fighting circles due to wins over Teiru Kinoshita and Ryuichi Funai, he's also a man who had ESPN broadcasting his fights, and would likely be an easier unification fight to make than facing off with Kal Yafai. Technically this would be an interesting fight, where both are against skilled fighters and both would enter the bout with belief they could walk away a double champion. Notably however Ancajas does have a mandatory due in 2020 against Israel Gonzalez, who earned his shot with a recent win over Ioka's former stablemate Sho Ishida.
5-Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (47-5-1, 41)
We want the best to fight the best right? Then pitting Ioka and Srisaket is about as good as it gets, with the exception of the Estrada fight. Ioka would be taking on the single most dangerous man of his career, and Srisaket would be getting a chance to become a 3-time world champion. This would be skills against power, speed against strengths, body punching against bludgeoning punching. It's a real shame that Srisaket hasn't fought since losing to Estrada in April 2019, and to return against Ioka would be perfect. Given how it seems Eddie Hearn is already bored with the Thai there is a real chance this could take place in Japan and continue the long and stories Japan Vs Thailand rivalry as well. Double it up with Tanaka against a Thai in a wonderful double header and fans would be in with a treat!
The sport of boxing has hundreds of tales that are under-reported and have managed to remain under the radar to a the wider fans of the sport. One such, bizarre, case is that of Sidney Jackson. A man we doubt few will be aware of, and a name that not many would imagine reading about on a website dedicated to Asian boxing. Despite that Jackson is a key figure in central Asian boxing, and a man who's effects on the sport took almost a century to pay off.
Jackson was youngster from an American family in New York. His family were poor when he was born in 1886 and like many young American men in poverty he turned to boxing, which he started when he was 12. He would debut as a professional as teenager though was forced to retire young due to a thumb injury. According to Boxrec a "Sidney Jackson" around that same time period went 1-2, though it's unclear if it's the same Sidney Jackson or not.
Around the fall of the first world war Jackson was part of a boxing tour in Europe and ended up travelling to Russia in the summer of 1914. Of course it wasn't long until the war made travelling in Europe a problem. Jackson was advised by the US consulate in Russia that the best way out of Europe and back to the US was via Tashkent, in what is now Uzbekistan, then head to Arabian sea and travel by boat. Sadly by the time Jackson arrived in Tashkent he was penniless.
Whilst in Tashkent Jackson used the skills he had to work as a tailor, before volunteering as part of a fighting brigade to fight anti-communist rebels during the Russian revolution. He impressed during his days as a military man and returned back to Tashkent at the end of the Russian civil war, where he became a sports instructor.
This is where the story then turns to what Jackson did for Asian boxing.
In the early 1920 Jackson began to work at the Fortune Sports Club, where he introduced pugilism. He crafted a ring with rope from old ships, created gloves from leather he could get from the local slaughter house, made training materials and began to introduce boxing not just to Tashkent, but the entire of the USSR. Boxing was one of a number of sports he coached in the region, but it was the one that really brought success to.
As essentially the head of the Uzbek boxing team Jackson lead the revolution of the sport in the USSR and brought through a host of top boxers that helped to dominate European Championships. They were mix of Russian fighters, and Central Asian fighters from right across the USSR, with his star student being the excellent Valeri Popenchenko, who had won European amateur titles in 1963 and 1965, and the Olympics in 1964, where he also won the Val Baker trophy.
Sadly Jackson would pass away just 2 years after his star man won the Olmypics, but by then his legacy was set and he was already a sporting hero in Uzbekistan. So much saw that when he passed away in 1966 thousands lined the streets in his honour. The following year the Sidney Jackson Boxing tournament began in Tashkent, an annual amateur boxing competition which has played host to many of top amateurs over the years.
Among those who have shined at the tournament held in Jackson's honour, in just the last few years, are the likes of Vasiliy Levitt, Hasanboy Dusamatov, Rustam Tulaganov and Ivan Dychko. Given it's been going on for over 50 years now the amount of talent who have fought there is just incredible.
Although the tournament recognises his impact on the sport, the reality is that Sidney Jackson, more than anyone, put boxing in Central Asia. All the central Asian fighters making their mark on the sport owe some part of their success to Jackson, the foundations he layed down in Tashkent, and through out the old Soviet empire, and the people he taught boxing to.
To call Sidney Jackson the grandfather of boxing in Uzbekistan is accurate, but still undersells his impact on the sport. He didn't just develop the sport, he essentially created there. And whilst it may have been more than 50 years since he died his impact is still felt there, and always will be for any Uzbek stepping between the ropes.
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).