For those who missed it, part 1 is here and part 2 is here.
Regarded as one of the most promising and talented Filipino's in a generation Mark Magsayo (12-0, 10) is expected to have an amazing 2016 as he continues to climb through the ranks and make a name for himself. Regarded as a blue chip prospect the former amateur star has been a professional for more than 2 years though really came of age last year when he was given some real tests, from the likes of Sukkasem Kietyongyuth and Rafael Reyes. Those tests brought the best from Magsayo who saw off some early problems and finished off both men as he progressed to title level for the first time. “Magnifico” has all the tools to go to the top and we expect to see that talent a lot in 2016.
At just 20 years old the future is wonderfully bright for Magsayo and it's fair say that we have only seen a fraction of what he's capable of, and in fact even that fraction is still more than we see of most fighters. If he can build on that as he builds up his experience than the Philippines appear likely to have a real star in their ranks.
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Ye Joon Kim
South Korean boxing is continuing to flounder. There is no way to ignore the issues that have stopped the country from moving forward with boxing in recent years. One of the few shining lights of Korean boxing is enigmatic Super Bantamweight Ye Joon Kim (13-1-2, 7). Kim is a 23 year old old from Seoul who has shown some real flashes of brilliance in the ring, and has scored some notable wins including a 6th round KO of Angky Ankotta, though has struggled in recent bouts with a very controversial over Vergil Puton. When on song he is brilliant and he is the one shining light for the KBF going forward.
Whilst Korean hopes do lie with Kim there is Min Wook Kim and Kyoo Hwan Hwang who may be able to make a mark in 2016. Sadly for Korean boxing Min Wook Kim he is currently based in the West, and although he does get better training and opportunities in the West it does seem like a loss for Asian boxing scene why Hwang has much to learn before being matched against people who could really help him make a name for himself. As a result Ye Joon Kim appears to be the one Korean that may be able to kickstart boxing in his homeland.
Japanese Olympic champions are rare and the most recent was 2012 Middleweight champion Ryota Murata (8-0, 5). The 29 year old Teiken fighter is a fighter who is known in the West, following his Olympic win in England and his US debut last year. Sadly however he has looked like a fighter who at times is very predictable and once paced, as shown against Gunnar Jackson last time out. Although has looked limited at times he has also shown glimpses of world class ability, such as his finish against Douglas Damiao Ataide. He's expected to have a very big 2016 though it's hard to see him winning a world title in the next 12 months, given the fact Gennady Golovkin is ripping the division a new one and Murata wouldn't be given a chance against the Kazakh.
Although not as impressive as we had hoped, we do think that Murata has a lot more to offer than we've seen. He seems to know that he needs a big performance and hopefully he can deliver rather than continue looking like a man going through the motions, as he has done at times. If he can find that extra gear on a consistent basis then he really could become the star that Teiken and Top Rank thought they had when they signed him to a co-promotional deal.
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The Super Featherweight division is one of the most interesting in Japan where there are a huge number of brilliant match ups that could be made over the coming 12 months. Of those fighters we suspect the best on the domestic scene is the fast improving Masayuki Ito (18-1-1, 8). The talented 24 year old hasn't had the publicity of conqueror Rikki Naito but has the ability to become a world champion in the near future. The pure boxer has already notched wins over Masao Nakamura, Dai Iwai and Shingo Eto and has made massive improvements in recent years, suggesting that he will keep getting better and will growing in confidence.
Ito will know that, at best, he's the #3 Japanese fighter in the division, however when those above him are current world champion Takashi Uchiyama and former champion Takashi Miura there is no shame in being #3, for. The future however does look really bright for the youngster and, potentially, he'll become a world champion in the future if he continues to develop his skills and confidence in the way he has done in the last few years.
One man who is almost certain to get a world title fight in 2016 is Japanese Super Bantamweight Shingo Wake (19-4-2, 11). Wake, the IBF mandatory challenger, is one of the sports most over-looked fighters, due in part to his 4 losses. He is however a fighter who has improved drastically from a 3-2-1 (2) start to his professional career and is currently on a 9 fight winning run. A sharp shooting and tricky southpaw who is tough, intelligent, tricky and has under-rated power Wake is a real wildcard in one of the sports most frustrating divisions. He'll get to show why so highly regarded by those “in the know” later in 2016 when he is supposed to fight the winner of the Carl Frampton/Scott Quigg bout.
The confident Koguchi gym fighter is capable of going all the way and although we think, stylistically, he'd be a real nightmare for Frampton he may well be able to over-come Quigg if that bout is made. Interestingly Wake has shown an interest in travelling and, if his eventual title bout is in Europe he could create a small slice of history as the first Japanese fighter to claim a world title Europe.