When we look back at 2020 we will all, pretty much, admit it was a shit year. It was a year we would all like to pretend didn’t exist and didn’t happen, and one of the worst years we’ll live through, as a collective society. It was a year with a lot more crap than positives, and it was a year that was just genuinely horrific for us all. Of course Covid19 has been the big story of the year, but we’ve also had fires in the US and Australia, floods in the UK, Indonesia, Vietnam and Brazil among other places, and the tragic explosion in Lebanon.
We won’t wallow on the the horrors of 2020 however, but instead look at the positives from the boxing world, and we have plenty of positives to take away. In fact the year has given us a lot more positives than we perhaps realise. It’s been a bad year in general, but for boxing there has been plenty of good!
1-All Thai bouts
One of the best things, genuine, about 2020 when it’s come to boxing has been the increase in All-Thai bouts this year. And by that we’re not just talking about squash matches, where a name slices through a domestic novice, but genuinely intriguing match ups. These have included some absolute barn burners, like Amnat Ruenroeng Vs Pungluang Sor Singyu, some compelling match ups, like Phoobadin Yoohanngoh Vs Atchariya Wirojanasunobol, and some baptisms of fire, such as Nonthasith Petchnamthong Vs Kompayak Porpramook.
With TL Promotions, Tan Telecom Promotions, and NKL promotions all putting on great shows in 2020 Thai boxing has been a true highlight for the year and one of the positives. Better yet most of them have been available to watch worldwide directly through the promoters social media accounts. The only improvement would be for Tan Telecom to copy their “rivals” and upload full fight videos to YouTube in the future, rather than post fights by the round, but that’s a minor complaint.
2-Online Streaming from Japan
Talking about online streaming the big thing from Japan this year was the growth of their online boxing streaming, with A-Sign Boxing and Boxing Real providing amazing, professional level streams of events several times during the last half of the year. Added to that was the one off shows by Seki-chan and Suruga Boys. We have always had the occasional free show from Japan, but this year we had consistent free streams from the country and it seems like Boxing Real and A-Sign will continue to deliver free video delivery of their shows in the new year.
With a limit on the number of fans in venues the free streams have really helped allow fans in Japan to feel like they aren’t missing out, and have also allowed international fans to enjoy the shows, and get excited about the fighters on the events. This has really helped fighters like Jin Sasaki and Rentaro Kimura catch the eye and have given an outlet to Japanese promoters without big TV deals. It has also been brilliant to see Yokohama Hikari, Ichiriki and Hachioji Nakaya work together on these shows, showing that promoters working together for the greater good is better than the antagonistic manner that Western promoters work.
3-An increase in interest for Asian Boxing
After running this site for years it’s always been a battle to get people from the West to watch boxing from the East. The really big fights get some attention, but even that’s rather limited and small, and it’s been a niche, within a niche, within a niche. In 2020 however we have seen a natural groundswell of fans interested in what’s going on in Asia, specifically Japan but Thailand is also worth mentioning.
The amount of people tuning in to watch Masayuki Ito Vs Hironori Mishiro was solid, and other shows earlier in the year also ended up getting plenty of fan interest for Japan. The solid international interest for Junto Nakatani Vs Giemel Magramo was brilliant, the on going online discourse about Kazuto Ioka Vs Kosei Tanaka is brilliant to see, and something that warms us inside thanks to the small part we’ve played in helping Tanaka become more well known in the West. There was also genuine international intrigue in the Wanheng Menayothin Vs Panya Pradabsri fight...a Minimumweight title fight between two Thai’s got people chasing us for streams!
Not only have we seen more interest from the West, but it appears that that interest is still growing, and if this continues through 2021 we can perhaps get rid of this idea that “no one cares”, we know people care, and it seems more and more of your guys care!
4-Nakatani and Nakatani!
Although unrelated Junto Nakantani and Masayoshi Nakatani both deserve a lot of credit for what they’ve done in 2020.
For Junto he put on a fantastic performance to take the WBO Flyweight title, defeat Giemel Magramo, and appears on the verge of becoming a new Japanese star. He appears to have the full backing not just of the MT Gym but also Teiken Promotions, and he will, if he notches a defense or two, become the new boxing face of NTV. That’s a channel that needs a boxer to get behind it, and Nakatani fits the mould perfectly. Given his age, his ability, his size, his style and his personality, we could end up with Nakatani being the man to rebuild NTV’s boxing content, and that would be fantastic!
As for Masayoshi Nakatani what a return he had! After being out of the ring for over a year, retiring at one point, we didn’t expect much from him when he was linked to a fight to Felix Verdejo. He was then down in round 1 and our fears grew. Down again in round 4. And then he turned it all around and stopped Verdejo late in the bout. He gave us one of the most dramatic, action packed and thrilling bouts we’ve seen all year. His performance has seen him put himself in the mix for a world title, and it seems hard to believe he retired in September 2019! Hell of a comeback and another highlight for Asian boxing fans!
5-Professional boxing in Kazakhstan picking up big time!
Professional boxing in Kazakhstan has never been a big thing. Top Kazakh fighters move away to turn professional, with many heading off to the US in recent years. In 2020 however we’ve seen Tukeshov and Suleimen signing up top amateurs from Kazakhstan, working alongside MTK Kazakhstan and building their profiles at home. Fighters like Bek Nurmaganbet, Bekzad Nurdauletov, Talgat Shayken and Kamshybek Kunkabayev have made their debuts in Kazakhstan in 2020 and all have been pushed hard in tough looking match ups. Not only are we getting bouts in Kazakhstan on a regular basis, but they aren’t, at least on paper, mismatches and instead they are tough looking tests for novices. This has been another highlight for the year, and a sign of what to expect when the Tokyo Olympics has been and gone. We are going to see a flurry of Kazakh fighters being raced to big fights and the top talent is going to be allowed to swim with sharks. Not only was it exciting to see novice professionals pushed in 2020 but it’s also laying the groundwork for some big stuff in 2021 and beyond.
6-Fuji have increased the number of shows they televise!
In 2020 Fuji TV showed no live boxing at all. A sad, damning and ugly fact. They did however shows a decent amount of tape delay shows. In fact most months they televised 2 shows on delay, with one being the Diamond Glove cards, that they have long been linked with and the other being a Phoenix Battle show from Ohashi Gym. This was easy to overlook but very much an important facet to the way Fuji are now covering boxing and opens up the entire Ohashi stable to get more TV exposure and TV time. In the short term is meant 3 or 4 extra shows on Fuji towards the end of the year, but they included some very notable hopefuls, and could, potentially, act as a door to showcasing fighters like Taku Kuwahara, Keisuke Matsumoto, Katsuki Mori, Ryutaro Nakagaki, Yoshiki Takei. The talent at the Ohashi is growing, and if they have an outlet deal with Fuji TV then those fighters will become household names in Tokyo very quickly!
7-Hyun Mi Choi got a chance to shine!
One fighter we’ve been really happy to see this year was Hyun Mi Choi, who signed with Matchroom Sport and made her international debut. The 2-weight Korean world champion might not have had a great opponent in front of her when she fought this year, but that hardly mattered, what was key was seeing Choi in front of a larger audience and letting more people learn about her truly unique boxing story. We often hear really boring stories about fighters, and have them hammered home until an already dull story becomes even less interesting, but Choi really does have a remarkable story, defecting from North Korea as child, winning a world title at the age of 17, in her debut, and fighting to avoid the politics of her truly unique situation. We dare say DAZN under-sold her story, but regardless it’s amazing to see Choi fighting in front of a much, much bigger audience, and hopefully that continues to happen going forward!
8-Crowdfunding a success for A-Sign Boxing
Crowdfunding in boxing is not a new idea. It’s not something that has just been done in 2020, with numerous fighters and promoters running crowdfunding projects and things for several years. What A-Sign boxing did however was take it to a whole new level and have massive levels of success with it. That success was most notable when it came to Takuya Yamaguchi, the unexpected star of A-Sign boxing’s fighter documentary series of videos. Yamaguchi, an unassuming fighter with a less than stellar record, no social media presence, and almost no mention of him online, managed to charm an audience with his simple life, his wonderful personality, and his down to earth decency. As a result he ended up making an insane amount through the crowd funding service, and decided to spend it on fixing the toilets at the gym he went to, and not himself. Yes crowdfunding isn’t new in boxing, but a guy like Yamaguchi being a success due to it, that was a surprise and a real feel good story!
(Image credits - WP Boxing, A Sign Boxing and Suleimen Promotions)
Earlier today the UK price for the PPV of Anthony Joshua Vs Kubrat was announced, at £24.95. Whilst this price is only for the UK, with DAZN having global on it in their various territories, it has been a sore point with British fans. Afterall we're in a recession, with job losses and the PPV is coming less than 2 weeks before Christmas and at a higher price than usual.
The typical solution is for defenders of PPV to either yell "don't watch it then" or "find a free stream", ignoring the bigger issues at hand.
For once I'm not here to talk about the good or bad of PPV, something I've spoken about so many times in the past. Instead I'm here to talk to the hardcore fans who want to watch fights and want to support the sport. Today I'm not here to tell you where to get free streams for Jsohua Vs Pulev, or not to pay for it, or how watch an international feed. Instead I'm here to promote some free streams for events from through out Asia. Once again showing that you can follow the sport, and enjoy fights without opening your wallet.
And seriously for those wanting boxing in coming weeks there is a lot of free content out there, that you don't need to jump through hoops for.
The free boxing run begins tomorrow from the Philippines with an interesting card from Sanman promotions under the name "The Restart", which will be their first show since boxing was allowed back in the country.
The main event here will see former WBO Bantamweight champion Marlon Tapales (33-3, 16) battle against Eden Sonsona (36-11-2, 13) with a supporting bout featuring former 2-time world title challenger Aston Palicte (26-4-1, 22) battling Reymark Taday (10-12-1, 5). The card will also feature Joey Canoy (15-4-1, 8) and the very promising Dave Apolinario (13-0, 8)
This will be available for free over Sanman Promotion's Facebook page.
On November 23rd we have two options from Japan one for an event in Osaka and one for a card in Tokyo.
Of the two it's the Osakan event this is, by far, the more attractive featuring two different parts.
The main event for the first part will see former multi-time world champion Katsunari Takayama (31-8-0-1, 12) take on 2-time world title challenger Reiya Konishi (17-2, 7).
The second part of the event will see a supporting bout between former world title challenger Sho Ishida (28-2, 15) and Japanese Youth Bantamweight champion Toshiya Ishii (3-0, 2). As well as that interesting match up we'll also have title action as Riku Kano (16-4-1, 8) clashes with Ryoki Hirai (12-6-1, 4) for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Light Flyweight title.
For fans wanting to watch this one we've got the embedded live stream below thanks to TV Osaka
The show from Tokyo is a much smaller event being between hard hitting youngster Jin Sasaki (8-0, 7) and Tatsuya Miyazaki (9-13-1, 9). Another notable bout on this card will see the always fun to watch Ryugo Ushijima (4-1-2, 2) take on veteran Hyuma Fujioka (10-10-1, 1)
If this is the show you want to watch a free stream will be put on by the promoter via the A-Sign.boxing.com YouTube channel. This is again free and watching it is supporting the sport, the promoter and the fighters.
If a world title fight is what you require to be interested in a fight then November 27th will be a day to circle with the "Bloodline Battle" between Wanheng Menayothin (54-0, 18) and Panya Pradabsri (34-1, 22), for Wanheng's WBC Minimumweight title, being made available online for free.
It's expected that this will be available on Petchyindee's Facebook page, who typically show stream their events. If not Channel 7 can typically be streamed through officials means here through their website, though a Thai VPN may be needed.
Staying with Thailand just a day after Wanheng looks to go to 55-0 we'll see 16 year old sensation Phoobadin Yoohanngoh (9-0, 5) defending a regional title against Atchariya Wirojanasunobol (13-0, 5) for free on Thairath.
The show, which will be promoted by TL Promotions under their "The Fighter" banner, is usually streamed by the promoter on their Facebook page however options also include an official stream via the TV company, Thairath, who have a live stream on their website.
On November 29th we get something a little bit special as Seki-chan, a boxing die hard in Japan, has actually paid out of his own pocket to attain the rights for a 2-part show in Kariya. The shows aren't big, but for those wanting to talk about "supporting boxing" they are perhaps the clearest example of grassroot support of professional boxing out there. The idea a fan can buy the rights for a show and share them internationally is just amazing, and a great sign of what boxing fans can do for the sport.
The most noteworthy bouts here are a clash between Shin Tomita (10-8-2) and Naoya Haruguchi (17-11, 7) and a bout between the always fun to watch Ryosuke Maruki (16-7-1, 11) and Tsunehiko Aitoku (5-9-2).
For fans interested in this part 1 will be here
and part 2 will be here
Back in Thailand again here as WP Boxing put on their next show, and this will be available over WP Boxing's Facebook and YouTube channels. This show will be a double header with Apichet Petchmanee (7-0, 2) re-matching Musheg Adoian (7-2, 7), after their controversial first bout, and will also see once beaten prospect Phongsaphon Panyakum (10-1, 5) take on former world champion Kompayak Porpramook (60-10, 41).
For Facebook the stream will be here and for those wanting to watch on YouTube the stream will be on here.
We get more free boxing the day after the Joshua Vs Pulev bout Shinsei Gym put on a show. This will feature Yumi Narita (4-4-3, 1) and Mont Blanc Miki (4-3-1, 1) battling over the Japanese female Minimumweight title live on YouTube and an excellent 8 round match up between Yuki Yonaha (7-3-1, 5) and Motoki Osanai (4-2, 1). This will be shown live on the Boxing Real YouTube channel and should be a really high quality stream, given other Boxing Real streams.
When we have some free time we're hoping to add a series of fun articles to the site. Hopefully these will be enjoyable little short features