In the new year we will finally begin our countdown for the Top 10 Asian Fighters of the last decade. Before then however we want to bring our final honourable mention, Kenshiro Teraji, who has only fought as a professional for around half the decade, but has quickly left a mark on the sport during that time. He has raced to a world title, and has become one of the faces of Asian boxing whilst also becoming a focal point for the division that he fights in. In many ways he is the anti-Kosei Tanaka, who has gone through weights one aim, and has instead made it clear that he wants to make his name in his current weight class, before potentially moving up in weight.
As an amateur Kenshiro was a solid fighter, but not a spectacular one, running up a 58-16 (20) record. Since turning professional however he has gone from strength to strength and notched numerous notable wins since his debut in August 2014.
In his first 9 bouts Kenshiro hadn't made any sort of mark at world level, instead claiming the WBC Youth, JBC and OPBF titles. That took him to the start of 2017, where his most notable results were wins over Japanese veterans Kenichi Horikawa and Atushi Kakutani. Since 2017 however he has been a consistent fighter at world level, and notched a number of very good wins against top-10 type fighters.
Kenshiro would win the WBC Light Flyweight title in May 2017, taking a narrow decision over Ganigan Lopez. The narrow decision lead many to question whether he was world class, and those questions remained when he narrowly defeated Pedro Guevara in his first defense. Since then however Kenshiro has really come into his own, and looked like a fighter who has grown into being a world champion.
Since struggling in his first defense Kenshiro has really shined, stopping 5 of his 6 subsequent opponents, including a stoppage over Ganigan Lopez in rematch, Milan Meldino, Jonathan Taconing and Randy Petalcorin. Not only has he been stopping solid, world level opponents, but he's being doing so quickly, and only 2 of his last 6 bouts has gone past round 5.
Whilst Kenshiro does lack a career defining win, hasn't moved up in weight or unified, the he has gone 8-0 (5) in world title bouts, he has notched wins over Lopez, twice, Guevara, Melindo, Saul Juarez, Taconing and Petalcorin, and has stamped himself as one of the top Light Flyweights. Sadly he lack of that A tier win, and the fact he has only been fighting at world level since 2017 do prevent him from getting into the top 10.
When we talk about great fighters for the decade we usually talk about those who ran up a lot of wins, and not so many losses. Today's honourable mention however belongs to a man who became a 3-weight world champion during the decade, went 16-5 (9) and became a cult figure of Asian boxing. His opponents were a legitimate who's who and despite losing more than a quarter of the fights he was in during the 10 year's we've had he is someone who provided more action than almost anyone else. Here we talk about the Japanese legend Akira Yaegashi.
The all action Yaegashi began the decade with a record of 12-2 (7). He had been the OPBF and Japanese Minimumweight champion though his most notable result was a 12 round loss to Eagle Den Junlaphan back in 2007, when Yaegashi suffered the first of many serious facial injuries. In the years that followed however he would go from a domestic hopeful, to a global cult star, a man that hardcore fans knew, appreciated and respected.
He began the decade by defending the Japanese Minmumweight title against Kosuke Takeichi and Norihito Tanaka, who would later claim the title himself, before scoring his first huge win of the decade. The win saw him score a 10th round TKO win over Pornsawan Porpramook in 2011 to claim the WBA Minimumweight title. That bout was regarded by many as the fight of the year, and was an incredible 10 round war. It was the bout that first saw some in the west take a note of Yaegashi.
Sadly Yaegashi's first reign was a short one, losing the belt in his first defense to Kazuto Ioka, in a close and hotly contested WBA/WBC unification bout. That was another sensational fight and saw both men drawing the best out of the other in the first unification bout between Japanese fighters with different alphabet titles. Just 10 months after this loss Yaegashi would claim his second world title, beating former amateur nemesis Toshiyuki Igarashi for the WBC and Lineal Flyweight title, becoming a 2-weight champion.
Yaegashi's reign at 112lbs saw him record 3 defenses, including a very notable one against Edgar Sosa, before he was stopped by Roman Gonzalez, who at the time was stopping everyone and anyone. That saw Gonzalez claim a third divisional world title, though both men came out with enhanced reputations, and Yaegashi was given a lot of credit for his effort, despite the loss. A move down in weight, to Light Flyweight saw Yaegashi suffer another stoppage, being stopped in 7 rounds by Pedro Guevara, but it wasn't long until Yaegashi claimed a title at 108lbs, beating Javier Mendoza for the IBF title.
Yaegashi's reign at Light Flyweight was another short one, seeing him defend the title twice, before being stopped in a round by Milan Melindo. The loss to Melindo set the record for the shorted Light Flyweight world title fight, and seemed like the end. Yaegashi however would return 10 months later, begin a run of 3 wins, including a sensational 2018 win over Hirofumi Mukai, as he built towards on more title challenger.
That final title fight saw Yaegahsi challenge IBF Flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane, and once again we got an instant classic, despite Yaegashi being broken down in 9 rounds.
At the age of 36, and with Yaegashi turning 37 in February 2020, we don't imagine seeing him in action again. His record for the decade is certainly nothing amazing, but for us he is exactly what a fighter should be, he provided thrills and spills on a regular basis. His fights with Porpranook, Ioka, Gonzalez, Mendoza, Mukai and Mthalane were amazing.
For his performances Yaegashi's featured as an honourable mention, despite the results not being amazing from the all action good guy!
We also want to add, that if Yaegashi never fights again, we suspect we all, want to thank Akira Yaegashi for the amazing fights he has given us over the last decade!
Thailand's Wanheng Menayothin (54-0, 18) has a record that, on paper, deserves real plaudits,. In reality his record is frustratingly padded and lacks the substances that the numbers suggest. Despite that he belongs just outside the top 10 for the Fighter of the Decade, as there is some quality there, here's very talented, and he has certainly generated more attention than your typical Minimumweight, and his longevity has been genuinely impressive.
The Thai may have one of the sports longest winning runs in recent years but unfortunately the WBC Minimumweight champion falls down on this list due to his competition and his lack of challenge. His failure to unify titles and move up in weight really harms his standing, despite a fantastic looking paper record.
The very skilled and aggressive champion has gone 44-0 during the decade, making him one of the most active fighters on this list. Sadly those his stand out wins fall a long way short of almost everyone else in this list. Wins over Florante Condes, Oswaldo Novoa, Tatsuya Fukuhara and Pedro Taduran are his only ones over fighters who have held some form of world title. In the Minimumweight division, where the titles do tend to move around a lot due to fighters moving up in weight, his resume is just weak. That's not helped by a few fortunate decisions in his favour and a lack of going on the road.
Wanheng's WBC title reign began in in November 2014, and it's really impressive that he has managed to held the title for over 5 years, but his competition hasn't been testing and it says more about him and his team that he never took on the likes of Katsunari Takayama, Vic Saludar, Xiong Zhao Zhong, Hekki Budler or even compatriot Knockout CP Freshmart. There were opportunities to chase career defining bouts but for one reason, or another they never materialised. It's a shame for fans that Wanheng never got a big fight, but it's a bigger shame for him, as his standing in the sport would be much higher had he forced his team to act.
He had the skills and tools to be much higher up this list, he had the available opponents to be higher up this list, but unfortunately his inflated unbeaten record isn't enough to push him close to the top spots. Had he faced the top competition available at Minimumweight he could have broken on to the top 10 list. Likewise had he been willing to move up 3lbs and had success at Light Flyweight he could also have been in the top 10. But his failure to get the top fighters at 105lbs or move up has seen him miss out. His record might end up being legendary, but his career is unlikely to be remembered as well as it really should be.
Thai legend Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (91-5-2, 47) dominated the WBC Flyweight picture through the 00's, and had this list been for that decade he would have been in the running for one of the top places. Sadly in the 00's the Thai great was a faded force, though still managed to roll back the clock for some great performances. He may have ended up going on too long, but he certainly did more to enhance his standing in his 30's than to damage it.
During the decade Wonjongkam fought 20 times and went 17-2-1 (9), a less than perfect record but a record that included notable wins over Koki Kameda, Suriyan Sor Rungvisai, Takuya Kogawa and Edgar Sosa.
Wonjongkam's last fight came in 2018, suggesting he fought through much of he decade, but in reality he only fought until the summer of 2013 before making a short comeback in 2018, with a single professional bout and an exhibition in Japan. Notably though his big wins for the decade all came in the first 19 months of it, which is impressive in it's self, but shows just how long in the tooth he was and sadly he didn't have longevity through the decade.
Whilst the lack of longevity is an issue for Wonjongkam's standing in the Fighter of the Decade it's not the biggest issue. That is his losses, which essentially came to journeymen, in the form of Sonny Boy Jaro and Rey Megrino. The loss to Megrino was particularly notable, given Wonjongkam took him out in a round in 2010 but just over 2 years later he was stopped in 3 rounds in a rematch with the Filipino.
The Thai icon needs huge credit for beating the then 22-0 Koki Kameda in Japan, less than 4 months in to the decade and for beating Suriyan, who would later go on to win a world title at Super Flyweight and be a very capable Bantamweight. But those wins can't push him up this list too far.
As with several others who missed out on the top 10 his best work came in the 00's and during his first reign as the WBC Flyweight champion. That first reign saw him holding the title from 2001, when he blasted out Malcolm Tunacao, to 2007, when he lost in his third bout to Daisuke Naito. During that reign he had scored wins over Luis Alberto Lazarte, Daisuke Naito, Gilberto Keb Baas and Tomonobu Shimizu. His second reign was good, but short and not quite good enough to earn him a top 10 position.
When we talk about the most notable Japanese boxing families it's impossible to not have the Kameda family in the top handful. The family hasn't always been the most well liked or the most welcome family in boxing, but it has been incredibly successful, with a trio of brothers picking up world titles. Of the three the most successful was Koki Kameda (33-2, 18), who the oldest brother and one of the most divisive figures in Japanese boxing.
Whilst we won't really go into what made the Kameda family son controversial we do have to admit that the role they played in boxing in the 00's and 10's was huge. They had transcended the sport, set up their own gym and even had a food item carry their name.
As an honourable mention for the Asian Fighter of the Decade it's almost impossible not to talk about Koki Kameda and what he achieved in from 2010 to 2015, and then a little bit after what he did following his retirement. During the time window he fought 13 times, competed in 11 "world title" bouts, and went 11-2 (4).
On paper Kameda had a great decade, but looking under the hood it was more of a good few years, rather than a great one.
The decade began with the then 23 year old Kameda losing the WBC and Linear Flyweight title to Thai great Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, just weeks into the decade. The bout was Kameda's first defense and he was out pointed by the ageing Kameda, in what began a late but notable second world title run for Wonjongkam.
Rather than trying to reclaim the Flyweight crown from Wonjongkam, Kameda moved up and won the secondary version of the WBA Bantamweight title, with a win over the 31 year old Alexander Munoz. At the time that was regarded as a good win against a former 2-time Super Flyweight champion, though Munoz would go 5-6 after this bout and, fingers crossed, will be retiring shortly.
Sadly Kameda's reign, which included 8 defenses of the WBA "regular" Bantamweight title, was less than spectacular. The main standout win was a 2012 Split decision over Hugo Ruiz and that was supported by wins against the likes of Panomroonglek Kaiyanghadaogym, also split decision, and Jung Oh Son, also a split decision. When he had the chance to get a defining win at the division, after being ordered to face Anselmo Moreno, he actually vacated, costing him a big chance at climb up this list considerably.
Instead of facing Moreno Kameda would move down in weight, facing Kohei Kono in 2015 for the WBA Super Flyweight title. The bout would be the first ever all Japanese world title bout on US soil and would see Kameda suffer his second loss of the decade, before retiring.
Since retirement Kameda has remained involved in the sport, taking part on some online specials for Abema, including one against Tenshin Nasukawa and an exhibition with Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, and has gone on to be a trainer and a promoter.
If a fighter was ranked based solely on how exciting their fights were then Katsunari Takayama (31-8-0-1, 12) would be damn close to the top of any recent rankings. Sadly for our Fighter of the Decade top 10 a fighter needs to have a string of impressive wins over top competition, and not just give us thrilling action fights and amazing memories. For Takayama the wins over top competition were lacking, but yet he still had a notable decade, with a 8-4-0-1 (3) record and multiple world title wins.
Takayama started the decade chasing the IBF Minimumweight title, winning an eliminator in South Africa. Sadly for him his pursuit wasn't immediately successful and he would fight to a no contest, and a loss, to Nkosinathi Joyi and then suffered a controversial loss in the Philippines to Mateo Handig.
Having started the decade 1-2-0-1 Takayama really did get off on the wrong foot but would finally claim the IBF title, in his third shot at the belt, when he beat Mario Rodriguez in Mexico. He defended the belt twice, beating Vergilio Silvano and Shin Ono, before returning to Mexico and losing a unification bout with WBO champion Francisco Rodriguez Jr. That bout was one of the best bouts of the last decade, but with it being a loss we can't really give Takayama's standing a boost for his effort alone.
Thankfully Takayama would go on to claim the IBF and WBO titles when Rodriguez vacated the belts and moved up in weight. He did this by stopping Go Odaira and then defended the IBF title against Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr and Ryuji Hara, with the Fahlan bout being another sensational fight, after vacating the WBO title. Sadly he would again lose after just 2 defenses, coming up on the wrong end of a technical decision to Jose Argumedo.
In his final professional bout Takayama would become a 2-time WBO Minimumweight champion, thanks to a technical decision win over youngster Riku Kano.
It's rare a guy can claim two IBF and WBO world titles but still miss out on a top 10 rankings on a Fighter of the Decade list, but for Takayama it seems about right. He was unfortunate to have such short reigns as world champion, and despite how fun he was to watch he did lack a real top tier win. Victories over Mario Rodriguez, Hara, Fahlan, and Ono really aren't enough to earn him a top 10 place. Not quite. But still a great try and a very solid decade for Takayama, who retired in 2017 to pursue dreams of becoming an Olympian. Sadly those dreamed ended in 2019 in a loss in a very early stage of qualifying for the Japanese national championships.
Having been a professional since 2006 Ryoichi Taguchi (27-4-2, 12) really hadn't done much by the turn of the decade. He was still fighting on the Japanese domestic scene and was only 10-1 (3) as we headed into 2010. Impressively though he made his mark in the decade, went 17-3-2 (9), unified world titles and won a Japanese national title as well as scoring several other wins of note.
Between the decade starting and Taguchi fighting for a Japanese title he had already notched wins over future world title holder Yu Kimura and world title challenger Tetsuya Hisada. In his first Japanese title fight he would then hold future 2-time world title challenger Masayuki Kuroda to a draw. He would take the national title in 2013, beating Yuki Chinen, before losing a decision to Naoya Inoue, being the first man to take the "Monster"to the final bell.
Following the loss to Inoue we saw Taguchi go 9-0-1 and score wins over the likes of Kwanthai Sithmorseng, Juan Jose Landaeta, Ryo Miyazaki and Milan Melidno, as well as fighting to a draw with Carlos Canizales. The win over Melindo saw Taguchi unifying the WBA and IBF titles, in a real career defining win for the Watanabe gym fight. Sadly he went 0-2 following that win, with losses to Hekkie Budler and Kosei Tanaka.
Sadly two things go against Taguchi. First his competition, for the most part, was B tier at best. He had some solid wins, such as the one over Melindo, but for the most part he lacked real standout victories and the ones over the likes of Kimura and Hisada came well before they were notable in their own right. Second he has failed to win against his 4 best opponents, Inoue, Canizales, Budler and Tanaka. No harm in coming up short to those 4 men, but those results certainly do show the difference between Taguchi and the best from the era.
With Taguchi now looking like he's heading into retirement, even though he's only 32, it appears that he'll be well remembered for what he did during the decade even if it was only enough to earn him an honourable mention here.
Japan's Takashi Miura (31-4-2, 24) will never go down in the list of "greatest Japanese world champions" but during the last decade he really notable, impressive, exciting and deserves a very honourable mention in the list of the Asian Fighter of the Decade.
The "Bomber Left" went 14-3 (10) during the decade, and fought for the first 7 years of the decade. His first 3 bouts during the decade were defenses of the Japanese Super Featherweight title before he got his first shot at the big time, fighting with Takashi Uchiyama. He came up short against Uchiyama, but did drop the then unbeaten WBA champion. Just over 2 years later he went on to claim the WBC Super Featherweight title.
As the WBC champion Miura recorded 4 defenses, beating Sergio Thompson, Dante Jardon, Edgar Puerta and Billy Dib. They are elite tier wins, but are solid wins, especially the one over Thompson which came in Mexico.
Despite losing his title in his 5th defense Miura actually enhanced his reputation in his loss, coming in a 2015 FOTY contender with Francisco Vargas. The bout, which was Miura's US debut, him saw dropping Vargas, being dropped himself, looking on the verge of a win in round 8 and then being stopped in round 9. Just over a year later he would return to the US and compete in another FOTY, stopping Miguel Roman in January 2017, in a total war.
Sadly Miura's career essentially ended just 6 months after the Roman bout, when he lost a decision to Miguel Berchelt and then decided to hang them.
Although he only fought at world level for 8 bouts, and went 5-3 during those bouts, his impact was clear and the quality of bouts he fought him earns him a very warranted honourable mention.
Indonesian great Chris John (48-1-3, 22) would have been in serious conversation for a top 10 place, had this list been based on what a fighter did from 2000 to 2009. Sadly for John his career had peaked well before start of the decade, though he still managed to do a surprising amount at the very start of the decade. Enough to earn a notable mention.
From the start of the decade John went 5-1-1, with all 7 of his bouts being world title bouts. None of them came against A tier competition, but he did manage to defend his WBA Featherweight title against notable contenders, Fernando David Saucedo, Daud Yordan, Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo and Satoshi Hosono, before losing at the end of 2013 to the excellent Simpiwe Vetyeka.
In the previous decade John had beaten the likes of Derrick Gainer, Juan Manuel Marquez, Hiroyuki Enoki and Rocky Juarez, among others. Whilst he got some favours from the judges at times few could argue with his quality and ability. Unlike most champions he also did his stuff on the road, travelling to Japan, Singapore, the US and Australia. Sadly though by the turn of 2010 he was already 30 and he had the clock ticking down on his career.
Often mis-remembered in the west John was a very talented boxer, and it's a shame that Western promoters couldn't lure him over for bouts against the biggest names of era. He showed a willingness to travel, but it wasn't until 2009 that he fought in North America, twice facing Rocky Juarez in the US. By then John was already on the slide and the slide continued until he lost, in his 52nd pro bout, to Vetyeka.
For a guy to only have 7 fights and earn an honourable mention is impressive, and it's a shame Indonesian boxing still hasn't been able to replace "The Dragon", though there is hope that Indonesia's 5th world champion is out there.
Starting his career in 2012 at the age of 32 Amnat Ruenroeng (20-3, 6) was always up against it in regards to Fight of the Decade honours, and in fact a general chance to shine. He was too old, and turned pro way too late in the decade to really achieve much. At least that's what we'd have assumed. In fact he only just missed out on the top 10, and did more in 8 years as a professional than most do in significantly longer careers. During his title run he had made a mark on the sport with 2 huge upsets on foreign soil, and notched a couple of other notable wins. Though he he didn't exactly shine, or look great in some of those wins.
Amnat won the IBF Flyweight title in January 2014, in his 12th professional bout. He had only debuted in May 2012 and had raced through the IBF rankings to become the mandatory challenger for Muroti Mthalane. Sadly Mthalane and Amnat wouldn't clash, with Mthalane vacating the belt, rather than travelling to Thailand for a poor payday. That lead to Amnat beating Filipino veteran Rocky Fuentes for the title and begin his messy yet remarkable reign.
Less than 4 months after winning the title Amnat travelled to Osaka and beat Kazuto Ioka in his first defense. The bout was a close one, but given he had travelled to Japan and still got the decision it was an impressive result, even if the performance wasn't amazing. Amnat's second defense was a foul filled, ugly affair against McWilliam's Arroyo. This was controversial and messy, but another big name on his record. Amnat's third defense saw him to Macao and upset local star Zou Shiming, to get a second huge road win. Another messy win followed as he defeat John Riel Casimer in another messy and foul filled wrestling contest.
After an easy defense against Myung Ho Lee we would see Amnat lose in a rematch to Casimero, ending his remarkably messy reign. From there he never really bounced back, going 3-2 (1) in the professional ranks, whilst dipping his toes in kick boxing and Olympic boxing.
Amnat will be remembered for his foul filled bouts, his use of the dark arts, judge throws, headlocks, bear hugs and bending the rules as often as possible. His big wins tended to come with an asterisk due to how badly officiated the bouts were, but few fighters can claim a run like he had over Ioka, Arroyo, Shiming and Casimero. For a guy who turned pro in his 30's his achievements are brilliant, but not quite enough to get his way into our top 10 fighters for the decade.
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