One of the stellar names of Asian boxing over the last 10 years or so has been Gennady Golovkin who had a great decade. During the 00's Golovkin went 22-1-1 (20), scored wins in Panama, Kazakhstan, Germany, Ukraine, USA, Monaco and the UK and unified the WBC, WBO and IBF Middleweight titles. He did all that whilst struggling, for much of the decade, to secure bouts with the best fighters in the division.
After missing out on bouts with the likes of Felix Sturm, Arthur Abraham, Sergio Martinez, Peter Quillin, Andy Lee and Billy Joe Saunders it seemed that Golovkin had to make do with top contenders, rather than fellow champions for much of his prime years. By the time the top fighters, such as Daniel Jacobs and Saul Alvarez, were willing to get in to the ring with Golovkin he was in his mid 30's and looking like a man who was starting to slip. Things were also not helped by a unification bout with Dmitry Pirog falling through in 2012, before Pirog was forced to retire due to injury.
Having struggled to get top competition Golovkin's record is littered with decent contenders, like Matthew Macklin, Martin Murray, Marco Antonio Rubio,Vanes Martirosyan and Sergiy Derevyanchenko, along with former title holders, like Daniel Geale, Kassim Ouma. Wins over David Lemieux and Kell Brook looked good at the time, but went on to age badly and really didn't enhance his record, on reflection. At least not in the way his 2017 win over Daniel Jacobs, and controversial draw against Saul Alvarez.
Talk of moving up in weight had some intrigued in whether Golovkin's power could carry up to 168lbs, especially for a bout with Andre Ward, but we never found out whether he could have success in a second weight class as he chose not to chase a second divisional title. This was a big shame, as he could have had a much more interest prime rather than the busy but unfulfilling prime we saw Kazakh have.
Whilst it's easy to hate on Golovkin's competition his performances were often brilliant. He was always exciting to watch, with thunder in his hands and a boulder in his chin. He put on the "Big Drama Show" and opened the door to Central Asian fighters to follow, holding the door open for the likes of Ali Akhmedov, Israil Madrimov, Sadriddin Akhmedov and others. His importance in boxing is likely to be felt for a long, long time after his retirement and his success cannot be questioned.
We suspect that the boxing world will be incredibly thankful for what Golovkin did, proving that Central Asian fighters can be stars in the west, but the big hope is that those top fighters from the former Soviet States, won't struggle for career defining bouts when they are in their physical prime.
Boxing might be the sweet science but, if we're all being honest, it's also a fight. Due to it being a fight we of course love the true fighters, the ones who come to the ring with the intention of stopping their opponents and are willing to do all they can to finish a fight early. In this feature we're going to take a look at 10 of the most fun to watch Asian fighters. Some fighters you will be familiar with whilst others you may not be too aware of, one thing is for certain however, these men mean business every time they step in the ring.
-Wanheng Menayothing-Intelligent pressure fighter, even though he lacks lights out power he is great fun to watch
-Akira Yaegashi-A real warrior who is coming to the end of his career though will always go out on his shield and give fans good value.
-Takuya Kogawa-A warrior through and through. Though he lacks power he does enjoy a tear up and is scarcely in a dull fight
-Suguru Muranaka-Another warrior who enjoys a tear up and is more than happy to let his hands go despite not being a note puncher.
-Knockout CP Freshmart-With a name like “Knockout” you already know he's looking for the stoppage every time.
-Rex Tso-Like many featured above this man from Hong Kong is flawed but that's what makes him so much fun with every fight being a war
-Kyoo Hwan Hwang-Korean teenage has got ability though often lets his "Korean instinct" kick in and turns every fight so far into a slugfest
Following a somewhat quiet but interesting January we moved on to a more action pack February which featured several notable upsets, the return to the ring of one of the sports most popular fighters and some massive knockouts. For those who haven't forgotten what happened here is our review of the month.
The action kicked off on February 1st in what was a genuinely major day of action with notable shows in both Japan and Monaco, yes Monaco.
In Japan fans saw Yu Kimura become the new Japanese Light Flyweight as he narrowly defeated Kenichi Horikawa with a split decision. The title, which had been vacant, was the second Japanese national to find a new owner in 2014, following Go Odaira's victory in a Minimumweight title fight in January. Since this bout Horikawa has scored back-to-back wins, though both were majority decisions, Kimura has also managed 2 wins as he's defended the belt twice and is now expected to turn his attention to a world title.
In Monaco we saw the first bout of the year involving the always fun to watch Gennady Golovkin who beat up and eventually stopped Osumanu Adama to retain his WBA Middleweight title. Golovkin was fighting in Monaco for the second time and although he wasn't mega impressive the bout did two things. It allowed the Kazakh to remain active and it also showed that the US fans were wanting to see him with a near riot on twitter after this bout wasn't shown State side. On the same show fans also saw unheralded Filipino Rey Loreto iced South African Nkosinathi Joyi in a major upset. The win put Loreto on the boxing map for many though was really a continuation of his win in late 2013 against Pornsawan Porpramook. Loreto will rematch Joyi later this month, in South Africa, and if he can repeat the feat we suspect he'll find himself in a world title fight next year.
On February 2nd we saw Filipino prospect Johnreil Maligro score his first win of the year as he stopped Dondon Lapuz inside a round, since this win Maligro has gone on to score 2 big wins in Japan and the rise of the 20 year old hopeful really has been an astonishing one, even if he is still under-the-radar.
The busy start to February continued on February 5th as we saw a second major shock. This time it was in China where Xiong Zhao Zhong was shocked by the unheralded Oswaldo Novoa. Zhong, who could be backed a grossly mis-priced 1/100, was the WBC Minimumweight champion going into the bout but was battered, bullied and beaten up by Novoa. Despite the loss Zhong got back into action relatively quickly and has gone 2-1 in subsequent bouts, including a very competitive loss to WBA champion Hekkie Budler. As for Novoa he couldn't repeat his success on the road and was recently stopped in Thailand by Wanheng Menayothin.
We got another upset on February 9th when Japanese teenager Mako Yamada traveled to South Korea and dominated the then unbeaten Su Yun Hong to claim the WBO female Minimumweight title. Sadly however Yamada would retire without defending the belt to concentrate on other things in life. As for Hong she has since gone 1-0-1.
The same card in Korea also saw Ye-Joon Kim record an 8th round victory over Jong-Min Jung whilst Ja-Ik Goo defeated Taek-Min Kim. At the time Goo looked like the best prospect in Korean boxing though has vanished from the Korean boxing scene since this win whilst Kim has become the new face of Korean boxing and appears to be the one shining light in Korean boxing.
On February 10th we saw the months sole OPBF title fight as Shingo Wake defended the OPBF Super Bantamweight title against the thoroughly out classed and out sized Jovylito Aligarbes in what amounted to little more than a stay busy defence for the talented Wake. The more notable bout on this card was actually a Japanese title fight as the talented Rikki Naito claimed the Japanese Super Featherweight title with a sensational win over Hiroyasu Matsuzaki. Since these bouts Wake has recorded one further defenses whilst Naito has defended his belt twice.
Although the month started amazingly it did slow down and it wasn't until February 22nd that we had something else to really get excited about as Top Rank returned to Macau for the first show in the country for the year. The card featured 3 Olympic champions in the form of Ryota Murata, Egor Mekhontsev and Zou Shiming, who scored his first career stoppage. Although the show was sold on the 3 Olympians they didn't actually feature in any of the highlights that came on the show.
The big highlight was an 8 round war between Rex Tso and Mako Matsuyama in what was a much tougher fight for Rex than it should have been. The bout, from the opening round to the 8th, was a real war which you couldn't take your eyes off despite it being relatively one sided with Tso battering the gutsy and brave Matsuyama who showed incredible heart until eventually running out of steam and being stopped.
Although the bout between Tso and Matsuyama was brilliant it was over-shadowed in some ways by a KO of the Year contender as Filipino puncher Marvin Sonsona almost beheaded former world champion Akifumi Shimoda. Sonsona had made a very slow start to the bout but showed off his speed, skill and power as he landed a gorgeous short left uppercut that dropped Shimoda hard. The Japanese fighter was out cold when he got caught and stayed down whilst Sonsona celebrated one of the most outstanding KO's of the year.
This past week saw Boxnation publish an article on the biggest punchers in the sport. The article whilst having solid selections overall did seem to have a general "main stream" bias with only several of the fighters being somewhat unproven American or fighters that are certainly not what they once were.
On the whole the selections they had were solid and credible though we tend to feel that the article failed to really give a fair representation of the fighters from outside of their own broadcasts and when you consider many of their shows are from Europe or North America it explains their bias. Like wise it tended to feel like the article was done by someone who had watched the channel rather than someone who actually watched world wide boxing.
With the issues in the Boxnation article I've decided to do my own "Biggest Punchers" article with 11 fighters.
Gennady Golovkin (29-0, 26) [89.66%]
The one Asian who was represented on the Boxnation article was Kazakhstani Middleweight Gennady Golovkin who has the highest KO % of any active world champion.
Golovkin is really a man who can do anything in the ring though is at his destructive best when he cuts down the ring, forces an opponent to throw then counters with precision and power. It's this power that has made him a star in the US and has helped him become one of the true "must watch" fighters.
Although a highly accomplished amateur Golovkin has become less about "point scoring" in the professional ranks and more about destruction which he has shown in both vicious beat downs and 1-punch KO's. The beat downs, given out to the likes of Gregorz Proksa and Gabriel Rosado, were bludgeoning affairs where every punch took a toll whilst his 1-punch KO's over Lajuan Simon, Nobuhiro Ishida and Matthew Macklin were highlight reel KO's that showed off the explosiveness of the Kazakh.
With 16 straight stoppages, including a number against decent world level opponents, there is little doubting the power of "GGG".
Takashi Uchiyama (21-0-1, 17) [77.27%]
Arguably the hardest punching fighter, pound-for-pound, currently based in the Orient is WBA Super Featherweight champion Takashi Uchiyama who's power has lead to his brilliant nickname of "KO Dynamite".
Uchiyama, at 34 years old, does look to be a man on the slide slightly but with his power no one will be in a rush to mix it up with him and one clean shot to either head or body from the huge punching Watanabe Gym fighter can end a fight at any moment.
Uchiyama burst on to the world scene in 2009 when he stopped Juan Carlos Salgado in 12 rounds and has since shown his power by stopping 6 of his subsequent 8 opponents inside the distance including scoring a highlight real KO over the very capable Jorge Solis and a sickening body shot KO over Jaider Parra.
Of the two recent fights that Uchiyama hasn't scored a stoppage in one was a technical draw with rough Filipino Michael Farenas whilst the other was a decision against Daiki Kaneko, a man we feel is a future world champion. Sadly however there is some questioning of just how long Uchiyama has left at the top though for now it's hard to argue with the power of "KO Dynamite"
Shinsuke Yamanaka (21-0-2, 16) [69.57%]
If Uchiyama is Japan's biggest puncher then it's fair to say that Shinsuke Yamanaka is the second biggest despite his record not actually showing it, in fact Yamanaka's record is one of the most misleading in the sport.
The WBC Bantamweight champion stopped just 2 of his first 8 opponents as he began 6-0-2 (2) though from then on he has stopped 14 of 15 opponents with several stoppages over very tough fighters like Ryosuke Iwasa, Tomas Rojas, Malcolm Tunacao, Alberto Guevara and Stephane Jamoye. Impressively Yamanaka hasn't just been stopping foes fighter after fight but they have pretty much all been dropped at least once.
Known as the "God of Left" Yamanaka really does have thunder bottled in his left hand and he has developed how he uses it excellently to score real beat downs as well as eye catching KO's. There is little doubt that his level of competition is higher than most fighters, worldwide, and the fact he is stopping world class opponents on a regular basis really does show up just how confusing his KO% actually is.
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (27-3-1, 25) [80.65%]
The only Thai on this list is WBC Super Flyweight champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai who is a true whirling dervish in the ring. Srisaket's KO rate may be just shy of 81% but, as with Yamanaka, it's a misleading figure with the Thai having stopped 24 of his last 26 foes.
Srisaket of course started his career with an unspectacular 1-3-1 beginning though has risen through the Super Flyweight division by simply destroying opponents with a vicious and never ending assault. It's the not actually raw power which has really helped Srisaket though every punch he lands is hurtful and the cumulative effect of those shots is simply too much for many fighters to take.
In terms of 1-punch power Srisaket is probably lacking though every single shot is nasty, spiteful and hurtful. He's the sort of fighter who my not take your head off with a single shot but will break over the course of a fighter.
Manny Pacquiao (56-5-2, 38) [60.32%]
Filipino puncher Manny Pacquiao was once seen as a phenom in the ring stopping a who's who of top tier fighters from Chatchai Sasakul to Marco Antonio Barrera, from Erik Morales to Ricky Hatton from Oscar De La Hoya to Miguel Cotto. A few short years ago he'd have topped this list based on his scalps alone. Unfortunately however the "Pacman", whilst still hurtful, is no longer the wrecking machine he once was and he hasn't scored a stoppage in his last 8 fights. That has dropped him from 69.09% all the way down to 60.32% despite the drop off in KO's few would argue that Pacquiao is solid puncher.
Part of the drop off in Pacquiao's knockouts has come due to the fact he is facing naturally bigger men, such as Antonio Margarito and Joshua Clottey whilst also facing incredibly tough men such as Timothy Bradley, Juan Manuel Marquez and Brandon Rios. He still hits hard but those men are big and tough guys themselves.
Aged 35 the Filipino star is surely on the back end of his illustrious hall of fame career though it's fair to say the KO's he scored through out his career will serve him well with highlight videos being published across the net.
Naoya Inoue (6-0, 5) [83.33%]
When we talk about super stars the new star in world boxing in Naoya Inoue who, after just 6 fights, is already a world champion and already looks like a scary fighter. The 21 year old has managed to claim Japanese, OPBF and world titles in just 6 fights and a combined 36 rounds.
With an 83.33% KO rate Inoue has one of the highest stoppage rates of any active champion and is showed that power to great effect in his title winning effort which saw him stopping Adrian Hernandez for the WBC Light Flyweight title.
It may be a little early to declare Inoue as one of the hardest punchers in the world but his record speaks for it's self and his nickname of "Monster" really does seem accurate with his physical strength as well as his power. Even the jab of the 21 year old seems spiteful never mind his true power shots, such as the beauty he landed against Ngaoprajan Chuwatana in just his second professional contest.
Ryota Murata (4-0, 4)
Arguably the hardest pure puncher currently plying their trade in the Orient is Ryota Murata. The Middleweight sensation may not yet be fighting at the world level though has been cruising through opponents and improving fight after fight.
On debut he of course stopped the OPBF champion Akio Shibata, a man who is stoppable but is in no means soft. He then followed that up with a very good win over the surprisingly tough Dave Peterson before scoring stoppages over former world title challenger Carlos Nascimento and tough Mexican Jesus Angel Nerio.
Whilst no one would suggest Murata is ready for a world title fight he is beating tough guys by breaking them down with his heavy handed assault to head and body and the way he is racing up towards the world rankings is impressive. He is still a work in progress but his power is certainly there, just as it was in the amateurs where he was sensational.
Kanat Islam (16-0, 13) [81.25%]
Gennady Golovkin, our #1 power puncher, isn't the only Kazakh impressing with his power, another is the US based Kanat Islam.
Although Islam is based in Florida he has been making his name in Latin America with fights in Ecuador and the Dominican Republic and has not only been scoring stoppages but has been rising in to the rankings whilst picking up WBA regional titles.
Of course the biggest issue with Islam is that he's not been stopping well known fighters or quality fighters. In fact his best win to date has come over Humberto Toledo, who lasted less than a minute with the big punching Islam. Incidentally Boxnation's list included Randall Bailey who took 8 rounds to take a DQ win over Toledo which would suggest that Islam does hit incredibly hard.
Ranked #11 by the WBA at Light Middleweight Islam is a man who looks likely to make a mark on the wider boxing world in the next year or so. He will need to continue his winning streak though it's hard not to be impressed by a man who is averaging just 2.75 rounds per fight!
Keita Obara (11-1, 10) [83.33%]
One more Japanese fighter who has serious power is OPBF Light Welterweight champion Keita Obara who has thunderous power which has helped him string together 11 straight wins with 10KO's. Those wins have seen him claiming the Japanese and OPBF titles whilst walking through the likes of Jay Solmiano and So Takenaka.
Obara isn't the most skilled or the hardest working but when he tags someone he does serious harm often rendering a fighter void of their senses with just 1 clean shot. This guy has the sort of power that generates excitement, at least domestically.
The problem with Obara is that we're not certain of how well his power will carry up as he moves through the levels to fringe world class. We're hoping it carries up and that he could become a star on the international scene though we will have to wait in the hope that he fights a world ranked fighter like Czar Amonsot, Patomsuk Pathompothong or Min Wook Kim, all of whom would make for fun to watch bouts and a real test for Obara.
Jonathan Taconing (18-2-1, 15) [71.43%]
Another OPBF champion included in this list is Light Flyweight champion Jonathan Taconing who really has spite in his punches despite fighting in the 108lb division.
Taconing first came to the attention of hardcore fans when he went toe-to-toe with Thailand's tough Kompayak Porpramook and appeared to be getting the better of the bout before a controversial technical decision cost Taconing what should have been the WBC Light Flyweight world title, the title that is now around the waist of Naoya Inoue.
Since the loss to Porpramook fans have been able to see Taconing score 5 wins in a combined 23 rounds, including a very impressive stoppage over Vergilio Silvano to claim the OPBF title.
Taconing isn't a big name but he's a fighter with a genuinely exciting style, an aggressive mentality and the ability to give anyone at 108lbs real trouble. We'd love to see him given a second world title fight and with his style he could well
Rey Megrino (21-20-3, 18) [40.91%]
The true "joker" amongst the hardest Asian punchers is the under-rated Filipino Rey Megrino. Although Megrino boasts a KO rate of less than 41% he is a true banger and what he connects with he hurts. Unfortunately he does have one of the most odd and misleading records due to the start of his career which was certainly less than stellar.
Although Megrino has won less than half of his fights he has shown distinct improvements in recent years and those improvements have seen him learning how to use his natural god given power to it's full effect. Those improvements have seen him stopping 5 of his last 6 opponents including the legendary Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, the once touted Kenji Kubo and the unbeaten Ernesto Saulong. In fact the only fighter to survive the distance with Megrino in the last year was Myung Ho Lee who was dropped even though he saw out the distance.
Megrino's current run has seen him climb into the WBC world rankings with a #9 Flyweight ranking and although the ranking, in theory, makes him an attractive target his power has put opponents off and it's completely understandable as to why.
Boxnation logo courtesy of boxnation.com
Images of Golovkin, Srisaket, Pacquiao, Islam, Taconing and Megrino Boxrec.com
Image of Uchiyama courtesy of watanabegym
Image of Yamanaka courtesy of Teiken
Image of Inoue courtesy of Ohashi Gym
Image of Murata courtesy of boxingnews.jp
Image of Keita Obara courtesy of Keita Obara's facebook
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