This coming weekend we'll see Japan's Koki Eto make his US debut, taking on Jeyvier Cintron, with that in mind we've decided that this week's Closet Classic should include the all action warrior from Okinawa. He's had a host of bouts to choose from, but we've gone with the most obvious choice, his 2013 Fight of the Year contender from Thailand. The bout put him on the map for those who follow the Asian scene and helped to really increase his profile among the lower weight fans. It also began a a run of amazing action fights for the SGS promoted fighter.
Koki Eto (13-2-1, 10) vs Kompayak Porpramook (50-4, 35)
To set the scene for this bout we need to actually go back a bit further in the careers of both men.
Koki Eto managed to put himself on the periphery in 2012, when he stopped the then world ranked Denchailek Kratingdaenggym at the Korakuen Hall. That win allowed him to be considered for WBA title matches, though he had to travel to get a shot at a belt. He would make the travel in 2013 travelling to Thailand to face Porpramook. With over 50 bouts to his name Porpramook was a true veteran and a former world champion at Light Flyweight, who won the title in a 10 round war with Adrian Hernandez in 2011 before losing a rematch and moving up weight.
Prior to beating Denchailek there wasn't much at all on Eto's record, with the only other bout of any note being his 2011 Thai debut, a narrow loss to Panomroonglek Kaiyanghadaogym. He was expected to travel and put up a good performance en route to a loss to Kompayak. He however had different ideas and was looking to become the first Japanese fighter to win a world title in Thailand, even if it was only the WBA "interim" Flyweight title.
Porpramook was a tough old veteran, a warrior and a war monger. He went into the ring every fight looking to make a war and was unbeaten in Thailand for over a decade, having last lost at home in September 2009 to Filipino gate keeper Allana Ranada. Despite being 31 years old and with 54 fights to his name he was still regarded as a real contender, and seemed to be looking to extend his career with the move to 112lbs, no longer boiling down to Light Flyweight.
The fight didn't start like a typical bout, there was no feeling out round after the long introduction from the Thai's, something that we typically see when bouts are held on TV. Instead of a feeling out round we quickly got down to action with Eto originally looking to use his reach frame to fight at range. Porpramook had other ideas, applying pressure, coming forward and looking to make the fight into a war. Before the opening round was over Eto was obliging Porpramook, allowing the fight to be fought up close in sports, and landing his uppercut on a regular basis. The uppercuts Eto was landed looked like they could fell a horse but Porpramook ate the, and kept coming forward. The home fighter was hurt, and dropped, before the end of the opening round, with the referee ruling a slip before Eto himself slipped seconds before the bell.
From the first round things just got better and better and better and better. The action, which was intense to start with, intensified further. Each round becoming more brutally entertaining than the last, more physically damaging and demanding than it's predecessor. At times both men looked close to collapsing, spent from the 3 minutes of non stop action that came before it.
This is one of the rare bouts that gets better the longer it goes. The out put doesn't slow from either man, who dug insanely deep, though the footwork begins to vanish, leading the two men to trade incessantly in some of the back and forth action we've seen in years.
Please note - The bell to start the fight rings at 17:50 in this video, with the start of the video being the traditionally and over long Thai introductions.
This coming Saturday we see two Japanese fighters in action in Florida. One of those is WBO Super Featherweight world champion Masayuki Ito, a man who really came of age in 2018 with a huge win over Christopher Diaz to become a world champion. The other is Koki Eto (24-4-1, 19) a less well known, but arguably more interesting fighter than Ito, despite being significantly less talented.
Ito is a world class fighter, but is a technically well schooled fighter who came through the hard way, developed skills and reached the pinaccle, Eto on the other hand is a 1-man action man, a wildly entertaining fighter who's flaws have made him a must watch fighter. Despite being hugely entertaining Eto is somewhat an unknown outside of Asia, and this weekend's bout, against 2-time Olympian Jeyvier Cintron (10-0, 5), will be his second outside of Asia. Ahead of Eto's bout in the US we've decided to make the latest fighter to get our "Fighter Focus" treatment, following Ryuichi Funai who also made his US debut earlier this month.
So to begin with lets go through some cliff notes, and some factoids about Eto and his career so far:
So now to look at Koki Eto in more depth, understand him as a fighter and add some meat to the interesting notes from above, and try to understand why we once refered to Eto as the "One man Highlight reel".
He was born in Okinawa along side twin brother Taiki Eto, and the two of the, along with older brother Shingo Eto, were quickly compared to the Kameda brothers, who were also a fighting threesome. Little really is reported about the Eto clan's amateur careers, though Koki clearly didn't have a strong one debuting in a 4 round bout against a fellow novice in August 2008. The following year he would enter the Rookie of the Year but was sadly eliminated by a majority decision loss to Naoki Shiosawa. Whilst that was a notable set back for Eto he would get revenge the following year, stopping Shiosawa in the 5th round a rematch just 8 months later.
The win over Shiosawa was part of a great run of form for Eto, who strung 8 wins together including a win on his international debut, in Mexico in early 2011, and a win over Shota Hashimoto, who had also been stopped by Koki's twin brother. That winning lead to him travelling to Thailand, for his first of 3 bouts in the country, and challenger WBC International Silver Flyweight champion Panomroonglek Kaiyanghadaogym. The bout looked like a straight forward win for the local, on paper, but in actuality Eto went over determined to take the victory and ran the Thai incredibly close on the cards of all 3 Thai judges.
Sadly after the set back against Panomroonglek Eto struggled on his return to the ring, fighting to a 6 round draw with Yota Hori. Eto's career would then be put on ice for a while, before he returned 11 months later and beat the then world ranked Denchailek Kratingdaenggym in 2 rounds. At the time Denchailek was ranked #10 by the WBA and this loss derailed his career completed, with the Thai never returning to the boxing ring afterwards.
Around 9 months after Eto stopped Denchailek he got to make the WBA ranking he had taken from the Thai, fighting against Kompayak Porpramook for the WBA Flyweight title in Bangkok. This turned out to be the bout that put Eto on the proverbial map, as he travelled as the under-dog and came out on top of a 12 round fight that was truly amazing. Eto looked to set a fast pace from the opening round, showing no fear of the harsh Thai conditions and he took the fight to Porpramook from the off. The Thai was fighting back hard, but a 12th round knockdown by Eto proved vital with the Japanese fighter winning a razor thin decision
Sadly for Eto his reign would last less than 4 months, with the fighter losing the title to Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep in his first defense. Eto was stopped in round 6 and despite putting up a good effort he was eventually stopped in the 12th round, whilst down on all 3 cards. Despite losing to the Thai he had again put in a thrilling effort, showing guts and determination whilst being slowly beaten up by the Thai.
Given his tough bouts against Porpramook and Yodmongkol, in the space of just a few months, Eto was given a bit of a break before returning to face Filipino foe Ardin Diale for the OPBF Flyweight title. This was another insane bout, with Eto being dropped in rounds 3 and 7 before battling back and stopping Diale in the 8th round. By the stoppage he was 5 points down in all 3 cards, with 5 rounds left. This was widely proclaimed as one of the best bouts in Asia in 2014 and again saw Eto show his heart and willingness to have a war.
Despite having 3 incredible bouts in a row Eto would actually revert to boxing for his next two, defending the OPBF title against Cris Paulino and Yuki Fukumoto. These were both competitive bouts, but neither was particularly exciting, with Eto pulling out stoppages in the second half of both bouts.
After making his second defense of the OPBF Flyweight title Eto moved up to Super Flyweight and challenged the then WBC world champion Carlos Cuadras. Entering as a huge under-dog Eto was completely out boxed in the first half, though had success in the second half of the fight, closing up the scores slightly and making things respectable. Although he lost 117-111, twice, and 116-112 Eto showed he could compete on the fringes of world class, and probably should have been kept at that level.
Sadly instead of building on the loss to Cuadras Eto has been consistently facing limited opposition and not really looking good in the process. He struggled to beat Filipino domestic level fighter Michael Escobia, was dropped by Jun Blazo before scoring a stoppage, and has really just faced a string of over-matched opposition. That string of bad opposition has allowed Eto to go 7-0 (6) but he's looked very poor in some of those bouts, and at times it has appeared he has regressed from the man who managed to take rounds off Cuadras. He's always looked exciting, but so technically flawed that he could end up being taken out by anyone he faces.
Although a truly exciting fighter at his best, and arguably the closest we have to a current day Naoto Takahashi, the 31 year old Eto has had a damaging career and with his technical flaws and incredible toughness that damage will add up. It's hard to know how much longer Eto has left in his body, but it's clear that win or lose his bout with Cintron will be wonderfully enjoyable for as long as it lasts.
At his best Eto was, for a time, one of the must watch Asian fighters, but the last few years of fighting relative nobodies has seen Eto losing his appeal and becoming less and less interesting. His fight with Cintron will give his career another boost, but we're expecting him to come up short and to end his career in the near future.
(Image courtesy of SGS Gym)
By - George Delis (@Delisketo)
-Kyotaro Fujimoto (19-1): WBO #7 / WBC #20
A heavyweight Japanese fighter is something very rare, let along being ranked in the top 10. The former K-1 champion debuted in 2011 and has had a successful run in the regional scene, currently holding the OPBF & WBO Asia Pacific Heavyweight belts while riding on a 14 fight winning streak. Even though we may never see him challenging for a world title, it’s fun knowing he is there.
Super Welterweight/Jr Middleweight:
-Takeshi Inoue (13-0): WBO #5 / WBA #13 / WBC #19
The undefeated 4-year veteran is climbing the Super Welterweight rankings very fast, managing to place himself as the #5 in the WBO. A former Japanese title holder and now the unified OPBF & WBO Asia Pacific champion, may very well be one or two fights away from his first world title opportunity.
Super Lightweight/Jr Welterweight:
-Hiroki Okada (18-0): WBO #3 / WBA #4 / WBC #9
One of brightest prospects in Japan right now, Okada has never lost a single bout in his entire career. A bona fide knock out artist (13 KOs), he held the Japanese crown for 32 months and defended it 6 times, before winning the WBO Asia Pacific championship from Jason Pagara (41-3) this past December. Since the WBO world champion Maurice Hooker will not participate in the WBSS, this title will probably be his main focus as of now. Okada’s next confirmed appearance is on September 14th in the US (opponent TBA).
-Masayoshi Nakatani (17-0): WBC #7, WBO #13
Much like Okada and Takuma, Nakatani is also another undefeated fighter, who just recently made a record 10th title defense of the OPBF Lightweight championship. Despite the fact that he is ranked “only” #7 by the WBC, it’s worth pointing out that his last bout took place on July 29, so that win wasn’t taken into consideration at the latest ranking updates.
-Nihito Arakawa (31-6): WBO #3
Former Japanese, OPBF and reigning WBO Asia Pacific Lightweight champion, Arakawa has been in many big fights through out his 14-year career. At 36, he is still looking for his second world title opportunity.
Super Featherweight/Jr Lightweight:
-Masaru Sueyoshi (18-1): WBO #7
The 27 year old is steadily making his mark in Japan, suffering only one loss in his 4th pro bout, Sueyoshi has been victorious in his last 15 outings and even won the Japanese title on October of 2017. Another successful year and we might see him challenge for a world title by the end of 2019/beginning of 2020.
-Satoshi Shimizu (6-0): WBC #6
The Bronze Medalist at the 2012 Olympics, made his pro debut on September of 2016 and he has KOed/TKOed every single one of his opponents since then, claiming the OPBF Featherweight crown in just his 4th fight. He will defend that belt against Shingo Kawamura (16-3) later this month. If he can pass that test too, a fight with Gary Russell Jr. for the WBC title could be up for debate.
-Shun Kubo (13-1): WBA #7
The former WBA Super Bantamweight world champion returned this April, after his TKO loss to Daniel Roman in 2017, and won his comeback fight against former OPBF Featherweight champion & world title challenger Hiroshige Osawa (33-5) making a huge impact on his Featherweight debut.
Super Bantamweight/r Featherweight:
-Tomoki Kameda (35-2): WBA #2 / WBC #4 / WBO #9
El Mexicanito, has been on a 4-fight winning streak since moving up a weight class and has already broke the top 5 in both the WBA & the WBC. A fight with Emanuel Navarrete (WBA #1) could potentially set up a world title fight in 2019 with the winner of Daniel Roman/ Gavin McDonnell, which takes place this October.
-Hidenori Otake (31-2): WBO #6 / WBC #8
The reigning OPBF champion is scheduled to take on Isaac Dogboe (19-0) for the WBO World Super Bantamweight title on August 25.
-Takuma Inoue (11-0): WBO #8 / WBC #9
The undefeated former OPBF Super Flyweight champion is set to face reigning OPBF Bantamweight champion Mark John Yap (29-12), in a WBC World title eliminator fight on September 11.
-Hiroaki Teshigawara (17-2): WBO #6
Teshigawara recently stopped former world title contender Teiru Kinoshita (26-3) to defend his WBO Asia Pacific crown, bringing him one step closer to a WBO world championship match.
-Ryo Akaho (32-2): WBO #13
This is more of an honorable mention as Akaho made his return to the ring this past July, since his forced retirement last year, and knocked out Robert Udtohan, thus making it in the WBO world rankings once more.
Super Flyweight/Jr Bantamweight:
-Kazuto Ioka (22-1): WBA #2
In what must be considered the most bizarre ranking of this list, the former 3 division world champion, who’s return to the ring was announced just a couple of weeks ago, is already ranked #2 by the WBA ! Ioka is scheduled to fight WBC Silver champion and 2-time world title contender McWilliams Arroyo (17-3) on September 8, in the States.
-Koki Eto (22-4): WBC #5 / WBO #7 / WBA #9
The former interim WBA World Flyweight champion is currently ranked in the top 10 of the WBA, the WBC and the WBO. He fights Delfin de Asis (9-5) on August 16.
-Ryuichi Funai (30-7): WBO #5 / WBC #10 / WBA #13
Funai knocked out Philippino standout and world title challenger Warlito Parrenas (26-8), in impressive fashion, this past June, and won the vacant WBO Asia Pacific title. A strong first title defense and Funai could be challenging for the world championship by 2019.
-Kosei Tanaka (11-0): WBO #1 / WBC #2
Arguably one of the best fighters that have come out of Japan, Tanaka has won 2 world titles in 2 different divisions within 5 years. Now he looks to add a 3rd one to his collection as he goes one on one with Sho Kimura (17-1) for the WBO World Flyweight championship on September 24.
-Masayuki Kuroda (30-7): WBA #1 / WBC #4 / WBO #5
The current Japanese Flyweight champion has been on a 6-fight winning streak and has defended his belt 5 times since 2017 and now is ranked amongst the top 5 in the world and most importantly #1 by the WBA. A world title match against Artem Dalakian (17-0) sounds very plausible at this point and since both men have already fought this summer and have come out with no injuries, a fight between the two could take place around December.
-Junto Nakatani (16-0): WBC #5 / WBO #13
Undefeated Japanese flyweight prospect Junto Nakatani scored another TKO win on July 7 and now is ranked at the WBC’s top 5.
-Takuya Kogawa (29-5): WBC #8
After a draw with Yusuke Sakashita, Kogawa has retained his spot at the WBC rankings.
-Masahiro Sakamoto (12-1): WBO #4
The former WBO Asia Pacific champion will probably be in line for a WBO World title match against the winner of Kimura/Tanaka in 2019. He is scheduled to face South Korea’s Flyweight champion Ki Chang Go (6-2) on August 11.
-Ryuji Hara (23-2): WBO #1
Much like Ioka’s, this is the second strangest ranking, especially considering that Hara hasn’t fought since October of 2017. Actually Hara has been the #1 ranked flyweight by the WBO since January, despite having only competed once in this division against the debuting Seneey Worachina. Hara was set to face Angel Acosta for the world title on April 7 but an injury prevented him from stepping into the ring.
-Tetsuya Hisada (32-9): WBA #1 / WBC #3 / WBC #6
The reigning Japanese Flyweight champion, since 2016, recorded a 4th successful defense against Koki Ono (12-5) on July 16, thus improving his streak to 11 consecutive victories. Now as the #1 ranked Light Flyweight by the WBA, he is rumored to face Hekkie Budler for the gold sooner or later.
-Hiroto Kyoguchi (10-0): WBA #2
The undefeated IBF World Minimumweight champion has recently decided to move up a weight class and has already reached the top of the WBA ranking. If Hisada doesn’t face Budler right away, then an eliminator between Kyoguchi and Hisada looks more likely to take place.
-Ryoichi Taguchi (27-3): WBC #4 / WBA #4
Despite losing his 2 world title to Budler, Taguchi is still ranked amongst the top Light Flyweights in the world and without a doubt he will gain another crack at the gold in no time.
-Reiya Konishi (16-1): WBO #6 / WBA #7
The former world title challenger and now new WBO Asia Pacific champion, is coming closer to once again fight for the world championship.
-Tsubasa Koura (13-0): WBC #3 / WBA #9 / WBO #11
At only 23 years of age, Koura has already amassed 13 career wins, including 9 KOs, as well as the OPBF Minimumweight championship. His 3rd title defense will take place on August 24 against an unnamed opponent as of yet. It’s safe to say that we will see him in a WBC world title match in early 2019.
-Ryuya Yamanaka (16-3): WBO #6
Yamanaka recently lost the WBO world title to Vic Saludar. Just like Taguchi, he is only a few fights away from competing again for the big one.
-Tatsuya Fukuhara (21-6): WBC #9
Fukuhara has been victorious in both of his 2018 fights but he will need a few more before he can challenge Chayaphon Moonsri again for the WBC world title.
-Shin Ono (22-9): WBO #9
Ono will make his first Japanese title defense against Riku Kano (13-3) on August 24. His last world title fight was in 2016.
(Image - of Fujimoto, courtesy of Kadoebi Gym)
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
Images courtesy of:
Image of Amnat courtesy of http://www.kiatkreerin.com
Image of Ioka courtesy of http://ameblo.jp/ioka/
Image of Eto courtesy of http://www.zimbio.com
Image of Shiming courtesy of http://www.toprank.com
Image of Muranaka courtesy of http://flash-akabane.com
All other images courtesy of boxrec.com
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