As we’ve come into 2021 we’ve decided to make some wishes for what we want to see this coming year in Boxing.
These are a mix of what we want to see in the ring, on the TV, and in the venues!
1-More US and UK TV picking up bouts from the East
At the very end of 2020 we saw Boxnation pick up what we believe to be their first Japanese show ever and the result was that one of the fighters' names started trending in the UK. We’ve previously seen ESPN+ in the US pick up bouts from Japan, we’ve seen DAZN pick up shows from Thailand, and Boxnation also pick up cards from the Philippines. We’ve seen them do it, we know they can do it. So let's see a lot more of it being made available! Especially if 2021 is going to be like 2020, with a lack of shows taking place around the globe. We already know there will be no boxing in the UK in January, but there will be live televised cards in Japan and Thailand, and perhaps a service like Boxnation or DAZN could make an effort to pick those up .
2-DAZN make serious changes to their commentary team
This isn’t a wish when it comes to Asian boxing, at least not directly, but it is a general wish to improve our enjoyment of boxing, and that’s for DAZN to clean our their dire broadcast team. The three muppets they currently have calling most of their fights are genuinely unbearable and ruin fights with their cheerleading and bickering, with the voices becoming less and less analysis and more promoting a fighter. Whilst we have seen the suggestion to turn the volume down that really doesn’t work for those of us who want to hear the corner work, and hearing shots connect. If DAZN can’t make major changes to their commentary then the least they can do is offer a no commentary option, allowing those of us who want to hear the fight take place to enjoy the action, without the need to be in silence.
3-5-NTV, TBS, Fuji TV all show live broadcasts, and we get a continuation of Japanese streams
Sticking with broadcasts and TV we really hope to see a lot more from major Japanese TV channels in 2021. Between the three main terrestrial channels we got only a single live show, and that was the New Year’s Eve card. There was no live boxing on Fuji TV and there was no live boxing on NTV. We really hope that changes, especially with the likes of Junto Nakatani and Ryosuke Iwasa (potentially NTV fighters), Kazuto Ioka and Daigo Higa (TBS fighters) and Kenshiro Teraji and Ryota Murata (Fuji TV) all wanting big fights this year.
Along with that we also want to see more live streams provided by Boxing Raise, who should really be doing 1 a month, A-Sign Boxing, Boxing Real and TV Osaka and YTV. There is enough talent to go around, there’s far more than enough shows to go around, so lets see more of it! Especially if shows are still going to have limits on how many fans are allowed in the venues.
4-Fans being allowed to fill venues by the end of the year
Having just mentioned fans in venues one of our really serious wishes is that we will begin to see fans fill venues again by the end of 2021. Not only that but be allowed to do so without masks and with the ability to cheer, chant and really enjoy the fights they get to see. We understand why restrictions are on fans, but by the end of the year we would absolutely love those restrictions to be lifted and normality in boxing venues being allowed to resume. This isn’t just in Japan, where fans have been wearing masks and not allowed to cheer, but globally. We want large crowds back in boxing by the end of 2021. But only if it can be done safely. It’s obvious that this will not be something that happens in the early part of the year, but with vaccines and general understanding of the world at large, it certainly something that could happen by December 31st.
5-More unification bouts
The first of our in the ring wishes for 2021 is more unification bouts. There were plans a lot of them in 2020, with Can Xu Vs Josh Warrington and Naoya Inoue Vs John Riel Casimero both looking like they would occur last year. Thankfully we did have some unification bouts, but the reality is that we should have had more, and we still should. We think more unification bouts is a universal wish, and that includes the obvious ones, such as Hiroto Kyoguchi Vs Kenshiro Teraji, Josh Taylor Vs Jose Ramirez, Errol Spence Vs Terence Crawford and Tyson Fury Vs Anthony Joshua, as well as some less obvious ones, like Moruti Mthalne Vs Julio Cesar Martinez. Lets see a lot of titles unified in 2021 please!
6-More All-Thai fights!
One of the few great things about 2020 was the number of really interesting All-Thai bouts. The year saw fewer Thai’s padding their records against over-matched visitors from Indonesia and the Philippines and instead we saw a lot of really interesting All-Thai bouts. This has meant that shows have a much higher anticipation factor going into them, and they have consistently been delivering excellent bouts. After years of declining quality control in Thailand we’ve seen TL Promotions, Tan Telecom Promotions, Petchyindee and NKL all put on some excellent bouts in 2020 and we really hope that continues in 2021. If it does then there could be a legitimate Thai title scene, which would be amazing to see, rather than the over-reliance on meaningless regional titles. Having a good Thai title would be much better for the sport than a weak regional title scene for the WBA Asia and WBC Asian Boxing Council titles.
7-More even-looking Filipino bouts
Boxing in the Philippines was hibernating throughout much of 2020 due to the ongoing pandemic. Sadly when boxing in the country woke up there was pretty nothing competitive taking place at all. That is set to change in 2021, with several good looking bouts on the docket, but we’re wishing that we get competitive looking bouts taking place in the country week after week. There has long been a lack of real good All-Filipino bouts but hopefully, with the pandemic limiting travel to the country, we’ll begin to see promoters work together to match their fighters in competitive bouts. If they don’t then we could end up seeing some fighters wasting 2 years of their careers with no real competition.
8-The Tokyo Olympics to go ahead without issues
We don’t often discuss amateur boxing, unless the fantastic Marcus Bellinger sends us an amateur boxing review or unless someone turns professional, but that doesn’t mean we don’t care about the amateur boxing scene. We genuinely do. With that in mind we are really wishing the Tokyo Olympics, which were supposed to take place in 2020 before being pushed back to summer 2021, takes place with no issues. Issues in Olympic boxing are something that happens at every Olympics, with home fighters getting numerous dodgy decisions in their favour, various accusations of bribes, match fixing and other countries accusing each other of getting dodgy decisions. We really hope the Tokyo games, as an Olympics in general, goes ahead without any issues, but we are particularly hoping for controversy free Boxing during the Olympics.
9-Fans to continue to get behind the sport globally
Towards the end of 2020 we began to see more and more Western fans get behind boxing in the west, with a lot of fans wanting to watch things like Wanheng Menayothin Vs Penya Pradabsri, Masayuki Ito Vs Hironori Mishiro and Kazuto Ioka Vs Kosei Tanaka. This was really great to see, and something we genuinely hope continues through 2021 as more casual boxing fans begin to realise that the sport is a global sport. A truly global sport. In fact it’s arguably the most global sport out there. No other sport has world champions spread across the globe like boxing. Yes Soccer might have more participants and more viewers, but the reality is that Soccer has a handful of very dominant countries. Boxing has current world champions from Thailand, Japan, Philippines, Nicaragua, South Africa, Ukraine, Mexico, France, Uzbekistan, the USA, Mexico, the UK, China, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Russia, Latvia and the Dominican Republic of the Congo.
Boxing is a truly universal sport, and we hope fans continue to note that. Yes, we push Asian boxing strongly, but we fully acknowledge the sport is a global one with great fights taking place all over the world on a regular basis. Fingers crossed fans around the world get the chance to see more boxing from countries that usually don’t get international TV deals. This is how we grow the sport, and this is how the sport becomes more inclusive. It’s also how fans become more educated, and how discussion grows. Please fans, realise there’s a big world out there, and great boxers come from almost every part of it!
10-Rankings to begin to make sense!
Our final wish for 2021 is for world rankings that make sense. All too often in 2020 we had mandatory world title fights that were mismatches, particularly from the IBF. What we need is for all rankings bodies to clear out their top 15, where possible and rank on merit, rather than preference. If a fighter beats someone higher than them they should be ranked higher. There is no reason for Ryo Sagawa to be ranked behind Reiya Abe, but for most of 2020 Sagawa was ranked behind the man he beat in 2019. Likewise there is no logical reason why Hiroshige Osawa should be ranked #1 by the WBA at Featherweight. Sadly through the 17 (or 18) weight classes there are hundreds of questionable rankings. Just a quick glance and we see things like the retired Yuto Takahashi taking up a place in the top 5 with the IBF at 108lbs, Takayuki Okumoto being ranked above Kenta Nakagawa, neither of whom should be in the rankings when they are next updated. Or Sirichai Thaiyen taking a #1 ranking. In 2021 we should see rankings make sense. From every title body.
Don’t confuse that for us wanting rankings to all be the same, they shouldn’t be, but they should at least make sense. We can all argue over who are the top 15 in a weight class, and where they should be, we can’t however pretend the current rankings make any sense.
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