This past week we've not seen much action at all, with only a few small shows scattered around the globe. Of course there's a huge event tonight, and we did see a rather large show in Korea being planned but then cancelled. Sadly though boxing missed a big trick this week, a trick that would have allowed it to use the focus that is being given the sport and spreading it.
With so much focus on the Deontay Wilder Vs Tyson Fury fight, it would have been a great week ton have had several other mid week shows. Fight fans are in Las Vegas anyway, the audience for some small, yet noteworthy bouts, are there. A card on a Thursday or Friday night appealing to British fans, in the US for Fury, would have been ingenious, or a TV card featuring two lower level Heavyweights, both of whom could have been sold as viable future challengers for the winner of tonight's fight.
Given all the outlets boxing currently has, especially in the US, it feels like it's one of, if not the, worst marketed sport out there. When other sports have a major event they pack the calendar around it, in boxing no ones seems to think about the bigger picture. In fact no one seems to look outside of their own little bubble.
I know some of our readers are wrestling fans, and they'll know all about Wrestlemania week. Not only do we see the WWE put on their biggest show, but they also put on an NXT event, a Hall of Fame event, and other fan events, along with smaller promotions hosting shows around the same week. The "sport" of professional wrestling embraces the fans by giving them a lot of options before the main show on a Sunday evening.
Boxing could have done something similar.
We could, and maybe should, have had some kind of small show on Thursday night in, or around, Las Vegas, and something on Friday night.
The silly thing here is that it could have been the same promotional teams behind Wilder and Fury, trying to hype tonight 's show to any undecided viewers further, or it could have been a rival promoter jumping on the coattails of the event. Both could have made use of the focus boxing is getting, both could have used the event to help put some wind in the sails of a show.
Instead all we got was a small card in Florida, featuring a pair of fringe world class little guys, with Jonathan "Bomba" Goonzalez beating Sual Juarez.
Now sure, the argument is that the event wouldn't have gotten much press attention, going up against such a big show. That argument however falls on it's face given the lack of press attention boxing gets in general. It would have been a chance for the promoter to literally have fans coming to them, being in the area on a Friday, or Thursday, and getting the chance to see a few fights before the big one on Saturday.
We've seen Golden Boy Promotions doing it in the past before a Canelo fight and we used to see it before a Mayweather fight. This was an event where it would have worked, but was very much a missed opportunity.
Boxing in 2020 is set for an interesting year, with the Olympics and fighters turning professional before the games, as well as the whole ESPN Vs DAZN Vs PBC wars, but if the sport keeps missing opportunities like this we do need to really wonder what promoters are thinking...then again maybe no youtube stars were free this week...
The third fighter we looked at last year in our "Introducing..." feature was Taku Kuwahara (then 3-0, 2), at the time he was relatively unknown except by those who really followed the Japanese amateur scene. He had shown some early promise, enough to get our attention, but lets have a look at what he has done since as we continue our "Revisiting" series.
As mentioned when we looked at Kuwahara in January he was 3-0 (2) during 2019 he moved his record along quickly, going 4-0 (2) and ended the year with a 7-0 (4) record, whilst scoring two notable wins late in the year. He also moved from testing the water at Light Flyweight to being a committed fighter at Flyweight, where we see his career being long term.
To begin 2019 Kuwahara was out of the ring until April, when he took out Indonesian fighter Aprilianto Rumahpasal. That was followed up with a win over domestic novice Kyomu Hamagami. On paper that bout with Hamagami was a step up, but in reality it was just a passing point before Kuwahara finally stepped up in class in September 2019 when he outpointed Jonathan Refugio.
The win over Refugio was a masterclass from Kuwahara who shut out the Filipino veteran over 8 rounds. He dropped Refugio once, and despite being unable to stop the Filipino he dominated thoroughly, taking his first win against a world ranked opponent. That win was followed by another 8 round decision against a rugged Filipino as Kuwahara took a wide decision over Ricardo Sueno. Those wins helped to show what a talent Kuwahara was and saw him getting more and more press time in Japan, where he was being dubbed "Ioka II" due to his affiliation to the same educational facility of Ioka, and just like Ioka he was gaining a serious reputation as a brutal body puncher.
With Kuwahara winning 4 bouts in 2019 it should be little surprise to hear that he managed to earn his first rankings. He first broke into the JBC rankings, following the win over Refugion, and then the OPBF rankings, following the win over Sueno. In 2020 we would expect Kuwahara to look towards racing through the rankings towards a title fight, and in reality he's likely to have any of the doors open to him, whether he wants to pursue a Japanese or Oriental title. We would expect Kuwahara, by the end of the year, to be ready to face either champion.
Unlike the first two men we "revisited" Kuwahara's first bout of 2020 has been announced at the time of writing. On March 16th Kuwahara will take on under-rated Filipino Jaysever Abcede, who is not only ranked #13 by the WBC at Light Flyweight but also has a top 10 OPBF ranking at Flyweight and a WBO Asia Pacific ranking. Essentially making this not only a step up in class for Kuwahara but also a chance to take serious strides towards getting a world ranking and moving towards his first title bout.
At the moment it's still relatively early in Kuwahara's career but given how he stepped up in late 2019, and how he now has his upcoming bout with Abcede, it's clear that Hideyuki Ohashi and the folks at the Ohashi gym are recognising his potential and looking to push him fast, potentially as the replacement for veteran Akira Yaegashi. He might not be that Elite level super talent that they have in Naoya Inoue, but he's still a fantastic fighter and at 24 years old they have a real prodigy on their hands.
We would expect Kuwahara to win his first title before the end of 2020 and then begin to climb the world rankings in 2021, perhaps even landing a shot by the end of the year. The one thing he needs to get now, is eyes on him. So far he's only really had televised highlights, but hopefully he'll be given more TV time when he gets his first title fight, and from there we can see his skills develop along with his in ring experience.
Although not yet a big name we expect to see 2020 being the year where Kuwahara goes from the periphery of the domestic scene right into the title mix, and sets out his stool for big things over the coming few years.
This week we bring you an extra introducing! And in this extra Introducing article we take a look at promising Indonesian hopeful Ongen Saknosiwi (8-0, 7). Like many in this weekly feature he's not someone many will have spoken about, yet he is arguably the brightest hope in Indonesian boxing, and really helped set himself apart from other Indonesian prospects last year.
Born on Buru Island in the summer of 1994 Saknosiwi attempted to become a fighter when he was a teenager, before being spotted by Wan Sapulette, best known for winning a bronze medal at the 1983 SEA Games. Sapulette took Saknosiwi into his gym and began to develop the youngster's skills. The hope was for him to fight at the 2012 AIBA Youth World Championships in Armenia, but he failed to make it there, and actually failed to even make a mark at the domestic level.
Despite his talent Saknosiwi felt he couldn't assure his success as a boxer, so instead of turning professional he joined the Indonesian air force in 2014. It was there that he managed to develop his skills properly and in 2016 he would go on to win the Maluku Governor Cup, and compete at the Indonesian National Games.
With the Air Force behind him Saknosiwi finally began to look towards turning professional, and would turn professional just weeks after the 2016 Indonesian National Games. As a professional he linked up with Mahkota Promotion, and would debut in November 2016 with a win against fellow Indonesian debutant Imanuel Hutagalung.
In 2017 Saknosiwi managed to fight 3 times in the first 6 months of the year, stopping a trio of domestic opponents to build some momentum. Sadly however that momentum was slowed as he then spent almost 10 months out of the ring, before he returned for his 5th professional bout. Then there was yet more momentum lost with Saknosiwi taking more than a year out of the ring.
After turning professional in late 2016 Saknosiwi was only 5-0 (5) as we began 2019. It seemed like his career was going to be a bit of a waste. That was until 2019 kicked off, and he really made a mark.
To begin 2019 Saknosiwi claimed an Indonesian national title, stopping Jufry Kakahure in 3 rounds in April. In September Saknosiwi then made his international debut, travelling to Singapore to beat Nanthawat Maolichat for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental Featherweight title, his first international title.
Having claimed his first two titles Saknosiwi then took a huge step up and took on Filipino veteran Marco Demecillo. This was a significant step up in class and was a major test for the Indonesian, who started fast, and bagged the rounds he needed to take a 12 round decision, passing another notable milestone. This was not just a step up but a stellar performance against an opponent who tested Saknosiwi's stamina and mental resolve. An excellent win for a man in just his 8th fight.
As we write this Saknosiwi is lined for his second bout on foreign soil, with a contest scheduled for February 22nd in Thailand. The bout is regarded as a stay busy bout for Saknosiwi, who we expect to be involved in at least 1 notable bout before the end of 2020.
This coming weekend is an interesting one, with a lot of attention being put on a card at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The main event of that card, the rematch between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder, is obviously the bout that everyone will focus on but before that we'll get a WBO Super Bantamweight title fight, as 23 year old Filipino Jeo Santisima (19-2, 16) takes on defending champion Emanuel Navarrete (30-1, 26). As if often the case with Filipino fighters making their debut in the states, the question is "Who is Jeo Santisima?" Or as we like to ask "Who are you? Jeo Santisima"
Obviously, as mentioned, Santisima is a 23 year old Filipino fighter with a couple of losses to his name and really no recognition on the international stage. He is however someone who Filipino fans have been talking about for a few years now, and we've seen him rebuild from a 2-2 start to becoming a legitimate contender, in one of boxing's most compelling divisions.
Like many Filipino fighters Santisima turned professional as youngster, in fact he was only 17 when he made his debut back in August 2013. He lost that bout, by decision, to Roniel Parcon at Featherweight, but bounced back just a month later by beating Filipino based Japanese fighter Takaomi Noma. A second win, just months late, saw him build some momentum before falling to his second defeat, losing to Marlon Arcilla at Bantamweight.
After just 9 months as a professional it would have been easy to write off the young Santisima, but he refused to write himself off, and he has since found his groove in the ring, built into his frame, and began fighting at his natural weight.
Given he was 2-2 after 4 bouts Santisima wasn't getting much attention, but slowly began to prove himself in the last half of 2014, before building up a head of steam in 2015 with 4 stoppage wins, including victories over Peter Apolinar and Alan Alberca, both of whom were 5-0, and the experience Jerry Nardo, then 21-8. Those wins saw Santisima begin to create quite a bit of buzz and go into 2016 with some momentum.
Things went from good to better for the youngster who scored 5 more stoppage wins in 2016, including stoppages over Marco Demecillo and Rex Wao. Those wins secured him a 5 year contract extension with ALA Promotions, who obviously saw him as a major part of their future. He was getting shots to shine on televised events, with his win over Junior Bajawa being one of the main events on an ALA show and his win over Terdchai Doungmontree coming on the under-card of a Nonito Donaire card.
To begin 2017 Santisima was surprisingly taken the distance by Indonesian journeyman Master Suro, ending a 10 fight T/KO run for the Filipino. Suro was dropped in round 6 but managed to survive the 10 round schedule in what was a televised bout on Pinoy Pride 40. Coming in to the bout the commentary team has been building up Santisima's power, and rightfully so, but Suro was super tough and not only showed Santisima couldn't blow everyone out, but that the Filipino youngster hard work to do on his stamina, work rate and shot selection.
Having gone 10 with Suro we expected Santisima to have to work for subsequent victories, but instead he blew out the previously unbeaten Goodluck Mrema, in 78 seconds, and Kichang Kim, in 56 seconds. He then needed only 3 rounds to beat Thai foe Yodsingdaeng Jor Chaijinda, aka Likit Chane, to claim the WBO Oriental Super Bantamweight title. That was the first title he won, and 5 months after winning it he defended it, for the first time, in the toughest bout of his 17 winning round. That bout saw Santisima going 12 hard fought rounds with Mexican tough guy Uriel Lopez. It was a clear win for the Filipino, but a very hard fought one, that saw Santisima needing to prove his toughness, engine and will to win, against an opponent who simply refused to be stopped.
Sadly since the gut check against Lopez we've not really seen Santisima prove himself. He stopped the poor Alvius Maufani inside a round and then stopped the once talented, but by then very faded and naturally much smaller, Rene Dacquel. On paper the win over Dacquel was good, but in reality it was against a man who was at his best 2 divisions lower, had been stopped in his previous bout and was more than 2 years removed from his last win, at Super Flyweight.
In the ring Santisima is a big Super Bantamweight, powerfully built and a heavy body puncher. He is however someone who fights in spurts, throws a lot of round shots, and although heavy handed his shots can be seen coming and can be ridden. Defensively he's open to counters during his bursts of shots and even when he's not in aggressive mode his hands still drop, he's there to be hit and will be hit by someone like Navarrete.
Do we give him a chance against Navarrete? Well yeah, there's always a chance, but it's a slim one and he is really up against it against here.
(Image courtesy of ALA Boxing)
After a few weeks where we've not had much to talk about the past week has been a much more engaging and interesting one, with some great bouts, some exciting announcements, some free streams, and plenty negatives to talk about as well as the positives.
1-CBC's live stream
Although CBC's stream this week wasn't of a huge show, it was, as we've come to expect from them, fantastic from start to end. The broadcaster aired the entire show from Kariya live on Tuesday, in excellent quality, with no issues, live replays, great camera angles and perfect sound mixing. Sadly for everyone else CBC have brought TV level production values to the free streaming game, and it's going to be down to everyone else to play catch up. As well as the quality of the stream the fights were also rather solid, especially the main event between Kento Hatanaka and Roland Jay Biendima, and Hiroki Hanabusa's body shot KO was sublime.
If someone else is going to do a free stream, this is level they should be aiming for. Amazing from start to end!
2-Nakatani Vs Magramo being made official!
We know we mentioned this bout last week, and actually the CBC free stream, but this week saw the confirmation of Junto Nakatani Vs Giemel Magramo! Better yet it's set for a Dynamic Glove show, meaning that we're expecting it to be shown live on G+. Not only is this an exceptional match up for the WBO Flyweight title but it's the type of bout that excites us, and is a risk for both men. Given that both fighters could have taken different routes to a world title we can't help but be proud of both fighters for signing up to this one!
3-Wanheng Menayothin gets date for US debut
With a 54-0 record WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin has the longest active unbeaten stream in boxing, along with the longest world title reign of any man in the sport. One thing he hasn't got is an international bout to his name. That changes in April after this weeks news of the Thai setting off for the US! Wanheng will make his international debut on April 25th, when he takes on Marco John Rementizo. The bout might not be the biggest, or the best, and the scheduling for it is fucking stupid, clashing with Naoya Inoue Vs Johnriel Casimero, but it's great to finally see Wanheng outside of his comfort zone.
4-Yuki Nakajima's uppercut
It's not often we'll talk about a specific punch on here but the uppercut Yuki Nakajima landed on Shisui Kawabata in round 6 was something special. Huge credit to Kawabata for not being left flat on his back, but the punch is up there with the best of them. Those with boxing raise owe it to them selves to rewatch this it was amazing.
1-Koki Inoue's injury
In unfortunate news Koki Inoue has suffered and injury that has forced him to postpone his mandatory title defense against Daishi Nagata. The talented and unbeaten Japanese 140lb champion thankfully doesn't appear to be too seriously injured, given he'll be defending the title against Nagata in May, but it is still said news that both men will delay their return to the ring by a couple of months.
2-Yudai Shigeoka's next opponent
We love the Shigeoka brothers. We see both becoming future world champions. We fully accept that both are super prospects. So we need to wonder what the idea is in having Yudai Shigeoka's next bout come against Sanchai Yotboon, the fighter that Ginjiro Shigeoka took out in 3 rounds on his debut! Absolutely pointless match up by Watanabe gym. This is a mismatch, and should be little more than a stay busy for Shigeoka, who beat Lito Dante a few months ago, and should have been matched much tougher than this.
3-Daigo Higa's comments on the future
After almost 2 years away from the ring we finally saw former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa back in action. Higa would win his return, stopping Jason Buenaobra, but sadly comments after the bout leave us confused as to whether he will continue fighting or will leave the sport for good. Given he's only 24 it would be a massive shame if Higa hung them up now, after just 17 fights, and we genuinely hope he can find something to motivate him again. Higa, at Bantamweight, would be at a disadvantage, but given his style and tenacity we'd love to see him making a splash in the division. We really hope he continues in the sport, but if not, we're glad to have seen the destructive little marvel on his way up, and see him walk away with his health intact. It would just be a huge shame for his name to be added to the list of "what could have been".
1-Bektemir Melikuziev Vs Oscar Cortes
We understand late replacements aren't always great but Oscar Cortes was a simply awful late replacement, especially for a fighter like Bektemir Melikuziev. The Mexican was under-sized, under-powered and essentially had lost by the time he had his ring walk. Whilst we can't blame Cortes, who obviously took his pay day, and Melikuziev, who isn't responsible for his original opponent pulling out, we do need to question the California State Athletic Commission, who should have said no. There was no point in this bout, and no one came off looking good.
2-Merlito Sabillo's leg
We've yet to hear any actual confirmation on what, if any, injury Merlito Sabillo suffered but the way his leg bent and buckled as he got knocked down by Sho Kimura suggested something nasty. As did the way he was lying on the canvas. We really hope it is nothing series, but bloody hell did it look nasty, and we wouldn't be surprised, given his age and run of 4 losses, if he ends up in retirement. If he's injured, in the way we believe, it'll likely be 9 months, or longer, until he returns, and he'll around 37 by then
3-GAB's live stream
We started with a free stream, so lets end on a free stream. CBC raised the bar, with a brilliant, professional, well edited, and high quality stream. Just days later the GAB put on a stream that was inconsistent, repeatedly froze, stopped and started, low quality and was just hard to watch, and even harder to enjoy. We know the GAB streams can work and can be wonderful, as they were at the end of the show, but for the most part the show was just terrible. Fingers crossed they get these sorted in the future, as they are a really valuable asset for boxing fans, when they work. We don't expect GAB to hit the professional levels of CBC any time soon, but if they can get a consistent stream going it would be a great starting point!
(Image courtesy of A. McGovern - Top, and Boxmob - Bottom)
Many top prospects are top prospects because they have a strong amateur pedigree, have won various amateur titles and turned professional with expectations on their shoulders. Today however we want to introduce a more organic prospect, to your attention, one didn't have tens of amateur bouts and amateur trophies. But one who every fan should be aware of sooner, rather than later. Not just because he's a talented fighter going places, but also because he's one of the most exciting young fighters in world boxing today.
Today's "Introducing..." focus on must watch Filipino Carl Jammes Martin (15-0, 14), a 20 year old dubbed "Wonder Boy" who is so much fun to watch, and is set to take a huge step up on February 22nd.
As suggested in the opening paragraph Martin wasn't a former amateur standout. Given that Martin was just 16 years old when he made his professional debut, way back in March 2016, his amateur background is understandably very limited. Despite that he did actually make a mark on the Filipino youth domestic scene, claiming a bronze medal at the Philippine Youth Games-Batang Pinoy, though turned professional soon afterwards.
On debut, on March 5th 2016, Martin stopped fellow debutant Jayar Omac in 2 rounds, with Omac retiring at the end of round 2. Just weeks later Martin scored another early win as he stopped Noel Guliman in 2 rounds. The talent of Martin was obvious and in his third bout he was moved 4 rounders to 6 rounders. The extra rounds came in handy and Martin ended up stopping Manny Mamamcquiao in the 5th round to close out 2016 with a faultless 3-0 (3) record.
After stopping his first 3 opponents we finally saw an opponent stand up to Martin's power in 2017, when he was taken 8 rounds by Jason Buenobra. Despite being taken the distance Martin was the clear winning on the scorecards and took his first title, the lightly regarded LuzProBA Bantamweight title. Martin quickly got back to stopping opponents, with Jerry Mae Villagracia being taken out in 2 rounds, in Martins' next bout.
By the end of 2017 Martin hadn't just claimed the LuzProBA title but also an interim PBF title and an interim WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental title, essentially a minor regional belt. He had started to make waves, and was only 18 years old with a 7-0 (6). Those waves became bigger, and bigger, on 2018 as Martin racked up 4 more wins, all by stoppage. These included wins for more regional titles, as he claimed a WBO Oriental and WBA Asia title, and victories over slightly better opponents, such as Chinese fighter Huerban Qiatehe.
Moving to 11-0 (10) Martin had entered 2019 with a reputation as someone to keep an eye on, but was only really known by the absolute hardcore fans. Those who watched GAB streams. He had yet to even be featured on TV, but was already generating real buzz, and living up to the Wonder Boy tag. In 2019 we did finally see him on TV, as he appeared twice on ESPN5, beating two over matched Thai's on TVm before heading back to his fights being streamed, with his last 2 bouts being shown online only. Those streamed bouts actually include a solid domestic win over Benezer Alolod, and a blow out against Philip Luis Cuerdo.
With a February 22nd bout set against Renoel Pael we expect to see Martin face a genuine tests against a a man 35 fights to his name, and has never been stopped. Martin will be favoured, but this is very genuine and serious test for the youngster, who will have to answer questions against Pael.
At just 20 years old there's no reason for Martin's team to rush him, but he is certainly someone who is going to be tough to match in the coming years and will need to matched carefully to test him properly before he faces world class competition.
For those who haven't seen Martin he is all action, a whirlwind of aggression, who can box, but is more of a swarmer, at least at the moment. We suspect that as his competition steps up the swarming will decline somewhat and he will begin to look more and more towards using his under-rated boxing skills. We expect to see those skills against Pael, and to be honed in the next year or two before he faces world ranked opponents.
After one of the quietest weeks in a long time we followed up with a genuinely solid, if rather over-looked, week featuring a lot of solid action, and bouts featuring 3 former champions! It may not have matched some of the weeks at the end of 2020, but this was an excellent week and one we really enjoyed thanks to free streams, from CBC and the GAB, a brilliant Boxing Raise show and a tape delay Fuji TV show.
Fighter of the Week
Ryoji Fukunaga (12-4, 12)
A week after our rule on "Fighter" of the week bit us on the backside, with the most significant win coming in a relative nothing bout, normality resumed this week with Ryoji Fukunaga being the well deserving winner this following a gutsy, brave and excellent win over Froilan Saludar. The unheralded Japanese puncher went into the bout as the major under-dog in what was a very big step up in class, but fought through some massive swelling to out gut Saludar. The performance wasn't an outstanding out, but the win was huge, and netter Fkunaga the WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title. We don't imagine he'll hold it long, but this week was his week!
Performance of the Week
Mark Sales (23-43-5, 8)
It's rare that we'll ever see the performance of the week come from a journeyman with more than 40 losses, but this week Mark Sales is well and truly worth attention and accolades. Sales had been out of the ring for almost a year, he'd only fought once in 2019 and once in 2018, and was more than 4 years removed from his last win. He wasn't expected to defeat Prabjhot Singh, but that's exactly what he did, relying on his more than 70 bouts of experience to out work, out fight, out punch and out smart his taller, younger opponent. Well done the "Slam Man"!
Kento Hatanaka vs Roland Jay Biendima
We really had some fantastic bouts this week, including a thriller between a pair of Richard's, Claveras and Rosales, in the Philippines. For us though the pick of the bunch was a 10 round action thriller between Kento Hatanaka and Roland Jay Biendima. This was absolutely thrilling, after a quiet first round Biendima came alive and gave us a brilliant, action packed 10 round bout that swung one way, then the other. Biendima was often on the wrong of the action, but hurt Hatanaka a number of time, bloodying his nose in round 3, damaging his ribs later in the bout and rocking him a number of times. This is the weeks must watch bout, and is really worth going back and rewatching. A brilliant fight.
Kento Hatanaka vs Roland Jay Biendima (RD 10)
There were amazing rounds through the week, though for us the final 3 minutes of the war for the WBC Youth Flyweight title between Kento Hatanaka and Roland Jay Biendima was the best. The round was one of a number of thrilling rounds between the two warriors, tried to make sure they didn't hear the final bell. At the end of the round it was clear the two men had fought to a standstill.
Yuki Nakajima vs Shisui Kawabata (Rd 4)
Elmar Zamora vs Justin Espejo (Rd 6)
Hiroki Hanabusa KO1 Sorawit Bamrungrai
We love body shot KO's, they don't come around too often, but we love seeing them when they do. With that in mind it was hard to note repeatedly rewatch Hiroki Hanabusa's left hook to the body against over-matched Thai Sorawit Bamrungrai. The talented Hanabusa, who will be fighting for a Japanese Youth title later in the year, did what he was supposed to do against an opponent who shouldn't have been in the ring with him, and left him in a heap on the canvas. This was perfect placement, took a fraction of a second for Sorawit to feel it, and left the Thai down and out. Pure brilliance
Elmar Zamora (3-0, 2)
The GAB show on Saturday was frustrating one to watch live with the official GAB stream being rather a nightmare at times. It was however worth watching for the performance of Elmar Zamora, who took a decision over Justin Espejo. Zamora showed he could box, bang, brawl, had a really exciting style and looks like the sort of fighter the Filipino scene should be looking to nurture. The youngster debuted in 2018 and fought twice that year before taking a year out and returning to face Espejo. Not sure if the break was the best thing for his career, but his performance this weekend was brilliant, keep an eye out for this talented and exciting youngster!
Emanuel Navarrete (30-1, 26) vs Jeo Santisima (19-2, 16)
The biggest show of the weekend is at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and we an Asian interest with Emanuel Navarrete taking on Filipino Jeo Santisima, in what is a genuinely quiet week for Asian fighters. Before we go any further, we see this as a massive mismatch, however we also see this as a fun mismatch, with two men expected to try and out slug each other. Santisima is a massive under-dog, but fights in a style that should be fun, until he is eventually worn down by Navarrete. Expect this to be a lot of fun and brutal!
Boxing fans as well known curmudgeons, who want to complain about all sorts. We often hear about how the sport was better in bygone eras, how today's fighters wouldn't have managed to hold a candle to those from yesteryear and the such. Some of the complaints are very valid, others not so. Some are ones that have persisted for decades, other are totally new issues.
Today we look at a relatively new issue... the state of the GAB streams.
GAB, or the Games and Amusements Board, is the body that oversees professional sport in the Philippines. They also put on free streams of certain Filipino boxing events, such as today's "Deadly Combination".
It can be hard to complain about getting something for free, but the reality is that the free streams for events like this are an advert for the promoter, the GAB and the fighters. Yes fans aren't paying to watch the streams, though the people doing the show could easily fit in commercials if financials behind the streams needed to be looked. Or rather they could fit in commercials if they had a stream that fucking worked!
Today's event was streamed on Facebook, it's self a weird decision when Youtube seems the more straight forward and popular option, and through out the show it stopped, it started, it paused the image and kept the sound rolling, it froze complete, needed resetting and simply didn't work. At least not until near the end, with the final 2 bouts working perfectly.
So, given how the last 2 bouts were streamed, we know it's possible for them to run a consistent, smooth stream. So what the fuck were they doing through the rest of the show? The only logical answer is that they were testing things, but given the sheer number of bouts ruined for viewers by whatever it was, it would have been some of the slowest, clumsiest testing ever.
We may be spoiled in some ways with the professional level free streams that CBC, YTV and RCC put on for their events, but GAB look like they are so far behind every one in terms of production value, and overall streaming quality.
At their most basic a stream of an event needs a single camera and to run from start to end without stopping, freezing or anything else. It's consistency of the stream that is absolute vital.
After having a consistent stream they can then look to add things, such as multiple camera angles, replays, and commentary. But these are a bonus on what should be the foundation of a free, consistent stream.
The GAB have a brilliant position in the world of boxing, and their streams have the potential to open up a new audience to fighters on their shows. This could have been a great chance for fight fans to get a chance to see some of the emerging talent on the show, but instead it was little more than a frustration, a genuine nightmare of a stream. In fact it was so bad that it would have been better to have not had any sort of feed at all for the under-card. At least that way those viewing wouldn't have been angry at trying to watch the event, and wouldn't have sworn off going back.
If the GAB have any common sense, they will continue to do these free streams, but they should begin to look at running them through YouTube, with a single camera feed. Getting that down, then building on the basic. There are things that could prove to be an issue, such as music licensing, but even that can be solved by simply muting the microphone and not picking up ring walk music.
It can be hard, and sometimes unfair, to complain about things that are free, but the reality is that free shouldn't mean shit. The GAB need to sort these out, ASAP, before people get to the point of skipping them all together, and doing something else with their time, before waiting for the fights to be uploaded as stand alone videos.
There is a demand for Filipino boxing, and it's an international appeal in some cases, so please GAB, understand these could be something that could attract a decent, consistent, viewing number. But they need to work as streams, and they need to be well advertised in advance, get people talking and get people watching, sticking around and watch next time, rather than the few watching being being pissed off and turning off.
Quite often in this wonderful sport we see fighters who are tipped for the top falling short of the expectations heaped on their shoulders. We've all seen the Olympic gold medal winners who fails to make it to the big time and the other highly regarded former amateurs who went to the top in the unpaid ranks but failed to gain the same success as a professional.
One fighter looking to avoid joining those is Filipino fighter Froilan Saludar (31-3-1, 22) who is now 30 years old and essentially in last chance saloon, and that latest subject of our "Who are you?" feature.
The heavy handed Saludar was tipped for major success very early in his professional career, more than a decade ago, and whilst he's yet to reach the top he banged on the door a few times and has time on side for one more charge. But who exactly is Froilan Saludar?
Froilan Saludar, dubbed "The Sniper", was a once capable amateur who competed internationally in a number of notable tournaments. Those included the Ahmet Comert Tournament, the Xinjiang International Tournament and the Asian Junior Championships all in 2007. Sadly he failed to reach the medal stages in any of those competitions, but even getting as far as he did was something. What was notable is that Froilan's success in the amateurs was overshadowed by that of his brothers, Rey and Vic Saludar, who both took medals at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China.
In 2009 Froilan began his professional campaign and stopped his first 3 opponents, including Jhon Gemino who later became a solid journeyman. When his stoppage run came to an end Saludar continued to pick up wins moving to 6-0 (3) before suffering a technical draw in a 2010 bout against Brian Diano. That draw was the only blip on Saludar's record in his first 20 fights, in which he went 19-0-1 (12).
Although Saludar hadn't scored any major wins in his first 20 bouts he did have notable wins not just over a young Gemino but also Eaktwan BTU Ruaviking, aka Komgrich Nantapech. Sadly his unbeaten run came to an end in spectacular fashion when he was stopped in a world title eliminator by McWilliams Arroyo. That loss came in 2014 and was a major set back, but one that Saludar bounced back from by scoring 4 wins and securing a bout with Takuma Inoue. Sadly that was where Saludar suffered his second loss, and fell to 23-2-1 (14). Despite dropping Inoue Saludar was dropped twice by Inoue late on and was a clearly beaten by Naoya Inoue's young brother.
Saludar would again bounce back from a loss and run up 5 straight wins, all inside the distance, before getting a world title fight against the then WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura. Again the step up to world class proved too much for Saludar, who was stopped in 6 rounds by Kimura, despite a very good start by Saludar who had boxed well early on before being ground down.
As we've seen from Saludar after every loss, he has bounced back, and since losing to Kimura in July 2018 he has notched 3 wins, all by stoppage, including a very notable victory in September 2019 over Tsubasa Murachi for the WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title. That win was enough to put Saludar into the WBO world rankings, again, and put him on the way to another potential world title fight.
Later this month Saludar will make his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific title, as he takes on 33 year old Japanese puncher Ryoji Fukunaga (11-4, 11). A win there will boost Saludar WBO ranking further and potentially give the hard hitting Filipino one more chance to hit the big time.
Although known in the west for his loss to Arroyo, and subsequent defeats to Inoue and Kimura, Saludar is not someone to over-look. The talented boxer puncher has had to rebuild, but at 30 with experience on his side and 35 professional bouts under his belt, including 3 bouts with world class opponents, he certainly shouldn't be written off. Saludar is one of those fighters who will seemingly only lose when he takes on world class fighters, and is likely to become a genuine gatekeeper.
Whilst Saludar being a gatekeeper would be a disappointment, given early expectations, it would certainly not be a terrible position to be, given the incredible depth at Super Flyweight right now, and being a gatekeeper would mean he's only a win or two away from a world title fight.
We don't imagine Saludar ever becoming a world champion, but not every one can. Finding success at regional level, fighting for a world title and being in the general mix is a success, and we wouldn't be surprised at Saludar getting one more crack at a major title before his career comes to an end.
Whilst February certainly didn't start quickly it does get going in the second half of the month with a flurry of fights taking place with Asian fighters involved.
Shuichiro Yoshino (11-0, 9) Vs Izuki Tomioka (7-2-1, 2) -
In the headline bout of a Dimond Glove card in Tokyo we'll see Japanese Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino defending his title again mandatory challenger Izuki Tomioka in the second of this year's Champion carnival bouts. For Yoshino this is expected to be a test of his technical boxing skills, as Tomioka is a genuinely talented boxer-mover. On the other hand Tomioka is taking on, arguably, his toughest opponent to date and did come up short in his last bout at this type of level.
Daigo Higa (15-1, 15) Vs Jason Buenaobra (7-4-3, 3)
After almost 2 years away from the ring former world champion Daigo Higa returns, and takes on rugged Filipino foe Jason Buenaobra. This should be a win for Higa, but we expect him to be very emotional, and he is going up against someone who has never been stopped before, so he will have to work hard for the win. It's also worth noting that Buenaobra is the naturally bigger man and will not be there looking to just make up the numbers.
Froilan Saludar (31-3-1, 22) Vs Ryoji Fukunaga (11-4, 11)
Filipino Froilan Saludar returns to Japan to make his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title, as he battles hard hitting, but technically limited, Japanese challenger Ryuji Fukunaga. On paper this looks like it could be very explosive, and we wouldn't be surprised at all with the bout ending early. Fukunaga hasn't been able to show his power when he has faced his toughest opponents, and Saludar is certainly among the best opponents that he has faced.
Yuki Nakajima (3-1, 3) Vs Shisui Kawabata (2-1, 2)
In a mouth watering clash of young prospects we'll see Yuki Nakajima take on Shisui Kawabata. On paper this doesn't look like one that will get fans outside of Japan too excited, but given the skills of the two men we are really excited by this one. Nakajima, the younger brother of Kazuki Nakajima, is a former amateur standout and made a real mark on the domestic amateur scene whilst Kawabata has been used as a sparring partner by Naoya, showing the quality that he has shared the ring with. We expect this to be very, very good.
Ryota Yamauchi (5-1, 4) Vs MJ Bo (8-3-2, 4)
World ranked Japanese fighter Ryota Yamauchi looks to build on August's win over Alphoe Dagayloan. Sadly Yamauchi's win over Dagayloan cost him a Japanese title eliminator, due to the injuries he suffered in that bout, and he'll be lookign to make up for it in 2020. MJ Bo, from the Philippines was stopped last time he fought in Japan, by Yuta Nakayama, but is a capable opponent and should ask questions of Yamauchi.
Emanuel Navarrete (30-1, 26) vs Jeo Santisima (19-2, 16)
Mexican fighter Emanuel Navarrete looks to make his fifth defense of the WBO Super Bantamweight title as he takes on Filipino challenger Jeo Santisima. The bout is expected to be a mismatch by many, especially given Navarrete's run since winning the title in late 2018. The champion is seen a real monster in the Super Bantamweight division and will come into the bout full of confidence. Although the 23 Santisima isn't well known outside of the Philippines he is riding a 17 fight winning run and has stopped 15 of those, so he certainly enters with a punchers chance, if nothing else.
Riku Nagahama (11-2-1, 4) Vs Kudura Kaneko (11-0, 8)
Unbeaten Japanese-Afghan fighter Kudura Kaneko looks to extend his perfect record as he goes up against the talented Riku Nagahama in a bout for the vacant OPBF Welterweight title. Although neither of these two are well known outside of Japan the bout is a significant one and the winner will see their hopes of landing a big international fight given a huge shot in the arm. Of the two Nagahama has faced better competition, but has lost in his 2 most notable bouts, whilst Kaneko looks to be a fighter on the rise. A very interesting clash.
Jae Woo Lee (7-2, 6) Vs Shingo Kusano (12-8-1, 5)
Potentially the hidden gem for the month is a clash between Jae Woo Lee and Shingo Kusano, who clash in one of the two Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament semi finals. The little known Lee made fans sit up and take note last November, when he stopped Tsuyoshi Tameda in a thrilling little war. Shingo Kusano also thrilled when he fought on the same November card, pulling himself off the canvas and battling back through some real scares against Qiang Ma. Expect this one to be exciting, and not to go the distance.
Richard Pumicpic (21-10-2, 6) Vs Daisuke Watanabe (9-4-2, 6)
The other Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament semi final bout will see Filipino veteran Richard Pumicpic battle Japanese foe Daisuke Watanabe. This has the potential to be very exciting, or a total mess. Both guys like to let their hands go but with 6 technical decisions between them there's a real risk of headbutts derailing the fight. Fingers crossed the heads don't come in to contact too often and we instead get a bit of a thriller!
This is just an opinion, maaaan! It's easy to share our opinions, and that's what you'll find here, some random opinion pieces