Way back in early May 2019 we covered the then unbeaten Tetsuro Ohashi (7-1-1, 2) as part of our "Introducing" series. At the time Ohashi was 6-0-1 (1) and the 20 year old was showing real potential whilst preparing to take on Thai visitor Kathawut Saikaew Boxing Camp.
When we "Introduced" Ohashi he had won the 2018 Rookie of the Year, at Super Flyweight, with a decision win over Shinobu Wakagi in the final. He had shown a lack of power, but some lovely skills and it was clear he had the potential to go far, but still had work to do. What he had was skills, speed, timing, footwork and size. He is also a southpaw, giving him yet another thing to like. For a Super Flyweight he was a long, tall, rangy guy, and fought to his physical strengths.
Whilst Ohashi is a big guy at Super Flyweight he is still very young, lacking physical maturity. That lack of maturity was obvious in 2019, he still looked like a kid, a scrawny looking kid. Questions were always going to be asked when a fighter could get past his jab, cut the ring, and begin to physically bully him. It wasn't going to be an easy task for opponents, but was a clear area where Ohashi was probably going to struggle.
Following our introduction of Ohashi he blew out Kathawut Saikaew Boxing Camp inside a round as part of the Reiya Konishi Vs Felix Alvarado under-card. The win was Ohashi's first stoppage since he defeated Akihiro Imai back in June 2017 in Ohashi's debut, almost 2 years earlier. The bout said more about the totally hapless Thai than Ohashi, though the Japanese youngster did show some nice touches and his left hands to the body were particularly potent against the Thai.
After stopping Kathawut Saikaew Boxing Camp we then saw Ohashi move into his first title bout. That came in October 2019 when he took on fellow Japanese youngster Suzumi Takayama in a bout for the Japanese Youth Super Flyweight title. This was one of those bouts that is rather unique to the Japanese scene, with two talented young prospects both facing in their first 10 bouts. It was a notable amateur in Takayama taking on a Rookie of the Year winner, in Ohashi.
The bout between Ohashi and Takayama turned out to be a genuine hidden gem. Ohashi was dropped in the first round but then got revenge in round 2 when he dropped Takayama, and managed to build a lead through the first half of the fight. Going into the final round Ohashi was in a lead on all 3 cards, albeit a narrow one. With the bout slipping away from Takayama dropped a tired Ohashi twice in round 8, with Ohashi's team throwing in the towel to save their man.
The loss is a clear set back for Ohashi, a stoppage loss can certainly be hard to bounce back from. However this is not a loss that Ohashi should feel ashamed by. In fact if anything it showed he could fight through adversity, getting up in the first round. He could recompose himself when hurt, and he belonged at that level. The loss also showed that he needed time, he needed a chance to develop and mature physically and get used to the 8 round distance.
Whilst Ohashi hasn't fought since October 2019 in part due to the global situation, we're really looking forward to seeing more of him. Unlike many fighters the lengthy break from the ring may serve him well. It's allowed him a lengthy break after a stoppage loss, and it's given him plenty of time to naturally mature. Of course gym time would have helped, but we suspect the time out of the ring will be a blessing in disguise for the 21 year old from the Shinsei Gym.
(Please note - Ohashi may have had his next bout announced by the time this goes live, it was written in May)
As we continue this fun little series we remain in South Korea for a second week running. Last week we looked at Hi Yong Choi and this week we move over to his Hyundai promotions stable mate Young Kyun Park (28-3-1, 16). Like Choi it's fair to say that Park wasn't the most polished or rounded of fighters but he was certainly a thrill a minute fighter with an ultra aggressive style that lead to him being dubbed the "Bulldozer".
As a professional Park fought between 1986 and 1995, holding the WBA Featherweight title in the early 1990's. Although not too well remembered in the West he's the type of fighter that fans typically think of when they think Korean boxing. A strong, come forward fighter with clear technical limitations, but an incredible will to win, terrifying stamina and a jaw of titanium.
With that all said lets bring you the 5 most significant wins for... Young Kyun Park
Kyong-Mo Chung (December 28th 1986)
One thing we mention in a lot of these, at least for Japanese fighters, is their triumph in the Rookie of the Year. The same sort of tournament is held in Korea and in 1986 Park won the tournament, beating Kyong Mo Chung in the final in late December. This was Park's first big win and was his 5th bout in less than 3 weeks. Given how harsh the Korean Rookie of the Year tournaments can be, cramming a lot of fights into a very small time frame, this was a stellar win for Park who showed off his energy and mental toughness. He had fought 11 rounds in the previous bouts in the tournament and yet showed enough in reserve to take a 6 round decision over his foe. Whilst there were much bigger wins to come for him domestically, this is the one that stands out as being the most significant.
Antonio Esparragoza (March 30th 1991)
Despite winning the South Korean Super Bantamweight and OPBF Featherweight titles it's hard to mention either of those as Park's wins at domestic and Oriental title level were rather forgettable. That leaves us with a bit of a gap to Park's second significant win, his WBA Featherweight world title win over Venezuelan puncher Antonio Esparragoza. Coming in to this Esparragoza was 30-1-4 (27), and had been a long reigning world champion, holding the belt since March 1987. His reign had taken him all over the world, with defenses in the US, Italy, Japan, Belgium, Mexico and South Korea, where he had beaten Chan Mok Park 10 months prior to facing Park. Park out worked the 31 year old champion, and explained that he had gotten a bit of luck in catching Esparragoza at the right time. Park's work rate, toughness and desire helped him earn a clear decision over Esparragoza and take the world title just weeks after his stable mate had taken his first, giving Hyundai Promotions two world titles and helping put them on the map.
Eloy Rojas I (September 14th 1991)
In Park's second defense of the WBA title he took on the then unbeaten Eloy Rojas. Rojas, sporting a 22-0 (21) record had a reputation as a heavy handed fighter and momentum of being an unbeaten fighter. Park didn't seem to care about what Rojas brought to the table and pressed forward from the off, backing up Rojas and trying to take him out. Rojas gutted out some awful moments early on and managed to ride out the storm to survive the early onslaught. Although he was brave and tough Rojas was in such a big hole that he ended up coming up well short on the scorecards as Park took a clear decision. These two would later rematch, twice, with Rojas winning both of their subsequent bouts, but without this win Park would never have had the rivalry with Rojas that he had, and that would have been a huge shame.
Seiji Asakawa (January 25th 1992)
If there is a single bout of Park's that needs to be watch it's his 9 round war with Japanese challenger Seiji Asakawa. This was Park's third defense of the WBA title, coming 5 months after his win over Rojas, and boy what a doozy it was. Asakawa had entered as a 2-time Japanese national champion and boasted a 19-2-1 (14) record. At the time Park was 20-1-1 (11) and it was clear that Asakawa entered the bout with the belief that he was the puncher. That wasn't the right gameplan to take into a bout with Park and the Korean broke down Asakawa in a thrilling bout. This is the type of bout where it's immediate significance is perhaps not the highest, but afterwards it's the sort of bout we suggest every fan watches as an introduction to Park, and will certainly be a bout that lives long in the memory. Sometimes having a bout that is a must watch war is every big as significant as a domestic or regional title win, and this is that type of bout.
Koji Matsumoto (April 25th 1992)
The significance of a bout can be very much a debatable subject. On paper Park's 1992 win over Koji Matsumoto, in what Park's 4th defense looks fairly routine. Park stopped Matsumoto in the 11th round whilst a mile ahead on the scorecards. For all intents the bout wasn't a special defense, though it was his first defense against a southpaw. What it actually lead to however was a brilliant friendship between two men who are still close today. Park has stated that Matsumoto is the only former foe he's still in touch with, and Park has been invited to a number of fights in Japan promoted by the Ohashi gym as a result of this contest. In terms of boxing, and Park's legacy the bout isn't one of the most significant, but on a personal level this is a bout that certainly means a lot to both. It's also likely part of the reason the Ohashi gym has been willing to send fighters over to Korea. The longer term significance of this bout is really important, and something that still impacts the sport now, almost 20 years later.
One thing we haven't seen a lot of over the years are all-Filipino world title bouts, and that's a real shame. Whilst we understand, begrudgingly, champions from the same country not unifying titled what we never understand it why fighters form the same country seem to rarely face off. At least for some countries. And the Philippines is the worse country for this. With that in mind we had a think about some of the bouts we wish we'd had and came up with our latest "Fight we wish we had". Unlike some fights this one doesn't have FOTY written all over it, but would still be a very, very intriguing match up.
Donnie Nietes Vs Johnriel Casimero
As mentioned we don't see Filipino's fighting each other in world title bouts very often, unlike in the UK, US and Mexico, and more recently Japan. That's despite some bouts looking too obvious not to make, and this was one of those obvious ones. Not only was it an obvious match up between one of the most talented fighters and one of the most explosive, but it was also a match up but it was also one that could have taken place at any of 3 different weight classes. In one corner would have been Donnie Nietes, one of the most well schooled and technically brilliant Filipino fighters every, whilst the other corner would have had the wild, explosive and hard hitting Johnriel Casimero. It would have been a clash between a veteran and a hot young stud, and would have been a mouth watering clash, in terms of era and styles.
The window for when this fight could have taken place really is huge, and in theory is still technically open, but appears to on the verge of closing. In theory the bout could have taken place as early as 2009, when Nietes was considering a move up from Minimumweight to Light Flyweight and whilst Casimero was a regional Light Flyweight champion. In 2010 Casimero was WBO interim champion at 108lbs and Nietes was dipping his toes at the weight.
Had it been a little later they could have clashed at Flyweight. Nietes moved up to the weight in 2016 whilst Casimero had been there since 2014. Interestingly Casimero held the IBF Flyweight title in 2016, but vacated it in 2017 before Nietes won it. That would have been the perfect time, early 2017.
The window for the fight then actually continues into 2018 when the two could have clashed at Super Flyweight. If they were to clash now, in 2020, the bout could take place at Bantamweight, but if we're being hones the bout has lost a lot of it's potential appeal, with Nietes now the wrong side of 40 and almost 2 years removed from his last bout.
Donnie Nietes is arguable the most under-rated fighter from 2000 to 2020. He is one of the most skilled and well schooled fighters out there, and someone who proved that being a defensively responsible little guy to really prolong a career. He managed to become of the very few fighters to win world titles at Minimumweight, Light Flyweight, Flyweight and Super Flyweight and did so without having lightning speed or thunderous power. He did on his ring craft, boxing skills, and IQ.
Although there was a lot of potential opponents Nietes should have faced he did go in with a genuine who's who and took wins against Pornsawan Porpramook, Jesus Silvestre, Mario Rodriguez, Moises Fuentes, Francisco Rodriguez Jr, Edgar Sosa, Juan Carlos Revecco and Kazuto Ioka. Not only did he fight a who's who but he also showed a willingness to travel, picking up wins in Mexico, USA and Macau, though didn't really get the reputation of a road warrior. In terms of skills he is criminally under-rated and knew how to adapt when he needed to. A genuinely intelligent fighter.
Whilst Nietes is a 4 weight world champion Johnriel Casimero is a 3-weight world champion, having taken titles titles at Light Flyweight, Flyweight and Bantamweight. Watching him you see almost the opposite of Nietes. Casimero is a wild man at times, a freakish puncher who could box, but often found himself believing more in his power than his skills. His biggest issues wasn't his belief in his power but instead his inconsistencies and professionalism, which actually resulted in his being stripped of a title, looking poor in some bouts and even losing a bout he should have won.
At his best Casimero was a thunderous puncher who showed no fear. He was a road warrior who travelled right around the globe to face a who's who. He travelled to face the likes of Moruti Mthalane, Luis Alberto Lazarte, Pedro Guevara, Amnat Ruenroeng, Charlie Edwards and Zolani Tete. He's very much a throw back, but again inconsistency has been an issue, and in 2017 he lost to Jonas Sultan in a world title eliminator at Super Flyweight. When he was on point he was brilliant, but there was always the worry that we were going to see him have an off night, fail to prepare properly, as he had for his 2014 clash with Mauricio Fuentes, or just not show what he could do.
How would we see it playing out?
The reality here is that we see this being a bout depending on what Casimero turns up. At his very best Casimero is a very hard man to pick against. He was so heavy handed, so quick and so explosive that he had the power to pretty much taken out anyone, and was so unpredictable in his offense that he had a chance to catch anyone clean. On the other hand we know what we'd be getting from Nietes, he was Mr Consistent. He put on solid performance after solid performance, and even against the best Casimero his skills and defense could prove to be a difference maker.
We would expect Casimero trying to box Nietes early on, a poor tactical choice from the younger man but one that showed he wanted to be more than a puncher. We saw that from him numerous times, including his career defining win over Zolani Tete. As the bout went on however we'd see more aggression and more power shots from Casimero, as he changed from boxer to puncher. That would leave him open to Nietes' counter shots and we sispect that those would prove to be the difference as the bout went on, with Nietes slowly breaking down his countryman.
Although we do favour Nietes it should be noted that Casimero is almost a decade younger than Nietes and that age gap could be a tricky obstacle to over-come, even for Nietes. The speed and power edges of Casimero will mean he's always dangerous, he's always in the bout, and he'll only be one shot from turning things around, but Nietes is not an easy man to land that big shot on.
Would history of been changed?
Depending on when the bout took place history could have been very, very different. Had they faced off earlier in the window Nietes' experience and boxing skills would likely have slowed Casimero ascent drastically. He would almost certainly have done a similar job on Casimero that Moruti Mthalane did, and just mentally break Casimero. Had that happened Casimero may never have become the fighter he later became.
Had the bout been in 2016 we would likely have seen Nietes claim the Flyweight title a bit earlier, sending Casimero up in weight a bit earlier and maybe even avoided Casimero's stinking effort against Jonas Sultan. Had that happened there's a good chance that Casimero may have found himself fighting for a Super Flyweight title at some point, maybe even leading the two men to a rematch at 115lbs.
Had the bout been in 2017 or 2018 there's a chance that we would never have seen Casimero make an impact at Bantamweight, and we would almost certainly have not had his upset win over Zolani Tete, leading to a very different look at the Bantamweight scene.
Of course had Casimero managed to beat Nietes at any point his career would have been very different and we wouldn't be talking about Nietes as being so under-rated. Instead we'd be talking about Casimero, potentially, being a pound for pound fighter. Their careers would look very different on reflection.
This past week has been an interesting one. The sport has definitely taken a big step forward in returning to normal, with Sky Sports and Showtime both airing live cards for the first time in months, it has also seen more bouts being announced and a genuine sense that we are getting places in the sport. Sure we've not seen monster bouts getting announced, but we have seen strides taken!
With that said there's also been bad and some ugly, so lets take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly for the past week!
1-More fights and more action!
Of course we've seen more fights! And actually seen a good level of fights. We had interesting bouts in the US, UK and Thailand this week and as I mentioned in the introduction it really does feel like we are taking a big step forward with the sport. We won't say that the Showtime card or the Matchroom card were amazing, but they were a solid step up from the other US and UK cards we've had and hopefully everyone now looks to match the level of shows we got this week. If we can get people putting on better shows then, fingers crossed, the sport gets better as a result!
Fights like Angelo Leon Vs Tramaine Willians, James Tennyson v Gavin Gwynne Ted Cheeseman Vs Sam Eggington were really enjoyable fights and George Joseph's KO of Marcos Escudero was a beauty.
2-Global interest in a Thai card
On Saturday it was really great to see the boxing world turn it's attention to Thailand for what was, for all intents, a Thai domestic card. Admittedly it did feature 2 former world champions and a number of top prospects, but it was still great to see more fans tuning into an an event from Thailand. It's a shame in some ways that fans didn't seem to be aware previously that the WP Boxing events were available globally for free, but for at least 1 week people tuned in. Fingers crossed future WP Boxing events will be available to a similar interested global audience. We're unlikely to see a bout THIS big on WP Boxing again any time soon, but the events do give some talented Thai prospects a chance to shine, and that's not a bad thing at all!
3-Funds raised for Takuya Yamaguchi
We were really slow to this story, but it was revealed that after being on an A-Sign boxing video this week Japanese fighter Takuya Yamaguchi had significant funds raised to help him financially. Yamaguchi is certainly not a big name fighter, and he's never going to be a boxing star, but he's a naturally charismatic guy who we've been fans of for a while and to see others getting behind him, and getting to learn about him, and donate funds to him is amazing. It was reported that more than ¥200,000 was donated to Mr Yamaguchi. Funnily the fighter himself was apparently not aware as he doesn't use the internet and the money has been collected on his behalf by A-Sign.
A big well done to the Japanese boxing world for getting behind Yamaguchi in this way! And well done to A-Sign for creating the documentary that had granted him so much attention!
1-The phrase "Boxing is back"
One thing we seemed to hear a lot this weekend was "boxing is back". In reality boxing has been back for several weeks now in various places, including the US, Japan, Germany, Poland, Thailand and the UK. Yet for some reason Sky Sports and Showtime seemed to want to pretend that this weekend was the start of boxing's return. It felt like a very odd narrative to drive, and one that was just wrong. Sadly it was also parroted by fans who seemed unaware that we had had so much boxing in recent weeks. Whilst we can complain about the quality of the Top Rank and Queensberry shows the reality is that boxing has been back, and for a while.
2-Teofimo Lopez and Vasyl Lomachenko in jeopardy?
One bout that seemed like it should be signed and sealed, and should have been for a while, is the much talked about Lightweight unification bout between Teofimo Lopez and Vasyl Lomachenko. It appears the bout is in jeopardy due to financial demands made by Lopez. We're not going to take one side or another on the negotiations aspect of the fight, to be quite frankly honest we couldn't give a shit how much a fighter makes as we don't see a penny of it, but for the bout to be in jeopardy is not a good thing for the sport right now. Hopefully the issues get sorted and the bout is on, but if not, the sport, and fans, are the ones that miss out!
3-Tom Carusone's scorecard
We mentioned earlier Joseph George's KO of Marcus Escudero and it's a good thing he scored that KO or we'd be talking about about the card of Tom Cursone a lot more. Some how he scored the bout 79-73 in favour of George, a score that was simply impossible to have. That was the direct opposite of Don Trella's score, who had Escudero leading 79-73, Steve Weisfeld had the bout 77-75 to Escudero. Most independent observers seemed to have Escudero in a comfortable lead and it was impossible to do the mental gymnastics to have George in a dominant lead.
The commissions really need to have a damn look at some of these ridiculous cards and get people of the sport as it's becoming a massive joke!
1-Further "positives" in Japan
The "on going global situation" has become a growing problem in Japanese boxing with the Osakan cluster growing to 16 and now a trainee in Okinawa. We hope the issues are now being isolated and stopped from getting bigger, but we do continue to worry that the issues aren't sorted and could get worse. Bringing boxing back is great, but not if boxing becomes part of the growing problem in the world.
The 2019 All Japan Rookie of the Year was an interesting tournament, and one where we were really impressed by a number of the fighters involved. Whilst Katsuki Mori was the one that really caught the eye there were others that impressed as well. One of those was Featherweight Jinki Maeda (4-0, 2), who deserves a mention this week ahead of his next professional bout, on August 9th.
Prior to turning to boxing the Maeda was a stellar Nippon Kempo competitor, winning the 32nd All Japan Student Kempo Championships as an individual. From the footage of Maeda competing in Nippon Kempo you could see he was quick, well balanced, with long reach, and very good with his hands.
Whilst there is overlap between Nippon Kempo and boxing the sports are very different. However from what we could find that was all the combat experience Maeda had before he turned professional with the Green Tsuda gym. From what we could find he essentially had no prior amateur boxing experience when he turned professional. Despite his lack of boxing experience he made his professional debut in the 2019 West Japan Rookie of the Year, competing as a Featherweight and shone.
On April 21st 2019 Maeda made his professional debut, taking on Genki Kakiuchi. The talented Maeda shined from the off, using his southpaw stance and height well, before dropping Kakiuchi with a brilliant 1-2 just over a minute into the bout. To his credit Kakiuchi got to his feet, a surprise given how he went down, but the referee waved off the bout with Kakiuchi looking unstable on his feet. The bout was waved off after just 83 seconds.
Whilst a blow out over Kakiuchi was impressive for the debuting Maeda it wasn't a fluke and just 3 months later he scored another quick win as he blasted out Shoya Yamashita in 80 seconds in another West Japan Rookie of the Year bout. Yamashita, just like Kakiuchi, was dropped quickly, and struggled to beat the count, looking unsteady and forcing the referee to halt the bout. This should have moved Maeda into the West Japan Rookie of the Year final in September, that however fell through when Konosuke Kirihigashi was unable to face Maeda, resulting in a bye.
With the bye Kakikuchi would progress to the next round, where he faced off with the then 4-0 (4) Hikaru Fukunaga in November, to decide the West Japan representative for the All Japan final in December. From the off Maeda looked respectful of Fukunaga, realising this was a much more testing bout than his first 2. He showed patience, a fantastic jab and a willingness to use the ring as he easily out boxed Fukunaga. There was nothing special about what Maeda did, it was all basic, straight forward boxing, but he neutralised his dangerous opponent and won the rounds with simple out-side boxing. That win then moved him on to the All Japan final.
The All Japan final saw Maeda face off with Kyonosuke Kameda, the cousin of the Kameda brothers. Going in to that bout much of the attention was on Kameda, with his family being a focus pre-fight. Despite Maeda being somewhat over-looked going into the final the talented southpaw simply out worked Kameda, proved he wanted it more and put his foot on the gas when it was needed. It was a close contest, but Maeda was showing that bit of extra hunger whilst Kameda was trying to be too cute. The result was a split decision for Maeda, who scored the biggest win of his career so far and claimed the Rookie of the Year crown.
On August 9th Maeda returns to the ring for the first time since his Rookie of the Year triumph, as he takes on the hard hitting Arashii Iimi (7-2, 7) in a 6 rounder. On paper this is a real step up for Maeda, who takes on not only the most experienced opponent of his career, but also the most dangerous. This should see real questions being asked Maeda, who will have to prove himself.
Although his next bout is a step up Maeda does look like the sort of fighter who can go places in the sport. He's a long, rangy southpaw, he's quick, accurate, very well balanced and although his boxing IQ needs developing his Nippon Kempo experience is something that is very useful to rely on when he needs to. It's not boxing experience, but it is combat sport experience, and he is developing his boxing brain fight by fight.
Don't expect Maeda to be in a title fight any time soon, but he is definitely one to keepo an eye on for the future.
With the sport's return to some, albeit limited, normality we thought it was time to begin doing our Monthly Awards again. The sport is certainly not going at full speed yet, but there actually was quite a lot that happened in July, with a number of upsets, a frightening KO, some brilliant action and a movement towards boxing's big return. Yes there is a lot for the sport to do going forward, but, for the first time since February, we've had more than just an odd fight here and there.
Fighter of the Month
Kenichi Horikawa (41-16-1, 14)
Aged 40 and coming in as the under-dog for his fight with Daiki Tomita the veteran really showed what he had left in the tank by not just beating Tomita, but stopping him to claim the OPBF Light Flyweight title. A 40 year at 108lbs is supposed to be retired and enjoying a post boxing career but Horikawa is still having real success years beyond his supposed prime. This wasn't necessarily the best performance of the month, but this was the most impressive in terms of context and the sort of win that really puts Horikawa on the verge of something big.
Fight of the Month
Phoobadin Yoohanngoh Vs Kulabdam Sor Jor Piekuthai
Although not the most exciting fight as such the WBA Asia Light Welterweight bout between 16 year old prodigy Phoobadin Yoohanngoh and former Muay Thai standout Kulabdam Sor Jor Piekuthai was a bout that had everything we needed. It was, technically a compelling bout on paper, it was a great match up of styles and a really competitive contest. Whilst Phoobadin won, he had to answer questions and despite the loss Kulabdam will come again, having learned more in that one bout that he would in 10 other bouts. This was two youngsters putting things on the line in a good, solid, 10 rounder. It may not have been the most action packed or dramatic, but it was a bout that had other intriguing aspects to it, that more than made up for the lack of knockdowns and back and forth exchanges.
KO of the Month
Rentaro Kimura TKO2 Yuta Azuma
When there is a lot of hype around a prospect ahead of their debut they need to shine, and Rentaro Kimura did just that, giving us a KO of the year contender. The youngster looked good, although not flawless, in the first round, and was caught a few times in round 2. That however was quickly forgotten thanks to the brutal finish he put on against Yuya Azuma. We see lots of 1-punch KO's but from Kimura was got a brutal combination to take out Azuma who had never previously been stopped. This was brutal and brilliant
Prospect of the Month
Rentaro Kimura (1-0, 1)
It's a double for Rentaro Kimura. The talented Japanese debutant looked truly fantastic at times, and looks like someone who can be fast tracked over the coming years. He looked like there was areas to improve, of course he did, but he showed so much that it's hard not to get very excited about him. He's quick, sharp, powerful, skilled and has that pure killed instinct in the ring. He's going to be a must watch fighter, and his return to the ring in September is highly anticipated as he looks to be moved very quickly in the coming years.
Other prospects worth mentioning
Upset of the Month
Sandy Messaoud TD7 Nursultan Zhangabayev
There was an incredible number of upsets this past month in Asian boxing but the most surprising of them all was the technical decision win scored by French fighter Sandy Messaoud against previously unbeaten, and world ranked, Kazakh Nursultan Zhangabayev. The Kazakh was dropped early, had no answer for Messaoud's movement and accuracy in what was a massive shocker. The fact that not only Messaoud out boxed the talented Kazakh but also got the decision was a bit of a surprise, despite the awful scorecard of Jan Teleki.
As mentioned there was a number of other upsets these included:
Kenichi Horikawa Vs Daiki Tomita
Daishi Nagata Vs Koki Inoue
Round of the Month
Satoshi Shimizu Vs Kyohei Tonomoto (RD1)
When we see Satoshi Shimizu there some really obvious things that we always see. We always see a technically crude, easy to heat power puncher. Against the wrong opponent that will cost him, as we say last year against Joe Noynay, against the right opponent however it will give us something awesome. Against Kyohei Tonomoto we got something awesome in a number of rounds. Some will suggest round 7 was the pick of the bunch, and they'd have a damn good argument, but for us the opening round was the one. Tonomoto came out aggressive, forced Shimizu back and looked the better fighter and the more aggressive man, but yet found himself on the canvas twice in a round that had action, drama, excitement, wild fighting and heart.
Shimizu Vs Tonomoto (Rd 7)
We return again today for out fifth article in the "Great Boxing Names" mini-series that began when boxing was put on lock down, in April. We'll look to continue these for a bit even when boxing does return in a more regular fashion, as our research really did through a lot of names we were able to include, more than we ever expected to find.
Don King Fortune (0-1)
We've all heard of the American promoter Don King but maybe not many will be aware of Indonesian fighter Don Kong Fortune. The Indonesian fighter appears to have only fought once, though his sole bout was a 2nd TKO loss to Andika "D'Golden Boy" Sabu, who was also making his debut. With Sabu now being a world ranked fighter his debut opponent is an interesting little bit of trivia. Not much more to say here, other than that Fortune hasn't killed two people, like his more famous American namesake.
Lucky Strike (0-1)
Around the world "Lucky Strike" means lots of things. It's a name of some cigarettes, a brand of matches, a line of bowling alley's and various songs. It's also the name a Filipino fighters used in 1951. Details of "Strike's" career are obscure though he was apparently an opponent for the legendary Flash Elorde in December 1951. That is "Strike's" only recorded bout. Given his very short career it's hard to say much more, but anyone who debuted against Elorde can't be termed "Lucky".
Waling Waling Boy (4-3-3)
We stay with Filipino fighters from the 1950's as we mention the wonderfully named Waling Waling Boy. His career appears to have started in 1955 and ended in 1962, though as with many records from this era it's unclear how many other bouts "Boy" had. What is known is that he fought Ric Magramo in 1962 and was stopped by the then unbeaten Magramo. Given that "Waling" and "wailing", and even "Whaling" are all homonyms this may have been misconstrued as "Crying Crying Boy". Or someone who is "Wailing" their shots.
Midget Louis (4-4)
Another Filipino from the 50's with a great name was "Midget Louis". Sadly, though as is typically the issue with fighters from the 50's, his full and his height aren't well known. What is known is he fought in and around the Flyweight and Super Flyweight division. His most notable opponent was Tanny Campo, who he fought in 1953, and other than that he didn't really face anyone who had any kind of success, at least from what is listed on his boxrec record.
Trash Nakanuma (27-6, 12)
We end this month's name article with someone who should be well known among fans of the lower weights. That is Trash Nakanuma, who was born Masaki Nakanuma. The Japanese fighter fought between 1993 and 2006 and was a very, very capable fighter. He won the Japanese and OPBF Flyweight title and fought for both the WBC and WBA title, giving Pongsaklek Wonjongkam and Lorenzo Parra very tough bouts. Whilst his name might not stand out to non-English speakers, "Trash" means rubbish in English, essentially calling himself rubbish. The reality however is Nakanuma was a long removed from being rubbish. He was a damn good fighter, a real tough nut and a very strong and under-rated boxer.
We continue this weekly series by looking at a Korean fighter who had a short career, spanning just 21 bouts over 9 years, but an interesting one featuring 12 total title bouts, including 9 at world level.
The fighter in question is Hi Yong Choi (19-2, 8). He was a former amateur standout before turning professional in 1987, and given the footage of him in action his style is very much the antithesis of an amateur standout. He wasn't a refined boxer, but more a brawler-come-Street fighter. Although not too well remembered now a days he was a 2-weight world champion who not only fought in Korea and Japan but also had a bout in the USA before retiring in the mid 1990's. He was fast tracked to the top and faced some top names, but never really looked like the type of fighter who could have much longevity based on his raw and highly physical style.
Despite his short career Choi made an impact on the sport, and now we get to bring you the 5 most significant wins for... Hi Yong Choi.
Sam Joong Lee (April 10th 1988)
After a very successful amateur career there was no need to hold Hi Yong Choi back and his team knew that. Instead of taking their time developing the youngster they pushed him hard and fast. Just 9 months after his debut they threw him in with Korean national champion Sam Joon Lee in a 12 round bout for the OPBF Minimumweighjt title. Up to this point Choi had only fought against novices, but stepped up here and shined, as he took a decision over the then 14-2 Lee. Whilst Choi's team had moved him quickly, matching him in a 10 rounder in just his third bout, this was really an impressive victory, this early in his career.
Bong Jun Kim I (February 2nd 1991)
Whilst Choi's team had managed to secure him an OPBF title fight very early they had to wait almost 3 years to get him a world title fight. That finally came in February 1991 when he took on fellow Korean Bong Jun Kim. Kim, the then WBA Minimumweight champion, was 23-5-3 and had been unbeaten in more than 3 yeas. He had claimed the WBA title in 1989 and had already notched 5 defenses of the title. Choi on the other hand was 9-0 but lacked a stand out win since winning the OPBF title. Despite the big step up in class Choi managed to over-come his fellow Korea with a hotly contest decision over 12 rounds. This win saw Choi becoming the first fighter from Hyundai promotions to become a world champion, beating the exciting Young Kyun Park by a few weeks.
Bong Jun Kim II (October 26th 1991)
Having made a relatively straight forward first defense against Filipino challenger Sugar Ray Mike in June 1991 Choi then returned to facing world class competition as he took on Bong Jun Kim in a rematch. Choi was giving Kim a chance to reclaim the title he had taken 8 months earlier, though it was a chance that Kim couldn't take. From the off it was clear that Choi, buoyed on by the title, was a better fighter than he had been in their first bout. Kim on the other hand looked like a man who was starting to show signs of being on the slide. What had been a close and competitive match up the first time around, was a clear decision for Choi the second time around. It's worth noting that after this Kim would go 1-3, suffering a TKO loss in his final bout in 1994 against Takashi Oba before hanging them up. This was the win that signified that Choi was a world champion, and hadn't just won the title by fluke.
Leo Gamez (February 4th 1995)
After scoring 2 more successful defenses Choi would make his international debut and lose the WBA Minimumweight title to Japan's popular Hideyuki Ohashi. Choi would then take more than a year away from the ring before returning in December 1993 having abandoned the Minimumweight division. In the fourth bout of his comeback he took on Venezuelan foe Leo Gamez, the then WBA Light Flyweight champion. Gamez was enjoying his second reign as a world champion, having previously held a Minimumweight title, and was well known in Korea following bouts against Bong Jun Kim, Myung Woo Yuh and Yong Kang Kim. Sadly for Gamez his experience in Korea wasn't enough to over-come the Korean, who looked really strong at Light Flyweight. The bout was marred by head clashes, and certainly wasn't a pretty fight, but the win did see Choi becoming a 2-weight world champion in just 19 fights. Warning for those about to watch, this it's a sloppy, gruelling, mauling mess of a fight. Entertaining in parts but a mess through out.
Keiji Yamaguchi (September 5th 1995)
Choi would return to the ring to defend the WBA Light Flyweight title, that he took from Gamez, 7 months after winning it. For the second time in his career he travelled overseas for the bout as he took on the then 18-0 Keiji Yamaguchi in his home of Osaka. Whilst Choi had failed on his first visit to Japan, losing to Ohashi in 1992, he faired better this time around winning a split decision over Yamaguchi. As with his bout against Gamez this wasn't the most pleasing fight to watch, but winning on foreign soil against an unbeaten challenger is never an easy task. What makes this win even more notable is that Yamaguchi would later go on to take the take title from the man who ended Choi's reign, Carlos Murillo.
Sadly after beating Yamaguchi Choi would lose the title on his US debut against the aforementioned Murillo, and then retire.
July felt like a bit of a turning point with boxing, as we had shows return to Thailand and Japan, we managed to see a show in Belarus with some Kazakh hopefuls, we had upsets, action, excitement and some brilliant debuts as the sport finally begins to turn a corner. Thankfully that momentum looks likely to continue in August with a host of notable events set for the coming month. With their being a lot planned and scheduled for August lets take a look at what we're getting in the first half of the month!
PLEASE Note - All bouts are subject to change, cancellations and postponements, something that is a lot more rife right now than usual due to the on going situation.
Workpoint Studio, Bang Phun, Thailand
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (47-5-1, 41) Vs Amnat Ruenroeng (20-3, 6)
The month kicks off with one of the biggest non-title bouts in Thai history, as former world champions Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Amnat Ruenroeng clash in the headline bout of the month's WP Boxing event. The event, which will be streamed not just by Work Point but also by Matchroom, is expected to help launch Srisaket into world title bout, as he looks to become a 3-time champion. Although Amnat is a very capable fighter, and a master of the dark arts, we do wonder if he had enough left in the tank to make this as interesting in the ring as it seems.
Chainoi Worawut (10-0-1, 9) Vs Jomar Fajardo (17-16-2, 9)
In a supporting bout on that same WP Boxing show is a match up for talented Thai prospect Chainoi Worawut, one of the leading Thai hopefuls for the future. The unbeaten Worawut will be up against Jomar Fajardo, a man best known for his two wars with Francisco Rodriguez Jr. Sadly Fajardo has struggled, massively, since those battles and is 3-12-1 (2) in his last 16 bouts. This should be a straight forward win for Worawut, but he is certainly one to watch, and if you tune in to the WP Boxing show he's the guy on the under-card most likely to fight for a world title in the next few years.
Zhan Kossobutskiy (13-0, 12) Vs Kamil Sokolowski (9-17-2, 3)
Unbeaten Kazakh Heavyweight hopeful Zhan Kossobutskiy looks to continue his unbeaten run as he returns to the ring in Minsk to take on English based Polish Heavyweight hopeful Kamil Sokolowski. On paper this is a total mismatch, but in reality Sokolowski is a very well respected journeyman in the UK who does come to win, rather than survive, and he will give this a genuine go. Kossobutskiy isn't the most talented, smooth or quickest and we wouldn't be surprised if Sokolowski managed to expose some of Koosobutskiy's flaws. Saying that however we do think the Kazakh will pick up the win.
Bucheon, Gyeonggi, South Korea
In Duck Seo (12-3-2, 7) Vs Jung Kyoung Lee (8-3-1, 4)
In South Korea we get a KBA show that was originally planned for July. The main event here is WBA Asia Welterweight title bout that looks mouth watering on paper and will pit In Duck Seo against former OPBF Light Middleweight champion Jung Kyoung Lee. We don't see many good looking All-Korean bouts so this one really does stand out as something to get excited about, and style wise this should be a war. Notably this is a KBA show, so the bouts are likely to end up being uploaded afterwards and we would advise fans to keep some time aside to catch up on this one if they can't catch it.
Jong Seon Kang (10-0-2, 6) Vs Seong Yeong Yang (8-2-5, 4)
In a second good looking all Korean bout we'll see the unbeaten Jong Seon Kang take on Seong Yeong Yang in a KBA Featherweight ranking bout. For those who have seen these two fighters in action it should be no surprise if this something very special. Both men were in some thrilling contests in 2019 with Kang's bout against Tomjune Mangubat being a sensational 10 round thriller whilst Yang's bout with Jian Wang was just an 10 round toe to toe slugest. Don't expect high quality boxing here, but do expect high intensity and thrilling action.
City Sogo Gym, Hirakata, Osaka, Japan
Toshiki Shimomachi (11-1-2, 7) vs Hiroki Hanabusa (8-0-3, 3)
In a very interesting looking Japanese Youth Super Bantamweight title bout we'll see defending champion Toshiki Shimomachi defending his title against the unbeaten Hiroki Hanabusa. For Shimomachi this will be his first defense, and comes just over a year after he won the title, stopping Kenta Nomura. As for Hanabusa this will be his first title bout, though he has fought in notable bouts before including a Rookie of the Year Final and a bout in China, where he had the crowd against him. This should be a real test of what both men have in the locker, and hopefully the two youngsters will both go on to have successful, and perhaps a rematch somewhere down the line.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Ryo Sagawa (9-1, 4) Vs Yuri Takemoto (8-1-1, 4)
Action returns to Tokyo on August 13th for a Japanese Featherweight title bout between defending champion Ryo Sagawa and underwhelming challenger Yuri Takemoto. Originally the plan was for Sagawa to defend his title against Hinata Maruta, but with the Champion Carnival essentially messed up by what's been going on in the world that bout was essentially put on ice, for now. As a result we'll be getting Takemoto challenging the brilliant champion. Also this is an underwhelming title defense Takemoto is a solid fighter, who won the Rookie of the Year in 2018, but he's done nothing to suggest he'll be a test for the fantastic Sagawa.
Back in June Teiken announced they had signed a number of top Japanese amateurs to professional contracts, with the intention of letting the men make their debuts later in the year. One of the most interesting of the fighters signed by the Japanese promotional giant was Subaru Murata, who is expected to fast tracked though the professional ranks.
The 23 year old Murata is from Iwade City and first took to Karate before turning his hand to boxing when he was in elementary school. He would develop his boxing skills before making a mark for himself when he was in High School, winning a number of competitions including National High School titles. He would then be a success in his university team and was a member of the Self-Defense Force Physical Education School.
Impressively Murata's success wasn't just on the domestic scene. He managed to make a mark on the international scene, competing at the 2014 AIBA Youth World Championships, in Bulgaria and the 2014 Junior Olympics in China. At the Youth World Championships he reached the quarter finals, beating Scotland's Lee McGregor along the way. Whilst at the Junior Olympics he managed to win a bronze medal.
In the years that followed Murata would build his reputation and carve out a really solid amateur career. He had a sensational 2018, winning the All Japan Championships and taking the "Excellent Fighter" award at the annual awards ceremony the following year. He would also compete at a number of international championships, including the 2016 Asian Students Championships, where he reached the semi finals, and the 2019 AIBA Championships.
By the time Murata was done with the unpaid ranks he had run up an excellent 68-12 record.
In the ring Murata's style is a very aggressive one for an amateur. He likes to come forward, be aggressive and is a southpaw. He has good handspeed, appears to have respectable pop and has got a style that should work well in the professional ranks, with a bit of polish. Despite being aggressive there are flaws for him to work on, specifically defensively. If he can work on those defensive issues, then he really can be fast tracked.
At just 23, and with his 24th birthday coming in October, the future is really bright for Murata who looks like he has the tools to go a very, very long way in the sport. With the right training and management Murata looks likely to be another future world champion from the Teiken Gym.
At the time of writing no date has been announced for Murata's debut or his pro-test but both are expected to be announced shortly.
For those curious, and we suspect there will be one or two people wondering, Subaru Murata is not related to fellow boxer Ryota Murata, another Teiken fighter.
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