In 2019 one Chinese fighter really broke out from the pack, announcing himself in a big way and not only claimed a world title, but completely thrilled fans who watched him. That, of course, was Can Xu, who went 3-0 (1) during the year, threw countless punches and gave us some of the best rounds of the year, with his bout against Jesus M Rojas being a forgotten Fight of the Year contender.
In 2020 we expect a number of other Chinese fighters attempt to make their mark and show that Xu isn't the only talented fighter in the country. One of those fighters is the unbeaten Yonggqiang Yang (13-0, 10), a 27 year old hopeful, who looks to score his biggest win to date, in early February.
As a professional Yang made his debut back in March 2016, fighting up at Light Welterweight, where he stopped Jizhu Han in 2 rounds. Sadly we haven't been able to watch that bout, but we did catch his second bout, which saw him stopping Biaobiao Wuin 2 rounds. Wu, who was making his debut, was dropped about a minute into round 2 and Yang just kept the pressure on after the bout resumed until the referee stepped in. For someone at such an early stage in his career Yang looked really composed.
Yang would continue to build his stoppage run, running his record to 5-0 (5) before being given his real test of any kind, as he faced Kuerbanjiang Qiong in January 2017. Despite not being able to take Qiong out early Yang impressed again, controlling his foe through much of the 6 round bout with crisp punches, switching between head and body and showing an ability to box on the move. It wasn't flawless, but for a guy in just his 6th pro bout it was a solid performance and saw Yang show the fundamentals that he could use for a solid career.
Straight after beating Qiong we saw Yang hit a career milestone, as he faced his first international opponent, Geisler AP. This turned out to be a rather pointless match up, with AP being stopped in the first round courtesy of a body shot from Yang, who moved through the gear for the finishing sequence and looked fantastic in the finish.
Although Yang was quietly making a name for himself as we headed into 2018 that was the year that he really began to create real buzz. He dropped down to Lightweight and scored a very notable, and hard fought win, over Takuya Watanabe. Although not well known in the west Watanabe is a talented and rugged fighter and getting past him, especially in just his 10th fight, was a legit statement from Yang, who had to dig deep at times but remained composed and earned the win. That was followed by another of note, as he stopped once touted Filipino Harmonito Dela Torre in 2 rounds.
Sadly the win over Dela Torre, which came in Malaysia on the same card as Manny Pacquiao's win over Lucas Matthysse, wasn't followed up on and it was more than a year later before Yang fought again, beating Filipino Ernie Sanchez. He then finished 2019 by stopping JR Magboo in November.
Originally the plan was for Yang to then get a shot at WBO world champion Jamel Herring, with numerous Chinese news sources reporting that was the plan for early 2020. Instead however Yang seen that bout fall by the way side. He was then up scheduled to face Masayuki Ito, himself a former world champion, before that bout fell through with Ito suffering an injury, and then the show being cancelled due to the coronovirus outbreak in China.
Although the Chinese press have described Yang as the "Chinese Lomachenko", Yang's style really isn't similar to the Ukrainian great. He is busy with his jab, and has got under-rated foot work, but he's with some nice body work. It is is however going to be interesting to see what he can do when he steps up a level. So far he has looked good, but the Watanabe bout aside things have mostly been easy going for him. The Ito bout will also be a chance to see what Yang looks like at 130lbs. He's looked solid, if somewhat basic, at 135lbs, but cutting that extra weight could be a major issue, especially against someone as talented as Ito, who will clearly be looking to make a statement here.
Sometimes we have more positives to take away from a week than negatives. This past week was not one of those weeks sadly. In fact this past week is one where the positives were really hard to find, whilst the negatives were just themselves at the sport, as if they were trying to keep the sport relevant.
1-The week is Over
Yup! We have struggled to come up with anything positive to talk about from the last 7 days. The week had little other than rumour and speculation. No big bouts were announced, nothing seemed to happen in the ring, and it was pretty much a bland week of waiting for something.
1-Olympic Qualifying getting rescheduled
This was a bad, but an understandable bad. The Olympic Qualifiers which were set to take place in Wuhan in February have been rescheduled. This is a bad but, not an awful. The situation in China is terrible, and we are sending our thoughts to those in Wuhan, and across China, in these terrifying times. In regards to boxing it's a good thing to see the event has been rescheduled quickly and will now take place in Jordan in March.
2-Ramirez Vs Postol being cancelled
Another event that has been a boxing victim of the coronovirus in China. Again it's hard to complain at the event being cancelled, as it's the right thing to do, but it's still a bad from both a boxing point of view and a terrifying from a human perspective. Again we're hoping for a quick resolution to what appears to be an horrific situation, not just in China but now globally with the virus being found all over the globe.
Whilst there was a massive lack of fights this last week that's not going to be enough to excuse Showtime for putting on a pile of shite. Their card was just, just awful. Whilst Stephen Fulton Vs Arnold Khegai was a decent enough bout anyone who sat through the co-headline bouts will be wondering whether they can charge Showtime for wasting 2 hours of their life. Their was no urgency from either Jarrett Hurd or Danny Garcia against over-matched opponents. The talk is that both men are eyeing bigger bouts down the line is fine, but that again doesn't excuse Showtime for televising the over match ups, or the two men for putting in such tame performances against over matched and under-sized opponents. One show case bout per show is....acceptable, but two of them on the same show, come on. We know Stephen Espinoza likes to get in twitter arguments about the quality of other shows, but this is very much a time to look inside and ask how the fuck he allowed this double-header-of-dullness.
We understand the Chinese events falling through, and completely understand the decisions made. We do not understand what Showtime were doing.
1-Adrien Broner begging
This week former multi-weight world champion Adrien Broner went to Instagram and essentially begged his followers for money, posting a now deleted post that read
“I’M SORRY I HAVEN’T BEEN POSTING ON SOCIAL MEDIA BUT I’M GOING THROUGH SOME TOUGH TIMES AT THIS MOMENT,” SAID BRONER. “IF YOU CAN SEND ME $10 ON CASHAPP $ABOUTBILLIONS89 I WILL APPRECIATE IT. #SUPPORTMEANDIFIGHT4U.”
If this doesn't constitute an ugly we don't know what does. The talented and controversial American fighter was once seen as the face of the sport, touting an "about billions" catchphrase but is now, seeming, about broke.
2-Gervonta Davis writing a bad cheque
Whilst it's unfair to suggest that Gervonta Davis is going to have a career similar to Adrien Broner it's clear that both were in the wrong this week. And both appear to be having financial problems. We mentioned Broner's Instagram post above, but Davis has also got himself in a financial pickle as he's apparently been writing counterfeit cheques for jewellery in the US. Shyne Jewelers have stated they want around $250,000 of jewellery back from Davis, or the payment to be made with interest. We're not sure why anyone needs so much jewellery, but that's not the issue. Davis paying, or rather not paying, with a cheque that he is accused of know was bad is a problem. Whether he has the money or not doing something this stupid is just ridiculous, and could end up causing all sorts of issues with his career.
Come on guys sort your shit out! You're both talented fighters, both have time to make serious money in the ring, so how about you both stop being fools, make the most of your talent, and then let loose after you retire!
In February we see action suddenly picking up with notable shows taking place all over the place, and we really do have some excellent shows coming up filled with a mix of top fighters, contenders and prospects. One prospect who is in action in the coming days is Kenshi Noda (1-0, 1), who actually makes his TV debut on February 1st as part of a Teiken card being televised on G+. Although not a big name, yet, big things are expected of Noda.
Noda first made his name as an amateur fighter where he ran up a 45-16 record. His full bout by bout record isn't something we have access to, but we do know that he was in the final stages of several notable national competitions. These included the 2012 Japanese Junior Selection Tournament, losing in the final to Yuki Nakajima and the 2013 Japanese Interschool Athletic Meet, where he lost to the brilliant Taku Kuwahara in the semi final.
Sadly for Noda his hopes of becoming a professional fighter took a huge hit as a youngster when he suffered a really serious injury to his left elbow. Noda had surgery for the injury but it didn't heal as expected, and rather than turning professional after he graduated from university he had to spend additional time rehabilitating his injury.
Thankfully the injury healed enough for him to begin his professional journey in 2019, moving to Tokyo and beginning to train at Teiken early in the year. Within just a few months of being at Teiken he had caught back up to speed with his boxing and took part in his pro-test in May, passing the tests despite admitting to being intensely nervous.
Noda made his long awaited professional debut last September, fighting as a Light Flyweight, and stopped Thai foe Somphon Banyaem in just 65 seconds. That was quicker than anyone had ever stopped the Thai, including former amateur foe Yuki Nakajima. Although the bout wasn't available to watch on TV or a streaming service, fans at the event were impressed by Noda, who was said to have been sharp from the opening bell and looked powerful and quick through out.
Noda's opponent for his February bout has been named as Indonesian Thomas Tope Hurek (2-4-1, 1). It's not a great opponent for Noda but does give the 24 year old Japanese fighter a chance to share the ring with someone who lasted 6 rounds with Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart in 2018.
At the age of 24 we expect to see Teiken move Noda quickly this coming year and potentially get him in to the Japanese rankings by the end of 2020.
This past week was an incredibly quiet one for Asian fight fans, with a genuine lack of notable fights. It's been probably the quietest week since we started doing these awards, and sadly it means there are several categories where we don't have someone we can actually name as a winner. Thankfully we do see things change in February, and things should get a lot better soon!
Fighter of the Week
Batyrzhan Jukembayev (18-0-0-2, 14)
Due to how weak the week was over-all this was an easy award with Batyrzhan Jukembayev scoring the biggest win of the week. The Canadian based Kazakh prospect may have ended up taking on a late replacement opponent, but he did what he needed to do and took out Ricardo Lara in just 2 rounds to continue his climb towards a potential world title fight. It's clear that Jukembayev needs a real test, and hopefully that will come in the summer before he faces a fellow fringe contender.
Performance of the Week
Batyrzhan Jukembayev (18-0-0-2, 14)
It's fair to say that Jukembayev has essentially won this by default. That's how bad the week has been. The Kazakh looked sharp and appeared unfazed by a late replacement change, but really had a very limited opponent in the ring with him and it showed.
Kongfah CP Freshmart Vs Edison Berwela
In Thailand on Friday we had the best of a weak bunch of fights, as Kongfah CP Freshmart defended his WBC Asia Diamond Super Bantamweight title against the under-rated Edison Berwela.
Gaku Takahashi vs Keeshawn Williams (Round 4)
Ther wasn't really any standout rounds from the last week, though we did sort of enjoy the weird spectacle of watching the unique Gaku Takahashi take on Keeshawn Williams. From watching the bout it's clear neither is anything special, despite Williams dubbing himself "The Next Big Thing", but their bout was fairly entertaining. It was obvious through out that Takahashi was out of his depth in terms of skills, but kept coming forward and letting his hands go when he was tagged. An odd bout, but round 4 was certainly fun with both men having moments.
No Valid KO This Week
NO Valid Prospect This Week
Kazuki Nakajima (8-0, 7) vs Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0, 4)
We do see action really picking up this coming week, as we break into February in style. There are a lot of bouts cramped into the week and we know most fans will have a US bout in mind as the one that has their attention, notably Daniel Roman's world title defend against Murodjon Akhmadaliev. For us however the Godn's Left Bantamweight final between Kazuki Nakajima and Seiya Tsutsumi. This is likely to be a short bout, but a very, very explosive one, between two guys who are big punchers, and have styles that should gel. This is going to be very exciting.
This past week has been a frustrating one for those who want us to move towards a clean sport. In fact it's been a week where the idea of boxing ever being clean has been left on life support, with 2 fighters tests and a serial cheat being given a notable extra chance, in a career that really should have ended last year.
One of those failed tests was an out of competition test for Belgian Cruiserweight Yves Ngabu (20-1, 14). The fighter is fighting out of the Ingle Gym in the UK, which has had accusation thrown it's way in regards drugs in the past and two British fighters essentially called the gym out this week, after the failed test was made public. One of those was former Ngabu foe Lawrence Okolie who seemed to suggest the gym issue with a comment about "Ingle pringles", another was Tony Bellew, who has been inconsistent in his approach to failed drugs tests, and a third was Sunny Edwards.
Whether there is, or isn't, an issue with the Ingle gym the fact Ngabu has been busted following the allegations and rumours about the gym is certainly not a good look and the sort of thing those in the gym should maybe be calling out themselves. Instead one fighter at the gym has essentially gone on the defensive. Maybe this is just me, but if I was in that particularly gym I'd look elsewhere if they don't look to kick Ngabu, and anyone else that fails a test, out. After all it's the failed tests that are causing question marks on the clean fighters fighters there.
Rather than clean fighters lashing out at each other, they should all bee getting together, weeding out the cheats and turning on them.
The second test fail to be made public this week was that of female fighter Alejandra Jimenez (13-0-1, 9). This was from a VADA test on January 10th, the day before Jimenez beat Franchon Crews Dezurn in a WBO and WBC female Super Middleweight title bout. Since the win Jimenez has been been accused of being a man, which is bullshit from fans, but this tests is a legitimate issue and something that will become an interesting story to follow. At the moment the substance hasn't been announced, though the WBC have stated their will be an "in-depth investigation of the circumstanced that led to adverse finding", take that as you will.
Whilst drug test failures prove fighters are being tested the other story from the week proved that testing was essentially pointless. That story is the one regarding American Heavyweight Jarrell Miller (23-0-1, 20) who has just signed with Top Rank.
Miller is best known for being a human cocktail last year, and being forced out of a fight with Anthony Joshua last year due to a variety of drugs being found in his system. This wasn't the first time Miller has been found to have banned substances in his system and it should have seen boxing treat him as persona non grata. Instead Top Rank have essentially offered Miller a chance to move into some huge fights down the line, such as bouts with Kubrat Pulev and Tyson Fury.
Whilst Miller's return isn't yet scheduled his last fight was in November 2018 and it's likely he'll fight before summer. So for a repeat offender, who got a 9 month ban in 2014 for failing a drugs test when he was a kick boxer, Miller has seemingly been rewarded.
For people wondering why fighters take drugs, Miller is the perfect answer. They know that if they can get the results in the ring and make a name for themselves, there will be a promoter willing to work with them afterwards, and give them another chance, and another chance, and another chance.
Sadly this isn't actually a boding issue. It's a sporting issue, and as we recently saw from UKAD in regards to Mo Farah, who have been reluctant to release details regarding Farah's old tests, those in position to sort things out really don't care. They might talk the talk but in reality it's easier to just go with the flow.
Sorry sport, but you need to clean up your fucking act before people realise that drug cheats are an accepted part of the sport, just like training and taking part.
There is a view that everyone is on something, something that is repeated over and over. If that was true we suspect we'd see a lot more drug test fails, but the reality is that they might as well be on anything and everything if promoters are willing to get behind them and give them opportunities, if bans and suspensions are little more than an inconvenience and if fellow fighters are standing up for them. The sport is bending over backwards to allow cheats to not just compete, but thrive.
It feels like January has been an incredibly bitty month for fight fans, with stretches without bouts, and a real lack of consistency through the month. We've had some notable bouts, of course we have, but for the most part it's concentrated on only a few days and hasn't been spread through much of the month. Thankfully that is set to change in February when we have a lot more to look forward to.
Nuevo León, Mexico
Pedro Taduran (14-2, 11) Vs Daniel Valladares (22-1, 13)
The most significant bout at the start of February sees IBF Minmumweight champion Pedro Taduran travel off to Mexico to defend his title, for the first time. The exciting champion, who won the belt in September when he stopped Samuel Salva in a short but thrilling bout, will be up against talented Mexican Daniel Valladares in what should be a really good bout. Taduran isn't the most polished, but sets a high work rate and lets power shots go, as if the judges are people he doesn't want to see. Valladares is more polished but will be moving down in weight for this bout. Expect this to be a genuinely brilliant fight!
Tokyo, Japan [G+ - Live]
Yuki Nagano (17-2, 13) Vs Keita Obara (22-4-1, 20)
The 2020 Champion Carnival kicks off with a brilliant looking Japanese Welterweight title fight, pitting in form champion Yuki Nagano against mandatory challenger Keita Obara. A win here for Nagano will push him on to the fringes of the world rankings, though he'll be a clear under-dog against the hard hitting Obara. For Obara a win here would see him becoming a 2-weight Japanese national champion and claim his third win since losing in a world title eliminator last March, as he looks to build some career momentum.
Ryusei Ishii (8-5-1, 5) Vs Yamato Hata (9-1, 9)
In a JBC Youth Super Featherweight title fight fight the limited Ryusei Ishii takes on the heavy handed Yamato Hata, with both men looking to move their career forward and claim their biggest win to date. Hata will be the favourite but Ishii has competed at a higher level and is no push over.
Kenshi Noda (1-0, 1) Vs Thomas Tope Hurek (2-4-1, 1)
Former amateur standout Kenshi Noda looks to continue his professional journey as he takes on Indonesian foe Tomas Tope Hurek. This should be little more than a showcase for the talented Noda.
Hiroto Yashiro (1-0, 1) Vs Abdul Rauf (1-2)
Another prospect in action here is Hiroto Yashiro, who is also expected to pick up a very easy win as he takes on Indonesia's Abdul Rauf. Given this is early in his career we can't complain too much about an easy fight for Yashiro, but don't be surprised if this one is over quickly.
Jasurbek Latipov (0-0) Vs TBA
Talented former amateur stand out Jasurbek Latipov makes his professional debut at the start of February. At the moment we've not been informed who Latipov will be facing, but the bout is being described as a chance for the excellent Uzbek to try and catch the eye of promoters, and we suspect he is going to look sensational here. He is certainly one to watch and this debut is one that should be of interest to fans who want to get in on the ground level for someone who will be looking to get fast tracked.
Rustam Tulaganov (2-0, 1) v Norbert Dabrowski (23-8-2, 10)
Touted Uzbek fighter Rustam Tulaganov takes a huge step up in class as he takes on Norbert Dabrowski. The talented Tulaganov was tipped for big things when he debuted in 2017 but hasn't been active enough to get to where he should be now. Thankfully he, and his team, are willing to take risks and a win here will help him make up for lost time.
Pennsylvania, USA [Showtime - Live]
Gary Russell Jr (30-1, 18) Vs Tugstsogt Nyambayar (11-0, 9) -
In a bout we're really looking forward too we'll see WBC Featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr defending his belt against mandatory challenger Tugstogt Nyambayar. This is a mouth watering bout and a great chance to see whether or not the unbeaten Mongolian is for real. The American champion, who has gained a reputation for not liking the sport, and not by anywhere active enough, is talented but incredibly frustrating and has wasted his prime years. Nyambayar on the other hand is getting his shot at the big time, at last, and will know a win here will be huge for his career. In fact a win here for Nyambayar will see him becoming only the second Mongolian world champion. A really important and significant bout.
Kento Hatanaka (10-0, 9) Vs Roland Jay Biendima (15-5-1, 8) -
In Kariya we'll see WBC Youth Flyweight champion Kento Hatanaka make his next defense of the title as he takes on Filipino foe Roland Jay Biendima. On paper this looks like a mismatch but in reality this should be another great test for Hatanaka, who struggled last time out against Jaysever Abcede. Although talented and exciting Hatanaka does need time to mature and develop and this type of bout is perfect for that. Biendima isn't a world beater but should serve as an excellent test for Hatanaka at this point in time.
Just over a year ago we began our "Introducing" series, looking at a fighter that we thought needed a light shining on them, generally at the start of their career. Now, more than a year on, it makes sense to have a look back over some of those fighters, in what we're terming out "revisiting" feature. This gives us a chance to look at the progress the fighters have made since we first looked at them, and whether we are to re-evaluate their hopes in the sport.
Given we started the "Introducing" series with with Mikito Nakano (who was 1-0, 1 at the time) it makes sense to begin this new series by looking back over Mikito Nakano's 2019 and looking at where he is now.
In 2019 Nakano moved from 1-0 (1) to 4-0 (4) with a trio of stoppage wins. They weren't against sensational fighters, with his February win over Ekkalak Ratprakhon being particularly poor, but he did step up in class and stopped Filipino pair Arvin Yurong and KJ Natuplag, in what were very solid wins for this stage of his career.
At the time of writing Nakano has broken into the OPBF Featherweight rankings, and has a #8 ranking with the regional title body. That is based primarily on his 3rd round TKO win over KJ Natuplag last November, with Natuplag entering with an OPBF ranking himself. That ranking suggests that Nakano and Teiken will be taking him the Oriental title route rather than the Japanese title route, and in all honest it seems a more open title picture for him to attack.
As we write this the Japanese Featherweight title scene is an insanely tough one. The champion, Ryo Sagawa is a fringe world level fighter, his next defense will come in April against the very highly regarded Hinata Maruta, as part of the Champion Carnival. Below Maruta in the late rankings are Reiya Abe and Genesis Servania, with others ranked including Ryo Hino and Tsuyoshi Tameda. Whilst the OPF title scene isn't an easy one, one it's title is likely to become vacant sooner rather than later and it does give Nakano a way to move towards a belt. Another title option would be the WBO Asia Pacific title which we wouldn't be surprised by see Nakano look at as an option. This may be very tempting as some of the fighters ranked there are ones that Nakano would strongly favour himself against, even this early in his career.
So how has he actually looked? Well after being not too impressed by Nakano on his debut we really have been won over by his showings in 2019. His win over Yurong showed him applying smart pressure through out, fantastic punch variety, crisp punching and the ability to move through the gears. There was still areas for him to work on but there was a lot of improvements from his debut and he was neutralising a pretty solid fighter with genuine else.
It's worth noting that Nakano was apparently under pressure against Natuplag, in a bout that wasn't televised, but that isn't a bad thing and seemed to tell those in the venue that he could fight on the back foot when he needed to. That's a good sign, showing that he can be versatile and soak up the aggression of a dangerous fighter when he needs to.
Nakano's first bout of 2020 hasn't been announced yet though it would seem likely he'd be fighting in the Spring, the Summer and then again towards the end of the year. Although we would plot his route for a title to one of the regional belts, it would be a surprise to see him fighting for a belt this year. Instead of fighting for gold in 2020 we would imagine Nakano and his team putting down a marker in the rankings and putting things in place for a shot in early 2021.
Although impressing, and looking like a fighter who is improving with every fight Nakano only has 8 rounds to his name, and the 24 year old certainly needs more ring time this year. We would imagine his team are going to look at getting him in with a solid guy to take him rounds, and a bout with someone like Ryo Hino, Nathaniel May or Eugene Lagos would do him the world of good.
We see Nakano as a future world champion, but only if he can get the tests he needs in the coming year or two. We'd like to see 2020 to be a year of development, 2021 to be the year in which he begins to make moves for his first titles, then potential world title fights in 2022 or 2023. We'd be surprised to see him being put on the super fast track, but we'd be equally surprised to see him fail to reach the top in the coming years.
Over the last 3 years or so we've seen talk about a new boxing video game, following on from Fight Night Champion, which was the last main stream boxing game and was released way back in 2011. The game was the 5th game in the Fight Night Series and unfortunately we've not seen EA return to the sport since, instead running with their UFC franchise as their main combat sport title.
Due to the lengthy gap since the last fight we've regularly seen fight fans suggest a new video game to British boxing promoter Eddie Hearn, who has suggested he was working on it, and had been trying to get it done for a while.
With talk of a new boxing game now getting some attention we thought it was a perfect time to have a look at 5 boxing games you may not be aware of, with all 5 releases being focused on the Japanese video game scene. Some of the games are now playable in the west, but none of these officially had a Western release when they were released on their original hardware.
Legend of Success Joe
Unfortunately we start at a low point, with the Legend of Success Joe, a game based on the "Ashita No Joe manga". The game was released on both the Arcade and the Neo Geo in 1991 and sadly was panned in reviews, with almost universal criticism towards every area of the game.
Whilst the arcade version wasn't seen as being anything great the it was the Neo Geo version that took a lot of the negativity, and is regarded by many as being among the worst Neo Geo games out there. The game had poor gameplay, poor graphics, high pitched music, and clunky animation.
Given that the price for the game was high, to say the least, it was a real stinker of an effort, on what was a very capable system. The Neo Geo, had fantastic ability to do what other consoles couldn't, in terms of graphics, but you wouldn't have guessed that from this game, which was genuinely terrible to look at, never mind play. It appears that the game was never released in the west as SNK didn't want to damage their brand,
Ring ni Kakero
Another game based on a manga is "Ring ni Kakero", which was a game that was fought from an isometric view and featured characters from the manga and was much better than Legend of Success Joe. Graphically it was quite similar to the Fire Pro Wrestling Games that were popular in the 1990's. The graphic style is certainly not the most realistic, and it does have a very arcade feel to it.
Technically it's a fun game, with a rather unique style, but in reality it's not a boxing as the fight night games were. Regardless it's certainly an experience, and one that can now be enjoyed in the West, sort of.
Originally planned for a 1995 release on the Super Famicom the game was delayed in release until June 1998, coming out 2 years after the N64 was released in Japan. By the time it came out the console it's self was about dead as a major video game console.
Although not originally released in the west it is now playable on Retrogames, here https://www.retrogames.cc/snes-games/ring-ni-kakero-japan-np.html
Onizuka Katsuya super virtual boxing
Taking it's name from popular Japanese fighter Katsuya Onizuka, who is licensed and used in various parts of the game, Onizuka Katsuya super virtual boxing, takes on a different graphical style to most. Like several SNES boxing games this is played from a first person perspective, where you are essentially put into the boots of the fighter.
In terms of the boxing this is much more like a boxing sim than "Ring ni Kakero", though is a very basic one with just 6 fighters and rather control and still has a more arcade feel to it than the more modern day games.
Released in 1993 for the Super Famicom the game is still quite playable and fun, though nothing amazing compared to what's available now a days. One thing to note here is that whilst the game is mostly in Japanese there's enough for those who don't speak Japanese to work out what's going on.
As with Ring ni Kakero this is available to place on retrogames, and we suggest giving this one a genuine play https://www.retrogames.cc/snes-games/onizuka-katsuya-super-virtual-boxing-shin-kentou-ou-densetsu-japan.html
Best Bout Boxing
We don't have too many detail the 1994 Jaleco released "Best Bout Boxing", but we've been informed it was an arcade game that could be played either 1 player or 2 player. The details really aren't great, though from the Wikipedia page for the bout there was 8 characters, each from a different country, battling to win the "Worldfreeweight championship".
Whilst we've not managed to play this one, we have managed to come across footage and from that this is pretty much what you expect of a 1990's arcade boxing game. Simple, straight forward, with with very nice blocky characters. With 3 action buttons the game certainly had basic controls but does appear pretty fun from the footage available.
Boxer's Road 2: The Real
In 1995 the original Boxer's Road was released for the Playstation, in what was a pretty solid boxing Sim, selling over 400,000 copies. The came was regarded as too realistic in terms of gameplay, but was a game regarded as having potential, if tweaks were made, for a US release.
More than a decade after the original Boxer's Road game a sequel was released for the PSP. With a decade of time between the two games most would have expected upgrades, and upgrades they got with over 100 licenses Japanese fighters, from over 70 gyms and a career mode that is deep, and by deep we mean deep. The game has you not only fighting and training, but also controlling your fighters diet and making weight.
Graphically this wasn't on par with the Fight Night series, but it's depth and attention in other areas made up for that, as did the ability to create fighters using photos.
Although the PSP wasn't a big seller, and their will be language issues with the game, this is one that is highly regarded by gamers who had the chance to play it.
With more than a decade between the first two games sure we are now owed a third game in the series, right?
Funky Head Boxers
The most odd game on this list, and we guess the most "Japanese game" is Sega's "Funky Head Boxers", which was released in the Arcade in 1995 and on the Sega Saturn in 1997. To call this odd, really doesn't do it justice, and the fighters are all given bit square heads, giving the game a very unique look. Of course unique isn't always good.
Player from an over-the-shoulder view, similar to the Wii Sports boxing this very much looks like a cheap, 1990's version of the Wii Sports game with some added LSD. It's very, very odd, blocky and yet entertaining, at least to watch.
We've not managed to play this one, but the gameplay looks rather poor and limited and for a game on the arcade in the mid 1990's it certainly doesn't look like western fans missed out on anything special. It's more of a boxing oddity than anything else.
Although the Filipino scene seemed to sleep walk though much of 2019 the country has a lot of excellent fighters, who are only a win or two away from getting a big fight. One of the most promising is the unbeaten Jade Bornea (14-0, 10), who is the focus of this week's "Who are you?" ahead of his US debut at the end of the month.
The talented Bornea has been known on the Asian scene for years. Well before his 2014 professional debut, following a very notable and successful amateur career. That amateur career saw him turn professional with big expectations on his shoulders, and he is, step by step, getting close to the big nights that the Filipino fight fans have long been anticipating for him.
The young Bornea really burst on the the scene in 2012, when he claimed a bronze meal at the 2012 AIBA World Youth Championships, losing to Murodjon Akhmadaliev in the semi-final. That had followed a runner's up place in the final of the junior's at Philippines National Championships.
In 2013 Bornea claimed gold at Kuala Lumpur City Day Boxing Tournament, in January, he then impressed by winning the Asian Youth Championships in March of that year, beating Kosei Tanaka in the final. Bornea's amateur success continued in 2014, when he took home a bronze medal at the Agong Cup in Malaysia and a bronze at the Philippines National Games.
In late 2014 Bornea turned professional and after 3 low key wins he stopped up, beating the then unbeaten Salatiel Amit just 9 months after his debut. His team seemed unsure whether they wanted to fast track him, or give him time to mature, and after the good win of Amit he was matched with two over matched opponents who were both blown away. Thankfully Bornea stepped up again in early 2017, beating Raul Yu for the IBF Youth Super Flyweight title. It seemed like his team were ready to push him, but instead the rest of 2017 was filled with mismatch, and Borenai would stop his next 3 opponents in a combined 8 rounds.
With his career continuing to be a case of getting a big win, then facing some limited opponents, it seemed hard for Bornea to really build much moment. That was seen again in 2018, when he beat Danrick Sumabong, for the WBO Oriental Youth Super Flyweight title then faced back to back limited opponents. Things got even more frustrating in 2019 when he fought just once, stopping Jonathan Francisco inside a round. Thankfully whilst he was inactive in terms of fights he was getting good ring time in sparring, and sparred with Naoya Inoue in August when Inoue was preparing for Nonito Donaire.
At the end of January, on January 30th, Bornea takes on his most interesting test to date, as he battles the unbeaten Ernesto Delgadillo in a bout for the NABF Super Flyweight title. A win there will boost Borena's world title hopes significantly as we head deeper into the year. At the time of writing he is already world ranked, but needs a big win to make some noise, after what has been a rather frustrating run at home so far. A win over Delgadillo is not a given, but it's a chance, at last, for the "Hurricane" to really kick start things.
For those who haven't seen Bornea in action the Filipino is a talented and technically solid fighter, who has a tight guard, throws a nice variety of shots and has shown the ability to fight out of either stance. Although technically sound we don't think we've really seen the best of of Bornea yet, who hasn't had the competition, or the level of activity against good competition, to really know how good he is. One thing we have seen however is that when he's under pressure he does know how to fight offf the back foot and looks like he has very solid balance and combinations. Just a shame he's not had the competition to truly show what he can do...yet.
As we head towards the new year we've had a big look at the current scene and come up with "20 fights we'd like to see in 2020", yeah another series ahead of the new decade!
As is always the case with what we do, these articles will have an Asian flavour, and every bout we mention in the series will have at least 1 fighter from Asia involved. So for those of you expecting us to talk about Deontay Wilder Vs Anthony Joshua, that won't be listed.
What we'll be looking at is well matched contests with either some form of back story, a great stylistic clash or bouts with some form of significant meaning. If they tick all the boxes then that is even better! Each fight will be given it's own article and each of these will come with an introduction to the fighters, and why the bout is being featured in the list.
Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16) Vs John Riel Casimero (29-4, 20)
to finish this mini series we look at a bout that has been rumoured for a while, and by the time you read this it may actually have been officially announced. Despite that it's a bout that seems an obvious one to make and is one we're very excited to see, pitting two hard hitting Bantamweights against each other to unify 3 of the 4 major titles. It's an all Asian bout and continues the long and stories Japan Vs Philippines rivalry.
One of the fights probably needs no introduction. Naoya Inoue, the Monster, the face of Japanese boxing, is one of the most notable fighters on the planet right now. He's cemented a legacy as one of the Japanese greats, despite being a professional for less than a decade. He only has 19 fights to his name but 14 have been at world level and he has gone 8-0 (6) against world champions, including established international names like Adrian Hernandez, Omar Andres Narvaez, Jamie McDonnell and Nonito Donaire. He's skilled, quick and freakishly destructive for a fighter of his size, with some of the most brutal body shots in the sport.
In the other corner we have Johnr Riel Casimer, a fighter who should be more well known than he is, but has long been under-the-radar despite notable success for over a decade, often on the road. The 30 year old Casimero has won world titles at Ligth Flyweight, Flyweight and Bantamweight whilst showing freakish power himself, an unorthodox offense and skills that are still developing this far into his career. Casimero has proven himself against the likes of Luis Alberto Lazarte, Amnat Ruenroeng, Charlie Edwards and Zolani Tete, all of whom felt the power of the Filipino. At his best Casimero is a threat for anyone at Bantamweight, and only needs a split second to turn a fight around. Sadly though he is inconsistent, and when he's off form he really is poor.
This is arguably the most interesting possible bout at Bantamweight. It pits two men with fight changing power against each other, it unifies titles, taking us a step closer to an undisputed champion, and it's a fantastic all Asian fight that looks set to headline a card in the US.
The bout is said to be pencilled in for April 25th in Las Vegas, and is likely to be announced any day soon. It will be a great test for two men each looking to make a statement. Inoue would clearly be the favourite but as we see time and time again, we can never write off Casimero, who loves to give the boxing world a shock every time fans see him as the under-dog.
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