At the start of the year we got really excited about the news that Kuntae Lee (1-0, 1) [李健太] would be turning professional, kicking off his career after a genuinely excellent amateur career that saw him going 102-10, including a 62 fight winning run.
Whilst fighters with amateur careers are usually best known for what they did in the Olympics and the World Amateur championships Lee is actually better known for who he competed for. The third generation Korean, living in Japan, would make his name on the international stage by competing for North Korea. He did that at a number of events, including the 2014 Youth World Championships, losing to Liu Xiaoshuai, the 2016 Asian/Oceanic Olympic qualifiers, losing to Battarsukh Chinzorig and the 2018 Asian games, again losing to Battarsukh Chinzorig.
Despite twice losing to Battarsukh Chinzorig in high profile bouts, the Mongolian did hold Lee in high regard, speaking positively about Lee's speed in particular.
On the domestic scene he was a multi-time championship winner, beating the likes of Masahiro Suzuki, Shu Utsuki and Go Hosaka, all highly regarded prospects themselves, and Nobuhiro Hiranaka, the son of Akinobu Hiranaka and a man tipped to go to the 2020 Olympics.
His amateur form really got hardcore fans excited, they knew he was going to be something special, but it seemed almost certain he was focusing on the 2020 Olympics, looking to remain part of the North Korean amateur set up. With AIBA and the IOC falling out however Lee decided to turn professional, signing up with the highly established Teiken gym.
In late 2018 Lee, along with Mikito Nakano, took part in his B License Pro-test essentially announcing his intention to abandon the amateur system that had allowed him to shine. Instead of the Olympics he was turning professional, and looking to announce himself in the paid ranks.
Whilst Nakano made his debut in October 2018 Lee had to wait until February 2019, the same show that Nakano fought his second bout on. Despite the wait Lee seemed to want to leave a good impression, and quickly showed off a sharp jab, sticking it in the face of Thai foe Aphisit Namkhot at will. The Thai seemed to be mentally broken by the snap on the jab of Lee, who looked razor sharp, controlled distance brilliantly, and was quick, accurate and very relaxed.
Despite having controlled the Thai behind his lead hand for almost 3 minutes, Lee did finally let his left hand go late in the round, and it went right through at the end of the round dropping Aphisit for the count.
After his debut win Lee spoke about wanting to fight overseas and it seems like he wants to make a name for himself internationally. It's going to be exciting to see him do that. Although his debut opponent was poor he certainly looked a very classy fighter and has the size and skills to go a very, very long way.
This pas week hasn't been the biggest news week of the year, but has been a pretty interesting one with returns, retirements and a number ob bout announcements, as well as some punishments from the JBC.
Kuroda to face Mthalane on May 13th
The biggest bout to be announced this week is the IBF mandatory Flyweight title bout between South African world champion Moruti Mthalane (37-2, 25) and mandatory challenger Masayuki Kuroda (30-7-3, 16) [黒田 雅之]. The bout was known to be in the works from the start of the year, with Kuroda have been assured a shot prior to Mthalane's defense in December. It's a good match up, and whilst the champion will be favoured Kuiroda is a veteran challenger who will know that a loss here ends any hope he has of ever winning a world title.
Yamauchi Vs Tuolehazi, Konno Vs Baishanbo
A pair of WBA International title bouts, set to take place on March 30th, were announced for a Shanghai show. One bout will see Yusuke Konno (14-4, 7) [今野裕介] battle Baishanbo Nasiyiwula (15-2-1, 6) [拜山波] for Baishanbo's title at 140lbs whilst the other bout is an even more interesting contest between unbeaten youngster Ryota Yamauchi (4-0, 4) [山内涼太] and world ranked Chinese fighter Wulan Tuolehazi (10-3-1, 5). We're still expecting 1 more bout to be announced for this show, but two bouts we now have are fantastic.
Sho Kimura to return in China in Spring!
China won't just play host to the two WBA International title fights mentioned above but also to the return of former WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura (17-2-2, 10) [木村翔], who is set to fight "in Spring" in China. It's unclear if he will be on the same show as the two bouts above, though it is known that he will be continuing his career and despite losing to Kosei Tanaka (12-0, 7) [田中恒成] last year he isn't hanging up the gloves. Fingers crossed that we get more news on Kimura's return next week!
Akira Yaegashi's return set for April 8th
Popular Japanese warrior Akira Yaegashi (27-6, 15) [八重樫 東] will be back in action as the headline attraction of an April 8th show at the Korakuen Hall. At the moment the full details of his bout haven't been announced, though it's expected to be a "world title prelude" over 10 rounds at Super Flyweight. Yaegashi is one of the most popular Japanese fighters, due to his style, and we're glad to see him back in the ring, though we do worry about his health if he does fight for a world title.
WP Boxing to return in March
The excellent WP Boxing, from Thai television channel Work Point, will also be making a return, with their next show being set for March. WP Boxing raised the standard for Thai broadcasts last year, having high quality matches, a sizable audience and a professionalism rarely seen in other Thai shows, so we're really looking forward to seeing what WP Boxing brings in 2019.
Unbeaten Uzbek Kudratillo signs Top Rank deal
Uzbek Welterweight contender Kudratillo Abdukakhorov (15-0, 6) [Қудратилло Абдуқаҳҳоровдан] has long been linked to an IBF Welterweight world title eliminator with Japanese puncher Keita Obara (20-3-1, 18) [小原 佳太], with that bout set to be set for March 30th. The news this week is that the UZbek hopeful has now inked a deal with American promoter Bob Arum and Top Rank, who will promote his next 3 bouts, including the March 30th contest.
Erika Hanawa retires
Just days after losing in her second world title bout Japan's Erika Hanawa (10-4, 4) [塙英理加] handed in a retirement notice to the JBC. Hanawa had really put in an excellent performance against WBC female Light Flyweight champion Yesenia Gomez (15-5-3-1, 6) but had made it clear that she would retire if she lost. We're hoping she reconsiders her decision in the future, given that she is only 28, though for now at least that's the end of her short but notable career. As well as he losses in world title bouts she would win a couple of regional titles and mix top company during her 14 fight career.
Nietes Vs Palicte purse bids set
The WBO have laid down the law, and have announced that the purse bids for the WBO Flyweight world title bout, between defending champion Donnie Nietes (42-1-5, 23) and mandatory challenger Aston Palicte (25-2-1, 21) will take place on February 28th. The rumour is that Nietes' team were looking else where for bouts, but the WBO seem to be wanting to rule with an iron fist this year, and this is the second time they have done something to stamp their authority. The odds are that Nietes will vacate if the money for this bout isn't as attractive as it is for other contests, however we do expect to see the purse bids take place and for Nietes' team to weigh up their options before deciding what's next.
JBC officials punished for time keeping error
The JBC announced punishments for 3 different officials this week due to a time keeping error back in December in an OPBF title fight. The toughest punishment was given to the time keeper, who has been given an indefinite suspension, whilst others have been cautioned. It's clear that the JBC saw this error, or rather the number of errors, as seriously harmful to the sport, and it's interesting to see they have taken such a harsh line. In a way it's admirable, though it is perhaps setting a standard that other countries won't follow.
This past week has been a pretty low key yet interesting one for Asian boxing, with a really interesting Korean show, some Japanese action and various fights across the rest of the world with Asian fighters involved in them.
Fighter of the Week
Yuki Nonaka (33-10-3, 10)
Japanese veteran Yuki Nonaka rolled back the clock on Sunday, at the age of 41, to outpoint Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa and claim the OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Middleweight titles. The Osakan veteran had been regarded as the under-dog but dropped Hosokawa in the opening round and went on to take a clear decision over the hard hitting Hosokawa, in what was a really brilliant performance from the veteran. Given how Nonaka had lost 2 of his last 3 and had been a career Light Middleweight this result really was a surprise and the way he fought was fantastic, a great display of boxing skills, timing, control of distance and crisp punching.
Notable mentions: Downua Ruawaiking, Shakhram Giyasov
Performance of the Week
Downua Ruawaiking (15-0, 12)
To begin the week Thailand's Downua Ruawaiking, aka Apinun Khongsong, put himself on the boxing map with a KO win over durable veteran Akihiro Kondo. Kondo had been regarded as the favourite, he had proven his toughness through 39 previous fights including a loss to Sergey Lipinets, and this was Downua's first international fight. Despite being the under-dog the Thai was sharp, accurate and closed the show in style, sending Kondo down hard with an excellent uppercut. This was a performance that really caught the attention and showed that Downua deserved to be in the mix with bigger fights, in fact the win has made him the mandatory IBF title challenger at 140lbs.
Hyun Je Shin (10-8, 2) vs Dong Kwan Lee (9-2-2, 4)
It's rare that we get fights of real quality in Korea but this week we got something special as Hyun Je Shin and Dong Kwan Lee took part in a sensational 10 round war for the BoxingM Super Featherweight title. The pace the two men set was incredible from the opening round and they never really slowed down at any point, as both gritted their teeth and fought with an exceptional desire. This is probably not going to be mentioned much internationally but SPOTV really did have a cracking bout on their hands.
Due to SPOTV's youtube setting's we can't embed the video, but feel free to watch the video on youtube, here.
Hyun Je Shin vs Dong Kwan Lee (round 3)
The aforementioned BoxingM Super Featherweight title fight had a number of rounds that could have been the round of the week. We've gone with the third, but there really was so many options from the same fight. The action was a phone booth war and is something that had so much intensity, action and excitement. It's a bit of a shame that neither man had the power to really hurt the other, but the high intensity action made up for that.
Downua Ruawaiking KO5 Akihiro Kondo
We will struggle to find a more aesthetically pleasing KO this year than the one scored by Downua Ruawaiking against Akihiro Kondo. Kondo may not have been out cold, some how getting to his feet, but it was nothing short of a spectacular shot, and will something we expect to see replayed time and time again this year. The fact Kondo had never been stopped prior to this KO is a testament to how well Downua caught him, and the way Kondo went down was genuinely amazing.
Jeong Han Cha (5-0, 5)
Back to Korea for our Prospect of the week, in what was a really stacked category. We've gone with aggressive and exciting Korean teenager Jeong Han Cha. He was up against a fellow unbeaten and in fact his opponent, Yun Seong Kim, look really goo in the opening round. In round 2 however Cha scored two different knockouts. The first was from a brutal body shot, that seemed to be incorrectly ruled a low blow and allowed Kim a chance to recover, whilst he would later finish the bout with some huge head shots. It's hard to get too excited about Korean prospects, but Cha really does look like he has something special about him, and is really worthy of serious attention.
Notable mentions: Sultan Zaurbek, Tanawat Nakoon, Ravshanbek Umurzakov
Vic Saludar (18-3, 10) Vs Masataka Taniguchi (11-2, 7)
The bout we're most excited about this coming week is the WBO Minimumweight title bout between defending champion Vic Saludar and Japanese challenger Masataka Taniguchi. This bout has the potential to be a FOTY contender. Both have exciting styles, under-rated power and skills and they should make for a thrilling war of attrition. Something for us to be very, very excited about.
Kuroda to face IBF champion Mthalane on May 13th!
This week we had the official announcement that Masayuki Kuroda (30-7-3, 16) would challenge IBF Flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane (37-2, 25) on May 13th at the Korakuen Hall. The full details of the show and the broadcast are yet to be announced, but this is a great bout and something we're looking forward to. It's not like the bout was a secret, but to have a date and venue confirmed this week is great news, and the result of the details will be announced over the coming weeks.
March is always an interesting month in Asian boxing, as bouts across the globe began to ramp up, after a relatively quiet start to the year. The month this year is packed with bouts right across the continent, including a lot of promising prospects.
Kazuto Takesako (10-0, 10) Vs Shuji Kato (10-1-1, 6) - Tokyo, Japan
The first major bout in March will see unbeaten Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako defending his belt against mandatory challenger Shuji Kato. The bout is expected to be another KO win for the champion, but the champion is certainly not unbeatable and Kato comes into this bout full of confidence following an upset win over former champion Hikaru Nishida.
Takuma Takahashi (2-0, 2) Vs Jonel Dapidran (10-3, 6) - Tokyo, Japan
Touted and unbeaten prospect Takuma Takahasi made his debut last year, and has scored back to back early wins against visitors. Now he takes a step up in class going up against Filipino opponent Jonel Dapidran. Dapidran was beaten in 3 rounds last October, by Rikuto Adachi, but we're expecting a better performance form him here. It's also worth noting that this will be Takahashi's first 8 round bout.
Masahiro Suzuki (1-0, 1) Vs Kelvin Tenorio (4-4, 2)- Tokyo, Japan
We were incredibly impressed by Masahiro Suzuki on his debut, showing all the touches of a future star, and we're really excited to see him return to the ring here as he takes on Filipino foe Kelvin Tenorio. We suspect this will be easier for Suzuki than his debut, which came against a very dangerous foe, but he's certainly not being matched softly at this early stage.
Jin Minamide (2-0, 2) Vs Marjun Pantilgan (18-7, 14) -Tokyo, Japan
Unbeaten Celes Kobayashi managed fighter Jin Minamide has fought for just over 3 minutes as a professional, taking out two experienced Filipino's already. Now he'll be taking a major step up in class to take on Marjun Pantilgan, who has been brought over to Japan a couple of times and tested very good prospects. Pntilgan is tough and will come to win, making this a very risky bout for Minamide at this stage in his career.
Charly Suarez (1-0, 1) Vs Justin Cabarles (4-0, 2) -Davao del Norte, Philippines
We travel over to the Philippines for the next notable bout, as former Olympian Charly Suarez goes for his first title. The 2016 Olympian will be up against fellow unbeaten Justin Carbarles in a bout for the MinProBA Lightweight title. It's hard to imagine Suarez losing, but he will need to be fast tracked after this bout if he's to make the most of his talent, as he is already the wrong side of 30.
Denver Cuello (36-5-6, 24) Vs Jack Amisa (21-45-2, 14) - Philippines
Former world title challenger Denver Cuello has been out of the ring for well over 3 years but returns this month to take on Indonesian journeyman Jack Amisa. Cuello was once seen as a potential star of the Minimumweight division, and had huge support from Filipino fans due to his hard hitting style, but injuries destroyed a number of his prime years. It's unclear what he has left, but it is great to see him return, and give the sport one last chance.
Sonny Boy Jaro (44-14-5, 31) Vs Frans Damur Palue (15-21-3, 10) - Philippines
Cuello isn't the only Filipino veteran in action today, as former WBC Flyweight champion Sonny Boy Jaro returns to the ring for his 64th professional bout. Jaro has been a professional since 2001 and faced a real who's who, so Indonesian journeyman Frans Damur Palue will not pose much of a threat. At the age of 36 however we do wonder how much longer Jaro has left in the tank.
Robert Paradero (17-0, 11) Vs Wilfredo Mendez (11-1, 4) - Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico
The on again off again match up between Filipino Robert Paradero and Puerto Rican Wilfredo Mendez is pencilled in again here, in what will be a WBO Inter-Continental Minimumweight title bout. This bout was supposed to take place in December, being arranged for, then re-arranged for the month, so we'd not be shocked to see this being cancelled, but it is a very good match up and hopefully does take place this time around.
Dmitry Bivol (15-0, 11) vs Joe Smith Jr (24-2, 20) - Verona, USA
Kyrgyzstan born Russian Dmitry Bivol will be making his next defense of the WBA Light Heavyweight title as he takes on big punching American Joe Smith Jr in what should be a very exciting contest. Bivol is the much more rounded fighter, but Smith is tough, heavy handed, and has proven to be very dangerous at the fringe world level. This should be a clear win for Bivol, but he won't be able to get cocky against someone who hits as hard as Smith does.
The Kawashima Boxing Gym hasn't had many major names go through it's doors since it was set up, with the most notable person at the gym being chairman Hiroshi Kawashima.
Mr Kawashima set up the gym after ending his career as a fighter, and whilst he was a pretty notable figure in the 1990's, he was overshadowed somewhat by his contemporaries. Despite often being over-looked he did hold the WBC Super Flyweight champion between May 1994 to February 1997 and was dubbed "untouchable" back in his prime.
The gym recently had Japanese Welterweight Toshio Arikawa, but it's gem in the making is 24 year old Super Flyweight Ryusei Kawaura (5-0, 4), who will surely be looking to follow in the footsteps of Kawashima and his success at 115lbs. Like his mentor Kawaura is a southpaw, but doesn't have a similar style to the untouchable former champion, instead applying a more aggressive style than the former champion.
Kawaura got a lot of attention from his time fighting in the amateur ranks, where he went 38-14 (6). Whilst that's not an amazing record, he was able to collect 3rd places on a regular basis, coming third in notable tournaments in 2009, 2010 and 2012, as he began to build his experience.
After running up his amateur record Kawaura turned professional, beginning his paid career in late 2016. On debut he fought Thai novice Tepyotin Yodvaree and looked pretty exciting with a relaxed pressure style, built on excellent body punching, and fantastic footwork, to get him in range to land his gut busters. By the end of the first round it was clear the Thai bad felt the body shots and wasn't a big fan of taking more. To his credit the visitor did come out for round 2, but was saved by the referee after several knockdowns as Kawaura just went through the gears.
It would be 5 months until Kawaura returned to the ring and stopped another over-matched Thai, in Anucha Pleengam, in just 92 seconds, then another Thai followed, Nadtakorn Sithjacknoi, who almost survived 2 rounds.
Having started his career 3-0 (3) Kawaura had began to get some hype, but not a lot. He had stopped a trio of poor Thai foes. Thankfully in 2018 he did step up, in a big way, and out pointed Filipino puncher Marjun Pantilgan over 8 rounds. It was a monster step up and yet it was a controlled performance of pressure accuracy and sharp movement from Kawaura who was a comfortable winner in what was his first real test.
After beating Pantilgan we would hen see Kawaura face his first domestic test, going in against Yuki Yoshimura, who was fighting for the third time as part of a comeback. Kawaura quickly over powered his foe, and forced Yoshimura's corner to throw in the towel mid-way throw round 3. Kawaura had set the tone with his jab, but had closed the show with his uppercuts and straights whilst Yoshimura had no answer to anything thrown his way.
Sadly only Kawaura's debut is his only bout available to see, and not much other footage of Kawaura is out there either from fan cams, Boxingraise or TV. It does seem hard to envision him not having more bouts available in the near future, especially given what he's done since his debut. We would be surprised to not see him on a Dangan Card or a G+ card by the end of 2019, and hopefully pressing for titles in 2020. The one question mark over him seems to be activity, and 5 fights in since December 2016 is poor, especially given they have combined for just 16 professional rounds. But he's a talent and someone every fan should add to their watch list.
This past week has been one that has mixed disappointing performances and frustrating broadcasting with some great action, exciting fights and under-rated performances. We're not going to say it's been one of the best weeks of the year, but it has given us a lot to talk about and plenty of fighters to recognise in our weekly awards.
Fighter of the Week
Hiroaki Teshigawara (19-2-2, 12)
One of the hardest categories for the week was the Fighter of the Week, with a number of fighters really impressing. For us the winner, by a nose hair, was Hiroaki Teshigawara, who retained the OPBF Super Bantamweight title fight with an exciting with against Yuki Iriguchi. The bout saw Teshigawara show a little bit of everything, from brawling at times to show casing his boxing skills with his left hand, after injuring his right hand in round 2. His battle through adversity was impressive and the way he essentially beat the fight out of Iriguchi in the end was fantastic, gritting his teeth to launch a 2 handed assault late on. It wasn't a flawless performance, but it was the performance of a fighter, and someone who is now deserving bigger fights.
Notable mentions: Edward Heno, Kenichi Horikawa, John Riel Casimero, Dave Penalosa
Performance of the Week
Dave Penalosa (15-0, 11)
Whilst Teshigawara won the Fighter of the Week the Performance of the week was, clearly, the one put on by Dave Penalosa. Penalosa showed his calculating side early on, but was tagged in round 4 and went full on into fighter mode destroying Marcos Cardenas through the round, dropping the Mexican 3 times. Whilst Cardenas had been stopped before this was still a statement, and sees Penalosa joining Miguel Marriaga, Carlos Diaz Ramirez and Rey Vargas as the only fighters to stop the 29 year old Mexican. Penalosa provided excitement, action and real killer instinct, with gut busting body shots. A fantastic performance.
Notable mentions: Carl Jammes Martin, Edward Heno, Kenichi Horikawa, Erika Hanawa
Dave Penalosa (14-0, 10) vs Marcos Cardenas (19-6-1, 15)
What allowed Dave Penalosa to win our Performance of the Week was also what made his fight the Fight of the Week. His perfect foil. Cardenas didn't come to play second fiddle. He hadn't travelled to roll over and lose to Penalosa, instead he had come to win, advance his own career and move towards big fights of his own. This lead to a fantastic fight, with good skills, a real gritty toughness from Cardenas and of course the impressive 4th round destruction from Penalosa. The fight had everything, with Penalosa being wobbled in a moment of drama that worried the local fans, the fight back from that wobble and the skills that came earlier in the fight. A brilliant bit of match making lead to a fantastic fight.
Notable mentions: Hiroaki Teshigawa Vs Yuki Iriguchi, Kenichi Horikawa Vs Satoru Todaka, Carl Jammes Martin Vs Petchchorhae Kokietgym
Carl Jammes Martin Vs Petchchorhae Kokietgym (round 3)
Watching Carl Jammes Martin make his televised debut this weekend showed that he is going to be one of the most TV friendly fighters on the planet in the years to come. He showed that especially well in round 3 of his bout with Petchchorhae Kokietgym, when he set an electric pace and pinned the Thai on to the ropes, unloading an incredible amount of shots. The Thai tried to fire back but was essentially handcuffed by the volume from Martin, who was relentless. Despite the one-sided nature of the round it was all action, edge of your seat stuff, with the potential that Martin would catch one clean himself in his pursuit of an early finish. This is must watch action, and a great example of what the Filipino scene is bringing through, and how good ESPN5 are doing in giving fighters like Martin time to shine.
(Due to the fight being uploaded by ESPN5 we've had to include the full fight and not just the single round)
Hyun Joon Lee TKO1 Hyun Moo Yang
Come the end of 2019 we don't expect to see many people raving about this obscure bout from Suwon in Korea, but it was hard not to be impressed by the visually brilliant KO scored by the debutant Hyun Joon Lee, against fellow Korean Hyun Moo Yang. The KO came from a hard straight right hand as the two men traded and left Yang out cold before he hit the canvas. It was one of those blows that for a moment or two was a little worrying, though Yang did seem fine before he left the ring under his own steam. Hard to read much into the value of the win for the debutant, but this was a clean a right hand as he is ever likely to land.
Notable mentions - Carlo Penalosa KO3 Watana Phenbaan, a perfect body shot from Penalosa
(Again full fight has been included, though this one does end inside the opening round)
Carl Jammes Martin (12-0, 11)
Filipino teenager Carl Jammes Martin made his TV debut, fighting against Petchchorhae Kokietgym on ESPN5, and took full advantages of the opportunity putting on a fantastic, all action performance to stop the Thai. It wasn't punch perfect, but it was the type of exciting "come and watch me" performance that Martin would have wanted. He set a high pace, showed lovely uppercuts, and essentially bludgeons the Thai into submission in 3 rounds. At just 19 he is one of the most promising Filipino fighters out there and combines power, speed and work rate, and looks destined to become a must watch TV attraction
Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (11-3, 10) Vs Yuki Nonaka (32-10-3, 10)
When a really aggressive fighter takes on a technically sound defensive fighter we tend to end up with some pretty fun fights, event though thinking about it they probably shouldn't deliver the action that they do. Next Sunday we see the aggressive, heavy handed and exciting Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa defending his WBO Asia Pacific and OPBF Middleweight titles against the very technical and sharp Yuki Nonaka in a bout that really excites us. This one could be something very, very special.
A full previeew of this bout can be read here - Regional champion Hosokawa takes on veteran Nonaka!
Inoue Vs Rodriguez confirmed for May 18th in Glasgow!
It's fair to say only one story was ever going to be the new story of the week, and that was the WBSS announcement that Naoya Inoue (17-0, 15) and Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-0, 12) would be having their semi-final in Glasgow, in what will be an historic event for Japanese boxing. It is not only the first time a Japanese world champion will be defending their title in Europe a, but also the first time a Japanese fighter has fought in a world title unification bout in Europe. A win for Inoue, who is the clear betting favourite at this moment in time, would also see him become the first Japanese fighter to win world title bouts in 3 continents. Rodriguez is, of course, not push over and should make the bout interesting, in what looks like a fantastic match up.
The full story is available to read here - Inoue Vs Rodriguez confirmed for May 18th in Glasgow!
For a second time this month the Filipino broadcaster not only televised boxing, but put on an international stream for fans wanting to get a glimpse of the talent the Filipino scene has to offer. It wasn't a seamless or perfect broadcast, though it appears that it was due to reasons out of their hands with a long pause caused by a cancellation during the show, but it was a fantastic card well worthy of the time fans invested in watching it. It's amazing to think what ESPN5 are currently doing for the Filipino scene and long may it continue. We really can't help but feel these broadcasts are a much needed boost to the Filipino scene, that for far too long only really showed ALA cards live.
The World Sport Boxing Gym got a good amount of attention on January 26th when their biggest name fighter, Takeshi Inoue battled Jamie Munguia. The gym does however have some other very interesting fighters there, including Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako (10-0, 10) and one of Japan's truly elite prospects, Masahiro Suzuki (1-0, 1) [鈴木雅弘].
Suzuki made his professional debut on November 3rd last year, fighting on the under-card of Takesako's Japanese title defense against Sanosuke Sasaki at the Korakuen Hall. On his debut he really impressed, over-coming hard hitting Filipino foe Antonio Siesmundo, who had travelled with the intention of stopping Suzuki.
On his debut Suzuki relied on his amateur skills to see off the aggression of Siesmundo, before stopping the tiring Filipino in the 6th, and final, round. By that point Suzuki had proven more in 6 rounds than many fighters prove in 12 fights. He had shown a high level of skill, a fantastic ring IQ, sharp punching and maturity not often seen in a debutant. He had immediately looked like a star in the making.
Suzuki's performance shouldn't have been a surprise. He was an excellent amateur, going 64-26 (21) in the unpaid ranks, he had competed internationally and had travelled to Finland for the 2015 Tammer Tournament. He was an accomplished fighter before he turned professional, and it showed.
The 23 year old from Tokyo will be returning to the ring on March 2nd, again fighting at the Korakuen Hall. His opponent for that bout hasn't yet been confirmed but given how he made his debut we are expecting someone rather testing for the Light Welterweight hopeful, who we have really high hopes for. The World Sport gym aren't known for regressing the competition level that their fighters fight and and this should mean that we see Suzuki progressing to big fights fairly soon, with national titles potential within his grasp at some point in 2020.
If you want to watch Suzuki's debut a link to the fight with Siesmundo is below, and his March bout is expected to be shown live on G+ as part of the Dynamic Glove card headlined by Takesako's Japanese title defense against Shuji Kato.
The final part of February is a really interesting one, with a lot of action in less than 2 weeks including world title bouts, prospects, world title eliminators and a regional title fight.
Dave Penalosa (14-0, 10) vs Marcos Cardenas (19-6-1, 15) - Metro Manila, Philippines
For a second straight week we see a Filipino prospect called Dave in a notable step up on ESPN5. First there was Dave Apolinario and now we get Dave Penalosa, who looks to over-come Marcos Cardenas for the WBO Oriental Featherweight title. Penalosa, who carries a legendary surname, showed early promise but inactivity has cost years of his career, and he will now be looking to get back in the right track. Cardenas is heavy handed but this is a huge step up for the Mexican.
Johnriel Casimero (25-4, 16) vs Kenya Yamashita (13-4, 10)- Metro Manila, Philippines
Former 2-weight world champion John Riel Casimero returns to a Filipino ring for the first time since losing in a world title eliminator to Jonas Sultan back in September 2017. In the opposite corner is flawed, but exciting, Japanese youngster Kenya Yamashiita, who should make for a really interesting opponent. Casimero should be favoured, but he has been disappointing at times and he may well be on the slide.
Carl Jammes Martin (11-0, 10) vs Petchchorhae Kokietgym (17-2, 8)- Metro Manila, Philippines
Another exciting prospect on this card is the unbeaten and prodigiously young Carl Jammes Martin, who will be making his TV debut in a bout against Thai visitor Petchchorhae Kokietgym. This looks like a really tough match up for Martin's first bout on TV, but a win here will really allow him to announce himself on the Filipino fans who may not have had a chance to see the youngster yet. The Thai is no pushover but has lost his two most notable bouts to date.
Ryosuke Iwasa (25-3, 16) Vs Cesar Juarez (23-6, 17)- California, USA
In the US we'll see an IBF world title eliminator at Super Bantamweight, as former world champion Ryosuke Iwasa takes on the always entertaining Cesar Juarez in what should be a very entertaining battle. Iwasa needs to impress to remain in the mix, and this will be his US debut after having had a previous Stateside aborted when his opponent failed to make weight. Juarez lost his last bout at world level, being stopped by Isaac Dogboe, but has bounced back well and will be really up for this contest, in what could be a very, very entertaining bout and potentially the highlight of the weekend.
Yesenia Gomez (14-5-3, 6) vs Erika Hanawa (10-3, 4) - Quintana Roo, Mexico
In a female world title fight we'll see Japan's Erika Hanawa challenge WBC Female Light Flyweight champion Yesenia Gomez. Despite being a world title fight few would consider either of these as truly world class, with both suffering set backs in recent bouts. It's those setbacks, and the need to shine brightly here, that makes this bout more intriguing than if both were in good form, and neither can afford a loss. Sadly though in a division with Yesica Yolanda Bopp, Kenia Enriquez and Tenkai Tsunami it's hard to see the winner of this bout as truly top level fighter.
Akihiro Kondo (31-7-1, 18) Vs Downua Ruawaiking (14-0, 11) - Tokyo, Japan
A second IBF world title eliminator is set to take place at Light Welterweight, as the teak tough Akihiro Kondo battles unbeaten Thai prospect Downua Ruawaiking. This is a really interesting match up that not only lets us see what Kondo has left in the tank, after 2 straight forward bouts since his loss to Sergey Lipinets, but also see what Ruawaiking has to offer. The Thai has looked good so far, but this is a big step up in class, and his first bout outside of his homeland. A win for Downua would put him on the map, but this is a really stiff test for him.
Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (11-3, 10) Vs Yuki Nonaka (32-10-3, 10) - Osaka, Japan
Potentially the fight of the month will see the big punching Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa defending his WBO Asia Pacific and OPBF Middleweight titles against skilled veteran Yuki Nonaka. This bout will likely be brawn against brain and should be a real thriller. Hosokawa only fights one way, and that is with intense aggression, the sort of thing Hosokawa has made a career out of soaking up, countering and using against fighters. We really do see this as a highlight and can't wait to see Boxingraise posting the fight on demand.
Vic Saludar (18-3, 10) Vs Masataka Taniguchi (11-2, 7) - Tokyo, Japan
Another potential highlight will see WBO Minimumweight champion Vic Saludar defending his title for the first time, taking on Japanese challenger Masataka Taniguchi. Both of these men are aggressive, heavy handed, skilled and exciting. We're expecting bombs to be traded, though not in a wild way. Instead this should be a compelling chess match with shotguns and rocket launchers. A potentially brilliant contest, that is only really harmed by the fact TBS won't be broadcasting the fight live but instead showing it on tape delay.
This past week has been one of the quietest of the year so far, at least in terms of Asian fighters and fighters involving Asian fighters. It wasn't silent by any stretch, but much of the action was relatively low key. That however doesn't take away from what we did have.
Fighter of the Week
Ben Mananquil (17-1-3, 4)
Although his fight isn't yet available to watch, with Boxing Raise set to post next week, it's hard to argue that anyone deserves Fighter of the Week more than Filipino fighter Ben Mananaquil. The 26 year old southpaw travelled to Japan and easily outboxed Japanese youngster Tenta Kiyose on Sunday to become the new WBO Asia Pacfic Bantamweight champion.Mananquil has been one of the sports over-looked men in recent years, with a number of unlucky results on the round, including bouts with Kwanpichit Onesongchaigym and Jing Xiang. He did get a bit of luck last year, with a draw against Hinata Maruta, but generally hasn't had much luck. He didn't need it against Kiyose, dropping the Japanese fighter on route to a clear win.
Performance of the Week
Reymart Gaballo (21-0, 18)
The unbeaten Reymart Gaballo is one of the forgotten men of the Bantamweight division, but he really shouldn't be. The 22 year old boxer-puncher is one of the best young fighters in boxing, and can box, bang, brawl and really excite. This past Saturday he showed how good he was as he completely destroyed the brave but outgunned Yuya Nakamura. Gaballo would drop Nakamura twice in the opening round and once in round 2 to record a 2nd round TKO. At times he looked wild, yet found the target time, and time, and time again. It was the sort of performance that deserved a bigger platform than ESPN5, and hopefully fans will find the time watch the bout, just to see how good Gaballo looked, and how good he is. We're really hoping for Gaballo to have a big bout this year, and this performance showed exactly why so many are so high on him.
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (47-4-1, 41) Vs Nawaphon Por Chokchai (44-1-1, 34)
This past week has had some good fights, but nothing really stood out in terms of overall quality, excitement or value. There was good fights that just missed something, or had a lack of intensity. With that in mind we're taking the odd step of selecting the televised exhibition between Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Nawaphon Por Chokchai as out fight of the week. It was fought with headgear and over-sized gloves, fought for charity and fought an insane pace as both men looked to try and take the other out. It won't go down on either man's record, but it was certainly fun to watch on Friday morning.
Hiroki Okada Vs Raymundo Beltran (Round 2)
A great round is made from the combination of drama and excitement and the second round of the enthralling bout between Japan's Hiroki Okada and Mexican Raymundo Beltran is hard to beat. The round saw Beltran applying pressure, dropping Okada then being hurt badly himself as Okada came close to forcing a knockdown of his own. It was a really great round and deserves to be in the conversation for round of the year so far. Sadly the bout had too many slower rounds, especially in the middle of the fight, to be in the Fight of the Year conversation, but it was a great round in a very good, but not amazing, fight. Had the bout not had it's slow spell in the middle this would likely have taken the Fight of the Week award.
Romero Duno KO2 Kuldeep Dhanda
This week we saw arguably the KO of the Year so far when heavy handed Filipino Romero Duno flattened over-matched Indian foe Kuldeep Dhanda in what was a really scary KO. The Indian had been down and wobbled badly in the opening round, but had shown bravery to try and fight back. That turned out to be a huge mistake and he was left out cold from a monstrous right hand from Duno about a minute into the second round. Referee Ferdinand Estrella gave a 10 count, when he really didn't need to, and it took a good few minutes for Dhanda to move after getting medical assistance. Thankfully he did get to his feet and seemed to walk out of the ring by himself, following some really worrying scenes.
Dave Apolinario (10-0, 6)
We had a number of prospects in action though none shone like Dave Apolinario, who clearly beat Romshane Sarguilla over 8 rounds. The fight was a clear win, Apolinario near enough shut out his countryman, but was force to work though out the contest and never had time to relax. Despite the hot tempo Apolinario seemed to enjoy the fact he had an opponent who came to win, and that drew the best out of the southpaw who really did look like one to watch in the Flyweight division. At just 20 years old
he is someone who should be on everyone's radar going forward. A fantastic, sharp, quick, intelligent fighter who has the potential to go all the way!
Hiroaki Teshigawara (18-2-2, 11) vs Yuki Iriguchi (10-2-1, 4)
This coming week has a lot of great bouts scheduled for it, though the one that has us most interested is Thurday's OPBF Super Bantamweight title bout between defending champion Hiroaki Teshigawara and 21 year old challenger Yuki Iriguchi. Watching both men we see two aggressive, exciting, fighters who are happy to engage in a real fight. Stylistically this bout is the one that intrigues us the most, despite not being the most significant contest of the week. We do expect Teshigawara to win, but we also expect some all out violence until he gets the victory.
Ryosuke Iwasa Vs Cesar Juarez, Edward Heno Vs Koji Itagaki, Shohjahon ErgashevVs Mykal Fox
Katsunari Takayama to compete on March 1st!
There wasn't a huge announcement this week, though the Japanese Boxing Awards did get plenty of attention. Instead we had a bit of a scatter gun news week, with arguably the most notable single story being that of Katsunari Takayama's return to action. The hugely popular warrior will be fighting at the Japanese selection event for the Asian Championships, beginning his journey towards a potential Olympic berth. Whether Takayama's dream comes to reality or note, and he manages to make it to Tokyo 2020 is yet to be seen, but we're so glad to hear that he will be in the ring on March 1st as he continues to be a bit of a Japanese trail blazer.
The middle section of February is pretty interesting , with a number of notable regional level bouts.
Ben Mananquil (16-1-3, 4) Vs Tenta Kiyose (15-2-1, 7) - Hyogo, Japan
Filipino fighter Ben Mananquil travels to Japan to take Tenta Kiyose in what appears to be a really well matched bout for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight title. Mananquil has been unlucky in a number of his bouts, though was fortunate to get a draw against Hinata Maruta. Kiyose on the other hand hasn't fought at the same level as Mananquil, but did score a very notable win over Oleydong Sithsamerchai last July and will be looking to build on that win here. This looks like a very interesting match up an should be very, very competitive.
Hiroki Okada (19-0, 13) Vs Raymundo Beltran (35-8-1-1, 21)- California, USA
Japan's Hiroki Okada takes part in his second US bout, as he battles former world champion Raymundo Beltran, in what looks to be an unofficial world title eliminator for the WBC Light Welterweight title. Okada failed to shine in his US debut, last year, but is a talented boxer-puncher and is certainly better than he looked last time out. Beltran, at his best, was handful for anyone other than the elite, and would have been strongly favoured against Okada, but he has looked to be on the slide in recent bouts, making this a very interesting match up, and something close to a 50-50 fight.
Genesis Servania (32-1, 15) vs Carlos Castro (21-0, 9)- Califnornia, USA
Former world title challenger Genesis Servania, from the Philippines, will be looking to take a huge step towards his second world title fight as he takes on the unbeaten Carlos Castro. Castro is taking a massive step up in class, and will be regarded as the under-dog, but Servania knows he needs to shine, not just win, if he's to open up the doors he needs to get a second title shot. Servania is best known in the US for his fantastic bout with Oscar Valdez and fans will be aware of how good he is, however Castro is an unknown, and could see this as his huge chance to make a name for himself, in what could be a very interesting match up.
Edward Heno (13-0-5, 5) Vs Koji Itagaki (18-13-3, 7)- Hiroshima, Japan
Filipino fighter Edward Heno returns to Japan to make his next defense of the OPBF Light Flyweight title, as he takes on Japanese veteran Koji Itagaki in Hiroshima. The unbeaten Filipino won the title in Japan back in 2017, when he stopped Seita Ogido, and has made 2 impressive defenses since. As for Itagako, he has come up short in Japanese and WBO Asia Pacific title bouts, but this will be his first for an OPBF belt. The Japanese fighter, who is now 35, is in last chance saloon, but has sadly not looked great in recent bouts and has scored just 2 wins in his last 7. All signs point towards another defense for the champion, but can Itagaki put in a career defining performance to save his career?
Hiroaki Teshigawara (18-2-2, 11) Vs Yuki Iriguchi (10-2-1, 4)-Tokyo, Japan
Over the last few year's we've been incredibly impressed by Hiroaki Teshigawara, who will be looking to make his next defense of the OPBF Super Bantamweight title, as he takes on Yuki Irigughi. This is a bout where the champion will be the clear favourite, but the challenger is far from a patsy, and holds a win over recent world title challenger Ryohei Takahashi. Given the styles of both men we're expecting a potential FOTY candidate and both men really do love to let their shots go. Sadly for the challenger he may not have the power needed to make the champion respect him, though he will have the self belief to bring the fight. This really could be the highlight of the week.
Kenichi Horikawa (38-15-1, 12) Vs Satoru Todaka (9-2-4, 3) -Tokyo, Japan
On the same show as the Teshigawara Vs Iriguchi bout is a brilliant bout to crown a new Japanese Light Flyweight champion, as veteran Kenichi Horikawa takes on little known foe Satoru Todaka. Horikawa is a former Japanese and WBO Asia Pacific champion who is an incredibly experienced fighter. At 38 Horikawa is coming towards the end of his career, but he showed there was still life in his legs last year when he stopped the previously mentioned Koji Itagaki. At 29 years old Todaka is the much younger man, but this is a major step up in class for him.
Shohjahon Ergashev (15-0, 14) vs Mykal Fox (19-0, 5)- Kansas, USA
In Kansas we'll see unbeaten men colliding, as highly touted Uzbek puncher Shohjahon Ergashev takes on Mykal Fox in a very interesting looking match up. The Uzbek shined last year, when he went 5-0 (4) putting himself on the map with notable wins over Sonny Fredrickson and Wang Zhimin. Fox, a tall rangy fighter, is stepping up massively here, but a win will boost his chances of a huge fight and he will likely be coming into this bout with the knowledge that this could be his coming out party. It's always good to see prospects colliding, and that's exactly what we have here!
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