This coming weekend is an interesting one, with a lot of attention being put on a card at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The main event of that card, the rematch between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder, is obviously the bout that everyone will focus on but before that we'll get a WBO Super Bantamweight title fight, as 23 year old Filipino Jeo Santisima (19-2, 16) takes on defending champion Emanuel Navarrete (30-1, 26). As if often the case with Filipino fighters making their debut in the states, the question is "Who is Jeo Santisima?" Or as we like to ask "Who are you? Jeo Santisima"
Obviously, as mentioned, Santisima is a 23 year old Filipino fighter with a couple of losses to his name and really no recognition on the international stage. He is however someone who Filipino fans have been talking about for a few years now, and we've seen him rebuild from a 2-2 start to becoming a legitimate contender, in one of boxing's most compelling divisions.
Like many Filipino fighters Santisima turned professional as youngster, in fact he was only 17 when he made his debut back in August 2013. He lost that bout, by decision, to Roniel Parcon at Featherweight, but bounced back just a month later by beating Filipino based Japanese fighter Takaomi Noma. A second win, just months late, saw him build some momentum before falling to his second defeat, losing to Marlon Arcilla at Bantamweight.
After just 9 months as a professional it would have been easy to write off the young Santisima, but he refused to write himself off, and he has since found his groove in the ring, built into his frame, and began fighting at his natural weight.
Given he was 2-2 after 4 bouts Santisima wasn't getting much attention, but slowly began to prove himself in the last half of 2014, before building up a head of steam in 2015 with 4 stoppage wins, including victories over Peter Apolinar and Alan Alberca, both of whom were 5-0, and the experience Jerry Nardo, then 21-8. Those wins saw Santisima begin to create quite a bit of buzz and go into 2016 with some momentum.
Things went from good to better for the youngster who scored 5 more stoppage wins in 2016, including stoppages over Marco Demecillo and Rex Wao. Those wins secured him a 5 year contract extension with ALA Promotions, who obviously saw him as a major part of their future. He was getting shots to shine on televised events, with his win over Junior Bajawa being one of the main events on an ALA show and his win over Terdchai Doungmontree coming on the under-card of a Nonito Donaire card.
To begin 2017 Santisima was surprisingly taken the distance by Indonesian journeyman Master Suro, ending a 10 fight T/KO run for the Filipino. Suro was dropped in round 6 but managed to survive the 10 round schedule in what was a televised bout on Pinoy Pride 40. Coming in to the bout the commentary team has been building up Santisima's power, and rightfully so, but Suro was super tough and not only showed Santisima couldn't blow everyone out, but that the Filipino youngster hard work to do on his stamina, work rate and shot selection.
Having gone 10 with Suro we expected Santisima to have to work for subsequent victories, but instead he blew out the previously unbeaten Goodluck Mrema, in 78 seconds, and Kichang Kim, in 56 seconds. He then needed only 3 rounds to beat Thai foe Yodsingdaeng Jor Chaijinda, aka Likit Chane, to claim the WBO Oriental Super Bantamweight title. That was the first title he won, and 5 months after winning it he defended it, for the first time, in the toughest bout of his 17 winning round. That bout saw Santisima going 12 hard fought rounds with Mexican tough guy Uriel Lopez. It was a clear win for the Filipino, but a very hard fought one, that saw Santisima needing to prove his toughness, engine and will to win, against an opponent who simply refused to be stopped.
Sadly since the gut check against Lopez we've not really seen Santisima prove himself. He stopped the poor Alvius Maufani inside a round and then stopped the once talented, but by then very faded and naturally much smaller, Rene Dacquel. On paper the win over Dacquel was good, but in reality it was against a man who was at his best 2 divisions lower, had been stopped in his previous bout and was more than 2 years removed from his last win, at Super Flyweight.
In the ring Santisima is a big Super Bantamweight, powerfully built and a heavy body puncher. He is however someone who fights in spurts, throws a lot of round shots, and although heavy handed his shots can be seen coming and can be ridden. Defensively he's open to counters during his bursts of shots and even when he's not in aggressive mode his hands still drop, he's there to be hit and will be hit by someone like Navarrete.
Do we give him a chance against Navarrete? Well yeah, there's always a chance, but it's a slim one and he is really up against it against here.
(Image courtesy of ALA Boxing)
After a few weeks where we've not had much to talk about the past week has been a much more engaging and interesting one, with some great bouts, some exciting announcements, some free streams, and plenty negatives to talk about as well as the positives.
1-CBC's live stream
Although CBC's stream this week wasn't of a huge show, it was, as we've come to expect from them, fantastic from start to end. The broadcaster aired the entire show from Kariya live on Tuesday, in excellent quality, with no issues, live replays, great camera angles and perfect sound mixing. Sadly for everyone else CBC have brought TV level production values to the free streaming game, and it's going to be down to everyone else to play catch up. As well as the quality of the stream the fights were also rather solid, especially the main event between Kento Hatanaka and Roland Jay Biendima, and Hiroki Hanabusa's body shot KO was sublime.
If someone else is going to do a free stream, this is level they should be aiming for. Amazing from start to end!
2-Nakatani Vs Magramo being made official!
We know we mentioned this bout last week, and actually the CBC free stream, but this week saw the confirmation of Junto Nakatani Vs Giemel Magramo! Better yet it's set for a Dynamic Glove show, meaning that we're expecting it to be shown live on G+. Not only is this an exceptional match up for the WBO Flyweight title but it's the type of bout that excites us, and is a risk for both men. Given that both fighters could have taken different routes to a world title we can't help but be proud of both fighters for signing up to this one!
3-Wanheng Menayothin gets date for US debut
With a 54-0 record WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin has the longest active unbeaten stream in boxing, along with the longest world title reign of any man in the sport. One thing he hasn't got is an international bout to his name. That changes in April after this weeks news of the Thai setting off for the US! Wanheng will make his international debut on April 25th, when he takes on Marco John Rementizo. The bout might not be the biggest, or the best, and the scheduling for it is fucking stupid, clashing with Naoya Inoue Vs Johnriel Casimero, but it's great to finally see Wanheng outside of his comfort zone.
4-Yuki Nakajima's uppercut
It's not often we'll talk about a specific punch on here but the uppercut Yuki Nakajima landed on Shisui Kawabata in round 6 was something special. Huge credit to Kawabata for not being left flat on his back, but the punch is up there with the best of them. Those with boxing raise owe it to them selves to rewatch this it was amazing.
1-Koki Inoue's injury
In unfortunate news Koki Inoue has suffered and injury that has forced him to postpone his mandatory title defense against Daishi Nagata. The talented and unbeaten Japanese 140lb champion thankfully doesn't appear to be too seriously injured, given he'll be defending the title against Nagata in May, but it is still said news that both men will delay their return to the ring by a couple of months.
2-Yudai Shigeoka's next opponent
We love the Shigeoka brothers. We see both becoming future world champions. We fully accept that both are super prospects. So we need to wonder what the idea is in having Yudai Shigeoka's next bout come against Sanchai Yotboon, the fighter that Ginjiro Shigeoka took out in 3 rounds on his debut! Absolutely pointless match up by Watanabe gym. This is a mismatch, and should be little more than a stay busy for Shigeoka, who beat Lito Dante a few months ago, and should have been matched much tougher than this.
3-Daigo Higa's comments on the future
After almost 2 years away from the ring we finally saw former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa back in action. Higa would win his return, stopping Jason Buenaobra, but sadly comments after the bout leave us confused as to whether he will continue fighting or will leave the sport for good. Given he's only 24 it would be a massive shame if Higa hung them up now, after just 17 fights, and we genuinely hope he can find something to motivate him again. Higa, at Bantamweight, would be at a disadvantage, but given his style and tenacity we'd love to see him making a splash in the division. We really hope he continues in the sport, but if not, we're glad to have seen the destructive little marvel on his way up, and see him walk away with his health intact. It would just be a huge shame for his name to be added to the list of "what could have been".
1-Bektemir Melikuziev Vs Oscar Cortes
We understand late replacements aren't always great but Oscar Cortes was a simply awful late replacement, especially for a fighter like Bektemir Melikuziev. The Mexican was under-sized, under-powered and essentially had lost by the time he had his ring walk. Whilst we can't blame Cortes, who obviously took his pay day, and Melikuziev, who isn't responsible for his original opponent pulling out, we do need to question the California State Athletic Commission, who should have said no. There was no point in this bout, and no one came off looking good.
2-Merlito Sabillo's leg
We've yet to hear any actual confirmation on what, if any, injury Merlito Sabillo suffered but the way his leg bent and buckled as he got knocked down by Sho Kimura suggested something nasty. As did the way he was lying on the canvas. We really hope it is nothing series, but bloody hell did it look nasty, and we wouldn't be surprised, given his age and run of 4 losses, if he ends up in retirement. If he's injured, in the way we believe, it'll likely be 9 months, or longer, until he returns, and he'll around 37 by then
3-GAB's live stream
We started with a free stream, so lets end on a free stream. CBC raised the bar, with a brilliant, professional, well edited, and high quality stream. Just days later the GAB put on a stream that was inconsistent, repeatedly froze, stopped and started, low quality and was just hard to watch, and even harder to enjoy. We know the GAB streams can work and can be wonderful, as they were at the end of the show, but for the most part the show was just terrible. Fingers crossed they get these sorted in the future, as they are a really valuable asset for boxing fans, when they work. We don't expect GAB to hit the professional levels of CBC any time soon, but if they can get a consistent stream going it would be a great starting point!
(Image courtesy of A. McGovern - Top, and Boxmob - Bottom)
Many top prospects are top prospects because they have a strong amateur pedigree, have won various amateur titles and turned professional with expectations on their shoulders. Today however we want to introduce a more organic prospect, to your attention, one didn't have tens of amateur bouts and amateur trophies. But one who every fan should be aware of sooner, rather than later. Not just because he's a talented fighter going places, but also because he's one of the most exciting young fighters in world boxing today.
Today's "Introducing..." focus on must watch Filipino Carl Jammes Martin (15-0, 14), a 20 year old dubbed "Wonder Boy" who is so much fun to watch, and is set to take a huge step up on February 22nd.
As suggested in the opening paragraph Martin wasn't a former amateur standout. Given that Martin was just 16 years old when he made his professional debut, way back in March 2016, his amateur background is understandably very limited. Despite that he did actually make a mark on the Filipino youth domestic scene, claiming a bronze medal at the Philippine Youth Games-Batang Pinoy, though turned professional soon afterwards.
On debut, on March 5th 2016, Martin stopped fellow debutant Jayar Omac in 2 rounds, with Omac retiring at the end of round 2. Just weeks later Martin scored another early win as he stopped Noel Guliman in 2 rounds. The talent of Martin was obvious and in his third bout he was moved 4 rounders to 6 rounders. The extra rounds came in handy and Martin ended up stopping Manny Mamamcquiao in the 5th round to close out 2016 with a faultless 3-0 (3) record.
After stopping his first 3 opponents we finally saw an opponent stand up to Martin's power in 2017, when he was taken 8 rounds by Jason Buenobra. Despite being taken the distance Martin was the clear winning on the scorecards and took his first title, the lightly regarded LuzProBA Bantamweight title. Martin quickly got back to stopping opponents, with Jerry Mae Villagracia being taken out in 2 rounds, in Martins' next bout.
By the end of 2017 Martin hadn't just claimed the LuzProBA title but also an interim PBF title and an interim WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental title, essentially a minor regional belt. He had started to make waves, and was only 18 years old with a 7-0 (6). Those waves became bigger, and bigger, on 2018 as Martin racked up 4 more wins, all by stoppage. These included wins for more regional titles, as he claimed a WBO Oriental and WBA Asia title, and victories over slightly better opponents, such as Chinese fighter Huerban Qiatehe.
Moving to 11-0 (10) Martin had entered 2019 with a reputation as someone to keep an eye on, but was only really known by the absolute hardcore fans. Those who watched GAB streams. He had yet to even be featured on TV, but was already generating real buzz, and living up to the Wonder Boy tag. In 2019 we did finally see him on TV, as he appeared twice on ESPN5, beating two over matched Thai's on TVm before heading back to his fights being streamed, with his last 2 bouts being shown online only. Those streamed bouts actually include a solid domestic win over Benezer Alolod, and a blow out against Philip Luis Cuerdo.
With a February 22nd bout set against Renoel Pael we expect to see Martin face a genuine tests against a a man 35 fights to his name, and has never been stopped. Martin will be favoured, but this is very genuine and serious test for the youngster, who will have to answer questions against Pael.
At just 20 years old there's no reason for Martin's team to rush him, but he is certainly someone who is going to be tough to match in the coming years and will need to matched carefully to test him properly before he faces world class competition.
For those who haven't seen Martin he is all action, a whirlwind of aggression, who can box, but is more of a swarmer, at least at the moment. We suspect that as his competition steps up the swarming will decline somewhat and he will begin to look more and more towards using his under-rated boxing skills. We expect to see those skills against Pael, and to be honed in the next year or two before he faces world ranked opponents.
After one of the quietest weeks in a long time we followed up with a genuinely solid, if rather over-looked, week featuring a lot of solid action, and bouts featuring 3 former champions! It may not have matched some of the weeks at the end of 2020, but this was an excellent week and one we really enjoyed thanks to free streams, from CBC and the GAB, a brilliant Boxing Raise show and a tape delay Fuji TV show.
Fighter of the Week
Ryoji Fukunaga (12-4, 12)
A week after our rule on "Fighter" of the week bit us on the backside, with the most significant win coming in a relative nothing bout, normality resumed this week with Ryoji Fukunaga being the well deserving winner this following a gutsy, brave and excellent win over Froilan Saludar. The unheralded Japanese puncher went into the bout as the major under-dog in what was a very big step up in class, but fought through some massive swelling to out gut Saludar. The performance wasn't an outstanding out, but the win was huge, and netter Fkunaga the WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title. We don't imagine he'll hold it long, but this week was his week!
Performance of the Week
Mark Sales (23-43-5, 8)
It's rare that we'll ever see the performance of the week come from a journeyman with more than 40 losses, but this week Mark Sales is well and truly worth attention and accolades. Sales had been out of the ring for almost a year, he'd only fought once in 2019 and once in 2018, and was more than 4 years removed from his last win. He wasn't expected to defeat Prabjhot Singh, but that's exactly what he did, relying on his more than 70 bouts of experience to out work, out fight, out punch and out smart his taller, younger opponent. Well done the "Slam Man"!
Kento Hatanaka vs Roland Jay Biendima
We really had some fantastic bouts this week, including a thriller between a pair of Richard's, Claveras and Rosales, in the Philippines. For us though the pick of the bunch was a 10 round action thriller between Kento Hatanaka and Roland Jay Biendima. This was absolutely thrilling, after a quiet first round Biendima came alive and gave us a brilliant, action packed 10 round bout that swung one way, then the other. Biendima was often on the wrong of the action, but hurt Hatanaka a number of time, bloodying his nose in round 3, damaging his ribs later in the bout and rocking him a number of times. This is the weeks must watch bout, and is really worth going back and rewatching. A brilliant fight.
Kento Hatanaka vs Roland Jay Biendima (RD 10)
There were amazing rounds through the week, though for us the final 3 minutes of the war for the WBC Youth Flyweight title between Kento Hatanaka and Roland Jay Biendima was the best. The round was one of a number of thrilling rounds between the two warriors, tried to make sure they didn't hear the final bell. At the end of the round it was clear the two men had fought to a standstill.
Yuki Nakajima vs Shisui Kawabata (Rd 4)
Elmar Zamora vs Justin Espejo (Rd 6)
Hiroki Hanabusa KO1 Sorawit Bamrungrai
We love body shot KO's, they don't come around too often, but we love seeing them when they do. With that in mind it was hard to note repeatedly rewatch Hiroki Hanabusa's left hook to the body against over-matched Thai Sorawit Bamrungrai. The talented Hanabusa, who will be fighting for a Japanese Youth title later in the year, did what he was supposed to do against an opponent who shouldn't have been in the ring with him, and left him in a heap on the canvas. This was perfect placement, took a fraction of a second for Sorawit to feel it, and left the Thai down and out. Pure brilliance
Elmar Zamora (3-0, 2)
The GAB show on Saturday was frustrating one to watch live with the official GAB stream being rather a nightmare at times. It was however worth watching for the performance of Elmar Zamora, who took a decision over Justin Espejo. Zamora showed he could box, bang, brawl, had a really exciting style and looks like the sort of fighter the Filipino scene should be looking to nurture. The youngster debuted in 2018 and fought twice that year before taking a year out and returning to face Espejo. Not sure if the break was the best thing for his career, but his performance this weekend was brilliant, keep an eye out for this talented and exciting youngster!
Emanuel Navarrete (30-1, 26) vs Jeo Santisima (19-2, 16)
The biggest show of the weekend is at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and we an Asian interest with Emanuel Navarrete taking on Filipino Jeo Santisima, in what is a genuinely quiet week for Asian fighters. Before we go any further, we see this as a massive mismatch, however we also see this as a fun mismatch, with two men expected to try and out slug each other. Santisima is a massive under-dog, but fights in a style that should be fun, until he is eventually worn down by Navarrete. Expect this to be a lot of fun and brutal!
Boxing fans as well known curmudgeons, who want to complain about all sorts. We often hear about how the sport was better in bygone eras, how today's fighters wouldn't have managed to hold a candle to those from yesteryear and the such. Some of the complaints are very valid, others not so. Some are ones that have persisted for decades, other are totally new issues.
Today we look at a relatively new issue... the state of the GAB streams.
GAB, or the Games and Amusements Board, is the body that oversees professional sport in the Philippines. They also put on free streams of certain Filipino boxing events, such as today's "Deadly Combination".
It can be hard to complain about getting something for free, but the reality is that the free streams for events like this are an advert for the promoter, the GAB and the fighters. Yes fans aren't paying to watch the streams, though the people doing the show could easily fit in commercials if financials behind the streams needed to be looked. Or rather they could fit in commercials if they had a stream that fucking worked!
Today's event was streamed on Facebook, it's self a weird decision when Youtube seems the more straight forward and popular option, and through out the show it stopped, it started, it paused the image and kept the sound rolling, it froze complete, needed resetting and simply didn't work. At least not until near the end, with the final 2 bouts working perfectly.
So, given how the last 2 bouts were streamed, we know it's possible for them to run a consistent, smooth stream. So what the fuck were they doing through the rest of the show? The only logical answer is that they were testing things, but given the sheer number of bouts ruined for viewers by whatever it was, it would have been some of the slowest, clumsiest testing ever.
We may be spoiled in some ways with the professional level free streams that CBC, YTV and RCC put on for their events, but GAB look like they are so far behind every one in terms of production value, and overall streaming quality.
At their most basic a stream of an event needs a single camera and to run from start to end without stopping, freezing or anything else. It's consistency of the stream that is absolute vital.
After having a consistent stream they can then look to add things, such as multiple camera angles, replays, and commentary. But these are a bonus on what should be the foundation of a free, consistent stream.
The GAB have a brilliant position in the world of boxing, and their streams have the potential to open up a new audience to fighters on their shows. This could have been a great chance for fight fans to get a chance to see some of the emerging talent on the show, but instead it was little more than a frustration, a genuine nightmare of a stream. In fact it was so bad that it would have been better to have not had any sort of feed at all for the under-card. At least that way those viewing wouldn't have been angry at trying to watch the event, and wouldn't have sworn off going back.
If the GAB have any common sense, they will continue to do these free streams, but they should begin to look at running them through YouTube, with a single camera feed. Getting that down, then building on the basic. There are things that could prove to be an issue, such as music licensing, but even that can be solved by simply muting the microphone and not picking up ring walk music.
It can be hard, and sometimes unfair, to complain about things that are free, but the reality is that free shouldn't mean shit. The GAB need to sort these out, ASAP, before people get to the point of skipping them all together, and doing something else with their time, before waiting for the fights to be uploaded as stand alone videos.
There is a demand for Filipino boxing, and it's an international appeal in some cases, so please GAB, understand these could be something that could attract a decent, consistent, viewing number. But they need to work as streams, and they need to be well advertised in advance, get people talking and get people watching, sticking around and watch next time, rather than the few watching being being pissed off and turning off.
Quite often in this wonderful sport we see fighters who are tipped for the top falling short of the expectations heaped on their shoulders. We've all seen the Olympic gold medal winners who fails to make it to the big time and the other highly regarded former amateurs who went to the top in the unpaid ranks but failed to gain the same success as a professional.
One fighter looking to avoid joining those is Filipino fighter Froilan Saludar (31-3-1, 22) who is now 30 years old and essentially in last chance saloon, and that latest subject of our "Who are you?" feature.
The heavy handed Saludar was tipped for major success very early in his professional career, more than a decade ago, and whilst he's yet to reach the top he banged on the door a few times and has time on side for one more charge. But who exactly is Froilan Saludar?
Froilan Saludar, dubbed "The Sniper", was a once capable amateur who competed internationally in a number of notable tournaments. Those included the Ahmet Comert Tournament, the Xinjiang International Tournament and the Asian Junior Championships all in 2007. Sadly he failed to reach the medal stages in any of those competitions, but even getting as far as he did was something. What was notable is that Froilan's success in the amateurs was overshadowed by that of his brothers, Rey and Vic Saludar, who both took medals at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China.
In 2009 Froilan began his professional campaign and stopped his first 3 opponents, including Jhon Gemino who later became a solid journeyman. When his stoppage run came to an end Saludar continued to pick up wins moving to 6-0 (3) before suffering a technical draw in a 2010 bout against Brian Diano. That draw was the only blip on Saludar's record in his first 20 fights, in which he went 19-0-1 (12).
Although Saludar hadn't scored any major wins in his first 20 bouts he did have notable wins not just over a young Gemino but also Eaktwan BTU Ruaviking, aka Komgrich Nantapech. Sadly his unbeaten run came to an end in spectacular fashion when he was stopped in a world title eliminator by McWilliams Arroyo. That loss came in 2014 and was a major set back, but one that Saludar bounced back from by scoring 4 wins and securing a bout with Takuma Inoue. Sadly that was where Saludar suffered his second loss, and fell to 23-2-1 (14). Despite dropping Inoue Saludar was dropped twice by Inoue late on and was a clearly beaten by Naoya Inoue's young brother.
Saludar would again bounce back from a loss and run up 5 straight wins, all inside the distance, before getting a world title fight against the then WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura. Again the step up to world class proved too much for Saludar, who was stopped in 6 rounds by Kimura, despite a very good start by Saludar who had boxed well early on before being ground down.
As we've seen from Saludar after every loss, he has bounced back, and since losing to Kimura in July 2018 he has notched 3 wins, all by stoppage, including a very notable victory in September 2019 over Tsubasa Murachi for the WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title. That win was enough to put Saludar into the WBO world rankings, again, and put him on the way to another potential world title fight.
Later this month Saludar will make his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific title, as he takes on 33 year old Japanese puncher Ryoji Fukunaga (11-4, 11). A win there will boost Saludar WBO ranking further and potentially give the hard hitting Filipino one more chance to hit the big time.
Although known in the west for his loss to Arroyo, and subsequent defeats to Inoue and Kimura, Saludar is not someone to over-look. The talented boxer puncher has had to rebuild, but at 30 with experience on his side and 35 professional bouts under his belt, including 3 bouts with world class opponents, he certainly shouldn't be written off. Saludar is one of those fighters who will seemingly only lose when he takes on world class fighters, and is likely to become a genuine gatekeeper.
Whilst Saludar being a gatekeeper would be a disappointment, given early expectations, it would certainly not be a terrible position to be, given the incredible depth at Super Flyweight right now, and being a gatekeeper would mean he's only a win or two away from a world title fight.
We don't imagine Saludar ever becoming a world champion, but not every one can. Finding success at regional level, fighting for a world title and being in the general mix is a success, and we wouldn't be surprised at Saludar getting one more crack at a major title before his career comes to an end.
Whilst February certainly didn't start quickly it does get going in the second half of the month with a flurry of fights taking place with Asian fighters involved.
Shuichiro Yoshino (11-0, 9) Vs Izuki Tomioka (7-2-1, 2) -
In the headline bout of a Dimond Glove card in Tokyo we'll see Japanese Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino defending his title again mandatory challenger Izuki Tomioka in the second of this year's Champion carnival bouts. For Yoshino this is expected to be a test of his technical boxing skills, as Tomioka is a genuinely talented boxer-mover. On the other hand Tomioka is taking on, arguably, his toughest opponent to date and did come up short in his last bout at this type of level.
Daigo Higa (15-1, 15) Vs Jason Buenaobra (7-4-3, 3)
After almost 2 years away from the ring former world champion Daigo Higa returns, and takes on rugged Filipino foe Jason Buenaobra. This should be a win for Higa, but we expect him to be very emotional, and he is going up against someone who has never been stopped before, so he will have to work hard for the win. It's also worth noting that Buenaobra is the naturally bigger man and will not be there looking to just make up the numbers.
Froilan Saludar (31-3-1, 22) Vs Ryoji Fukunaga (11-4, 11)
Filipino Froilan Saludar returns to Japan to make his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title, as he battles hard hitting, but technically limited, Japanese challenger Ryuji Fukunaga. On paper this looks like it could be very explosive, and we wouldn't be surprised at all with the bout ending early. Fukunaga hasn't been able to show his power when he has faced his toughest opponents, and Saludar is certainly among the best opponents that he has faced.
Yuki Nakajima (3-1, 3) Vs Shisui Kawabata (2-1, 2)
In a mouth watering clash of young prospects we'll see Yuki Nakajima take on Shisui Kawabata. On paper this doesn't look like one that will get fans outside of Japan too excited, but given the skills of the two men we are really excited by this one. Nakajima, the younger brother of Kazuki Nakajima, is a former amateur standout and made a real mark on the domestic amateur scene whilst Kawabata has been used as a sparring partner by Naoya, showing the quality that he has shared the ring with. We expect this to be very, very good.
Ryota Yamauchi (5-1, 4) Vs MJ Bo (8-3-2, 4)
World ranked Japanese fighter Ryota Yamauchi looks to build on August's win over Alphoe Dagayloan. Sadly Yamauchi's win over Dagayloan cost him a Japanese title eliminator, due to the injuries he suffered in that bout, and he'll be lookign to make up for it in 2020. MJ Bo, from the Philippines was stopped last time he fought in Japan, by Yuta Nakayama, but is a capable opponent and should ask questions of Yamauchi.
Emanuel Navarrete (30-1, 26) vs Jeo Santisima (19-2, 16)
Mexican fighter Emanuel Navarrete looks to make his fifth defense of the WBO Super Bantamweight title as he takes on Filipino challenger Jeo Santisima. The bout is expected to be a mismatch by many, especially given Navarrete's run since winning the title in late 2018. The champion is seen a real monster in the Super Bantamweight division and will come into the bout full of confidence. Although the 23 Santisima isn't well known outside of the Philippines he is riding a 17 fight winning run and has stopped 15 of those, so he certainly enters with a punchers chance, if nothing else.
Riku Nagahama (11-2-1, 4) Vs Kudura Kaneko (11-0, 8)
Unbeaten Japanese-Afghan fighter Kudura Kaneko looks to extend his perfect record as he goes up against the talented Riku Nagahama in a bout for the vacant OPBF Welterweight title. Although neither of these two are well known outside of Japan the bout is a significant one and the winner will see their hopes of landing a big international fight given a huge shot in the arm. Of the two Nagahama has faced better competition, but has lost in his 2 most notable bouts, whilst Kaneko looks to be a fighter on the rise. A very interesting clash.
Jae Woo Lee (7-2, 6) Vs Shingo Kusano (12-8-1, 5)
Potentially the hidden gem for the month is a clash between Jae Woo Lee and Shingo Kusano, who clash in one of the two Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament semi finals. The little known Lee made fans sit up and take note last November, when he stopped Tsuyoshi Tameda in a thrilling little war. Shingo Kusano also thrilled when he fought on the same November card, pulling himself off the canvas and battling back through some real scares against Qiang Ma. Expect this one to be exciting, and not to go the distance.
Richard Pumicpic (21-10-2, 6) Vs Daisuke Watanabe (9-4-2, 6)
The other Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament semi final bout will see Filipino veteran Richard Pumicpic battle Japanese foe Daisuke Watanabe. This has the potential to be very exciting, or a total mess. Both guys like to let their hands go but with 6 technical decisions between them there's a real risk of headbutts derailing the fight. Fingers crossed the heads don't come in to contact too often and we instead get a bit of a thriller!
Once again we're back to looking at the Good, The Bad and The Ugly of the week we've just had, and if we're honest the lack of in ring action has left us with not too much good, and quite a lot of indifference, which thankfully isn't a header here!
1 - CBC confirm Kento Hatanaka's next fight will be streamed globally for free!
With the growing number of payment services in boxing, and PPV's again becoming more and more prevalent, it's great to see that CBC are again showing some common sense. The Japanese broadcaster confirmed this past week that the WBC Youth Flyweight title bout between Kento Hatanaka v Roland Jay Biendima will be streamed worldwide for free. The channel have helped make Kosei Tanaka a star, streaming a number of his fights, and seem to know that getting eyes on their product is key to their fighters becoming more notable. They've done it with Tanaka and are now doing it was 21 year old Hatanaka. Well done CBC and fingers crossed others see the logic behind what they do, and try to replicate it for emerging hopefuls.
2 - Junto Nakatani Vs Giemel Magramo, sign us up!
Although not officially confirmed the reports that Junto Nakatani and Giemel Magramo will battle for the WBO Flyweight title was certainly good news. In fact it was really good news! We're expecting the bout to be confirmed next week, following the report from the gondol that the bout was set. This is the sort of match up that the sport needs more of, and the type of bout that we're always going to get very, very excited about! Two young, up and coming fighters, who could go in different directions, clashing head on for a world title! Yes please. This is the type of match up that title vacancy's should be filled by, and the type of bout that instantly gives the new champion some legitimacy, even if the title had previously been vacant!
3 - Ioka Vs Tanaka in the works!
One of the few real good points from this week was the WBO ordering Kazuto Ioka Vs Kosei Tanaka. On one hand it did feel odd that they were ordering back to back mandatory defenses for Ioka, who defended the belt against a mandatory in December, but on the other hand what an amazing match up, and this is something to get really, really excited about for later in the year! It is worth noting that Tanaka didn't seem to be expecting it to be ordered immediately, and neither did we given Ioka's last defense was a mandatory, so we wouldn't be too surprised to see the WBO delay this, as the the teams try to set it up late the last half of the year.
1 - Dubois Vs Joyce on PPV
British fans really are unlucky right now. It seems that over the coming months they are going to be getting shafted by the powers that be. The Fury Vs Wilder rematch was expected to be PPV, and we expect the Joshua Vs Pulev bout to be on PPV, and both of those are legitimately big bouts. However for Daniel Dubois to face Joe Joyce on PPV in an all British clash, between two men who have yet to break through as any type of stars. Genuinely ridiculous for this bout to be on PPV, and a very tough sell given the lack of personality both men have. Don't get us wrong, we are looking forward to the match, but this shouldn't have been on PPV, and it's a missed opportunity for both fighters and for fans.
2 - Naoya Inoue picks up a fever
After taking part in his typical training camp in Guam Naoya Inoue had to miss the annual Japanese boxing award ceremony last week due to fever. The fever is said to have been brought on by muscle fatigue, and it's a real shame. Not only did he have to miss the award ceremony but also take days out of training. On the other hand it has given the John Riel Casimero camp some more ammunition to help sell the fight, and credit goes to Casimero and Sean Gibbons for their entertaining press conferences this week.
3 - Korean boxing Hiatus
Earlier in the year we had several events in China being cancelled due to Coronavirus and now, due to the spread of the illness, we've seen a number of Korean events falling victim, with 3 planned shows being postponed indefinitely. That included the much anticipated Hyun Mi Choi Vs Maiva Hamadouche female unification bout. Whilst we totally agree with the shows being cancelled, it's still a big disappointment.
1 - Jarrell Miller's comments
Our thoughts about drugs cheats are that they need to be punished. They need to be given lengthy bans, prohibited from profiting from the sport, and made to actually feel like they've been punished. The entire system in boxing right now however seems to be the opposite, and seems to be more like a toddler being told to sit in the corner for 5 minutes. That is...unless you're Jarrell Miller. Less than a year ago Miller was found guilty of, essentially, being a cocktail of banned substances. This week he came out with a pro-drug message in what was a rather clear "fuck you" to the sport, and the others taking part:
“Minor setback for a major comeback. I’m coming for everything and everyone. No one is safe. Say hello to the bad guy,” ...“Everyone wants to portray the superhero. We don’t live in a sunshine world. I’ll never be the superhero. In my world, the majority of the time, the villain wins.”
He's not just showing no remorse for failing multiple drug tests, but is using it as part of the marketing for his return and showing contempt of the sport he's participating in. Fuck him and fuck the commissions that go on to license him. We need this sort of thing to end.
2 - Eddie Hearn admits he doesn't want to match his guys
After telling us for years that "to fight X you need to sign with us" and after telling us for months that he was trying to match some of his guys, Eddie Hearn this week came out and admitted that he wants to cheer on one guy in a fight rather than two. Given the wealth of talent Matchroom have at Middleweight, Super Middleweight and Heavyweight this has really left a sour taste, especially when he's previously blamed the fighters. Given he has fingers in the purses of fighters like Gennady Golovkin, Demetrius Andrade, Callum Smith and Billy Joe Saunders, at 160lbs and 168lbs, and Heavyweights like Michael Hunter, Filip Hrgovic, Joseph Parker, Dillian Whyte and Dereck Chisora there are great match ups to be made, in those divisions. What doesn't help is he then comes out and explains that certain men are divisional "boogeymen", as he did with with Michael Hunter this week. If you have most of the top names in the division and choose not to match them, they aren't boogeymen, they are just being badly handled!
3-Guillermo Rigoondeaux's Career Sabotage continues
Generally we expect the most talented people in the field to be the best, make the most money and develop their reputation to a point where people want to see them show what they can do. For Guillermo Rigondeaux however we once again saw the Cuban's knack of messing things up for himself shine. "El Chacal" finally fought at his natural weight this weekend, dropping to Bantamweight at the age of 39, but once again stunk the joint out, and once again showed why HBO refused to touch him with a barge pole. Unfortunately however this time it was on Showtime, who are also now unlikely to work with him. Loud boos filled the arena for his fight against former Super Flyweight champion Liborio Solis. What didn't help Rigondeaux was that he hurt Solis several times, but refused to go for the finish, particularly in the later rounds when it was clear Solis couldn't bother him. From siding with Carbie when he Gary Hyde had something organised, to shitting the bed on HBO against Joseph Agebko to his string of B tier wins over the likes of James Dickens, Rigondeaux has made himself unwatchable in a sport that is dependent on fans and TV audience. He might be among the most gifted natural athletes in the sport, but also one of the stupidest. His ring IQ might be incredible, but his inability to see the bigger picture, really shows a complete lack of business smarts and once again he's going to find himself totally frozen out by TV and big fighters. We know the purists might enjoy his style, but unfortunately for the Cuban they aren't the people in charge of the TV companies, or the ones that the fighter needs to impress. They are a small minority, and even they seem to be realising what a truly disappointing under-achiever Rigondeaux is.
(Image of Rigondeaux Vs Solis courtesy of Amanda Westcott / SHOWTIME)
Being a second generation fighter isn't the easiest thing in the world, especially when your father is a former world champion. Despite that sons of former world champions do get a lot of attention, as we've seen in the west with the likes of Conor Benn, Chris Eubank Jr and Julio Cesar Chavez. The same is true in Asia where Juiki Tatsuyoshi has received attention due to his father, the enigmatic and incredibly popular Joichiro Tatsuyoshi.
Of course the fame of the father is key to things like that, and today "Introducing..." we look at a second generation fighter who's father did go on to become a world champion, but certainly wasn't a major name.
Japanese teenage Shinba Yamaguchi (1-0, 1) is the 19 year old son of former WBA Light Flyweight champion Keiji Yamaguchi.
The older Yamaguchi won the WBA Ligth Flyweight title in May 1996, out pointing Carlos Murillo. He would defend the title once, before losing in his second defense, being stopped in 2 rounds by Pichitnoi Sithbanprachan. His reign was less than 7 months long but was enough to keep him in the mix in the years that follow, with Keiji getting two other world title fights before his career came to an end in 2002.
Born in May 2000 Shinba was wouldn't have remembered any of his father's career, though Keiji did fight 4 times when Shinba was a baby most notably facing off with Gerry Penalosa. Despite that it's clear he was inspired by his father and went on to take up the sport as a youngster.
As an amateur Yamaguchi junior didn't set the world on fire, going 29-14 (7) in the unpaid ranks, but did compete in a number of notable nationwide competitions and showed some promising touches. He looked sharp, naturally quick and strong. There were technical flaws to work on, from the footage of his amateur fights that are available. He also seemed rather small for the weight class he was fighting in, which likely didn't help him run up too many wins. It was also suggested that his style wasn't suited to the amateur ranks, and that he would make a better professional than amateur.
Rather than staying in the unpaid ranks the Yamaguchi turned professional last year, signing with the Shirai Gushiken Sports gym, headed by Yoko Gushiken. He would make his professional debut last October and he quickly impressed, stopping Buncha Natheekeereekan in just 40 seconds. On paper it wasn't the most amazing of wins, but Buncha had never been blown out so quickly, or so vividly, with the Thai being knockdown hard. The shot left Buncha down for a lengthy amount of time, giving Yamaguchi the ideal start to his professional career.
Despite his debut only being scheduled for 4 rounds Yamaguchi received a lot of press attention after his win, due to who he father was and the stunning finish. His next bout, scheduled for February 13th, appears to be a very clear step up in class as he takes on Filipino foe Luis Borje (5-1-1, 2) in a 6 rounder. That's a big step up but a great chance for us to learn a lot more about the Japanese teenager, who has got lofty ambitions of following his father and becoming a world champion as well.
It's fair to say that 2020 has been an odd year so far, with a very stop-start feel to the boxing we've had. Things, of course, haven't been helped by shows being cancelled due to Coronavirus in Asia, but this week was just an odd, odd one. There was fights, but mostly at a low level. The top Asian fighters in action failed to pick up the wins we;d hoped for and the best of the action really came on some obscure cards. With that in mind lets have a look at this weeks award winners
Fighter of the Week
Shuma Nakazato (10-1-2, 7)
Given our criteria of fighter of the week this week was a really weird one. The criteria is the fighter who scored the best win from the week, not the best performance, which comes under the "Performance of the Week" which can account for losses. As a result we really had to look outside the box, given there was so few wins of note by Asian fighters in what was a truly odd week. In the end it seemed hard to argue that Shuma Nakazato's win over Yuji Awata was the best, and most significant. The win came on the first sole-promoted by former world title challenger Shigeru Nakazato, and gave the promoter the result they needed for the show to be a success.
Sadly this week may well end up with us reviewing how we do fighter of the week going forward, though this week was an odd one in general, and this could be an anomaly rather than anything else.
Performance of the Week
Tugstsogt Nyambayar (11-1, 9)
It really was an odd week for Asian boxers, with no one getting a truly big win, in fact the two biggest fights involving Asian fighters both ended in a loss. It was however hard not to be pretty impressed with how Tugstsogt Nyambayar ended up acquitting himself in his loss to Gary Russell Jr. The Mongolian started slowly, but warmed to the task well and proved that he certainly deserves to remain in the world title picture, despite a loss to the talented and speedy American. Don't be surprised to see Nyambayar's loss serve as a learning experience, and the way he picked up the pace in the final 8 rounds showed what he could do. A mixed performance, sure, but also one which showed a lot to get excited about.
Tugstsogt Nyambayar vs Gary Russell Jr
In a fight that had high level skills and was a genuine chess match Tugstsogt Nyambayar and Gary Russell Jr gave us something that was both compelling, exciting, and technical. There was no real debating the winner, with Russell Jr banking the early rounds for the win against Nyambayar's slow start, but this was still a fantastic bout, and something that is well worthy of a watch. It's not going to be a fight of the year contender, but don't let that take away from what was a genuinely solid 12 round, world level bout between two men who are both legitimate top fighters at 126lbs.
Ryosuke Maruta vs Kazunari Kosaka (Rd1)
We'll admit we tend to skip the 4 round Dangan cards, but on a week lacking in action like this the show was certainly worthy of some interest, and it provided some really great action. The best of it, for us, was the opening round of Ryosuke Maruta's bout with Kazunari Kosaka, who really went all out, swinging bombs in a thrilling action packed 3 minutes of chaos. For those wanting technically perfect boxing, counter punching and smart defense do not look at this round, but for those who wild and heavy offense this is for your. This is just great and thrilling wild, crude fun.
Andy Atsushi v Yuta Hasegawa (Rd 2)
Naoya Mitsuhashi TKO2 Harunobu Yamasaki
We stick with the 4 round Dangan cards for the KO of the week, as Naoya Mitsuhashi cleaned out Harunobu Yamasaki in brutal fashion in the second round of their bout. This is one you'll need to hunt down to find, and be a Boxing Raise subscriber to see, but it's worth it as a single clean right hand to the temple sent the 37 year old Yamasaki crashing to his knees, then flat out on his back. This is not what we expected from Mitsuhashi, who was fighting for just the second time, but we'll be keeping an eye on him after this fantastic KO
Narimichi Miura TKO1 Yota Matsui
Abdulkhay Sharakhmatov (1-0, 1)
Talented Uzbke fighter Abdulkhay Sharakhmatov kicked off his career with an expected easy win over Benjie Ebido in the Philippines. Despite stopping Ebido inside the opening round there was a lot to like about Sharakhmatov's performance, and he is certainly one to watch going forward. Make a mental note of his name as he is going to make a big splash in the years to come and should be on people's radar's now. He intelligently pressed Ebido and broke him down mentally and physically in very quick fashion. A real talent with a nice, easy introduction to the professional ranks.
Daigo Higa (15-1, 15) vs Jason Buenaobra (7-4-3, 3)
Although our upcoming bout selection is usually the bout we expect to be the most exciting of the coming week this week's is a little bit different however as the bout we are most looking forward to is a bit of a mismatch. Despite it being a mismatch it's one we're excited about because it's the long awaited return of former world champion Daigo Higa after almost 2 years out of the ring. We expect Higa to beat Filipino foe Jason Buenaobra, without too many problems, however the key here is that the Higa express is back on the line after such a long break from the ring!
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