Korean boxing is in an interesting position right now. It lacks in terms of stars, though both Hyun Mi Choi and Ye Joon Kim are pretty solid fighters and Choi is certainly marketable in Korea whilst Kim has the potential to make a mark in the fringes of world level, if he stays active. Despite the lack of top tier talent the country is developing some really interesting and exciting fighters. One of those is this week's focus for our "Who are you?"
We don't expect many fans to know who Jae Woo Lee (7-2, 6) is, in fact until last year he hadn't fought out side of Korea, but in just a single bout away from home he made a statement, and made us, along with others, sit up and take not. We'll get on to that bout a little later, but lets look at little more at the early part of Lee's career.
Lee made his debut way back in 2012 as an 18 year old and lost a decision to Boon Joon Suk. Just 3 months after his debut defeat Lee picked up his first win, stopping Woo Jin Yang inside a round. Sadly his win wasn't the start of some great run and he would suffer his second loss in his next bout, 8 months later, losing a close decision to Dong Hoon Yook.
With a 1-2 record after 3 bouts it would have been easy to write Lee off, that would have been a mistake. Just a month after Lee had lost to Don Hoon Yook, he moved his record to 2-2, stopping Jae Joon Hyun, and a month later he was 3-2, stopping Yun Joon Kim. Lee would add another win soon afterwards to move to 4-2, as he stopped Jong Won Won.
Sadly, though as is typical with Koren fighters, Lee then took a lengthy absence from the ring, not fighting for over 4 years until returning in 2017. By then his moment had vanished. His promise had been forgotten and few really seemed to have any expectations on Lee's shoulders when he returned When he returned he faced off with the tough Yong Hwan Jun, who actually won the KBM Welterweight title last year. Despite being the much smaller man Lee out worked and out fought Jun to earn an excellent and decisive decision, in a win that has aged excellently for Lee.
Sadly after beating Jun, in what was Lee's only decision win, he was out of the ring for 6 months. On his return he he fought for the KBM Featherweight title against Hyun Je Shin and for once Lee was in with someone who seemed to really know what he was doing, countering Lee, popping his jab in his face repeatedly and controlling the distance. This was a really tough bout for Lee who seemed unable to pull the trigger at times. As the bout went on though Lee managed to finally get his shots flowing and in round 10, whilst down on the cards, Lee's power finally paid dividends, knocking out a tired Shin with just over a minute of the bout left. This was a truly brutal finish and a great come from behind win.
Despite the win over Shin we again saw Lee being unable to build on his momentum, suffering an injury that ended up keeping him out of the ring for over a year.
On Lee's return to the ring, more than 20 months after he'd beat Shin, we saw the Korean make his international debut, travelling to Japan to take on the hard hitting Tsuyoshi Tameda at Korakuen Hall. The bout, which was part of the Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament, was expected to be a straight forward win for the well regarded Tsuyoshi. Instead we got a 3 round shoot out, that ended with Lee breaking down Tameda, who was bloodied and battered by the time the referee stepped in.
On February 27th we'll see Lee back in the ring, as he takes on Japan's Shungo Kusano in one of the semi final bouts of the Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament. If he wins he'll be up against either Richard Pumicpic or Daisuke Watanabe in the final later in the year, in what would be a huge bout for the Korea, who was once 1-2.
At the age of 26 Lee is still young enough to make a mark on a much bigger stage. If he wins the Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament we suspect we'll see him in a regional title bout in the near future and, with some luck, move into the world rankings. We don't see him ever winning a world title, but given his styles, toughness, power and aggression he's someone that fight fans globally deserve a chance to see. He's fun, and he's one of the few Korean fighter who has the potential to fight at regional level with actual success.
For those who haven't seen it, we've included the bout with Tameda below, thanks to KBM and Boxing Raise.
It's fair to suggest that February has been a slow month for fight fans in Asia, in fact at times it's felt down right glacial, with little happening, especially in the middle of the month. We had a good start, and a good end but then we had almost 2 weeks with nothing much happening. Thankfully March is set to be a whole different kettle of fish with interesting bouts right through the month.
With that said lets take a look at what to expect in the first part of March!
Daiki Tomita (14-1, 5) vs Kenichi Horikawa (40-16-1, 13)
A new Month kicks off with OPBF Light Flyweight title action as Daiki Tomita and Kenichi Horikawa clash for the vacant title. For Tomita this is a second shot at an OPBF belt, having come up short against Tsubasa Koura in 2018, whilst Horikawa will be lookin to bounce back from the loss of the Japanese national title to Yuto Takahashi. Although neither man is a huge name this is a very interesting looking bout, and could either send Horikawa into one final title run, or into retirement.
Dennapa Kiatniwat (21-2, 16) Vs Jeny Boy Boca (13-6, 11) -
Former world title challenger Dennapa Kiatniwat defends his WBA Asia Flyweight title against heavy handed, but very much out of form, Filipino Jeny Boy Buca. The Thai local got a world title fight last year and looked second rate against WBA king Artem Dalakian, but should have too much at this level. Buca was once regarded as a promising puncher, but then went 4-5 (2) and lost pretty much all of the momentum he had built in his first 10 bouts.
Nakhon Sawan, Thailand
Knockout CP Freshmart (20-0, 7) Vs Norihito Tanaka (19-7, 10)
Unbeaten WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart seeks his 8th defense as he takes on Japanese challenger Norihito Tanaka. The once highly regarded, and still unbeaten, champion has failed to inspire in recent bouts, and with 5 decision wins in a row his name has become rather a joke. Although talented Knockout has certainly not enthralled. Sadly however it's hard to imagine the 35 year old Tanaka having the energy and power needed to defeat the local fighter, and become the first Japanese man to ever claim a world title in Thailand.
Hironobu Matsunaga (16-1, 10) Vs Yuto Shimizu (14-4-2, 5)
In the main event of the monthly "Dynamic Glove" show we'll see Japanese Light Middleweight champion Hironobu Matsunaga defending his title against mandatory challenger Yuto Shimizu as part of the 2020 edition of the Champion Carnival. Matsunaga has looked mightily impressive in recent outings and will be looking to make his second defense. Although Shimizu is less exciting and aggressive than Matsunaga he is a big, awkward lump and give the champion fits with his size alone. A very interesting match up.
Keita Kurihara (15-5, 13) Vs Joe Tanooka (15-7-5, 1)
On the same Japanese show world ranked slugger Keita Kurihara takes on the talented, but feather fisted, Joe Tanooka in a bout that really does give us very different styles. Kurihara is a genuinely dynamite puncher who has gone 12-1 (10) in his last 13 bouts and will be looking to show he can box a but, before taking apart Tanooka. Tanooka on the other hand is a quick, technically capable fighter who will be looking to lure Kurihara into a mistake and countering. A very interesting contest, even if it lacks in terms of big name intrigue.
Reiya Abe (19-3-1, 9) vs Ren Sasaki (10-0, 6)
Former 2-time Japanese national title challenger Reiya Abe looks to move towards a third potential title bout when he takes on unbeaten southpaw Ren Sasaki. The talented Abe had a 2019 to forget, fighting to a draw with Taiki Minamoto and losing to Ryo Sagawa, and needs to rebuild his moment. In terms of achievement he should be seen as a big favourite here, however he doesn't get a gimme. The unbeaten Sasaki is no push over, and is a very decent boxer himself, having won the All Japan Rookie of the Year in 2017. Expect this to be a compelling 8 rounder.
Jacob Ng (13-0, 10) vs Valentine Hosokawa (25-7-3, 12)
In a potential hidden gem Australian Jacob Ng will be defending his IBF International and WBO Oriental Lightweight titles against the under-rated Valentine Hosokawa. On paper Ng should be regarded as a big favourite. He's the bigger, younger, hard hitting, unbeaten champion. And he's at home. But Hosokawa can't be over-looked at this level and the Japanese fighter is a very strong, aggressive fighter who throws a lot of leather and can take a lot of punishment. Don't be surprised if this one is one of the real highlights of March.
Akzhol Sulaimanbek Uulu (15-0, 8) vs Mark Urvanov (17-2-1, 9)
Unbeaten 29 year old Kyrgyzstan born Akzhol Sulaimanbek Uulu will be looking to continue his rise through the ranks, and take a huge step towards a potential world title fight as he takes on Russian fighter Mark Urvanov. This will be Uulu's first 12 round bout and we dare say if he wins here his team will begin hunting a world title eliminator for him, for later in the year. Although no world beater Urvanov is a good test at this level and comes in on the back of a career best result, stopping former world title challenger Evgeny Chuprakov back in November. Hard not to like this one....a lot!
Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov (15-0, 9) Vs Tomas Rojas (51-18-1-1, 34)
Unbeaten Tajik hopeful Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov looks to take his next step forward as he faces former world title holder Tomas Rojas. On paper this looks like a step up against a grizzled old veteran, but with the fight taking place up at Super Featherweight we do wonder whether Rojas, who was a Super Flyweight at his best, will simply be over-powered and out manned by Yaqubov. At the age of 39 and with a 2-4 record in the last 3 years we really do wonder what Rojas has left, other than his name.
Seigo Yuri Akui (14-2-1, 10) Vs Seiya Fujikita (13-4, 6) -
Hard hitting Seigo Yuri Akui looks to make his first defense of the Japanese Flyweight title as he takes on mandatory challenger Seiya Fujikita. The explosive punching Akui has proven to be scarily dangerous early on, with 9 opening round T/KO's, and will be looking to make it #10 here. Fujikita has never been stopped stopped but with only a single, low key, win in the since June 2018 it's hard to know what he has to offer. Fujikita could be the type of durable test who can see out the Akui storm, or could be the next early victim for the destroyer from Okayama.
Rey Caitom (9-0-1, 4) vs ArAr Andales (10-2, 2)
Former world title challenger ArAr Andales is going to be in rebuilding mode this year after back to back losses in 2019, losing to Knockout CP Freshmart and Joel Lino. Rather than having an easy bout to kick off 2020 the 20 year old will be up against the unbeaten Rey Caitom, in a tough looking bout. Andales will be favoured, and has impressed at a higher level, but with those losses we do wonder about how he is mentally. Caitom has fought at a much lower level will clearly be in the ring knowing a win pushes him to within touching distance of a world title shot.
Shingo Wake (26-6-2, 18) Vs Toshiya Yokogawa (11-12-2, 10)
Former world title challenger Shingo Wake was shockingly upset last year, by Jhunriel Ramonal, and now looks to begin rebuilding. He's being matched easily here, as he takes on 34 year old domestic foe Toshiya Yokogawa. Given the loss to Ramonal, and how brutal it was, we can't complain about Wake getting an easy bout here, but he really can't spend too long fighting at this level, and we suspect this will be a tune up to a much bigger bout in the summer as Wakes begins his climb, again, to a second world title fight.
Toshiya Ishii (3-0, 2) Vs Issei Ochiai (2-0, 1)
On the same card we'll also see Japanese Youth Bantamweight champion Toshiya Ishii make his first defense, as he takes on the touted Issei Ochiai. Ishii has impressed since turning professional and his title win, back in December over Haruki Ishikawa, was a sensational bout. The challenger hasn't quite impressed like the champion, but this is certainly a chance for him to shine. We expect big things from both men going forward, but the winner should be put on the fast track to more notable honours.
Yuto Takahashi (11-4, 5) vs Masamichi Yabuki (10-3, 10)
Another Japanese title fight will see Japanese Light Flyweight champion Yuto Takahashi make his first defense, as he goes up against his mandatory Masamichi Yabuki. Takahashi scored a surprise title win last October, when he over-came veteran Kenichi Horikawa, and will be looking to prove that he can over-come a prime puncher like Yabuki, as well as a faded veteran like Horikawa. For Yabuki this is his first title fight and he'll be looking to prove he really is destructive at Light Flyweight, having move down to the division last year.
We've had another relatively quiet week of action, barring one US show, but it's a week that has also seen a lot of fighters taking part in press conference to announce that they would be turning professional this year, and a cancelled show. So lets take a look at the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly from the week ending February 23rd 2020!
1 - Top amateurs turn pro
Over the last week we saw no less than 5 Japanese amateur standouts turn professional. Whilst not all of them will reach the top we are really excited to see the development of Keisuke Matsumoto, Ryutaro Nakagaki and Toshihiro Suzuki, who were all genuinely exceptional talents in the unpaid ranks. Of that trio we expect to see them all fight for, if not win, world titles, and wouldn't be surprised at all to see them being just the first wave of amateur stars turning professional before the Olympics. It's an exciting time in Japanese boxing, that's for sure!
2 - Mark Breland doing the right thing
We often have coaches who are too brave for their fighters, but Mark Breland was the bravest of them all, making the right decision in stopping Deontay Wilder from taking further punishment on Saturday. By the time of the stoppage Wilder was a bloody, beaten mess and he looked completely hapless. He had been unable to back up Tyson Fury, and was being tagged repeatedly. Whilst Wilder might want to complain the reality is that his trainer did the right thing and saved him for another day. Wilder's future might not look great in the sport, but at least he has a future. Had that bout gone on a round or two longer there's a chance Wilder wouldn't have much of a future at all as a fighter. Well done Mark Breland for doing the right thing.
3 - Tyson Fury backing up his words
Staying in the wider world it was fantastic to see Tyson Fury back up his words. We assumed he was taking the piss when he spoke about going out with the intention of knocking out Deontay Wilder, but for him then to go out and batter the then reigning WBC Heavyweight champion was just fantastic. We wouldn't go as far as to say it was the greatest performance by a British fighter, as some have suggested, but it was one of the rare times that we've seen a long term champion undressed and embarrassed. This was a showcase from the best Heavyweight in the world, and hopefully we won't see Fury facing any more weak opponents, as he did in the build up to this fight.
1 - A lack of action
Whilst not every week will be busy we were really surprised by little action took place this past week. It wasn't helped that there was an interesting looking Filipino event cancelled due to coronavirus and a card in Korea cancelled for the same reason. Thankfully we do have action coming up, and it does appear this was a one off quiet week.
2 - Muto gym tax evasion news
In a weird story from Osaka it appears the Muto Gym, and chairman Takashi Edagawa could be in some hot water over some issues with tax, and more exactly evasion of tax. It's unclear how serious the issue is, but it doesn't sound great with the gym accused of faking real estate purchases among other things. Even if the gym is innocent, or has corrected the issue, there will be a cloud over their head going forward, and it doesn't sound like the first time the gym have been accused of something like this.
Whilst we have stated we were impressed by Mark Breland, who made the right decision in stopping Deontay Wilder from taking too much unnecessary punishment. Sadly post fight comments from Wilder's other trainer, Jay Deas, were just ugly. They were full of excuses, blaming the attire Wilder wore into the ring, and criticised Breland. We understand the idea of doing what's in your bosses interest, but here Wilder needed a unified team to help him after his loss and to look after him in the ring. Deas seemed to want to blame Breland for the loss, rather than accepting their man was beaten, and was able to come again thanks to pulling the plug on the bout before took potentially life changing punishment.
One of the great things about our "Introducing..." series is that we don't need to concentrate on unbeaten fighters, instead we can focus on upcoming fighters we think fans should give a little bit of attention to. Today we look at a fighter with a loss, and a draw, but at 20 years old and with buckets of skill we really do think fans should pay attention to him, and get interested in his future.
Today we look at Minimumweight hopeful Yuga Inoue (9-1-1, 1).
The first question we expect is whether or not he's related to any of the other Inoue's making a mark on the sport. He isn't related to Naoya Inoue, or that Inoue clan, and he's also not related to Takeshi Inoue. Instead he's just another talented fighter with that now familiar surname. If however he was to be compared to any off the more well known fighters with his surname it would certainly be Takuma Inoue, with Yuga being a light punching fighter who relies on skills, movement and ring IQ.
Born in Hyogo in July 1999 Inoue is one of the more talented fighters who hasn't yet signed with a big name gym. Instead of heading off to somewhere like the Shinsei Gym, also in Hyogo, he actually fights out of the Kametani Gym in Amagasaki. It's been under the guidance of the Kametani Gym that Inoue has carved out a promising career so far, though we suspect that he will leave them sooner or later for bigger and better opportunities, somewhere down the line.
Inoue made his professional debut at the age of 17, taking a narrow win over fellow debutant Kisei Takada in August 2016. It was the following year that he really began making his name, winning the All Japan Rookie of the Year in 2017 with a win over Retsu Akabane in the final in December. That win saw Inoue end 2017 with a 6-0-1 record and begin to create some real buzz for the young, who was still only 18 years old at this point.
To kick off 2018 Inoue scored his first stoppage, defeating Daisuke Sudo in 5 rounds, before taking on the destructive Kai Ishizawa for the Japanese Youth Minimumweight title 6 months later. Sadly for Inoue a very strong start couldn't prevent him from being cut and then broken down by Ishizawa, who stopped Inoue in the 6th round of a scheduled 8 rounder. Despite the loss we were really impressed by Inoue's skills. Despite being stopped, eventually wilting to Ishizawa's pressure, Inoue had looked fantastic, boxing and moving, picking excellent shots, making Ishizawa miss and landing some wonderful combinations. It was clear, even with the loss, that the then 19 year old had a lot more to offer the sport.
Sadly the loss to Ishizawa was then followed by a 9 month break from the ring for Inoue, before he returned last August and took a hotly contested win over Daiki Kameyama, in what was a battle of two Rookie of the Year winners. Kameyama really pushed Inoue all the way in a fantastic 6 rounder, but Inoue did just enough to take the win. Just 3 months later Inoue scored another win, out pointing Japanese ranked Flyweight Katsuya Murakami. Interestingly the win over Murakami saw Inoue fighting at Flyweight, though it was, seemingly only a temporary move up in weight.
We now know that Inoue will return on March 1st in Osaka, where he will face veteran Takayuki Teraji (9-19-1, 4) in an 8 round bout fought between Minimumweight and Light Flyweight. This is expected to be another win for Inoue who will be looking to move towards a second title fight through 2020. He's still some way from a national title fight, but should be in the mix for another Japanese Youth title fight, and the experience of facing Ishizawa should be a major benefit if, or rather when, he gets a second shot.
Whilst he might not be "one of those" Inoue's, Yuga Inoue is certainly a fighter worthy of attention going forward.
This past week we've not seen much action at all, with only a few small shows scattered around the globe. Of course there's a huge event tonight, and we did see a rather large show in Korea being planned but then cancelled. Sadly though boxing missed a big trick this week, a trick that would have allowed it to use the focus that is being given the sport and spreading it.
With so much focus on the Deontay Wilder Vs Tyson Fury fight, it would have been a great week ton have had several other mid week shows. Fight fans are in Las Vegas anyway, the audience for some small, yet noteworthy bouts, are there. A card on a Thursday or Friday night appealing to British fans, in the US for Fury, would have been ingenious, or a TV card featuring two lower level Heavyweights, both of whom could have been sold as viable future challengers for the winner of tonight's fight.
Given all the outlets boxing currently has, especially in the US, it feels like it's one of, if not the, worst marketed sport out there. When other sports have a major event they pack the calendar around it, in boxing no ones seems to think about the bigger picture. In fact no one seems to look outside of their own little bubble.
I know some of our readers are wrestling fans, and they'll know all about Wrestlemania week. Not only do we see the WWE put on their biggest show, but they also put on an NXT event, a Hall of Fame event, and other fan events, along with smaller promotions hosting shows around the same week. The "sport" of professional wrestling embraces the fans by giving them a lot of options before the main show on a Sunday evening.
Boxing could have done something similar.
We could, and maybe should, have had some kind of small show on Thursday night in, or around, Las Vegas, and something on Friday night.
The silly thing here is that it could have been the same promotional teams behind Wilder and Fury, trying to hype tonight 's show to any undecided viewers further, or it could have been a rival promoter jumping on the coattails of the event. Both could have made use of the focus boxing is getting, both could have used the event to help put some wind in the sails of a show.
Instead all we got was a small card in Florida, featuring a pair of fringe world class little guys, with Jonathan "Bomba" Goonzalez beating Sual Juarez.
Now sure, the argument is that the event wouldn't have gotten much press attention, going up against such a big show. That argument however falls on it's face given the lack of press attention boxing gets in general. It would have been a chance for the promoter to literally have fans coming to them, being in the area on a Friday, or Thursday, and getting the chance to see a few fights before the big one on Saturday.
We've seen Golden Boy Promotions doing it in the past before a Canelo fight and we used to see it before a Mayweather fight. This was an event where it would have worked, but was very much a missed opportunity.
Boxing in 2020 is set for an interesting year, with the Olympics and fighters turning professional before the games, as well as the whole ESPN Vs DAZN Vs PBC wars, but if the sport keeps missing opportunities like this we do need to really wonder what promoters are thinking...then again maybe no youtube stars were free this week...
The third fighter we looked at last year in our "Introducing..." feature was Taku Kuwahara (then 3-0, 2), at the time he was relatively unknown except by those who really followed the Japanese amateur scene. He had shown some early promise, enough to get our attention, but lets have a look at what he has done since as we continue our "Revisiting" series.
As mentioned when we looked at Kuwahara in January he was 3-0 (2) during 2019 he moved his record along quickly, going 4-0 (2) and ended the year with a 7-0 (4) record, whilst scoring two notable wins late in the year. He also moved from testing the water at Light Flyweight to being a committed fighter at Flyweight, where we see his career being long term.
To begin 2019 Kuwahara was out of the ring until April, when he took out Indonesian fighter Aprilianto Rumahpasal. That was followed up with a win over domestic novice Kyomu Hamagami. On paper that bout with Hamagami was a step up, but in reality it was just a passing point before Kuwahara finally stepped up in class in September 2019 when he outpointed Jonathan Refugio.
The win over Refugio was a masterclass from Kuwahara who shut out the Filipino veteran over 8 rounds. He dropped Refugio once, and despite being unable to stop the Filipino he dominated thoroughly, taking his first win against a world ranked opponent. That win was followed by another 8 round decision against a rugged Filipino as Kuwahara took a wide decision over Ricardo Sueno. Those wins helped to show what a talent Kuwahara was and saw him getting more and more press time in Japan, where he was being dubbed "Ioka II" due to his affiliation to the same educational facility of Ioka, and just like Ioka he was gaining a serious reputation as a brutal body puncher.
With Kuwahara winning 4 bouts in 2019 it should be little surprise to hear that he managed to earn his first rankings. He first broke into the JBC rankings, following the win over Refugion, and then the OPBF rankings, following the win over Sueno. In 2020 we would expect Kuwahara to look towards racing through the rankings towards a title fight, and in reality he's likely to have any of the doors open to him, whether he wants to pursue a Japanese or Oriental title. We would expect Kuwahara, by the end of the year, to be ready to face either champion.
Unlike the first two men we "revisited" Kuwahara's first bout of 2020 has been announced at the time of writing. On March 16th Kuwahara will take on under-rated Filipino Jaysever Abcede, who is not only ranked #13 by the WBC at Light Flyweight but also has a top 10 OPBF ranking at Flyweight and a WBO Asia Pacific ranking. Essentially making this not only a step up in class for Kuwahara but also a chance to take serious strides towards getting a world ranking and moving towards his first title bout.
At the moment it's still relatively early in Kuwahara's career but given how he stepped up in late 2019, and how he now has his upcoming bout with Abcede, it's clear that Hideyuki Ohashi and the folks at the Ohashi gym are recognising his potential and looking to push him fast, potentially as the replacement for veteran Akira Yaegashi. He might not be that Elite level super talent that they have in Naoya Inoue, but he's still a fantastic fighter and at 24 years old they have a real prodigy on their hands.
We would expect Kuwahara to win his first title before the end of 2020 and then begin to climb the world rankings in 2021, perhaps even landing a shot by the end of the year. The one thing he needs to get now, is eyes on him. So far he's only really had televised highlights, but hopefully he'll be given more TV time when he gets his first title fight, and from there we can see his skills develop along with his in ring experience.
Although not yet a big name we expect to see 2020 being the year where Kuwahara goes from the periphery of the domestic scene right into the title mix, and sets out his stool for big things over the coming few years.
This week we bring you an extra introducing! And in this extra Introducing article we take a look at promising Indonesian hopeful Ongen Saknosiwi (8-0, 7). Like many in this weekly feature he's not someone many will have spoken about, yet he is arguably the brightest hope in Indonesian boxing, and really helped set himself apart from other Indonesian prospects last year.
Born on Buru Island in the summer of 1994 Saknosiwi attempted to become a fighter when he was a teenager, before being spotted by Wan Sapulette, best known for winning a bronze medal at the 1983 SEA Games. Sapulette took Saknosiwi into his gym and began to develop the youngster's skills. The hope was for him to fight at the 2012 AIBA Youth World Championships in Armenia, but he failed to make it there, and actually failed to even make a mark at the domestic level.
Despite his talent Saknosiwi felt he couldn't assure his success as a boxer, so instead of turning professional he joined the Indonesian air force in 2014. It was there that he managed to develop his skills properly and in 2016 he would go on to win the Maluku Governor Cup, and compete at the Indonesian National Games.
With the Air Force behind him Saknosiwi finally began to look towards turning professional, and would turn professional just weeks after the 2016 Indonesian National Games. As a professional he linked up with Mahkota Promotion, and would debut in November 2016 with a win against fellow Indonesian debutant Imanuel Hutagalung.
In 2017 Saknosiwi managed to fight 3 times in the first 6 months of the year, stopping a trio of domestic opponents to build some momentum. Sadly however that momentum was slowed as he then spent almost 10 months out of the ring, before he returned for his 5th professional bout. Then there was yet more momentum lost with Saknosiwi taking more than a year out of the ring.
After turning professional in late 2016 Saknosiwi was only 5-0 (5) as we began 2019. It seemed like his career was going to be a bit of a waste. That was until 2019 kicked off, and he really made a mark.
To begin 2019 Saknosiwi claimed an Indonesian national title, stopping Jufry Kakahure in 3 rounds in April. In September Saknosiwi then made his international debut, travelling to Singapore to beat Nanthawat Maolichat for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental Featherweight title, his first international title.
Having claimed his first two titles Saknosiwi then took a huge step up and took on Filipino veteran Marco Demecillo. This was a significant step up in class and was a major test for the Indonesian, who started fast, and bagged the rounds he needed to take a 12 round decision, passing another notable milestone. This was not just a step up but a stellar performance against an opponent who tested Saknosiwi's stamina and mental resolve. An excellent win for a man in just his 8th fight.
As we write this Saknosiwi is lined for his second bout on foreign soil, with a contest scheduled for February 22nd in Thailand. The bout is regarded as a stay busy bout for Saknosiwi, who we expect to be involved in at least 1 notable bout before the end of 2020.
This coming weekend is an interesting one, with a lot of attention being put on a card at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The main event of that card, the rematch between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder, is obviously the bout that everyone will focus on but before that we'll get a WBO Super Bantamweight title fight, as 23 year old Filipino Jeo Santisima (19-2, 16) takes on defending champion Emanuel Navarrete (30-1, 26). As if often the case with Filipino fighters making their debut in the states, the question is "Who is Jeo Santisima?" Or as we like to ask "Who are you? Jeo Santisima"
Obviously, as mentioned, Santisima is a 23 year old Filipino fighter with a couple of losses to his name and really no recognition on the international stage. He is however someone who Filipino fans have been talking about for a few years now, and we've seen him rebuild from a 2-2 start to becoming a legitimate contender, in one of boxing's most compelling divisions.
Like many Filipino fighters Santisima turned professional as youngster, in fact he was only 17 when he made his debut back in August 2013. He lost that bout, by decision, to Roniel Parcon at Featherweight, but bounced back just a month later by beating Filipino based Japanese fighter Takaomi Noma. A second win, just months late, saw him build some momentum before falling to his second defeat, losing to Marlon Arcilla at Bantamweight.
After just 9 months as a professional it would have been easy to write off the young Santisima, but he refused to write himself off, and he has since found his groove in the ring, built into his frame, and began fighting at his natural weight.
Given he was 2-2 after 4 bouts Santisima wasn't getting much attention, but slowly began to prove himself in the last half of 2014, before building up a head of steam in 2015 with 4 stoppage wins, including victories over Peter Apolinar and Alan Alberca, both of whom were 5-0, and the experience Jerry Nardo, then 21-8. Those wins saw Santisima begin to create quite a bit of buzz and go into 2016 with some momentum.
Things went from good to better for the youngster who scored 5 more stoppage wins in 2016, including stoppages over Marco Demecillo and Rex Wao. Those wins secured him a 5 year contract extension with ALA Promotions, who obviously saw him as a major part of their future. He was getting shots to shine on televised events, with his win over Junior Bajawa being one of the main events on an ALA show and his win over Terdchai Doungmontree coming on the under-card of a Nonito Donaire card.
To begin 2017 Santisima was surprisingly taken the distance by Indonesian journeyman Master Suro, ending a 10 fight T/KO run for the Filipino. Suro was dropped in round 6 but managed to survive the 10 round schedule in what was a televised bout on Pinoy Pride 40. Coming in to the bout the commentary team has been building up Santisima's power, and rightfully so, but Suro was super tough and not only showed Santisima couldn't blow everyone out, but that the Filipino youngster hard work to do on his stamina, work rate and shot selection.
Having gone 10 with Suro we expected Santisima to have to work for subsequent victories, but instead he blew out the previously unbeaten Goodluck Mrema, in 78 seconds, and Kichang Kim, in 56 seconds. He then needed only 3 rounds to beat Thai foe Yodsingdaeng Jor Chaijinda, aka Likit Chane, to claim the WBO Oriental Super Bantamweight title. That was the first title he won, and 5 months after winning it he defended it, for the first time, in the toughest bout of his 17 winning round. That bout saw Santisima going 12 hard fought rounds with Mexican tough guy Uriel Lopez. It was a clear win for the Filipino, but a very hard fought one, that saw Santisima needing to prove his toughness, engine and will to win, against an opponent who simply refused to be stopped.
Sadly since the gut check against Lopez we've not really seen Santisima prove himself. He stopped the poor Alvius Maufani inside a round and then stopped the once talented, but by then very faded and naturally much smaller, Rene Dacquel. On paper the win over Dacquel was good, but in reality it was against a man who was at his best 2 divisions lower, had been stopped in his previous bout and was more than 2 years removed from his last win, at Super Flyweight.
In the ring Santisima is a big Super Bantamweight, powerfully built and a heavy body puncher. He is however someone who fights in spurts, throws a lot of round shots, and although heavy handed his shots can be seen coming and can be ridden. Defensively he's open to counters during his bursts of shots and even when he's not in aggressive mode his hands still drop, he's there to be hit and will be hit by someone like Navarrete.
Do we give him a chance against Navarrete? Well yeah, there's always a chance, but it's a slim one and he is really up against it against here.
(Image courtesy of ALA Boxing)
After a few weeks where we've not had much to talk about the past week has been a much more engaging and interesting one, with some great bouts, some exciting announcements, some free streams, and plenty negatives to talk about as well as the positives.
1-CBC's live stream
Although CBC's stream this week wasn't of a huge show, it was, as we've come to expect from them, fantastic from start to end. The broadcaster aired the entire show from Kariya live on Tuesday, in excellent quality, with no issues, live replays, great camera angles and perfect sound mixing. Sadly for everyone else CBC have brought TV level production values to the free streaming game, and it's going to be down to everyone else to play catch up. As well as the quality of the stream the fights were also rather solid, especially the main event between Kento Hatanaka and Roland Jay Biendima, and Hiroki Hanabusa's body shot KO was sublime.
If someone else is going to do a free stream, this is level they should be aiming for. Amazing from start to end!
2-Nakatani Vs Magramo being made official!
We know we mentioned this bout last week, and actually the CBC free stream, but this week saw the confirmation of Junto Nakatani Vs Giemel Magramo! Better yet it's set for a Dynamic Glove show, meaning that we're expecting it to be shown live on G+. Not only is this an exceptional match up for the WBO Flyweight title but it's the type of bout that excites us, and is a risk for both men. Given that both fighters could have taken different routes to a world title we can't help but be proud of both fighters for signing up to this one!
3-Wanheng Menayothin gets date for US debut
With a 54-0 record WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin has the longest active unbeaten stream in boxing, along with the longest world title reign of any man in the sport. One thing he hasn't got is an international bout to his name. That changes in April after this weeks news of the Thai setting off for the US! Wanheng will make his international debut on April 25th, when he takes on Marco John Rementizo. The bout might not be the biggest, or the best, and the scheduling for it is fucking stupid, clashing with Naoya Inoue Vs Johnriel Casimero, but it's great to finally see Wanheng outside of his comfort zone.
4-Yuki Nakajima's uppercut
It's not often we'll talk about a specific punch on here but the uppercut Yuki Nakajima landed on Shisui Kawabata in round 6 was something special. Huge credit to Kawabata for not being left flat on his back, but the punch is up there with the best of them. Those with boxing raise owe it to them selves to rewatch this it was amazing.
1-Koki Inoue's injury
In unfortunate news Koki Inoue has suffered and injury that has forced him to postpone his mandatory title defense against Daishi Nagata. The talented and unbeaten Japanese 140lb champion thankfully doesn't appear to be too seriously injured, given he'll be defending the title against Nagata in May, but it is still said news that both men will delay their return to the ring by a couple of months.
2-Yudai Shigeoka's next opponent
We love the Shigeoka brothers. We see both becoming future world champions. We fully accept that both are super prospects. So we need to wonder what the idea is in having Yudai Shigeoka's next bout come against Sanchai Yotboon, the fighter that Ginjiro Shigeoka took out in 3 rounds on his debut! Absolutely pointless match up by Watanabe gym. This is a mismatch, and should be little more than a stay busy for Shigeoka, who beat Lito Dante a few months ago, and should have been matched much tougher than this.
3-Daigo Higa's comments on the future
After almost 2 years away from the ring we finally saw former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa back in action. Higa would win his return, stopping Jason Buenaobra, but sadly comments after the bout leave us confused as to whether he will continue fighting or will leave the sport for good. Given he's only 24 it would be a massive shame if Higa hung them up now, after just 17 fights, and we genuinely hope he can find something to motivate him again. Higa, at Bantamweight, would be at a disadvantage, but given his style and tenacity we'd love to see him making a splash in the division. We really hope he continues in the sport, but if not, we're glad to have seen the destructive little marvel on his way up, and see him walk away with his health intact. It would just be a huge shame for his name to be added to the list of "what could have been".
1-Bektemir Melikuziev Vs Oscar Cortes
We understand late replacements aren't always great but Oscar Cortes was a simply awful late replacement, especially for a fighter like Bektemir Melikuziev. The Mexican was under-sized, under-powered and essentially had lost by the time he had his ring walk. Whilst we can't blame Cortes, who obviously took his pay day, and Melikuziev, who isn't responsible for his original opponent pulling out, we do need to question the California State Athletic Commission, who should have said no. There was no point in this bout, and no one came off looking good.
2-Merlito Sabillo's leg
We've yet to hear any actual confirmation on what, if any, injury Merlito Sabillo suffered but the way his leg bent and buckled as he got knocked down by Sho Kimura suggested something nasty. As did the way he was lying on the canvas. We really hope it is nothing series, but bloody hell did it look nasty, and we wouldn't be surprised, given his age and run of 4 losses, if he ends up in retirement. If he's injured, in the way we believe, it'll likely be 9 months, or longer, until he returns, and he'll around 37 by then
3-GAB's live stream
We started with a free stream, so lets end on a free stream. CBC raised the bar, with a brilliant, professional, well edited, and high quality stream. Just days later the GAB put on a stream that was inconsistent, repeatedly froze, stopped and started, low quality and was just hard to watch, and even harder to enjoy. We know the GAB streams can work and can be wonderful, as they were at the end of the show, but for the most part the show was just terrible. Fingers crossed they get these sorted in the future, as they are a really valuable asset for boxing fans, when they work. We don't expect GAB to hit the professional levels of CBC any time soon, but if they can get a consistent stream going it would be a great starting point!
(Image courtesy of A. McGovern - Top, and Boxmob - Bottom)
Many top prospects are top prospects because they have a strong amateur pedigree, have won various amateur titles and turned professional with expectations on their shoulders. Today however we want to introduce a more organic prospect, to your attention, one didn't have tens of amateur bouts and amateur trophies. But one who every fan should be aware of sooner, rather than later. Not just because he's a talented fighter going places, but also because he's one of the most exciting young fighters in world boxing today.
Today's "Introducing..." focus on must watch Filipino Carl Jammes Martin (15-0, 14), a 20 year old dubbed "Wonder Boy" who is so much fun to watch, and is set to take a huge step up on February 22nd.
As suggested in the opening paragraph Martin wasn't a former amateur standout. Given that Martin was just 16 years old when he made his professional debut, way back in March 2016, his amateur background is understandably very limited. Despite that he did actually make a mark on the Filipino youth domestic scene, claiming a bronze medal at the Philippine Youth Games-Batang Pinoy, though turned professional soon afterwards.
On debut, on March 5th 2016, Martin stopped fellow debutant Jayar Omac in 2 rounds, with Omac retiring at the end of round 2. Just weeks later Martin scored another early win as he stopped Noel Guliman in 2 rounds. The talent of Martin was obvious and in his third bout he was moved 4 rounders to 6 rounders. The extra rounds came in handy and Martin ended up stopping Manny Mamamcquiao in the 5th round to close out 2016 with a faultless 3-0 (3) record.
After stopping his first 3 opponents we finally saw an opponent stand up to Martin's power in 2017, when he was taken 8 rounds by Jason Buenobra. Despite being taken the distance Martin was the clear winning on the scorecards and took his first title, the lightly regarded LuzProBA Bantamweight title. Martin quickly got back to stopping opponents, with Jerry Mae Villagracia being taken out in 2 rounds, in Martins' next bout.
By the end of 2017 Martin hadn't just claimed the LuzProBA title but also an interim PBF title and an interim WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental title, essentially a minor regional belt. He had started to make waves, and was only 18 years old with a 7-0 (6). Those waves became bigger, and bigger, on 2018 as Martin racked up 4 more wins, all by stoppage. These included wins for more regional titles, as he claimed a WBO Oriental and WBA Asia title, and victories over slightly better opponents, such as Chinese fighter Huerban Qiatehe.
Moving to 11-0 (10) Martin had entered 2019 with a reputation as someone to keep an eye on, but was only really known by the absolute hardcore fans. Those who watched GAB streams. He had yet to even be featured on TV, but was already generating real buzz, and living up to the Wonder Boy tag. In 2019 we did finally see him on TV, as he appeared twice on ESPN5, beating two over matched Thai's on TVm before heading back to his fights being streamed, with his last 2 bouts being shown online only. Those streamed bouts actually include a solid domestic win over Benezer Alolod, and a blow out against Philip Luis Cuerdo.
With a February 22nd bout set against Renoel Pael we expect to see Martin face a genuine tests against a a man 35 fights to his name, and has never been stopped. Martin will be favoured, but this is very genuine and serious test for the youngster, who will have to answer questions against Pael.
At just 20 years old there's no reason for Martin's team to rush him, but he is certainly someone who is going to be tough to match in the coming years and will need to matched carefully to test him properly before he faces world class competition.
For those who haven't seen Martin he is all action, a whirlwind of aggression, who can box, but is more of a swarmer, at least at the moment. We suspect that as his competition steps up the swarming will decline somewhat and he will begin to look more and more towards using his under-rated boxing skills. We expect to see those skills against Pael, and to be honed in the next year or two before he faces world ranked opponents.
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