August wasn't the biggest month for Asian boxing, but was a solid month overall, which had plenty of shows to be excited about and a very few real breaks between something of note.
On paper September looks like it will be a lot less interesting than August was. It looks to start slowly, peak with a flurry of major bouts in the middle, then tail off in forgettable fashion. With that said lets have a look at what's to come in the first part of the month.
Samuel Salva (17-0, 10) Vs Pedro Taduran (13-2, 10) -Metro Manila, Philippines
The first world title bout takes place on the 7th and is an all-Filipino battle for the vacant IBF Minimumweight title. The bout pits the unbeaten Samuel Salva against hard hitting youngster Pedro Taduran. For Salva this is his first world title bout, and a chance to announce himself after a relative slow build on the Filipino domestic scene. As for Taduran the bout will be his second world title fight, following a 2018 loss to Wanheng Menayothin. The winner of this will be seen as the weakest of the champions at 105lbs but they'll have had a very credible win to take the title regardless.
Giemel Magramo (23-1, 19) vs Eaktwan BTU Ruaviking (25-5, 16) - Metro Manila, Philippines
On the same card as the Salva/Taduran bout we also get an IBF Flyweight world title eliminator, as once beaten Filipino hopeful Giemel Magramo takes on former world title challenger Eaktwan BTU Ruaviking, aka Komgrich Nantapech, in what could end up being one of the best bouts of the month. The winner will likely get a shot at Moruti Mthalane, though will almost certainly have to go through a real war to get that title fight. Both of these men like to come forward, through shots and press the action, so we're expecting a bit of a phone booth tear up here. On paper Eaktwan is the more experience and proven but Magramo looks to be the more naturally talented and smarter. Either way we're in for something very special here.
Yuki Nagano (16-2, 12) vs Makoto Kawasaki (11-7-1, 2) - Tokyo, Japan
In a Japanese Welterweight title fight we'll see Yuki Nagano defending his title against veteran Makoto Kawasaki. On paper this looks like an easy first defense for Nagano, though we really can't begrudge him an easy one after successive wins over Riku Nagahama, Yuki Beppu and Ryota Yada. With a 14 fight winning run Nagano is in great form and full of confidence. The 35 year old Kawasaki on the other hand likely knows retirement is looming and a loss he will almost certainly push him into hanging up the gloves. Kawasaki isn't a bad fighter, but we really don't know what he has in his arsenal to test the in form champion.
Jorge Linares (45-4, 28) Vs Al Toyogon (10-4-1, 6)
Former 3-weight world champion Jorge Linares has fought around half of his carer in Japan, though amazingly he's not fought in the Land of the rising Sun in well over 4 years. The wait for his Japanese return ends here as he takes on Filipino Al Toyogon, who looks to end a 2-fight losing run. The exiting, but vulnerable, Linares is in a position where his career is likely over as a world class operator with another loss. Toyogon comes into this on the back of losses to Ryo Sagawa and Shuya Masaki, but will know a win here will get the boxing world talking about him, and there is no better time to face Linares.
Saemi Hanagata (15-7-4, 7) Vs Nao Ikeyama (18-5-4, 5) III - Tokyo, Japan
All female cards are rare, but when they happen in Japan they tend to be stacked with some excellent match ups. On September 12th we get once such card, headlined by the third bout between IBF Atomweight champion Saemi Hanagata and former WBO Atomweight champion Nao Ikeyama. After drawing in the first 2 fights of their rivalry both will be desperate to take home a win here and we're expecting an all out thriller, much like their previous bouts.
Ayaka Miyao (23-7-1, 6) Vs Monseratt Alcaron (12-4-2) - Tokyo, Japan
Another fantastic looking female world title bout on same card will see the WBA Atomweight title being unified. In one corner will be regular champion Monseratt Alcaraon whilst the other will house interim champion Ayaka Miyao, together they should make for a brilliant match up. Miyao is an aggressive veteran who uses a lot of speed and a high output whilst Alcaron is a smart fighter with an aggressive counter punching style. This should be a bout that really sees the style gel.
Eri Matsuda (3-0) Vs Mont Blanc Miki (4-2-1, 1) - Tokyo, Japan
A third Atomweight title bout on the same card will see Eri Matsuda make her first defense of the Japanese Atomweight title, as she takes on the limited Mont Blanc Miki. Matsuda is one of the pure talents in female boxing, and she will likely be targeting one of the winners from the world title fights on this show. Miki on the other hand has been stopped in both of her defeats, both at a low level, and a win here for the challenger would be a a big surprise.
The past few days have been incredible ones in Asian boxing circles with so much activity that it's been hard to keep tabs on everything. Thanks to the incredible activity it's made the awards for this week really interesting, with some really hard competition in some of the categories!
Fighter of the Week
Kosei Tanaka (14-0, 8)
This week has been one of the weirdest in some ways with our Fighter of the Week being one who really under-performed yet turned it on when it mattered to grab victory from the jaws of defeat. That was Kosei Tanaka who seemed to realise the WBO Flyweight title was slipping from his grasp before turning it on in round 7 and stopping Jonathan Gonzalez to record his second defense. This was an really under-whelming performance, on the whole, but the way he stepped it up,
Performance of the Week
Jayr Raquinel (11-1-1, 8)
This was arguably the toughest category this week, with great performances from the likes of Shakhram Giyasov, Shohjahon Ergashev, Ryota Yamauchi and John Riel Casimero. For us the winner, just, was Jayr Raquinel, who shines again on Japanese soil and became the first man to stop Takuya Kogawa. The talented and young Filipino was dropped in the opening round but bounced back brilliantly and took Kogawa out truly sickening fashion. At just 22 years old the Flyweight division has got a wonderful little talent in it's ranks, but one that needs just a bit more nurturing.
Orlie Silvestre vs Ronald Alapormina
Despite us having some great performances the actual overall quality of bouts wasn't amazing with the 6 round bout between Orlie Silvestre and the upset minded Ronald Alapormina being the best of the bunch. This was just a really fun, low level action packed bout with the skills of Silvestre going up against the aggression and work rate of Alapormina. A very fun fan friendly bout.
Alphoe Dagayloan vs Ryota Yamauchi (Rd8)
Whilst overall bouts weren't amazing, on the whole, we did have some great rounds and the 8th round of a nail biter between Alphoe Dagayloan and Ryota Yamauchi was one such round. The bout had aggression from both, moments were both seemed to be exhausted, brilliant exchanges and bombs being thrown back and forth. Despite the high volume of power shots this wasn't sloppy, and instead the shots were being landed clean and hard, with high level of skills on show from both.
Jayr Raquinel TKO8 Takuya Kogawa
We've seen few KO's this year that have caused the rushed panic of a fighters team as Jayr Raquinels 8th round knockout of veteran Takuya Kogawa. The tough Kogawa was wobbled hard and responded by trying to throw big power shots, he was then countered by a monstrous straight left hand from Raquinel which dropped him hard. The referee instantly called off the bout, Kogawa's team rushed to his aide and Raquinel walked over to the corner to prey. Thankfully Kogawa is fine, and this KO will be one that deserves serious consideration at the end of the year.
Notable mention - John Riel Casimero KO10 Cesar Ramirez
Kento Hatanaka (10-0, 9)
We love seeing prospects stepping up in class and that's what Kento Hatanaka did this week as he moved from young local hopefuls to the world ranked Jaysever Abcede, and was pushed all the way. This was a huge step up for the youngster and a step up he made, just. For the first time Hatanaka was forced to go to the final bell, was forced to pick himself off the canvas and was forced to fight against someone who was physically stronger. After the win Hatanaka seemed to realise he had been given a real test, but he it was just the next step forward in a very interesting career for the youngster who will likely find himself in, or near, the world rankings shortly.
Notable mention - Criztian Pitt Laurente (3-0, 3), Charly Suarez (3-0, 3)
Fumiya Fuse (8-0, 1) vs Toshiya Ishii (1-0, 1)
Not ever bout that intrigues us is at the highest level, and a Japanese Youth title eliminator between Fumiya Fuse and Toshiya Ishii is proof of that. Fuse really impressed us in his 2017 Rookie of the Year win and Ishii was a former amateur standout who has been tipped for big things. For Fuse this will be a real test, against a very capable and well schooled youngster whilst Ishii will be expected to answer some real questions. This is a bout that may not interest international fans in the same way that some of the other bouts coming up will, but for us this is a brilliant match up and something to geet very, very excited about.
The Japanese scene is full of talented new blood this year with a host of young fighters all turning professional. This year, more than any other, seems to have been the year where those talented youngsters have almost abandoned the amateur system, rather than remain in the unpaid ranks and make their way to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. It's strange, given how big the Olympics will be for Japan, that so many fighters are turning professional and ditching their Olympic dreams but it's also really exciting how constant the stream of top youngster turning to the professional ranks is.
One of the latest names to begin their professional career, rather than seek a place at the Olympics, is Yudai Shigeoka (0-0). He would almost certainly have been in the running for the Japanese national team next Summer, but instead has followed his younger brother, Ginjiro Shigeoka, to the Watanabe Gym and to the professional ranks.
Aged 22, just a few years older than Ginjiro, the talented Yudai was a fixture at the top of the national amateur scene for years. He ran up an excellent 81-10 (20) record in the unpaid ranks and his achievements really are worth looking over.
As a youngster Yudai won the 2015 Japanese High School Invitational Tournament in Okayama, among other high shool tournaments. The high school success was followed by consecutive finals in the Japanese National Sports festival, losing in the 2017 final to Tomoya Tsuboi and to Tosho Kashiwazaki in the 2018 tournament. He was unlucky to lose to Kashiwazaki in the 2017 Japanese National Championship semi-final but would take home the top prize in the 2018 version of the tournament.
Not only was Yudai repeatedly getting to the business stages on the domestic scene but he was also getting valuable international experience. He reached the final of the 2018 World University Championships, losing to local hero Edmond Khudoyan in the gold medal bout, and showed that he belong at a very very high level.
After seeing his brother made his debut for the Watanabe gym it seemed Yudai was intrigued by following him into the paid ranks. When the Light Flyweight division was dropped from the Olympic plan for 2020 he essentially had the decision made for him. He wasn't comfortable moving up in weight, and likely knew his chances of reaching the games was reduced by the fact his natural division was no longer an option. Rather than waste time following those dreams he decided to turn professional.
Whilst Yudai's professional debut has yet to be announced he impressed in his B license pro-test bout. That test saw him sparring 3 rounds with former world title challenger Masataka Taniguchi, and looking every bit the top tier prospect that you'd expect. He looked sharp, with great variety and defensively smart. He looked very much like an elite prospect, similar in a way to his slower but heavier handed younger brother. He's a southpaw, like his brother, and is very sharp, accurate and skilled, with a more style more suited to boxing, than his brother's hard hitting pressure style
With the Watanabe behind Yudai's professional ascent up the rankings it's obvious Yudai won't be held back. His brother fought for his first title in just his 4th bout, 10 months and 2 days after his debut, and we wouldn't be shocked if we saw something very similar for Yudai.
Yudai, like Ginjiro, has real ambition and he spoke, already, about wanting to become a world champion alongside his brother. Given the ability of both men that is a real possibility.
After a few weeks of looking at debuting fighters we now get he chance to do an "Introducing" on someone with a little bit of professional experience, albeit just a little bit of it, as we look at Toshiya Ishii (1-0, 1), an 18 year old Bantamweight who fights in the biggest fight of his career on August 27th. Amazingly his next bout, his second professional fight, will take place against another fighter we're really big fans of, Fumiya Fuse, showing just how much of a fast track Ishii is on.
Born in 2001 Ishii quickly rose through the domestic amateur scene where he built a reputation as a fantastic young fighter with incredible potential. His amateur days saw him run up a 30-14 (7) record and whilst that isn't an amazing one by any stretch of the imagination it doesn't actually tell us the full story about Ishii's days in the unpaid ranks, or about his potential.
Whilst Ishii's record in the unpaid ranks won't blow people away it's worth noting that he came runner up in the 2018 Inter-Highschool tournament and was often fighting above his natural weight, due to the quality in his high school team. Had he been able to compete at his natural weight we have no doubt his record in the unpaid ranks would have been much better than it ended up being.
It was thanks to his amateur pedigree that Ishii was put forward for a B class license when he turned professional, and he did what was needed to gain that license and begin his career in 6 round bouts.
Ishii made his debut at Dangan 222 back in April, andwe saw the teenager take on Indonesian foe Adam Wijaya. Wijaya was never expected to be any kind of a test for Ishii. Instead it was a chance for his team at the REBOOT gym to see whether or not he was able to cope with the professional style, the pressure of the crowd, the smaller gloves. What he showed was fantastic, exuding a calmness is the ring that we rarely see from a debutant. He was calm, intelligent and showed a good variety of shots, especially to the body, as well as defensive know how and really sharp footwork. It wasn't a blow out win for the sake of blowing an opponent away, but was a controlled showcase of what he could do in the ring.
After his debut win Ishii admitted he was nervous, though it didn't really show, as he boxed intelligently behind his jab, figuring out whether the Indonesian had anything to bother him, before closing the show with some brilliant body punching. It was both impressive, but also the sort of thing we're seeing very regularly with these Japanese amateur fighters who are turning professional young, after a good run in the school boy tournaments.
Whilst Ishii's debut bout told us little about how he would cope with someone like Fuse, the 18 year old does look like he has the potential to go a really long way. There's a feeling that he really could get past Fuse and move into a Japanese Youth title fight in the near future, after all the Fuse bout is a Japanese Youth title eliminator. On the other hand a loss to Fuse, this early in his career, would be no major setback and something he can certainly rebuild from.
Despite Ishii's lack of professional experience he, and his team, will be looking at the Fuse fight as a great chance to make a statement, and a win will secure him a Japanese title fight. That reward is well and truly worth the risk, with a loss clearly not being anywhere close to the end to the line for him, and his promising career.
It's fair to say that this past 7 day weren't the best for boxing, but even then there was a solid amount going on for the hardcore fan who doesn't just want to see the big names in action. Just over the weekend alone there was action form Thailand, China, Philippines, Indonesia and Japan. Whilst the big names were lacking the smaller names were given a chance to chine.
Fighter of the Week
Nursultan Zhangabayev (8-0, 5)
Unbeaten Kazakh hopeful Nursultan Zhangabayev continued to build his reputation as he travelled to Australia and beat Steve Gago over 10 rounds. The Kazakh may have flirted with a DQ at times, due to accidental low blows, but there is no doubting his performance against a fellow unbeaten fighter and the way he further increased his profile, by fighting in a 4th country already. He may not be a world champion in the making, but this week he scored a big win and unified titles from 3 of the 4 world title bodies.
Performance of the Week
Xiao Tao Su (11-1, 6)
We'd never really paid Chinese youngster Xiao Tao Su much attention until this week, when he really impressed with an opening round win over Shota Yukawa. He was in the ring for 150 seconds but that was enough time to impress as he wobbled Yukawa and then, only moments later, took him our with a brutal left hand. This was the sort of performance that made us sit up and take notice, and at the end of the day he did more than expected. Yes, Yukawa is no world beater but this was an excellent performance.
Apichet Petchmanee (4-0, 2) Vs Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo (61-4, 41) II
For the second time this year Thai pairing Apichet Petchmanee and Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo gave us a bit of a thriller. Chonlatarn tried to force the pace and Apichet tried to make him pay, in the end both fighters had mixed success with their gameplan but both combined to make a great, competitive and action packed fight. Apichet again showed touches of brilliance but couldn't get rid of the veteran, who showed his toughness and will to win, making life very, very difficult for the rising hopeful. This was very good and very enjoyable
Notable mention - Xiang Li vs Do Jin Lee
Jing Xiang vs Jomar Caindog (Rd4)
Whilst there was plenty of good action there was few rounds that really stood out, however we really enjoyed the 4th round of the Minimumweight bout between the world class Jing Xiang and the unheralded Jomar Caindog. Xiang, to us at least, always looked in control but the bout certainly had moments where Caindog showed real ambition. In round 4 we saw some brilliant exchanges, some great action and Xiang ended the round like he had a point to prove. This really was a lot of fun, and actually the entire bout was really compelling, even if it wasn't all action packed.
Xiao Tao Su TKO1 Shota Yukawa
We mentioned it earlier but we need to mention it again, Xiao Tao Su's KO over Shota Yukawa. The fight ended with a brutal, huge left hook from Su whilst left Yukawa flat out on the canvas. Technically this was a TKO, though Yukawa was out cold and the referee could have counted to 30 and not seen Yukawa beat the count. The shot was a peace and Su certainly seems like a very heavy handed young fighter. He may not be a big name but he's one to watch and we're going to be very excited to see where he goes following this win.
Xiang Li (5-0, 4)
We're not totally sold on Chinese prospect Xiang Li but it's hard to not be impressed by him at times. The 24 year old was given a test by Korean youngster Do Jin Lee but racked up the rounds with his hard, clean punching and despite being put on the back foot at times. Li closed the show with a barrages of right hands, and managed to shine, and answer some new questions. Given this was just his 5th bout we're happy to see him being pushed, for the second time this year. He might not have world class potential, at least not showing at the moment, but there's a lot to like about the youngster and he certainly has the ability to make a mark on the regional level in the years to come.
Kosei Tanaka (13-0, 7) vs Jonathan Gonzalez (22-2-1, 13)
This has probably been the hardest week to pick a single fight for our "upcoming" fight, though it's hard for the right reason with a host of great fights coming up. If forced to pick a single one to get the most excited about it's the WBO Flyweight title bout between Kosei Tanaka and Jonathan Gonzalez, which should be a super-high speed chess match. Both guys are super quick, both were talented amateurs and it's hard not to get excited about every Tanaka fight. Since moving to Flyweight Tanaka's been even more entertaining than he was at the lower weights and Gonzalez should bring the best out of him. Even better yet, the bout will be shown live here on Asian Boxing for free!
Other bouts considered here were: Ryota Yamauchi vs Alphoe Dagayloan, Shohjahon Ergashev Vs Abidel Ramirez, Kento Hatanaka Vs Jaysever Abcede, Vic Saludar v Wilfredo Mendez and Carlo Caesar PenalosaVs Maximino Flores
The end of August really is a week where we go out with a bang, with 3 world title bouts and a number of top prospects all in action in the final 7 days of the month!
Kosei Tanaka (13-0, 7) v Jonathan Gonzalez (22-2-1, 13) - Aichi, Japan
Arguably the most interesting of the world title bouts will see WBO Flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka make his second defense as he takes on mandatory challenger Jonathan Gonzalez of Puerto Rico. After a few wars for Tanaka we're now expecting to see him put on a more sound boxing display. Gonzalez is a former amateur stand out, but he has shown vulnerability in his 2 losses and we suspect those vulnerabilities will show again here.
Kento Hatanaka (9-0, 9) v Jaysever Abcede (19-8, 12) - Aichi, Japan
In a really good supporting bout to Tanaka Vs Gonzalez we'll see fast rising Japanese youngster Kento Hatanaka takes on world ranked Filipino Jaysever Abcede. This is a big step up for Hatanaka, but the talented "Prince" is tipped for the top and a win here will help push him into the world rankings. On paper Abcede isn't someone who looks like a challenge for a top prospect but the Filipino has scored recent wins over Stamp Kiatniwat and Seigo Yuri Akui.
John Riel Casimero (27-4, 18) v Cesar Ramirez (18-3, 11) - Metro Manila, Philippines
Staying in Asia we'll see WBO interim Bantamweight champion John Riel Casimero make his first defense, taking on Mexican challenger Cesar Ramirez. The talented Filipino won the title back in April, when he stopped Ricardo Espinoza Franco in the 12th round, and will be further wanting to make his make on the talent packed 118lb division. Ramirez on the other hand is a very limited challenger who has done nothing to earn a shot at a title fight, and was nearly shut out the last time he faced a world class fighter.
Vic Saludar (19-3, 10) v Wilfredo Mendez (13-1, 5) - San Juan, Puerto Rico
In Puerto Rico we'll see former Tanaka opponent Vic Saludar making his second defense of the WBO Minimumweight title as he takes on mandatory challenger Wilfredo Mendez. The under-rated Saludar is a heavy handed boxer-puncher who has really shone in his last two, beating Ryuya Yamanaka and Masataka Taniguchi and despite being on the road, for the third fight in a row, he will again be favoured. Mendez is a talented fighter but is taking a massive step up in class here for what will be his toughest bout, by far.
Shakhram Giyasov (8-0, 6) Vs Darleys Perez (34-4-2, 22) Sonora, Mexico
Unbeaten Uzbek fighter Shakhram Giyasov takes on his most notable opponent to date as he returns to a Mexican ring, for the second time. The talented Giyasov, who didn't look great last time out against Emanuel Taylor, will be up against former world champion Darleys Perez. Giyasov is a talent, and an Olympic silver medal winner, but as a professional it's seemed very much like he either blows opponents away with raw power or struggles. Perez, at his best, was world class, but with a 2-3-3 record in his last 7, with all 3 losses by stoppage, it's hard to know what he has left at this point.
Haruki Ishikawa (7-1, 5) vs Atsushi Takada (6-1-3, 3) - Tokyo, Japan
The Japanese Youth title picture is a really interesting one and although none of the fighters in Yoyuth title bouts are big names they are often emerging talents. In a really good looking JBC Youth Bantamweight title Eliminator we'll see the once beaten Haruki Ishikawa take on Atsushi Takada. The talented Ishikawa suffered his only loss in the 2018 Rookie of the Year final, by majority decision, whilst Takada's only loss was to Tetsu Araki in a Youth title fight. This should be a very good fight.
Fumiya Fuse (8-0, 1) v Toshiya Ishii (1-0, 1) - Tokyo, Japan
Another JBC Youth Bantamweight title eliminator will will see Rookie of the Year winner Fumiya Fuse take on the recently turned professional Toshiya Ishii. The talented Fuse has been impressive since his Rookie of the Year win back in 2017 and has notched some solid wins since his rookie triumph. Ishii on the other hand only debuted back in April but looked excellent on his debut win over Adam Wijaya, though did have a solid amateur career. Despite looking like a mismatch this should be a compelling contest of skills.
The winner of the two eliminators will fight for the vacant title later in the year.
Yuki Nakajima (2-0, 2) vs Ryu Horikawa (1-0, 1) - Tokyo, Japan
On the same card as the two eliminators we'll also see a B Class Tournament bout that pits former amateur standouts against each other, with Yuki Nakajima and Ryu Horikawa facing off. Despite only 3 fights between them this should be a very hotly contest, high skilled battle between two youngsters who, win or lose, will still have a very bright future. The winner of this may "only" have beaten a novice, but will be on the fast track to some much bigger bouts in the very near future.
Another "Introducing" and once again we are looking at a debutant, as we look at Kadoebi's new Super Featherweight hopeful Ryo Nakai (0-0). The young hopeful will make his debut on August 23rd and will be looking to join the likes of stablemate Ryota Yamauchi in quickly rising through the ranks.
The 21 year old Nakai from Nishinomiya City in Hyogo Prefecture has been talked about in hardcore Japanese circles for a while. A lot of that was down to his success as an amateur, which saw him run up a very respectable 40-16 (15) record. The numbers might not be amazing, but they are solid given how notoriously tough the Japanese amateur scene is.
Full results of Nakai's career aren't widely available, though there are a few tournaments out there that we do have results of him from.
One of those tournaments was the Japanese High School Invitational Tournament from Spring 2015, which took place in Okayama. Fighting at 64KG's Nakai went on to win his two bouts at the tournament to take home first place. The tournament may not have featured all of the top, top names of the time it did have the likes of Kaki Yuba actually compete in the same weight class as Nakai, though in opposite half of the draw.
Another tournament that Nakai won was the Kapolri Cup in Indonesia, in 2018. That tournament in Manado saw Nakai win 4 bouts in 5 days to win the tournament, being 1 of 3 Japanese fighters who went all the way, along with Ryusei Baba and Shinichiro Morishita.
As well as the tournament wins Nakai would also be frequent fight in the University league, racking up experience against very good domestic amateurs in one of the toughest domestic leagues on the planet. Whilst he did suffer losses they were to other good fighters, and the fact he more than held his own on the University circuit showed that there was genuine promise and talent there. Talent that was being improved with every bout he was having.
Despite being a very good amateur, and mixing on both domestic and international scenes, footage of Nakai hasn't been easy to track down. Our sources have however informed us he's a southpaw fighter with an excellent jab and good understanding of the ring with a very solid foundation for the Kadoebi gym to build on.
Although he's only signed at the Kadoebi gym earlier this year he is already under the guidance of Hong Dongsik. Whilst he's not an internationally well known trainer the Korean has been in Japan for around 20 years and worked a lot with the Watanabe Gym. Among those he has worked with were Takashi Uchiyama and Ryoichi Taguchi, with Hong working on the body shots with both men, and we'd expect to see body shots becoming a major focus for Nakai during his career.
As mentioned Nakai will debut on August 23rd and will do so in a 6 round bout against unbeaten Filipino foe Jay Lloyd Quidlat. This is a pretty tough debut for the youngster, but a win for Nakai here will be a good statement and a great way to kick off his career.
This past week has been an odd one for Asian boxing, with a real lack of notable shows, but what we have had has been fairly interesting, and we certainly had two thrilling OPBF title fights, though was fought with out any TV footage being available.
Fighter of the Week
Hiroaki Teshigawara (20-2-2, 13)
Japan's Hiroaki Teshigawara has been on a roll since losing a split decision to Ryo Akaho in 2016, and this Thursday that roll sped up a bit more as he scored a 12th round TKO win over the talented Shohei Omori. The bout promised a lot and it delivered, with Teshigawara shining in terms of his toughness, his aggression, his fighting spirit and his ability to go to war. This was a great win, by a a fighter who really is now deserving of a big bout.
Performance of the Week
Akinori Watanabe (38-7-1, 32)
Teshigawara came close to netting a double, that was until Akinori Watanabe became a 2-weight OPBF champion and stopped Jung Kyoung Lee on one of the very last bouts of the week. Watanabe had travelled to Korea and had seemingly had the deck stacked against him. He dropped Lee in round 2, with Lee reportedly getting a long count, appeared to be in control but was only level when the cards were announced after 8 rounds then managed to pull out two late knock downs to secure the win. A great performance by a 34 year old who had been out of the ring since a really hard fought war in December.
Hiroaki Teshigawara Vs Shohei Omori
We've already mentioned Hiroake Teshigawara and his win over Shohei Omori but what we didn't mention is what an incredible fight it was.It was 12 rounds of action and violence that got better as the fight went on. It started rather technically but became a war as the two men, both of whom are solid punchers, increased the tempo in the middle rounds giving us some really brutal exchanges. This wasn't an all action battle of attrition but was a hard hitting, gruelling war, which featured a lot of mini battles and awesome back and forth sequences.
Hiroaki Teshigawara Vs Shohei Omori (6)
With the bout slipping away from his Omori set off for the middle part of his bout with Teshigawara by trying to up the pace, and for around a minute or so of the round he did he did that well, landing some of his dynamite left hands with Teshigawara on the ropes. Teshigawara did well to escape and fire back some solid right hands before a big finish from Teshigawara left Omori running for the bell. It wasn't an all out round of action, but it was a round that showed the story of the bout. Everytime Omori got a foot hold, he seemed to have it taken away before he got the chance to really build on things
No bout was considered for this award this week.
Masahiro Suzuki (3-0, 2)
In just his third bout Masahiro Suzuki has made yet another statement as he beat JBC ranked Kosuke Arioka, doing so in 2 rounds to take a ranking and move closer to his first title fight. The talented, well schooled former amateur standout has so much upside right now and he's already showing himself to be a smart boxer-puncher, with real grit and toughness, solid power and a very smart boxing brain. Although he admitted to being buzzed by the hard hitting Arioka he got through the storm and stopped his man. This kid is special and it's really clear that he's going a long way in the sport.
Jing Xiang (16-4-2, 3) vs Jomar Caindog (10-1-1, 4)
The best bout, on paper, is probably the WBO International Minimumweight title fight between Jing Xiang and Jomar Caindog, but for us it's the most interesting. Xiang, who is a fringe world class fighter at 108lbs, is dropping down to Minimumweight and, if he looks good at the weight, could find himself very close to landing a world title title bout. At Light Flyweight he was deep down the queue but at 105lbs he'll be well in the mix, and may well have the style to trouble anyone. Caindog on the other hand is a relative unknown, but a win here puts him on the boxing map, regionally at least. An really intriguing match up, as opposed to a thrilling one. But one we are really excited about.
Japanese fighters in and around the Middleweight division don't typically get much attention, which is partly why Ryota Murata is such an oddity right now. That however doesn't take away from the fact that there really good bouts that take place in Japan at the weight, including some of the best Japanese bouts of the last few years. With that in mind today's "Introducing" looks at up coming debutant Mikio Sakai (0-0), a new signing for the Kadoebi gym and a new addition to the Japanese domestic Middleweight scene.
Currently the Kadoebi Gym has more than it's share of "bigger men" with a number of fighters from 140lbs upwards. For many in Japan from Light Welterweight upwards it's the gym is the best gym, able to offer the best sparring and the best environment to develop. It's got other Middleweights like Shoma Fukumoto and Koki Tyson to get fighters in with and it's got enough there to build a fighter from debut to champion. That's likely played a part in why Sakai has signed there, and why Sakai is going to be moved aggressively as a professional. It does, however, help that he was a very good amateur.
In the unpaid ranks Sakai went 44-22 (19) and competed in a variety of notable national tournaments. He would win the Japanese Interschool Meet in August 2011, a tournament that also saw Naoya Inoue and Ryo Matsumoto pick up wins, and would get into the business end of the 2012 and 2018 Japanese national championships. Although he never managed to go all the win and win national crown as a senior it was clear he had talent, power and skills.
Due to the way he continually fought in pretty notable competition it's not that difficult to see some footage of a younger Sakai fighting in the amateurs and his style, even as early as 2012, looked like it was suited more to the professional game than the amateurs. He was quick on his feet, skirted around the outside of the ring and looked land big right hands at range, with combinations on the inside. He would look to draw mistakes to counter with his hands a touch lower than they should be, but have the speed and reflexes to counter.
That style he showed early on has stayed with him into the later part of his amateur career, though it was polished and the wider hooks, thrown from out of range, have been curtailed, becoming much sharper. He's not looked destructive, in terms of 1-punch power, but he looked a sharp clean puncher with a good work rate. The one really issue however is that he often looked under-sized and that would have been a major problem on the international stage, with some amateur Middleweights being incredibly big guys.
As a professional we're expecting Sakai to be an aggressive boxer-puncher. The small gloves will help him when it comes to power, and his style looks pro-ready, with sharp shooting at range, good combinations on the inside and nice movement. At 26 he's coming into his physical peak, so maybe a little late to debut, but with Kadoebi behind him he will be moved quickly, if they feel confident in him.
Talking about Kadoebi's confidence in Sakai they are showing belief right out the blocks and when he debut's on August 23rd against Elfelos Vega (7-6, 5), who has gone the distance the distance with the likes of Takeshi Inoue and Charles Bellamy. This is a really tough debut, despite Vega's record, and a dominating win for Sakai would be a real statement of intent from the new pro, who may struggle a bit against someone as dangerous and tough as Vega this early in his career.
This past week has been a busy one, with fights all over Asia at various levels, from Rookie of the Year to world title bouts. It's not been the best of weeks at the top level, but it has been a very interesting week!
Fighter of the Week
Kazuto Takesaka (11-0-1, 11)
After blowing out his first 10 opponents Kazuto Takesako found out that Shuji Kato couldn't be steam rolled when the two fought to a draw earlier in the year. This week Takesako and Kato had their rematch and Takesako showed so many new strings to his bow that he looked like a fighter who had not only vicious power but also added skills to go with that power and it was obvious from the performance that he has come a long way from their draw. He again struggled with Kato's jab, southpaw stance and movement, but went on to break down his man in a career best win.
Performance of the Week
ArAr Andales (10-1, 2)
We often praise winners, and over-look the efforts of losers, but this week it was ArAr Andales that impressed, despite losing in a WBA Minimumweight title bout to Knockout CP Freshmart. The Filipino teenager really was up against it, and in fairness would likely have needed a KO to have had any chance of winning, but gave the bout everything he could, before the bout was terminated in round 8 due to a cut to Knockout, that the referee ruled was from a headclash. Prior to the early finish it seemed like Andales was coming on strong and he certainly looked like someone who was going to come again and win a world title in the future. A great performance, despite the loss.
Kazuto Takesako (10-0-1, 10) vs Shuji Kato (10-1-2, 6) II
The Japanese Middleweight title really refuses to give us a stinker, and this Saturday fight fans at Korakuen Hall got a barn burner as Kazuto Takesako made his third defense of the title and beat Shuji Kato into submission. The bout wasn't a re-run of their first bout, which was an ultra-competitive back and forth, but it was a war and neither man came out of this unscathed with both looking like they had taken a lot of punishment at the end of the bout. After back to back wars against each other we now hope, for their health, they both avoid a war next time out.
Shuhei Hamano vs Nobuo Maruoka (Rd1)
We don't why but these year we've seen so many thrilling shoot outs between Japanese novices. The latest of those came on July 31st when Shuhei Hamano and Nobuo Maruoka met in an East Japan Rookie of the Year semi final bout. From the opening moment to the last these two were engaged in a phone booth tear up. The quality of punching might not have been amazing but the heart, desire and action were brilliant. This is Rookie of the Year action, and this is why Rookie of the Year is always worth following.
Lee Si-Woo KO1 Jeong Ho-Jun
Korean fights tend to be worthy of attention due to the Korean mentality of "punch, punch, punch". They tend to be action fights, with exciting back and forths and high intensity action. This week however it delivered one of the best KO's of the Year, if not the best, as Lee Si Woo brutally took out Jeong Ho Jun in a KBC Rookie of the Year fight. The two men were in the first round of their bout when they started to fight up closes, with Woo landing two right followed by a huge left that sent Jun falling face forward. The only thing breaking Jun's fall was Woo's shoulder, and even that didn't stop Jun from eventually face planting the canvas. A truly sensational KO and one we need to thank @Hock1717 for bringing to our attention.
Takuma Takahashi (4-0, 4)
As seems to be a regular thing recently there was a number of prospects in action the last week. One who caught our attention was Japan's Takuma Takahashi, who answered a lot of questions and really showed that he is one to watch. The hard hitter from the World Sport Boxing gym scored a career best win as he stopped tough Thai foe Sitthidet Banti, who had never previously been stopped. Takahashi, who had only a handful of rounds as a professional prior to this bout, showed he has a decent gas tank, that his power is legitimate and that he can mix up his work more than previously thought. There are still flaws, but this was a very good win for the 25 year old.
Hiroaki Teshigawara (19-2-2, 12) vs Shohei Omori (20-2, 15)
This coming Thursday we get a truly amazing OPBF Super Bantamweight title fight as hard hitting champion Hiroaki Teshigawara takes on former world title challenger Shohei Omori. This is as good a bout that we'll see at OPBF level all year, and on paper might be the best since Kosei Tanaka challenged Ryuji Hara. Both "Teshi" and Omori have eyes much bigger things than the OPBF title but they will have to get through the other man to get there.
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