The month of September has been a bit of a strange one for Asian boxing. We have had a lot of activity, but we've seen it in bursts, with this past weekend being one of those bursts. The big names, for the most part, weren't in action and a lot of what we did get was Rookie of the Year in Japan and low level tick over bouts in Thailand, with novices looking to kick off their careers in Kazakhstan and more low level stuff in China. As a result a lot of our awards this month are heading to relative unknowns.
Fighter of the Month
John Riel Casimero
The Fight of the Month was one of the easiest awards for the month, with WBO Bantamweight champion John Riel Casimero being the stand out fighter for the month. He was the only Asian world champion to defend a world title during the month, and he did so in spectacular fashion, battering Duke Micah in 3 rounds. Casimero has continued to build on the win by calling out Naoya Inoue pretty much continually since the bout, and has certainly made fans sit up, take note, listen and remember his name.
Fight of the Month
Tsubasa Narai Vs Tomohiro Igarashi
We had some real fun fights this past month, though the most fun was the thrilling shout out between Tsubasa Narai and Tomohiro Igarashi. This wasn't the most violent bout, but was the most dramatic, most exciting a thrilling back and forth war. Both men showed solid skills, both men were dropped and both men had the bout going against them at some point. The bout was action packed through out and ended in spectacular fashion. A real must watch
Koichi Aso Vs Shogo Yamaguchi
John Riel Casimero Vs Duke Micah
Arman Rysbek vs Mikhail Dauhaliavets
KO of the Month
Aito Abe TKO1 Kentaro Omori
We didn't get too many brutal KO's in September but the one that left the biggest impression on us came in the East Japan Rookie of the Year qualifying bout between Aito Abe and Kentaro Omori. The entire bout didn't last long and ended in spectacular fashion, with Abe landed a dynamite right hand that sent Omori crashing to the canvas. A single, huge, right hand. Absolutely brutal shot and one that fans, with Boxing Raise, should go and check out...now!
Prospect of the Month
Rentaro Kimura (2-0, 2)
There was some very impressive performances by prospects in September, though none were as impressive as Rentaro Kimura's performance. His opponent wasn't the most testing, or skilled, but that didn't prevent Kimura from genuinely impressing. The Japanese "Super Prospect" showed sensation shot selection, an amazing use of angles, and not only show cased his offense against an over matched opponent but also his defense in a performance that was incredibly impressive. This was the type of performance that should make people sit and take notice and we suspect we'll see a lot of fans getting behind Kimura very, very quickly following a showing like he had here.
Upset of the Month
Pungluang Sor Singyu KO7 Campee Phayom
After losing the WBO Bantamweight title in 2016 Pungluang Sor Singyu struggled to get his career back on track, losing 4 of his following 5 bouts. Surprisingly however he managed to get his career back in track in early September when he scored a come from behind stoppage win over Campee Phayom. Pungluang wasn't expected to pick up the win here, he was expected to be too old, too small, too shot, but managed to use his experience to grind down Campee and take the KO victory over the much younger man. Thanks to this win, Pungluang's second win in 4 and a half years, the Thai veteran has given his career a major shot in the arm.
Round of the Month
Arman Rysbek vs Mikhail Dauhaliavets (Rd3)
We love rounds where fighters trade shots, and set a high tempo. We had a lot of these this month. Rounds of action up close and personal are typically our favourite rounds and there was was a lot of those. In terms of quality there were very few that matched the incredible quality of the 3rd round between Arman Rysbek and Mikhail Dauhaliavets. This was high quality boxing, at close range, at a high pace, with clean shots landed by both. If fans missed this fight we suggest you give it a watch, especially round 3. Genuinely fantastic.
John Riel Casimero Vs Duke Micah (Rd1)
Ryo Yoshida Vs Ricky Hasegawa (Rd 1)
Quite often when a fighter suffers a loss they get written off, especially in the west. This completely ignores the value off a loss and a performance, and can cause fans to down-rate fighters that they sometimes haven't seen, ignoring their potential, and some of their bouts. It seems silly to say due to how obvious it is, but many top fights have suffered early losses, learned from them and built their careers in part thanks to a loss.
With that in mind we want to talk about 20 year old Japanese Super Bantamweight Ryuya Tsugawa (7-1, 3) today, in our latest "introducing" article. Yes he has a loss, and he may suffer more of them, but we would still suggest that he is a prospect worthy of attention, and worthy of making a mental note of for the next few years.
Like many youngsters in Japan Tsugawa did martial arts when he was a boy, he then took up boxing in junior high school, following a friend who was boxing. Despite picking up the sport relatively young his amateur experience was limited, at best, and instead of changing that and getting amateur experience he turned professional in 2018, aged just 17.
Tsugawa's debut came in April 2018 and saw him defeat the then 0-3 Tomoki Yamada with a well fought 4 round decision at the L-Theatre in Osaka. Despite debuting against a southpaw Tsugawa looked confident and calm, taking the clear decision without any issues. Just a month later the youngster was back in the ring and scored his first stoppage win, blasting out Reon Nakayama in less than 2 minutes. This was a really impressive performance, dropping his man 3 times in 118 seconds to advance in the West Japan Rookie of the Year.
Tsugawa's journey through the 2018 West Japan Rookie of the Year continued a couple of months later, when he defeated Kaito Takeshima with a 4 round decision. This was the toughest bout of his career up to this point and turned out to be a thrilling 4 rounder for the fans at the venue. This win secured moved Tsugawa's journey on and he was again in a tough test as he narrowly squeaked past Daichi Okamoto in September 2018.
Sadly for the youngster he would see his winning run end at 4 as he came up short in November 2018, losing a close decision to Yusei Fujikawa. It was a loss that will stay on his record, and many will look at Tsugawa's record and see it. They will also ignore the fact that Fujikawa later went on to win the 2018 All Japan Rookie of the Year at Bantamweight, and the loss was a serious learning experience for the then 18 year old Tsugawa.
Some 8 months after suffering his first professional loss Tsugawa returned to the ring, to compete in the 2019 West Japan Rookie of the year. He impressed after his lengthy lay off and blitzed Ren Nishimura in 106 seconds. The bout saw Nishimura start aggressively but a well timed left hook dropped him and Tsugawa managed to secure the finish soon afterwards. That win was then followed by another blow out, as Tsugawa stopped Yutaka Asakura in the first round, with Asakura being saved when he was under pressure.
The win over Asakura saw Tsugawa book his place in the 2019 All Japan Rookie of the year final, where he took on Takeshi Takehara. This wasn't the Rookie of the Year final but was also Tsugawa's Korakuen Hall debut. Despite being in his opponents backyard the talented youngster took control early on, using his speed and movement well to maintain distance, and picked his spots on the outside. Takehara wasn't there to lose but struggled to avoid the straight right hands of Tsugawa, which landed to the head and body of Takehara. After 5 rounds it was clear that Tsugawa had done enough to deserve the victory, and the Rookie of the Year crown, with a stellar performance.
Sadly Tsugawa hasn't fought since winning Rookie of the Year, due in part to the on going climate. He had hoped to fight for the Japanese Youth title, but sadly those plans were scuppered. Instead we'll be seeing the 20 year old return to the ring later this week, when he takes on Hikari Mineta in what will be Tsugawa's first 8 round bout. It's a big step up but a win here will have him really moving his career on.
In regards to his style Tsugawa is a talented boxer-mover. He judges distance well, preferring to keep action at range, has lovely hand speed and knows that when he has his opponent he should move in and put his foot on the gas. Interestingly all 3 of his stoppage wins to date have come in the opening round, and he's managed to show good stamina over 4 and 5 rounds already. Defensively there is still work to do, as he often relies too much on having distance to work with and his reflexes. Up close he doesn't seem to have a great inside game and that could be a problem as he steps into longer fights.
Although he had a loss we would implore fans to keep an eye on Tsugawa, he is not someone we see raving to titles. He needs more experience and more physical maturity before getting really big fights, but in 3 or 4 years time we could see him well in the mix for a Japanese title fight.
Well...that weekend is behind us, the matchsticks have been removed form our eyes, the coffee has had to be replaced, and our bodies are still feeling the effects of one of the most incredible weeks this sport has had in a long, long time. Whether you're a fan of mainstream boxing or the sport at wide you would have enjoyed something from this past week. Boy we know we did! With that in mind we've a lot of good to go along with some bad and a couple of true uglies.
1-Lots of free boxing!
Lets start with the best thing of the week and that was all the free boxing that was available. We couldn't possible guess on how many free cards were available world wide but over the course of a week we had no less than 5 Asian cards for free, as well as a show from Latvia! Seriously we can, and will, bitch about PPV, but we also need to say well done to promoters putting on free shows during these trying times. During the week we had a live card from Kazakhstan, two from Thailand, two from Japan and one from Latvia. Yes boxing can be a very expensive sport to follow, but we, as fans, should be making the must of all the free action we can!
Thanks to our good Friend Tim Boxeo (@Hock1717) we've come to the total being at least 20 free boxing shows world wide this past week!
2-Melvin Lopez helps Yeison Vargas to sleep
Jesus fucking Christ what a KO! Not sure we need to add anything here, but we'll try. A single left hand from Melvin Lopez knocked Yeison Vargas out cold, with Vargas still standing, before he crash to the canvas. This was another in a long line of great KO's we've seen recently is certainly in the running for the KO of the year. An absolute thunderbolt that sadly saw Vargas essentially being concussed standing and then concussed again as he crashed to the canvas below. If you've not seen it we seriously suggest you hunt it down!
3-Julio Cesar Chavez Sr and Jorge Arce III
Whilst we've seen the upcoming Mike Tyson Vs Roy Jones Jr exhibition getting a lot of attention the reality is that we're not expecting anythign too spectacular there. Thankfully for fans of fun exhibitions we got something hugely entertaining this week as Mexican icons Julio Cesar Chavez Sr and Jorge Arce put on a show for charity. This is exactly what an exhibition is supposed to be about. Two guys, past their best, putting on a showcase performance for fans. This was fun, high octane and showed that two guys have still got the tank to go a few rounds.
4-WBSS Cruiserweight II Final
We had a lot of great bouts this week and one of the best was the, well over-due, WBSS Cruiserweight II final between Mairis Briedis and Yuniel Dorticos. We know that the Crusierweight division has long been the bastard child of the Heavyweight division but once again it has seen two men knock 7 lumps out of each other in a truly incredible bout. The iron these two guys have in their chin needs investigating, with both taking monster shots through the 12 round bout. In the end the skills and ability to adapt of the 35 year old Briedis were the difference maker, but that just added to the bout. We had bombs, skills, action drama. If you missed it go and watch it. Now!
5-The Hitman Vs The Mechanic
We've just mentioned one great bout, now let us talk about another! This WBC Middleweight title bout between Jermall Charlo and Sergiy Derevyanchenko was expected to be a really interesting match up, and boy did it ever live up to expectations. Early on it looked like Charlo was going to have an easy time with the Ukrainian, who struggled to get past the jab of the American. Then we saw Derevyanchenko adapt, get close and begin to work up close on Charlo, suffering for his success. Then Charlo seemed to re-sume control, before a late surge from Derevyanchenko, who tired in the championship rounds. Whilst the Showtime PPV on Saturday gave us some great action, this was the best back and forth bout.
6-Rentaro Kimura..Japan's answer to Vasyl Lomachenko?
On Sunday morning from Shizuoka we saw Rentaro Kimura fight for the second time in the professional ranks and he put in a sensational performance showing amazing offense, brilliant movement, defense, angles, punch selection, defense. His debut, back in July, seemed to be about getting a win first but this was about shining and boy did he shine. His opponent, Takafumi Iwaya, played his part by being tougher than a pair of old boots, but what a show case from Kimura. Folks, we may well have Japan's new must watch fighter!
1-Kohei Oba's return
After more than 6 years out of the ring we saw former Japanese Bantamweight champion Kohei Oba return to action, to face Yoshiki Minato. Sadly Oba didn't look good at all here. He looked slow, he looked clumsy, his reflexes weren't there and he never got a chance to get himself into the bout. For a man who was once dubbed the "Mayweather of Nagoya" this was a humiliating showing ans made it very, very clear that Oba needs to retire and stay retired. He's very lucky Minato wasn't a big puncher, or this could have gotten very ugly, rather than just embarrassing.
2-Shun Kubo Vs Takashi Igarashi
Whilst Kohei Oba could be excused for his disappointing performance, given he'd been out of the ring so long, we don't have much of an excuse for why Shun Kubo Vs Takashi Igarashi was such a poor affair. This was just very much a "meh" fight that never really caught fire. Both men seemed far too cautious through out, neither man ever fully committed and as a result it just sort of meandered towards a nothing win for Kubo. If you missed this one live, don't both catching it, it's not worth your time.
3-Scoring again an issue!
Whilst we had some truly brilliant fights this past weekend we really do need to wonder what some officials were watching at times. We had poor scores over shadow some very good good bouts. How judges in Lativa scored the Arturs Gorlovs vs Felipe Nsue bout a draw is a mystery, as was a judge having Ricards Bolotniks Vs Hosea Burton 100-90, a score we can't get to no matter how we try.
It wasn't just Latvia that left us scratching out heads though. I
n the US Don Ackerman's 118-110 in the Luis Nery Vs Aaron Alameda fight was a terrible score, as was David Sutherland having the same in the Jermall Charlo Vs Sergiy Derevyanchenko bout. We felt the Daniel Roman Vs Juan Carlos Payano bout was super close, yet the judges had it a rather clear win for Roman.
Also two judges in Mexico somehow only had a point separating Mario Abel Cazares and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, more about him later.
Oh and one in Germany had Mairis Briedis vs Yuniel Dorticos level at 114-114.
As we can see this isn't isolated to one country, but is a worldwide issue. Lets have it sorted out guys!
1-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr Quits... again
We said we were going to get back to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr and here we are. Erm...Yeah Quitting once is pretty bad, but for Chavez Jr to do it a number of times now is beyond the point where even his most ardent of fans can suspend him. He quit with a relative small cut, he then bitched about Cazares headbutting him. Dude, find a new career, get out of the sport and...become a catwalk model or something. We'll admit we loved seeing Jr come through the ranks , and his bout with Sergio Martinez was fantastic, but recently he has become a joke and has dragged his father's name through the mud.
The Showtime PPV was...interesting. The in ring action was good, and the pacing for the first half of the show was perfect. It felt quick, sharp and moved on from bout to bout with no issues. It was enjoyable, exciting, and a nice mix of great action, and excitement. Then we hit the intermission and oh boy was that shit. We're sure Luke Thomas and Brian Campbell are lovely chaps, and the idea of an intermission was a good idea. But this just failed. The guys didn't seem to be fully coherent of the subject matter, they both seemed like they were being paid by the word, and it completely killed the pacing of the show. This was ill judged and if Showtime are going to do a similar type of PPV in the future they need to reconsider how they will split the different parts of the show.
3-Lack of research from Showtime!
Staying with our complaints about Showtime there was at least 3 occasions where they mentioned "John Riel Casimero's US debut", seemingly unaware he had fought in the US around 18 months ago, fighting for the interim version of the title he defended over the weekend. Whilst that bout wasn't shown on TV it did happen, and it was strange that Showtime were either not aware of it, or tried to act like it didn't happen. Very very odd that no one seemed to twig that they were repeating the same mistake. It didn't help that in there intermission the people doing the show seemed to suggest that Casimero was a slow starter, despite the fact 10 of his 20 stoppages prior to last night had been in the first 3 rounds. It was one of those cases where a quick look at his record would have done the broadcast the world of good.
Whilst it might seem like a little thing it it's also something that shouldn't have happened, and calls into question other things they say. Come on folks, do your research!
4-Vazquez Vs Figueroa..What was everyone doing?
Okay now we're just picking on the Showtime PPV. For 3 or 4 rounds the WBA Super Bantamweight bout between Brandon Figueroa and Damien Vazquez was an enthralling all action war. Absolutely brilliant from both. But then Figueroa began to turn the screw and from round 7 the bout was becoming painful to watch. Quite why the referee, the ringside doctor and Vazquez's own team let him go out for rounds 8, 9 or 10. Everyone had a duty of care to Vazquez who couldn't see the left hands that Figueroa was throwing, had a swollen face, lacked fight changing power and was being beaten up. There is a duty of care that those in the position to stop fights have and watching this one it seemed like they all neglected that duty of care. Sadly the 23 year old Vazquez too almost 3 rounds of unnecessary punishment, and it felt like we were going to see a young fighter beaten into retirement.
The corner, the referee and the ringside doctor should be dragged in front of the commission and forced to explain why they allowed this beating to continue as long as it did. This was ugly by the end and didn't do anyone any favours.
It's fair to say that September, for the most part, was a disappointing month, with some notable gaps between noteworthy bouts. Sure the month finished with a bang, but there were certainly a few weeks where little happened and we were sat twiddling out thumbs waiting for the next notable fight. In October however that won't be happening, with great after great show, and notable name after notable name. Potentially the longest gap we'll see between notable fights will be 7 days. With that in mind we've had to break October into 3 parts for this series.
Korakuen Hall, Japan (G+ - Tape Delay)
Kenichi Ogawa (24-1-1-1, 18) Vs Kazuhiro Nishitani (21-4-1, 12)
The main event of the first notable show of the month will see former Japanese national champions facing off in a very interesting match up. In one corner will be former Japanese Featherweight champion Kenichi Ogawa, best known for his bout with Tevin Farmer, whilst the other corner will play host to Kazuhiro Nishitani, a former Japanese Lightweight champion. Coming into this both of these fighters have got world rankings, and both will know a loss will end their dreams of getting a big fight. On paper this could end up being a very, very good bout, with the styles of the two men expected to gel well. A great way to kick off the month.
Hayate Kaji (14-0, 9) Vs Hiroki Yajima (9-8-3, 4)
Unbeaten Japanese hopeful Hayate Kaji once looked like a star in the making and seemed destined for huge things. In recent performances however he has struggled to shine, and there's been a feeling that his career has started to stall with poor performance and a lack of professionalism. Sadly for Kaji the hope of taking on an opponent that could push his career forward isn't being realised here as he faces lower level domestic foe Hiroki Yajima. Coming into this Yajima has lost 3 of his last 4, and is 2-3-2 in his last 7. Despite his form Yajima has never been stopped and will likely make this tricky and awkward for Kaji.
Shokichi Iwata (4-0, 3) Vs Ryo Narizuka (9-9-1)
The hotly tipped Shokichi Iwata looks to stay busy as he steps into 8 round territory for the first time. Regarded as a future world champion Iwata is being moved smartly and this is a decent domestic level test for him as he takes on Ryo Narizuka. Whilst Narizuka isn't anything special he is generally quite durable and should give Iwata some rounds here, allowing the youngster to shake some ring rust. Given that Iwata has been out of the ring since November a fight like this is ideal, before potentially heading for a title fight in 2021, when the Japanese boxing scene is more "normal" than it is at the moment.
Korakuen Hall, Japan (G+ - Live)
Hironobu Matsunaga (16-1, 10) Vs Yuto Shimizu (14-4-2, 5)
In the first Japanese title bout of the month we'll see JBC Light Middleweight champion Hironobu Matsunaga defending his title against mandatory challenger Yuto Shimizu, in what could be a real thriller. Matsunaga is a thrilling little warrior who sets a high work rate, comes forward and looks to break opponents down with an aggressive and exciting style. Shimizu on the other hand is a tough, tricky, opponent who is big, strong, rangy and should be able to blunt some of Matsunaga's aggression. This might end up messy at times, but should be a compelling match up between the aggression of the champion the crafty skills of the challenger.
Kenshi Noda (2-0, 2) Vs Toshiki Kawamitsu (4-0, 1)
A low key one to watch will see the touted Kenshi Noda take on fellow unbeaten Toshiki Kawamitsu in a brilliant looking 6 rounder. Noda, a fooirmer amateur standout, is a Teiken hopeful who debuted last year and blitzed his first 2 opponents in under 3 and a half minutes, combined. He is tipped very highly and is regarded as one of the best prospects at Teiken, but this is very much his first bout against someone trying to beat him. Although he's been less impressive in terms of results Kawamitsu is the more proven professional and has faced stiffer competition whilst also getting more rounds under his belt. This is a hard one to call, and pits Noda's amateur experience and power against Kawamitsu's professional seasoning. A very interesting bout.
Shigetoshi Kotari (1-0, 1) Vs Motosuke Kimura (3-4-2, 1)
Talented hopeful Shigetoshi Kotari is regarded as one of the brightest hopes at the MT Gym, the same gym as Junto Nakatani, and here we see him in his second professional bout. On debut Kotari looked sharp, powerful and promising, but was up against a very limited opponent. On paper Motosuke Kimura isn't a big step up in class, but Kimura is better than his record suggests, and gave Hikari Mineta a good test last year. With that Mineta bout in mind we suspect he will take Kotari rounds here, but ultimately the gulf in class will prove too much.
Workpoint Studio, Bang Phun, Thailand
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (48-5-1, 41) Vs Jomar Fajardo (17-17-2, 9)
In Thailand we'll see former 2-time WBC Super Flyweight champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai return fight in a stay busy bout against limited Filipino Jomar Fajardo. Srisaket, who fought back in July, is expected to get a world title shot in 2021 and is looking to keep the rust off here in a bout that even the broadcaster describe as a tune up. Fajardo was once a capable fighter at Light Flyweight but will be expected to be blasted out here by Srisaket.
Apichet Petchmanee (6-0, 2) vs Musheg Adoian (7-1, 7)
In one of the more interesting bouts we'll see this month in Thailand the unbeaten Apichet Petchmanee will take on Thai based Russian fighter Musheg Adoian, in a bout for that will see Apichet defending a minor WBC title. The unbeaten Thai looked great in his first few bouts, but has looked less good in more recent bouts, and we do wonder if he's as good as first thought. In Adoian we have someone who could give Apichet a serious chin checking and let us see what the Thai really is made of. Adoian is no world beater himself but is a live under-dog here.
Microsoft Theater, Los Angeles, California, USA (FS1 - Live)
Mark Magsayo (20-0, 14) Vs Rigoberto Hermosillo (11-2-1, 8)
World class Filipino Mark Magsayo looks to move a step closer to a world title bout, and score win #21, as he takes on Rigoberto Hermosillo. The bout sees Magsayo take on a late replacement, who is a massive down grade, but that hardly matters here as the focus is on the Filipino looking good, getting his face in front of a US TV and getting back in the ring after a lengthy break. Expect bigger and better matches for Magsayo in 2021, with this acting as little more than a show case for the unbeaten Pinoy.
Korakuen Hall, Japan (Fuji TV - Tape Delay)
Hiroaki Teshigawara (21-2-2, 14) Vs Shingo Kawam