Last week was a rather quiet one for fans of Asian boxing, but it wasn't a totally silent week, and there as plenty of boxing to watch from around the glove, as well as giving us a bit of a "calm before the storm", with some huge bouts coming up next weekend. It was also a week that had a lot of disappointment, some strange stories circulating in the sport and a truly terrible scorecard.
1-Huge weekend up coming!
Lets start by looking a a fantastic good thing. We are now less than a week away from a massive weekend of fights. We have great action all over the place next weekend, with big bouts in the UK, Germany and the US and two live streams of shows from Japan. After a couple of quieter weeks we really see things going through the ceiling next weekend, and it's hard to not be excited. Showtime's stacked card if fantastic, the WBSS Crusierweight final in Germany promises fireworks, the bout between Downua Ruawaiking and Josh Taylor should be worth a watch and the two Japanese streams sandwich in all that world class action.
Genuinely should be one of the best boxing weekends of the year, and we should all be very, very excited about the action we'll be getting. For once we, as boxing fans, should be incredibly proud of what the sport can give us, even if it doesn't provide these types of weekends as often as we'd like.
2-Katsuki Mori is a star in the Making!
Japanese youngster Katsuki Mori claimed his most recent win in the middle of the week and despite only being 7-0 (1) he already looks like he has connected with fans. It's very, very early in his career, he wasn't a top amateur, but his performances have been excellent, he knows how to put on a show. Although he could easily stink the house out, boxing and moving, and staying safe, he instead looks to excite and the 6th round of his bout last week was tremendous. He's one of the youngsters who understands what it's going to take to be a star, and he delivers with his performances.
3-Boots shines with sensational performance
Talking about a man who delivers with his performances, Jaron "Boots" Ennis is quickly becoming a must watch fighter. His TKO win over Juan Carlos Abreu on Saturday night was another step in the direction, and he, like Mori, realises he needs to entertain and make fans care. He could have picked and poked at Abreu all night long, but instead he boxed, he fought, he countered, he lured Abreu into mistakes, he looked calm, confident, cool, relaxed and shone. Now 26-0 it is time Ennis stepped up his competition and took on a top 20 type guy, but his performances so far have been great and he's generating buzz the right way, with his talking done, mostly, in the ring.
4-Bryan Lua returns in style!
American fighter Bryan Lua had been out of the ring for more than 2 years until this past Saturday when he returned on took on Luis Norambuena. The fight wasn't the greatest but Lua's KO was something to behold. Poor Norambuena was caught by a sensational right uppercut-left hook combination that turned out his lights. He was stood out cold for a moment, before the signals got turned off to the rest of his body, sending him crashing down. This is up there with the best KO's of 2020, and one of the most visually pleasing that we'll see this year.
1-Floyd Mayweather Vs Logan Paul
Why? Just why? We understand Floyd likes his money and Paul likes attention but we, as fans, should completely ignore this. What they both want is attention and we're giving them it by talking about. Lets turn our focus elsewhere, and if this ends up signed, stream it. Don't put more money in to pockets of fighters for these types of fights. Talking about this gives them what they want, and paying for it rewards them for taking the piss out of the sport.
2-Kudratillo Abdukakharov's Visa issues
As we write this it's unclear whether Uzbek fighter Kudratillo Abdukakharov has managed to get a visa sorted for his scheduled October bout with Sergey Lipinets. Unfortunately the on going global situation has caused a backlog of visa applications around the world, including at the US Embassy in Uzbekistan. This has meant that Abdukakharov may not be able to leave Uzbekistan in time to acclimatise for his bout with Lipinets which may need delaying. The bout has already been delay and delaying the October date would be a shame, albeit and understandable one. Finger crossed this is cleared up and Abdukakharov can fly off to the US for this anticipated Welterweight clash.
3-Jukembayev turns down Ergashev
More Central Asian woes as Canadian based Kazakh Batyrzhan Jukembayev has turned down a fight with unbeaten Uzbek Shohjahon Ergashev. This one had been targetted for November, in what would have been a sensational Kazakh Vs Uzbek bout, but sadly only one party seemed to actively want it. With Jukembayev turning down this opportunity, and others offered to him in the past, his relationship with Eye of the Tiger management is starting to look very strained, again. Although we know promoters are in it for themselves, and are typically the bad guy, it does appear that Jukembayev is doing himself no favours, and the goodwill shown to him will dissipate quickly if he's not careful.
4-Erickson Lubin Vs Terrell Gausha
We want to start this by stating, the Light Middleweight division is one of the most interesting in the sport right now. Sadly however Saturday's fight between Erickson Lubin and Terrell Gausha did a lot to undermine what the division has done in recent years. The first 7 rounds of this were among the worst 7 rounds of boxing we have seen this year. The low output from both, the lack of drama, the absolute nothingness in a number of rounds really did make this feel like torture. The only thing preventing it from being an ugly was the way it finished, with Lubin being rocked in one of the later rounds before almost stopping Gausha in the final round. Sadly 2 good rounds, from 12, do not do enough to precent this being a bad. If you missed this one live, do not waste your time watching it now.
1-Don Trella's 115-111
Thankfully we didn't have much in terms of ugly this week, but we did have one massive stinker of a card from Don Trella who, somehow managed to have Cobia Breedy beating Tugstsogt Nyambayar 115-111. We thought Cobia had a great performance, a genuinely great performance, but unfortunate he was also knocked down twice. Given those knockdowns Trella must have given Breedy all but 1 of the subsequent 10 rounds. A frankly ridiculous view of what happened. This is the sort of scorecard that should have a real investigation, but in reality it will merely be swept under the rug and forgotten about.
We would love to see the veteran judge try to explain how he got to his score as we simple can't see anyway a judge could have those final 10 rounds scored 9-1 to Breedy.
One thing we hate doing in these "Introducing" pieces is not having enough information on a fighter to really talk about him in any great detail, yet have enough to want to try and shine a light on them. That's potentially the case this week when it comes to teenage hopeful Dastan Saduuly (3-0, 3), a man who should be on the radar of hardcore fight fans, despite the fact that there's really not too much out there about him. He's more one of those fighters who appears to have a bucket load of potential and youth, and does enough in the eye test, rather than really making a mark on the amateur scene.
Unlike many prospects Saduuly really doesn't have much available at all about his amateur pedigree. In fact a lot of the early articles about him on Kazakh news sites, talk about him being the "youngest boxer in Europe and Asia", with the fighter being 16 year old at the time. Despite his age he is genuinely becoming someone to watch, with his aggressive style and power, even as a kid.
Whilst we can't find a lot about his amateur background we do know that Saduuly did fight in the unpaid ranks. At least a few times. In the 2018 Kazakh Junior National Championships, in Ekibastuz, he faced off with Meyirzhan Aydar and lost a decision to his fellow young Kazakh. A few months later he lost to Olzhas Mirkhatuli at the Galib Jafarov Prizes Youth Tournament. Sadly those set backs were among the very, very few amateur details we could find about the youngster.
Despite only being 16 at the time Saduuly debuted as a professional in September 2018 on a card from Tukeshov Boxing Promotions. The show, in Aktobe, wasn't a wasn't a big show, by any means, but it was a showcase of Kazakh talent, with the likes of Ruslan Myrsatayev, Bobirzhan Mominov an Aidos Yerbossynuly on the card. In the opposite corner to the teenager was 26 year old Shamil Gulobshozoda, who was also making his debut.
From the opening seconds it was clear that Saduuly had something about him. He looked young, but still more mature than more teenagers. Defensively we saw some nice touches, and head movement, some lovely handspeed and a positive aggressive demanour in the ring. He was slapping sometimes in the early going, and looked a touch over excited when letting his shots go, but if you told someone he was a 16 year old debutant they'd have been genuinely surprised. He looked older than that and like a fighter who'd had a few fights, even if he was still in need of some serious polishing. Part way through the opening round Saduuly hurt Gulobshozoda and went in for the finish. To his credit Gulobshozoda withstood quite a bit of punishment, but was broken down early in round 2. It was an impressive debut, and given his age it was a sign that he could be someone worthy of attention, even at this early stage.
Around 5 months later Saduuly returned to the ring, again in Aktobe, where he faced Russian 21 year old Dmitry Rakhmanov. Saduuly came out very aggressive here, backing up Rakhmanov, who tried to play the class clown. Despite some weird stuff from the Russian the Kazakh was on the hunt and stopped his man within just 55 seconds.
Sadly footage of Saduuly's third bout, his biggest win to date, doesn't appear to exist online any more. It saw him forcing the veteran of 60 fights to retire, in round 2, with an injury. That win came just a month after Saduuly's second bout.
Saduuly was then supposed to fight in the summer of 2019, on the under-card of Kanat Islam's bout with Julio De Jesus in Almaty. Sadly Saduuly didn't end up on that show, and has now been out of the ring March 2019, though he's now expected to fight in September in Russia, in what will be his first 8 rounder.
Aged just 18 Saduuly is very much one to watch. He still has work to do, still needs time to further mature physically and certainly needs to polish his punching technique, but there's a lot to like about the youngster. With his next fight coming in just a few days time there is no better time to begin following the exciting teenage hopeful.
Yes Saduuly is still a work in progress, but he's already a very promising young fighter with the potential to go a very, very long way.
One of the many things that boxing has a long history of is "nicknames" and with that in mind we've decided to share some of our favourites in a new series looking at nicknames. To kick this series off we're including some of our favourites and some of the most unique, though as this series goes on we will share some awful ones as well!
Young Kyun Park - "Bulldozer"
Few nicknames will every sum up a fighter as well as "Bulldozer" summed up Korean warrior Yung Kyun Park, the former Featherweight king. Although not one of the more well known Korean fighters he was among the excellent wave of Korean fighters that made their mark on the sport in the 1980's and 1990's, and he was very much a bulldozer in the ring.
Armed with an iron chin, an incredibly work rate and a vicious power Park carved up a very good career in the ring from 1986 to 1995, going 28-3-1 (16). Although his career was short it was intense and he held the WBA Featherweight title from March 1991 to December 1993, in which time he managed to make 8 successful defenses.
If you've never watched a Park fight we desperately advise you watch his bouts with Seiji Asakwa, Koji Matsumoto and the first bout with Eloy Rojas. After that you'll understand why he was dubbed the "Bulldozer"
Naoya Inoue - "Monster"
Another nickname that sums up a fighter incredibly well is "Monster" for current Japanese star Naoya Inoue. The name has been adopted by a few other fighters in recent years, such as Can Xu and Andrew Moloney, but in reality there is only one "Monster" and that's Inoue.
Although an excellent boxer, and one of the best boxer-puncher's in the sport, Inoue is a physically imposing guy with freakish physical strength, nasty power and the ability to destroy fighters with his heavy hands.
Originally he wasn't a fan of the nickname himself, but the name has stuck and it's certainly summed up his in ring style very, very well. He's a monster, and he destroys things that are in front of him. Not too much more to it than that!
Mikito Nakano - "Manos de Acero"
We've only seen this one used once or twice but the nickname of "Manos de Arceo", literally "Fists of Iron", is attributed to rising Japanese prospect Mikito Nakano and is a name that was absolutely love. It's obviously an alternate take on Roberto Duran's iconic "Manos de Piedra", but is still a damn cool name, and one thing we love is that the name seems to be the Spanish variant, and not a Japanese version.
Although Nakano is certainly not a big name in the sport, yet, he has shown the potential to be a star, and if he can live up to that potential we are going to love hearing announcers yell out "Manos de Acero". A truly brilliant nickname and one befitting of a future star!
Elly Pical - "The Exocet"
Having names like "Bomber" is nothing new in boxing, and we have seen those types of names through out the years. Though taking the name after a specific military weapon of the time is certainly more unique and that was the case with Indonesian great Elly Pical, who adopted the nickname of "The Exocet".
For those under a certain age the name might not stand out too much, but the weapon, which translated as "Flying Fish", was a French made missile that the British used in the Falklands war and it did serious damage. The weapon was making a name for it's self when Pical was starting to create a buzz, and his left hand was dubbed the Exocet, with the fighter himself taking on the nickname later in his career.
Give the force of the military weapon the name was a perfect one for Pical, it's just a shame that he sometimes failed to land with his killer shots, resulting in a surprisingly low KO rate of just 42%.
Veeraphol Sahaprom - "Deathmask"
Although Thai great Veeraphol Sahaprom had a number of nicknames none were as imposing or as threatening as "Deathmask", a nickname that sounded vicious, dangerous and terrifying. The name referred to Sahaprom's amazing poker face, and how he was a visibly emotionless fighter in the ring, but it sounded so much more sinister, like a mask used to suffocate opponents.
Many Thai's do have nicknames that can get lost in translations, but "Deathmask" is just a brilliant nickname and an incredibly unique one, that really gives off a truly terrifying aura. That aura wasn't just an act however, and in the ring Veeraphol was a tremendous fighter, having success in both Muay Thai and professional boxing.
Having been a 2-time world champion and scoring notable wins against many of the top Bantamweights of his era few can doubt the ability of Sahaprom, and his second world title reign was a brilliant one lasting more than 6 years and 14 successful defenses.
When we began this site the main aim was to try and help make boxing from Asia more accessible to fight fans in the West. It was an honest aim and was one we knew was unlikely to be easy, or a success. Back then we didn't have things like Isakura and BoxingRaise and the biggest hopes for streaming bouts were dodgy third part sites often delivered a less than great quality of video.
Since we launched this site however things have changed massively. Isakura has been a god send for those wanting to watch televised Japanese boxing and BoxingRaise has opened up a world of domestic Japanese domestic action to international fans. However both of those services do cost, and asking fans to fork out to watch boxing during these current times is a rather big ask, especially given the PPV prices in both the US and UK.
For those who can afford them, those services are great, but we understand cost is a barrier to watching boxing. That's a barrier that exists world wide with services like PPV, Sky Sports, DAZN and ESPN+.
Right now we understand fight fans wanting to cut costs, and with that in mind we want to make everyone aware that this is actually the perfect time to begin showing an interest in Japanese boxing.
The reason that this is such a perfect time is the fact that we are set to get a spate of live, legal, free streams on YouTube.
Yes this is a chance to watch some Japanese boxing for free. No catches, no BS, no subscription, no PPV. This is free, and there are no strings.
Price, and issues with streaming have always been a barrier for Japanese boxing, along with the being unsure where and how to watch, but here we are getting streams from promoters, a TV channel and a fighter in one particular case. What all these have in common is trying to make the sport more accessible, and available to all.
Between September 26th and November 23rd we'll be getting 5 live, free, internationally open, streams from Japan showing a bit of everything. We have top prospects, fantastic domestic bouts, a female world title bout and a men's world title bout. Most importantly they don't all come from the same promoter, organiser or channel, and instead we have a number of promoters getting behind the idea of boxing being shown for free and funded by advertising and crowd funding whilst using free streams to help grow the sport, and the fan base.
For those wanting to make the most of this opportunity to watch some live Japanese boxing we have included the shows below, with these all set to be streamed live.
September 26th-Kobe Central Gym, Japan (Boxing Real)
Mika Iwakawa (9-5-1, 3) Vs Nanae Suzuki (10-3-1, 1) - WBO Atomweight title bout
Shun Kubo (13-2, 9) Vs Takashi Igarashi (13-4, 5)
Kohei Oba (36-3-1, 14) Vs Yoshiki Minato (8-3, 3)
September 27th-Fujisan Messe, Japan (Suruga Boys)
Tsubasa Murachi (4-1, 3) Vs Ryotaro Kawabata (12-3-2, 6)
Rentaro Kimura (1-0, 1) Vs Takafumi Iwaya (4-3)
Koichi Aso (23-9-1, 15) Vs Shogo Yamaguchi (12-5-3, 7)
October 13th-Korakuen Hall, Japan (A Sign)
Reiya Abe (19-3-1, 9) Vs Ren Sasaki (10-0, 6)
Kai Chiba (12-1, 8) Vs Haruki Ishikawa (8-2, 6)
Kai Ishizawa (6-1, 6) Vs Masashi Tada (13-7-3, 8)
November 3rd - INTEX, Osaka, Japan (Hiroto Kyoguchi YouTube Channel)
Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) Vs Thanongsak Simsri (14-0, 12)
November 23rd - Bunka Center, Sanda, Japan (TV Osaka)
Riku Kano (16-4-1, 8) Vs Ryoki Hirai (13-6-1, 4) - WBO Asia Pacific Light Flyweight title bout
Sho Ishida (28-2, 15) Vs Toshiya Ishii (3-0, 2)
Katsunari Takayama (31-8-0-1, 12) Vs Reiya Konishi (17-1, 7)
Whilst these might not be super massive stacked cards with international title they are legal, free, streams of boxing. In sport dominated by promoters wanting you to fork out it might be worth giving consideration to some of the free content out there, supporting the sport and watching something new.
The only issue these can't resolve is the time differential. Sadly these shows are all aimed at a Japanese audience in regards to time, so will be early morning to mid-day in the UK and Europe and will be very early morning in the US. If you're stuck at home however these are seriously worth a shot, and it's maybe a time you enjoyed some free boxing, and gave live Japanese boxing a shot!
People who follow us on twitter will occasionally see us posting short clips from fights. These are typically knockouts or memorable moments. A lot of the KO's used in those clips end up in our "Reliving The Finish" series, where we try to share some of the best KO's in Asian boxing history. But the non-KO weird moments have never had a home on the site until now, where we will begin to share those odd moments on the site.
This series really has no over bearing theme, but is just going to be a collection of weird moments, shared sporadically.
We want to begin this one with one of the strangest endings to a fight we've seen, and one that really was a confusing mess, that probably resulted in the correct winner, but the wrong method of victory.
The bout in question is the 1997 clash between Yamato Mitani (10-3, 8) and Joselito Rivera (14-3, 10), and we join the fight at the start of round 12
The two men were battling for the OPBF Super Featherweight title, which had been vacant, and their bout had been rough. In fairness all Mitani bouts were rough and his battles with Yong Soo Choi were rough, tough, gruelling thrillers.
From the bell to begin round 12 the two men almost instantly began wrestling. Then, only seconds into the round, Mitani essentially pushed Rivera backwards through the ropes, with both men spilling out on to the floor. It was a weird moment that seemed to get weirder when camera's showed Rivera on the floor next to a table, a table that he had crashed into.
The referee gave Rivera 5 minutes to recover, though the clip doeesn't show the 5 minutes as it's from an abridged version of the fight. Rather than continue Rivera's team removed his gloves and as a result Thai referee Ukrrid Sarasas called the bout, at an official time of 51 seconds into round 12.
We probably should have gone to the scorecards for a technical decision here. It appears very much like an accidental foul causing an injury that should have taken us to the scorecards. Instead it was ruled a TKO win for Mitani.
At the time Mitani was leading on 2 of the scorecards, and would have won the technical decision had the bout gone to the cards.
Sadly there was never a rematch to follow up this oddity. Instead Mitani would lose the belt 7 months later, to Kengo Nagashima, then retire whilst Rivera would be out of the ring for 10 months before returning to action, and subsequenrly claiming the GAB title.
We'll admit we love doing our weekly "Introducing..." series, and taking a chance to shine a light on a fighter that fans probably aren't that aware of. Sometimes the fighter in question will lead to nothing and disappear without a trace, other times however they will be moved quickly and engage in some meaningful bouts, sometimes very soon after we write about them.
In June 2019 we covered Yuri Takemoto (then 6-1-1 (3), now 8-2-1 (3)) who was preparing for his 9th bout as a professional, a contest against Indonesian foe Kiki Marciano lined up. Back then we would not have been able to predict the journey Takemoto has been on and how he managed to get a major domestic fight just 14 months later.
To begin with lets look at Takemoto's bout with Kiki Marciano, which came in Wakayama back in June 2019. That was Takemoto's second bout since winning the Rookie of the Year in December 2018 and saw him return to a ring in Wakayama, to give local fans a show. Sadly for fans it didn't last long, though they were left happy with Takemoto dropping Marciano twice to take a TKO in the opening round.
Because there isn't a lot of boxing in Wakayama that was only Takamoto's third bout in his home prefecture, and his first one there in over a year. Instead of being able to box at home he's had travel a lot and his return to the ring, 4 months later, saw him travelling from Wakayama to Kochi, around 100 miles away as the crow flies.
In that that bout in Kochi we saw Takemoto take on the experienced Yoshiyuki Takabayashi. Although not a major fighter Takabayashi is a true servant to Japanese boxing and he has been a good test for some very notable fighters. He played that role against Takemoto in testing the youngster and giving him a real fight, rocking him in round 2. Thankfully for Takemoto he recovered from the scare and went on to take a 6 round technical decision over Takabayashi, who had been cut in round 4 from a clash of heads.
Despite ending 2019 with a record of 8-1-1 (4) and being well inside the Japanese rankings Takemoto was still well and truly under-the-radar. Being in Wakayama his opportunities were certainly limited, but in 2020 fortune struck and he managed to be one of the very, very few winners, in terms of boxing, from the on going global situation.
Early in 2020 Japanese Featherweight champion Ryo Sagawa was supposed to defend his title against Hinata Maruta in a Champion Carnival bout. That contest, like many, fell through due to issues that put boxing on hiatus in Japan and when boxing resumed in Japan Maruta was unable to take an August date with Sagawa. As a result Takemoto got the call and jumped at the opportunity to fight for the title.
Sadly for Takemoto the champion turned out to be a bit too good for him, though in fairness the youngster made Sagawa work from the off before being stopped at the very end of round 6 by a brutal body shot. Prior to being stopped Takemoto proved his hunger, his chin and his determination, but his lack of higher level experience was shown up against the world ranked Japanese national champion.
Despite losing to Sagawa, like most fighters would in fairness, we actually feel move confident than we had previously that Takemoto has got the potential win titles down the line. We don't see him having world class potential but he will certainly come again at domestic level.
At the moment it's unclear when Takemoto will be back in the ring, but we're looking forward to it and to following his career, even if he was stopped last time out.
For those who missed it we've included the bout with Sagawa below.
Korean fighter Hwan Jin Kim (22-2-2, 8) had a career that spanned from June 1977 to early 1983 and during that time he managed to win the WBA Light Flyweight, fought in 4 world title bouts and scored several other notable wins outside of his bouts at the highest level.
Whilst Kim's career was short it was intense with 26 fights in less than 6 years. Not only was it intense but it was exciting and he was moved quickly. Within 4 months of his debut he was involved in 8 round bouts and within 14 months of his debut he had 2 wins over future world champions. Later on he would he would score wins over a former world champion, one over a future world title challenger and one over a former world title challenger. Not shabby at all for such a short career.
Today Kim becomes the latest fighter to be featured in our Friday series , "the 5 most significant wins for... Hwan Jin Kim".
Seung Hoon Lee (November 6th 1977)
In Kim's 5th professional bout be faced off with fellow Korean Seung Hoon Lee, a fighter that hardcore fans will recognise. At the time Lee was 2-0 and Kim took a 6 round decision over his fellow novice. Whilst this by it's self wasn't a big one or a notable one, it did become more significant over time as Lee went one to become the IBF Super Bantamweight champion in 1987. In fact Lee was widely regarded as one of the best Korean fighters of his generation. The win for Kim helped establish him on the Korean scene and with Lee later winning a world title the win has aged brilliantly.
Shigeo Nakajima (August 19th 1978)
Around 9 months after Kim beat Lee he would beat another future world champion as he travelled to Japan and defeated Shigeo Nakajima, who would later win the WBC Light Flyweight world title. The bout wasn't just another win over a future world champion, which would have been impressive by it's self, but also saw Kim making a successful international debut and going 10 rounds for the first time in his career. Winning in enemy territory is never ever easy but to do it in a career longest bout against a future world champion is very much a significant win. The victory saw Kim move his record to 7-0-1 and was actually followed, 3 months later by a win over future world title challenger Tito Abella, who later came up short against Yoko Gushiken.
Pedro Flores (July 19th 1981)
Having just mentioned Yoko Gushiken it's worth noting that the man who beat Gushiken and ended his long reign was himself a Kim victim. Mexico's Pedro Flores dethroned Gushiken in March 1981, after the Japanese great had made 13 defenses, and in his first defense travelled to Daegu to take on Kim. This wouldn't go well for Flores, who was competitive through 12 rounds but stopped in round 13 as Kim took the WBA Light Flyweight title. This was, of course, the win that needed Kim the WBA title, and his first world title bout. This put Kim's name on the map in a big way and was the single biggest win of his career. Although Flores was only a short term champion a win over the man that stopped Gushiken was huge for Kim.
Alfonso Lopez (October 11th 1981)
Sadly Kim's reign with the WBA title wasn't much longer than that of Flores, he did however make a successful defense. Less than 3 months after winning the title Kim took on Panama's Alfonso Lopez, himself a former WBA Flyweight champion from the mid 1970's. Although a bit of a faded force by 1981 Lopez was still a legitimate contender and had gone on an unbeaten 5 fight run since decision losses to Charlie Magri and Gustavo Ballas in their home countries. He appeared to have rebuilt some momentum and that showed as he pushed Kim all the way in a very close bout. In the end Kim would take a narrow decision over Lopez to record his only successful world title defense. Sadly he would lose the belt 2 months later to Japan's Katsuo Tokashiki,
Yong Hyun Kim (July 24th 1982)
The final win of note for Kim came in 1982 when he returned to action after his title loss. In the opposite to the former world champion was fellow Korean Yong Hyun Kim. Although Yong Hyun Kim never managed to win a world title he banged on the door, and challenged Yoko Gushiken in 1980. Whilst he came up short against Gushiken Yong Hyun Kim had won the South Korean and OPBF titles at Light Flyweight and was certainly no push over. Hwan Jin Kim managed to take a technical decision over his countryman to help him prove their was still something in the tank. Less than 6 months after this win Hwan Jin Kim got a rematch with Katsuo Tokashiki, but couldn't over-come the man who had ended his world reign.
After losing to Tokashiki for the second time Hwan Jun Kim retired from the sport.
For today's fight we wish we got we're not looking at world class fighters for once, but we are looking at a bout we desperately wanted, not due to the talent of the men, but due to the styles of them. In fact this was one of the bouts we clamoured for for yeas, but sadly, never got. It was the #1 present request on our Christmas list, and something we were willing to trade in exchange for birthday and Christmas gifts but still, the boxing gods denied us! Damn them!
Rex Tso Vs Jamie Conlan
For the first time in this series we look outside of Asia for one of the fighters involved as we pit Hong Kong star Rex Tso against Jamie Conlan in a bout we were desperately wanting back in the 2010's. This bout, for us, had all the ingredients for a FOTY contender and would, had it gone ahead, been one for the ages with two styles that gelled perfectly, two solid local fan bases, and cult international followings for both men. This was a bout that would have had two B level guys tearing down the house in what would have been an incredible, memorable, sensational war. On paper it was also an easy one to make, and the two men had long enough overlap in careers to have given us the bout at various times.
Unlike some bouts in this series the time window for this one spans years. It could have taken place from around 2013 right through to 2018. The earliest possible would have been 2013 when Bob Arum was taking the Zou Shiming express over in Macau, with Tso often appearing on those shows, to 2018 when both men seemingly walked away from professional boxing. To be fair both men had taken a lot of punishment by then, having been involved in numerous FOTY but had they fought in a 2018 retirement bout we'd have no complained.
Although the window for the bout is large, though bout would have made most sense in 2015, 2016 or 2017, when both were world ranked contenders at Super Flyweight and when both were were very much cult stars. Maybe early 2017 would have been the ideal time, after Conlan's 2016 war with Anthony Nelson and after Tso's battle with Ryuto Maekawa, but the window was huge for the two men to fight.
There hasn't been many fighters form Hong Kong worth talking about, but the one that was worthy of attention was Rex Tso, an all action fighter dubbed the "Wonder Kid". Tso was one of the very few faces of Hong Kong sport and seemed to realise, relatively quickly, that he was the nation's boxing hero. He was a likeable, friendly, personable man outside of the ring, but when inside the ring he was an all action punching machine. Technically he could box, and we did see him boxing at times, but it was never hard to make Tso becoming a fighter, and draw the warrior out of him. It was that warrior spirit and mentality that quickly made Tso into a star at home and a cult hero among hardcore fight fans.
Tso's career was short, with just 22 bouts, but from those he was involved in a string of instant classics. His bouts with Mako Matsuyama, Michael Enriquez, Ryuto Maekawa, Hirofumi Mukai and Kohei Kono were action packed and drama filled bouts that are all worthy of a re-watch any time you question your love of the sport. Sadly though those wars took their toll and he fell out with the head of DEF HK, his promoter, and decided to fight as an amateur after damage to his eyes forced a long break from the ring.
Whilst Hong Kong is an obscure place for boxing Northern Ireland isn't and that's exactly where Jamie Conlan is from. Despite his roots he was dubbed "The Mexican" due to his style, heart and determination. There was a lot of limitations with Conlan in the ring, as there was with Tso, but there was no doubting the love and good will Conlan had for his thrilling battles. He was very much a fighter who came to put on a show and give fans value for money. He was certainly a less skilled fighter than his brother, Michael Conlan, but in many ways he connected with the fans better than his brother due to his easy to watch bouts and the drama they often had.
Sadly Conlan's career was even short than Tso's, fighting just 20 times, but he helped give British fans some of the best bouts in recent memory. His win over Anthony Nelson was something special, his war with Yader Cardoza was spectacular and his guts against Junior Granados helped him eek out a win. Sadly his determination and heart weren't enough at world level and he was dominated by Jerwin Ancajas in an IBF world title fight in 2017, before retiring.
How would we see it playing out?
We're going to start this by admitting we have no idea who we would have favoured here. Both of these men had almost identical flaws. They were defensively limited, fought with their hearts on their sleeve, and had to grit out some tough moments, even when they took home wins. They made easy bouts hard, and made hard bouts even harder. On paper Tso would probably be the slight favourite, but it would be a 55-45 type of thing in his favour.
Although we could say picking a winner here would be hard the reality is that we, the fans, would be the winner. This would start with both men boxing, for a round or two, before the pace picked up, and from there on we'd be getting a war. Both men would be trying to out last the other in a high tempo brawl of insane proportions. CompuBox operators, if they were working the fight, would give up at the intense exchanges, and we would see a fight fit for a phone booth.
Sadly, given the limitations and determination of both men, they would both be taking a lot of punishment and it may well hasten their retirements, though they would sure give the fans something to remember them by!
Would history of been changed?
In reality this would have been little more than a blip on the wider boxing world. The winner would likely have been offered a world title fight, but we can't imagine either man coming out on top at that level. We saw Conlan being undessed by Ancajas and Tso struggled past a well beyond his prime Kohei Kono, and we suspect any world champion from the time would have done a number on either man. But in many ways we don't think that would have harmed their reputations.
Neither of these men are ever going to go down in any "all time great boxers" list, but both will go down as some of the best warriors and most exciting fighters of their era. In many ways the memories they gave us in the ring is their legacy, it is their history. They will be better remembered than many better and more successful fighters. Had they fought it would have given us another memory of both, but that's pretty much a bout in isolation, rather than a bigger picture thing.
As we write this it is worth noting that Conlan is still involved in the sport as part of MTK Global whilst Tso has seemingly still got eyes on the Olympics, though an appearance in Tokyo does look very unlikely.
One of our biggest loves in this sport is the journey of a fighter, following them from very early in their careers right through to the point where they win titles, or in some cases don't. Of course we can usually spot the mega prospects a mile off, the fighters who were top amateurs, and went on to win medals in international competition before moving on to fight in the professional ranks as high experienced and accomplished fighters. One of the harder things to judge is which prospects can go all the way without that sort of amateur foundation.
With that in mind we've decided to take a look at 4 Japanese prospects who are currently making a mark in the sport without an extensive amateur career and are still pretty much under the radar. In fact we've gone one step further and gone with a sub rule that they must have competed in the Rookie of the Year tournament in recent years. This literally rules out top amateurs but leaves us with a lot of promising talent to talk about, and a nice mix of styles, weights and strengths,
Toshiki Shimomachi (12-1-2, 8) - Rookie of the Year winner in 2017
Of all the fighters we're featuring here we dare say that slippery Super Bantamweight fighter Toshiki Shimomachi is the further along in terms of development and where his career stands right now. He's already got 15 fights to his name his Rookie triumph was the better part of 3 years ago, and he is the current Japanese Youth Super Bantamweight champion. Despite all that he is still only 23 years old and is still adding new wrinkles to his game, which really is improving all the time.
Shimomachi turned professional in 2015, debuting at the age of 19, and despite a 2-1-1 (1) start his career has blossomed with the youngster going 10-0-1 (7) in his last 11. That's not perfect, but the recent draw did come to Daisuke Watanabe, who later went on to win the Hajime No Ippo 30th Anniversary tournament.
If you like slippery fighters, who rely on a good boxing brain and setting up counters Shimomachi is that type of guy. He's got a high level boxing brain, good reflexes and very under-rated power.
Jinki Maeda (5-0, 3) - Rookie of the Year Winner in 2019
Shimomachi isn't the only boxer-type on this list, another is Featherweight standout Jinki Maeda. From what we could find Maeda had next to no amateur experience, and instead he moved into boxing having been a stellar Nippon Kempo competitor. The quick speed and reflexes needed in Nippon Kempo seemed to have translated over to boxing well and Maeda is quickly proving himself to be a force to be reckoned with.
Maeda, like Shimmomachi, is 23 but only made his debut in April 2019 and his rise through the sport has been wonderfully quick. Already in his career we've seen him win Rookie of the Year, doing so with a win against Kyonosuke Kameda, but also score a sensational win in 2019 against Arashi Iimi.
Whilst still a long way from a title fight, of any kind, Maeda appears to be one of those rare natural talents who just under-stands what he's doing in the ring and has an innate under-standing of what he's supposed to be doing. He likes to lure opponents into mistakes, strikes quickly, and makes a quick impact. A tremendous young fighter.
Katsuki Mori - (7-0, 1) - Rookie of the Year winner in 2019
Another talented youngster is Ohashi gym's brilliant skilled Katsuki Mori, who is an aggressive but well schooled technical fighter. His game plan is based around his speed, reflexes and movement and he looks sensational at times. As with everyone else in this list he lacks in terms of amateur experience but that certainly doesn't show, and it's to suggest he's one of the best natural talents in Japan.
Although he's a bit feather fisted Mori is very much a fighter who seems to fight to his strengths. Rather than trying to bomb opponents out he will counter them, out land them, make them miss, and land flashy combinations. During his 7 fight career he has only lost a small number of rounds, and has managed to win the 2019 Rookie of the Year with very, very few issues at all.
At the moment it's a little bit unclear whether Mori's immediate future is at. It could be Minimumweight, where he won the 2019 Rookie of the Year, or Light Flyweight, where he fought his last bout, but longer term it seems like he will fill out his frame end up at Flyweight somewhere down the line. By then we'd hope he has a bit more spite on his shots, but for now he's a growing kid and not the complete fighter that he will become. There is work to do, as we see in the video below, but it's clear he's an excellent prospect, who is just lacking that bit of man strength at the moment.
Aso Ishiwaki (8-2-1, 6) - Rookie of the Year losing finalist 2018
We've mentioned some boxers and now we'd like to talk about a true fighter, as we add Aso Ishiwaki into the mix. Ishiwaki is an educated pressure fighter who really reminds us of Daiki Kaneko in many ways. Although not as technically polished as Kaneko was Ishiwaki is an aggressive fighter with incredible physical strength, under-rated power and skills that are developing fight by fight. Like Kaneko it's his presence in the ring that seems to be his biggest strength and early losses haven't hindered his progress.
Ishiwaki began his career in 2017 and loss inside a round on debut. The following year he marched his way to the All Japan Rookie of the Year final, taking several unbeaten records along the way until losing a split decision in the All Japan final to George Tachibana. That probably saw some write him off, but at that point he was just 19 and filling out his frame.
In 2019 Ishiwaki went on to fight 4 times, going 3-0-1 (3), and impressed in both his draw with Yoji Saito and his year ending win over Ryuji Ikeda and showed that he's developing his skills to go with his energy, work rate, toughness, strength and power. Very much a dark horse but someone we really do see making a mark on the regional title scene. He may never make a splash on the global scene, but he's the sort of fighter who will provide us with a lot of action and some real thrilling bouts at 135lbs and 140lbs.
When we talk about the most promising Uzbek prospects one name that seems to get over-looked, a lot, is Elnur Abduraimov (5-0, 5), who seems to never get any sort of a mention at all, despite being a genuine talent. The 26 year old look fantastic in the amateurs, and is looking very promising in the professional ranks, despite taking a break from the pro-ranks over the last year, when he turned his hand back to the amateur code.
Despite being massively over-looked we thought he was a fighter deserving of more attention, and the perfect fighter to talk about his week, in our Introducing series, as we continue to shine a light on talented and promising fighters from Asia.
Abduraimov was born in 1994 in Chirchik City in the Tashkent region of Uzbekistan. Like many top fighters he took to the sport at a young age, and began boxing aged just 10, being trained by his father. That early training put him on a journey through the sport and set him up for notable amateur success.
Abduraimov was shining at a young age on the domestic scene and in 2009 he was starting to make an impression on some of the international tournaments, competing at the President Heydar Aliyev Cup in Baku in 2009, where he reached the semi-finals. Despite only being a teenager at this point someone were suggesting he was a youngster to keep a serious eye on.
Although Abduraimov had come up short in the 2009 President Heydar Aliyev Cup it wasn't long until he had began picking up small tournament wins, with one coming in neighbouring Kazakhstan in 2010.
Of course winning small tournaments as a teenager is one thing, and doing them as an adult is something different altogether. As it turned out however Abduraimov could do it at the top level, claiming bronze at the World and Asian Championships in 2015. He was in the running for a place at the 2016 Olympics, but sadly missed out to compatriot Hurshid Tajibayev, who went to Rio instead and reached the quarter finals.
Having missed out on the Olympics Abduraimov managed to have a big 2017, winning the Asian Championships as part of a dominant Uzbek national team. The team won 9 of the 10 available golds and was a scarily strong team. It included the likes of Hasanboy Dusmatov, Murodjon Akhmadaliev, Israil Madrimov, Bektemir Melikuziev and Bakhodir Jalolov, as well as Abduraimov.
The amateur success, particularly the success at the Asian Championships, saw Abduraimov become an attractive fighter for promoters to try and get at and in 2018 he finalised a deal with DiBella Entertainment and Max Alperovich to turn professional. Despite doing that he also kept the door open to the amateurs, allowing him to essentially compete in both codes, where he saw fit, very similar to Bakhodir Jalolov who had also switched between pros and amateurs.
Originally the plan had been for Abduraimov to debut in May 2018, but sadly that debut was delayed, and instead we had to wait until September 2018 to see what he could do in the pros. Sadly we only got a glimpse of his ability as he blasted through Aaron Jamel Hollis in 104 seconds.
Just weeks after making his professional debut Abduraimov was back in the ring, at the same venue in Indio, California, where he stopped Giovannie Gonzalez in 2 rounds. His busy activity in the professional ranks continued when he made his Russian debut in November 2018, and blasted away Aelio Mesquita. In the space of just 2 months he had gone from 0-0 to 3-0 (3) and seemed destined for a busy career and a rapid ascent. Sadly however Abduraimov's 2019 was much less focused on the professional ranks, fighting just twice as a professional during the year, and instead focusing on the amateurs, with his viewing being to compete at the 2020 Tokyo games.
Having spent of 2019 focusing on the Olympics Abduraimov managed to book his Olympic ticket earlier this year, when he won the Asia/Oceania Olympic Qualifying tournament in Amman. Sadly with the Olympics being delayed to 2021 we won't see him fighting in Tokyo for a while still.
Thankfully Abduraimov's not sitting and resting on the side, and recent reports from Uzbekistan have emerged to suggest Abduraimov will be back in the ring later this year for another professional bout, potentially in the US. It would be his first pro bout since a 4th round TKO win over Issa Nampepeche in May 2019.
In regards to what Abduraimov is like as a fighter he is a southpaw with a text book style aided by excellent speed and power. He's defensively tight, come in behind his jab, presses forward and is very well schooled. Like many of the Uzbek fighters he's as comfortable going to the body as he is going up top. He is a text book fighter, but he has got a bit of that Uzbek flair we're seeing more and more of, and his style seems to have converted over to the professional ranks wonderfully.
Our guess is that after the Tokyo Olympics Abduraimov will commit fully to the pro ranks, and when that happens we expect him to tear it up at Lightweight, and get into the world title mix within a year or two of the Olympics. He'll go in to the games as one of the top medal contenders and will be looking to leave a mark in Tokyo, before stamping his way through the professional ranks.
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