It's fair to say that February will be a very, very quiet month with only a handful of shows taking place during the month, and sadly that means there are a very small number of bouts to talk about for the month. Despite that we are, of course, bringing you our regular "What's to come" for the month.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Ryu Horikawa (3-0-1, 1) vs Yudai Shigeoka (2-0, 1)
The first notable bout in February featuring Asian fighters will come at Japanese Youth title level as Light Flyweight Ryu Horikawa and Yudai Shigeoka clash in a mouth watering match up. The two youngsters are both tipped for big things during their careers and it's great to see them clashing here, rather than protecting their records like we'd see in other countries. Horikawa is the younger man and is the natural Light Flyweight, however Shigeoka has arguably been more impressive was very impressive in beat Lito Dante in just his second bout. Although not a massive fight this is a very, very interesting one.
Ryo Sagawa (10-1, 5) vs Hinata Maruta (10-1-1, 8)
On the same show as the Japanese Youth title fight we'll also get a mandatory bout for the Japanese Featherweight title as talented champion Ryo Segawa looks for his third defense, and takes on the touted Hinata Maruta in a mouth watering clash. The talented Sagawa has been on a great run of results since an early career loss and looks like a man who could certainly get into the world title mix over the coming years. Although not the most durable, he has been stopped and has been dropped in other bouts, Sagawa is a very talented fighter who can box or fight. As for Maruta the once super-hot prospects has failed to meet the lofty expecations that were on his shoulders when he turned professional, but there is no denying his talent and a win here would put him back on track to bigger and better things.
Fantasy Springs Casino, Indio, California, USA
Joseph Diaz (31-1, 15) vs Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (15-0, 12)
In the first world title fight to feature an Asian fighter this month we'll see Russian based Tajik fighter Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov take on IBF Super Featherweight champion Joseph Diaz in California. For Rakhimov this is a mandatory title fight he has waited well over a year for, earning the shot in 2019 when he stopped Azinga Fuzile. As for Diaz this will be his first defense of the title that he won in early 2020, when he beat Tevin Farmer. In terms of the match up this one should be an all out action fight between two men who like to come forward. Diaz will be the favourite, but Rakhimov is very much a live under-dog here.
The Flash Grand Ballroom of the Elorde Sports Complex, Paranaque City, Metro Manila, Philippines
Bienvenido Ligas (12-1-1, 9) Vs Alphoe Dagayloan (14-3-6-1, 5)
The first major Filipino bout of the new year takes place on the 13th as the once beaten Bienvenido Ligas takes on the criminally under-rated Alphoe Dagayloan in an excellent Flyweight match up. Coming in Ligas will likely be the slight favourite, given his better reord, but in reality Dagayloan is the more proven and has been impressing in recent years, following a stuttering start to his professional career. This should be a genuinely excellent match up, something we, sadly, don't say often enough about All-Filipiuno bouts.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
All Japan Rookie of the Year
Not a specific bout here, but something that is worth noting is that February 21st will bring us the All Japan Rookie of the Year final, ending what has been a delayed and belated tournament. Despite the hiccups along the way, caused by Covid19, we are really looking forward to this show, which will be shown live on G+ in Japan and will almost certainly help launch one or two prospects towards bigger and better things.
Bula Gym, General Santos City, Philippines
Pedro Taduran (14-2-1, 11) Vs Rene Mark Cuarto (18-2-2, 11)
In another very interesting all-Filipino bout IBF Minimumweight champion Pedro Taduran will defend his title, for the second time, as he takes on IBF #3 ranked challenger Rene Mark Cuarto in a really mouth watering match up. Taduran, who won the title in 2019 with a thrilling performance against Samuel Salva, has sadly been out of the ring for a year since making his first defense. As for Cuarto he's unbeaten in his last 3 but has been out of the ring since December 2019. On paper this is, by far, the toughest bout of Cuarto's career and it'll be very interesting to see what he has to offer at world level against an aggressive and heavy handed champion.
Tynyshpayev Academy of Transport and Communications, Almaty, Kazakhstan
Kamshybek Kunkabayev (2-0, 2) Vs Steven Ward (13-1, 4)
In a really nice step up bout unbeaten Kazakh Cruiserweight hopeful Kamshybek Kunkabayev will be battling against Northern Irish fighter Steven Ward in a bout for the WBO Asia Pacific title. Kunkabayev, a former Kazakh amateur standout has impressed since turning professional but there are a lot of questions for him to still answer. Sadly we don't actually expect Ward to be able to ask him those questions and if anything we see Kunkabayev having a pretty easy time of things here.
Nurtas Azhbenov (10-0, 4) Vs Evgeny Smirnov (13-1-3, 3)
Unbeaten Kazakh prospect Nurtas Azhbenov takes his next step forward as he takes on the once beaten Evgeny Smirnov, form Russia, in a very credible step up. Azhbenov has frustrated at times, and despite being a very talented fighter seems to lack power and killer instinct with a lot of his bouts meandering to a rather drama free decision. He certainly has skills but he is not the finished article. Smirnov on the other hand has failed to win his last 3, but has been fighting at pretty decent level in recent bouts.
Janibek Alimkhanuly (9-0, 5) vs TBA
Unbeaten Kazakh hopeful Zhanibek Alimkhanuly will look to stay busy as he takes on a yet to be named opponent late in the month. The talented Middleweight is looking to secure a world title fight later this year, and although this will likely just be a stay busy bout it's great to see him staying active after a frustrating 2020 that saw him unable to build on a solid KO win against Gonzalo Gaston Coria. It's clear that Alimkhanuly is a talent and although we want to see him prove that talent against good fighters we would prefer him staying busy rather than sitting on the side lines waiting for a bout. With that in mind we can't complain too much at the TBA status of his opponent,
Talgat Shayken (3-0, 2) Vs Evgeny Pavko (18-3-1, 13)
Another unbeaten Kazakh prospect in action here is Talgat Shayken, who battles against the much more experienced Evgeny Pavko. The talented Shayken turned professional last year, and despite a rather crude performance on his debut he has impressed in his last 2 bouts and he appears to be a fighter heading places in the coming years. Despite bot being the most polished fighter Shayken is aggressive, strong and very fun to watch. Pavko on the other hand is an experienced Russian, who has lost 3 of his last 6. Despite his faltering form Pavko should, potentially, be a decent test for Shayken over 8 rounds.
Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, Florida, USA
Zhang Zhilei (22-0, 17) v Jerry Forrest (26-4, 20)
Chinese Heavyweight giant Zhang Zhilei continues to waste his career as he takes on American foe Jerry Forret. The 37 year old Zhang has been linked to an Anthony Joshua fight for the last few years, but in reality is trudging along with rather meaningless bouts, and this is another for "Big Bang", who really should have been in with a notable name by now. The 32 year old Jerry Forrest is actually a decent opponent, and gave good tests to Jermaine Franklin and Carlos Takam, but isn't the type of name opponent Zhilei needs to push forward with his career. In fact Forrest is the type of high risk-low reward opponent that doesn't make sense for Zhilei at this point in his career.
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 start of August was like a house on fire, with title bouts things taking place in 3 successive days, and 7 title bouts in 8 days. Thankfully things slow down in the middle of the month, at least a small bit, with fewer notable title bouts, but still a lot of action, cramped into not a lot of time. Also, unlike the start of the month, we really see the action spread all over the place.
Jung Kyoung Lee (7-2-1, 3) vs Akinori Watanabe (37-7-1, 31) - Seoul, South Korea
The first big bout from this section of the month will see OPBF Light Middleweight champion Jung Kyoung Lee make his first defense of the title, as he battles Japanese veteran Akinori Watanabe. Lee won the title earlier this year, stopping Samuel Colomban, and hastily arranged his first defense, before an injury pushed it back. Now rescheduled the bout is a big test for the champion, and a chance to find out what exactly the challenger has left in the tank. A great match up and a rare chance to get excited about what's happening in a Korean ring.
Aidos Yerbossynuly (11-0, 8) vs Rocky Jerkic (17-1, 13) - New South Wales, Australia
In Australia we get two bouts featuring unbeaten Kazakh hopefuls. One of those is unified minor title holder Aidos Yerbossynuly defending his belts against once beaten Australian Rocky Jerkic. The 27 year old Yerbossybuly has proven to be a decent fighter, but this is a clear step up in class a proper chance to see what he's like against some one else with with hunger and ambition. Jerkic on the other hand is 31, can ill afford another loss, after a 2017 defeat to Anthony Buttigieg, and will be seeing this as a big chance to claim a WBA minor title. This could be one of the hidden gems of the month
Nursultan Zhangabayev (7-0, 5) Vs Steve Gago (11-0, 4) - New South Wales, Australia
The other Kazakh in Australia is 26 year old Nursultan Zhangabayev, who will be up against fellow unbeaten Steve Gago. The talented Zhangabayev was given a real test last year by Arnel Tinampay, one of the sports most under-rated fighters, and has since gone on to drop to Welterweight, where he stopped Ivan Matute to claim a minor title at Welterweight. Gago on the other hand is a 30 year old who has padded his record against limited Thai's and may well be unprepared for the talented, if unheralded, Kazakh. It is worth noting Gago did notch his best win last time out, defeating Adam Diu Abdulhamid, but this is a big step up from that bout.
Jing Xiang (16-4-2, 3) v Jomar Caindog (10-1-1, 4) - Shenzhen, China
Highly skilled Chinese prospect Jing Xiang drops in weight as he looks to make his mark at Minimumweight, rather than in the stacked Light Flyweight division. The talented Xiang is one of China's brightest hopefuls but he's going to be pushed hard here by Filipino Jomar Caindog, who's only loss so far was to upcoming world title challenger Samuel Salva more than 3 years ago. The winner of this will become the WBO International Minimumweight champion and will likely find their self on the edge a shot at the WBO world title. Caindog doesn't have much on his record, but won't be travelling to los, whilst Xiang is one of the sports most well hidden talents.
Xiang Li (4-0, 3) v Do Jin Lee (6-2, 3) - Shenzhen, China
Unbeaten Chinese hopeful Xiang Li will be looking to build on January's win over Arvin Yurong as he takes on Korean foe Do Jin Lee, in a bout for a couple of minor titles. Li looks a bit rough around the edges, but can certainly punch and there is a lot to like about him. Despite the talent Li he does need to be much more active than he has been, and start to rack up some momentum, after a very stop-start opening to his career. Lee on the other hand is an 18 year old Korean with patchy form to say the least, going 1-2-2 in his last 5, but got a taste of international experience last time out, losing a decision in June to Mirai Naito, and may feel more confident for this road bout than he was for that one.
Jeo Santisima (17-2, 14) v Alvius Maufani (6-3-2, 3) - Leyte, Philippines
The year has been a really disappointing one for ALA Promotions and their top fighters have had much of their momentum stopped in 2019. Now we see some of those fighters trying to get back on track with the hard hitting Jeo Santisima being one of them. The 23 year old banger, who was last seen scoring a win over the incredibly tough Victor Uriel Lopez, is having little more than a tick over bout here as he takes on limited Indonesianm Alvius Maufani. Santisima is a great prospect, who could have been on the verge of a world title fight with some more activity, Maufani on the other hand is very limited and has failed to take a win in any of his last 3, and was actually stopped last time out. We don't see this one going the distance.
Albert Pagara (31-1, 22) Vs Lucky Tor Buamas (12-3, 12) - Leyte, Philippines
Another ALA prospect looking to put a frustrating year behind him is Albert Pagara, who takes on hard hitting Thai foe Lucky Tor Buamas. The touted Pagara is looking for his 6th win since a loss to Cesar Juarez in 2016, though his career really has slowed down and it's a real shame that he appears to be both inactive, and taking a massive step backwards here. Whilst Pagara has been disappointingly inactive Lucky will be fighting for the first time in over a year, and has lost his last 2, and 3 of his last 8. Not only has Lucky been shown up recently in terms of his defeats but he has been stopped, and has typically been fighting at Super Flyweight. Pagara should be too good, too strong, too big and too powerful for the limited Thai.
Apichet Petchmanee (4-0, 2) Vs Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo (61-4, 41) II - Bang Phun, Thailand
In Thailand we see fighters go again as talented prospect Apichet Petchmanee takes on former world title challenger Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo. These two fought earlier in the year and despite picking up the win Apichet really failed to shine, with a good argument that he didn't do enough to win. Whilst it was a big step up in class for the unbeaten man he was expected to have the skills, youth, size and amateur pedigree to over-come the much older and naturally smaller Chonlatorn without any problems. Instead it was the experience and ring craft of Chonlatarn that proved to be the biggest factor and we'll see whether or not Apichet will have learned from that first bout.
Jayr Raquinel (10-1-1, 7) v Takuya Kogawa (30-5-1, 13) - Tokyo, Japan
Once beaten Filipino fighter Jayr Raquinel looks to make his second defense of the OPBF Flyweight title as he takes on former world title challenger Takuya Kogawa. The 22 year old champion has been out of the ring since losing to Wulan Tuolehazi last September, and that sort of inactivity could be a major issue here, though he is an excellent young fighter who will be hoping to show what he can really do. As for Kogawa the Japanese veteran is 34 and will know that this could be his final title fight. With almost 250, hard, rounds under his belt he is a stalwart of the Japanese scene, who has taken a lot of punishment in a very memorable career.
Ryota Yamauchi (4-1, 4) vs Alphoe Dagayloan (13-2-5, 5) - Tokyo, Japan
We love seeing talented youngsters face off in their careers, taking risks early and not sitting pretty whilst running up big unbeaten records. With that in mind we have to admit we really love the look of this match up between rising Japanese hopeful Ryota Yamauchi and the under-rated Alphoe Dagayloan of the Philippines. For Yamauchi the bout is a chance to bounce back from his close and controversial loss to Wulan Tuolehazi, the man who also beat Jayr Raquinel. For Dagayaloan on the other hand it's a chance to get another notable win on his record, following solid wins over the likes of Esneth Domingo, Madiyar Zhanuzak and Rongguo Wu. The winner of this will almost certainly find themselves in the regional title mix sooner rather than later, and the loser will have a lot of time to rebuild. A fantastic match up, and one that could outshine the main event.
Mikio Sakai (0-0) v Elfelos Vega (7-6, 5) - Tokyo, Japan
Former Japanese amateur standout Mikio Sakai makes his debut, and does so against the dangerous Elfelos Vega in a very tough looking debut bout. Sakai is very highly regarded following a genuine solid amateur career on the Japanese national scene, and given how many top "bigger" fighters train at the Kedoebi gym it's clear Sakai will get great sparring. Vega, whilst not the most talented, can bang and is tough so this should be a great test of Sakai and what he has to offer. If Sakai looks good we wouldn't be surprised for Kadoebi to have him in with some sort of ranked fighter by the end of 2020. For Vega a win would kick start his career, but he will enter as the clear under-dog.
Ryo Nakai (0-0) v Jay Lloyd Quidlat (4-0-1, 2) - Tokyo, Japan
Another former Japanese amateur standout making his debut is Ryo Nakai, who could well end up the better of the two debutants. He will be up against unbeaten Filipino foe Jay Lloyd Quidlat, in a very good looking test. Although naturally much smaller than Sakai we have heard that Nakai has the more long term potential, given he's younger and was more accomplished in the unpaid ranks. Quidlat has been a professional for a little over a year but this is a very clear step up in class from the low level Filipino foes than he's been facing off with so far.
Shohjahon Ergashev (16-0, 14) v Abdiel Ramirez (24-4-1, 22) - Oklahoma, USA
One of Uzbekistan's top hopefuls, Shohjahon Ergashev, will be up against Mexican puncher Abidel Ramirez in what looks like a really good fight. Ergashev looked poor when he defeated Mykal Fox earlier in the year, despite winning he looked predictable, open and very technically poor, here however he should be up against someone less awkward and more willing to fight. Ramirez is no world beater, but is someone who believes in his power, and that should make for an entering, if short lived, war between two men looking to take each other out early. We'd suggest you don't blink if you're watching this one!
After a few weeks of not having much of note we've had a week that has created a bit of an accidental star, seen a debutant shine, seen new title holders in Indonesia and a lot actually happening. Sadly, due to the time issues in watching everything, we have seen a pro-Japanese week again, but there was clearly a lot of action in Asia in what was a great week for Asian fight fans.
Fighter of the Week
Koki Inoue (13-0, 10)
Whilst Koki Inoue, the cousin of Naoya and Takuma Inoue, didn't blow us away it's hard to argue with the quality of what he did this past Saturday. The talented Light Welterweight intelligently shut down Valentine Hosokawa to take a wide, and clear, decision over the talented and often high tempo Hosokawa. On paper the bout was a big step up in class for Inoue but he sort of made it look easy in the end as he took a comfortable decision over the veteran champion. Hosokawa, who usually controls the pace and tempo, struggled to catch Inoue clean, and struggled even more to change the pattern of the fight, whilst Inoue looked like a man comfortably fighting within himself. This wasn't exciting, but it was the biggest win of the week for an Asian fighter.
Performance of the Week
Riku Kunimoto (4-0, 2)
Whilst Inoue failed to shine, winning Fighter of the week by virtue of getting the biggest win, there was real competition for Performance of the Week. We were really impressed by Tsuyoshi Sato, Aso Ishiwaki, Sultan Zaurbek and our winner for the week, Riku Kunimoto.
Sato, who was fighting for the 4th time as a professional, put on the complete performance in mid week as he stopped Shoma Fukumoto, and took a huge step towards a potential title fight. He out boxed Fukumoto, then stopped him later in the bout, in what was his Tokyo debut. On paper it was a leap up in class, but in the end he made it look easy and really announced himself as a Japanese Middleweight worthy of note. He's young, he's talented and he has the potential to go very, very far.
Yoji Saito (1-1, 1) vs Aso Ishiwaki (5-2, 3)
On paper the recent bout between Yoji Saito and Aso Ishiwaki didn't really promise a lot, though we genuinely over-looked the bout which proved to be a very exciting encounter. Saito set the early pace, pressing and pressuring Ishiwaki as he looked on route for his second win. Ishiwaki however refused to wilt, and instead came on strong, really strong, from round 3 giving us a huge momentum shift and an amazing fight. There wasn't any knockdowns but there was none stop action, and a really gritty determination from both. This is a great, great 6 round bout!
Yuki Yazawa (0-0) vs Kazuki Nakamura (0-0-1) - Round 1
The round of the week was a clear and easy one to decide, with the opening round of the Yuki Yazawa Vs Kazuki Nakamura fight easily being the best round of the week from Asia. The round, which actually only lasted 126 seconds, contained 3 knockdowns, a brutal finish, a strong scent of karma, taunting and everything you could ask for. This really was something that every fan deserves to watch.
Cristiano Aoqui KO5 Anthony Marcial
We had some awesome KO's this week, Yuki Yazawa's was a beauty against Kazuki Nakamura, Koki Tyson scored a brutal one, Sultan Zaurbek got a gorgeous one in Dubai but our pick of the bunch was Brazilian-Japanese fighter Cristiano Aoqui's brutal hook against Filipino Anthony Marcial.The shot was a highlight, or an otherwise dull fight, and was perfectly timed. Whilst Marcial wasn't out cold, like some of the others on the wrong end of a great KO, his stumble through the ropes whilst trying to beat the count was great to watch.
Shakhobidin Zoirov (1-0, 1)
We want to start this by saying we have nothing positive to say of Indonesian journeyman Anthony Holt, and the reason we think so little of Holt was shown this past Friday when he was in the ring with Shakhobidin Zoirov. The debuting Zoirov is an Olympic champion and a huge hope for Uzbek boxing. He deserved a real test, but instead took almost no time to destroy Holt. Despite the bout being a relative waste of time it was hard to not be impressed by the cameo, and it's obvious that Zoirov is a very, very special fighter. One to mark down as a super prospect.
Alphoe Dagayloan (12-2-5, 5) vs Esneth Domingo (11-0, 6)
There's no special fight this coming week, but we do love the look of several fighters over the coming 7 days. Perhaps the pick of the bunch is the WBA Asia Flyweight title bout between the under-rated Alphoe Dagayloan and the unbeaten Esneth Domingo. This is a brilliant match up and something that is very, very exciting! Neither guy is a big name, but both are promising and both could see this as a chance to move into the WBA rankings. A great fight and something that both will be looking to win!
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