As we head towards Christmas it appears boxing has decided to give us some earlier gifts, and this past week was full of them, with several brilliant match, great fights and even the delay release of an amazing fight from a week earlier. This was a genuine fantastic week, even if it wasn't a week with high profile Asian action. One of those rare weeks where the less known fighters got their chance to shine, and delivered.
Fighter of the Week
Hiroaki Teshigawa (21-2-2, 14)
The past week had a lot of title fights on the regional and domestic levels. The one man who made it clear that he was well above the level that he was fighting at was Hiroaki Teshigawaa, who destroyed Shohei Kawashima in 5 rounds to retain his OPBF Super Bantamweight title. The talented "Crush Boy" did what neither Cristian Mijares or Juan Miguel Elorde could do, and that was stop Kawashima. After the bout it was clear Teshigawara wanted a world title fight and given he has proven to be above regional level it does make sense for he, and mentor Koichi Wajima, to push for a world title fight in the new year.
Performance of the Week
Bektemir Melikuziev (4-0, 3)
After going just 6 rounds in his first 3 bouts we had a lot of questions we were wanting to see answered from Uzbek fighter Bektemir Melikuziev. This week he answered them as he took a 10 round shut out win over tough American Vaughn Alexander. The power of Melikuziev wasn't on show as much as usual, but instead we saw him taking a 10 round decision and prove he could go deep in fights, he could box and move, he could fight behind his jab, a cut wasn't a big issue and he wasn't just a 1-trick pony. This was as impressive as we could have hoped from him against someone like Alexander and it's clear that Melikuziev and his team will look to face more interesting tests next year.
Hironori Mishiro Vs Yoshimitsu Kimura
The week had some great action though perhaps the best of it was the 12 round back and forth bout between OPBF Super Featherweight champion Hironori Mishiro and Yoshimitsu Kimura. The bout wasn't a fight of the year contender, but it was a fantastic, high level, hotly competitive 12 round back and forth. This was the sort of bout that whilst never the incredible heights of some bouts, was consistently very exciting and never looked like it was getting too sloppy or too slow. It was consistently engaging, and truly competitive. The sort of bout that won't attract new fans to the sport, but will please every one who is already a fan.
Toshiya Ishii Vs Haruki Ishikawa (Round 2)
We've really enjoyed the Japanese Youth title fights, which had typically been really well matched and exciting contests between two young men who come to fight. That was shown again this past week in a 4 round shoot out between Toshiya Ishii and Haruki Ishikawa, who traded blows for the Japanese Youth Bantamweight title. The bout was exciting from the off, had 3 knockdowns in 4 rounds and a sensational second round that saw both men being rocked hard. This was 3 minutes of amazing violence, intense action real danger from both men. This was a great round that everyone should check out before the year is over.
Kazunori Nakayama TKO5 Lerdchai Chaiyawed
We originally posted this with no set winner, as when the article was first posted we hadn't managed to see some footage of under-card bouts from across the shows. Only moments afterwards we spotted a twitter post from @takayukimonaco which showed one of the KO's of the year. The bout between Kazunori Nakayama and Thai Lerdchai Chaiyawed ended in truly brutal fashion as a single right hand from Nakayama knocked the Thai clean out. The referee could have counted to 50, instead of instantly waving it off, and there was still no way Lerdchai was getting up.
We also want to give a mention to Toshiya Ishii's TKO finish against Haruki Ishikawa. The shot, a counter right hand, completely scrambled Ishikawa's senses an sent him stumbling forward before falling over one of the middle ropes. Given a 10 count we suspect Ishikawa would have "beaten the count" but wouldn't have been deemed fit to continue. A brilliant finish, even if it wasn't lights out.
Yudai Shigeoka (2-0, 1)
Whilst Bektemir Melikuziev was incredibly impressive the reality is that he isn't really a prospect, he's already a contender in our eyes and his recent title win has already seen him claim a regional title and potentially a world ranking. Instead our prospect for the week was Yudai Shigeoka, who out boxed, out sped and out thought OPBF Minimumweight champion Lito Dante over 6 rounds. The bout may end up with Shigeoka taking a world ranking, given that Dante was world ranked himself, but with this only being a 6 rounder there's a chance he'll miss out. What is clear is that this young man is a sensational boxer and he is someone worth getting behind, as he is going to be raced to a title very, very soon.
Apichet Petchmanee (5-0, 2) vs Ari Agustian (8-0, 8)
This coming week is an interesting one with a number of shows, though very few 50-50 match ups. One of the few even looking contests, other than the Rookie of the Year show, is an excellent looking encounter between unbeaten Thai Apichet Petchmanee and Indonesian puncher Ari Agustian. We've not been impressed by Apichet this year, and tipping him highly in 2018, whilst Agustian has failed to build on his 2018 win over Baolin Kang. This could be very entertaining and tell us a lot about what both men are capable of. One of the rare bouts in Thailand that has us genuinely excited.
Over the last year or two we've seen a real down turn in boxing in Thailand. The country had a thriving boxing scene only a few years ago, but now a days the regular shows have slowed down and we've gone from a televised show almost every week, to a show every few weeks. Sadly it doesn't appear like the country is set to turn things around in the next year or two however there is some exciting and emerging talent in the country that fans should be aware of.
Here we take a look at 5 of the most promising prospects in Thailand.
Thanongsak Simsri (11-0, 11)
Right now it seems like the pick of the emerging Thai hopefuls is young puncher Thanongsak Simsri. The 19 year old is promoted by Kiatkreerin along side Green Tsuda in Japan, who appear to have been impressed enough by the youngster to have agreed to help train and develop him. At the moment he does have the hall marks of a flawed fighter, but is developing and is a long way from the raw fighter he was just a year ago. When he first started he was raw and rough around the edges, but a naturally strong and powerful teenager. Today however he is quickly understanding more about balance and defense. There is still work to do, but his improvement has been rapid and noticeable.
Dubbed "Srisaket II" in the Thai press Thanongsak is the most exciting young fighter in Thailand right now, and although it's far, far, too earlier to get compared to Srisaket it's something we expect to see the Thai media continue to push. Notably that comparison isn't just due to the youngster's power though, but also the fact that he is from the same area as Srisaket, Si Sa Ket.
Theeraphan Polsongkarm (2-0, 1)
The 22 year Theeraphan Polsongkarm, also known Oscar Mastertoddygym, may not have much experience as a professional but is already showing what he can do and developing a reputation as one to watch. Apparently his record on boxrec is wrong, with the TV showing a graphic suggesting he was 11-0 (8) entering his last contest, but whatever his record what can't be denied is his talent, potential and understanding in the ring. The youngster already boasts a win over former world title challenger Inthanon Sithchamuang and holds a minor WBA title.
In the ring Theeraphan appears to have good balance, good timing, a solid understanding of how to control a bout and is looking to learn about his opponent. He took a while to get a reed on Inthanon, and his southpaw stance, but got there in the end and ended up really beating him up in the stages of the fight. Defensively there is issues, though he appears able to take a good shot, and when he moves through the gears there is a lot to like about his offense. Tweaks need to be made before he steps, especially defensively, but there is so much to like about the youngster who looks like he could be one of the main faces of the Thai scene in the coming years.
Thattana Luangphon (7-0-1, 7)
Thattana Luangphon, who fights as Chainoi Worawut, is only 22 years old but very much an impressive fighter with scary power and a lot of potential. He made his pro debut in 2018 and has been moved aggressively, with Work Point getting behind him and his career. Defensively the youngster has areas to work on, and technically he's far from perfect, but he has impressive composure in the ring and the scary power can really change the game. He fires off power shots to head and body and is an offensive monster.
To date Chainoi's competition has been rather mixed, but wins over Yuya Nakamura, Muhammad Ashiq and Matthew Arcillas aren't bad for a guy with only 8 pro bouts to his name. He's young, heavy handed, exciting and very promising, certainly one to keep an eye on going forward, and on October 19th he'll be back in the ring as he takes on Filipino foe Alvin Medura.
Songsaeng Phoyaem (9-2, 4)
It's can look weird to consider a guy with 2 losses in their first 10 bouts as a top prospect, but Songsaeng Phoyaem has proven more in those 2 losses than many fighters prove in 10 wins. In those losses he showed he could bite down, fight at a high pace, and give as good as he got. His first loss was in just his second bout, against Dynamic Kenji up at Bantamweight, whilst his second came in a fantastic performance against Kento Hatanaka earlier this year. He's not going to be marked out for a world title, especially not this early in his career, but with his youth, toughness, energy and skills he's got the potential to go far.
Since losing to Kenta Hatanaka in March this year Songsaeng has reeled off 3 wins on the Thai scene, and recently won the Thai Flyweight title with a 3rd round TKO Wisitsak Saiwaew, who was down 3 times in 3 rounds. If he can get some better seasoning he could be one of those fighters who really builds on the tools he has. One to keep in mind for the long term, and hopefully his team do know what they have on their hands here.
Parinya Khaikanha (4-0, 4)
The competition for Parinya Khaikanha has certainly not been impressive, and typically his level of competition wouldn't have got our attention, or earned him a place on this list. We do however make an exception here for Parinya due to the fact that boxing is in his blood, and his family have real pedigree. His pedigree is seen in the fact that his older brothers are world ranked Nawaphon and former world champion Suriyan Por Chokchai.
Parinya has been training with Suriyan, and footage of some of that training was released earlier this year. Although he didn't look like a star in the making he did show some clear promise. Sadly footage of him fighting as a pro is scarce but again being part of the Kaikanha family, and the training footage that was available suggests he has got promise. Fingers crossed we see a step up from the 24 year old next year.
It's worth noting that we had once viewed Apichet Petchmanee (5-0, 2) as a star in the making and whilst he is still unbeaten the 29 year old has had a less than outstanding 2019. He dropped down to Lightweight to face Shota Suito and looked like he had lost something before twice struggling to beat Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo. Whilst a win over Chonlatarn is noteworthy the veteran really showed some limitations with Apichet, who turns 30 later this month.
It's fair to say that this past 7 day weren't the best for boxing, but even then there was a solid amount going on for the hardcore fan who doesn't just want to see the big names in action. Just over the weekend alone there was action form Thailand, China, Philippines, Indonesia and Japan. Whilst the big names were lacking the smaller names were given a chance to chine.
Fighter of the Week
Nursultan Zhangabayev (8-0, 5)
Unbeaten Kazakh hopeful Nursultan Zhangabayev continued to build his reputation as he travelled to Australia and beat Steve Gago over 10 rounds. The Kazakh may have flirted with a DQ at times, due to accidental low blows, but there is no doubting his performance against a fellow unbeaten fighter and the way he further increased his profile, by fighting in a 4th country already. He may not be a world champion in the making, but this week he scored a big win and unified titles from 3 of the 4 world title bodies.
Performance of the Week
Xiao Tao Su (11-1, 6)
We'd never really paid Chinese youngster Xiao Tao Su much attention until this week, when he really impressed with an opening round win over Shota Yukawa. He was in the ring for 150 seconds but that was enough time to impress as he wobbled Yukawa and then, only moments later, took him our with a brutal left hand. This was the sort of performance that made us sit up and take notice, and at the end of the day he did more than expected. Yes, Yukawa is no world beater but this was an excellent performance.
Apichet Petchmanee (4-0, 2) Vs Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo (61-4, 41) II
For the second time this year Thai pairing Apichet Petchmanee and Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo gave us a bit of a thriller. Chonlatarn tried to force the pace and Apichet tried to make him pay, in the end both fighters had mixed success with their gameplan but both combined to make a great, competitive and action packed fight. Apichet again showed touches of brilliance but couldn't get rid of the veteran, who showed his toughness and will to win, making life very, very difficult for the rising hopeful. This was very good and very enjoyable
Notable mention - Xiang Li vs Do Jin Lee
Jing Xiang vs Jomar Caindog (Rd4)
Whilst there was plenty of good action there was few rounds that really stood out, however we really enjoyed the 4th round of the Minimumweight bout between the world class Jing Xiang and the unheralded Jomar Caindog. Xiang, to us at least, always looked in control but the bout certainly had moments where Caindog showed real ambition. In round 4 we saw some brilliant exchanges, some great action and Xiang ended the round like he had a point to prove. This really was a lot of fun, and actually the entire bout was really compelling, even if it wasn't all action packed.
Xiao Tao Su TKO1 Shota Yukawa
We mentioned it earlier but we need to mention it again, Xiao Tao Su's KO over Shota Yukawa. The fight ended with a brutal, huge left hook from Su whilst left Yukawa flat out on the canvas. Technically this was a TKO, though Yukawa was out cold and the referee could have counted to 30 and not seen Yukawa beat the count. The shot was a peace and Su certainly seems like a very heavy handed young fighter. He may not be a big name but he's one to watch and we're going to be very excited to see where he goes following this win.
Xiang Li (5-0, 4)
We're not totally sold on Chinese prospect Xiang Li but it's hard to not be impressed by him at times. The 24 year old was given a test by Korean youngster Do Jin Lee but racked up the rounds with his hard, clean punching and despite being put on the back foot at times. Li closed the show with a barrages of right hands, and managed to shine, and answer some new questions. Given this was just his 5th bout we're happy to see him being pushed, for the second time this year. He might not have world class potential, at least not showing at the moment, but there's a lot to like about the youngster and he certainly has the ability to make a mark on the regional level in the years to come.
Kosei Tanaka (13-0, 7) vs Jonathan Gonzalez (22-2-1, 13)
This has probably been the hardest week to pick a single fight for our "upcoming" fight, though it's hard for the right reason with a host of great fights coming up. If forced to pick a single one to get the most excited about it's the WBO Flyweight title bout between Kosei Tanaka and Jonathan Gonzalez, which should be a super-high speed chess match. Both guys are super quick, both were talented amateurs and it's hard not to get excited about every Tanaka fight. Since moving to Flyweight Tanaka's been even more entertaining than he was at the lower weights and Gonzalez should bring the best out of him. Even better yet, the bout will be shown live here on Asian Boxing for free!
Other bouts considered here were: Ryota Yamauchi vs Alphoe Dagayloan, Shohjahon Ergashev Vs Abidel Ramirez, Kento Hatanaka Vs Jaysever Abcede, Vic Saludar v Wilfredo Mendez and Carlo Caesar PenalosaVs Maximino Flores
The 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!
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