It's fair to say that 2020 has been an odd year so far, with a very stop-start feel to the boxing we've had. Things, of course, haven't been helped by shows being cancelled due to Coronavirus in Asia, but this week was just an odd, odd one. There was fights, but mostly at a low level. The top Asian fighters in action failed to pick up the wins we;d hoped for and the best of the action really came on some obscure cards. With that in mind lets have a look at this weeks award winners
Fighter of the Week
Shuma Nakazato (10-1-2, 7)
Given our criteria of fighter of the week this week was a really weird one. The criteria is the fighter who scored the best win from the week, not the best performance, which comes under the "Performance of the Week" which can account for losses. As a result we really had to look outside the box, given there was so few wins of note by Asian fighters in what was a truly odd week. In the end it seemed hard to argue that Shuma Nakazato's win over Yuji Awata was the best, and most significant. The win came on the first sole-promoted by former world title challenger Shigeru Nakazato, and gave the promoter the result they needed for the show to be a success.
Sadly this week may well end up with us reviewing how we do fighter of the week going forward, though this week was an odd one in general, and this could be an anomaly rather than anything else.
Performance of the Week
Tugstsogt Nyambayar (11-1, 9)
It really was an odd week for Asian boxers, with no one getting a truly big win, in fact the two biggest fights involving Asian fighters both ended in a loss. It was however hard not to be pretty impressed with how Tugstsogt Nyambayar ended up acquitting himself in his loss to Gary Russell Jr. The Mongolian started slowly, but warmed to the task well and proved that he certainly deserves to remain in the world title picture, despite a loss to the talented and speedy American. Don't be surprised to see Nyambayar's loss serve as a learning experience, and the way he picked up the pace in the final 8 rounds showed what he could do. A mixed performance, sure, but also one which showed a lot to get excited about.
Tugstsogt Nyambayar vs Gary Russell Jr
In a fight that had high level skills and was a genuine chess match Tugstsogt Nyambayar and Gary Russell Jr gave us something that was both compelling, exciting, and technical. There was no real debating the winner, with Russell Jr banking the early rounds for the win against Nyambayar's slow start, but this was still a fantastic bout, and something that is well worthy of a watch. It's not going to be a fight of the year contender, but don't let that take away from what was a genuinely solid 12 round, world level bout between two men who are both legitimate top fighters at 126lbs.
Ryosuke Maruta vs Kazunari Kosaka (Rd1)
We'll admit we tend to skip the 4 round Dangan cards, but on a week lacking in action like this the show was certainly worthy of some interest, and it provided some really great action. The best of it, for us, was the opening round of Ryosuke Maruta's bout with Kazunari Kosaka, who really went all out, swinging bombs in a thrilling action packed 3 minutes of chaos. For those wanting technically perfect boxing, counter punching and smart defense do not look at this round, but for those who wild and heavy offense this is for your. This is just great and thrilling wild, crude fun.
Andy Atsushi v Yuta Hasegawa (Rd 2)
Naoya Mitsuhashi TKO2 Harunobu Yamasaki
We stick with the 4 round Dangan cards for the KO of the week, as Naoya Mitsuhashi cleaned out Harunobu Yamasaki in brutal fashion in the second round of their bout. This is one you'll need to hunt down to find, and be a Boxing Raise subscriber to see, but it's worth it as a single clean right hand to the temple sent the 37 year old Yamasaki crashing to his knees, then flat out on his back. This is not what we expected from Mitsuhashi, who was fighting for just the second time, but we'll be keeping an eye on him after this fantastic KO
Narimichi Miura TKO1 Yota Matsui
Abdulkhay Sharakhmatov (1-0, 1)
Talented Uzbke fighter Abdulkhay Sharakhmatov kicked off his career with an expected easy win over Benjie Ebido in the Philippines. Despite stopping Ebido inside the opening round there was a lot to like about Sharakhmatov's performance, and he is certainly one to watch going forward. Make a mental note of his name as he is going to make a big splash in the years to come and should be on people's radar's now. He intelligently pressed Ebido and broke him down mentally and physically in very quick fashion. A real talent with a nice, easy introduction to the professional ranks.
Daigo Higa (15-1, 15) vs Jason Buenaobra (7-4-3, 3)
Although our upcoming bout selection is usually the bout we expect to be the most exciting of the coming week this week's is a little bit different however as the bout we are most looking forward to is a bit of a mismatch. Despite it being a mismatch it's one we're excited about because it's the long awaited return of former world champion Daigo Higa after almost 2 years out of the ring. We expect Higa to beat Filipino foe Jason Buenaobra, without too many problems, however the key here is that the Higa express is back on the line after such a long break from the ring!
So that was January 2020 and the first month of a new decade was interesting without really being sensational. We certainly had plenty of noteworthy action, though compared to December was a significant downturn, and a much less interesting month. Then again that is pretty normal for a January.
With that said lets have a look at what we deem the best of January!
Fighter of the Month
Murodjon Akhmadaliev (8-0, 6)
The fighter of the month was a pretty obvious pick, with Uzbek Super Bantamweight Murodjon Akhmadaliev being the clear, and standout, winner. The talented former amateur standout ended the month was a fantastic, albeit very competitive, win over Daniel Roman. The win, which netted Akmadaliev the IBF and WBA "Super" titles, was huge and it's hard to deny that "MJ" has kicked off the year in a huge way! If he can build on this win through the year he really could be one of the names for 2020, much like Can Xu was in 2019.
Fight of the Month
Han Bin Suh Vs Dong Myung Shin
There was some good fights this past month, but nothing that will be in the conversation for Fight of the Year. Despite that it's hard to pick fault with the compelling 10 round Korean Super Bantamweight title bout between Han Bin Suh and Dong Myung Shin. This was compelling through out, with Suh refusing to ever accept defeat, and instead he kept ploughing forward hoping to break down the much more polished Dong Myung Shin. This was brilliant and a real hidden gem part way through the month. It wasn't the most high skilled bout of the month, or the most exciting, but it blended the action, activity and skills well.
KO of the Month
Shohjahon Ergashev KO1 Adrian Estrella
It was a weird month for KO's with very few of them really standing out, though it may take a while for us to see a better one than Shohjahon Ergashev's body shot KO against Adrian Estrella. This was naturally beautiful and left the Mexican in pure agony on the canvas, It's rare for body shots KO's to be this good, and it's another KO for an Ergashev KO reel. A truly sensational shot, that is going to be worth watching and over through the year.
Tuguldur Byambatsogt (2-0)
January had a lot of stellar performances from prospects from all over the place, with emerging fighters from Uzbekistan, Korea, Japan and China all impressing. It was however a Mongolian that shined the brightest, with Tuguldur Byambatsogt really showing what he could do with a clear and impressive win against Vladimir Baez. This young man from Mongolia is a potential star of the future, and no one impressed quite as much as he did. For a fighter in just his second professional bout Byambatsogt has put down a marker of intent and hopefully he and his team will continue to aim high through the rest of 2020.
Esneiker Correa TKO7 Ravshanbek Umurzakov
We didn't have too many upsets of any note this past months, but the one that did raise have the most shock value came in Russian when 21 year old Venezuelan Esneiker Correa stopped previously unbeaten Uzbek hopeful Ravshanbek Umurzakov in 7 rounds. We'd expected the highly regarded Uzbek to pick up his 11th straight win against someone who was fighting outside of Latin America for the first. Instead Correra broke down and beat up Umurzakov to claim a massive victory in the 7th round. This wasn't just a big upset for Umurzakov but the type of win that allowed him to announce himself as one to watch. And seriously we would advise keeping an eye on this young puncher, he is someone to get excited about.
Takuma Takahashi vs Leonardo Doronio (Round 3)
There were some amazing rounds, truly amazing rounds. For us the the third round between Takuma Takahashi and Leonardo Doronio takes the honours, just. This was drama, controversy, and action all rolled into one. Takahashi twice dropped Doronio, could have had points taken both times for hitting his downed opponent, and was cut in a round that was absolutely sensation. This was almost 3 minutes of chaos in which both men were hurt. Well and truly worth a watch below!
The year is still new, which is a relief as so far the Asian action hasn't been worth talking about for the most part. Earlier today we had the first Japanese show of 2020, but it was ravaged by changes that ended up removing 2 bouts from the card changing another, and it never really seemed to get going. There was Chinese action, which was alright but nothing spectacular and of course Bakhtiyar Eyubov was batted in Atlantic City.
Despite being left with scraps we have managed to come up with some honours for our weekly awards.
Fighter of the Week
Marvin Esquierdo (16-2-1, 10)
The Filipino is unlikely to ever make it beyond regional level, if he even gets that far, but we can't fault his attitude and his mentality. He's been given a chance to shine in the Knock Out Dynamite tournament and he has made the most of that opportunity in both of his tournament bouts. This week he seemed to be the only man in Japan who realised that he could get a hefty bonus for scoring a stoppage, and went after Ribo Takahata early, dropping the veteran hard in round 2. Esquierdo couldn't get the finish there and then, but did get one in round 4 to net himself a nice bonus.
Performance of the Week
Tuguldur Byambatsogt (2-0)
Whilst it was a very quiet week it was still a week where we did see some impressive action, with Mongolian fighter Tuguldur Byambatsogt really impressing with both his boxing, and his fighting ability. The former amateur standout spent 3 rounds out boxing Vladimir Baez by simply doing the basics. He moved around the ring, landed the jab to control distance and took advantage of the openings Baez gave him. After a tired looking fourth round he found a new gear and dropped Baez completing what had been a solid performance from a genuinely talented young Mongolian hopeful. Fingers crossed we see a lot more of Byambatsogt over the coming years.
Yihao Wang vs Keon Woo Kim
There is something about watching a tough nosed Korean fighter barrelling forward, despite taking big shots that makes things enjoyable. That's what we had at the start of the week as the unbeaten, but under-sized, Keon Woo Kim took on Chinese foe Yihao Wang. Kim, who was always pursuing his man, and taking shots as a result, made this a fun contest despite really getting busted up and broken down. His desire to get close and make this a war made this a fight that had our attention, despite how one sided it was at times, and as Kim's face began to swell his hunger just grew. Of course Wang played his part, and his stamina and punch picking needs to be given credit as well. This wasn't a fight of the year contender, not even close, but was an entertaining little fight all the same.
Marvin Esquierdo vs Ribo Takahata (Round 3)
There was no round that truly stood out this week, but we did really enjoy the third round of Marvin Esquierdo's win over Ribo Takahata. The previous round had seen Esquierdo dropping Takahata, hard, and had the round been just 15 seconds longer the bout could have been over. Even with the minute to recover Takahata still seemed shaken at the start of the round, and Esquierdo tried to take him out. Then Takahata recovered, and tried to take out Esquierdo in what was a fun round that saw both men being hurt and letting their shots go. This was fun, exciting and saw both men digging deep.
There was no suitable contender for KO of the Week
Tuguldur Byambatsogt (2-0)
We could legitimately rave about the Mongolian fighter all day, but we won't. He showed so much more in just his second professional bout than many show in their first 15. He looked composed, strong, skilled, and like he was fighting well within himself. We look forward to seeing more of him and hopefully we'll see more of his offensive side. For a 2-0 prospect to have done what he's done is really impressive, and he is certainly one to get very excited about.
Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (12-4-1, 11) vs Kazuto Takesako (11-0-1, 11)
The coming few weeks have quite a bit of action and after a slow start we do see things begin to pick up. Next weekend is a great example of that and on January 18th we get a brilliant clash of champions, with OPBF Middleweight champion Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa battling Japanese champion Kazuto Takesako. Noth only are both champions, but both are tough guys and both can bang. We are expecting this to be a legitimate shoot out and one of the highlights for the month! Keep an eye on this one next Saturday!
As we cross into a new year we've not really had much to talk about, despite that we did have results from New Year's Eve, and an obscure Korean show taking place in the last 7 days, and that's enough for us to be happy with!
Fighter of the Week
Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14)
The fight of the week was an easy call, with Kazuto Ioka taking the award on the back of his hard fought win over Jeyvier Cintron on New Year's Eve. Whilst Ioka was always expected to win it was great to see him being tested, and being pushed. Cintron wasn't there to make up the numbers, and instead the Puerto Rican was in the ring to win, using his size and skills to ask a lot of questions of the Japanese star. Also real credit goes to Cintron for fighting to the end of the bout, something we didn't expect when Ioka's body shots started to land with alarming consistency.
Performance of the Week
Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9)
With a nigh on punch perfect performance Kosei Tanaka retained his WBO Flyweight title and looked fantastic. From the opening moments it was clear that Tanaka was happy to use his tools to make life easy and dominate a challenger who was too slow, too clumsy and too open for him. This was exactly what Tanaka needed after a struggle last time out, against Jonathan Gonzalez.
Kazuto Ioka Vs Jeyvier Cintron
This was a long, long way, from Fight of the Year conversation, however it was a truly compelling 12 round championship level match that swung nicely back and forth. The early rounds were high level chess, with Cintron taking the early lead, before Ioka found his range and hammered the body of the Puerto Rican. Ioka seemed on the verge of a stoppage at one point, before Cintron bit down on his mouth piece and finished strongly. Not a fight of the year, but still a very high quality fight.
Jae Hyun Jo Vs Chul Hyun Lim (Round 6)
We really didn't have many stand out rounds if we're being honest though we did enjoy the final round of the relatively obscure bout between Jae Hyun Jo and Chul Hyun Lim on Sunday morning. It may have been our craving for boxing speaking but it felt like both men put their foot on the gas for the final 3 minutes and delivered something rather fun. Nothing special, but fun all the same.
Kosei Tanaka KO3 Wulan Tuolehazi
This was an easy pick with Tanaka's triple uppercut KO win over Wulan. This was spiteful, this was nasty and this was Tanaka using his speed to and boxing IQ to find a hole in Wulan's defense, breach it then again and again. A gorgeous KO, and one that will send Tanaka into the new with another highlight KO on his resume. After a relatively tough year this was the perfect way to finish it from the "KO Dream Boy".
Ginjiro Shigeoka (5-0, 4)
It's hard to give even consider giving Prospect of the week to anyone other than Ginjiro Shigeoka, following his win over former world title challenger Rey Loreto. We all expected Shigeoka to win, but few would have anticipated him dropping Loreto in the opening round, then battling with Loreto, a feared puncher, before scoring a second knockdown. Shigeoka was rather honest post fight, explaining that he had injured his hand and ear drum and questioned whether he could have gone 12 rounds, but in the end that didn't really matter. He battled through some adversity and stopped a legitimate contender.
Jaron Ennis (24-0, 22) vs Bakhtiyar Eyubov (14-1-1-1, 12)
Sadly our pick for this week has been picked almost by default. Whilst Jaron Ennis, a fantastic US prospect, is a fantastic prospect this isn't a bout we'd typically get too excited about. Sadly there is very, very little else on in terms of fights involving Asian's this week. Eyubov, from Kazakhstan, has looked very limited when he's stepped up and we wouldn't be surprised to see him getting blasted out here.
So the year is coming to a close, and this will be our final weekly awards for 2019! Despite this being the last one of the year there really wasn't all that much worthy of discussion sadly, but with Christmas in the middle of the week we were never expecting too much to speak about here. Thankfully though we did get one big show at the start of the week, and a splattering of bouts here and there, to fill things up.
Fighter of the Week
Ryota Murata (16-2, 13)
Japanese Middleweight Ryota Murata completed his year of redemption in style, not only beating Steve Butler, but stopping him, breaking him both physically and mentally along the way. Murata took the best shots of Butler, and walked through them, making a feared puncher question themselves before chipping away at them with heavy shots. It was an expected win, but one that was still impressive, smart and a signal of intent. The fact it was followed by huge statements from Bob Arum about getting Murata a major name at the Tokyo Dome in 2020 just added to the whole week for the 2012 Olympic gold medal winner.
Performance of the Week
Kenshiro Teraji (17-0, 10)
When a fighter drops a world class opponent 4 times, in 4 rounds, all from body shots, then it's hard not to be impressed. We won't pretend it was a flawless performance from Kenshiro, but his victory over Randy Petalcorin was very impressive. He hardly seemed to get out of second gear and still broke down a very accomplished rival, who had gone 7 rounds with the dangerous Felix Alvarado in 2018. To have this level of performance with all the changes going on, a change of opponent and a change in whether the bout was being televised live in Japan or not, showed that no matter you through at him, Kenshiro Teraji finds a way to adapt.
Akira Yaegashi Vs Moruti Mthalane
It was the week of the old men! On Saturday American fans got a thriller between Jean Pascal and Badou Jack, a genuine global Fight of the Year contender and another example of why end of year awards should wait until the end of the damn year! A few days earlier fans who follow the Asian scene got a similar, though less competitive treat, as Akira Yaegashi and Moruti Mthalane gave us a thrilling 9 round war. The bout had it all. It had skills, it had action, it had intensity, exchanges, raw violence, drama, both men looking hurt. This was, in many ways, what you'd expect of a 36 year old Yaegashi, and was a great pre-Christmas treat!
Akira Yaegashi Vs Moruti Mthalane (round 4)
The round of the week, came from the fight of the week, and boy what a round it was. It was the round that really began the start of the end for Yaegashi, who showed he was willing to fight the wrong fight, but it was also the round that sent nothing but adrenaline through the veins of everyone watching. This was high octane, back and forth thrilling stuff, the sort of action that has helped make Yaegashi one of boxing cult fan favourites. Sadly for the Japanese warrior he was just up against a more defensively smart, less shop worn, smarter, more accurate and heavier handed South African genius and this wasn't going to be the way Yaegashi was ever going to win.
Musheg Adoian KO2 Noppadol Khongchana
The obvious choice this week was Ryota Murata's win over Steven Butler, which was a fantastic looking KO. That however was pipped on the final day of the week by an obscure, but brutal KO by Thai based Armenian-Russian puncher Musheg Adoian in Singapore, as he took out Noppadol Khongchana. This was genuinely brutal, as a right hand from Adoian knocked the Thai clean out. This was another, of the many highlights shared this year by our good friend @Hock1717, who is well and truly worth a follow by all boxing fans.
Ju Wu (9-0-2)
Chinese youngster Ju Wu is not someone many would have expected to see on the final weekly award article, but it's hard to ignore just what he did on December 26th. Not only did he make his European debut, but he actually took a win, in Switzerland, against the local favourite Alain Chervet, winning a solid upset. The Chinese fighter boxed wonderfully in Berne and recorded his third solid win of the year. After drawing 2 of his first 3 career bouts the youngster has developed fantastically. Fingers crossed that he'll develop some confidence in his power, and build on his punching power in 2020 as that's the one area he's lacking at the moment.
Ginjiro Shigeoka (4-0, 3) vs Rey Loreto (25-14, 17)
Although this fight won't be made immediately available to watch it's impossible to deny just how much we are looking forward to this one! It's a gut test for Japanese youngster Ginjiro Shigeoka, as he defends his WBO Asia Pacific Minimumweigt title against a former world title challenger. Despite their being world title fights coming up this one has us much, much more interested than the those world title bouts, and we are really interested to see what happens here, in a fantastic contest to end 2019.
This past week has been a rather crazy one, with so much action crammed into so little time. We saw a Japanese Heavyweight fight in the UK, huge upsets featuring Filipino fighters, the Rookie of the Year final and so much more. Whilst the week wasn't full of high profile action it was one of the most packed weeks of the year, by some margin and a lot of fighters and bouts are being missed off this week. This was a tough week to be an award winner, but a great for fans as we complete the final week before Christmas!
Fighter of the Week
Akinori Watanabe (39-7-1, 33)
It wasn't a tough week for Akinori Watanabe, who retained his OPBF Light Middleweight title with a 2nd round KO win over Sitthidet Banti, but it was one where he scored, on paper, this biggest win, retaining a major regional title. The heavy handed fighter from the Kadoebi gym was expected to win with ease and he did just that, taking out the Thai challenger with a brutal body shot that left Banti in absolute agony. Fingers crossed that we see Watanabe in with a bigger test and a better challenge in his next defense.
Performance of the Week
Renz Rosia (16-9-1, 9)
At the start of the week few would have expected us to be talking about a win for Renz Rosia but the Filipino domestic level fighter managed to record a career best win on Saturday when he out pointed 2-time world title challenger Aston Palicte. Rosia managed to out box, out skill, out and out fight the bigger, hard hitting Palicte, who looked second best through out. Rosia won't get a lot of acclaim for this win, but it suddenly gives his career a massive shot in the arm. Sadly however it does leave Palicte's career in a real hole, and it's the sort of loss which will be hard for him to bounce back from, given how comprehensive it was.
Kodai Honda vs Yasutaka Fujita
The Rookie of the Year on Sunday was consistently entertaining, but one bout really stood out. That was the 140lb clash between Kodai Honda and Yasutaka Fujita, a bout that will be deserving or a re-watch, and another rewatch. It was just something sensational, with 4 knockdowns, both men going down twice, and an incredible intensity to the first round. Fujita started like a house on fire and Honda tried to respond, being dropped twice in the opening round, before finding a way to turn things around. This really is a must watch 4 round war.
Kodai Honda vs Yasutaka Fujita (Rd1)
The fight of the week, had the round of the week with the opening round of the Honda Vs Fujita bout being absolutely incredible, with Fujita setting an incredible pace and Honda trying to respond, fighting fire with fire. This is the sort of round that has every fan on their feet with their jaws on the floor, and the fact Honda would go on to fight back in the way he did in the following rounds just adds to how amazing this round is. A really sensational 3 minutes of action.
Daniel Dubois KO2 Kyotaro Fujimoto
There really wasn't any option was there? Englishman Daniel Dubois turned the lights off for Japanese Heavyweight Kyotaro Fujimoto in what was one of the best KO's this year. A huge, single right hand to the jaw took the Japanese fighter out in brutal fashion. This is one which will be replayed time and time again. It's just a shame the Asian fighter was on the wrong end of it, but this was a brilliant KO.
Odiljon Aslonov (1-0, 1)
Forner Uzbek amateur standout Odiljon Aslonov made his debut on Saturday in Russia and instantly looked like one to watch, as he battered Russian journeyman Varazdat Chernikov into submission. This was a debut where Aslonov's intention wasn't just to win, but to show what his strengths were, and from the first moments he was showing destructive and brutal body work, breaking down the Russian, who was completely outclassed. This heavy handed fighter looks like a beast and is one to make a real note of going forward.
Moruti Mthalane (38-2, 25) vs Akira Yaegashi (28-6, 16)
Monday's IBF Flyweight title fight, pitting defending champion Moruti Mthalane against Japanese star Akira Yaegashi, is a hard one to call. We expect Mthalane to win, no matter what, but how he gets the win really does befuddle us. We can see both a very early win for the South African, with Yaegashi officially being shot, or a late dragged out win for Mthalane, who finally breaks down a gallant Yaegashi in a FOTY contender. It's that potential for this bout to be something special that has seen up pick this bout, though we wouldn't be surprised to see if being a blow out for the South African,similar to Yaegashi's 2017 loss to Milan Melindo.
What do you mean annual awards? ...it's only mid-December!
Over the last week or so we've seen the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) announce their shortlists for their annual awards. At the time there was more than 2 weeks of 2019 left and it again left us asking why? Why can they not wait until the end of the year? Why can they not wait until all the fights have been and gone? Why can they not allow everyone a fair chance?
As we all know by now Japan hosts action on New Year's Eve, and whilst none of those bouts look likely to deliver us a Fight of the Year contender, but it's not just Japan that has fights between now and the end of 2019. In fact there are other countries playing host to some fights that do look like they could be legitimate contenders. For example on December 20th, a day before this article goes live, we had Julio Cesar Martinez Aguilar face off with Cristofer Rosales, in a bout with real potential to be something very special. Likewise on December 28th Jean Pascal clashes with Badou Jack, in a bout that promises fireworks.
Of course some awards are essentially over. There is nothing between now and the end of the year which could possibly effect the Fighter of the Decade, the Fighter of the Year, the The Good Guy or even Trainer of the Year awards. But where we do have things that could fit into the short list, we really need to hold on, be patient. There is no need to rush things, and it can be ridiculously stupid.
A great example of how stupid short listing things is before the end of the year was seen in 2014, when Naoya Inoue missed out on the short list, despite the year being one where he claimed world titles at Light Flyweight and Super Flyweight. He wasn't on the ballot that year, because his final win of the year, a KO2 win over Omar Andres Narvaez, came way after the short list had been compiled. The year however still had time left in it!
Jonathan Morris's famous quote "Patience is a virtue, Possess it if you can; Seldom found in woman, Never found in man." Can certainly be brought into boxing, and changed somewhat. We don't like seeing things "marinate", but there is also no need to rush something that recognises what boxing has given us over the previous year.
Of course it's not just the BWAA who are to blame here, and we suspect many other lists will be released between now and January with various websites, journalists and the ilk announcing their Fighter, Fight, Knockout, Round, Prospect, etc... of the Year. Come on folks, just a touch of patience, it will go a long way...and give you extra time to watch what's happening in the sport.
If you're about to do a list, put your damn pen down, wait until the year is over, you know what is around the corner! By all means do a short list, but your full on list can wait a few extra day!
For those who have already decided on their lists, we suggest giving Keon Woo Kim's brutal KO1 against Moon Han Ji and Mammoth Nakayama's sensational 5th round KO of Lerdchai Chaiyawed a watch for any KO list, and Yuki Beppu's sensational win over Ryota Yada deserves a watch for any Fight of the Year list. We probably won't change your mind, but you should give them a watch regardless!
Who goes up against Rookie of the Year?
In a change of note we have a second point of contention this week...who on earth goes up against Rookie of the Year? This year there are two shows in Osaka on the same day as the All Japan Rookie of the Year, in a decision that seems foolish! We understand that time is limited, and trying to squeeze everything into the year can be tricky, but to us the Rookie of the Year is one of the biggest annual events in boxing. To go up against it is sacrilege!
We're not complaining about the quality of the cards, which will be promoted by Muto and Nakazato, but it does seem like the shows are shooting themselves in the foot sharing a day with such a tremendous part of the Japanese boxing calendar!
Now with that out the way, I shall see you all with the next one of these in the new year, so have a great Christmas folks, and a happy new year! And watch as many fights as you can between now and 2020! I will be!
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.
This past week has been a rather interesting one, with a lot happening, and some fantastic action, some great performances and some real disappointments. It's been a week where the awards were mostly easy selections, though we did have a problem with award, and we have noted it accordingly.
Fighter of the Week
Ryosuke Iwasa (27-3, 17)
Japan's Ryosuke Iwasa has been been a man who has long promised a lot, but has struggled to deliver. He has been inconsistent, he has slipped up too much and he has failed to live up to what he is capable of. This week however he delivered, his stoppage of Marlon Tapales was a notable upset with the bookies and saw Iwasa do it on the big stage. It wasn't a flawless performance but it was the best we've seen from him, and it showed what he can do, something we've not seen enough of. Fingers crossed he can build on this one and go on to become the fighter many expected him to be.
Performance of the Week
Kosuke Saka (20-5, 17)
In just over two years Kosuke Saka has had a career that has gone down, up, down and is up again. The way he lost the Japanese Featherweight title to Takenori Ohashi was embarrassing, his win over Masanori Rikiishi looks great on on reflect, his loss to Joe Noynay was a major set back. This weekend Saka was essentially fighting for his career, and it showed as he battered, beat up and broke down Masaru Sueyoshi in one of, if not them, best performance of his career. He pressed and pressured Sueyoshi, eventually dropping him and stopping him to become a 2-weight Japanese national champion. An excellent performance, a great win and a victory that sets up a mouth watering encounter with Takuya Watanabe in 2020.
Ryosuke Iwasa vs Marlon Tapales
Whilst we didn't have a Fight of the Year contender this past week we did have some solid bouts, including the IBF "interim" Super Bantamweight clash between Ryosuke Iwasa and Marlon Tapales. This was exciting to begin with, slowed in the middle then finished in style. It was a solid action bout early on and is well worth a watch, as long as you're not jumping in expecting a FOTY contender. Solid and high level stuff, but not quite a spectacular fight.
Note - Due to a lack of footage at the time of writing the 10 round, 6 knockdown thriller between Ryota Yada and Yuki Beppu wasn't able to be considered, though going off all reports this likely was the Fight of the Week.
Daiki Funayama vs Suradech Ruhasiri (RD4)
Sometimes the best rounds are just crazy, and round 4 of the contest between Daiki Funayama and Suradech Ruhasiri was crazy. The bout wasn't a great one, in fact it was one sided for the most part, but the effort Ruhasiri put in, and the beating he took, during the round make it thrilling. Funayama hurt his man early in the round and went for the kill. The Thai fought back, landing some huge right hand counters, making for a round that was truly amazing to watch. This won't be in the discussions for round of the year, but watching live, this is one that deserves a rewatch.
Sadriddin Akhmedov KO7 Jose Antonio Villalobos
We had a number of impressive KO's this week, but the best of the bunch was scored by Kazakh prospect Sadriddin Akhmedov, who brutally took out Argentinian foe Jose Antonio Villalobos in the 7th round. This came from a monstrous right hand and really left poor Villalobos wondering what sort of thunderbolt he had been caught by, a really impressive and eye catching KO from the future of Kazakh boxing.
Thanongsak Simsri (13-0, 11)
Aged 20, a professional for less than 18 months and now with just 38 rounds under his belt Thai youngster Thaniongsak Simsri proved he was one to watch. The youngster claimed the biggest win of his career this weekend when he narrowly, though fairly, out pointed world ranked Filipino Christian Bacolod over 8 rounds. The Thai was the stronger man and finished better than his talented Filipino foe, and showed that whilst there is still a lot of work to be done he is a top prospect rising through the ranks at a rapid pace. The man from Si Sa Ket might be dubbed "Srisaket II" by those in Thailand, but don't be surprised if he ends up making a name for himself in the coming years. This kid is a talent.
Yudai Shigeoka (1-0, 1) Vs Lito Dante (16-10-4, 8)
We love seeing fighters on the fast track, so for a man with just 1 fight to his name to face on an OPBF champion we were always going to jump all this. Yudai Shigeoka, the older brother of Ginjiro Shigeoka, is stepping up massively to take on rugged Filipino Lito Dante in what should be a really serious test of the youngster. A win for Shigeoka will put him in the title mix in the new year, but a win is certainly not a foregone conclusion and Dante is never an easy man to over-come. This is a serious test, and this is the sort of risk we love seeing from prospects.
This past week has certainly not been a banner week for Asian boxing, or boxing in general, but there was more than enough to talk about, and some stuff that was well hidden, hey we're looking at you Korea!
Fighter of the Week
John Riel Casimero (29-4, 20)
Filipino warrior John Riel Casimero has long been a road warrior, a true "had gloves, will travel, and fight anywhere" kind of fighter. Despite being one of the best road warriors in world boxing he has also been a fighter who blows hot and cold. When he's on fire he is excellent, but as we saw against Jonas Sultan in 2017 he can also turn up and not care about what happens in the ring. Thankfully he showed how hot he can be, at least for around a minute, as he claimed the WBO Bantamweight title and stopped Zolanu Tete to claim one of his biggest career wins.
Performance of the Week
John Riel Casimero (29-4, 20)
It's rare that a "Performance of the Week" will go to a man who really did nothing for 2 rounds but, lets be honest, what Casimero did in the third round made up for the nothingness of the first 2. He dropped Tete with a fantastic right hand just over a minute into the round and never let Tete back into things, in fact really the referee should have stopped things there and then. It was an awful showing by the referee but a brilliant round of destruction by Casimero.
Lei Wang vs Marlon Paniamogan
If we're being totally honest this past week was a weird one. There was little to really get excited about and looking for a fight that stood out, on a quiet week to begin with, was always going to be a struggle. Other than Casimero's bout with Tete nothing really got the juices flowing going into the week, and given how nothing happened for 2 rounds of that fight it massively under-delivered as an actual fight. Thankfully we did get some fun and games in China with Lei Wang and Marlon Paniamogan putting on a fun fight in Qingdao. Paniamogan brought the fight, walked through bombs and refused to go down, whilst Wang showed off some real skills. This wasn't a fight of the year contender, but it was the best of a weak bunch in a poor week of fights.
Hyun Je Baek vs Joo Hwan Suh (2)
With no major bout delivering a round to get excited about we had to turn out attention to a club level Korean show, and in fairness they do tend to deliver great action at the very lowest of levels. That was shown again this week when Hyun Je Baek and Joo Hwan Suh just stood their ground and lets shots fly. This was the sort of fight that trainers would hate their fighters for getting involved in, but for a week that was so lacking in action this was a highlight. Sadly the round involved a fight ending headclash that ended in a technical draw. Regardless what we got here was fun!
No suitable contender
It should be noted that whilst there was no suitable KO this week, the right hand that Casimero dropped Tete with was easily the punch of the week. A brute of a shot!
Yi Hung Chiang (4-0, 3)
The obvious choice for Prospect of the Week would have been Andy Hiraoka, who made his US debut with a quick win on the Top Rank show on Saturday night. We, however, have never been one for sticking with the obvious when someone else deserves a mention and the reality is that we were really impressed by two novice Taiwanese fighters. One of those was the debuting Kai Ting Chuang and the other was Yi Hung Chiang, who looked so exciting that it was hard to not be impressed. We don't imagine either fighter reaching the top of the sport, something Hiraoka could potentially do, but we do expect to be thoroughly entertained every time we see Chiang in action.
Joe Noynay (18-2-1, 7) vs Kenichi Ogawa (24-1, 18)
There may be bigger and better bouts out there next week, including a world title fight in Mexico and an interim world title fight in the US, but the one we are looking forward to the most is the WBO Asia Pacific title bout between Joe Noynay and Kenichi Ogawa. This year has been a huge one for Noynay, and another win here puts him well and truly in the world title mix, whilst Ogawa is still battling to redeem himself following his failed drug test in 2017. We expect explosive action here, and this should be a little bit of a gem in a very, very busy day of fights.
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