We’re now into 2021 but before we leave last year behind there are a few more things we need to look back on for last year. Among those are the Monthly Award winners for December 2020, and it’s a month really dominated by Japanese action, with Japan hosting a large number of shows during the final part of the year.
Fighter of the Month
Kazuto Ioka (26-2, 15)
The fighter of the month for December was an easy one, but one we really needed to wait until the end of the month for, and that was Kazuto Ioka, who successfully defended his WBO Super Flyweight title with an excellent 8th round TKO win against Kosei Tanaka. The Japanese legend was put under pressure early in the bout, was left with double vision in round 2, and had clear damage around his eye soon afterwards. Despite that he stuck to a game plan, took away Tanaka’s best tools, dropped the younger man twice, and then forced Michiaki Someya to save Tanaka from further punishment. A fantastic performance in the final big bout of the year.
Fight of the Month
Masayoshi Nakatani Vs Felix Verdejo
We genuinely had some amazing fights in December, such as the fantastic bout between Ioka and Tanaka fight, the sensational bout between Ali Akhmedov and Carlos Gongora and the brilliant clash between Ryoji Fukunaga and Kenta Nakagawa bout. The one that stood out above them all however was the amazing 9 round bout between Masayoshi Nakatani and Felix Verdejo in the US. The bout had 4 knockdowns, a huge shift in momentum and saw Nakatani pull himself off the canvas, twice, to stop Verdejo. This is up there with the very, very best of 2020 and is a bout that every fan should watch, if they haven’t already. A genuine fantastic fight.
KO of the Month
Etsuko Tada TKO9 Ayaka Miyao
As well as great fights we also had some sensational KO’s. The best of the bunch came in the WBO female Minimumweight title bout with Etsuko Tada taking out Ayaka Miyao with a single, short, straight, left hand. This was a perfect KO, sending Miyao face first onto the canvas, and giving Tada probably the best KO win of her career. In a month where we had some sensational finishes this was really something special and stands up there with the best female KO’s ever, especially given the proven world class ability of Miyao. If you have a Boxing Raise account and haven’t seen this one already go and check it out!
Prospect of the Month
Ryosuke Nishida (3-0, 1)
It’s rare to see a prospect fake on a former world title challenger in their first few fights but that’s exactly what we saw from Ryosuke Nishida on December 19th, when he beat Shohei Omori. Nishida, who was 2-0, and had only made his debut in October 2019, was too quick, too sharp, too hungry and too good for Omori who struggled to get anything going. Nishida started well as he established an early lead. He a little wobble in the middle of the fight, as Omori tried to turn things around, but roared back in the later rounds and came close to stopping Omori whilst securing himself a massive win. This was brilliant from Nishida in a massive step up, and it’s clear that the young southpaw from the Mutoh Gym has the potential to go a very, very long way. This was a performance that genuinely put him on the map and we’re looking forward to seeing the 24 year old return to the ring later this year.
Upset of the Month
Yuichi Ideta MD8 Ryota Yada
When it comes to upsets few will rival the upset win scored by Yuichi Ideta against former Japanese Welterweight champion Ryota Yada. Coming into the bout Ideta had gone 1-15-1 in his previous 17 bouts. He hadn’t scored a win in almost 10 years and had lost 11 in a row. No one gave him a chance, especially not at the age of 36. But then he simply out worked, out fought, out battled, out gritted and out willed Yada en route to taking a truly unexpected decision win. The heavy handed Yada, who is best known for his brilliant 2019 war with Yuki Beppu, was expected to win this one and move on to an OPBF title bout in 2021, but this loss almost certainly ends those plans and leaves his career in a really precarious situation.
Carlos Gongora TKO12 Ali Akhmedov
Round of the Month
Ryoji Fukunaga Vs Kenta Nakagawa (Rd8)
With a lot of brilliant fights taking place in December we also got a lot of excellent rounds and they came right through the levels of the sport, from some of the Rookie bouts world level bouts. For us however the bouts rounds came late in the fantastic bout between Ryoji Fukunaga and Kenta Nakagawa, with round 8 being the best of the bunch. The two men fought each other to a standstill, they each rocked the other and they went hammer and tong, beating the fight out of each other. This was brutal, it was thrilling, exciting, back and forth action. It was exactly what we needed to see. Not only was it great, but the stakes couldn’t be much higher, with the two men fighting for the WBO Asia Pacific, OPBF and Japanese Super Flyweight titles. This was amazing, and followed up by 2 more great rounds making for a real gem of a fight.
This past week has been a strange one, it feels like we've had a lot happen and whilst it was a busy week, it was the under-the-radar stuff that really stole the limelight. We had novice bouts in Tokyo really shining a light on how great they are, a fantastic KO by a female, something we rarely see, and it was just a genuinely low key but entertaining week. With that in mind lets find out where out weekly awards are heading!
Fighter of the Week
The newly crowned Japanese Minimumweight champion Masataka Taniguchi has had a few rough years in the sport. He turned professional along with Hiroto Taniguchi and was expected to pretty much lead the Watanabe gym with Kyoguchi. Since then he has come up short in a number of high profile bouts, and his most notable win was a low key WBO Asia Pacific title win in Thailand. He was 0-3 in title fights in Japan and he needed something big this week. Thankfully he got what he needed, dropping Hizuki Saso in the opening round and winning every minute of the fight after that until forcing a late stoppage. Fantastic week for a man who might, now, kick on and have the career we expected him to have.
Performance of the Week
We head over to Thailand for our performance of the week, which was scored by Thai youngster Phongsaphon Panyakum, who broke down the tough nosed Kompayak Porpramook on Saturday's WP Boxing event. The performance wasn't flawless from Phongsaphon but it was exactly what he needed, breaking down the smaller man and neutralising Kompayak's pressure. His his credit the veteran tried, as he always does, but met a stronger, younger, hungry man who just has too much in every area. This was the performance that suggested Phongsaphon has star potential, and fingers crossed we see him able to get a notable international opponent in 2021.
Fight of the Week
Tomoya Tanaka (0-2) vs Kenshiro Ishimori (1-0)
In a week that big name fighters stole attention in the US and UK it was a hidden gem on a Japanese card that left us feeling fuzzy and warm inside and with good cause. There really wasn't another bout that we saw that matched the drama and excitement of the scheduled 4 rounder between Tomoya Tanaka and Kenshiro Ishimori. From the moment this started it was clear both men were confident they could pick up a win and they fought with that belief. The opening round saw them trading jabs and straights with a right hand from Tanaka dropping Ishimori. The tide was turned in round 2 and Ishimori dropped Tanaka. Yes these were novices, but man this was great! We often rave about novice bouts on social media and it's because of bouts like this!
Round of the Week
Takumi Hashimoto Vs Soshi Goto (Rd3)
We're going to speak about Takumi Hashimoto in a bit more detail later on, but we need to give him credit here for the third round of his bout with Soshi Goto, which was 3 minutes of thrilling action. After taking the first two rounds Hashimoto looked to finish off Goto who realised the tide was well and truly against him. During round 3 he stood his ground more, partly a result of all the body shots he had taken, and it made for a great round of Hashimoto pressing forward like a baby terminator and Goto trying to create space and get his respect. This wasn't a hugely dramatic round, but it was a thoroughly entertaining one with both men needing to take some solid leather. A real joy to watch.
KO of the Week
Etsuko Tada TKO9 Ayaka Miyao
We mentioned a women's KO in the opening paragraph and it really was the standout finish of the week. It was scored by veteran Etsuko Tada who landed a short, counter, straight left hand that dropped Miyao face first. It was genuinely one of the best female KO's we've seen in terms of both quality of finish and quality of opponent. This was perfect and a great ending to their 2 fight series, which had seen the women fight to a draw in February. If you missed this one it's worth hunting down on Boxing Raise, a true beauty!
Prospect of the Week
Sometimes the key to winning Prospect of the Week is to score the highest profile win by a prospect, other times however it's about the fighter who has left us most excited about them, and with that in mind we need to have Takumi Hashimoto as this week's prospect. The debutant was in an all novice bout, against Soshi Goto, and despite being in such a low profile bout Hashimoto made his TV time count. He was all action from the off, pressing forward with hunger and a high octane pressure style. Within a round he had caught the eye and then he kept it up for 4 rounds. He was giving up size, height, reach and physical maturity here, but really impressed. Make a note of his name going forward
December, the best month of the year! The part of the year where we get Christmas, New Year's Eve, the birthday of some awesome people (hint hint!), and a great array of match ups right through the month. We really do have a bit of everything in December with world class fighters, domestic and regional title bouts, prospects, intriguing rematches and bouts that are just...interesting.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Masataka Taniguchi (12-3, 7) vs Hizuki Saso (12-6-2, 4)
On December 3rd we'll see a new Japanese Minimumweight champion crowned as former world title challenger Masataka Taniguchi clashed with Hizuki Saso for the vacant title. The title has been vacant since January, when Norihito Tanaka gave it up, and it's great to see it getting a new champion here. On paper it's really hard to see anything but a win for Taniguchi, however we suspect Saso know his opportunities will be limited and he'll have put everything into preparing for this shot.
Ayaka Miyao (23-8-2, 6) vs Etsuko Tada (19-3-3, 6) II -
We'll also see a new owner of the WBO Female Minimumweight title on December 3rd when Ayaka Miyao and Etsuko Tada re-run their January bout. Earlier this year these two veterans fought to a draw, in what was a really, really good bout, and we're looking forward to this rematch. It seemed that Miyao was unlucky in the first bout between the two, and she'll be the favourite here, but Tada should never be written off and she has bounced back from multiple setbacks through her career. This promises to be competitive, exciting and high tempo, even if neither fighter has the power to really hurt the other.
Workpoint Studio, Bang Phun, Thailand
Apichet Petchmanee (7-0, 2) vs Musheg Adoian (7-2, 7) II
Another notable rematch comes from Thailand on December 5th when unbeaten Apichet Petchmanee takes on Thai based Russian fighter Musheg Adoian. This should be really interesting, especially given the controversial nature of their first bout earlier this year. When the men first fought Apichet seemed to get very lucky on the scorecards after being dropped twice, and it's clear that Adoian will be out to avenge what he and his team will feel was an unjust loss. As for Apichet it's a chance to prove he's the better man. Sadly though the close nature of a number of Apichet's wins do suggest that if this goes the distance he'll take the decision and Adoian may well need to stop his man to home a victory.
Phongsaphon Panyakum (10-1, 5) vs Kompayak Porpramook (60-10, 41)
In an interesting match up 20 year old Thai prospect Phongsaphon Panyakum will take on former world champion Kompayak Porpramook. Originally Phongsaphon was supposed to be facing Sarawut Thawornkham on this card, but the bout was changed in mid-November when Sarawut's health forced him into early retirement. As a result Kompayak has stepped in and should make for an interesting test for the youngster. On paper Phongsaphon should be favoured, but we expect he will be given a real acid test here in a very interesting match up.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Mikito Nakano (4-0, 4) vs Ruito Saeki (7-3-1, 1)
Promising Japanese Featherweight Mikito Nakano returns to the ring in search of win #5 as he takes on Ruito Saeki. So far Nakano has looked like a star in the making, and it's a real shame his rise through the ranks has been slowed by 2020, or we'd likely be seeing him in title bouts in 2021. He's talented, quick, powerful and super sharp. In Ruito Saeki we have a capable domestic level fighter who came close to making the 2016 All Japan Rookie of the Year final, but has gone 0-2-1 in his last 3. Although struggling for form Saeki has shown that he's tough and is a clear step up for Nakano in a solid bit of match making.
RCC Boxing Academy, Ekaterinburg, Russia
Fazliddin Gaibnazarov (8-1, 5) vs Manuk Dilanyan (11-4-1, 4)
Rio Olympic gold medal winner Fazliddin Gaibnazarov will be look to continue rebuilding his career following a 2019 loss to Mykal Fox. The talented Uzbek is being matched relatively easily here against Manuk Dilanyan, who hasn't looked all that impressive during his career. Although, on paper, an easy fight for Gaibnazarov it is worth noting that the Uzbek will be giving away around 5" in height and could find Dilanyan to be a tricky customer here.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Daishi Nagata (15-2-1, 6) vs Akihiro Kondo (32-9-1, 18)
Earlier this year this under-rated Daishi Nagata upset Koki Inoue to claim the JBC Light Welterweight title, which he'll defend for the first time on December 10th, when he takes on former world title contender Akihiro Kondo. On paper this looks like a really good first defense for Nagata, but digging a little deeper it's fair to say this is a calculated risk, with Kondo looking like a man who has seen better days. Given the styles of the two men this should be really fun, but the younger, fresher, champion should be strongly favoured against the tough veteran.
Rentaro Kimura (2-0, 2) Vs Thunder Teruya (7-7-1, 4)
Super prospect Rentaro Kimura has hardly put a foot wrong since turning professional earlier this year, and the man from Shizuoka will be looking to end the year 3-0 (3) as he takes on Thunder Teruya. This is expected to be a chance for Kimura to showcase his skills at Korakuen Hall in front of a paying audience, for the first time, and to get some more TV exposure, on Fuji TV, before bigger and tougher bouts in the new year. Teruya certainly shouldn't be a threat for Kimura but won't be there to roll over and Kimura will need to for his win.
Tsubasa Murachi (5-1, 3) Vs Isao Aoyama (12-7-1, 3)
Another prospect who'll have to work for a win will be Tsubasa Murachi, who looks to score his biggest win to date as he take on JBC ranked Super Flyweight Isao Aoyama from the Celes gym. Once touted as a future star Murachi bit off more than he could chew in 2019, when he was stopped by Froilan Saludar in a WBO Asia Pacific title fight, but is is looking to rebuild and looked solid last time out, against Ryotaro Kawabata. We expect another solid performance from him here. Aoyama is a veteran and a talented on, but has lost 4 of his last 4 and a win here would likely be his best to date.
EDION Arena, Osaka, Japan
Yumi Narita (4-4-3, 1) Vs Mont Blanc Miki (4-3-1, 1)
Japanese female Minimumweight champion Yumi Narita looks to make her first defense as she takes on Mont Blanc Miki in a bout that won't get much attention based on records though should be an appealing match up when the two women get in the ring. Neither of these are the most polished of fighters but as with many limited level fighters in Asia they both come to fight, and with the title on the line we expect both to dig in deep. The challenger will be the under-dog but is a very, very live challenger here.
EDION Arena, Osaka, Japan
Miyo Yoshida (14-1) v Tomoko Okuda (6-2-2, 1)
The once beaten Miyo Yoshida looks to record her second defense of the WBO female Super Flyweight title as she takes on gritty challenger Tomoko Okuda. Coming into this Yoshida will be strongly favoured, given she is riding a 10 fight unbeaten run, and has scored several very notable victories during that rung, including one against Tomomi Takano and another against Casey Morton, to win the title. Although the under-dog Okuda is now push over and she'll be hungry to make the most of her big opportunity, especially as she'll know there's a good chance she won't get a second shot at a world title, given she's 37.
After a somewhat slow burn to begin September things step up in the second part of the month with a number of notable and big fights as the month ends on a high and sends us into October with a big boost of action! As well as meaningful bouts, at world level, we also get some big prospects in action, and a brilliant domestic bout in Thailand!
Mohegan Sun Casino, USA
Tugstsogt Nyambayar (11-1, 9) vs Cobia Breedy (15-0, 5)
We get a great fight to kick off this part of the month as recent world title challenger Tugstsogt Nyambayar takes on the unbeaten Cobia Breedy, who was a relatively late replacement for Eduardo Ramirez. The talented Nyambayar, from Mongolia, will be looking to secure a second world title fight, following a loss to Gary Russell Jr earlier this year. As for Breedy this is a huge step up, but he will enter with the confidence of an unbeaten man, and know there is no expectations on his shoulders.
Rangsit International Stadium, Rangsit, Thailand
Panya Pradabsri (33-1, 21) vs Wichet Sengprakhon (11-7, 6)
World ranked Thai Panya Pradabsri looks set to drop back down to Minimumweight as he takes on the limited Wichet Sengprakhon for a regional title. Panya is one of the most talented Thai's out there, but at 29 his career appears to be on a bit of a standstill, with too many bouts like this in recent years. There is no doubting his ability, but he really should be in the world title mix, not having his third tick over bout of the year.
Josh Taylor (16-0, 12) Vs Downua Ruawaiking (16-0, 13)
In one of the biggest bouts of the year so far we'll see Scotland's Josh Taylor look to defend his IBF and WBA Light Welterweight titles against Thai challenger Downua Ruawaiking. The bout is an IBF mandatory for Taylor and will see him look to build on some great wins in recent years, including his victory in the World Boxing Super Series last year. As for Downua, also known as Apinun Khongsong, the bout is a huge step up, though he did impress last time he stepped up and stopped Akihiro Kondo.
Kobe Central Gym, Japan
Mika Iwakawa (9-5-1, 3) Vs Nanae Suzuki (10-3-1, 1)
After holding the WBO Atomweigth title for more than 2 years we finally see Mika Iwakawa make her first defense, as she takes on former Japanese female champion Nanae Suzuki. It's hard to know what the champion still has to offer, given she's closing in on 40, but we suspect she will be the favourite against a hungry Suzuki. As with all Atomweight bouts expect this to be high tempo and have a lot of leather thrown, even if neither fighter has much pop on their shots.
Shun Kubo (13-2, 9) Vs Takashi Igarashi (13-4, 5)
Former world champion Shun Kubo returns to the ring for the first time since losing in 2019 to Can Xu. There was talk of Kubo retiring following that loss, but instead he's back here looking for a confidence building win as he takes on Takashi Igarashi. On paper this looks a competitive bout, but in reality it's hard to imagine Igarashi, who last fought in 2018, having much to offer. Still it's nice to see Kubo back in the ring, and he's always been a fun and gutsy fighter to watch.
Kohei Oba (36-3-1, 14) Vs Yoshiki Minato (8-3, 3)
Former Japanese Bantamweight champion champion Kohei Oba ends a 6 year break from the ring as he takes on 2018 Rookie of the Year winner Yoshiki Minato. Oba, dubbed the "Mayweather of Nagoya" was once regarded a legitimate prospect, and late a world title contender, but then Kohei Oba looks a loss to Randy Caballero in 2014 ended his world title hopes and eye issues after that sent him into retirement. As for Minato his Rookie of the Year triumph feels like a long time ago and he lost twice in 2019, and now needs a win.
Suamlum Night Bazaar, Ratchadaphisek, Bangkok, Thailand
Phoobadin Yoohanngoh (9-0, 4) Vs Atchariya Wirojanasunobol (12-0, 5)
In a really notable, yet rather odd, all-Thai match up we'll see teenage sensation Phoobadin Yoohanngoh take on Atchariya Wirojanasunobol. The 16 year old Phoobadin really impressed last time out, winning a WBA Asia regional title and going 10 rounds for the first time in a career best win. This is however a massive step up for the youngster who is taking on an opponent who looks very live, on paper. We say on paper as we really have no idea what the once touted Atchariya has left in the tank following a very long and hard battle out of the ring. Atchariya was arrested in 2018, at the airport on the way to face Andy Hiraoka in Japan, and spent more than a year awaiting trial for drug related crimes before beign cleared earlier this year. If the ordeal has taken Atchariya's fighting spirit this could end up being a farce, but if Atchariya has a burning anger and is looking to make a statement he might have too much for the youngster here.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Ayaka Miyao (23-8-2, 6) vs Thi Thu Nhi Nguyen (4-0, 1)
We'll see a new world champion being crowned in Vietnam as we see veteran Ayaka Miyao clash with unbeaten novice Thi Thi Nhi Nguyen in a bout for the WBO Female Minimumweight title. On paper Miyao, a former WBA Atomweight champion, should be strongly favoured, but the veteran is now 37 and has shown some slow down in recent years, and isn't a natural Minimuweight. Nguyen is the much younger fighter, at 23, she's a natural Minimumweight and holds home advantage, though this is a massive step up in class for her.
Fujisan Messe, Japan
Tsubasa Murachi (4-1, 3) Vs Ryotaro Kawabata (12-3-2, 6)
The talented Tsubasa Murachi looks to bounce back from a 2019 KO loss to Froilan Saludar as he takes on domestic foe Ryotaro Kawabata. This is a decent comeback, on paper, for the once touted Murachi who has questions to answer following such a brutal KO loss. Although Kawabata is no world beater he has scored some notable results, including a draw with Rene Dacquel, and a close loss to Mark John Yap, and should prove a decent test for talent youngster.
Rentaro Kimura (1-0, 1) Vs Takafumi Iwaya (4-3)
In a mismatch we'll see brilliant Japanese prospect Rentaro Kimura look to build on his impressive debut win, over Yuya Azuma, as he takes on Takafumi Iwaya. Thuis really isn't expected to be much of a test at all for Kimura, who is one of the best best prospects in Japan, but given he is certainly one to follow this is a bout that should be on the radar of every fan. The 32 year old Iwaya was stopped on his debut but has rebuilt from some early stumbles and come in to this on the back of 3 straight wins. Even with that sort of form a competitive performance against Kimura would be a massive shock.
Koichi Aso (23-9-1, 15) Vs Shogo Yamaguchi (12-5-3, 7)
Former Japanese Light Welterweight champion Koichi Aso was never the best fighter or the biggest puncher but he was someone who has always provided value for fans, and has been in some thrilling contests. Sadly his career seems to be coming to an end, and the 34 year old is likely to hang them up sooner, rather than later. In what may be one of his final professional bouts he takes on Shogo Yamaguchi, who comes into the bout on the back of a career best win over Shuhei Tsuchiya this past February. This isn't a big bout, but we do expect it to be a fun and action packed war for as ling as it lasts.
Whilst much of the action in early to mid-January was spaced out the end of January really sees things coming in at us thick and fast with a lot happening in the final week of the month, including some top unbeaten prospects, world, Japanese youth and Japanese female title fights and a tournament final!
Batyrzhan Jukembayev (17-0-0-1, 13) Vs Maximiliano Ricardo Veron (12-3-1, 4)
Talented Canadian based-Kazakh hopeful Batyrzhan Jukembayev looks to kick his 2020 off in style when he meets 31 year old Argentinian fighter Maximiliano Ricardo Veron. A win for the Kazakh will move him a step closer to a potential world title fight later in the year, and will see him defending minor WBA and IBF titles.
Yumiko Shimooka (4-7, 1) vs Yumi Narita (3-4-3, 1)
On paper not something to be raving about, but Yumiko Shimooka and Yumi Narita will face off in the hope of crowning a new Japanese Female Minimumweight champion. The title was vacated by former champion Mizuki Chimoto, and whilst neither of these two are stellar fighters they should make for an interesting bout all the same.
Kazuki Nakajima (8-0, 7) vs Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0, 4)
One of the real standout bouts for Asia this month is the God's Left Bantamweight final, pitting unbeaten punchers Kazuki Nakajima and Seiya Tsutsumi against each other. This should be a very explosive bout, that could be a blink and you miss it affair. Both can bang, both have some question marks about their defense, both were solid amateurs and both will be looking to claim the God's Left crown. If you have Boxing Raise this is really the one you need to catch this month!
Ayaka Miyao (23-8-1, 6) Vs Etsuko Tada (19-3-2, 6)
Former female world champion Ayaka Miyao and Etsuko Tada clash for the vacant WBO Female Minimumweight title, which was vacated by Kasumi Saeki. Miyao is coming into the bout looking to become a 2-weight world champion, having previously reigned at Atomweight, whilst Tada is looking to reclaim the WBO title, the she previously vacated. This should be a very fan friendly bout between two women who like to let their hands go, and have styles that should work well together, with Miyao being a speed boxer-mover and Tada being someone who will apply pressure behind her volume.
Kaiki Yuba (6-0-2, 4) vs Kanta Takenaka (7-4-1, 2)
Second generation fighter Kaiki Yuba looks to claim his first title as he takes on Kanta Takenaka for the vacant Japanese Youth Lightweight title. Yuba's father, the legendary Tadashi Yuba, was a 5-weight Japanese national champion and dubbed "Mr Korakuen" due to his success as the Korakuen Hall. There is pressure on the 21 year old Kaiki but he should have too much for the tough but limited Takenaka here.
Kanako Taniyama (2-0-1, 1) vs Tomoko Okuda (5-2-2, 1) II
Another Japanese female title should see a champion being crowned as Kanako Taniyama and Tomoko Okuda battle for the second time, with the stakes being the Japanese female Bantamweight title. These two fought to a draw last year, with Taniyama somewhat unlucky not to pick up the win, and we expect another interesting contest this time around. Taniyama was the aggressive, front foot fighter whilst Okuda relied on keeping things long, making for an interesting dynamic that we expect to be repeated here. Could be a bit of a hidden gem here.
Daniel Roman (27-2-1, 10) vs Murodjon Akhmadaliev (7-0, 6)
The highest profile bout for an Asian fighter in January is an obvious choice, as unbeaten Uzbek Murodjon Akhmadaliev takes on WBA "Super" and IBF Super Bantamweight champion Daniel Roman, in a truly mouth watering clash. These two were supposed to fight last year, before Roman suffered an injury in training. For Roman a win would continue an excellent run, which has seen him beat Shun Kubo, Ryo Matsumoto and TJ Doheny, and help stamp him as the #1 fighter in the division. For Akhmadaliev a win would be a huge statement from him, and from Uzbek boxing. Stylistically this is very interesting, with the fighters having styles that should gel, and very significant. One to be very excited about.
Jade Bornea (14-0, 10) vs Ernesto Delgadillo (11-0-2, 2)
Unbeaten Filipino fighter Jade Bornea features in his international debut at the end of the month when he takes on American for Ernesto Delgadillo in a bout for the NABF Super Flyweight title. The fight should tell us a lot about what both men have in their lockers and the winner will find themselves in the mix for a world title fight later in the year.
This past week has been an interesting one in many ways. The quantity of shows has dropped off, noticeably, but the quality was high through out with two major Japanese cards from the Korakuen Hall as well as several other noteworthy cards.
Fighter of the Week
Ryo Sagawa (8-1, 4)
On Friday we had a hugely anticipated show at the Korakuen Hall, featuring a number of notable Japanese fighters, with many of them being in ultra competitive contests. The man who won the most significant of those was Ryo Sagawa, who defeated Reiya Abe for the Japanese Featherweight title. The bout was an ultra competitive contest over 10 excellent rounds, and for Sagawa it completes a remarkable run of results, which also includes a win over Ryo Matsumoto and Al Toyogon. Given how close it was it keeps Abe in the title mix, but Sagawa is well deserving of the Fight of the Week award, and we expect to see him in some much bigger bouts in the coming years.
Performance of the Week
Masanori Rikiishi (7-1, 4)
Japanese fighter Masanori Rikiisi isn't someone Western fans will be too aware of, though they may see his name breaking into the world rankings sooner rather than later, especially his match makings, and this weeks performance. The unheralded 25 year old stepped up massively to take on his first non-Asian opponent, and completely schooled Nicaraguan Freddy Fonseca. Fonseca is best known by American fans for losing earlier in the year to the Jo Jo Diaz, and whilst Rikiishi couldn't stop Fonseca he did drop him twice and totally dominate him over 8 rounds to secure his best win to date.
Saemi Hanagata 915-7-4, 7) Vs Nao Ikeyama (18-6-4, 5) III
After 2 thrilling bouts, both of which ended in draws, we got exactly what expected when Saemi Hanagata and Nao Ikeyama took to the ring to end their trilogy. From the first round to the last this was an engaging, competitive bout, that never seemed easy to score and always looked like both fighters felt they had what it took to take home the win. We love competitive back and forth and this was just that, even if neither fighter had the power to hurt the other. The momentum shifts, action and gelling of styles between these two is great, and it's a shame their rivalry now seems to be over after 30 extremely competitive rounds.
Note - Unfortunately the A-Sign card hasn't been made available, had been out there there's a good chance that 3 bouts from that card would have been in the mix for this award.
Ayaka Miyao vs Monserrat Alarcon (Rd 10)
Fans of female boxing were treat this past week. Not only did they have the big Amanda Serrano Vs Heather Hardy bout in the US but there was also a Japanese card that completely focused on female boxing. The card didn't get a lot of attention, but it should have given the quality of action on the show. The highlight for us was the final round of the WBA Atomweight title bout between Ayaka Miyao and Monserrat Alarcon. This was a sensational round of action, with so much leather thrown as both fighters tried to secure victory in an incredibly close bout. If you like female boxing this is well worth hunting down.
Note-As with the fight of the week some of the best rounds haven't yet been made available to watch due to one of the cards being put on a tape delay to much later in the month.
Muhammad Waseem KO1 Conrado Tanamor
Pakistani fighter Muhammad Waseem had been out of the ring for over a year until returning in a cameo on Friday in Dubai. The cameo was very short, lasting just over a minute with Waseem taking out Filipino fighter Conrado Tanamor with a brutal body shot. The bout was a mismatch, but the shot was still a beauty and it's clear that if Waseem can shake some ring rust, against a decent opponent, he could well find himself back in the world title mix before the end of the end of 2020.
Iskander Kharsan (7-0, 6)
Unbeaten US based Kazakh prospect Iskander Kharsan has some how remained under the radar despite showing the potential to be someone very special. That ability, power punching and confidence was on show this weekend when he stopped Isidro Ochoa in the 5th round. The Kazakh youngster applied intelligent pressure and sharp punching to take control, dropping Ochoa in round 5 with an excellent straight right hand. Ochoi, to his credit, saw out the round but retired in the corner as Kharsan picked up best win to date.
Taku Kuwahara (5-0, 4) vs Jonathan Refugio (21-6-5, 7)
There are a number of solid bouts coming up over the next week or so, but the one that really stands out is a match up between fast rising Japanese hopeful Taku Kuwahara and experienced Filipino Jonathan Refugio. On paper this is a massive step up for Kuwahara, but the body punching phenom from the Ohashi gym is tipped for big things and will be expected take home the win here. Refugio is no world beater, but the Filipino is a durable, skilled and tough fighter, who can do enough to test rising hopefuls. This should be a great chance to see just how good Kuwahara is, and how quickly the Ohashi team can move him.
August wasn't the biggest month for Asian boxing, but was a solid month overall, which had plenty of shows to be excited about and a very few real breaks between something of note.
On paper September looks like it will be a lot less interesting than August was. It looks to start slowly, peak with a flurry of major bouts in the middle, then tail off in forgettable fashion. With that said lets have a look at what's to come in the first part of the month.
Samuel Salva (17-0, 10) Vs Pedro Taduran (13-2, 10) -Metro Manila, Philippines
The first world title bout takes place on the 7th and is an all-Filipino battle for the vacant IBF Minimumweight title. The bout pits the unbeaten Samuel Salva against hard hitting youngster Pedro Taduran. For Salva this is his first world title bout, and a chance to announce himself after a relative slow build on the Filipino domestic scene. As for Taduran the bout will be his second world title fight, following a 2018 loss to Wanheng Menayothin. The winner of this will be seen as the weakest of the champions at 105lbs but they'll have had a very credible win to take the title regardless.
Giemel Magramo (23-1, 19) vs Eaktwan BTU Ruaviking (25-5, 16) - Metro Manila, Philippines
On the same card as the Salva/Taduran bout we also get an IBF Flyweight world title eliminator, as once beaten Filipino hopeful Giemel Magramo takes on former world title challenger Eaktwan BTU Ruaviking, aka Komgrich Nantapech, in what could end up being one of the best bouts of the month. The winner will likely get a shot at Moruti Mthalane, though will almost certainly have to go through a real war to get that title fight. Both of these men like to come forward, through shots and press the action, so we're expecting a bit of a phone booth tear up here. On paper Eaktwan is the more experience and proven but Magramo looks to be the more naturally talented and smarter. Either way we're in for something very special here.
Yuki Nagano (16-2, 12) vs Makoto Kawasaki (11-7-1, 2) - Tokyo, Japan
In a Japanese Welterweight title fight we'll see Yuki Nagano defending his title against veteran Makoto Kawasaki. On paper this looks like an easy first defense for Nagano, though we really can't begrudge him an easy one after successive wins over Riku Nagahama, Yuki Beppu and Ryota Yada. With a 14 fight winning run Nagano is in great form and full of confidence. The 35 year old Kawasaki on the other hand likely knows retirement is looming and a loss he will almost certainly push him into hanging up the gloves. Kawasaki isn't a bad fighter, but we really don't know what he has in his arsenal to test the in form champion.
Jorge Linares (45-4, 28) Vs Al Toyogon (10-4-1, 6)
Former 3-weight world champion Jorge Linares has fought around half of his carer in Japan, though amazingly he's not fought in the Land of the rising Sun in well over 4 years. The wait for his Japanese return ends here as he takes on Filipino Al Toyogon, who looks to end a 2-fight losing run. The exiting, but vulnerable, Linares is in a position where his career is likely over as a world class operator with another loss. Toyogon comes into this on the back of losses to Ryo Sagawa and Shuya Masaki, but will know a win here will get the boxing world talking about him, and there is no better time to face Linares.
Saemi Hanagata (15-7-4, 7) Vs Nao Ikeyama (18-5-4, 5) III - Tokyo, Japan
All female cards are rare, but when they happen in Japan they tend to be stacked with some excellent match ups. On September 12th we get once such card, headlined by the third bout between IBF Atomweight champion Saemi Hanagata and former WBO Atomweight champion Nao Ikeyama. After drawing in the first 2 fights of their rivalry both will be desperate to take home a win here and we're expecting an all out thriller, much like their previous bouts.
Ayaka Miyao (23-7-1, 6) Vs Monseratt Alcaron (12-4-2) - Tokyo, Japan
Another fantastic looking female world title bout on same card will see the WBA Atomweight title being unified. In one corner will be regular champion Monseratt Alcaraon whilst the other will house interim champion Ayaka Miyao, together they should make for a brilliant match up. Miyao is an aggressive veteran who uses a lot of speed and a high output whilst Alcaron is a smart fighter with an aggressive counter punching style. This should be a bout that really sees the style gel.
Eri Matsuda (3-0) Vs Mont Blanc Miki (4-2-1, 1) - Tokyo, Japan
A third Atomweight title bout on the same card will see Eri Matsuda make her first defense of the Japanese Atomweight title, as she takes on the limited Mont Blanc Miki. Matsuda is one of the pure talents in female boxing, and she will likely be targeting one of the winners from the world title fights on this show. Miki on the other hand has been stopped in both of her defeats, both at a low level, and a win here for the challenger would be a a big surprise.
The second half of November is fast approaching and it's set to be a busy one for fans who follow Asian boxers. We have a nice mix of Youth, world, regional and female title fights coming up over the next 2 weeks or so
Tetsuya Hisada (32-9-2, 19) Vs Akihiro Toya (8-4, 1) - Japan
We kick off the second part of the months with a Japanese Light Flyweight title bout, as defending champion Tetsusya Hisada seeks his 5th defense, and takes on the unheralded Akihiro Toya. On paper this should be a mismatch, in favour of Hisada who is approaching a world title fight, but he can ill afford any sort of set back right now. The champion is now 34 and will know that even a serious cut here could end his dreams of a world title fight. For Toya this will be an unexpected chance, given he has lost 2 of his last 3, but he could pull out the upset if Hisada over-looks him.
Chaoz Minowa (6-1, 5) Vs Ibeth Zamora Silva (29-6, 12) - Mexico
On November 17th we'll see Japanese fighter Chaoz Minowa challenge Mexico Ibeth Zamora Silve, for Zamora's WBC Female Flyweight title. This will be Minowa's second shot t a world title, and another loss really will harm her hopes of ever winning a world title, despite her strong amateur credentials. Silva won the title earlier this year, and this will be her first defence, though she is a world class fighter and had a prolonged reign at Light Flyweight. A win for Silva will establish her reign, though she'll likely be looking for bigger and more notable fights, if she can over-come the aggressive but flawed Minowa.
West Japan Rookie of the Year Finals- Japan
The All Japan Rookie of the Year finals gets the second set of fighters as the West Japan representatives are decided on. The show's winners will be back in action just before Christmas as they take on their East Japan representatives in the crucial All Japan final. The regional final has a number of really good bouts on it, and if they manage to claim bot only the West crown but the All Japan one they will be expected to be moved into title fights in the relatively near future. This is a key show on the Japanese calendar, and is a very significant show for fans on the domestic scene.
Ryuto Oho (11-4-1, 3) Vs Yuta Nakayama (6-1-1, 3) - Japan
Just a day after the West Japan Rookie final we see youngsters colliding in a Japanese Youth Light Flyweight title bout. The bout will see 2013 All Japan Flyweight Rookie of the year Ryuto Oho making his first defense of the Japanese Youth title as he takes on the once beaten Nakayama, who is riding a 5 fight winning streak into this bout. Oho won the title back in April, stopping Tetsuya Tomioka, and looks to be a better fit at 108lbs than he was at 112lbs. Nakayama on the other hand looks to be stepping up a level, and may well face his stiffest test to date in what looks like an excellent match up.
Ayaka Miyao (22-7-1, 6) Vs Nao Ikeyama (18-4-3, 5) III - Japan
It's not often that we support WBA "Interim" title bouts but with WBA “regular” Atomweight champion Monseratt Alcaron suffering an injury we can't help but support an “interim” title here as Ayaka Miyao and Nao Ikeyama face off in an excellent rematch. The first bout between these two came in 2016, when Ikeyama beat the much younger Miyao due to a nasty knee injury that kept Miyao out of the ring for over a year. That win for Ikeyama was her last victory, and she would lose the WBO Atamweight title this past July. Aged 49 a win for Ikeyama would be a massive statement whilst a win for Miyao would see her getting revenge for the loss a few years ago. A brilliant match up, and a rare example of the WBA using their “interim” titles properly!
Kudura Kaneko (8-0, 5) Vs Toshio Arikawa (15-5, 13) - Japan
Not every great match up needs a title, and we can't help but get very excited about the Japanese Welterweight bout between rising youngster Kudura Kaneko, a Japanese-Afghan prospect, and former champion Toshio Arikawa, fighting for the first time since losing the title. Both of these men have real belief in their power and this could end up being a shoot out, as well as a potential passing of the torch on the Japanese domestic scene. The bout won't get much attention globally, but that doesn't take away from the interest the bout has from us, and Japanese domestic fans.
Dmitry Bivol (14-0, 11) vs Jean Pascal (33-5-1-1, 20) - USA
Outside of Asia the biggest fight with an Asian as we get towards the end of the month will see Kyrgyzstan born Russian Dmitry Bivol defending his WBA Light Heavyweight title against Canadian based Haitian Jean Pascal. The talented Bivol, now widely regarded as one of the top Light Heavyweights on the planet, had looked at other opponents but due to various issues ended up with the 36 year old Pascal. The Canadian regularly makes for exciting bouts, due to his style, and he is still popular but he is 4-3 in his last 7 and has twice been stopped by Sergey Kovalev in the last 4 years. This should be fun, but comfortable for the champion.
Richard Pumicpic (21-8-2, 6) vs Musashi Mori (7-0, 5) - Japan
Filipino fighter Richard Pumipcic makes it 3 in a row in Japan as he returns to defend his WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight title against teenager Musashi Mori. Pumicpic won the title when he defeated Hisashi Amagasa in Tokyolast year. His only defense of the belt saw far saw him defeat Yoshimitsu Kimura, in a clear but competitive bout, and now he returns to take on one of the country's best teenager. Mori has impressed, winning the All Japan Rookie of the Year, but this is a monstrous step up in class and if he wins he could find himself on the verges of the world rankings. It's a big risk with a huge reward for the challenger, but he is clearly the under-dog.
Knockout CP Freshmart (18-0, 7) Vs Byron Rojas (25-3-3, 11) II - Thailand
The final bout of note for the month comes from Thailand, as WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart defends the WBA title against former champion Byron Rojas, the man he actually beat for the belt back in back in June 2016. Since beating Rojas we've seen Knockout make 5 defenses, including wins over Shin Ono, Rey Loreto and Xiong Zhao Zhong, but he's failed to really impress on a consistent basis. He's a solid champion, but one who doesn't seem to look spectacular. Rojas is 8-0 since the loss to Knockout, but has only been fighting at the Nicaraguan domestic level and it's a little bit unclear on how good he's been since losing the belt. In saying that however he's incredibly hungry for this bout and does seem determined to take the title back to Nicaragua. This could be a great way to end what looks to be a fantastic month of action.
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