The past few months have, sadly, been rather quite on the boxing front, at least compared to pre-pandemic times. Despite that it does feel like April is going to be a truly stacked month of action with more fights of note than we've seen all year. Genuinely this coming month is set to be massive, with every type of fight we could hope for! With that in mind lets take a look at what's to come in the early part of the month.
Humo Arena, Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Murodjon Akhmadaliev (8-0, 6) vs Ryosuke Iwasa (27-3, 17)
The big fight to kick the month off will see IBF and WBA "Super" Super Bantamweight champion Murodjon Akhmadaliev defending his titles against IBF "interim" champion Ryosuke Iwasa in a highly anticipated bout that would have taken place last year were it not for Covid19. For Akhmaaliev it's his first bout since winning the titles from Daniel Roman in a sensational 2020 bout whilst Iwasa has been out of the ring since beating Marlon Tapales in 2019. The Super Bantamweight division is a criminally slept on one right now, and the winner of this will be in the mix for some brilliant match ups later in the year. For this bout we suspect the strength and technical ability of Akhmadaliev will be up against the power of Iwasa, and we should get something a bit special.
Israil Madrimov (6-0, 5) vs Emmany Kalombo (14-0, 14)
Talking about special it's fair to say that Israil Madrimov might be a bit special, and he gets a chance to show what he can do on this show as he takes on the unbeaten Emmany Kalomobo. The talented Madrimov has been touted as a future world champion since making his debut but showed some cracks last time out. We're expecting a really big performance from him here. Saying that howeber Kalombo will not have travelled from South Africa to Uzbekistan to hand over his unbeaten record and he should be regarded as a live opponent here.
Shakhram Giyasov (10-0, 8) vs Patricio Lopez Moreno (28-4, 20)
Another hotly tipped Uzbek is Shakram Giyasov, who took a silver medal at the 2016 Olympics. He has looked hot and cold at times as a professional, though it appears when he's on song he is an incredible talent with a bright future. We suspect to see him at his very best here, as he takes the chance to impress his countryman. In the opposite corner is highly experienced Mexican Patricio Lopez Moreno, who is no push over, and went 12 rounds with Denys Berinchyk in 2019. Moreno has the tools to test Giyasov, but we are, as mentioned, expecting something impressive from the unbeaten Uzbek.
Hasanboy Dusmatov (2-0, 2) vs Muhsin Kizota (11-2, 5)
Whilst there is a lot of press regarding Madrimov and Giyasov, who have both fought on DAZN before, the Uzbek that really could steal the show is Hasanboy Dusmatov, another Olmypic champion and a man who is wanting to fight for a world title sooner rather than later. The excellent Dusmatov has gone through his first 2 professional bouts without much attention, picking up very easy wins. Here we expect to see him taking on his toughest test so far as he battles Tanzanian fighter Muhsin Kizota. Dusmatov is a very, very special fighter, and needs to move his career quickly to real the heights his potential deserves and we suspect an impressive win here will see his team look to secure a world title fight in 2021. Kizota Kizota's record lacks in terms of quality, but it is worth noting that he went 7 rounds with Sivenathi Nontshinga, and we suspect that Dusmatov will try to take him out quicker than that.
Also on this show are exciting prospects Bakhodir Jalolov (7-0, 7), Elnur Abduraimov (7-0, 6), Sanjar Tursunov (2-0, 1) and the debuting pair of Ikboljon Kholdarov (0-0) and Mirazizbek Mirzakhalilov (0-0).
Round 10 Boxing Club, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Donnie Nietes (42-1-5, 23) vs Pablo Carrillo (25-7-1, 16)
The long awaited ring return of Donnie Nietes, who hasn't fought since the final day of 2018, takes place this month as he clashes with Colombian veteran Pablo Carillo. The excellent Nietes, a 4 weight world champion who's only loss needs a giant "*" next to it, is looking to secure a career defining fight before finally hanging them up. Carrillo shouldn't pose a threat to Nietes, if Nietes is half the fighter he was, but with such a long lay off it's going to be very interesting to see how Nietes looks here.
Zhankosh Turarov (24-0, 17) Vs Tyrone McKenna (21-2-1, 6)
Unbeaten Kazakh fighter Zhankosh Turarov looks to make a big step up in class as he takes on Tyrone McKenna in what looks like a very good match up. Turarov has been touted for a while, but had a very, very stop start career, plagued by injuries and inactivity. Dubbed "Da Kazakh Kid" he is now 30 and it's do or die time for his career, which has seen him fighting as a pro since 2009! His opponent will be Northern Irishman Tyrone McKenna, who will be incredibly hungry to take a win here, and bounce back from a controversial 2020 loss to Ohara Davies. Although not a marquee fight by any stretch, this should be a hotly contested one, and a bout that sees both men in the ring to win.
Tursynbay Kulakhmet (2-0, 1) Vs Heber Rondon (20-0, 13)
Another unbeaten Kazakh in action is professional novice Tursynbay Kulakhmet, who will be looking to defend his WBC International title for the first time as he takes on the unbeaten Heber Rondon. On paper this looks a really good match up and a good chance to Kulakhmet to show what he can against a solid looking opponent. Although he is being fast tracked there are plenty of areas for Kulakhmet to work and we'd love to see a more polished performance from him here, after a bit of flawed showing last time out. As for Rondon, an unbeaten Venezuelan, this will be his first bout away from home, an is a very steep step up in class. Rondon could be a bit of a surprise fighter here, though we suspect Kualkhmet will have far too much for him.
Workpoint Studio, Bang Phun, Thailand
Nawaphon Por Chokchai (50-1-1, 40) Vs Sophon Klachun (5-5-1, 1)
Former world title challenger Nawaphon Por Chokchai was hoping to land a WBC title fight in March, tough Covid19 restrictions in France saw that bout collapse. As a result he's now set for a stay busy fight in April as he takes on Sophon Klachun. Ranked #2 by the WBC, in some of the strangest rankings we've seen, Nawaphon is edging towards a second world title fight and really should just be focusing on shaking some ring rust here.
Sakai City Industrial Promotion Center, Sakai, Osaka, Japan
Kaori Nagai (5-2-3, 2) Vs Natsuki Tarui (4-6-2)
JBC Atomweight champion Kaori Nagai will make her first defense of her title as she takes on Natsuki Tarui. On paper this looks a very low level title fight, but in reality the styles of the two should gel really well and we're expecting a fantastic, high tempo bout here. Nagai is in really good form, having won her last 4, and gone unbeaten in her last 8, but Tarui is also much better than her record suggests and is 3-1-1in her last 5. This should be a very good bout.
Sakai City Industrial Promotion Center, Sakai, Osaka, Japan
Tenkai Tsunami (27-12-1, 16) Vs Shione Ogata (11-6-1, 3)
A second Japanese female fighter defending her title on April 4th is WBO female Light Flyweight champion Tenkai Tsunami, who takes on the under-rated Shione Ogata in a solid, if unspectacular, match up. The highly experienced Tsunami 36 and has been a professional since 2005, mixing against many of the best in the world, and is going through one of the best runs of her career. Ogata on the other hand is taking a big step up here, unbeaten in her last 5 and won the WBA Asia, WBO Asia Pacific and OPBF female Light Flyweight titles in her last 4 bouts. This really should be a very, very entertaining clash of styles and a hotly contested 10 rounder.
Earlier this year several professional fighters took part in the World Championships in Russia, with the most notable of those being Uzbek giant Bakhodir Jalolov (6-0, 6), who went on to win gold in the Super Heavyweight division. The win for Jalolov, and most notably his KO win over Richard Torrez, drew mixed comments from opposing sides of the fence.
On one hand the WBC, and their head honcho Mauricio Sulaiman, were very much against letting professional fighters fight in the amateur competitions. They made out that it was "Brutal and criminal" for Jalolov to fight Torrez in the quarter-finals of the World Amateur Championships. They were very much suggesting that Torrez was "smaller" and "outclassed" by Jalolov, though both men were Super Heavyweights and both had fairly reached the final 8 of the competition. They were, for all intents, there on merit and competing in the same weight class.
We won't go on to look at the multitude of mismatches the WBC have allowed, and in some cases ordered, as that's not the subject of this article. But they very much seemed to downplay the fact that by even reaching that stage of the competition Torrez was a legitimate top amateur. They also seemed to have no problem in allowing Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam, who competed at the 2016 Olympics whilst being a professional, to fight for their Diamond title just 3 months earlier.
On the other hand there were people pointing out that the sports were different, and others suggesting that the more pertinent question was "why would a professional even want to compete in the amateurs?" That's the point we want to pick up, especially for Jalolov.
The 6'7" Heavyweight has the tools to be a major force in the professional ranks. He has freakish agility for such a big man, dynamite power in his left hand, a lot of natural charisma, and although his style isn't the most TV friendly his concussive power makes him a must watch fighter. He should, for all intents and purposes, be a promoters dream. A big, hard hitting fighter who oozes charm. Sadly however in almost 18 months as a professional he has fought only 6 times, with only 2 of those bouts coming in 2019. In that same amount of time he has fought at least 11 times as an amateur.
Jalolov has a well known American promoter, who has essentially failed to promote him, failed to make him the name that his talent deserves and although amateurs don't technically get paid, they often do get financially rewarded for winning medals. Back in 2012, at the London games, Uzbek gold medal winners were awarded the equivalent of $150,000 whilst they were award the equivalent of $12,000 for winning gold at the World Amateur Championships. This financial reward isn't huge, but it is something and leads to another point.
These amateur tournaments aren't always about personal glory but about national pride. The Uzbek fighters who went to the various international amateur tournaments this year weren't there just to fight as themselves, but were there to representing their nation, an honour that isn't really possible in the professional ranks. In the pros they are fighting for themselves but in the amateurs they are also fighting for their country, and their countries honour. Something that can, in some cases, be incredibly important.
For a fighter being ill promoted and kept inactive the amateurs give them a chance to stay busy, keep ticking over and, in Jalolov's case, building his profile. His win over Torezz got more fans talking about him, often from an ill informed stand-point, than his 6 professional bouts.
Whilst not every professional fighter has the same reasons for fighting in the amateurs some have a very clear reason. Their professional promoters are simply failing them. For Jalolov to still be such an unknown among fans of professional boxing is abhorrent, and when his promoter is as well known as he is, and often complains about the actions of other promoters, it's simply a joke.
We won't name the promoter of Jalolov's early bouts, but we will say it's time he promotes his fucking fighters, gets them in the public's eye, and keeps them there! Amazing the promoter in question didn't even mention Jalolov's World Championship win on the news section of his website yet still has the fighter listed as one of his fighters!
(Image courtesy of http://www.dbe1.com)
It feels like September began an eternity ago, though it only came to an end a week ago. Despite being a long month, with some dry patches in it terms of top boxing, it was a month that really delivered more than expected. It gave a legitimate contender for KO of the Year, Fight of the Year and Round of the Year. It had prospects who were willing to step up and some notable upsets. All in all September was a good month, even if we did have some slumps in action.
Fighter of the Month
Pedro Taduran (14-2, 11)
The 22 year old Pedro Taduran will never be described as a world class boxer. The reality is that he's not a world class boxer in any way shape or form, and he will find himself being out boxed on a regular basis. What he is, is a fighter, he's a warrior, he's a world champion and he is well and truly deserving of September's Fighter of the Month award. His win over Samuel Salva on September 7th saw him needing to come back from an opening round knockdown, and boy how he came back. He turned into a raw street fighter and despite being blatantly headbutted in round 4 he just battered Salva into submission.
Fight of the Month
Batyr Akhmedov vs Mario Barrios
The best fights, for us, swing one way then the other, with dramatic swings and changes in momentum of high tempo and high skilled action. On September 28th we got an incredibly bout that had it all. Uzbek born Batyr Akhmedov was dropped in round 4, roared back with 7 amazing rounds of high intensity action, but was dropped in the final minute by a swollen and exhausted Mario Barrios. The drama in the final rounds, as Barrios looked to survive the storm, then pulled out the late knockdown, were amazing. This was amazing and deserves to be considered at the end of the year for the Fight of the year.
KO of the Month
Bakhodir Jalolov KO1 Richard Torrez
Amazingly the KO of the month came in the amateurs and saw Uzbek giant Bakhodir Jalolov laying out American hopeful Richard Torrez in brutally eye catching fashion. We don't often see clean KO's in the amateurs, even with the removal of head gear, but here we saw one that left a massive impression and saw the head of the WBC complain about Jalolov competing in the amateur competition. The huge left hand from Jalolov was brutal and left Torrez out cold on the canvas. This will be up there with the best KO's we'll see in boxing in 2019 and deserves a lot more attention than it has got.
Taku Kuwahara (6-0, 4)
Japan's Taku Kuwahara might not be a name that international fan are aware of, but the youngster is fast rising through the ranks, and his win over world ranked Filipino Jonathan Refugio on September 17th was a big step up in class, and a very impressive win. This 24 year old is tipped for big things and we suspect he'll be pushed into title bouts in the next 12 months. If he can pick up a title in the middle of next year we expect to see Ohashi strap a rocket to him and push for him to get a world title fight sooner rather than later. His performance against Refugio was excellent and we only see him getting better and better.
Amazingly we couldn't find a single noteworthy upset from the month, which is a genuine surprise given how many bouts took place of the 30 days of September.
Masataka Taniguchi Vs Kai Ishizawa (Rd 6)
The Japanese eliminators, for which the winners will get a title fight at next year's Champions Carnival, promise a lot this year, and the Minimumweight bout between former world title challenger Masataka Taniguchi and hard hitting youngster Kai Ishizawa delivered, in spades. The fight was an amazing 8 round war, with the 6th round being the best of them. It was back and forth, both men being hurt, both biting down on their gum shields and both giving everything they had. We could not have asked for more from the two men. An amazing round, from an amazing fight.
This week hasn't been a week with a huge amount of activity but there was a lot of talking points, some really amazing fights and some great performances. A week where quality certainly made up for a relative lack of quantity.
Fighter of the Week
Bakhodir Jalolov (6-0, 6)*
For the first time since we began doing these awards the Fighter of the Week has been won by someone who didn't fight in a professional bout. Instead it's gone to a man who picked up 4 wins in a week and won the World Amateur Championships. That is Uzbek Super Heavyweight Bakhodir Jalolov, who got people talking about the World Amateur Championships in a way that really did bring extra attention to the tournament. We know some are against professionals fighting in amateur tournaments but we've yet to see them have any notable success, that was until Jalolov, who won took gold and show that fighters can do both, pro and amateur boxing.
Performance of the Week
Taku Kuwahara (6-0, 4)
Japanese hopeful Taku Kuwahara took a big step up in class and dominated Filipino foe Jonathan Refugio over 8 rounds. Kuwahara showed his technical ability, speed and movement against Refugio, who was tough but totally out fought, out boxed, out classed and out-sped. Although not one of the more well known prospects in Japan Kuwahara is making a mark and looks like a youngster who is going to be ready for title fights very soon. His performance here was excellent, and the only thing it missed was a stoppage.
Masataka Taniguchi Vs Kai Ishizawa
We had some absolutely brilliant fights this past week, but the pick of them was then back and forth 8 round thriller between Masaka Taniguchi and Kai Ishizawa, who faced off in a Japanese title eliminator. Both of these men had a lot to gain from a win, and both fought as if winning was worth everything. The opening round saw both men being rocked, rounds 2-4 saw Taniguchi set a high pace and out box Ishizawa, before Ishizawa began to get close and dropped Taniguchi. The final rounds were all out action and the bout really exceeded all expectations. A truly fantastic fight
Masataka Taniguchi Vs Kai Ishizawa (Rd 6)
Our fight of the week also gave us the round of the week. The 6th round of the bout was something that was out of a movie. It was 3 minutes of back and forth brutality, both men hammering away with bombs. Whilst Minimumweights often have a reputation for not being able to punch both of these guys were rocked in the round, and both were fighting at such an incredible pace that you couldn't catch your breath.
Notable - Kento Matsuoka vs Suguru Ishikawa (Rd4)
Bakhodir Jalolov KO1 Richard Torrez
The big fuss this week was whether amateur fighters should be allowed to fight in the amateurs, with the WBC stating they shouldn't due to one brutal incident. That was the opening round KO win for Bakhodir Jalolov, who took out Richard Torrez in frightening fashion. The 20 year Torrez, one of the big hopes for the US, had won his first 2 bouts in World Amateur Championships and reached the Quarter finals where he faced Jalolov. With less than a 20 seconds of the round left the lanky Uzbek landed a booming left hand that put Torrez down hard. Whether you're in the camp of not letting pro's in amateur tournaments or not, one thing is clear, this was a KO of the Year contender.
Notable-Froilan Saludar KO8 Tsubasa Murachi
Kudura Kaneko (11-0, 8)
Japanese-Afghan Kudura Kaneko scored one of his best win to date as he stopped veteran Moon Hyon Yun, a man who had never been stopped and was pretty much known for his toughness. Kaneko boxed well behind his jab to begin with, then been Yun at his own game, fighting on the inside and breaking down the veteran. The stoppage seemed questionable, but it felt very inevitable that Kaneko was going to beat and stop Yun. Kaneko might not be well known internationally but we have a feeling that a lot of fans will hear a lot about him over the next 12-24 months. He is a class fighter, with a great back story and a very easy to watch style.
Notable - Carl Jammes Martin
Azinga Fuzile (14-0, 8) vs Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (14-0, 11)
Unbeaten men colliding in a world titlke eliminator is always a good thing, and next week end we see just that as South African Azinga Fuzile takes on Russian based Tajik Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov in a bout that has all the ingredients to be something very special. The styles should gel, both men will be out there for a win and both are solid punching fighters with sound boxing skills. This might not be an all out war, but should be a very compelling, high tempo and hard hitting battle.
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