It's fair to say that December is the best month of the year and over the next 2 weeks or so we are getting a great run of fights up to Christmas, with several notable names and big shows set to take place all over the world.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Ryoji Fukunaga (12-4, 12) vs Kenta Nakagawa (19-3-1, 12)
In a bout for all the regional and domestic marbles at 115lbs we'll see JBC champion Kenta Nakagawa battle WBO Asia Pacific champion Ryoji Fukunaga, with two title the men hold, as well as the OPBF title, up for grabs. The two men are a long way behind world class, but against each other they are very well matched, and both men can punch, so this should be a genuinely thrilling shoot out. A very hard one to call and a potentially very exciting match up, with both men being hurt.
Hiroki Okada (19-2, 13) vs Izuki Tomioka (7-3-1, 2)
The out of form Hiroki Okada returns to a Japanese ring for the first time since May 2018 as he takes on the talented and slick Izuki Tomioka. Coming in to this Okada has lost his last 2, by stoppage, in the US and will known that a loss to a domestic foe could spell the end of his career. Tomioka, who is in his early 20's, has proven to be a very talented and tricky fighter, but very much a work in progress and has lost his 3 biggest bouts to date. Style wise this is a very interesting match up and it really could go either way, depending on how Okada is mentally following his recent set backs.
Mikio Sakai (2-0) vs Toshihiro Kai (6-11-3, 2)
It's not often we get to talk about Japanese Middleweights so with that in mind we felt it was worthy of giving this bout some attention. Mikio Sakai was a former Japanese amateur standout who has looked very good since turning professional. He'll be strongly backed to pick up win #3 here against the limited and somewhat fragile Kai, who has been stopped a number of times recently. Given the lack of depth on the Japanese scene at Middleweight a win here would likely leave Sakai only a fight or two away from a domestic title bout.
December 16th -
Aidos Yerbossynuly (14-0, 9) vs Issah Samir (19-0, 16)
Unbeaten Kazakh hopeful Aidos Yerbossynuly looks to extend his unbeaten record and take another step towards a potential world title bout as he takes on fellow unbeaten Issah Samir, from Ghana. This bout will see Yerbossynuly defending a number of minor titles and taking on his most dangerous foe to date, with Samir certainly being able to puncher and boasting an unbeaten record of his own. Although Yerbossynuly is stepping up it's also fair to state that Samir is taking on his toughest test to date, and will be doing so as the under-dog, in his first bout outside of Ghana. On paper one of the most attractive bouts in this pre-Christmas period.
Bek Nurmaganbet (2-0, 1) vs Emmanuel Danso (32-5, 26)
Touted Kazakh hopeful Bek Nurmaganbet fights for the third time this year as he takes on Emmanuel Danso, who like Samir is from Ghana. Danso has an imposing looking record and looks like a real danger man for the unbeaten 22 year old Kazakh former amateur standout. On paper a major test. Sadly however looking beneath the numbers Danso is perhaps a calculated risk and the "Kwahu Tyson" has been stopped in 4 of his 5 losses and has come up short every time he's left Africa for a bout. Despite, probably, being a mismatch it is worth noting that Danso has shared the ring with Umar Salamov, Ruslan Fayfer, Feng Manlong and Robin Krasniqi, so Nurmaganbet will be able to compare himself to some notable contenders after just 3 professional bouts.
Bekzad Nurdauletov (1-0, 1) vs Kabiru Towolawi (13-2, 10)
The sensationally talented Bekzad Nurdauletov returns to the ring for his second professional bout as he takes on Nigerian 40 year old Kabiru Towolaw. On paper this is another bout that looks dangerous until you dig below the numbers and realise that Towolawi hasn't beaten a fighter with a winning record, though has proven to be tough. We expect to see nothing other than an easy win for the Kazakh here, who will likely be looking for a second stoppage win.
Microsoft Theater, Los Angeles, California, USA
Eumir Marcial (0-0) Vs Andrew Whitfield (3-1, 2)
Talented Filipino amateur standout Eumir Marcial will kick start his professional career as he takes on fellow professional novice Andrew Whitfield in a scheduled 4 rounder. Marcial is tipped for an Olympic medal at the Tokyo games and has turned professional to staty busy and get some rounds under his belt before the Olympics, and a subsequent full professional career. Whitfield shouldn't be much of a test, but will be there looking to pick up a win upset the very highly regarded Pinoy pugilist.
December 17th -
Wild Card Boxing, Los Angeles, California, USA
Madiyar Ashkeyev (14-0, 7) Vs Charles Conwell (13-0, 10)
Staying on the subject of Kazakh's the unbeaten Madiyar Ashkeyev takes a major step up in class he faces fellow unbeaten Charles Conwell on December 17th's edition of Ring City, the brilliant new idea to put on events with 50-50 match ups in the US with out promotional bias. Similar in some ways to some of the DANGAN cards in Japan. This is a really mouth watering bout with the 32 year old Ashkeyev now being given a chance to sink or swim. Conwell is a very highly regarded American prospect and a win here will shoot the 23 year old to within touching distance of a world title fight. A fantastic match up and one we are really looking forward to. In fact we're really looking forward to following the Ring City project in general as it's a brilliant concept.
December 18th -
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Hollywood, Florida, USA
Gennady Golovkin (40-1-1, 35) vs Kamil Szeremeta (21-0, 5)
Remaining on the subject of Kazakh fighters, the biggest name in Kazakh boxing returns as Gennady Golovkin looks to defend the IBF Middleweight title against relatively unknown Polish challenger Kamil Szeremeta. We are of the opinion that Golovkin is a shadow of the fighter he once was, but at 38 he's only coming down the other side of the hill, and has got tot he bottom yet. With that in mind we suspect he'll be too big, too strong and too powerful for Szeremeta. On the other hand Golovkin has been in tough fights recently and they are clearly taking a toll on him, with numerous injuries in recent years. This should be an easy one, but if he struggles we suspect Golovkin will consider 2021 as his final in the sport.
Ali Akhmedov (16-0, 12) vs Carlos Gongora (18-0, 13)
Another Kazakh on this card will be Ali akhmedov, who is in a really interesting looking match up against Ecuador's Carlos Gongora. The exciting Kazakh has run out his record to 16-0 but hasn't really been tested since his 2016 debut, with his toughest bouts being a wide 8 round decision win over Mike Guy and a wide 10 round decision over DeShon Webster. Gongora on the other hand was a 2-time Olympian who competed 3 times in the World Amateur Championships, but has sadly been matched very softly since turning professional. Gongora certainly has the amateur pedigree to suggest he's a talent, but the 31 year old has been matched even softer than Akhmedov. For both men this is a step up in class, and one that feels over-due for both fighters.
Hyun Mi Choi (17-0-1, 4) vs TBA
Unbeaten Korean Hyun Mi Choi makes her international debut though at the time of writing her opponent is unknown. She was originally slated to be rematching Mexican foe Jessica Gonzalez, though it appears that Choi's team have had to look elsewhere for an opponent and have seemingly offered the opportunity to vocal fighter who made it clear the offer wasn't suitable for her. Sadly what should have been a chance for Choi to increase her international profile has seen her become the latest fighter to sign with Matchroom and have her opponent be a mystery. Sadly this is becoming a trend with Matchroom in the both the UK and the USA
December 19th -
Mohegan Sun Casino, USA
Nonito Donaire (40-6, 26) Vs Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-1, 12)
On December 19th Filipino boxing legend Nonito Donaire will face off with Emmanuel Rodriguez for the vacant WBC Bantamweight title. Originally we were supposed to see Donaire battle Nordine Oubaali, but Oubaali has contracted Covid19, forcing him to pull out of this bout and be given the WBC "champion in recess" tag and leaving the WBC title vacant. Interestingly Donaire and Rodriguez were both last seen in the ring losing to Naoya Inoue, though in very different fashion, with Donaire last 12 rounds with Inoue and Rodriguez being blasted early on. Donaire will be the favourite, but it's going to be interesting to see just how much the 38 year "Filipino Flash" has left more than a year removed from his excellent performance against Inoue in the WBSS final.
Reymart Gaballo (23-0, 20) Vs Jose Velasquez (28-6-2, 19)
On the same show as Donaire Vs Roodriguez we get another interesting Bantamweight bout as unbeaten Pinoy puncher Reymart Gaballo takes on Chilean veteran Jose Velasquez in a bout for the WBA "interim" Bantamweight title. For Gaballo this is a chance to become a 2-time "interim" champion, having won the title in 2018 with a win over Stephon Young, though his first reign lead nowhere. For Velasquez this is a huge match up and his first shot at any form of a world title. On paper Gaballo is the favourite, but his wild, free swinging aggression may get him in some trouble against his tough Chilean foe.
Olive Convention Centre, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Moruti Mthalane (39-2, 26) vs Jayson Mama (15-0, 8)
The final big fight before Christmas sees us focusing on South Africa as unbeaten Filipino fighter Jayson Mama challenges Moruti Mthalane for the IBF Flyweight title. The 23 year old Pinoy is really taking a huge leap up in class here, going from bouts against faded contenders, like Fahlan Sakkreerin, and domestic fighters, like Dexter Alimento, up to genuine world class. Mthalane, now aged 38, is certainly fighting father time, but the "Babyface" has defied age over and over. Interestingly this will be Mthalne's first bout in his home town and we do wonder if he plans to wave good bye to the sport, win or lose, with a chance to bow out on top at home. Notably it has been almost a year since Mthalane beat Akira Yaegashi in Yokohama and we do wonder if age and ring rust will be an issue against a young and hungry fighter like Mama.
Back in June talented 22 year old Bek Nurmaganbet (0-0) announced that he was turning professional, having left the Kazakh amateur national to join the pro ranks. At the time there was a number of promoters believed to have been chasing his signature before he agreed a deal with Suleimen promotions, who have a host of other talented Kazakh's signed with them. He announced that deal earlier in July and just a few days ago they confirmed that he would be making his professional debut on July 26th in Minsk.
For those unaware Nurmaganbet was one of the best amateurs in the world before deciding to head to the professionals and those who have followed the amateur ranks in recent years are very excited about seeing how far Nurmaganbet can go.
The youngster impressed had impressed way back in the Youth ranks, taking a silver medal at the AIBA Youth World Championships in 2016, losing in the final to talented Scottish fighter Willy Hutchinson. Although he lost in the final it was a razor thin bout, with Hutchinson winning the final via a split decision. On his route to the final Nurmaganbet scored a notable victory over current professional prospect "White Chocolate" Nikita Ababiy.
After a relatively quiet 2017 Nurmaganbet then went on to quickly make a mark in the senior ranks, winning a national Kazakh title in 2018, where he was the second youngster of the fighters to win their weight class. That same year he also took home a President's Cup in Astana, losing in the semi-final to eventual winner Bektemir Melikuziev. You know, that Uzbek terror who has been racing through the rankings towards a world title shot!
Despite having already made his name in the youth ranks and the domestic ranks it was really 2019 that we saw Nurmaganbet announce himself globally. It was in 2019 that he won the AIBA Asian Amateur Championships, being one of two Kazakh's to take home gold, alongside the phenomenal Tursynbay Kulakhmet.
Nurmaganbet was also supposed to go to the recent World Amateur Championship's but an injury forced him to abandon those plans. In the end his replacement, essentially the #2 in the Kazakh team, went on to win the gold medal.
Despite only being in his early 20's the natural talent that Nurmaganbet has is obvious when he steps in the ring. As an amateur he was really highly skilled with a loose, relaxed style. Typically his hands do look a little on the low side but he looks a natural in the ring, very fleet footed and very natural moving around the ring. Like many of the top amateur's he's a southpaw and despite fighting at 81KG's in the amateurs, around the Light Heavyweight limit, he looks very quick with a lovely quick jab and a rocket of a smooth left hand.
In many ways Nurmaganbet is similar to fellow Kazakh hopeful Tursynbay Kulakhmet. He isn't quite the natural talent that Kulakhmet is, but stylistically they are similar, with fluid styles and a lot of energy in what they do.
We suspect that when Nurmaganbet debuts a lot of the focus will be on slowing things down slightly, sitting on his shots more and just adapting what he's shown in the amateurs. He looks fantastic, big, tall, rangy, quick, strong, powerful and smart. He's young, has time to adapt and has a very bright future ahead of him.
Sadly at the time of writing Nurmaganbet's opponent for his debut hasn't been named though the reality is that we don't expect him to be in too tough to begin with. We expect to see him have an easy bout on July 26th then begin to see his competition ramp up as he begins to adapt to the pro ranks.
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