With so many fighters out there it can be easy to lose track of who's who and to know who is worth following, who is worth knowing about and who fans should pay a little bit more attention to ahead of their upcoming bouts.
That means that every week in 2020 we will pick one fighter in a notable bout and give them the "Who are you?" Treatment, trying to look at that fighter in detail ahead of their next bout.
This week we look at female hopeful Chaoz Minowa (6-2, 5) who looks to claim a "world" title at the third time of asking.
Minowa was once touted as a major force in women's boxing by those in Japan, though has yet to come close to reaching the lofty goals she set herself. Despite that her career isn't over and on January 18th she has the chance to get herself back on track when she takes on Kenia Enriquez in Jalisco. But who is Chaoz Minowa? And why should you care?
Born Ayako Minowa in Utsunomiya, Tochigi in 1987 Minowa was brought up in a gorgeous area of Japan best known for it's Gyoza, something she has associated herself with through her career.
Prior to turning professional Minowa was a notable amateur fighter, fighting under her birth name of Ayako Minowa rather than the "Chaoz Minowa" name she adopted when she turned professional. She ran up an impressive 37-15 (19) record in the unpaid ranks competing not just nationally but also internationally, and with success. On the national stage she claimed several national titles whilst internationally she took home bronze medals at the 2012 and 2015 Asian Women's Championships and she also competed in 4 World Women's Championships.
Given her extensive amateur background huge things were expected when Minowa signed with the Watanabe gym in 2016 and signalled her intention to turn professional. She was in her late 20's at the time, but the background she had was expected to allow her to be fast tracked and adopting the "Chaoz" name before her debut made it seem like that she wanted attention straight away.
On debut, in September 2016, Minowa stopped Thai foe Khwunchit Khunya in 3 rounds as part of an all female card. Just weeks after her debut she travelled to Korea for her second bout, stopping the crude but dangerous Chan Mi Lim in 3 rounds in her international debut. The intention form Watanabe was clear, they were going to push her, and push her quick, with an OPBF title fight coming less than 3 months after her debut. In that OPBF title bout Minowa was taken the distance for the first time in her career, as she was unable to stop Filipino Carleans Rivas. Despite failing to get the stoppage Minowa took a clear win over the Filipino to claim the OPBF female Flyweight title, the first title of her career.
After a really exciting start to her career Minowa then slowed down, fighting just once in 2017, against a limited Thai foe, and then picked up a low key win to begin 2018. That was where her problems began. She was having things too easy and when she stepped up, in March 2018 to take on Tenkai Tsunami for the WBO Light Flyweight title, she was was seemingly expecting another easy bout. Tsunami, a rugged veteran and a world class fighter in her own right, saw off the early storm of Minowa and gave her a genuine lesson, before Minowa was save at the end of round 8 by her team. She had looked exhausted, was being beaten up and had slowed drastically against Tsunami, who was getting stronger and stronger as the bout went on.
The loss was a major set back to Minowa, who was talking about winning world titles all the way up to Lightweight at one point, but she got back on the horse quickly, and picked up a low key win in Thailand to help rebuild her confidence. Lessons were clearly learned from the loss, and rather than quitting the sport, she seemed to realise she couldn't just steam roll everyone. Those lessons were put into effect in her final bout of 2018, when she travelled to Mexico and faced Ibeth Zamora Silva for the WBC female Flyweight title.
Against Zamora we were really impressed by the sharp boxing, the movement and ring IQ of Minowa, who started fantastically. Sadly though the incessant pressure of Zamora and the altitude in Puebla were too much for Minowa over 10 rounds and in the final stages her output had dropped as Zamora came on strong. It was a hotly competitive bout, but one where the local took the clear and fair decision.
That bout with Zamora was back in November 2018. Since then Minowa has been out of the ring, but returns on January 18th to face off with the exceptionally talented Kenia Enriquez, in a mouth watering bout for the WBC "interim" female Light Flyweight title. The fight, the first "world" title fight for an Asian fighter this year, is must win for Minowa if she's to pick up a world title. Now aged 32 she cannot afford a third loss in 4 bouts, but she will be the under-dog and knows she will be up against it in Mexico.
With the ability to box or brawl Minowa is a versatile fighter, with solid power. Her flaws however seem to be her stamina and her self belief. Self belief isn't a bad thing, but Minowa fought like she could rip through anyone at one point. She now seems a lot more realistic and this should serve her well going into the Enriquez bout.
Whilst it seems unlikely that Minowa will ever achieve the heady heights she predicted for herself, she is certainly a female fighter worthy of your attention leading into a must win bout for her, and her career.
So the new year is here! And although we've not got a lot happening in January, we do have more than we expected, with title bouts, eliminators, tournament finals and a little of everything!
Pyeongtaek, South Korea
Yoo Seung Jun (6-1) vs Seung Hee Lee (4-6, 1)
One of two KBM eliminators at 154lbs will see the once beaten Yoo Seung Jun take on Seung Hee Lee. Our understanding is that the winner here will fight for the vacant title later in the year against the winner of the other eliminator.
Sung Min Yuh (3-0) Vs Se Yul Yang (3-4-2, 1)
Talking about that other eliminator, that will see Sung Min Yuh take in Se Yul Yang. Notable if Yuh and Jun win their bouts it would be a rematch of the "Battle Royale" final from last November, and would have an interesting sub-plot of revenge or repeat, as well as being for the KBM title.
Da Won Gang (3-0, 1) Vs Jin Soo Kim (6-7-1, 3)
Another KBM eliminator will be at 140lbs where the touted Da Won Gang takes on Jin Soo Kim. The talented Gang is regarded by those in Korea as one of the countries best talents in recent years, and like Sung Min Yuh he won the "Battle Royale" last year. A win here sets him for a big 2020.
New Jersey, USA
Jaron Ennis (24-0, 22) vs Bakhtiyar Eyubov (14-1-1-1, 12)
The limited but heavy handed Bakhtiyar Eyubov, from Kazakhstan, is up against it here as he takes on touted American Jaron "Boots" Ennis in what looks likely to be a show case for the talented local hopeful.
Vladimir Baez (26-5-2, 24) vs Tuguldur Byambatsogt (1-0)
In a Knock Out Dynamite Final we'll see Japanese based Dominican slugger Vladimir Baez battle against Mongolian professional novice Tuguldur Byambatsogt. On paper a mismatch, but in reality this could be a big break out for Byambatsogt, who impressed us in his semi-final bout.
Ribo Takahata (16-8-1, 6) vs Marvin Esquierdo (15-2-1, 9)
Another final at the Knock Out Dynamite Tournament will see Japanese veteran Ribo Takahata take on Filipino foe Marvin Esquierdo. Notably Esquierdo fought in the first ever Knock Out Dynamite Tournament bout, and netted the highest bonus with an opening round win, will he look for the same here?
Shohjahon Ergashev (17-0, 15) vs Adrian Estrella (29-4, 24)
Touted Uzbek puncher Shohjahon Ergashev looks to kick in the new year as he takes on once touted Mexican Adrian Estrella. Neither of these are the most polished of fighters, but both are heavy handed and we expect this one to be short, but very explosive!
Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (12-4-1, 11) vs Kazuto Takesako (11-0-1, 11)
OPBF Middleweight champion Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa defends his belt against hard hitting Japanese national champion Kazuto Takesako. This is not expected to hear the final bell, with both men being heavy handed fighters, and will be one of the highlights of the month!
Takeshi Inoue (15-1-1, 9) vs Cheng Su (14-2-1, 8)
Former world title challenger Takeshi Inoue will be looking to defend his WBO Asia Pacific Light Middleweight title against Chinese challenger Cheng Su. Inoue, who is enjoying his second reign as the WBO Asia Pacific champion, will be looking to get a second world title shot in the near future, but needs to get past Su to keep that dream alive.
Kenia Enriquez (22-1, 9) vs Chaoz Minowa (6-2, 5)
Talking about world title fights WBC "interim" female Light Flyweight champion Kenia Enriquez will be defending her title at home in Mexico against Japanese challenger Chaoz Minowa. For Minowa this is a third crack at world level, and a loss here will likely end her hopes of ever becoming a world champion.
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