As we head towards the new year we've had a big look at the current scene and come up with "20 fights we'd like to see in 2020", yeah another series ahead of the new decade!
As is always the case with what we do, these articles will have an Asian flavour, and every bout we mention in the series will have at least 1 fighter from Asia involved. So for those of you expecting us to talk about Deontay Wilder Vs Anthony Joshua, that won't be listed.
What we'll be looking at is well matched contests with either some form of back story, a great stylistic clash or bouts with some form of significant meaning. If they tick all the boxes then that is even better! Each fight will be given it's own article and each of these will come with an introduction to the fighters, and why the bout is being featured in the list.
Aso Ishiwaki (8-2-1, 6) vs Cristiano Aoqui (14-8-2, 10)
One of the keys behind this series is to open up about matches we want to see, across various levels of the sport. Not just to talk about world class fighters in super fights. Whilst super fights are great, they do tend to get the same things written about them time and time again, and we'd prefer not to just discuss the same things as everyone else. To us the lower end, domestic and regional title bouts are the more interesting ones to think about, the options are more varied, the and the reasons for the bouts to be made can be more interesting. Everyone wants a super fighter, but not everyone deserves them, what they deserve though is a good fight. Today we look at one example of what is really, a good potential fight.
On the Japanese domestic scene in 2019 Aso Ishiwaki was a break out success story, emerging from Nobuhiro Ishida's boxing gym in Neyegawa. He had reached the Rookie of the Year final in 2018, losing a razor close bout in the final, but really stunned us this year going 3-0-1 (3) and looking like a ridiculously strong, powerful, talented and hungry fighter along the way. There are areas, technically, for him to work on, but from a fan perspective his flaws make him a must watch action fighter and one of the most fun to watch Japanese Light Welterweights. His development in 2019 also sees him making great strides to a potential Japanese title fight in the new year.
Although not a star Japanese Brazilian fighter Cristiano Aoqui is a popular fighter, with a decent fan base and a very fun style, at least when matched right. The 30 year old, from the Kadoebi Gym, is a former Japanese title challenger, he's highly ranked with the JBC, and he's been in with a genuine who's who of the Japanese scene at 140. He's an explosive puncher, who is great fun to watch when he's in full flow, with spiteful combinations. But he's also slow footed, and when it comes to cutting off the ring he's not particularly strong at it. If a fighter comes to fight he makes for great bouts, and that is what a bout with Ishiwaki would comprise of. Two men wanting to fight.
Earlier this year Ishiwaki was on a Kadoebi show, fighting to a draw with Yoji Saito, and they seemed impressed by the youngster. Having him back in Tokyo on another of their shows is not something they'd have any problems with, and having him in with Aoqui would make for a very fan friendly match up. The winner would find themselves right in the domestic title picture, potentially with a shot later in the year, and their profile would be increased by being in a true barn burner.
For Aoqui and Kadoebi this would put give them a chance to avenge Saito's draw, which we felt was Saito was lucky to get, and for Ishiwaki it would give him a chance to significantly boost his Japanese ranking. For us, it would provide some incredible action.
Please good folk at Kadoebi, if you're reading this, lets have it sorted out for the new year!
The idea of these "Introducing" segments isn't just to put a light on young up and comers but also exciting fighters, fighters who are worthy of some attention, no matter their age, record or ability. If there's a reason for fans to be interested in someone they get considered for weekly feature. We say that because we're about to look at a 30 year old with a less than stellar looking record, but a man who really does excite every time he steps in the ring. Win or lose it's always worth making a mental note of when Cristiano Aoqui (14-7-2, 10) fights. The Brazilian-Japanese puncher is a flawed fighter with dynamite in his hands!
Aoqui has been raised in Japan, though has strong roots to his Brazilian culture. Those roots are often shown on his shorts which usually have a combined Japanese and Brazilian flag on them. The background has seen fans from both countries following his career and his fights.
Prior to turning to boxing Aoqui had been training in Karate, he then turned to boxing and made his professional debut in 2006, at the age of 17. He turned professional without having any amateur bouts, and having only been training for a couple of years at the Suruga academy.
The exciting, but raw, style of Aoqui had some mixed success early on. He won his first 3 bouts but quickly saw his record fall to 3-2 by the summer of 2008. He then took more than 3 years away from the ring and seemed to retire before getting a call that inspired him to return to the ring. On his return success was quick to return and he'd go 4-0-1 over his following 5 bouts before losing in a 2013 Rookie of the Year bout to Ryuji Ikeda.
The Rookie of the Year loss was a set back, but Aoqui bounced back well winning 3 of next 4 and breaking into the Japanese and OPBF rankings, thanks in part to 2 wins over Quaye Peter. That rise was stopped in late 2015 when he lost a razor thin decision to Valentine Hosokawa, in what was a brilliant 8 round fight. Less than a year after the loss to Hosokawa we saw Aoqui get a huge shot, as he faced off with the then Japanese Light Welterweight champion Hiroki Okada. Against Okada we saw a brilliant, aggressive and exciting effort from Aoqui, though sadly he would come up short, losing a technical decision to the then unbeaten Okada.
The loss to Okada was followed by defeats to Noriaki Sato and Koki Inoue in 2017, with the loss to Inoue coming due to an injury that ended what seemed like a brilliant match up at that time. Notably after these loss Aoqui left the Suruga Gym and joined up with former foes Okada and Hosokawa at the Kadoebi Gym since joining the Kadoebi gym we've seen Aoqui fight 3 times and score 3 wins, all by TKO.
In the ring Aoqui is a charismatic, exciting, aggressive fighter. He's flawed, and defensively not the best. In fact he often over-commits in his combinations, but this is why he's worth watching. He's explosive, a monstrous puncher, when he has opponents hurt he goes for the kill and he's a big puncher. When he lands clean he hurts opponents, if he doesn't out right clean their clock.
Aoqui's next fight will be on October 21st, when he battles in a Japanese title eliminator against Daishi Nagata. That bout should be something incredibly special, given the styles of the two men. Win or lose Aoqui will be looking to put on a show and will be worth following well after the bout.
Here we've included his bout with Filipino foe Anthony Marcial. This isn't the most exciting bout of Aoqui's but the brutal finish shows just how damaging his shots can be.
Following a pretty interesting start to the month things get really intense in the days to come with a lot of notable action, in not a lot of time.
Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (11-4-1, 10) Vs Koki Tyson (14-3-3, 12) II - Tokyo, Japan
In a rematch for the OPBF Middleweight title we'll see Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa take on Koki Tyson, with both men looking to take the currently vacant title. These two fighters fought to a draw earlier in the year and will be going in again to try and take the title that was vacated by Yuki Nonaka. Given that both Hosokawa and Tyson are aggressive, heavy handed but technically flawed fighters we are expecting a very exciting contest here, and hopefully it avoids some of the messy action that their first bout had.
Shingo Wake (26-5-2, 18) Vs Jhunriel Ramonal (15-8-6, 8) II - Tokyo, Japan
Former world title challenger Shingo Wake is pursuing a second world title fight, and to tick over he will eb facing former foe Jhunriel Ramonal. These two fought back in in 2013, when Wake stopped Ramonal in 3 rounds, and it's hard to imagine anything other than a repeat here. Wake should be far too good for the Filipino visitor, but it's still a botu worthy of noting given that Wake is likely to fight for a world title sooner rather than later.
Dmitry Bivol (16-0, 11) Vs Lenin Castillo (20-2-1, 15) - Illinois, USA
Unbeaten WBA Light Heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol was hoping for a big fight but will likely close out his 2019 with a bout against Dominican challenger Lenin Castillo. The champion has improved his resume with solid wins in recent years, but hasn't looked the dynamic and exciting fighter he once was, instead looking to win rather than to dazzle. He should have too much in the locker for Castillo, but the challenger is no "bum" and could give Bivol a genuine test herein he's being over-looked.
Wulan Tuolehazi (12-3-1, 5) vs Satoshi Tanaka (7-5, 1) - Shanghai, China
China's Wulan Tuolehazi has been carving out a solid resume in recent years, with wins over the likes of Jayr Raquinel, Kwanthai Sithmoseng, Ardin Diale and Ryota Yamauchi. He's now looking likely to get a world title shot sooner rather than later and will be defending his WBA International Flyweight title here against Satoshi Tanaka, a relatively weak Japanese challenger. This should be a show case for the champion if we're being honest.
Xiang Li (7-2-1, 2) vs Ryu Horikawa (2-0, 1) - Shanghai, China
We love seeing youngsters face off, with questions being asked of fighters when they are young, rather than seeing records padded before a fighter steps up. With that in mind we love the WBO Youth Light Flyweight title match between China's crafty Xiang Li and Japanese skillster Ryu Horikawa. This should be a real test for both, and despite the risk of some monkey business with the scorecards we're really excited by the contest, which should be a genuinely intriguing one from the first bell to the final bell.
Kudratillo Abdukakhorov (16-0, 9) vs Luis Collazo (39-7, 20) - Pennsylvania, USA
Unbeaten Uzbek Welterweight contender Kudratillo Abdukakhorov looks to continue his drive towards a world title fight as he takes on former world champion Luis Collazo. The unbeaten Abdukakhorov has shown a lot of promise, but has also shown flaws, and issues, and his lack of power is something has left some questioning whether or not he can make it at the top. At his best Collazo was world class, but at the age of 38 there are question marks about just what he has left in his legs. Collazo is a very skilled fighter, and should test the Uzbek in what is a very interesting match up.
Tetsuro Ohashi (7-0-1, 2) Vs Suzumi Takayama (2-0, 2) - Hyogo, Japan
The Japanese Youth title scene continues to give us great fights, and here we'll see the unbeaten pairing of Tetsuro Ohashi and Suzumi Takayama clash for the Youth Super Flyweight title. The 20 year old Ohashi won the Rookie of the Year back in December and this will be his second bout since that win, as he looks to build on his growing reputation. Takayama on the other hand lacks the experience of Ohashi in the pro ranks, but was a solid amateur and has looked very impressive since making his debut this past February. This will be Ohashi's boxing against Takayama's aggression in what should be an excellent match up.
Yusuke Sakashita (18-8-3, 13) vs Naoki Mochizuki (16-4, 8) II - Tokyo, Japan
In a really interesting rematch we'll see Yusuke Sakashita make his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Flyweight title as he takes on Naoko Mochizuki. These two fought back in December 2016, when Mochizuki took a clear win over Sakashita, but since then the two men have had contrasting careers. Mochizuki has gone 5-3, struggling for momentum and was stopped in February by Junto Nakatani. Sakashita however has gone 4-0-1 and claimed his title last time out in May, stopping Masahiro Sakamoto. This could be one of the real hidden gems of the month.
Cristiano Aoqui (14-7-2, 10) vs Daishi Nagata (13-2-1, 5) -Tokyo, Japan
Every so often we see a fight that gets us really excited due to the style match up and the mentality of the two men involved. That is the case here as the exciting Cristiano Aoqui and the rugged Daishi Nagata battle in a Japanese Light Welterweight title eliminator, with the winner getting a shot at the belt in the 2020 Champion Carnival. This bout has two men involved who enjoy a tear up, through heavy leather and should gel stylistically.
After a few weeks of not having much of note we've had a week that has created a bit of an accidental star, seen a debutant shine, seen new title holders in Indonesia and a lot actually happening. Sadly, due to the time issues in watching everything, we have seen a pro-Japanese week again, but there was clearly a lot of action in Asia in what was a great week for Asian fight fans.
Fighter of the Week
Koki Inoue (13-0, 10)
Whilst Koki Inoue, the cousin of Naoya and Takuma Inoue, didn't blow us away it's hard to argue with the quality of what he did this past Saturday. The talented Light Welterweight intelligently shut down Valentine Hosokawa to take a wide, and clear, decision over the talented and often high tempo Hosokawa. On paper the bout was a big step up in class for Inoue but he sort of made it look easy in the end as he took a comfortable decision over the veteran champion. Hosokawa, who usually controls the pace and tempo, struggled to catch Inoue clean, and struggled even more to change the pattern of the fight, whilst Inoue looked like a man comfortably fighting within himself. This wasn't exciting, but it was the biggest win of the week for an Asian fighter.
Performance of the Week
Riku Kunimoto (4-0, 2)
Whilst Inoue failed to shine, winning Fighter of the week by virtue of getting the biggest win, there was real competition for Performance of the Week. We were really impressed by Tsuyoshi Sato, Aso Ishiwaki, Sultan Zaurbek and our winner for the week, Riku Kunimoto.
Sato, who was fighting for the 4th time as a professional, put on the complete performance in mid week as he stopped Shoma Fukumoto, and took a huge step towards a potential title fight. He out boxed Fukumoto, then stopped him later in the bout, in what was his Tokyo debut. On paper it was a leap up in class, but in the end he made it look easy and really announced himself as a Japanese Middleweight worthy of note. He's young, he's talented and he has the potential to go very, very far.
Yoji Saito (1-1, 1) vs Aso Ishiwaki (5-2, 3)
On paper the recent bout between Yoji Saito and Aso Ishiwaki didn't really promise a lot, though we genuinely over-looked the bout which proved to be a very exciting encounter. Saito set the early pace, pressing and pressuring Ishiwaki as he looked on route for his second win. Ishiwaki however refused to wilt, and instead came on strong, really strong, from round 3 giving us a huge momentum shift and an amazing fight. There wasn't any knockdowns but there was none stop action, and a really gritty determination from both. This is a great, great 6 round bout!
Yuki Yazawa (0-0) vs Kazuki Nakamura (0-0-1) - Round 1
The round of the week was a clear and easy one to decide, with the opening round of the Yuki Yazawa Vs Kazuki Nakamura fight easily being the best round of the week from Asia. The round, which actually only lasted 126 seconds, contained 3 knockdowns, a brutal finish, a strong scent of karma, taunting and everything you could ask for. This really was something that every fan deserves to watch.
Cristiano Aoqui KO5 Anthony Marcial
We had some awesome KO's this week, Yuki Yazawa's was a beauty against Kazuki Nakamura, Koki Tyson scored a brutal one, Sultan Zaurbek got a gorgeous one in Dubai but our pick of the bunch was Brazilian-Japanese fighter Cristiano Aoqui's brutal hook against Filipino Anthony Marcial.The shot was a highlight, or an otherwise dull fight, and was perfectly timed. Whilst Marcial wasn't out cold, like some of the others on the wrong end of a great KO, his stumble through the ropes whilst trying to beat the count was great to watch.
Shakhobidin Zoirov (1-0, 1)
We want to start this by saying we have nothing positive to say of Indonesian journeyman Anthony Holt, and the reason we think so little of Holt was shown this past Friday when he was in the ring with Shakhobidin Zoirov. The debuting Zoirov is an Olympic champion and a huge hope for Uzbek boxing. He deserved a real test, but instead took almost no time to destroy Holt. Despite the bout being a relative waste of time it was hard to not be impressed by the cameo, and it's obvious that Zoirov is a very, very special fighter. One to mark down as a super prospect.
Alphoe Dagayloan (12-2-5, 5) vs Esneth Domingo (11-0, 6)
There's no special fight this coming week, but we do love the look of several fighters over the coming 7 days. Perhaps the pick of the bunch is the WBA Asia Flyweight title bout between the under-rated Alphoe Dagayloan and the unbeaten Esneth Domingo. This is a brilliant match up and something that is very, very exciting! Neither guy is a big name, but both are promising and both could see this as a chance to move into the WBA rankings. A great fight and something that both will be looking to win!
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