It's fair to say that August has continued to see boxing's return to Asia grow and grow. The bouts may not have been the best but there was plenty of very good bouts and inter match ups, with a good number of events made available to stream internationally and a lot of very talented prospects moving forward with their careers, including 5 notable debuts. We're still a long, long way from the sport being anywhere close to what it was at the start of the year, but we are continuing to see steps taken as the sport continues moving forward.
Fighter of the Month
Although there was a good number of fights in August there really wasn't any huge fights. There was no world title fights and there was a limited number of title bouts in general from Asia. The one fighter who did stand out for their performance was Ryo Sagawa, who had to work hard, but shined in his win over Yuri Takemoto, to retain the Japanese Featherweight title. He took his time, got a read on Takemoto, then went through the gears and broke down Takemoto with some vicious body shots. It's a shame we never got to see Sagawa defend his belt against a top challenger here, but we can't take away from how impressive he looked and how much of a talent he appeared to be here. A real star in the making, who needs better opponents than the game, but out classed, Takemoto.
Fight of the Month
Daisuke Watanabe vs Shingo Kusano
There was some fantastic bouts during August but the one that genuinely stood, by some margin, as the best for us was the 8 round action thriller between Daisuke Watanabe and Shingo Kusano. The bout, which was the final of the Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament, had everything we could want to see in a bout. We had a nice clash of styles, fantastic back and forth, competitive action and a bout that got better as it went on. The first few rounds were brilliant as both men looked to take control. This saw Kusano coming forward originally, before Watanabe turned the tables. The we saw Kusnao turn counter puncher, and have success, before being dropped in round 5. After 5 great rounds the bout caught fire big time in round 6 and gave us 3 none stop rounds of action. This is up there with the best bouts of 2020 world wide, a fantastic fight!
Ryo Sagawa Vs Yuri Takemoto
Erzhan Turgumbekov Vs Albert Batyrgaziev
KO of the Month
Tsubasa Murata TKO2 Yuya Miyazaki
Despite the fact this was a packed month there wasn't really many true KO's, though one we did see that stood out was Tsubasa Murata's absolute beauty against Yuya Miyazaki in the Central Japan Rookie of the Year. Coming in to this no one would have expected what we got, but in round 2 Murata landed a brutal straight right hand that dropped Miyazaki. The shot was a beauty but the way Miyazaki went down was even better, first falling to one knee, and then flat out face first. If you have Boxing Raise we strongly suggest you hunt this down as it is something special. A truly stunning KO by the 21 year old hopeful who showed surprising power in one of the best 1-punch KO's of 2020.
Prospect of the Month
Tursynbay Kulakhmet (1-0)
The toughest category this month was the prospect of the month, which was a category where people kept throwing their names into the running. For us the winner was Kazakh sensation Tursynbay Kulakhmet, who looked absolute brilliant in his debut. The former amateur standout was expected to be given a test by Sagadat Rakhmankulov, but instead toyed with his man, broke him down and caused him to retire between rounds. Kulakhmet looks like the type of fighter who will be fast tracked, and on the back of this performance there is no reason for MTK to hold him back. Fingers crossed we see him in with a notable name next time out, perhaps even someone like Jeff Horn, who has more than just a bit of name value and is very much on the slide.
If you only look at single prospect from Asia this month Kulakhmet's the one, though it was a very close run competition with the likes of the fighters mentioned in our honourable mentions who are all worth checking out!
Yoshiki Shimomachi, Jinki Maeda, Kamshybek Kunkabayev, Jin Sasaki, Ryotaro Nakagaki
Upset of the Month
Dauren Yeleussinov (8-1-1, 7) Vs Juan Carlos Raygosa (17-15-3, 6)
The upset of the month is strangely not recorded on boxrec, at the time of writing, despite taking place more than a week ago. Despite not being on Boxrec it's hard to deny that this was a shocker as unbeaten Kazakh hopeful Dauren Yeleussinov was shocked by Mexican journeyman Juan Carlos Raygosa. It was expected that the unbeaten Kazakh would shake some ring rust here and take a clear decision over the experienced but limited Raygosa. Instead it was Raygosa that took the initiative and claimed the win. The victory for the Mexican saw him pick up the WBC "international" Middleweight title as well as the W.
George Tachibana UD5 Shuhei Tsuchiya
Dmitrii Khasiev TKO8 Stanislav Kalitskiy
Round of the Month
Daisuke Watanabe vs Shingo Kusano (RD6)
We go back to our Fight of the Month for the best round of the month as well, and that was the 6th round of the brilliant clash between Daisuke Watanabe and Shingo Kusano. This was the round where the bout went into over drive and saw the two men begin to throw caution to the win and unload on each other on the inside. Rounds 7 and 8 were similarly great, but not quite as exciting, as both men began to slow down. The round was a total war and is up there with the very best rounds of 2020. If you missed the bout we advise you watch it in full on Boxing Raise, and we suspect round 6 will be the one you go back and rewatch a few times, as you try and figure out how the two men took the punishment they traded her. A truly brilliant round of action.
Something we've wanted to do for a while, but never got round to it, was look at some cases of boxers who share the same name. It's not a big thing, or the most exciting thing ever, but it's an oddity that has been on our radar for a few years now and something we've wanted to cover. Today, we're going to do just that and look at 10 names that were used by multiple fighters, with two of them being used by 3 fighters. Some of these fighters had careers that were similar, whilst others were cases where one fighter has certainly made the name synonymous with themselves.
10- Sho Nakazawa
One of the first names we had in mind for this article was Sho Nakazawa, a name shared by a once touted Super Bantamweight come Super Featherweight and a former Japanese Flyweight contender.
Of the two it's the modern day one, who was born in 1992 and began his career in 2013, who is the more notable, but that was more as an amateur, where he won a number of domestic trophies. As we write this he is 12-4 (6) and fighting out of the Ohashi gym, though did begin his career as Osaka Teiken. His career has failed to hit the heights expected of him, sadly, though is still an active fighter and is still a genuine talent, despite not becoming the fighter many had hoped.
The other Sho Nakazawa went was born in 1984 before debuting in 2004. He fought through to 2014 whilst running up a professional record of 17-11-2 (1). During his career he fought some notable names, including Ryoichi Taguchi, twice, and Kenichi Horikawa but was more regarded as a durable fighter than someone capable of going places with his career. Notably in his 30 bout career he was stopped just once, by Shota Kawaguchi in 2013.
We stick with Japan again for this name as we look at Daisuke Watanabe, a name shared by two Japanese fighters, born 10 years apart. As with Sho Nakazawa one of the men with this name is still an active fighter, and in fact has a direct link to Nakazawa, but more about that in a minute.
The first of the Daisuke Watanabe's was born in 1981 and made his professional debut in 2004. He only fought for a few years before leaving the sport in 2008 with a 3-4 (2) record. His record doesn't have anything of note on it, though his final bout took place on a card that featured Hozumi Hasegawa, Takashi Uchiyama and Edwin Valero. Very much an obscure fighter
The second Daisuke Watanabe is a currently active fighter who was born in 1991 and began his career in 2014. His career is ongoing and we still suspect some notable achievements from him. Among his bouts so far he has faced Sho Nakazawa, the second one, early in his career and is currently scheduled to compete final of the Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament. fighter. He's aggressive, heavy handed and has been matched hard, leaving him with a 10-4-2 (6) record as we write this. Aged 29 we see him still having a notable future in the sport.
A really interesting name to consider is Kenji Ono, which was a name shared by two different fighters. One is a rather recent fighter whilst the other is a less well known but, is somone one who etched his name into the boxing history books way back in 1986. Neither men had a stellar career, but both are very notable fighters.
The original Kenji Ono was born in 1959 and fought as a professional from 1981 to 1988, running up a 17-11-4 (6) record. During his career he fought some genuinely notable fighters including Samuth Sithnaruepol and Hiroki Ioka. As well as those opponents he also holds two notable distinctions. Firstly he was the first ever Japanese Minimumweight champion, beating Missile Kudo for the title in 1986, and he also lost in the first ever OPBF Minimumweight title bout.
The second Kenji Ono was born in 1988 and fought from 2011 to 2019, and may well continue his career going forward, though it does seem somewhat unlikely given recent results. His most notable achievement was winning the 2014 All Japan Rookie of the Year, beating Seita Ogido in the final and in 2016 he was involved in a sensational bout with Jun Takigawa, which saw both men hitting the canvas. Sadly in recent years his form has suffered and he has gone 0-2-2 in his last 4, including a stoppage loss to Seigo Yuri Akui.
Maybe the strangest case of two fighters with the same name comes from China, where we currently have two Xiang Li's, making things incredibly complicated. Not only are they both active fighters but both are still very early in their career's and it's hard to say who is the more accomplished, or even the most promising.
One of the Xiang Li's is a 22 year old Light Flyweight, who is currently 8-2-2 (3) and is a southpaw. So far in his career he's had some really interesting results, including a very controversial draw with Ryu Horikawa, a win in Hong Kong against Raymond Poon and he's hard fights in Thailand, Hong Kong and the Philippines. Although no world beater he has picked up a number of minor titles.
The other Xiang Li is an unbeaten Super Featherweight who was born in 1995 and currently sports a 6-0 (5) record. On paper he looks the more notable but in reality he hasn't hasn't looked as skilled as the younger, smaller man. What he does have is power and that power has seen him stop his last 5 opponents. He's one to watch, as he's fun and heavy handed, but he's further away from a world title fight than the other Xiang Li.
Notably this is the only case we can think of where two current Asian fighters share the same name.
6-Ji Hoon Kim
The first of a three-fer in this article is Ji Hoon Kim. We know some will recognise the name, after all there was a former world title challenger by the name who was a popular TV level fighter, but they may not be aware that there was other Ji Hoon Kim's out there.
The more notable of the 3 is the Lightweight known as "Volcano", who was born in 1987 and fought as a professional between 2004 and 2013. This Kim is one of the last notable Korean fighters and was a very much a TV friendly warrior who managed to make a name in the US, before fighting for a world title and then retiring due to an issue with his eyes. When he retired his record was 25-9 (19)
A second Ji Hoon Kim was a lower weight fighter who typically fought at Super Flyweight. This Ji Hoon Kim went 3-4 (1) and fought entirely in South Korea between 2011 and 2013 he was born in 1992 and whilst his career over-lapped with the more famous Ji Hoon Kim his career never really took off, with the fighter ending his career after 3 straight losses.
The third Ji Hoon Kim is even less notable than the other two, going 0-2 in his very brief career in 2013. He fought between Super Bantamweight and Featherweight and really, if we're being honest, did nothing of note in the sport. Strangely his career final bout was the final one of all 3 of these Kim's, who all fought in 2013.
As we write this Keisuke Matsumoto is only days away from his professional debut as he looks to follow in the footsteps of his father, Koji Matsumoto. Well that's one of the two Koji Matsumoto's who are known to have fought in Japan.
The most famous of the due, by far, is the former southpaw form Yokohama who was a 3-time world title challenger and a multi-time Japanese Featherweight champion. This Koji Matsumoto, Keisuke's father, was born in 1969 and fought as a professional from 1989 to 1998. During that time he went 26-6-1 (15) and shared the ring with the likes of Freddie Norwood, Yong Soo Choi and Young Kyun Park.
The second Koji Matsumoto was a Super Bantamweight who fought from 2005 to 2006 and was from Saitama. This Koji Matsumoto went 2-2 (1) with his final professional bout coming against a then 21 year old Takuya Kogawa. Compared to the other Koji Matsumoto this is a mismatch.
We're going to cheat a little bit here though we'll explain why. There has not been a notable boxer born with the birth name "Ric Magramo", there is however two men who fought under that name, and both are pretty notable fighters from a very interesting fighting family. In fact they may well be the case where both men are more notable, than any other 2-fighter pairing.
The "original" Ric Magramo was born Endrikito Magramo, though is better known as Ric Magramo. His date of birth isn't clear but he debuted in 1961 and fought through to 1970 whilst running up a solid 35-17-5 (15) record. During his career he fought the likes of Bernabe Villacampo, Walter McGowan, Tsuyoshi Nakamura, Hiroyuki Ebihara, Kiyoshi Tanabe, Erbito Salavarria and Berkrerk Chartvanchai. He actually took a few from those guys as well, won a Filipino title and fought for the OPBF Flyweight title 3 times.
The other Ric Magramo was born Renato Magramo in 1961, and had a career that spanned from 1982 to 1998. He ran up a record of 34-22-5 (9), which sounds poor but included bouts, like the other Ric Magramo, against a who's who of who. His opponents included Gerry Penalosa, Chana Porpaoin, Chatchai Sasakul, Joma Gamboa, Sompoch Harnvichachai, Paul Weir and Jacob Matlala. He even got a world title fight, when he fought Weir.
Like a few others in this list there is a huge gulf in how well known the two Hiroshi Kobayashi's are. One is regarded as one of Japan's greatest fighters, a former world champion and one of the great Japanese fighters from the past. The other is, sadly, a domestic journeyman who fought a number of top fighters but fail to score a win of note.
The original Hiroshi Kobayashi was a great Super Featherweight was born in 1944, made his debut at the age of 17 and was a professional from 1962 to 1971. He won his first 18 bouts before suffering 4 straight losses. In the years that followed however he rebuilt brilliantly and won the Japanese Featherweight title before dethroning Yoshiaki Numata for the WBA and WBC Super Featherweight titles. He would defend the WBC title once and the WBA title 6 times before losing his final 3 bouts in 1971, with the final loss coming to Roberto Duran. He retired with a 61-10-4 (10) record.
The other Hiroshi Kobayashi was born in 1969, whilst the first was still a world champion, and would make his debut in 1989, at the age of 19. He would go 12-15-2 (3) in a 29 fight career that ended in 2000. Although his numbers don't stack up he was a well trusted domestic level fighter who shared the ring with Hyung Chul Lee, Rolando Pascua, Rolando Bohol, Yuri Arbachakov, Hideki Todaka and Celes Kobayashi, among others. Very much a journeyman, but a good, domestic one.
2-Ki Soo Kim
We're back in South Korea here for another case of a fighter with a name being much, much better known than the other, with the name Ki Soo Kim. Unfortunately this is probably one of the most unfair in this list, with one being a national hero and the other being an unfortunate fighter with the same name.
The original Ki Soo Kim was born in 1939 and would go on to be a successful amateur and even more successful professional winning the Light Middleweight world titles in 1966. He was the first Korean to win world titles and fought as a professional from 1961 to 1969, running up a 33-2-2 (17) record and paving the way for the Korean fighters to follow him in the years ahead. As well as the Light Middleweight world title he also held the OPBF Middleweight title and would often switch between the two division's. Among his big wins were decisions against Nino Benvenuti, who had beaten him in the Olympics and Freddie Little.
The other Ki Soo Kim went 3-2 (1) and fought between 1982 and 1983. His achievements in the ring amounted to nothing, and he really didn't do much of note at all. The one thing noteworthy about his career, other than his name, is that he fought a then 18 year old Myung Woo Yuh, the future Light Flyweight great. Sadly it's unclear when Kim was born, though we suspect it was around the time that his name sake was a top fighter
The final name on this list again comes from Japanese boxing, and that is Takashi Miura. We suspect everyone reading this will know of one Takashi Miura but amazingly there has been three of them, two of whom fought at the same time, in the same division. Those two also share an opponent, and amazingly neither of them were the original Takashi Miura!
Let us explain.
The first Takashi Miura was a Super Bantamweight who fought in the late 1990's. His career record is possibly incomplete, though boxrec have him going 1-4 between 1997 and 1999. His most notable opponent was probably Jun Toriumi and he is very much a forgotten man.
The second Takashi Miura was a Super Featherweight who born in 1980 and made his professional debut in 2002. This Takashi Miura was an orthodox fighter had some solid success, including a win over Kinji Amano. After going 7-1-1 (4) his career capitulated and he would end with an 8-6-1 (5) record, including losses to future Japanese national champions Yosukezan Onodera and Yoshimitsu Yashiro. His career came to an end in 2007 after a 4th straight loss.
The third Takashi Miura was also a Super Featherweight, who debuted in 2003 and fought all the way up to 2017. He was born in 1984 and would become the most notable of the Takashi Miura's winning the Japanese and WBC titles, and became a fan favourite among the hardcore fans. Interestingly he twice fought Yoshimitsu Yashiro, ending Yashiro's national title reign, and would go on to fight a real who's who. He first made a mark internationally in 2011, when he fought Takashi Uchiyama, and would later face Gamaliel Diaz, Sergio Thompson, Billy Dib, Francisco Vargas, Mickey Roman and Miguel Berchelt.
*Please note some records may be incomplete, all records used as boxrec records as per August 2020.
The month of August has already been pretty damn entertaining and we're about half way through it. Over the coming 2 weeks or so we see it get even better, with a host of notable fighters in action in varying level of match ups. Here we take the opportunity to highlight some of the best of what's still to come in August!
PLEASE Note - All bouts are subject to change, cancellations and postponements, something that is a lot more rife right now than usual due to the on going situation.
Israil Madrimov (5-0, 5) vs Eric Walker (20-2, 9)
In a WBA World title eliminator at Light Middleweight we'll see sensational Uzbek Israil Madrimov seek his 6th professional win as he takes on 37 year old Eric Walker. On paper this looks like a good step forward for Madrimov, despite Walker's advanced age. Unlike many older fighters Walker doesn't have a lot of miles on the clock, due to a very late start in boxing. Saying that however this is still likely to be more about Madrimov, and the Uzbek taking strides towards a world title fight, than it is about Walker and his redemption story.
Shakhram Giyasov (9-0, 7) vs Francisco Hernandez Rojo (22-3, 15)
Another Uzbek looking to move towards a world title fight is Olympic Silver medal winner Shakhram Giyasov. The talented Giyasov has shown some cracks in recent bouts and should be tested here as he takes on Francisco Hernandez Rojo. The Uzbek has shown some real potential but we do need to see him answering more questions and hopefully Rojo, who once lost a very close bout to Ryan Martin, will ask some of some of those questions. At his best Rojo could be the acid test needed for Giyasov, though it should be noted that it's well over 2 years since Rojo last fought, and this could be a genuine issue for the Mexican fighter.
Korakuen Hall, Japan
Ryota Yamauchi (6-1, 5) Vs Satoru Todaka (10-3-4, 4)
In a bout for the now vacant WBO Asia Pacific Flyweight title we'll see the once beaten Ryota Yamauchi take on Satoru Todaka, with the winner pushing their claim for a WBO world title fight. Yamauchi has long been tipped for a world title and looks like a real talent, though one with plenty of areas to work on. As for Todaka this is likely to be seen as a must win, following a loss last year to Kenichi Horikawa in a Japanese title bout. We suspect this has been put together to make Yamauchi look like a star, and that's exactly what we expect of the Kadoebi gym youngster.
Masanori Rikiishi (7-1, 4) Vs Yuichiro Kasuya (13-2-2, 4)
In a real 50-50 match up we see former Rookie of the Year winner Yuichiro Kasuya take on the hard matched Masanori Rikiishi, in a mouth watering clash. This bout won't get the attention that many others will, but is, for us, one of the best match ups of the month. We favour the hard hitting Rikiishi, who comes into the bout on the back of a big win over Freddy Fonseca, but Kasuya is no push over and this could be a very intriguing match up, that could end super competitive on the cards
Korakuen Hall, Japan
Shingo Kusano (13-8-1, 5) Vs Daisuke Watanabe (10-4-2, 6)
In the Hajime No Ippo 30th Anniversary tournament final we'll see slippery southpaw Shingo Kusano take on the aggressive Daisuke Watanabe, in what could turn out to be a really, really intriguing match up. Neither of the two men were expected to make their way to the final but both have battled hard to get here, giving a very unexpected main event here. Of the two we think Watanabe has got the edge, but Kusano's performances in the tournament have been two of his very best and he is very much a man fighting for his career. We expect this one to gel very nicely and end up being a very nice match up from stylistic point of view.
Shingo Wake (26-6-2, 18) vs Shohei Kawashima (18-4-2, 4)
Former world title challenger Shingo Wake was shocked last year in his rematch with Jhunriel Ramonal. Now his career hangs by a thread and he can't afford another set back if he's to remain in the mix for a second shot at world honours. He'll be giving his all to not just win, but to shine when he takes on the talented but light punching Shohei Kawashima. On paper this looks a really even match up, but we expect it to be a mismatch, with Wake making an example of his fellow Japanese fighter, and making a statement. At the age of 33 Wake doesn't have long left and will be desperate to shine. Kawashima can play spoiler, but we don't think he has the ability to do it against a talented southpaw like Wake.
Tursynbay Kulakhmet (0-0) Vs TBA, Talgat Shaiken (0-0) Vs TBA, Kamshybek Kunkabayev (0-0) Vs TBA
Due to the fact none of the above have had their opponents announced at the time of writing we're going to roll this into one and say it's time to take note of the Kazakh talent coming through the ranks under the guidance of MTK Kazakhstan. Although maybe unfair we dare say this trio are the most talented and interesting. For us Kulakhmet is the most talented, Shaiken the most exciting and as a Heavyweight Kunkabayev is the one most likely to make waves on the casual fan. Take note, all 3 of these men are looking to make an impact in the pros and all 3 have got barrels of potential. None of the trio need to be handled softly and all 3 could be let off the leash very quickly, given their incredible talent and amateur backgrounds.
Korakuen Hall, Japan
Ryo Matsumoto (23-3, 21) vs Takuya Mizuno (17-2-1, 14)
Former world title challenger Ryo Matsumoto is in an awkward position in that cannot afford another loss any time soon, after 2 defeats in 2018. Saying that he is still a sensational talent, and one of the most amazing young boxers to watch, with speed, power, precision and skills. He has all the tools to go far, but now needs to make them work. In Takuya Mizuno we see a solid puncher, but someone who hasn't looked technically astute recently. If Mizuno can't blast Matsumoto out early on we expect to see Matsumoto take a very clear win. Still this is a real test of what both men have and is a very well matched but between very capable young fighters.
Ryutaro Nakagaki (0-0) vs Shohei Horii (3-5-2, 2)
Former multi-time Japanese amateur champion Ryutaro Nakagaki begins his professional career with a 6 round bout against Shohei Horii. The confident Nakagaki was a sensationally talented amateur who boxed with a pure boxing style, and the big question mark with him, going into the professional ranks, is whether he can add some spite to his shots. If so he's expected to be moved very quickly. Aged just 20 he is one to keep a real eye on, though the speed of his progression will depend on his early performances. Horii on the other hand has been stopped in 4 of his 5 losses and will not be expected to last the schedule with Nakagaki. If this goes 6 the hype will cool massively on Nakagaki, and he'll know that coming in so we expect this one to end early with Nakagaki making a statement.
Keisuke Matsumoto (0-0) vs Hironori Miyake (9-9-2, 1)
Another talented debutant on this show will be "Mirai Monster" Keisuke Matsumoto. Keisuke, no relation to Ryo, is a third generation fighter following in the foot steps of his father and grandfather. Given his father is Ohashi gym trainer Koji Matsumoto there is real pedigree here with Matsumoto, who has long been tipped as a star of the future. In the opposite corner will be Hironori Miyake. On paper this is a genuinely good test, despite the losses on Miyake's record. Miyake has never been stopped and has given the likes of Kyosuke Sawada and Yoshihiro Utsumi good tests. This should Matsumoto being asked questions, and needing to show what he got in the locker.
Shinjuku FACE, Tokyo, Japan
Shoki Sakai (23-11-2, 13) vs Hironori Shigeta (6-1-1, 3)
To end the month we get a card from Hachioji Nakaya. The show is actually a really interesting one, with a number of intriguing domestic level bouts, but it's the main event that is the pick of the bunch. It will see Shoki Sakai make his Japanese debut, after 36 fights in the West, and will see him up against 2017 All Japan Rookie of the Year winner Hironori Shigeta. Both men are 29 and yet both are at very different stages of their career's. Sakai is slowly becoming the rugged journeyman that gets matched hard against prospects, and has gone 0-4-1 in his last 5. Shigeta on the other hand is a man who will be looking at a potential national title fight if he wins here. Both guys will be coming to win, and this will be a very compelling bout, to top off a very, very good card.
Whilst February certainly didn't start quickly it does get going in the second half of the month with a flurry of fights taking place with Asian fighters involved.
Shuichiro Yoshino (11-0, 9) Vs Izuki Tomioka (7-2-1, 2) -
In the headline bout of a Dimond Glove card in Tokyo we'll see Japanese Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino defending his title again mandatory challenger Izuki Tomioka in the second of this year's Champion carnival bouts. For Yoshino this is expected to be a test of his technical boxing skills, as Tomioka is a genuinely talented boxer-mover. On the other hand Tomioka is taking on, arguably, his toughest opponent to date and did come up short in his last bout at this type of level.
Daigo Higa (15-1, 15) Vs Jason Buenaobra (7-4-3, 3)
After almost 2 years away from the ring former world champion Daigo Higa returns, and takes on rugged Filipino foe Jason Buenaobra. This should be a win for Higa, but we expect him to be very emotional, and he is going up against someone who has never been stopped before, so he will have to work hard for the win. It's also worth noting that Buenaobra is the naturally bigger man and will not be there looking to just make up the numbers.
Froilan Saludar (31-3-1, 22) Vs Ryoji Fukunaga (11-4, 11)
Filipino Froilan Saludar returns to Japan to make his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title, as he battles hard hitting, but technically limited, Japanese challenger Ryuji Fukunaga. On paper this looks like it could be very explosive, and we wouldn't be surprised at all with the bout ending early. Fukunaga hasn't been able to show his power when he has faced his toughest opponents, and Saludar is certainly among the best opponents that he has faced.
Yuki Nakajima (3-1, 3) Vs Shisui Kawabata (2-1, 2)
In a mouth watering clash of young prospects we'll see Yuki Nakajima take on Shisui Kawabata. On paper this doesn't look like one that will get fans outside of Japan too excited, but given the skills of the two men we are really excited by this one. Nakajima, the younger brother of Kazuki Nakajima, is a former amateur standout and made a real mark on the domestic amateur scene whilst Kawabata has been used as a sparring partner by Naoya, showing the quality that he has shared the ring with. We expect this to be very, very good.
Ryota Yamauchi (5-1, 4) Vs MJ Bo (8-3-2, 4)
World ranked Japanese fighter Ryota Yamauchi looks to build on August's win over Alphoe Dagayloan. Sadly Yamauchi's win over Dagayloan cost him a Japanese title eliminator, due to the injuries he suffered in that bout, and he'll be lookign to make up for it in 2020. MJ Bo, from the Philippines was stopped last time he fought in Japan, by Yuta Nakayama, but is a capable opponent and should ask questions of Yamauchi.
Emanuel Navarrete (30-1, 26) vs Jeo Santisima (19-2, 16)
Mexican fighter Emanuel Navarrete looks to make his fifth defense of the WBO Super Bantamweight title as he takes on Filipino challenger Jeo Santisima. The bout is expected to be a mismatch by many, especially given Navarrete's run since winning the title in late 2018. The champion is seen a real monster in the Super Bantamweight division and will come into the bout full of confidence. Although the 23 Santisima isn't well known outside of the Philippines he is riding a 17 fight winning run and has stopped 15 of those, so he certainly enters with a punchers chance, if nothing else.
Riku Nagahama (11-2-1, 4) Vs Kudura Kaneko (11-0, 8)
Unbeaten Japanese-Afghan fighter Kudura Kaneko looks to extend his perfect record as he goes up against the talented Riku Nagahama in a bout for the vacant OPBF Welterweight title. Although neither of these two are well known outside of Japan the bout is a significant one and the winner will see their hopes of landing a big international fight given a huge shot in the arm. Of the two Nagahama has faced better competition, but has lost in his 2 most notable bouts, whilst Kaneko looks to be a fighter on the rise. A very interesting clash.
Jae Woo Lee (7-2, 6) Vs Shingo Kusano (12-8-1, 5)
Potentially the hidden gem for the month is a clash between Jae Woo Lee and Shingo Kusano, who clash in one of the two Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament semi finals. The little known Lee made fans sit up and take note last November, when he stopped Tsuyoshi Tameda in a thrilling little war. Shingo Kusano also thrilled when he fought on the same November card, pulling himself off the canvas and battling back through some real scares against Qiang Ma. Expect this one to be exciting, and not to go the distance.
Richard Pumicpic (21-10-2, 6) Vs Daisuke Watanabe (9-4-2, 6)
The other Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament semi final bout will see Filipino veteran Richard Pumicpic battle Japanese foe Daisuke Watanabe. This has the potential to be very exciting, or a total mess. Both guys like to let their hands go but with 6 technical decisions between them there's a real risk of headbutts derailing the fight. Fingers crossed the heads don't come in to contact too often and we instead get a bit of a thriller!
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