It's Sunday, it's the end of the week, and we get the latest chance to recognise the fighters from the past week in our awards series. If we're being honest this is the first week, in a very long time, where we seemed to have a full week of action and a lot of fighters in the running for numerous awards, and it felt much more like the "pre-covid19" days, with world title fights, great action and some stellar performances. It may not have been the biggest week, but it was a very, very solid week of action.
With that in mind lets take a look at who deserves attention from this past 7 days.
Fighter of the Week
There was only going to be one winner for the Fighter of the Week award this week and that was the newly crownd WBC Minimumweight champion Panya Pradabsri. The once beaten Thai ended the 6 year reign of Wanheng Menayothin and became the 49th male world champion from Thailand. The unheralded Pradabsri, also known as Petchmanee CP Freshmart, was the big under-dog going up against the 54-0 Wanheng but put in a solid performance, landed some solid body shots, took the early lead and looked confident through out, even when he was under pressure. He had to dig deep at times, as Wanheng turned up the pressure, but he did enough in the eyes of the judges to score a career defining, generational changing win.
Whilst some may disagree with the result, we need to remember that the "Fighter of the Week" is typically the fighter who scored the biggest win, and there was no bigger win than Panya's this week!
Performance of the Week
We've often been critical of Kazakh hopeful Daniyar Yeleussinov, who looked like it took him a lot of time to adapt to the professional ranks, and he seemed to lack the 4th and 5th gears needed to be a star. It was clear he was always very talented talented, but was also very frustrating. This week however the penny seemed to drop and the talented Olympic gold medal winner put in a performance to remember. He dropped Julius Indongo in round 1, smelled blood and went for the finish. Credit to Indongo for surviving, but that survival mentality didn't last long and in round 2 he was down again, and then stopped. A fantastic performance worthy off the praise he's been getting. Finally it appears as if Yeleussinov is really showing what he can do, and it's really exciting.
Fight of the Week
Wanheng Menayothin Vs Panya Pradabsri
We're back to the WBC Minimumweight title bout between Wanheng Menayothin and Panya Pradabsri for our fight of the week, and what a fight it was! This was brilliant, truly brilliant. We had the younger, fresher champion taking the early initiative, and doing enough to get his nose in front, and then we have the experienced champion picking up the pace and coming on strong in the second half of the bout. As the pace picked up we got some thrilling exchanges, brilliant back and forth, and sensational 2-way action. We got high level pressure, fantastic counter punching and everything else we could hope for in a brilliant 12 round bout. This was close, competitive, compelling, and the perfect show case for the Minimumweight division, in a bout that had genuine international attention. Brilliant stuff!
Takahiro Hamazaki Vs Takuya Takahashi
Round of the Week
Wanheng Menayothin Vs Panya Pradabsri (Rd 6)
We had some amazing rounds this past week, and we could easily have selected from 3 or 4 rounds from the bout between Wanheng Menayothin and Panya Pradabsri. We've settled on round 6, which was probably the best round, but there was stiff competition through the bout. This came after a very good round for the challenger and saw Wanheng show that champions class as he put his foot to the peddle and tried to beat down the challenger, in an attempt to put him back in his place. This was absolute brilliant stuff but the entire fight was fantastic, and we really were very lucky this week in terms of quality action.
Takahiro Hamazaki Vs Takuya Takahashi (Rd 3)
Ken Koibuchi v Tetsuya Kondo (Rd 3)
KO of the Week
Jin Sasaki Vs Tatsuya Miyazaki
We don't recall seeing any clean knockouts in Asia this week, but the TKO scored by Jin Sasaki against Tatsuya Miyazaki is well worthy of a mention. This was brutal and Miyazaki was defensless, over the ropes when the final shots were landed. The killer instinct shown was fantastic and the awkward position of Miyazaki, trapped and in need of saving, made it look even more brutal.
Prospect of the Week
Aged just 16 we know that Phoobadin Yoohanngoh is a youngster, in a sport of youngsters, but boy, oh boy, is he a talent. He looked sensation on Saturday morning soaking up pressure from Atchariya Wirojanasunobol early on, landing counters and moving well against an aggressive and unbeaten foe. He then turned the bout on it's head late in round 5 before taking out Atchariya in round 6. This was a massive step up for Phoobadin but he shined in exceptional fashion. This young man is someone who can go a long, long way, and we suggest writing his name down as he really does look the goods. A genuine boxing prodigy and despite being just 16 he is already 10-0 (5). A sensational performance by a very special young fighter.
We're going to be honest, November has felt like a very, very long month, but also a strangely exciting one, with a lot of action and a lot of great fights. Now we're in the final stretch of the month and we return with our final look at what's to come in the penultimate month of the year.
Bunka Center, Sanda, Hyogo, Japan
Riku Kano (16-4-1, 8) vs Ryoki Hirai (12-6-1, 4)
In the main event of a 2-part show in Hyogo we'll see a new WBO Asia Pacific Light Flyweight champion being crowned, as former world title challenger Riku Kano takes on Ryoki Hirai for the vacant title. Of the two men it's Kano who has the pressure on his shoulders, despite being the much younger man. After challenging Hiroki Ioka's Japanese record for youngster world champion his career has really struggled and another set back here would likely end his hopes of ever reaching the top of the mountain. Hirai on the other hand is an often over-looked fighter who will almost certainly see this as a chance to make a name for himself. Don't expect a knockout, but do expect a high intensity game of cat and mouse in this regional title fight.
Sho Ishida (28-2, 15) vs Toshiya Ishii (3-0, 2)
If you must have fire works then the fight to expect them from on November 23rd is the show down between former world title challenger Sho Ishida and thrilling Japanese youngster Toshiya Ishii. For Ishida this is a must win bout following a loss to Israel Gonzalez last December, but he will be moving up in weight and for the bout and he's never really looked all that impressive in jaunts to 118lbs. Ishii on the other hand is a thrilling youngster who won the Japanese Youth Bantamweight title last year and will be looking to score a massive win here. If he can over-come Ishida we suspect Ishii will find himself right in the mix for a Japanese or regional title next year. A compelling match up and one of the most interesting of the month.
Katsunari Takayama (31-8-0-1, 12) vs Reiya Konishi (17-2, 7)
Of course fireworks come in various forms and we are guaranteed explosive action in the 6 round bout between former multi-time world champion Katsunari Takayama and Reiya Konishi. This has the makings of an all out war between two men who like massive power but make up for it in grit, determination and work rate. At the 37 Takayama knows he can't afford a loss, but a win could open doors to another world title fight to the always fun to watch "Lightning Kid". Konishi on the other hand has come up short in 2 world title bouts and will almost certainly know that another one here ends his dream of becoming a world champion. If you like intense action, and incessant output this is almost certainly set to be right down your alley!
Shinjuku FACE, Tokyo, Japan
Jin Sasaki (8-0, 7) Vs Tatsuya Miyazaki (9-13-1, 9)
Hard hitting Japanese teenager Jin Sasaki might not be a name on the lips of many fans but he certainly should be. The 19 year old power puncher is one of the hottest prospects in Japan and looks capable of making a mark at both 140lbs and 147lbs. Blessed with power, good looks and natural charisma he's a fighter that will be worth following for every bout. Here he's up against an over-matched foe, but that hardly matter. Tatsuya Miyazaki will be there hunting an upset but, in all honesty, he's going to get mowed down here.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Norihito Tanaka (19-8, 10) Vs Yuni Takada (8-5-2, 3)
Former world title challenger Norihito Tanaka returns to the ring for the first time since losing to Knockout CP Freshmart earlier this year as he takes on Yuni Takada. It's unlikely we'll see Tanaka get another big fight, given he's already 35, but the former Japanese national champion will likely be looking to land another major domestic fight before his career is over. As for Takada he's a very live under-dog having recently fought to a draw with future Japanese title challenger Hizuki Saso. This might not look a good one on paper, but sometimes we need to ignore the paper and look at the actual fighters involved.
Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand
Wanheng Menayothin (54-0, 18) Vs Panya Pradabsri (34-1, 22)
The highlight for this part of the month will see WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin return to the ring for his 13th defense as he takes on fellow Thai Panya Pradabsri, in what will be the 13th "Bloodline Battle". The unbeaten champion has received widespread attention for his record, and the way he has gone past Floyd Mayweather's 50-0 record, though a loss here would be a nasty mark before his retirement. For Panya this is an opportunity to grab the torch for Thai boxing and plant himself on the wider boxing stage. This is a compelling all-Thai world title bout, and the first in over a decade!
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Hollywood, Florida, USA
Daniyar Yeleussinov (9-0, 5) vs Julius Indongo (23-2, 12)
Unbeaten Daniyar Yeleussinov takes his first major step up in class since turning professional as he takes on former unified world champiuon Julius Indongo. The talented Kazakh looked great in 2016, when he won Gold at the Rio Olmypics, but has yet to set the world on fire as a professional. A win over Indongo would be a good step in the right direction and a notable name on his record before bigger and better fights next year. As for Indongo he has seen better days, but he has shocked the boxing world before, and may well have one final upset in him. This isn't likely to be the most exciting of clashes, but it could be an intriguing one.
Mahammadrasul Majidov (2-0, 2) vs Sahret Delgado (8-0, 7)
Former Azeri Super Heavyweight standout Mahammadrasul Majidov goes for win #3 as he takes on unbeaten Puerto Rican foe Sahret Delgado. The heavy handed Majidov signed with Matchroom in 2019, and it seemed the plan was to move him quickly, given he was 32 when he made his debut, but with two low key bouts and and now this one it seems clear that Matchroom have already given up on ever getting the Azeri ready for a world title fight. At 34 it's a shame Majidov isn't 3 or 4 years younger. As for Delgado the 26 year old Puerto Rican has a nice looking record but his competition is very poor and we suspect this will be a serious wake up call for him as he goes in with a live opponent for the first time.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Musashi Mori (11-0, 6) vs Tsuyoshi Tameda (21-5-2, 19)
In the final noteworthy bout of the month we'll see WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight champion Musashi Mori defending his title against the hard hitting Tsuyoshi Tameda in an intriguing match up of Skills Vs Power. Mori is by far the more skilled fighter in here, and Tameda has typically struggled with skilled fighters, such as Reiya Abe and Hinata Maruta, but Tameda is a legitimate power house and has dynamite fists, which could be too much at this early stage for Mori. A very interesting match up that should tell us a lot about where both men can go with their career's.
The month of Dacember really doesn't give room to think or catch our breath, and over the coming days we have prospects in action, Rookie of the Year action, world title action, a fighter heading off to the UK to face on one of the sports most promising youngsters, and so, so much more!
Akinori Watanabe (38-7-1, 32) vs Sitthidet Banti (12-5, 6) - Tokyo, Japan
The always entertaining Akinori Watanabe looks to make his first defense of the OPBF Light Middleweight title as he takes on limited Thai foe Sitthident Banti. On paper this should be little more than a home coming defense for Watanabe, who won the title in Korea. Although we're not fans of the fight it's hard to criticise Watanabe for having an easy fight given his competition over the last few years, and the punishment he has taken. Given Banti was stopped by a Japanese novice a few months ago this should be an easy win for the champion.
Mikio Sakai (1-0) vs Ran Tomomatsu (1-0) - Tokyo, Japan
A much more attractive bout in Tokyo will see former amateur standouts Mikio Sakai and Ran Tomomatsu clash in a brilliantly matched contest. Of the two Sakai is the one who has impressed us more, with his better all round boxing skills, but Tomomatsu looks like a very strong fighter with an edge in power. It can be hard to get excited about two 1-0 guys facing off, but we really are looking forward to this clash, and we are expecting something very impressive from two men who are very, very capable.
Daniyar Yeleussinov (8-0, 4) vs Alan Sanchez (20-4-1, 10) - Arizona, USA
Unbeaten Kazakh hopeful Daniyar Yeleussinov looks to continue his climb through the rankings as he takes on experienced foe Alan Sanchez. On paper this looks like a good test for the talented, yet often frustrating, Yeleussinov but in reality it's hard to get too excited about the contest. Sanchez has proven to be a banana skin, taking the unbeaten record of John Carlo Sosa and beaten Pabo Cesar Cano, but he's only had 3 wins in 4 years, has been out of action for more than a year, and was last teen being stopped by Alexander Besputin, in September 2018. A win for the Kazakh is expected, and it's a shame we won't be able to read much into it.
Kyotaro Fujimoto (21-1, 13) Vs Daniel Dubois (13-0, 12) - London, United Kingdom
Former Japanese Heavyweight champion Kyotaro Fujimoto makes his international debut as he takes on destructive Englishman Daniel Dubois. On paper this looks like a solid step up in class for Dubois, but in reality it seems very much like Fujimoto is being thrown to the wolves. Fujimoto has been treading water looking for a big bout, but this is likely to be far too much for Fujimoto. The small, speedy Japanese Heavyweight will lack the power to get Dubois respect, and will lack the chin needed to take the bombs from "DDD". A mismatch and oddity.
All Japan Rookie of the Year finals - Tokyo, Japan
One of the highlights of the boxing calendar! The All Japan Rookie of the Year is a culmination of the various regional tournaments and will be shown live on G+. Whilst this likely won't get much international attention the Japanese Rookie of the Year is, by far, the best annual tournament in boxing, and had often been a launchpad for Japanese fighters who on to big things. Whether you get to watch it or not this is worth making a mental note of.
Yuki Strong Kobayashi (15-8, 9) vs Ki Chang Go (8-3, 4) - Osaka, Japan
Japanese warrior Yuki Strong Kobayashi looks to make his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight title as he takes on Korean challenger Ki Chang Go, in what looks like a very safe match up. Kobayashi is a gutsy fighter, who has limitations but will always fight his heart out and has improved through his career to become a very solid fighter. Go on the other hand is just a few fights removed from losing to Kobayashi's then stable mate Masahiro Sakamoto, a man who is best known for losing a Flyweight world title fight. Kobayashi should be far too strong and big for the Korean here.
Hiroyuki Kudaka (26-18-2, 11) Vs Yuta Matsuo (15-4-1, 8) - Osaka, Japan
The final Japanese title eliminator of 2019 will be at Super Flyweight and see former world title challenger Hiroyuki Kudaka take on Yuta Matsuo for the right to fight the newly crowned Kenta Nakagawa. Although neither Kudaka or Matsuo are world beaters they do make for an interesting match up, and we think their limitations and styles should gel well for a very fun action bout. Don't expect a boxing bout here, but instead expect a fight! A real potential gem, among a month of great fights.
Ryota Murata (15-2, 12) Vs Steven Butler (28-1-1, 24) - Yokohama, Japan
Japanese mega star Ryota Murata looks to have a longer second reign with the WBA "regular" Middleweight title than his first, and faces off with hard hitting Canadian Steven Butler in his first defense. Murata really impressed when he avenged his loss to Rob Brant earlier this year, and another performance like that here should see him over-come Butler. The challenger is however dangerous and will be in Japan looking to score his biggest win to date. This could be very explosive.
Moruti Mthalane (38-2, 25) vs Akira Yaegashi (28-6, 16) - Yokohama, Japan
South African veteran Morruti Mthalane returns to Japan for this third defense of the IBF Flyweight title, and he takes on fellow veteran Akira Yaegashi. We don't just see this as being a bout for the title, but a bout for survival, and the loser really is going to struggle to have any sort of a future in the sport. Both have had great careers, but with both men now on the wrong side of 35 their future in the sport is limited, and fighting back up the ranks after a loss would be very difficult. Although the older man, and more experienced fighter, Mthalane has looked the fresher man, but 37 is ancient for a Flyweight and father will catch up to him sooner or later. Then again Yaegashi, at 36, is no spring chicken either. A very interesting and massively significant match up for the Flyweight division.
Kenshiro Teraji (16-0, 9) Vs Randy Petalcorin (31-3-1, 23) -Yokohama, Japan
Japanese fighter Kenshiro Teraji, who is mow fighting by his full name, was supposed to face IBF Lught Flyweight champion Felix Alvarado in a unification bout, until Alvarado fell ill. To replace Alvarado they've brought in Randy Petalcorin, who will challenger the unbeaten Japanese for the the WBC Light Flyweight title. The champion is looking for his 7th defense, and will be strongly favoured here but Petalcorin is a solid challenger and should give Kenshiro something of a test here.
Roman Gonzalez (47-2, 39) vs Diomel Diocos (14-5-3, 4) -Yokohama, Japan
Nicaraguan great Roman Gonzalez fights in his 50th professional bout as he takes on Filipino foe Diomel Diocos. The talented Gonzalez is clearly past his best, but looked great last time out, when he beat down Moises Fuentes and likely has more than enough in the tank to take a stoppage win here. Interestingly it's more than a year since Gonzalez last fought, and more than 5 years since he last stepped foot in a Japanese ring. Diocos has faced limited opponents, other than Daigo Higa who stopped him. We suspect Gonzalez does a number on Diocos like Higa did.
The Middle of March is somewhat packed, with several notable fights taking place in the space of just a few days. These include World and Youth title fights and a very interesting JBC and OPBF female title unification bout,
Eri Matsuda (2-0) Vs Nanae Suzuki (8-2-1, 1) -Tokyo, Japan
The first major bout during the middle section of March will see Eri Matsuda risk her OPBF Atomweight title against JBC Atomweight champion Nanae Suzuki in a mouth watering unification bout. The unbeaten Matsuda has impressed in both of her bouts so far, but this is a very stiffer test than hew two previous bouts. For Suzuki this is a huge chance to put her name on the boxing map.
Miyo Yoshida (11-1) Vs Yoshie Wakasa (6-0, 2) - Tokyo, Japan
On the same card as the Matsuda Vs Suzuki bout we'll also see Miyo Yoshida defending her JBC female Bantamweight title, as she takes on unbeaten challenger Yoshie Wakasa. This is a great example of the bouts the JBC female title will give us, and really does look like a fantastic defense for Yoshida, who also holds the OPBF female Bantamweight title, but won't be defending that here.
Daniyar Yeleussinov (5-0, 3) Vs Silverio Ortiz (37-23, 18) - Pennsylvania, USA
2016 Olympic Gold medal winner, Daniyar Yeleussinov will look to extend his unbeaten run, as he takes on Mexican veteran Silverio Ortiz. The Kazakh struggled to settle to the pro-style of boxing in his first few bouts but has settled recently with a couple of good performances. This is expected to be another win for Yeleussinov, but he may need to work for a stoppage as Ortiz has proven to be relatively tough, with just 6 stoppage losses in his 23 defeats.
Kosei Tanaka (12-0, 7) Vs Ryoichi Taguchi (27-3-2, 12) -Gifu, Japan
Potentially the best fight of the month comes right bang in the middle of March and will see Kosei Tanaka make his first defense of the WBO Flyweight title, as he takes on Ryoichi Taguchi. Tanaka won the title last year in a FOTY contender against Sho Kimura and has long been linked to a fight with Taguchi. Taguchi will be fighting as a fully fledged Flyweight for the first time, and we wouldn't be surprised if his body was more suited to Flyweight than it was at Light Flyweight. This has the potential to be a very, very special and exciting match up, with styles that should gel well.
Kento Hatanaka (7-0, 7) Vs Songsaeng Phoyaem (6-1, 1) - Gifu, Japan
On the same show we'll see Kento Hatanaka defending the WBC Youth Flyweight title against Thai visitor Songsaeng Phoyaem. Hatanaka, the son of former world champion Kiyoshi Hatanaka, has looked really exciting so far and we'd expect to see him win here, but the key at the moment is following his progression and development as a fighter. The Thai hasn't scored a win of note, but he will see this as a chance to put himself on the map.
Koshin Takeshima (2-0, 2) Vs Jian Wang (7-1-1, 2) - Gifu, Japan
Also on this card, in an interesting bout, is Koshin Takeshima who will be expecting a really tough test as he goes up against Jian Wang from China. Takeshima has shown a fair bit of promise and talent but this is a clear step up and it will be very, very interesting to see how he deals with the technically limited but tough Wang. Wang will be fighting for the first time since January's war with Seong Yeong Yang and in that draw he showed toughness, work rate and stamina. This could be very fun.
Batyrzhan Jukembayev (14-0-0-2, 12) Vs Carlos Jimenez (14-9-1, 8) - Quebec, Canada
Unbeaten Canadian based Kazakh fighter Batyrzhan Jukembayev will be fighting for the first time since falling out with Eye of the Tiger Management, though their relationship has now seemingly recovered. He'll be up against Mexican foe Carlos Jimenez in what looks like an easy bout but should be a bit of a test for Jukembayev, who's very promising and exciting despite having a number of technical flaws.
Nurzat Sabirov (8-0, 7) vs Cesar Hernan Reynoso (15-11-4, 7) - Quebec, Canada
Another Kazakh prospect in action here is Nurzat Sabirov, who will be up against Cesar Hernan Reynoso. The unbeaten Sabirov scored 4 solid wins last year and although this is a step backwards from those bouts he should be able to shine, show power and move his career forward. Reynoso is no push over, but we don't imagine he can hang with Sabirov here.
Mercito Gesta (32-2-2, 17) vs Juan Antonio Rodriguez (29-7, 25) - California, USA
Former 2-time world title challenger Mercito Gesta continues his career when he takes on Juan Antonio Rodriguez. This looks solid on paper, though in reality it should be a straight forward win for Gesta, who will likely be hunting another world title fight before his career is over. Gesta is probably never going to win the big one, but he does look like he's going to remain on the fringes of world level for the rest of his career.
Michael Dasmarinas (28-2-1, 19) Vs Kenny Demecillo (14-4-2, 8) Metro Manila, Philippines
All Filipino world title bouts have started to become a thing in recent years, after 90 years with out, and now we're starting to see a growth in all Filipino world title eliminators. That's the case here as Michael Dasmarinas and Kenny Demecillo battle in an IBF Bantamweight world title eliminator, to potentially get a shot at the WBSS winner. The IBF title is currently held by Emmanuel Rodriguez, who faces Naoya Inoue in May, and whilst Dasmarinas and Demecillo would be the under-dog against either man they do make for an interesting addition to the world title mix.
Samuel Salva (16-0, 10) Vs Rene Mark Cuarto (16-1-1, 9) -Metro Manila, Philippines
A second All-Filipino world title eliminator on this card is a match up between Samuel Salva and Rene Mark Cuarto, who battle in an IBF Minimumweight world title eliminator, to potentially get a crack at Deejay Kriel. This bout is an interesting contest between two youngsters each looking for their break out win and we're really looking forward to see how it plays out. On paper it's a very even match up and should make for compelling viewing.
Akzhol Sulaimanbek Uulu (13-0, 6) Vs Mike Tawatchai (45-12-2, 28) - Ekaterinburg, Russia
Unbeaten Russian based Kyrgyzstan born Akzhol Sulaimanbek Uulu will look to continue his winning run as he takes on Thai veteran Mike Tawatchai, aka Pipat Chaiporn. Following strong recent wins over Leonardo Padillo and Jon Jon Estrada Uulu will be expected to take care of the Thai with no real issues. At 33 Tawatchai can't afford any more setbacks but has yet to win outside of Thailand, and it would be a huge shock to see him changing that here.
Earlier this week we looked at a number of Kazakh hopefuls in the first of 2 articles looking at the rising hopefuls of Kazakh boxing, and the fighters that will be looking to build on the success of Gennady Golovkin, Beibut Shumenov and Zhanat Zhakiyanov. For those who missed that it can be read here - The Kazakh Hopes! - Part 1 and for those who did read it, part two can be found below, looking at the Light Middleweight division and below.
Sadriddin Akhmedov (2-0, 2) – Light Middleweight
Quebec based 20 year old Light Middleweight Sadriddin Akhmedov is one of the more obscure fighters on this list, but is likely to be one that will give his team the most frustration going forward. That sounds like an insult but the reality is that Akhmedov already looks too good for his own good and that's a major problem given he only debuted in April, when he stopped Tony Barreras in 31 seconds. He returned to the ring in May, stopping Ariel Alejandro Zampedri in just 84 seconds. Whilst that might not sound too impressive it's worth noting that it took the talented Jayde Mitchell 3 rounds to stop Zampedri.
At just 20 years old Akhmedov might be the best hidden gem from Kazakhstan. His professional start has been impressive and as an amateur he was also pretty impressive, winning the World Youth Championships in 2016 and winning a pair of Kazakh Youth titles. Given his power, which is genuinely terrifying, his amateur skillset, his youth, his speed and timing, and his relaxed nature in the ring it really does seem like Kazakh boxing may well have a star in the making here. Of course it is, very, early in his career but we're been very impressed and suspect Akhmedov will impress again in June, when he's expected to have his third professional bout. With his quick blow outs his team will be wanting to keep him busy, step him up and test him sooner rather than later, as he's likely to just smash through lower level fighters with too much ease.
Zhankosh Turarov (22-0, 15) – Welterweight
One of the most experienced fighters on this list is Welterweight Zhankosh Turarov, a 27 year old who has been a professional since 2009 and slowly worked his way towards the fringes of the world rankings, in what is one of the most high profile divisions in the sport. Having turned professional at 18 he isn't a big name former amateur but has been developed carefully by his team who have had him fighting in Kazakhstan, USA, Dominican Republic and Colombia. It should be noted that whilst he has travelled for fights, on a regular basis, he is actually based in the US and could well find himself on some high profile US televised cards in the near future.
Sadly Turarov hasn't yet made a step up to battling many notable names, though he does seem to be getting matched better in the last couple of years. If that continues in 2018 he could well find himself in with some notable names, which will tell us a lot more about him. From what we have seen of Turarov he looks like a fun, flashy and confident fighter, but that could have a lot to do with the competition he has been facing not being able to punish him for his defensive flaws and allowing him to look better than he actually is. He is a fun fighter, but will need to improve his defense if he's to win at the highest levels, as he can often be seen dropping his guard against his lower level opposition.
Daniyar Yeleussinov (1-0, 1) – Welterweight
Another Welterweight prospect, and arguably a better one than Turarov, is 2016 Olympic gold medal winner Daniyar Yeleussinov. The former amateur star, didn't just win Olympic gold as an amateur but also took gold as the World Amateur Championships and the Asian Games and was one of the top Kazakh amateurs over the last few years. It's little wonder that a top promoter signed him up when he was ready to turn professional and it's fair to say that Matchroom have signed a genuinely top tier prospect here.
As a professional Yeleussinov made his debut on April 28th, and looked a tiny bit unsure of himself to begin with, before stopping the unbeaten Noah Kidd in round 3. It seemed like the 27 year old needed a round or two to adapt to the professional ranks, but in round 3 he turned it up and looked like the class act he was as an amateur. He'll be returning to the ring for his second professional bout on June 6th and will likely try to fit in another 2 or 3 fights before the end of the year, against progressively better opposition. Given his talent and amateur pedigree it's going to be hard for Matchroom to hold him back, so expect him to be moved much quicker than Turarov.
Batyrzhan Jukembayev (13-0-0-2, 11) - Light Welterweight
Another Quebec based Kazakh is Batyrzhan Jukembayev, a Light Welterweight puncher who is on a good role after a bizarre start to his professional career which saw him begin with 2 No Contests. Since then he has been matched aggressively, with all of his opponents having more wins than losses, and has scored notable wins over the likes of Cecilio Santos, Cosme Rivera and Noe Nunez. It's clear that he's yet to face a fellow contender, or prospect, but he's building a reputation for himself and looking damned good doing it.
At 27 years old it does seem like Jukembayev is ready to be let off the leash. He fought 4 times last year and already has a couple of wins this year, suggest they are going to keep him active in 2018. If they step him up again he could well be finding himself in with a contender before the end of the year and could be charging through the world rankings in 2019. He has power, a really nice style, a southpaw stance and a team who seem very confident in his abilities. There is, of course, work to do in his development but he's on the right track and and is likely to be finding himself really making a mark on television very shortly.
Ruslan Madiev (12-0, 5) - Light Welterweight
Another US based prospect from Kazakhtan is 140lb hopeful Ruslan Madiev, who is based in Big Bear, California. Madiev has been a professional for over 5 years, having made his debut on May 26th 2013, but would have a stop-start beginning to his career and take 17 months before returning to action. It wasn't actually until last September that Madiev got much attention, following a big win over the then 23-1-1 Abdiel Ramirez, and since then he has scored two more notable wins over Martin Angel Martinez and the then unbeaten Jesus Perez.
As a stablemate of Gennady Golovkin we know Madiev is in good hands. He also has WSB experience, which has sort of explained “his lack of activity”. That WSB experience shows in just how relaxed Madiev looks in the ring, even when he's under pressure, and he does look like a very composed fighter, who knows his way around the ring, throws very solid body shots and, unlike some on this list, seems to enjoy boxing on the back foot with his counters and movement, as opposed to coming forward and looking destructive.
Bekman Soylybayev (12-0, 4) - Super Featherweight
The Super Featherweight division is a strong one and it's one where Kazakhstan are a bit lacking, though they do have 27 year old Bekman Soylybayevn. Soylybayev has only actually fought a single bout in Kazakhstan, having racked up fights in Ukraine, USA and Mexico and is getting stamps on his passport and getting international experience. His sole bout in Kazakhstan came more than 2 years ago, when he stopped Nikoloz Kokashvili in 2 rounds. It's fair to say that Kokashvili isn't a particularly notable opponent, but Soylybayev has scored other wins against the likes of German Meraz and Fernando Vargas which are worthy of note.
In terms of his boxing style Soylybayev is a pretty patient fighter and looks loose and relaxed in the ring. There is perhaps a sense of laziness at times when watching Soylybayev but he does look a real talent who can fight on the front foot but looks like he's happier on the back foot, and seems very happy fighting off the ropes when he needs to. There is a lot of technical ability here, and a lovely variety to his work. Sadly though he may be held back by his relative lack of power, and 4 stoppage wins from 12 bouts suggests that he may have problems getting respect of world class opponents.
Mussa Tursyngaliyev (7-0, 6) – Featherweight
At Featherweight Kazakh fans have Mussa Tursyngaliyev to get excited about, and he really could be one of the most interesting fighters on this list. Around the start of 2016 he had seemingly signed with AK Promotions in Korea, though would never actually fight for AK and wouldn't actually make his professional debut until November 10th 2017. Amazingly by the end of November he had raced away to 6-0 (5), beating 6 opponents in just 19 days, and made up for lost time with that level of intense activity. Notably he has fought just once since then, scoring a very notable win against Luis Hinojosa this past March, and claiming the WBA NABA USA Featherweight title.
Although it's hard to track down much footage of Tursyngaliyev as a professional he was a pretty accomplished amateur and looked pretty good back in his amateur days. Sadly however that amateur footage is very dated now and it's to imagine him being the same fighter today. Thankfully it does sound like he's going to be chasing bigger and better bouts in the near future and could well be a break out fighter this year, and make it to have some televised contests. If he does then we'll finally be able to see what the hard hitting 23 year old has to offer. From what we understand he will be fast tracked this year and hopefully will get some sort of exposure to help throw some light on exactly how good and how promising Tursyngaliyev actually is.
Madiyar Zhanuzak (4-0, 1) – Flyweight
There isn't a lot of Kazakh fighters in the lower weight classes, though it's worth making a note of Madiyar Zhanuzak, a 23 year old who has fought twice in Russia and twice in Macau, all since July 2017. His competition hasn't been massively impressive but he has already completed a 10 round bout, scored a notable win on the road and looked really impressive so far. From the footage of him he's aggressive, constantly applying pressure has a tight guard to bring that pressure with. He does look a little bit open when letting his shots go, but given he's still a novice that's to be expected. What he perhaps lacks is power but he may well mature into a more powerful puncher.
From what we understand Zhanuzak will be back in action on July 8th on a stacked RCC Boxing Promotions card in Ekaterinburg in a 10 rounder. His opponent hasn't been announced for that bout, yet, but we're hoping it'll be someone who can really test the youngster, who has only lost around 3 rounds in his career so far.
Of course these aren't the only prospect from Kazakhstan, but in our eyes they arre the best of the bunch to begin their professional careers.
Images courtesy of:
Eye of the Tiger Managament
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