It's fair to suggest that February has been a slow month for fight fans in Asia, in fact at times it's felt down right glacial, with little happening, especially in the middle of the month. We had a good start, and a good end but then we had almost 2 weeks with nothing much happening. Thankfully March is set to be a whole different kettle of fish with interesting bouts right through the month.
With that said lets take a look at what to expect in the first part of March!
Daiki Tomita (14-1, 5) vs Kenichi Horikawa (40-16-1, 13)
A new Month kicks off with OPBF Light Flyweight title action as Daiki Tomita and Kenichi Horikawa clash for the vacant title. For Tomita this is a second shot at an OPBF belt, having come up short against Tsubasa Koura in 2018, whilst Horikawa will be lookin to bounce back from the loss of the Japanese national title to Yuto Takahashi. Although neither man is a huge name this is a very interesting looking bout, and could either send Horikawa into one final title run, or into retirement.
Dennapa Kiatniwat (21-2, 16) Vs Jeny Boy Boca (13-6, 11) -
Former world title challenger Dennapa Kiatniwat defends his WBA Asia Flyweight title against heavy handed, but very much out of form, Filipino Jeny Boy Buca. The Thai local got a world title fight last year and looked second rate against WBA king Artem Dalakian, but should have too much at this level. Buca was once regarded as a promising puncher, but then went 4-5 (2) and lost pretty much all of the momentum he had built in his first 10 bouts.
Nakhon Sawan, Thailand
Knockout CP Freshmart (20-0, 7) Vs Norihito Tanaka (19-7, 10)
Unbeaten WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart seeks his 8th defense as he takes on Japanese challenger Norihito Tanaka. The once highly regarded, and still unbeaten, champion has failed to inspire in recent bouts, and with 5 decision wins in a row his name has become rather a joke. Although talented Knockout has certainly not enthralled. Sadly however it's hard to imagine the 35 year old Tanaka having the energy and power needed to defeat the local fighter, and become the first Japanese man to ever claim a world title in Thailand.
Hironobu Matsunaga (16-1, 10) Vs Yuto Shimizu (14-4-2, 5)
In the main event of the monthly "Dynamic Glove" show we'll see Japanese Light Middleweight champion Hironobu Matsunaga defending his title against mandatory challenger Yuto Shimizu as part of the 2020 edition of the Champion Carnival. Matsunaga has looked mightily impressive in recent outings and will be looking to make his second defense. Although Shimizu is less exciting and aggressive than Matsunaga he is a big, awkward lump and give the champion fits with his size alone. A very interesting match up.
Keita Kurihara (15-5, 13) Vs Joe Tanooka (15-7-5, 1)
On the same Japanese show world ranked slugger Keita Kurihara takes on the talented, but feather fisted, Joe Tanooka in a bout that really does give us very different styles. Kurihara is a genuinely dynamite puncher who has gone 12-1 (10) in his last 13 bouts and will be looking to show he can box a but, before taking apart Tanooka. Tanooka on the other hand is a quick, technically capable fighter who will be looking to lure Kurihara into a mistake and countering. A very interesting contest, even if it lacks in terms of big name intrigue.
Reiya Abe (19-3-1, 9) vs Ren Sasaki (10-0, 6)
Former 2-time Japanese national title challenger Reiya Abe looks to move towards a third potential title bout when he takes on unbeaten southpaw Ren Sasaki. The talented Abe had a 2019 to forget, fighting to a draw with Taiki Minamoto and losing to Ryo Sagawa, and needs to rebuild his moment. In terms of achievement he should be seen as a big favourite here, however he doesn't get a gimme. The unbeaten Sasaki is no push over, and is a very decent boxer himself, having won the All Japan Rookie of the Year in 2017. Expect this to be a compelling 8 rounder.
Jacob Ng (13-0, 10) vs Valentine Hosokawa (25-7-3, 12)
In a potential hidden gem Australian Jacob Ng will be defending his IBF International and WBO Oriental Lightweight titles against the under-rated Valentine Hosokawa. On paper Ng should be regarded as a big favourite. He's the bigger, younger, hard hitting, unbeaten champion. And he's at home. But Hosokawa can't be over-looked at this level and the Japanese fighter is a very strong, aggressive fighter who throws a lot of leather and can take a lot of punishment. Don't be surprised if this one is one of the real highlights of March.
Akzhol Sulaimanbek Uulu (15-0, 8) vs Mark Urvanov (17-2-1, 9)
Unbeaten 29 year old Kyrgyzstan born Akzhol Sulaimanbek Uulu will be looking to continue his rise through the ranks, and take a huge step towards a potential world title fight as he takes on Russian fighter Mark Urvanov. This will be Uulu's first 12 round bout and we dare say if he wins here his team will begin hunting a world title eliminator for him, for later in the year. Although no world beater Urvanov is a good test at this level and comes in on the back of a career best result, stopping former world title challenger Evgeny Chuprakov back in November. Hard not to like this one....a lot!
Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov (15-0, 9) Vs Tomas Rojas (51-18-1-1, 34)
Unbeaten Tajik hopeful Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov looks to take his next step forward as he faces former world title holder Tomas Rojas. On paper this looks like a step up against a grizzled old veteran, but with the fight taking place up at Super Featherweight we do wonder whether Rojas, who was a Super Flyweight at his best, will simply be over-powered and out manned by Yaqubov. At the age of 39 and with a 2-4 record in the last 3 years we really do wonder what Rojas has left, other than his name.
Seigo Yuri Akui (14-2-1, 10) Vs Seiya Fujikita (13-4, 6) -
Hard hitting Seigo Yuri Akui looks to make his first defense of the Japanese Flyweight title as he takes on mandatory challenger Seiya Fujikita. The explosive punching Akui has proven to be scarily dangerous early on, with 9 opening round T/KO's, and will be looking to make it #10 here. Fujikita has never been stopped stopped but with only a single, low key, win in the since June 2018 it's hard to know what he has to offer. Fujikita could be the type of durable test who can see out the Akui storm, or could be the next early victim for the destroyer from Okayama.
Rey Caitom (9-0-1, 4) vs ArAr Andales (10-2, 2)
Former world title challenger ArAr Andales is going to be in rebuilding mode this year after back to back losses in 2019, losing to Knockout CP Freshmart and Joel Lino. Rather than having an easy bout to kick off 2020 the 20 year old will be up against the unbeaten Rey Caitom, in a tough looking bout. Andales will be favoured, and has impressed at a higher level, but with those losses we do wonder about how he is mentally. Caitom has fought at a much lower level will clearly be in the ring knowing a win pushes him to within touching distance of a world title shot.
Shingo Wake (26-6-2, 18) Vs Toshiya Yokogawa (11-12-2, 10)
Former world title challenger Shingo Wake was shockingly upset last year, by Jhunriel Ramonal, and now looks to begin rebuilding. He's being matched easily here, as he takes on 34 year old domestic foe Toshiya Yokogawa. Given the loss to Ramonal, and how brutal it was, we can't complain about Wake getting an easy bout here, but he really can't spend too long fighting at this level, and we suspect this will be a tune up to a much bigger bout in the summer as Wakes begins his climb, again, to a second world title fight.
Toshiya Ishii (3-0, 2) Vs Issei Ochiai (2-0, 1)
On the same card we'll also see Japanese Youth Bantamweight champion Toshiya Ishii make his first defense, as he takes on the touted Issei Ochiai. Ishii has impressed since turning professional and his title win, back in December over Haruki Ishikawa, was a sensational bout. The challenger hasn't quite impressed like the champion, but this is certainly a chance for him to shine. We expect big things from both men going forward, but the winner should be put on the fast track to more notable honours.
Yuto Takahashi (11-4, 5) vs Masamichi Yabuki (10-3, 10)
Another Japanese title fight will see Japanese Light Flyweight champion Yuto Takahashi make his first defense, as he goes up against his mandatory Masamichi Yabuki. Takahashi scored a surprise title win last October, when he over-came veteran Kenichi Horikawa, and will be looking to prove that he can over-come a prime puncher like Yabuki, as well as a faded veteran like Horikawa. For Yabuki this is his first title fight and he'll be looking to prove he really is destructive at Light Flyweight, having move down to the division last year.
One again we've have a relatively quiet week for Asian fighters, despite some pretty notable fighters in action. It wasn't a week that will stand out as something special at the end of the year, or a highlight, but we certainly shouldn't write the week off as a fail, because it really wasn't. In fact it was a week of showcases for unbeaten prospects and rising hopefuls.
Fighter of the Week
Israil Madrimov (3-0, 3)
The Uzbek has done it again and stolen the week with another fantastic performance, as he became only the third man to stop Mexican veteran Norberto Gonzalez. And he did so in just his third bout. We tend to have a general rule that we don't regard world ranked fighters as prospects, and we do, admittedly, hold a fighter like Madrimov to a high level than we do with many others, but even at an elevated standard he is something special and deserves not only the plaudits he's getting, but a legitimately big fight next time out. He's something special and it's going to become a waste of time to have him face any more gatekeepers like Gonzalez.
Performance of the Week
Carl Jammes Martin (13-0, 12)
When we have a TV friendly fighter like Carl Jammes Martin we always want to watch more of him, and that was certainly the case this week when he put on a showcase to stop Yutthichai Wannawong inside a round. Whether Martin had scored an opening round stoppage or a UD we'd always want to see more of him, and for the 20 year old that's exactly what we need from him. If he keeps putting on performances like this he will remain a must watch fighter, though hopefully his competition will step up shortly.
Bakhtiyar Eyubov vs Brian Ceballo
Kezakh fighter Bakhtiyar Eyubov may not have been able to take the upset win over Brian Ceballo but the bout was a fun one, with a number of really good rounds early in the bout, as Ceballo seemed to look fight fire with fire. In fairness Ceballo realised he had the skills to take an easy win of the previously unbeaten Kazakh, but he did pick moments to stand and fight in what was really fun as a bout. A nice combination of power punching, fighting and skills. And Ceballo ended the bout looking like a surefire star of the future, he is well worth following.
Gennady Golovkin Vs Steve Rolls (round 3)
Former Middleweight king Gennady Golovkin was supposed to steam roll Steve Roll, and whilst he did stop him in round 4 that wasn't until we saw Rolls attempt to take the fight to Golovkin. The first round was quiet but Rolls grew into the fight and rounds 2 and 3 were both very fan friendly with the under-dog trying to shock the world. They weren't round of the year contenders or anything but was exciting and it was great to see Rolls standing up to the champion for the round, and having success of his own.
In Duck Seo KO1 Tysinn Best
Korean fighter In Duck Seo travelled over to Australia and was expected to be the man to move unbeaten Australian Tysin Best to 11-0. Instead Seo ripped up the script and sent Best crashing to the canvas, with one of the most brutal KO's of 2019. The Australian was dropped hard before being knocked out in spectacular fashion by the Korean who really announced himself as the type of fighter who cannot be over-looked at this level. Unfortunately for Best he looked the better boxer, but that was that a moot point given Seo's toughness and power, which decided the bout.
Dave Apolinario (11-0, 6)
It's beecoming harder and harder to ignore just how good Dave Apolinario is, and this week we saw him having his stiffest test so far. The unbeaten "Dobermann" was up against fellow Filipino southpaw Adrian Lerasan, and was genuinely tested, but came out on top and answered a lot of questions. Apolinario showed he could fight for 10 rounds, at a good pace, and against a southpaw. He also showed that even when he can't hurt his opponent he can easily out box them, has solid concentration for 10 rounds and very good stamina. Lerasan hadn't got in to the ring to lose, and as a result Apolinario was forced to work for his win, and he showed so much against a fighter trying to beat him. A fantastic step forward for the unbeaten youngster.
Artem Dalakian (18-0, 13) vs Dennapa Kiatniwat (20-1, 15)
This next week is another quiet looking one, but there is a world title fight, as unbeaten WBA Flyweight champion Artem Dalakian defends his belt against mandatory challenger Dennapa Kiatniwat, aka Sarawut Thawornkham. On paper this looks great and whilst the Ukrainian champion will be strongly favoured he could be surprised by the Thai, who has travelled over with a lot of confidence.
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