With so few fights taking place to begin 2021 the founders of Asianboxing.info have decided to take a look at the boxing scene and put our predictions forward in a new series called "Who..."
The idea of this series is to answer a question with who we each think will achieve a specific activity or feat, or potentially even looking back on history and sharing our takes on something from the past.
We intend to mix these up between various categories and a mix of times frames. From the past, to the immediate future and the longer term future.
To begin this series we're going to look at South Korea, where the three of us will all aim to answer the following question:
"Who... will be the next OPBF champion from South Korea?"
Lee: "This should be the one where I am good, so a perfect start to this series for me. I'm really glad to see Korean boxing getting international attention recently, at least earlier this month, and it was the man who headlined that card that I think has the best chance to claim an OPBF title this year. That is, of course, Jong Seon Kang, the all action Featherweight fighter. Aged 19 he is very young, but with a 12-0-2 record, and with good wins stacking up I think he'll break into the OPBF rankings this year, and move towards an OPBF title in 2022.
Kang is also lucky that the winner of Musashi Mori and Satoshi Shimizu, will almost certainly vacate the title later this year, leaving the door open to a vacant title title fight next year. The perfect time for Kang to swoop in"
Takahiro: "Being truthful, my understanding of Korean boxing isn't as good as it should be and as good as it used to be. I have however been sneaky, and looked at the OPBF rankings and there is an obvious choice here. Light Middleweight Jung Kyoung Lee.
Lee is ranked #3 by the OPBF for a vacant title, which was given up last year by Akinori Watanabe. I don't think #1 ranked fighter Tim Tszyu will have any interest in the title and so the door is wide open for Lee to fight for the title. I'm not sure who he would fight for the belt though. I don't think we'll see Lee face Hironobu Matsunaga, but I would like that fight. Very exciting.
Regardless, my pick is Jung Kyoung Lee"
Scott: "There are a lot of really exciting Korean fighters coming through the ranks, like Da Won Gang, Sung Min Yuh, Jong Seon Kang, Min Jang and and Min Hyuk Jang. Those however are all youngsters who are probably a few years away from a big bout.
With that in mind I'm going with someone with more experience, and someone who has spoke about wanting to win the title before. That's Dong Myung Shin the excellent 32 year old Featherweight, who can ill afford to move slowly this year. He spoke about getting a fight at Oriental title level in 2020, before the pandemic destroyed various plans and I think he's probably got the best chance of fighting for the title in the next year or two. The Super Bantamweight and Featherweight divisions are tough ones, but they are both expected to have massive shake ups in the next 12-24 months and that could leave the door open for Shin to get a shot at the vacant title."
*Note - Takahiro's answer is based on the latest OPBF rankings - which are October 2020's. Oddly the OPBF have not published rankings since then.
So that was January 2020 and the first month of a new decade was interesting without really being sensational. We certainly had plenty of noteworthy action, though compared to December was a significant downturn, and a much less interesting month. Then again that is pretty normal for a January.
With that said lets have a look at what we deem the best of January!
Fighter of the Month
Murodjon Akhmadaliev (8-0, 6)
The fighter of the month was a pretty obvious pick, with Uzbek Super Bantamweight Murodjon Akhmadaliev being the clear, and standout, winner. The talented former amateur standout ended the month was a fantastic, albeit very competitive, win over Daniel Roman. The win, which netted Akmadaliev the IBF and WBA "Super" titles, was huge and it's hard to deny that "MJ" has kicked off the year in a huge way! If he can build on this win through the year he really could be one of the names for 2020, much like Can Xu was in 2019.
Fight of the Month
Han Bin Suh Vs Dong Myung Shin
There was some good fights this past month, but nothing that will be in the conversation for Fight of the Year. Despite that it's hard to pick fault with the compelling 10 round Korean Super Bantamweight title bout between Han Bin Suh and Dong Myung Shin. This was compelling through out, with Suh refusing to ever accept defeat, and instead he kept ploughing forward hoping to break down the much more polished Dong Myung Shin. This was brilliant and a real hidden gem part way through the month. It wasn't the most high skilled bout of the month, or the most exciting, but it blended the action, activity and skills well.
KO of the Month
Shohjahon Ergashev KO1 Adrian Estrella
It was a weird month for KO's with very few of them really standing out, though it may take a while for us to see a better one than Shohjahon Ergashev's body shot KO against Adrian Estrella. This was naturally beautiful and left the Mexican in pure agony on the canvas, It's rare for body shots KO's to be this good, and it's another KO for an Ergashev KO reel. A truly sensational shot, that is going to be worth watching and over through the year.
Tuguldur Byambatsogt (2-0)
January had a lot of stellar performances from prospects from all over the place, with emerging fighters from Uzbekistan, Korea, Japan and China all impressing. It was however a Mongolian that shined the brightest, with Tuguldur Byambatsogt really showing what he could do with a clear and impressive win against Vladimir Baez. This young man from Mongolia is a potential star of the future, and no one impressed quite as much as he did. For a fighter in just his second professional bout Byambatsogt has put down a marker of intent and hopefully he and his team will continue to aim high through the rest of 2020.
Esneiker Correa TKO7 Ravshanbek Umurzakov
We didn't have too many upsets of any note this past months, but the one that did raise have the most shock value came in Russian when 21 year old Venezuelan Esneiker Correa stopped previously unbeaten Uzbek hopeful Ravshanbek Umurzakov in 7 rounds. We'd expected the highly regarded Uzbek to pick up his 11th straight win against someone who was fighting outside of Latin America for the first. Instead Correra broke down and beat up Umurzakov to claim a massive victory in the 7th round. This wasn't just a big upset for Umurzakov but the type of win that allowed him to announce himself as one to watch. And seriously we would advise keeping an eye on this young puncher, he is someone to get excited about.
Takuma Takahashi vs Leonardo Doronio (Round 3)
There were some amazing rounds, truly amazing rounds. For us the the third round between Takuma Takahashi and Leonardo Doronio takes the honours, just. This was drama, controversy, and action all rolled into one. Takahashi twice dropped Doronio, could have had points taken both times for hitting his downed opponent, and was cut in a round that was absolutely sensation. This was almost 3 minutes of chaos in which both men were hurt. Well and truly worth a watch below!
This past week has been an interesting one with a lot of action at the end of it, some explosive action in the US and some real exciting and notable moments in both Japan and South Korea. With that said, lets take a look at this weeks award winners!
Fighter of the Week
Kazuto Takesako (12-0-1, 11)
Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako scored the biggest win of his career as he defeated Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa, unifying the Japanese and OPBF titles in the first OPBF title fight of the year. This was expected to be a total war but in the end Takesako was in control through out. Early on it was the body shots and combinations of Takesako that set the tone for the bout, before the contest descended into a bit of a mess. In the a very good win for Takesako even if the performance wasn't the most spectacular and the bout not that memorable.
Performance of the Week
Dong Myung Shin (3-0)
With only 12 rounds to his name as a professional prior to yesterday we were expecting to see former amateur standout Dong Myung Shin being worn down and and eventually drowned by all action teenager Han Bin Suh. Instead it was Shin who handled the 10 rounder incredibly well, fighting hard to take a decision, and the KBM Super Bantamweight title. Shin proved he could fight, he could box and despite his record it does appears that he has a bit of pop as well, hurting Suh several times. At 31 Shin will likely be fast tracked this year, so do not be surprised to see him fighting for a regional title in the very near future.
Han Bin Suh Vs Dong Myung Shin
We love Korean action and it was Korea that shone this week with a very good show that went under-the-radar. The show was stacked with title action and it the KBM Super Bantamweight title bout that delivered. Teenager Han Bin Suh showed the all action, come forward mentality that caught our eye big time last year, whilst former amateur standout Dong Myung Shin showed off his polished boxing skills in what ended up being a truly fantastic 10 round battle. This is one to hunt down when SPOTV or KBM upload it, and whilst not a FOTY contender it was a brilliant low level bout.
Takuma Takahashi vs Leonardo Doronio (Round 3)
One bout we didn't expect to be mentioning in our weekly awards was the 6 round bout between fast rising Japanese prospect Takuma Takahasi and Filipino journeyman Leonardo Doronio. It was however the hidden gem of the weekend, with 4 knockdowns, and some wild exchanges. The third round of the bout had everything. It hard a couple of knockdowns, some truly crazy 2-way action, drama, controversy and intensity. This was a round that deserves to be watched, rewatched, and watched again. The controversy, left by the referee Biney Martin not taking a a point from Takahashi for hitting Doronio when he was down leave a shadow over the round in some ways, but added to the drama of it in others. This is a round that we've included below and suggest every fan watches this week!
Shohjahon Ergashev KO1 Adrian Estrella
Uzbek fighter Shohjahon Ergashev got the chance to show case what he could do on Friday night, as he took on Mexican fighter Adrian Estrella as part of a Shobox telecast. He really took his chance to showcase his power, taking out Estrella with a truly brutal body shot that will be replayed over and over during 2020. The sharp left hand, that sneaked in past the elbow of Estrella, left the Mexican in agony and really caught the eye. As fans of brutal body shot KO's this was spectacular.
Min Jang (10-0-2, 2)
We weren't mega blown away by 19 year old Korean Min Jang, though that was more due to the fact he didn't to blow us away. The talented southpaw showed glimpses of brilliance against the over-matched Junhui Zhao, but never needed to move through the gears. Jang looks like a confident, talented boxer-mover and someone we are very excited to see progress over the coming years. Fingers crossed we see what he can really do next time out, hopefully against a better opponent than Zhao.
Batyrzhan Jukembayev (17-0-0-1, 13) Vs Maximiliano Ricardo Veron (12-3-1, 4)
After a blitz of action this past week things really drop off over the coming week, with only a very small number of fights taking place. As a result we were almost forced into a selection by default. Despite that we do still have an interesting one as unbeaten Kazakh contender Batyrzhan Jukembayev takes on upset minded Argentinian Maximiliano Ricardo Veron. With Jukembayev moving towards a world title fight this is a bit of a must win for the Kazakh and we suspect this will turn out to be a decent test for him, but a test he should pass. Expect a few tricky moments for Jukembayev, but overall a comfortable, yet exciting, win for the Kazakh hopeful.
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