Although November has been a rather bitty month, with a great start and a weak middle, there is plenty to be excited about in the last couple of weeks of the month, with a very interesting mix of fights coming through in what's left of the month.
Eruka Hiromoto (5-0) vs Sana Hazuki (7-4-1, 2) - Yamaguchi, Japan
In Yamaguchi on the 17th we'll see OPBF female Minimumweight champion Eruka Hiromoto defending her title for the first time, as she takes on the aggressive Sana Hazuki in a very interesting match up. The teenage champion looked less than spectacular in her title win, but is a very clear talent with a lot of potential and ambition, and her team have spoken about her challenging for a world title in 2020. Hazuki isn't a big name but she's a handful at this type of level, win or lose, and she could be the sort of fighter who makes Hiromoto pay for her lack of power.
Riku Kano (15-4-1, 8) Vs Tetsuya Mimura (8-1, 1) - Kobe, Japan
Former world title challenger Riku Kano looks to continue his career rebuild as he takes on the once beaten Tetsuya Mimura, a 2018 Rookie of the Year finalist. This should be a really interesting fight between two talented youngsters, and although it's unlikely to end early it is a really meaningful fight, and the winner will almost certainly see themselves in the mix for some form of regional title in 2020.
Daud Yordan (39-4-0-1, 27) Vs Michael Mokoena (15-4, 10) - Batu, Indonesia
It's hard to deny that we all love Daud Yordan, the Indian veteran has been flying the flag almost solo for Indonesian boxing the last few years. Here we see him look to claim the WBO Oriental Light Welterweight title as he takes on Tanzania's Michael Mokoena. We suspect Yordan will have to much for Mokoena, but the Indonesian has taken a lot of punishment during his long career and he could end up feeling the effects of that long career at any point.
Ongen Saknosiwi (7-0, 7) vs Marco Demecillo (24-8-1, 19) - Batu, Indonesia
Whilst Yordan has flown the flag solo for Indonesian boxing several prospecta have come and gone, including the likes of Iwan Zoda, Defry Palulu and most recently Jon Jon Jet. The latest rising Indonesian looking to make their mark is Ongen Saknosiwi, who takes a massive leap up in class here as he faces Filipino veteran Marco Demecillo. A win here will give Saknosiwi's career a monster boost and put him on the fast track, whilst a loss will see him become the latest Indonesian prospect to have his career derailed before it really got going.
Can Xu (17-2, 3) vs Manny Robles III (18-0, 8) - California, USA
One of the biggest bouts from the second half of November will see China's Can Xu defending his WBA Featherweight title against the unbeaten Manny Robles III. On paper this looks brilliant, and in the ring we expect it to be even better. Xu, despite his lack of power, is a very strong fighter who walks through hell fire and brimstone if he needs to. Robles is a more technically capable fighter, but often finds himself fighting the wrong fight and if he gets into a war with Xu we could have a legitimate contender for Fight of the Year on our hands. Xu's pressure will be key as will Robles' concentration, and we are expecting a very, very fan friendly bout here.
Zolani Tete (28-3, 21) v John Riel Casimero (28-4, 19) - West Midlands, United Kingdom
Another world title towards the end of the month will see South African fighter Zolani Tete return to face Filipino John Riel Casimero. Tete, who has been out of the ring for more than a year, enters the bout as the WBO Bantamweight champion whilst Casimero is the interim champion and will be looking to pick up another big win on the road. Coming in to this both men will be looking at a potential showdown with WBA and IBF champion Naoya Inoue, and will need to win here to keep that potential bout alive.
Zhilei Zhang (20-0, 16) Vs Sergey Kuzmin (15-1, 11) - Monte Carlo, Monaco
There is, of course, something about the Heavyweight division that intrigues us all and we'll actually have a rare bout with an Asian interest in the division at the end of November when unbeaten Chinese hopeful Zhilei Zhang take on once beaten Russian Sergey Kuzmin. Both of these fighters were former amateur standouts, and although both are the wrong side of 30 this could still be a very significant bout, with the winner likely to find themselves in the world title mix. Sadly coming into this Zhang has been out of the ring for more than a year whilst Kuzmin was beaten last time out, with both of those facts taking some shine off what this contest could have been 6 months ago.
Andy Hiraoka (14-0, 9) v Rogelio Casarez (13-8, 5) - Nevada, USA
Unbeaten Ohashi gym prospect Andy Hiraoka makes his US debut at the end of the month as he takes on Rogelio Casarez in what looks like an easy introduction to the American boxing scene. Hiraoka, a Japanese-Ghanaian fighter, has trained over in the US in the past and is regarded highly in Japan, though this will be a very different test to anythign he's faced before. Casarez will be the under-dog but will come out looking to upset the unbeaten hopeful. A nice teast for Hiraoka's first bout on US soil.
After a truly hectic May, which has had big fights littered through the month, we drop back to reality in June as the schedule almost tails off completely and we sort of struggle to get too excited about too much taking place over the coming weeks. Thankfully here there is still enough to talk about without feeling the month is threadbare, but it's less about big fights, and more about emerging fighters.
Female boxing is growing in attention in the West, with various outlets now giving it more and more time. It's not given the respect that male boxing is, but it is certainly being given time with fighters like Claressa Shields, Katie Taylor, Nicola Adams and Mikaela Mayer all get attention in the US and UK.
In Japan there also have some brilliant emerging talent, that are starting to rise through the ranks. In fact right now Japan may be about to hit their golden age of female boxing with so many talented fighters coming through the ranks.
Kasumi Saeki (3-0, 2)
Arguably the pick of the bunch from this rising generation is the fantastic Kasumi Saeki from the Shinsei Gym. Saeki was a stand out amateur before turning professional earlier this year and has raced away to claim the WBO Asia Pacific female Minimumweight title in just her third professional bout.
Saeki is a product of the brilliant Japanese amateur system, and has a style that looks professional. She's quick, aggressive, accurate, has smart foot work and is very sharp with her punching. We're waiting for her competition to improve, but really can't see any reason why she can't be fighting for world titles in the next year or two, and with Shinsei known for not holding fighters back they may even move her quicker than that.
Eri Matsuda (2-0)
Another sensationally talented Japanese fighter is Eri Matsuda, who has a boxer-mover style. She's been matched hard straight away, but has impressed with wins over with wins against Sana Hazuki and Minayo Kei. In those bouts her lack of power is about the only thing that needs questioning, but she showed remarkable improvement, from a narrow in over Suzuki to a dominant win over Kei.
Not only has Matsuda looked talented but she has claimed the OPBF Atomweight title, racked up 14 professional rounds already and shown a combination of great outside fighting skills, fantastic composure and the ability to tie up when she's under pressure. She's clearly got a lot of room for improvement but already looks like a future champion in the making, and Team 10 Count know they have a real prospect on their hands here.
Kanako Taniyama (1-0, 1)
Kikcboxer-turn-boxer Kanako Taniyama turned professional earlier this year and despite being 32 years old the expectation is that she will be fast tracked. We know for men 32 year old fighters are fighters in the latter part of their prime, but we've been seeing more and more female boxers having success into their 40's so Taniyama shouldn't be written off due to her age.
On debut Taniyama took on experienced Thai Sumalee Tongpootorn and really looked the part. She was sharp, quick, accurate, moved well and looked very comfortable in the ring. It's clear she has work to do, and there are flaws she has carried over from her transition from kickboxing, but she looked very good on debut and looks like Watanabe could develop her into a very good fighter.
Airi Motoki (1-0, 1)
The Featherweight division in female boxing lacks the depth of the divisions below it, and lacks the big names that are making a mark in the West. It's a strange division with only a handful of fighters of any real note there, such as Jelena Mrdjenovich, Heather Hardy and Jennifer Han. This means there is room for someone to quickly climb through the rankings, especially domestically.
One fighter who could make their mark there is Airi Motoki, who is part of the T&T gym. She looked very good on debut, with heavy hands and good technical ability. There is certainly a rawness to her, but her right hand looks like a potentially potent weapon and she seems to have good stamina. It's worth noting that the gym she fights out of has really developed male fighter Ikuro Sadatsune and have shown they can take natural talent and polish it.
Eruka Hiromoto (4-0)
At 18 years old Eruka Hiromoto is the youngest fighter on this list, by far, but is also the most experienced as a professional having debuted in October 2017, taking a close win over Kisara Okamoto. Since her debut she has stepped up her competition and moved into a 6 round bout last time out. Despite being a novice she has already beaten 3 unbeaten fighters and shown quite a lot to get excited about.
Hiromoto has a lot of her bouts available on Boxingraise and in that footage she has looked quick, aggressive and sharp. She lacks physical maturity, but at just 18 years old we are expecting to see that change at she matures from a girl into a woman, and hopefully that will see her adding some power to her speed and skills.
Of all the fighters on the list Hiromoto seems like the one who will need the most time, but given her youth she has that time to be matched well, developed and given time to mature.
(Image, of Saeki, courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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