As we head towards the new year we've had a big look at the current scene and come up with "20 fights we'd like to see in 2020", yeah another series ahead of the new decade!
As is always the case with what we do, these articles will have an Asian flavour, and every bout we mention in the series will have at least 1 fighter from Asia involved. So for those of you expecting us to talk about Deontay Wilder Vs Anthony Joshua, that won't be listed.
What we'll be looking at is well matched contests with either some form of back story, a great stylistic clash or bouts with some form of significant meaning. If they tick all the boxes then that is even better! Each fight will be given it's own article and each of these will come with an introduction to the fighters, and why the bout is being featured in the list.
Gennady Golovkin (40-1-1, 35) Vs Ryota Murata (16-2, 13)
There aren't many bouts in this series that have been spoken about as real possibilities, instead we've tried to look outside the box, but as we come to the end of the series we do need to look at some of the super fights that have been on the mind of fans. Here we look at a bout that is rumoured to be pencilled in for June, in a dome in Japan. Today we look at a fight that would be brutal, heavy hitting, and would see both men taking serious punishment. Today we look at a Middleweight bout that would be truly spectacular.
Former unified champion Gennady Golovkin has shown signs of being on the slide recently. He's no longer the "Big Drama Show" executioner who was scoring stoppage after stoppage, ripping through the contenders of the Middleweight division. He's still world class, and a win over Sergiy Derevyanchenko last October showed there is still more than enough in the tank for much of the division, but he has slipped significantly from the fighter he once was. Tough bouts against the likes of Derevyanchenko, Saul "Canelo" Alvarez and Daniel Jacobs have taken something out of him, and with his 38th birthday coming in April father time is also well and truly on his case.
Japanese star Ryota Murata,with the backing of Top Rank and Teiken, appears to have the keys to the massive Tokyo Dome. What he needs is someone to have a dance with 42,000 seater "Big Egg", and Golovkin world be the ideal opponent. Although not the force Golovkin once was, Murata shouldn't be over-looked. The 2012 Olympic champion is a stronger, brutish fighter. Technically he's limited, he's slow, but he's so damn tough, strong and powerful that few will beat him by going head to head with him. To beat him a fighter really needs to move, they need to box, and they need to stop him from setting his feet. A 38 year old Golovkin isn't the type of fighter who will move around, and is instead the type of fighter who will fight fire with fire.
Given the ageing of Golovkin, the slowing of his hands and feet, and the cracks slowly coming into his aura of invincibility he makes for a perfect foil for Murata. There is enough doubt about Golvkin now that Murata wouldn't be totally written off, as he would have been just a year or two ago. Despite slowing Golovkin is still a monster puncher, and could well be a more physically imposing fighter than Murata. It would be great to see these two heavy hitters go toe-to-toe.
The loser of this would be looking down the barrel of retirement whilst the winner would be looking at a lengthy recovery from a bout that would see both men taking some bombs! This would be brutal, exciting, dangerous and thrilling. Putting this on at a huge venue, like the Tokyo Dome, would just add the occasion, and help give such a highly anticipated bout an incredible atmosphere.
As we head towards a new year we've decided to look into our glass balls, our tea leaves and our palms to come up with 20 predictions which will be posted over the coming weeks for what we think will happen in 2020. So far our predictions haven't been the best though they've not all been wrong.
In 2013 we predicted that Naoya Inoue, his brother Takuma and Kosei Tanaka would all win world titles. Between them they've won a few world titles, though Takuma has yet to win a proper world title. That same year we also predicted a growth in Chinese boxing, and this arguably happened despite the fact the Macau side of things has died off. We also predicted a growth in Asian fighters making a name for themselves in the US, this was before Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, Naoya Inoue or Kazuto Ioka had fought on US soil, and before the wave of Uzbek's had began to attract US attention.
Unlike the past, where we have made all of our predictions in 1 article, we'll be spreading these ones out with 1 prediction per article, and going more in depth than we have in the past.
Prediction number 4 - GGG gets stopped!
For years Gennady Golovkin looked invulnerable to punches. They bounced off him and it was as if Golovkin was Hulk Hogan in the 1980's when he was "Hulking up", shaking off everything thrown his way. More recently however Golvokin has began to look like a man who has been in a lot of fights, and has taken accumulated punishment. He still looks solid, but their are cracks forming and we've seen him backing off more, and even seen him hurt once or twice. Our prediction is that in 2020 he will fail to hear the final bell, with his body finally taking too much punishment to go.
Sure we haven't even seen Golovkin getting dropped yet, but in 4 of his last 6 bouts, the Danny Jacobs, the two bouts with Saul Alvarez and the recent contest with Sergiy Derevyanchenko he has taken heavy shots and has likely been given more punishment in those 4 bouts combined than his other 36 bouts combined. With natural ageing, slowing reflexes, and accumulative damage it seems only a matter of time before one fighter finally drops him, breaks his heart and forces "GGG" to say no more.
There was several times when in the October bout with Sergiy Derevyanchenko where Golovkin was wincing, showing real discomfort, and like a man who was battling through pain. This wasn't the same Golovkin we had seen earlier in his career. This was a Golovkin who looked like he was in a war he didn't want to be in, he wanted to box, whilst Derevyanchenko wanted to fight.
With his 38th birthday coming in April and several fights left on his huge DAZN contract we really do see Golovkin going on too long, in fact he may already have gone on too long. If he lands the much talked about third bout with Saul "Canelo" Alvarez we genuinely see Golovkin being taken out by body shots. That wouldn't be too bad, in the grand scheme of things, but the reality is that if he fights just 2 or 3 times more it could be someone much less notable that gets to him at just the right time.
Golovkin's next bout is likely to be against Poland's Kamil Szeremeta, a bout that shouldn't be too problematic for the Kazakh, but after that there will be sharks swimming looking to get at him, and the first stoppage loss of Golovkin's career will come to one of those sharks.
On a personal level October feels like a month that has been a lot, lot longer than it has been. It's hard to believe that it was only at the start of the month that we had a brilliant Light Flyweight world title bout and whilst the month has been inconsistent at times we have had a bit of everything, with two genuine Fight of the Year contenders, some brutal knockouts and more than a splattering of great prospects.
Fighter of the Month
Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9)
For us the fighter of the month was WBA and Ring Magazine Light Flyweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi, who kicked off the month with a win in a fantastic all Japanese bout against determined challenger Tetsuya Hisada. The bout was, for us, the best bout of the month, with great back and forth, and although Kyoguchi was a pretty clear winner by the end of it, the bout had given us a fantastic narrative of the unbeaten champion up against the determined but over-looked challenger, who simply would not give up. The fight was exciting, highly skilled and one that every fan owes themselves a chance to see.
Fight of the Month
Hiroto Kyoguchi vs Tetsuya Hisada
Having just spoke about how good Kyoguchi's bout with Hisada was it's needless to say that it took the award for the Fight of the month, narrowly beating out another world title fight that took place just a few days later. As with the IBF Middleweight title bout, between Gennady Golovkin vs Sergiy Derevyanchenko, this was just fantastic with neither man giving up, both being hurt, and both giving everything they had. In the end Kyoguchi did what he needed to win, but Hisada played his part in a genuine 2019 Fight of the Year contender.
KO of the Month
Jhunriel Ramonal TKO3 Shingo Wake
Filipino fighter Jhunriel Ramonal picks up 2 awards this month! the first of those is the KO of the Month award, which he earns for his big KO against the highly regarded Shingo Wake. The bout had started with Wake in control, and looking like he was going to get his second win over the Filipino. That was until Wake was dropped in round 3. The Japanese world title contender could never get his bearings and was brutally knocked out not much later as Ramonal put in his contender for KO of the Year. This was brutal and is a KO worth subscribing to Boxing Raise for.
Yudai Shigeoka (1-0, 1)
There was a lot of prospects in action in October, and we really do mean a lot. As a result this was the toughest category for the month, however the prospect who left most excited after their performance was Yudai Shigeoka, who really looks like he's going to be a very, very special fighter. The talented southpaw never seemed to get out of second gear in his debut, yet showed wonderful hand speed, accuracy, patience, timing and shot selection. There is a lot left for him to prove in the years to come but for a debut this left yearning for more, and we suspect we will see a lot, lot more from the promising 22 year old.
Jhunriel Ramonal TKO3 Shingo Wake
We're back with Jhunriel Ramonal for our upset of the month, and his KO win over Shingo Wake really was a huge upset, one of the biggest of 2019 in fact. The Filipino was expected to suffer his second loss to Wake, who looked almost certain to get a world title fight in 2020, but was left out cold on the canvas from a shot from hell. We're glad that Wake has revealed his career will go on, but this upset will be a hard one to bounce back from, whilst it immediately sets Ramonal up for another Japanese pay day, if he wants it.
Gennady Golovkin vs Sergiy Derevyanchenko (Rd 8)
Whilst we picked the Kyoguchi Vs Hisada bout as our fight of the month it's hard to argue too strongly with anyone who preferred the fantastic Gennady Golovkin vs Sergiy Derevyanchenko bout. For our money the 8th round in the Golovkin vs Derevyanchenko bout was the best single round of the month, a back and forth action round that saw both men digging deep and and landing some huge power shots. Both men proved their fighting spirit and their toughness here in a reall sensational 3 minutes of action.
This past week has been a bit of a strange, and frustrating, one. We've had 2 legitimately fantastic bouts shown, but we've not had much else being shown, with the major Japanese card from the week being aired next week, and there was nothing of note featured on boxing Raise. There was a Filipino card, but the stream for it was poor to say the least, and it very much feels like a week where there was only the widely available stuff to watch.
Fighter of the Week
Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9)
Whilst the week wasn't great overall it's hard to deny that this was a week where two bouts stood out. One of those was the fantastic IBF Middleweight title bout between Gennady Golovkin vs Sergiy Derevyanchenko and the other was the equally as good WBA Light Flyweight "super" title bout between Hiroto Kyoguchi and Tetsuya Hisada. Both bouts saw the under-dog giving the favourite all they could handle over 12 amazing rounds, and these two bouts would have been highlights in any week. Of the two winners we have to give Fighter of the Week to Kyoguchi, who enhanced his reputation with his win, whilst Golovkin seemed to show that he was one step closer to retirement than anyone had anticipated.
Performance of the Week
Tetsuya Hisada (34-10-2, 20)
One of the things that allowed Kyoguchi to take our Fighter of the Week award was his dance partner, Tetsuya Hisada. In the eyes of many Hisada was an undeserving challenger, an old man with 9 losses on his record going into the biggest bout of his career. He had never scored a win above domestic level, and was an unknown outside of Japan, and even that it was only the hardcore fans in the country who really much about him. What he did however was put up one of the best performance of 2019, holding his own with a much young fighter. For those who were impressed by Derevyanchenko against Golovkin, Hisada's effort was very, very similar.
Hiroto Kyoguchi vs Tetsuya Hisada
It'll come as no surprise that there were really only 2 bouts in contention for the Fight of the Week, the Gennady Golovkin Vs Sergiy Derevyanchenko and the Hiroto Kyoguchi Vs Tetsuya Hisada fight. In many ways both were very, very similar. They both had the under-dog massively out performing expectations, despite being dropped. The winner of both fights were hurt and the fights were back and forth action fights. In reality the Golovkin fight was closer, and more competitive, but for us the better fight was actually the other one. Both were fantastic, both deserve to be in the fight of the year short list, but we we found Kyoguchi Vs Hisada more enthralling over the course of the fight.
Gennady Golovkin vs Sergiy Derevyanchenko Round 8
With 2 great fights we were treat to some amazing rounds, for this however we have to side with Golovkin's big effort in round 8 against Derevyanchenko. It was one of the few rounds that the Kazakh seemed to put his foot on the gas and was one of the few rounds that saw both men going tit for tat, rather than than Golovkin being backed up and landing the better shots. This was a great round of action, both men were hurt and both looked tired, but they dug deep and delivered a fantastic 3 minutes of action.
No suitable contender
Ali Akhmedov (16-0, 12)
The week was a really odd one for prospects. There was plenty in action, but they were in mismatches, and very few of them had to answer and real questions. For us Israil Madrimov isn't a prospect but a contender, and the we almost said the same of Ali Akhmedov. Problem is that if we had, we wouldn't have had a candidate for this category, as no one faced anyone of any note. Even then Akhemdov's opponent, Andrew Hernandez, almost saw him ruled out. Akhmedov stopped Hernandez with the only notable punch and took an opening round TKO. An awful week for prospects looking to announce themselves.
Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (11-4-1, 10) Vs Koki Tyson (14-3-3, 12) II
The first bout between Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa and Koki Tyson had the chance to be great, but fell short, in part due to a lack of fitness from Tyson who took the bout on short notice. This time both men have had plenty of time to prepare and we are expecting this to be a genuine thriller between two fighters who can bang, can fight and can put on a show. This might not be a major globally, but it has the fighters to be a truly excellent fight.
The month of October is promising a lot of action. Of course some of it's not amazing, but the month has a lot of highlights and a lot of reasons to be excited. Here we take a look at the first part of the month, and the highlights we're set to get over the first week or so of the month.
Hiroto Kyoguchi (13-0, 9) vs Tetsuya Hisada (34-9-2, 20) -Osaka, Japan
In an all Japanese world title fight we'll see WBA Light Flyweight "super" champion Hiroto Kyoguchi take on veteran Tetsuya Hisada in Osaka. This will be Kyoguchi's second defense of the title, following his title victory in December against Hekkie Budler, whilst Hisada will be getting his first world title bout, just weeks short his his 35th birthday. The champion will be strongly favoured, but the challenge will go in knowing this will almost certainly be his only shot at a world title
Hiroshige Osawa (35-5-4, 21) Vs Jason Butar Butar (29-26-1, 19)- Osaka, Japan
Former world title challenger Hiroshige Osawa is currently ranked #1 by the WBA at Featherweight, which we admit is a weird ranking given what he's done since losing to Oscar Valdez in a WBO title fight. Here he'll be looking to just stay busy as he takes on limited Indonesian journeyman Jason Butar Butar. Osawa doesn't deserve his #1 world ranking, but that doesn't lead us to thinking this will be anything other than an easy win for the Japanese fighter.
Gennady Golovkin (39-1-1, 35) vs Sergiy Derevyanchenko (13-1, 10) - New York, USA
One of the real highlights of the month will see Kazakh puncher Gennady Golovkin look reclaim a portion of the Middleweight throne as he battles Ukrainian fighter Sergiy Derevyanchenk in a bout for the IBF Middelweight title. This is expected to be a really thrilling bout and a major test to see what Golovkin has left in the tank,and whether Derevyanchenko can get over the line in what is his second world title shot. This could be a really brilliant fight, though one that will leave the loser looking down the proverbial barrel of retirement.
Junto Nakatani (19-0, 14) vs Milan Melindo (37-4, 13) - Tokyo, Japan
Unbeaten Japanese Flyweight hopeful Junto Nakatani looks to continue his rise as he takes on his most notable test to date, former world champion Milan Melindo. The fast rising Nakatani has shown a lot to like so far, but has been fighting at a lower level, with the feeling that he needs to face better competition before getting a world title fight. Melindo is not the fighter he once was, and has lost his last 2 bouts, but still has a bag of tricks up his sleeve and should ask Nakatani some question that he has never been seen before.
Ryo Akaho (34-2-2, 22) Vs Kyung Min Kwon (7-5, 3) - Tokyo, Japan
Former world title challenger Ryo Akaho looks to score his 9th straight victory as he takes on Korean foe Kyung Min Kwon. The Japanese slugger is unbeaten since losing to Pungluang Sor Singyu in 2015, but his competition hasn't been the best during that run, including a close win over the relatively unknown Hiroaki Teshigawara. Kwon on the other hand is a former OPBF Featherweight title challenger, but is 2-3 in his last 5 and will obviously enter as the under-dog. Kwon has proven to be tough, and should give Akaho a solid test, but will almost certainly come up short here.
Ikuro Sadatsune (9-4-3, 3) Vs Robin Langres (10-3, 4) - Tokyo, Japan
The under-rated Ikuro Sadatsune might not be a star in the making but he's a hugely entertaining fighter has a very under-rated record, and should probably have a better record than he does, with 3 of his losses being very close. Robin Langres on the other hand is a Filipino with a similar record, looking to make his mark on foreign soil following 13 bouts at home. This looks competitive and every bout featuring Sadatsune is worth making a note of, especially ones which will be shown on TV, like this one.
Shigetoshi Kotari (0-0) Vs Lasben Sinaba (3-2, 3) - Tokyo, Japan
MT Gym's newest signing is solid former amateur fighter Shigetoshi Kotari. The youngster makes his pro debut, following sparring sessions with the likes of Junto Nakatani and Masayuki Ito, as he takes on Indonesian foe Lasben Sinaba. The reality is that this should be a show case for the Japanese novice, who has the skills and size to go a very long way. Sinaba really has little chance here and it's more a case of getting a chance to see Kotari in his debut, than anything competitive here.
Rikki Naito (21-2, 7) vs Gyu Beom Jeon (9-3-1, 4) -Cheonan, South Korea
At about the 4th time of asking we'll finally get OPBF Light Welterweight champion Rikki Naito defending his title in Korea against Gyu Beom Jeon. This bout has been scheduled a number of times before one issue, or another, has caused it to be rescheduled. Those issues have seen Naito remaning out of the ring for pretty much a full year, with his last botu coming last October against Daishi Nagata.On the other hand Jeon will be fighting for the third time this year, and will be hunting his 6th straight win. Despite the winning run Jeon will be stepping up, massively, here.
Sung Jae Jo (9-0, 7) vs Wulamu Tulake (8-2-1, 4) - Cheonan, South Korea
Unbeaten Korean puncher Sung Jae Jo looks to extend his unbeaten record to 10 wins as he takes on Chinese foe Wulamu Tulake. The Korean Middleweight is a small but powerful fighter at 160lbs and we expect to see him getting into the regional title mix in the near future. Tulake will have size and reach advantages over the Korean, but has been stopped in both of his losses and will almost certainly struggle with the power of Jo.
Shuichiro Yoshino (10-0, 8) Vs Harmonito Dela Torre (20-2, 12) - Tokyo, Japan
Japanese Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino looks to become a triple champion as he faces Filipino Harmonito Dela Torre in a bout for the OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Lightweight titles. The two regional thrones are both vacant coming in to this and will establish the winner as a world ranked contender, as well as the proverbial Lightweight king of Asia. Coming in to this Yoshino has looked brilliant, a sharp, heavy handed boxer-puncher who has stopped his last 6, and looks to be on the way up. Dela Torre on the other hand was once a touted 19-0 (12) prospect, but losses in 2 of his last 3 bouts have taken much of the shine from his career and left him in desperate need of a win here.
Kenichi Horikawa (40-15-1, 13) Vs Yuto Takahashi (10-4, 5) -Tokyo, Japan
Japanese Light Flyweight champion Kenichi Horikawa looks to continue his reign, and secure his second defense, as he takes on the unheralded Yuto Takahashi. The 39 year old champion is a true stalwart of the Japanese scene and despite his age is still a really talented warrior who has won his last 8 in a row and become a 2-time champion. The challenger is a 26 year old who has had some mixed success, but has earned a title fight thanks to wins over the likes of Ryoki Hirai and Yuta Nakayama. This is a big ask for the challenger, but given the age and wear and tear of Horikawa this is, perhaps, the perfect time to challenge him, and take the title before someone else the chance.
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.
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