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.
When we closed out 2019 we promised to show more diversity in our "Introducing..." articles for 2020 and today we continue to uphold that, as we look at an unbeaten national champion from Korea, who is arguably the most fun to watch fighter on the planet, at least on a pound for pound basis.
This is the first time we've "introduced" a national champion, but given the state of Korean boxing it doesn't seem a bad choice, especially given just how much we enjoying watching the 19 yeah old Han Bin Suh (5-0-3, 4)
The baby faced Suh made his professional debut in 2017, just a month after he turned 17, and he has quickly become a fighter that every fan should know about. That's despite not fighting at all in 2018!
On debut, back in March 2017, Suh beat fellow debutant Sang Woo Bae inside a round, and added his second pro win with a TKO2 over Hyo Duk Oh just a few months later. Despite it being very early in his career Suh was making a name for himself based on his exciting style, that was almost a throw back to a bygone era of Korean boxing. Suh was all "punch, punch, punch". There was little finesse to what he did, but it was working and why would he mess with a winning formula?
Sadly Suh's winning formula would stop being a winning one, and after taking a narrow win over Young Chan Yoon, in a bout that showed the willingness of Korean judges to give 10-10 rounds, he would suffer his first draw. That draw, a 4 round split decision draw with China's Youngu Yu, was followed by a break of over a year, before Suh got back in the ring and fought to another draw, this time a 6 round draw with Ki Hyun Park. Incidentally these weren't just draws, but were also the first bouts Suh had at Super Bantamweight, as he dropped down in weight after starting his career with fights above the Featherweight limit.
Those draws didn't really set Suh back at all. Instead they seemed to empower him, making him realise he could set a hot pace, and keep going. He seemed to realise that his energy levels were incredibly and that he could take a shot really well, and it's that which has made him such a must watch fighter in the last year or so. He simply doesn't stop throwing punches, even when caught clean himself. He might not always throw the most effective, or the heaviest, or the cleanest of blows, but he throws so much than he simply drowns opponents in leather, like some of the top Korean's of yesteryear.
That pressure, work rate and incessant aggression from Suh saw him win the Korean Super Bantamweight title, KBM version at least, in April 2019, when he broke down Dae Young Lee in an excellent all action bout. Suh, who takes risks in his aggressive march forward, was forced to take some clean counters, but refused to let Lee build any momentum before roaring back. Lee was game, but he had the fight beaten out of him by Suh in the 8th round as the frantic pace and none stop aggression proved too much., even if he did take shots himself.
In his first defense of the KBM Super Bantamweight Suh again showed unbridled will to win and aggression as he defended the belt in a sensational bout against Jong Won Jung in July. This was an even better fight than his title win and Jung tried to go punch for punch with Suh, giving us a truly epic war with incredible levels of output from both. As with his title win Suh's defense left much to be desired, but his aggression was simply too much for Jung who was ground down, and stopped in round 8 of arguably the best Korean bout of 2019.
Suh's most recent bout saw him earn his third defense as he fought to a draw with Jong Min Jung over 10 action packed rounds. This was a bout that Suh's defensive issues were most obvious, but his chin, his work rate, his heart and desire were amazing, and he refused to lose. Jung was the better boxer, but the 32 year old was dragged into Suh's bout as it went on and Suh's work rate certainly saw him deserve a draw, at worst.
On January 18th we'll see Suh make his 4th defense, as he battles former amateur standout Dong Myung Shin. Suh in tough here against a man who ran up well over over 100 wins the the amateur ranks, but a win for the youngster is expected to net him an OPBF title fight later in the year. Getting past Shin isn't a given, but if he does we expect 2020 to be a massive year for Suh. Then again a loss for the youngster will not be the end, given just how young he is.
Although Suh is unlikely to ever be a Korean star, like the legendary names from the 1980's, he does appear to be a fighter who is inspired by the likes of Jung Koo Chang, and that is certainly not a bad thing at all!
Our latest "Round Review" comes from Korean in a bout that could go down as one of the most over-looked fights of the decade.
It's rare for us to say we could include any round from a fight, but the reality is that the KBM Super Bantamweight title fight between Han Bin Suh and Jong Won Jung really could have had almost any round selected for this series. The two men took about a minute to introduce themselves before engaging in what was legitimately one of the most intense, action packed fights of the year. For the most part they stood in close range and took it in turns to tee off with combinations in the middle of the ring. It would go one way, then the other, then back again.
This was a bout that reminded us how amazing the Korean fighting spirit is, how the Korean mentality makes for amazing fights and amazing rounds.
For this series we've picked round 3, but really this is one of those bouts that fans deserve to make time to watch the whole thing from. View this as less of a "Round Review", as a trailer for a sensational fight with so much leather thrown, like two little dynamo's.
One thing to note about this bout, is this incredible war took place on the same week as Manny Pacquiao fought Keith Thurman...and we legitimately think this fight was better!
A huge thanks goes out to KBM for sharing this fight in full, and if you've even as much as a passing interest in Korean boxing we advise you keep an eye on the great work they do.
Another week has passed and whilst it wasn't the biggest week it clearly had some stand out moments, and one very clear standout fighter.
Fighter of the Week
Manny Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39)
It's not every week that the Fighter of the Week is the easiest award, but this week is one where their is really no other contender than Filipino legend Manny Pacquiao, who showed, even at the age of 40, that he is a fantastic fighter. From knocking down Keith Thurman in the opening round to skirting around the ring in the 12th Pacquiao did as he pleased against the previously unbeaten American. Thurman had moments in the second half, but by then he was needing a KO as Pacquiao took his foot off the gas. The punching senator might not be the supreme wrecking machine he was a decade ago but even this older, slower Pacquiao appears to be one of the top fighters in the sport.
Performance of the Week
Manny Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39)
A rare double win here for our Fighter and Performance award as Pacquiao takes this one too. He was up against a younger fighter and still seemed able to out box, out speed, out punch and out think his foe. Thurman struggled with Pacquiao's foot work early on, as well as his timing, and whilst Pacquiao has long been known for his thunderbolt straight left hand it was his right hook that was a major tool here. This wasn't a punch perfect display from Pacquiao, and it likely won't go down as one of his top 5 performances, but it was the stellar showing from the week.
Han Bin Suh (4-0-2, 3) vs Jong Won Jung (5-7-2)
On Monday we had a little card in South Korea which was headlined by a brilliant little gem between Korean Super Bantamweigth champion Han Bin Suh and challenger Jong Won Jung. This was a million miles away from the glitz and glamour of the MGM, and seemingly fought in front of only a scattering of fans, but was a thrilling action fight, and the sort of thing that has made Korean boxing, to all it's limitations, worthy of following. Much of the fight was fought up close, with offensive taking a clear priority over defense, and combinations taking a preference over smart footwork and single shot counters. The fact only a handful of people is a shame, as this is worth every minute it'll take to watch.
Manny Pacquiao Vs Keith Thurman (10)
The Pacquiao Vs Thurman fight was, for the most, pretty easy to score, though one round really stood out as being the best, round 10. The round saw Thurman taking risks and having success early on before being hurt from a body shot, in a round that swung one way then the other and left us all wondering whether he could recover for the bout's penultimate round. This wasn't a Round of the Year contender, but was a very entertaining and exciting 3 minutes
Despite the week being a good one, no KO really stood out as being something to talk about. The closest we got was Sergey Lipinet's brutal shot to Jayar Inson, who some how rose to his feet and was stood standing and smiling. Inson clearly wasn't aware of where he was.
Koshin Takeshima (4-0, 3)
Japan's Koshin Takeshima isn't getting much attention, mostly due to the fact he's fighting in the lesser reported markets of Japan with fights in Kariya, Gifu and Nagoya. Despite that he's creating a bubble of expectancy and that showed again this Saturday when he defeat Jon Jon Estrada over 8 rounders. Prior to the bout Takeshima had fought a total of just 8 rounds but went 8 with no issue against a tough and dangerous Estrada. Although the Filipino has now lost 3 in a row, and 7 of his 19, Estrada was the sort of fighter that Takeshima needed to face and the win was a big statement from the 23 year old Japanese fighter.
Ginjiro Shigeoka (3-0, 2) vs Clyde Azarcon (15-2-1, 5)
Over the coming days we have some great fights coming up, and one amazing one between Tsuyoshi Sato and Rikito Shiba which was cancelled though could be rescheduled for later in the year. Despite how good some of those fights are the one we are most interested in the WBO Asia Pacific Minimumweight title bout between fast rising youngster Ginjiro Shigeoka and Filipino Clyde Azarcon. For Shigeoka this is a chance to really land with a wallop and claim his first title in just his 4th professional bout, whilst Azarcon will be looking to upend the fast rising Japanese fighter in what we think is the most interesting bout this week...a week that also includes the quarter final bouts for the God's left tournament and a mouth watering Japanese Bantamweight title bout.
As we head into May, which us set to be a crazy month we bow out of April, and to be fair to April it's not been the worst month even if there has been inconsistent action. This past week was one of those where there wasn't a steady stream of notable bouts, but there was certainly enough to be entertained. Sadly the biggest bouts of the week both failed to live up to expectations, with Srisaket Sor Rungvisai fighting with some of the strangest tactics we've seen and Zolani Tete needing to pull out of his bout with Nonito Donaire. Despite those issues this week was certainly worthy paying attention to.
Fighter of the Week
Nonito Donaire (40-5, 26)
Whilst Donaire may have seen original opponent Zolani Tete pull out of the scheduled WBSS semi final that really can't take away from the fact Donaire himself turned up, and took out Stephon Young to move forward towards the WBSS final.The Filipino veteran, now aged 36, walked down Young before stopping him in 6 rounds to retain the WBA "Super" and WBC Diamond Bantamweight titles. The performance showed that Donaire is still young enough to over-come speedy younger southpaws, though the reality was that this was a massive step down to what had been planned.
Performance of the Week
Kasumi Saeki (4-0, 3)
Japan's Kasumi Saeki may not be a name that is on the lips of many fight fans but her performance this past Saturday was fantastic. Fighting in her first world title bout, in just her 4th professional bout, Saeki was up against Mexican foe Elizabeth Lopez and shone. Saeki would totally dominate Lopez before stopping in 6 rounds to become a new world champion, just 11 months after her debut. For those who haven't yet managed to see Saeki they really should be looking to follow her, she's a very, very special young fighter.
Seigo Yuri Akui vs Yoshiki Minato (Round 1)
When we get a 1 round fight that's something special it's sometimes hard to know if this belongs in "Round of the Week" or "Fight of the Week". We had this issue again this week thanks to the brilliant opening round of Seigo Yuri Akui's bout against Yoshiki Minato. The round saw both men swinging for the fences from the opening moments. Akui would be dropped, before bouncing back and dropping Minato twice, then stopping Minato on his feet. It was crazy, intense and thoroughly amazing action, the sort of 1-round thriller that we all love. The bout was one that we had been looking forward to, and will be uploaded to Boxing Raise in the coming days, we suggest that those who use Boxing Raise make sure to give this one a watch
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai Vs Juan Francisco Estrada II (Round 11)
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai put in one of the strangest ever performanes of a world champion this past Friday. The hard hitting southpaw actually fought out of the orthodox stance for the most part, giving away some of his biggests strengths. In round 11 however the Thai finally began to fight as a southpaw, reverting to his typical stance, and this lead him to have real success, taking the fight to Estrada, who let machismo kick in and gave us a great round. Srisaket picked up his pressure and Estrada was forced to respond. This was a great round, and it's just a shame that Srisaket spent so much of the fight, fighting the wrong fight.
Nonito Donaire KO6 Stephon Young
We're back with the Filipino Flash who's much vaunted and thoroughly destructive left hook landed clean on the chin of Stephon Young in the 6th round of their clash. Donaire has been looking for the shot through much of the bout, landing it less flush a few times, but the one that closed the show was truly fantastic, landing clean and sending Young crashing to the ring, hard. That was it, with Young left looking up at the lights, with the lights on but nobody home.
Han Bin Suh (4-0-2, 3)
We're off to Korea for our prospect of the week, as 19 year old Han Bin Suh gets the plaudits from ourselves. The youngster, who had scored back to back draws prior to his bout this week took the Korean Super Bantamweight title with an 8th round TKO win against Dae Young Lee, Whilst Lee was nothing special to be put into a 10 round bout this early in his career Suh is certainly one to make note of. He's perhaps a little bit fortunate that there was many other prospects in action, but that shouldn't devalue the teenager winning such a big bout so early in his career.
Taiki Minamoto (16-5, 13) Vs Reiya Abe (19-2, 9)
This coming week is set to be a very busy week, and for us the most interesting match up will see Japanese Featherweight champion Taiki Minamoto defending his title against slick southpaw challenger Reiya Abe. The bout might not have a world title on the line, but it's a sensational match up and could end up being one of the best bouts on Japanese soil this year. The styles should gel, the desire of both men will be huge and we really are expecting something very, very special here.
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