Generally December is a very Japan centric month in Asian boxing, with the end of shows and Rookie of the Year. This year things seemed even more Japan centric than usual with a host of cards through the month. As a result December's awards were pretty much all in Japan, though that doesn't take away from what was a very interesting month.
Fighter of the Month
In December we had a host of world title fights, some were competitive, some weren't but for us the guy who shone the brightest was Kazuto Ioka. Ioka was in tough with a 2-time Olympian, who was tall, longer and faster. After taking a couple of rounds to figure his man out however Ioka began to adjust and slowly broke down Jeyvier Cintron in what was an excellent over all performance in a fantastic bout. Cintron, we suspect, will win a world title in the future and this is a win that will end up looking very good in a few year's time.
Fight of the Month
Yuki Beppu Vs Ryota Yada
Few fights can truly be described as dramatic, but with 6 knockdowns, bombs being traded through out, and a huge come from behind win it's hard to suggest that anything other than the WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title bout between Yuki Beppu and Ryota Yada was going to win this. There were other great bouts, the rookie of the year bout between Kodai Honda vs Yasutaka Fujita being among them, but nothing was every going to compete with Beppu Vs Yada. A genuine must watch war.
KO of the Month
Mammoth Kazunori TKO5 Lerdchai Chaiyawed
It seemed that December wanted to try and provide us with the best of everything, and the brutal KO scored by Mammoth Kazunori, against Lerdchai Chaiyawed, tried to steal the KO of the Year with just over 2 weeks of the year left. This was originally doing the rounds from a fan cam, but when the bout was upload to Boxing Raise a few days after it took place the KO looked even better. A single solid left hand turned Lerdchai 's lights out...and then he hit the canvas. This was as clean a shot as Kazunori will likely ever land, and the way Lerdchai hit the canvas was just nasty.
Yudai Shigeoka (2-0, 1)
With a win against an OPBF champion in just his second professional bout, it was hard to give this award to anyone else. Shigeoka might not be as brutal as his younger brother, Ginjiro Shigeoka, but out pointing Lito Dante this early in his career was fantastic and a real statement of intent for someone wanting to be fast-tracked.
Amazingly Yudai's brother stopped Rey Loreto and Bektemir Melikuziev out pointed Vaughn Alexander, in just his 4th bout, during the month. This was an excellent month for prospects.
Renz Rosia UD8 Aston Palicte
The "Filipino fighters are involved in upsets" trend continued through December. Jhack Tepora being stopped by Oscar Escandon, Jhunriel Ramonal stopping Yusaku Kuga and Renz Rosia beating Aston Palicte were the short list for the month. For us Rosia's win gets the award due to the fact he completely out boxed, out fought and out though Palicte. This wasn't a wild shot, or beating someone before they warmed up. This was beating them round, after round, after round. This was Rosia exposing Palicte's flaws, and given where Palicte was at the start of this year was a genuine surprise. What made this really stand out is that Rosia was 1-4-1 in his previous 6 bouts! A genuine shocker.
Toshiya Ishii vs Haruki Ishikawa (Round 2)
We had some amazing rounds this past month, and round 4 of Akira Yaegashi Vs Moruti Mthalane will certainly be a hard one to forget. For sheer drama and too and fro action however the pick from the month was round 2 from Toshiya Ishii's incredible battle with Haruki Ishikawa. Ishii was dropped in the opening seconds, regrouped, the two men staggered each and both were hurt several times before the round concluded. This was sheer, unadulterated awesomeness. A real round of the ages, and came in a Japanese Youth title bout, proving that even this low level of title is worth putting it all on the line for.
We absolutely love the Japanese Youth title scene, and whilst not every bout delivers amazing action the title is building a reputation as a platform for some sensational back and forth bouts. Typically they are very well matched bouts and give fantastic 2-way action, with several legitimate Japanese Fight of the Year contenders in 2019. In December we got an absolute treat of a of a fight, as Toshiya Ishii and Haruki Ishikawa gave us a thrilling shoot out for the Japanese Youth Bantamweight title.
The first round had seen Ishii drop his man, and in all honesty he looked the much more skilled boxer, whilst Ishikawa looked a strong brawler. In round 2 however the fight became an all out action brawl as Ishii began to fight Ishikawa's fight. Within seconds there was a knockdown, soon followed by an incredible exchange that saw both fighters being staggered simultaneously, and both men continued firing off bombs as the round progressed.
Whilst the round did have some sloppiness to it, the drama and danger that both men put themselves through more than made up for the few brief instances where things got messy. This was young two men fighting not only for their pride, but for their chance to claim their first title, and neither man wanted to be the one seen to be backing off from the challenge.
Sadly the bout didn't remain such an exciting war, with round 3 seeing the action subdue before a fantastic finish in round 4, but this 3 minutes is up there with 3 of the very best from the year.
For those wondering about what the two men have done since, the truth is that this fight took place only a few weeks ago and neither has fought since. And we wouldn't expect to see either man until Spring, at the earliest.
As we head towards Christmas it appears boxing has decided to give us some earlier gifts, and this past week was full of them, with several brilliant match, great fights and even the delay release of an amazing fight from a week earlier. This was a genuine fantastic week, even if it wasn't a week with high profile Asian action. One of those rare weeks where the less known fighters got their chance to shine, and delivered.
Fighter of the Week
Hiroaki Teshigawa (21-2-2, 14)
The past week had a lot of title fights on the regional and domestic levels. The one man who made it clear that he was well above the level that he was fighting at was Hiroaki Teshigawaa, who destroyed Shohei Kawashima in 5 rounds to retain his OPBF Super Bantamweight title. The talented "Crush Boy" did what neither Cristian Mijares or Juan Miguel Elorde could do, and that was stop Kawashima. After the bout it was clear Teshigawara wanted a world title fight and given he has proven to be above regional level it does make sense for he, and mentor Koichi Wajima, to push for a world title fight in the new year.
Performance of the Week
Bektemir Melikuziev (4-0, 3)
After going just 6 rounds in his first 3 bouts we had a lot of questions we were wanting to see answered from Uzbek fighter Bektemir Melikuziev. This week he answered them as he took a 10 round shut out win over tough American Vaughn Alexander. The power of Melikuziev wasn't on show as much as usual, but instead we saw him taking a 10 round decision and prove he could go deep in fights, he could box and move, he could fight behind his jab, a cut wasn't a big issue and he wasn't just a 1-trick pony. This was as impressive as we could have hoped from him against someone like Alexander and it's clear that Melikuziev and his team will look to face more interesting tests next year.
Hironori Mishiro Vs Yoshimitsu Kimura
The week had some great action though perhaps the best of it was the 12 round back and forth bout between OPBF Super Featherweight champion Hironori Mishiro and Yoshimitsu Kimura. The bout wasn't a fight of the year contender, but it was a fantastic, high level, hotly competitive 12 round back and forth. This was the sort of bout that whilst never the incredible heights of some bouts, was consistently very exciting and never looked like it was getting too sloppy or too slow. It was consistently engaging, and truly competitive. The sort of bout that won't attract new fans to the sport, but will please every one who is already a fan.
Toshiya Ishii Vs Haruki Ishikawa (Round 2)
We've really enjoyed the Japanese Youth title fights, which had typically been really well matched and exciting contests between two young men who come to fight. That was shown again this past week in a 4 round shoot out between Toshiya Ishii and Haruki Ishikawa, who traded blows for the Japanese Youth Bantamweight title. The bout was exciting from the off, had 3 knockdowns in 4 rounds and a sensational second round that saw both men being rocked hard. This was 3 minutes of amazing violence, intense action real danger from both men. This was a great round that everyone should check out before the year is over.
Kazunori Nakayama TKO5 Lerdchai Chaiyawed
We originally posted this with no set winner, as when the article was first posted we hadn't managed to see some footage of under-card bouts from across the shows. Only moments afterwards we spotted a twitter post from @takayukimonaco which showed one of the KO's of the year. The bout between Kazunori Nakayama and Thai Lerdchai Chaiyawed ended in truly brutal fashion as a single right hand from Nakayama knocked the Thai clean out. The referee could have counted to 50, instead of instantly waving it off, and there was still no way Lerdchai was getting up.
We also want to give a mention to Toshiya Ishii's TKO finish against Haruki Ishikawa. The shot, a counter right hand, completely scrambled Ishikawa's senses an sent him stumbling forward before falling over one of the middle ropes. Given a 10 count we suspect Ishikawa would have "beaten the count" but wouldn't have been deemed fit to continue. A brilliant finish, even if it wasn't lights out.
Yudai Shigeoka (2-0, 1)
Whilst Bektemir Melikuziev was incredibly impressive the reality is that he isn't really a prospect, he's already a contender in our eyes and his recent title win has already seen him claim a regional title and potentially a world ranking. Instead our prospect for the week was Yudai Shigeoka, who out boxed, out sped and out thought OPBF Minimumweight champion Lito Dante over 6 rounds. The bout may end up with Shigeoka taking a world ranking, given that Dante was world ranked himself, but with this only being a 6 rounder there's a chance he'll miss out. What is clear is that this young man is a sensational boxer and he is someone worth getting behind, as he is going to be raced to a title very, very soon.
Apichet Petchmanee (5-0, 2) vs Ari Agustian (8-0, 8)
This coming week is an interesting one with a number of shows, though very few 50-50 match ups. One of the few even looking contests, other than the Rookie of the Year show, is an excellent looking encounter between unbeaten Thai Apichet Petchmanee and Indonesian puncher Ari Agustian. We've not been impressed by Apichet this year, and tipping him highly in 2018, whilst Agustian has failed to build on his 2018 win over Baolin Kang. This could be very entertaining and tell us a lot about what both men are capable of. One of the rare bouts in Thailand that has us genuinely excited.
The action involving Asian fighters really doesn't stop for breath in December, the middle part of the month is packed with some great fights, promising rising stars, title bouts, and everything we could have wished for as an early Christmas present!
Hironori Mishiro (8-0-1, 3) vs Yoshimitsu Kimura (12-1, 7) - Tokyo, Japan
Unbeaten Super Featherweight hopeful Hironori Mishiro looks to extend his reign as the OPBF Super Featherweight champion as he defends his title against the once beaten Yoshimitsu Kimura in an interesting looking bout. On paper the champion will be favoured, with his strong amateur background and early professional success, however Kimura will not be in the ring to lose and this could end up be a genuine thriller between two young men who are both expected to make their mark on the sport in the coming years.
Yudai Shigeoka (1-0, 1) Vs Lito Dante (16-10-4, 8)-Tokyo, Japan
Just weeks after making his professional debut Japanese prospect Yudai Shigeoka takes a huge step up in class to battle against OPBF Minimumweight champion Lito Dante. This is a monstrous step up in class for Shigeoka but a win here will instantly put him in the mix for a title fight, whilst Dante gets a second success bout against a touted and unbeaten Japanese fighter. With this bout being over 6 rounds Shigeoka's team have taken a calculated risk, but Dante will be there looking for the scalp of the very talented youngster.
Tsuyoshi Sato (9-1-1, 5) vs Masashi Tada (13-6-3, 8) - Tokyo, Japan
Although most the bouts on this list are title bouts, or something of some notable standing in the boxing world we felt the need to talk about this interesting little bout between Tsuyoshi Sato, who has smashed his way into the Japanese rankings, and 2-time Japanese title challenger Masashi Tada. This isn't an eliminator or anything like that, but Sato has quickly become one of the must watch youngsters in Japan and his future is going to be so much fun to follow. Whilst this bout might not be an easy one to see it's one worth having in the back of your mind, and we really do suggest that fans give Sato a follow, win or lose he's going to be great to watch in the coming years.
Hiroaki Teshigawara (20-2-2, 13) vs Shohei Kawashima (18-3-2, 4) - Tokyo, Japan
The in form Hiroaki Teshigawara looks to continue his impressive run of form as he defends the OPBF Super Bantamweight title against fellow Japanese fighter Shohei Kawashima. The talented Teshigawara has been edging towards a world title fight for a while now, and wins over the likes of Teiru Kinoshita and Shohei Omori have shown what he can do. The highly skilled Kawashima is no push over, but we don't see him having the physical tools to deal with the powerful and exciting Teshigawara, who may well be in the world title mix next year.
Ryo Sagawa (8-1, 4) vs Ryo Hino (13-1-2, 8) - Tokyo, Japan
Talented Japanese Featherweight champion Ryo Sagawa looks for his first defense as he takes on mandatory challenger Ryo Hino in a great match up, at leats on paper. Sagawa has been in sensational form since an early career stoppage loss, and wins over the likes of Ryo Matsumoto, Al Toyogon and Reiya Abe really have shown that he has a very, very high ceiling. Hino on the other hand has failed to build on a 2017 win over Sho Nakazawa and has seemingly got this shot due to the mess of a good division, rather earning it on merit. Still this should be a very good first defense for Sagawa.
Haruki Ishikawa (8-1, 6) vs Toshiya Ishii (2-0, 1) - Tokyo, Japan
A third title fight on the same card in Tokyo will see a new Japanese Youth Bantamweight champion being crowned, as the heavy handed Haruki Ishikawa takes on professional novice Toshiya Ishii. Both of these youngsters took part in a 4 man tournament to earn their shot at the the title, and both impressed. Albeit in very different ways. Ishii beat Fumiya Fuse, and looked like a really talented young boxer whilst Ishikawa battered Atsushi Takada into submission. This boxer Vs puncher and should be a very compelling contest.
Tenkai Tsunami (26-12-1, 15) vs Jessebelle Pagaduan (12-1-1, 5) - WBO Female Light Flyweight
The only world title fight during this stretch of the month is a female world title fight, though given the quality of regional title bouts we don't think the lack of world titles is a major issue. The bout will see WBO female Light Flyweight champion Tenkai Tsunami make her second defense as she battles aggressive Filipino Jessebelle Pagaduan, who is hoping it's third time lucky. This isn't a huge profile bout, but we can't stop thinking that it'll be an action packed and hotly competitive one.
Kyohei Tonomoto (9-2, 4) vs Ryotaro Motohashi (9-1, 2) -Osaka, Japan
In his first defense of the Japanese Youth Featherweight title Kyohei Tonomoto will take on the once beaten Ryotaro Motohashi in a very evenly matched bout on paper. Of the two men it's the champion who has impressed more, and he was the runner up in the All Japan Rookie of the Year way back in 2014, though Motohashi will be hungry for his first title and looking to build on a 7 fight winning run. This isn't the most appealing bout we'll see before the end of the year, but it is certainly an interesting match up all the same and the winner will be ear marked for more title glory down the line.
Kotatsu Takehara (15-12-3, 8) Vs Ryu Ueda (8-1-1, 5) II - Kariya, Japan
In a bit of an oddity we'll see a new Japanese Heavyweight champion crowned, as Kotatsu Takehara takes on Ryu Ueda, in a second bout between the two men. Takehara, a real veteran at the age of 41, stopped Ueda in their previous meeting, way back in 2016, but since then has aged whilst Ueda is now, technically, in his peak years. This is an interesting match up, but the reality is that the Japanese Heavyweight title will remain a bit of a joke, no matter who wins.
Rikito Shiba (4-0, 2) Vs Masamichi Yabuki (9-3, 9) - Kariya, Japan
In a really, really, good match up we'll see talented and unbeaten Rikito Shiba take on the hard hitting Masamichi Yabuki in a Japanese Light Flyweight title eliminator. Shiba has impressed us ever since turning professional and he looks like a genuine star of the future, but this is a real test of the youngsters ability to take a shot. Of course this isn't all about Shiba and Yabuki has been knocking on the door of a title fight for some time now, and has bounced back well from a loss to Daniel Matellon last year.
Tomomi Takano (11-5, 8) Vs Sachiko Kondo (2-4-2) - Kariya, Japan
In a pretty low level, yet very notable bout, we'll see Tomomi Takano return to a Japanese ring for the first time in over 2 years. The former world title challenger, who fellow out with her former gym and began fighting in Mexico, is certainly not looking for a test as she restarts in Japan against Sachiko Kondo, but in reality it's just great to see the enigmatic model-come-boxer back in action. Given how instantly marketable Takano is, we need to suspect their are big plans for her, and a win here will move those plans along to the next step.
Genesis Servania (33-2, 16) Vs Pungluang Sor Singyu (53-7, 35) - Ishikawa, Japan
Sometimes it's better late than never, and in reality we would have loved a clash between Genesis Servania and Pungluang Sor Singyu when both fighters were in their primes. Now though it feels like both are well past their best. Yes they are both very capable fighters but both have slipped. Regardless of being on the downslide a bout between the two just fills us with a little bit of Joy, as we suspect this could be one the gems of the month. Both fighters have similar styles, both like to have a fight, and both are rather flat footed. We suspect this is going to end up a very fun fight.
Jung Kyoung Lee (7-3-1, 3) Vs Saddam Kietyongyuth (28-6, 22) - Seoul, South Korea
To end this section out attention turns to South Korea as former OPBF Light Middlweight champion Jung Kyoung Lee takes once touted Thai fighter Saddam Kietyongyuth, in a bout for a regional WBO title. Coming into this Lee will be looking to rebuild following his title loss to Akinori Watanabe earlier in the year. Although once regarded highly Saddam host lost 4 of his last 6, and seems very unlikely he'll make anything notable of his career.
The end of August really is a week where we go out with a bang, with 3 world title bouts and a number of top prospects all in action in the final 7 days of the month!
Kosei Tanaka (13-0, 7) v Jonathan Gonzalez (22-2-1, 13) - Aichi, Japan
Arguably the most interesting of the world title bouts will see WBO Flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka make his second defense as he takes on mandatory challenger Jonathan Gonzalez of Puerto Rico. After a few wars for Tanaka we're now expecting to see him put on a more sound boxing display. Gonzalez is a former amateur stand out, but he has shown vulnerability in his 2 losses and we suspect those vulnerabilities will show again here.
Kento Hatanaka (9-0, 9) v Jaysever Abcede (19-8, 12) - Aichi, Japan
In a really good supporting bout to Tanaka Vs Gonzalez we'll see fast rising Japanese youngster Kento Hatanaka takes on world ranked Filipino Jaysever Abcede. This is a big step up for Hatanaka, but the talented "Prince" is tipped for the top and a win here will help push him into the world rankings. On paper Abcede isn't someone who looks like a challenge for a top prospect but the Filipino has scored recent wins over Stamp Kiatniwat and Seigo Yuri Akui.
John Riel Casimero (27-4, 18) v Cesar Ramirez (18-3, 11) - Metro Manila, Philippines
Staying in Asia we'll see WBO interim Bantamweight champion John Riel Casimero make his first defense, taking on Mexican challenger Cesar Ramirez. The talented Filipino won the title back in April, when he stopped Ricardo Espinoza Franco in the 12th round, and will be further wanting to make his make on the talent packed 118lb division. Ramirez on the other hand is a very limited challenger who has done nothing to earn a shot at a title fight, and was nearly shut out the last time he faced a world class fighter.
Vic Saludar (19-3, 10) v Wilfredo Mendez (13-1, 5) - San Juan, Puerto Rico
In Puerto Rico we'll see former Tanaka opponent Vic Saludar making his second defense of the WBO Minimumweight title as he takes on mandatory challenger Wilfredo Mendez. The under-rated Saludar is a heavy handed boxer-puncher who has really shone in his last two, beating Ryuya Yamanaka and Masataka Taniguchi and despite being on the road, for the third fight in a row, he will again be favoured. Mendez is a talented fighter but is taking a massive step up in class here for what will be his toughest bout, by far.
Shakhram Giyasov (8-0, 6) Vs Darleys Perez (34-4-2, 22) Sonora, Mexico
Unbeaten Uzbek fighter Shakhram Giyasov takes on his most notable opponent to date as he returns to a Mexican ring, for the second time. The talented Giyasov, who didn't look great last time out against Emanuel Taylor, will be up against former world champion Darleys Perez. Giyasov is a talent, and an Olympic silver medal winner, but as a professional it's seemed very much like he either blows opponents away with raw power or struggles. Perez, at his best, was world class, but with a 2-3-3 record in his last 7, with all 3 losses by stoppage, it's hard to know what he has left at this point.
Haruki Ishikawa (7-1, 5) vs Atsushi Takada (6-1-3, 3) - Tokyo, Japan
The Japanese Youth title picture is a really interesting one and although none of the fighters in Yoyuth title bouts are big names they are often emerging talents. In a really good looking JBC Youth Bantamweight title Eliminator we'll see the once beaten Haruki Ishikawa take on Atsushi Takada. The talented Ishikawa suffered his only loss in the 2018 Rookie of the Year final, by majority decision, whilst Takada's only loss was to Tetsu Araki in a Youth title fight. This should be a very good fight.
Fumiya Fuse (8-0, 1) v Toshiya Ishii (1-0, 1) - Tokyo, Japan
Another JBC Youth Bantamweight title eliminator will will see Rookie of the Year winner Fumiya Fuse take on the recently turned professional Toshiya Ishii. The talented Fuse has been impressive since his Rookie of the Year win back in 2017 and has notched some solid wins since his rookie triumph. Ishii on the other hand only debuted back in April but looked excellent on his debut win over Adam Wijaya, though did have a solid amateur career. Despite looking like a mismatch this should be a compelling contest of skills.
The winner of the two eliminators will fight for the vacant title later in the year.
Yuki Nakajima (2-0, 2) vs Ryu Horikawa (1-0, 1) - Tokyo, Japan
On the same card as the two eliminators we'll also see a B Class Tournament bout that pits former amateur standouts against each other, with Yuki Nakajima and Ryu Horikawa facing off. Despite only 3 fights between them this should be a very hotly contest, high skilled battle between two youngsters who, win or lose, will still have a very bright future. The winner of this may "only" have beaten a novice, but will be on the fast track to some much bigger bouts in the very near future.
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