Last week we began our "Who..." series by looking at who would be the next OPBF champion from South Korea and we're back again this week with the second in this series as we look towards the past and try to answer a new question about the world of Asian boxing.
This week the question is..
"Who... will be the next world champion from Uzbekistan?"
Lee: "I really like how many options we have here, and how exciting the rise of Uzbek boxing has become. It's really come out of nowhere, unless you follow the amateur scene, and has been hugely exciting. Like a breathe of fresh air. In many ways it reminds me of what boxing was like here in the 1970's, 80's and early 90's, where top amateurs raced to titles. There was no fear of being moved too quickly, and that was really exciting, seeing fighters move fast. If you were good enough, you were good enough.
For Uzbekistan the contender leading the way for me is Israil Madrimov, who I think will win a world title this year. He's in a tough division, but I think he'll win some version of the WBA title in 2021, hopefully the main version of the title. He has the power, skills, speed and hunger to be a big star. My only worry is whether the pandemic has started to chip away at his mental drive and his physical fitness. But I am still confident he will be a world champion. Maybe just a short reign though."
Takahiro: "Whilst Japan is going through a golden age the Uzbek scene is just as hot with so many exciting fighters coming from the country, and making their name in the US. That is really exciting and shows the backing a lot of their fighters are getting.
The backing has let Murodjon Akhmadaliev fight for a world title in just his 8th bout and I think other fighters will look to match that target. With that in mind I will be picking Bektemir Melikuziev, who I think will win a world title this year, in his 8th fight. It's a unfortunate that Sergey Kovalev failed a drug test, as that would have been good preparation for "Bully". I think the fact he can fight at 168lbs or 175lbs is a good advantage for him, and I think he will pick up some form of WBA belt. Maybe not main WBA belt, but enough to claim a "world" title. In 2022 maybe he get a "real" title. as well.
My Pick, Bek Bully!"
Scott: "As the other two guys have said, the Uzbek's are really making a mark and doing things in a really, really exciting fashion. There is a lot of top amateur fighters who are now chasing professional honours, and a lot of them are taking a rather untraditional route there. They aren't wasting their time, and their prime years building up fancy 20-0 records against opponents they would be 1/100 to beat, but are instead looking to skip the easy bouts and the often pointless record building stage of their careers. Whilst it's the fast track will work for some and fail for others, it's something I personally enjoy watching, and it condenses the wait to find out if someone is a legitimate talent.
I'm looking at the other end of the scales though. Rather than in the middling weights I'm looking at the lower weights and picking Olympic champion Hasanboy Dusmatov to be next, and to do so in 2022.
The lower weights are often the ones where we see fast tracking done and Dusmatov is certainly ticking the boxes that will see him being moved aggressively. He's now aged 27, is in his prime, he's got the skills, power, speed, and the amateur experience to be matched hard and will not want to waste his career. The big question is "what weight will we see him winning a belt at?" And I think 108lbs is among the toughest divisions out there, but I see him having success there, if he needs to. Alternatively there are weak title holders at 105lbs, which we have to assume he can make with a day before weigh in, or even 112lbs.
Alternatively he could very easily make a mark at 112lbs. I think those options are what his team will be looking to weigh up this year, and early next year he'll win a world title. Whether that's a lesser champion at 105lbs or an aging veteran at 112lbs I'm not sure. but I'm confident he picks up a belt next year"
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.
Wilfredo Mendez (15-1, 5) Vs Hasanboy Dusmatov (1-0, 1)
We love history and we love records, and when historical records can be broken, we get excited. Here we look at a potential bout that could see a long standing historical record be broken, if the bout can be made. And we truly believe that if the bout is indeed made, a record, which has stood for over 44 years, could be broken! Of course the bout isn't a given, but it's something that certainly needs to be thought about by at least one of the two teams in the potential match us.
The 23 year old Wilfredo Mendez is a talented Puerto Rican boxer who claimed the WBO Minimumweight title last year with a win over Vic Saludar. That was the third of 4 wins for Saludar in 2019, when also defended the title 2 months later, with a narrow technical decision against Mexican teenager Axel Aragon Vega. Although talented Mendez is light hitting, posses little real threat to an opponent and relies on his speed and movement, rather than anything physical. He's talented but we can't help thinking that the title will be a target for all emerging fighters at 105lbs who will be licking their lips and seeing him as the low hanging fruit in the division.
In steps 2016 Olympic gold medal winner Hasanboy Dusmatov, who made his professional debut in November 2019, when he almost gutted Jesus Cervantes Villanueva. Dusmatov, from Uzbekistan is a special talent, a sharp shooting southpaw who was a sensational amateur, and is now looking at being fast tracked as a professional. There were rumours in the Uzbek press of him wanting a world title fight on debut, though that never came to fruition. Now the talk is that he wants to fight WBA champion Knockout CP Freshmart in his third or fourth professional bout. There is nothing bad with that idea, though the reality is that he could, potentially, pick up the WBO title in his second, then even unify with Knockout later in the year.
If Dusmatov can get Mendez in the ring we have no concerns at all about the Uzbek being too good for the Puerto Rican, and doing that in just his second fight would be a huge statement of intent. It would set a male record for fewest fights to a world title, and could well set the record for least time from debut to a world title as well. It would also see him being among the first of this new Uzbek wave of fighters to reach the top.
Technically the fight wouldn't be the best. We're next sure if Mendez will ever be in a fun to watch bout. But it would be an historic one, and for that we suggest they get this one made and give us all a slice of boxing history. Dusmatov's team should do all they can to secure this, and to get their man in to the history books in a way that few have ever attempted!
If successful Dusmatov would break the 1975 record of Saensak Muangsurin, who won his first world title in fight #3, a record that Vasyl Lomachenko matched 2014!
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 7 - Hasanboy Dusmatov to win a world title in 2020
We already know that the elite level lower weight fighters get fast tracked, and we've already predicted that youngster Ginjiro Shigeoka will take home a title in 2020. Now we make our second future champion prediction and go with 2016 Olympic gold medal winner Hasanboy Dusmatov, from Uzbekistan.
The fighter himself has made it clear that he's hunting WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart, and wants to fight him in his third or fourth bout. That adds a lot of weight to this prediction, but the prediction isn't for him to fight for a title. It's for him to win one!
We know that after just 1 professional bout, against a fairly poor opponent as well, it can feel too early to call Dusmatov a future world champion, but it seems right. He was such a good amateur, and such a good fighter in the World Series of Boxing that it's clear he's not just a typical 1-0 (1) fighter. Instead he's an excellent, well schooled fighter who has developed and experienced "pro-style" fighter through the WSB to become an accomplished fighter, before he even made his debut.
Although we don't expect Dusmatov to fight for a world title next time out, we would go as far as to suggest that he could probably hold his own, with the right champion, as early as his next bout. The reality however seems to be that the fighter himself, and his team, want another 2 or 3 fights first. With that in mind expect his next bout to be against a world ranked contender over 10, or 12, rounds and if he impresses and looks ready his follow up with a world title bout. If not he'll have another at that level then fight for a world title.
With Knockout CP Freshmart not impressing recently we really wouldn't be surprised by Dusmatov being too skilled, too smart and too good for the Thai. Though he would need to offer up the big bucks to get Knockout away from Thailand. If he does then don't be surprised by the Uzbek standout winning the WBA title!
(Image courtesy of Olamsports)
The last 7 days has been relatively quiet in Asian boxing, though that doesn't mean we've not found some things that were good, bad and ugly....even if we did need to look a little further afield than usual for one of our ugly's this week!
1-Iwasa Vs Tapales is official!
This wasn't a particularly big surprise, given it has been rumoured for a while and had been all but set, but it was still nice to see an official announcement being made this week by the Celes Gym to confirmed the IBF "interim" Super Bantamweight title fight between Ryosuke Iwasa and Marlon Tapales. We are really excited about this one and think that the styles of the two men will make for something a little bit special
2-Hasanboy Dusmatov's debut
After weeks of frustration, rumours, speculation, and changes, we finally saw 2016 Olympic gold medal winner Hasanboy Dusmatov make his professional debut. The talented Uzbek stopped Jesus Cervantes Villanueva in 2 rounds on Saturday night in Mexico and he is now off the board with a win. The performance was a long way from flawless, but there was a lot to like and we're really excited to see where he can go in the pros, and how quickly he'll get there. He's a genuine talent, but given how frustrating it was to see him make his debut there has got to be some worries that his career will be a very frustrating one to follow.
It felt like a throw back weekend with a rare Indonesian televised show on RCTI. It feels like it has been far, far too long since Chris John was in action and there was a real reason to watch a show from Indonesia but this week was had one thanks to Ongen Saknosiwi and Daud Yordan. The bouts weren't the best, but they were both fan friendly and easy to watch. They showcased the biggest name in Indonesian boxing, and one of the rising stars and the match ups were both compelling from a stylistic point of view. This was great for Indonesian boxing, and fingers crossed RCTI do began to show case more boxing from Indonesia. The country has talent, but their boxing scene needs investment, money and effort.
Whilst we have just praised RCTI we also need to complain about them. They showed the entirety of Daud Yordan fight with Michael Mokoena live, but they missed the first 6 rounds of the co-feature. It would have made so much sense to have broadcast every round of Ongen Saknosiwi's bout with Marco Demecillo. Yordan is the star of Indonesian boxing, still, but the need for the new generation is there and they could have helped promote Saknosiwi here had they shown his entire bout. The 6 rounds we got were great, but it feels like a genuine mis-step by the broadcaster who could have shown all 12.
1- Sky Sports Box Office price for Ruiz Vs Joshua II
Not an Asian boxing issue as such, but an ugly issue for boxing in general is the abuse British fight fans are getting at the hands of Sky Sports Boxing office. The service announced that rematch between Andy Ruiz and Anthony Joshua will cost £24.95. That's higher than an average Sky Sports Box Office show, and suggests the bout really is all about money. The bout has been widely criticised for where it's taking place, in Saudi Arabia, and with an increase in PPV money along side a monster site fee it really does leave a bitter taste in the mouth. Things like this push some people away from the sport, and others to illegal streams. A terrible move by all involved, who appear to want another pound of flesh from boxing fans.
2-Masashi Noguchi's continued losing run
One of the feel good stories of the week was Takuya Yamaguchi picking up his 4th win in 17 fights. We love Yamaguchi and the way he has continued to fight on despite set backs, making up for his limitations. Sadly though this weeks win for Yamaguchi came against a man who is now more than 3 years removed from a win and has now lost 7 in a row. That is Masashi Noguchi, who challenged for the Japanese Lightweight title in December 2016, losing to Shuhei Tsuchiya, and has suffered 6 straight losses since. There now, surely, needs to be someone in his team telling him to hang them up before he gets hurt.
(Image courtesy of Olamsport, Matchroom Sport)
This past week has certainly not been a massive week for Asian boxing, but has still been a pretty interesting one, with upsets, debuts and action. This wasn't a week that will go down as a major one but was still fairly entertaining.
Fighter of the Week
Keita Kurihara (15-5, 13)
Heavy handed Japanese fighter fighter Keita Kurihara took a huge step towards his first world title fight as he stopped fellow world ranked fighter Sukpraserd Ponpitak in 2 rounds. We all know that Kurihara isn't ready for a world title shot, and won't be for some time, but was another good win for the 26 year old who has now notched 6 straight wins since a 2017 loss to Hiroaki Teshigawara. Although not yet in the title mix, it seems like it'll only be a matter of time before he gets a shot at the big time.
Performance of the Week
Kenbati Haiyilao (6-2-1, 1)
Unheralded Chinese fighter Kenbati Haiyilao travelled to Thailand with a plan, and put that plan into effect perfectly as he ended the unbeaten run of Nick Frese. It's fair to say that Haiyilao was given little chance but put on an excellent performance to out box, out fight and out think Frese, who struggled to get into the bout. What makes Haiyilao's win even more impressive is that he was only a few weeks removed from his previous bout, a technical draw with Shaoheng Chang. An excellent performance for a fantastic, yet low key, upset win.
Aso Ishiwaki Vs Ryuji Ikeda
There wasn't many bouts that really stood out this week, though we genuinely enjoyed the exciting, though short, battle between 20 year old Aso Ishiwaki and former Japanese Light Welterweight title challenger Ryuji Ikeda. This was fought at a fun pace from the opening round, and saw both men unloading some big shots. The fight wasn't an all out war, it didn't last long enough to become such a thing, but it was very entertaining a lovely hidden gem in a very quiet week
Aso Ishiwaki Vs Ryuji Ikeda (Rd2)
Our Fight of the Week also provided the round of the week, with round 2 of the aforementioned contest between Aso Ishiwaki and Ryuji Ikeda. This was thrilling with Ikeda looking to set a fast pace and Ishiwaki boxing smartly, using his power and strength and eventually breaking down Ikeda in a very fan friendly round of action. In a different week this may not have got a mention, but as it is this is our recommendation for fans to give a view to this week!
No valid contender this week
Hasanboy Dusmatov (1-0, 1)
After winning an Olympic gold medal in 2016 Hasanboy Dusmatov was one of the fighters that so many fans wanted to see make his professional debut. It was assumed that he would be fast tracked and be moved aggressively and be in the title mix almost instantly. Instead though he flirted with the professional ranks, whilst remaining an amateur...until this week when he finally turned professional and looked sensational stopping an over-matched Mexican teenager. He looked, crisp, sharp and very confident in the ring, and fingers crossed he'll manage to move quickly through the next 12 months, like several other Uzbek fighters.
Can Xu (17-2, 3) vs Manny Robles III (18-0, 8)
The coming week is another that isn't packed with with huge fights, but it's hard to not get excited about the WBA Featherweight title fight between Can Xu and Manny Robles III. This has the makings of an all out war, and we're really excited about this. Neither man is a big puncher, but both let leather fly and both are tough so we suspect this will be less abotu boxing, and more about trying to out man the other in what could end up being a legitimate fight of the year contender.
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