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.
Kenshiro Teraji (17-0, 10) Vs Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9)
The Light Flyweight division might go over looked by many fans in the West but it is among the deepest divisions in the sport right now, and the one that is screaming out for a WBSS style tournament putting all the top guys in against each other and seeing who comes out the blender on the other side. It has a great mix of fighters, styles and a lot of fighters who want to make a statement, and that is what we need to see more of. Sadly we've not had any unification bouts in a while, but the fighters all seem to be up for prove who's the best, and there's a chance we will see the top guys facing each other in 2020. With that in mind we have picked the division's dream bout here.
Kenshiro Teraji, also known as Kenshiro by many fans, is the WBC champion and the longest reigning active champion in the division. The unbeaten 28 year old has held the title since May 2017, and although yet to unify had scored some genuinely top level wins, beating the likes of Ganigan Lopez, Pedro Guevara, Milan Melindo, Saul Juarez, Jonathan Taconing and Randy Petalcorin, whilst racking up 7 defenses. He had been pencilled in to unify just before Christmas by Felix Alvarado was forced to pull out of that bout. In the ring Kenshiro is a fantastic boxer-puncher and not only has one of the sports most under-rated jabs and body attacks, but also some of the smartest foot work in the game, dictating the distance brilliantly behind his feet, which allow him to set up his offence with ease.
Hiroto Kyoguchi is currently enjoying a world title reign in his second weight class, and although he's looked solid at 108lbs, notably gate crashing the division with a stoppage against Hekkie Budler, he hasn't really built on his title win. Defenses against Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart and Tetsuya Hisada, are both decent but not the wins that will define a legacy, to do that Kyoguchi would need to beat another top name, and fighting Kenshiro would give him a chance to do that. At his best he's a physical pressure-boxer, with explosive combinations and under-rated skills, but we really don't quite know how good he's going to be at 108lbs until he faces another solid name, similar in stature to Budler. Standing toe-to-toe with Kyoguchi is generally a mistake, but when he's faced boxers his defensive flaws have been shown up, and he's still got some polishing to do before he really peaks.
What we'd get here is an excellent boxer mover, in Kenshiro, who can stick a jab in the opponents face whilst on the move and switch to the body at any second, taking on a fantastic pressure fighter, who can box really well on the front foot. This would be a wonderful mix of styles, and it would also have a great backstory running through it due to the amateur rivalry the two had. It's not the only great bout that could be made at 108lbs, but to us it's the most interesting, by far.
(Images courtesy of Watanabe Gym and Boxmob)
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.
We've sadly had another very quiet week in the realm of Asian boxing, meaning that, once again, our awards aren't littered with big name winners and outstanding rounds. We have had a few notable performances, though many of those won't even be aired until next week, with the real talking piint being the latest Uzbek amateur star to turn professional
Fighter of the Week
Norihito Tanaka (19-7, 10)
Mid-week fights can often be over-looked and that was likely the case this past week, with a couple of Japanese cards in the middle of the week. It was on one of those shows that Japanese Minimumweight champion Norihito Tanaka made his first defense, avenging a prior loss to Naoya Haruguchi in the process. The under-rated Tanaka is rumoured to be next in line for Wanheng Menayothin and, in all honesty, he would make for a compelling for the unbeaten Thai world champion., especially given the run he's on and performances like the one this week.
Performance of the Week
Bektemir Melikuziev (1-0, 1)
Former Uzbek amateur star Bektemir Melikuziev made his debut, and although it was only a short one, lasting 99 seconds, it was easily the best performance by an Asian fighter this week. He took on Argentinian veteran Martin Fidel Rios and almost gutted him with a brutal body shot. Although big things were expected of Melikuziev we really didn't expect him to take Rios out this quickly! Very impressive.
Kyonosuke Kameda vs Ryugo Ushijima
We didn't see a fight of the year contender this past week, but did see some interesting action, and for us the most interesting was between Kyonosuke Kameda, the cousin of Koki Daiki and Tomoki, and Ryugo Ushijima in a qualifier for the Rookie of the Year. This was hotly contested, highly competitive and really good from a fans perspective. Yes, this wasn't an all out war, but was a genuinely fantastic 4 round bout.
No round, that we saw, stood out this week. It's a shame that there was so little actually visible though, with various shows not being available to watch at the time of writing.
Bektemir Melikuziev KO1 Martin Fidel Rios
It may have been a body shot, m but what a body shot it was! Bektemir Melikuziev showed straight out of the box that he knew how to find the body and how land a fight ending blow to the body, with what was an amazing shot to the mid-section to take Rios out.
Ryu Horikawa (1-0, 1)
Japanese teenager Ryu Horikawa, who turned professional with a fair bit of buzz, may not have had a flawless debut but he looked exciting and fought with a really aggressive style. There's a lot of defensive flaws for him to work on, but he still impressed and looks like the sort of fighter who we could easily see getting big fights after just a couple of years on the domestic scene, make a note of this young man's name.
Whilst Bektemir Melikuziev did look more impressive it's hard to consider hima prospect given he's just beaten a man regarded as a gate keeper, and it's obvious that Melikuziev will be looking to skip the prospect stage of his career.
Hiroto Kyoguchi (12-0, 9) vs Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart (11-0, 5)
We have some great fights coming up, with the pick of them being the WBA "Super" and Ring Magazine Light Flyweight title fight between Hiroto Kyoguchi and Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart, aka Tanawat Nakoon. It's always great to see unbeaten fighters clash at world level, and we're expecting to see something very exciting.
Yesterday we looked at 6 bouts rumoured to be in the works for the new year, and then we realised there was a lot more that were swirling around and ended up here, with part 2!
If you missed the first part that's available to read here 6 bouts rumoured to be in the works for 2019
Reymart Gaballo (20-0,17) Vs Liborio Solis (28-5-1-1, 13)
A bout between WBA "interim" Bantamweight champion Reymart Gaballo and Venezuelan veteran Liborio Solis has been rumoured for a while, and is a bout that would keep both of the highly regarded fighters busy until the end of the WBSS, when the winner could then get a shot at a top title. Gaballo has really impressed, despite not being given too many opportunities, and the 22 year old looks like a major player in the future of the Bantamweight division. Solis on the other hand is a 36 year old, grizzled veteran who would want one more major fight. This make sense for both men, and has the makings of a great fight.
Daniel Roman (26-2-1, 10) Vs Murodjon Akhmadaliev (5-0, 4)
WBA Super Bantamweight champion Daniel Roman is expected to have a mandatory title defense in early 2019 against insanely fast rising Uzbek fighter Murodjon Akhmadaliev. The champion, won the title in September 2017 and has made 3 defenses since then, over-coming Ryo Matsumoto, Moises Flores and Gavin McDonnell. Akhmadaliev on the other hand only turned professional last March and has risen in a sensationally quick way to become the #1 ranked WBA contender. Roman would be favoured, but this is a tough one to call and looks like it's going to be announced in the coming weeks.
Rey Vargas (32-0, 22) Vs Tomoki Kameda (36-2, 20)
A match up between WBC Super Bantamweight champion Rey Vargas, from Mexico, and interim champion Tomoki Kameda, of Japan, is expected to be made at some point this year, and is a bout with history behind it. Vargas has made 3 defenses of the belt already, and is planning his next one for February before potentially facing Kameda in Summer. Kameda on the other hand won the interim in late 2018, when Vargas was out of the ring injured, and could well find himself getting a chance to avenge and amateur defeat to the Mexican. With both being able to speak Spanish this would be an easy sell to the Mexican markets, and could take place in Japan, Mexico or the US.
Masayoshi Nakatani (18-0, 12) Vs Edis Tatli (31-2, 10)
Supposedly in the works as Lightweight world title eliminator we could see Japan's Masayoshi Nakatani battle Finland's Edis Tatli in 2019. Nakatani has long been the OPBF champion, running up 11 defenses of the title, and is clearly in need of stiffer tests rather than continuing to battle on the regional circuit. As for Tatli, a former European champion, the bout would give him a potential push to fight for a world title. It should be noted that both fighters have generally fought at home, with Nakatani rarely leaving Osaka and Tatli only leaving Finland once, and we suspect that the fighter who secures home advantage will be favoured in this potentially compelling contest.
Kenshiro (15-0, 8) Vs Hiroto Kyoguchi (12-0, 9)
One of the most mouth watering bouts that could be made right now would see WBC Light Flyweight champion Kenshiro unifying with WBA "super" champion Hiroto Kyoguchi. These two fought several times as amateurs, with Kenshiro holding the advantage from those days, and the two have also taken part in a recent public spar, to build hype towards this potential contest. Between then they are 10-0 (5) in world title bouts, and would make for a brilliant contest stylistically, as well as an incredibly rare all Japanese unification bout. Our fingers are tightly crossed that this one gets done!
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (47-4-1, 41) Vs Juan Francisco Estrada (38-3, 26) II
WBC Super Flyweight champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai narrowly got past Juan Fracnisco Estrada last February and is now expected to make another defense against Estrada in 2019, if a unification bout for the Thai can't be secured. Their first bout was a razor thin bout, and one where Srisaket's technical boxing surprised many, though Estrada did seem to finish the stronger man and would certainly start faster in a rematch, making things interesting once again. The WBC are expected to let Srisaket negotiate a unification contest, but if his team can't get it done quickly there's a good chance they will order this bout sooner, rather than later.
As we into the middle of December we need to remember there's a lot to look forward in the back end of the month. Here we take a look at the final week or so of the month.
If you missed part 1 that's available here - What's to come in December...Part 1 and part 2 is here - What's to come in December...Part 2
All Japan Rookie of the Year Finals - Tokyo, Japan
Professional boxing's biggest annual tournament comes to a close on December 23rd in Tokyo, as we see the latest All Japan Rookie of the Year champions being crowned. The tournament might not make much of a mark internationally but it puts the winners on the fast track to domestic success and with the whole card being shown live on G+ it goes us a brilliant pre-Christmas being treat.
Keita Kurihara (12-5, 11) Vs Yuki Strong Kobayashi (14-7, 8) - Osaka, Japan
The final major bout for us before Christmas comes from Osaka and sees the hard hitting Keita Kurihara take on Yuki Strong Kobayashi for the vacant OPBF Bantamweight title. The match up is a solid looking lower tier match up, though what needs to be noted is that both men are better than their records suggest, with both suffering a number of defeats early in their careers, and to good fighters. We're expecting a hard hitting affair here and it should be very exciting.
Masayuki Ito (24-1-1, 12) Vs Evgeny Chuprakov (20-0, 10) - Tokyo, Japan
After a little bit of a break for Christmas big action returns on December 30th, as we run towards an explosive end to 2018. One of 3 title bouts on the penultimate day of the year will see Masayuki Ito make his first defence of the WBO Super Featherweight title, as he takes on unbeaten mandatory challenger Evgeny Chuprakov. A win here will open up some big fights for Ito in the new year, and he has stated that he intends to return to the US, where he won the title, to make future defenses. For Chuprakov the bout is a big step up in class, but he is certainly a live challenger.
Kenshiro (14-0, 8) Vs Saul Juarez (24-8-2, 13) - Tokyo, Japan
The longest reigning Japanese champion Kenshiro will also be on the December 30th card, defending his WBC Light Flyweight title against Mexican veteran Saul Juarez. Kenshiro has been incredibly impressive recently, beating the likes of Ganigan Lopez, Pedro Guevara and Milan Melindo, and this looks like a step backwards, unfortunately. Juarez is a good fighter, or rather was a good fighter, but his form has been less than great recently and he is 2-4-2 in his last 8 bouts. Juarez, at his best, would be a good opponent for Kenshiro, but he looks to be beyond his best, even if he is only 28.
Takuma Inoue (12-0, 3) Vs Petch Sor Chitpattana (48-0, 33) - Tokyo, Japan
The third major bout on December 30th will see the unbeaten pairing of Takuma Inoue and Petch Sor Chitpattana facing off for the WBC "Interim" Bantamweight title, a title that's an interim belt whilst the WBC wait to sort out the mess of their vacant "regular" title. This is a brilliant match up, between two talented youngsters, though sadly the politics of the WBC have left this bout feeling less glamorous than it should be. The winner will get a shot at the full WBC title in the new year, if and when the WBC actually get around to crowning an actual champion. With a combined 60-0 record these two do make for an interesting fight, but this is a huge step up in class for the Thai, whilst Inoue, the younger brother of Naoya Inoue, has fought a number of world class opponents during his short career.
Kazuto Ioka (23-1, 13) Vs Donnie Nietes (41-1-5, 23) - Macau
It's not just December 30th that will be delivering a triple header, but also December 31st, which has one of the very best match ups of the year. The match up in question pits a couple of 3-weight world champions against each other, with Japan's Kazuto Ioka taking on Donnie Neites for the Vacant WBO Super Flyweight title. Both fighters are looking to become only the third man in history to win titles in the lowest 4 weight classes, both are looking to etch their names into the history books and help set up major bouts in 2019. Amazingly this will be the first time Nietes has ever faced a Japanese fighter whilst Ioka hasn't fought a Filipino in over 8 years! We expect to see a lot of skill on show here in what coul be a potential FOTY candidate.
Hekkie Budler (32-3, 10) vs Hiroto Kyoguchi (11-0, 8) - Macau
The second best bout on New Year's Eve will see WBA Light Flyweight champion Hekkie Budler defending his title against former IBF Minimumweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi. This will be Budler's first defense of the title, which he won earlier this year in Japan by out point Ryoichi Taguchi, and he will be facing a stablemate of the man he beat for the belt. For Kyoguchi it's a great chance to become a 2-weight champion and to score a massive win to end the year. A win here for either man will set them up for massive bouts in 2019, with possible unification bouts in the new year.
Moruti Mthalane (36-2, 24) Vs Masahiro Sakamoto (13-1, 9) - Macau
A second South Africa Vs Japan bout will see IBF Flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane defending his title against little known Japanese fighter Masahiro Sakamoto. The South African is enjoying his second reign as the IBF champion, having won the title earlier this year in a nail biter against Pakistani fighter Muhammad Waseem, but at the age of 36 we do wonder what he has left, and he certainly looked like he was aging in the final rounds against Waseem. Sakamoto really is only known in boxing circles for losing to Sho Kimura, in a regional title bout, but has impressed since then and is a smart fighter who will know he has the opportunity of a life time here.
Earlier this month we looked at some of the most notable bouts of September to feature an Asian fighter. Here will be the second, and final, part covering the notable bouts which are set to take place from September 22nd too September 30th and there really is some great fights set to take place over the last week or so of the month.
Jonathan Taconing (27-3-1, 22) Vs Vince Paras (13-1, 11) – Philippines
Hard hitting Filipino fighters collide as former 2-time world title challenger Jonathan Taconing defends his WBC International Light Flyweight title against youngster Vince Paras. Both of these men have fought at world level, have exciting styles and a lot of power, so we're expecting serious fire works here!
Sho Kimura (17-1-2, 10) Vs Kosei Tanaka (11-0, 7) – Japan
WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura seeks his third defense as he takes on the unbeaten Kosei Tanaka, who is looking to become a 3-weight world champion in just 12 bouts! This is set to pit will against skills and we're expecting both men to have their moments in nail biting all-Japanese world title bout.
Hiroto Kyoguchi (10-0, 7) Vs Tibo Monabesa (18-0-2, 8) – Japan
Former IBF Minimumweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi begins his Light Flyweight campaign as he takes on unbeaten Indonesian Tibo Monabesa. This is a tough first bout at a new one for Kyoguchi whilst Monabesa will know that a win here would almost certainly open the door to a world title fight for him. A really significant contest.
Kyotaro Fujimoto (19-1, 11) vs Suthat Kalalek (12-9, 11)- Japan
If we did this list based sole on how competitive they were this bout wouldn't be here, but with the WBO Asia Pacific and OPBF Heavyweight titles on the line the bout between Kyotaro Fujimoto and Suthat Kalalek needs to be mentioned. The contest is a significant one, even if we do strongly favour the champion.
Yasuyuki Akiyama (12-7-1, 9) Vs Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (10-3, 9) – Japan
Another WBO Asia Pacific and OPBF title bout will see Yasyuki Akiyama defending the titles against hard hitting challenger Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa. Akiyama won the titles last year, in somewhat controversial fashion, but this will be his first defense and comes against a man he narrowly beat 18 months ago
Wulan Tuolehazi (8-3-1, 4) v Jayr Raquinel (10-0-1, 7) – China
In form Chinese hopeful Wulan Tuolehazi takes a big step up in class to face OPBF Flyweight champion Jayr Raquinel for the WBC Silver Flyweight strap. Raquinel has impressed this year, twice scoring stoppage wins in Japan to win and then defend the OPBF title but will be taking on a man in the form of his career.
Jerwin Ancajas (30-1-1, 20) Vs Alejandro Santiago Barrios (16-2-4, 7) – USA
IBF Super Flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas continues to to face less than stellar competition as he defends his belt against little known challenger Alejandro Santiago Barrios. Ancajas is one of the best fighters at 115lbs and this will be his 6th defense of the belt, but it does feel like Top Rank are matching him far too softly with bouts like this.
Janibek Alimkhanuly (2-0, 1) Vs TBA – USA
On the same card as Ancajas' bout with Barrios we'll see the US debut of former Kazakh amateur standout Janibek Alimkhanuly. Sadly his opponent for the contest isn't yet known, though we do have a feeling that fans will be very excited about the Egis Klimas managed boxer-puncher.
Tsubasa Koura (13-0, 9) Vs Daiki Tomita (12-0, 4) – Japan
OPBF Minimumweight champion Tsubasa Koura looks to record his third defense as he takes on fellow unbeaten youngster Daiki Tomita. This has the potential to be one of the best bouts of the month and could, potentially, lead to a world title fight for the winner. The edge in power and competition is with Koura but Tomita cannot be over-looked here!
Yuko Kuroki (18-5-1, 8) Vs Saemi Hanagata (14-7-4, 7) III- Japan
On the same card in Japan fans will get an IBF Atomweight title fight with Yuko Kuroki battling against Saemi Hanagata, in what will be their 3rd bout. So far Hanagata is leading the series, winning the first bout before the two fought to a draw. Since then both have proven to be world class fighters and this should be action packed from the first bell to the last.
Muhamad Ridhwan (11-0, 8) Vs Paulus Ambunda (26-2, 11) – Singapore
In Singapore local fans will get the chance to see their best prospect Muhamad Ridhwan take a massive step up in class as he faces former world champion Paulus Ambunda in a bout for the IBO Super Bantamweight title. Ridhwan is a talent, and should be favoured over the shopworn Ambunda, but at 30 he really does need to kick on if he wins here.
Takuya Watanabe (34-8-1, 19) Vs Paiboon Lorkham (19-10, 8) – Taiwan
In Taiwan we see the biggest show in the countries history, headlined by a contest between the teak tough Japanese fighter Takuya Watanabe and Thailand's Paiboon Lorkham. The bout, for the OPBF Silver Super Featherweight title, is expected to be a straight forward win for Watanabe but is still a massive deal for boxing in Taiwan.
Earlier this week Hiroto Kyoguchi (10-0, 7) [京口 紘人] confirmed that he would be making a fully fledged move to Light Flyweight, and would be returning to the ring on September 25th to take on unbeaten Indonesian prospect Tibo Monabesa (18-0-2, 8), in what is an excellent match up to introduce Kyoguchi to the 108lb weight class. The plan is, if Kyoguchi defeats Monabesa at least, for the Watanabe gym fight to move into a bout with WBA super champion Hekkie Budler (32-3, 10) in late December.
Although Kyoguchi Vs Budler looks to be “agreed in principle”, the move up in weight for Kyoguchi does leave the already strong Light Flyweight division with some more dream match ups, and it was a division with more than a handful of those to begin with. With that in mind we've had a look at 3 possible wars for Kyoguchi to get involved in down the line, though the reality is this list could easily have gotten to 10 or so bouts!
Vs Ken Shiro (13-0, 7)
We don't get enough all-Japanese world title bouts, which is a huge shame, but it's hard not to salivate over a potential bout between the all action Kyoguchi and the baby faced Ken Shiro to decide the #1 in Japan, if not the world, at 108lbs.
Kyoguchi, at 24, would be the younger man and naturally the bigger puncher, but whether he could apply his trade mark pressure on the intelligent and technically excellent Ken Shiro would be a major question. If Kyoguchi could apply his pressure another massive question is whether or not Ken Shiro would be able to get Kyoguchi's respect in the pocket, and provide a more durable target himself than the fighters that Kyoguchi had been beating at Minimumweight.
As the WBC champion Ken Shiro has already defeated the likes of Pedro Guevara, Gilberto Pedroza and Ganigan Lopez. He has proven himself to be a real talent who has matured as the champion, and his knockout of Lopez earlier this year showed how much more confidence he has now he's the champion. He's certainly not unbeatable, but the longer his reign as a world champion goes the more accomplished his boxing will become.
Sadly the biggest issues with this bout taking place is television, with Kyoguchi's promoter working with TBS whilst Ken Shiro is being built as a star by Fuji TV. It's unlikely that either man would want to leave their current network, but it's a great potential bout, that could happen down the line.
Vs Angel Acosta (18-1, 18)
Whilst Ken Shiro is the most proven Light Flyweight champion, at the moment, it could be argued that the most dangerous is the once beaten WBO king pin Angel Acosta. The 27 year old Puerto Rican has shown a willingness to travel and has fought in front of a Japanese audience before, battling Kosei Tanaka in May 2017 when he suffered his sole defeat. With Kyoguchi being a big puncher himself this has the makings of being something special.
Following his loss to Tanaka we've seen Acosta go on to win the WBO world title and made one defense back in June against Carlos Buitrago, a man that Acosta and Kyoguchi have both stopped. Having been out of the ring since June we suspect that Acosta will be looking to fight a notable name on his return and what would be better than travelling over to Japan to take on another of their young upstarts?
For Kyoguchi the bout would be all about trying to out do Tanaka's unanimous decision over Acosta and ripping the title from the champion. It wouldn't be a simple task at all, and Acosta isn't just a tough fighter but someone with a reputation of being a very dangerous fighter, much like Kyoguchi. If Kyoguchi decided to go to war with Acosta he could be made to pay and dragged through hell, win or lose.
This one makes a lot of sense, if the Budler bout falls through, and would almost certainly be fire works from the opening round. There's no television deal in the way and the only real problem could be a potential mandatory defense that Acosta might have to deal with sooner rather than later.
Felix Alvarado (33-2, 29)
Acosta is probably the most dangerous champion at 108lbs, but Alvarado has the title as the most dangerous fighter in the division. At the moment the Nicaraguan 29 year old doesn't hold a world title, though will be fighting or the vacant IBF title on October 21st against Randy Petalcorin. Given the timing there is almost no chance that he will be available again to fight in December, but in 2019 he'll certainly be looking to stay busy.
Alvarado is, without a doubt, one of the most avoided men in the sport. Both of his losses have come at world level, to Kazuto Ioka and Juan Carlos Reveco, and neither man really wanted to go toe-to-toe with Alvarado, who has improved since those defeats. He has gone 15-0 (14) since the back-to-back defeats and stopped notable contenders like Luis de la Rosa, Karluis Diaz, Jose Antonio Jimenez and Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr during that run.
Kyoguchi, as mentioned, holds a win over Buitrago but his countryman is a totally different kettle of fish. Unlike Buitrago we wouldn't be seeing Alvarado back off him. Instead we could see Kyoguchi being forced to box off the back foot, and that would tell us a lot more about the Japanese fighter. If he elects to stand toe-to-toe with Alvarado he in real danger, though we can't help but feel like he will, at some point.
From the perspective of wanting to see two fighters who like putting opponents away face off this is probably the most mouth watering bout at 108lbs, and is one that is really hard to call. As with Acosta we know that Alvarado will travel and would go to Japan for the right money!
(Image courtesy of http://www.watanabegym.com)
Over the last few days there have been a number of stories that have linked together to suggest that the Light Flyweight division, arguably the best division in the sport right now, is set to be shaken up. So rather than cover all the news pieces individually we've decided to roll a number of them into one and look at the possible knock on effects to the division.
Hiroto Kyoguchi heading up
The first bit of news is that hard hitting Japanese youngster Hiroto Kyoguchi (10-0, 7) [京口 紘人] will be vacating the IBF Minimumweight title. There had been talk about the Watanabe gym fighter remaining at Minimumweight for a potential unification bout at the end of 2018 but it now seems like those plans have changed and he is set to vacate the IBF title and move to Light Flyweight.
The exciting 24 year old had made 2 defenses of the title, stopping Carlos Buitrago and taking a decision win over Vince Paras, but had spoken about weight struggles and suffered cramps from weight loss during the bout with Paras in May.
Ryoichi Taguchi returns
Former WBA "super" and IBF champion Ryoichi Taguchi (27-3-2, 12) [田口良一], who is a stablemate of Kyoguchi at the Watanabe Gym, returned to the gym recently. Although he hasn't set his flag out on what he's going to be doing going forward he is certainly back in the gym and getting back into fighting shape. Originally it seemed like he was going to return at Light Flyweight, but it now seems to be for Taguchi to move up in weight and compete in the Flyweight division, which is going through a lot of changes at the moment.
Hekkie Budler vacates IBF
The man who beat Taguchi for the WBA "super" and IBF titles was Hekkie Budler (32-3, 10), who is now set to vacate the IBF title rather than defend the title against mandatory challenger Felix Alvarado (33-2, 29). This is likely to lead to a bout between Budler and Kyoguchi for the WBA "super" title, in what will be a very exciting and action packed bout as Kyoguchi looks to become a 2-weight champion.
The knock on of the IBF title becoming vacant is that the heavy handed Alvarado will fight for the vacant belt. At the moment Alvarado is ranked #1 by the IBF with the #2 ranking being vacant and the #3 position being held by Filipino fighter Randy Petalcorin (29-2-1, 22), in what would be an incredibly good fight for the vacant title. Another possible option to be Alvarado's opponent would be Japanese national champion Tetsuya Hisada (32-9-2, 19) [久田 哲也], who is ranked #4 by the IBF.
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