It's fair to say that November has started hot, despite the late cancellation of Kazuto Takesako Vs Riku Kunumoto, but it certainly doesn't end there and the rest of the month continues to be hectic. Here we're going to take a look at the middle portion of the month, and there really is a lot to get through here.
Blue Arena, Samut Prakan, Thailand
Nattapong Jankaew (6-0, 3) Vs Petchbarngborn Kokietgym (44-9, 20)
In an excellent Thai match up we'll see the talented Nattapong Jankaew take on former world title challenger Petchbarngborn Kokietgym, who fought Naoya Inoue a few years ago. We've been really impressed by Nattapong so far and expect him to go a long way, so with that in mind we're expecting him to win this, with ease, but to also show what he can do. Petchbarngborn is a live under-dog, but a very clear under-dog against a very talented professional novice.
Thitisak Hoitong (0-0) Vs Samartlek Kokietgym (34-14-1, 12)
We'll openly admit we know very, very little about Thitisak Hoitong but it's clear his team must have some serious belief in him to match him against former world title challenger Samartlek Kokietgym, on his debut! Whilst we can't talk too much about Thitisak it is worth noting that Samartlek has shared the ring with Naoya Inoue and Akira Yaegashi, and both men were taken long by Samartlek, with Inoue stopping him in 11 and Yaegashi in the 12th. We are expecting Thitisak to win, based on what we known of his amateur pedigree, but nobody has an easy time with Samartlek. Expect the novice to work hard here.
Production Park Studios, South Kirkby, Yorkshire, United Kingdom
Tursynbay Kulakhmet (1-0, 1) vs Macaulay McGowan (14-0-1, 3)
We continue with inexperienced professionals as we move onto a bout featuring the exceptionally talented Tursynbay Kulakhmet from Kazakhstan. The brilliant Kulakhmet will be going for his first title in just his second bout, as he takes on the unbeaten Macaulay McGowan. On paper this is a very real test for Kulakhmet though we suspect he makes it look easy and secures his place on the fast track to the top. He's an sensational talent, he showed that in his amateur days and on his professional debut, and we'd be very surprised if he doesn't stop McGowan here. The Kazakh is a special prospect that doesn't come around very often.
Sultan Zaurbek (9-0, 7) vs Jeff Ofori (10-3-1, 3)
Another Kazakh prospect in action here is Sultan Zaurbek, who appears to be getting his first legitimate test as a professional. The unbeaten 24 year old has barely lost a minute since his debut, just over 2 years ago, but here he goes up against the tricky, and under-rated Jeff Ofori. Ofori will be the under-dog, and rightfully so, but is a live one and proved his value recently in a very close decision loss to Archie Sharp. This is a credible step up for Zaurbek, at the right time, against a very good opponent, who is naturally bigger than himself, but alight puncher. A good bit of match making.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Kimika Miyoshi (15-12-1, 6) vs Yoshie Wakasa (6-2, 2)
In a Japanese female Featherweight title bout we'll see veteran Kimika Miyoshi defending her title against Yoshie Wakasa. For the champion this will be her second defense and although her record might look poor, to say the least, she's a battle hardened veteran who knows her way around the ring, and will likely be aware than she's likely only one loss away from retirement. Aged 36 she can't afford a loss. For Wakasa this is a third title fight, she has lost her last two and will be hoping it's third time lucky. Wakasa will know that she may not get another opportunity any time soon, and it could be now or never for her.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Rikki Naito (24-2, 7) Vs Yusuke Konno (16-4, 9)
OPBF Light Welterweight champion Rikki Naito will be looking to become a double champion as he clashes with fellow Japanese fighter Yusuke Konno for not just the OPBF title but also the vacant WBO Asia Pacific title. On paper Naito will be favoured, and technically he is the better fighter, as well as being the younger, quicker man. But his lack of power may well be an issue in getting Konno's respect, and Naito's questionable stamina will pushed to it's limits here by Konno. This is a genuinely fantastic match up, and the winner will be pretty much the de facto Asian champion at 140lbs.
Yoshimitsu Kimura (12-2, 7) Vs Shuma Nakazato (10-1-2, 7)
Former OPBF Super Featherweight title challenger Yoshimitsu Kimura clashes with Shuma Nakazato in a brilliant, 50-50 match up that really is mouth watering. Both men have similar records, both are talented youngsters with real potential and neither are taking on an easy foe to close out 2020. Kimura is slightly more proven, having fought over 12 rounds twice in very competitive losses, but Nakazato cannot be written off and will come into this knowing a win gets him into the title mix. A brilliant, potentially thrilling high speed technical war, between two criminally under-rated 24 year olds. This could, genuinely, be the hidden gem of the month.
Suzumi Takayama (3-0, 3) Vs Hiroto Yashiro (2-0, 2)
Unbeaten JBC Youth Super Flyweight champion Suzumi Takayama looks to make his first defense as he takes on the very talented Hiroto Yashiro. If we're being honest, this is exactly the type of bout we expected when Japan introduced the Japanese Youth titles, and we're glad to see these sorts of bouts. Both of these men are young, unbeaten, heavy handed, crisp, fluid aggressive fighters. As professionals Takayama is the more proven, and he answered a lot of questions last time out, stopping Tetsuro Ohashi in a tremendous bout 13 months ago. That win will make him the favourite, but Yashiro is a very, very live under-dog, taking a very credible step up. Don't look at the records her and ignore the fight, these two are very advanced professional novices, with solid amateur credentials and we are expecting something sensational here.
Ryoichi Tamura (13-5-1, 7) Vs Ryu Oba (5-4, 3)
Former Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Ryoichi Tamura Looks to score his second win since his brutal title loss to Yusaku Kuga last year. In reality we don't imagine him having any problems with Ryu Oba here, a lower level domestic fighter, but Tamura is known to make life difficult for himself, and to make every fight he's involved in worthy of watching. This will be brutal, rough, tough, exciting, and we can't ask for more than that!
It feels like January has been an incredibly bitty month for fight fans, with stretches without bouts, and a real lack of consistency through the month. We've had some notable bouts, of course we have, but for the most part it's concentrated on only a few days and hasn't been spread through much of the month. Thankfully that is set to change in February when we have a lot more to look forward to.
Nuevo León, Mexico
Pedro Taduran (14-2, 11) Vs Daniel Valladares (22-1, 13)
The most significant bout at the start of February sees IBF Minmumweight champion Pedro Taduran travel off to Mexico to defend his title, for the first time. The exciting champion, who won the belt in September when he stopped Samuel Salva in a short but thrilling bout, will be up against talented Mexican Daniel Valladares in what should be a really good bout. Taduran isn't the most polished, but sets a high work rate and lets power shots go, as if the judges are people he doesn't want to see. Valladares is more polished but will be moving down in weight for this bout. Expect this to be a genuinely brilliant fight!
Tokyo, Japan [G+ - Live]
Yuki Nagano (17-2, 13) Vs Keita Obara (22-4-1, 20)
The 2020 Champion Carnival kicks off with a brilliant looking Japanese Welterweight title fight, pitting in form champion Yuki Nagano against mandatory challenger Keita Obara. A win here for Nagano will push him on to the fringes of the world rankings, though he'll be a clear under-dog against the hard hitting Obara. For Obara a win here would see him becoming a 2-weight Japanese national champion and claim his third win since losing in a world title eliminator last March, as he looks to build some career momentum.
Ryusei Ishii (8-5-1, 5) Vs Yamato Hata (9-1, 9)
In a JBC Youth Super Featherweight title fight fight the limited Ryusei Ishii takes on the heavy handed Yamato Hata, with both men looking to move their career forward and claim their biggest win to date. Hata will be the favourite but Ishii has competed at a higher level and is no push over.
Kenshi Noda (1-0, 1) Vs Thomas Tope Hurek (2-4-1, 1)
Former amateur standout Kenshi Noda looks to continue his professional journey as he takes on Indonesian foe Tomas Tope Hurek. This should be little more than a showcase for the talented Noda.
Hiroto Yashiro (1-0, 1) Vs Abdul Rauf (1-2)
Another prospect in action here is Hiroto Yashiro, who is also expected to pick up a very easy win as he takes on Indonesia's Abdul Rauf. Given this is early in his career we can't complain too much about an easy fight for Yashiro, but don't be surprised if this one is over quickly.
Jasurbek Latipov (0-0) Vs TBA
Talented former amateur stand out Jasurbek Latipov makes his professional debut at the start of February. At the moment we've not been informed who Latipov will be facing, but the bout is being described as a chance for the excellent Uzbek to try and catch the eye of promoters, and we suspect he is going to look sensational here. He is certainly one to watch and this debut is one that should be of interest to fans who want to get in on the ground level for someone who will be looking to get fast tracked.
Rustam Tulaganov (2-0, 1) v Norbert Dabrowski (23-8-2, 10)
Touted Uzbek fighter Rustam Tulaganov takes a huge step up in class as he takes on Norbert Dabrowski. The talented Tulaganov was tipped for big things when he debuted in 2017 but hasn't been active enough to get to where he should be now. Thankfully he, and his team, are willing to take risks and a win here will help him make up for lost time.
Pennsylvania, USA [Showtime - Live]
Gary Russell Jr (30-1, 18) Vs Tugstsogt Nyambayar (11-0, 9) -
In a bout we're really looking forward too we'll see WBC Featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr defending his belt against mandatory challenger Tugstogt Nyambayar. This is a mouth watering bout and a great chance to see whether or not the unbeaten Mongolian is for real. The American champion, who has gained a reputation for not liking the sport, and not by anywhere active enough, is talented but incredibly frustrating and has wasted his prime years. Nyambayar on the other hand is getting his shot at the big time, at last, and will know a win here will be huge for his career. In fact a win here for Nyambayar will see him becoming only the second Mongolian world champion. A really important and significant bout.
Kento Hatanaka (10-0, 9) Vs Roland Jay Biendima (15-5-1, 8) -
In Kariya we'll see WBC Youth Flyweight champion Kento Hatanaka make his next defense of the title as he takes on Filipino foe Roland Jay Biendima. On paper this looks like a mismatch but in reality this should be another great test for Hatanaka, who struggled last time out against Jaysever Abcede. Although talented and exciting Hatanaka does need time to mature and develop and this type of bout is perfect for that. Biendima isn't a world beater but should serve as an excellent test for Hatanaka at this point in time.
Fans who followed the Japanese boxing scene in the 00's may be able to recall Yoshimitsu Yashiro. The Teiken promoted Super Featherweight fought as a professional from 2001 to 2009 and ran up a solid 21-1-2 (12) record, whilst winning the Japanese Super Featherweight title in 2008 and making 2 defenses, before losing to Takashi Miura in 2009, then retiring. Whilst not a huge name he certainly played his part in the sport on the domestic scene.
Now there is another member of the Yashiro family set to make their name in the sport, Yoshimitsu's cousin Hiroto Yashiro (1-0, 1), who has also signed up with the Teiken Gym and is expected to have a very, very fruitful career.
The 22 year old Yashiro, who celebrates his 23rd birthday in December, went an 75-19 in the unpaid ranks. Whilst he failed to really take home the big tournament wins he was a key figure in the teams for both his High School and University, and had began boxing way back in elementary school.
Unlike many amateurs in Japan Yashiro's style was a more technical one, something that likely that comes from being a big Guillermo Rigondeaux fan, and his patience likely cost him bouts over the short amateur format, where every round is important. Despite not having a style suited to success in the amateurs he still managed to notch up his impressive record and develop some excellent skills, including a sharp jab, a solid right hook and a stinging straight left hand.
Back in September Yashiro made his professional debut at Korakuen Hall and looked fantastic as he dismantled Thai foe Adundet Khonwong in 2 rounds. From the opening bell he looked sharp, relaxed and comfortable, like a man who knew his amateur background would give him the foundation to shine. And shine he did! He dropped Adunet twice to force the referee to stop the bout, giving Yashiro a stoppage win on debut. Whilst not a massive win on paper this was still a victory against the #7 ranked Thai and a man who had lasted into round 3 with Shingo Wake less than 2 years ago, and nearly survived 3 rounds with Yuta Uetani, in early 2017. It was impressive without being big for Yashiro, and was certainly something should have raised a few eye brows given his name and amateur pedigree.
At the moment Yashiro's second bout isn't yet confirmed, though we suspect that the plan is for him to be very busy in 2020 with reports from Japan suggesting that he is wanting to win a Japanese Youth title as soon as he can. He obviously has eyes on more established titles but did seem to suggest that the Youth title was going to be his first focus.
With talent, patience, skill and a strong team behind him Yashiro has the ability to go a very long way. The key is really his desire and his ability to take a shot. If he's tough enough then the future is very, very bright for Yashiro.
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