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