One of the great things about our "Introducing..." series is that we don't need to concentrate on unbeaten fighters, instead we can focus on upcoming fighters we think fans should give a little bit of attention to. Today we look at a fighter with a loss, and a draw, but at 20 years old and with buckets of skill we really do think fans should pay attention to him, and get interested in his future.
Today we look at Minimumweight hopeful Yuga Inoue (9-1-1, 1).
The first question we expect is whether or not he's related to any of the other Inoue's making a mark on the sport. He isn't related to Naoya Inoue, or that Inoue clan, and he's also not related to Takeshi Inoue. Instead he's just another talented fighter with that now familiar surname. If however he was to be compared to any off the more well known fighters with his surname it would certainly be Takuma Inoue, with Yuga being a light punching fighter who relies on skills, movement and ring IQ.
Born in Hyogo in July 1999 Inoue is one of the more talented fighters who hasn't yet signed with a big name gym. Instead of heading off to somewhere like the Shinsei Gym, also in Hyogo, he actually fights out of the Kametani Gym in Amagasaki. It's been under the guidance of the Kametani Gym that Inoue has carved out a promising career so far, though we suspect that he will leave them sooner or later for bigger and better opportunities, somewhere down the line.
Inoue made his professional debut at the age of 17, taking a narrow win over fellow debutant Kisei Takada in August 2016. It was the following year that he really began making his name, winning the All Japan Rookie of the Year in 2017 with a win over Retsu Akabane in the final in December. That win saw Inoue end 2017 with a 6-0-1 record and begin to create some real buzz for the young, who was still only 18 years old at this point.
To kick off 2018 Inoue scored his first stoppage, defeating Daisuke Sudo in 5 rounds, before taking on the destructive Kai Ishizawa for the Japanese Youth Minimumweight title 6 months later. Sadly for Inoue a very strong start couldn't prevent him from being cut and then broken down by Ishizawa, who stopped Inoue in the 6th round of a scheduled 8 rounder. Despite the loss we were really impressed by Inoue's skills. Despite being stopped, eventually wilting to Ishizawa's pressure, Inoue had looked fantastic, boxing and moving, picking excellent shots, making Ishizawa miss and landing some wonderful combinations. It was clear, even with the loss, that the then 19 year old had a lot more to offer the sport.
Sadly the loss to Ishizawa was then followed by a 9 month break from the ring for Inoue, before he returned last August and took a hotly contested win over Daiki Kameyama, in what was a battle of two Rookie of the Year winners. Kameyama really pushed Inoue all the way in a fantastic 6 rounder, but Inoue did just enough to take the win. Just 3 months later Inoue scored another win, out pointing Japanese ranked Flyweight Katsuya Murakami. Interestingly the win over Murakami saw Inoue fighting at Flyweight, though it was, seemingly only a temporary move up in weight.
We now know that Inoue will return on March 1st in Osaka, where he will face veteran Takayuki Teraji (9-19-1, 4) in an 8 round bout fought between Minimumweight and Light Flyweight. This is expected to be another win for Inoue who will be looking to move towards a second title fight through 2020. He's still some way from a national title fight, but should be in the mix for another Japanese Youth title fight, and the experience of facing Ishizawa should be a major benefit if, or rather when, he gets a second shot.
Whilst he might not be "one of those" Inoue's, Yuga Inoue is certainly a fighter worthy of attention going forward.
This week we bring you an extra introducing! And in this extra Introducing article we take a look at promising Indonesian hopeful Ongen Saknosiwi (8-0, 7). Like many in this weekly feature he's not someone many will have spoken about, yet he is arguably the brightest hope in Indonesian boxing, and really helped set himself apart from other Indonesian prospects last year.
Born on Buru Island in the summer of 1994 Saknosiwi attempted to become a fighter when he was a teenager, before being spotted by Wan Sapulette, best known for winning a bronze medal at the 1983 SEA Games. Sapulette took Saknosiwi into his gym and began to develop the youngster's skills. The hope was for him to fight at the 2012 AIBA Youth World Championships in Armenia, but he failed to make it there, and actually failed to even make a mark at the domestic level.
Despite his talent Saknosiwi felt he couldn't assure his success as a boxer, so instead of turning professional he joined the Indonesian air force in 2014. It was there that he managed to develop his skills properly and in 2016 he would go on to win the Maluku Governor Cup, and compete at the Indonesian National Games.
With the Air Force behind him Saknosiwi finally began to look towards turning professional, and would turn professional just weeks after the 2016 Indonesian National Games. As a professional he linked up with Mahkota Promotion, and would debut in November 2016 with a win against fellow Indonesian debutant Imanuel Hutagalung.
In 2017 Saknosiwi managed to fight 3 times in the first 6 months of the year, stopping a trio of domestic opponents to build some momentum. Sadly however that momentum was slowed as he then spent almost 10 months out of the ring, before he returned for his 5th professional bout. Then there was yet more momentum lost with Saknosiwi taking more than a year out of the ring.
After turning professional in late 2016 Saknosiwi was only 5-0 (5) as we began 2019. It seemed like his career was going to be a bit of a waste. That was until 2019 kicked off, and he really made a mark.
To begin 2019 Saknosiwi claimed an Indonesian national title, stopping Jufry Kakahure in 3 rounds in April. In September Saknosiwi then made his international debut, travelling to Singapore to beat Nanthawat Maolichat for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental Featherweight title, his first international title.
Having claimed his first two titles Saknosiwi then took a huge step up and took on Filipino veteran Marco Demecillo. This was a significant step up in class and was a major test for the Indonesian, who started fast, and bagged the rounds he needed to take a 12 round decision, passing another notable milestone. This was not just a step up but a stellar performance against an opponent who tested Saknosiwi's stamina and mental resolve. An excellent win for a man in just his 8th fight.
As we write this Saknosiwi is lined for his second bout on foreign soil, with a contest scheduled for February 22nd in Thailand. The bout is regarded as a stay busy bout for Saknosiwi, who we expect to be involved in at least 1 notable bout before the end of 2020.
Many top prospects are top prospects because they have a strong amateur pedigree, have won various amateur titles and turned professional with expectations on their shoulders. Today however we want to introduce a more organic prospect, to your attention, one didn't have tens of amateur bouts and amateur trophies. But one who every fan should be aware of sooner, rather than later. Not just because he's a talented fighter going places, but also because he's one of the most exciting young fighters in world boxing today.
Today's "Introducing..." focus on must watch Filipino Carl Jammes Martin (15-0, 14), a 20 year old dubbed "Wonder Boy" who is so much fun to watch, and is set to take a huge step up on February 22nd.
As suggested in the opening paragraph Martin wasn't a former amateur standout. Given that Martin was just 16 years old when he made his professional debut, way back in March 2016, his amateur background is understandably very limited. Despite that he did actually make a mark on the Filipino youth domestic scene, claiming a bronze medal at the Philippine Youth Games-Batang Pinoy, though turned professional soon afterwards.
On debut, on March 5th 2016, Martin stopped fellow debutant Jayar Omac in 2 rounds, with Omac retiring at the end of round 2. Just weeks later Martin scored another early win as he stopped Noel Guliman in 2 rounds. The talent of Martin was obvious and in his third bout he was moved 4 rounders to 6 rounders. The extra rounds came in handy and Martin ended up stopping Manny Mamamcquiao in the 5th round to close out 2016 with a faultless 3-0 (3) record.
After stopping his first 3 opponents we finally saw an opponent stand up to Martin's power in 2017, when he was taken 8 rounds by Jason Buenobra. Despite being taken the distance Martin was the clear winning on the scorecards and took his first title, the lightly regarded LuzProBA Bantamweight title. Martin quickly got back to stopping opponents, with Jerry Mae Villagracia being taken out in 2 rounds, in Martins' next bout.
By the end of 2017 Martin hadn't just claimed the LuzProBA title but also an interim PBF title and an interim WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental title, essentially a minor regional belt. He had started to make waves, and was only 18 years old with a 7-0 (6). Those waves became bigger, and bigger, on 2018 as Martin racked up 4 more wins, all by stoppage. These included wins for more regional titles, as he claimed a WBO Oriental and WBA Asia title, and victories over slightly better opponents, such as Chinese fighter Huerban Qiatehe.
Moving to 11-0 (10) Martin had entered 2019 with a reputation as someone to keep an eye on, but was only really known by the absolute hardcore fans. Those who watched GAB streams. He had yet to even be featured on TV, but was already generating real buzz, and living up to the Wonder Boy tag. In 2019 we did finally see him on TV, as he appeared twice on ESPN5, beating two over matched Thai's on TVm before heading back to his fights being streamed, with his last 2 bouts being shown online only. Those streamed bouts actually include a solid domestic win over Benezer Alolod, and a blow out against Philip Luis Cuerdo.
With a February 22nd bout set against Renoel Pael we expect to see Martin face a genuine tests against a a man 35 fights to his name, and has never been stopped. Martin will be favoured, but this is very genuine and serious test for the youngster, who will have to answer questions against Pael.
At just 20 years old there's no reason for Martin's team to rush him, but he is certainly someone who is going to be tough to match in the coming years and will need to matched carefully to test him properly before he faces world class competition.
For those who haven't seen Martin he is all action, a whirlwind of aggression, who can box, but is more of a swarmer, at least at the moment. We suspect that as his competition steps up the swarming will decline somewhat and he will begin to look more and more towards using his under-rated boxing skills. We expect to see those skills against Pael, and to be honed in the next year or two before he faces world ranked opponents.
Being a second generation fighter isn't the easiest thing in the world, especially when your father is a former world champion. Despite that sons of former world champions do get a lot of attention, as we've seen in the west with the likes of Conor Benn, Chris Eubank Jr and Julio Cesar Chavez. The same is true in Asia where Juiki Tatsuyoshi has received attention due to his father, the enigmatic and incredibly popular Joichiro Tatsuyoshi.
Of course the fame of the father is key to things like that, and today "Introducing..." we look at a second generation fighter who's father did go on to become a world champion, but certainly wasn't a major name.
Japanese teenage Shinba Yamaguchi (1-0, 1) is the 19 year old son of former WBA Light Flyweight champion Keiji Yamaguchi.
The older Yamaguchi won the WBA Ligth Flyweight title in May 1996, out pointing Carlos Murillo. He would defend the title once, before losing in his second defense, being stopped in 2 rounds by Pichitnoi Sithbanprachan. His reign was less than 7 months long but was enough to keep him in the mix in the years that follow, with Keiji getting two other world title fights before his career came to an end in 2002.
Born in May 2000 Shinba was wouldn't have remembered any of his father's career, though Keiji did fight 4 times when Shinba was a baby most notably facing off with Gerry Penalosa. Despite that it's clear he was inspired by his father and went on to take up the sport as a youngster.
As an amateur Yamaguchi junior didn't set the world on fire, going 29-14 (7) in the unpaid ranks, but did compete in a number of notable nationwide competitions and showed some promising touches. He looked sharp, naturally quick and strong. There were technical flaws to work on, from the footage of his amateur fights that are available. He also seemed rather small for the weight class he was fighting in, which likely didn't help him run up too many wins. It was also suggested that his style wasn't suited to the amateur ranks, and that he would make a better professional than amateur.
Rather than staying in the unpaid ranks the Yamaguchi turned professional last year, signing with the Shirai Gushiken Sports gym, headed by Yoko Gushiken. He would make his professional debut last October and he quickly impressed, stopping Buncha Natheekeereekan in just 40 seconds. On paper it wasn't the most amazing of wins, but Buncha had never been blown out so quickly, or so vividly, with the Thai being knockdown hard. The shot left Buncha down for a lengthy amount of time, giving Yamaguchi the ideal start to his professional career.
Despite his debut only being scheduled for 4 rounds Yamaguchi received a lot of press attention after his win, due to who he father was and the stunning finish. His next bout, scheduled for February 13th, appears to be a very clear step up in class as he takes on Filipino foe Luis Borje (5-1-1, 2) in a 6 rounder. That's a big step up but a great chance for us to learn a lot more about the Japanese teenager, who has got lofty ambitions of following his father and becoming a world champion as well.
The last 12 months have been a really frustrating one for Filipino boxing. There have been some triumphs, but on the whole it's been a frustrating year with more bad than good for the country that is regularly regarded as the second most significant boxing country in Asia.
Thankfully however the nation has a lot to be excited by over the coming years, with a lot of emerging fighters and hopefuls. Among those is 21 year old Super Flyweight Ranelio Quizo (7-0, 1), who takes a step up on February 7th as he takes on John Mark Tihuk, and is the subject of this week's "Introducing...".
The youngsters made his debut on August 23rd 2018, in a bout that was actually streamed on the GAB's facebook page. The youngster took on fellow debutant Sannyboy Esquilona and although Quizo didn't blow anyone away in his debut he took a very clear decision win over his opponent. The bout saw him show some very nice touches, using his footwork well, controlling the range well and showed himself to be a promising fighter.
By the end of 2018 Quizo had moved to 3-0, and was forced to battle to get past both Rustom Medes, who was unbeaten himself, and Rolando Plaza, who dropped Quizo before the youngster regrouped and earned a close decision. Those bouts coming so early helped to show that the young man could battle through adversity and come out on top.
Having established himself with 3 wins in 2018 Quizo began to be stepped up, having his first 6 round bout in March 2019, when he stopped Lowell Saguisa in 3 rounds. That was a total farce, as is almost every Saguisa bout now and he's merely getting in to the ring pad records it seems, but he then backed it up with good decisions against Alvin Defeo and Vincent Bautista.
In his most recent bout Quizo looked very impressive as he out boxed, out fought and generally controlled Ronel Dela Cruz over 8 rounds. Quizo boxed well to keep Dela Cruz at bay, used his sharp jab well and found space for some lovely straight right hands down the pipe. His movement was light, and he managed to go 8 rounds at a good pace against a solid fighter with some ambition of his own.
The man from Las Pinas City hasn't had much attention so far in his career, but if he can get past Tihuk on February 7th Quizo is likely to end up in some good developmental fights through the year. He's only young, and is certainly not a puncher, but with his boxing brain, jab and movement there are tools there for him to go a very long way. There is however a need for him to develop a more physical side to his boxing down the line.
Dubbed "Bagwis" Quizo is a young fighter to keep an eye on and someone we're interested in following long term, whether he beats Tihuk, who is a very solid fighter himself, or not.
In February we see action suddenly picking up with notable shows taking place all over the place, and we really do have some excellent shows coming up filled with a mix of top fighters, contenders and prospects. One prospect who is in action in the coming days is Kenshi Noda (1-0, 1), who actually makes his TV debut on February 1st as part of a Teiken card being televised on G+. Although not a big name, yet, big things are expected of Noda.
Noda first made his name as an amateur fighter where he ran up a 45-16 record. His full bout by bout record isn't something we have access to, but we do know that he was in the final stages of several notable national competitions. These included the 2012 Japanese Junior Selection Tournament, losing in the final to Yuki Nakajima and the 2013 Japanese Interschool Athletic Meet, where he lost to the brilliant Taku Kuwahara in the semi final.
Sadly for Noda his hopes of becoming a professional fighter took a huge hit as a youngster when he suffered a really serious injury to his left elbow. Noda had surgery for the injury but it didn't heal as expected, and rather than turning professional after he graduated from university he had to spend additional time rehabilitating his injury.
Thankfully the injury healed enough for him to begin his professional journey in 2019, moving to Tokyo and beginning to train at Teiken early in the year. Within just a few months of being at Teiken he had caught back up to speed with his boxing and took part in his pro-test in May, passing the tests despite admitting to being intensely nervous.
Noda made his long awaited professional debut last September, fighting as a Light Flyweight, and stopped Thai foe Somphon Banyaem in just 65 seconds. That was quicker than anyone had ever stopped the Thai, including former amateur foe Yuki Nakajima. Although the bout wasn't available to watch on TV or a streaming service, fans at the event were impressed by Noda, who was said to have been sharp from the opening bell and looked powerful and quick through out.
Noda's opponent for his February bout has been named as Indonesian Thomas Tope Hurek (2-4-1, 1). It's not a great opponent for Noda but does give the 24 year old Japanese fighter a chance to share the ring with someone who lasted 6 rounds with Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart in 2018.
At the age of 24 we expect to see Teiken move Noda quickly this coming year and potentially get him in to the Japanese rankings by the end of 2020.
The name "Tadashi Yuba" might not be a big name in the Western world but among hardcore fans of the Japanese scene Tadashi was a Japanese domestic legend. He was, and still is, the only 5-weight Japanese National champion, and he enjoyed success from Lightweight to Middleweight. His career was synonymous with his multi-weight success, his hard swinging style and his huge popularity at Korakuen Hall, where he fought 32 times between 1999 and 2014.
The Yuba name lives on in boxing with Tadashi's son Kaiki Yuba (6-0-2, 4) currently making a name for himself as an an exciting and promising young prospect, tipped to go far in the sport over the coming years. On January 28th Yuba looks to claim his first professional title, as he fights for the Japanese Youth Lightweight title, in what is actually his second shot at the belt having been denied by a technical draw against Izuki Tomioka in 2018. With that in mind, now seems the perfect time to feature Yuba in our "Introducing..." series.
As an amateur Yuba's record isn't too widely reported, though it is known that he reached the final of the 2016 Japanese High School final, losing to Issei Aramoto and a year earlier he was in another notable domestic High School tournament. Unlike many however he didn't stick around in the amateurs for long, making his pro debut at the age of 18, whilst still a student.
Yuba's debut, in February 2017, saw him fighting out of the gym his father had set up after his retirement and score a 3rd round TKO win over Thai visitor Jakkraphong Arsapha. Despite it being Yuba's debut there was quite a lot of attention on the youngster due to his father and he looked solid, aggressive hard hitting and exciting as he easily over-came his Thai foe. Incidentally this win came on a really notable show that feature Hiroto Kyoguchi winning his first title, the OPBF Minimumweight title, Reiya Abe beating Joe Noynay and Masayuki Kuroda beating Yuta Matsuo for the Japanese interim Flyweight title.
By the end of 2017 Yuba had moved to 3-0 (2), taking an opening round win over Bener Santig and a 6 round decision over the rugged Pablito Canada. Those wins lead Yuba to getting his first shot at the Japanese Youth title in February 2018, just a year after his professional debut. Sadly that bout ended in an inconclusive manner, after Yuba was badly cut over his right eye from a headclash. Notably just 1 fight later Tomioka challenged OPBF champion Masayoshi Nakatani, yes the guy that gave Teofimo Lopez fits, and Tomioka was really competitive with Nakatani before being stopped in the 11th round.
Following his first draw Yuba signed with the well established Watanabe Gym, who he has been fighting for ever since. His first fight under Watanabe saw him defeat Chinese fighter Po Sang So with a clear 6 round decision, on a Japan Vs China show. Sadly for Yuba another bout against a Chinese fighter, this time He Lu in April 2019, resulted in Yuba suffering his second technical draw, this time due to a bad cut above his left eye from a clash of heads.
Yuba, despite having success was a touch wild and reckless. He wasn't to blame for the headclashes, though his southpaw stance did added to his reckless aggression did lead to an increased risk of accidental headclashes. There was several cases of heads coming together against Tomioka whilst against Lu, in an all southpaw bout, it was the clumsiness of Lu that lead to a single nasty clash that ended the bout.
Thankfully for Yuba he had rebuild well from the Lu bout, stopping Korean Jin Su Kim, in July 2019, and then blowing out Mikado Konishi inside a round in October, on the under-card of Hiroto Kyoguchi's bout with Tetsuya Hisada.
Although a decent amateur Yuba very much fights like slightly more polished version of his father. Like Tadashi the young Kaiki is a rangy, long and tall fighter, who has solid power. He can box though often seems happier to force a fight of things, and come in behind heavy hooks, rather than really relying on his solid jab, solid but under-utilised. He looks like the sort of fighter that Watanabe gym could really polish into a fine young fighter, but it will take effort, and the gym will need to tame his aggressive tendencies to get the most from him.
Despite that sounding harsh, his father had real success being a gunslinger, and if Kaiki has half the success his father had he'll be regarded as a successful fighter. He has the natural skills to go further than his father, but will need to hone those skills to get the most from his career.
We expect Yuba to win the Youth title at the end of this month, when he faces Kanta Takenaka, and use that as a stepping stone towards bigger things, and despite his flaws and openess, it would be a massive surprise if Yuba doesn't advance from the Japanese Youth title scene to the Japanese title scene in the coming years.
When we closed out 2019 we promised to show more diversity in our "Introducing..." articles for 2020 and today we continue to uphold that, as we look at an unbeaten national champion from Korea, who is arguably the most fun to watch fighter on the planet, at least on a pound for pound basis.
This is the first time we've "introduced" a national champion, but given the state of Korean boxing it doesn't seem a bad choice, especially given just how much we enjoying watching the 19 yeah old Han Bin Suh (5-0-3, 4)
The baby faced Suh made his professional debut in 2017, just a month after he turned 17, and he has quickly become a fighter that every fan should know about. That's despite not fighting at all in 2018!
On debut, back in March 2017, Suh beat fellow debutant Sang Woo Bae inside a round, and added his second pro win with a TKO2 over Hyo Duk Oh just a few months later. Despite it being very early in his career Suh was making a name for himself based on his exciting style, that was almost a throw back to a bygone era of Korean boxing. Suh was all "punch, punch, punch". There was little finesse to what he did, but it was working and why would he mess with a winning formula?
Sadly Suh's winning formula would stop being a winning one, and after taking a narrow win over Young Chan Yoon, in a bout that showed the willingness of Korean judges to give 10-10 rounds, he would suffer his first draw. That draw, a 4 round split decision draw with China's Youngu Yu, was followed by a break of over a year, before Suh got back in the ring and fought to another draw, this time a 6 round draw with Ki Hyun Park. Incidentally these weren't just draws, but were also the first bouts Suh had at Super Bantamweight, as he dropped down in weight after starting his career with fights above the Featherweight limit.
Those draws didn't really set Suh back at all. Instead they seemed to empower him, making him realise he could set a hot pace, and keep going. He seemed to realise that his energy levels were incredibly and that he could take a shot really well, and it's that which has made him such a must watch fighter in the last year or so. He simply doesn't stop throwing punches, even when caught clean himself. He might not always throw the most effective, or the heaviest, or the cleanest of blows, but he throws so much than he simply drowns opponents in leather, like some of the top Korean's of yesteryear.
That pressure, work rate and incessant aggression from Suh saw him win the Korean Super Bantamweight title, KBM version at least, in April 2019, when he broke down Dae Young Lee in an excellent all action bout. Suh, who takes risks in his aggressive march forward, was forced to take some clean counters, but refused to let Lee build any momentum before roaring back. Lee was game, but he had the fight beaten out of him by Suh in the 8th round as the frantic pace and none stop aggression proved too much., even if he did take shots himself.
In his first defense of the KBM Super Bantamweight Suh again showed unbridled will to win and aggression as he defended the belt in a sensational bout against Jong Won Jung in July. This was an even better fight than his title win and Jung tried to go punch for punch with Suh, giving us a truly epic war with incredible levels of output from both. As with his title win Suh's defense left much to be desired, but his aggression was simply too much for Jung who was ground down, and stopped in round 8 of arguably the best Korean bout of 2019.
Suh's most recent bout saw him earn his third defense as he fought to a draw with Jong Min Jung over 10 action packed rounds. This was a bout that Suh's defensive issues were most obvious, but his chin, his work rate, his heart and desire were amazing, and he refused to lose. Jung was the better boxer, but the 32 year old was dragged into Suh's bout as it went on and Suh's work rate certainly saw him deserve a draw, at worst.
On January 18th we'll see Suh make his 4th defense, as he battles former amateur standout Dong Myung Shin. Suh in tough here against a man who ran up well over over 100 wins the the amateur ranks, but a win for the youngster is expected to net him an OPBF title fight later in the year. Getting past Shin isn't a given, but if he does we expect 2020 to be a massive year for Suh. Then again a loss for the youngster will not be the end, given just how young he is.
Although Suh is unlikely to ever be a Korean star, like the legendary names from the 1980's, he does appear to be a fighter who is inspired by the likes of Jung Koo Chang, and that is certainly not a bad thing at all!
Last October in the first round of the Knock Out Dynamite tournament one man had us incredibly intrigued prior to the show, and left us thinking "wow this guys good....and there's more to come...a lot more". That was Mongolian youngster Tuguldur Byambatsogt (1-0), who made his debut with an excellent decision win over Shusaku Fujinaka, in a bout that saw him come in just above 140lbs.
Aged just 20 at the time the Mongolian youngster looked a sensational talent, but there was little really on record about Byambatsogt before he beat Fujinaka. We could find some amateur details at the time, but not a lot, and although we were told a lot of positives in advance we were still not sure what to expect. And then we saw him easily out box Fujinaka and then slowly details emerged about just how good Byambatsogt was as an amateur, and what a bright prospect he really was.
Born the harsh realities of Mongolia in 1999 Byambatsogt had become an amateur prodigy before making his debut last year. Reports suggest that he had 106 amateur bouts and won 85 of them. We couldn't find proof of all 106 bouts, but what we could verify was very impressive and included appearances at international competitions. They included the Asian Junior Championships in 2015, the Asian Youth Championships in 2017, the Feliks Stamm Memorial in 2018 and the 2018 Konstantin Korotkov Memorial. We also found a tournament win at the 2017 Mongolian Youth National Championships.
That amateur pedigree was on show when Byambatsogt beat Fujinaka in one of the most impressive debuts in recent years. The novice Byambatsogt completely out boxed the much more experienced Fujinaka, and unlike many Mongolian fighters his style was almost entirely based on back foot boxing, movement, and the text book basics. There was none of the typical all-out Mongolian aggression, or in your face toughness, but instead just boxing, simple, effective, well schooled boxing. It wasn't ideal for the tournament format, which offered bonuses for KO's, but it was a perfect display of what the youngster could do and why we, as fans, should be interested in following him.
On January 12th we'll see Byambatsogt back in the ring in a professional contest, as he takes on the hard hitting Vladimir Baez in the final of their Knock Out Dynamite Tournament bout. A win there would almost certainly see regional promoters sniffing around him. It is however a very, very tough bout for the youngster, and is no gimme. A win would be a real statement, though it's a clear step up from the Fujinaka bout just a few short months ago.
Our final "Introducing" of 2019 isn't going to be one of our usual articles looking at a specific fighter but instead a look back at some of the fighters we've mentioned during the last 12 months, ahead of the changes we'll be making to these articles in the coming year.
Since we started this way back on January 8th we've looked at some winners, some losers and some fighters who's future isn't as clear as we'd have hoped. We won't go through all 50 fighters here, but we will talk about those who have have shined the most, and those who have disappointed the most.
The first Introducing saw us talk about Mikito Nakano, who was 1-0 (1) at the time and has since added 3 wins, all inside the distance. He has gone from a good novice into a fine prospect and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him fighting for a title in 2020.
Just a week later we spoke about Ginjiro Shigeoka, who was also 1-0 (1) and his rise has been legitimately meteoric. In just his fourth bout he claimed the WBO Asia Pacific Minimumweight title and if he picks up a win on New Year's Eve, against Rey Loreto, there is no doubt that he will be in the world title mix in 2020.
We spoke about Shokichi Iwata in week 25 and since then he has scored back to back TKO5 wins, with both of those victories coming on massive Japanese cards. The 23 year old Teiken prospect looks like he has the potential to go all the way to the top, and to do so quickly. He has shown he can box, or brawl, and whilst he may not quite have figured out his style in the ring he already looks like a special talent.
What a year Andy Hiraoka has had! We featured him in week 26, when he was then 13-0 (9) and since then he has scored the biggest win of his career, signed with Top Rank and made his US debut. The talented 140lb'der showed he could go 10, as he did in victory over Akihiro Kondo, and looked very good in his American show case in November.
Another man who has had a great year is Toshiya Ishii, who was covered in week 33. He made his debut in April, took the unbeaten record of Fumiya Fuse in August then took the Japanese Youth Bantamweight title in December. His win Fuse, who we covered in an introducing article in week 4 was impressive but his war with Ishikawa was something special and we advise all fans to give that a watch.
In week 34 we looked at Yudai Shigeoka and although he didn't debut for a few weeks after that he has shone since some much. His debut was an easy win over a Thai, but despite the ease of the win he showed so much ability, brilliant crisp punching, fantastic movement and ring IQ. He then followed that up with a win over Lito Dante and looks set to have a monstrous 2020, following in his brother's footsteps.
In week 9 we looked at Yoji Saito, who entered the year 1-1 (1) and looked like a huge punching monster. He fought twice in 2019, and went 0-0-2. Notably his first bout of the year, a draw with Aso Ishiwaki, looks very good on reflection and Ishiwaki used that bout as a great opportunity to shine, and was the focus of his own "Introducing" in week 38!
In week 17 we discussed Tsubasa Murachi and his year is a really tricky one to try and dissect. On one hand he impressed, in his win over Raymong Tabugon, and there was clearly skill and ambition with the youngster. But on the other hand he ended the year in September, following a brutal KO loss to Froilan Saludar, and the road back up to that level is going to be a rough journey for the 22 year old. Don't write him off, but he's going to have to go back to the drawing board.
Another man who is hard to get a good read on was Kai Ishizawa who may take more credit from his loss to Masataka Taniguchi in September, than most fighters take from a win. He was fantastic in defeat, he showed his toughness, his braveness, his power and his will to win. Sadly he lacked in technical areas, and Taniguchi was too good for him, but the reality is that both men came out with enhanced reputations. Sadly it was still a loss, and his one other bout this year was a blow out against an over-matched Indonesian
We love watching Christiano Aoqui, who we introduced in week 40, and despite a loss to Daishi Nagata following our article it's hard to write off the hard hitting Japanese-Brazilian, who has lost in the past and bounced back. He's never going to be a world beater but we expect him to remain in the domestic title mix next year.
Well we got that one wrong
In week 35 we spoke about the return of Teppei Kayanuma, who was supposed to fight in September. Though didn't. And we're not totally sure why. We are hoping that changes, and that he does return to the ring, but with more than 3 years since his last bout it now seems unlikely.
For week 46 we spoke about Dominique Kenshin, by this point we were trying to tweak the formula slightly and pick fighters who were in action during the week of the article, and as a result felt Kenshin was the man to cover. That was the wrong choice and he was was stopped in a round by Hiro Ichimichi. He's not fought since, and being honest he has a lot of work to do, in every part of his boxing.
Changes Will be Made
So as for 2020, "Introducing..." is changing. We are taking it more international, and instead of being exclusively Japanese fighters, as it was in 2019, we will be looking around Asia for fighters to cover. Whilst the key focus will, again, be prospects, we aren't going to be too rigid in that and we'll look at covering other fighters we find interesting as the year goes on. This could mean anyone from novice, to journeyman, fringe contender to prospects. The only fighters we'll not cover in this section are clear world level fighters. We want to shine a light on a fighter without much attention, and the hope is that we help a bring a fans attention to a fighter they aren't aware of. In 2019 we generally had good success picking our prospects, and we hope that continues in 2020.
See you in the new year for the next "Introducing...", and the next chance to see a light shined on a fighter you may not have even knew existed!
(Image credits - Kadoebi and Teiken)
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