It's fair to say that December is the best month of the year and over the next 2 weeks or so we are getting a great run of fights up to Christmas, with several notable names and big shows set to take place all over the world.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Ryoji Fukunaga (12-4, 12) vs Kenta Nakagawa (19-3-1, 12)
In a bout for all the regional and domestic marbles at 115lbs we'll see JBC champion Kenta Nakagawa battle WBO Asia Pacific champion Ryoji Fukunaga, with two title the men hold, as well as the OPBF title, up for grabs. The two men are a long way behind world class, but against each other they are very well matched, and both men can punch, so this should be a genuinely thrilling shoot out. A very hard one to call and a potentially very exciting match up, with both men being hurt.
Hiroki Okada (19-2, 13) vs Izuki Tomioka (7-3-1, 2)
The out of form Hiroki Okada returns to a Japanese ring for the first time since May 2018 as he takes on the talented and slick Izuki Tomioka. Coming in to this Okada has lost his last 2, by stoppage, in the US and will known that a loss to a domestic foe could spell the end of his career. Tomioka, who is in his early 20's, has proven to be a very talented and tricky fighter, but very much a work in progress and has lost his 3 biggest bouts to date. Style wise this is a very interesting match up and it really could go either way, depending on how Okada is mentally following his recent set backs.
Mikio Sakai (2-0) vs Toshihiro Kai (6-11-3, 2)
It's not often we get to talk about Japanese Middleweights so with that in mind we felt it was worthy of giving this bout some attention. Mikio Sakai was a former Japanese amateur standout who has looked very good since turning professional. He'll be strongly backed to pick up win #3 here against the limited and somewhat fragile Kai, who has been stopped a number of times recently. Given the lack of depth on the Japanese scene at Middleweight a win here would likely leave Sakai only a fight or two away from a domestic title bout.
December 16th -
Aidos Yerbossynuly (14-0, 9) vs Issah Samir (19-0, 16)
Unbeaten Kazakh hopeful Aidos Yerbossynuly looks to extend his unbeaten record and take another step towards a potential world title bout as he takes on fellow unbeaten Issah Samir, from Ghana. This bout will see Yerbossynuly defending a number of minor titles and taking on his most dangerous foe to date, with Samir certainly being able to puncher and boasting an unbeaten record of his own. Although Yerbossynuly is stepping up it's also fair to state that Samir is taking on his toughest test to date, and will be doing so as the under-dog, in his first bout outside of Ghana. On paper one of the most attractive bouts in this pre-Christmas period.
Bek Nurmaganbet (2-0, 1) vs Emmanuel Danso (32-5, 26)
Touted Kazakh hopeful Bek Nurmaganbet fights for the third time this year as he takes on Emmanuel Danso, who like Samir is from Ghana. Danso has an imposing looking record and looks like a real danger man for the unbeaten 22 year old Kazakh former amateur standout. On paper a major test. Sadly however looking beneath the numbers Danso is perhaps a calculated risk and the "Kwahu Tyson" has been stopped in 4 of his 5 losses and has come up short every time he's left Africa for a bout. Despite, probably, being a mismatch it is worth noting that Danso has shared the ring with Umar Salamov, Ruslan Fayfer, Feng Manlong and Robin Krasniqi, so Nurmaganbet will be able to compare himself to some notable contenders after just 3 professional bouts.
Bekzad Nurdauletov (1-0, 1) vs Kabiru Towolawi (13-2, 10)
The sensationally talented Bekzad Nurdauletov returns to the ring for his second professional bout as he takes on Nigerian 40 year old Kabiru Towolaw. On paper this is another bout that looks dangerous until you dig below the numbers and realise that Towolawi hasn't beaten a fighter with a winning record, though has proven to be tough. We expect to see nothing other than an easy win for the Kazakh here, who will likely be looking for a second stoppage win.
Microsoft Theater, Los Angeles, California, USA
Eumir Marcial (0-0) Vs Andrew Whitfield (3-1, 2)
Talented Filipino amateur standout Eumir Marcial will kick start his professional career as he takes on fellow professional novice Andrew Whitfield in a scheduled 4 rounder. Marcial is tipped for an Olympic medal at the Tokyo games and has turned professional to staty busy and get some rounds under his belt before the Olympics, and a subsequent full professional career. Whitfield shouldn't be much of a test, but will be there looking to pick up a win upset the very highly regarded Pinoy pugilist.
December 17th -
Wild Card Boxing, Los Angeles, California, USA
Madiyar Ashkeyev (14-0, 7) Vs Charles Conwell (13-0, 10)
Staying on the subject of Kazakh's the unbeaten Madiyar Ashkeyev takes a major step up in class he faces fellow unbeaten Charles Conwell on December 17th's edition of Ring City, the brilliant new idea to put on events with 50-50 match ups in the US with out promotional bias. Similar in some ways to some of the DANGAN cards in Japan. This is a really mouth watering bout with the 32 year old Ashkeyev now being given a chance to sink or swim. Conwell is a very highly regarded American prospect and a win here will shoot the 23 year old to within touching distance of a world title fight. A fantastic match up and one we are really looking forward to. In fact we're really looking forward to following the Ring City project in general as it's a brilliant concept.
December 18th -
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Hollywood, Florida, USA
Gennady Golovkin (40-1-1, 35) vs Kamil Szeremeta (21-0, 5)
Remaining on the subject of Kazakh fighters, the biggest name in Kazakh boxing returns as Gennady Golovkin looks to defend the IBF Middleweight title against relatively unknown Polish challenger Kamil Szeremeta. We are of the opinion that Golovkin is a shadow of the fighter he once was, but at 38 he's only coming down the other side of the hill, and has got tot he bottom yet. With that in mind we suspect he'll be too big, too strong and too powerful for Szeremeta. On the other hand Golovkin has been in tough fights recently and they are clearly taking a toll on him, with numerous injuries in recent years. This should be an easy one, but if he struggles we suspect Golovkin will consider 2021 as his final in the sport.
Ali Akhmedov (16-0, 12) vs Carlos Gongora (18-0, 13)
Another Kazakh on this card will be Ali akhmedov, who is in a really interesting looking match up against Ecuador's Carlos Gongora. The exciting Kazakh has run out his record to 16-0 but hasn't really been tested since his 2016 debut, with his toughest bouts being a wide 8 round decision win over Mike Guy and a wide 10 round decision over DeShon Webster. Gongora on the other hand was a 2-time Olympian who competed 3 times in the World Amateur Championships, but has sadly been matched very softly since turning professional. Gongora certainly has the amateur pedigree to suggest he's a talent, but the 31 year old has been matched even softer than Akhmedov. For both men this is a step up in class, and one that feels over-due for both fighters.
Hyun Mi Choi (17-0-1, 4) vs TBA
Unbeaten Korean Hyun Mi Choi makes her international debut though at the time of writing her opponent is unknown. She was originally slated to be rematching Mexican foe Jessica Gonzalez, though it appears that Choi's team have had to look elsewhere for an opponent and have seemingly offered the opportunity to vocal fighter who made it clear the offer wasn't suitable for her. Sadly what should have been a chance for Choi to increase her international profile has seen her become the latest fighter to sign with Matchroom and have her opponent be a mystery. Sadly this is becoming a trend with Matchroom in the both the UK and the USA
December 19th -
Mohegan Sun Casino, USA
Nonito Donaire (40-6, 26) Vs Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-1, 12)
On December 19th Filipino boxing legend Nonito Donaire will face off with Emmanuel Rodriguez for the vacant WBC Bantamweight title. Originally we were supposed to see Donaire battle Nordine Oubaali, but Oubaali has contracted Covid19, forcing him to pull out of this bout and be given the WBC "champion in recess" tag and leaving the WBC title vacant. Interestingly Donaire and Rodriguez were both last seen in the ring losing to Naoya Inoue, though in very different fashion, with Donaire last 12 rounds with Inoue and Rodriguez being blasted early on. Donaire will be the favourite, but it's going to be interesting to see just how much the 38 year "Filipino Flash" has left more than a year removed from his excellent performance against Inoue in the WBSS final.
Reymart Gaballo (23-0, 20) Vs Jose Velasquez (28-6-2, 19)
On the same show as Donaire Vs Roodriguez we get another interesting Bantamweight bout as unbeaten Pinoy puncher Reymart Gaballo takes on Chilean veteran Jose Velasquez in a bout for the WBA "interim" Bantamweight title. For Gaballo this is a chance to become a 2-time "interim" champion, having won the title in 2018 with a win over Stephon Young, though his first reign lead nowhere. For Velasquez this is a huge match up and his first shot at any form of a world title. On paper Gaballo is the favourite, but his wild, free swinging aggression may get him in some trouble against his tough Chilean foe.
Olive Convention Centre, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Moruti Mthalane (39-2, 26) vs Jayson Mama (15-0, 8)
The final big fight before Christmas sees us focusing on South Africa as unbeaten Filipino fighter Jayson Mama challenges Moruti Mthalane for the IBF Flyweight title. The 23 year old Pinoy is really taking a huge leap up in class here, going from bouts against faded contenders, like Fahlan Sakkreerin, and domestic fighters, like Dexter Alimento, up to genuine world class. Mthalane, now aged 38, is certainly fighting father time, but the "Babyface" has defied age over and over. Interestingly this will be Mthalne's first bout in his home town and we do wonder if he plans to wave good bye to the sport, win or lose, with a chance to bow out on top at home. Notably it has been almost a year since Mthalane beat Akira Yaegashi in Yokohama and we do wonder if age and ring rust will be an issue against a young and hungry fighter like Mama.
Whilst February certainly didn't start quickly it does get going in the second half of the month with a flurry of fights taking place with Asian fighters involved.
Shuichiro Yoshino (11-0, 9) Vs Izuki Tomioka (7-2-1, 2) -
In the headline bout of a Dimond Glove card in Tokyo we'll see Japanese Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino defending his title again mandatory challenger Izuki Tomioka in the second of this year's Champion carnival bouts. For Yoshino this is expected to be a test of his technical boxing skills, as Tomioka is a genuinely talented boxer-mover. On the other hand Tomioka is taking on, arguably, his toughest opponent to date and did come up short in his last bout at this type of level.
Daigo Higa (15-1, 15) Vs Jason Buenaobra (7-4-3, 3)
After almost 2 years away from the ring former world champion Daigo Higa returns, and takes on rugged Filipino foe Jason Buenaobra. This should be a win for Higa, but we expect him to be very emotional, and he is going up against someone who has never been stopped before, so he will have to work hard for the win. It's also worth noting that Buenaobra is the naturally bigger man and will not be there looking to just make up the numbers.
Froilan Saludar (31-3-1, 22) Vs Ryoji Fukunaga (11-4, 11)
Filipino Froilan Saludar returns to Japan to make his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title, as he battles hard hitting, but technically limited, Japanese challenger Ryuji Fukunaga. On paper this looks like it could be very explosive, and we wouldn't be surprised at all with the bout ending early. Fukunaga hasn't been able to show his power when he has faced his toughest opponents, and Saludar is certainly among the best opponents that he has faced.
Yuki Nakajima (3-1, 3) Vs Shisui Kawabata (2-1, 2)
In a mouth watering clash of young prospects we'll see Yuki Nakajima take on Shisui Kawabata. On paper this doesn't look like one that will get fans outside of Japan too excited, but given the skills of the two men we are really excited by this one. Nakajima, the younger brother of Kazuki Nakajima, is a former amateur standout and made a real mark on the domestic amateur scene whilst Kawabata has been used as a sparring partner by Naoya, showing the quality that he has shared the ring with. We expect this to be very, very good.
Ryota Yamauchi (5-1, 4) Vs MJ Bo (8-3-2, 4)
World ranked Japanese fighter Ryota Yamauchi looks to build on August's win over Alphoe Dagayloan. Sadly Yamauchi's win over Dagayloan cost him a Japanese title eliminator, due to the injuries he suffered in that bout, and he'll be lookign to make up for it in 2020. MJ Bo, from the Philippines was stopped last time he fought in Japan, by Yuta Nakayama, but is a capable opponent and should ask questions of Yamauchi.
Emanuel Navarrete (30-1, 26) vs Jeo Santisima (19-2, 16)
Mexican fighter Emanuel Navarrete looks to make his fifth defense of the WBO Super Bantamweight title as he takes on Filipino challenger Jeo Santisima. The bout is expected to be a mismatch by many, especially given Navarrete's run since winning the title in late 2018. The champion is seen a real monster in the Super Bantamweight division and will come into the bout full of confidence. Although the 23 Santisima isn't well known outside of the Philippines he is riding a 17 fight winning run and has stopped 15 of those, so he certainly enters with a punchers chance, if nothing else.
Riku Nagahama (11-2-1, 4) Vs Kudura Kaneko (11-0, 8)
Unbeaten Japanese-Afghan fighter Kudura Kaneko looks to extend his perfect record as he goes up against the talented Riku Nagahama in a bout for the vacant OPBF Welterweight title. Although neither of these two are well known outside of Japan the bout is a significant one and the winner will see their hopes of landing a big international fight given a huge shot in the arm. Of the two Nagahama has faced better competition, but has lost in his 2 most notable bouts, whilst Kaneko looks to be a fighter on the rise. A very interesting clash.
Jae Woo Lee (7-2, 6) Vs Shingo Kusano (12-8-1, 5)
Potentially the hidden gem for the month is a clash between Jae Woo Lee and Shingo Kusano, who clash in one of the two Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament semi finals. The little known Lee made fans sit up and take note last November, when he stopped Tsuyoshi Tameda in a thrilling little war. Shingo Kusano also thrilled when he fought on the same November card, pulling himself off the canvas and battling back through some real scares against Qiang Ma. Expect this one to be exciting, and not to go the distance.
Richard Pumicpic (21-10-2, 6) Vs Daisuke Watanabe (9-4-2, 6)
The other Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament semi final bout will see Filipino veteran Richard Pumicpic battle Japanese foe Daisuke Watanabe. This has the potential to be very exciting, or a total mess. Both guys like to let their hands go but with 6 technical decisions between them there's a real risk of headbutts derailing the fight. Fingers crossed the heads don't come in to contact too often and we instead get a bit of a thriller!
The last week of October isn't a crazy one in terms of big fights, but is a very good in terms of noteworthy fights, with a world title bout, a Japanese world title bout a bunch of Japanese title eliminators, several notable prospects and a very good cross roads fight.
Wanheng Menayothin (53-0, 18) vs Simpiwe Konkco (19-5, 7) - Thailand
On Friday October 25th we'll see WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin make his next defense, as he takes on mandatory challenger Simpiwe Konkco from Aouth Africa. The unbeaten Thai is the longest reigning active champion, and whilst his competition, overall, hasn't been great this is a solid defense against a very under-rated challenger. Sadly Wanheng's best wins so far have come against the likes of Tatsuya Fukuhara and Pedro Taduran and he lacks consistency, so a win here will bolster his standing before a potential US debut. For Konkco the bout is a second world title shot a win would put him on the map, big time.
Sadriddin Akhmedov (9-0, 8) vs Johnny Navarrete (33-15-2, 15) - Quebec, Canada
Hard hitting Kazakh prospect Sadriddin Akhmedov fights for the first time as a married man as he takes on Mexican veteran Johnny Navarrete. The hard hitting Akhmedov will be strongly favoured here, and is expected to blow through the Mexican in terms to return for a December card at the Bll Centre. To dat Akhmedov has squeezes 3 fights and his weeding into 2019 and is a busy boy, but given his natural talent, and power, we have no reason to think this will be anything short of a blow out.
Kazuki Tanaka (11-2, 8) Vs Kyosuke Sawada (13-2-1, 6) - Tokyo, Japan
In a very even looking Japanese Bantamweight title eliminator we'll see the aggressive Kazuki Tanaka take on the skilled and smart Kyosuke Sawada. This pits puncher against boxer and should be a very interesting match up between two talented fighters with very different in ring mindsets. We expect Tanaka to press and Sawada try to keep behind his his jab, though we have seen Sawada dragged into a fight before and sooner or later we expect this one to break out into a war.
Hinata Maruta (9-1-1, 7) Vs Takenori Ohashi (17-5-2, 11) - Tokyo, Japan
The wonderfully smooth Hinata Maruta takes on the former Japanese Featherweight champion Takenori Ohashi in a Japanese Featherweight title eliminator. Although very talented Maruta has faltered in his biggest bout to date, losing a competitive decision to veteran Hidenori Otake in an OPBF title match, but has bounced back with some impressive results and will be looking to build on his recent wins over Tsuyoshi Tameda and Coach Hiroto. On the other hand Ohashi is no slouch, and whilst technicall he's slow and clunky he has lights out power, and is a danger through out a bout. This really is boxer against puncher in what could turn out to be the gem of the Japanese title eliminators taking place on October 26th.
Kazuki Saito (7-1, 5) Vs Izuki Tomioka (6-2-1, 2) - Tokyo, Japan
Another Japanese title eliminator will be taking place at Lightweight and will see the talented, but somewhat chinny, Kazuki Saito take on the skilled, but light hitting, Izuki Tomioka. This is a bout that pits two men who have real potential, but big flaws, against each other. Saito is a joy to watch offensively, but his durability issues cannot be ignored, and he has been down in a number of fights and we do worry about him whenever he's caught. Izuki gave Masayoshi Nakatani fights in a 2018 bout for the OPBF Lightweight title, but looked worried against Shuya Masaki just a few months later. Izuki is an excellent and fighter, but his lack of stopping power is a major question mark, even at this level.
Keita Obara (21-4-1, 19) Vs Toshiro Tarumi (12-3-3, 6) - Tokyo, Japan
Former world title challenger Keita Obara drops back down to domestic level for a Japanese Welterweight title eliminator against Toshiro Tarumi. Obara has proven to not be world class, but isn't too far behind and bouts against the likes of Kudratillo Abdukakhorov have shown some of his limitations. Despite that Obara has still only ever been beaten by 1 Japanese opponent, and that was on his debut. Tarumi is a solid domestic fighter, but this is a massive step up in class for him, and we suspect it's too much too soon for him. Tarumi lacks the power needed to get Obara's respect and isn't sharp enough to be able to replicate Abdukakhorov's gameplan.
Wenfeng Ge (11-1, 6) Vs Kompayak Porpramook (60-7, 41) - Chongqing, China
Chinese 32 year old Wenfeng Ge looks to bounce back from a loss in January to Giemel Magramo, which saw him being stopped in the 10th round. The Chinese fighter will be taking on former WBC Light Flyweight world champion Kompayak Porpramook, a 37 year old Thai who has been in some amazing bouts during his long career. We suspect the local fighter will have the energy and speed to avoid an all out tear up with Porpramook, but the Thai never stops trying and we'd expect at least some exciting exchanges here in a bout both men will see as a must win.
Seigo Yuri Akui (13-2-1, 9) vs Shun Kosaka (16-5, 4) - Okayama, Japan
In a bout to crown a new Japanese Flyweight champion we'll see the exciting Seigo Yuri Akui battle the rugged Shun Kosaka. So far we've seen both of these two lose to their best opponents, in fact both share a loss to Junto Nakatani, but they should make for a very interesting domestic title bout, with Akui's quick start and intense aggression being matched against Kosaka's toughness. If Akui can take out Kosaka early this would be very impressive, however the longer it goes the more and more Kosaka's toughness will play a part. A very interesting match up and one that feels very hard to call.
Shu Utsuki (5-0, 4) vs Somphot Seesa (4-2, 4) - Tokyo, Japan
Fast rising Japanese hopeful Shu Utsuki looks to continue his rapid rise as he takes on Thai foe Somphot Seesa. On paper this is, arguably, Utsuki's easiest bout to date and it has a "stay busy" feel to it for the hard hitting Watanabe gym fighter. Seesa has a bit of experience but he was stopped in both of his previous visits to Japan, to Daisuke Sugita and Ren Sasaki, and it's hard to imagine him lasting long with Utsuki here.
Yudai Shigeoka (0-0) vs Manop Audomphanawari (3-2, 3) - Tokyo, Japan
Former amateur standout Yudai Shigeoka, the older brother of Ginjiro Shigeoka, makes his professional as he takes on Thai foe Manop Audomphanawari. In reality this should be a simple win for Shigeoka, but we're looking forward to seeing him in the ring and seeing his rise, especially given the incredibly quick rise of his brother.
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