Although the Filipino scene seemed to sleep walk though much of 2019 the country has a lot of excellent fighters, who are only a win or two away from getting a big fight. One of the most promising is the unbeaten Jade Bornea (14-0, 10), who is the focus of this week's "Who are you?" ahead of his US debut at the end of the month.
The talented Bornea has been known on the Asian scene for years. Well before his 2014 professional debut, following a very notable and successful amateur career. That amateur career saw him turn professional with big expectations on his shoulders, and he is, step by step, getting close to the big nights that the Filipino fight fans have long been anticipating for him.
The young Bornea really burst on the the scene in 2012, when he claimed a bronze meal at the 2012 AIBA World Youth Championships, losing to Murodjon Akhmadaliev in the semi-final. That had followed a runner's up place in the final of the junior's at Philippines National Championships.
In 2013 Bornea claimed gold at Kuala Lumpur City Day Boxing Tournament, in January, he then impressed by winning the Asian Youth Championships in March of that year, beating Kosei Tanaka in the final. Bornea's amateur success continued in 2014, when he took home a bronze medal at the Agong Cup in Malaysia and a bronze at the Philippines National Games.
In late 2014 Bornea turned professional and after 3 low key wins he stopped up, beating the then unbeaten Salatiel Amit just 9 months after his debut. His team seemed unsure whether they wanted to fast track him, or give him time to mature, and after the good win of Amit he was matched with two over matched opponents who were both blown away. Thankfully Bornea stepped up again in early 2017, beating Raul Yu for the IBF Youth Super Flyweight title. It seemed like his team were ready to push him, but instead the rest of 2017 was filled with mismatch, and Borenai would stop his next 3 opponents in a combined 8 rounds.
With his career continuing to be a case of getting a big win, then facing some limited opponents, it seemed hard for Bornea to really build much moment. That was seen again in 2018, when he beat Danrick Sumabong, for the WBO Oriental Youth Super Flyweight title then faced back to back limited opponents. Things got even more frustrating in 2019 when he fought just once, stopping Jonathan Francisco inside a round. Thankfully whilst he was inactive in terms of fights he was getting good ring time in sparring, and sparred with Naoya Inoue in August when Inoue was preparing for Nonito Donaire.
At the end of January, on January 30th, Bornea takes on his most interesting test to date, as he battles the unbeaten Ernesto Delgadillo in a bout for the NABF Super Flyweight title. A win there will boost Borena's world title hopes significantly as we head deeper into the year. At the time of writing he is already world ranked, but needs a big win to make some noise, after what has been a rather frustrating run at home so far. A win over Delgadillo is not a given, but it's a chance, at last, for the "Hurricane" to really kick start things.
For those who haven't seen Bornea in action the Filipino is a talented and technically solid fighter, who has a tight guard, throws a nice variety of shots and has shown the ability to fight out of either stance. Although technically sound we don't think we've really seen the best of of Bornea yet, who hasn't had the competition, or the level of activity against good competition, to really know how good he is. One thing we have seen however is that when he's under pressure he does know how to fight offf the back foot and looks like he has very solid balance and combinations. Just a shame he's not had the competition to truly show what he can do...yet.
Whilst much of the action in early to mid-January was spaced out the end of January really sees things coming in at us thick and fast with a lot happening in the final week of the month, including some top unbeaten prospects, world, Japanese youth and Japanese female title fights and a tournament final!
Batyrzhan Jukembayev (17-0-0-1, 13) Vs Maximiliano Ricardo Veron (12-3-1, 4)
Talented Canadian based-Kazakh hopeful Batyrzhan Jukembayev looks to kick his 2020 off in style when he meets 31 year old Argentinian fighter Maximiliano Ricardo Veron. A win for the Kazakh will move him a step closer to a potential world title fight later in the year, and will see him defending minor WBA and IBF titles.
Yumiko Shimooka (4-7, 1) vs Yumi Narita (3-4-3, 1)
On paper not something to be raving about, but Yumiko Shimooka and Yumi Narita will face off in the hope of crowning a new Japanese Female Minimumweight champion. The title was vacated by former champion Mizuki Chimoto, and whilst neither of these two are stellar fighters they should make for an interesting bout all the same.
Kazuki Nakajima (8-0, 7) vs Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0, 4)
One of the real standout bouts for Asia this month is the God's Left Bantamweight final, pitting unbeaten punchers Kazuki Nakajima and Seiya Tsutsumi against each other. This should be a very explosive bout, that could be a blink and you miss it affair. Both can bang, both have some question marks about their defense, both were solid amateurs and both will be looking to claim the God's Left crown. If you have Boxing Raise this is really the one you need to catch this month!
Ayaka Miyao (23-8-1, 6) Vs Etsuko Tada (19-3-2, 6)
Former female world champion Ayaka Miyao and Etsuko Tada clash for the vacant WBO Female Minimumweight title, which was vacated by Kasumi Saeki. Miyao is coming into the bout looking to become a 2-weight world champion, having previously reigned at Atomweight, whilst Tada is looking to reclaim the WBO title, the she previously vacated. This should be a very fan friendly bout between two women who like to let their hands go, and have styles that should work well together, with Miyao being a speed boxer-mover and Tada being someone who will apply pressure behind her volume.
Kaiki Yuba (6-0-2, 4) vs Kanta Takenaka (7-4-1, 2)
Second generation fighter Kaiki Yuba looks to claim his first title as he takes on Kanta Takenaka for the vacant Japanese Youth Lightweight title. Yuba's father, the legendary Tadashi Yuba, was a 5-weight Japanese national champion and dubbed "Mr Korakuen" due to his success as the Korakuen Hall. There is pressure on the 21 year old Kaiki but he should have too much for the tough but limited Takenaka here.
Kanako Taniyama (2-0-1, 1) vs Tomoko Okuda (5-2-2, 1) II
Another Japanese female title should see a champion being crowned as Kanako Taniyama and Tomoko Okuda battle for the second time, with the stakes being the Japanese female Bantamweight title. These two fought to a draw last year, with Taniyama somewhat unlucky not to pick up the win, and we expect another interesting contest this time around. Taniyama was the aggressive, front foot fighter whilst Okuda relied on keeping things long, making for an interesting dynamic that we expect to be repeated here. Could be a bit of a hidden gem here.
Daniel Roman (27-2-1, 10) vs Murodjon Akhmadaliev (7-0, 6)
The highest profile bout for an Asian fighter in January is an obvious choice, as unbeaten Uzbek Murodjon Akhmadaliev takes on WBA "Super" and IBF Super Bantamweight champion Daniel Roman, in a truly mouth watering clash. These two were supposed to fight last year, before Roman suffered an injury in training. For Roman a win would continue an excellent run, which has seen him beat Shun Kubo, Ryo Matsumoto and TJ Doheny, and help stamp him as the #1 fighter in the division. For Akhmadaliev a win would be a huge statement from him, and from Uzbek boxing. Stylistically this is very interesting, with the fighters having styles that should gel, and very significant. One to be very excited about.
Jade Bornea (14-0, 10) vs Ernesto Delgadillo (11-0-2, 2)
Unbeaten Filipino fighter Jade Bornea features in his international debut at the end of the month when he takes on American for Ernesto Delgadillo in a bout for the NABF Super Flyweight title. The fight should tell us a lot about what both men have in their lockers and the winner will find themselves in the mix for a world title fight later in the year.
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