So the new year is here! And although we've not got a lot happening in January, we do have more than we expected, with title bouts, eliminators, tournament finals and a little of everything!
Pyeongtaek, South Korea
Yoo Seung Jun (6-1) vs Seung Hee Lee (4-6, 1)
One of two KBM eliminators at 154lbs will see the once beaten Yoo Seung Jun take on Seung Hee Lee. Our understanding is that the winner here will fight for the vacant title later in the year against the winner of the other eliminator.
Sung Min Yuh (3-0) Vs Se Yul Yang (3-4-2, 1)
Talking about that other eliminator, that will see Sung Min Yuh take in Se Yul Yang. Notable if Yuh and Jun win their bouts it would be a rematch of the "Battle Royale" final from last November, and would have an interesting sub-plot of revenge or repeat, as well as being for the KBM title.
Da Won Gang (3-0, 1) Vs Jin Soo Kim (6-7-1, 3)
Another KBM eliminator will be at 140lbs where the touted Da Won Gang takes on Jin Soo Kim. The talented Gang is regarded by those in Korea as one of the countries best talents in recent years, and like Sung Min Yuh he won the "Battle Royale" last year. A win here sets him for a big 2020.
New Jersey, USA
Jaron Ennis (24-0, 22) vs Bakhtiyar Eyubov (14-1-1-1, 12)
The limited but heavy handed Bakhtiyar Eyubov, from Kazakhstan, is up against it here as he takes on touted American Jaron "Boots" Ennis in what looks likely to be a show case for the talented local hopeful.
Vladimir Baez (26-5-2, 24) vs Tuguldur Byambatsogt (1-0)
In a Knock Out Dynamite Final we'll see Japanese based Dominican slugger Vladimir Baez battle against Mongolian professional novice Tuguldur Byambatsogt. On paper a mismatch, but in reality this could be a big break out for Byambatsogt, who impressed us in his semi-final bout.
Ribo Takahata (16-8-1, 6) vs Marvin Esquierdo (15-2-1, 9)
Another final at the Knock Out Dynamite Tournament will see Japanese veteran Ribo Takahata take on Filipino foe Marvin Esquierdo. Notably Esquierdo fought in the first ever Knock Out Dynamite Tournament bout, and netted the highest bonus with an opening round win, will he look for the same here?
Shohjahon Ergashev (17-0, 15) vs Adrian Estrella (29-4, 24)
Touted Uzbek puncher Shohjahon Ergashev looks to kick in the new year as he takes on once touted Mexican Adrian Estrella. Neither of these are the most polished of fighters, but both are heavy handed and we expect this one to be short, but very explosive!
Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (12-4-1, 11) vs Kazuto Takesako (11-0-1, 11)
OPBF Middleweight champion Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa defends his belt against hard hitting Japanese national champion Kazuto Takesako. This is not expected to hear the final bell, with both men being heavy handed fighters, and will be one of the highlights of the month!
Takeshi Inoue (15-1-1, 9) vs Cheng Su (14-2-1, 8)
Former world title challenger Takeshi Inoue will be looking to defend his WBO Asia Pacific Light Middleweight title against Chinese challenger Cheng Su. Inoue, who is enjoying his second reign as the WBO Asia Pacific champion, will be looking to get a second world title shot in the near future, but needs to get past Su to keep that dream alive.
Kenia Enriquez (22-1, 9) vs Chaoz Minowa (6-2, 5)
Talking about world title fights WBC "interim" female Light Flyweight champion Kenia Enriquez will be defending her title at home in Mexico against Japanese challenger Chaoz Minowa. For Minowa this is a third crack at world level, and a loss here will likely end her hopes of ever becoming a world champion.
So we're finally through what feels like an incredibly long January, and it's time to post our first ever Monthly award winners!
Fighter of the Month
On January 26th Can Xu, from China, upset Jesus M Rojas to become the WBA "regular" Featherweight champion, that win netted him our Fighter of the Week for Week 4 2019 and saw him announce himself on the radar of many fight fans. Whether he will become the figure that Chinese boxing builds around is unclear, for now, but it's clear that this is one of the biggest ever wins for Chinese boxing, and to do it on foreign soil makes it even bigger.
Xu not only won, which was impressive by it's self but did so by out Rojasing' Rojas. He stood and traded, fought at a high tempo and forced the champion to tire down the stretch. Which is when he was particularly effective.
The win, the performance and his post fight interview, where he explained his power came from China, made him a fan favourite and it's clear that he will be welcomed back in the US in the future.
Fight of the Month
Can Xu Vs Jesus M Rojas
There was stiff competition for Fight of the Month, with Takeshi Inoue Vs Jaime Munguia and Kenshin Oshima Vs Ikura Sadatsune and Jian Wang Vs Seong Yeong Yang all being great fights. The winner however was the Can Xu Vs Jesus M Rojas fight, which was high Octane from the start to the end. It did, perhaps, lack the drama needed for a true Fight of the Year candidate, but it's the best we've had this year, and yes we know we are only in February now but it was a very enjoyable contest.
The tempo that was set was great, the momentum shifts, with Rojas starting fast, Xu coming into the bout, Rojas having a big 9th round, then Xu come back on strong, made it something that you couldn't take your eyes off of.
It seemed early on like Rojas was going to get Xu out of there. He looked too strong and too powerful, he then began to tire and Xu's punches too over as his toughness saw him staying up through the storm. What a great fight, and a great coming out party for Xu, who may prove to be one of the most TV friendly fighters out there.
KO of the Month
Mikhail Lesnikov KO1 Afrizal Tamboresi
There hasn't been many true KO's in Asian Boxing this month, but there was a really brutal one that stood out, and that was Mikhail Lesnikov's brutal knockout out of Indonesian journeyman Afrizal Tamboresi. The match was a disgusting mismatch, with Lesnikov being far too big for Tamboresi, and that was compounded by the fact Tamboresi had been numerous times prior to this contest. A disgusting mismatch that ended in brutal fashion, though credit to Lesnikov for not prolonging the beating of Tamboresi.
The bout it's self leads us to wondering why Tamboresi's team would throw him into such a mismatch but that's not really relevant to the discussion at hand.
We had a really good selection of prospects in action this month including Vikas Krishan, who made his debut, Li Xiang, who shined in China and Sadriddrin Akhmedov. For us the most impress was unheralded ArAr Andales.
We all know how good Akhmedov and Krishan were as amateurs, they were expected to win, and win good, Andales on the other hand was a bit of a mystery, an unknown teenager taking a notable step up in class. Despite the step up he stopped Charlie Malugpangue, his first stoppage win in 6 bouts.
Can Xu Vs Jesus M Rojas
We won't go into this too much, given the bout has already been mentioned twice, but Xu entered as a 5/1 under-dog across the British betting markets and still secured the win. A big win and a bit betting surprise.
Shin Ono Vs Norihito Tanaka (Round 6)
Stream live on Boxing Raise the Japanese Minimumweight title bout between Shin Ono and Norhito Tanaka is likely to be the start of the end for Ono's career. It was however a gutsy performance from the Watanabe man, who knew he was behind after 5 rounds and put everything in to trying to turn the bout around. He put in an incredible effort in round 6, but was unable to damage Tanaka, who would see him off the following round to claim the Japanese title.
The round was a brilliant see saw round, that saw Ono upping his pace and Tanaka refusing to release his grip on the bout. A fantastic 3 minutes of action!
Whilst Ono's career is unlikely to last too much longer, given his age and accumulated damage, this was a fantastic way to go out. As for Tanaka he has finally won a big one and will likely see himself defending the belt in the Spring.
After a slow start January picks up in the middle of the month, as we get a host of notable fighters in action.
Manny Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39) Vs Adrien Broner (33-3-1-1, 24) - WBA Welterweight title
One of the first world title fights with an Asian fighter in this coming year will be a WBA "regular" Welterweight title fight, as Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao defends his title against 4-weight champion Adrien Broner. For Pacquiao's it's a chance to show that his win over Lucas Matthysse wasn't just a case of getting the Argentinian puncher at the right time, and to take a huge step towards a potential rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr. For Broner this is another chance, one of many, to show that he is as good as the early hype suggested. Broner has been, for the most part, a disappointment, known more for his personality than his boxing. If Broner can perform to his best, this could be very interesting. If Broner instead fights within himself, this could be very forgetable.
Jhack Tepora (22-0, 17) Vs Hugo Ruiz (38-4, 33) - WBA "interim" Featherweight title
Prior to the Pacquiao Vs Broner fight we'll see another Filipino looking to establish their reign as WBA "interim" Featherweight champion Jhack Tepora takes on Mexican Hugo Ruiz. Both of these men are heavy handed, hard hitting and exciting fighters, suggesting we'll be given an explosive contest here. Tepora is the more wild fighter here, but is a natural Featherweight. Ruiz is technically the stronger fighter, he understands the ring more and has the better ring IQ. He also has the more suspect chin and has been stopped at the lower weights. Interestingly Ruiz is the much taller and longer man, despite having first made his name at Bantamweight.
Shingo Wake (25-5-2, 17) Vs Takafumi Nakajima (29-11-1, 13)II
Japan's Shingo Wake has lost twice in the last 9 years, one of those was to Jonathan Guzman, in an IBF title fight, and the other was to Japanese domestic fighter Takafumi Nakajima. Now Wake gets a chance to avenge that loss to Nakajima, more than 6 years after it happened, as the two face off for the second time. A win for Wake is expected, as he continues his charge towards a second world title fight, however Nakajima will feel like this is a huge opportunity to get a second win over Wake, and give his career a huge shot in the arm. A possible mismatch, but one with some history behind it!
Reiya Abe (18-2, 9) Vs Daisuke Sugita (4-0, 3)
On the same card in Tokyo fight fans will also see world ranked Featherweight Reiya Abe, as he takes on former amateur stand out Daisuke Sugita. The talented Abe has been on an excellent run, since losing in early 2015 to Shingo Kusano. He hasn't just avenged the loss to Kusano but also strung together solid wins over the likes of Ryo Hino, Tsuyoshi Tameda and Satoshi Hosono. Sugita is taking a huge step up in class here, but is highly touted following his amateur career and his team are certainly not wanting to protect him. This could be a very interesting technical show case between two very talented fighters.
Jung Kyoung Lee (6-2-1, 2) Vs Samuel Colomban(25-10-1, 11)
Korean fans will get the chance to see local hopeful Jung Kyoung Lee take on veteran Samuel Colomban in a bout for the vacant OPBF Light Middleweight title. It's been a while since we've seen a Korean fighter fighting for an OPBF title so this bout will get attention on that basis, it will also get attention due to the fact it's the first card under the Annihilation banner, which has been formed by several MMA promotions working with the KBF. Lee is taking a huge step up here, but Colomban has seen better days and it's hard to know what he really has left to offer the sport. This should be a pretty interesting match without being anything huge.
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