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.
The Filipino boxing scene is a rather perplexing one at times. It's big names are huge, and every fight fan has heard of the Manny Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire, Jerwin Ancajas and Johnriel Casimero. Sadly outside of the top, top Filipino fighters however there isn't too much fanfare or attention, and even top Filipino world title contenders don't get much attention, never mind the prospects.
One of the many prospects making their mark on the Filipino and looking to advance his career, later this year, is the talented and unbeaten Jayson Mama (15-0, 8). He's a 23 year old Flyweight who is dubbed the "Smasher" and is marching through the ranks, heading towards a regional title. His name might not be well known in the West, but he's one to keep an eye on going forward.
Mama was making a name for himself way back in 2014 when he was still an amateur, alongside twin brother Jerven Mama. Both of the brothers began training at the Sanman Gym and just a year later Jayson impressed at the 2015 Palarong Pambansa, winning a gold medal. He would impress at Mindanao qualifying leg of the Philippines National Games, but decided to turn professional instead of continuing on with his amateur career.
In early 2016 Mama made his professional debut and stopped fellow debutant Romel Padayhag in 2 rounds on a card that also featured Romero Duno, Reymart Gaballo and Robert Paradero. Just weeks later Mama beat Roland Jay Biendima, who recently gave Kento Hatanaka a good fight, by decision over 4 rounds. Mama would continue with a busy schedule through 2016 and by the end of the year he had gone 5-0 (2), with a good 6 round decision win over Joash Jordan in June.
Despite the busy first year to his professional career Mama was a lot less active in 2017, though he did tick off some other firsts. His first bout of the year saw him going 8 rounds for the first time, beating Jeffrey Alejandre over the distance. He also notched wins over some experienced opponents, in the form of Bimbo Nacionales and Rodel Tejares. Neither of those fighters are big names, or even good fighters, but they are experienced foes.
In 2018 we saw Mama continue taking strides in his career. He began the year stopping Michael Camelion in 9 rounds, the longest bout of his career up to this point, and claimed the WBO Oriental Youth title, the first title of his career. A rather low key in the middle of the year was then followed by Mama's international debut, as he went to Macau and beat Yinhuan Su with a 10 round decision, ticking off another achievement that a prospect should always look to do before a major fight.
The win over Su served another purpose, as well as being a 10 rounder. The bout was also a qualifying bout for one of the IBF Silk Road tournament finals, and lead to Mama booking a place on a 2019 show in China. On that 2019 Chinese show he took on former world title challenger Fahlan Sakkreerin, and Mama easily out outboxed Fahlan, taking a wide and clear decision, whilst boosting himself towards a world title fight.
A win over Fahlan, in Mama's 12th professional bout, was a reason to sit up and take note. That was then followed by another notable win just a few weeks later when he stopped former world champion Kwanthai Sithmorseng, in what looked like a bit of a quit job from the 36 year old Thai. Thankfully the win over Kwanthai was easily forgotten and Mama's next win came against decent domestic foe Dexter Alimento.
Aged just 21 as we entered 2020 Mama was starting to get some buzz among the hardcore fans, and momentum was building behind him. Sadly that momentum has been slowed, understandably, by the on going global situation in the world right now. It was also slowed before boxing was put on hold, due to a rather meaningless stay busy fight against Reymark Taday in February. A bout that served no purpose for Mama.
In the ring Mama is a fighter who looks natural as a fighter. He looks calm, composed, relaxed and despite having areas to work on he does have a lot to like. He has nice hand speed, a very solid boxing brain and looks like one of those fighters who picks shots well. There are areas to improve on, but with Sanman behind him he has a very good team, who will work on his flaws and and help prepare him for some big fights in the coming years.
Mama might not be a big name yet, but he is a fighter with the potential to be a big star in the future. Expect to see his developing well over the next few years and eventually working his way to a world title fight in a few years time. He has the potential to go a long way, and now just needs experience and the time to mature.
After a truly hectic May, which has had big fights littered through the month, we drop back to reality in June as the schedule almost tails off completely and we sort of struggle to get too excited about too much taking place over the coming weeks. Thankfully here there is still enough to talk about without feeling the month is threadbare, but it's less about big fights, and more about emerging fighters.
After a few relatively disappointing weeks we've managed to have a really amazing 7 days of Asian boxing, where every category of our weekly awards could, very easily, have multiple contenders. This wasn't a typical week, of course it wasn't, we had a host of cards across the continent, but we didn't just have quantity but also real quality with proof, again, that 50-50 match making provides the best from boxing!
Fighter of the Week
Hironori Mishiro (7-0-1, 2)
OPBF Super Featherweight champion Hironori Mishiro may not have got a huge amount of attention this week but his win over Takuya Watanabe, to make his second defense of the Oriental title. The bout was competitive, at times, but Mishiro always seemed to be a step ahead and was well deserving of his win, arguably the best of his career so far. He showed how good he was as a boxer, as a brawler and as a general fighter that he it. This was the sort of win that proved what Mishiro has to offer, and that he is edging towards a world title fight, even at this very early stage in his career.
Performance of the Week
Lito Dante (16-10-4, 8)
In one of the final Asian bouts of the week Filipino Lito Dante proved that records are for DJ's as he travelled to Japan and ripped the OPBF Minimumweight title from the previously unbeaten Tsubasa Koura. Koura, who had been ranked #3 by the WBC, had looked the clear favourite against a man who was known as a tough but limited fighter. Dante however broke down the previously unbeaten Japanese fighter, scoring a shock 12th round TKO in what is, by far, the best win of his career and one of the biggest upsets of 2019 so far.
Wulan Tuolehazi vs Ryota Yamauchi
One of the best things this week has been the sheer number of amazing fights we've had, across all levels of the sport. For us the one that had everything was the WBA International Flyweight bout between Wulan Tuolehazi and Ryota Yamauchi from Shanghai. The bout saw both men going down, both men digging in deep, both landing hurtful shots and both adapting. The only real issue was two score-cards of 117-109, which didn't reflect the action in the ring, and again leaves question marks over judging. Rather than dwell on the negatives we'll just state that this is a must watch bout.
Juan Miguel Elorde vs Shohei Kawashima
Hironori Mishiro vs Takuya Watanabe
Fangyong Zhang vs Ryuto Maekawa
Fuga Komatsu vs Yota Sato
Fuga Komatsu vs Yota Sato (Round 1)
Given how many great fights we had, we also, obviously, had a lot of great rounds. For us the one that perhaps stood out the most was the opening round of the all-debutant bout between Fuga Komatsu and Yota Sato. The bout was a 4 round contest on a small card in Yokohama, but was fought at a frantic, exciting and exhilarating pace. Komatsu would drop his man in the opening seconds, with Sato managing to see out the storm. It wasn't the most evenly contested round of the week, but in terms of sheer excitement and heart it was amazing.
No fit contender - Despite all the great action, there wasn't any great KO's this week, that we deem worthy of attention, however if you feel there was please drop it in the comments!
Jayson Mama (12-0, 6)
Filipino youngster Jayson Mama may not be a big name, yet, but the 21 year old "Smasher" sure did impress this past week when he travelled to China and clearly out boxed Thai Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr. The Filipino, who had never really beaten anyone of note prior to this week, took a huge step up and totally dominated the Thai former world title challenger. This was the sort of win that will help put anyone on the map and should well help Mama move into the world rankings. For those unaware of Mama it's now time to make a mental note of the youngster.
Valentine Hosokawa (24-6-3, 11) vs Koki Inoue (12-0, 10)
We don't have any world level bouts coming up this week, be we do have a potentially amazing Japanese Light Welterweight title bout set for Saturday as veteran champion Valentine Hosokawa takes on mandatory challenger Koki Inoue. Given the styles of the two men, and what's on the line this has the potential to be something very, very special. One to be really excited about.
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