We've had another quiet week in the world of Asian boxing, though thankfully there is light at the end of the tunnel and in the coming weeks and when we get to July we're set for some great fights and hectic action. Despite the action still being slow we did have a great show in the middle of the week with a trio of world title fights. That show has really dominated awards this week, and without it we really would have been at a loss.
Fighter of the Week
Kazuto Ioka (24-2, 14)
There was only one person really in the running for the Fighter of he Week and that was Japanese star Kazuto Ioka, who became a 4-weight world champion on Wednesday when he stopped Aston Palicte in Chiba. The bout, which was a huge ratings success for TBS, was Ioka's first bout in Japan in over 2 years and there was worries that a loss would send him into retirement. What we got from him however was a show case performance and an eventual stoppage of a much bigger, stronger fighter. This was the performance Ioka needed, and it was performance that has put him back among the top of the Japanese scene.
Performance of the Week
Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart (11-1, 5)
Thai fighter Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart travelled to Japan and was expected to be on the receiving end of a bad loss to WBA "Super" and Ring Magazine Light Flyweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi. Whilst he did lose to the Japanese star he managed to put in an excellent performance, neutralising a lot of Kyoguchi's pressure and not only going the distance with the champion but actually taking a number of rounds from Kyoguchi. This was the sort of loss where the loser comes out with an enhanced reputation, and we're looking forward to seeing more of the Thai hopeful.
Kazuto Ioka TKO10 Aston Palicte
We're back to Kazuto Ioka and his WBO Super Flyweight title win against Filipino fighter Aston Palicte, in what really was a brilliant fight. Ioka's technique, speed and timing was up against the size, power and strength of Palicte, making for a fantastic dynamic to the fight. The bout was fought at a high skill level, with a solid tempo through out, and whilst it won't be regarded as a FOTY contender it was a fantastic bout all round, with a great atmosphere and a real tension, especially when Palicte threw some of his bombs. This will likely be one of the more forgotten bouts at the end of the year, best remembered for Ioka becoming a 4 weight champion rather than the in ring action, but it was a very solid fight and a great watch.
Kazuto Ioka Vs Aston Palicte (round 7)
Staying with the WBO Super Flyweight title bout the 7th round was something super special, with Palicte, who was starting to struggle with Ioka's accuracy and timing, putting his foot on the gas and putting the pressure on. For the first minute or so it looked like he was getting to Ioka and that his size advantage was going to be a major issue as we got into the second half of the fight. We then saw Ioka regroup and fight back amazingly well in the second half of the round, giving us a real back and forth round. Despite neither man being dropped the round was excellent, dramatic and exciting, all we could ever ask for.
There was no standout KO for this past week
Shu Utsuki (5-0, 4)
We suspect we'll be talking about Shu Utsuki a lot in the years to come, and it's not with good cause with the Watanabe Gym fighter being a fantastic prospect, with solid power, heavy handed and a developing professional style. This past week he scored a career best win by stopping Omrri Bolivar, and will likely find himself in the Japanese and OPBF rankings in July. He might not be one of the gym's biggest name prospects but the Watanabe Gym has a real talent among their midst here, and hopefully they develop him through the next 18 months before pushing him towards title fights.
Jeong Han Cha (5-0, 5) vs Takahiko Kobayashi (8-3, 6)
This coming week is another quiet one, thankfully the last quiet one for a while, though it does have some interesting bouts with the pick of the bunch being a mid-week Korea Vs Japan bout between Korean teenage prospect Jeong Han Cha and hard hitting Japanese fighter Takahiko Kobayashi. We expect this to be a shoot out, and we would be absolutely gob smacked if this goes the distance. On paper this is a true gem.
With over 40 world champions South Korea is a country that has long been linked to boxing. Sadly though it's more than a decade since they had a man holding a world title and they are certainly a long way removed from their best years. Despite that it is worth noting that the country has started to, slowly, build an exciting and interesting domestic scene. That domestic scene has been lead by the rise of the BoxingM, the management that really has pumped money into the sport, run tournaments and given fighters a chance to make their mark.
One of the big hopes that has become a focus of BoxingM has been exciting teenage puncher Jeong Han Cha (5-0, 5), who is set to make his international debut on June 25th, when he takes on 23 year old Japanese foe Takahiko Kobayashi (8-3, 6) at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo. This is the main event of a Dangan promoted card pitting Japanese locals against Korean visitors, as has the potential to be a very special bout.
Born in September 2000 Cha didn't have much of an amateur background, with no amateur bouts. What he did however have was a track record in sports in general, having competed in baseball and was a natural athlete, before being bitten by the boxing bug.
Cha made his professional debut at the age of 17, and quickly impressed as he scored a 2nd round win over fellow debutant Geon Kim in June 2018. This bout was held on a very obscure card at the Taepoong Gymnasiumm, in front of about 12 fans and took place at Welterweight. Despite the low quality of the show Cha showed some genuine promise, especially in round 2 when he began to let his shots fly. Notably he was left with a bloodied nose in round 1 but gritted it out and twice dropped Kim to secure the win. The bout saw him showing great instinct, despite some crude skills and defensive flaws.
Just a month after his debut Cha would fight in the second ever Battle Royale, a Korean Rookie tournament comparable in some ways to the Japanese Rookie of the Year tournament. In his first round bout of the tournament he stopped Gun Ho Lee in the second round, unloading a 2 handed assault on Lee until he went down and the referee was forced to halt the bout. His progress through the tournament continued in October when he took on Shin Hee Min, and once again his power excited, with Min stunned in round 2 and not responding whilst Cha wailed away with clean shots.
Due to issues outside of his hands Cha was essentially given a bye for the semi-final of the Battle Royale, but fought on the same card as the other semi-finals bouts and stopped Gun Ho Lee in a second bout between the two men. This time Lee managed to survive into round 3 with Cha, but was against broken down by his pressure, power and work rate
In his Battle Royal final Cha would battle fellow unbeaten Yun Seong Kim, who like Cha was also a southpaw. Kim boxed really well in the first round and left Cha with a bloodied nose, much like Cha had on his debut. Cha however applied pressure, constantly, and in round 2 he broke through, stopping Kim with a series of head shots, after previously having dropped with a body shot that was ruled low.
From his 5 bouts so far Cha has looked like a throw back to the Korean fighters of old. The Korean fighters who were instilled with a "come forward and punch" mentality. His defensive issues are still there, as they were on his debut, and they do need work however his offensive pressure and power are what have made him so fun to watch and have left him marked as the Korean hopeful to watch. He really does hit hard, his combinations are excellent and the way he jumps on an opponent when he has them hurt has been incredible so far.
Against Kobayashi, himself a punch, we're expecting to see Cha given a real test. Although Cha has been left with a bloodied nose a couple of times we've never really seen him hurt, and Kobayashi certainly has the power to hurt him. Kobayashi is also much taller than Cha, rangier and is a very series test for Cha. If Cha comes through this with a win it's hard to imagine BoxingM doing anything but pushing thee youngster to title bouts sooner rather than later, with a potential domestic title fight later in the year. A loss would his career, but would certainly not be the end of his career and he could easily bounce back down the line.
(Image courtesy of boxingm)
This past week has been a pretty low key yet interesting one for Asian boxing, with a really interesting Korean show, some Japanese action and various fights across the rest of the world with Asian fighters involved in them.
Fighter of the Week
Yuki Nonaka (33-10-3, 10)
Japanese veteran Yuki Nonaka rolled back the clock on Sunday, at the age of 41, to outpoint Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa and claim the OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Middleweight titles. The Osakan veteran had been regarded as the under-dog but dropped Hosokawa in the opening round and went on to take a clear decision over the hard hitting Hosokawa, in what was a really brilliant performance from the veteran. Given how Nonaka had lost 2 of his last 3 and had been a career Light Middleweight this result really was a surprise and the way he fought was fantastic, a great display of boxing skills, timing, control of distance and crisp punching.
Notable mentions: Downua Ruawaiking, Shakhram Giyasov
Performance of the Week
Downua Ruawaiking (15-0, 12)
To begin the week Thailand's Downua Ruawaiking, aka Apinun Khongsong, put himself on the boxing map with a KO win over durable veteran Akihiro Kondo. Kondo had been regarded as the favourite, he had proven his toughness through 39 previous fights including a loss to Sergey Lipinets, and this was Downua's first international fight. Despite being the under-dog the Thai was sharp, accurate and closed the show in style, sending Kondo down hard with an excellent uppercut. This was a performance that really caught the attention and showed that Downua deserved to be in the mix with bigger fights, in fact the win has made him the mandatory IBF title challenger at 140lbs.
Hyun Je Shin (10-8, 2) vs Dong Kwan Lee (9-2-2, 4)
It's rare that we get fights of real quality in Korea but this week we got something special as Hyun Je Shin and Dong Kwan Lee took part in a sensational 10 round war for the BoxingM Super Featherweight title. The pace the two men set was incredible from the opening round and they never really slowed down at any point, as both gritted their teeth and fought with an exceptional desire. This is probably not going to be mentioned much internationally but SPOTV really did have a cracking bout on their hands.
Due to SPOTV's youtube setting's we can't embed the video, but feel free to watch the video on youtube, here.
Hyun Je Shin vs Dong Kwan Lee (round 3)
The aforementioned BoxingM Super Featherweight title fight had a number of rounds that could have been the round of the week. We've gone with the third, but there really was so many options from the same fight. The action was a phone booth war and is something that had so much intensity, action and excitement. It's a bit of a shame that neither man had the power to really hurt the other, but the high intensity action made up for that.
Downua Ruawaiking KO5 Akihiro Kondo
We will struggle to find a more aesthetically pleasing KO this year than the one scored by Downua Ruawaiking against Akihiro Kondo. Kondo may not have been out cold, some how getting to his feet, but it was nothing short of a spectacular shot, and will something we expect to see replayed time and time again this year. The fact Kondo had never been stopped prior to this KO is a testament to how well Downua caught him, and the way Kondo went down was genuinely amazing.
Jeong Han Cha (5-0, 5)
Back to Korea for our Prospect of the week, in what was a really stacked category. We've gone with aggressive and exciting Korean teenager Jeong Han Cha. He was up against a fellow unbeaten and in fact his opponent, Yun Seong Kim, look really goo in the opening round. In round 2 however Cha scored two different knockouts. The first was from a brutal body shot, that seemed to be incorrectly ruled a low blow and allowed Kim a chance to recover, whilst he would later finish the bout with some huge head shots. It's hard to get too excited about Korean prospects, but Cha really does look like he has something special about him, and is really worthy of serious attention.
Notable mentions: Sultan Zaurbek, Tanawat Nakoon, Ravshanbek Umurzakov
Vic Saludar (18-3, 10) Vs Masataka Taniguchi (11-2, 7)
The bout we're most excited about this coming week is the WBO Minimumweight title bout between defending champion Vic Saludar and Japanese challenger Masataka Taniguchi. This bout has the potential to be a FOTY contender. Both have exciting styles, under-rated power and skills and they should make for a thrilling war of attrition. Something for us to be very, very excited about.
Kuroda to face IBF champion Mthalane on May 13th!
This week we had the official announcement that Masayuki Kuroda (30-7-3, 16) would challenge IBF Flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane (37-2, 25) on May 13th at the Korakuen Hall. The full details of the show and the broadcast are yet to be announced, but this is a great bout and something we're looking forward to. It's not like the bout was a secret, but to have a date and venue confirmed this week is great news, and the result of the details will be announced over the coming weeks.
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