We may be heading to Christmas but we've not had to wait to December 25th for boxing Santa to deliver some great stuff to us, with this past week being another that has a brimful of amazing action, fantastic moments, and a lot of surprises. So with that said lets have a look at the latest "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly".
1-All Japan Rookie of the Year
It's not like the All Japan Rookie of the Year being amazing was any kind of surprise but even that it exceeded expectations with 2 bouts being particularly deserving of extra attention. The Light Welterweight shoot out between Kodai Honda and Yasutaka Fujita is one of those those must watch bouts, which has everything. It has drama, action, intensity, huge shots and great heart. This really is a very, very special fight Wihilst Honda Vs Fujita was the fight of the day it was given a run for it's money by the Welterweight clash featuring Yuta Ashina and Homare Yasui. If you have the chance make sure you watch both of those incredible fights before the week ends.
Filipino prospect Mike Plania took a huge step towards a world title fight as he dominated Nicaraguan foe Giovanni Gutierrez. Plania is a talented Super Bantamweight and his win this past weekend was a huge statement for the 22 year old, who is likely to be a real break out star in 2020, if he can receive the financial backing he needs to kick on.
Aged 15, yes that's a 1 and a 5 and isn't a typo, Phoobadin Yoohanngoh won "The Fighter" this past weekend in Thailand taking a 6 round victory over 22 year old Thotsaphol Thongplew. For those unaware "The Fighter" was TL Promotions answer to Rookie of the Year and matched a bunch of novice in a quick fire knockout tournament, spread over just a few weeks. Phoobadin managed to notch wins on 4 consecutive Saturdays to win the tournament. Whatever we think about fighters this young it's hard not to be impressed by the young prodigy, who is already 8-0 and has been a professional since July 2018, when he was just 14!
4-PBC's card on Saturday Night
Whether it was intentional, fluke, or something in between Saturday night's PBC card headlined by the Harrison Vs Charlo rematch has to go down as one of the most entertaining cards of the year. It had everything ranging from huge upsets, to controversial refereeing calls, fantastic knockouts, amazing action and world class fighters. We wouldn't go as far as to call it the show of the year, but it's certainly in the running and was one of the most amazing cards top to bottom. If more shows ended up like this the sport would be much, much better and fans would care about the while show, not just the main event. Well done to all involved in putting on truly brilliant show.
Tommy Fury might be a bigger celebrity in his homeland due to his appearance in Love Island, rather than his boxing career, but his opponent for this past weekend was little more than a joke, and should never be allowed to box in the UK again given his hapless performance here. Przemyslaw Binienda, really was awfully and in deserves to go into the boxing bin for his performance which was an embarrassment to the sport and the show. Whoever decided to put this on in the chief support bout should also be given some tough questions to answer. We understand Fury is a "cross over star" but the arena failed to react to his comments and it was clear that even his "fans" were so nonchalant about the win that it likely did more harm than good for his career.
Whilst there have been rumours about Jhack Tepora not liking training or taking the sport seriously, as soon when he missed weight for a bout not too long ago, few would have expected him to lose his unbeaten record in the way he did. The touted and talented Filipino was blitzed inside a round by the out of form Oscar Escandon, and stopped in the opening round by a body shot. Whilst a loss isn't the end of the world there does seem to be a lot more going on behind the scenes for Tepora, and this all needs to be sorted out if he's to reach his potential. He can bounce back from a loss, but given the rumours it may not be just a simple case of just rebuilding and instead it sounds like he will need to make notable changes in terms of his lifestyle as well.
We've only got 2 ugly's this week but my my, they are repulsive. The first of those was referee Ray Corona, who should be forced to explain his actions during the Carlos Balderas v Rene Tellez Giron bout. The referee should have stopped the bout after the first knockdown, when Balderas clearly wasn't fit to resume after being dropped, hard in round 3. That was the first of several botched calls from the official who struggled to hide his favouritism through the contest. Allowing Balderas to continue in the state he was in could have left him taking shots that he was unable to defend against, and could have turned out horrific for his career, and longer term health. The fact that Corona stopped the bout the way he did in round 6, in a very similar situation, seemed to suggest Corona knew he had bottled the earlier call, but that didn't excuse what was a disgusting performance from the official.
2-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr
Oh man where do we start on Julio Cesar Chavez Jr and his week? He should have been banned, for refusing a drugs test, ahead of his bout with Danny Jacobs but an injunction saw the ban essentially being bypassed. The bout should have been called off when Chavez came in 5lbs over weight. It should have seen the promoter and Jacobs call out Chavez for his unprofessional actions and cancel the bout, taking Chavez to the cleaners for breaching his contractual obligations. But instead the bout went ahead and Chavez, who had shown no respect to the sport in the build up to the fight quit, citing a hand injury. The crowd finally turned on the Mexican, and his father's expression said it all. Really this should be it for Chavez's career. He doesn't need the sport, and the sport sure doesn't need him. Instead however it sounds like Chavez is already pencilling in his next bout, for March. Any promoter who uses him going forward is to blame for the shit show that he's involved in, and they are as much to blame for using someone they know they can't trust, as he is for his actions.
The first week of 2019 wasn't a huge on for Asian boxing, and sadly neither was week 2, though we did have enough action to talk about, and to hand out our second weekly awards! As with last week's awards pretty much everything was focused on one show, which is a shame, but is set to end with the boxing calendar picking up significantly in the coming weeks
Fighter of the Week
Ryoichi Tamura (12-3-1, 6)
The new Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Ryoichi Tamura shines the brightest this weekend with an excellent performance against the insanely tough Matcha Nakagawa. From the first round to the final one Tamura pressed Nakagawa incessantly, setting a high tempo, finding holes in Nakagawa's defense and generally handcuffing his opponent. Although it wasn't a flawless performance, he did get caught a lot with uppercuts, his willingness to walk through fire to get his own shots off mentally defeated Nakagawa and showed why Tamura will be such a tough guy to dethrone.
Performance of the Week
Norhito Tanaka (18-7, 10)
33 year old Japanese fighter Norihito Tanaka became the first new Japanese title holder of 2019 as he surprisingly stopped former world title challenger Shin Ono in what turned out to be relatively 1-sided bout. Tanaka was regarded as the under-dog but that never really showed. He spent the first round scouting Ono before breaking the 36 year old down, rocking him in round 2, dropping him in round 3 then stopping him in round 7. He forced Ono to fight his fight and drowned the veteran. It's worth noting this is only the 4th time Ono has been stopped, only the second time since the start of 2011 and the only time at Minimumweight!
Shu Nawai (0-1) Vs Kengo Hatsushika (0-1-1)
The first Japanese fight of 2019 saw the unbeaten pairing of Shu Nawai and Kengo Hatsushika battle in a 4 round bout, and it was a pulsating all action fight as both men dug deep and looked to score their first win.The skill level wasn't high but the action was and it was a fantastic, competitive, exciting back and forth. In the end Nawai did just enough to take the decision and we'd love to see these two go at each other again down the line. Sadly with the bout taking place on Boxingraise we can't show footage from the fight, but it is well worth a watch if you're on the subscription service.
Shin Ono Vs Norihito Tanaka (Round 6)
After Shin Ono learned he was down on the scorecards in his Japanese title defense against Norihito Tanaka the defending champion upped the pace in round 6 and took the fight to Tanaka. It was, tactically, an awful misjudgement, but for the action it gave us it was a clear round of the week and again a real treat for Boxingraise subscribers. It was a round that saw the two men standing essentially toe-to-toe and trading blows with Ono setting the pace and Tanaka responding in the pocket. There was good competition for round of the week, with round 3 of Nawai Vs Hatsushika being a very notable it's self, but in the end the quality of Ono and Tanaka shone through.
No fit contender - Unfortunately 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!
Daiki Imanari (2-0, 2)
Unfortunately we were really limited in terms of prospects this week, and unfortunately Daiki Imanari has essentially won by default. The 21 year old Imanari defeated fellow novice Keiichi Inoue in 2 rounds to advance his record. It was a solid performance from the southpaw youngster, though it's really unclear what he'll go on to achieve.
Jhack Tepora (22-0, 17) Vs Hugo Ruiz (38-4, 33) (January 19th)
We see action really pick up over the next week or so and next weekend we do have a lot to get excited about. For us the pick of the bunch is the WBA "interim" Featherweight title bout between Jhack Tepora and Hugo Ruiz. The bout isn't the biggest match up on paper but stylistically it's a hard one not to get excited about. Both men have real power, with Ruiz the more pure boxer and Tepora being the more aggressive, both men are flawed and together we suspect those flaws could be exposed on both sides. This is a really mouth watering clash and one that we're incredibly excited about.
Kosei Tanaka to face Ryoichi Taguchi, March 16th!
The biggest story of the week, by far, came on Wednesday when a press conference was held to announce the WBO Flyweight title bout between Kosei Tanaka (12-0, 7), the defending champion, and former IBF and WBA Light Flyweight "super" champion Ryoichi Taguchi (27-3-2, 12). The bout will take place in Gifu and is the first huge bout to be announced for Japan this year. Better yet the bout will be aired across Japan, not just in the Chubu region like many of Tanaka's bouts. It was always going to be hard for anything to match up with this story, but it was also nice to hear that Gonte Lee would be making his debut on February 2nd.
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