What a bizarre week we had in boxing last week. We had some truly amazing fights, some great announcements, one decision that left a disgusting taste in the mouth of fans, and a cheater finally put in his place. Oh and we got arguably the most homo-erotic poster in boxing history...boy has this been a weird 7 days!
1 - Can Xu contines to show he can do!
We need to start this by talking about someone who has been such a great ambassador for Asian boxing this year, Can Xu. A year ago he was an unknown outside of Asian fight fans but today he sits as the WBA Featherweight champion, with 2 defenses behind him, 3 great wins in 2019, and as one of the revelations of the year. Those who saw him struggle past Enrique Bernache in September 2018 will hardly believe the same guy has gone on to beat Jesus M Rojas, former Super Bantamweight champion Shun Kubo and the unbeaten Manny Robles III. If a fighters year is to be marked solely by how far they've come in a year then Can Xu is up there for Fighter of the Year. As only the third Chinese world champion it's faint praise to celebrate him as China's greatest ever professional fighter, but it really is getting hard to argue. This charismatic young action fighter is someone we should all be celebrating.
2 - Hajime No Ippo Tournament 20th anniversary tournament
From one great fighter to a great tournament! The Hajime No Ippo 30th Anniversary tournament began last week with 3 quarter-final bouts and 2 of those were breath taking fights. For those who have a Boxing Raise subscription and missed them we need to advise you to check out Tsuyoshi Tameda's war with Jae Woo Lee and the up and down battle between Shungo Kusano and Qiang Ma. These might not have been high profile contests but my god they were something special. Even the third quarter-final, between Daisuke Watanabe and Koshin Takeshima, was worthy of a watch even if was the worst of the bouts by far. Who ever managed to put this tournament together deserves a huge round of applause for making a tournament that has already provided 2 incredibly bouts, and looks likely to give us more in the next round!
3 - Jhon Gemino
The "Disaster" struck again with another upset. The hard hitting Filipino might not have a dangerman's record but this was his third upset in 12 months, all in different countries, and it's becoming clear that if a prospect isn't legit he will be more than a handful. With double digit losses to his name he's not some unbeatable fighter, but he's crafty, rugged and has power in both hands, and will be someone who is always a danger. As fans of seeing "opponents" come to win we can't help but love Jhon Gemino and his willingness to travel for fights against unbeaten hopefuls....and show up more than a handful of those unbeaten foes.
1 - The poster for Dangan 231
We've seen some poor posters in our years of Asian boxing but maybe the poster for Dangan 231 is perhaps the very worst. We really have no idea what those behind the poster, excuse the pun, were thinking here and it's taken what was a great fight on paper and made the poster a bigger talking point than the fight. Had the fighters been either clothed or completely silhouetted out this might have worked, but with both guys being naked it's a poster that has given us more questions than answered. Still we guess it's gotten more people talking about the show than we would have had anyway...even if no one likes the poster.
2 - NHK's coverage of the All Japan Championships
We understood scheduling can be a problem but this year's All Japan Championships were bizarrely televised by NHK who showed some of the bouts on BS1, some on BS1's sister channel and then more on BS1. We are pretty sure that a year ago it was all on one channel as a coherent broadcast, but this year it split by a sumo tournament. We understand sumo is huge in Japan though surely with NHK having so many channels they could have shown all of both events with no real issue, using NHK General, BS1 and BS Premium.
3 - Felix Alvarado's illness
We were all looking forward to the planned WBC/IBF Light Flyweight unification bout between Kenshiro Teraji and Felix Alvarado, a bout that had the potential to be a late FOTY contender. Sadly however Alvarado was forced out of the bout due to illness. It's hard to hold the illness against the fighter, but it's still a bad to see the fight being cancelled. Obviously we wish Alvarado a speedy recovery, and seeing his twin, Rene, win a world title at Super Featherweight in a big upset on Saturday was certainly a positive for the Alvarado in what has been a very mixed week for them.
1 - The poster for Dangan 231
We need to return to that damn poster for our first ugly....like seriously what was the idea behind it? It's not just bad, it's down right laughable. Honestly look at it! How can anyone take the fighters seriously with that poster being used to promote the fight...
2 - Matchroom's show at the weekend
We don't really want to use this weekly section to complain about one promoter or another but unfortunately for Matchroom boxing they are making it hard to not criticise them. The £24.95 price for Anthony Joshua is bad, but this past weekend's show was just baffling from start to end. They had the best fight of the show on Facebook, for a few thousand viewers, on a geo-locked feed. They had Anthony Fowler fight someone who made for an awful stylistic match up, in a really, really ugly fight that did neither guy any favours. They then had a main event marred by some of the worst scorecards of 2019. If Matchroom were hoping to sell their product ahead of their up coming PPV this did the opposite. It made it seem like they had no idea about bout placement on a card, it looked like their match makers struggle to make Fowler look good, honestly have him in with a fellow come forward fighter not a mover! And it looked like the judges were certainly told to lean one way in their scoring of the bout. Overall a terrible advert for what Matchroom should have seen as a big chance to sell themselves.
3 - Luis Nery
The drug taking, weight cheating son of a gun struck again! And this team people had had enough. Nery once again missed weight, forcing the cancellation of a world title eliminator against Emmanuel Rodriguez. Unlike in the past, where fighters, promoters and world title bodies have all accepted Nery's unprofessional Rodriguez said no. Rodriguez didn't sell out for a bump in his pay packet, he didn't bend over to Nery and his team and essentially told Nery to fuck himself. Somethings others should have said earlier. If this was a one off then fair enough but unprofessional behaviour is coming a constant with Nery who should be given an actual punishment after this mishap on the scales.Well done to Emmanuel Rodriguez for standing his ground, and hopefully he'll be rewarded with a WBC title fight, as it wasn't him the forced the eliminator to be cancelled.
(Photo by Tom Hogan/Hogan Photos/GoldenBoy Promotions)
Maybe it's just me but it's beginning to feel rather chilly, and the weeks are starting to become more and more packed with fights! It must mean we're heading towards December, when this are really set to go a little bit crazy! This past week has been a stellar week for action, and although we've not had any massive names fighting we have seen several great fights, amazing rounds a big upset and a world champion retaining his belt. Sure this past week hasn't been the best, but it's been very, very solid.
Fighter of the Week
Can Xu (18-2, 3)
The fighter of the week was an easy one this week with China's Can Xu showing us what a fighter does. The light punching WBA Featherweight champion controlled the previously unbeaten Manny Robles III with output, and although Xu couldn't get the stoppage he hurt Robles a number of times late in the bout. Xu might not be the most amazing fighter in the sport but in 2019 he has quickly become one of the most must watch fighters on the planet, and he showed his all action style against Robles. Whether boxing on the front foot or the back foot Xu unloads so much leather that it's hard to take your eyes off him, and the way he challenged Josh Warrington straight after his win shows his desire to become the best in the division. A fantastic performance by one of Asian boxing's true gems.
Performance of the Week
Shingo Kusano (12-8-1, 5)
Being dropped twice in the opening round of a 6 round fight would mark the end for most, but for Shingo Kusano it seemed to do the opposite. Instead of wilting following a 10-7 round Kusano steadied himself, dug deep and went on to break down Qiang Ma in a thrilling bout at Korakuen Hall. Kusano isn't a world beater, in fact we suspect he loses next time our when he competes in a tournament semi-final bout, but that really doesn't change the fact that his performance this week was excellent and he really did deserve his victory after such a horror start.
Jae Woo Lee vs Tsuyoshi Tameda
Whilst the Kusano Vs Ma bout was a brave fight back through adversity from Kusano it wasn't even the best bout on the show. That honour fell to the intense and incredible war between Korean fighter Jae Woo Lee and Japanese slugger Tsuyoshi Tameda. Any other month of the year this would likely be nailed on for fight of the month honours. It was two guys who both came with the same gameplan, and that gameplan was to throw bombs on the inside, to fight with fire, and to try and break down the other man. This ended up having styles that gelled instantly and from the opening bell to the eventual ending this was a fire fight. If you like inside wars this is really a must watch fight, and saw hooks and uppercuts being thrown shot after shot, with little use, from either man, for a jab. Exceptional, yet short, war!
Jae Woo Lee vs Tsuyoshi Tameda (2)
Given the way the Lee Vs Tameda fight was fought either of the first 2 rounds could have been the round of the week, with both rounds being nothing short of breath taking, none stop action. This is what we watch boxing for! We favoured the second, over the first, as it seemed both ended the round having been damaged at some point. Lee had been rocked early in the round and Tameda ended the round bloodied. But both rounds should be considered among the very finest rounds of action we've had in 2019.
Jhon Gemino KO5 Arnold Alejandro
We didn't have a lot of clan KO's this week, despite how much action we had, but there was one or two, with one really standing out. That standout was Filipino fighter Jhon Gemino taking out the previously unbeaten Arnold Alejandro in the US in spectacular fashion. A huge right hand from Gemino landed as flush as could be on Alejandro, breaking his nose and cleaning his clock. This was a thunder bolt of a right hand. Whilst the result was an upset we can't say it was a huge shock as Gemino is building himself a reputation as a fighter who regularly scores upsets, and this was his third big away from home in less than 12 months! Still in terms of the wonder of the KO it will go down as one of his best.
Ryusei Kawaura (7-0, 4)
Despite there being a lot of action this past week there really wasn't a lot of fighters we'd describe as being prospects. The one man who did fulfil the description of a prospect was Ryusei Kawaura, who continued his careful be intelligent climb up the rankings as he over-came Joy Joy Formentera of the Philippines. This bout was a great test for the unbeaten Japanese fighter and he had to be on point through out an excellent 8 round chess match. He's not a well known prospect, in the grand scheme of things, but Kawaura is certainly one to keep an eye on in 2020.
Zolani Tete (28-3, 21) Vs John Riel Casimero (28-4, 19)
Next week is another without a massive name in Asian boxing in action, but it is a week that has a massive fight, as South African Zolani Tete takes on Filipino John Riel Casimero in a mouth watering WBO Bantamweight title clash. This is a huge fight and the winner instantly finds themselves in the Inoue sweepstakes. Tete hasn't looked great in recent bouts, and is coming back from an injury, and Casimero does blow hot and cold but we still expect this to be a very exciting and entertaining bout over in sunny England!
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