VsThe back end of April is a brilliant month, as we run into what will be a packed May. Over the next 2 weeks or we get title fights at almost every level, from Japanese youth to World, we get world title eliminators and we get notable names all in action as the sport begins to kick on and we head towards bigger and better times in the world of Asian boxing.
Amakusa Park Gym, Asakuchi, Okayama, Japan
Seigo Yuri Akui (15-2-1, 10) Vs Yuto Nakamura (11-6-1, 8)
To begin this part of the month attention turns to Okayama for a bout featuring Japanese Flyweight champion Seigo Yuri Akui, who tests the water at Super Flyweight. The explosive puncher will be up against youngster Yuto Nakamura, who's a talented fighter but was really thrown to the wolves last time out, when he took on Ryo Akaho at 122lbs. This should be a good test for Akui and a chance for him to go a few rounds, though he should be favoured to pick up the win and give local fans something to cheer about.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Hironobu Matsunaga (17-1, 11) Vs Rei Nakajima (4-0)
In a compelling Japanese Light Middleweight title bout we'll see defending champion Hironobu Matsunaga take on unbeaten challenger Rei Nakajima. This bout is one that's easy to over-look, but do so at your own peril. Matsunaga has proven to be one of the most fan friendly fighters in Japan, with an aggressive pressure style, that makes for great viewing whilst Nakajima is one of the smartest and quickest fighters in the country. The styles here should gel and we're expecting a really interesting contest between two men with very different styles.
Kai Ishizawa (7-1, 7) Vs Yuni Takada (8-6-2, 3)
Another title bout will see JBC Youth Minimumweight champion Kai Ishizawa defending his title against Yuni Takada. The exciting Ishizawa is expected to go on to bigger and better things over the coming years, but it seems clear that he wants to make at least one defense of the Youth title, which he won in 2018, before being forced to vacate it. Takada isn't a terrible challenger, though sadly for him he's up against a very special young fighter and we suspect Takada will struggle to survive when Ishizawa begins to go through the gears.
Reiya Abe (20-3-1, 9) Vs Koshin Takeshima (4-1-1, 3)
In a compelling non-title fight we'll see "genius" boxer Reiya Abe take on former amateur standout Koshin Takeshima. The once touted Abe has struggled in recent years, and we've often felt that for all his talent his style doesn't make for the most fun viewing, as he's a negative technician. A tweak to his in ring mentality and style would serve him well. As for Takeshima he was touted when he turned professional but has struggled to really put a complete performance together and another setback here will see his floundering career move to the point of no return. Interestingly this is a bout neither man can really afford to lose, but yet it's not a bout that we expect will be particularly fun, or exciting.
EDION Arena Osaka, Osaka, Osaka, Japan
Kenshiro Teraji (17-0, 10) Vs Tetsuya Hisada (34-10-2, 20)
Long reigning WBC Light Flyweight champion Kenshiro Teraji looks to make his 8th defense as he takes on determined Japanese challenger Tetsuya Hisada in a bout that is 4 years in the making. These two were meant to fight in 2017, when Kenshiro was the Japanese champion and Hisada the mandatory to that title. Since then the two men have gone their own ways, with Kenshiro winning the WBC title and Hisada winning the Japanese belt before challenging Hiroto Kyoguchi in 2019. Last year these two were again pencilled in to fight, before legal issues saw the bout being cancelled. Although we've waited a long time for this bout, it is one that still has some real allure, and it should be an excellent match up, with Kenshiro's footwork and boxing brain taking on the pressure and aggression of Hisada. A really compelling contest.
Ayumu Hanada (5-0, 4) Vs Mammoth Kazunori (6-3-1, 6)
Perhaps the hidden gem of the next few weeks is a match up between youngsters, as Ayumu Hanada takes on Mammoth Kazunori in what should be a genuine shoot out. Hanada, aged 19, is dubbed "Flaco" and despite his record hasn't really been seen by Japanese fans. Instead his first 4 bouts took place in Mexico, and he really is just starting to connected with Japanese fans. Sadly however he's only fought for 104 seconds in front of a Japanese audience. As for Kazunori he's a very flawed fighter, and he can be out boxed relatively easily, but with his light out power, he is always a threat and he can really mess people up with just a single clean shot, as we saw in 2019 against Lerdchai Chaiyawed. This might not be on your radar, but it really should be!
Convention Center, Ginowan, Okinawa, Japan
Daigo Higa (17-1-1, 17) Vs Ryosuke Nishida (3-0, 1)
Former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa looks to make his first defense of WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight title as he takes on unbeaten hopeful Ryosuke Nishida, in what is a huge step up for Nishida. The talented and exciting Higa impressed everyone early in his career, until he lost the WBC title on the scales, prior to a bout against Cristofer Rosales. He would go on to lose to Rosales and be given a lengthy suspension for failing to make weight. Since then has had to move up 2 weight classes, and has struggled to really look like the fighter he once was, though was very impressive last time out against Yuki strong Kobayashi. In the opposite corner to Higa is a taller, longer, rangier and naturally bigger southpaw, looking for a chance to shine and make a name for himself. Nishida will enter as a very clear under-dog, but a win for him will see Nishida be the latest young Japanese fighter to have a rocket strapped to him and be sent to the moon. A high, high reward bout for both men, and a brilliant match up of pressure fighter and pure boxer.
Banana Sports Complex, Binan City, Laguna, Philippines
Charly Suarez (5-0, 4) Vs Lorence Rosas (9-5-2, 3)
Over the in the Philippines talented Filipino fighter Charly Suarez looks to secure his next win as he takes on Lorence Rosas. Sadly, given his talent, this is the latest in a line of underwhelming match ups for Suarez who turned professional with high expectations but is still treading water. Whilst this is only his 6th bout as a professional he is now 32 and his best years are behind him. Coming in to this Rosas haslost 4 in a row, and it's hard to imagine that run changing against someone as talented as Suarez. Fingers crossed Suarez's next bout will be a, long over due, step up in class.
Gqeberha, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Christian Araneta (19-1, 15) Vs Sivenathi Nontshinga (9-0, 9)
Over in South Africa we get a IBF Light Flyweight world title eliminator eliminator as once beaten Filipino puncher Christian Araneta takes on heavy handed South African Sivenathi Nontshinga, in a bout that will certain go under-the-radar of many fans. The talented Araneta was unfortunate in his sole loss, which came due to an injury against Daniel Valladares, but other than that loss he has looked fantastic and like one of the best pure punchers at 108lbs. Nontshinga is still a boxing baby with just 9 professional bouts to his name, adding up for 44 rounds, but he has already scored solid wins against Siyabonga Siyo and Ivan Soriano and has looked really exciting, heavy handed and dangerous. Interestingly the winner of this will, likely, become the mandatory for Felix Alvarado in what would be a sensational bout later in the year.
The Middle part of October is a weird stretch for us this month. It lacks big names but does have a lot of promising fighters in action, including sever very notable youngsters, and a handful of unbeaten prospects.
Korakuen Hall, Japan
Rei Nakajima (3-0) Vs Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (12-5-1, 11)
One of the many unbeaten hopefuls in action this month is Rei Nakajima, who takes a huge step up in class as he takes on former OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Middleweight champion Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa. On paper this is a really dangerous bout for Nakajima, but a win will immediately put him in the mix for a regional title. As for Hosokawa a win keeps his career alive at the regional title level, and given his power, strength and experience he is very much a dangerous foe for the talented youngster.
Korakuen Hall, Japan
Reiya Abe (19-3-1, 9) Vs Ren Sasaki (10-0, 6)
Another unbeaten hopeful in action is Ren Sasaki, who looks to build on his Knockout Dynamite Tournament win last year. The unbeaten Sasaki will be up against the world ranked Reiya Abe in what should be a really interesting, though maybe not the most exciting, of bouts. Sasaki has impressed at times, but needs a statement like performance in the near future whilst the highly skilled, but often frustrating, Abe needs too shine following a disappointing 2019. This might lack intense action, but will be a very high level bout.
Kai Chiba (12-1, 8) Vs Haruki Ishikawa (8-2, 6)
In potentially thrilling action we'll see the once beaten Kai Chiba look for a solid domestic win as he takes on the hard hitting, and exciting, Haruki Ishikawa. On paper this might look like a great bout, but in reality fireworks should fly between two men who like to let shots go, and like to put on show. Of the two Chiba the more rounded and more mature, but Ishikawa is a little bit more unpredictable, and has shown more of a willingness to fire back in a slugfest. We are expecting a lot of excitement here.
Kai Ishizawa (6-1, 6) Vs Masashi Tada (13-7-3, 8)
Another bout with the potential to deliver fireworks will see the all action Kai Ishizawa take on the flawed but tough Masashi Tada. On paper a win here would probably be Ishizawa's second best, though a stoppage would be a huge statement for the young Minimumweight hopeful. Tada on the other hand is a 2-Japanese title challenger, who is far, far better than his record suggests and could well have the experience and toughness to blunt the heavy handed aggression of Ishizawa. A very interesting, and easy to over-look, match up.
Korakuen Hall, Japan
Kazuki Saito (7-2, 5) Vs Tatsuya Yanagi (16-6-2, 6)
The talented but chinny Kazuki Saito needs a notable win to remain relevant on the Japanese scene, especially after a 2019 loss to Izuki Tomioka, but he's not assured one here as he takes on the experienced Tatsuya Yanagi. Watching Saito we see a real natural talent, but his chin has been a problem in 2 of his bouts so far and it wouldn't be a surprise to see his chin let him down again in the future. Yanagi on the other hand is someone who is better than his record suggests, and will know a win here will put him instantly in the mix for a Japanese title shot. A very interesting match up.
Yoji Saito (1-1-2, 1) Vs Masashi Wakita (10-9-2, 5)
Another bout that might not look great on paper will see Yoji Saito take on Masashi Wakita. There was serious hopes for Saito when he turned professional, and although he has failed to hit the heights expected of him so far he has been a must watch fighter, with his aggressive, heavy handed style. Wakita is experienced and can certainly fight, but his chin has been an issue. We expect this one to be a real thriller of a bout, and as with all Saito bouts this will be well worth a watch.
Takuya Kogawa (30-6-1, 13) Vs Hayato Yamaguchi (15-8-1, 2)
There are few men we have enjoyed watching as much as Takuya Kogawa, sadly though the all action veteran is very much coming to the end of his career and has looked on the slide for a few years now. Here he'll be up against domestic foe Hayato Yamaguchi, and the sad fact is that Kogawa is fighting for his career. This isn't so much a must watch bout, but potential the final bout of one of our favourites.
Philips Halle, Dusseldorf, Germany
Zhan Kossobutskiy (14-0, 13) vs Steve Vukosa (12-1, 4)
We end this part of October with an unbeaten Heavyweight hopeful, as Kazakh fighter Zhan Kossobutskiy takes on once beaten American Steve Vukosa. Although Kossobutskiy isn't on the radar of many fans he is among the best Asian Heavyweights out there and we suspect we'll see a lot of him over the next few years. In Steve Vukosa we have a 43 year old American who has fought just twice in the last 5 years. Sadly this isn't the sort of match up that Kossobutskiy needs to make a mark on the sport and at 31 he really does need to begin moving up a level.
Back in May 2019 we spoke in depth about the talented Kai Ishizawa (then 5-0, 5 now 6-1, 6) as he featured in one of our "Introducing" articles. At the time Ishizawa was preparing for his 6th professional bout, a contest against Indonesian visitor Silem Serang, and was hoping to build on his impressive 2018 win over Yuga Inoue.
Then aged just 22 Ishizawa was making waves. He was the Japanese Youth Minimumweight Champion, he was showing himself to be a very exciting, hard hitting, though somewhat unpolished, fighter. He was teak tough, had rocks in his hands and kept coming forward, with belief that his aggression and power would be too much for anyone. That had been proven against Inoue and against Tatsuro Nakashima, in his two best wins
Unsurprisingly Ishizawa had no issues at all with Serang, who was stopped in the 4th round by Ishizawa in June 2019, on a card that was televised in G+ and headlined by Junto Nakatani. From the opening round Ishizawa pressed forward, showed a stiff jab, cut the distance behind a high guard and went about breaking down the Indonesian. Serang was in survival mode from pretty much the first minute, but eventually he was broken down, dropped and stopped.
After moving to 6-0 (6) Ishizawa then got a big step up fight as he took on former world title challenger Masataka Taniguchi in a Japanese Minimumweight title eliminator. The winner of that bout would then be set to get a shot at the belt in early 2020 as part of the Champion Carnival. As we all now know the Champion Carnival has been delayed due to on going global crisis, but the rewards were big for the winner of this.
Sadly for Ishizawa the bout with Taniguchi was too much too soon. The gutsy youngster had some moments, in fact he dropped Taniguchi, but was made to look too inexperienced, too raw and too much of a crude novice against the talented Taniguchi, who took a clear decision over the previously unbeaten man. This meant that Taniguchi was then in line for a Japanese title fight whilst Ishizawa had to go back to the drawing board and learn from the setback.
Sadly we've not seen Ishizawa return to the ring following his first loss, but the hard hitting youngster seems like the type of young fighter who will learn from a loss like this, much like Taniguchi has from his defeats.
At the time of writing Ishizawa's next bout hasn't yet been set, though the hope is that he will be back in the ring sooner rather than later, even if it is just a simple and straight forward comeback win after his loss to Taniguchi.
Aged just 23 we really we see Ishizawa having a lot of potential, and hopefully he, and his team, can develop that potential over the next few years, and have him in the mix for domestic titles by 2022, and potentially regional titles the following year. He's young, promising, exciting, aggressive and strong. He just needs to physically mature and develop his defense and ring IQ if he's to make the most of what still promises to be a very, very exciting career.
Our final "Introducing" of 2019 isn't going to be one of our usual articles looking at a specific fighter but instead a look back at some of the fighters we've mentioned during the last 12 months, ahead of the changes we'll be making to these articles in the coming year.
Since we started this way back on January 8th we've looked at some winners, some losers and some fighters who's future isn't as clear as we'd have hoped. We won't go through all 50 fighters here, but we will talk about those who have have shined the most, and those who have disappointed the most.
The first Introducing saw us talk about Mikito Nakano, who was 1-0 (1) at the time and has since added 3 wins, all inside the distance. He has gone from a good novice into a fine prospect and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him fighting for a title in 2020.
Just a week later we spoke about Ginjiro Shigeoka, who was also 1-0 (1) and his rise has been legitimately meteoric. In just his fourth bout he claimed the WBO Asia Pacific Minimumweight title and if he picks up a win on New Year's Eve, against Rey Loreto, there is no doubt that he will be in the world title mix in 2020.
We spoke about Shokichi Iwata in week 25 and since then he has scored back to back TKO5 wins, with both of those victories coming on massive Japanese cards. The 23 year old Teiken prospect looks like he has the potential to go all the way to the top, and to do so quickly. He has shown he can box, or brawl, and whilst he may not quite have figured out his style in the ring he already looks like a special talent.
What a year Andy Hiraoka has had! We featured him in week 26, when he was then 13-0 (9) and since then he has scored the biggest win of his career, signed with Top Rank and made his US debut. The talented 140lb'der showed he could go 10, as he did in victory over Akihiro Kondo, and looked very good in his American show case in November.
Another man who has had a great year is Toshiya Ishii, who was covered in week 33. He made his debut in April, took the unbeaten record of Fumiya Fuse in August then took the Japanese Youth Bantamweight title in December. His win Fuse, who we covered in an introducing article in week 4 was impressive but his war with Ishikawa was something special and we advise all fans to give that a watch.
In week 34 we looked at Yudai Shigeoka and although he didn't debut for a few weeks after that he has shone since some much. His debut was an easy win over a Thai, but despite the ease of the win he showed so much ability, brilliant crisp punching, fantastic movement and ring IQ. He then followed that up with a win over Lito Dante and looks set to have a monstrous 2020, following in his brother's footsteps.
In week 9 we looked at Yoji Saito, who entered the year 1-1 (1) and looked like a huge punching monster. He fought twice in 2019, and went 0-0-2. Notably his first bout of the year, a draw with Aso Ishiwaki, looks very good on reflection and Ishiwaki used that bout as a great opportunity to shine, and was the focus of his own "Introducing" in week 38!
In week 17 we discussed Tsubasa Murachi and his year is a really tricky one to try and dissect. On one hand he impressed, in his win over Raymong Tabugon, and there was clearly skill and ambition with the youngster. But on the other hand he ended the year in September, following a brutal KO loss to Froilan Saludar, and the road back up to that level is going to be a rough journey for the 22 year old. Don't write him off, but he's going to have to go back to the drawing board.
Another man who is hard to get a good read on was Kai Ishizawa who may take more credit from his loss to Masataka Taniguchi in September, than most fighters take from a win. He was fantastic in defeat, he showed his toughness, his braveness, his power and his will to win. Sadly he lacked in technical areas, and Taniguchi was too good for him, but the reality is that both men came out with enhanced reputations. Sadly it was still a loss, and his one other bout this year was a blow out against an over-matched Indonesian
We love watching Christiano Aoqui, who we introduced in week 40, and despite a loss to Daishi Nagata following our article it's hard to write off the hard hitting Japanese-Brazilian, who has lost in the past and bounced back. He's never going to be a world beater but we expect him to remain in the domestic title mix next year.
Well we got that one wrong
In week 35 we spoke about the return of Teppei Kayanuma, who was supposed to fight in September. Though didn't. And we're not totally sure why. We are hoping that changes, and that he does return to the ring, but with more than 3 years since his last bout it now seems unlikely.
For week 46 we spoke about Dominique Kenshin, by this point we were trying to tweak the formula slightly and pick fighters who were in action during the week of the article, and as a result felt Kenshin was the man to cover. That was the wrong choice and he was was stopped in a round by Hiro Ichimichi. He's not fought since, and being honest he has a lot of work to do, in every part of his boxing.
Changes Will be Made
So as for 2020, "Introducing..." is changing. We are taking it more international, and instead of being exclusively Japanese fighters, as it was in 2019, we will be looking around Asia for fighters to cover. Whilst the key focus will, again, be prospects, we aren't going to be too rigid in that and we'll look at covering other fighters we find interesting as the year goes on. This could mean anyone from novice, to journeyman, fringe contender to prospects. The only fighters we'll not cover in this section are clear world level fighters. We want to shine a light on a fighter without much attention, and the hope is that we help a bring a fans attention to a fighter they aren't aware of. In 2019 we generally had good success picking our prospects, and we hope that continues in 2020.
See you in the new year for the next "Introducing...", and the next chance to see a light shined on a fighter you may not have even knew existed!
(Image credits - Kadoebi and Teiken)
It feels like September began an eternity ago, though it only came to an end a week ago. Despite being a long month, with some dry patches in it terms of top boxing, it was a month that really delivered more than expected. It gave a legitimate contender for KO of the Year, Fight of the Year and Round of the Year. It had prospects who were willing to step up and some notable upsets. All in all September was a good month, even if we did have some slumps in action.
Fighter of the Month
Pedro Taduran (14-2, 11)
The 22 year old Pedro Taduran will never be described as a world class boxer. The reality is that he's not a world class boxer in any way shape or form, and he will find himself being out boxed on a regular basis. What he is, is a fighter, he's a warrior, he's a world champion and he is well and truly deserving of September's Fighter of the Month award. His win over Samuel Salva on September 7th saw him needing to come back from an opening round knockdown, and boy how he came back. He turned into a raw street fighter and despite being blatantly headbutted in round 4 he just battered Salva into submission.
Fight of the Month
Batyr Akhmedov vs Mario Barrios
The best fights, for us, swing one way then the other, with dramatic swings and changes in momentum of high tempo and high skilled action. On September 28th we got an incredibly bout that had it all. Uzbek born Batyr Akhmedov was dropped in round 4, roared back with 7 amazing rounds of high intensity action, but was dropped in the final minute by a swollen and exhausted Mario Barrios. The drama in the final rounds, as Barrios looked to survive the storm, then pulled out the late knockdown, were amazing. This was amazing and deserves to be considered at the end of the year for the Fight of the year.
KO of the Month
Bakhodir Jalolov KO1 Richard Torrez
Amazingly the KO of the month came in the amateurs and saw Uzbek giant Bakhodir Jalolov laying out American hopeful Richard Torrez in brutally eye catching fashion. We don't often see clean KO's in the amateurs, even with the removal of head gear, but here we saw one that left a massive impression and saw the head of the WBC complain about Jalolov competing in the amateur competition. The huge left hand from Jalolov was brutal and left Torrez out cold on the canvas. This will be up there with the best KO's we'll see in boxing in 2019 and deserves a lot more attention than it has got.
Taku Kuwahara (6-0, 4)
Japan's Taku Kuwahara might not be a name that international fan are aware of, but the youngster is fast rising through the ranks, and his win over world ranked Filipino Jonathan Refugio on September 17th was a big step up in class, and a very impressive win. This 24 year old is tipped for big things and we suspect he'll be pushed into title bouts in the next 12 months. If he can pick up a title in the middle of next year we expect to see Ohashi strap a rocket to him and push for him to get a world title fight sooner rather than later. His performance against Refugio was excellent and we only see him getting better and better.
Amazingly we couldn't find a single noteworthy upset from the month, which is a genuine surprise given how many bouts took place of the 30 days of September.
Masataka Taniguchi Vs Kai Ishizawa (Rd 6)
The Japanese eliminators, for which the winners will get a title fight at next year's Champions Carnival, promise a lot this year, and the Minimumweight bout between former world title challenger Masataka Taniguchi and hard hitting youngster Kai Ishizawa delivered, in spades. The fight was an amazing 8 round war, with the 6th round being the best of them. It was back and forth, both men being hurt, both biting down on their gum shields and both giving everything they had. We could not have asked for more from the two men. An amazing round, from an amazing fight.
This week hasn't been a week with a huge amount of activity but there was a lot of talking points, some really amazing fights and some great performances. A week where quality certainly made up for a relative lack of quantity.
Fighter of the Week
Bakhodir Jalolov (6-0, 6)*
For the first time since we began doing these awards the Fighter of the Week has been won by someone who didn't fight in a professional bout. Instead it's gone to a man who picked up 4 wins in a week and won the World Amateur Championships. That is Uzbek Super Heavyweight Bakhodir Jalolov, who got people talking about the World Amateur Championships in a way that really did bring extra attention to the tournament. We know some are against professionals fighting in amateur tournaments but we've yet to see them have any notable success, that was until Jalolov, who won took gold and show that fighters can do both, pro and amateur boxing.
Performance of the Week
Taku Kuwahara (6-0, 4)
Japanese hopeful Taku Kuwahara took a big step up in class and dominated Filipino foe Jonathan Refugio over 8 rounds. Kuwahara showed his technical ability, speed and movement against Refugio, who was tough but totally out fought, out boxed, out classed and out-sped. Although not one of the more well known prospects in Japan Kuwahara is making a mark and looks like a youngster who is going to be ready for title fights very soon. His performance here was excellent, and the only thing it missed was a stoppage.
Masataka Taniguchi Vs Kai Ishizawa
We had some absolutely brilliant fights this past week, but the pick of them was then back and forth 8 round thriller between Masaka Taniguchi and Kai Ishizawa, who faced off in a Japanese title eliminator. Both of these men had a lot to gain from a win, and both fought as if winning was worth everything. The opening round saw both men being rocked, rounds 2-4 saw Taniguchi set a high pace and out box Ishizawa, before Ishizawa began to get close and dropped Taniguchi. The final rounds were all out action and the bout really exceeded all expectations. A truly fantastic fight
Masataka Taniguchi Vs Kai Ishizawa (Rd 6)
Our fight of the week also gave us the round of the week. The 6th round of the bout was something that was out of a movie. It was 3 minutes of back and forth brutality, both men hammering away with bombs. Whilst Minimumweights often have a reputation for not being able to punch both of these guys were rocked in the round, and both were fighting at such an incredible pace that you couldn't catch your breath.
Notable - Kento Matsuoka vs Suguru Ishikawa (Rd4)
Bakhodir Jalolov KO1 Richard Torrez
The big fuss this week was whether amateur fighters should be allowed to fight in the amateurs, with the WBC stating they shouldn't due to one brutal incident. That was the opening round KO win for Bakhodir Jalolov, who took out Richard Torrez in frightening fashion. The 20 year Torrez, one of the big hopes for the US, had won his first 2 bouts in World Amateur Championships and reached the Quarter finals where he faced Jalolov. With less than a 20 seconds of the round left the lanky Uzbek landed a booming left hand that put Torrez down hard. Whether you're in the camp of not letting pro's in amateur tournaments or not, one thing is clear, this was a KO of the Year contender.
Notable-Froilan Saludar KO8 Tsubasa Murachi
Kudura Kaneko (11-0, 8)
Japanese-Afghan Kudura Kaneko scored one of his best win to date as he stopped veteran Moon Hyon Yun, a man who had never been stopped and was pretty much known for his toughness. Kaneko boxed well behind his jab to begin with, then been Yun at his own game, fighting on the inside and breaking down the veteran. The stoppage seemed questionable, but it felt very inevitable that Kaneko was going to beat and stop Yun. Kaneko might not be well known internationally but we have a feeling that a lot of fans will hear a lot about him over the next 12-24 months. He is a class fighter, with a great back story and a very easy to watch style.
Notable - Carl Jammes Martin
Azinga Fuzile (14-0, 8) vs Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (14-0, 11)
Unbeaten men colliding in a world titlke eliminator is always a good thing, and next week end we see just that as South African Azinga Fuzile takes on Russian based Tajik Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov in a bout that has all the ingredients to be something very special. The styles should gel, both men will be out there for a win and both are solid punching fighters with sound boxing skills. This might not be an all out war, but should be a very compelling, high tempo and hard hitting battle.
After a flurry of activity over the past few days we now head into the back stretch of the month and it's another busy stretch, with some excellent match ups coming up.
Taku Kuwahara (5-0, 4) vs Jonathan Refugio (21-6-5, 7) - Tokyo, Japan
Touted Ohashi gym prospect Taku Kuwahara is regarded highly in Japan but has yet to step up. That changes on September 17th when he takes on experienced Filipino Jonathan Refugio in a big step up. This should serve as a genuine test for Kuwahara, who has shown touches of brilliance, but is certainly not a gimme for the unbeaten man as he goes against a foe who has given world class fighters decent competition.
Yusaku Kuga (18-3-1, 12) vs Yosuke Fujihara (18-6, 5) - Tokyo, Japan
Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Yusaku Kuga will be looking to make his first defense of his second reign as he takes on the experienced, but limited, Yosuke Fujihara. On paper this looks a pretty even looking match up, but in reality should be little more than a showcase defense for the champion, who is a monster at the domestic level. We suspect Kuga runs through a brave Fujihara in only a handful of rounds.
Tsubasa Murachi (4-0, 3) Vs Froilan Saludar (30-3-1, 21) - Tokyo, Japan
A really good match up will see fast rising Japanese youngster Tsubasa Murachi take on former world title challenger Froiland Saludar in a bout for the WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title. For Murachi this is a huge step up, a bit like the previously mentioned Kuwahara, though he has shown touches of being a fantastic young prospect and his team clearly have a lot of belief in him. Saludar has proven to not be world class, but he's certainly a good gate keeper type fighter and all 3 of his losses have come to world class opposition. A win for Murachi puts him on the fringes of the world rankings whilst a win for Saludar keeps his career alive, a very important bout.
Masataka Taniguchi (11-3, 7) vs Kai Ishizawa (6-0, 6) -Tokyo, Japan
In a Japanese eliminator at Minimumweight we'll see former world title challenger Masataka Taniguchi take on Japanese Youth champion Kai Ishizawa. For Taniguchi this is not a bout he can afford to lose, following a loss earlier this year to Vic Saludar, and the talented Watanabe gym fighter has lost 3 of his most significant bout to date. On the other hand this is a massive step up in class for Ishizawa, and it could end up being too much too soon for the youngster. Ishizawa has looked good so far, but his aggression is crude and he may be a fight or two away from being polished enough to take on someone like Taniguchi. This should be very exciting, and very hard hitting.
Wakako Fujiwara (8-3-2, 3) vs Yoshie Wakasa (6-1, 2) - Osaka, Japan
The in form Wakako Fujiwara looks to defend her OPBF Female Bantamweight title, as she takes on the once beaten Yoshie Wakasa. Both enter this bout on the back of a loss, though it's worth noting that Fujiwara's loss came at Super Featherweight to world champion Hyun Mi Choi, whilst Wakasa lost in a domestic Bantamweight title fight to Miyo Yoshida. Fujiwara should be strongly favoured, but Wakasa is going to be there to win and could make for a very tough challenge.
Miki Mitsuda (5-5, 4) vs Kimika Miyoshi (13-12-1, 5) - Osaka, Japan
Ina Japanese female Featherweight title bout Miki Mitsuda takes on veteran Kimika Miyoshi. Mitsuda will be looking to make her first defense of the title, following her title win in April against Asami Jinnari, and she is in good form, going 4-1 in her last 5. Miyoshi is a multi-weight OPBF champion, but has not lost her last 4 and is more than 3 years removed from her last win. This should be a competitive bout, but we can't see it really getting much attention given the limitations of both fighters.
Batyrzhan Jukembayev (16-0-0-2, 13) vs Miguel Vazquez (41-8, 15) - Quebec, Canada
Unbeaten Kazakh Batyrzhan Jukembayev takes on his biggest test so far as he battles Mexican fighter Miguel Vazquez, himself a former IBF Lightweight champion. The aggressive Jukembayev has been screaming for a serious test for a while now and here he's getting one against a very talented, though some what faded Vazquez. At his best Vazquez was a real nightmare to fight, and whilst he's still talented he has shown signs of slipping in recent years. Jukambayev isn't the most polished, and we expect the Canadian based Kazakh to struggle at times, but youth and power should be enough to earn him a win here.
Batyr Akhmedov (7-0, 6) Vs Mario Barrios (24-0, 16) - Los Angeles, USA
The WBA have created a new title at Light Welterweight and look to fill it as Uzbek born, Russian based puncher Batyr Akhmedov takes on in form American Mario Barrios, in what should be a hard hitting and exciting contest. On paper neither of these men will be in the top 10 in the division, and neither would be ready to face the WBA "super" champion Regis Prograis, but the styles of the two men involved should make for a sensational battle. Back in the day this would have been a brilliant eliminator type bout, and it's a shame in many ways that the bout is instead for a secondary title. Saying that however it should still be a great fight and well worth tuning in for.
This past week hasn't been a big one for Asian fighters, unfortunately, as we hit the June slump, but there was still a fair bit of action, and some solid performances.
Fighter of the Week
Wanheng Menayothin (53-0, 18)
Unbeaten Thai Wanehng Menayothin extended his unbeaten record this past Friday, when he took a technical decision win over Tatsuya Fukuhara. The bout wasn't a great one, but again saw the talented Thai show off the skills, accuracy and sharp punching that has taken him to over 50 wins. It's a shame the bout ended when it did, with Fukuhara seemingly coming on at the time of the conclusion, but there is no doubting that Wanheng was value for his win.
Performance of the Week
Junto Nakatani (19-0, 14)
It didn't take long for Japanese Flyweight champion to go through Filipino foe Philip Luis Cuerdo, in what looked like an interesting assignment on paper. Instead of being a good test against a naturally bigger southpaw Nakatani took him out inside half a round to move a step closer to a world title fight. Whilst this won't prepare Nakatani for someone like Moruti Mthalane or Charlie Edwards it was a great statement win and the next step forward.
Mugicha Nakagawa vs Jin Miura
There wasn't a FOTY contender in Asia this past week, in fact there was little in terms of amazing bouts in general, there was however a solid, well contested and exciting bout on Friday in Tokyo, as Mugicha Nakagawa and Jin Miura fought to a draw. This was entertaining without ever becoming anything special. Just unfortunately the week lacked in terms of great fights, with lots of solid action and nothing spectacular.
Kook Min Moon vs Yo Sub Lee (1)
Sometimes the best rounds aren't the ones fought at the highest level, but instead the ones where we see some intense action and give a great sense of "action per second". There are few rounds this year that gave us more action second than the opening round of Kook Min Moon's battle with Yo Sub Lee, which featured 3 knockdowns in just over a minute. The quality wasn't amazing, the skills on show were limited, but the action was intense.
There was no valid KO for the award this week
Kai Ishizawa (6-0, 6)
Hard hitting Japanese youngster Kai Ishizawa used Indonesian foe Silem Serang like a yo-yo, dropping him several times on route to a 4th round TKO win. Whilst the win was always expecred this was the sort of performance that Ishizawa needed after sych a tough bout against Yuga Inoue last year November. This was a sign that Ishizawa was still the destructive monster he had looked in his first 4 bouts, and fingers crossed he'll build on this win with a big step up later in the year.
Carl Jammes Martin (12-0, 11) vs Rakesh Lohchab (6-0, 2)
The Filipino fight scene has had a strange year, with ALA beign eerily quiet and the likes of Gerry Penalosa and Sanman beign the key promotional players this year. Although ALA, and their stable are quiet, there are a number of rising Filipino fighers bringing action and excitement to Filipino viewers. For us the most exciting rising prospect in the country is the all action Carl Jammes Martin, who takes on unbeaten Indian Rakesh Lohchab this coming weekend, and we are really looking forward to seeing Martin back in the ring. He is one of the most exciting fighters on the planet, and every fight of his going forward will be must watch TV, including this one.
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.
The Minimumweight division is one of the most interesting in Japan, thanks to the sheer number of rising hopefuls breaking through the ranks. Not only is there a lot of rising Minimumweight hopefuls, but there is a wonderful mix of styles among those youngsters. We have highly skilled boxer punchers, like Ginjiro Shigeoka, slick boxers like Yuga Inoue and aggressive punchers, like Kai Ishizawa.
It's the last of those hopefules we're going to look to introduce today, with Kai Ishizawa (5-0, 5) being one of the most interesting, exciting and aggressive Minimumweights out there. He's not as technically gifted as the aforementioned Inoue or as wonderfully rounded as the sensationally talented Shigeoka, but he is very promising, very exciting and very, very aggressive. Often using his physicality and incredible strength to make up for his technical limitations.
The 22 year old Ishizawa, from Kanagawa, debuted in June 2017, following a 42 fight amateur career. In the unpaid ranks Ishizawa didn't really impress, running up a 28-14, record. What he did do however, was show a style that had the potential to be very successful in the professional ranks, albeit with the need to be refined and polished.
On his debut Ishizawa looked really powerful, taking out Thai novice Phongsaphon Panyakum in 2 rounds. Interestingly since losing to Ishizawa the Thai youngster has gone 3-0 in his native Thailand showing that he's not a total bum, even if he was given a JBC ban following the loss to Ishizawa.
Just a few weeks after his debut Ishizawa would return to the ring and stop Yoshimitsu Kushibe in 2 rounds, in what was Kushibe's 12th professional bout. It was a big step up, but a step up that the young puncher made with no problems at all.
Despite having fought his first 2 bouts in the space of about 8 weeks it would take almost 6 months before Ishizawa would have his next bout, and it was an incredibly short one as he blasted away Nrathip Sungsut inside a round. It was around this time that he was starting to get some attention. It's rare to see Minimumweight prospects blowing away opponents, but that's what Ishizawa was doing, and was doing in an exciting fahsion.
Not only was Ishizawa creating a buzz after his first 3 wins, but he was also creating real belief within his team, the MT Gym, that he was a genuine talent. That belief was tested in April 2018 when he was matched with the then unbeaten Tatsuro Nakashima. Nakshima was 7-0-1 (5) and had reached the East Japan Rookie of the Year final in 2017, being eliminated on a tie-breaker following a draw with Yuga Inoue. This looked a huge step up for Ishizawa, but he again came out on top scoring a TKO win over Nakashima, who was saved by the referee with a badly swollen left eye, the result of Ishizawa's power. This was a Japanese Youth title eliminator, though sadly Ishizawa was unable to take part in a planned title bout with Daiki Tomita in July 2018 due to suffering an injury in training.
Despite missing out on a clash with Tomita we did see Ishizawa get a shot at the Japanese Youth title in November of last year, when he took on 2017 Rookie of the Year Yuga Inoue for the belt. The bout saw Ishizawa being out boxed, out fought and out battled through the first 4 rounds. He was made to look slow, clumsy and ineffective against a more technical, sharper and smarter fighter. Despite being out classed Ishizawa was showing his will to win and refusing to just roll over, eventually cutting Inoue and breaking him down to score a 6th round TKO.
We'll see Ishizawa attempt to extend hi KO run on June 1st, when he takes on Indonesian visitor Silem Serang. On paper this looks a mismatch, with Serang having a record of 13-19-2 (1) however the Indonesian did recently go 8 rounds with Ishizawa's former foe Tatsuro Nakashima and has also gone put up good efforts, in losses, to Wanheng Menayothin, Andika Sabu and Palangpol CP Freshmart. He might have 11 stoppage losses but he rarely gets blown out early, and should ask some questions of Ishizawa before being stopped later in the bout.
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