Whilst much of the action in early to mid-January was spaced out the end of January really sees things coming in at us thick and fast with a lot happening in the final week of the month, including some top unbeaten prospects, world, Japanese youth and Japanese female title fights and a tournament final!
Batyrzhan Jukembayev (17-0-0-1, 13) Vs Maximiliano Ricardo Veron (12-3-1, 4)
Talented Canadian based-Kazakh hopeful Batyrzhan Jukembayev looks to kick his 2020 off in style when he meets 31 year old Argentinian fighter Maximiliano Ricardo Veron. A win for the Kazakh will move him a step closer to a potential world title fight later in the year, and will see him defending minor WBA and IBF titles.
Yumiko Shimooka (4-7, 1) vs Yumi Narita (3-4-3, 1)
On paper not something to be raving about, but Yumiko Shimooka and Yumi Narita will face off in the hope of crowning a new Japanese Female Minimumweight champion. The title was vacated by former champion Mizuki Chimoto, and whilst neither of these two are stellar fighters they should make for an interesting bout all the same.
Kazuki Nakajima (8-0, 7) vs Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0, 4)
One of the real standout bouts for Asia this month is the God's Left Bantamweight final, pitting unbeaten punchers Kazuki Nakajima and Seiya Tsutsumi against each other. This should be a very explosive bout, that could be a blink and you miss it affair. Both can bang, both have some question marks about their defense, both were solid amateurs and both will be looking to claim the God's Left crown. If you have Boxing Raise this is really the one you need to catch this month!
Ayaka Miyao (23-8-1, 6) Vs Etsuko Tada (19-3-2, 6)
Former female world champion Ayaka Miyao and Etsuko Tada clash for the vacant WBO Female Minimumweight title, which was vacated by Kasumi Saeki. Miyao is coming into the bout looking to become a 2-weight world champion, having previously reigned at Atomweight, whilst Tada is looking to reclaim the WBO title, the she previously vacated. This should be a very fan friendly bout between two women who like to let their hands go, and have styles that should work well together, with Miyao being a speed boxer-mover and Tada being someone who will apply pressure behind her volume.
Kaiki Yuba (6-0-2, 4) vs Kanta Takenaka (7-4-1, 2)
Second generation fighter Kaiki Yuba looks to claim his first title as he takes on Kanta Takenaka for the vacant Japanese Youth Lightweight title. Yuba's father, the legendary Tadashi Yuba, was a 5-weight Japanese national champion and dubbed "Mr Korakuen" due to his success as the Korakuen Hall. There is pressure on the 21 year old Kaiki but he should have too much for the tough but limited Takenaka here.
Kanako Taniyama (2-0-1, 1) vs Tomoko Okuda (5-2-2, 1) II
Another Japanese female title should see a champion being crowned as Kanako Taniyama and Tomoko Okuda battle for the second time, with the stakes being the Japanese female Bantamweight title. These two fought to a draw last year, with Taniyama somewhat unlucky not to pick up the win, and we expect another interesting contest this time around. Taniyama was the aggressive, front foot fighter whilst Okuda relied on keeping things long, making for an interesting dynamic that we expect to be repeated here. Could be a bit of a hidden gem here.
Daniel Roman (27-2-1, 10) vs Murodjon Akhmadaliev (7-0, 6)
The highest profile bout for an Asian fighter in January is an obvious choice, as unbeaten Uzbek Murodjon Akhmadaliev takes on WBA "Super" and IBF Super Bantamweight champion Daniel Roman, in a truly mouth watering clash. These two were supposed to fight last year, before Roman suffered an injury in training. For Roman a win would continue an excellent run, which has seen him beat Shun Kubo, Ryo Matsumoto and TJ Doheny, and help stamp him as the #1 fighter in the division. For Akhmadaliev a win would be a huge statement from him, and from Uzbek boxing. Stylistically this is very interesting, with the fighters having styles that should gel, and very significant. One to be very excited about.
Jade Bornea (14-0, 10) vs Ernesto Delgadillo (11-0-2, 2)
Unbeaten Filipino fighter Jade Bornea features in his international debut at the end of the month when he takes on American for Ernesto Delgadillo in a bout for the NABF Super Flyweight title. The fight should tell us a lot about what both men have in their lockers and the winner will find themselves in the mix for a world title fight later in the year.
In the Middle part of September things get a little bit crazy, with a host of fights all crammed into a very small window of time.
Masayuki Ito (25-2-1, 13) Vs Ruben Manakane (25-18-1, 14) - Tokyo, Japan
Former WBO Super Featherweight champion Masayuki Ito fights for the first time since his world title loss, and takes on Indonesian foe Ruben Manakane. This bout is little more a confidence building home-coming bout for Ito, who should really dominate Manakane and force a mid-round stoppage. Despite that it's nice to see Ito back in the ring after his loss to Jamel Herring. We're expecting a simple, straight forward win for Ito here, but the rest of the card is much harder to predict.
Reiya Abe (19-2-1, 9) vs Ryo Sagawa (7-1, 4) - Tokyo, Japan
Talented Japanese Featherweights Reiya Abe and Ryo Sagawa clash for the vacant Japanese title, which has been vacated by Taiki Miniamoto. On paper this one of the best match ups of the entire month, it's a 50-50 type fight between two men in good form, who have really impressed in recent years. Both have contrasting styles that should gel well, and we're expecting a genuinely fantastic back and forth bout here. This is a tough one to call and should be very entertaining.
Gakuya Furuhashi (25-8-1, 14) vs Ryoichi Tamura (12-4-1, 6) - Tokyo, Japan
In a potentially thrilling 8 rounder we'll see Gakuya Furuhashi and Ryoichi Tamura battle in a Japanese Super Bantamweight title eliminator. Furuhashi is a 2-time title challenger, having failed to pick up victory against Yasutaka Ishimoto and Yukinori Oguni, but is a very fun to watch fighter and did push Oguni very close. Tamura on the other hand won,and lost, the Japanese title this year and has developed a reputation for being in great fights due to his intense work rate, toughness and pressure. This should be an all out war between two men desperate for another shot at the title. Expect this one to be brutal.
Rikito Shiba (3-0, 2) vs Shisui Kawabata (2-0, 2) - Tokyo, Japan
Unbeaten youngster clash here in a Japanese Youth title bout, with the touted Rikito Shiba and Shisui Kawabata both risking their unbeaten records at this very early stage in their careers. Of the two we've been more impressed by Shiba, though Kawabata has previously been a sparring partner for Naoya Inoue and has come to the pro-ranks with a very good reputation from his days in the amateur ranks. On paper this might look like two novices in a nothing bout, but given their pedigree this is much bigger than that, and the winner will likely be fast tracked to a senior title next year. This is a huge bout given how early it is in the careers of both men.
Emanuel Navarrete (28-1, 24) vs Juan Miguel Elorde (28-1, 15) - Nevada, USA
The Elorde is one of the most famous in Filipino boxing and on the 14th of September we'll see Juan Miguel Elorde, the grandson of the legendary Flash Elorde, challenger WBO Super Bantamweight champion Emanuel Navarrete. The once beaten Navarrete has looked like a monster through much of his career and this very much has the hall marks of a cash out for Elorde who has done little to deserve a world title fight. On one hand it would be great to see another Elorde at the top of the sport, but the reality is that he will almost certainly be a lamb to the slaughter here.
Yuki Nonaka (33-10-3, 10) Vs Yang Hyun Min (8-2, 7) - Osaka, Japan
Japanese veteran Yuki Nonaka looks to make his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Middleweight title as he goes up against Korean challenger Yang Hyun Min. The talented Nonaka, who is still showing what he can do past the age of 40, is hoping to get a world title fight before his career is over and knows keeping his regional title is the key to landing a shot at the big time. Min on the other hand enters as a bit of an unknown. On paper Min is a puncher, but in reality his competition has been so bad that it's hard to know what he really has to offer
Daiki Tomita (13-1, 5) vs Hayato Yamaguchi (15-7-1, 2) - Osaka, Japan
Another WBO Asia Pacific title fight takes place at Light Flyweight and will see Daiki Tomita take on Hayato Yamaguchi, in a bout for the vacant title. For Tomita this will be his second fight, following a loss last year in an OPBF Minimumweight title fight against Tsubasa Koura. At 21 years old Tomita's future is bright, but another loss here will leave him with a lot of rebuilding. On the other hand Yamaguchi is 30 years old and has gone 3-3 in his last 6 bouts, stretching back almost 5 years, a loss for him will almost certainly send him into retirement. Interestingly this will only Yamaguchi's second bout since the start of 2017 and that type of ring rust will almost certainly be an issue against the very capable Tomita.
Tomoko Okuda (5-2-1, 1) vs Kanako Taniyama (2-0, 1) - Osaka, Japan
Another title bout will see the Japanese Female Bantamweight title being fought for, as the unbeaten Kanako Tamiyama takes on Tomoko Okuda for the currently vacant title. Okuda is the more experienced boxer however Taniyama has got more combat experience than her record suggests following a successful career in kick boxing, a career that was ended due to a knee injury. With both women in their 30's it's hard to see where the loser goes, but the winner will likely look to move from domestic level to regional level and then, potentially, landing a world title fight before ending their career. In many way's it's a shame Taniyama turned to boxing just before her 31st birthday as she has shown some touches of potential. At 36 Okuda is showing signs of being old in the ring already and is 1-1-1 in her last 3.
Female boxing is growing in attention in the West, with various outlets now giving it more and more time. It's not given the respect that male boxing is, but it is certainly being given time with fighters like Claressa Shields, Katie Taylor, Nicola Adams and Mikaela Mayer all get attention in the US and UK.
In Japan there also have some brilliant emerging talent, that are starting to rise through the ranks. In fact right now Japan may be about to hit their golden age of female boxing with so many talented fighters coming through the ranks.
Kasumi Saeki (3-0, 2)
Arguably the pick of the bunch from this rising generation is the fantastic Kasumi Saeki from the Shinsei Gym. Saeki was a stand out amateur before turning professional earlier this year and has raced away to claim the WBO Asia Pacific female Minimumweight title in just her third professional bout.
Saeki is a product of the brilliant Japanese amateur system, and has a style that looks professional. She's quick, aggressive, accurate, has smart foot work and is very sharp with her punching. We're waiting for her competition to improve, but really can't see any reason why she can't be fighting for world titles in the next year or two, and with Shinsei known for not holding fighters back they may even move her quicker than that.
Eri Matsuda (2-0)
Another sensationally talented Japanese fighter is Eri Matsuda, who has a boxer-mover style. She's been matched hard straight away, but has impressed with wins over with wins against Sana Hazuki and Minayo Kei. In those bouts her lack of power is about the only thing that needs questioning, but she showed remarkable improvement, from a narrow in over Suzuki to a dominant win over Kei.
Not only has Matsuda looked talented but she has claimed the OPBF Atomweight title, racked up 14 professional rounds already and shown a combination of great outside fighting skills, fantastic composure and the ability to tie up when she's under pressure. She's clearly got a lot of room for improvement but already looks like a future champion in the making, and Team 10 Count know they have a real prospect on their hands here.
Kanako Taniyama (1-0, 1)
Kikcboxer-turn-boxer Kanako Taniyama turned professional earlier this year and despite being 32 years old the expectation is that she will be fast tracked. We know for men 32 year old fighters are fighters in the latter part of their prime, but we've been seeing more and more female boxers having success into their 40's so Taniyama shouldn't be written off due to her age.
On debut Taniyama took on experienced Thai Sumalee Tongpootorn and really looked the part. She was sharp, quick, accurate, moved well and looked very comfortable in the ring. It's clear she has work to do, and there are flaws she has carried over from her transition from kickboxing, but she looked very good on debut and looks like Watanabe could develop her into a very good fighter.
Airi Motoki (1-0, 1)
The Featherweight division in female boxing lacks the depth of the divisions below it, and lacks the big names that are making a mark in the West. It's a strange division with only a handful of fighters of any real note there, such as Jelena Mrdjenovich, Heather Hardy and Jennifer Han. This means there is room for someone to quickly climb through the rankings, especially domestically.
One fighter who could make their mark there is Airi Motoki, who is part of the T&T gym. She looked very good on debut, with heavy hands and good technical ability. There is certainly a rawness to her, but her right hand looks like a potentially potent weapon and she seems to have good stamina. It's worth noting that the gym she fights out of has really developed male fighter Ikuro Sadatsune and have shown they can take natural talent and polish it.
Eruka Hiromoto (4-0)
At 18 years old Eruka Hiromoto is the youngest fighter on this list, by far, but is also the most experienced as a professional having debuted in October 2017, taking a close win over Kisara Okamoto. Since her debut she has stepped up her competition and moved into a 6 round bout last time out. Despite being a novice she has already beaten 3 unbeaten fighters and shown quite a lot to get excited about.
Hiromoto has a lot of her bouts available on Boxingraise and in that footage she has looked quick, aggressive and sharp. She lacks physical maturity, but at just 18 years old we are expecting to see that change at she matures from a girl into a woman, and hopefully that will see her adding some power to her speed and skills.
Of all the fighters on the list Hiromoto seems like the one who will need the most time, but given her youth she has that time to be matched well, developed and given time to mature.
(Image, of Saeki, courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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