As we head into May, which us set to be a crazy month we bow out of April, and to be fair to April it's not been the worst month even if there has been inconsistent action. This past week was one of those where there wasn't a steady stream of notable bouts, but there was certainly enough to be entertained. Sadly the biggest bouts of the week both failed to live up to expectations, with Srisaket Sor Rungvisai fighting with some of the strangest tactics we've seen and Zolani Tete needing to pull out of his bout with Nonito Donaire. Despite those issues this week was certainly worthy paying attention to.
Fighter of the Week
Nonito Donaire (40-5, 26)
Whilst Donaire may have seen original opponent Zolani Tete pull out of the scheduled WBSS semi final that really can't take away from the fact Donaire himself turned up, and took out Stephon Young to move forward towards the WBSS final.The Filipino veteran, now aged 36, walked down Young before stopping him in 6 rounds to retain the WBA "Super" and WBC Diamond Bantamweight titles. The performance showed that Donaire is still young enough to over-come speedy younger southpaws, though the reality was that this was a massive step down to what had been planned.
Performance of the Week
Kasumi Saeki (4-0, 3)
Japan's Kasumi Saeki may not be a name that is on the lips of many fight fans but her performance this past Saturday was fantastic. Fighting in her first world title bout, in just her 4th professional bout, Saeki was up against Mexican foe Elizabeth Lopez and shone. Saeki would totally dominate Lopez before stopping in 6 rounds to become a new world champion, just 11 months after her debut. For those who haven't yet managed to see Saeki they really should be looking to follow her, she's a very, very special young fighter.
Seigo Yuri Akui vs Yoshiki Minato (Round 1)
When we get a 1 round fight that's something special it's sometimes hard to know if this belongs in "Round of the Week" or "Fight of the Week". We had this issue again this week thanks to the brilliant opening round of Seigo Yuri Akui's bout against Yoshiki Minato. The round saw both men swinging for the fences from the opening moments. Akui would be dropped, before bouncing back and dropping Minato twice, then stopping Minato on his feet. It was crazy, intense and thoroughly amazing action, the sort of 1-round thriller that we all love. The bout was one that we had been looking forward to, and will be uploaded to Boxing Raise in the coming days, we suggest that those who use Boxing Raise make sure to give this one a watch
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai Vs Juan Francisco Estrada II (Round 11)
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai put in one of the strangest ever performanes of a world champion this past Friday. The hard hitting southpaw actually fought out of the orthodox stance for the most part, giving away some of his biggests strengths. In round 11 however the Thai finally began to fight as a southpaw, reverting to his typical stance, and this lead him to have real success, taking the fight to Estrada, who let machismo kick in and gave us a great round. Srisaket picked up his pressure and Estrada was forced to respond. This was a great round, and it's just a shame that Srisaket spent so much of the fight, fighting the wrong fight.
Nonito Donaire KO6 Stephon Young
We're back with the Filipino Flash who's much vaunted and thoroughly destructive left hook landed clean on the chin of Stephon Young in the 6th round of their clash. Donaire has been looking for the shot through much of the bout, landing it less flush a few times, but the one that closed the show was truly fantastic, landing clean and sending Young crashing to the ring, hard. That was it, with Young left looking up at the lights, with the lights on but nobody home.
Han Bin Suh (4-0-2, 3)
We're off to Korea for our prospect of the week, as 19 year old Han Bin Suh gets the plaudits from ourselves. The youngster, who had scored back to back draws prior to his bout this week took the Korean Super Bantamweight title with an 8th round TKO win against Dae Young Lee, Whilst Lee was nothing special to be put into a 10 round bout this early in his career Suh is certainly one to make note of. He's perhaps a little bit fortunate that there was many other prospects in action, but that shouldn't devalue the teenager winning such a big bout so early in his career.
Taiki Minamoto (16-5, 13) Vs Reiya Abe (19-2, 9)
This coming week is set to be a very busy week, and for us the most interesting match up will see Japanese Featherweight champion Taiki Minamoto defending his title against slick southpaw challenger Reiya Abe. The bout might not have a world title on the line, but it's a sensational match up and could end up being one of the best bouts on Japanese soil this year. The styles should gel, the desire of both men will be huge and we really are expecting something very, very special here.
The final 10 or so days of April are set to be packed with a fantastic variety of bouts, from national title fights, to world title fights. We see one of the most anticipated bouts of 2019, a female prodigy going for a world title in her 4th bout and the return of the WBSS. This is how you end a month!
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)
As, has become custom in recent years, the calendar for December is genuinely stacked, from wall to wall, making it probably the busiest month for us arguably ever! As a result we'll be breaking our "What's to come" into 3 different parts. The first part, this one, will look at the hectic start to the month, covering everything from a world title fight to a former world champion returning after more than a year away to great looking prospect Vs prospect match!
Mark Anthony Barriga (9-0, 1) Vs Carlos Licona (13-0, 2)- USA
A crazy December 1st starts Japan, but the highlight of the day is in the US due to a stacked American card. Among the bouts on that card is an IBF Minimumweight title bout, as the Filipino sensation Mark Anthony Barriga takes on Carlos Licona, for the title that was vacated by Hiroto Kyoguchi. We've not seen anything much of Licona but Barriga has always impressed and we're expecting this to be an excellent technical contest.
Valentine Hosokawa (23-6-3, 10) Vs Takashi Inagaki (20-17-2, 9) -Tokyo, Japan
Japanese Light Welterweight champion Valentine Hosokawa returns for his second defense as he takes on fellow veteran Takashi Inagaki. This bout looks like it's going to be one sided, at least on paper, but Inagaki will know that this will be his final shot, and will almost certain risk it all for a chance to become a champion, after previously coming up short twice.
Yukinori Oguni (19-2-1, 7) Vs Arega Yunian (6-11, 1) - Tokyo, Japan
Former IBF Super Bantamweight champion Yukinori Oguni returns to the ring after more than a year out, as he fights in a tune up bout against limited Indonesian visitor Arega Yunian. This really will be a mismatch, but it's great to see the popular Oguni back in the ring and he's seemingly got serious plans for 2019.
Kayoko Ebata (12-7, 6) Vs Etsuko Tada (17-3-2, 5) - Osaka, Japan
The Barriga Vs Licona bout isn't the only world title fight this coming Saturday, as WBO female Minimumweight champion Kayoko Ebata defends her title against former WBA and IBF champion Etsuko Tada. Ebata is looking to make her second defense of the belt, and if we're being honest a loss will almost certainly end her career. The talented Tada isn't the fighter she once was, but is the younger fighter and will likely be the crowd favourite here.
Eri Matsuda (1-0) Vs Minayo Kei (6-3, 1) - Osaka, Japan
Talented novice Eri Matsuda looks to claim her first title in just her second professional bout, as she takes on Minayo Kei in an OPBF Atomweight title fight. This could be a good test for Matsuda, who is tipped to have a very successful career, and if she wins she could well end up moving into world title bouts by the summer of 2019. For Kei this is a chance to over-come a touted opponent.
Wakako Fujiwara (6-2-2, 2) Vs Kimika Miyoshi (13-11-1, 5) II - Osaka, Japan
The relatively unknown Wakako Fujiwara shocked Kimika Miyoshi earlier this year, to claim the OPBF female Featherweight title. Now she'll be looking to repeat the feat in a rematch against the former champion, and former world title challenger. It's hard to see where the loser goes from here, whilst the winner may well end up moving in the direction of a world title fight in the new year.
Kasumi Saeki (2-0, 1) Vs Wassana Kamdee (3-4, 2) - Osaka, Japan
Matsuda isn't the only novice looking to claim their first title very early in their career as Kasumi Saeki looks to claim the WBO Asia Pacific Female Minimumweight in just her third bout. The talented Saeki will be up against Thai visitor Wassana Kamdee. We suspect Saeki will win, but we're more intrigued by her performance, rather than just the result.
Reiya Konishi (16-1, 6) Vs Richard Rosales (13-7-2, 7) - Osaka, Japan
Former world title challenger Reiya Konishi looks to make his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Light Flyweight, and move a step closer to a second world title fight as he takes on Filipino Richard Rosales. The talented Konishi failed to shine in his title win, but is expected to look really good against Rosales. To his credit Rosales has mixed with good opponents, but isn't expected to be a serious test here.
Masao Nakamura (24-3, 23) Vs Carlo Magali (23-10-3, 12) - Osaka, Japan
Another Japan Vs Philippines bout will see former OPBF Super Featherweight champions Masao Nakamura and Carlo Magali face off for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight title. The heavy handed Nakamura was once tipped for big things, but has shown a frailty through his career, whilst Magali has a very misleading record and he can be a nightmare at this level. We're expecting a pretty exciting tear up when these two get in the ring together, and the winner will take a huge step towards a potential WBO world title fight.
Arata Matsuoka (6-6, 4) Vs Hikaru Ota (9-8, 5) - Hyogo, Japan
In a bout for the Japanese Youth Flyweight title we'll see Arata Matsuoka and Hikaru Ota face off. This bout doesn't scream amazing on paper, but these youth title bouts are typically very good to watch and this one looks amazingly competitive, with both being very limited fighters. In a way it's a shame that these two are fighting for a title vacated by the brilliant Junto Nakatani, but we should at leats get a 50-50 bout, something we wouldn't have got had Nakatani defended the belt against one of these two.
Hikaru Matsuoka (14-4-3, 2) Vs Noboru Osato (10-6-4, 2)- Hyogo, Japan
A second Japanese Youth title fight will see Hikaru Matsuoka take on Noboru Osato for the Super Bantamweight belt. Hikaru Matsuoka, is the twin brother of Arata Matsuoka, from the Flyweight bout, and we could potentially see twins ending the day as Japanese Youth champions. Osato is however a very capable fighter and footage of both men suggest that this will be a match up between two technically capable fighters each looking to box at range in what could an interest chess match.
Satoshi Shimizu (7-0, 7) Vs Takuya Uehara (16-0, 10) - Tokyo, Japan
Reigning OPBF Featherweight champion Satoshi Shimizu will be looking top make his 4th defense, and take a huge step towards a world title fight as he takes on unbeaten challenge Takuya Uehara. The champion, a 2012 Olympic bronze medal winner, is a technically flawed fighter, but one who has serious power and throws from awkward angles. Uehara is a more technically fighter, rather than the free swinging and unorthodox style of Shimizu, but it is the challenger who is taking a massive step up in class.
Hinata Maruta (7-1-1, 6) Vs Tsuyoshi Tameda (18-3-2, 16) - Tokyo, Japan
A brilliant prospect vs prospect bout for this part of the month will see the very highly regarded Hinata Maruta taking on the heavy handed Tsuyoshi Tameda in a really outstanding bit of match making. Maruta is the more naturally gifted, and when he made his debut he genuinely impressed, beating Jason Canoy, but has yet to really show what he can really do. Tameda is a real brutish puncher, with several wins of note, but he has come up short against the better boxers he's been up against. This could seriously be the bout of the month and is fantastically matched!
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