Whilst March has been a busy month, it ends in amazing fashion with a lot of activity crammed into the last week or so of the month. The action isn't high profile stuff, by any stretch, but we will see a lot of exciting and talented prospects in action and we should end up seeing a lot of quality youngsters looking to show what they can do.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Gonte Lee (2-0-1, 1) Vs Aso Ishiwaki (8-3-1, 6)
On March 25th Teiken will be putting on a show, with several talented and unbeaten fighters in action. Arguably the pick of the match ups on the show will see the unbeaten Gonte Lee take on his first domestic foe and return to the ring after more than a year of inactivity. In the opposite corner will be the always fun to watch Aso Ishiwaki, who will be looking to return to winning ways after a shocking blow out loss to Jin Sasaki at the end of 2020. Give that both men have a lot to prove here we expect a really good bout, and given the styles of the two men we could end up with a very compelling match up.
Katsuya Fukui (2-0, 2) Vs Hiroki Hanabusa (8-1-3, 3)
Another unbeaten Japanese hopeful facing his first domestic foe is Katsuya Fukui, who goes up against the once beaten Hiroki Hanabusa. Fukui has impressed so far, but has only had 4 combined rounds in his career and this is a major step up for him. Saying that however he is regarded as a top prospect and was a good former amateur, who will be looking to get his career back on track after 2020, a year in which he was left out of the ring, twiddling his thumbs. Hanabusa on the other hand went unbeaten in his first 11 before suffering a TKO loss to the brilliabt Toshiki Shimomachi last year, in a Japanese Youth title fight. Hanabusa will be wanting to bounce back from that loss and is a very serious test for Fukui.
Kenji Fujita (0-0) Vs Motosuke Kimura (3-5-2, 1)
In a very easy to over-look bout on this show we'll see former amateur standout Kenji Fujita make his long awaited professional debut, as he takes on the under-rated Motosuke Kimura. On paper this shouldn't be a test for Fujita, who really was an excellent amateur, however Kimura has proven, more than once, that he has the tools to test touted prospects. Just last year we saw Kimura put Shigetoshi Kotari on his backside, and he has also managed to run Hikari Mineta very close. This is a much, much tougher debut than it looks on paper, and should be a very solid test for Fujita.
RCC Boxing Academy, Ekaterinburg, Russia
Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov (16-0, 9) vs Lunga Sitemela (13-0, 7)
Unbeaten Tajik Super Featherweight hopeful Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov will be looking to make the next defense of his WBC International Super Featherweight title as he goes up against South African challenger Lunga Sitemela. On paper this is a brilliant match up, and one to get genuine excited by, with the records suggesting a genuine test for Yaqubov. Sadly we don't think the bout will be as good as it looks, with Sitemela having a rather padded record, but it's always good to see unbeaten fighters risking their records against each other, and Yaqubov is certainly someone to keep an eye on regardless.
Erzhan Turgumbekov (8-1-1, 2) vs Gaibatulla Gadzhialiev (7-2-1, 3)
The once beaten Erzhan Turgumbekov, from Kyrgyzstan, looks to bounce back from a TKO loss to the sensational Albert Batyrgaziev, as he takes on Gaibatulla Gadzhialiev in a very nicely matched bout. Turgumbekov showed good skills and heart in his loss, but was broken down after 10 rounds by Batyrgaziev, who looks like a future world champion, and we suspect his style should make for a fun to watch bout here against Gadzhialiev, from Russia. Notably Gadzhialiev is 1-2-1 in his last 4, but the 3 bouts he didn't win were all very close and we expect this to be another close one. This might be the hidden gem of the weekend.
Mark Anthony Barriga (9-1, 1) vs Junuel Lacar (8-6-3, 6)
After more than 2 years out of the ring we finally see the ring return of former world title contender Mark Anthony Barriga. The brilliantly talented Filipino is a true joy to watch and the boxing purists will love everything he does in the ring. Sadly though he has been out of action since a 2018 loss to Carlos Licona. Given the long break from the ring we can't really complain about him having an easy return here, and he really is in soft as he goes up against the very limited Junuel Lacar, who has lost 5 of his last 6.
Arthur Villanueva (32-4-1, 18) vs Bryan Tamayo (6-1-2, 2)
Another former world title challenger returning to the ring after a lengthy lay off is Arthur Villanueva, who takes on the once beaten Bryan Tamayo. "King" Arthur was once regarded as a talented Filipino who had the skills to go all the way. Sadly he has failed in his biggest fights and now has just 2 wins in the last 4 years. He needs an impressive showing here. Tamayo on the other hand is a rising 23 year old hopeful looking for his biggest win. This might be a case of "right place, right time" for Tamayo.
Suamlum Night Bazaar, Ratchadaphisek, Bangkok, Thailand
Phoobadin Yoohanngoh (10-0, 5) Vs Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo (61-7, 41)
Fast rising 17 year old prospect Phoobadin Yoohanngoh takes his next step forward as he battled against Thai veteran Conlatarn Piriyapinyo, who is more than twice Phoobadin's age. The talented teenager has been getting a lot of attention in recent years, winning "The Fighter" in 2019, then winning a regional title in 2020, which he has since defended with an excellent win against Atchariya Wirojanasunobol, and we could be just a year or two from him really breaking out. Chonlatarn on the other hand has become a faded force and is a long, long way from the fighter who was once 43-0. Despite being a faded force Chonlatarn is a former multi-time world title challenger and should have some tricks up his sleeve to test Phoobadin with.
Tanes Ongjunta (7-1, 4) vs Suriyan Satorn (61-11, 41) (AKA Kompayak Porpramook)
Talented former Thai amateur standout Tanes Ongjunta was shocked last year when he ran into an inspired Adrian Lerasan in March. Since then he has reeled off 3 low key wins and now takes a massive step up in class to face former world champion Suriyan Satorn, better known as Kompayak Porpramook. We've been impressed by the natural boxing of Ongjunta, but the loss last year does leave us with worries about his durability and he really did take a lot of punishment there. As for Suriyan, he's very, very much a faded fighter and he has been picking up a lot of losses in recent years, and is 2-6 in his last 8. Despite being a faded force the veteran always comes to fight and should put in a legitimate effort here, though we suspect he will come up short.
Central Gym, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan
Shun Kubo (14-2, 9) Vs Ruito Saeki (7-4-1, 1)
Former WBA Super Bantamweight champion Shun Kubo has gone through a few horrible years with his career, being battered by Daniel Roman and Can Xu, as well as suffering injuries, but he seems determined to get his career back on track and is after some confidence building wins. Here he's up against the under-rated and determined Reuito Saeki, who looks to return to winning ways after going 0-3-1 in his last 4. On paper this looks a bit like a mismatch, but the style of Saeki will almost certainly be a nightmare for the skilled but fragile Kubo and this could end up being a lot, lot more competitive than it looks on paper.
Takahiro Tai (1-0, 1) Vs Koichi Wakita (7-2-3, 2)
Charismatic prospect Takahiro Tai returns for his second professional bout after an eye catching and very fan friendly debut late last year. In the opposite corner is credible domestic fighter Koichi Wakita, who will not want to be embarrassed by the young upstart. For those who missed Tai's debut it was full of show boating, dropping hands and stance switching as he tried to show off just some of the tricks in his bag. Whilst it was against an over-matched foe we suspect the style he showed is the one we'll see from him a lot over the coming years. Whilst Wakita probably lacks the power to be a real dangerman here, he does have the skills and experience to punish Tai's slip ups and this could end up being a real learning experience for the youngster.
The Teiken Gym is one of the most well established gyms in Japan, and has had a number of notable world champions coming in and out of it's doors in Tokyo. At the moment however the gym isn't as strong as it once was and a gym that was once packed with champions, from Japanese nationals right through to world champions, is rather lacking. Whilst it's not great for the gym, it's certainly not all doom and gloom, and the gym is actually looking like it has a lot of reasons to be excited, as it has spent the last year or so snapping up good amateur talent for it's next wave of champions.
Among those many amateur fighters is Katsuya Fukui (2-0, 1), who debuted back in September, on his 23rd birthday, and looks like he could be another name to keep a very close eye on going forward.
As an amateur the young Fukui went an impressive 59-16 and won numerous competitions, including the 2014 Interschool Athletic Meet in Chigasaki, with Fukui beating Yusuke Mine in the final. That same tournament also held notable tournament wins for Yudai Shigeoka and Go Hosaka, and saw Hinata Maruta picking up second place in his weight class.
Back in September Fukui's debut was televised as part of a live G+ broadcast under the Dynamic Glove banner. Fukui would take on capable Korean Sang Hoon Kim in a scheduled 6 rounder, and immediately was clear he was a talent. His composure and educated pressure shone. Whilst his accuracy was lacking at times, he was up against someone who was negative, a surprising trait for a Korean fighter, and it very much felt like Kim realised the quality of the debutant he was in with. After back tracking through much of the first round Kim was caught in round 2 as Fukui finally got to his man, landing a series of right hands up top, then dropping his man with body shots.
It wasn't a flawless debut, it was never going to be given how negative Kim was, but Fukui still showed what he could do, and when facing less negative fighter we expect to see a lot more form him.
Sadly Fukui's second bout wasn't actually televised. It instead came as part of a huge card, though missed out on TV exposure. The card however massive one, the WBSS Bantamweight final, with Fukui stopping Thai Chakkit Ratchakhot in 2 rounds. The Thai went down several times before being stopped in what was an easy second win, albeit in a huge venue as part of a massive show, for the youngster.
At the moment it's not totally clear when Fukui will be back in the ring, though we suspect it'll be some point in Spring, potentially as part of another Dynamic Glove card with Teiken likely to push him relatively quickly. He's not yet a super talent, like some of their other prospects, but he's certainly a very, very capable young fighter with traits that could take him very far, if guided right.
Having mentioned how Teiken look to be bringing through their next generation of champions it's worth noting that Fukui fit's in to a class of prospects at Teiken that also includes Kuntae Lee, Mikito Nakano, Shokichi Iwata and Hiroto Yashiro, all of whom were accomplished amateurs. This group looks likely to be among the core prospects for Teiken over the coming years, and will all be worth following as the gym looks to rebound from a rough patch in it's history.
This past week was a really crazy one with so many shows, especially over the weekend, making it almost impossible to watch everything. Over the weekend alone there were cards in Thailand, Japan, Indonesia, South Korea and the Philippines in what was low key one of the busiest most hectic couple of days of the year. There wasn't just a lot going on but also some hidden gems, so thrilling performances and some exhilarating action.
Fighter of the Week
Pedro Taduran (14-2, 11)
The star for the weekend was Filipino warrior Pedro Taduran, who scored a TKO win over Samuel Salva to become the new IBF Minimumweight champion. Taduran set out his stall early on, applied constant pressure and despite being dropped in the opening round he eventually broke down Salva in very impressive, and destructive, fashion. In regards to the Fighter of the Week award he won the biggest fight of the weekend, and looked great doing it. He was exciting, aggressive, tough, rugged and very fun to watch, making the most of his second chance to win a world title.
Performance of the Week
Pedro Taduran (14-2, 11)
We're sticking with Taduran again for the Performance of the Week as well the Fighter of the Week. His performance, where he simply walked through the unbeaten Samuel Salva was incredibly impressive. He didn't show a great deal of technical excellence, but fought to his strengths, broke down his more skilled foe and battered Samuel into submission with intense pressure and 2-handed offense. It was brutal, beautiful and brilliant from Taduran.
Tae Gwang Park (0-0) v Sang Min Oh (2-0, 2)
Having just described something as brutal and beautiful it goes without saying that most fights in Korea are beautifully brutal, and that was the case in the 4 round rookie bout between Tae Gwang Park and Sang Min Oh. This 4 rounder wasn't a technical masterclass, in fact it wasn't technical in the slightest, but it was violent, exciting and all brutal, with heavy leather being thrown by both through the 4 round contest. It somewhat slowly but got better round by round and ended up being a very hard hitting and hurtful war. This is was rock em sock robots, with defense not really being in the vocabulary of either man.
Pedro Taduran Vs Samuel Salva (Rd 3)
We head back to Pedro Taduran's fight with Samuel Salva for our Round of the Week, and what a round it was! After Salva seemed to win the first two rounds we saw Taduran move through the gears in round 3, but eat a number of clean right hands at the start of the round. From there on however Taduran managed to hurt Salva, and kept the pressure on, through an insane amount of leather whilst Salva went into survival mode. How Salva stayed up right is a mystery, but over 3 minutes was wonderfully chaotic action and the success for Taduran was the momentum shift that lead to his victory.
Hikari Mineta KO1 Yuji Oba
The KO of the Week was an interesting category with a lot of eye catching finishes. For us however the one that stayed with us the most was the huge right hand KO of Hikari Mineta. She shot sent Oba crumbling to the canvas, his legs bending under his body as he went down. He was seemingly aware of his surroundings, but couldn't respond at all to the 10 count following one of the sweetest shots Mineta will ever land. This was a wonderful visual to see and a fantastic finish. We're also glad to report that Oba was complete fine and there was no leg injury, despite the was his body crashed to the canvas.
Katsuya Fukui (1-0, 1)
We're staying in Japan for our Prospect of the Week, Katsuya Fukui. The debuting Fukui, who was a solid amateur, was up against Korean visitor Sang Hoon Kim who we expected to give the new professional a decent test. Instead Fukui smartly boxed behind his jab, approached the bout with a real viciousness to his work and took Kim out relatively easily. The result, a 2nd round KO, wasn't the impressive thing however. What impressed was his approach to the fight. Despite being in total control the debutant didn't take big risks, instead boxing smartly to defeat Kim, applying smart pressure and boxing behind his jab. His performance showed a real maturity and it's clear that he's someone Teiken can get excited about.
Reiya Abe (19-2-1, 9) vs Ryo Sagawa (7-1, 4)
This coming week sees things get a little bit crazy with a lot of potentially brilliant action coming up. Despite a host of great fights being on the docket the one that has us more excited than all the others is the Japanese Featherweight title bout between Reiya Abe and Ryo Sagawa. This bout is a 50-50 type match up, between two very skilled fighters, who have styles that should work well together. Sagawa is technically smart offensive fighter whilst Abe is a technically smart sharp shooting fighter, and when those styles gel we can get some thrillers. This should be hotly contested, highly skilled chess, and we're gonna love seeing how it goes!
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