The month of May is set to be a very weird one, and one that could see bouts in Japan return to the no fan era, and has already seen shows for the 1st, 5th, 6th and 9th of May being postponed. With more potentially also needing to find new dates.
With that in mind we are going to look at what the current schedule looks like for May, though note that things are in a very fluid situation right now due to the on going pandemic, which has seen several parts of Japan go into another State of Emergency.
London, United Kingdom
Dmitry Bivol (17-0, 11) vs Craig Richards (16-1-1, 9)
The first major bout of note will see Kyrgyzstan born Russian based Dmitry Bivol defending his WBA Light Heavyweight "Super" title as he takes on British fighter Craig Richards. The talented Bivol hasn't been in the ring since October 2019, so it's hard to complain too much about a relatively easy defense, but it's fair to say that this is certainly an underwhelming match up between arguably the best Light Heavyweight in the world and someone who, is potentially only the fifth best in the UK. Richards has the style to ask some questions of Bivol, though it's hard to imagine anything but a dominant win by the champion, who really needs to take this opportunity to look good, and not just take a clear win.
Saturday 8, May 2021
AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas, USA
Elwin Soto (18-1, 12) Vs Katsunari Takayama (32-8-0-1, 12)
A week after Bivol's in action we see Japanese veteran Katsunari Takayama get a chance to become a 2-weight world champion as he takes on WBO Light Flyweight champion Elwin Soto. The now 37 year old Takayama, who turns 38 just days after this fight, is one of the true fan favourites of the lower weights and his wars with the likes of Francisco Rodriguez Jr and Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr have been must watch affairs with drama and action. Soto on the other hand is an emerging force, with a really intimidating reputation as a big puncher, and a youngster with a point to prove. Soto will enter the bout as a very, very clear favourite, and he should be, though Takayama will be entering the bout knowing this is likely to be his final bout at world level, we expect he will go out on his shield, win or lose. For those who haven't seen these two in action before, this will be something to savour!
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Musashi Mori (12-0, 7) Vs Satoshi Shimizu (9-1, 9)
Given how many Japanese shows have already been affected by the State of Emergency, which is supposed to be lifted on May 11th, it seems likely that the first major Japanese show of the month will come on May 13th, and it is one that is headlined by something a little bit special. That's a Featherweight unification bout between WBO Asia Pacific champion Musashi Mori and OPBF champion Satoshi Shimizu. This will be a brilliant match up between a skilled youngster, in Mori, who is a very fighter with a good boxing brain, and a flawed, ugly fighter with insane power, in Shimizu. Although stylistically a potential mess, this should be really entertaining and see both men forced to answer some very serious questions about their ability.
Kazuki Nakajima (9-0-1, 8) Vs Kai Chiba (13-1, 8)
A second title bout on this show will see the unbeaten Kazuki Nakajima take on the once beaten Kai Chiba in a bout for the now vacant OPBF Bantamweight title, which was given up by Takuma Inoue a few weeks ago. Nakajima is an interesting fighter who isn't the most natural boxer, and does look rigid and stiff, but has frightening power and long powerful levers. He's the type of guy who can be befuddled by movement, but can destroy people if they stand in front of him. Likewise Chiba is a fighter who hasn't typically used his feet as much as he should, but also has very respectable pop on his shots and could the type of fighter who could get Nakajima's respect. Although Chiba should box and move there is a real chance that he will be dragged into a shoot out here and this could end up being a "blink and you miss it" type of bout.
Keisuke Matsumoto (2-0, 2) Vs Hiromu Murota (6-4-2, 4)
Third generation fighter Keisuke Matsumoto looks to build on his fledgling career as he takes on Hiromu Murota in a scheduled 8 rounder. Matsumoto hasn't looked the most convincing in his first two bouts, though he shown a lot to like, including an ability to bite down when he's needed to and we suspect the plan for him is to build up his experience in bouts like this going forward. The 25 year old Murota shouldn't be much of a threat, though does come in to this following a draw with former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Seiichi Okada and is unbeaten in his last 5 following a 2-4-1 start his pro career.
Katsuya Yasuda (7-0, 4) Vs Tomoki Takada (8-5-2, 5)
Ohashi's "forgotten man" Katsuya Yasuda will be looking for his 8th win as he takes on Tomoki Takada. The plan for Yasuda seems to be much slower than some of the other top Ohashi fighters, but his talent is clear and his performance against Omrri Bolivar last September earned rave reviews from his promoter. Interestingly Takada, despite his record, comes into this bout ranked #9 by the JBC and a win for Yasuda would boost his standing in the sport massively. although no world beater Takada is dangerous and has scored 3 opening round KO's in his last 5. If he lands he could chin check Yasuda, though it's hard to imagine anything but a win for the Ohashi man.
Manchester Arena, Manchester, Lancashire, United Kingdom
Hyun Mi Choi (18-0-1, 4) Vs Terri Harper (11-0-1, 6)
Just 2 weeks after the Bivol bout our attention turns to the UK against as Korean fighter Hyun Mi Choi gets the chance to unify her WBA female Super Featherweight title with the WBC and IBO versions held by English fighter Terri Harper. Choi looked less than impressive in her international debut, last December against Calista Silgado, and will need a much better performance here to over come Harper, who is quickly becoming one of the faces of female boxing. Harper on the other hand needs to build on her last performance, which was an excellent display against Katharina Thanderz. The winner of this will be the queen of the division, and will be looking to the others titles to their collection in what should make for a great year or two at 130lbs in female boxing.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Kazuto Takesako (11-0-1, 11) Vs Riku Kunimoto (4-0, 2)
After numerous delays we'll finally see Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako defending his title in a mandatory against Riku Kunimoto. This bout was originally sheduled for the Champion Carnival in 2020, then got delayed due to covid, training issues, an injury and then the recent State of Emergency in Tokyo. On paper Takesako will be the big favourite and will be tipped to be too strong and too good for Kunimoto, who will be fighting for the first time in over 2 years. On the other hand Kunimoto has the style that could pose real issues for Takesako, who is powerful but a bit robotic, and the movement and speed of Kunimoto could see him asking real questions of the champion.
Back in May 2019 we covered Kazuki Nakajima (then 6-0 (5) and now 9-0-1 (8)) in our regular "Introducing" series. Since we spoke about Nakajima he's been a busy boy and a rather successful one who is now knocking on the door of a title fight at either Bantamweight or Super Bantamweight.
Just weeks after we gave Nakajima the "Introducing" treatment he began his campaign in the God's Left Bantamweight tournament. This was a 7 man tournament pitting a number of Bantamweights in a straight knockout competition, that promised a lot. It had a number of solid fighters in it all looking to make their mark. As well as including Nakajima the tournament also had Jin Minamide, Seiya Tsutsumi, Tetsu Araki and Kenya Yamashita.
In his first bout in the tournament Nakajima made light work of Kenichi Watanabe, stopping him after just over 2 minutes. The bout saw Nakajima pressing forward early and trying to hammer his left hand through the guard of Watanabe. He hurt his man midway through the round but Watanabe recovered well to make a fight of things until being caught by a combination which turned his lights out. It was an eye catching finish and the perfect way to kick off the tournament for Nakajima.
Nakajima built on his win over Watanabe by taking out Jin Minamide in a 1-round shoot out. This was was a hugely entertaining bout, and a real blast as a fan as both men let big shots go. It was the first time Nakajima had been in with a puncher looking to take him out and to his credit he was asked questions by Minamide, who let his hands go and gave Nakajima some things to think about. Despite the pressure from Minamide we saw Nakajima staying composed and dropping Nakajima with a sweet right hook for the bouts first knockdown. Minamide got back to his feet but was down a second time only moments later as Nakajima booked his place in the tournament final.
In the final Nakajima faced his stiffest test to date, as he took on Seiya Tsutsumi. Tsutsumi took a different tactic to all of Nakajima's opponents. Rather than taking him on head on Tsutsumi used a lot of movement, played the role of counter puncher and made Nakajima chase him, fall short, miss and take the counter. It was a smart plan by Trsutsumi who's focus was speed, and skill and it really revealed how basic Nakajima was. Nakajima pressured and pressed and struggled to make any impact early on, he even seemed gun shy and worried about what was coming back at him at times. Despite the tough test Nakajima managed to get a foothold later in the bout dug deep and narrowly managed to keep his unbeaten record. Saying that however he seemed very, very lucky to escape with a draw.
Despite seemingly very lucky to get a draw against Tsutsumi we then saw Nakajima being given the tournament win, something that seemed really unfair, given how fortunate he'd been to not lose his unbeaten record.
Since his controversial win in the God's Left Tournament Nakajima has fought once, dipping his toes at Super Bantamweight, where he beat Kenta Nomura in 3 rounds. This was a controlled performance against an over-matched opponent. Nomura was the naturally bigger man but looked put of his depth from early on and was dropped twice, with the referee waving off the bout after the second knockdown.
Following his most recent win Nakajima's promoter Hideyuki Ohashi spoke about Nakajima fighting for a Japanese or OPBF title in the near future. Given how he looked against Tsutsumi, who we do rate highly, and Nomura, we would hold back on a title fight for Nakajima. He's heavy handed and destructive, but his last two bouts have shown him to be very upright, stiff and almost robotic at times. He is surprisingly quick for someone so rigid, and he does have power, in both hands, but needs time to learn to relax in the ring, and work on becoming more fluid. Until that happens we do worry that Nakajima will fall short at domestic and regional title level.
Although he's unbeaten, heavy handed and talented, we still feel he needs time and development, much like we did in May 2019. He's gone 3-0-1 (3) since then, but still has clear areas to work on, and hopefully work on them he will before he's in the ring again.
It's fair to say that the bouts we expected to see taking places in September have shifted and swapped around a lot since the start of August. We had Misako announce a Diamond Glove card for the first week of the month, we saw Teiken postpone their Dynamic glove card for the first Saturday of the month and Fanlong Meng being forced out of his scheduled world title bout due to visa issues. With that said take a look at what will be coming in the first part of September!
Shuichiro Yoshino (12-0, 10) vs Valentine Hosokawa (25-7-3, 12)
The first major bout of the month for Asian boxing sees the Korakuen Hall place host to a triple title bout, as Lightweight triple crown winner Shuichiro Yoshino defends his Japanese, OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific titles against exciting veteran Valentine Hosokawa. We expected this to be a genuine test for Yoshino, who's looked good, but never been up against someone quite like Hosokawa. This should be a gut check of what Yoshino has in the tank, and we genuinely looking forward to this one.
Bang Phun, Thailand
Chainoi Worawut (11-0-1, 10) vs Joel Kwong (5-9, 5)
At the Work Point Studio we'll see unbeaten Super Bantamweight hopeful Chainoi Worawut look to continue his unbeaten run, and his rise to a world title fight, as he defends his WBC Asian Boxing Council title against Thai based Filipino Joel Kwong. On paper this is a huge mismatch, though Kwong will be there to win, and has won his last 4, all by stoppage. See an easy win for the Thai, but hopefully Kwong does come out firing.
Phongsaphon Panyakum (9-1, 4) vs Arthit Kaewbantid (3-0, 2)
The once beaten Phongsaphon Panyakum will be looking to continue his winning run, which sits at 9 straight, as he takes on Arthit Kaewbantid. The 20 year old Phongsaphon is starting to look like a very good prospect and has really grown since being stopped on debut, in 2017 by Kai Ishizawa. He'll be the big favourite here and will know that his team will try to get him a regional title fight soon, if he wins. Arthit on the other hand is a big of an unknown, and this is a clear step up in class for the him.
Blue Arena, Thailand
Campee Phayom (20-4-2, 12) Vs Pungluang Sor Singyu (53-8, 35)
In a really interestin looking all-Thai bout we'll see WBA Asia Super Featherweight champion Campee Phayom defending his belt against former WBO Bantamweight champion Pungluang Sor Singyu. We suspect the younger, fresher, naturally bigger Campee will come out on top here, and if he does it would certainly be his biggest win to date. Although not a natural 130lb fighter Pungluang has shown enough in his recent bouts, in and around the weight, to suggest he could be a handful. To us this is much more interesting than we first imagined when we saw the two men being matched up.
Nattapong Jankaew (5-0, 3) vs Samartlek Kokietgym (34-12-1, 12)
In another interesting all Thai bout former amateur stand out Nattapong Jankaew will be seeking his biggest win to date as he takes on former world title challenger Samartlek Kokitgym, aka Wittawas Basapean. We've been really impressed by Nattapong, who has shown some exceptional skills for someone so early in their professional journey, and this is a logical step forward for him in a bout that should be a real chance for him to shine. Samartlek might be on the slide, but he should have enough about him to ask questions of Nattapong, but they should all be answered with ease by the youngster.
Kazuki Nakajima (8-0-1, 7) vs Kenta Nomura (7-3, 3)
Hard hitting Japanese hopeful Kazuki Nakajima looks to build on his unbeaten run as he dips his toes at Super Bantamweight to take on Kenta Nomura. On paper this looks like a really good bout, but we don't see the hard hitting Nakajima struggling to get past Nomura, who has been stopped before. Despite seeing this as an easy win for Nakajima his bouts are typically worth watching, with his power and aggression typically making things exciting, and short. This could be a very fun mismatch.
Katsuya Yasuda (6-0, 4) Vs Omrri Bolivar (8-3, 3)
The talented Katsuya Yasuda looks to kick off his 2020 with a bout against Japanese based Venezuelan Omrri Bolivar. Yasuda has shown a lot to like, but has had a bit of a stop-start career and will be looking to kick on, especially after the time he's lost this year. Bolivar is a decent enough fighter to ask questions of someone like Yasuda, but in reality it's hard to see Bolivar scoring the upset over the Japanese national. Saying that, this should be competitive in spots and Yasuda won't have things all his own way.
Katsuki Mori (6-0, 1) vs Yuki Uchida (7-7, 1)
A third Japanese prospect to make a note off for September 16th is 2019 Rookie of the Year winner Katsuki Mori, who looked fantastic last year. The talented 20 year old is wise beyond his years, an excellent boxer with a brilliant boxing brain. He'll fighting for the first time since his Rookie triumph as he dips his toes at Light Flyweight and takes on Yuki Uchida. We suspect this will be little more than a show case for Mori who's got a very high ceiling and should be on the watch for all fans of the lower weights. This is kid is special and will be looking to show that against an experienced and naturally bigger foe here.
Another week is over and we again get to look over the good, the bad and the ugly from the boxing world! We've had some great moments, some frustrating moments and of course a really ugly moment, that we suspect every fan has already seen on social media.
1-Inoue Vs Casimero is Official!
The worst kept secret in boxing was finally confirmed with Ohashi holding a press conference in Japan to announce Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16) would be facing WBO Bantamweight champion John Riel Casimero (29-4, 20) on April 25th bout with the WBO, IBF and WBA "super" titles all on the line. The bout was one we seemed to know about weeks ago, but it was still the highlight of the week to see it being announced and confirmed. Although April seems a long way away it's great to see this finally being confirmed and fans now able to get flights and hotels sorted for what promises to be a fantastic fight.
2-Raymond Guajardo vs Clay Collard
Man oh man, oh man! The first round to this PBC bout was something sensational! With 3 knockdowns, and an all out dramatic war this was special from the opening bell. Raymond Guajardo had come into the bout as a supposed prospect, having blown out all of his opponents early on. Clay Collard on the other hand was a tough guy with an under-rated record against stiff competition. This was a gut check for the youngster and one he failed to pass, but did come out with an enhanced reputation. The only problem was seeing people complain about the match making afterwards. Sorry to say chaps but bouts like this should be applauded, rather than letting Guajardo running up a 20-0 record it's better to see him checked out early and being asked questions. He now knows areas to improve, and fans now know his name!
3-Tevin Farmer's reign comes to an end
We're sorry if it sounds like we're being harsh but the IBF Super Featherweight title reign of Tevin Farmer will go down as a dreadful reign when we look back in the history books. The skilled southpaw won the title in August 2018, beating a wash Billy Dib, then made 4 defenses in less than a year. That sounds great until you look at the level of his competition during that reign, and note that he faced 0 fighters above the European-type level. For all the attention and the press Farmer got his reign was dreary so it's a good, in our eyes, that Jo Jo Diaz, a much more exciting and interesting in ring fighter, ended his reign. Whilst Farmer has a great out of the ring story the in ring action he has given us since winning the title has been awful.
4-Murodjon Akhmadaliev takes unified crown!
Whilst we'd been impressed by Murodjon Akhmadaliev's rise through the ranks we though he was getting his shot against Daniel Roman just a fight to soon. Well he sure as hell made us eat our words! What a fantastic performance by the young Uzbek who announced himself on the world stage in a brilliant way. This young man is a brilliant fighter and you could tell what the win meant to him in his interview. Also big respect to the post fight behaviour of both men, who had class and dignity through out. Big props to both "MJ" and Danny Roman for conducting themselves in the way they did pre fight, in the fight and post fight.
1- Juding in the God's Left Final
The God's Left Bantamweight final did not go the way we had expected. We were expecting a war, an all action tear up which wouldn't see the final bell. Instead we saw Seiya Tsutsumi using a lot of excellent movement and a fantastic gameplan to stop Nakajima from using his power shots. This was a great tactic to win the early rounds, though sadly the judges didn't seem to appreciate the raiding attacks of Tsutsumi, who was denied what seemed like a clear win. This was poor from the judges, and really was harsh on the Kadoebi gym fighter who deserved the victory and the tournament prize.
Celebrity fights are nothing new, and they certainly shouldn't be pushed out of the sport, despite what some might think. However Jake Paul's bout with Ali Eson Gib is one where the commission need to take a look at themselves. In fairness to Paul he seemed to have some idea of what he was doing, but also he also appeared a natural weight class, if not 2, bigger than Gib who didn't look like he'd ever had any real training. Gib just looked bizarre and like a man who had learned to box from a video game or something. As a spectacle it was acceptable, and neither were the worse fighters we saw this weekend, but trying to build an event around them, and then having the post fight fake beef stuff. These bouts could be used to attract attention to a good show, but in reality this just felt like one guy who knew how to fight picking on a smaller, clueless kid. Commissions, if they are to allow these types of bouts, need to make sure the fighters are both similarly sized and abled.
3-Inconclusive ending to Pedro Taduran vs Daniel Valladares
The IBF Minimumweight bout between Pedro Taduran and Daniel Valladares was great, don't get is wrong. It was our fight of the week. Sadly though the early headclash and early finish, resulting in a technical draw, was an inconclusive and disappointing end to what should have been a great fight. Fingers crossed we get a rematch between these two after the mini-war we got here.
1-Gervonta Davis - Public Display of Aggression
For a second week running WBA "regular" Lightweight champion Gervonta Davis makes it into our ugly, and again it's for something that a top level boxer shouldn't be doing. This time around he was effectively man handling a woman at a basketball game, and was caught on film. Whilst some will say he didn't actually hit her, this was still a worrying act of aggression towards a woman, who is reportedly the mother of his child. Thing is if he's willing to do this in public then what goes on behind closed doors? The talented fighter really isn't having a great 2020, and it may take someone close to him to make him sort out this reckless behaviour, before it's too late.
2-The judging for the Farmer Vs Diaz fight
We think it's fair to assume that most people had Jo Jo Diaz taking a near shut out against Tevin Farmer, who was out worked, out punched, out powered and out fought from the early stages. Some how two of the judges had the bout just a single round off a draw. Richard Green and Alex Levin really should be pulled aside by the commission and explain their 115-113 cards. Absolutely pathetic scorecards and ones that look like they were from two men who didn't want the action in the ring.
(Images courtesy of boxmob.jp)
This past week was an incredibly quiet one for Asian fight fans, with a genuine lack of notable fights. It's been probably the quietest week since we started doing these awards, and sadly it means there are several categories where we don't have someone we can actually name as a winner. Thankfully we do see things change in February, and things should get a lot better soon!
Fighter of the Week
Batyrzhan Jukembayev (18-0-0-2, 14)
Due to how weak the week was over-all this was an easy award with Batyrzhan Jukembayev scoring the biggest win of the week. The Canadian based Kazakh prospect may have ended up taking on a late replacement opponent, but he did what he needed to do and took out Ricardo Lara in just 2 rounds to continue his climb towards a potential world title fight. It's clear that Jukembayev needs a real test, and hopefully that will come in the summer before he faces a fellow fringe contender.
Performance of the Week
Batyrzhan Jukembayev (18-0-0-2, 14)
It's fair to say that Jukembayev has essentially won this by default. That's how bad the week has been. The Kazakh looked sharp and appeared unfazed by a late replacement change, but really had a very limited opponent in the ring with him and it showed.
Kongfah CP Freshmart Vs Edison Berwela
In Thailand on Friday we had the best of a weak bunch of fights, as Kongfah CP Freshmart defended his WBC Asia Diamond Super Bantamweight title against the under-rated Edison Berwela.
Gaku Takahashi vs Keeshawn Williams (Round 4)
Ther wasn't really any standout rounds from the last week, though we did sort of enjoy the weird spectacle of watching the unique Gaku Takahashi take on Keeshawn Williams. From watching the bout it's clear neither is anything special, despite Williams dubbing himself "The Next Big Thing", but their bout was fairly entertaining. It was obvious through out that Takahashi was out of his depth in terms of skills, but kept coming forward and letting his hands go when he was tagged. An odd bout, but round 4 was certainly fun with both men having moments.
No Valid KO This Week
NO Valid Prospect This Week
Kazuki Nakajima (8-0, 7) vs Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0, 4)
We do see action really picking up this coming week, as we break into February in style. There are a lot of bouts cramped into the week and we know most fans will have a US bout in mind as the one that has their attention, notably Daniel Roman's world title defend against Murodjon Akhmadaliev. For us however the Godn's Left Bantamweight final between Kazuki Nakajima and Seiya Tsutsumi. This is likely to be a short bout, but a very, very explosive one, between two guys who are big punchers, and have styles that should gel. This is going to be very exciting.
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.
November is very much a top heavy month, starting with pretty the best of what we're going to be getting. Despite there is some solid action in the second week of the month, thanks to a fantastic Dangan card.
Taiki Minamoto (16-5-1, 13) Vs Takuya Watanabe (36-9-1, 21) - Tokyo, Japan
This part of the month has a sensational Japanese Super Featherweight title eliminator
as former Japanese Featherweight champion Taiki Minamoto takes on the always tough Takuya Watanabe. The hard hitting Minamoto moved up in weight earlier this year, after defending the Featherweight title against Reiya Abe, and will be hoping his concussive power carries up to Super Featherweight. For Watanabe another loss here will likely end his hopes if ever becoming a Japanese champion, but given his style and toughness he certainly has a chance against Minamoto.
Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0, 4) Vs Kenya Yamashita (14-5, 11) - Tokyo, Japan
A potentially thrilling God's Left Bantamweight tournament semi-final
will see the unbeaten Seiya Tsutsumi take on the much more experienced Kenya Yamashita in a bout we're expecting to be short and explosive. Both of these men throw bombs, both are aggressive and exciting and both come to fight. It's worth noting that this will be Tsutsumi's first bout since transferring to the Kadoebi gym though we don't expect them to have tempered his aggressive mentality.
Jin Minamide (4-0, 3) Vs Kuzuki Nakajima (7-0, 6) - Tokyo, Japan
The second God's Left Bantamweight tournament semi-final
will be a clash of unbeaten men as the explosive pairing of Jin Minamide and Kazuki Nakajima clash. Both of these men solid amateurs and have been destructive professional fighters so far in their career's. Although Nakajima is the more experienced of the two we feel that Minamide is the more accomplished, and he answered a number of real questions against Tetsu Araki in his tournament quarter final bout. Expect this to be a highly skilled, big hitting war.
Alie Laurel (16-4-1, 10) vs Ernesto Saulong (22-5-2, 9) III - Gumaca, Philppinee
An all Filipino bout for the WBO Oriental Super Bantamweight title will see Alie Laurel take on Ernesto Saulong in a very interesting clash, though one at a sub regional title level. Notably this will be the third clash between the two men, with Sualong having won the first two, and this is supposed to be the final clash between the two Pinoy pugilists.
West Japan Rookie of Year finals- Osaka, Japan
Exactly 1 week after the East Japan Rookie of Year finals we get the West Japan Rookie of the Year finals. As with the show a week earlier we're expect a lot of great action as fighters compete for the chance to become the All Japan Rookie of the Year in December. This is set to be a great card for emerging young fighters, and we would suggest every fight fan keeps an eye on this show, even if the bouts won't be televised until the following week.
Mercito Gesta (32-3-2, 17) Vs Carlos Morales (19-4-3, 8) - California, USA
Former world title challenger Mercito Gesta was upset last time out, when he was stopped by Juan Antonio Rodriguez, suffering his first stoppage loss. Now the 32 year old Filipino is pretty much in the last chance saloon, and another loss would almost certainly spell the end for the southpaw. Morales isn't particularly well known but the 29 year old will know that a win over Gesta will put his name on the map, and although he's the under-dog he is a very, very live fighter here, following competitive bouts with Rene Alvarado and Ryan Garcia. Gesta might be expecting a win here, but we certainly wouldn't be surprised if Morales had too much for him here.
The end of July is upon us and we see another surge in action, especially in Japan, with tournaments, titles, prospects and a touted debutant!
On July 23rd we get something a little bit different as Dangan put on the quarter final bouts for their God's Left Bantamweight tournament:
Gaku Aikawa (9-7-1, 3) Vs Kenya Yamashita (13-5, 10) - Tokyo, Japan
Kazuki Nakajima (6-0, 5) Vs Kenichi Watanabe (8-4-1, 4) - Tokyo, Japan
Jin Minamide (3-0, 3) Vs Tetsu Araki (14-1-1, 2) - Tokyo, Japan
The three matches above are all part of the God's Left tournament and on paper the stand out match up is the Minamide Vs Araki bout, pitting one of the most touted prospects against the man with the most success at title level, with Araki having been a Japanese Youth champion. It's hard to imagine anything but a win for Kazuki Nakajima in his bout with Kenichi Watanabe, with Aikawa Vs Yamashita has the potential to be an all out thriller.
Earlier this year we did an "Introducing..." on Kadoebi prospect Yuki Nakajima. He has an older, a similarly promising, brother who fights out of the Ohashi gym. That is Bantamweight prospect Kazuki Nakajima (6-0, 5), who's a couple of years older than Yuki and a little further along with his career. Like Yuki big things are expected from Kazuki, though he has gone through a little bit of a career stagnation recently and hasn't fought since December, and we're hoping to see him back sooner rather than later.
Nakajima was born in May 1993, in the city of Yamatokōriyama, Nara prefecture and would run up an impressive amateur record of 72-15 (30) before turning professional. Whilst that record isn't an mind blowing one he was highly regarded and had competed on the national scene and was crowned the Kansai League MVP. That amateur pedigree excited those at the Ohashi gym and in 2017 Nakajima signed with the Hideyuki Ohashi lead gym.
On June 25th 2017 Nakajima made his debut, taking on fellow debutant Alangkan Worakhut from Thailand. The Japanese southpaw needed just 109 seconds to see off the Thai, who was dropped twice in the bout, once from a straight left and once from an uppercut. Although not badly hurt from the shots Alangkan knew he was beat and held his shoulder whilst being counted out, as if to suggest he had injured himself and although it seems hard to belive he did seem in total agony in his corner after the bout.
Just a couple of months later Nakajima would secure his second win, stopping Indonesian Resnu Sundava in 26 seconds. Nakajima would finish this one with a left hand to the body of the visitor. It's worth noting that Sandava had never previously been stopped, but didn't look like he wanted to be in the ring with Nakajima and looked like a man wanting to get out of the ring as quickly as possible.
Thankfully in December 2017, as part of the under-card to Naoya Inoue's win over Yoan Boyeaux, Nakajima was actually tested, as he went up against the criminally under-rated Taiga Higashi. Higashi, who really is a nightmare for a prospect, gave Nakajima a really good 6 round test. Not only did Nakajima get taken 6 rounds, for the first time, but he also lost a couple of rounds to Higashi, who also dropped Nakajima with a right hook, and was forced to fight through adversity. Although it had taken 6 months Nakajima had now been shown what professional boxing was about, and showed could dig deep when he needed to.
After having had such a good test the hope was for Nakajima to be given another test straight away. Sadly he was matched with Thai foe Siripong Prasroedpong, who lasted just 85 seconds. Thankfully it wasn't long before he stepped back up in class and stopped the tough Takuya Fujioka, who retired between rounds and took his first stoppage loss. Fujioka never looked like he was able to get into the bout as the skills, speed and power from Nakajima were simply too much and Fujioka's corner did well to save their man from additional punishment in the later rounds. Nakajima would again step up in his follow up bout, beating Yoshihiro Utsumi in 7 rounds, in what was his most impressive performances to date.
As mentioned Nakajima hasn't fought this year, with his win against Utsumi coming back in December. He's still young enough to take some time off, but we'd hope he fits in a couple of fights this year and makes up for lost time. He was looking really good at the end of 2018, and certainly has the potential to find himself in the title mix at Bantamweight, at least domestically and regionally, and it would be a massive shame if that potential went to waste.
Nakajima is a sharp punching, well school, heavy handed southpaw with high level skills. He still needs development, which experience will help him with, but the tools and team are in place for him to have an excellent career.
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