We now head into June, and we do so on the back of a huge May that had everything a fight fan could wish for. We had regular, frequent action, at every level, we had fantastic fights, brilliant performances, and a month that is going to be one of the very, very best of 2019.
Fighter of the Month
Naoya Inoue (18-0, 16)
We had some great performances through the month, but it was clearly only one man who was in the running to be regarded as the fighter of the month, and that was the Monster. Inoue not only boosted his profile to a point of international star, progressed to the WBSS final, claimed the IBF Bantamweight title, but did so in a fashion that seemed to tell the world how good he was, stopping the unbeaten Emmanuel Rodriguez in 2 rounds. This was the type of win that made those, who dind't know of Inoue, sit up and take note. And for those who had long supported the Monster it was vindication that he wasn't just a normal fighter, in fact he was an historical fighter, becoming the first Japanese fighter to win a world title fight in Europe.
Fight of the Month
Taiki Minamoto (16-5, 13) vs Reiya Abe (19-2, 9)
May really did have a lot going on it, with a huge number of fights, but we actually go back to the very start of the month for our Fight of the Month. That was the Japanese Featherweight title fight between between the hard hitting Taiki Minamoto and Reiya Abe, a bout that was sensational, with momentum shifts, excitement, skills, power, heart. Abe, the more skilled fighter, was dropped twice, but gritted his teeth and earned a draw in what wasn't a warm it wasn't a brawl, but it was a brilliant, high skilled, boxing contest. We love wars, and we had those through the month, but this was a brilliant fight and is a must watch for any fight fan.
KO of the Month
Takenori Ohashi TKO7 Shun Wakabayashi
When a fighter is being out boxed, out sped, out fought and out skilled there is always a chance he can bail himself out, if he's a puncher. That's what we saw when Takenori Ohashi landed a brutal uppercut, leaving Wakabayashi out cold, flat on his back and rendering any of Wakabayashi's success as moot. It was proof of the adage of "it only takes 1 punch" and proof that when a fighter is a puncher, they are always in the fight. A massive KO and a huge statement for Ohashi.
Lap Cheong Cheong (6-0, 4)
Although we saw more notable prospects, and we saw bigger wins, we were really impressed by Macao's 22 year old Lap Cheong Cheong this month, as he took an excellent win over Muhammad Wahid in Hong Kong. The unbeaten Macau man pressed the fight through out, took the fight to his foe and tried to break him down from the first round the final seconds. Wahid's toughness prevented the stoppage, but Cheong couldn't have impressed much more. We loved hi style, mentality and hunger, and he looks like a really exciting young fighter.
Masafumi Ando KO3 Toshio Arikawa
Japanese domestic level journeyman Masafumi Ando scored the biggest win of his career, by far, by stopping former Japanese Welterweight champion Toshio Arikawa in 3 rounds. Ando, who had won just 1 of his previous 4 bouts, was a huge under-dog against Arikawa and when he was dropped himself things seemed to be against him. That however instantly changed when he dropped Arikawa and sent him into retirement. What's particularly remarkable about this win is that Ando hadn't scored a stoppage in well over 5 years, and had only beaten 1 opponent with a winning record, the then 1-0 Masanori Iwai.
Ryoichi Tamura Vs Yusaku Kuga II (6)
We had some amazing fights during the month, in what was a truly amazing month. Among the best was the 10 round rematch between Ryoichi Tamura and Yusaku Kuga. The bout had some amazing rounds, the pick of which was the 6th round, as Tamura, who knew he was well behind, moved through the gears and began to push Kuga back. Kuga held his ground more than he did in the later rounds, and gave us a really special 3 minutes of damaging and brutal action. An excellent 3 minutes in what was a fantastic bout, and is well worthy a watch by anyone who likes hard hitting wars.
After a truly hectic start to the month things slow down a little bit, but we still have a pretty busy middle section to the month, no only with title fights but also really looking support bouts, with several supporting bouts looking like better contests than the bouts for belts.
If you missed part 1 that's available here - What's to come in December...Part 1
Ryota Yada (17-4, 14) Vs Shusaku Fujinaka (16-9-2, 10) - Osaka Japan
Hard hitting Japanese Welterweight champion Ryota Yada looks to see off a break through year as he defends his title, for the second time, and takes on veteran Shusaku Fujinaka. Yada won the belt by stopping Toshio Arikawa and has come in to his own this year, after struggling past Moon Hyon Yun last year. For Fujinaka, who is rarely in a dull fight, this could be the last big chance he gets, following set backs to the likes of Keita Obara and Randall Bailey. We're expecting a very fan friendly bout here.
Takayuki Okumoto (21-8-3, 10) Vs Masayoshi Hashizume (16-0-1, 10) - Osaka Japan
A second Japanese title fight will see Takayuki Okumoto make his first defense of the Japanese Super Flyweight title, taking on unbeaten Ioka gym prospect Masayoshi Hashizume. For the challenger this is a massive step up in class, but he's already won the Rookie of the Year and has share gym time with the likes of Sho Ishida, Masayoshi Nakatani and Kazuto Ioka. For Okumoto this is a great chance to build on his title win, which came against Hiroyuki Kudaka back in August.
Ryosuke Nasu (9-3-3, 2) Vs Yuto Nakamura (8-5, 7) - Osaka Japan
The Japanese Youth title scene is heating up with more and more Youth title fights. A pretty interesting looking Japanese Youth Super Flyweight title fight will see the skilled Ryosuke Nasu battle against the limited but heavy handed Yuto Nakamura, in what should be a much more entertaining and competitive bout than the records suggest. It's clear, to use, that Nasu is the favourite, but this bout is certainly no gimme, for either man. A very good match up between two men each looking to claim a title and push their careers forward.
Masayoshi Nakatani (17-0, 11) Vs Hurricane Futa (25-7-1, 15) - Osaka Japan
As well as the Japanese and Japanese Youth title fights we also get an OPBF title fight, as long term OPBF Lightweight champion Masayoshi Nakatani defends his belt against hard hitting challenger Hurricane Futa, who is a real potential banana skin. In recent fights Nakatani has looked like he's gone a bit stale and off the boil, waiting for the Ioka gym to secure him a big fight, and if he again under-performs there's a chance Futa could score a career defining upset win. Futa, although better than his record suggests, should be regarded as the under-dog, but as a live one, and there is a chance he catches a less than fully focused Nakatani here.
Shohei Omori (19-2, 14) Vs Takahiro Yamamoto (21-5, 17) - Osaka Japan
Former world title challenger Shohei Omori looks to continue his climb towards a second world title fight as he takes on former OPBF Bantamweight champion Takahiro Yamamoto, in what looks like a very explosive match up. Both men are flawed but those flaws should make for an interesting contest. Omori is the more rounded fighter, and the more natural boxer, but can leave himself a bit open whilst Yamamoto the more heavy handed fighter, and the more deliberate puncher. We think Omori should come out on top, but wouldn't be surprised to see him need to get through some rough patches.
Sho Ishida (26-1, 15) Vs Warlito Parrenas (26-8-1, 23) - Osaka Japan
Former world title challengers face off in what is a must win bout for both men. Sho Ishida, who lost to Kal Yafai, is still in the mix for a second world title fight and has impressed since his sole defeat, as he looks to have become a better fighter mentally, building on his physical assets and good boxing skills. Parrenas, who lost in a world title fight to Naoya Inoue, is almost certainly in the final stages of his career, and was last seen losing to Ryuichi Funai. Parrenas has the edge in power here, being a brutish puncher, but almost all the other advantages are to the younger, taller, longer Ishida. Big question is whether Parrenas can land a bomb on the Japanese fighter.
Shuichiro Yoshino (8-0, 6) Vs Kazumasa Kobayashi (10-7-1, 6) - Tokyo, Japan
Unbeaten Japanese Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino seeks his third defense as he goes up against limited 35 year old challenger Kazumasa Kobayashi, in the main event of a Korakuen Hall show. On paper this is little more than a show case for the talented champion, who we expect to be moving up a level next year and be competing for regional titles if not working his way up the world rankings. Kobayashi very much feels like a veteran getting a title shot before retiring, and he has nothing to lose here, but few will be giving him any sort of a chance.
Ryo Sagawa (5-1, 3) Vs Shingo Kawamura (16-4-1, 8) - Tokyo Japan
We have a bit of a hidden gem here as former amateur standout Ryo Sagawa takes on recent OPBF Featherweight title challenger Shingo Kawamura in what looks likely to be an under-the-radar treat for fans. Sagawa really put himself on the map earlier this year, winning a shoot out against former world title challenger Ryo Matsumoto, and it seems clear he's looking to mix in title fights in the near future. Kawamura on the other hand lost last time out, but gave OPBF champion Satoshi Shimizu real problems, before Shimizu's power broke him down. Both men will be looking to go into 2019 with a big win and we expect that will show in their performances here.
Nobuyuki Shindo (20-4-1, 8) Vs Akinori Watanabe (37-7, 31) - Tokyo, Japan
It's rare for the JBC to create an "interim" title but when they do they do tend to force a unification as quickly as they can. One of the few interim titles they've created recently is the interim Light Middleweight title, which was won by Akinori Watanabe in August, and he'll be unifying with regular champion Nobuyuki Shindo in what could be a really interesting fight. The power and experience edges are with Watanabe but Shindo is the younger man and the significantly bigger man, having around 4" in height. It's worth noting that the winner of this bout will have to make a mandatory defense in the first half of 2019.
Hayato Kimura (27-10, 18) Vs Seizo Kono (19-10-1, 12) - Tokyo, Japan
On the subject of Japanese interim titles we'll actually see a Japanese Interim Bantamweight title fight as Hayato Kimura and Seizo Kono clash. Originally the plan wasn't for this to be a title bout but due to illness Yuta Saito is currently on the shelf. Neither Kimura or Kono have had great runs of form coming into this, and for both men it's a bit of a must win bout, with neither really having any where to go if they lose. Kimura is certainly the quicker man, but has fought much of his career at Super Flyweight, losing in several domestic Super Flyweight title bouts. Kono on the other hand is a fully fledged Bantamweight, but is 18 months removed from his last win
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