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.
It's fair to say action picked up, notably, in October but that's nothing compared to what we are set to get through November, as boxing races towards the end of the year with a brilliant, packed and stacked month. The next few weeks are among the best we've had in a long time with lots of notable names and interesting bouts, and thankfully we don't need to wait long between some of these exciting match ups!
Aioi Hall, Kariya, Aichi, Japan
Masanori Rikiishi (8-1, 4) vs Soreike Taichi (7-3, 5)
The first bout of real note in November takes place on November 1st, with Japanese Lightweight hopeful Masanori Rikiishi looking to continue his strong run of form. The talented fighter from the Midori Gym is looking for his 7th straight win following a 2018 loss to Kosuke Saka, and a win here would likely take him to within touching distance of a Japanese title fight. Taichi on the other hand will be there looking to get his career back on track following a loss in February to Kazuma Sanpei. Sadly for Taichi he has been stopped in 2 of his 4 losses to naturally smaller men than Rikiishi, and we see him failing to complete the schedule here too.
Intex Osaka, Osaka, Osaka, Japan
Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) vs Thanongsak Simsri (14-0, 12)
The first major bout of the month will see WBA Light Flyweight "Super" champion Hiroto Kyoguchi make his next defense as he takes on unbeaten Thai challenger Thanongsak Simsri. The talented Kyoguchi hasn't looked as good in recent bouts as he did when he won the title at the end of 2018, but will be regarded as the very clear favourite here as he takes on a relatively unknown contender. Although unknown outside of Asia Simsri has looked impressive and is a heavy handed youngster from the same region as Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. We do see Simsri as a future champion, but feel this may be too much too soon for him.
Jinki Maeda (5-0, 3) vs Kaito Okubo (5-1, 2)
Also on November 3rd is brilliant prospect Jinki Maeda, who won Rookie of the Year in 2020. The talented, sharp punching and fast rising Maeda isn't being matched easily here as he takes on the once beaten Kaito Okubo, who has notched up two wins since his sole defeat in 2019 and will tower over Maeda in the ring. We expect to see Maeda win, but we are expecting him to answer some questions on route to victory. The perfect type of match up for the unbeaten 24 year old
Korakuen Hall, Japan
Junto Nakatani (20-0, 15) Vs Giemel Magramo (24-1, 20)
After several delays it now seems we will finally see a new WBO Flyweight champion being crowned this month as we finally get the long awaited showdown between Junto Nakatani and Giemel Magramo. The title has been vacant since Kosei Tanaka vacated it earlier in the year, and we had hoped to see Nakatani and Magramo battle in the Spring, and then the summer. Despite the, repeated, delays this is still one of the most interesting Flyweight bouts on the docket and is a real 50/50 bout. Both men can box, both have solid power, and both are looking for a top tier divisional win. This is the sort of bout we, as fans, should all be behind.
Korakuen Hall, Japan (G+)
Kazuto Takesako (11-0-1, 11) Vs Riku Kunimoto (4-0, 2)
In a delayed Champion Carnival bout we'll see Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako taking on mandatory challenger Riku Kunimoto. As with the Nakatani Vs Magramo bout this has been delayed numerous times, due to the on going situation and then training issues affecting Kunimoto. On paper this is a massive step up for Kunimoto, who has never faced anyone even close to Takesako's ability or power. Despite the step up this is not a foregone conclusion, and will instead be an interesting way for both men to answer a lot of questions about their ability.
Takeshi Inoue (16-1-1, 10) Vs Nath Nwachukwu (6-0-2, 3)
WBO Asia Pacific Light Middleweight champion Takeshi Inoue is in action here, but not a title defense, as he takes on Japanese ranked Middleweight Nath Nwachukwu. On paper this really does just look like a stay busy bout for Inoue, who's best known for 2019 fight with Jaime Munguia, but in fairness Nwachukwu will be coming to win, and won't be wanting to give up his unbeaten record. Inoue's the clear favourite, but we do expect him being forced to work for a win here.
Takuma Takahashi (5-0, 5) Vs Kodai Kiyota (9-6-2, 9)
The exciting, flawed, heavy handed, crude, Takuma Takahashi looks to put controversy behind him and build on his highly entertaining bout with Leonardo Doronio from back in January. In that bout Takahashi was in all sorts of trouble, and seemed lucky that Biney Martin let him get away with some very questionable tactics. Here he's up against domestic foe Kodai Kiyota in what should be a very easy win for the unbeaten man. A real confidence builder more than anything else.
RCC Boxing Academy, Ekaterinburg, Russia
Ravshanbek Umurzakov (10-1, 7) vs Zoravor Petrosian (9-0, 4)
Back on to the subject of delayed fights here as we finally see Uzbek fighter Ravshanbek Umurzakov take on Ukrainian youngster Zoravor Petrosian. This bout was originally scheduled to take place in mid-September but fell through at the 11th hour when Umurzakov was unable to get into Russia. Despite the bout falling through a few weeks ago Petrosian fought anyway, looked really good, and we're now set to see them get in the ring together. This could be the hidden for the weekend.
Workpoint Studio, Bang Phun, Thailand
Thananchai Charunphak (10-1, 8) Vs Pigmy Kokietgym (61-13-2, 25)
Once beaten Thai prospect Thananchai Charunphak is among the most promising fighters in Thailand, and this week we get to see him step up again for what is essentially his third bout against a notable foe. The once beaten 20 year old, who already holds wins over Samartlek Kokietgym and Kompayak Porpramook, is tipped very highly.In the opponent corner will be veteran Pigmy Kokietygym, a former world title challenger who has seen better days, but should still provide something of a test for the youngster.
Pungluang Sor Singyu (54-8, 36) Vs Amnat Ruenroeng (20-4, 6)
In a brilliant match up between veterans we'll see former WBO Bantamweight champion Pungluang Sor Singyu take on former IBF Flyweight champion Amnat Ruenroeng. At his best Pungluang was a strong, powerful aggressive fighter, who came forward and let his hands go. As he's aged he's slowed down, but is still having success and recently upset Campee Phayom. Amnat however has always been a tricky, awkward, fast, skilled, nightmare who knows the dark arts and how to get away with things. We're not expecting this to be the most action packed bout, but it is a genuinely intriguing one, and one of the most interesting non-title boutswe've seen in Thailand in years.
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Hollywood, Florida, USA
Zhilei Zhang (21-0, 16) vs Devin Vargas (22-6, 9)
Chinese Heavyweight contender Zhilei Zhang looks to continue his unbeaten record as he takes on Devin Vargas in Florida. The Chinese giant, who stands at 6'7", is a real talent, a quick handed, well schooled, southpaw with surprising speed and power. Sadly though he's 37, and any dreams of him getting a big fight before father time inflicts a loss on him are slim, even with Matchroom behind him. Vargas is a serviceable opponent for a prospect, but the 38 year old American is little more than that and shouldn't really ask questions of a contender, like Zhang. A really pointless match up that does little more than keep a 37 year old busy, rather than building his profile in what is the "now or never" part of his career.
This past week has been an interesting one with a lot of action at the end of it, some explosive action in the US and some real exciting and notable moments in both Japan and South Korea. With that said, lets take a look at this weeks award winners!
Fighter of the Week
Kazuto Takesako (12-0-1, 11)
Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako scored the biggest win of his career as he defeated Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa, unifying the Japanese and OPBF titles in the first OPBF title fight of the year. This was expected to be a total war but in the end Takesako was in control through out. Early on it was the body shots and combinations of Takesako that set the tone for the bout, before the contest descended into a bit of a mess. In the a very good win for Takesako even if the performance wasn't the most spectacular and the bout not that memorable.
Performance of the Week
Dong Myung Shin (3-0)
With only 12 rounds to his name as a professional prior to yesterday we were expecting to see former amateur standout Dong Myung Shin being worn down and and eventually drowned by all action teenager Han Bin Suh. Instead it was Shin who handled the 10 rounder incredibly well, fighting hard to take a decision, and the KBM Super Bantamweight title. Shin proved he could fight, he could box and despite his record it does appears that he has a bit of pop as well, hurting Suh several times. At 31 Shin will likely be fast tracked this year, so do not be surprised to see him fighting for a regional title in the very near future.
Han Bin Suh Vs Dong Myung Shin
We love Korean action and it was Korea that shone this week with a very good show that went under-the-radar. The show was stacked with title action and it the KBM Super Bantamweight title bout that delivered. Teenager Han Bin Suh showed the all action, come forward mentality that caught our eye big time last year, whilst former amateur standout Dong Myung Shin showed off his polished boxing skills in what ended up being a truly fantastic 10 round battle. This is one to hunt down when SPOTV or KBM upload it, and whilst not a FOTY contender it was a brilliant low level bout.
Takuma Takahashi vs Leonardo Doronio (Round 3)
One bout we didn't expect to be mentioning in our weekly awards was the 6 round bout between fast rising Japanese prospect Takuma Takahasi and Filipino journeyman Leonardo Doronio. It was however the hidden gem of the weekend, with 4 knockdowns, and some wild exchanges. The third round of the bout had everything. It hard a couple of knockdowns, some truly crazy 2-way action, drama, controversy and intensity. This was a round that deserves to be watched, rewatched, and watched again. The controversy, left by the referee Biney Martin not taking a a point from Takahashi for hitting Doronio when he was down leave a shadow over the round in some ways, but added to the drama of it in others. This is a round that we've included below and suggest every fan watches this week!
Shohjahon Ergashev KO1 Adrian Estrella
Uzbek fighter Shohjahon Ergashev got the chance to show case what he could do on Friday night, as he took on Mexican fighter Adrian Estrella as part of a Shobox telecast. He really took his chance to showcase his power, taking out Estrella with a truly brutal body shot that will be replayed over and over during 2020. The sharp left hand, that sneaked in past the elbow of Estrella, left the Mexican in agony and really caught the eye. As fans of brutal body shot KO's this was spectacular.
Min Jang (10-0-2, 2)
We weren't mega blown away by 19 year old Korean Min Jang, though that was more due to the fact he didn't to blow us away. The talented southpaw showed glimpses of brilliance against the over-matched Junhui Zhao, but never needed to move through the gears. Jang looks like a confident, talented boxer-mover and someone we are very excited to see progress over the coming years. Fingers crossed we see what he can really do next time out, hopefully against a better opponent than Zhao.
Batyrzhan Jukembayev (17-0-0-1, 13) Vs Maximiliano Ricardo Veron (12-3-1, 4)
After a blitz of action this past week things really drop off over the coming week, with only a very small number of fights taking place. As a result we were almost forced into a selection by default. Despite that we do still have an interesting one as unbeaten Kazakh contender Batyrzhan Jukembayev takes on upset minded Argentinian Maximiliano Ricardo Veron. With Jukembayev moving towards a world title fight this is a bit of a must win for the Kazakh and we suspect this will turn out to be a decent test for him, but a test he should pass. Expect a few tricky moments for Jukembayev, but overall a comfortable, yet exciting, win for the Kazakh hopeful.
The year is still new, which is a relief as so far the Asian action hasn't been worth talking about for the most part. Earlier today we had the first Japanese show of 2020, but it was ravaged by changes that ended up removing 2 bouts from the card changing another, and it never really seemed to get going. There was Chinese action, which was alright but nothing spectacular and of course Bakhtiyar Eyubov was batted in Atlantic City.
Despite being left with scraps we have managed to come up with some honours for our weekly awards.
Fighter of the Week
Marvin Esquierdo (16-2-1, 10)
The Filipino is unlikely to ever make it beyond regional level, if he even gets that far, but we can't fault his attitude and his mentality. He's been given a chance to shine in the Knock Out Dynamite tournament and he has made the most of that opportunity in both of his tournament bouts. This week he seemed to be the only man in Japan who realised that he could get a hefty bonus for scoring a stoppage, and went after Ribo Takahata early, dropping the veteran hard in round 2. Esquierdo couldn't get the finish there and then, but did get one in round 4 to net himself a nice bonus.
Performance of the Week
Tuguldur Byambatsogt (2-0)
Whilst it was a very quiet week it was still a week where we did see some impressive action, with Mongolian fighter Tuguldur Byambatsogt really impressing with both his boxing, and his fighting ability. The former amateur standout spent 3 rounds out boxing Vladimir Baez by simply doing the basics. He moved around the ring, landed the jab to control distance and took advantage of the openings Baez gave him. After a tired looking fourth round he found a new gear and dropped Baez completing what had been a solid performance from a genuinely talented young Mongolian hopeful. Fingers crossed we see a lot more of Byambatsogt over the coming years.
Yihao Wang vs Keon Woo Kim
There is something about watching a tough nosed Korean fighter barrelling forward, despite taking big shots that makes things enjoyable. That's what we had at the start of the week as the unbeaten, but under-sized, Keon Woo Kim took on Chinese foe Yihao Wang. Kim, who was always pursuing his man, and taking shots as a result, made this a fun contest despite really getting busted up and broken down. His desire to get close and make this a war made this a fight that had our attention, despite how one sided it was at times, and as Kim's face began to swell his hunger just grew. Of course Wang played his part, and his stamina and punch picking needs to be given credit as well. This wasn't a fight of the year contender, not even close, but was an entertaining little fight all the same.
Marvin Esquierdo vs Ribo Takahata (Round 3)
There was no round that truly stood out this week, but we did really enjoy the third round of Marvin Esquierdo's win over Ribo Takahata. The previous round had seen Esquierdo dropping Takahata, hard, and had the round been just 15 seconds longer the bout could have been over. Even with the minute to recover Takahata still seemed shaken at the start of the round, and Esquierdo tried to take him out. Then Takahata recovered, and tried to take out Esquierdo in what was a fun round that saw both men being hurt and letting their shots go. This was fun, exciting and saw both men digging deep.
There was no suitable contender for KO of the Week
Tuguldur Byambatsogt (2-0)
We could legitimately rave about the Mongolian fighter all day, but we won't. He showed so much more in just his second professional bout than many show in their first 15. He looked composed, strong, skilled, and like he was fighting well within himself. We look forward to seeing more of him and hopefully we'll see more of his offensive side. For a 2-0 prospect to have done what he's done is really impressive, and he is certainly one to get very excited about.
Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (12-4-1, 11) vs Kazuto Takesako (11-0-1, 11)
The coming few weeks have quite a bit of action and after a slow start we do see things begin to pick up. Next weekend is a great example of that and on January 18th we get a brilliant clash of champions, with OPBF Middleweight champion Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa battling Japanese champion Kazuto Takesako. Noth only are both champions, but both are tough guys and both can bang. We are expecting this to be a legitimate shoot out and one of the highlights for the month! Keep an eye on this one next Saturday!
So the new year is here! And although we've not got a lot happening in January, we do have more than we expected, with title bouts, eliminators, tournament finals and a little of everything!
Pyeongtaek, South Korea
Yoo Seung Jun (6-1) vs Seung Hee Lee (4-6, 1)
One of two KBM eliminators at 154lbs will see the once beaten Yoo Seung Jun take on Seung Hee Lee. Our understanding is that the winner here will fight for the vacant title later in the year against the winner of the other eliminator.
Sung Min Yuh (3-0) Vs Se Yul Yang (3-4-2, 1)
Talking about that other eliminator, that will see Sung Min Yuh take in Se Yul Yang. Notable if Yuh and Jun win their bouts it would be a rematch of the "Battle Royale" final from last November, and would have an interesting sub-plot of revenge or repeat, as well as being for the KBM title.
Da Won Gang (3-0, 1) Vs Jin Soo Kim (6-7-1, 3)
Another KBM eliminator will be at 140lbs where the touted Da Won Gang takes on Jin Soo Kim. The talented Gang is regarded by those in Korea as one of the countries best talents in recent years, and like Sung Min Yuh he won the "Battle Royale" last year. A win here sets him for a big 2020.
New Jersey, USA
Jaron Ennis (24-0, 22) vs Bakhtiyar Eyubov (14-1-1-1, 12)
The limited but heavy handed Bakhtiyar Eyubov, from Kazakhstan, is up against it here as he takes on touted American Jaron "Boots" Ennis in what looks likely to be a show case for the talented local hopeful.
Vladimir Baez (26-5-2, 24) vs Tuguldur Byambatsogt (1-0)
In a Knock Out Dynamite Final we'll see Japanese based Dominican slugger Vladimir Baez battle against Mongolian professional novice Tuguldur Byambatsogt. On paper a mismatch, but in reality this could be a big break out for Byambatsogt, who impressed us in his semi-final bout.
Ribo Takahata (16-8-1, 6) vs Marvin Esquierdo (15-2-1, 9)
Another final at the Knock Out Dynamite Tournament will see Japanese veteran Ribo Takahata take on Filipino foe Marvin Esquierdo. Notably Esquierdo fought in the first ever Knock Out Dynamite Tournament bout, and netted the highest bonus with an opening round win, will he look for the same here?
Shohjahon Ergashev (17-0, 15) vs Adrian Estrella (29-4, 24)
Touted Uzbek puncher Shohjahon Ergashev looks to kick in the new year as he takes on once touted Mexican Adrian Estrella. Neither of these are the most polished of fighters, but both are heavy handed and we expect this one to be short, but very explosive!
Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (12-4-1, 11) vs Kazuto Takesako (11-0-1, 11)
OPBF Middleweight champion Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa defends his belt against hard hitting Japanese national champion Kazuto Takesako. This is not expected to hear the final bell, with both men being heavy handed fighters, and will be one of the highlights of the month!
Takeshi Inoue (15-1-1, 9) vs Cheng Su (14-2-1, 8)
Former world title challenger Takeshi Inoue will be looking to defend his WBO Asia Pacific Light Middleweight title against Chinese challenger Cheng Su. Inoue, who is enjoying his second reign as the WBO Asia Pacific champion, will be looking to get a second world title shot in the near future, but needs to get past Su to keep that dream alive.
Kenia Enriquez (22-1, 9) vs Chaoz Minowa (6-2, 5)
Talking about world title fights WBC "interim" female Light Flyweight champion Kenia Enriquez will be defending her title at home in Mexico against Japanese challenger Chaoz Minowa. For Minowa this is a third crack at world level, and a loss here will likely end her hopes of ever becoming a world champion.
Over the years the Japanese Middleweight title has given us some truly amazing fights, with sensational action, great back-and-forth exchanges and hellacious battles. The title might not be held in the same high regard as some other Japanese domestic titles but we don't really think we'd be stretching it to say that the title really over-delivers in terms of the quality of fights. This year we had two thrillers between the huge punching Kazuto Takesako and the skilled Shuji Kato.
The two men battled to a draw in their first bout, a real thriller, and a few months later they went again in another fantastic bout that pitted Takesako's power and pressure against Sato's counter punching and southpaw jab, which had been incredibly effective in their first bout.
Here we bring you round 5 of their rematch, a round which saw both men landing some huge shots and both being hurt. It was the most dramatic round of the fight, which was brutally entertaining through out, and saw each man needing to bite down hard on their gumshield to fight through some real sticky moments.
Up to this point Takesako had been bossing the fight, pressing and pressuring with great success and not taking too much back, but this round he was in genuine trouble as Kato's counter's landed clean and swung the bout his way, forcing Takesako to clear his head before getting back onto the front foot. This was just a brilliant, brutal 3 minutes and really is worth everyone's time to watch.
In 2020 we'll see Takesako take on OPBF champion Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa, in what looks likely to be another punishing bout, for both fighters, whilst Kato's next bout hasn't been announced at the time of writing.
This past week has been a busy one, with fights all over Asia at various levels, from Rookie of the Year to world title bouts. It's not been the best of weeks at the top level, but it has been a very interesting week!
Fighter of the Week
Kazuto Takesaka (11-0-1, 11)
After blowing out his first 10 opponents Kazuto Takesako found out that Shuji Kato couldn't be steam rolled when the two fought to a draw earlier in the year. This week Takesako and Kato had their rematch and Takesako showed so many new strings to his bow that he looked like a fighter who had not only vicious power but also added skills to go with that power and it was obvious from the performance that he has come a long way from their draw. He again struggled with Kato's jab, southpaw stance and movement, but went on to break down his man in a career best win.
Performance of the Week
ArAr Andales (10-1, 2)
We often praise winners, and over-look the efforts of losers, but this week it was ArAr Andales that impressed, despite losing in a WBA Minimumweight title bout to Knockout CP Freshmart. The Filipino teenager really was up against it, and in fairness would likely have needed a KO to have had any chance of winning, but gave the bout everything he could, before the bout was terminated in round 8 due to a cut to Knockout, that the referee ruled was from a headclash. Prior to the early finish it seemed like Andales was coming on strong and he certainly looked like someone who was going to come again and win a world title in the future. A great performance, despite the loss.
Kazuto Takesako (10-0-1, 10) vs Shuji Kato (10-1-2, 6) II
The Japanese Middleweight title really refuses to give us a stinker, and this Saturday fight fans at Korakuen Hall got a barn burner as Kazuto Takesako made his third defense of the title and beat Shuji Kato into submission. The bout wasn't a re-run of their first bout, which was an ultra-competitive back and forth, but it was a war and neither man came out of this unscathed with both looking like they had taken a lot of punishment at the end of the bout. After back to back wars against each other we now hope, for their health, they both avoid a war next time out.
Shuhei Hamano vs Nobuo Maruoka (Rd1)
We don't why but these year we've seen so many thrilling shoot outs between Japanese novices. The latest of those came on July 31st when Shuhei Hamano and Nobuo Maruoka met in an East Japan Rookie of the Year semi final bout. From the opening moment to the last these two were engaged in a phone booth tear up. The quality of punching might not have been amazing but the heart, desire and action were brilliant. This is Rookie of the Year action, and this is why Rookie of the Year is always worth following.
Lee Si-Woo KO1 Jeong Ho-Jun
Korean fights tend to be worthy of attention due to the Korean mentality of "punch, punch, punch". They tend to be action fights, with exciting back and forths and high intensity action. This week however it delivered one of the best KO's of the Year, if not the best, as Lee Si Woo brutally took out Jeong Ho Jun in a KBC Rookie of the Year fight. The two men were in the first round of their bout when they started to fight up closes, with Woo landing two right followed by a huge left that sent Jun falling face forward. The only thing breaking Jun's fall was Woo's shoulder, and even that didn't stop Jun from eventually face planting the canvas. A truly sensational KO and one we need to thank @Hock1717 for bringing to our attention.
Takuma Takahashi (4-0, 4)
As seems to be a regular thing recently there was a number of prospects in action the last week. One who caught our attention was Japan's Takuma Takahashi, who answered a lot of questions and really showed that he is one to watch. The hard hitter from the World Sport Boxing gym scored a career best win as he stopped tough Thai foe Sitthidet Banti, who had never previously been stopped. Takahashi, who had only a handful of rounds as a professional prior to this bout, showed he has a decent gas tank, that his power is legitimate and that he can mix up his work more than previously thought. There are still flaws, but this was a very good win for the 25 year old.
Hiroaki Teshigawara (19-2-2, 12) vs Shohei Omori (20-2, 15)
This coming Thursday we get a truly amazing OPBF Super Bantamweight title fight as hard hitting champion Hiroaki Teshigawara takes on former world title challenger Shohei Omori. This is as good a bout that we'll see at OPBF level all year, and on paper might be the best since Kosei Tanaka challenged Ryuji Hara. Both "Teshi" and Omori have eyes much bigger things than the OPBF title but they will have to get through the other man to get there.
Although the last week has lacked world title bouts for Asian fighters it has been a exciting one, with several fantastic shows from around the continent. Better yet a lot of those shows were available to watch, with YTV, Boxingraise and Paravi all having cards from Japan available live. That has allowed us a good feel for what has been an unheralded week of action, and a week that has seen more attention given to the negative issues of boxing.
Fighter of the Week
Ginjiro Shigeoka (4-0, 3)
The fighter of the week, for us, was teenage sensation Ginjiro Shigeoka, who only needed 72 seconds to wipe out Clyde Azarcon and become the new WBO Asia Pacific Minimumweight champion. The youngster, who has been hyped since his debut, was expected to be asked serious questions by the much taller and more experienced Azarcon, but a great body shot put the Filipino down for the count and it's now clear that Shigeoka is deserving of the plaudits. This kid isn't just good, he's very, very special and it's going to be hard to predict just how far he can go.
Performance of the Week
Ginjiro Shigeoka (4-0, 3)
For a second week running our Fighter and Performance awards are won by the same fighter. Last week it was a man who, at the age of 40, is coming to the end of his career, rolling back the clock to score one of his most notable wins to date. We wouldn't say Pacquiao's win over Thurman was one of his best, but at the age of 40 it was notable. For Shigeoka however it was picking up his first regional title after just 10 months as a professional that impressed and taking out a fighter who appeared to have so many advantages, so quickly, so easily, really was a performance that made us realise this kid is for real. Shigeoka has predicted a 4th or 5th round finish, but even he has to have been impressed by finding the killer blow after just over a minute.
Jin Minamide (3-0, 3) Vs Tetsu Araki (14-1-1, 2)
The God's Left Bantamweight tournament is a really good idea, a brilliant concept in fact and we can't wait for the other divisions to be covered, something that has been announced but yet to be put into action. The best bout from the recent quarter finals was the 6 round war between Jin Minamide and Tetsu Araki. On paper this was, by far, the best of the quarter final bouts and it delivered in the best way, giving us competitive, exciting action right through the contest. This won't go down as a Fight of the Year contender, but it will go down as a fantastic example of what good match making and a shared winners mentality can give us.
Jin Minamide vs Tetsu Araki (Rd6)
The fight of the week also had the round of the week, with the 6th round of Minamide's bout with Araki being insane, bloody, wild, exciting action. It wasn't a pretty round, and wasn't a round you'd show to any prospect looking to develop their skills form watching a battle, but it was amazing.The round was 3 minutes of violent chaos, with the final seconds just having the two men stand and trade blows in what may go down as the Japanese sequence of the year. This was brilliant and well worth the Boxing Raise subscription price for the month.
Unfortunately no KO really stood out, though Shigeoka's KO of Azarcon with a body shot was impressive it wasn't really something we felt deserved a KO of the week award.
Yusuke Mine (1-0)
Turning professional after a notable amateur career can be tricky, especially to deliver a great performance on your debut. For Yusuke Mine the biggest issue he had was a cut caused by the head of Jesel Guardario, a cut that curtailed the bout in round 4. Prior to the conclusion Mine showed a lot to get excited about, with his skills, movement, timing and jab, a really clean and crisp jab. The youngster would likely have wanted to score a stoppage here, and failed, but did look every bit of a super prospect, and it's clear that the Mutoh Gym will be pushing him hard going forward.
Kazuto Takesako (10-0-1, 10) vs Shuji Kato (10-1-2, 6) II
This coming week we see a lot of really interesting match ups, including two really intriguing rematches. One of those is rematch between Koki Eto and Jeyvier Cointron and the other is the Japanese Middleweight title bout between Kazuto Takesako and Shuji Kato. We're picking the second one of those bouts as out one to watch due to the fact their first one was so brilliant. Their first didn't end with any weird and bizarre ending was instead a 10 round war that swung one way then the other, with Takesako narrowly retaining his title with a draw. We know these two are well matched, we know they are ultra-competitive and we know we could be set for something very, very special.
The month of August is set to be a hectic one, both in terms of boxing and our personal lives. Despite being hectic it's a month that doesn't have many huge fights through out it, with pretty much all the big ones taking place over a single day, but does have a lot of notable right through the month. We have Japanese title fights, Japanese youth title bouts, OPBF title bouts, prospects in action and so much more, even if we don't have a huge number of world title bouts.
Knockout CP Freshmart (19-0, 7) Vs ArAr Andales (10-0, 2) - Bangkok, Thailand
The first major bout of the month is one of the few world title bouts and will see unbeaten WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart return to the ring for his first bout of 2019. In the opposite corner to the unbeaten champion will be unbeaten Filipino youngster ArAr Andales, who looks to become one of the few Filipino's to have won a world title as a teenager. Knockout has had a frustrating reign, often showing glimpses of brilliance but crowding them with long stretches of tedium and his fanfare has certainly eroded, with the mocking name of "Unanimous Decision CP Freshmart" seeming a lot more apt than his actual name. Andales on the other hand was an unknown 12 months ago, but a regional title has boosted him to this fight and a chance to end the tiring and dull reign of the Thai champion.
Koki Eto (24-4-1-1, 19) Vs Jeyvier Cintron II (10-0-0-1, 5) II - Florida USA
A few hours later our attention turns to the US as we see Japanese slugger Koki Eto and unbeaten Puerto Rican hopeful Jeyvier Cintron go again. The two men fought just 3 months ago, with the bout ending in a No Contest due to a clash of heads, and they will both be looking to avoid a similar fate here. The winner will be the leading challenger for the WBO Super Flyweight title, currently held by Kazuto Ioka, though both men will bee annoyed that they have had to wait, given they would have expected a shot at the end of the year, had it not been for their headclash. From their first bout Cintron clearly looked the better fight, but Eto did look dangerous, especially with his booming and hard right hand. If we avoid a similar conclusion to last time we could be in for something very exciting.
Takeshi Inoue (13-1-1, 7) Vs Patomsuk Pathompothong (38-10-1-1, 24) - Tokyo, Japan
Recent world title challenger Takeshi Inoue returns to the ring for the first time since losing to Jamie Munguia, and will re-enter the title mix immediately as he battles against Thai veteran Patomsuk Pathompothong for the WBO Asia Pacific Light Middleweight title. This really should be a straight forward win for the aggressive and physically strong Inoue, as he takes on a naturally smaller, older and limited for. For the Thai, who has been stopped in his last 2 bouts in Japan, this really will be his last chance at this level and another loss could well end his career.
Kazuto Takesako (10-0-1, 10) Vs Shuji Kato (10-1-2, 6) II - Tokyo, Japan
Another title fight on the same card will see Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako take part in a rematch with Shuji Kato. The two men had a real thriller earlier in the year, which resulted in a draw that pleased neither man. This rematch will see both men desperate to avoid another draw, though given how well their styles gelled the first time around we're struggling to see anything but another close one. Takesako, seeking his third defense here, is the big punching favourite but Kato is the smarter boxer, and his southpaw jab gave Takesako all sorts of issues in their first match up. This might not be a Fight of the Year contender but will certainly be a very entertaining and intriguing bout all the same.
Takuma Takahashi (3-0, 3) vs Sitthidet Bantti (11-4, 5)
The fast rising Takuma Takahashi looks to continue his perfect start as he takes on Thai visitor Sitthidet Bannti. The hard hitting Takahashi may not have polished his style, yet, but looks like a natural dangerman and wins in hs first 3 against Joepher Montano and Jonel Dapidran are impressive.He'll be a clear favourite here and will, hopefully, face a domestic opponent later in the year to begin moving towards some form of a title bout. Bantti on the other hand has never been stopped and has been in with some good fighters, including Atchariya Wirojanasunobol, Xiangxiang Sun and Saddam Kietyongyuth. A win for Takahashi is expected, but the way that win comes will be very interesting.
Issei Ochiai (0-0) Vs Lerdchai Chaiyawed (1-2)
Celes Kobayashi's big new signing Issei Ochiai makes his debut, with a lot of expectations on his shoulders. The Celes gym has failed to develop many guys, but their success with Ryosuke Iwasa is fairly notable and Ochiai is one of the more talented amateurs that the gym has signed since Iwasa won a world title. Although talented he should be asked some real questions here by a Thai who a win over Samartlek Kokietgym and gave tough 8 round bouts to Ryoki Hirai and Seita Ogido when fighting in Japan. The visitor is no bum, and this is a real test for the Japanese novice.
Takayuki Okumoto (22-8-4,10) Vs Dynamic Kenji (11-3, 7)- Osaka Japan
Japanese Super Flyweight champion Takayuki Okumoto looks to put 3 very close bouts behind him and score his third defense of the title he won last year as he takes on the heavy handed, though very unheralded, Dynamic Kenji. Okumoto is a true veteran, who debuted at the age of 15, and has been given a number of chances, before finally making the most of one last year when he usurped Hiroyuki Kudaka, since then he has narrowly retained the title and is a rather lucky champion. Kenji on the other hand is getting his first shot at this level, and he's unlikely to be in the mix again if he losses, given his lack of a big name promoter and his rather low profile. This is a hard bout to call, and like the Takesako Vs Kato bout certainly has one guy being much more skilled and the other being the much bigger puncher.
Toshiki Shimomachi (9-1-2, 5) Vs Kenta Nomura (6-2, 3) - Osaka Japan
Another title bout from Osaka will see Toshiki Shimomachi and Kenta Nomura battle for the currently vacant Japanese Youth Super Bantamweight title. Coming in both fighters have some momentum, with Shimomachi on a good unbeaten run following an early career and Shimomachi looking very powerful since moving up to Super Bantamweight after fighting mostly at Super Flyweight. This bout should be very exciting and could well give the winner a huge shot in the arm ahead of some bigger an better bouts over the next 24 months.
Thanongsak Simsri (9-0, 9) Vs Melianus Mirin (10-5, 6) - Osaka, Japan
Whilst the Osaka show will be a notable one thanks to the Japanese and Japanese youth titles it's hard to ignore that Thai youngster Thanongsak Simsri, who looks to score his 10th straight T/KO win and live up to the "Srisaket II" moniker the Thai boxing press have given him. In the opposite corner to the 19 year old Thai prospect will be the limited but tough Melianus Mirin, who has yet to be stopped and has fought stiff competition, including Wanheng Manyothin and
Daud Yordan (38-4-0-1, 26) Vs Patomsith Pathompothong (21-11, 10)- Pattaya, Thailand
The popular Indonesian fighter Daud Yordan gets his return from a 2018 loss to Anthony Crolla as he travels to Thailand to battle the limited Patomsith Pathompothong. The well travelled Yordan, who has fought will be fighting in his 6th different country in as many fights, will be strongly favoured here and will obviously be hoping to get his career back in track after inactivity and the Crolla loss. The Thai on the other hand has picked up 4 wins this year, but his level of competition has been incredibly low. Despite Yordan being the man on the road he has to be the favourite.
Hiroaki Teshigawara (19-2-2, 12) Vs Shohei Omori (20-2, 15) - Tokyo, Japan
Arguably the pick of the early month bouts is an OPBF Super Bantamweight title bout pitting hard nosed champion Hiroaki Teshigawara against the excellent Shohei Omori. For Teshigawara this is a big step up in class and a win will mark him a definitive fringe contender, at worst. He's on a good roll already and has been notching good wins over regional opposition, but this is a step up. Omori on the other hand is rebuilding following his second loss to Marlon Tapales, and has looked fantastic since moving to Super Bantamweight. The hard hitting southpaw challenger was once tipped as the successor to Shinsuke Yamanaka at Bantamweight but he really appears to have found his better weight 4lbs north and could see a win here as a launch pad to a second world title fight. An excellent match up and one we're really looking forward to.
Kenichi Horikawa (40-15-1, 13) Vs Ryuto Oho (12-5-1, 4) - Tokyo, Japan
Japanese veteran Kenichi Horikawa looks to extend his second reign as the Japanese Light Flyweight champion as he takes on youngster Ryuto Oho. The often under-rated veteran, who holds the record for most wins of any active Japanese fighter, is heading towards his 40th birthday but continues to fight with the vigour and fire of a much, much younger man. Horikawa's reign isn't likely to lead to a world title fight, but we're certainly glad the little warrior is having some success towards the end of his career. Oho is a talented youngster but has shown durability issues and will need to rely on his youth and speed to survive Horikawa's aggression here. An interesting match up, but one where the champion enters as the clear favourite.
Masahiro Suzuki (2-0, 1) Vs Kosuke Arioka (9-3-1, 8) - Tokyo, Japan
Talented Japanese prospect Masahiro Suzuki might not be getting much fan fare but the highly skilled 24 year old has impressed us in both of his pro bouts so far and now he takes on his first domestic opponent. The excellent Suzuki has shown a lot in just 12 rounds of professional boxing, we know he's a smart fighter, we know he can fight on the front foot or the back foot and we know he's a very sharp puncher. His promoter now wants us to see how he copes against a puncher. Although fairly limited Kosuke Arioka can bang and he'll be expected to give Suzuki a real chin check before the unbeaten youngster looks to climb through the national rankings.
March is always an interesting month in Asian boxing, as bouts across the globe began to ramp up, after a relatively quiet start to the year. The month this year is packed with bouts right across the continent, including a lot of promising prospects.
Kazuto Takesako (10-0, 10) Vs Shuji Kato (10-1-1, 6) - Tokyo, Japan
The first major bout in March will see unbeaten Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako defending his belt against mandatory challenger Shuji Kato. The bout is expected to be another KO win for the champion, but the champion is certainly not unbeatable and Kato comes into this bout full of confidence following an upset win over former champion Hikaru Nishida.
Takuma Takahashi (2-0, 2) Vs Jonel Dapidran (10-3, 6) - Tokyo, Japan
Touted and unbeaten prospect Takuma Takahasi made his debut last year, and has scored back to back early wins against visitors. Now he takes a step up in class going up against Filipino opponent Jonel Dapidran. Dapidran was beaten in 3 rounds last October, by Rikuto Adachi, but we're expecting a better performance form him here. It's also worth noting that this will be Takahashi's first 8 round bout.
Masahiro Suzuki (1-0, 1) Vs Kelvin Tenorio (4-4, 2)- Tokyo, Japan
We were incredibly impressed by Masahiro Suzuki on his debut, showing all the touches of a future star, and we're really excited to see him return to the ring here as he takes on Filipino foe Kelvin Tenorio. We suspect this will be easier for Suzuki than his debut, which came against a very dangerous foe, but he's certainly not being matched softly at this early stage.
Jin Minamide (2-0, 2) Vs Marjun Pantilgan (18-7, 14) -Tokyo, Japan
Unbeaten Celes Kobayashi managed fighter Jin Minamide has fought for just over 3 minutes as a professional, taking out two experienced Filipino's already. Now he'll be taking a major step up in class to take on Marjun Pantilgan, who has been brought over to Japan a couple of times and tested very good prospects. Pntilgan is tough and will come to win, making this a very risky bout for Minamide at this stage in his career.
Charly Suarez (1-0, 1) Vs Justin Cabarles (4-0, 2) -Davao del Norte, Philippines
We travel over to the Philippines for the next notable bout, as former Olympian Charly Suarez goes for his first title. The 2016 Olympian will be up against fellow unbeaten Justin Carbarles in a bout for the MinProBA Lightweight title. It's hard to imagine Suarez losing, but he will need to be fast tracked after this bout if he's to make the most of his talent, as he is already the wrong side of 30.
Denver Cuello (36-5-6, 24) Vs Jack Amisa (21-45-2, 14) - Philippines
Former world title challenger Denver Cuello has been out of the ring for well over 3 years but returns this month to take on Indonesian journeyman Jack Amisa. Cuello was once seen as a potential star of the Minimumweight division, and had huge support from Filipino fans due to his hard hitting style, but injuries destroyed a number of his prime years. It's unclear what he has left, but it is great to see him return, and give the sport one last chance.
Sonny Boy Jaro (44-14-5, 31) Vs Frans Damur Palue (15-21-3, 10) - Philippines
Cuello isn't the only Filipino veteran in action today, as former WBC Flyweight champion Sonny Boy Jaro returns to the ring for his 64th professional bout. Jaro has been a professional since 2001 and faced a real who's who, so Indonesian journeyman Frans Damur Palue will not pose much of a threat. At the age of 36 however we do wonder how much longer Jaro has left in the tank.
Robert Paradero (17-0, 11) Vs Wilfredo Mendez (11-1, 4) - Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico
The on again off again match up between Filipino Robert Paradero and Puerto Rican Wilfredo Mendez is pencilled in again here, in what will be a WBO Inter-Continental Minimumweight title bout. This bout was supposed to take place in December, being arranged for, then re-arranged for the month, so we'd not be shocked to see this being cancelled, but it is a very good match up and hopefully does take place this time around.
Dmitry Bivol (15-0, 11) vs Joe Smith Jr (24-2, 20) - Verona, USA
Kyrgyzstan born Russian Dmitry Bivol will be making his next defense of the WBA Light Heavyweight title as he takes on big punching American Joe Smith Jr in what should be a very exciting contest. Bivol is the much more rounded fighter, but Smith is tough, heavy handed, and has proven to be very dangerous at the fringe world level. This should be a clear win for Bivol, but he won't be able to get cocky against someone who hits as hard as Smith does.
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