With the sport's return to some, albeit limited, normality we thought it was time to begin doing our Monthly Awards again. The sport is certainly not going at full speed yet, but there actually was quite a lot that happened in July, with a number of upsets, a frightening KO, some brilliant action and a movement towards boxing's big return. Yes there is a lot for the sport to do going forward, but, for the first time since February, we've had more than just an odd fight here and there.
Fighter of the Month
Kenichi Horikawa (41-16-1, 14)
Aged 40 and coming in as the under-dog for his fight with Daiki Tomita the veteran really showed what he had left in the tank by not just beating Tomita, but stopping him to claim the OPBF Light Flyweight title. A 40 year at 108lbs is supposed to be retired and enjoying a post boxing career but Horikawa is still having real success years beyond his supposed prime. This wasn't necessarily the best performance of the month, but this was the most impressive in terms of context and the sort of win that really puts Horikawa on the verge of something big.
Fight of the Month
Phoobadin Yoohanngoh Vs Kulabdam Sor Jor Piekuthai
Although not the most exciting fight as such the WBA Asia Light Welterweight bout between 16 year old prodigy Phoobadin Yoohanngoh and former Muay Thai standout Kulabdam Sor Jor Piekuthai was a bout that had everything we needed. It was, technically a compelling bout on paper, it was a great match up of styles and a really competitive contest. Whilst Phoobadin won, he had to answer questions and despite the loss Kulabdam will come again, having learned more in that one bout that he would in 10 other bouts. This was two youngsters putting things on the line in a good, solid, 10 rounder. It may not have been the most action packed or dramatic, but it was a bout that had other intriguing aspects to it, that more than made up for the lack of knockdowns and back and forth exchanges.
KO of the Month
Rentaro Kimura TKO2 Yuta Azuma
When there is a lot of hype around a prospect ahead of their debut they need to shine, and Rentaro Kimura did just that, giving us a KO of the year contender. The youngster looked good, although not flawless, in the first round, and was caught a few times in round 2. That however was quickly forgotten thanks to the brutal finish he put on against Yuya Azuma. We see lots of 1-punch KO's but from Kimura was got a brutal combination to take out Azuma who had never previously been stopped. This was brutal and brilliant
Prospect of the Month
Rentaro Kimura (1-0, 1)
It's a double for Rentaro Kimura. The talented Japanese debutant looked truly fantastic at times, and looks like someone who can be fast tracked over the coming years. He looked like there was areas to improve, of course he did, but he showed so much that it's hard not to get very excited about him. He's quick, sharp, powerful, skilled and has that pure killed instinct in the ring. He's going to be a must watch fighter, and his return to the ring in September is highly anticipated as he looks to be moved very quickly in the coming years.
Other prospects worth mentioning
Upset of the Month
Sandy Messaoud TD7 Nursultan Zhangabayev
There was an incredible number of upsets this past month in Asian boxing but the most surprising of them all was the technical decision win scored by French fighter Sandy Messaoud against previously unbeaten, and world ranked, Kazakh Nursultan Zhangabayev. The Kazakh was dropped early, had no answer for Messaoud's movement and accuracy in what was a massive shocker. The fact that not only Messaoud out boxed the talented Kazakh but also got the decision was a bit of a surprise, despite the awful scorecard of Jan Teleki.
As mentioned there was a number of other upsets these included:
Kenichi Horikawa Vs Daiki Tomita
Daishi Nagata Vs Koki Inoue
Round of the Month
Satoshi Shimizu Vs Kyohei Tonomoto (RD1)
When we see Satoshi Shimizu there some really obvious things that we always see. We always see a technically crude, easy to heat power puncher. Against the wrong opponent that will cost him, as we say last year against Joe Noynay, against the right opponent however it will give us something awesome. Against Kyohei Tonomoto we got something awesome in a number of rounds. Some will suggest round 7 was the pick of the bunch, and they'd have a damn good argument, but for us the opening round was the one. Tonomoto came out aggressive, forced Shimizu back and looked the better fighter and the more aggressive man, but yet found himself on the canvas twice in a round that had action, drama, excitement, wild fighting and heart.
Shimizu Vs Tonomoto (Rd 7)
Over the last few months we've not had much boxing to talk about, but thankfully that's all set to change in July with the sport returning to various countries after they have managed to get on top of the on going situation. With that in mind we have some fights to look forward this month!
Korakuen Hall, Japan
Satoshi Shimizu (8-1, 8) Vs Kyohei Tonomoto (9-2-1, 4)
OPBF Featherweight champion Satoshi Shimizu returns to the ring after a brutal loss to Joe Noynay last August as he defends his title against the unheralded Kyohei Tonomoto. The hard hitting Shimizu has a lot of questions to answer following his loss and will know that a loss here ends any hope he has of fighting for a world title. As for Tonomoto this is a huge opportunity to make a mark at Oriental level.
Koki Inoue (15-0, 12) Vs Daishi Nagata (14-2-1, 5)
Unbeaten Japanese Light Welterweight (140lbs) champion Koki Inoue will make his next defense as he takes on mandatory challenger Daishi Nagata. Originally this bout was scheduled for March, before Inoue was injured, then delayed due to the ongoing situation. For Inoue this could be his last bout at domestic level and he could well be looking to make a mark at a higher level in the very near future. As for Nagata this is his second shot at a title, after losing in an OPBF title bout against Rikki Naito. This could well be a very, very exciting bout.
Kazakhstan (IFL TV, ESPN+)
Dauren Yeleussinov (8-0-1, 7) Vs Arman Rysbek (7-0, 6)
In a very good looking all-Kazakh bout we'll see Dauren Yeleussinov, the brother of Olympic champion Daniyar Yeleussinov, take on Arman Rysbek. This is the sort of bout we're always excited about, two unbeaten, talented punchers facing off with everything to gain. At 34 Yeleussinov needs a big win, and this should be seen as a must win for him. Rysbek on the other hand is a bit younger, at 29, but can still ill afford a loss. Expect this one to be an excellent bout with two men looking to prove a point
Tursynbay Kulakhmet (0-0) Vs Sagadat Rakhmankulov (6-1, 4)
We love seeing top amateurs matched hard in a their debuts and that's what we have here with Tursynbay Kulakhmet, the 2019 amateur champion at Middleweight and World Championship bronze medal winner, taking on the once beaten Sagadat Rakhmankulov. It's expected that Kulakhmet will be fast tracked and with a debut like this the intention is clear, he is being eyed as a super talent and will be raced to the top. As for Rakhmankulov this will actually be his domestic debut, after entirely in the West so far. This is a big test, and hugely interesting debut.
Talgat Shaiken (0-0) Vs Berikbay Nurymbetov (5-0, 1)
Another notable debut is that of Talgat Shaiken, another Kazakh who is tipped for big things. Shaiken is only a youngster, but is a very strong and powerful kid who if being matched tough here for such a youngster, as he takes on Berikbay Nurymbetov. This is a tough debut, but should be a win for the former Youth Olympic silver medal winner.
Korakuen Hall, Japan (Fuji TV)
Kenta Nakagawa (18-3-1, 12) Vs Yuta Matsuo (15-4-2, 8) - Japanese Super Flyweight title fight
In the second Japanese title fight for the month we'll see Japanese Super Flyweight champion Kenta Nakagawa defending his title, in a mandatory, against Yuta Matsuo. Given the styles of the two men this should be a very good bout, with Matsuo known for his pressure and Nakagawa being known for his solid punching. A very nice bout and one that should be a very competitive one.
Rentaro Kimura (0-0) Vs Yuya Azuma (5-3-1, 1)
Yet another debutant of note for the month is Rentaro Kimura, who will take on Yuya Azuma. Those in Japan are raving about Kimura, who has stated that he wants to fight for a world title in his first 10 bouts. His debut comes against the relatively unknown Yuya Azuma, in what should be a rather straight forward debut for the youngster.
Kobe Central Gymnasium, Japan
Kenichi Horikawa (40-16-1, 13) Vs Daiki Tomita (14-1, 5) - OPBF Light Flyweight title fight
The second OPBF title bout for the month will see veteran Kenichi Horikawa take on Daiki Tomita for the vacant OPBF Light Flyweight title. This bout was supposed to take place in March, though was postponed when boxing was put on an hiatus in Japan. The title, which was vacated by Edward Heno, is often regarded as a stepping stone for world champions, and the title has been held by numerous fighters who have gone on to bigger and better things. For Horikawa a loss will almost certainly be the end of his great career, though a win would see him complete a domestic and regional grandslam. As for Tomita this is his second chance at a title, and a win here would be a huge boost to his fledgling career.
Aioi Hall, Japan
Masamichi Yabuki (10-3, 10) Vs Tsuyoshi Sato (10-1-1, 5) - Japanese Light Flyweight title fight
The final Japanese title fight for the month will take place on July 25th and will see fans attending the event as Masamichi Yabuki and Tsuyoshi Sato battle for the vacant Japanese Light Flyweight title. The title here became vacant when Yuto Takahashi announced his retirement from the sport following issues with motivation and training. Yabuki will be favoured here, given his brutal power, but Sato has been impressive with his pressure, high out put and under-rated power. For one of the first bouts with fans this should be a genuine highlight for the month, and the styles of the men should gell brilliantly.
It's fair to suggest that February has been a slow month for fight fans in Asia, in fact at times it's felt down right glacial, with little happening, especially in the middle of the month. We had a good start, and a good end but then we had almost 2 weeks with nothing much happening. Thankfully March is set to be a whole different kettle of fish with interesting bouts right through the month.
With that said lets take a look at what to expect in the first part of March!
Daiki Tomita (14-1, 5) vs Kenichi Horikawa (40-16-1, 13)
A new Month kicks off with OPBF Light Flyweight title action as Daiki Tomita and Kenichi Horikawa clash for the vacant title. For Tomita this is a second shot at an OPBF belt, having come up short against Tsubasa Koura in 2018, whilst Horikawa will be lookin to bounce back from the loss of the Japanese national title to Yuto Takahashi. Although neither man is a huge name this is a very interesting looking bout, and could either send Horikawa into one final title run, or into retirement.
Dennapa Kiatniwat (21-2, 16) Vs Jeny Boy Boca (13-6, 11) -
Former world title challenger Dennapa Kiatniwat defends his WBA Asia Flyweight title against heavy handed, but very much out of form, Filipino Jeny Boy Buca. The Thai local got a world title fight last year and looked second rate against WBA king Artem Dalakian, but should have too much at this level. Buca was once regarded as a promising puncher, but then went 4-5 (2) and lost pretty much all of the momentum he had built in his first 10 bouts.
Nakhon Sawan, Thailand
Knockout CP Freshmart (20-0, 7) Vs Norihito Tanaka (19-7, 10)
Unbeaten WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart seeks his 8th defense as he takes on Japanese challenger Norihito Tanaka. The once highly regarded, and still unbeaten, champion has failed to inspire in recent bouts, and with 5 decision wins in a row his name has become rather a joke. Although talented Knockout has certainly not enthralled. Sadly however it's hard to imagine the 35 year old Tanaka having the energy and power needed to defeat the local fighter, and become the first Japanese man to ever claim a world title in Thailand.
Hironobu Matsunaga (16-1, 10) Vs Yuto Shimizu (14-4-2, 5)
In the main event of the monthly "Dynamic Glove" show we'll see Japanese Light Middleweight champion Hironobu Matsunaga defending his title against mandatory challenger Yuto Shimizu as part of the 2020 edition of the Champion Carnival. Matsunaga has looked mightily impressive in recent outings and will be looking to make his second defense. Although Shimizu is less exciting and aggressive than Matsunaga he is a big, awkward lump and give the champion fits with his size alone. A very interesting match up.
Keita Kurihara (15-5, 13) Vs Joe Tanooka (15-7-5, 1)
On the same Japanese show world ranked slugger Keita Kurihara takes on the talented, but feather fisted, Joe Tanooka in a bout that really does give us very different styles. Kurihara is a genuinely dynamite puncher who has gone 12-1 (10) in his last 13 bouts and will be looking to show he can box a but, before taking apart Tanooka. Tanooka on the other hand is a quick, technically capable fighter who will be looking to lure Kurihara into a mistake and countering. A very interesting contest, even if it lacks in terms of big name intrigue.
Reiya Abe (19-3-1, 9) vs Ren Sasaki (10-0, 6)
Former 2-time Japanese national title challenger Reiya Abe looks to move towards a third potential title bout when he takes on unbeaten southpaw Ren Sasaki. The talented Abe had a 2019 to forget, fighting to a draw with Taiki Minamoto and losing to Ryo Sagawa, and needs to rebuild his moment. In terms of achievement he should be seen as a big favourite here, however he doesn't get a gimme. The unbeaten Sasaki is no push over, and is a very decent boxer himself, having won the All Japan Rookie of the Year in 2017. Expect this to be a compelling 8 rounder.
Jacob Ng (13-0, 10) vs Valentine Hosokawa (25-7-3, 12)
In a potential hidden gem Australian Jacob Ng will be defending his IBF International and WBO Oriental Lightweight titles against the under-rated Valentine Hosokawa. On paper Ng should be regarded as a big favourite. He's the bigger, younger, hard hitting, unbeaten champion. And he's at home. But Hosokawa can't be over-looked at this level and the Japanese fighter is a very strong, aggressive fighter who throws a lot of leather and can take a lot of punishment. Don't be surprised if this one is one of the real highlights of March.
Akzhol Sulaimanbek Uulu (15-0, 8) vs Mark Urvanov (17-2-1, 9)
Unbeaten 29 year old Kyrgyzstan born Akzhol Sulaimanbek Uulu will be looking to continue his rise through the ranks, and take a huge step towards a potential world title fight as he takes on Russian fighter Mark Urvanov. This will be Uulu's first 12 round bout and we dare say if he wins here his team will begin hunting a world title eliminator for him, for later in the year. Although no world beater Urvanov is a good test at this level and comes in on the back of a career best result, stopping former world title challenger Evgeny Chuprakov back in November. Hard not to like this one....a lot!
Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov (15-0, 9) Vs Tomas Rojas (51-18-1-1, 34)
Unbeaten Tajik hopeful Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov looks to take his next step forward as he faces former world title holder Tomas Rojas. On paper this looks like a step up against a grizzled old veteran, but with the fight taking place up at Super Featherweight we do wonder whether Rojas, who was a Super Flyweight at his best, will simply be over-powered and out manned by Yaqubov. At the age of 39 and with a 2-4 record in the last 3 years we really do wonder what Rojas has left, other than his name.
Seigo Yuri Akui (14-2-1, 10) Vs Seiya Fujikita (13-4, 6) -
Hard hitting Seigo Yuri Akui looks to make his first defense of the Japanese Flyweight title as he takes on mandatory challenger Seiya Fujikita. The explosive punching Akui has proven to be scarily dangerous early on, with 9 opening round T/KO's, and will be looking to make it #10 here. Fujikita has never been stopped stopped but with only a single, low key, win in the since June 2018 it's hard to know what he has to offer. Fujikita could be the type of durable test who can see out the Akui storm, or could be the next early victim for the destroyer from Okayama.
Rey Caitom (9-0-1, 4) vs ArAr Andales (10-2, 2)
Former world title challenger ArAr Andales is going to be in rebuilding mode this year after back to back losses in 2019, losing to Knockout CP Freshmart and Joel Lino. Rather than having an easy bout to kick off 2020 the 20 year old will be up against the unbeaten Rey Caitom, in a tough looking bout. Andales will be favoured, and has impressed at a higher level, but with those losses we do wonder about how he is mentally. Caitom has fought at a much lower level will clearly be in the ring knowing a win pushes him to within touching distance of a world title shot.
Shingo Wake (26-6-2, 18) Vs Toshiya Yokogawa (11-12-2, 10)
Former world title challenger Shingo Wake was shockingly upset last year, by Jhunriel Ramonal, and now looks to begin rebuilding. He's being matched easily here, as he takes on 34 year old domestic foe Toshiya Yokogawa. Given the loss to Ramonal, and how brutal it was, we can't complain about Wake getting an easy bout here, but he really can't spend too long fighting at this level, and we suspect this will be a tune up to a much bigger bout in the summer as Wakes begins his climb, again, to a second world title fight.
Toshiya Ishii (3-0, 2) Vs Issei Ochiai (2-0, 1)
On the same card we'll also see Japanese Youth Bantamweight champion Toshiya Ishii make his first defense, as he takes on the touted Issei Ochiai. Ishii has impressed since turning professional and his title win, back in December over Haruki Ishikawa, was a sensational bout. The challenger hasn't quite impressed like the champion, but this is certainly a chance for him to shine. We expect big things from both men going forward, but the winner should be put on the fast track to more notable honours.
Yuto Takahashi (11-4, 5) vs Masamichi Yabuki (10-3, 10)
Another Japanese title fight will see Japanese Light Flyweight champion Yuto Takahashi make his first defense, as he goes up against his mandatory Masamichi Yabuki. Takahashi scored a surprise title win last October, when he over-came veteran Kenichi Horikawa, and will be looking to prove that he can over-come a prime puncher like Yabuki, as well as a faded veteran like Horikawa. For Yabuki this is his first title fight and he'll be looking to prove he really is destructive at Light Flyweight, having move down to the division last year.
We turn to Japanese action for the latest Round Review, and what a great round it was as two men dug deep in their desire to be the Japanese champion.
With the Japanese Light Flyweight title slipping from his hands Kenichi Horikawa dug into his years of experience was he took the fight to youngster Yuto Takahashi in the 10th and final round of their October clash. The action through the bout had been competitive, though for the most part it felt like the younger, fresh Takahashi was in the lead, having used his speed and youth to great effect through out. Whilst Takahashi was in the lead it was still a close bout, and Horikawa would have known that a big round could see him pull victory from the jaws of defeat.
In round 10 we saw the champion attempt turn things around in a big way as things stepped up, and the challenger impressively went with the veteran, with the two trading some heavy leather through the round at close range. It wasn't hugely pretty but was exciting, fast paced bursts of gruelling action.
The round wasn't all action, but in the moments we didn't see punches being thrown we saw men taking a few seconds to catch their breath before going back to work with incredible intensity and desire, with neither man willing to accept their fate without giving the round everything they had.
This past week has been a busy one, an exciting one and an interesting one with a lot of action taking place right through the week, with a trio of notable mid-week shows in Asia. The bouts might have all been great but there was some outstanding fights, thrilling action, a huge upset, frighting KO's and some excellent rounds.
Fighter of the Week
Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (12-4-1, 11)
The heavy handed Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa became a 2-time OPBF Middleweight champion this week due to an excellent win over Koki Tyson, in a bout that left Tyson looking disfigured which huge gruesome looking swelling around his right eye. The performance certainly wasn't flawless from Hosokawa, but he showed his fighters mentality and took his lumps before forcing the doctor to step in and save Tyson. Not only did Hosokawa become a 2-time champion but following the bout it was revealed he would be making his first defense in a unification bout Kazuto Takesako
Performance of the Week
Jhunriel Ramonal (16-8-6, 9)
At the age of 30 Filipino, and fighting for just the 4th time in 4 years, Jhunriel Ramonal secured the best win of his career, by far. The rugged Filipino battled through a cut, battled through adversity and refused to accept defeat before finally breaking through and dropping the world ranked Shingo Wake. Wake would get up from the first knockdown but not long afterwards Ramonal would drop the former world title challenger, hard. The Filipino was bleeding badly by the time he scored the stoppage, but heart, determination and finish all roll into him earning the Performance of the Week.
Heuk San Lee vs Gyung Mo Yuh
The KBF title might not have huge standing in the sport, but it's hard to refute the fact that some of the KBF title fighters are amazing fights. One great example of that happened this week, when Heuk San Lee and Gyung Mo Yuh tore lumps out of each other in all action 10 round war for the KBF Welterweight title. This bout swung from being a good fight for Lee boxing on the move to an all out war as his feet slowed and Yuh's pressure began to take hold. In the later rounds this was thrilling, none stop, crazy, crude slugging and a must watch bout for those who want to know what the KBF title means to fighters in South Korea. Don't get us wrong, this wasn't a technical show case, but it was thrilling action. Just a shame the judging was a little bit questionable.
Kenichi Horikawa vs Yuto Takahashi (10)
We had some solid rounds this last week, though the one that takes the award for us was the gruelling and tiring final round of the Japanese Minimumweight title bout between Kenichi Horikawa and Yuto Takahashi. This wasn't pretty, and it wasn't a round full of clean action, but this was two men fighting for the decision, using all their heart to try and win the bout. It was messy, it was rough, it was hard and was ugly. It was a exciting mess of a round, and fought at a high quality level than the bout in Korea, which had rounds were more wild, but less tough.
Jhunriel Ramonal TKO3 Shingo Wake
On paper it seemed Friday's bout between Shingo Wake and Jhunriel Ramonal was little more than a tune up for Wake against someone he had already beaten. Instead however it ended up being the worst night of his professional career. Was was supposed to be an easy win for sharp shooting southpaw ended with him being dropped twice, and being left flat out thanks to a huge left hook from Ramonal. The KO blow, at the very end of round 3, was a huge left hook right on the chin that dropped Wake hard. This was brutal, this visually impressive and this was nasty to re-watch with Wake dropping on the spot. This is up there with the best KO's of the year.
Notable mention Shuichiro Yoshino TKO1 Harmonito Dela Torre
Thanongsak Simsri (12-0, 11)
The unbeaten Thanongsak Simsri saw his perfect KO start come to an end this week but he answered a lot of questions as he took a clear and wide decision win over fellow Thai Lerdchai Chaiyawed. The talented Thanongsak found someone he couldn't blow through and instead proved he could go rounds, and out-box a capable opponent. Lerdchai might not be well known but he's a very decent regional journeyman and the 19 year old Thanongsak really did well here to make things look as easy as they were. He's certainly one worth making a note of going forward.
Xiang Li (7-2-1, 2) vs Ryu Horikawa (2-0, 1)
On Thursday we see a mouth watering WBO Youth Light Flyweight title bout as exciting Chinese fighter Xiang Li takes on fast rising Japanese teenager Ryu Horikawa. Neither of these men are big names, yet, but we suspect that both will go on to achieve notable success in the future. Li impressed in his title win, earlier this year in Hong Kong with a win over Raymond Poon KaiChing, whilst Horikawa, who has only been a pro since June, shone in August when he beat the touted Yuki Nakajima. This has the potential to be a thriller, and to put the winner on to the fact track for some very big regional fights.
The month of October is promising a lot of action. Of course some of it's not amazing, but the month has a lot of highlights and a lot of reasons to be excited. Here we take a look at the first part of the month, and the highlights we're set to get over the first week or so of the month.
Hiroto Kyoguchi (13-0, 9) vs Tetsuya Hisada (34-9-2, 20) -Osaka, Japan
In an all Japanese world title fight we'll see WBA Light Flyweight "super" champion Hiroto Kyoguchi take on veteran Tetsuya Hisada in Osaka. This will be Kyoguchi's second defense of the title, following his title victory in December against Hekkie Budler, whilst Hisada will be getting his first world title bout, just weeks short his his 35th birthday. The champion will be strongly favoured, but the challenge will go in knowing this will almost certainly be his only shot at a world title
Hiroshige Osawa (35-5-4, 21) Vs Jason Butar Butar (29-26-1, 19)- Osaka, Japan
Former world title challenger Hiroshige Osawa is currently ranked #1 by the WBA at Featherweight, which we admit is a weird ranking given what he's done since losing to Oscar Valdez in a WBO title fight. Here he'll be looking to just stay busy as he takes on limited Indonesian journeyman Jason Butar Butar. Osawa doesn't deserve his #1 world ranking, but that doesn't lead us to thinking this will be anything other than an easy win for the Japanese fighter.
Gennady Golovkin (39-1-1, 35) vs Sergiy Derevyanchenko (13-1, 10) - New York, USA
One of the real highlights of the month will see Kazakh puncher Gennady Golovkin look reclaim a portion of the Middleweight throne as he battles Ukrainian fighter Sergiy Derevyanchenk in a bout for the IBF Middelweight title. This is expected to be a really thrilling bout and a major test to see what Golovkin has left in the tank,and whether Derevyanchenko can get over the line in what is his second world title shot. This could be a really brilliant fight, though one that will leave the loser looking down the proverbial barrel of retirement.
Junto Nakatani (19-0, 14) vs Milan Melindo (37-4, 13) - Tokyo, Japan
Unbeaten Japanese Flyweight hopeful Junto Nakatani looks to continue his rise as he takes on his most notable test to date, former world champion Milan Melindo. The fast rising Nakatani has shown a lot to like so far, but has been fighting at a lower level, with the feeling that he needs to face better competition before getting a world title fight. Melindo is not the fighter he once was, and has lost his last 2 bouts, but still has a bag of tricks up his sleeve and should ask Nakatani some question that he has never been seen before.
Ryo Akaho (34-2-2, 22) Vs Kyung Min Kwon (7-5, 3) - Tokyo, Japan
Former world title challenger Ryo Akaho looks to score his 9th straight victory as he takes on Korean foe Kyung Min Kwon. The Japanese slugger is unbeaten since losing to Pungluang Sor Singyu in 2015, but his competition hasn't been the best during that run, including a close win over the relatively unknown Hiroaki Teshigawara. Kwon on the other hand is a former OPBF Featherweight title challenger, but is 2-3 in his last 5 and will obviously enter as the under-dog. Kwon has proven to be tough, and should give Akaho a solid test, but will almost certainly come up short here.
Ikuro Sadatsune (9-4-3, 3) Vs Robin Langres (10-3, 4) - Tokyo, Japan
The under-rated Ikuro Sadatsune might not be a star in the making but he's a hugely entertaining fighter has a very under-rated record, and should probably have a better record than he does, with 3 of his losses being very close. Robin Langres on the other hand is a Filipino with a similar record, looking to make his mark on foreign soil following 13 bouts at home. This looks competitive and every bout featuring Sadatsune is worth making a note of, especially ones which will be shown on TV, like this one.
Shigetoshi Kotari (0-0) Vs Lasben Sinaba (3-2, 3) - Tokyo, Japan
MT Gym's newest signing is solid former amateur fighter Shigetoshi Kotari. The youngster makes his pro debut, following sparring sessions with the likes of Junto Nakatani and Masayuki Ito, as he takes on Indonesian foe Lasben Sinaba. The reality is that this should be a show case for the Japanese novice, who has the skills and size to go a very long way. Sinaba really has little chance here and it's more a case of getting a chance to see Kotari in his debut, than anything competitive here.
Rikki Naito (21-2, 7) vs Gyu Beom Jeon (9-3-1, 4) -Cheonan, South Korea
At about the 4th time of asking we'll finally get OPBF Light Welterweight champion Rikki Naito defending his title in Korea against Gyu Beom Jeon. This bout has been scheduled a number of times before one issue, or another, has caused it to be rescheduled. Those issues have seen Naito remaning out of the ring for pretty much a full year, with his last botu coming last October against Daishi Nagata.On the other hand Jeon will be fighting for the third time this year, and will be hunting his 6th straight win. Despite the winning run Jeon will be stepping up, massively, here.
Sung Jae Jo (9-0, 7) vs Wulamu Tulake (8-2-1, 4) - Cheonan, South Korea
Unbeaten Korean puncher Sung Jae Jo looks to extend his unbeaten record to 10 wins as he takes on Chinese foe Wulamu Tulake. The Korean Middleweight is a small but powerful fighter at 160lbs and we expect to see him getting into the regional title mix in the near future. Tulake will have size and reach advantages over the Korean, but has been stopped in both of his losses and will almost certainly struggle with the power of Jo.
Shuichiro Yoshino (10-0, 8) Vs Harmonito Dela Torre (20-2, 12) - Tokyo, Japan
Japanese Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino looks to become a triple champion as he faces Filipino Harmonito Dela Torre in a bout for the OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Lightweight titles. The two regional thrones are both vacant coming in to this and will establish the winner as a world ranked contender, as well as the proverbial Lightweight king of Asia. Coming in to this Yoshino has looked brilliant, a sharp, heavy handed boxer-puncher who has stopped his last 6, and looks to be on the way up. Dela Torre on the other hand was once a touted 19-0 (12) prospect, but losses in 2 of his last 3 bouts have taken much of the shine from his career and left him in desperate need of a win here.
Kenichi Horikawa (40-15-1, 13) Vs Yuto Takahashi (10-4, 5) -Tokyo, Japan
Japanese Light Flyweight champion Kenichi Horikawa looks to continue his reign, and secure his second defense, as he takes on the unheralded Yuto Takahashi. The 39 year old champion is a true stalwart of the Japanese scene and despite his age is still a really talented warrior who has won his last 8 in a row and become a 2-time champion. The challenger is a 26 year old who has had some mixed success, but has earned a title fight thanks to wins over the likes of Ryoki Hirai and Yuta Nakayama. This is a big ask for the challenger, but given the age and wear and tear of Horikawa this is, perhaps, the perfect time to challenge him, and take the title before someone else the chance.
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.
The action really doesn't stop this month, and the final third of the month gives us 5 world title bouts along with a lot of other great action as we really end the month with a great flurry of fights.
The middle section of February is pretty interesting , with a number of notable regional level bouts.
Ben Mananquil (16-1-3, 4) Vs Tenta Kiyose (15-2-1, 7) - Hyogo, Japan
Filipino fighter Ben Mananquil travels to Japan to take Tenta Kiyose in what appears to be a really well matched bout for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight title. Mananquil has been unlucky in a number of his bouts, though was fortunate to get a draw against Hinata Maruta. Kiyose on the other hand hasn't fought at the same level as Mananquil, but did score a very notable win over Oleydong Sithsamerchai last July and will be looking to build on that win here. This looks like a very interesting match up an should be very, very competitive.
Hiroki Okada (19-0, 13) Vs Raymundo Beltran (35-8-1-1, 21)- California, USA
Japan's Hiroki Okada takes part in his second US bout, as he battles former world champion Raymundo Beltran, in what looks to be an unofficial world title eliminator for the WBC Light Welterweight title. Okada failed to shine in his US debut, last year, but is a talented boxer-puncher and is certainly better than he looked last time out. Beltran, at his best, was handful for anyone other than the elite, and would have been strongly favoured against Okada, but he has looked to be on the slide in recent bouts, making this a very interesting match up, and something close to a 50-50 fight.
Genesis Servania (32-1, 15) vs Carlos Castro (21-0, 9)- Califnornia, USA
Former world title challenger Genesis Servania, from the Philippines, will be looking to take a huge step towards his second world title fight as he takes on the unbeaten Carlos Castro. Castro is taking a massive step up in class, and will be regarded as the under-dog, but Servania knows he needs to shine, not just win, if he's to open up the doors he needs to get a second title shot. Servania is best known in the US for his fantastic bout with Oscar Valdez and fans will be aware of how good he is, however Castro is an unknown, and could see this as his huge chance to make a name for himself, in what could be a very interesting match up.
Edward Heno (13-0-5, 5) Vs Koji Itagaki (18-13-3, 7)- Hiroshima, Japan
Filipino fighter Edward Heno returns to Japan to make his next defense of the OPBF Light Flyweight title, as he takes on Japanese veteran Koji Itagaki in Hiroshima. The unbeaten Filipino won the title in Japan back in 2017, when he stopped Seita Ogido, and has made 2 impressive defenses since. As for Itagako, he has come up short in Japanese and WBO Asia Pacific title bouts, but this will be his first for an OPBF belt. The Japanese fighter, who is now 35, is in last chance saloon, but has sadly not looked great in recent bouts and has scored just 2 wins in his last 7. All signs point towards another defense for the champion, but can Itagaki put in a career defining performance to save his career?
Hiroaki Teshigawara (18-2-2, 11) Vs Yuki Iriguchi (10-2-1, 4)-Tokyo, Japan
Over the last few year's we've been incredibly impressed by Hiroaki Teshigawara, who will be looking to make his next defense of the OPBF Super Bantamweight title, as he takes on Yuki Irigughi. This is a bout where the champion will be the clear favourite, but the challenger is far from a patsy, and holds a win over recent world title challenger Ryohei Takahashi. Given the styles of both men we're expecting a potential FOTY candidate and both men really do love to let their shots go. Sadly for the challenger he may not have the power needed to make the champion respect him, though he will have the self belief to bring the fight. This really could be the highlight of the week.
Kenichi Horikawa (38-15-1, 12) Vs Satoru Todaka (9-2-4, 3) -Tokyo, Japan
On the same show as the Teshigawara Vs Iriguchi bout is a brilliant bout to crown a new Japanese Light Flyweight champion, as veteran Kenichi Horikawa takes on little known foe Satoru Todaka. Horikawa is a former Japanese and WBO Asia Pacific champion who is an incredibly experienced fighter. At 38 Horikawa is coming towards the end of his career, but he showed there was still life in his legs last year when he stopped the previously mentioned Koji Itagaki. At 29 years old Todaka is the much younger man, but this is a major step up in class for him.
Shohjahon Ergashev (15-0, 14) vs Mykal Fox (19-0, 5)- Kansas, USA
In Kansas we'll see unbeaten men colliding, as highly touted Uzbek puncher Shohjahon Ergashev takes on Mykal Fox in a very interesting looking match up. The Uzbek shined last year, when he went 5-0 (4) putting himself on the map with notable wins over Sonny Fredrickson and Wang Zhimin. Fox, a tall rangy fighter, is stepping up massively here, but a win will boost his chances of a huge fight and he will likely be coming into this bout with the knowledge that this could be his coming out party. It's always good to see prospects colliding, and that's exactly what we have here!
Recently we did a list on 5 world title bouts we want to see in the new year, which can be read here 5 bouts we want to see in 2019 (World title version) for those who missed it. Now we're going to look at some All Japanese bouts we'd like to see in the new year. These bouts are all possible, so for example there is no issue with men being from the same gyms, and would all be really interesting fights, for at least one reason.
Kai Ishizawa (5-0, 5) Vs Daiki Tomita (12-1, 4) - Minimumweight
Back in July we were expecting the heavy handed Kai Ishizawa take on a then unbeaten Daiki Tomita. That bout was sadly cancelled when Ishizawa suffered a nose injury in the build up to the contest. Since then Ishizawa has become the Japanese Youth Minimumweight champion, stopping Yuga Inoue for the belt, whilst Tomita has challenged for the OPBF title, losing a decision to the world class Tsubasa Koura.
Getting this bout remade in the new year would be brilliant, and something to really look forward to. Both men have enhanced their reputations since the originally scheduled bout in the summer and we'd certainly love to see the power and desire of Ishizawa up against the skill and speed of Tomita.
Taku Kuwahara (3-0, 2) Vs Kenichi Horikawa (38-15-1, 12) - Light Flyweight
We believe that Taku Kuwahara maybe one of the very best prospects in world boxing today, and think it would be great for him to prove that in 2019. A bout against Japanese veteran Kenichi Horikawa, potentially for the Japanese title late in the year. Kuwahara has proven his value as a prospect, was a stand out amateur and is an exceptional talent. Horikawa is a faded veteran, but a nightmare to fight and this would be a potential passing of the torch.
This isn't a bout that would make sense for early in the year, given that Horikawa has a Japanese title fight assured in the Champion Carnival, but towards the end of 2019 this bout would be a very good one, and could well be for the national title, if Horikawa wins his title shot.
Katsunori Nagamine (15-2-1, 11) Vs Ryota Yamauchi (4-0, 4) - Flyweight
In 2017 we were impressed by the hunger and desire of Ryota Yamauchi. Sadly 2018 hasn't been the break out year we had anticipated from him, however that's not to say 2019 can't be. He does need a really good win next year however, and a real 50/50 bout with him would see him take on the exciting, hard hitting and talented Katsunori Nagamine, in what could be a very interesting match up between talented fighters looking to make a point in the new year.
Although we'd like to see this bout in the first half of the year, putting the winner in the mix for a title fight later in the year, it would be a very interesting title eliminator towards the end of the year, and potentially put the winner into the 2020 Champion Carnival.
Akira Yaegashi (27-6, 15) Vs Hiroyuki Kudaka (26-18-2, 11) - Super Flyweight
When we started this list there was a bout that really whet our appetite, and looked like a potential FOTY candidate. That was a bout between former 3 weight world champion Akira Yaegashi and 4 time world title challenger Hiroyuki Kudaka. Both men have styles should gel perfectly, both are certainly shop worn, and both are a bit on the older side, still they should match up almost perfectly for an all out action packed bout. The loser really has no where to go, but the winner will potentially be on the fringes of a world ranking.
With Yaegashi turning 36 in February and Kudaka turning 34 in April the hope is that this bout will take place as soon as possible. Kudaka does have a bout in December, potentially delaying this showdown, but there's no reason why we can't have this treat in late Spring or early Summer.
Shohei Omori (20-2, 15) Vs Hiroaki Teshigawara (18-2-2, 11) - Super Bantamweight
When we talk about potential fights of the year it's hard to really know what bout will click. One we think will click perfectly is a show down between former world title challenger Shohei Omori and current OPBF Super Bantamweight champion Hirokia Teshigawara. Omori is the more skilled man, and the bigger puncher, but Teshigawara is a proven tough guy, who will press the fight, throw a lot and really try to take the fight to Omori.
In theory this would make for a really interesting bout, with both men knowing a win would take them towards a world title fight. Neither man has their first bout of 2019 organised, and despite both fighting in the second half of 2018 neither took much punishment in their latest bout. If they can fit this bout in Spring it really would set up their year perfectly.
Masao Nakamura (25-3, 24) Vs Takuya Watanabe (35-8-1, 20)
A bonus fight for this list really excited us when we thought about it, and that is a show down between Super Featherweight's Masao Nakamura and Takuya Watanabe. Nakamura is a very heavy handed boxer-puncher, who can be hurt himself, whilst Watanabe is a rugged tough guy with under-rated boxing. Given Nakamura's power and Watanabe's proven durability we'd expect a war here, a bout that would really have fans on the edge of their seat.
Interestingly This bout would see the WBO Asia Pacific champion, Nakamura, taking on the OPBF "silver" champion, Watanabe, and would renove the loser from the mix domestically, potentially setting the winner up for a unification bout with Hironori Mishiro or Masaru Sueyoshi. Of the bouts on this list this may be one of the easier ones to make, and one of the most exciting all-Japanese bouts that could be made right now.
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