As we head towards the new year we've had a big look at the current scene and come up with "20 fights we'd like to see in 2020", yeah another series ahead of the new decade!
As is always the case with what we do, these articles will have an Asian flavour, and every bout we mention in the series will have at least 1 fighter from Asia involved. So for those of you expecting us to talk about Deontay Wilder Vs Anthony Joshua, that won't be listed.
What we'll be looking at is well matched contests with either some form of back story, a great stylistic clash or bouts with some form of significant meaning. If they tick all the boxes then that is even better! Each fight will be given it's own article and each of these will come with an introduction to the fighters, and why the bout is being featured in the list.
Kenshiro Teraji (17-0, 10) Vs Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9)
The Light Flyweight division might go over looked by many fans in the West but it is among the deepest divisions in the sport right now, and the one that is screaming out for a WBSS style tournament putting all the top guys in against each other and seeing who comes out the blender on the other side. It has a great mix of fighters, styles and a lot of fighters who want to make a statement, and that is what we need to see more of. Sadly we've not had any unification bouts in a while, but the fighters all seem to be up for prove who's the best, and there's a chance we will see the top guys facing each other in 2020. With that in mind we have picked the division's dream bout here.
Kenshiro Teraji, also known as Kenshiro by many fans, is the WBC champion and the longest reigning active champion in the division. The unbeaten 28 year old has held the title since May 2017, and although yet to unify had scored some genuinely top level wins, beating the likes of Ganigan Lopez, Pedro Guevara, Milan Melindo, Saul Juarez, Jonathan Taconing and Randy Petalcorin, whilst racking up 7 defenses. He had been pencilled in to unify just before Christmas by Felix Alvarado was forced to pull out of that bout. In the ring Kenshiro is a fantastic boxer-puncher and not only has one of the sports most under-rated jabs and body attacks, but also some of the smartest foot work in the game, dictating the distance brilliantly behind his feet, which allow him to set up his offence with ease.
Hiroto Kyoguchi is currently enjoying a world title reign in his second weight class, and although he's looked solid at 108lbs, notably gate crashing the division with a stoppage against Hekkie Budler, he hasn't really built on his title win. Defenses against Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart and Tetsuya Hisada, are both decent but not the wins that will define a legacy, to do that Kyoguchi would need to beat another top name, and fighting Kenshiro would give him a chance to do that. At his best he's a physical pressure-boxer, with explosive combinations and under-rated skills, but we really don't quite know how good he's going to be at 108lbs until he faces another solid name, similar in stature to Budler. Standing toe-to-toe with Kyoguchi is generally a mistake, but when he's faced boxers his defensive flaws have been shown up, and he's still got some polishing to do before he really peaks.
What we'd get here is an excellent boxer mover, in Kenshiro, who can stick a jab in the opponents face whilst on the move and switch to the body at any second, taking on a fantastic pressure fighter, who can box really well on the front foot. This would be a wonderful mix of styles, and it would also have a great backstory running through it due to the amateur rivalry the two had. It's not the only great bout that could be made at 108lbs, but to us it's the most interesting, by far.
(Images courtesy of Watanabe Gym and Boxmob)
So the year is coming to a close, and this will be our final weekly awards for 2019! Despite this being the last one of the year there really wasn't all that much worthy of discussion sadly, but with Christmas in the middle of the week we were never expecting too much to speak about here. Thankfully though we did get one big show at the start of the week, and a splattering of bouts here and there, to fill things up.
Fighter of the Week
Ryota Murata (16-2, 13)
Japanese Middleweight Ryota Murata completed his year of redemption in style, not only beating Steve Butler, but stopping him, breaking him both physically and mentally along the way. Murata took the best shots of Butler, and walked through them, making a feared puncher question themselves before chipping away at them with heavy shots. It was an expected win, but one that was still impressive, smart and a signal of intent. The fact it was followed by huge statements from Bob Arum about getting Murata a major name at the Tokyo Dome in 2020 just added to the whole week for the 2012 Olympic gold medal winner.
Performance of the Week
Kenshiro Teraji (17-0, 10)
When a fighter drops a world class opponent 4 times, in 4 rounds, all from body shots, then it's hard not to be impressed. We won't pretend it was a flawless performance from Kenshiro, but his victory over Randy Petalcorin was very impressive. He hardly seemed to get out of second gear and still broke down a very accomplished rival, who had gone 7 rounds with the dangerous Felix Alvarado in 2018. To have this level of performance with all the changes going on, a change of opponent and a change in whether the bout was being televised live in Japan or not, showed that no matter you through at him, Kenshiro Teraji finds a way to adapt.
Akira Yaegashi Vs Moruti Mthalane
It was the week of the old men! On Saturday American fans got a thriller between Jean Pascal and Badou Jack, a genuine global Fight of the Year contender and another example of why end of year awards should wait until the end of the damn year! A few days earlier fans who follow the Asian scene got a similar, though less competitive treat, as Akira Yaegashi and Moruti Mthalane gave us a thrilling 9 round war. The bout had it all. It had skills, it had action, it had intensity, exchanges, raw violence, drama, both men looking hurt. This was, in many ways, what you'd expect of a 36 year old Yaegashi, and was a great pre-Christmas treat!
Akira Yaegashi Vs Moruti Mthalane (round 4)
The round of the week, came from the fight of the week, and boy what a round it was. It was the round that really began the start of the end for Yaegashi, who showed he was willing to fight the wrong fight, but it was also the round that sent nothing but adrenaline through the veins of everyone watching. This was high octane, back and forth thrilling stuff, the sort of action that has helped make Yaegashi one of boxing cult fan favourites. Sadly for the Japanese warrior he was just up against a more defensively smart, less shop worn, smarter, more accurate and heavier handed South African genius and this wasn't going to be the way Yaegashi was ever going to win.
Musheg Adoian KO2 Noppadol Khongchana
The obvious choice this week was Ryota Murata's win over Steven Butler, which was a fantastic looking KO. That however was pipped on the final day of the week by an obscure, but brutal KO by Thai based Armenian-Russian puncher Musheg Adoian in Singapore, as he took out Noppadol Khongchana. This was genuinely brutal, as a right hand from Adoian knocked the Thai clean out. This was another, of the many highlights shared this year by our good friend @Hock1717, who is well and truly worth a follow by all boxing fans.
Ju Wu (9-0-2)
Chinese youngster Ju Wu is not someone many would have expected to see on the final weekly award article, but it's hard to ignore just what he did on December 26th. Not only did he make his European debut, but he actually took a win, in Switzerland, against the local favourite Alain Chervet, winning a solid upset. The Chinese fighter boxed wonderfully in Berne and recorded his third solid win of the year. After drawing 2 of his first 3 career bouts the youngster has developed fantastically. Fingers crossed that he'll develop some confidence in his power, and build on his punching power in 2020 as that's the one area he's lacking at the moment.
Ginjiro Shigeoka (4-0, 3) vs Rey Loreto (25-14, 17)
Although this fight won't be made immediately available to watch it's impossible to deny just how much we are looking forward to this one! It's a gut test for Japanese youngster Ginjiro Shigeoka, as he defends his WBO Asia Pacific Minimumweigt title against a former world title challenger. Despite their being world title fights coming up this one has us much, much more interested than the those world title bouts, and we are really interested to see what happens here, in a fantastic contest to end 2019.
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