We’re now into 2021 but before we leave last year behind there are a few more things we need to look back on for last year. Among those are the Monthly Award winners for December 2020, and it’s a month really dominated by Japanese action, with Japan hosting a large number of shows during the final part of the year.
Fighter of the Month
Kazuto Ioka (26-2, 15)
The fighter of the month for December was an easy one, but one we really needed to wait until the end of the month for, and that was Kazuto Ioka, who successfully defended his WBO Super Flyweight title with an excellent 8th round TKO win against Kosei Tanaka. The Japanese legend was put under pressure early in the bout, was left with double vision in round 2, and had clear damage around his eye soon afterwards. Despite that he stuck to a game plan, took away Tanaka’s best tools, dropped the younger man twice, and then forced Michiaki Someya to save Tanaka from further punishment. A fantastic performance in the final big bout of the year.
Fight of the Month
Masayoshi Nakatani Vs Felix Verdejo
We genuinely had some amazing fights in December, such as the fantastic bout between Ioka and Tanaka fight, the sensational bout between Ali Akhmedov and Carlos Gongora and the brilliant clash between Ryoji Fukunaga and Kenta Nakagawa bout. The one that stood out above them all however was the amazing 9 round bout between Masayoshi Nakatani and Felix Verdejo in the US. The bout had 4 knockdowns, a huge shift in momentum and saw Nakatani pull himself off the canvas, twice, to stop Verdejo. This is up there with the very, very best of 2020 and is a bout that every fan should watch, if they haven’t already. A genuine fantastic fight.
KO of the Month
Etsuko Tada TKO9 Ayaka Miyao
As well as great fights we also had some sensational KO’s. The best of the bunch came in the WBO female Minimumweight title bout with Etsuko Tada taking out Ayaka Miyao with a single, short, straight, left hand. This was a perfect KO, sending Miyao face first onto the canvas, and giving Tada probably the best KO win of her career. In a month where we had some sensational finishes this was really something special and stands up there with the best female KO’s ever, especially given the proven world class ability of Miyao. If you have a Boxing Raise account and haven’t seen this one already go and check it out!
Prospect of the Month
Ryosuke Nishida (3-0, 1)
It’s rare to see a prospect fake on a former world title challenger in their first few fights but that’s exactly what we saw from Ryosuke Nishida on December 19th, when he beat Shohei Omori. Nishida, who was 2-0, and had only made his debut in October 2019, was too quick, too sharp, too hungry and too good for Omori who struggled to get anything going. Nishida started well as he established an early lead. He a little wobble in the middle of the fight, as Omori tried to turn things around, but roared back in the later rounds and came close to stopping Omori whilst securing himself a massive win. This was brilliant from Nishida in a massive step up, and it’s clear that the young southpaw from the Mutoh Gym has the potential to go a very, very long way. This was a performance that genuinely put him on the map and we’re looking forward to seeing the 24 year old return to the ring later this year.
Upset of the Month
Yuichi Ideta MD8 Ryota Yada
When it comes to upsets few will rival the upset win scored by Yuichi Ideta against former Japanese Welterweight champion Ryota Yada. Coming into the bout Ideta had gone 1-15-1 in his previous 17 bouts. He hadn’t scored a win in almost 10 years and had lost 11 in a row. No one gave him a chance, especially not at the age of 36. But then he simply out worked, out fought, out battled, out gritted and out willed Yada en route to taking a truly unexpected decision win. The heavy handed Yada, who is best known for his brilliant 2019 war with Yuki Beppu, was expected to win this one and move on to an OPBF title bout in 2021, but this loss almost certainly ends those plans and leaves his career in a really precarious situation.
Carlos Gongora TKO12 Ali Akhmedov
Round of the Month
Ryoji Fukunaga Vs Kenta Nakagawa (Rd8)
With a lot of brilliant fights taking place in December we also got a lot of excellent rounds and they came right through the levels of the sport, from some of the Rookie bouts world level bouts. For us however the bouts rounds came late in the fantastic bout between Ryoji Fukunaga and Kenta Nakagawa, with round 8 being the best of the bunch. The two men fought each other to a standstill, they each rocked the other and they went hammer and tong, beating the fight out of each other. This was brutal, it was thrilling, exciting, back and forth action. It was exactly what we needed to see. Not only was it great, but the stakes couldn’t be much higher, with the two men fighting for the WBO Asia Pacific, OPBF and Japanese Super Flyweight titles. This was amazing, and followed up by 2 more great rounds making for a real gem of a fight.
This past week has been another of those weeks that has given us a lot of action, spread over a lot of days. We'll admit this is another week where there has been action late on, and sadly delayed our awards by a few hours. It is also, sadly, a week where a lot of footage hasn't been made available in a timely fashion, most notable the East Japan Rookie of the Year finals, which took place today but won't be aired on TV for another week.
Despite the delay of footage for some shows, we still had a lot to talk about, in what has been a really good week.
Fighter of the Week
Hyun Mi Choi
Unbeaten Korean fighter Hyun Mi Choi did what few ever thought she would, she fought in the USA this week, and managed to put on a showcase of aggression, making for a really fun and exciting bout against the over-matched Calista Silgado. It was certainly not a punch performance from the "Defector Girl Boxer", but that hardly mattered, this was a massive win for her, for Korea and for Korean boxing. Sadly Korean boxing isn't what it once was and Choi is the nation's only world champion, so here win here is massive for Korea and can hopefully help kick start boxing in the country again. Her fight was fun to watch and she fought with a style that wasn't really like her usual one, making sure to leave an impression. This was exactly what she needed to do, and exactly what fans needed to see from the 30 year old.
Performance of the Week
Whilst Choi was the fighter of the week her performance was a very flawed one. Gennady Golovkin on the other hand put in a near flawless performance, and rarely needed to get out of second gear en route to an easy win over Kamil Szeremeta. Golovkin controlled every minute of the fight, dropped Szeremeta 4 times, and landed at will against a Polish challenger who simply shouldn't have been in the ring with him. This was not a Golovkin who looked 38 or like he hadn't fought in over a year, this was a polished, revitalised Golovkin, wanting to show wrinkles in his style that hadn't been seen in years. An excellent performance.
Fight of the Week
Ali Akhmedov Vs Carlos Gongora
Despite the fact we had a lot of fights this past week a lot of this past week many of them failed to deliver drama or action. Mr "Big Drama Show" himself, for example, just battered someone who shouldn't have been in the ring with him. One bout that did stand out however was the 12 round thriller between the unbeaten pairing of Ali Akhmedov and Carlos Gongora. This was a genuinely great fight, with Akhmedov setting the early tempo, Gongora adjusting, Akhmedov tiring himself out, and Gongora coming from behind to score a 12th round stoppage. If you missed this one make sure to do yourself a favour and give it a watch, a genuinely fantastic bout with action, drama, momentum shifts, skills, and a huge comeback
Round of the Week
Ryoji Fukunaga vs Kenta Nakagawa (Rd 8)
The fantastic Boxing Raise service gave us a really great show this past week thanks to Kadoebi Promotions, and it was the main event bout from that show that gave us, arguably, the two best rounds of the week. They were rounds 8 and 9 of the triple title unification bout between Ryoji Fukunaga and Kenta Nakagawa, with both rounds being amazing back and forth battles between two men desperately wanting to become triple crown champions. Fukunaga's power and heavy hands hurt Nakagawa repeatedly in round 8, but he lacked the energy to finish his man, allowing Nakagawa to fire back, and land some huge left hands, that stiffened his legs, only to than have Fukunaga recover and come back at Nakagawa. This was Rocky-like stuff from both and made Boxing Raise well worth the price this month.
KO of the Week
Towa Tsuji TKO3 Kairi Suetsugu
We dip into the realm of the obscure for the KO of the week, which was a brutal left hook from hell from Towa Tsuji, which landed clean as a whistle on Kairi Suetsugu, sending him down hard. The bout was waved off quickly with Seutsugu down on the canvas before he was stretched out of the ring. We doubt Tsuji will ever score a better KO than this, and it was the perfect way for him to end his debut. A real eye catching finish.
Christian Araneta KO1 Roland Jay Biendima
Prospect of the Week
There was only real one contender here for Prospect of the Week and that was Japanese youngster Ryosuke Nishida who stepped up massively this week and scored a brilliant unanimous decision win over Shohei Omori. The talented Nishida, fighting just his third professional bout, started very sprightly, using his speed and movement really well, and despite some trouble in rounds 4 and 5 came back even stronger, Hurting Omori in the final 3 rounds. Credit to Omori for surviving some torid moments in rounds 7 and 8 but this was Nishida's day, and Nishida's week. A fantastic showcase of a sensational prospect.
It's fair to say that December is the best month of the year and over the next 2 weeks or so we are getting a great run of fights up to Christmas, with several notable names and big shows set to take place all over the world.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Ryoji Fukunaga (12-4, 12) vs Kenta Nakagawa (19-3-1, 12)
In a bout for all the regional and domestic marbles at 115lbs we'll see JBC champion Kenta Nakagawa battle WBO Asia Pacific champion Ryoji Fukunaga, with two title the men hold, as well as the OPBF title, up for grabs. The two men are a long way behind world class, but against each other they are very well matched, and both men can punch, so this should be a genuinely thrilling shoot out. A very hard one to call and a potentially very exciting match up, with both men being hurt.
Hiroki Okada (19-2, 13) vs Izuki Tomioka (7-3-1, 2)
The out of form Hiroki Okada returns to a Japanese ring for the first time since May 2018 as he takes on the talented and slick Izuki Tomioka. Coming in to this Okada has lost his last 2, by stoppage, in the US and will known that a loss to a domestic foe could spell the end of his career. Tomioka, who is in his early 20's, has proven to be a very talented and tricky fighter, but very much a work in progress and has lost his 3 biggest bouts to date. Style wise this is a very interesting match up and it really could go either way, depending on how Okada is mentally following his recent set backs.
Mikio Sakai (2-0) vs Toshihiro Kai (6-11-3, 2)
It's not often we get to talk about Japanese Middleweights so with that in mind we felt it was worthy of giving this bout some attention. Mikio Sakai was a former Japanese amateur standout who has looked very good since turning professional. He'll be strongly backed to pick up win #3 here against the limited and somewhat fragile Kai, who has been stopped a number of times recently. Given the lack of depth on the Japanese scene at Middleweight a win here would likely leave Sakai only a fight or two away from a domestic title bout.
December 16th -
Aidos Yerbossynuly (14-0, 9) vs Issah Samir (19-0, 16)
Unbeaten Kazakh hopeful Aidos Yerbossynuly looks to extend his unbeaten record and take another step towards a potential world title bout as he takes on fellow unbeaten Issah Samir, from Ghana. This bout will see Yerbossynuly defending a number of minor titles and taking on his most dangerous foe to date, with Samir certainly being able to puncher and boasting an unbeaten record of his own. Although Yerbossynuly is stepping up it's also fair to state that Samir is taking on his toughest test to date, and will be doing so as the under-dog, in his first bout outside of Ghana. On paper one of the most attractive bouts in this pre-Christmas period.
Bek Nurmaganbet (2-0, 1) vs Emmanuel Danso (32-5, 26)
Touted Kazakh hopeful Bek Nurmaganbet fights for the third time this year as he takes on Emmanuel Danso, who like Samir is from Ghana. Danso has an imposing looking record and looks like a real danger man for the unbeaten 22 year old Kazakh former amateur standout. On paper a major test. Sadly however looking beneath the numbers Danso is perhaps a calculated risk and the "Kwahu Tyson" has been stopped in 4 of his 5 losses and has come up short every time he's left Africa for a bout. Despite, probably, being a mismatch it is worth noting that Danso has shared the ring with Umar Salamov, Ruslan Fayfer, Feng Manlong and Robin Krasniqi, so Nurmaganbet will be able to compare himself to some notable contenders after just 3 professional bouts.
Bekzad Nurdauletov (1-0, 1) vs Kabiru Towolawi (13-2, 10)
The sensationally talented Bekzad Nurdauletov returns to the ring for his second professional bout as he takes on Nigerian 40 year old Kabiru Towolaw. On paper this is another bout that looks dangerous until you dig below the numbers and realise that Towolawi hasn't beaten a fighter with a winning record, though has proven to be tough. We expect to see nothing other than an easy win for the Kazakh here, who will likely be looking for a second stoppage win.
Microsoft Theater, Los Angeles, California, USA
Eumir Marcial (0-0) Vs Andrew Whitfield (3-1, 2)
Talented Filipino amateur standout Eumir Marcial will kick start his professional career as he takes on fellow professional novice Andrew Whitfield in a scheduled 4 rounder. Marcial is tipped for an Olympic medal at the Tokyo games and has turned professional to staty busy and get some rounds under his belt before the Olympics, and a subsequent full professional career. Whitfield shouldn't be much of a test, but will be there looking to pick up a win upset the very highly regarded Pinoy pugilist.
December 17th -
Wild Card Boxing, Los Angeles, California, USA
Madiyar Ashkeyev (14-0, 7) Vs Charles Conwell (13-0, 10)
Staying on the subject of Kazakh's the unbeaten Madiyar Ashkeyev takes a major step up in class he faces fellow unbeaten Charles Conwell on December 17th's edition of Ring City, the brilliant new idea to put on events with 50-50 match ups in the US with out promotional bias. Similar in some ways to some of the DANGAN cards in Japan. This is a really mouth watering bout with the 32 year old Ashkeyev now being given a chance to sink or swim. Conwell is a very highly regarded American prospect and a win here will shoot the 23 year old to within touching distance of a world title fight. A fantastic match up and one we are really looking forward to. In fact we're really looking forward to following the Ring City project in general as it's a brilliant concept.
December 18th -
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Hollywood, Florida, USA
Gennady Golovkin (40-1-1, 35) vs Kamil Szeremeta (21-0, 5)
Remaining on the subject of Kazakh fighters, the biggest name in Kazakh boxing returns as Gennady Golovkin looks to defend the IBF Middleweight title against relatively unknown Polish challenger Kamil Szeremeta. We are of the opinion that Golovkin is a shadow of the fighter he once was, but at 38 he's only coming down the other side of the hill, and has got tot he bottom yet. With that in mind we suspect he'll be too big, too strong and too powerful for Szeremeta. On the other hand Golovkin has been in tough fights recently and they are clearly taking a toll on him, with numerous injuries in recent years. This should be an easy one, but if he struggles we suspect Golovkin will consider 2021 as his final in the sport.
Ali Akhmedov (16-0, 12) vs Carlos Gongora (18-0, 13)
Another Kazakh on this card will be Ali akhmedov, who is in a really interesting looking match up against Ecuador's Carlos Gongora. The exciting Kazakh has run out his record to 16-0 but hasn't really been tested since his 2016 debut, with his toughest bouts being a wide 8 round decision win over Mike Guy and a wide 10 round decision over DeShon Webster. Gongora on the other hand was a 2-time Olympian who competed 3 times in the World Amateur Championships, but has sadly been matched very softly since turning professional. Gongora certainly has the amateur pedigree to suggest he's a talent, but the 31 year old has been matched even softer than Akhmedov. For both men this is a step up in class, and one that feels over-due for both fighters.
Hyun Mi Choi (17-0-1, 4) vs TBA
Unbeaten Korean Hyun Mi Choi makes her international debut though at the time of writing her opponent is unknown. She was originally slated to be rematching Mexican foe Jessica Gonzalez, though it appears that Choi's team have had to look elsewhere for an opponent and have seemingly offered the opportunity to vocal fighter who made it clear the offer wasn't suitable for her. Sadly what should have been a chance for Choi to increase her international profile has seen her become the latest fighter to sign with Matchroom and have her opponent be a mystery. Sadly this is becoming a trend with Matchroom in the both the UK and the USA
December 19th -
Mohegan Sun Casino, USA
Nonito Donaire (40-6, 26) Vs Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-1, 12)
On December 19th Filipino boxing legend Nonito Donaire will face off with Emmanuel Rodriguez for the vacant WBC Bantamweight title. Originally we were supposed to see Donaire battle Nordine Oubaali, but Oubaali has contracted Covid19, forcing him to pull out of this bout and be given the WBC "champion in recess" tag and leaving the WBC title vacant. Interestingly Donaire and Rodriguez were both last seen in the ring losing to Naoya Inoue, though in very different fashion, with Donaire last 12 rounds with Inoue and Rodriguez being blasted early on. Donaire will be the favourite, but it's going to be interesting to see just how much the 38 year "Filipino Flash" has left more than a year removed from his excellent performance against Inoue in the WBSS final.
Reymart Gaballo (23-0, 20) Vs Jose Velasquez (28-6-2, 19)
On the same show as Donaire Vs Roodriguez we get another interesting Bantamweight bout as unbeaten Pinoy puncher Reymart Gaballo takes on Chilean veteran Jose Velasquez in a bout for the WBA "interim" Bantamweight title. For Gaballo this is a chance to become a 2-time "interim" champion, having won the title in 2018 with a win over Stephon Young, though his first reign lead nowhere. For Velasquez this is a huge match up and his first shot at any form of a world title. On paper Gaballo is the favourite, but his wild, free swinging aggression may get him in some trouble against his tough Chilean foe.
Olive Convention Centre, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Moruti Mthalane (39-2, 26) vs Jayson Mama (15-0, 8)
The final big fight before Christmas sees us focusing on South Africa as unbeaten Filipino fighter Jayson Mama challenges Moruti Mthalane for the IBF Flyweight title. The 23 year old Pinoy is really taking a huge leap up in class here, going from bouts against faded contenders, like Fahlan Sakkreerin, and domestic fighters, like Dexter Alimento, up to genuine world class. Mthalane, now aged 38, is certainly fighting father time, but the "Babyface" has defied age over and over. Interestingly this will be Mthalne's first bout in his home town and we do wonder if he plans to wave good bye to the sport, win or lose, with a chance to bow out on top at home. Notably it has been almost a year since Mthalane beat Akira Yaegashi in Yokohama and we do wonder if age and ring rust will be an issue against a young and hungry fighter like Mama.
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.
This coming December is absolutely insane with notable fights taking place almost daily. As has become traditional Japan has a packed scheduled for the month, but this time around it's not just Japan delivering the action in the final month of the year, in what is really a massive month all around the globe!
Koki Inoue (14-0, 11) Vs Jheritz Chavez (9-3-2, 7) - Tokyo, Japan
The first notable show of the month will see unbeaten Japanese national champion Koki Inoue look to add the WBO Asia Pacific Light Welterweight title to his collection as he takes on Filipino foe Jheritz Chavez, This should be a really interesting match up between two men who have power and can both take a show. Inoue should be favoured, as the unbeaten local is a real talent, but Chavez will not be there to just make up the numbers, and the Filipino has proven himself to be a dangerous fighter, having come close to beating Rikki Naito. This could end up being much, much tougher for Inoue than many expect.
Jerwin Ancajas (31-1-2, 21) vs Miguel Gonzalez (31-2, 8) - Puebla, Mexico
On a packer Saturday we'll see a lot going on. Among the most notable bouts, for us at least, we'll see IBF Super Flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas take on Chilean challenger Miguel Gonzalez, in what looks like a good bout on paper. Sadly we suspect the paper lies here and can't see anything other than an Ancajas win. The Filipino world champion should be too quick, too sharp and too powerful for the game, but light hitting and limited, Gonzalez who has come up short the two times he has mixed at close to world class. One thing worth noting is that Ancajas was supposed to fight a few weeks earlier, before having that bout cancelled, and may well look lacklustre as a result of having a change of opponent. Even with that in mind we still see this as being an easy win for the "Pretty Boy"
Marlon Tapales (33-2, 16) vs Ryosuke Iwasa (26-3, 16) - New York, USA
A second major IBF bout on December 7th will see former world champions collide for the IBF "interim" Super Bantamweight title. In one corner is the criminally under-rated Marlon Tapales, who is a former WBO Bantamweight and has proven himself as a hard hitting road warrior who is much more dangerous than his record suggests. Tapales will be up against former IBF Super Bantamweight champion Ryosuke Iwasa, who is the naturally bigger man, but very much a fighter who blows hot and cold. This is a hard one to call, though we are leaning to Tapales, and is a wonderful bout mixing fighters with different styles that should gel, and heavy hands. A potential hidden gem for the month, despite the "interim" title.
Joe Noynay (18-2-1, 7) vs Kenichi Ogawa (24-1, 18) - Tokyo, Japan
In 2019 Filipino fighter Joe Noynay has has impressed. He travelled to Japan and stopped Kosuke Saka to claim the WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight title and then returned to stop Olympic bronze medal winner Satoshi Shimizu. Noynay looks to make it 3-0 against Japanese fighters this year as he takes on Kenichi Ogawa in a really, really, good looking bout. Ogawa is attempting to move towards a second world title bout, but will need to over-come the in form Noynay, which is tough for anyone. There's a lot on the line here, and the winner will be in the world title mix in 2020, whilst the loser will have some genuine rebuilding to do in the new year. This bout is very much high risk, high reward, for both men.
Masaru Sueyoshi (19-1-1, 11) vs Kosuke Saka (19-5, 16) - Tokyo, Japan
A second title bout at 130lbs, on the same show in Tokyo in fact, will see Japanese national champion Masaru Sueyoshi defending his title against Kosuke Saka, who looks to bounce back from his loss to Joe Noynay. For Sueyoshi this bout will mark his 5th defense of the title as he continues to edge closer and closer to a bout for some form of international or world title. The talented, though often frustrating, Sueyoshi is a tricky man to beat, though we do have questions over his chin. Hopefully Saka will manage to test Sueyoshi's whiskers though we suspect that the boxing brain and unique rhythm of the champion will be too much for the naturally smaller Saka to deal with here.
Sadriddin Akhmedov (10-0, 9) vs Jose Antonio Villalobos (12-5-2, 7)
Hard hitting Kazakh youngster Sadriddin Akhmedov looks like he has got superstar potential, with an exciting style, a great look, and the ability to box or bang. He is as a good a prospect as Kazakhstan has right now and his promoters in Canada seem to know they have a special talent on their hands. Despite Akhmedov being a special talent Eye of the Tiger Management aren't rushing him, and here he gets another fight to develop his experience and talent, as he goes up against tough Argentinian fighter Jose Antonio Villalobos, who has only been stopped once. This should be another win for Akhmedov, who already has 4 wins this year, but we're glad he's being kept active and getting experience at such a young age. Bigger fights will come for the 21 year old, and this is just the next step to those bigger bouts.
Musashi Mori (10-0, 6) vs Takuya Mizuno (17-1-1, 14) - Osaka, Japan
Unbeaten Japanese youngster Musashi Mori has been tipped as one to watch for a while by those in the know in Japan and the currently WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight champion is certainly an excellent prospect, with a lot of potential. Here we'll see him risking his title and unbeaten record against the heavy handed Takuya Mizuno in a very interesting test. Mori once looked like a bit of raw talent, but has been getting nurtured this year and has been taken under the win of Ismael Salas, who is expected to to help round off the rough edges that Mori has, and calm his offensive mentality. That'll be a big ask, but if Salas can get Mori to buy into the philosophy he can go a very long way. Mizuno is technically quite crude, but with heavy hands he tends to be able to punch his way to victory, and if he catches Mori the youngster could be in trouble. We suspect Mori should have the scales to win, but this is no walk in the park for the youngster.
Takayuki Okumoto (23-8-4, 11) Vs Kenta Nakagawa (17-3-1, 12) - Osaka, Japan
Takayuki Okumoto looks to make his next defense of the Japanese Super Flyweight title as he takes on former champion Kenta Nakagawa in what looks like a decent match up. Okumoto has been in great form over the last few years in terms of results, but looks to be very much a transitional champion, who is rather lucky the division is a weak one in Japan right now. Nakagawa held the title for 5 months in late 2016 and early 2017, but lost in his first defense and hasn't really impressed since then. Nakagawa has the skills to test Okumoto, but we suspect the champion will retain again here.
Yuki Beppu (20-1-1, 19) Vs Ryota Yada (19-5, 16) -Osaka, Japan
We'll see a potential shoot out at Welterweight as former Rookie of the Year Yuki Beppu faces former Japanese champion Ryota Yada for the WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title. Both of these men can bang, both are aggressive and both believe in their power. Of the two Yada is the more proven, but he's also been stopped multiple times, whilst Beppu has shown a gritty toughness that could help here in what could be one of the most exciting bouts of the month. We don't expect this one to go the distance, and instead we expect fireworks, a lot of fireworks! If you're watching this one, don't blink!
Toshiki Shimomachi (10-1-2, 6) vs TBA -Osaka, Japan
The once beaten Toshiki Shimomachi is pencilled in to make his first defense of the JBC Youth Super Bantamweight title. At the moment no opponent has been named, sadly, We suspect an opponent was in mind but that bout has failed to materialise and Shimomachi has been left opponent-less. There is a chance his team will secure a decent opponent in the coming days but it is looking less and less likely as the days go by. As for Shimomachi he's a very talented, having won Rookie of the Year in 2018 and the Japanese Youth title earlier this year.
Thanongsak Simsri (12-0, 11) vs Christian Bacolod (12-0, 9) - Osaka, Japan
One of the most interesting match ups for the month comes quite low down the profile scale, but features two unbeaten young hopefuls in what could be a truly compelling match up. In one corner is Thai punch Thanongsak Simsri, who has already been compared to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, whilst the other corner plays home for world ranked Filipino Christian Bacolod. On paper this looks excellent, and despite being quite far down the card, and lacking any immediate title honours, we suspect this could be a bit of a thriller.
This past week has been an incredible one in the grand scheme of things. We've had Asian fighters fighting for world titles on 3 different days, we've had a whole host of prospects, Japanese title bouts, two live streamed shows on Boxing Raise, more streamed action from Thailand and Taiwan and it really has been a week to remember. With that in mind it's been a really great week for our weekly awards, and an incredible hard one to decide in terms of some winners.
Fighter of the Week
Naoya Inoue (18-0, 16)
We suspect that there will be no argument at all with us selecting "The Monster" as our fighter of the week. He really was the talk of the boxing world through the last 7 days, not only in the build up to his WBSS semi-final bout with Emmanuel Rodriguez but also afterwards, with his 2nd round demolition of the Puerto Rican really being something very spectacular. Whilst we did feel that Rodriguez perhaps had an overly inflated reputation coming in to the bout there was no questioning Inoue's performance. He took a round to get a read on Rodriguez, then destroyed him to become the first ever Japanese fighter to win a world title fight in Europe. This was the Monster announcing himself, and doing so in a way that leave no doubt about the Japanese star.
Performance of the Week
Naoya Inoue (18-0, 16)
For the first time ever our Fighter of the Week, generally given to the fighter who scored the best win, and our Performance of the Week, the fighter who impressed us the most, are the same man. We won't bother to repeat ourselves, though we will say that if you've not yet seen the performance this was something amazing.
Despite Inoue picking up the double we will just add that the performances form Yusaku Kuga, Tsubasa Maruchi, Masayuki Kuroda and Reiya Konishi were all very impressive and all would likely have been a serious contender had we not had the Monster do what he did in Glasgow.
Moruti Mthalane Vs Masayuki Kuroda
We loved the rematch between Ryuichi Tamura and Yusaku Kuga, and the thriller between Tatsuya Yanagi and Koichi Aso, but the reality is that Monday's world title fight between Moruti Mthalane and Masayuki Kuroda was a level above the other bouts. This was something to behold, a 12 round war, with the skills of Mthalane put against the heart and desire of Kuroda. The champion retained his IBF Flyweight title relatively comfortably in the end, but that cannot take away from the fact that the bout was sensational. It was a really, really exciting, well fought contest that deserves to mentioned as a FOTY contender
Ryoichi Tamura vs Yusaku Kuga II (6)
There was so many amazing rounds this past week. We had things like Yosuke Fujihara v Naoya Okamoto, round 3, Koichi Aso v Tatsuya Yanagi, round 7, and and several rounds from Moruti Mthalane vs Masayuki Kuroda bout. For us however the Japanese Super Bantamweight title bout between Ryoichi Tamura and Yusaku Kuga had the best round of the week. It's difficult to pick one, though we're edging with round 6, which was the round where the fight really came alive. Tamura, who was losing the bout quite clearly after 5 rounds, picked up his pace and we ended up with a 3 minute fire fight, that began the second half of a sensational fight. This was the sort of bout that we love, for the action, but hate knowing that there's a chance neither man will ever be the same. A truly brutal fight, with some truly amazing rounds.
Kenta Nakagawa TKO7 Ryosuke Nasu
For such an amazing, action packed week, we didn't really have many standout KO's on show. Whilst Naoya Inoue's stoppage of Emmanuel Rodriguez was impressive Rodriguez wasn't out cold. Arguably the best of the bunch was Kenta Nakagawa's brilliant left hand against Ryosuke Nasu, that left Nasu out in Nakagwa's corner. The bout hadn't been thje mopst notable but the stoppage was huge and really showed that, despite his limitations, Nakagawa can bang at this level.
Ryusei Kawaura (6-0, 4)
If we're being totally honest the Prospect of the Week was one of the harder categories this past week, even hard than the Fight and Round of the Week. We had notable wins for not only our winner, Ryusei Kawaura, but also Batyrzhan Jukembayev, Shakhobidin Zoirov, Elnur Abduraimov, Eric Pen and Tsubasa Maruchi. For us Kawaura's win over Renoel Pael, and the manner of that win, was what won him the award, but in reality it was really close and we got a real glimpse at some amazing talent this past week, talent that will make a mark at a much higher level in the near future future.
Carlos Canizales (21-0-1, 17) vs Sho Kimura (18-2-2, 11)
As with the week we've just had there is a lot to look forward to over the coming 7 days. For us the highlight, at least on paper, is the WBA "regular" Light Flyweight title bout between Carlos Canizales and Sho Kimura. This has the potential to be a sensational bout, and a true FOTY contender. Canizales, looking to make his second defense of the title, is the natural Light Flyweight, and is a strong powerful guy at 108lbs, whilst Kimura is dropping down from Flyweight for this. If Kimura makes the weight safely we should be in for something truly, and gruesomely violent.
We mentioned them at the start of this but they need mentioning again, Boxing Raise were tremendous. They gave us two live shows, one of which was totally free whilst one was for their members. The first of those shows was arguably the show of the week and featured a trio of amazing match ups, once again showing the level of service their cards have.
TVK were a real mixed bag, winning the first ever "Half assed" award. Whilst they were big winners on Monday, live streaming the IBF Flyweight title bout between Masayuki Kuroda and Moruti Mthalane, we are really disappointed that they've not uploaded the bout to their youtube channel for a chance to rewatch what was a FOTY candidate...come on folks!
Masafumi Ando, who scored a huge upset by stopping former Japanese Welterweght champion Toshio Arikawa. Ando was expected to be taken out but completely ripped up the script to score a career defining win, and prove that even with his poor record he can still be a banana skin to much more well known fighters.
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