The 2019 Rookie of the Year tournament was genuinely brilliant with a number of great fights, both on the way to the All Japan final and in the All Japan final, back on December 22nd. Among the very best of the bouts was a Light Welterweight between Kodai Honda and Yasutaka Fujita, a round so good it deserves to be watched in isolation.
The two men had reached the final in impressive fashion. Honda had lost on his debut but has stopped his previous 3 opponents in a combined 6 rounds, including stopping the then 5-0 Masaki Kobayashi in the East Japan final in November. Fujita on the other hand had had stopped all 5 of his opponents in a combined 10 rounds, and had only been taken beyond 2 rounds once.
Whilst we didn't expect this one to go the distance, and it didn't was it was stopped in round 4, what we hadn't expected was that neither man wanted to go more than 3 minutes. From the opening moments we were seeing the two men in each others face and it was only 10 seconds in that we were seeing them trading bombs in some absolutely breath taking excuses. Fujita would then take the upper hand, and try to take out Honda who refuses to be taken out, and tried to pressure the free swinging Fujita. It wasn't the best game plan, but it made for some amazing action as Fujita threw punches like a newbie on a Fight Night game. Then Honda came back in the dying seconds of the round as it swung back towards him
In just the space of 3 minutes we had seen so much leather thrown that it was clear one man, or the other, wasn't going to remain standing after 5 rounds. We had seen Fujita throw everything, we had seen Honda eat everything then come back. This was a round to remember, and a brilliant way to start a Rookie of the Year final bout.
This past week has been a rather crazy one, with so much action crammed into so little time. We saw a Japanese Heavyweight fight in the UK, huge upsets featuring Filipino fighters, the Rookie of the Year final and so much more. Whilst the week wasn't full of high profile action it was one of the most packed weeks of the year, by some margin and a lot of fighters and bouts are being missed off this week. This was a tough week to be an award winner, but a great for fans as we complete the final week before Christmas!
Fighter of the Week
Akinori Watanabe (39-7-1, 33)
It wasn't a tough week for Akinori Watanabe, who retained his OPBF Light Middleweight title with a 2nd round KO win over Sitthidet Banti, but it was one where he scored, on paper, this biggest win, retaining a major regional title. The heavy handed fighter from the Kadoebi gym was expected to win with ease and he did just that, taking out the Thai challenger with a brutal body shot that left Banti in absolute agony. Fingers crossed that we see Watanabe in with a bigger test and a better challenge in his next defense.
Performance of the Week
Renz Rosia (16-9-1, 9)
At the start of the week few would have expected us to be talking about a win for Renz Rosia but the Filipino domestic level fighter managed to record a career best win on Saturday when he out pointed 2-time world title challenger Aston Palicte. Rosia managed to out box, out skill, out and out fight the bigger, hard hitting Palicte, who looked second best through out. Rosia won't get a lot of acclaim for this win, but it suddenly gives his career a massive shot in the arm. Sadly however it does leave Palicte's career in a real hole, and it's the sort of loss which will be hard for him to bounce back from, given how comprehensive it was.
Kodai Honda vs Yasutaka Fujita
The Rookie of the Year on Sunday was consistently entertaining, but one bout really stood out. That was the 140lb clash between Kodai Honda and Yasutaka Fujita, a bout that will be deserving or a re-watch, and another rewatch. It was just something sensational, with 4 knockdowns, both men going down twice, and an incredible intensity to the first round. Fujita started like a house on fire and Honda tried to respond, being dropped twice in the opening round, before finding a way to turn things around. This really is a must watch 4 round war.
Kodai Honda vs Yasutaka Fujita (Rd1)
The fight of the week, had the round of the week with the opening round of the Honda Vs Fujita bout being absolutely incredible, with Fujita setting an incredible pace and Honda trying to respond, fighting fire with fire. This is the sort of round that has every fan on their feet with their jaws on the floor, and the fact Honda would go on to fight back in the way he did in the following rounds just adds to how amazing this round is. A really sensational 3 minutes of action.
Daniel Dubois KO2 Kyotaro Fujimoto
There really wasn't any option was there? Englishman Daniel Dubois turned the lights off for Japanese Heavyweight Kyotaro Fujimoto in what was one of the best KO's this year. A huge, single right hand to the jaw took the Japanese fighter out in brutal fashion. This is one which will be replayed time and time again. It's just a shame the Asian fighter was on the wrong end of it, but this was a brilliant KO.
Odiljon Aslonov (1-0, 1)
Forner Uzbek amateur standout Odiljon Aslonov made his debut on Saturday in Russia and instantly looked like one to watch, as he battered Russian journeyman Varazdat Chernikov into submission. This was a debut where Aslonov's intention wasn't just to win, but to show what his strengths were, and from the first moments he was showing destructive and brutal body work, breaking down the Russian, who was completely outclassed. This heavy handed fighter looks like a beast and is one to make a real note of going forward.
Moruti Mthalane (38-2, 25) vs Akira Yaegashi (28-6, 16)
Monday's IBF Flyweight title fight, pitting defending champion Moruti Mthalane against Japanese star Akira Yaegashi, is a hard one to call. We expect Mthalane to win, no matter what, but how he gets the win really does befuddle us. We can see both a very early win for the South African, with Yaegashi officially being shot, or a late dragged out win for Mthalane, who finally breaks down a gallant Yaegashi in a FOTY contender. It's that potential for this bout to be something special that has seen up pick this bout, though we wouldn't be surprised to see if being a blow out for the South African,similar to Yaegashi's 2017 loss to Milan Melindo.
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