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 an odd one, not a bad one, but an odd one, with of the action only really taking place, or becoming possible to watch, very, very late in the week. There was fights early on the week that weren't televised until Saturday, the biggest bout featuring an Asian took place on Saturday night in the US, there was two touted Uzbek's in action on Saturday night and a lot of action took place in Osaka on Sunday. Due to that these awards are going out a little later than usual, though we suspect we all know who's sweeping most of the awards this week!
Fighter of the Week
It's fair to say there was only one fighter in the running for the Fighter of the Week award and that was Japan's Masayoshi Nakatani, who scored a notable upset win as he stopped touted Puerto Rican hopeful Felix Verdejo. Not only did he win however, but there was so many under-lying stories before the bout and during the bout. Nakatani, who hadn't fought in 17 months, had retired in September 2019, had then refound his love for the sport, signed with Teiken, and was dropped twice en route to a great comeback. This week was Nakatani's week, and hopefully a world title fight in 2021 will follow.
Performance of the Week
Had Nakatani just won a pretty dull fight we'd have had to find someone else for our performance of the week, but lets be honest his performance was great, gutsy, determined and full of hunger. The things we had questioned before the bout. He had been dropped in the opening round, as Verdejo couldn't miss him with the right hand, and he was rocked several more times by huge right hands from the Puerto Rican. He was dropped to a knee in round 4 as a loss looked like a formality. Then he gritted it out, and turned it around, turning the bout on it's head with one of the greatest comebacks of 2019. It was a performance worthy of rave review and this weeks Performance of the Week.
Fight of the Week
Masayoshi Nakatani Vs Felix Verdejo
We're sad to do this, but we need to continue raving about the sensational bout between Nakatani and Verdejo which had it all. The fight had drama, it had action and it had intrigue. It wasn't a high tempo bout. It wasn't a slugfest, and it likely won't be on any Fight of the Year short lists, but as a contest it was truly compelling, utterly fascinating and high drama. A must watch, even if, at times, it did lack the intensity of our favourite style of fights.
Round of the Week
Rentaro Kimura Vs Thunder Teruya (Rd3)
Whilst the drama and excitement of Nakatani Vs Verdejo will linger for a long time we don't actually think it had any amazing rounds, and was instead a great fight due to the over arching drama. As for a great round however round 3 of the bout between super prospect Rentaro Kimura and the amazingly named Thunder Teruya was great. The tempo was solid through out, saw both men land some solid blows and even saw the prospect stumbling backwards before turning the tables and hammering Teruya late in the round. It wasn't a round of the year contender, but was very intriguing and entertianing round.
KO of the Week
Elnur Abduraimov KO1 Abraham Oliva
A very easy award here goes to Elnur Abduraimov for his brutal KO of Abraham Oliva in Mexico. This was a sensational one punch KO that had Oliva collapsing in a disgusting fashion with his legs buckling under him. If you've managed to see this one we seriously advise giving it a watch. Brutal.
Prospect of the Week
There was a lot of prospects in action over the last week, but for us the most impressive, and interesting, was the debuting Takahiro Tai, who put on a showcase in clowning, and made us sit up and take not. Tai's debut wasn't flawless, he didn't beat a big name, or score a win of note, but his performance will certainly have caught the eye with a very un-Japanese style. He was show boating through out, closed the show well and certainly proved to be a fighter worthy of attention.
The middle portion of July is incredibly packed with a lot of action coming in just a few days, including 4 world title bouts, a regional title bout and several notable hopefuls. It really is set to be an insanely busy few days.
Unbeaten WBC Light Flyweight champion Kenshiro looks to make his next defense as he battles against hard hitting Filipino challenger Jonathan Taconing, who enters as the mandatory challenger. At the moment Kenshiro is arguably the most under-rated world champion in the sport, and is certainly the most under appreciated fighter in Japan. This however is no gimme for the champion and Taconing brings a real air of danger with him thanks to his hard hitting southpaw style. On paper this may end up being the bout of the month, and is a true boxer Vs banger affair.
Yesterday we looked at 6 bouts rumoured to be in the works for the new year, and then we realised there was a lot more that were swirling around and ended up here, with part 2!
If you missed the first part that's available to read here 6 bouts rumoured to be in the works for 2019
Reymart Gaballo (20-0,17) Vs Liborio Solis (28-5-1-1, 13)
A bout between WBA "interim" Bantamweight champion Reymart Gaballo and Venezuelan veteran Liborio Solis has been rumoured for a while, and is a bout that would keep both of the highly regarded fighters busy until the end of the WBSS, when the winner could then get a shot at a top title. Gaballo has really impressed, despite not being given too many opportunities, and the 22 year old looks like a major player in the future of the Bantamweight division. Solis on the other hand is a 36 year old, grizzled veteran who would want one more major fight. This make sense for both men, and has the makings of a great fight.
Daniel Roman (26-2-1, 10) Vs Murodjon Akhmadaliev (5-0, 4)
WBA Super Bantamweight champion Daniel Roman is expected to have a mandatory title defense in early 2019 against insanely fast rising Uzbek fighter Murodjon Akhmadaliev. The champion, won the title in September 2017 and has made 3 defenses since then, over-coming Ryo Matsumoto, Moises Flores and Gavin McDonnell. Akhmadaliev on the other hand only turned professional last March and has risen in a sensationally quick way to become the #1 ranked WBA contender. Roman would be favoured, but this is a tough one to call and looks like it's going to be announced in the coming weeks.
Rey Vargas (32-0, 22) Vs Tomoki Kameda (36-2, 20)
A match up between WBC Super Bantamweight champion Rey Vargas, from Mexico, and interim champion Tomoki Kameda, of Japan, is expected to be made at some point this year, and is a bout with history behind it. Vargas has made 3 defenses of the belt already, and is planning his next one for February before potentially facing Kameda in Summer. Kameda on the other hand won the interim in late 2018, when Vargas was out of the ring injured, and could well find himself getting a chance to avenge and amateur defeat to the Mexican. With both being able to speak Spanish this would be an easy sell to the Mexican markets, and could take place in Japan, Mexico or the US.
Masayoshi Nakatani (18-0, 12) Vs Edis Tatli (31-2, 10)
Supposedly in the works as Lightweight world title eliminator we could see Japan's Masayoshi Nakatani battle Finland's Edis Tatli in 2019. Nakatani has long been the OPBF champion, running up 11 defenses of the title, and is clearly in need of stiffer tests rather than continuing to battle on the regional circuit. As for Tatli, a former European champion, the bout would give him a potential push to fight for a world title. It should be noted that both fighters have generally fought at home, with Nakatani rarely leaving Osaka and Tatli only leaving Finland once, and we suspect that the fighter who secures home advantage will be favoured in this potentially compelling contest.
Kenshiro (15-0, 8) Vs Hiroto Kyoguchi (12-0, 9)
One of the most mouth watering bouts that could be made right now would see WBC Light Flyweight champion Kenshiro unifying with WBA "super" champion Hiroto Kyoguchi. These two fought several times as amateurs, with Kenshiro holding the advantage from those days, and the two have also taken part in a recent public spar, to build hype towards this potential contest. Between then they are 10-0 (5) in world title bouts, and would make for a brilliant contest stylistically, as well as an incredibly rare all Japanese unification bout. Our fingers are tightly crossed that this one gets done!
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (47-4-1, 41) Vs Juan Francisco Estrada (38-3, 26) II
WBC Super Flyweight champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai narrowly got past Juan Fracnisco Estrada last February and is now expected to make another defense against Estrada in 2019, if a unification bout for the Thai can't be secured. Their first bout was a razor thin bout, and one where Srisaket's technical boxing surprised many, though Estrada did seem to finish the stronger man and would certainly start faster in a rematch, making things interesting once again. The WBC are expected to let Srisaket negotiate a unification contest, but if his team can't get it done quickly there's a good chance they will order this bout sooner, rather than later.
After a truly hectic start to the month things slow down a little bit, but we still have a pretty busy middle section to the month, no only with title fights but also really looking support bouts, with several supporting bouts looking like better contests than the bouts for belts.
If you missed part 1 that's available here - What's to come in December...Part 1
Ryota Yada (17-4, 14) Vs Shusaku Fujinaka (16-9-2, 10) - Osaka Japan
Hard hitting Japanese Welterweight champion Ryota Yada looks to see off a break through year as he defends his title, for the second time, and takes on veteran Shusaku Fujinaka. Yada won the belt by stopping Toshio Arikawa and has come in to his own this year, after struggling past Moon Hyon Yun last year. For Fujinaka, who is rarely in a dull fight, this could be the last big chance he gets, following set backs to the likes of Keita Obara and Randall Bailey. We're expecting a very fan friendly bout here.
Takayuki Okumoto (21-8-3, 10) Vs Masayoshi Hashizume (16-0-1, 10) - Osaka Japan
A second Japanese title fight will see Takayuki Okumoto make his first defense of the Japanese Super Flyweight title, taking on unbeaten Ioka gym prospect Masayoshi Hashizume. For the challenger this is a massive step up in class, but he's already won the Rookie of the Year and has share gym time with the likes of Sho Ishida, Masayoshi Nakatani and Kazuto Ioka. For Okumoto this is a great chance to build on his title win, which came against Hiroyuki Kudaka back in August.
Ryosuke Nasu (9-3-3, 2) Vs Yuto Nakamura (8-5, 7) - Osaka Japan
The Japanese Youth title scene is heating up with more and more Youth title fights. A pretty interesting looking Japanese Youth Super Flyweight title fight will see the skilled Ryosuke Nasu battle against the limited but heavy handed Yuto Nakamura, in what should be a much more entertaining and competitive bout than the records suggest. It's clear, to use, that Nasu is the favourite, but this bout is certainly no gimme, for either man. A very good match up between two men each looking to claim a title and push their careers forward.
Masayoshi Nakatani (17-0, 11) Vs Hurricane Futa (25-7-1, 15) - Osaka Japan
As well as the Japanese and Japanese Youth title fights we also get an OPBF title fight, as long term OPBF Lightweight champion Masayoshi Nakatani defends his belt against hard hitting challenger Hurricane Futa, who is a real potential banana skin. In recent fights Nakatani has looked like he's gone a bit stale and off the boil, waiting for the Ioka gym to secure him a big fight, and if he again under-performs there's a chance Futa could score a career defining upset win. Futa, although better than his record suggests, should be regarded as the under-dog, but as a live one, and there is a chance he catches a less than fully focused Nakatani here.
Shohei Omori (19-2, 14) Vs Takahiro Yamamoto (21-5, 17) - Osaka Japan
Former world title challenger Shohei Omori looks to continue his climb towards a second world title fight as he takes on former OPBF Bantamweight champion Takahiro Yamamoto, in what looks like a very explosive match up. Both men are flawed but those flaws should make for an interesting contest. Omori is the more rounded fighter, and the more natural boxer, but can leave himself a bit open whilst Yamamoto the more heavy handed fighter, and the more deliberate puncher. We think Omori should come out on top, but wouldn't be surprised to see him need to get through some rough patches.
Sho Ishida (26-1, 15) Vs Warlito Parrenas (26-8-1, 23) - Osaka Japan
Former world title challengers face off in what is a must win bout for both men. Sho Ishida, who lost to Kal Yafai, is still in the mix for a second world title fight and has impressed since his sole defeat, as he looks to have become a better fighter mentally, building on his physical assets and good boxing skills. Parrenas, who lost in a world title fight to Naoya Inoue, is almost certainly in the final stages of his career, and was last seen losing to Ryuichi Funai. Parrenas has the edge in power here, being a brutish puncher, but almost all the other advantages are to the younger, taller, longer Ishida. Big question is whether Parrenas can land a bomb on the Japanese fighter.
Shuichiro Yoshino (8-0, 6) Vs Kazumasa Kobayashi (10-7-1, 6) - Tokyo, Japan
Unbeaten Japanese Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino seeks his third defense as he goes up against limited 35 year old challenger Kazumasa Kobayashi, in the main event of a Korakuen Hall show. On paper this is little more than a show case for the talented champion, who we expect to be moving up a level next year and be competing for regional titles if not working his way up the world rankings. Kobayashi very much feels like a veteran getting a title shot before retiring, and he has nothing to lose here, but few will be giving him any sort of a chance.
Ryo Sagawa (5-1, 3) Vs Shingo Kawamura (16-4-1, 8) - Tokyo Japan
We have a bit of a hidden gem here as former amateur standout Ryo Sagawa takes on recent OPBF Featherweight title challenger Shingo Kawamura in what looks likely to be an under-the-radar treat for fans. Sagawa really put himself on the map earlier this year, winning a shoot out against former world title challenger Ryo Matsumoto, and it seems clear he's looking to mix in title fights in the near future. Kawamura on the other hand lost last time out, but gave OPBF champion Satoshi Shimizu real problems, before Shimizu's power broke him down. Both men will be looking to go into 2019 with a big win and we expect that will show in their performances here.
Nobuyuki Shindo (20-4-1, 8) Vs Akinori Watanabe (37-7, 31) - Tokyo, Japan
It's rare for the JBC to create an "interim" title but when they do they do tend to force a unification as quickly as they can. One of the few interim titles they've created recently is the interim Light Middleweight title, which was won by Akinori Watanabe in August, and he'll be unifying with regular champion Nobuyuki Shindo in what could be a really interesting fight. The power and experience edges are with Watanabe but Shindo is the younger man and the significantly bigger man, having around 4" in height. It's worth noting that the winner of this bout will have to make a mandatory defense in the first half of 2019.
Hayato Kimura (27-10, 18) Vs Seizo Kono (19-10-1, 12) - Tokyo, Japan
On the subject of Japanese interim titles we'll actually see a Japanese Interim Bantamweight title fight as Hayato Kimura and Seizo Kono clash. Originally the plan wasn't for this to be a title bout but due to illness Yuta Saito is currently on the shelf. Neither Kimura or Kono have had great runs of form coming into this, and for both men it's a bit of a must win bout, with neither really having any where to go if they lose. Kimura is certainly the quicker man, but has fought much of his career at Super Flyweight, losing in several domestic Super Flyweight title bouts. Kono on the other hand is a fully fledged Bantamweight, but is 18 months removed from his last win
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