The past few months have, sadly, been rather quite on the boxing front, at least compared to pre-pandemic times. Despite that it does feel like April is going to be a truly stacked month of action with more fights of note than we've seen all year. Genuinely this coming month is set to be massive, with every type of fight we could hope for! With that in mind lets take a look at what's to come in the early part of the month.
Humo Arena, Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Murodjon Akhmadaliev (8-0, 6) vs Ryosuke Iwasa (27-3, 17)
The big fight to kick the month off will see IBF and WBA "Super" Super Bantamweight champion Murodjon Akhmadaliev defending his titles against IBF "interim" champion Ryosuke Iwasa in a highly anticipated bout that would have taken place last year were it not for Covid19. For Akhmaaliev it's his first bout since winning the titles from Daniel Roman in a sensational 2020 bout whilst Iwasa has been out of the ring since beating Marlon Tapales in 2019. The Super Bantamweight division is a criminally slept on one right now, and the winner of this will be in the mix for some brilliant match ups later in the year. For this bout we suspect the strength and technical ability of Akhmadaliev will be up against the power of Iwasa, and we should get something a bit special.
Israil Madrimov (6-0, 5) vs Emmany Kalombo (14-0, 14)
Talking about special it's fair to say that Israil Madrimov might be a bit special, and he gets a chance to show what he can do on this show as he takes on the unbeaten Emmany Kalomobo. The talented Madrimov has been touted as a future world champion since making his debut but showed some cracks last time out. We're expecting a really big performance from him here. Saying that howeber Kalombo will not have travelled from South Africa to Uzbekistan to hand over his unbeaten record and he should be regarded as a live opponent here.
Shakhram Giyasov (10-0, 8) vs Patricio Lopez Moreno (28-4, 20)
Another hotly tipped Uzbek is Shakram Giyasov, who took a silver medal at the 2016 Olympics. He has looked hot and cold at times as a professional, though it appears when he's on song he is an incredible talent with a bright future. We suspect to see him at his very best here, as he takes the chance to impress his countryman. In the opposite corner is highly experienced Mexican Patricio Lopez Moreno, who is no push over, and went 12 rounds with Denys Berinchyk in 2019. Moreno has the tools to test Giyasov, but we are, as mentioned, expecting something impressive from the unbeaten Uzbek.
Hasanboy Dusmatov (2-0, 2) vs Muhsin Kizota (11-2, 5)
Whilst there is a lot of press regarding Madrimov and Giyasov, who have both fought on DAZN before, the Uzbek that really could steal the show is Hasanboy Dusmatov, another Olmypic champion and a man who is wanting to fight for a world title sooner rather than later. The excellent Dusmatov has gone through his first 2 professional bouts without much attention, picking up very easy wins. Here we expect to see him taking on his toughest test so far as he battles Tanzanian fighter Muhsin Kizota. Dusmatov is a very, very special fighter, and needs to move his career quickly to real the heights his potential deserves and we suspect an impressive win here will see his team look to secure a world title fight in 2021. Kizota Kizota's record lacks in terms of quality, but it is worth noting that he went 7 rounds with Sivenathi Nontshinga, and we suspect that Dusmatov will try to take him out quicker than that.
Also on this show are exciting prospects Bakhodir Jalolov (7-0, 7), Elnur Abduraimov (7-0, 6), Sanjar Tursunov (2-0, 1) and the debuting pair of Ikboljon Kholdarov (0-0) and Mirazizbek Mirzakhalilov (0-0).
Round 10 Boxing Club, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Donnie Nietes (42-1-5, 23) vs Pablo Carrillo (25-7-1, 16)
The long awaited ring return of Donnie Nietes, who hasn't fought since the final day of 2018, takes place this month as he clashes with Colombian veteran Pablo Carillo. The excellent Nietes, a 4 weight world champion who's only loss needs a giant "*" next to it, is looking to secure a career defining fight before finally hanging them up. Carrillo shouldn't pose a threat to Nietes, if Nietes is half the fighter he was, but with such a long lay off it's going to be very interesting to see how Nietes looks here.
Zhankosh Turarov (24-0, 17) Vs Tyrone McKenna (21-2-1, 6)
Unbeaten Kazakh fighter Zhankosh Turarov looks to make a big step up in class as he takes on Tyrone McKenna in what looks like a very good match up. Turarov has been touted for a while, but had a very, very stop start career, plagued by injuries and inactivity. Dubbed "Da Kazakh Kid" he is now 30 and it's do or die time for his career, which has seen him fighting as a pro since 2009! His opponent will be Northern Irishman Tyrone McKenna, who will be incredibly hungry to take a win here, and bounce back from a controversial 2020 loss to Ohara Davies. Although not a marquee fight by any stretch, this should be a hotly contested one, and a bout that sees both men in the ring to win.
Tursynbay Kulakhmet (2-0, 1) Vs Heber Rondon (20-0, 13)
Another unbeaten Kazakh in action is professional novice Tursynbay Kulakhmet, who will be looking to defend his WBC International title for the first time as he takes on the unbeaten Heber Rondon. On paper this looks a really good match up and a good chance to Kulakhmet to show what he can against a solid looking opponent. Although he is being fast tracked there are plenty of areas for Kulakhmet to work and we'd love to see a more polished performance from him here, after a bit of flawed showing last time out. As for Rondon, an unbeaten Venezuelan, this will be his first bout away from home, an is a very steep step up in class. Rondon could be a bit of a surprise fighter here, though we suspect Kualkhmet will have far too much for him.
Workpoint Studio, Bang Phun, Thailand
Nawaphon Por Chokchai (50-1-1, 40) Vs Sophon Klachun (5-5-1, 1)
Former world title challenger Nawaphon Por Chokchai was hoping to land a WBC title fight in March, tough Covid19 restrictions in France saw that bout collapse. As a result he's now set for a stay busy fight in April as he takes on Sophon Klachun. Ranked #2 by the WBC, in some of the strangest rankings we've seen, Nawaphon is edging towards a second world title fight and really should just be focusing on shaking some ring rust here.
Sakai City Industrial Promotion Center, Sakai, Osaka, Japan
Kaori Nagai (5-2-3, 2) Vs Natsuki Tarui (4-6-2)
JBC Atomweight champion Kaori Nagai will make her first defense of her title as she takes on Natsuki Tarui. On paper this looks a very low level title fight, but in reality the styles of the two should gel really well and we're expecting a fantastic, high tempo bout here. Nagai is in really good form, having won her last 4, and gone unbeaten in her last 8, but Tarui is also much better than her record suggests and is 3-1-1in her last 5. This should be a very good bout.
Sakai City Industrial Promotion Center, Sakai, Osaka, Japan
Tenkai Tsunami (27-12-1, 16) Vs Shione Ogata (11-6-1, 3)
A second Japanese female fighter defending her title on April 4th is WBO female Light Flyweight champion Tenkai Tsunami, who takes on the under-rated Shione Ogata in a solid, if unspectacular, match up. The highly experienced Tsunami 36 and has been a professional since 2005, mixing against many of the best in the world, and is going through one of the best runs of her career. Ogata on the other hand is taking a big step up here, unbeaten in her last 5 and won the WBA Asia, WBO Asia Pacific and OPBF female Light Flyweight titles in her last 4 bouts. This really should be a very, very entertaining clash of styles and a hotly contested 10 rounder.
So that was January 2020 and the first month of a new decade was interesting without really being sensational. We certainly had plenty of noteworthy action, though compared to December was a significant downturn, and a much less interesting month. Then again that is pretty normal for a January.
With that said lets have a look at what we deem the best of January!
Fighter of the Month
Murodjon Akhmadaliev (8-0, 6)
The fighter of the month was a pretty obvious pick, with Uzbek Super Bantamweight Murodjon Akhmadaliev being the clear, and standout, winner. The talented former amateur standout ended the month was a fantastic, albeit very competitive, win over Daniel Roman. The win, which netted Akmadaliev the IBF and WBA "Super" titles, was huge and it's hard to deny that "MJ" has kicked off the year in a huge way! If he can build on this win through the year he really could be one of the names for 2020, much like Can Xu was in 2019.
Fight of the Month
Han Bin Suh Vs Dong Myung Shin
There was some good fights this past month, but nothing that will be in the conversation for Fight of the Year. Despite that it's hard to pick fault with the compelling 10 round Korean Super Bantamweight title bout between Han Bin Suh and Dong Myung Shin. This was compelling through out, with Suh refusing to ever accept defeat, and instead he kept ploughing forward hoping to break down the much more polished Dong Myung Shin. This was brilliant and a real hidden gem part way through the month. It wasn't the most high skilled bout of the month, or the most exciting, but it blended the action, activity and skills well.
KO of the Month
Shohjahon Ergashev KO1 Adrian Estrella
It was a weird month for KO's with very few of them really standing out, though it may take a while for us to see a better one than Shohjahon Ergashev's body shot KO against Adrian Estrella. This was naturally beautiful and left the Mexican in pure agony on the canvas, It's rare for body shots KO's to be this good, and it's another KO for an Ergashev KO reel. A truly sensational shot, that is going to be worth watching and over through the year.
Tuguldur Byambatsogt (2-0)
January had a lot of stellar performances from prospects from all over the place, with emerging fighters from Uzbekistan, Korea, Japan and China all impressing. It was however a Mongolian that shined the brightest, with Tuguldur Byambatsogt really showing what he could do with a clear and impressive win against Vladimir Baez. This young man from Mongolia is a potential star of the future, and no one impressed quite as much as he did. For a fighter in just his second professional bout Byambatsogt has put down a marker of intent and hopefully he and his team will continue to aim high through the rest of 2020.
Esneiker Correa TKO7 Ravshanbek Umurzakov
We didn't have too many upsets of any note this past months, but the one that did raise have the most shock value came in Russian when 21 year old Venezuelan Esneiker Correa stopped previously unbeaten Uzbek hopeful Ravshanbek Umurzakov in 7 rounds. We'd expected the highly regarded Uzbek to pick up his 11th straight win against someone who was fighting outside of Latin America for the first. Instead Correra broke down and beat up Umurzakov to claim a massive victory in the 7th round. This wasn't just a big upset for Umurzakov but the type of win that allowed him to announce himself as one to watch. And seriously we would advise keeping an eye on this young puncher, he is someone to get excited about.
Takuma Takahashi vs Leonardo Doronio (Round 3)
There were some amazing rounds, truly amazing rounds. For us the the third round between Takuma Takahashi and Leonardo Doronio takes the honours, just. This was drama, controversy, and action all rolled into one. Takahashi twice dropped Doronio, could have had points taken both times for hitting his downed opponent, and was cut in a round that was absolutely sensation. This was almost 3 minutes of chaos in which both men were hurt. Well and truly worth a watch below!
Another week is over and we again get to look over the good, the bad and the ugly from the boxing world! We've had some great moments, some frustrating moments and of course a really ugly moment, that we suspect every fan has already seen on social media.
1-Inoue Vs Casimero is Official!
The worst kept secret in boxing was finally confirmed with Ohashi holding a press conference in Japan to announce Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16) would be facing WBO Bantamweight champion John Riel Casimero (29-4, 20) on April 25th bout with the WBO, IBF and WBA "super" titles all on the line. The bout was one we seemed to know about weeks ago, but it was still the highlight of the week to see it being announced and confirmed. Although April seems a long way away it's great to see this finally being confirmed and fans now able to get flights and hotels sorted for what promises to be a fantastic fight.
2-Raymond Guajardo vs Clay Collard
Man oh man, oh man! The first round to this PBC bout was something sensational! With 3 knockdowns, and an all out dramatic war this was special from the opening bell. Raymond Guajardo had come into the bout as a supposed prospect, having blown out all of his opponents early on. Clay Collard on the other hand was a tough guy with an under-rated record against stiff competition. This was a gut check for the youngster and one he failed to pass, but did come out with an enhanced reputation. The only problem was seeing people complain about the match making afterwards. Sorry to say chaps but bouts like this should be applauded, rather than letting Guajardo running up a 20-0 record it's better to see him checked out early and being asked questions. He now knows areas to improve, and fans now know his name!
3-Tevin Farmer's reign comes to an end
We're sorry if it sounds like we're being harsh but the IBF Super Featherweight title reign of Tevin Farmer will go down as a dreadful reign when we look back in the history books. The skilled southpaw won the title in August 2018, beating a wash Billy Dib, then made 4 defenses in less than a year. That sounds great until you look at the level of his competition during that reign, and note that he faced 0 fighters above the European-type level. For all the attention and the press Farmer got his reign was dreary so it's a good, in our eyes, that Jo Jo Diaz, a much more exciting and interesting in ring fighter, ended his reign. Whilst Farmer has a great out of the ring story the in ring action he has given us since winning the title has been awful.
4-Murodjon Akhmadaliev takes unified crown!
Whilst we'd been impressed by Murodjon Akhmadaliev's rise through the ranks we though he was getting his shot against Daniel Roman just a fight to soon. Well he sure as hell made us eat our words! What a fantastic performance by the young Uzbek who announced himself on the world stage in a brilliant way. This young man is a brilliant fighter and you could tell what the win meant to him in his interview. Also big respect to the post fight behaviour of both men, who had class and dignity through out. Big props to both "MJ" and Danny Roman for conducting themselves in the way they did pre fight, in the fight and post fight.
1- Juding in the God's Left Final
The God's Left Bantamweight final did not go the way we had expected. We were expecting a war, an all action tear up which wouldn't see the final bell. Instead we saw Seiya Tsutsumi using a lot of excellent movement and a fantastic gameplan to stop Nakajima from using his power shots. This was a great tactic to win the early rounds, though sadly the judges didn't seem to appreciate the raiding attacks of Tsutsumi, who was denied what seemed like a clear win. This was poor from the judges, and really was harsh on the Kadoebi gym fighter who deserved the victory and the tournament prize.
Celebrity fights are nothing new, and they certainly shouldn't be pushed out of the sport, despite what some might think. However Jake Paul's bout with Ali Eson Gib is one where the commission need to take a look at themselves. In fairness to Paul he seemed to have some idea of what he was doing, but also he also appeared a natural weight class, if not 2, bigger than Gib who didn't look like he'd ever had any real training. Gib just looked bizarre and like a man who had learned to box from a video game or something. As a spectacle it was acceptable, and neither were the worse fighters we saw this weekend, but trying to build an event around them, and then having the post fight fake beef stuff. These bouts could be used to attract attention to a good show, but in reality this just felt like one guy who knew how to fight picking on a smaller, clueless kid. Commissions, if they are to allow these types of bouts, need to make sure the fighters are both similarly sized and abled.
3-Inconclusive ending to Pedro Taduran vs Daniel Valladares
The IBF Minimumweight bout between Pedro Taduran and Daniel Valladares was great, don't get is wrong. It was our fight of the week. Sadly though the early headclash and early finish, resulting in a technical draw, was an inconclusive and disappointing end to what should have been a great fight. Fingers crossed we get a rematch between these two after the mini-war we got here.
1-Gervonta Davis - Public Display of Aggression
For a second week running WBA "regular" Lightweight champion Gervonta Davis makes it into our ugly, and again it's for something that a top level boxer shouldn't be doing. This time around he was effectively man handling a woman at a basketball game, and was caught on film. Whilst some will say he didn't actually hit her, this was still a worrying act of aggression towards a woman, who is reportedly the mother of his child. Thing is if he's willing to do this in public then what goes on behind closed doors? The talented fighter really isn't having a great 2020, and it may take someone close to him to make him sort out this reckless behaviour, before it's too late.
2-The judging for the Farmer Vs Diaz fight
We think it's fair to assume that most people had Jo Jo Diaz taking a near shut out against Tevin Farmer, who was out worked, out punched, out powered and out fought from the early stages. Some how two of the judges had the bout just a single round off a draw. Richard Green and Alex Levin really should be pulled aside by the commission and explain their 115-113 cards. Absolutely pathetic scorecards and ones that look like they were from two men who didn't want the action in the ring.
(Images courtesy of boxmob.jp)
What an interesting week we've had! We've not necessarily had any Fight of the Year contenders but we've had some thrilling match ups, great fights and brilliant performances in what has been a genuinely great week for Asian boxing.
Fighter of the Week
Murodjon Akhmadaliev (8-0, 6)
Winning a world title is a great achievement, but winning 2, in just your 8th bout is a sensational achievement, and that's exactly what Uzbek sensation Murodjon Akhmadaliev did this past week. The excellent Uzbek showed he could punch, he could box and that he could go 12 in a performance that has really shaken up the Super Bantamweight division. There is no one else who has come close to doing what "MJ" did this week, and he is the only person deserving of the Fighter of the Week honours.
Performance of the Week
Murodjon Akhmadaliev (8-0, 6)
Whilst the 12th round from Murodjon Akhmadaliev was poor everything else was fantastic, especially for a man in just his 8th fight. He controlled the ring, and out boxed Daniel Roman for stretches of the fight whilst answering a lot of question. It wasn't a punch perfect performance from the Uzbek, but for a man in just his 8th fight this was, by far, the most impressive performance of the week. Excellent stuff from "MJ".
Pedro Taduran vs Daniel Valladares
Whilst we absolutely loved the Murodjon Akhmadaliev Vs Daniel Roman fight, which was arguably the most consistent fight, the most action packed was the IBF Minimumweight title bout between Pedro Taduran vs Daniel Valladares. This was all action, dramatic and thrilling with the two men unloading huge bombs on each other early and often. The only real shame, and the only reason this will not be in the running for fight of the year consideration is the inconclusive and disappointing ending, resulting in a 4th round technical draw. Despite the result, this a must watch war.
Shun Akaiwa vs Kenta Endo (Round 2)
There were some great rounds this past week, but for sheer drama and excitement few rival the second round of the Shun Akaiwa vs Kenta Endo bout. The round wasn't all action from the bell, but instead it grew and grew through the fight before 30 seconds of chaos at the end. This was one of those almost perfect stand alone rounds that tells a complete story, and swings one way then the other. With a touch of controversy and real excitement. This is one every fan should give a watch to.
There was no valid KO this week
Rustam Tulaganov (3-0, 1)
Nobody would suggest that Rustam Tulaganov is the most exciting fighter out there, in fact in many ways he's quite boring and a touch methodical. But it's hard to deny that he's an excellent talent, a well schooled boxer and the prospect who impressed the most this past week. The Uzbek took a huge step up in class, as he took on Polish southpaw Norbert Dabrowski and easily out boxed his more experienced foe.
Gary Allen Russell Jr (30-1, 18) vs Tugstsogt Nyambayar (11-0, 9)
This coming week is an eerily quiet one, with very, very little happening. Then again one of the bouts we do have is something we're really, really excited about. That is the WBC Featherweigth title bout between defending Gary Allen Russell Jr and Mongolian challenger Tugstsogt Nyambayar. This is a fight we are really looking forward, despite the fact both have been out of the ring for a lengthy amount of time we expect this to be an excellent bout between two top 10 Featherweights with different, but effective, styles. We expect this to be an excellent bout!
Whilst much of the action in early to mid-January was spaced out the end of January really sees things coming in at us thick and fast with a lot happening in the final week of the month, including some top unbeaten prospects, world, Japanese youth and Japanese female title fights and a tournament final!
Batyrzhan Jukembayev (17-0-0-1, 13) Vs Maximiliano Ricardo Veron (12-3-1, 4)
Talented Canadian based-Kazakh hopeful Batyrzhan Jukembayev looks to kick his 2020 off in style when he meets 31 year old Argentinian fighter Maximiliano Ricardo Veron. A win for the Kazakh will move him a step closer to a potential world title fight later in the year, and will see him defending minor WBA and IBF titles.
Yumiko Shimooka (4-7, 1) vs Yumi Narita (3-4-3, 1)
On paper not something to be raving about, but Yumiko Shimooka and Yumi Narita will face off in the hope of crowning a new Japanese Female Minimumweight champion. The title was vacated by former champion Mizuki Chimoto, and whilst neither of these two are stellar fighters they should make for an interesting bout all the same.
Kazuki Nakajima (8-0, 7) vs Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0, 4)
One of the real standout bouts for Asia this month is the God's Left Bantamweight final, pitting unbeaten punchers Kazuki Nakajima and Seiya Tsutsumi against each other. This should be a very explosive bout, that could be a blink and you miss it affair. Both can bang, both have some question marks about their defense, both were solid amateurs and both will be looking to claim the God's Left crown. If you have Boxing Raise this is really the one you need to catch this month!
Ayaka Miyao (23-8-1, 6) Vs Etsuko Tada (19-3-2, 6)
Former female world champion Ayaka Miyao and Etsuko Tada clash for the vacant WBO Female Minimumweight title, which was vacated by Kasumi Saeki. Miyao is coming into the bout looking to become a 2-weight world champion, having previously reigned at Atomweight, whilst Tada is looking to reclaim the WBO title, the she previously vacated. This should be a very fan friendly bout between two women who like to let their hands go, and have styles that should work well together, with Miyao being a speed boxer-mover and Tada being someone who will apply pressure behind her volume.
Kaiki Yuba (6-0-2, 4) vs Kanta Takenaka (7-4-1, 2)
Second generation fighter Kaiki Yuba looks to claim his first title as he takes on Kanta Takenaka for the vacant Japanese Youth Lightweight title. Yuba's father, the legendary Tadashi Yuba, was a 5-weight Japanese national champion and dubbed "Mr Korakuen" due to his success as the Korakuen Hall. There is pressure on the 21 year old Kaiki but he should have too much for the tough but limited Takenaka here.
Kanako Taniyama (2-0-1, 1) vs Tomoko Okuda (5-2-2, 1) II
Another Japanese female title should see a champion being crowned as Kanako Taniyama and Tomoko Okuda battle for the second time, with the stakes being the Japanese female Bantamweight title. These two fought to a draw last year, with Taniyama somewhat unlucky not to pick up the win, and we expect another interesting contest this time around. Taniyama was the aggressive, front foot fighter whilst Okuda relied on keeping things long, making for an interesting dynamic that we expect to be repeated here. Could be a bit of a hidden gem here.
Daniel Roman (27-2-1, 10) vs Murodjon Akhmadaliev (7-0, 6)
The highest profile bout for an Asian fighter in January is an obvious choice, as unbeaten Uzbek Murodjon Akhmadaliev takes on WBA "Super" and IBF Super Bantamweight champion Daniel Roman, in a truly mouth watering clash. These two were supposed to fight last year, before Roman suffered an injury in training. For Roman a win would continue an excellent run, which has seen him beat Shun Kubo, Ryo Matsumoto and TJ Doheny, and help stamp him as the #1 fighter in the division. For Akhmadaliev a win would be a huge statement from him, and from Uzbek boxing. Stylistically this is very interesting, with the fighters having styles that should gel, and very significant. One to be very excited about.
Jade Bornea (14-0, 10) vs Ernesto Delgadillo (11-0-2, 2)
Unbeaten Filipino fighter Jade Bornea features in his international debut at the end of the month when he takes on American for Ernesto Delgadillo in a bout for the NABF Super Flyweight title. The fight should tell us a lot about what both men have in their lockers and the winner will find themselves in the mix for a world title fight later in the year.
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.
In 2016 we saw a lot of controversy at the Rio Olympics. A lot of that seemed to come around suspicion of bribery or ineptitude of the judges, and saw a number of very questionable decisions. Despite all the controversy there was one very big winner from the Olympics, Uzbekistan. The country, which only competed as an independent nation for the first in 1996, really shone just 20 years after their debut.
Having sent 11 fighters to Rio Uzbekistan actually went on to win the medal table, taking home an impressive 7 medals, including 3 gold medals, and one of those was also the Val Barker trophy winner Hasanboy Dusmatov. The following year at the Amateur World Boxing Championships they came second in the medal table, only behind the dominant Cuban team.
The early success stories of the Uzbek amateur scene, such as such as 1996 Olympic bronze medal winner Karim Tulaganov and 2000 Olympic gold medal winner Mohammad Abdullaev, both failed as professionals, with Tulaganov going 1-3 in the professional ranks. The only two real early success stories of Uzbek professionals are Artur Grigorian and Ruslan Chagaev.
Today however we look like we're on the verge of a golden age of Uzbek professional boxing. There is real depth in the Uzbek scene across a number of divisions and it's almost as if the country has finally realised it can be really successful as a force in professional boxing. And with so much talent breaking through, we thought it a perfect time to have a look at some of those emerging fighters.
We'll start by looking at 5 men who competed at Rio 2016, most of whom had really successful campaigns. Later in the week we'll look at those who didn't compete at the Olympics, in what will be part 2 of this mini-feature.
Fazliddin Gaibnazarov (3-0, 1)
The only Uzbek to have won an Olympic gold medal in Rio and to have already began their professional career is 26 year old Fazliddin Gaibnazarov who is managed by Egil Klimas and promoted by Top Rank. In the amateur he was a 2-time Olympian, fighting in London 2012 and Rio 2016, with his Rio triumph being the highlight of his amateur career.
As well as his Oympic triumph Gaibnazarov claimed silver medals at the 2015 World Amateur Championships, losing to Russian Vitaly Dunaytsev in the final, and the 2015 Asian Championships, losing to home fighter Wuttichai Masuk in the final.
As a professional Gaibnazarov hasn't yet shone, being put down on his debut in April 2017 and failing to stop any of his subsequent opponents. Although he hasn't been matched easily there is a worry that he lacks power and hasn't yet adapted to the professional ranks in the way Top Rank would have wanted. Saying that however he has won every round of his professional career, bar his very first.
Shakhram Giyasov (2-0, 1)
Having taken the silver medal in Rio at Welterweight there was some hope that Shakhram Giyasov would have professional promoters all over him and try to turn him professional quickly. Giyasov however stayed amateur and had a brilliant 2017, picking up gold medals at both the World Amateur Championships and the Asian Championships. The extra year in the amateurs saw him shine before turning professional.
Giyasov debuted this past March, against Nicolas Atilio Velazquez, and didn't even break sweat with a 15 second blow out. It seemed like he was unhappy with the speed of his win and he took his time in his second professional bout, taking a very 1-sided decision win over the experienced Gabor Gorbics, and going 6 very comfortably rounds in the process.
Based in the US there is big things expected of the 24 year old Welterweight. We don't expect him to be in world title fights this year, or even next year, but we do expect to see him in with “name” opponents in the near future, and given his relaxed nature in the ring we have no worries about him going long distances.
Murodjon Akhmadaliev (2-0, 2)
Another fighter who chose to stay in the unpaid ranks for an extra year following the Olympics was Bantamweight bronze medal winner Murodjon Akhmadaliev. Like Giyasov we saw Akhmadaliev claim more success after staying on in the amateurs, and he took a gold at the 2017 Asian Championships in Tashkent, a competition that saw the Uzbek team claim 9 of the 10 possible gold medals.
Akhmadaliev made his professional debut in March and instantly took to the professional ranks like a duck to water. From the opening seconds of his bout against David Michel Paz we saw a naturally aggressive, yet smart, young fighter. He would drop Paz with a body shot, that had a delayed reaction, and record his first win in just over a minute. In his second bout, earlier this month, he defeated Carlos Gaston Suarez and showed that he could box patiently before making the referee jump in and stop the bout in round 3.
Just like Giyasov it seems like Akhmadaliev could be set for a big year and the 23 year old Featherweight might well race into the fringes of the world rankings before the end of the year. He looks like a really special talent, and it's hard to say where his ceiling will be, but it's going to be very high.
Rustam Tulaganov (1-0)
Another bronze medal winner from the Rio games was Rustam Tulaganov, who claimed his medal in the Heavyweight division. Like many others on this list he didn't turn professional immediately but did make his debut in late 2017, taking a 4 round decision over Robert Guerra.
Since his debut Tulaganov has twice been pencilled in to face Martez McGregor but for whatever reason the bout has failed to actually happen. This means that Tulaganov has been out of action for around 6 months and his career really needs to kick on, rather than be slowed down. He's a talented fighter, in a stacked division, and can't afford to waste his prime years. He is only 26, but with so much talent at 175lbs he should be using this year to make his mark as a prospect.
When Tulaganov does next fight he'll be hoping to answer some questions and make up for lost time. He has the ability to go a long way, but will be wanting to avoid having a stop-start career. Thankfully with Egis Klimas managing his career he should have the link to be kept active, matched well and moved through the rankings. That however depends on his desire and hunger to make an impression on the professional scene.
Batyr Ahmedov (4-0, 3)
One man who fought at the Olympics but failed to medal was Batyr Ahmedov, who actually competed for Turkey under the name Batuhan Gozgec. Although he failed to medal he did reach the quarter finals and claimed two wins in Rio.
Unlike most on this list he didn't hang around in the amateurs and instead debuted in February 2017 with a 3rd round win over Dmitry Lavrinenko. Sadly he was inactive for close to 10 months, returning in December to stop Levan Tsiklauri in 2 rounds. It was obvious from the very start of his professional career that he was a special talent, making Lavreinenko look lost and confused by his foot work and smashing his face in with heavy shots. There was touches of Vasyl Lomachenko in what he was doing in the ring and it was great to watch.
Ahmedov has already stepped up, massively, and in just his third professional bout he faced Ricky Sismundo. The Filipino veteran is a solid gate keeper but Ahmedov made him look very poor, and dropped him twice en route to a dominant decision win, over 10 rounds. That win netted Ahmedov the WBA Inter-Continental Super Lightweight title, and given his weight on the scales there a real chance he could actually move down to Lightweight if he wanted. For the full 10 rounds Ahmedov looked great and like a star in the making. Since then he has also added a 3rd round win over Oscar Barajas.
With a very fan friendly style, a great work rate, proven stamina, spiteful power, great foot work and movement the future is incredibly bright for Ahmedov. He has already shown touches of genius and there is real potential for him to become a multi-weight champion. His team have spoke about fast tracking him, and given the showing against Sismundo there is no reason to doubt them.
Despite not fighting for Uzbekistan, or winning an Olympic medal, at Rio Ahmedov might well be the best Uzbek born boxer to have gone to Brazil.
In part 2 of our look at the rising Uzbek fighters we'll have a look at 7 fighters to keep an eye one. Several have already scored notable wins with two of the fighters already in the world rankings.
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