December, the best month of the year! The part of the year where we get Christmas, New Year's Eve, the birthday of some awesome people (hint hint!), and a great array of match ups right through the month. We really do have a bit of everything in December with world class fighters, domestic and regional title bouts, prospects, intriguing rematches and bouts that are just...interesting.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Masataka Taniguchi (12-3, 7) vs Hizuki Saso (12-6-2, 4)
On December 3rd we'll see a new Japanese Minimumweight champion crowned as former world title challenger Masataka Taniguchi clashed with Hizuki Saso for the vacant title. The title has been vacant since January, when Norihito Tanaka gave it up, and it's great to see it getting a new champion here. On paper it's really hard to see anything but a win for Taniguchi, however we suspect Saso know his opportunities will be limited and he'll have put everything into preparing for this shot.
Ayaka Miyao (23-8-2, 6) vs Etsuko Tada (19-3-3, 6) II -
We'll also see a new owner of the WBO Female Minimumweight title on December 3rd when Ayaka Miyao and Etsuko Tada re-run their January bout. Earlier this year these two veterans fought to a draw, in what was a really, really good bout, and we're looking forward to this rematch. It seemed that Miyao was unlucky in the first bout between the two, and she'll be the favourite here, but Tada should never be written off and she has bounced back from multiple setbacks through her career. This promises to be competitive, exciting and high tempo, even if neither fighter has the power to really hurt the other.
Workpoint Studio, Bang Phun, Thailand
Apichet Petchmanee (7-0, 2) vs Musheg Adoian (7-2, 7) II
Another notable rematch comes from Thailand on December 5th when unbeaten Apichet Petchmanee takes on Thai based Russian fighter Musheg Adoian. This should be really interesting, especially given the controversial nature of their first bout earlier this year. When the men first fought Apichet seemed to get very lucky on the scorecards after being dropped twice, and it's clear that Adoian will be out to avenge what he and his team will feel was an unjust loss. As for Apichet it's a chance to prove he's the better man. Sadly though the close nature of a number of Apichet's wins do suggest that if this goes the distance he'll take the decision and Adoian may well need to stop his man to home a victory.
Phongsaphon Panyakum (10-1, 5) vs Kompayak Porpramook (60-10, 41)
In an interesting match up 20 year old Thai prospect Phongsaphon Panyakum will take on former world champion Kompayak Porpramook. Originally Phongsaphon was supposed to be facing Sarawut Thawornkham on this card, but the bout was changed in mid-November when Sarawut's health forced him into early retirement. As a result Kompayak has stepped in and should make for an interesting test for the youngster. On paper Phongsaphon should be favoured, but we expect he will be given a real acid test here in a very interesting match up.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Mikito Nakano (4-0, 4) vs Ruito Saeki (7-3-1, 1)
Promising Japanese Featherweight Mikito Nakano returns to the ring in search of win #5 as he takes on Ruito Saeki. So far Nakano has looked like a star in the making, and it's a real shame his rise through the ranks has been slowed by 2020, or we'd likely be seeing him in title bouts in 2021. He's talented, quick, powerful and super sharp. In Ruito Saeki we have a capable domestic level fighter who came close to making the 2016 All Japan Rookie of the Year final, but has gone 0-2-1 in his last 3. Although struggling for form Saeki has shown that he's tough and is a clear step up for Nakano in a solid bit of match making.
RCC Boxing Academy, Ekaterinburg, Russia
Fazliddin Gaibnazarov (8-1, 5) vs Manuk Dilanyan (11-4-1, 4)
Rio Olympic gold medal winner Fazliddin Gaibnazarov will be look to continue rebuilding his career following a 2019 loss to Mykal Fox. The talented Uzbek is being matched relatively easily here against Manuk Dilanyan, who hasn't looked all that impressive during his career. Although, on paper, an easy fight for Gaibnazarov it is worth noting that the Uzbek will be giving away around 5" in height and could find Dilanyan to be a tricky customer here.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Daishi Nagata (15-2-1, 6) vs Akihiro Kondo (32-9-1, 18)
Earlier this year this under-rated Daishi Nagata upset Koki Inoue to claim the JBC Light Welterweight title, which he'll defend for the first time on December 10th, when he takes on former world title contender Akihiro Kondo. On paper this looks like a really good first defense for Nagata, but digging a little deeper it's fair to say this is a calculated risk, with Kondo looking like a man who has seen better days. Given the styles of the two men this should be really fun, but the younger, fresher, champion should be strongly favoured against the tough veteran.
Rentaro Kimura (2-0, 2) Vs Thunder Teruya (7-7-1, 4)
Super prospect Rentaro Kimura has hardly put a foot wrong since turning professional earlier this year, and the man from Shizuoka will be looking to end the year 3-0 (3) as he takes on Thunder Teruya. This is expected to be a chance for Kimura to showcase his skills at Korakuen Hall in front of a paying audience, for the first time, and to get some more TV exposure, on Fuji TV, before bigger and tougher bouts in the new year. Teruya certainly shouldn't be a threat for Kimura but won't be there to roll over and Kimura will need to for his win.
Tsubasa Murachi (5-1, 3) Vs Isao Aoyama (12-7-1, 3)
Another prospect who'll have to work for a win will be Tsubasa Murachi, who looks to score his biggest win to date as he take on JBC ranked Super Flyweight Isao Aoyama from the Celes gym. Once touted as a future star Murachi bit off more than he could chew in 2019, when he was stopped by Froilan Saludar in a WBO Asia Pacific title fight, but is is looking to rebuild and looked solid last time out, against Ryotaro Kawabata. We expect another solid performance from him here. Aoyama is a veteran and a talented on, but has lost 4 of his last 4 and a win here would likely be his best to date.
EDION Arena, Osaka, Japan
Yumi Narita (4-4-3, 1) Vs Mont Blanc Miki (4-3-1, 1)
Japanese female Minimumweight champion Yumi Narita looks to make her first defense as she takes on Mont Blanc Miki in a bout that won't get much attention based on records though should be an appealing match up when the two women get in the ring. Neither of these are the most polished of fighters but as with many limited level fighters in Asia they both come to fight, and with the title on the line we expect both to dig in deep. The challenger will be the under-dog but is a very, very live challenger here.
EDION Arena, Osaka, Japan
Miyo Yoshida (14-1) v Tomoko Okuda (6-2-2, 1)
The once beaten Miyo Yoshida looks to record her second defense of the WBO female Super Flyweight title as she takes on gritty challenger Tomoko Okuda. Coming into this Yoshida will be strongly favoured, given she is riding a 10 fight unbeaten run, and has scored several very notable victories during that rung, including one against Tomomi Takano and another against Casey Morton, to win the title. Although the under-dog Okuda is now push over and she'll be hungry to make the most of her big opportunity, especially as she'll know there's a good chance she won't get a second shot at a world title, given she's 37.
So the year is coming to a close, and this will be our final weekly awards for 2019! Despite this being the last one of the year there really wasn't all that much worthy of discussion sadly, but with Christmas in the middle of the week we were never expecting too much to speak about here. Thankfully though we did get one big show at the start of the week, and a splattering of bouts here and there, to fill things up.
Fighter of the Week
Ryota Murata (16-2, 13)
Japanese Middleweight Ryota Murata completed his year of redemption in style, not only beating Steve Butler, but stopping him, breaking him both physically and mentally along the way. Murata took the best shots of Butler, and walked through them, making a feared puncher question themselves before chipping away at them with heavy shots. It was an expected win, but one that was still impressive, smart and a signal of intent. The fact it was followed by huge statements from Bob Arum about getting Murata a major name at the Tokyo Dome in 2020 just added to the whole week for the 2012 Olympic gold medal winner.
Performance of the Week
Kenshiro Teraji (17-0, 10)
When a fighter drops a world class opponent 4 times, in 4 rounds, all from body shots, then it's hard not to be impressed. We won't pretend it was a flawless performance from Kenshiro, but his victory over Randy Petalcorin was very impressive. He hardly seemed to get out of second gear and still broke down a very accomplished rival, who had gone 7 rounds with the dangerous Felix Alvarado in 2018. To have this level of performance with all the changes going on, a change of opponent and a change in whether the bout was being televised live in Japan or not, showed that no matter you through at him, Kenshiro Teraji finds a way to adapt.
Akira Yaegashi Vs Moruti Mthalane
It was the week of the old men! On Saturday American fans got a thriller between Jean Pascal and Badou Jack, a genuine global Fight of the Year contender and another example of why end of year awards should wait until the end of the damn year! A few days earlier fans who follow the Asian scene got a similar, though less competitive treat, as Akira Yaegashi and Moruti Mthalane gave us a thrilling 9 round war. The bout had it all. It had skills, it had action, it had intensity, exchanges, raw violence, drama, both men looking hurt. This was, in many ways, what you'd expect of a 36 year old Yaegashi, and was a great pre-Christmas treat!
Akira Yaegashi Vs Moruti Mthalane (round 4)
The round of the week, came from the fight of the week, and boy what a round it was. It was the round that really began the start of the end for Yaegashi, who showed he was willing to fight the wrong fight, but it was also the round that sent nothing but adrenaline through the veins of everyone watching. This was high octane, back and forth thrilling stuff, the sort of action that has helped make Yaegashi one of boxing cult fan favourites. Sadly for the Japanese warrior he was just up against a more defensively smart, less shop worn, smarter, more accurate and heavier handed South African genius and this wasn't going to be the way Yaegashi was ever going to win.
Musheg Adoian KO2 Noppadol Khongchana
The obvious choice this week was Ryota Murata's win over Steven Butler, which was a fantastic looking KO. That however was pipped on the final day of the week by an obscure, but brutal KO by Thai based Armenian-Russian puncher Musheg Adoian in Singapore, as he took out Noppadol Khongchana. This was genuinely brutal, as a right hand from Adoian knocked the Thai clean out. This was another, of the many highlights shared this year by our good friend @Hock1717, who is well and truly worth a follow by all boxing fans.
Ju Wu (9-0-2)
Chinese youngster Ju Wu is not someone many would have expected to see on the final weekly award article, but it's hard to ignore just what he did on December 26th. Not only did he make his European debut, but he actually took a win, in Switzerland, against the local favourite Alain Chervet, winning a solid upset. The Chinese fighter boxed wonderfully in Berne and recorded his third solid win of the year. After drawing 2 of his first 3 career bouts the youngster has developed fantastically. Fingers crossed that he'll develop some confidence in his power, and build on his punching power in 2020 as that's the one area he's lacking at the moment.
Ginjiro Shigeoka (4-0, 3) vs Rey Loreto (25-14, 17)
Although this fight won't be made immediately available to watch it's impossible to deny just how much we are looking forward to this one! It's a gut test for Japanese youngster Ginjiro Shigeoka, as he defends his WBO Asia Pacific Minimumweigt title against a former world title challenger. Despite their being world title fights coming up this one has us much, much more interested than the those world title bouts, and we are really interested to see what happens here, in a fantastic contest to end 2019.
This is just an opinion, maaaan! It's easy to share our opinions, and that's what you'll find here, some random opinion pieces