If we're being totally hones the month of October felt really, really, really long. That sounds like a complaint, but it really isn't it was just so packed with great action, interesting fights and we seemed to get something worth talking about every few days. We had numerous great fights, we had a lot of free content, we had massive shows in the West and we had so much action that we, as fans, were left swimming in in joy at some of the stuff we were getting. October was a great month for boxing and today we look at the highlights for Asian fights with the latest in our Monthly awards.
Fighter of the Month
We begin this with an obvious award and that is the Fighter of the month. That honour easily belonged to Naoya Inoue, with the pound-for-pound claimant showing what he could do in his Las Vegas debut. The talented Inoue, who fought in one of the very last bouts of the month, was in with the very credible, and decent Jason Moloney. He was coming in after suffering a nasty injury last time out to his eye, and after almost a year away from the ring. He was coming in to the bout with pressure, and plenty doubting him, and also with history against him, having seen the last two Japanese champions in Las Vegas losing their world titles. Despite that he put on a fantastic performance, stopping in 7 rounds, and breaking the durable, brave and tough Aussie. Following the win Inoue made it clear he wanted to unify his WBA "Super", IBF and Ring Magazine titles with the other belts in the division and doesn't want to relax on his laurels. It was fantastic, once again, for the Monster.
Fight of the Month
Toshiki Kawamitsu Vs Kenshi Noda
The month of October really had some tremendous bouts, and we could reel off maybe a short list of 20 bouts from October featuring an Asian fighter worthy of your time. None, however, were as good as the war between Toshiki Kawamitsu and Kenshi Noda. These two youngster put on a show. From the opening round this was a technical, high speed, phone booth war. They were both sharp and accurate, they wanted to hurt the other man, and also show their skillset. As the bout went on both men were hurt, the action continued to be intense and there was no let up until one of the men began to lag. It's not the longest bout from the month, but it was, for us, the most enjoyable bout in Asia.
Sadly it was quickly overshadowed globally by the front runner for the global Fight of the Year with Jose Zepeda and Ivan Baranchyk giving us something other-wordly in the US.
KO of the Month
Janibek Alimkhanuly Vs Gonzalo Gaston Coria
We had a lot of really good KO's this past month, and they came from all over the place. We really were treated to some brutal finishes and the short list for this award was a fairly lengthy one. In the end however the stand out came from unbeaten Kazakh Janibek Alimkhanuly, who absolutely destroyed Argentina's Gonzalo Gaston Coria in the second round of their bout. This was brutal and nasty. Alimkhanuly dumped Coria on the canvas with a huge left hand, bloodied his face in the process and left Coria with no chance of getting up. It maybe wasn't the most eye pleasing, but it was the most brutal. A sensational finish by a very, very talented Kazakh hopeful
Prospect of the Month
When it comes to prospect of the month it's hard to judge who deserves the honour. Is it the fighter who looks the best, or is it the fighter who scored the most impressive result? This month we went with the second of those options with Thai novice Nonthasith Petchnamthong really impressing us in just his second professional bout. The talented Thai not only won his second professional bout, but did it against a former world champion, as he out pointed Kompayak Porpramook. Whilst it is fair to say that Kompayak is best his best, and fighting above his best weight, this was still a really impressive performance from the Thai novice against an awkward and aggressive fighter. Whether Nonthasith goes on to be a star or not is unclear, but we were certainly impressed by his performance here, and we're looking forward to seeing a lot more of him in the future.
Upset of the Month
Viktor Kotochigov vs Maxi Hughes
Although some categories has a lot of bouts to choose from we didn't really get too many upsets this month. The most notable of the ones we did get saw Kazakh fighter Viktor Kotochigov lose his record in a betting upset to the under-rated Maxi Hughes. The result was a surprise in it's self, with Hughes taking a decision, but it was the manner of this contest that was most startling. The light punching Hughes dropped Kotochigov early in the bout and had him reeling in round 4. The Englishman bossed it through large portions of the bout and was well deserving of the victory here.
Round of the Month
Toshiki Kawamitsu Vs Kenshi Noda (Rd2)
We close this by going back to the brilliant bout between Toshiki Kawamitsu and Kenshi Noda, for the round of the Month. Whilst their bout was tremendous, and genuinely we would advise anyone who missed it to watch the entire thing, round 2 was the one that stood out as the most must watch round. This was top tier action between two young novices who both dug deep, let their hands go and gave us one of the best 3 minutes of the year. The was something really special, and we implore you all to give the bout a watch and enjoy this round, and the others in the bout. Tremendous stuff from both youngsters.
Typically our focus for articles here has been Asian boxing, but today we want to slant that somewhat, and talk about something that British boxing could learn from what we saw this past weekend in Japan. And it wasn't the first time we've seen it done in Japan In fact it wasn't even the first time we saw it happen for Naoya Inoue. So please let us ramble about how British TV could learn from Japan!
This past weekend we saw a lot of boxing, on a lot of different TV outlets, and streaming services, all over the world. Genuinely there was so much boxing this past weekend that you could easily drown in it if you were that way inclined. Included in the events were several PPV's, and several shows on premium TV channels around the globe. There were also a number of bouts that aired in multiple countries.
Notably both the UK and the US had PPV boxing this weekend, with the UK having a Sky Box Office PPV and the US having a Showtime PPV, whilst many other boxing countries avoided going down that avenue. It's worth noting that the PPV model is really very rarely done outside of a small handful of countries, and in those countries we have seen the number of PPV buys per event drop notably in recent years, with the core audience of fans shrinking. The top stars are still really big draws, but the reality is that the PPV market has been pricing fans out for a while and saturating it's self, to the detriment of the sport and to benefit of a very small number of fighters.
Interestingly one country with a very vibrant boxing scene that hasn't, for the most part, gone with PPV is Japan. Instead the country has gone with a more nuanced distribution of fights spread across pay TV, free TV, online subscription and free online shows.
For the most part big fights in Japan are live on free to air TV, be it TBS or Fuji TV, and their relevant local affiliates. In the past TV Tokyo, TV Asahi and NTV have also shown big fights, and it seems likely that NTV have still got the door open for big fights in the future.
For domestic cards we see a more complex mix of free and pay.
TBS and Fuji TV show free domestic action on a somewhat regular basis, albeit on tape delay.
There are paid options for TV, with G+ being main channel for live domestic content, and for streaming, with Boxing Raise being an invaluable tool here. There is also a growing number of shows being streams for free on YouTube, thanks in part to Shinsei and Yokohama Hikari who have given us a good amount of free boxing this year.
The mix of free and paid TV in Japan is somewhat the opposite of how things work in the UK.
In the UK a big name fights on Sky Sports or BT Sports, behind a paywall, with many domestic fights also blocked from the casual channel hopping fan. The biggest names are behind a further obstacle, PPV. In Japan the big names are on free TV, with the idea being less about the money now and more about the exposure and longer term stability of the sport.
This past weekend in Japan we saw Pay and Free TV work together, finding a perfect compromise between money and exposure. In fact it seemingly is a compromise that would massively help get eye balls on the sport in the West, without massively harming PPV or subscription numbers, and would likely also make piracy of events less tempting. Especially the "morning after" piracy that seems to be very prevalent.
Let me explain exactly what we saw.
On Sunday morning in Japan WOWOW aired Naoya Inoue's win over Jason Moloney live. This allowed fans with the premium service to watch the bout live with no issues, and enjoy the event, whilst cheering on their boxing hero. The hardcore fans were satisfied, even if they did have their Sunday morning interupted.
If you want to put WOWOW on to the scope of Western TV they are somewhat similar to HBO or Showtime. They broadcast a mix of sport, concerts, movies, anime and dubbed Western TV. For the UK audience there isn't quite a like for like, but given how Sky packages work WOWOW would be like having the on going "Sky TV and Sky Sports offer".
So the live broadcast of Japanese boxing biggest star was shown on a premium channel, to a relatively small audience, with there only being around a few million subscribers.
Then, just 12 hours later, it was shown, during prime time, to a much, much wider audience on terrestrial TV. In fact it averaged over 10.6% in the Kanto region, suggesting multi-million viewership across the country for a bout that, by then, had it's result reported online, and was essentially available to watch via illegal means.
This essentially found the compromise between "premium service" and "people watching", something that seems to be missed in some countries.
It's amazing in the UK that a fighter like Anthony Joshua can get around 1,000,000 buys of a PPV. The reality, however, is that that that's probably as many as he will get given the current Sky Box Office approach. We really don't imagine the market has the flexibility to extend beyond that number, with out attracting new fans to the sport. If you don't let people see the biggest star without paying for the privilege, then who's attracting those new fans?
It feels very much like that UK somewhat corners it's biggest stars away from growing, put them in a walled up garden and doesn't let the public see them. Then it complains about piracy, which has almost certainly increased in recent years with the increase of PPV prices and broadcasts.
If, however, Joshua was on PPV one week, then the bout was given to the BBC or ITV at a reduced cost to show a replay a week or two later, we do wonder what sort of viewing number that bout would get. Would it match the audience share of Inoue in Japan? Also how many opportunities it would open up to new fans, who would then latch on to Joshua in the future, maybe even opening up their wallet to watch him down the line?
Whilst there would, potentially, be fewer people willing to pay for the PPV if it was then going to be made available for free, the special thing about sport is the live experience. And those paying for the PPV almost certainly want the "live" aspect, they are paying for the occasion. Those unable to, or unwilling to, pay for that live experience would likely love to see Joshua but are locked out by the paywall. As a result we don't imagine the PPV revenue would be reduced as much as many may think. If you're paying for the live broadcast you're probably not going to wait a few days to watch it. And what deduction there is in a PPV revenue, would likely be partially offset by the potential for advertisers to have their advertising banners and logos shown on free TV to a nationwide audience, and by future PPV's sales from a man who would be a bigger star afterwards.
It goes against the current idea of how boxing is shown in the UK but, for the sport and it's growth, it needs to be visible to a wider audience. And it's not just fans that we need to be thinking of, but also the stars of tomorrow. They are inspired by the fighters of today and if the fighters of today are fighting hidden behind paywalls the number of future stars seeing them are reduced, giving us a shrinking sport.
Yes you might believe Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren when they tell you British boxing is in great health, and in fairness it is in good health, but it could be a lot better.
Before we finish this we want to talk about a fighter who is much maligned now a days but someone who does go some way towards proving our point.
Audley Harrison, who won an Olympic gold medal for Great Britain, on free TV.
In 1984, 1988 and 1992 Great Britain won 1 Olympic at each games, a bronze. In 1996 it won 0 before Audley Harrison won gold in 2000. In 2004 Amir Khan won Silver. Then we saw British amateur boxing really take off, and in 2008 Britain won 3 medals, more than they'd won in the previous 3 Olympics combined. In 2012 they won 5, including 3 gold medals to top the table, and they took 3 again in 2016.
Harrison's success saw interest in British Amateur boxing pick up, it saw an increase in funding and gave fighters someone to look up to. Without Audley and his success there's a good chance that fighters like James DeGale, Billy Joe Saunders, Joe Joyce, Luke Campbell and Amir Khan wouldn't be where they are today.
We can only imagine the boost that British boxing would get if Joshua, Tyson Fury, and other leading stars had their fights made freely available and gave professional boxing the same rub Audley gave amateur boxing.
Yes it would harm the fighters, promoter and TV channels in the short term, but longer term opening up the broadcasts for a single replay on terrestrial TV would help more fans see the top stars.
*In 2018 there was 1 PPV in Japan, and in 2020 there will also be 1 PPV event in Japan. Neither of these were major fights and were more experimental tests done by one very specific promoter. In neither case did the promoter freeze fans out of big fights or popular stars.
Note - NTV will show their first world title fight in quite some time later this week! That will however be on tape delay following a live broadcast on Pay TV, with G+ and NTV BS showing it live.
Man what a week we've had! We've had so many fights over the last 7 days that we're genuinely exhausted but in a good way, having enjoyed so many great fights, so much brilliant action and so many things that have left us excited about the future of the sport.
With that said here are our award winners for this past week, and there really were a lot of contenders for some of the categories.
Fighter of the Week
We don't think anyone was really up in the running for this award other than Naoya Inoue, who secured a win on his Las Vegas debut without too much trouble. The "Monster" was under pressure to perform and he did just that, easing his way through the first few rounds before putting his foot on the gas. He had stubborn resistance from Jason Moloney, who played his part with a really brave effort, but in the end the power, skills, speed and accuracy of Inoue were too much. The Monster was out on Halloween and did exactly what he needed to to leave an impression on those who maybe weren't too aware of him.
Performance of the Week
There was a lot of really good performances this week, all for varying reasons. Inoue shining in Las Vegas was the biggest performance, Nanthasith Petchnamthong scoring a win over a former world champion in his second pro bout was impressive, Kosuke Tomioka shining in his Rookie of the Year bout was great. For us however the the guy with the most impressive performance was Kazakh fighter Ablaikhan Zhussupov. The Kazakh amateur standout made his debut in Kazakhstan against the very solid Meshack Mwankemwa and looked like a man who had had 10 or 15 professional bouts. It's a shame he's expected to compete at the Tokyo Olympics and not commit to the professoinal ranks for sometime as on this performance this kid is special.
Fight of the Week
Nonthasith Petchnamthong Vs Kompayak Porpramook
Whilst we certainly had bigger fighters, and bouts with more significance it was hard to think of a more enjoyable bout, bell to bell, than the exciting, competitive, engaging 10 round back and forth between Nonthasith Petchnamthong and Kompayak Porpramook. As with every Kompayak bout he was there to win, he was pressing, pressuring and trying to break his novice opponent mentally. Nonthasith showed his ring IQ, toughness and determination as he blunted Kompayak's aggression in a truly fantastic 10 rounder. Credit to both men for this one!
As we write this footage for Kenta Kamimura vs Yuto Kagata hasn't been made available, though reports are that this was a very special bout between two young debutants who let it all hang. As a result of not being able to see this bout it's not been considered for either the Fight OR Round of the Week
Round of the Week
Wanchana Menayothin Vs Omar El Ouers (Rd3)
As with the fight of the week we stay in Thailand for a bit of a hidden gem. The bout pitted Thai youngster Wanchana Menayothin against Thai based Moroccan Omar El Ouers and boy did they put on an under-rated, and under-seen, battle here. It always seemed like Wanchana was too big and strong for El Ouers, but that didn't stop the Moroccan from holding his own at times, and giving his some of the most exciting exchanges of the week. If you missed this one we particular advise rounds 3 and 4, as they let shots go at will and put on a show.
KO of the Week
Shu Utsuki TKO2 Takayuki Sakai
Some weeks we don't get any noteworthy KO's but this week we had several fantastic ones. The best of the bunch was the one scored by Japanese Lightweight prospect Shu Utsuki in his DANGAN A Class tournament qualifying bout against Takayuki Sakai. This was a thing of beauty! With Sakai near the ropes Utsuki lined up his man and threw a perfect 1-2, with the straight going right through the guard. A genuine brilliant KO and our favourite of the week.
Wanchana Menayothin TKO5 Omar El Ouers
Naoya Inoue TKO5 Jason Moloney
Prospect of the Week
Some weeks we don't see a single prospect that makes us sit up and take note. This week we had an abundance of them. For us however scoring a win over a former world champion in just his second bout nets Nonthasith Petchnamthong the award. His performance may not have been the the best of the week, but the manner in which he has moved his career forward in a single week can't be questioned. This guy has a lot of promise, and fingers crossed TL Promotions don't mess him up with too many tough bouts too soon. So far however their match making for him has been ambitious but very good.
Phetmorakot Petchyindee Academy
October ends in a flurry of big bouts as we see a Japanese title fight, two world title bouts, and several other bouts worthy of attention. This is a great couple of weeks to close out the month and move into winter with the sport having some genuine momentum and plenty of reasons to get excited as we head closer and closer to Christmas!
Asakusa Park Gymnasium, Japan
Seigo Yuri Akui (14-2-1, 10) Vs Seiya Fujikita (13-4, 6)
The first bout of note for this part of the month is a Japanese Flyweight title fight, which will see Seigo Yuri Akui look to make his first defense, as he takes on mandatory challenger Seiya Fujikita. The heavy handed Akui is one of the most fun to Flyweights to watch, and he tends to either blow opponents away in the opening round, or struggle. Given that Fujikita has never been stopped before we're expecting this to be a genuinely tough first defense for the champion, who is certainly not unbeatable, despite being very destructive.
Korakuen Hall, Japan
Ryusei Kawaura (7-0, 4) Vs Musashi Yoshino (9-5, 3)
We head back to Tokyo for action on October 19th for the next test in the career of the talented Ryusei Kawaura. The unbeaten Kawaura is regarded as a top prospect, who's just a win or two away from a Japanese or regional title fight. Here he goes up against domestic foe Musashi Yoshino in what should be little more than a tune up bout for Kawaura. The hope was that Kawaura would get a title fight this year, but instead it seems like he'll have to wait until 2021 to get his first shot at a belt.
Mohegan Sun Casino, Uncasville, Connecticut, USA
Kudratillo Abdukakhorov (17-0, 9) Vs Sergey Lipinets (16-1, 12)
On October 24th attention turns to the US for an IBF "interim" Welterweight title bout between unbeaten Uzbek skillter Kudratillo Abdukakhorov and hard hitting Kazakh born Russian Sergey Lipinets. The two men were supposed to fight earlier in the year before various issues forced the bout to be delayed, and delayed again. These aren't two of the top name Welterweights, but they are pat of the chasing group and they should make for a very interesting clash of styles. We suspect Lipinets will be the favourites, but Abdukakhorov shouldn't be written off here, in a very, very interesting match up.
Korakuen Hall, Japan (TBS - Tape Delay)
Daigo Higa (16-1, 16) Vs Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0-1, 4)
Former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa will be seeking his second win since losing the world title in to Cristofer Rosales in 2018, as he takes on the unbeaten Seiya Tstusumi. The exciting Higa will be up against a man who scored two wins over him as an amateur, and will be looking to move his own career forward massively. For Higa this is a must win if he's to move towards a second world title whilst Tsutusmi will know a win will put him on the verge of becoming a star.
Korakuen Hall, Japan
Shu Utsuki (6-0, 5) Vs Takayuki Sakai (9-2-2, 6)
On October 30th we'll see another unbeaten man looking to push his career forward as the talented Shu Utsuki takes on Takayuki Sakai. The hard hitting Utsuki is probably only two or three wins away from a title fight of some kind, and he'll see Sakai as the next obstacle on route to a title fight. As for Sakai a win would be a huge upset, but would be massive for his career. Given the styles of the two men, and their power, we expect this one to be a very exciting contest.
The Bubble, MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16) Vs Jason Moloney (21-1, 18)
The month ends with a big one as WBA "Super" and IBF Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue defends his titles against once beaten Australian Jason Moloney. This will be Inoue's first bout since his 2019 war with Nonito Donaire, and whilst it's not the bout we all wanted, which was Inoue Vs John Riel Casimero in a triple title unification, it's certainly not a bad replacement fight. Moloney might not be a big star but he's a very capable fighter and he should serve as a good test for what will be Inoue's Las Vegas debut. Moloney can fight, box and punch, and should ask questions of the "Monster" but it's hard to imagine him scoring the upset here against the Japanese pound for pound star.
One of the many things that boxing has a long history of is "nicknames" and with that in mind we've decided to share some of our favourites in a new series looking at nicknames. To kick this series off we're including some of our favourites and some of the most unique, though as this series goes on we will share some awful ones as well!
Young Kyun Park - "Bulldozer"
Few nicknames will every sum up a fighter as well as "Bulldozer" summed up Korean warrior Yung Kyun Park, the former Featherweight king. Although not one of the more well known Korean fighters he was among the excellent wave of Korean fighters that made their mark on the sport in the 1980's and 1990's, and he was very much a bulldozer in the ring.
Armed with an iron chin, an incredibly work rate and a vicious power Park carved up a very good career in the ring from 1986 to 1995, going 28-3-1 (16). Although his career was short it was intense and he held the WBA Featherweight title from March 1991 to December 1993, in which time he managed to make 8 successful defenses.
If you've never watched a Park fight we desperately advise you watch his bouts with Seiji Asakwa, Koji Matsumoto and the first bout with Eloy Rojas. After that you'll understand why he was dubbed the "Bulldozer"
Naoya Inoue - "Monster"
Another nickname that sums up a fighter incredibly well is "Monster" for current Japanese star Naoya Inoue. The name has been adopted by a few other fighters in recent years, such as Can Xu and Andrew Moloney, but in reality there is only one "Monster" and that's Inoue.
Although an excellent boxer, and one of the best boxer-puncher's in the sport, Inoue is a physically imposing guy with freakish physical strength, nasty power and the ability to destroy fighters with his heavy hands.
Originally he wasn't a fan of the nickname himself, but the name has stuck and it's certainly summed up his in ring style very, very well. He's a monster, and he destroys things that are in front of him. Not too much more to it than that!
Mikito Nakano - "Manos de Acero"
We've only seen this one used once or twice but the nickname of "Manos de Arceo", literally "Fists of Iron", is attributed to rising Japanese prospect Mikito Nakano and is a name that was absolutely love. It's obviously an alternate take on Roberto Duran's iconic "Manos de Piedra", but is still a damn cool name, and one thing we love is that the name seems to be the Spanish variant, and not a Japanese version.
Although Nakano is certainly not a big name in the sport, yet, he has shown the potential to be a star, and if he can live up to that potential we are going to love hearing announcers yell out "Manos de Acero". A truly brilliant nickname and one befitting of a future star!
Elly Pical - "The Exocet"
Having names like "Bomber" is nothing new in boxing, and we have seen those types of names through out the years. Though taking the name after a specific military weapon of the time is certainly more unique and that was the case with Indonesian great Elly Pical, who adopted the nickname of "The Exocet".
For those under a certain age the name might not stand out too much, but the weapon, which translated as "Flying Fish", was a French made missile that the British used in the Falklands war and it did serious damage. The weapon was making a name for it's self when Pical was starting to create a buzz, and his left hand was dubbed the Exocet, with the fighter himself taking on the nickname later in his career.
Give the force of the military weapon the name was a perfect one for Pical, it's just a shame that he sometimes failed to land with his killer shots, resulting in a surprisingly low KO rate of just 42%.
Veeraphol Sahaprom - "Deathmask"
Although Thai great Veeraphol Sahaprom had a number of nicknames none were as imposing or as threatening as "Deathmask", a nickname that sounded vicious, dangerous and terrifying. The name referred to Sahaprom's amazing poker face, and how he was a visibly emotionless fighter in the ring, but it sounded so much more sinister, like a mask used to suffocate opponents.
Many Thai's do have nicknames that can get lost in translations, but "Deathmask" is just a brilliant nickname and an incredibly unique one, that really gives off a truly terrifying aura. That aura wasn't just an act however, and in the ring Veeraphol was a tremendous fighter, having success in both Muay Thai and professional boxing.
Having been a 2-time world champion and scoring notable wins against many of the top Bantamweights of his era few can doubt the ability of Sahaprom, and his second world title reign was a brilliant one lasting more than 6 years and 14 successful defenses.
Once again we're back to looking at the Good, The Bad and The Ugly of the week we've just had, and if we're honest the lack of in ring action has left us with not too much good, and quite a lot of indifference, which thankfully isn't a header here!
1 - CBC confirm Kento Hatanaka's next fight will be streamed globally for free!
With the growing number of payment services in boxing, and PPV's again becoming more and more prevalent, it's great to see that CBC are again showing some common sense. The Japanese broadcaster confirmed this past week that the WBC Youth Flyweight title bout between Kento Hatanaka v Roland Jay Biendima will be streamed worldwide for free. The channel have helped make Kosei Tanaka a star, streaming a number of his fights, and seem to know that getting eyes on their product is key to their fighters becoming more notable. They've done it with Tanaka and are now doing it was 21 year old Hatanaka. Well done CBC and fingers crossed others see the logic behind what they do, and try to replicate it for emerging hopefuls.
2 - Junto Nakatani Vs Giemel Magramo, sign us up!
Although not officially confirmed the reports that Junto Nakatani and Giemel Magramo will battle for the WBO Flyweight title was certainly good news. In fact it was really good news! We're expecting the bout to be confirmed next week, following the report from the gondol that the bout was set. This is the sort of match up that the sport needs more of, and the type of bout that we're always going to get very, very excited about! Two young, up and coming fighters, who could go in different directions, clashing head on for a world title! Yes please. This is the type of match up that title vacancy's should be filled by, and the type of bout that instantly gives the new champion some legitimacy, even if the title had previously been vacant!
3 - Ioka Vs Tanaka in the works!
One of the few real good points from this week was the WBO ordering Kazuto Ioka Vs Kosei Tanaka. On one hand it did feel odd that they were ordering back to back mandatory defenses for Ioka, who defended the belt against a mandatory in December, but on the other hand what an amazing match up, and this is something to get really, really excited about for later in the year! It is worth noting that Tanaka didn't seem to be expecting it to be ordered immediately, and neither did we given Ioka's last defense was a mandatory, so we wouldn't be too surprised to see the WBO delay this, as the the teams try to set it up late the last half of the year.
1 - Dubois Vs Joyce on PPV
British fans really are unlucky right now. It seems that over the coming months they are going to be getting shafted by the powers that be. The Fury Vs Wilder rematch was expected to be PPV, and we expect the Joshua Vs Pulev bout to be on PPV, and both of those are legitimately big bouts. However for Daniel Dubois to face Joe Joyce on PPV in an all British clash, between two men who have yet to break through as any type of stars. Genuinely ridiculous for this bout to be on PPV, and a very tough sell given the lack of personality both men have. Don't get us wrong, we are looking forward to the match, but this shouldn't have been on PPV, and it's a missed opportunity for both fighters and for fans.
2 - Naoya Inoue picks up a fever
After taking part in his typical training camp in Guam Naoya Inoue had to miss the annual Japanese boxing award ceremony last week due to fever. The fever is said to have been brought on by muscle fatigue, and it's a real shame. Not only did he have to miss the award ceremony but also take days out of training. On the other hand it has given the John Riel Casimero camp some more ammunition to help sell the fight, and credit goes to Casimero and Sean Gibbons for their entertaining press conferences this week.
3 - Korean boxing Hiatus
Earlier in the year we had several events in China being cancelled due to Coronavirus and now, due to the spread of the illness, we've seen a number of Korean events falling victim, with 3 planned shows being postponed indefinitely. That included the much anticipated Hyun Mi Choi Vs Maiva Hamadouche female unification bout. Whilst we totally agree with the shows being cancelled, it's still a big disappointment.
1 - Jarrell Miller's comments
Our thoughts about drugs cheats are that they need to be punished. They need to be given lengthy bans, prohibited from profiting from the sport, and made to actually feel like they've been punished. The entire system in boxing right now however seems to be the opposite, and seems to be more like a toddler being told to sit in the corner for 5 minutes. That is...unless you're Jarrell Miller. Less than a year ago Miller was found guilty of, essentially, being a cocktail of banned substances. This week he came out with a pro-drug message in what was a rather clear "fuck you" to the sport, and the others taking part:
“Minor setback for a major comeback. I’m coming for everything and everyone. No one is safe. Say hello to the bad guy,” ...“Everyone wants to portray the superhero. We don’t live in a sunshine world. I’ll never be the superhero. In my world, the majority of the time, the villain wins.”
He's not just showing no remorse for failing multiple drug tests, but is using it as part of the marketing for his return and showing contempt of the sport he's participating in. Fuck him and fuck the commissions that go on to license him. We need this sort of thing to end.
2 - Eddie Hearn admits he doesn't want to match his guys
After telling us for years that "to fight X you need to sign with us" and after telling us for months that he was trying to match some of his guys, Eddie Hearn this week came out and admitted that he wants to cheer on one guy in a fight rather than two. Given the wealth of talent Matchroom have at Middleweight, Super Middleweight and Heavyweight this has really left a sour taste, especially when he's previously blamed the fighters. Given he has fingers in the purses of fighters like Gennady Golovkin, Demetrius Andrade, Callum Smith and Billy Joe Saunders, at 160lbs and 168lbs, and Heavyweights like Michael Hunter, Filip Hrgovic, Joseph Parker, Dillian Whyte and Dereck Chisora there are great match ups to be made, in those divisions. What doesn't help is he then comes out and explains that certain men are divisional "boogeymen", as he did with with Michael Hunter this week. If you have most of the top names in the division and choose not to match them, they aren't boogeymen, they are just being badly handled!
3-Guillermo Rigondeaux's Career Sabotage continues
Generally we expect the most talented people in the field to be the best, make the most money and develop their reputation to a point where people want to see them show what they can do. For Guillermo Rigondeaux however we once again saw the Cuban's knack of messing things up for himself shine. "El Chacal" finally fought at his natural weight this weekend, dropping to Bantamweight at the age of 39, but once again stunk the joint out, and once again showed why HBO refused to touch him with a barge pole. Unfortunately however this time it was on Showtime, who are also now unlikely to work with him. Loud boos filled the arena for his fight against former Super Flyweight champion Liborio Solis. What didn't help Rigondeaux was that he hurt Solis several times, but refused to go for the finish, particularly in the later rounds when it was clear Solis couldn't bother him. From siding with Carbie when he Gary Hyde had something organised, to shitting the bed on HBO against Joseph Agebko to his string of B tier wins over the likes of James Dickens, Rigondeaux has made himself unwatchable in a sport that is dependent on fans and TV audience. He might be among the most gifted natural athletes in the sport, but also one of the stupidest. His ring IQ might be incredible, but his inability to see the bigger picture, really shows a complete lack of business smarts and once again he's going to find himself totally frozen out by TV and big fighters. We know the purists might enjoy his style, but unfortunately for the Cuban they aren't the people in charge of the TV companies, or the ones that the fighter needs to impress. They are a small minority, and even they seem to be realising what a truly disappointing under-achiever Rigondeaux is.
(Image of Rigondeaux Vs Solis courtesy of Amanda Westcott / SHOWTIME)
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)
As we head towards the new year we've had a big look at the current scene and come up with "20 fights we'd like to see in 2020", yeah another series ahead of the new decade!
As is always the case with what we do, these articles will have an Asian flavour, and every bout we mention in the series will have at least 1 fighter from Asia involved. So for those of you expecting us to talk about Deontay Wilder Vs Anthony Joshua, that won't be listed.
What we'll be looking at is well matched contests with either some form of back story, a great stylistic clash or bouts with some form of significant meaning. If they tick all the boxes then that is even better! Each fight will be given it's own article and each of these will come with an introduction to the fighters, and why the bout is being featured in the list.
Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16) Vs John Riel Casimero (29-4, 20)
to finish this mini series we look at a bout that has been rumoured for a while, and by the time you read this it may actually have been officially announced. Despite that it's a bout that seems an obvious one to make and is one we're very excited to see, pitting two hard hitting Bantamweights against each other to unify 3 of the 4 major titles. It's an all Asian bout and continues the long and stories Japan Vs Philippines rivalry.
One of the fights probably needs no introduction. Naoya Inoue, the Monster, the face of Japanese boxing, is one of the most notable fighters on the planet right now. He's cemented a legacy as one of the Japanese greats, despite being a professional for less than a decade. He only has 19 fights to his name but 14 have been at world level and he has gone 8-0 (6) against world champions, including established international names like Adrian Hernandez, Omar Andres Narvaez, Jamie McDonnell and Nonito Donaire. He's skilled, quick and freakishly destructive for a fighter of his size, with some of the most brutal body shots in the sport.
In the other corner we have Johnr Riel Casimer, a fighter who should be more well known than he is, but has long been under-the-radar despite notable success for over a decade, often on the road. The 30 year old Casimero has won world titles at Ligth Flyweight, Flyweight and Bantamweight whilst showing freakish power himself, an unorthodox offense and skills that are still developing this far into his career. Casimero has proven himself against the likes of Luis Alberto Lazarte, Amnat Ruenroeng, Charlie Edwards and Zolani Tete, all of whom felt the power of the Filipino. At his best Casimero is a threat for anyone at Bantamweight, and only needs a split second to turn a fight around. Sadly though he is inconsistent, and when he's off form he really is poor.
This is arguably the most interesting possible bout at Bantamweight. It pits two men with fight changing power against each other, it unifies titles, taking us a step closer to an undisputed champion, and it's a fantastic all Asian fight that looks set to headline a card in the US.
The bout is said to be pencilled in for April 25th in Las Vegas, and is likely to be announced any day soon. It will be a great test for two men each looking to make a statement. Inoue would clearly be the favourite but as we see time and time again, we can never write off Casimero, who loves to give the boxing world a shock every time fans see him as the under-dog.
As we head towards a new year we've decided to look into our glass balls, our tea leaves and our palms to come up with 20 predictions which will be posted over the coming weeks for what we think will happen in 2020. So far our predictions haven't been the best though they've not all been wrong.
In 2013 we predicted that Naoya Inoue, his brother Takuma and Kosei Tanaka would all win world titles. Between them they've won a few world titles, though Takuma has yet to win a proper world title. That same year we also predicted a growth in Chinese boxing, and this arguably happened despite the fact the Macau side of things has died off. We also predicted a growth in Asian fighters making a name for themselves in the US, this was before Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, Naoya Inoue or Kazuto Ioka had fought on US soil, and before the wave of Uzbek's had began to attract US attention.
Unlike the past, where we have made all of our predictions in 1 article, we'll be spreading these ones out with 1 prediction per article, and going more in depth than we have in the past.
Prediction number 11- A portion of boxing fans turn on Naoya Inoue
One thing we, as fans, often say is that we want to see the best fight the best. We want champions to face each other, or champions to go in against legitimate top challengers. We don't want to see fighters pussy footing around challenges to just keep their titles, and have a look reign against badly mismatched opposition.
One fighter who has often faced tests, looked for challenges, and thrown down the gauntlet to the boxing world is Japanese star Naoya Inoue. In just his 4th fight he took on Japanese champion Ryoichi Taguchi, in fight 6 he won his first world title, became a 2 weight champion in fight #8 before moving up to Bantamweight in 2018. Then winning the WBSS at Bantamweight in 2019.
He is a fighter who has done everything he can to get universal acclaim, and whilst his record at Super Flyweight didn't feature the best fighters he didn't wait too long to move up again whilst the WBC title went through a bit of a mandatory mess. It would, of course, have been great to see Inoue fight Roman Gonzalez, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, Jerwin Ancajas, Kal Yafai or Juan Francisco Esrrada, but it takes 2 to tango and for whatever reason, be it mandatories, circumstance or something else, those bouts never came off.
Since moving to Bantamweight Inoue has already notched wins over Jamie McDonnell, Juan Carlos Payano, Emmanuel Rodriguez and Nonito Donaire. He has created history by becoming the first Asian fighter to win the Muhammad Ali trophy and the first Japanese fighter to ever score a win in a world title fight in Europe. After just 19 fights he has almost certainly staked a claim as being in the top 3 Japanese fighters of all time, if not the #1 position.
Sadly success in boxing brings hate, and with Inoue recently signing with Top Rank he will get a lot more exposure to the US market. That will bring with it a new group of haters, a group that easily ignored him to this point as he was out of site and out mind.
In 2020 we predict there will be a surge of anti-Inoue backlash from fans who are unhappy about everything in his career. Even things that aren't his fault. An obvious example of this will be Inoue not fighting Luis Nery, a PBC fighter who has repeatedly shown an unprofessional attitude. Sure the bout would be great, but with Nery unable to consistently make weight it's likely a bout between the two would be cancelled due to Nery missing 118lbs, not for the first time. Likewise fans calling for him to move up, rather than face the other leading Bantamweights, like Nordine Oubaali, and hating him for wanting to face the best at his own weight.
Whether he faces easy opponent, tough opponents or unifies we suspect there will be a small, but very vocal, surge of anti-Inoue comments online. Those comments will come no matter what he does and who against.
(Image courtesy of Ohashi Gym)
The month of November has a been weird one, with stretches of time without anything happening, and then flurries of action. It's been an inconsistent month, but a month that, overall, massively over-delivered, with several sensational bouts, a host of upsets, and some massive KO's. This was less a month of consistency and more a month of highlights!
Fighter of the Month
The Fighter of the Month was one of the easiest categories this month, with Naoya Inoue clearly taking the honours here. His 12 round decision win over Nonito Donaire is one of the best wins of the year, and came in one the best bouts of the year. The bout, of course, was the WBSS Bantamweight final and saw Inoue walk away with the WBA, IBF and Ring magazine titles as well as the Muhammad Ali Trophy. He was tested, he was rocked, he was caught and he answered more questions in 12 rounds than he had in all of his previous bouts combined.
Fight of the Month
Naoya Inoue Vs Nonito Donaire
The WBSS Bantamweight final wasn't the final most people really wanted but it was the final we deserved, and turned out to be a sensational 12 round bout, mixing pulsating back and forth, with drama, both men being hurt and top level boxing. The fight saw two men fight with vastly different styles, but those styles gelled perfectly and we ended up with something very special. Inoue looked the better overall boxer but Donaire's power always looked a threat, and the amount of punishment both men took was staggering. This was one of those bouts that it all, and was for the very highest of stakes. A great bout.
Takuya Watanabe Vs Taiki Minamoto
Jae Woo Lee Vs Tsuyoshi Tameda
KO of the Month
Luke Boyd KO1 Jon Jon Jet
Sadly this month the KO of the month saw an Asian fighter being on the wrong end of it, with previously unbeaten Indonesian Jon Jon Jet being taken out by the crude but hard hitting Luke Boyd. Boyd was swinging for the fences from the off, and a huge right hand landed clean as a whistle on Jet who crashed to the canvas in eye catching fashion. This wasn't great for Indonesian boxing, given that Jet was regarded as a bit of a hopeful, but it was a brilliant KO.
Despite their being a lot of great fights and a number of solid upsets, which we'll get on to shortly, there was strangely a lack of standout performances from fighter we regard as prospects. Thankfully though their was one performance that did catch the eye and that was the US debut of Andy Hiraoka. The Top Rank promoted 23 year old had the perfect US debut as he took out Rodelio Casarez in 2 rounds and took his chance to shine. Whilst his opponent wasn't up to much this was perfectly acceptable for his first bout outside of Japan, and he is certainly going to be someone turning heads in the coming years.
Kenbati Haiyilao vs Nick Frese
One thing we had a lot of in November was upsets. They might not have come at the top level, but they did come rather frequently. The one that shocked us the most was the victory by Chinese fighter Kenbati Haiyilao, who defeated the touted Thai based Dutchman Nick Frese. The unheralded Haiyilao was fighting out of China for the first time, and was 2-2-1 in his previous 5. There was nothing to suggest he was any kind of a threat to Frese's unbeaten record, but he shocked us all by out boxing Frese in a real surprise of a result. Frese was never hurt, but was regularly coming off second best and struggling with the basics from Haiyilao, something that was a genuine surprise.
Jhon Gemino Vs Arnold Alejandro
Jae Woo Lee Vs Tsuyoshi Tameda
Johnriel Casimero Vs Zolani Tete
Naoya Inoue Vs Nonito Donaire (11)
We go full circle here, and head back to the WBSS final for the brilliant Inoue Vs Donaire fight. It had a number of great rounds, but the best of them was the 11th, which had incredible drama, weird officiating, and amazing action. The round saw Inoue really hurt Donaire for the first time, dropping him with a body shot. It saw the referee body check the Monster as he went in for the finish, it saw Donaire some how get back to his feet, withstanding some huge shots, and then rocking Inoue late in the round. It had everything that was great about the fight, all compacted into 3 minutes of sheet brilliance. This was one of the vert best rounds of the year, not just the best round of the month.
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