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 5 - NHK to become a major player in boxing
Way, way back in Japanese boxing history national broadcaster NHK were a major broadcaster of the sport, showing many of the early champions of Japan. As the years went on domestic commercial TV put money into the sport and repelled NHK from the market place, with the channel rarely showing professional boxing afterwards.
They weren't totally done with the sport, but they had quickly gone from a major player to a minor player, showing occasional amateur tournament finals and little else, in fact only a few days ago they showed the the 89th All Japan Boxing Championship on their BS1 service.
Things began to change in 2019 when NHK showed 8K coverage of the WBSS Bantamweight final between Naoya Inoue and Nonito Donaire, and they will repeat the 8K experiment in December when they show Ryota Murata's bout with Steven Butler, also on their 8K channel BS8K.
The WBSS Bantamweight final was the first ever bout to be shown live in 8K and whilst that was partly a gimmick it did come with suggestion to the media that NHK would be getting back into the boxing game properly in 2020. If that happens, and we now have every reason to believe it will, then TV boxing in Japan is set to have a massive change.
Unlike every other TV channel in Japan NHK is publicly funded, similar to how BBC is run in the UK, and has notable international arms, with their NHK World service. They also run both terrestrial TV, NHK General and NHK Educational in Japan, and satellite TV, NHK BS1 and NHK BS Premium, also with ultra high definition channels NHK BS4K and NHS BS8K.
Their service, potentially, offers a fighter a chance to appeal right across the country in a way no other service does. If a fighter can fight on NHK General they are instantly going to be given the largest potential audience of any fighter in the country. When we already know that Naoya Inoue and Ryota Murata can draw multi-million viewer audiences in Kanto, we can only begin to imagine what a fighter could, potentially, draw on NHK from across Japan.
Two other things also help back up the prediction of NHK becoming a major player. One is that they have certain high ranking officials who now believe sports can be a major part of their programming. The other is much bigger and more obvious. They have the Tokyo 2020 rights, and can obviously help a young fighter from the Olympics roll that momentum into professional success.
If a fighter wants to make an immediate, national impact after the games then NHK are surely the way to go, and they could quickly become a massive force for good for Japanese boxing.
Our prediction is that by the end of 2020 NHK will have shown professional boxing on both a terrestrial channel and a satellite channel, as well as their amateur boxing content, which will include the 2020 All Japan Championship and the Olympics.
What a bizarre week we had in boxing last week. We had some truly amazing fights, some great announcements, one decision that left a disgusting taste in the mouth of fans, and a cheater finally put in his place. Oh and we got arguably the most homo-erotic poster in boxing history...boy has this been a weird 7 days!
1 - Can Xu contines to show he can do!
We need to start this by talking about someone who has been such a great ambassador for Asian boxing this year, Can Xu. A year ago he was an unknown outside of Asian fight fans but today he sits as the WBA Featherweight champion, with 2 defenses behind him, 3 great wins in 2019, and as one of the revelations of the year. Those who saw him struggle past Enrique Bernache in September 2018 will hardly believe the same guy has gone on to beat Jesus M Rojas, former Super Bantamweight champion Shun Kubo and the unbeaten Manny Robles III. If a fighters year is to be marked solely by how far they've come in a year then Can Xu is up there for Fighter of the Year. As only the third Chinese world champion it's faint praise to celebrate him as China's greatest ever professional fighter, but it really is getting hard to argue. This charismatic young action fighter is someone we should all be celebrating.
2 - Hajime No Ippo Tournament 20th anniversary tournament
From one great fighter to a great tournament! The Hajime No Ippo 30th Anniversary tournament began last week with 3 quarter-final bouts and 2 of those were breath taking fights. For those who have a Boxing Raise subscription and missed them we need to advise you to check out Tsuyoshi Tameda's war with Jae Woo Lee and the up and down battle between Shungo Kusano and Qiang Ma. These might not have been high profile contests but my god they were something special. Even the third quarter-final, between Daisuke Watanabe and Koshin Takeshima, was worthy of a watch even if was the worst of the bouts by far. Who ever managed to put this tournament together deserves a huge round of applause for making a tournament that has already provided 2 incredibly bouts, and looks likely to give us more in the next round!
3 - Jhon Gemino
The "Disaster" struck again with another upset. The hard hitting Filipino might not have a dangerman's record but this was his third upset in 12 months, all in different countries, and it's becoming clear that if a prospect isn't legit he will be more than a handful. With double digit losses to his name he's not some unbeatable fighter, but he's crafty, rugged and has power in both hands, and will be someone who is always a danger. As fans of seeing "opponents" come to win we can't help but love Jhon Gemino and his willingness to travel for fights against unbeaten hopefuls....and show up more than a handful of those unbeaten foes.
1 - The poster for Dangan 231
We've seen some poor posters in our years of Asian boxing but maybe the poster for Dangan 231 is perhaps the very worst. We really have no idea what those behind the poster, excuse the pun, were thinking here and it's taken what was a great fight on paper and made the poster a bigger talking point than the fight. Had the fighters been either clothed or completely silhouetted out this might have worked, but with both guys being naked it's a poster that has given us more questions than answered. Still we guess it's gotten more people talking about the show than we would have had anyway...even if no one likes the poster.
2 - NHK's coverage of the All Japan Championships
We understood scheduling can be a problem but this year's All Japan Championships were bizarrely televised by NHK who showed some of the bouts on BS1, some on BS1's sister channel and then more on BS1. We are pretty sure that a year ago it was all on one channel as a coherent broadcast, but this year it split by a sumo tournament. We understand sumo is huge in Japan though surely with NHK having so many channels they could have shown all of both events with no real issue, using NHK General, BS1 and BS Premium.
3 - Felix Alvarado's illness
We were all looking forward to the planned WBC/IBF Light Flyweight unification bout between Kenshiro Teraji and Felix Alvarado, a bout that had the potential to be a late FOTY contender. Sadly however Alvarado was forced out of the bout due to illness. It's hard to hold the illness against the fighter, but it's still a bad to see the fight being cancelled. Obviously we wish Alvarado a speedy recovery, and seeing his twin, Rene, win a world title at Super Featherweight in a big upset on Saturday was certainly a positive for the Alvarado in what has been a very mixed week for them.
1 - The poster for Dangan 231
We need to return to that damn poster for our first ugly....like seriously what was the idea behind it? It's not just bad, it's down right laughable. Honestly look at it! How can anyone take the fighters seriously with that poster being used to promote the fight...
2 - Matchroom's show at the weekend
We don't really want to use this weekly section to complain about one promoter or another but unfortunately for Matchroom boxing they are making it hard to not criticise them. The £24.95 price for Anthony Joshua is bad, but this past weekend's show was just baffling from start to end. They had the best fight of the show on Facebook, for a few thousand viewers, on a geo-locked feed. They had Anthony Fowler fight someone who made for an awful stylistic match up, in a really, really ugly fight that did neither guy any favours. They then had a main event marred by some of the worst scorecards of 2019. If Matchroom were hoping to sell their product ahead of their up coming PPV this did the opposite. It made it seem like they had no idea about bout placement on a card, it looked like their match makers struggle to make Fowler look good, honestly have him in with a fellow come forward fighter not a mover! And it looked like the judges were certainly told to lean one way in their scoring of the bout. Overall a terrible advert for what Matchroom should have seen as a big chance to sell themselves.
3 - Luis Nery
The drug taking, weight cheating son of a gun struck again! And this team people had had enough. Nery once again missed weight, forcing the cancellation of a world title eliminator against Emmanuel Rodriguez. Unlike in the past, where fighters, promoters and world title bodies have all accepted Nery's unprofessional Rodriguez said no. Rodriguez didn't sell out for a bump in his pay packet, he didn't bend over to Nery and his team and essentially told Nery to fuck himself. Somethings others should have said earlier. If this was a one off then fair enough but unprofessional behaviour is coming a constant with Nery who should be given an actual punishment after this mishap on the scales.Well done to Emmanuel Rodriguez for standing his ground, and hopefully he'll be rewarded with a WBC title fight, as it wasn't him the forced the eliminator to be cancelled.
(Photo by Tom Hogan/Hogan Photos/GoldenBoy Promotions)
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