It's fair to say that November has started hot, despite the late cancellation of Kazuto Takesako Vs Riku Kunumoto, but it certainly doesn't end there and the rest of the month continues to be hectic. Here we're going to take a look at the middle portion of the month, and there really is a lot to get through here.
Blue Arena, Samut Prakan, Thailand
Nattapong Jankaew (6-0, 3) Vs Petchbarngborn Kokietgym (44-9, 20)
In an excellent Thai match up we'll see the talented Nattapong Jankaew take on former world title challenger Petchbarngborn Kokietgym, who fought Naoya Inoue a few years ago. We've been really impressed by Nattapong so far and expect him to go a long way, so with that in mind we're expecting him to win this, with ease, but to also show what he can do. Petchbarngborn is a live under-dog, but a very clear under-dog against a very talented professional novice.
Thitisak Hoitong (0-0) Vs Samartlek Kokietgym (34-14-1, 12)
We'll openly admit we know very, very little about Thitisak Hoitong but it's clear his team must have some serious belief in him to match him against former world title challenger Samartlek Kokietgym, on his debut! Whilst we can't talk too much about Thitisak it is worth noting that Samartlek has shared the ring with Naoya Inoue and Akira Yaegashi, and both men were taken long by Samartlek, with Inoue stopping him in 11 and Yaegashi in the 12th. We are expecting Thitisak to win, based on what we known of his amateur pedigree, but nobody has an easy time with Samartlek. Expect the novice to work hard here.
Production Park Studios, South Kirkby, Yorkshire, United Kingdom
Tursynbay Kulakhmet (1-0, 1) vs Macaulay McGowan (14-0-1, 3)
We continue with inexperienced professionals as we move onto a bout featuring the exceptionally talented Tursynbay Kulakhmet from Kazakhstan. The brilliant Kulakhmet will be going for his first title in just his second bout, as he takes on the unbeaten Macaulay McGowan. On paper this is a very real test for Kulakhmet though we suspect he makes it look easy and secures his place on the fast track to the top. He's an sensational talent, he showed that in his amateur days and on his professional debut, and we'd be very surprised if he doesn't stop McGowan here. The Kazakh is a special prospect that doesn't come around very often.
Sultan Zaurbek (9-0, 7) vs Jeff Ofori (10-3-1, 3)
Another Kazakh prospect in action here is Sultan Zaurbek, who appears to be getting his first legitimate test as a professional. The unbeaten 24 year old has barely lost a minute since his debut, just over 2 years ago, but here he goes up against the tricky, and under-rated Jeff Ofori. Ofori will be the under-dog, and rightfully so, but is a live one and proved his value recently in a very close decision loss to Archie Sharp. This is a credible step up for Zaurbek, at the right time, against a very good opponent, who is naturally bigger than himself, but alight puncher. A good bit of match making.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Kimika Miyoshi (15-12-1, 6) vs Yoshie Wakasa (6-2, 2)
In a Japanese female Featherweight title bout we'll see veteran Kimika Miyoshi defending her title against Yoshie Wakasa. For the champion this will be her second defense and although her record might look poor, to say the least, she's a battle hardened veteran who knows her way around the ring, and will likely be aware than she's likely only one loss away from retirement. Aged 36 she can't afford a loss. For Wakasa this is a third title fight, she has lost her last two and will be hoping it's third time lucky. Wakasa will know that she may not get another opportunity any time soon, and it could be now or never for her.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Rikki Naito (24-2, 7) Vs Yusuke Konno (16-4, 9)
OPBF Light Welterweight champion Rikki Naito will be looking to become a double champion as he clashes with fellow Japanese fighter Yusuke Konno for not just the OPBF title but also the vacant WBO Asia Pacific title. On paper Naito will be favoured, and technically he is the better fighter, as well as being the younger, quicker man. But his lack of power may well be an issue in getting Konno's respect, and Naito's questionable stamina will pushed to it's limits here by Konno. This is a genuinely fantastic match up, and the winner will be pretty much the de facto Asian champion at 140lbs.
Yoshimitsu Kimura (12-2, 7) Vs Shuma Nakazato (10-1-2, 7)
Former OPBF Super Featherweight title challenger Yoshimitsu Kimura clashes with Shuma Nakazato in a brilliant, 50-50 match up that really is mouth watering. Both men have similar records, both are talented youngsters with real potential and neither are taking on an easy foe to close out 2020. Kimura is slightly more proven, having fought over 12 rounds twice in very competitive losses, but Nakazato cannot be written off and will come into this knowing a win gets him into the title mix. A brilliant, potentially thrilling high speed technical war, between two criminally under-rated 24 year olds. This could, genuinely, be the hidden gem of the month.
Suzumi Takayama (3-0, 3) Vs Hiroto Yashiro (2-0, 2)
Unbeaten JBC Youth Super Flyweight champion Suzumi Takayama looks to make his first defense as he takes on the very talented Hiroto Yashiro. If we're being honest, this is exactly the type of bout we expected when Japan introduced the Japanese Youth titles, and we're glad to see these sorts of bouts. Both of these men are young, unbeaten, heavy handed, crisp, fluid aggressive fighters. As professionals Takayama is the more proven, and he answered a lot of questions last time out, stopping Tetsuro Ohashi in a tremendous bout 13 months ago. That win will make him the favourite, but Yashiro is a very, very live under-dog, taking a very credible step up. Don't look at the records her and ignore the fight, these two are very advanced professional novices, with solid amateur credentials and we are expecting something sensational here.
Ryoichi Tamura (13-5-1, 7) Vs Ryu Oba (5-4, 3)
Former Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Ryoichi Tamura Looks to score his second win since his brutal title loss to Yusaku Kuga last year. In reality we don't imagine him having any problems with Ryu Oba here, a lower level domestic fighter, but Tamura is known to make life difficult for himself, and to make every fight he's involved in worthy of watching. This will be brutal, rough, tough, exciting, and we can't ask for more than that!
Fans of “the little guys” have had a wonderful few weeks with a load of notable bouts across 108lbs, 112lbs and 115lbs but maybe what the future holds is even better than what we've just had, and what we've just had is a huge shake up at both Flyweight and Super Flyweight.
For those who are perhaps just dipping your toes into the lower weight class lets go back a few weeks.
On August 31st Ryoichi Taguchi (25-2-1, 11) successfully defended the WBA Light Flyweight title defeating mandatory challenger Ryo Miyazaki (24-2-3, 15) with a 12 round decision. This now leaves Taguchi open to defend his title on December 31st on a yet to be announced show in Tokyo in a voluntary defense of the title.
On the same day the WBA Super Flyweight title changed hands, with Taguchi's stablemate Kohie Kono (32-9-1, 13) losing the title to Nicaraguan slugger Luis Concepcion (35-4, 24) in a 12 round decision. The future for Kono now looks unclear, with some suggesting he may be heading for retirement, or an easy bout at the end of the year. For Concepcion the rumour is that a world title unification may be around the corner with the WBO champion, but more about that later.
On September 3rd we saw a second Super Flyweight title change hands with Filipino Jerwin Ancajas (25-1-1, 16) announcing himself to the international boxing world by claiming the IBF title. The unheralded Filipino took a miniscule payday to face the unbeaten McJoe Arroyo (17-1, 8) but made the most of his chance and clearly beat the Puerto Rican.
The following day we saw a champion actually retain a title at Super Flyweight as WBO kingpin Naoya Inoue (11-0, 9) over-came the gutsy but outclassed Petchbarngborn Kokietgym (38-8-1, 18), scoring a 10th round win. After the win it reported that Inoue was seeking a unification bout and it now seems like terms are set for him to face Concepcion in December, with December 30th looking the most likely. The bout would see two of the titles unified and should see us move into 2017 with 3 title holders.
On September 10th we saw Filipino road warrior Johnriel Casimero (22-3, 14) travel to the UK where he notched the first defense of his title, with a 10th round TKO win against the previously unbeaten Englishman Charlie Edwards (8-1,3). The win saw Casimero being too good and too powerful for the novice and since the win he has called pretty much everyone else at the weight claiming that he now wants to unify the titles.
The very same night we saw Roman Gonzalez (46-0, 38) become the third new champion at Super Flyweight in the space of 2 weeks as he defeated Mexican Carlos Cuadras (35-1-1, 27) in a 12 round war. The win netted Gonzalez the WBC title and saw him become a genuine 4 weight world champion.
Since Gonzalez's win we've seen the team of his mandatory challenger, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (41-4-1, 38), state they would be happy to travel to the US to face the Nicaraguan. We've also seen Gonzalez's promoter suggest late 2017 would be the ideal time for their man to face Naoya Inoue.
Earlier today, September 14th, we saw further developments in the ever changing picture of the lower weights with former Gonzalez foe Juan Francisco Estrada (33-2, 24) vacating the WBA “super” and WBO Flyweight titles as he joins the fray at Super Flyweight, in pursuit of a rematch with Estrada. Gonzalez's WBC title is also expected to be made vacant in the coming days.
With all the title changes, vacating, weight changes and the such we have seen a real shake up at both 115lbs and 112lbs. Essentially we have seen Super Flyweight become, arguably, the hottest division in the sport and we've seen Flyweight suddenly become one of the most open with a title dash expected over the next 12 months.
At Super Flyweight we have a division with a leading list of Inoue, Gonzalez, Ancajas, Concepcion, Cuadras, Srisaket and Estrada. Below those we have fighters looking for opportunities like Sho Ishida, Khalid Yafai, Aston Palicte, Rex Tso, Norasing Kokietgym and Jose Martinez
At Flyweight we could end the weekend with only two recognised champions, Kazuto Ioka and Johnriel Casimero. However the division will be blown wide open with fighters like Donnie Nietes, Brian Viloria, Pedro Guevara, Moruti Mthalane, Takuya Kogawa, Juan Carlos Reveco, Daigo Higa, Zou Shiming, McWilliams Arroyo, Nawaphon Por Chokchai, Giemel Magramo, Muhammad Waseem, Andrew Selby, Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep, Kwanpichit OnesongchaiGym and Kompayak Porpramook all likely looking at joining the mad dash for title fights.
At the moment the rumours are that the WBO title will be fought for in November between Zou Shiming and Kwanpichit OnesongchaiGym and that the WBC title will be on the line between Nawaphon Por Chokchai and Juan Hernandez, also in November, though there is a good chance both the IBF and WBA titles will be defended before the year is out.
Despite Estrada and Gonzalez both moving up in weight they have arguably made Flyweight more interesting, with the mad dash for world glory almost certain to give us some great fights, and have strengthened the already brilliant Super Flyweight division. At 108lbs it seems like we could see Taguchi, Akira Yaegashi and Kosei Tanaka all in action in December, with potential unification bouts coming in 2017.
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