Whilst the start of March was quiet the middle portion of the month really does see action step up a great, and there is a lot of action in not a lot of time. Better than just having a lot of action is the fact it's really varied action as well ranging from world title fights to prospects.
American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas, USA
Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) vs Axel Aragon Vega (14-3-1, 8)
The most notable bout of the month, featuring an Asian fighter, will see Ring Magazine and WBA "Super" Light Flyweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi making his US debut as he takes on Mexican youngster Axel Aragon Vega. The talented Kyoguchi had a frustrating 2020, with two bouts being cancelled, and will be looking to make a statement in his first bout since signing with Matchroom. As for Vega this will be his second world title fight, following a narrow loss last year in a WBO Minimumweight title bout, despite that he will be a clear under-dog.
Workpoint Studio, Bang Phun, Thailand
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (49-5-1, 42) Vs Kwanthai Sithmorseng (50-7-1, 27)
Former 2-time WBC Super Flyweight champion will be in a tune up bout here, with big plans for later in the year, as he takes on former WBA Minimumweight champion Kwanthai Sithmorseng. On paper this looks interesting, especially as Srisaket is taking on a former world champion, but in reality this should be little more than a brisk work out for Srisaket who should be too big, too strong, and too powerful for the rather limited Sithmorseng. Despite that this will be a good chance to see what Srisaket is like ahead of third bout with either Roman Gonzalez or Juan Francisco Estrada.
Phongsaphon Panyakum (11-1, 6) vs Karoon Jarupianlerd (44-10, 20)
Touted Thai prospect Phongsaphon Panyakum will look to secure his biggest win so far as he takes on former Naoya Inoue foe Karoon Jarupianlerd, aka Petchbarngborn Kokietgym. Although not too well known internationally Phongsaphon has been impressing on the Thai scene and we're really excited about his future. On paper this is a huge step up for Phongsaphon, though he will be favoured to pick up a win and answer a number of questions about his potential.
Chainoi Worawut (13-0-1, 12) Vs Pungluang Sor Singyu (54-9, 36)
Another Thai looking to progress their career is Chainoi Worawut, who takes a massive step up to take on former 2-time WBO Bantamweight champion Pungluang Sor Singyu. The hard hitting and exciting "Rockman" has impressed through his career with an exciting style but has, mostly, had things his own way against typically under-skilled and over-matched opponents. Pungluang on the other hand is a skilled pressure fighter, with a good chin and a real will to win. We expect Pungluang to push Chainoi all the way here in a real test for the youngster.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Saemi Hanagata (16-7-4, 7) Vs Eri Matsuda (4-0, 1)
Japanese veteran Saemi Hanagata will be looking to record her second defense of the IBF Atomweight title as she takes on fellow Japanese fighter Eri Matsuda. The aggressive and exciting Hanagata is a true veteran at 36 years old, and although being an "older" fighter she has looked full of energy in her most recent bouts. As well as an energetic fighter she is rugged, aggressive and exciting and brings a lot of pressure. Matsuda on the other hand is a rangy tall boxer, with a very smooth technical style, based on outside boxing. Despite being a professional novice Matsuda has been hugely impressive and she can't be written off here, even if this is only her 5th professional bout.
Narumi Yukawa (0-0) vs Yuya Azuma (5-4-1, 1)
Controversial fighter Narumi Yukawa will make his long awaited professional debut, almost 5 years after his last amateur bout. The talented Yukawa was given a suspended sentence after being convicted of drug offenses, which ended his amateur career and almost ended his entire boxing career. Now however he has served his time and is looking to make an impact on boxing once again. In the opposite corner to Yukawa will be Yuya Azuma, who is best known for his 2020 loss to Rentaro Kimura. This should be a really good test for Yukawa, and it'll be great to see what he looks like in the ring after all these years.
Banana Sports Complex, Binan City, Laguna, Philippines
Criztian Pitt Laurente (5-0, 3) Vs Ernesto Saulong (22-6-2, 9)
Over in the Philippines we're expecting to see touted youngster Criztian Pitt Laurente take on his most notable test, by far, since he turned pro in 2019. The talented 21 year old hopefully will be sharing the ring in an 8 rounder with former world title challenger Ernesto Saulong. Laurente turned professional with a lot of expectations after being a very solid amateur but has yet to make any sort of a mark at all on the professional scene. Saulong, best known for challenging Ryosuke Iwasa in 2018, should have the experience and skills to test Laurente, even if he is expected to come up short here.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0-2, 4) vs Tulio Kuwabata (3-1-1, 2)
Unbeaten hopeful Seiya Tsutsumi had a frustrating 2020, fighting to 2 draws, and he'll be looking for a much better 2021 as he returns to the ring here and takes on former amateur standout Tulio Kuwabata. The talented Tsutsumi is one to watch, and is a genuine prospect despite the setbacks last year, and he will enter this bout as a clear favourite. Kuwabata turned professional with a lot of hype back in 2018 but an upset loss in 2019 to Ken Jordan popped his hype bubble, and that was then followed by a technical draw with Yoshihiro Utsumi in 2020. Those setbacks have left Kuwabata in desperate need of a win. We expect this to be a very exciting bout, but one where Tsutsumi needs to be strongly favoured.
Takuya Kogawa (31-6-1, 14) vs Shun Kosaka (16-6, 4)
Former world title challenger Takuya Kogawa looks to continue his long career as he takes on Shun Kosaka, in what should be a very fan friendly match up. The talented Kogawa has shown some wear and tear in recent years, and his numerous wars have been catching up with him, however he still some tricks in the tank and he'll be hoping to show those here. Kosaka on the other hand has been beaten in 3 of his last 4 and desperately needs a win here if he's to remain relevant. Given the styles of the two men this should be very exciting, though neither fighter is likely to go on to big things after this bout.
Jukiya Iimura (1-0, 1) vs Tomoki Kawasaki (0-0)
A very easy to over-look bout will see novices Jukiya Iimura and Tomoki Kawasaki clash in a 6 rounder. Iimura really impressed us in his debut, back in January, and we are really excited to see him back in the ring, especially so soon after his debut and prior to turning professional he had been a very solid amateur. Kawasaki on the other hand was an impressive amateur who will be kicking off his professional career, and we're excited to see what he'll be bringing to the pros. This might not be a massive bout, but we are really excited to see how these two men will match off and it's arguably more interesting than any other bout on the March 24th show.
This past week has been a strange one, it feels like we've had a lot happen and whilst it was a busy week, it was the under-the-radar stuff that really stole the limelight. We had novice bouts in Tokyo really shining a light on how great they are, a fantastic KO by a female, something we rarely see, and it was just a genuinely low key but entertaining week. With that in mind lets find out where out weekly awards are heading!
Fighter of the Week
The newly crowned Japanese Minimumweight champion Masataka Taniguchi has had a few rough years in the sport. He turned professional along with Hiroto Taniguchi and was expected to pretty much lead the Watanabe gym with Kyoguchi. Since then he has come up short in a number of high profile bouts, and his most notable win was a low key WBO Asia Pacific title win in Thailand. He was 0-3 in title fights in Japan and he needed something big this week. Thankfully he got what he needed, dropping Hizuki Saso in the opening round and winning every minute of the fight after that until forcing a late stoppage. Fantastic week for a man who might, now, kick on and have the career we expected him to have.
Performance of the Week
We head over to Thailand for our performance of the week, which was scored by Thai youngster Phongsaphon Panyakum, who broke down the tough nosed Kompayak Porpramook on Saturday's WP Boxing event. The performance wasn't flawless from Phongsaphon but it was exactly what he needed, breaking down the smaller man and neutralising Kompayak's pressure. His his credit the veteran tried, as he always does, but met a stronger, younger, hungry man who just has too much in every area. This was the performance that suggested Phongsaphon has star potential, and fingers crossed we see him able to get a notable international opponent in 2021.
Fight of the Week
Tomoya Tanaka (0-2) vs Kenshiro Ishimori (1-0)
In a week that big name fighters stole attention in the US and UK it was a hidden gem on a Japanese card that left us feeling fuzzy and warm inside and with good cause. There really wasn't another bout that we saw that matched the drama and excitement of the scheduled 4 rounder between Tomoya Tanaka and Kenshiro Ishimori. From the moment this started it was clear both men were confident they could pick up a win and they fought with that belief. The opening round saw them trading jabs and straights with a right hand from Tanaka dropping Ishimori. The tide was turned in round 2 and Ishimori dropped Tanaka. Yes these were novices, but man this was great! We often rave about novice bouts on social media and it's because of bouts like this!
Round of the Week
Takumi Hashimoto Vs Soshi Goto (Rd3)
We're going to speak about Takumi Hashimoto in a bit more detail later on, but we need to give him credit here for the third round of his bout with Soshi Goto, which was 3 minutes of thrilling action. After taking the first two rounds Hashimoto looked to finish off Goto who realised the tide was well and truly against him. During round 3 he stood his ground more, partly a result of all the body shots he had taken, and it made for a great round of Hashimoto pressing forward like a baby terminator and Goto trying to create space and get his respect. This wasn't a hugely dramatic round, but it was a thoroughly entertaining one with both men needing to take some solid leather. A real joy to watch.
KO of the Week
Etsuko Tada TKO9 Ayaka Miyao
We mentioned a women's KO in the opening paragraph and it really was the standout finish of the week. It was scored by veteran Etsuko Tada who landed a short, counter, straight left hand that dropped Miyao face first. It was genuinely one of the best female KO's we've seen in terms of both quality of finish and quality of opponent. This was perfect and a great ending to their 2 fight series, which had seen the women fight to a draw in February. If you missed this one it's worth hunting down on Boxing Raise, a true beauty!
Prospect of the Week
Sometimes the key to winning Prospect of the Week is to score the highest profile win by a prospect, other times however it's about the fighter who has left us most excited about them, and with that in mind we need to have Takumi Hashimoto as this week's prospect. The debutant was in an all novice bout, against Soshi Goto, and despite being in such a low profile bout Hashimoto made his TV time count. He was all action from the off, pressing forward with hunger and a high octane pressure style. Within a round he had caught the eye and then he kept it up for 4 rounds. He was giving up size, height, reach and physical maturity here, but really impressed. Make a note of his name going forward
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.
In recent months it feels like we've spent a lot of time getting to talk about Thai prospects and hopefuls, and it really does feel like boxing in Thailand has started to turn a corner. Out with the mismatches against Indonesian and Filipino fighters and in with the bouts between between local hopefuls and local veterans, and contenders. The change has made such a huge impact on how much we've enjoyed the Thai boxing scene this year, even with everything else going on in the world. We went from scarcely caring about a typical fight in Thailand to really enjoying almost every show.
For that we need to thank Nakorluang, TL Promotions and Tantelecom who have put together some really interesting match ups and cards, and have given their young prospects a chance to shine. We get another opportunity to see a youngster shine on December 5th, when Phongsaphon Panyakum (10-1, 5) takes on former world title challenger Sarawut Thawornkham, aka Dennapa Kiatniwat.
With that in mind we've decided to focus another "Introducing" on a Thai prospect, as we take a look at 20 year old prospect Phongsaphon Panyakum. He's probably not someone fans are too familiar with at the moment, even those that follow the Thai scene, but he's got a very bright future ahead of him, and he's someone we are really looking forward to seeing develop into a future contender, if not champion.
Interestingly it's hard to be sure when Phongsaphon actually made his debut. We suspect, and believe, it was when he was 17 and travelled over to Japan to face Kai Ishizawa, however it appears that he may have fought before than as on screen graphic listed him as being 7-2 (3). Of course that could be a mistake in it's self. Whatever his record going into that bout he didn't look against Ishizawa, and looked to be cowering after being caught in the opening seconds, after being caught by a solid right hand by the then debuting Ishizawa. He looked completely clueless at times, and Ishizawa didn't let him settle at all. This was an impressive beating by the destructive little Japanese fighter who stooped Phongsaphon in round 2.
For his performance in Japan Phongsaphon was put on the "invitation prohibited boxers list" due to "insufficient ability".
More than a year later Phongsaphon returned to the ring and picked up his first recorded win, taking a decision over domestic foe Phormsan Chanla in the opening round of a small tournament held by WP Boxing. Just 2 months after that win Phongsaphon took a genuinely notable win over the very talented Thananchai Charunphak, who we currently regard as one of the most promising prospects in Thailand, to progress to the tournament final. Against Thananchai we saw Phongsaphon pressure and press Thananchai, showing great energy, a real aggressive streak and narrowly defeat his fellow youngster in a genuinely fantastic 4 rounder.
Looking back over things this was really the win that made it clear that Phongsaphon was no longer the youngster who was caught in the headlights against Ishizawa. Instead he was a capable young fighter, and someone who was maturing and developing.
Following that win over Thananchai we saw Phongsaphon take on Thodsawat Srisawat in the tournament final in October 2018. This was where Phongsaphon scorred his first stoppage, taking out the aggressive Thodsawat in round 3 of a fun little shoot out.
Having won the WP Boxing tournament Phongsaphon then scored a low key win in March 2019, away from the Workpoint Studio, before returning to his boxing him in June 2019, picking up a 6 round decision over Frengky Rohi. That was then followed by a very notable decision win over former world title challenger Samartlek Kokietgym, in what was Phongsaphon's first genuinely notable win. Just 6 months later he added another noteworthy win as he beat Pigmy Kokietgym, also a former world title challenger.
Sadly Phongsaphon's momentum died at the start of 2020, and we don't think we need to explain why. As a result he didn't fight in 2020 until July, when he stopped Sophon Klachun in 4 rounds, then added a win over Arthit Kaewbantid in September, as he began to get the juices flowing again.
Phongsaphon's next bout, his final bout of 2020, will see him take on Sarawut Thawornkham, aka Dennapa Kiatniwat, and a win there would be his third over a former world title challenger in just 16 months.
In the ring Phongsaphon looks so much different to the guy who debuted in 2017. He no longer looks like a little, scrawny kid. He looks tough, he looks big, he looks strong and aggressive. He has taken that loss to heart and has developed his skills. He's still not the most polished fighter, but he knows how to protect himself, he's aggressive throws shots with bad intent, and comes forward. He makes for fun fights, and he looks like a genuinely strong and promising pressure fighter. Defensively he's still quite open, and easy to hit, but he takes a shot well, and makes fighters pay when they catch him.
He almost certainly isn't the next Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, but he has got the tools and desire to certainly be a contender. Also at just 20 years old he is nowhere near to the complete article, but someone who should be on your radar!
For those that haven't seen Phongsaphon Panyakum before we've included his most recent bout below.
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