For this week's "Who..." the team who set up Asianboxing.info take a look at Thailand for their question and they also take a look at the future, as the trio put for their cases for this week's question, and once again they've come up with 3 different fighters for fans to take note of.
This weeks question for the trio is:
"Who... is the best prospect in Thailand?"
Lee: "In 2020 there was a lot of Thai fighters who caught my attention, and got me excited for the future of boxing in Thailand. I'm sure some of those fighters will be mentioned by the other guys but the one I want to tip as the best is teenage fighter Sangarthit Looksaikongdin (Phoobadin Yoohanngoh).
With Sangarthit/Phoobadin I think we have the perfect mix of long term potential, given he is only 17, a weight class that gets international attention and a fighter with fantastic skills in his tool box. The fact he is so young gives him a lot of time to polish off his skills, build on foundations he already has and mature his man strength. He clearly understands the sport, he's quick and sharp, understands distance and angles and looks like one of the hottest prospects in world boxing.
I do have some reservations. His training appears to be very hard on his young, and still developing, body. I worry that maybe he is taking too much out of himself with some of his training. I also think fighting at 140 or 147 may limit his potential opponents in Asia. But I think there is too much upside to avoid."
Takahiro: "For this week, I am picking Boonrueang Phayom.
I like to see young fighters with exciting styles and power and it's hard for me to not be a big fan of a young man with a perfect 9-0 (9) record. The 21 year old Boonrueang made his debut in 2017, vanished for a while, matured away from the ring, and since returning in 2019 has been a busy boy.
His competition is admittedly not very good, a lot of Thai fighters fight not very good fighters to build experience. But he has results that are better than other fighters, like his win over Tongthep Taeyawong is quicker than the one scored by Koki Mioya and Petch CP Freshmart and we have seen him fight into the 7th round before.
I like Boonrueang Phayom a lot. He will go a long way."
Scott: "There is a lot of talent coming through in Thailand right now. Fighters like Nattapong Jankaew, Thanongsak Simsri, Thananchai Charunphak, Phongsaphon Panyakum, Nonthasith Petchnamthong, Pattawee Phansawat, Yuttapong Tongdee, Theeraphan Polsongkarm and the men mentioned by Taka and Lee. There really is so much excitement bubbling under the radar in Thailand that narrowing it down to just 1 prospect was a problem.
If someone held a gun to my head and made me pick one however I'd go with Thitisak Hoitong, a fighter who really does have me very, very excited for the future.
Aged 25 Thitisak isn't the youngest out there, and physically he's maybe only a year or two away from his prime. He is however a very talented fighter, with a strong amateur background, an insane level of confidence in the ring and a very clear natural affinity for the sport. We saw in his debut, against Samartlek, that he has the tools to do great things in professional boxing. Also he's at Flyweight, a division where Asia is rife with fighters, and where good bouts should be easy for him to get. There isn't a need for him to chase bigger names around the globe, but instead fly off to Japan and the Philippines for regional level fights and training.
To me the age issue with Thitisak is less of an issue and more of an upside. His team know they don't need to molly coddle him, and can let him loose sooner rather than later. If you're not aware of him, make a note of his name now, as he will likely be in the regional title mix by the end of the year, and potentially the world rankings by the time we enter 2022."
It's Sunday, it's the end of the week, and we get the latest chance to recognise the fighters from the past week in our awards series. If we're being honest this is the first week, in a very long time, where we seemed to have a full week of action and a lot of fighters in the running for numerous awards, and it felt much more like the "pre-covid19" days, with world title fights, great action and some stellar performances. It may not have been the biggest week, but it was a very, very solid week of action.
With that in mind lets take a look at who deserves attention from this past 7 days.
Fighter of the Week
There was only going to be one winner for the Fighter of the Week award this week and that was the newly crownd WBC Minimumweight champion Panya Pradabsri. The once beaten Thai ended the 6 year reign of Wanheng Menayothin and became the 49th male world champion from Thailand. The unheralded Pradabsri, also known as Petchmanee CP Freshmart, was the big under-dog going up against the 54-0 Wanheng but put in a solid performance, landed some solid body shots, took the early lead and looked confident through out, even when he was under pressure. He had to dig deep at times, as Wanheng turned up the pressure, but he did enough in the eyes of the judges to score a career defining, generational changing win.
Whilst some may disagree with the result, we need to remember that the "Fighter of the Week" is typically the fighter who scored the biggest win, and there was no bigger win than Panya's this week!
Performance of the Week
We've often been critical of Kazakh hopeful Daniyar Yeleussinov, who looked like it took him a lot of time to adapt to the professional ranks, and he seemed to lack the 4th and 5th gears needed to be a star. It was clear he was always very talented talented, but was also very frustrating. This week however the penny seemed to drop and the talented Olympic gold medal winner put in a performance to remember. He dropped Julius Indongo in round 1, smelled blood and went for the finish. Credit to Indongo for surviving, but that survival mentality didn't last long and in round 2 he was down again, and then stopped. A fantastic performance worthy off the praise he's been getting. Finally it appears as if Yeleussinov is really showing what he can do, and it's really exciting.
Fight of the Week
Wanheng Menayothin Vs Panya Pradabsri
We're back to the WBC Minimumweight title bout between Wanheng Menayothin and Panya Pradabsri for our fight of the week, and what a fight it was! This was brilliant, truly brilliant. We had the younger, fresher champion taking the early initiative, and doing enough to get his nose in front, and then we have the experienced champion picking up the pace and coming on strong in the second half of the bout. As the pace picked up we got some thrilling exchanges, brilliant back and forth, and sensational 2-way action. We got high level pressure, fantastic counter punching and everything else we could hope for in a brilliant 12 round bout. This was close, competitive, compelling, and the perfect show case for the Minimumweight division, in a bout that had genuine international attention. Brilliant stuff!
Takahiro Hamazaki Vs Takuya Takahashi
Round of the Week
Wanheng Menayothin Vs Panya Pradabsri (Rd 6)
We had some amazing rounds this past week, and we could easily have selected from 3 or 4 rounds from the bout between Wanheng Menayothin and Panya Pradabsri. We've settled on round 6, which was probably the best round, but there was stiff competition through the bout. This came after a very good round for the challenger and saw Wanheng show that champions class as he put his foot to the peddle and tried to beat down the challenger, in an attempt to put him back in his place. This was absolute brilliant stuff but the entire fight was fantastic, and we really were very lucky this week in terms of quality action.
Takahiro Hamazaki Vs Takuya Takahashi (Rd 3)
Ken Koibuchi v Tetsuya Kondo (Rd 3)
KO of the Week
Jin Sasaki Vs Tatsuya Miyazaki
We don't recall seeing any clean knockouts in Asia this week, but the TKO scored by Jin Sasaki against Tatsuya Miyazaki is well worthy of a mention. This was brutal and Miyazaki was defensless, over the ropes when the final shots were landed. The killer instinct shown was fantastic and the awkward position of Miyazaki, trapped and in need of saving, made it look even more brutal.
Prospect of the Week
Aged just 16 we know that Phoobadin Yoohanngoh is a youngster, in a sport of youngsters, but boy, oh boy, is he a talent. He looked sensation on Saturday morning soaking up pressure from Atchariya Wirojanasunobol early on, landing counters and moving well against an aggressive and unbeaten foe. He then turned the bout on it's head late in round 5 before taking out Atchariya in round 6. This was a massive step up for Phoobadin but he shined in exceptional fashion. This young man is someone who can go a long, long way, and we suggest writing his name down as he really does look the goods. A genuine boxing prodigy and despite being just 16 he is already 10-0 (5). A sensational performance by a very special young fighter.
After a somewhat slow burn to begin September things step up in the second part of the month with a number of notable and big fights as the month ends on a high and sends us into October with a big boost of action! As well as meaningful bouts, at world level, we also get some big prospects in action, and a brilliant domestic bout in Thailand!
Mohegan Sun Casino, USA
Tugstsogt Nyambayar (11-1, 9) vs Cobia Breedy (15-0, 5)
We get a great fight to kick off this part of the month as recent world title challenger Tugstsogt Nyambayar takes on the unbeaten Cobia Breedy, who was a relatively late replacement for Eduardo Ramirez. The talented Nyambayar, from Mongolia, will be looking to secure a second world title fight, following a loss to Gary Russell Jr earlier this year. As for Breedy this is a huge step up, but he will enter with the confidence of an unbeaten man, and know there is no expectations on his shoulders.
Rangsit International Stadium, Rangsit, Thailand
Panya Pradabsri (33-1, 21) vs Wichet Sengprakhon (11-7, 6)
World ranked Thai Panya Pradabsri looks set to drop back down to Minimumweight as he takes on the limited Wichet Sengprakhon for a regional title. Panya is one of the most talented Thai's out there, but at 29 his career appears to be on a bit of a standstill, with too many bouts like this in recent years. There is no doubting his ability, but he really should be in the world title mix, not having his third tick over bout of the year.
Josh Taylor (16-0, 12) Vs Downua Ruawaiking (16-0, 13)
In one of the biggest bouts of the year so far we'll see Scotland's Josh Taylor look to defend his IBF and WBA Light Welterweight titles against Thai challenger Downua Ruawaiking. The bout is an IBF mandatory for Taylor and will see him look to build on some great wins in recent years, including his victory in the World Boxing Super Series last year. As for Downua, also known as Apinun Khongsong, the bout is a huge step up, though he did impress last time he stepped up and stopped Akihiro Kondo.
Kobe Central Gym, Japan
Mika Iwakawa (9-5-1, 3) Vs Nanae Suzuki (10-3-1, 1)
After holding the WBO Atomweigth title for more than 2 years we finally see Mika Iwakawa make her first defense, as she takes on former Japanese female champion Nanae Suzuki. It's hard to know what the champion still has to offer, given she's closing in on 40, but we suspect she will be the favourite against a hungry Suzuki. As with all Atomweight bouts expect this to be high tempo and have a lot of leather thrown, even if neither fighter has much pop on their shots.
Shun Kubo (13-2, 9) Vs Takashi Igarashi (13-4, 5)
Former world champion Shun Kubo returns to the ring for the first time since losing in 2019 to Can Xu. There was talk of Kubo retiring following that loss, but instead he's back here looking for a confidence building win as he takes on Takashi Igarashi. On paper this looks a competitive bout, but in reality it's hard to imagine Igarashi, who last fought in 2018, having much to offer. Still it's nice to see Kubo back in the ring, and he's always been a fun and gutsy fighter to watch.
Kohei Oba (36-3-1, 14) Vs Yoshiki Minato (8-3, 3)
Former Japanese Bantamweight champion champion Kohei Oba ends a 6 year break from the ring as he takes on 2018 Rookie of the Year winner Yoshiki Minato. Oba, dubbed the "Mayweather of Nagoya" was once regarded a legitimate prospect, and late a world title contender, but then Kohei Oba looks a loss to Randy Caballero in 2014 ended his world title hopes and eye issues after that sent him into retirement. As for Minato his Rookie of the Year triumph feels like a long time ago and he lost twice in 2019, and now needs a win.
Suamlum Night Bazaar, Ratchadaphisek, Bangkok, Thailand
Phoobadin Yoohanngoh (9-0, 4) Vs Atchariya Wirojanasunobol (12-0, 5)
In a really notable, yet rather odd, all-Thai match up we'll see teenage sensation Phoobadin Yoohanngoh take on Atchariya Wirojanasunobol. The 16 year old Phoobadin really impressed last time out, winning a WBA Asia regional title and going 10 rounds for the first time in a career best win. This is however a massive step up for the youngster who is taking on an opponent who looks very live, on paper. We say on paper as we really have no idea what the once touted Atchariya has left in the tank following a very long and hard battle out of the ring. Atchariya was arrested in 2018, at the airport on the way to face Andy Hiraoka in Japan, and spent more than a year awaiting trial for drug related crimes before beign cleared earlier this year. If the ordeal has taken Atchariya's fighting spirit this could end up being a farce, but if Atchariya has a burning anger and is looking to make a statement he might have too much for the youngster here.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Ayaka Miyao (23-8-2, 6) vs Thi Thu Nhi Nguyen (4-0, 1)
We'll see a new world champion being crowned in Vietnam as we see veteran Ayaka Miyao clash with unbeaten novice Thi Thi Nhi Nguyen in a bout for the WBO Female Minimumweight title. On paper Miyao, a former WBA Atomweight champion, should be strongly favoured, but the veteran is now 37 and has shown some slow down in recent years, and isn't a natural Minimuweight. Nguyen is the much younger fighter, at 23, she's a natural Minimumweight and holds home advantage, though this is a massive step up in class for her.
Fujisan Messe, Japan
Tsubasa Murachi (4-1, 3) Vs Ryotaro Kawabata (12-3-2, 6)
The talented Tsubasa Murachi looks to bounce back from a 2019 KO loss to Froilan Saludar as he takes on domestic foe Ryotaro Kawabata. This is a decent comeback, on paper, for the once touted Murachi who has questions to answer following such a brutal KO loss. Although Kawabata is no world beater he has scored some notable results, including a draw with Rene Dacquel, and a close loss to Mark John Yap, and should prove a decent test for talent youngster.
Rentaro Kimura (1-0, 1) Vs Takafumi Iwaya (4-3)
In a mismatch we'll see brilliant Japanese prospect Rentaro Kimura look to build on his impressive debut win, over Yuya Azuma, as he takes on Takafumi Iwaya. Thuis really isn't expected to be much of a test at all for Kimura, who is one of the best best prospects in Japan, but given he is certainly one to follow this is a bout that should be on the radar of every fan. The 32 year old Iwaya was stopped on his debut but has rebuilt from some early stumbles and come in to this on the back of 3 straight wins. Even with that sort of form a competitive performance against Kimura would be a massive shock.
Koichi Aso (23-9-1, 15) Vs Shogo Yamaguchi (12-5-3, 7)
Former Japanese Light Welterweight champion Koichi Aso was never the best fighter or the biggest puncher but he was someone who has always provided value for fans, and has been in some thrilling contests. Sadly his career seems to be coming to an end, and the 34 year old is likely to hang them up sooner, rather than later. In what may be one of his final professional bouts he takes on Shogo Yamaguchi, who comes into the bout on the back of a career best win over Shuhei Tsuchiya this past February. This isn't a big bout, but we do expect it to be a fun and action packed war for as ling as it lasts.
With the sport's return to some, albeit limited, normality we thought it was time to begin doing our Monthly Awards again. The sport is certainly not going at full speed yet, but there actually was quite a lot that happened in July, with a number of upsets, a frightening KO, some brilliant action and a movement towards boxing's big return. Yes there is a lot for the sport to do going forward, but, for the first time since February, we've had more than just an odd fight here and there.
Fighter of the Month
Kenichi Horikawa (41-16-1, 14)
Aged 40 and coming in as the under-dog for his fight with Daiki Tomita the veteran really showed what he had left in the tank by not just beating Tomita, but stopping him to claim the OPBF Light Flyweight title. A 40 year at 108lbs is supposed to be retired and enjoying a post boxing career but Horikawa is still having real success years beyond his supposed prime. This wasn't necessarily the best performance of the month, but this was the most impressive in terms of context and the sort of win that really puts Horikawa on the verge of something big.
Fight of the Month
Phoobadin Yoohanngoh Vs Kulabdam Sor Jor Piekuthai
Although not the most exciting fight as such the WBA Asia Light Welterweight bout between 16 year old prodigy Phoobadin Yoohanngoh and former Muay Thai standout Kulabdam Sor Jor Piekuthai was a bout that had everything we needed. It was, technically a compelling bout on paper, it was a great match up of styles and a really competitive contest. Whilst Phoobadin won, he had to answer questions and despite the loss Kulabdam will come again, having learned more in that one bout that he would in 10 other bouts. This was two youngsters putting things on the line in a good, solid, 10 rounder. It may not have been the most action packed or dramatic, but it was a bout that had other intriguing aspects to it, that more than made up for the lack of knockdowns and back and forth exchanges.
KO of the Month
Rentaro Kimura TKO2 Yuta Azuma
When there is a lot of hype around a prospect ahead of their debut they need to shine, and Rentaro Kimura did just that, giving us a KO of the year contender. The youngster looked good, although not flawless, in the first round, and was caught a few times in round 2. That however was quickly forgotten thanks to the brutal finish he put on against Yuya Azuma. We see lots of 1-punch KO's but from Kimura was got a brutal combination to take out Azuma who had never previously been stopped. This was brutal and brilliant
Prospect of the Month
Rentaro Kimura (1-0, 1)
It's a double for Rentaro Kimura. The talented Japanese debutant looked truly fantastic at times, and looks like someone who can be fast tracked over the coming years. He looked like there was areas to improve, of course he did, but he showed so much that it's hard not to get very excited about him. He's quick, sharp, powerful, skilled and has that pure killed instinct in the ring. He's going to be a must watch fighter, and his return to the ring in September is highly anticipated as he looks to be moved very quickly in the coming years.
Other prospects worth mentioning
Upset of the Month
Sandy Messaoud TD7 Nursultan Zhangabayev
There was an incredible number of upsets this past month in Asian boxing but the most surprising of them all was the technical decision win scored by French fighter Sandy Messaoud against previously unbeaten, and world ranked, Kazakh Nursultan Zhangabayev. The Kazakh was dropped early, had no answer for Messaoud's movement and accuracy in what was a massive shocker. The fact that not only Messaoud out boxed the talented Kazakh but also got the decision was a bit of a surprise, despite the awful scorecard of Jan Teleki.
As mentioned there was a number of other upsets these included:
Kenichi Horikawa Vs Daiki Tomita
Daishi Nagata Vs Koki Inoue
Round of the Month
Satoshi Shimizu Vs Kyohei Tonomoto (RD1)
When we see Satoshi Shimizu there some really obvious things that we always see. We always see a technically crude, easy to heat power puncher. Against the wrong opponent that will cost him, as we say last year against Joe Noynay, against the right opponent however it will give us something awesome. Against Kyohei Tonomoto we got something awesome in a number of rounds. Some will suggest round 7 was the pick of the bunch, and they'd have a damn good argument, but for us the opening round was the one. Tonomoto came out aggressive, forced Shimizu back and looked the better fighter and the more aggressive man, but yet found himself on the canvas twice in a round that had action, drama, excitement, wild fighting and heart.
Shimizu Vs Tonomoto (Rd 7)
We may be heading to Christmas but we've not had to wait to December 25th for boxing Santa to deliver some great stuff to us, with this past week being another that has a brimful of amazing action, fantastic moments, and a lot of surprises. So with that said lets have a look at the latest "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly".
1-All Japan Rookie of the Year
It's not like the All Japan Rookie of the Year being amazing was any kind of surprise but even that it exceeded expectations with 2 bouts being particularly deserving of extra attention. The Light Welterweight shoot out between Kodai Honda and Yasutaka Fujita is one of those those must watch bouts, which has everything. It has drama, action, intensity, huge shots and great heart. This really is a very, very special fight Wihilst Honda Vs Fujita was the fight of the day it was given a run for it's money by the Welterweight clash featuring Yuta Ashina and Homare Yasui. If you have the chance make sure you watch both of those incredible fights before the week ends.
Filipino prospect Mike Plania took a huge step towards a world title fight as he dominated Nicaraguan foe Giovanni Gutierrez. Plania is a talented Super Bantamweight and his win this past weekend was a huge statement for the 22 year old, who is likely to be a real break out star in 2020, if he can receive the financial backing he needs to kick on.
Aged 15, yes that's a 1 and a 5 and isn't a typo, Phoobadin Yoohanngoh won "The Fighter" this past weekend in Thailand taking a 6 round victory over 22 year old Thotsaphol Thongplew. For those unaware "The Fighter" was TL Promotions answer to Rookie of the Year and matched a bunch of novice in a quick fire knockout tournament, spread over just a few weeks. Phoobadin managed to notch wins on 4 consecutive Saturdays to win the tournament. Whatever we think about fighters this young it's hard not to be impressed by the young prodigy, who is already 8-0 and has been a professional since July 2018, when he was just 14!
4-PBC's card on Saturday Night
Whether it was intentional, fluke, or something in between Saturday night's PBC card headlined by the Harrison Vs Charlo rematch has to go down as one of the most entertaining cards of the year. It had everything ranging from huge upsets, to controversial refereeing calls, fantastic knockouts, amazing action and world class fighters. We wouldn't go as far as to call it the show of the year, but it's certainly in the running and was one of the most amazing cards top to bottom. If more shows ended up like this the sport would be much, much better and fans would care about the while show, not just the main event. Well done to all involved in putting on truly brilliant show.
Tommy Fury might be a bigger celebrity in his homeland due to his appearance in Love Island, rather than his boxing career, but his opponent for this past weekend was little more than a joke, and should never be allowed to box in the UK again given his hapless performance here. Przemyslaw Binienda, really was awfully and in deserves to go into the boxing bin for his performance which was an embarrassment to the sport and the show. Whoever decided to put this on in the chief support bout should also be given some tough questions to answer. We understand Fury is a "cross over star" but the arena failed to react to his comments and it was clear that even his "fans" were so nonchalant about the win that it likely did more harm than good for his career.
Whilst there have been rumours about Jhack Tepora not liking training or taking the sport seriously, as soon when he missed weight for a bout not too long ago, few would have expected him to lose his unbeaten record in the way he did. The touted and talented Filipino was blitzed inside a round by the out of form Oscar Escandon, and stopped in the opening round by a body shot. Whilst a loss isn't the end of the world there does seem to be a lot more going on behind the scenes for Tepora, and this all needs to be sorted out if he's to reach his potential. He can bounce back from a loss, but given the rumours it may not be just a simple case of just rebuilding and instead it sounds like he will need to make notable changes in terms of his lifestyle as well.
We've only got 2 ugly's this week but my my, they are repulsive. The first of those was referee Ray Corona, who should be forced to explain his actions during the Carlos Balderas v Rene Tellez Giron bout. The referee should have stopped the bout after the first knockdown, when Balderas clearly wasn't fit to resume after being dropped, hard in round 3. That was the first of several botched calls from the official who struggled to hide his favouritism through the contest. Allowing Balderas to continue in the state he was in could have left him taking shots that he was unable to defend against, and could have turned out horrific for his career, and longer term health. The fact that Corona stopped the bout the way he did in round 6, in a very similar situation, seemed to suggest Corona knew he had bottled the earlier call, but that didn't excuse what was a disgusting performance from the official.
2-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr
Oh man where do we start on Julio Cesar Chavez Jr and his week? He should have been banned, for refusing a drugs test, ahead of his bout with Danny Jacobs but an injunction saw the ban essentially being bypassed. The bout should have been called off when Chavez came in 5lbs over weight. It should have seen the promoter and Jacobs call out Chavez for his unprofessional actions and cancel the bout, taking Chavez to the cleaners for breaching his contractual obligations. But instead the bout went ahead and Chavez, who had shown no respect to the sport in the build up to the fight quit, citing a hand injury. The crowd finally turned on the Mexican, and his father's expression said it all. Really this should be it for Chavez's career. He doesn't need the sport, and the sport sure doesn't need him. Instead however it sounds like Chavez is already pencilling in his next bout, for March. Any promoter who uses him going forward is to blame for the shit show that he's involved in, and they are as much to blame for using someone they know they can't trust, as he is for his actions.
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