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 19 - More Fighters Head West
Over the last few years we have seen the profile of some Eastern fighters getting to the point where fans in the West have began to follow more and more Asian fighters. The obvious example is, of course, Naoya Inoue but others like Kenshiro Teraji and Kosei Tanaka have also managed to organically create a buzz from their fights.
This has also seen more and more Western promoters signing up fighters from the East. Of course there's always been one off cases, such as Top Rank signing Manny Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire, Nobuhiro Ishida signing with Saul Alvarez's promotional company and Yoshihiro Kamegai signing with Golden Boy Promotions, but the last couple of years we have seen a real boom in it.
At the moment Top Rank promote 5 Japanese fighters, including Inoue, Ryota Murata and Masayuki Ito. More are likely to follow, with Top Rank wanting to build their global audience, and we suspect another big Japanese signature will be inked to Top Rank fairly soon. A number of Uzbek and Kazakh fighters are promoted, or more often co-promoted, by Western promoters like Eddie Hearn, Golden Boy Promotions and Bob Arum. Golden Boy also have also landed on their feet with Chinese sensation Can Xu, whilst Top Rank co-promote Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.
We have also seen MTK Kazakhstan emerge and signing up a lot of central Asian talent, that has potential but is yet to really make it's mark on the global scene, unfortunately.
With out it ever becoming a big thing we have slowly seen promotional outfits signing up a lot of top Asian fighters, prospects and amateur stars. This is likely to continue, especially in the wake of the 2020 Olympics where fighters will be looking to sign the best deal they can after the Tokyo games.
For some fighters fighting in Las Vegas, or being promoted by one of the big guys of the promotional world is absolutely key. It's recognition of their ability, their marketing potential and their earning capacity. For others however it can be seen as a mistake.
For every Asian fighter who has signed with an Western promoter and built their profile there is a case of someone being under-promoted and under-recognised. For every big success there is a Ivan Dychko, who has really failed to make any sort of mark on the professional ranks, or a Bakhodir Jalolov, who has fought more often as an amateur than a professional.
There are also those more recent signings that have questions lingering over them. For example Wanheng Menayothin signing with Golden Boy Promotions, in what looks like a very odd choice all around.
It's clear that, under the right promotional vehicle, a fighters profile can become huge around the globe. The sad thing however is that a promoter who can help make 1 fighter a global star, might not be able to replicate it with another.
What Top Rank did with Manny Pacquiao, turning him into one of the biggest names in the sport, depended on more than just Top Rank and their promotional stance and match making. It depended on Pacquiao too and his freakish ability. Jerwin Ancajas, another Filipino that has signed with Top Rank, is world class but will never be the next Pacquiao, and had Top Rank really pushed that narrative it would have bitten the promoter and the fighter in the backside.
Our prediction is that western promoters continue a bit of a talent stripping of Asian boxing. Whilst not a bad thing per se, it certainly can do more harm than good if the promoters fail to use the talent correctly.
In just a year Srisaket Sor Rungvisai has gone from star to missing man under Matchroom US, since making his debut Daniyar Yeleussinov has failed to get a proper promotional push, with his promoter focusing more on UK talent in similar weight classes, and Jerwin Ancajas' time with Top Rank has yet to deliver him a truly big fight.
Not only are promoters often limiting the ability, profile, drawing power and competition of their Asian investments but the knock on is that they are also damaging the domestic scenes for some of these fighters. Srisaket for example would have been a real focal point, even in stay busy bouts, had he been allowed to stay active in Thailand.
It's a narrow line going forward as to which fighters will and won't benefit the most from signing with Western promoters, but we do expect to see a growing number in 2020, from right across Asia. If 2020 fails to see the fighters who do "Go West" making their mark we may well end up seeing more and more Asian fighters turning down US deals in the years that follow. Alternatively if these fighters go on to do big things with American promoters then we could end up seeing Asian fighters filling up more and more Western shows, as the battle between DAZN, ESPN and PBC continues to grow from US domination to potential a global war between the trio.
(Image courtesy of MPP Boxing)
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