After missing much of this year in regards to Weekly Awards we now return to this series as we celebrate the best of the last week! If we're being honest it's been a good week, and we really have had a bit of everything in a week that has been really interesting, without having anything massive happen in the world of Asian boxing.
Fighter of the Week
One thing we like to see is a fighter answering new questions, proving something about themselves and showing there is more to them than we had previously assumed. One fighter who did that this week was our Fighter of the Week Shuichiro Yoshino. The talented triple crown winner defended his three titles with a polished, mature and effective performance against Valentine Hosokawa. For the first time in years Yoshino was up against a man he couldn't hurt, and instead of getting stuck in a war he boxed, he thought about what he was doing and showed a real maturity to his boxing. Not only that but he also went 12 rounds for the first time, getting really valuable in ring experience. This was as a good a learning experience as Yoshino could have wanted and it was exactly what he needed.
Performance of the Week
We had a lot of short, impressive performances in Japan this week, including that of Jin Sasaki and Aito Abe though we don't think any were quite as impressive a the 19 second blow out win for Yasutaka Fujita, against Kensuke Nakamura. Coming in to this we had actually about how Fujia would look, given his last outing saw him lose in the 2019 All Japan Rookie of the Year final against Kodai Honda. We needn't have feared as he became only the third man to stop Nakamura, and did it with what was essentially the first meaningful punch of the bout. The finish came from a cracking left hook that dropped Nakamura who got to his feet and stumbled around. This is how you bounce back from your first loss and against a usually durable domestic foe.
Fight of the Week
Shoki Sakai vs Hironori Shigeta
There was bigger fights, and there fights with more drama, but there was few fights that had us as excited as the 8 round brawl between Shoki Sakai and Hironori Shigeta, who gave us an exhibition in inside fighting . Sakai, a veteran of over 35 fights, was making his Japanese debut and had to prove as he took on Shigeta, a former Rookie of the Year winner. The mentalities of the two men proved vital to the action as both men showed a willingness to exchange up close and give us some great intense action. The bout was pretty competitive, though it was very much a "clear but competitive" win for Sakai, and a real fun one. It won't be in the running for Fight of the Year, but is well worthy of a watch if, or when, you get the chance.
Round of the Week
Ryugo Ushijima vs Ryukyu Oho (RD1)
We had some great rounds across the shows in Asia, with several rounds of the Shoki Sakai Vs Hironori Shigesta fight being sensational, but the best round, for us, was the action packed and dramatic opening round of Ryugo Ushijima's bout with Ryukyu Oho. The round saw both men being dropped and some wild exchanges. From the off Oho wanted to press and Ushijima was dragged into a fire fight that saw both men taking some solid punishment. If you missed this one it's well worthy of a watch, and it a fantastic example of what happens when match making goes right! The bout did peak early, sadly, but that peak was always going to be hard to match.
KO of the Week
Aito Abe KO1 Kentaro Omori
Not for the first time recently we managed to get a sensational KO on an relatively obscure show as 19 year old Aito Abe crushed Kentaro Omori in just 17 seconds of their Rookie of the Year bout. Abe came out like a man with a point to prove and Omori with stood the assault for a few seconds, before a huge right hand on the temple ended the show. This was short, this was sharp and it was brutal. For those with boxing raise this is well and truly worth a watch and Abe certainly appears to be someone we can expect a lot more KO's from as time goes on.
Prospect of the Week
We saw a lot of prospects in action this past week, but for us the one that impressed the most was Jin Sasaki, who showed exactly why those in Japan are so excited about him and his potential. He came out looking like a star in the making, blitzed Shun Akaiwa in 45 seconds, and made people sit up and take note. We knew he was good, he had impressed us earlier in his career, but we didn't know he was this good. Aged just 19 he is certainly one to keep an eye on for the future, and showed some incredible power, speed and aggression here.
Upset of the Week
Pungluang Sor Singyu KO7 Campee Phayom
In one of the final bouts of the week we saw former 2-time WBO Bantamweight champion Pungluang Sor Singyu score only his second win in 4 years! The veteran did it by stopping Campee Phayom, and claimed the WBA Asia Super Featherweight title as his reward. The bout was a pretty competitive one at times, though the experience and toughness of Pungluang began to show through as we moved into the middle rounds and he began to grind down the 22 year year old fringe contender. The pressure of Pungluang broke through in round 7 when he took out Campee in style and scored the shock win. Whilst looking on paper this may not be a massive shock the fact Pungluang was 1-5 in his previous 6 and was fighting well above his best weight, makes this a genuine surprise result. As well as being a surprise it's a huge set back for Campee
It's fair to say that the bouts we expected to see taking places in September have shifted and swapped around a lot since the start of August. We had Misako announce a Diamond Glove card for the first week of the month, we saw Teiken postpone their Dynamic glove card for the first Saturday of the month and Fanlong Meng being forced out of his scheduled world title bout due to visa issues. With that said take a look at what will be coming in the first part of September!
Shuichiro Yoshino (12-0, 10) vs Valentine Hosokawa (25-7-3, 12)
The first major bout of the month for Asian boxing sees the Korakuen Hall place host to a triple title bout, as Lightweight triple crown winner Shuichiro Yoshino defends his Japanese, OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific titles against exciting veteran Valentine Hosokawa. We expected this to be a genuine test for Yoshino, who's looked good, but never been up against someone quite like Hosokawa. This should be a gut check of what Yoshino has in the tank, and we genuinely looking forward to this one.
Bang Phun, Thailand
Chainoi Worawut (11-0-1, 10) vs Joel Kwong (5-9, 5)
At the Work Point Studio we'll see unbeaten Super Bantamweight hopeful Chainoi Worawut look to continue his unbeaten run, and his rise to a world title fight, as he defends his WBC Asian Boxing Council title against Thai based Filipino Joel Kwong. On paper this is a huge mismatch, though Kwong will be there to win, and has won his last 4, all by stoppage. See an easy win for the Thai, but hopefully Kwong does come out firing.
Phongsaphon Panyakum (9-1, 4) vs Arthit Kaewbantid (3-0, 2)
The once beaten Phongsaphon Panyakum will be looking to continue his winning run, which sits at 9 straight, as he takes on Arthit Kaewbantid. The 20 year old Phongsaphon is starting to look like a very good prospect and has really grown since being stopped on debut, in 2017 by Kai Ishizawa. He'll be the big favourite here and will know that his team will try to get him a regional title fight soon, if he wins. Arthit on the other hand is a big of an unknown, and this is a clear step up in class for the him.
Blue Arena, Thailand
Campee Phayom (20-4-2, 12) Vs Pungluang Sor Singyu (53-8, 35)
In a really interestin looking all-Thai bout we'll see WBA Asia Super Featherweight champion Campee Phayom defending his belt against former WBO Bantamweight champion Pungluang Sor Singyu. We suspect the younger, fresher, naturally bigger Campee will come out on top here, and if he does it would certainly be his biggest win to date. Although not a natural 130lb fighter Pungluang has shown enough in his recent bouts, in and around the weight, to suggest he could be a handful. To us this is much more interesting than we first imagined when we saw the two men being matched up.
Nattapong Jankaew (5-0, 3) vs Samartlek Kokietgym (34-12-1, 12)
In another interesting all Thai bout former amateur stand out Nattapong Jankaew will be seeking his biggest win to date as he takes on former world title challenger Samartlek Kokitgym, aka Wittawas Basapean. We've been really impressed by Nattapong, who has shown some exceptional skills for someone so early in their professional journey, and this is a logical step forward for him in a bout that should be a real chance for him to shine. Samartlek might be on the slide, but he should have enough about him to ask questions of Nattapong, but they should all be answered with ease by the youngster.
Kazuki Nakajima (8-0-1, 7) vs Kenta Nomura (7-3, 3)
Hard hitting Japanese hopeful Kazuki Nakajima looks to build on his unbeaten run as he dips his toes at Super Bantamweight to take on Kenta Nomura. On paper this looks like a really good bout, but we don't see the hard hitting Nakajima struggling to get past Nomura, who has been stopped before. Despite seeing this as an easy win for Nakajima his bouts are typically worth watching, with his power and aggression typically making things exciting, and short. This could be a very fun mismatch.
Katsuya Yasuda (6-0, 4) Vs Omrri Bolivar (8-3, 3)
The talented Katsuya Yasuda looks to kick off his 2020 with a bout against Japanese based Venezuelan Omrri Bolivar. Yasuda has shown a lot to like, but has had a bit of a stop-start career and will be looking to kick on, especially after the time he's lost this year. Bolivar is a decent enough fighter to ask questions of someone like Yasuda, but in reality it's hard to see Bolivar scoring the upset over the Japanese national. Saying that, this should be competitive in spots and Yasuda won't have things all his own way.
Katsuki Mori (6-0, 1) vs Yuki Uchida (7-7, 1)
A third Japanese prospect to make a note off for September 16th is 2019 Rookie of the Year winner Katsuki Mori, who looked fantastic last year. The talented 20 year old is wise beyond his years, an excellent boxer with a brilliant boxing brain. He'll fighting for the first time since his Rookie triumph as he dips his toes at Light Flyweight and takes on Yuki Uchida. We suspect this will be little more than a show case for Mori who's got a very high ceiling and should be on the watch for all fans of the lower weights. This is kid is special and will be looking to show that against an experienced and naturally bigger foe here.
The action involving Asian fighters really doesn't stop for breath in December, the middle part of the month is packed with some great fights, promising rising stars, title bouts, and everything we could have wished for as an early Christmas present!
Hironori Mishiro (8-0-1, 3) vs Yoshimitsu Kimura (12-1, 7) - Tokyo, Japan
Unbeaten Super Featherweight hopeful Hironori Mishiro looks to extend his reign as the OPBF Super Featherweight champion as he defends his title against the once beaten Yoshimitsu Kimura in an interesting looking bout. On paper the champion will be favoured, with his strong amateur background and early professional success, however Kimura will not be in the ring to lose and this could end up be a genuine thriller between two young men who are both expected to make their mark on the sport in the coming years.
Yudai Shigeoka (1-0, 1) Vs Lito Dante (16-10-4, 8)-Tokyo, Japan
Just weeks after making his professional debut Japanese prospect Yudai Shigeoka takes a huge step up in class to battle against OPBF Minimumweight champion Lito Dante. This is a monstrous step up in class for Shigeoka but a win here will instantly put him in the mix for a title fight, whilst Dante gets a second success bout against a touted and unbeaten Japanese fighter. With this bout being over 6 rounds Shigeoka's team have taken a calculated risk, but Dante will be there looking for the scalp of the very talented youngster.
Tsuyoshi Sato (9-1-1, 5) vs Masashi Tada (13-6-3, 8) - Tokyo, Japan
Although most the bouts on this list are title bouts, or something of some notable standing in the boxing world we felt the need to talk about this interesting little bout between Tsuyoshi Sato, who has smashed his way into the Japanese rankings, and 2-time Japanese title challenger Masashi Tada. This isn't an eliminator or anything like that, but Sato has quickly become one of the must watch youngsters in Japan and his future is going to be so much fun to follow. Whilst this bout might not be an easy one to see it's one worth having in the back of your mind, and we really do suggest that fans give Sato a follow, win or lose he's going to be great to watch in the coming years.
Hiroaki Teshigawara (20-2-2, 13) vs Shohei Kawashima (18-3-2, 4) - Tokyo, Japan
The in form Hiroaki Teshigawara looks to continue his impressive run of form as he defends the OPBF Super Bantamweight title against fellow Japanese fighter Shohei Kawashima. The talented Teshigawara has been edging towards a world title fight for a while now, and wins over the likes of Teiru Kinoshita and Shohei Omori have shown what he can do. The highly skilled Kawashima is no push over, but we don't see him having the physical tools to deal with the powerful and exciting Teshigawara, who may well be in the world title mix next year.
Ryo Sagawa (8-1, 4) vs Ryo Hino (13-1-2, 8) - Tokyo, Japan
Talented Japanese Featherweight champion Ryo Sagawa looks for his first defense as he takes on mandatory challenger Ryo Hino in a great match up, at leats on paper. Sagawa has been in sensational form since an early career stoppage loss, and wins over the likes of Ryo Matsumoto, Al Toyogon and Reiya Abe really have shown that he has a very, very high ceiling. Hino on the other hand has failed to build on a 2017 win over Sho Nakazawa and has seemingly got this shot due to the mess of a good division, rather earning it on merit. Still this should be a very good first defense for Sagawa.
Haruki Ishikawa (8-1, 6) vs Toshiya Ishii (2-0, 1) - Tokyo, Japan
A third title fight on the same card in Tokyo will see a new Japanese Youth Bantamweight champion being crowned, as the heavy handed Haruki Ishikawa takes on professional novice Toshiya Ishii. Both of these youngsters took part in a 4 man tournament to earn their shot at the the title, and both impressed. Albeit in very different ways. Ishii beat Fumiya Fuse, and looked like a really talented young boxer whilst Ishikawa battered Atsushi Takada into submission. This boxer Vs puncher and should be a very compelling contest.
Tenkai Tsunami (26-12-1, 15) vs Jessebelle Pagaduan (12-1-1, 5) - WBO Female Light Flyweight
The only world title fight during this stretch of the month is a female world title fight, though given the quality of regional title bouts we don't think the lack of world titles is a major issue. The bout will see WBO female Light Flyweight champion Tenkai Tsunami make her second defense as she battles aggressive Filipino Jessebelle Pagaduan, who is hoping it's third time lucky. This isn't a huge profile bout, but we can't stop thinking that it'll be an action packed and hotly competitive one.
Kyohei Tonomoto (9-2, 4) vs Ryotaro Motohashi (9-1, 2) -Osaka, Japan
In his first defense of the Japanese Youth Featherweight title Kyohei Tonomoto will take on the once beaten Ryotaro Motohashi in a very evenly matched bout on paper. Of the two men it's the champion who has impressed more, and he was the runner up in the All Japan Rookie of the Year way back in 2014, though Motohashi will be hungry for his first title and looking to build on a 7 fight winning run. This isn't the most appealing bout we'll see before the end of the year, but it is certainly an interesting match up all the same and the winner will be ear marked for more title glory down the line.
Kotatsu Takehara (15-12-3, 8) Vs Ryu Ueda (8-1-1, 5) II - Kariya, Japan
In a bit of an oddity we'll see a new Japanese Heavyweight champion crowned, as Kotatsu Takehara takes on Ryu Ueda, in a second bout between the two men. Takehara, a real veteran at the age of 41, stopped Ueda in their previous meeting, way back in 2016, but since then has aged whilst Ueda is now, technically, in his peak years. This is an interesting match up, but the reality is that the Japanese Heavyweight title will remain a bit of a joke, no matter who wins.
Rikito Shiba (4-0, 2) Vs Masamichi Yabuki (9-3, 9) - Kariya, Japan
In a really, really, good match up we'll see talented and unbeaten Rikito Shiba take on the hard hitting Masamichi Yabuki in a Japanese Light Flyweight title eliminator. Shiba has impressed us ever since turning professional and he looks like a genuine star of the future, but this is a real test of the youngsters ability to take a shot. Of course this isn't all about Shiba and Yabuki has been knocking on the door of a title fight for some time now, and has bounced back well from a loss to Daniel Matellon last year.
Tomomi Takano (11-5, 8) Vs Sachiko Kondo (2-4-2) - Kariya, Japan
In a pretty low level, yet very notable bout, we'll see Tomomi Takano return to a Japanese ring for the first time in over 2 years. The former world title challenger, who fellow out with her former gym and began fighting in Mexico, is certainly not looking for a test as she restarts in Japan against Sachiko Kondo, but in reality it's just great to see the enigmatic model-come-boxer back in action. Given how instantly marketable Takano is, we need to suspect their are big plans for her, and a win here will move those plans along to the next step.
Genesis Servania (33-2, 16) Vs Pungluang Sor Singyu (53-7, 35) - Ishikawa, Japan
Sometimes it's better late than never, and in reality we would have loved a clash between Genesis Servania and Pungluang Sor Singyu when both fighters were in their primes. Now though it feels like both are well past their best. Yes they are both very capable fighters but both have slipped. Regardless of being on the downslide a bout between the two just fills us with a little bit of Joy, as we suspect this could be one the gems of the month. Both fighters have similar styles, both like to have a fight, and both are rather flat footed. We suspect this is going to end up a very fun fight.
Jung Kyoung Lee (7-3-1, 3) Vs Saddam Kietyongyuth (28-6, 22) - Seoul, South Korea
To end this section out attention turns to South Korea as former OPBF Light Middlweight champion Jung Kyoung Lee takes once touted Thai fighter Saddam Kietyongyuth, in a bout for a regional WBO title. Coming into this Lee will be looking to rebuild following his title loss to Akinori Watanabe earlier in the year. Although once regarded highly Saddam host lost 4 of his last 6, and seems very unlikely he'll make anything notable of his career.
After a relatively quiet month of June we see things really pick up in July, with what looks to be a truly hectic schedule. We though May was busy but even the craziness of May could end up playing second fiddle to June which features everything we could ever ask for.
The final 10 or so days of April are set to be packed with a fantastic variety of bouts, from national title fights, to world title fights. We see one of the most anticipated bouts of 2019, a female prodigy going for a world title in her 4th bout and the return of the WBSS. This is how you end a month!
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