It's fair to say action picked up, notably, in October but that's nothing compared to what we are set to get through November, as boxing races towards the end of the year with a brilliant, packed and stacked month. The next few weeks are among the best we've had in a long time with lots of notable names and interesting bouts, and thankfully we don't need to wait long between some of these exciting match ups!
Aioi Hall, Kariya, Aichi, Japan
Masanori Rikiishi (8-1, 4) vs Soreike Taichi (7-3, 5)
The first bout of real note in November takes place on November 1st, with Japanese Lightweight hopeful Masanori Rikiishi looking to continue his strong run of form. The talented fighter from the Midori Gym is looking for his 7th straight win following a 2018 loss to Kosuke Saka, and a win here would likely take him to within touching distance of a Japanese title fight. Taichi on the other hand will be there looking to get his career back on track following a loss in February to Kazuma Sanpei. Sadly for Taichi he has been stopped in 2 of his 4 losses to naturally smaller men than Rikiishi, and we see him failing to complete the schedule here too.
Intex Osaka, Osaka, Osaka, Japan
Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) vs Thanongsak Simsri (14-0, 12)
The first major bout of the month will see WBA Light Flyweight "Super" champion Hiroto Kyoguchi make his next defense as he takes on unbeaten Thai challenger Thanongsak Simsri. The talented Kyoguchi hasn't looked as good in recent bouts as he did when he won the title at the end of 2018, but will be regarded as the very clear favourite here as he takes on a relatively unknown contender. Although unknown outside of Asia Simsri has looked impressive and is a heavy handed youngster from the same region as Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. We do see Simsri as a future champion, but feel this may be too much too soon for him.
Jinki Maeda (5-0, 3) vs Kaito Okubo (5-1, 2)
Also on November 3rd is brilliant prospect Jinki Maeda, who won Rookie of the Year in 2020. The talented, sharp punching and fast rising Maeda isn't being matched easily here as he takes on the once beaten Kaito Okubo, who has notched up two wins since his sole defeat in 2019 and will tower over Maeda in the ring. We expect to see Maeda win, but we are expecting him to answer some questions on route to victory. The perfect type of match up for the unbeaten 24 year old
Korakuen Hall, Japan
Junto Nakatani (20-0, 15) Vs Giemel Magramo (24-1, 20)
After several delays it now seems we will finally see a new WBO Flyweight champion being crowned this month as we finally get the long awaited showdown between Junto Nakatani and Giemel Magramo. The title has been vacant since Kosei Tanaka vacated it earlier in the year, and we had hoped to see Nakatani and Magramo battle in the Spring, and then the summer. Despite the, repeated, delays this is still one of the most interesting Flyweight bouts on the docket and is a real 50/50 bout. Both men can box, both have solid power, and both are looking for a top tier divisional win. This is the sort of bout we, as fans, should all be behind.
Korakuen Hall, Japan (G+)
Kazuto Takesako (11-0-1, 11) Vs Riku Kunimoto (4-0, 2)
In a delayed Champion Carnival bout we'll see Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako taking on mandatory challenger Riku Kunimoto. As with the Nakatani Vs Magramo bout this has been delayed numerous times, due to the on going situation and then training issues affecting Kunimoto. On paper this is a massive step up for Kunimoto, who has never faced anyone even close to Takesako's ability or power. Despite the step up this is not a foregone conclusion, and will instead be an interesting way for both men to answer a lot of questions about their ability.
Takeshi Inoue (16-1-1, 10) Vs Nath Nwachukwu (6-0-2, 3)
WBO Asia Pacific Light Middleweight champion Takeshi Inoue is in action here, but not a title defense, as he takes on Japanese ranked Middleweight Nath Nwachukwu. On paper this really does just look like a stay busy bout for Inoue, who's best known for 2019 fight with Jaime Munguia, but in fairness Nwachukwu will be coming to win, and won't be wanting to give up his unbeaten record. Inoue's the clear favourite, but we do expect him being forced to work for a win here.
Takuma Takahashi (5-0, 5) Vs Kodai Kiyota (9-6-2, 9)
The exciting, flawed, heavy handed, crude, Takuma Takahashi looks to put controversy behind him and build on his highly entertaining bout with Leonardo Doronio from back in January. In that bout Takahashi was in all sorts of trouble, and seemed lucky that Biney Martin let him get away with some very questionable tactics. Here he's up against domestic foe Kodai Kiyota in what should be a very easy win for the unbeaten man. A real confidence builder more than anything else.
RCC Boxing Academy, Ekaterinburg, Russia
Ravshanbek Umurzakov (10-1, 7) vs Zoravor Petrosian (9-0, 4)
Back on to the subject of delayed fights here as we finally see Uzbek fighter Ravshanbek Umurzakov take on Ukrainian youngster Zoravor Petrosian. This bout was originally scheduled to take place in mid-September but fell through at the 11th hour when Umurzakov was unable to get into Russia. Despite the bout falling through a few weeks ago Petrosian fought anyway, looked really good, and we're now set to see them get in the ring together. This could be the hidden for the weekend.
Workpoint Studio, Bang Phun, Thailand
Thananchai Charunphak (10-1, 8) Vs Pigmy Kokietgym (61-13-2, 25)
Once beaten Thai prospect Thananchai Charunphak is among the most promising fighters in Thailand, and this week we get to see him step up again for what is essentially his third bout against a notable foe. The once beaten 20 year old, who already holds wins over Samartlek Kokietgym and Kompayak Porpramook, is tipped very highly.In the opponent corner will be veteran Pigmy Kokietygym, a former world title challenger who has seen better days, but should still provide something of a test for the youngster.
Pungluang Sor Singyu (54-8, 36) Vs Amnat Ruenroeng (20-4, 6)
In a brilliant match up between veterans we'll see former WBO Bantamweight champion Pungluang Sor Singyu take on former IBF Flyweight champion Amnat Ruenroeng. At his best Pungluang was a strong, powerful aggressive fighter, who came forward and let his hands go. As he's aged he's slowed down, but is still having success and recently upset Campee Phayom. Amnat however has always been a tricky, awkward, fast, skilled, nightmare who knows the dark arts and how to get away with things. We're not expecting this to be the most action packed bout, but it is a genuinely intriguing one, and one of the most interesting non-title boutswe've seen in Thailand in years.
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Hollywood, Florida, USA
Zhilei Zhang (21-0, 16) vs Devin Vargas (22-6, 9)
Chinese Heavyweight contender Zhilei Zhang looks to continue his unbeaten record as he takes on Devin Vargas in Florida. The Chinese giant, who stands at 6'7", is a real talent, a quick handed, well schooled, southpaw with surprising speed and power. Sadly though he's 37, and any dreams of him getting a big fight before father time inflicts a loss on him are slim, even with Matchroom behind him. Vargas is a serviceable opponent for a prospect, but the 38 year old American is little more than that and shouldn't really ask questions of a contender, like Zhang. A really pointless match up that does little more than keep a 37 year old busy, rather than building his profile in what is the "now or never" part of his career.
So that was January 2020 and the first month of a new decade was interesting without really being sensational. We certainly had plenty of noteworthy action, though compared to December was a significant downturn, and a much less interesting month. Then again that is pretty normal for a January.
With that said lets have a look at what we deem the best of January!
Fighter of the Month
Murodjon Akhmadaliev (8-0, 6)
The fighter of the month was a pretty obvious pick, with Uzbek Super Bantamweight Murodjon Akhmadaliev being the clear, and standout, winner. The talented former amateur standout ended the month was a fantastic, albeit very competitive, win over Daniel Roman. The win, which netted Akmadaliev the IBF and WBA "Super" titles, was huge and it's hard to deny that "MJ" has kicked off the year in a huge way! If he can build on this win through the year he really could be one of the names for 2020, much like Can Xu was in 2019.
Fight of the Month
Han Bin Suh Vs Dong Myung Shin
There was some good fights this past month, but nothing that will be in the conversation for Fight of the Year. Despite that it's hard to pick fault with the compelling 10 round Korean Super Bantamweight title bout between Han Bin Suh and Dong Myung Shin. This was compelling through out, with Suh refusing to ever accept defeat, and instead he kept ploughing forward hoping to break down the much more polished Dong Myung Shin. This was brilliant and a real hidden gem part way through the month. It wasn't the most high skilled bout of the month, or the most exciting, but it blended the action, activity and skills well.
KO of the Month
Shohjahon Ergashev KO1 Adrian Estrella
It was a weird month for KO's with very few of them really standing out, though it may take a while for us to see a better one than Shohjahon Ergashev's body shot KO against Adrian Estrella. This was naturally beautiful and left the Mexican in pure agony on the canvas, It's rare for body shots KO's to be this good, and it's another KO for an Ergashev KO reel. A truly sensational shot, that is going to be worth watching and over through the year.
Tuguldur Byambatsogt (2-0)
January had a lot of stellar performances from prospects from all over the place, with emerging fighters from Uzbekistan, Korea, Japan and China all impressing. It was however a Mongolian that shined the brightest, with Tuguldur Byambatsogt really showing what he could do with a clear and impressive win against Vladimir Baez. This young man from Mongolia is a potential star of the future, and no one impressed quite as much as he did. For a fighter in just his second professional bout Byambatsogt has put down a marker of intent and hopefully he and his team will continue to aim high through the rest of 2020.
Esneiker Correa TKO7 Ravshanbek Umurzakov
We didn't have too many upsets of any note this past months, but the one that did raise have the most shock value came in Russian when 21 year old Venezuelan Esneiker Correa stopped previously unbeaten Uzbek hopeful Ravshanbek Umurzakov in 7 rounds. We'd expected the highly regarded Uzbek to pick up his 11th straight win against someone who was fighting outside of Latin America for the first. Instead Correra broke down and beat up Umurzakov to claim a massive victory in the 7th round. This wasn't just a big upset for Umurzakov but the type of win that allowed him to announce himself as one to watch. And seriously we would advise keeping an eye on this young puncher, he is someone to get excited about.
Takuma Takahashi vs Leonardo Doronio (Round 3)
There were some amazing rounds, truly amazing rounds. For us the the third round between Takuma Takahashi and Leonardo Doronio takes the honours, just. This was drama, controversy, and action all rolled into one. Takahashi twice dropped Doronio, could have had points taken both times for hitting his downed opponent, and was cut in a round that was absolutely sensation. This was almost 3 minutes of chaos in which both men were hurt. Well and truly worth a watch below!
In part 1 of “The Uzbeks are Coming” we looked at the fighters who had fought at the 2016 Olympics, where the Uzbek team had really shone. Whilst those fighters are certainly getting a lot of attention they aren't the only Uzbek fighters work making a note of. In fact there are two other Uzbek fighters already in the world rankings, another who is rising through the ranks at an impressive pace and a number of novice prospects who appears to be on the fact track to the top.
If you missed part 1 that's available to read here - The Uzbeks are coming - Part 1 - The pros from Rio!
Kudratillo Abdukakhorov (14-0, 9)
The most proven Uzbek as a professional right now is Kudratillo Abdukakhorov, who's name is also transcribed as Qudratillo Abduqaxorov. At the time of writing he is in the top 10 with the WBA, WBC and IBF at Welterweight and has looked like someone with a lot of confidence and self belief. Not only that but he's been willing to proven himself time and time again.
The "Punisher" was a decent amateur before turning professional in 2015, as the age of 22 and after starting his career in low key bouts in Uzbekistan he began to come into his own in 2016, with wins over Larry Siwu and Adones Cabalquinto. He has subsequent scored very notable wins over Charles Manyuchi and Dmitry Mikhaylenko, whilst claiming and defending the WBC silver Welterweight title.
Abdukakhorov has emerged from the shadows of the Uzbek scene by fighting in Maylasia, Singapore and Russia and looks likely to continue to score big wins outside of native Uzbekistan. Saying that however he has no problem returning home to fight, and he'll be doing this coming May against a yet to be announced opponent. That bout is likely to lead to bigger contests down the line and by the end of this year we're expecting to Abdukakhorov on the verge of a world title fight
Azizbek Abdugofurov (10-0, 4)
Abdukakhorov is one of two Uzbek fighters who have been strongly connected, the other is Super Middleweight Azizbek Abdugofurov. There's no intention of the two men to have some bizarre catch weight bout, but instead both have regularly been featured on the same shows in Malaysia and in Singapore and both have been matched hard on those shared shows.
Abdugofurov was a good amateur himself, though hadn't been a major star before turning to the professional ranks in 2016 at the age of 24. he was immediately matched hard and won his first 4 bouts by stoppage, including an opening round KO over Chaloemporn Sawatsuk. Since then life in the ring has gotten harder, but he has scored notable wins over Sirimongkol Singwancha and Martin Fidel Rios. Sadly though his last 4 bouts have been steps backwards.
The unbeaten Abdugofurov looks set to step back up on May 5th, when he takes on Russian Dmitrii Chudinov in a bout for the WBC Silver Super Middleweight title. A win there will put him into the world rankings, though it's a very tough ask.
Shohjahon Ergashev (11-0, 11)
The second world ranked Uzbek right now is the charismatic and hard hitting Shohjahon Ergashev, who is ranked by the WBA at 140lbs. He announced himself on the Western boxing scene earlier this year when he stopped Sonny Fredrickson in a real coming out performance. Prior to that bout the "Descendant of Tamerlane" had really done nothing of note since his debut in 2015.
Blessed with power and natural flair Ergashev has the potential to be a very TV friendly fighter. There is certainly a lot of style to him, and whilst we do need to see what substance is beneath that style we have been impressed by the 26 year old, who has created his own buzz and will be looking to build on that when he returns to the ring on April 28th.
As mentioned Ergashev will be in action shortly, taking on China's Zhimin Wang. It's a bout that Ergashev is expected to win and one that could really boost his standing, especially if he can stop the Chinese fighter who has previous taken the hard hitting Ivan Baranchyk the 10 round distance. If he can stop Wang then expect to hear a lot more about Ergashev over the next few years.
Ulugbek Khakberdiev (4-0, 2)
Russian based Uzbek hopeful Ulugbek Khakberdiev is a 25 year old Middleweight-come-Super Middleweight who debuted in March 2017 and reeled off 6 wins before the year was over. Whilst that's not amazing he did score a huge win over former world title challenger Dmitry Sukhotskiy, stopping him in round 6 of a very 1-sided bout.
Sadly Khakberdiev has seen his rise slow since that win, having had 3 fights fall through since that victory. It'd be a shame for him if his career can't kick on from such a big win. He has twice been scheduled to face Kazakh Aidos Yerbossynuly and that would be a great fight, fingers crossed it's third time lucky for that fight.
If Khakberdiev does fail to build on his big win through the rest of this year there is a good chance he will get forgotten about and lost in the shuffle. Given his age, and how open the Middleweight division looks set to become, he will have time to get his career back on track. We would however love to see him have a strong second half to this year, and make a move towards the world rankings before the end of 2019. He'll not be ready for a world title fight for some time, but has got the tools to become a champion in the years to come.
Jasur Akhmadjonov (4-0, 3)
Abdugofurov and Abdukakhorov are both promoted by Vikram Swapragasam, who also promotes 22 year old Light Welterweight Jasur Akhmadjonov, who turned professional at the end of 2017, having previously fought in the WSB, but is already making a name for himself and holds a win over former world title challenger Roy Mukhlis, who is admittedly a shadow of the fighter he once was.
Akhmadjonov debuted on December 17th last year in Uzbekistan and would fight twice in his native country in January before defeating Mukhlis in Singapore. He's pencilled in to fight again on May 5th, though his opponent hasn't been announced yet, and could well look to kick on from the victory over Mukhlis.
At 22 years old Akhmadjonov has got time on his side and won't be rushed, despite his clear talent. He's a boxing baby and there is no reason for Swapragasam to throw him in with killers yet, though as with many of the Uzbek fighters we see rise through the ranks there may be some aggressive match making for Akhmadjonov once he matures, and he could be in with notable names in 2019.
Ravshanbek Umurzakov (3-0, 3)
Another Russian based Uzbek is Ravshanbek Umurzakov, who has fought entirely in Ekaterinburg, where he has taken out his first 3 foes in a combined 6 rounds. He hasn't stepped up too much, but did stop the previously unbeaten Merab Turkadze this past weekend.
Stood at 5'10” “The Prince” is a tall and gangly Lightweight who's body doesn't look like it has quite filled out yet. Despite that the southpaw is heavy handed, can dig to the body and has a good understanding of the ring. There is still a lot of work that he needs to do before thinking of world titles, but there is a lot to like about him and there is a lot for his team to work with, including a sharp jab and a brutal left hand to the liver.
At the moment Umurzakov's biggest issue is that he looks like he could be pressured a bit too easily, and perhaps just needs a few more easy fights to develop his in ring composure. He has looked a little bit worried at times in these early stages of his career, but it's hard not to like him at this early stage, especially given he only debuted in December. His next bout will be in May against the tough Denis Lashin and should see the the the unbeaten man answer some new questions/
Ulugbek Sobirov (4-0, 2)
Another of Vikram Swapragasam's many Uzbek hopefuls is 19 year old Ulugbek Sobirov, who debuted in January and has already impressed whilst picking up wins in Uzbekistan, India and Malaysia. Yes, despite only being a professional since January Sobirov has already fought in 3 countries and notched 4 wins! The best of those saw him travel to New Dehli to defeat Siddharth Ravindra Varma in February.
Despite his young age Sobirov has shown that he understands how to use the ring, and looks like he is a natural in the ring, with amazing composure for someone so young. He has a nice jab, looks like a naturally strong young man and has a lot of tools his team can mould. At times he looks a little too relaxed, his shots sometimes need tightening up and he will have to show more urgency if he's to become a threat. However at 19, he really does have time on his side and he looks like the sort of fighter who will mature into a monster in the years to come.
Sobirov is set to return on May 5th, as part of a stacked Uzbek card in Tashkent, and although his opponent hasn't been announced. We don't expect anyone too tough for the teenager, but hopefully someone a bit more ambition than Hamis Mwakinyo, who hardly looked like he wanted to be in the ring when he fought Sobirov.
Although we wouldn't be surprised by some of these fighters failing to reach the top, there is so much talent coming through the ranks that we're expecting to see the start of a golden age for Uzbek professional boxing. A number of fighters from the country have the potential to be world champions and it's going to be very fun to follow them in their journey's to the top.
(Images courtesy of Boxrec and the WSB)
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