VsThe back end of April is a brilliant month, as we run into what will be a packed May. Over the next 2 weeks or we get title fights at almost every level, from Japanese youth to World, we get world title eliminators and we get notable names all in action as the sport begins to kick on and we head towards bigger and better times in the world of Asian boxing.
Amakusa Park Gym, Asakuchi, Okayama, Japan
Seigo Yuri Akui (15-2-1, 10) Vs Yuto Nakamura (11-6-1, 8)
To begin this part of the month attention turns to Okayama for a bout featuring Japanese Flyweight champion Seigo Yuri Akui, who tests the water at Super Flyweight. The explosive puncher will be up against youngster Yuto Nakamura, who's a talented fighter but was really thrown to the wolves last time out, when he took on Ryo Akaho at 122lbs. This should be a good test for Akui and a chance for him to go a few rounds, though he should be favoured to pick up the win and give local fans something to cheer about.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Hironobu Matsunaga (17-1, 11) Vs Rei Nakajima (4-0)
In a compelling Japanese Light Middleweight title bout we'll see defending champion Hironobu Matsunaga take on unbeaten challenger Rei Nakajima. This bout is one that's easy to over-look, but do so at your own peril. Matsunaga has proven to be one of the most fan friendly fighters in Japan, with an aggressive pressure style, that makes for great viewing whilst Nakajima is one of the smartest and quickest fighters in the country. The styles here should gel and we're expecting a really interesting contest between two men with very different styles.
Kai Ishizawa (7-1, 7) Vs Yuni Takada (8-6-2, 3)
Another title bout will see JBC Youth Minimumweight champion Kai Ishizawa defending his title against Yuni Takada. The exciting Ishizawa is expected to go on to bigger and better things over the coming years, but it seems clear that he wants to make at least one defense of the Youth title, which he won in 2018, before being forced to vacate it. Takada isn't a terrible challenger, though sadly for him he's up against a very special young fighter and we suspect Takada will struggle to survive when Ishizawa begins to go through the gears.
Reiya Abe (20-3-1, 9) Vs Koshin Takeshima (4-1-1, 3)
In a compelling non-title fight we'll see "genius" boxer Reiya Abe take on former amateur standout Koshin Takeshima. The once touted Abe has struggled in recent years, and we've often felt that for all his talent his style doesn't make for the most fun viewing, as he's a negative technician. A tweak to his in ring mentality and style would serve him well. As for Takeshima he was touted when he turned professional but has struggled to really put a complete performance together and another setback here will see his floundering career move to the point of no return. Interestingly this is a bout neither man can really afford to lose, but yet it's not a bout that we expect will be particularly fun, or exciting.
EDION Arena Osaka, Osaka, Osaka, Japan
Kenshiro Teraji (17-0, 10) Vs Tetsuya Hisada (34-10-2, 20)
Long reigning WBC Light Flyweight champion Kenshiro Teraji looks to make his 8th defense as he takes on determined Japanese challenger Tetsuya Hisada in a bout that is 4 years in the making. These two were meant to fight in 2017, when Kenshiro was the Japanese champion and Hisada the mandatory to that title. Since then the two men have gone their own ways, with Kenshiro winning the WBC title and Hisada winning the Japanese belt before challenging Hiroto Kyoguchi in 2019. Last year these two were again pencilled in to fight, before legal issues saw the bout being cancelled. Although we've waited a long time for this bout, it is one that still has some real allure, and it should be an excellent match up, with Kenshiro's footwork and boxing brain taking on the pressure and aggression of Hisada. A really compelling contest.
Ayumu Hanada (5-0, 4) Vs Mammoth Kazunori (6-3-1, 6)
Perhaps the hidden gem of the next few weeks is a match up between youngsters, as Ayumu Hanada takes on Mammoth Kazunori in what should be a genuine shoot out. Hanada, aged 19, is dubbed "Flaco" and despite his record hasn't really been seen by Japanese fans. Instead his first 4 bouts took place in Mexico, and he really is just starting to connected with Japanese fans. Sadly however he's only fought for 104 seconds in front of a Japanese audience. As for Kazunori he's a very flawed fighter, and he can be out boxed relatively easily, but with his light out power, he is always a threat and he can really mess people up with just a single clean shot, as we saw in 2019 against Lerdchai Chaiyawed. This might not be on your radar, but it really should be!
Convention Center, Ginowan, Okinawa, Japan
Daigo Higa (17-1-1, 17) Vs Ryosuke Nishida (3-0, 1)
Former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa looks to make his first defense of WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight title as he takes on unbeaten hopeful Ryosuke Nishida, in what is a huge step up for Nishida. The talented and exciting Higa impressed everyone early in his career, until he lost the WBC title on the scales, prior to a bout against Cristofer Rosales. He would go on to lose to Rosales and be given a lengthy suspension for failing to make weight. Since then has had to move up 2 weight classes, and has struggled to really look like the fighter he once was, though was very impressive last time out against Yuki strong Kobayashi. In the opposite corner to Higa is a taller, longer, rangier and naturally bigger southpaw, looking for a chance to shine and make a name for himself. Nishida will enter as a very clear under-dog, but a win for him will see Nishida be the latest young Japanese fighter to have a rocket strapped to him and be sent to the moon. A high, high reward bout for both men, and a brilliant match up of pressure fighter and pure boxer.
Banana Sports Complex, Binan City, Laguna, Philippines
Charly Suarez (5-0, 4) Vs Lorence Rosas (9-5-2, 3)
Over the in the Philippines talented Filipino fighter Charly Suarez looks to secure his next win as he takes on Lorence Rosas. Sadly, given his talent, this is the latest in a line of underwhelming match ups for Suarez who turned professional with high expectations but is still treading water. Whilst this is only his 6th bout as a professional he is now 32 and his best years are behind him. Coming in to this Rosas haslost 4 in a row, and it's hard to imagine that run changing against someone as talented as Suarez. Fingers crossed Suarez's next bout will be a, long over due, step up in class.
Gqeberha, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Christian Araneta (19-1, 15) Vs Sivenathi Nontshinga (9-0, 9)
Over in South Africa we get a IBF Light Flyweight world title eliminator eliminator as once beaten Filipino puncher Christian Araneta takes on heavy handed South African Sivenathi Nontshinga, in a bout that will certain go under-the-radar of many fans. The talented Araneta was unfortunate in his sole loss, which came due to an injury against Daniel Valladares, but other than that loss he has looked fantastic and like one of the best pure punchers at 108lbs. Nontshinga is still a boxing baby with just 9 professional bouts to his name, adding up for 44 rounds, but he has already scored solid wins against Siyabonga Siyo and Ivan Soriano and has looked really exciting, heavy handed and dangerous. Interestingly the winner of this will, likely, become the mandatory for Felix Alvarado in what would be a sensational bout later in the year.
Another week is over and we again get to celebrate the world of Asian boxing with our look at the best from the last week. It wasn't the best week, but was a low key, solid, and enjoyable week of action featuring Asian fighters.
Fighter of the Week
With his 4th defense of the OPBF Super Bantamweight title under his belt there wasn't really much competition here, this was Hiroaki Teshigawara's award almost by default. The talented Japanese fighter kept up his march towards a world title fight as he easily stopped Shingo Kawamura. Talk is that Teshigawara is now in the running for a world title fight and whilst this wasn't the win to get him that type of bout, few can deny the run he's been on over the last few years. Fingers crossed he gets a big fight before he begins to decline, as he has genuinely earned a shot and taken risks along the way.
Performance of the Week
Although we had some very impressive performances, including that of Teshigawa, Kanehiro Nakagawa and Rei Nakajima, we don't think anyone left the impression that Kazakh contender Janibek Alimkhanuly did. The Kazakh dropped Gonzalo Gaston Coria in the opening round, stopped him in round 2 and looked like a legitimate world class fighter through out. This was the break out performance that Alimkhanuly really needed, though did come in front of an audience who had to struggle to see the bout due to issues with the way ESPN broadcast the fight. If you missed this one it's well worth tracking down and watching!
Fight of the Week
Peter Apolinar vs Jetro Pabustan
We didn't really get any standout wars this week, sadly, though we did get some decent bouts including a fairly fun brawl from the Philippines, where boxing returned after about 7 months. The card was a low key one in Mandaue City and it's stand out bout, in terms of competitive action, was the 10 rounder between Peter Apolinar and Jetro Pabustan. If you missed this one it's worth a watch, though don't expect a FOTY contender here, it's just a good old entertaining 10 rounder.
Round of the Week
Jin Miura vs Daiki Wakamatsu (Rd2)
The week didn't have any amazing rounds, and there was no rounds where knockdowns were traded or anything spectacular. Saying that however we ddid genuinely enjoy the second round of the bout between Jin Miura and Daiki Wakamatsu on Boxing Raise. Both guys were rocked during the round, with Wakamatsu being dropped and then stopped. In a week where action wasn't too plentiful this is well worthy of your time, a real fun round tucked away on an obscure Boxing Raise under-card.
Prospect of the Week
Rei Nakajima (4-0)
Due to the lack of action there wasn't too much competition here, though even if there was Rei Nakajima would likely have remained in the mix regardless. The Japanese youngster looked incredibly talented and composed with his excellent win over Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa. Nakajima looked fantastic through out the bout, moved brilliantly and looked like he was a fighter who could really go places. He was giving up size, power and experience here, but easily out boxed Hosokawa and he instantly proved himself as a legitimate domestic title contender.
KO of the Week
There wasn't a lot of action this past week, if we're being honest, but we did get an absolute beauty of a KO as Kazakh sensation Janibek Alimkhanuly blasted out Gonzalo Gaston Coria in sensational fashion. The Kazakh landed several shots that hurt Coria before he finished him off with a monstrous single left hand that turned Coria's lights out. This was an absolutely brutal finish and up there with some of the best of 2020.
The Middle part of October is a weird stretch for us this month. It lacks big names but does have a lot of promising fighters in action, including sever very notable youngsters, and a handful of unbeaten prospects.
Korakuen Hall, Japan
Rei Nakajima (3-0) Vs Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (12-5-1, 11)
One of the many unbeaten hopefuls in action this month is Rei Nakajima, who takes a huge step up in class as he takes on former OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Middleweight champion Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa. On paper this is a really dangerous bout for Nakajima, but a win will immediately put him in the mix for a regional title. As for Hosokawa a win keeps his career alive at the regional title level, and given his power, strength and experience he is very much a dangerous foe for the talented youngster.
Korakuen Hall, Japan
Reiya Abe (19-3-1, 9) Vs Ren Sasaki (10-0, 6)
Another unbeaten hopeful in action is Ren Sasaki, who looks to build on his Knockout Dynamite Tournament win last year. The unbeaten Sasaki will be up against the world ranked Reiya Abe in what should be a really interesting, though maybe not the most exciting, of bouts. Sasaki has impressed at times, but needs a statement like performance in the near future whilst the highly skilled, but often frustrating, Abe needs too shine following a disappointing 2019. This might lack intense action, but will be a very high level bout.
Kai Chiba (12-1, 8) Vs Haruki Ishikawa (8-2, 6)
In potentially thrilling action we'll see the once beaten Kai Chiba look for a solid domestic win as he takes on the hard hitting, and exciting, Haruki Ishikawa. On paper this might look like a great bout, but in reality fireworks should fly between two men who like to let shots go, and like to put on show. Of the two Chiba the more rounded and more mature, but Ishikawa is a little bit more unpredictable, and has shown more of a willingness to fire back in a slugfest. We are expecting a lot of excitement here.
Kai Ishizawa (6-1, 6) Vs Masashi Tada (13-7-3, 8)
Another bout with the potential to deliver fireworks will see the all action Kai Ishizawa take on the flawed but tough Masashi Tada. On paper a win here would probably be Ishizawa's second best, though a stoppage would be a huge statement for the young Minimumweight hopeful. Tada on the other hand is a 2-Japanese title challenger, who is far, far better than his record suggests and could well have the experience and toughness to blunt the heavy handed aggression of Ishizawa. A very interesting, and easy to over-look, match up.
Korakuen Hall, Japan
Kazuki Saito (7-2, 5) Vs Tatsuya Yanagi (16-6-2, 6)
The talented but chinny Kazuki Saito needs a notable win to remain relevant on the Japanese scene, especially after a 2019 loss to Izuki Tomioka, but he's not assured one here as he takes on the experienced Tatsuya Yanagi. Watching Saito we see a real natural talent, but his chin has been a problem in 2 of his bouts so far and it wouldn't be a surprise to see his chin let him down again in the future. Yanagi on the other hand is someone who is better than his record suggests, and will know a win here will put him instantly in the mix for a Japanese title shot. A very interesting match up.
Yoji Saito (1-1-2, 1) Vs Masashi Wakita (10-9-2, 5)
Another bout that might not look great on paper will see Yoji Saito take on Masashi Wakita. There was serious hopes for Saito when he turned professional, and although he has failed to hit the heights expected of him so far he has been a must watch fighter, with his aggressive, heavy handed style. Wakita is experienced and can certainly fight, but his chin has been an issue. We expect this one to be a real thriller of a bout, and as with all Saito bouts this will be well worth a watch.
Takuya Kogawa (30-6-1, 13) Vs Hayato Yamaguchi (15-8-1, 2)
There are few men we have enjoyed watching as much as Takuya Kogawa, sadly though the all action veteran is very much coming to the end of his career and has looked on the slide for a few years now. Here he'll be up against domestic foe Hayato Yamaguchi, and the sad fact is that Kogawa is fighting for his career. This isn't so much a must watch bout, but potential the final bout of one of our favourites.
Philips Halle, Dusseldorf, Germany
Zhan Kossobutskiy (14-0, 13) vs Steve Vukosa (12-1, 4)
We end this part of October with an unbeaten Heavyweight hopeful, as Kazakh fighter Zhan Kossobutskiy takes on once beaten American Steve Vukosa. Although Kossobutskiy isn't on the radar of many fans he is among the best Asian Heavyweights out there and we suspect we'll see a lot of him over the next few years. In Steve Vukosa we have a 43 year old American who has fought just twice in the last 5 years. Sadly this isn't the sort of match up that Kossobutskiy needs to make a mark on the sport and at 31 he really does need to begin moving up a level.
One of the key reasons for this series is to shine a light on the unheralded and little known fighters, who are typically but not always, prospects. With that in mind we feel Rei Nakajima (3-0, 0), who takes a huge step up in class in a few days time, is the perfect type of fighter for this series. He's not a big name prospect, he's not a man people are telling at us to talk about, but he is someone who is worthy of attention at this very early point in his career.
Unlike many exciting prospects making their mark on the Japanese scene Nakajima wasn't a top amateur. In fact he went 26-13 in the unpaid ranks and his best results in major national competitions were third places, which he did at the Interscholastic, National Athletic and All Japan Championships. Despite that there has been a small, but notable, buzz around him since he turned professional.
As a professional Nakajima signed with the Neyagawa Ishida Boxing Club, run by Nobuhiro Ishida, and was matched relative tough on his debut in July 2019. Rather than being matched with a patsy to get an easy win Nakajima on debut, he was matched with the then 7-5-1 (2) Sosuke Sakata. Although a long way from a world beater Sakata was a decent test, on paper, for the debutant. In the end however Nakajima shined, doing everything excepting stopping Sakata in a 6 round bout. Although Sakata saw out the scheduled 6 round distances the judges didn't give him a round, in fact the scorecards here were 60-52, across the board.
Interestingly Nakajima's debut came on a major card in Osaka that was headlined by the rematch between Ryota Murata and Rob Brant, and also featured Kenshiro Teraji and Satoshi Shimizu. Huge names on the top of the card.
Less than 3 months after his debut Nakajima returned to the ring and took on his first international opponent as he battled against Korean for Se Yul Yang. Once again this was a clear and dominant win for Nakajima, who took a wide decision against the tough but limited Yang.
Sadly footage of Nakajima's first two bouts has been almost impossible to come by, but his most recent bout, which came in December 2019, was shown on A-Sign and is, by far, his biggest win to date. That bout, another 6 rounder, saw him take on Patomsuk Pathompothong, aka Komsan Polsan. Although a huge step up in class Nakajima took the chance to show case what he could do in the ring. From the opening rounds he looked sharp, crisp, relaxed and quick. He easily out boxed his more experienced foe, who tried to show some veteran moved but but didn't have the speed to deal with Nakajima, who took another clear and wide decision win.
From watching Nakajima several things are clear. He's quick, he's skilled and he's sharp. He knows his way around the ring and is very relaxed in there. Sadly he does drop his hands a lot, maybe being a bit too relaxed, he seems to lack power and, perhaps more worryingly, he's very small for a Light Middleweight. Even in Japan. Stood at less than 5'6" he's going to be giving away height to pretty much anyone he faces. Not just that but he'll also be giving away reach, which will allow fighters to keep him at range.
On October 9th Nakajima will be taking a massive step up in class. He goes from taking on a fighter like Patomsuk Pathompothong, to taking on the dangerous, heavy handed and tough Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa, in what is a serious test for the youngster. If he gets through this, and it is a genuine "if", then we suspect we'll see him fighting for some form of title in 2021 or 2022.
Despite being impressed by Nakajima there is a real sense that he may be biting off more than he can chew as he takes on the often under-rated Hosokawa. If he loses, and again there is a very real chance he will, this will be a serious learning experience for the youngster.
This past week has been a strange one for Asian boxing, as very little notable action actually took place in Asia, with very few shows taking place in the Orient. There was the odd card, such as the Rookie of the Year shows in Tokyo and the show in Singapore, but in reality there wasn't much of note. As a result many of the awards winners this week fought outside of Asia, though really did provide so much excitement.
Fighter of the Week
Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (15-0, 9)
Tajik born Russian based Super Featherweight Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov proved his value with a great on Sunday when he stopped the previously unbeaten Azinga Fuzile in an IBF Super Featherweight world title eliminator. Rakhimov went in as the under-dog, fighting in Fuzile's back yard and for the most was out boxed, out sped, out thought and out fought. Fuzile's success left Rakhimov in a hole on the scorecards but the heavy handed fighter refused to accept defeat and in round 8 went about changing the nature of the fight, roughing up Fuzile. When he did that he broke through, dropping the South African twice to secure the win, and a huge title showdown with Tevin Farmer.
Performance of the Week
Batyr Akhmedov (7-1, 6)
Whilst we were massively impressed with Rakhimov the performance of the week belongs to Uzbek born fighter Batyr Akhmedov, who put in an amazing performance against Mario Barrios in a bout for the WBA "regular" Light Welterweight title. Akhmedov was dropped in round 4 then seemed to come alive, setting an incredible pace from round 5 to the final bell. Sadly Rakhimov was dropped in round 12 but had put in a performance that will leave fans talking for a while. He may have lost the bout, by decision, but Akhmedov impressed, proved he belonged at world level and showed he had the energy and style to be a genuine fan favourite. The bout may have come a touch too early in his career, but he made the most of his chance and will almost certainly have improved his standing, despite the defeat.
Batyr Akhmedov vs Mario Barrios
Akhmedov's effort in his loss to Barrios was incredible. The fight was fought at a high tempo through out, the momentum shifted, from a good start to Barrios, a strong middle for Akhmedov and then a big turn around in round 12 with Barrios knockdown. This was one of the most dramatic fights of the year, and it's just a shame that the judges scorecards left a bad taste over what had been an incredible fight, and a great showing of heart, determination and will from both.
Batyr Akhmedov Vs Mario Barrios (Rd12)
We stick with the Akhmedov Vs Barrios for the round of the week, which wasn't the most exciting round, but was the most dramatic. Akhmedov was in the ascendancy, he was pressing the fight and bringing the pressure. Barrios was badly swollen, looking tired and seemingly desperate to stay up right. Then with about 20 seconds left he scored his second knockdown of the fight. This wasn't an all action round, and put into isolation it wasn't an amazing round, but in context of the fight and the drama the round had this was amazing.
Jin Sasaki TKO1 Tetsuya Kondo
Although not the most significant KO of the week the one that really stood out as being the most aesthetically pleasing came in a Rookie of the Year bout, as teenager Jin Sasaki took out Tetsuya Kondo. Aftr just over 2 minutes Sasaki dropped Kondo for the first time. Kondo got back to his feet and about 20 seconds later Sasaki landed a truly sweet left hook that sent Kondo crashing to the canvas. This was a gorgeous KO, and whilst not the most destructive or important it was worth watching over and over.
Rei Nakajima (2-0)
Despite the Rookie of the Year action there wasn't much action featuring notable prospects. There was some talented Filipino's in mismatches at the start of the week but the mismatches certainly don't help their claim. Instead the one that stood out was was Rei Nakajima, who went 6 rounds in a clear win over Korean Se Yul Yang. Nakajima is a genuine talent and whilst Yang wasn't competitivehe did travel to win and forced Nakajima to remain sharp. It's a shame the top Filipino prospects didn't fight some what testing opponents at the start of the week.
Junto Nakatani (19-0, 14) vs Milan Melindo (37-4, 13)
There are a number of compelling match ups over the next 7 days, including 2 world title bouts and numerous bouts featuring prospects. For us the bout that stands out the most is the cross roads bout between rising contender Junto Nakatani and former world champion Milan Melindo. For Nakatani this is expected to be a legitimate test, his first real test since his Rookie of the Year days, whilst Melindo is looking to keep his career alive, and move towards one final world title bout. This is a really intriguing bout, and although there's no world title up for grabs, we see this as being the best of this weeks upcoming fights and the one which has the potential to launch a new star.
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