The Middle of March is somewhat packed, with several notable fights taking place in the space of just a few days. These include World and Youth title fights and a very interesting JBC and OPBF female title unification bout,
Eri Matsuda (2-0) Vs Nanae Suzuki (8-2-1, 1) -Tokyo, Japan
The first major bout during the middle section of March will see Eri Matsuda risk her OPBF Atomweight title against JBC Atomweight champion Nanae Suzuki in a mouth watering unification bout. The unbeaten Matsuda has impressed in both of her bouts so far, but this is a very stiffer test than hew two previous bouts. For Suzuki this is a huge chance to put her name on the boxing map.
Miyo Yoshida (11-1) Vs Yoshie Wakasa (6-0, 2) - Tokyo, Japan
On the same card as the Matsuda Vs Suzuki bout we'll also see Miyo Yoshida defending her JBC female Bantamweight title, as she takes on unbeaten challenger Yoshie Wakasa. This is a great example of the bouts the JBC female title will give us, and really does look like a fantastic defense for Yoshida, who also holds the OPBF female Bantamweight title, but won't be defending that here.
Daniyar Yeleussinov (5-0, 3) Vs Silverio Ortiz (37-23, 18) - Pennsylvania, USA
2016 Olympic Gold medal winner, Daniyar Yeleussinov will look to extend his unbeaten run, as he takes on Mexican veteran Silverio Ortiz. The Kazakh struggled to settle to the pro-style of boxing in his first few bouts but has settled recently with a couple of good performances. This is expected to be another win for Yeleussinov, but he may need to work for a stoppage as Ortiz has proven to be relatively tough, with just 6 stoppage losses in his 23 defeats.
Kosei Tanaka (12-0, 7) Vs Ryoichi Taguchi (27-3-2, 12) -Gifu, Japan
Potentially the best fight of the month comes right bang in the middle of March and will see Kosei Tanaka make his first defense of the WBO Flyweight title, as he takes on Ryoichi Taguchi. Tanaka won the title last year in a FOTY contender against Sho Kimura and has long been linked to a fight with Taguchi. Taguchi will be fighting as a fully fledged Flyweight for the first time, and we wouldn't be surprised if his body was more suited to Flyweight than it was at Light Flyweight. This has the potential to be a very, very special and exciting match up, with styles that should gel well.
Kento Hatanaka (7-0, 7) Vs Songsaeng Phoyaem (6-1, 1) - Gifu, Japan
On the same show we'll see Kento Hatanaka defending the WBC Youth Flyweight title against Thai visitor Songsaeng Phoyaem. Hatanaka, the son of former world champion Kiyoshi Hatanaka, has looked really exciting so far and we'd expect to see him win here, but the key at the moment is following his progression and development as a fighter. The Thai hasn't scored a win of note, but he will see this as a chance to put himself on the map.
Koshin Takeshima (2-0, 2) Vs Jian Wang (7-1-1, 2) - Gifu, Japan
Also on this card, in an interesting bout, is Koshin Takeshima who will be expecting a really tough test as he goes up against Jian Wang from China. Takeshima has shown a fair bit of promise and talent but this is a clear step up and it will be very, very interesting to see how he deals with the technically limited but tough Wang. Wang will be fighting for the first time since January's war with Seong Yeong Yang and in that draw he showed toughness, work rate and stamina. This could be very fun.
Batyrzhan Jukembayev (14-0-0-2, 12) Vs Carlos Jimenez (14-9-1, 8) - Quebec, Canada
Unbeaten Canadian based Kazakh fighter Batyrzhan Jukembayev will be fighting for the first time since falling out with Eye of the Tiger Management, though their relationship has now seemingly recovered. He'll be up against Mexican foe Carlos Jimenez in what looks like an easy bout but should be a bit of a test for Jukembayev, who's very promising and exciting despite having a number of technical flaws.
Nurzat Sabirov (8-0, 7) vs Cesar Hernan Reynoso (15-11-4, 7) - Quebec, Canada
Another Kazakh prospect in action here is Nurzat Sabirov, who will be up against Cesar Hernan Reynoso. The unbeaten Sabirov scored 4 solid wins last year and although this is a step backwards from those bouts he should be able to shine, show power and move his career forward. Reynoso is no push over, but we don't imagine he can hang with Sabirov here.
Mercito Gesta (32-2-2, 17) vs Juan Antonio Rodriguez (29-7, 25) - California, USA
Former 2-time world title challenger Mercito Gesta continues his career when he takes on Juan Antonio Rodriguez. This looks solid on paper, though in reality it should be a straight forward win for Gesta, who will likely be hunting another world title fight before his career is over. Gesta is probably never going to win the big one, but he does look like he's going to remain on the fringes of world level for the rest of his career.
Michael Dasmarinas (28-2-1, 19) Vs Kenny Demecillo (14-4-2, 8) Metro Manila, Philippines
All Filipino world title bouts have started to become a thing in recent years, after 90 years with out, and now we're starting to see a growth in all Filipino world title eliminators. That's the case here as Michael Dasmarinas and Kenny Demecillo battle in an IBF Bantamweight world title eliminator, to potentially get a shot at the WBSS winner. The IBF title is currently held by Emmanuel Rodriguez, who faces Naoya Inoue in May, and whilst Dasmarinas and Demecillo would be the under-dog against either man they do make for an interesting addition to the world title mix.
Samuel Salva (16-0, 10) Vs Rene Mark Cuarto (16-1-1, 9) -Metro Manila, Philippines
A second All-Filipino world title eliminator on this card is a match up between Samuel Salva and Rene Mark Cuarto, who battle in an IBF Minimumweight world title eliminator, to potentially get a crack at Deejay Kriel. This bout is an interesting contest between two youngsters each looking for their break out win and we're really looking forward to see how it plays out. On paper it's a very even match up and should make for compelling viewing.
Akzhol Sulaimanbek Uulu (13-0, 6) Vs Mike Tawatchai (45-12-2, 28) - Ekaterinburg, Russia
Unbeaten Russian based Kyrgyzstan born Akzhol Sulaimanbek Uulu will look to continue his winning run as he takes on Thai veteran Mike Tawatchai, aka Pipat Chaiporn. Following strong recent wins over Leonardo Padillo and Jon Jon Estrada Uulu will be expected to take care of the Thai with no real issues. At 33 Tawatchai can't afford any more setbacks but has yet to win outside of Thailand, and it would be a huge shock to see him changing that here.
Having gone through the champions and contenders at Light Flyweight our final look at the fighters comes from the prospects in the division. There isn't a huge amount of “name value” here, but for the long term success of the division these are among the guys that really should have fans keep an eye one. They might be 2 or 3 fights from a world title fight, or might be much further away, but these are some of the fighters who are likely to make a mark on the division in the near future.
If you missed part 1 that's available here - The Depth at Light Flyweight - Part 1 - The World Champions
If you missed past 2 that's available here - The Depth at Light Flyweight - Part 2 - The Contenders
Masataka Taniguchi (10-2, 7)
One of the few prospects of note with a loss against his name is Masataka Taniguchi, a 24 year old fighter from the Watanabe gym. As an amateur Taniguchi was a top domestic talent, the captain of his university and someone marked for professional success. As a professional he has been ultra busy, fighting 12 times in 24 months, and has been matched hard already.
The thing that stands out, on paper, about Taniguchi is his two defeats. They have however been to Reiya Konishi and Tsubasa Koura in title fights at Minimumweight, and both were razor thin majority losses. In both of those defeats Taniguchi showed that he was class, with all the skills needed to go all the way. We'd keep him in mind when talking about the best prospects in boxing, never mind the best at 108lbs.
At the moment it's unclear when he will be back in the ring but we are expecting him to fight in May and he will likely find himself in a title fight before the end of 2018.
Abraham Rodriguez (22-0, 11)
Unbeaten 23 year old Abraham Rodriguez is finely balanced between being a prospect and a contender, and with 22 bouts under his belt he is already racking up the experience to be ready for a title fight. Amazingly, given his age, he has already been a professional for over 5 years and in recent bouts has been stepping up.
Rodriguez's record isn't just impressive in terms of numbers but there is also some substance there, with wins over Saul Jaurez, Mauricio Fuentes and and Jose Alonso Nunez Lopez. Sadly removing those names does leave his record looking thin for a fighter with around 20 wins, but for a 23 year old that's a trio of solid wins and he is looking like a fighter who will push his team to give him more and more tests.
After fitting in 3 fights last year Rodriguez has been quiet thus far in 2018, and really hasn't built on a December win over Saul Juarez. Hopefully he'll be back in action shortly and hopefully will be able to get another good win to begin the year.
Christian Araneta (15-0, 13)
Filipino puncher Christian Araneta is a brutal 23 year old from Cebu who has looked fantastic on the domestic scene and already looks like he could be mixing at a higher level. He has been a professional since September 2013 and has already claimed the PBF and WBO Oriental Light Flyweight titles. Not only has he claimed titles but he has also scored several wins of note, including a very big one over Jessie Espinas.
With his power Araneta looks like the next great puncher in the division, a division that already boasts punchers like Jonathan Taconing, Felix Alvarado, Angel Acosta and Carlos Canizales, and with his youth there is a lot of time to develop the skills to match his power.
Araneta fought earlier this month, stopping Ian Ligutan in 2 rounds, and given the quick nature of that blow out he will likely be back in action in the summer and may well fit 3 more fights in this year, making up for a frustrating 2017 in which he just once.
Rene Mark Cuarto (15-1-1, 9)
Another man with a loss on his record, but can't be over-looked, is 21 year old Pinoy hopeful Rene Mark Cuarto. The youngster suffered an earlier career set back to Jerald Paclar, though has since avenged the loss and has now beaten every fighter he has faced. Not only that but he is riding a 6 fight winning run and has managed to pick up a win on foreign soil, winning in China last year. Just as impressive is his activity, which saw him fight 5 times last year.
Although rising through the ranks Cuarto is still lacking a win of note, even on the domestic scene. Whilst that can certainly be held against him he is, as mentioned, only 21 years old and is likely to get that notable win in the near future. In fact it could well come later this year, if his team can afford to get him a good enough foe.
Given that Cuarto fought 5 times last year we are expecting him to be busy this year. So far he has fought just once, scoring a 3rd round KO over the highly experienced Rodel Tejares back in March, though we expect him back out in the ring in the Summer before potentially getting a notable opponent in the fall, if not the winter.
Vince Paras (13-0, 11)
Another Filipino puncher is Vince Paras, a teenager who is really getting fans excited. Aged just 19 the belief is that Paras is something something, and that belief has been there for a while with his handlers debuting the youngster at just 16 years old! Of course he was matched very easily early on but has been progressed well, and and last year he scored an excellent domestic win over Jimboy Haya for the WBO Asia Pacific Youth Light Flyweight title. That win over Haya showed that Paras could go 10 rounds and he looks like his potential is huge.
Although really promising Paras was dropped last time out, though did recover. He might be lacking in the toughness department though that's one of a number of questions that could make following Para really exciting, though the big question is how long he will remain at 108lbs.
Haya hasn't fought yet this year, though we suspect that he will be back in the ring in the Summer, potential moving towards a national title fight. There is however no need to race him, and he can have time to develop, even if he does mature into a Super Flyweight or Bantamweight.
Christian Bacolod (8-0, 6)
It really does seem like thee is a Filipino take over at 108lbs, and Christian Bacolod is yet another young Filipino rising through the division. At 23 he's older than some of the other's but has already began to come close in terms of achievements. His career only consists of 8 bouts but already features good domestic wins over Marlou Sandoval, Mike Kinaadman and Ryan Makiputin.
Bacolod was relatively inactive last year, fighting only twice, and he's not fought so far this year. At his age he can get away with some inactivity but won't want to waste too much time, especially given how many other good Filipino's are in his weight class. If he only fights twice this year there is a good chance he will get left behind.
In the ring Bacolod is a little rough around the edges but with his age there is time to smooth those edges off and add to what is a promising fighter with naturally heavy hands and some lovely combination punching. It's also worth noting that he has fought in front of the big lights on a ALA card and won't be worried about fighting on TV in the future.
Dave Apolinario (6-0, 4)
A final Filipino of note here is another 19 year old in the form of Dave Apolinario. The “Amazing” southpaw made his debut last June with an opening round TKO and has been managed well so far, with 6 fights in 10 months. Not only has he been busy but he has been stepped up and was last out in an 8 rounder, proving he had stamina to go with his power and skills. With that in mind it may be long until he's fighting in 10 rounders and even title bouts.
Apolinario has looked sensational so far and has shown glimpses of his amateur pedigree, skills that have allowed him and his team to be so aggressive with his development. That is likely to continue, and perhaps even step up a level as he continues to mature and physically develop.
Apolinario has already fought twice this year and will likely continue to be busy through the rest of 2018. We don't see him fighting for titles this year, but he will almost certainly break into the OPBF rankings before the year is over. A title fight at that level will be too much for him, for now, but in the next 24 months or so he should be looking Oriental titles.
Kai Ishizawa (4-0, 4)
Japanese youngster Kai Ishizawa is an over-looked 21 year old puncher who debuted last June but already looks like a sensation in the making. He debuted, like many Japanese prospects, against a Thai novice and looked great on debut. In his second bout he destroyed a domestic opponent before another Thai foe. Those first 3 opponents lasted just 5 rounds with Ishizawa. In his most recent bout Ishizawa stepped up and stopped Tatsuro Nakashima in an outstanding performance to further solidify his standing as one of Japan's most over-looked prospects.
Having already shown good power, a good boxing brain and a stiff hard jab Ishizawa is already showing the tools needed to go a very long way. His team have matched him hard already, with two good domestic opponents already on his record, and a good 42 fight amateur career behind him. There work to be done, but he really does look like he could be a diamond in the rough.
Ishizawa is expected to return later in the year in a Japanese Youth title fight. That will be a chance for him to prove himself, claim a title and begin to show he belongs to be fighting at title level. If he wins that belt we expect to see him bang on the door of a Japanese ranking soon afterwards.
Lu Bin (1-0, 1)
The division's wild card in some ways is Chinese sensation Lu Bin. The 23 year old from Jinan is an amateur stand out, who like very few other fighters seems to be a fighter who has made his professional debut, but is also fighting as an amateur. His amateur career seems to be standing in the way of his professional development, which is a huge shame as Bin has the ability to become the star that Chinese boxing want Zou Shiming to be. The novice professional is a true talent with speed, power, skills, defense and a really high ring IQ. Not only that but he already has a world ranking, a regional title and the skills to make an immediate impact on the professional scene.
If Bin can commit to being a professional fighter he can almost choose his rate of progress. He has the tools to be something very special, but a question can be asked of his desire and hunger.
Bin recently won the Chinese National Amateur crown, no big surprise given his pedigree, but the decision to chase professional glory doesn't seem like one he's in a rush to make. His debut professional bout looks like it's going to be an anomaly for now, and it could be a while until he's unleashed on the professional ranks again. Sadly.
(Image courtesy of Watanabe Boxing Gym, Boxrec and Boxmob.jp)
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