We may be heading to Christmas but we've not had to wait to December 25th for boxing Santa to deliver some great stuff to us, with this past week being another that has a brimful of amazing action, fantastic moments, and a lot of surprises. So with that said lets have a look at the latest "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly".
1-All Japan Rookie of the Year
It's not like the All Japan Rookie of the Year being amazing was any kind of surprise but even that it exceeded expectations with 2 bouts being particularly deserving of extra attention. The Light Welterweight shoot out between Kodai Honda and Yasutaka Fujita is one of those those must watch bouts, which has everything. It has drama, action, intensity, huge shots and great heart. This really is a very, very special fight Wihilst Honda Vs Fujita was the fight of the day it was given a run for it's money by the Welterweight clash featuring Yuta Ashina and Homare Yasui. If you have the chance make sure you watch both of those incredible fights before the week ends.
Filipino prospect Mike Plania took a huge step towards a world title fight as he dominated Nicaraguan foe Giovanni Gutierrez. Plania is a talented Super Bantamweight and his win this past weekend was a huge statement for the 22 year old, who is likely to be a real break out star in 2020, if he can receive the financial backing he needs to kick on.
Aged 15, yes that's a 1 and a 5 and isn't a typo, Phoobadin Yoohanngoh won "The Fighter" this past weekend in Thailand taking a 6 round victory over 22 year old Thotsaphol Thongplew. For those unaware "The Fighter" was TL Promotions answer to Rookie of the Year and matched a bunch of novice in a quick fire knockout tournament, spread over just a few weeks. Phoobadin managed to notch wins on 4 consecutive Saturdays to win the tournament. Whatever we think about fighters this young it's hard not to be impressed by the young prodigy, who is already 8-0 and has been a professional since July 2018, when he was just 14!
4-PBC's card on Saturday Night
Whether it was intentional, fluke, or something in between Saturday night's PBC card headlined by the Harrison Vs Charlo rematch has to go down as one of the most entertaining cards of the year. It had everything ranging from huge upsets, to controversial refereeing calls, fantastic knockouts, amazing action and world class fighters. We wouldn't go as far as to call it the show of the year, but it's certainly in the running and was one of the most amazing cards top to bottom. If more shows ended up like this the sport would be much, much better and fans would care about the while show, not just the main event. Well done to all involved in putting on truly brilliant show.
Tommy Fury might be a bigger celebrity in his homeland due to his appearance in Love Island, rather than his boxing career, but his opponent for this past weekend was little more than a joke, and should never be allowed to box in the UK again given his hapless performance here. Przemyslaw Binienda, really was awfully and in deserves to go into the boxing bin for his performance which was an embarrassment to the sport and the show. Whoever decided to put this on in the chief support bout should also be given some tough questions to answer. We understand Fury is a "cross over star" but the arena failed to react to his comments and it was clear that even his "fans" were so nonchalant about the win that it likely did more harm than good for his career.
Whilst there have been rumours about Jhack Tepora not liking training or taking the sport seriously, as soon when he missed weight for a bout not too long ago, few would have expected him to lose his unbeaten record in the way he did. The touted and talented Filipino was blitzed inside a round by the out of form Oscar Escandon, and stopped in the opening round by a body shot. Whilst a loss isn't the end of the world there does seem to be a lot more going on behind the scenes for Tepora, and this all needs to be sorted out if he's to reach his potential. He can bounce back from a loss, but given the rumours it may not be just a simple case of just rebuilding and instead it sounds like he will need to make notable changes in terms of his lifestyle as well.
We've only got 2 ugly's this week but my my, they are repulsive. The first of those was referee Ray Corona, who should be forced to explain his actions during the Carlos Balderas v Rene Tellez Giron bout. The referee should have stopped the bout after the first knockdown, when Balderas clearly wasn't fit to resume after being dropped, hard in round 3. That was the first of several botched calls from the official who struggled to hide his favouritism through the contest. Allowing Balderas to continue in the state he was in could have left him taking shots that he was unable to defend against, and could have turned out horrific for his career, and longer term health. The fact that Corona stopped the bout the way he did in round 6, in a very similar situation, seemed to suggest Corona knew he had bottled the earlier call, but that didn't excuse what was a disgusting performance from the official.
2-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr
Oh man where do we start on Julio Cesar Chavez Jr and his week? He should have been banned, for refusing a drugs test, ahead of his bout with Danny Jacobs but an injunction saw the ban essentially being bypassed. The bout should have been called off when Chavez came in 5lbs over weight. It should have seen the promoter and Jacobs call out Chavez for his unprofessional actions and cancel the bout, taking Chavez to the cleaners for breaching his contractual obligations. But instead the bout went ahead and Chavez, who had shown no respect to the sport in the build up to the fight quit, citing a hand injury. The crowd finally turned on the Mexican, and his father's expression said it all. Really this should be it for Chavez's career. He doesn't need the sport, and the sport sure doesn't need him. Instead however it sounds like Chavez is already pencilling in his next bout, for March. Any promoter who uses him going forward is to blame for the shit show that he's involved in, and they are as much to blame for using someone they know they can't trust, as he is for his actions.
What do you mean annual awards? ...it's only mid-December!
Over the last week or so we've seen the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) announce their shortlists for their annual awards. At the time there was more than 2 weeks of 2019 left and it again left us asking why? Why can they not wait until the end of the year? Why can they not wait until all the fights have been and gone? Why can they not allow everyone a fair chance?
As we all know by now Japan hosts action on New Year's Eve, and whilst none of those bouts look likely to deliver us a Fight of the Year contender, but it's not just Japan that has fights between now and the end of 2019. In fact there are other countries playing host to some fights that do look like they could be legitimate contenders. For example on December 20th, a day before this article goes live, we had Julio Cesar Martinez Aguilar face off with Cristofer Rosales, in a bout with real potential to be something very special. Likewise on December 28th Jean Pascal clashes with Badou Jack, in a bout that promises fireworks.
Of course some awards are essentially over. There is nothing between now and the end of the year which could possibly effect the Fighter of the Decade, the Fighter of the Year, the The Good Guy or even Trainer of the Year awards. But where we do have things that could fit into the short list, we really need to hold on, be patient. There is no need to rush things, and it can be ridiculously stupid.
A great example of how stupid short listing things is before the end of the year was seen in 2014, when Naoya Inoue missed out on the short list, despite the year being one where he claimed world titles at Light Flyweight and Super Flyweight. He wasn't on the ballot that year, because his final win of the year, a KO2 win over Omar Andres Narvaez, came way after the short list had been compiled. The year however still had time left in it!
Jonathan Morris's famous quote "Patience is a virtue, Possess it if you can; Seldom found in woman, Never found in man." Can certainly be brought into boxing, and changed somewhat. We don't like seeing things "marinate", but there is also no need to rush something that recognises what boxing has given us over the previous year.
Of course it's not just the BWAA who are to blame here, and we suspect many other lists will be released between now and January with various websites, journalists and the ilk announcing their Fighter, Fight, Knockout, Round, Prospect, etc... of the Year. Come on folks, just a touch of patience, it will go a long way...and give you extra time to watch what's happening in the sport.
If you're about to do a list, put your damn pen down, wait until the year is over, you know what is around the corner! By all means do a short list, but your full on list can wait a few extra day!
For those who have already decided on their lists, we suggest giving Keon Woo Kim's brutal KO1 against Moon Han Ji and Mammoth Nakayama's sensational 5th round KO of Lerdchai Chaiyawed a watch for any KO list, and Yuki Beppu's sensational win over Ryota Yada deserves a watch for any Fight of the Year list. We probably won't change your mind, but you should give them a watch regardless!
Who goes up against Rookie of the Year?
In a change of note we have a second point of contention this week...who on earth goes up against Rookie of the Year? This year there are two shows in Osaka on the same day as the All Japan Rookie of the Year, in a decision that seems foolish! We understand that time is limited, and trying to squeeze everything into the year can be tricky, but to us the Rookie of the Year is one of the biggest annual events in boxing. To go up against it is sacrilege!
We're not complaining about the quality of the cards, which will be promoted by Muto and Nakazato, but it does seem like the shows are shooting themselves in the foot sharing a day with such a tremendous part of the Japanese boxing calendar!
Now with that out the way, I shall see you all with the next one of these in the new year, so have a great Christmas folks, and a happy new year! And watch as many fights as you can between now and 2020! I will be!
The month of Dacember really doesn't give room to think or catch our breath, and over the coming days we have prospects in action, Rookie of the Year action, world title action, a fighter heading off to the UK to face on one of the sports most promising youngsters, and so, so much more!
Akinori Watanabe (38-7-1, 32) vs Sitthidet Banti (12-5, 6) - Tokyo, Japan
The always entertaining Akinori Watanabe looks to make his first defense of the OPBF Light Middleweight title as he takes on limited Thai foe Sitthident Banti. On paper this should be little more than a home coming defense for Watanabe, who won the title in Korea. Although we're not fans of the fight it's hard to criticise Watanabe for having an easy fight given his competition over the last few years, and the punishment he has taken. Given Banti was stopped by a Japanese novice a few months ago this should be an easy win for the champion.
Mikio Sakai (1-0) vs Ran Tomomatsu (1-0) - Tokyo, Japan
A much more attractive bout in Tokyo will see former amateur standouts Mikio Sakai and Ran Tomomatsu clash in a brilliantly matched contest. Of the two Sakai is the one who has impressed us more, with his better all round boxing skills, but Tomomatsu looks like a very strong fighter with an edge in power. It can be hard to get excited about two 1-0 guys facing off, but we really are looking forward to this clash, and we are expecting something very impressive from two men who are very, very capable.
Daniyar Yeleussinov (8-0, 4) vs Alan Sanchez (20-4-1, 10) - Arizona, USA
Unbeaten Kazakh hopeful Daniyar Yeleussinov looks to continue his climb through the rankings as he takes on experienced foe Alan Sanchez. On paper this looks like a good test for the talented, yet often frustrating, Yeleussinov but in reality it's hard to get too excited about the contest. Sanchez has proven to be a banana skin, taking the unbeaten record of John Carlo Sosa and beaten Pabo Cesar Cano, but he's only had 3 wins in 4 years, has been out of action for more than a year, and was last teen being stopped by Alexander Besputin, in September 2018. A win for the Kazakh is expected, and it's a shame we won't be able to read much into it.
Kyotaro Fujimoto (21-1, 13) Vs Daniel Dubois (13-0, 12) - London, United Kingdom
Former Japanese Heavyweight champion Kyotaro Fujimoto makes his international debut as he takes on destructive Englishman Daniel Dubois. On paper this looks like a solid step up in class for Dubois, but in reality it seems very much like Fujimoto is being thrown to the wolves. Fujimoto has been treading water looking for a big bout, but this is likely to be far too much for Fujimoto. The small, speedy Japanese Heavyweight will lack the power to get Dubois respect, and will lack the chin needed to take the bombs from "DDD". A mismatch and oddity.
All Japan Rookie of the Year finals - Tokyo, Japan
One of the highlights of the boxing calendar! The All Japan Rookie of the Year is a culmination of the various regional tournaments and will be shown live on G+. Whilst this likely won't get much international attention the Japanese Rookie of the Year is, by far, the best annual tournament in boxing, and had often been a launchpad for Japanese fighters who on to big things. Whether you get to watch it or not this is worth making a mental note of.
Yuki Strong Kobayashi (15-8, 9) vs Ki Chang Go (8-3, 4) - Osaka, Japan
Japanese warrior Yuki Strong Kobayashi looks to make his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight title as he takes on Korean challenger Ki Chang Go, in what looks like a very safe match up. Kobayashi is a gutsy fighter, who has limitations but will always fight his heart out and has improved through his career to become a very solid fighter. Go on the other hand is just a few fights removed from losing to Kobayashi's then stable mate Masahiro Sakamoto, a man who is best known for losing a Flyweight world title fight. Kobayashi should be far too strong and big for the Korean here.
Hiroyuki Kudaka (26-18-2, 11) Vs Yuta Matsuo (15-4-1, 8) - Osaka, Japan
The final Japanese title eliminator of 2019 will be at Super Flyweight and see former world title challenger Hiroyuki Kudaka take on Yuta Matsuo for the right to fight the newly crowned Kenta Nakagawa. Although neither Kudaka or Matsuo are world beaters they do make for an interesting match up, and we think their limitations and styles should gel well for a very fun action bout. Don't expect a boxing bout here, but instead expect a fight! A real potential gem, among a month of great fights.
Ryota Murata (15-2, 12) Vs Steven Butler (28-1-1, 24) - Yokohama, Japan
Japanese mega star Ryota Murata looks to have a longer second reign with the WBA "regular" Middleweight title than his first, and faces off with hard hitting Canadian Steven Butler in his first defense. Murata really impressed when he avenged his loss to Rob Brant earlier this year, and another performance like that here should see him over-come Butler. The challenger is however dangerous and will be in Japan looking to score his biggest win to date. This could be very explosive.
Moruti Mthalane (38-2, 25) vs Akira Yaegashi (28-6, 16) - Yokohama, Japan
South African veteran Morruti Mthalane returns to Japan for this third defense of the IBF Flyweight title, and he takes on fellow veteran Akira Yaegashi. We don't just see this as being a bout for the title, but a bout for survival, and the loser really is going to struggle to have any sort of a future in the sport. Both have had great careers, but with both men now on the wrong side of 35 their future in the sport is limited, and fighting back up the ranks after a loss would be very difficult. Although the older man, and more experienced fighter, Mthalane has looked the fresher man, but 37 is ancient for a Flyweight and father will catch up to him sooner or later. Then again Yaegashi, at 36, is no spring chicken either. A very interesting and massively significant match up for the Flyweight division.
Kenshiro Teraji (16-0, 9) Vs Randy Petalcorin (31-3-1, 23) -Yokohama, Japan
Japanese fighter Kenshiro Teraji, who is mow fighting by his full name, was supposed to face IBF Lught Flyweight champion Felix Alvarado in a unification bout, until Alvarado fell ill. To replace Alvarado they've brought in Randy Petalcorin, who will challenger the unbeaten Japanese for the the WBC Light Flyweight title. The champion is looking for his 7th defense, and will be strongly favoured here but Petalcorin is a solid challenger and should give Kenshiro something of a test here.
Roman Gonzalez (47-2, 39) vs Diomel Diocos (14-5-3, 4) -Yokohama, Japan
Nicaraguan great Roman Gonzalez fights in his 50th professional bout as he takes on Filipino foe Diomel Diocos. The talented Gonzalez is clearly past his best, but looked great last time out, when he beat down Moises Fuentes and likely has more than enough in the tank to take a stoppage win here. Interestingly it's more than a year since Gonzalez last fought, and more than 5 years since he last stepped foot in a Japanese ring. Diocos has faced limited opponents, other than Daigo Higa who stopped him. We suspect Gonzalez does a number on Diocos like Higa did.
The month of November is a really packed one with amazing bouts every few days. In fact it's possible the most packed month of the year so far in regards to the Asia scene with big bouts in Japan, Thailand and the Philippines as well as bouts outside of Asia.
Kazuto Takesako (9-0, 9) v Sanosuke Sasaki (12-6, 6) - Japan
We turn our focus to the Korakuen Hall to begin the month of November, with a Japanese Middleweight title bout between hard hitting champion Kazuto Takesako and former champion Sanosuke Sasaki. The bout will be Takesako's first defense of the title that he won earlier this year, when he stopped Hikaru Nishida inside a round, whilst Sasaki will be looking to reclaim the title that he lost in his first defense, back in 2013 against Tomohiro Ebisu. It's hard to doubt the champion, but we are hoping he can use this bout to springboard towards bigger and better fights in 2019.
Ryan Burnett (19-0, 9) v Nonito Donaire (38-5, 24) - Scotland
A few hours after the Japanese title fight we get the final bout from the Quarter Round of the WBSS Bantamweight competition and will see Filipino icon Nonito Donaire challenge WBA Bantamweight “Super” champion Ryan Burnett. The winner of this bout will move on to the semi-final of the WBSS, where they will face Zolani Tete in a WBA/WBO world title unification bout. Donaire, at the age of 35, needs a win if he's to remain relevant whilst a win for Burnett would be huge for his career. We don't expect this to be an action packed war, but it is a very interesting match up.
Janibek Alimkhanuly (3-0, 1) Vs Vaughn Alexander (12-1, 8) - USA
Yet more notable action on the first Saturday of the month will see Kazakh prospect Janibek Alimkhanuly take on American foe Vaughn Alexander. This should be a good test for Alimkhanuly, but he really needs to shine after failing to impress on his US debut in September, when he took a decision win over Carlos Galvan. The 32 year old Alexander is a tough fighter who will be looking to upset the apple cart, and bounce back following a loss to Denis Doughlin last time out. This could be a very fun fight.
East Japan Rookie of the Year Finals - Japan
For a second day running attention turns to the Korakuen Hall where we will get the 2018 East Japan Rookie of the Year Finals. The winners from this show will fight in the All Japan Finals just before Christmas. Although the East Japan Rookie Finals aren't a huge story to international fans it is a launch pad, and the winners of the All Japan Finals do tend to make a mark in the years that follow, so we do suggest that fans keep a serious eye out for the results from this card.
Hikaru Nishida (17-9-1, 8) Vs Shuji Kato (9-1-1, 6) - Japan
The Japanese action resumes on November 7th when we see former Japanese Middleweight champion Hikaru Nishida takes on 2017 Middleweight Rookie of the Year Shuji Kato, with the winner becoming the mandatory for the Japanese title in 2019. Meaning the winner of this bout will face the winner of the Takesako Vs Sasaki bout from just a few days earlier. This will be Nishida's first bout since losing the title to Takesako whilst Kato will be coming into the bout on the back of 7 straight wins, including his Rookie of the Year victory.
Shawn Oda (9-0, 8) Vs Seiryu Toshikawa (10-4, 6) - Japan
More Japanese action on November 10th with an interesting triple header. One of those bouts will see young Lightweights collide as Shawn Oda takes on Seiryu Toshikawa for the vacant Japanese Youth Lightweight title. We've been impressed by the explosive Oda, who is a Rookie of the Year winner, and have tipped him to go on to great things in the years to come. This is however a notable test for him. Coming into this bout Toshikawa has won his last 4 bouts, with the last of those wins being a big domestic win over Ryuji Ikeda.
Yuga Inoue (7-0-1, 1) Vs Kai Ishizawa (4-0, 4) - Japan
A second Japanese Youth title fight on this card will see unbeaten youngsters collide as Yuga Inoue faces off with Kai Ishizawa. Yuga is another of the fighters to claim a Rookie of the Year crown, winning the Minimumweight tournament last year, and has since scored his first stoppage, taking out Daisuke Suda in May of this year. The 21 year old Ishizawa has gone a very different route, having began his career in 6 rounders, and he really impressed last time out, when he stopped Tatsuro Nakashima. This is a key bout for both men, and the winner will certainly give their career a huge boost.
Ryuichi Funai (30-7, 21) Vs Victor Emanuel Olivo (15-2-1, 7) - Japan
The third part of this triple header is an IBF Super Flyweight world title eliminator, as Japan's Ryuichi Funai takes on Victory Olivo, with the winner moving onto a potential world title fight with Jerwin Ancajas in 2019. For Funai this bout is the next step in his long career, and a set back will likely be the end of his world title dreams. Olivo on the other-hand is pretty unknown, though he did give Milan Melindo real issues when he faced the Filipino earlier in his career and has got the potential to upset the Watanabe man in Tokyo.
Melvin Jerusalem (13-2, 8) Vs Toto Landero (10-3-2, 2) - Philippines
Staying in Asia Filipino fans also get something really exciting to watch on November 10th as former world title challengers clash in a massive domestic clash. The bout will see former WBC Minimumweight challenger Melvin Jerusalem take on recent WBA title challenger Toto Landero. Both men have come up short to world class fighters, as well as domestic foe Joey Canoy strangely, and should make for a very compelling contest as both fighters look to gain another shot at a world title. It's hard to pick a winner, and bouts like that are always worthy of interest, especially at fringe world level.
Daud Yordan (38-3-0-1, 26) Vs Anthony Crolla (33-6-3, 13) - England
The busy November 10th date also plays host to an interesting looking match up between Indonesian fighter Daud Yordan and popular Englishman Anthony Crolla, who fight in a notable Lightweight bout. The winner of this will immediately find themselves in the mix for a WBA Lightweight title bout. Yordan will be entering this bout on the back of a huge, and thrilling, win over Pavel Malikov in Russia but will need a career best performance to over-come Crolla. The Englishman on the other hand has gone 2-2 in his last 4 bouts, but has suffered both of those losses to Jorge Linares and shouldn't have his recent form held against him. This really could be a fun, high tempo bout between two flawed but busy fighters.
Tomoki Kameda (35-2, 20) Vs Abigail Medina (19-3-2, 10) - Tokyo
On October 12th we get a really notable bout as former WBO Bantamweight champion Tomoki Kameda faces off with Abigail Medina for the WBC "Interim" Super Bantamweight. The winner of this bout will be lined up with regular champion Rey Vargas, who was injured when this bout was ordered by the WBC. Kameda is well known in boxing circles, and is the younger brother of former world champions Koki and Daiki Kameda, but we've yet to see him really tested at Super Bantamweight. The 30 year old Medina is unbeaten in over years and has claimed the European title en route to his shot at this “interim” title. This could be a very interesting bout for two men each looking to prove that they are a top Super Bantamweight.
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