A few weeks ago we began a new series here looking to answer the question of “who…?” and we’re back again this week with the latest in this series. This week we’re not looking at someone coming through the ranks, or someone looking to prove themselves, but instead we’re looking at some who is currently at the top of sport and will lose their position later this year. That’s because we’ll be answering the question of:
“Who... will lose their world title this year?”
Just before we start, the condition here, as is typically the case with Asian Boxing, is that the fighter must be Asian to be considered a valid answer here. By “losing” their title, we mean losing their title in any manner. Be it from vacating, retiring, losing it in the ring or being stripped.
We will not be including cases where a fighter is promoted from “regular” champion to “super” champion. However we will be including “regular” and “interim” champions as champions for the purpose of the predictions here.
Lee: “I had a look at all the champions, from right across the sport, and I see a lot of fighters who might have tough fights in 2021. Of those however a lot have easier options they can take, and I don’t think too many are being backed into a wall to face a top fighter.
One possible exception there is Can Xu, who I love. I think every fight fan loves Can Xu. Sadly however I think he will be lured to the UK to have a bout with former IBF champion Josh Warrington. The bout every fight fan should want to see take place and should be excited to see happen. Sadly for Xu I think that fight will take place in the UK and judging in the UK, against British fighters, has become a joke in recent years. Especially against a popular fighter, like Warrington.
I think we’ll see Xu and Warrington put on a brilliant fight. A truly sensational battle. But I see judges marring the bout by giving a controversial decision to Warrington and Xu losing his title in very debatable fashion."
Takahiro: “I am sad to say I think it will be my countryman Ryosuke Iwasa, who will lose his title this year. The IBF “interim” Super Bantamweight title will likely not be around his waist at the end of 2021. I think he will have to fight Murodjon Akhmadaliev, and will lose in that bout to the very, very good Uzbek fighter.
I think Iwasa will put up a better effort against “Kaka” than he did against TJ Doheny, when he lost the full version of the title, but I think the Uzbek is too good, too strong, too powerful and too hungry for “Eagle Eye”. I like Iwasa, a lot, but I think he has too many problems with fighting southpaws, and that will show against the WBA “Super” and IBF champion. It will be a fantastic fight. And Iwasa has a punchers chance. But I think he loses a very wide decision. Maybe a late stoppage.
My guess. Ryosuke Iwasa (IBF “interim” Super Bantamweight champion)”
Scott: “This sport can be a funny one at times and we see long reigning champions being knocked off their perch when they look well set, we saw that last year with Wanheng Menayothin and Deontay Wilder. I think we’ll see something like that happen again in 2021, and for me the easy pick here is WBA “super” Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart.
I’ve felt for a while that Knockout has been happy to go through the motions at times and that his reign really isn’t that secure. He looked good last time out, beating Norihito Tanaka, but he has often under-whelmed and been a bit lucky against fighters who aren’t really world class. I thought he was fortunate against ArAr Andales, I think he under-performed against Toto Landero, Xiong Zhao Zhong, Byron Rojas and Carlos Buitrago.
He’s supposed to fight in May, more than a year after his last bout, and fighters are circling around his WBA title, with the likes of Jose Argumedo, Byron Rojas, Vic Saludar and Robert Paradero all wanting a shot at the belt. There’s also the likes of Hasanboy Dusmatov, Ginjiro Shigeoka, Jing Xiang all wanting a crack at a title this year. There’s a lot of sharks circling around Knockout, and I suspect a good offer to make him travel will be made, and we’ll see the 30 year old have the title taken away before the end of 2021.”
A new week begins and looking back over the last 7 days we some good, some bad, and some bloody ugly. It's a week that will last long in the memory of some fans, be forgotten easily by others and really fade into a blur for others. Some fighters really shone, other covered themselves in nothing bis disgrace, and an extra layer of fat. Sometimes this sport does it's self no favours, however in a week like this we really did have more than enough positives to go with the bad.
1-Ryosuke Iwasa put in career best performance
On Saturday night Ryosuke Iwasa put together one of, if not the, most accomplished performance of his career to dismantle former WBO Bantamweight champion Marlon Tapales. Iwasa, who turned professional with expectations, has been inconsistent through out his career but here he really showed what he could do and twice dropped the rugged Tapales. Through the fight Iwasa was busy, accurate, heavy handed and really, really impressed. Too many times in his career he has been focused on his power but this was an all round performance from a fighter who may, finally, have found his recipe for sustained success. Fingers crossed he can replicate this type of performance next time.
2-Kosuke Saka steam-rolls Sueyoshi
From one inconsistent fighter to another! Kosuke Saka really showed what he can do as he dominated the usually tricky Masaru Sueyoshi to become a 2-weight Japanese national champion. It was only around 8 months ago that Saka had been stopped in 2 rounds by Joe Noynay, but here he looked fantastic, aggressive, powerful and confident. He pressured Sueyoshi from the opening bell and refused to give Sueyoshi any space before dropping him in round. Saka's performance was the antithesis to how Andy Ruiz Jr fought Anthony Joshua, and showed how a pressure fighter should cut the distance.
3-Akhmedov lands a bomb
We have a few great shots this week, but the pick of the bunch was the right hand from hell that Sadriddin Akhmedov landed on Jose Antonio Villalobos. The 21 year old Kazakh really is one of the best prospects in world boxing, and whilst he's not getting much attention, outside of his native Kazakhstan and adoptive Canada, he is going to become a big star in the near future. A knockout like this one is the sort of thing he will be built on when people start putting together a highlight reel of him.
We're really not sure what the idea behind throwing Miguelk Gonzalez into a world title fight was, especially not on neutral soil. If it was to give Chilean fans something to get excited about it would have made more sense to have got him to fight at home. As it was they sent him to Mexico to get battered by Jerwin Ancajas. The win did Ancajas no favours, and was a third loss at a high level for Gonzalez, who should not be fighting in this type of company. Time for Ancajas to step up and face world class competition and for Gonzalez to be matched competitively, rather than jumping from soft touches to world class.
2-G+ go replay crazy
We love the G+ broadcasts, usually. This weekend however much of the broadcast was spent showing replays. Ususually the shows are smooth, and run from one fight to the next but this weeks it seemed to drag, horribly at times, with too time spent showing replays. The match ups on the under-card weren't good enough, they didn't last long enough, and they should, ideally, have had 1 more bout on the card. A poor show from G+, who consistently deliver fantastic events.
3-Dillian Whyte, Andy Ruiz, Eric Molina and Tom Little
The biggest boxing event of the weekend was held in Saudi Arabia, and while we could easily make a list of complaints about the card, it's venue, lack of atmosphere and the drug cheats on it, we could have potentially enjoyed the show had more than half the card actually looked like they wanted to be there. Dillian Whtyte and Andy Ruiz Jr came into the ring looking like human-whales, Eric Molina looked like a man wanting a way out and Tom Little looked like he didn't belong in the ring with his opponent. From the 5 Heavyweight bouts on the show only 1 genuinely delivered top level action between two men who were well matched and in shape. What was supposed to be a festival of Heavyweight was a showcase of the over-weights.
1-Noynay Vs Ogawa
Man head clashes aren't nice are they? Joe Noynay and Kenichi Ogawa shared headbutts in 5 rounds than fighters should ever share in a bout. Both were left badly cut, the run had little pools of blood on it, especially in Noynay's corner, and the styles never came close to gelling. This was ugly, bloody and a truly horrific mess. The worst thing is that we had really high hopes for this bout, which had two fighters who are a similar level fighting in a bout that promised a lot. Just one of those bouts that didn't click, sadly.
We're back to Andy Ruiz and really, if this is how a fighter with 3 world titles comes into the ring we really need to wonder why he even bothered. He might as well have polished the titles, handed the belts back to Joshua, and gone to take a seat in Burger King. Absolutely pathetic effort, and to the admit he didn't trainer, well we all have eyes Andy, we know you didn't train. Really embarrassing for boxing. Whilst Joshua fought the perfect game plan things were made easier for him by facing someone who had simply given up caring.
UKAD, or UK Anti-Doping, really did themselves no favours this week. Their statement about "clearing" Dillian Whyte for an "adverse sample" left more questions than answers, and really throws into question their entire purpose. They are supposed to enforce rules, push and push responsibility for clean sports. Instead it seems very much like "strict liability" is only applied sometimes and either their testing process is flawed or they don't trust it. To clear a fighter a day before they are scheduled to fight does their reputation no good at all, and looks more than coincidental. Whilst UKAD might have cleared the fighter they have sullied their own reputation in the process and unless things change they may end up getting a reputation similar to that of RUSADA, who proved to be of little use to the concept of clean sport. They have left the door open to too many questions, given too few answers, and we really need to wonder if they are fit for purpose.
Whilst the Whyte test situation only came to light due to Thomas Hauser we need to wonder how many similar adverse tests don't come to light, how many charges are dropped, and how many tests are simply put down to contamination. For an organisation to push clean sport they need to have the financial backing needed to ban fighters, they need a quality drug testing system, and they need to take responsibility of their own findings. What we saw from UKAD was toothless, and not for the first time it appears they don't have the power to fully do their job. There needs to be a massive overhaul of the drug testing system, and a massive financial boost to allow them to do what they need to do. There needs to be transparency and so many changes to an organisation which is losing respect almost by the month.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
This past week has been a rather interesting one, with a lot happening, and some fantastic action, some great performances and some real disappointments. It's been a week where the awards were mostly easy selections, though we did have a problem with award, and we have noted it accordingly.
Fighter of the Week
Ryosuke Iwasa (27-3, 17)
Japan's Ryosuke Iwasa has been been a man who has long promised a lot, but has struggled to deliver. He has been inconsistent, he has slipped up too much and he has failed to live up to what he is capable of. This week however he delivered, his stoppage of Marlon Tapales was a notable upset with the bookies and saw Iwasa do it on the big stage. It wasn't a flawless performance but it was the best we've seen from him, and it showed what he can do, something we've not seen enough of. Fingers crossed he can build on this one and go on to become the fighter many expected him to be.
Performance of the Week
Kosuke Saka (20-5, 17)
In just over two years Kosuke Saka has had a career that has gone down, up, down and is up again. The way he lost the Japanese Featherweight title to Takenori Ohashi was embarrassing, his win over Masanori Rikiishi looks great on on reflect, his loss to Joe Noynay was a major set back. This weekend Saka was essentially fighting for his career, and it showed as he battered, beat up and broke down Masaru Sueyoshi in one of, if not them, best performance of his career. He pressed and pressured Sueyoshi, eventually dropping him and stopping him to become a 2-weight Japanese national champion. An excellent performance, a great win and a victory that sets up a mouth watering encounter with Takuya Watanabe in 2020.
Ryosuke Iwasa vs Marlon Tapales
Whilst we didn't have a Fight of the Year contender this past week we did have some solid bouts, including the IBF "interim" Super Bantamweight clash between Ryosuke Iwasa and Marlon Tapales. This was exciting to begin with, slowed in the middle then finished in style. It was a solid action bout early on and is well worth a watch, as long as you're not jumping in expecting a FOTY contender. Solid and high level stuff, but not quite a spectacular fight.
Note - Due to a lack of footage at the time of writing the 10 round, 6 knockdown thriller between Ryota Yada and Yuki Beppu wasn't able to be considered, though going off all reports this likely was the Fight of the Week.
Daiki Funayama vs Suradech Ruhasiri (RD4)
Sometimes the best rounds are just crazy, and round 4 of the contest between Daiki Funayama and Suradech Ruhasiri was crazy. The bout wasn't a great one, in fact it was one sided for the most part, but the effort Ruhasiri put in, and the beating he took, during the round make it thrilling. Funayama hurt his man early in the round and went for the kill. The Thai fought back, landing some huge right hand counters, making for a round that was truly amazing to watch. This won't be in the discussions for round of the year, but watching live, this is one that deserves a rewatch.
Sadriddin Akhmedov KO7 Jose Antonio Villalobos
We had a number of impressive KO's this week, but the best of the bunch was scored by Kazakh prospect Sadriddin Akhmedov, who brutally took out Argentinian foe Jose Antonio Villalobos in the 7th round. This came from a monstrous right hand and really left poor Villalobos wondering what sort of thunderbolt he had been caught by, a really impressive and eye catching KO from the future of Kazakh boxing.
Thanongsak Simsri (13-0, 11)
Aged 20, a professional for less than 18 months and now with just 38 rounds under his belt Thai youngster Thaniongsak Simsri proved he was one to watch. The youngster claimed the biggest win of his career this weekend when he narrowly, though fairly, out pointed world ranked Filipino Christian Bacolod over 8 rounds. The Thai was the stronger man and finished better than his talented Filipino foe, and showed that whilst there is still a lot of work to be done he is a top prospect rising through the ranks at a rapid pace. The man from Si Sa Ket might be dubbed "Srisaket II" by those in Thailand, but don't be surprised if he ends up making a name for himself in the coming years. This kid is a talent.
Yudai Shigeoka (1-0, 1) Vs Lito Dante (16-10-4, 8)
We love seeing fighters on the fast track, so for a man with just 1 fight to his name to face on an OPBF champion we were always going to jump all this. Yudai Shigeoka, the older brother of Ginjiro Shigeoka, is stepping up massively to take on rugged Filipino Lito Dante in what should be a really serious test of the youngster. A win for Shigeoka will put him in the title mix in the new year, but a win is certainly not a foregone conclusion and Dante is never an easy man to over-come. This is a serious test, and this is the sort of risk we love seeing from prospects.
This coming December is absolutely insane with notable fights taking place almost daily. As has become traditional Japan has a packed scheduled for the month, but this time around it's not just Japan delivering the action in the final month of the year, in what is really a massive month all around the globe!
Koki Inoue (14-0, 11) Vs Jheritz Chavez (9-3-2, 7) - Tokyo, Japan
The first notable show of the month will see unbeaten Japanese national champion Koki Inoue look to add the WBO Asia Pacific Light Welterweight title to his collection as he takes on Filipino foe Jheritz Chavez, This should be a really interesting match up between two men who have power and can both take a show. Inoue should be favoured, as the unbeaten local is a real talent, but Chavez will not be there to just make up the numbers, and the Filipino has proven himself to be a dangerous fighter, having come close to beating Rikki Naito. This could end up being much, much tougher for Inoue than many expect.
Jerwin Ancajas (31-1-2, 21) vs Miguel Gonzalez (31-2, 8) - Puebla, Mexico
On a packer Saturday we'll see a lot going on. Among the most notable bouts, for us at least, we'll see IBF Super Flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas take on Chilean challenger Miguel Gonzalez, in what looks like a good bout on paper. Sadly we suspect the paper lies here and can't see anything other than an Ancajas win. The Filipino world champion should be too quick, too sharp and too powerful for the game, but light hitting and limited, Gonzalez who has come up short the two times he has mixed at close to world class. One thing worth noting is that Ancajas was supposed to fight a few weeks earlier, before having that bout cancelled, and may well look lacklustre as a result of having a change of opponent. Even with that in mind we still see this as being an easy win for the "Pretty Boy"
Marlon Tapales (33-2, 16) vs Ryosuke Iwasa (26-3, 16) - New York, USA
A second major IBF bout on December 7th will see former world champions collide for the IBF "interim" Super Bantamweight title. In one corner is the criminally under-rated Marlon Tapales, who is a former WBO Bantamweight and has proven himself as a hard hitting road warrior who is much more dangerous than his record suggests. Tapales will be up against former IBF Super Bantamweight champion Ryosuke Iwasa, who is the naturally bigger man, but very much a fighter who blows hot and cold. This is a hard one to call, though we are leaning to Tapales, and is a wonderful bout mixing fighters with different styles that should gel, and heavy hands. A potential hidden gem for the month, despite the "interim" title.
Joe Noynay (18-2-1, 7) vs Kenichi Ogawa (24-1, 18) - Tokyo, Japan
In 2019 Filipino fighter Joe Noynay has has impressed. He travelled to Japan and stopped Kosuke Saka to claim the WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight title and then returned to stop Olympic bronze medal winner Satoshi Shimizu. Noynay looks to make it 3-0 against Japanese fighters this year as he takes on Kenichi Ogawa in a really, really, good looking bout. Ogawa is attempting to move towards a second world title bout, but will need to over-come the in form Noynay, which is tough for anyone. There's a lot on the line here, and the winner will be in the world title mix in 2020, whilst the loser will have some genuine rebuilding to do in the new year. This bout is very much high risk, high reward, for both men.
Masaru Sueyoshi (19-1-1, 11) vs Kosuke Saka (19-5, 16) - Tokyo, Japan
A second title bout at 130lbs, on the same show in Tokyo in fact, will see Japanese national champion Masaru Sueyoshi defending his title against Kosuke Saka, who looks to bounce back from his loss to Joe Noynay. For Sueyoshi this bout will mark his 5th defense of the title as he continues to edge closer and closer to a bout for some form of international or world title. The talented, though often frustrating, Sueyoshi is a tricky man to beat, though we do have questions over his chin. Hopefully Saka will manage to test Sueyoshi's whiskers though we suspect that the boxing brain and unique rhythm of the champion will be too much for the naturally smaller Saka to deal with here.
Sadriddin Akhmedov (10-0, 9) vs Jose Antonio Villalobos (12-5-2, 7)
Hard hitting Kazakh youngster Sadriddin Akhmedov looks like he has got superstar potential, with an exciting style, a great look, and the ability to box or bang. He is as a good a prospect as Kazakhstan has right now and his promoters in Canada seem to know they have a special talent on their hands. Despite Akhmedov being a special talent Eye of the Tiger Management aren't rushing him, and here he gets another fight to develop his experience and talent, as he goes up against tough Argentinian fighter Jose Antonio Villalobos, who has only been stopped once. This should be another win for Akhmedov, who already has 4 wins this year, but we're glad he's being kept active and getting experience at such a young age. Bigger fights will come for the 21 year old, and this is just the next step to those bigger bouts.
Musashi Mori (10-0, 6) vs Takuya Mizuno (17-1-1, 14) - Osaka, Japan
Unbeaten Japanese youngster Musashi Mori has been tipped as one to watch for a while by those in the know in Japan and the currently WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight champion is certainly an excellent prospect, with a lot of potential. Here we'll see him risking his title and unbeaten record against the heavy handed Takuya Mizuno in a very interesting test. Mori once looked like a bit of raw talent, but has been getting nurtured this year and has been taken under the win of Ismael Salas, who is expected to to help round off the rough edges that Mori has, and calm his offensive mentality. That'll be a big ask, but if Salas can get Mori to buy into the philosophy he can go a very long way. Mizuno is technically quite crude, but with heavy hands he tends to be able to punch his way to victory, and if he catches Mori the youngster could be in trouble. We suspect Mori should have the scales to win, but this is no walk in the park for the youngster.
Takayuki Okumoto (23-8-4, 11) Vs Kenta Nakagawa (17-3-1, 12) - Osaka, Japan
Takayuki Okumoto looks to make his next defense of the Japanese Super Flyweight title as he takes on former champion Kenta Nakagawa in what looks like a decent match up. Okumoto has been in great form over the last few years in terms of results, but looks to be very much a transitional champion, who is rather lucky the division is a weak one in Japan right now. Nakagawa held the title for 5 months in late 2016 and early 2017, but lost in his first defense and hasn't really impressed since then. Nakagawa has the skills to test Okumoto, but we suspect the champion will retain again here.
Yuki Beppu (20-1-1, 19) Vs Ryota Yada (19-5, 16) -Osaka, Japan
We'll see a potential shoot out at Welterweight as former Rookie of the Year Yuki Beppu faces former Japanese champion Ryota Yada for the WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title. Both of these men can bang, both are aggressive and both believe in their power. Of the two Yada is the more proven, but he's also been stopped multiple times, whilst Beppu has shown a gritty toughness that could help here in what could be one of the most exciting bouts of the month. We don't expect this one to go the distance, and instead we expect fireworks, a lot of fireworks! If you're watching this one, don't blink!
Toshiki Shimomachi (10-1-2, 6) vs TBA -Osaka, Japan
The once beaten Toshiki Shimomachi is pencilled in to make his first defense of the JBC Youth Super Bantamweight title. At the moment no opponent has been named, sadly, We suspect an opponent was in mind but that bout has failed to materialise and Shimomachi has been left opponent-less. There is a chance his team will secure a decent opponent in the coming days but it is looking less and less likely as the days go by. As for Shimomachi he's a very talented, having won Rookie of the Year in 2018 and the Japanese Youth title earlier this year.
Thanongsak Simsri (12-0, 11) vs Christian Bacolod (12-0, 9) - Osaka, Japan
One of the most interesting match ups for the month comes quite low down the profile scale, but features two unbeaten young hopefuls in what could be a truly compelling match up. In one corner is Thai punch Thanongsak Simsri, who has already been compared to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, whilst the other corner plays home for world ranked Filipino Christian Bacolod. On paper this looks excellent, and despite being quite far down the card, and lacking any immediate title honours, we suspect this could be a bit of a thriller.
The last 7 days has been relatively quiet in Asian boxing, though that doesn't mean we've not found some things that were good, bad and ugly....even if we did need to look a little further afield than usual for one of our ugly's this week!
1-Iwasa Vs Tapales is official!
This wasn't a particularly big surprise, given it has been rumoured for a while and had been all but set, but it was still nice to see an official announcement being made this week by the Celes Gym to confirmed the IBF "interim" Super Bantamweight title fight between Ryosuke Iwasa and Marlon Tapales. We are really excited about this one and think that the styles of the two men will make for something a little bit special
2-Hasanboy Dusmatov's debut
After weeks of frustration, rumours, speculation, and changes, we finally saw 2016 Olympic gold medal winner Hasanboy Dusmatov make his professional debut. The talented Uzbek stopped Jesus Cervantes Villanueva in 2 rounds on Saturday night in Mexico and he is now off the board with a win. The performance was a long way from flawless, but there was a lot to like and we're really excited to see where he can go in the pros, and how quickly he'll get there. He's a genuine talent, but given how frustrating it was to see him make his debut there has got to be some worries that his career will be a very frustrating one to follow.
It felt like a throw back weekend with a rare Indonesian televised show on RCTI. It feels like it has been far, far too long since Chris John was in action and there was a real reason to watch a show from Indonesia but this week was had one thanks to Ongen Saknosiwi and Daud Yordan. The bouts weren't the best, but they were both fan friendly and easy to watch. They showcased the biggest name in Indonesian boxing, and one of the rising stars and the match ups were both compelling from a stylistic point of view. This was great for Indonesian boxing, and fingers crossed RCTI do began to show case more boxing from Indonesia. The country has talent, but their boxing scene needs investment, money and effort.
Whilst we have just praised RCTI we also need to complain about them. They showed the entirety of Daud Yordan fight with Michael Mokoena live, but they missed the first 6 rounds of the co-feature. It would have made so much sense to have broadcast every round of Ongen Saknosiwi's bout with Marco Demecillo. Yordan is the star of Indonesian boxing, still, but the need for the new generation is there and they could have helped promote Saknosiwi here had they shown his entire bout. The 6 rounds we got were great, but it feels like a genuine mis-step by the broadcaster who could have shown all 12.
1- Sky Sports Box Office price for Ruiz Vs Joshua II
Not an Asian boxing issue as such, but an ugly issue for boxing in general is the abuse British fight fans are getting at the hands of Sky Sports Boxing office. The service announced that rematch between Andy Ruiz and Anthony Joshua will cost £24.95. That's higher than an average Sky Sports Box Office show, and suggests the bout really is all about money. The bout has been widely criticised for where it's taking place, in Saudi Arabia, and with an increase in PPV money along side a monster site fee it really does leave a bitter taste in the mouth. Things like this push some people away from the sport, and others to illegal streams. A terrible move by all involved, who appear to want another pound of flesh from boxing fans.
2-Masashi Noguchi's continued losing run
One of the feel good stories of the week was Takuya Yamaguchi picking up his 4th win in 17 fights. We love Yamaguchi and the way he has continued to fight on despite set backs, making up for his limitations. Sadly though this weeks win for Yamaguchi came against a man who is now more than 3 years removed from a win and has now lost 7 in a row. That is Masashi Noguchi, who challenged for the Japanese Lightweight title in December 2016, losing to Shuhei Tsuchiya, and has suffered 6 straight losses since. There now, surely, needs to be someone in his team telling him to hang them up before he gets hurt.
(Image courtesy of Olamsport, Matchroom Sport)
The final part of February is a really interesting one, with a lot of action in less than 2 weeks including world title bouts, prospects, world title eliminators and a regional title fight.
Dave Penalosa (14-0, 10) vs Marcos Cardenas (19-6-1, 15) - Metro Manila, Philippines
For a second straight week we see a Filipino prospect called Dave in a notable step up on ESPN5. First there was Dave Apolinario and now we get Dave Penalosa, who looks to over-come Marcos Cardenas for the WBO Oriental Featherweight title. Penalosa, who carries a legendary surname, showed early promise but inactivity has cost years of his career, and he will now be looking to get back in the right track. Cardenas is heavy handed but this is a huge step up for the Mexican.
Johnriel Casimero (25-4, 16) vs Kenya Yamashita (13-4, 10)- Metro Manila, Philippines
Former 2-weight world champion John Riel Casimero returns to a Filipino ring for the first time since losing in a world title eliminator to Jonas Sultan back in September 2017. In the opposite corner is flawed, but exciting, Japanese youngster Kenya Yamashiita, who should make for a really interesting opponent. Casimero should be favoured, but he has been disappointing at times and he may well be on the slide.
Carl Jammes Martin (11-0, 10) vs Petchchorhae Kokietgym (17-2, 8)- Metro Manila, Philippines
Another exciting prospect on this card is the unbeaten and prodigiously young Carl Jammes Martin, who will be making his TV debut in a bout against Thai visitor Petchchorhae Kokietgym. This looks like a really tough match up for Martin's first bout on TV, but a win here will really allow him to announce himself on the Filipino fans who may not have had a chance to see the youngster yet. The Thai is no pushover but has lost his two most notable bouts to date.
Ryosuke Iwasa (25-3, 16) Vs Cesar Juarez (23-6, 17)- California, USA
In the US we'll see an IBF world title eliminator at Super Bantamweight, as former world champion Ryosuke Iwasa takes on the always entertaining Cesar Juarez in what should be a very entertaining battle. Iwasa needs to impress to remain in the mix, and this will be his US debut after having had a previous Stateside aborted when his opponent failed to make weight. Juarez lost his last bout at world level, being stopped by Isaac Dogboe, but has bounced back well and will be really up for this contest, in what could be a very, very entertaining bout and potentially the highlight of the weekend.
Yesenia Gomez (14-5-3, 6) vs Erika Hanawa (10-3, 4) - Quintana Roo, Mexico
In a female world title fight we'll see Japan's Erika Hanawa challenge WBC Female Light Flyweight champion Yesenia Gomez. Despite being a world title fight few would consider either of these as truly world class, with both suffering set backs in recent bouts. It's those setbacks, and the need to shine brightly here, that makes this bout more intriguing than if both were in good form, and neither can afford a loss. Sadly though in a division with Yesica Yolanda Bopp, Kenia Enriquez and Tenkai Tsunami it's hard to see the winner of this bout as truly top level fighter.
Akihiro Kondo (31-7-1, 18) Vs Downua Ruawaiking (14-0, 11) - Tokyo, Japan
A second IBF world title eliminator is set to take place at Light Welterweight, as the teak tough Akihiro Kondo battles unbeaten Thai prospect Downua Ruawaiking. This is a really interesting match up that not only lets us see what Kondo has left in the tank, after 2 straight forward bouts since his loss to Sergey Lipinets, but also see what Ruawaiking has to offer. The Thai has looked good so far, but this is a big step up in class, and his first bout outside of his homeland. A win for Downua would put him on the map, but this is a really stiff test for him.
Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (11-3, 10) Vs Yuki Nonaka (32-10-3, 10) - Osaka, Japan
Potentially the fight of the month will see the big punching Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa defending his WBO Asia Pacific and OPBF Middleweight titles against skilled veteran Yuki Nonaka. This bout will likely be brawn against brain and should be a real thriller. Hosokawa only fights one way, and that is with intense aggression, the sort of thing Hosokawa has made a career out of soaking up, countering and using against fighters. We really do see this as a highlight and can't wait to see Boxingraise posting the fight on demand.
Vic Saludar (18-3, 10) Vs Masataka Taniguchi (11-2, 7) - Tokyo, Japan
Another potential highlight will see WBO Minimumweight champion Vic Saludar defending his title for the first time, taking on Japanese challenger Masataka Taniguchi. Both of these men are aggressive, heavy handed, skilled and exciting. We're expecting bombs to be traded, though not in a wild way. Instead this should be a compelling chess match with shotguns and rocket launchers. A potentially brilliant contest, that is only really harmed by the fact TBS won't be broadcasting the fight live but instead showing it on tape delay.
Having already looked at 12 rumoured bouts, it makes sense to cover more bouts that appear to be getting spoke about, before we start to see action picking up in the coming days.
If you missed part 1 and part 2 they are available:
6 bouts rumoured to be in the works for 2019
6 more bouts rumoured to be in the works for 2019 (AKA Part 2!)
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (47-4-1, 41) vs Jerwin Ancajas (30-1-2, 20)
In part 1 of this mini-series, if you will, we mentioned that IBF Super Flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas had a mandatory title defense against Ryoichi Funai hanging over his head. In part 2 we mentioned that WBC Super Flyweight Srisaket Sor Rungvisai had his own mandatory looking against Juan Francisco Estrada. Interestingly however both Srisaket and Ancajas have expressed a desire to unify the WBC and IBF titles, and that bout has been rumoured as being something both fighters are targeting for March. It would seem likely that the two world title bodies would allow the champions to unify if, and only if, they can get the bout sorted sooner rather than later. We suspect March has been given to both parties as a sort target with April likely the hard deadline for the bout. If it gets made it will be a very special bout and we've got out fingers tightly crossed that this one does get made sooner rather than later!
Kosei Tanaka (12-0, 7) Vs Ryoichi Taguchi (27-3-2, 12)
WBO Flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka and countryman Ryoichi Taguchi were meant to meet when both were Light Flyweight world champions, but injuries suffered by Tanaka derailed those plans, before he moved up in weight. Now the two are supposedly targeting in a late Spring date for the match up, with Taguchi moving up to chase Tanaka. Of the two Tanaka is the more naturally gifted talent, and the more internationally well known due to his rapid rise to being a 3-weight world champion. Taguchi on the other hand is the naturally bigger fighter, the more experience man and arguably the fighter the fighter who's body will suit Flyweight better. The teams are said to be working on this bout and it's one both fighters want, and one without any TV issues, with the two fighters essentially both fighting on the same network. There really is no reason for this bout not to get made this year!
Moruti Mthalane (37-2, 25) Vs Masayuki Kuroda (30-7-3, 16)
At the end of 2018 we saw Moruti Mthalane make his first defense, of his second reign, of the IBF Flyweight title, stopping Masahiro Sakamoto. Going in to that bout the two men knew he would have a mandatory defense against Japan's Masayuki Kuroda in 2019, with the IBF giving the winner 90 days to make that defense. Mthalane is one of the most over-looked and under-rated fighters out there, and although he has spoke about unification bouts it's unlikely he'll get one without facing his mandatory first, as the IBF do tend to enforce mandatory defenses. Kuroda is best known for losing in a WBA Flyweight world title bout against Juan Carlos Reveco, though has since re-established himself with a number of decent performances on the talent laded Japanese scene. Mthalane would be the favourite, but Kuroda is a live under-dog.
Ryosuke Iwasa (25-3, 16) Vs Cesar Juarez (23-6, 17)
Originally rumoured for December 2018, though now seemingly delayed until 2019, is a world title eliminator between former IBF Super Bantamweight champion Ryosuke Iwasa and exciting Mexican warrior Cesar Juarez. When the bout was first mentioned it appeared Iwasa was still unsure about his future, but in recent weeks he has been training for a comeback to the ring. This is the sort of stylistic match up where we see heavy handed fighters face off, one is a more pure boxer, Iwasa, whilst the other is an aggressive pressure fighter and together it should make for some real fireworks.
Shakhram Giyasov (6-0, 5) Vs Shohjahon Ergashev (15-0, 14)
A lot of the Uzbek fighters seem to be good friends, however in recent weeks we've seen 2016 Olympic Silver medal winner Shakhram Giyasov and fellow unbeaten Light Welterweight puncher Shohjahon Ergashev doing a TV Face-Off and allowing a lot of talk about the two fighting each other. The two are already world ranked, both had huge 2018's, with both climbing into the world rankings and scoring notable wins, and both can bang. It's hard to predict a winner between these two, but it would certainly be a very special bout between two fantastic fighters. Although they are already building hype in the bout there is a chance that the bout will be held off until one, if not both, hold a world title, adding a even more prestige to the contest.
Floyd Mayweather Jr (50-0, 27) Vs Manny Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39) II
Although it's unlikely, at the time of writing, there has been talk of a rematch between Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao, with the Filipino recently signing with Al Haymon, something that was seen as making the bout even more likely. These two clashed in a massive, yet well over-due, bout in May 2015 and could end up rematching again this year. Both are said to be keen on raising their profiles in Japan, with Mayweather recently featuring on Rizin 14 and having business interests in the country and Pacquiao also stating he wanted to fight in the country, following a deal with a fitness company. They could also fight in the US, where both are major names, even if fans are cynical based on their original contest. This has been rumoured, and we wouldn't be surprised if it's not rumoured every year going forward, even as the men both slide further and further beyond their primes.
In the last few years we've seen more and more bouts between Asian fighters and European fighters. Unfortunately it hasn't often been the best from the two continents colliding, but it has been a start with two continental forces of world boxing clashing and opening the doors for inter-continental growth between the scenes which have often been kept away from each other.
Sadly we have typically seen a lot of mismatches. These have included bouts like Naoya Inoue's recent defence against Yoan Boyeaux, Daigo Higa against Thomas Masson, Jerwin Ancajas against Michael Conlan, Scott Quigg against Hidenori Otake and Kal Yafai against Suguru Muranaka. Bouts where the favourite wasn't really given too much of a challenge by the under-dog.
Sure we have seen some interesting bouts, such as the two bouts between Ryota Murata and Hassan N'Dam and, on paper, the Lee Haskins Vs Ryosuke Iwasa bout, but they haven't been as regular as they really should be. And that's not due to a lack of possible match ups. In fact right now there is a real host of fantastic fights that could be made at the world level between the two continents. Here we'll look at some of those possible bouts.
At the moment there is two Flyweight bouts that have some talk behind them, and they would both be very interesting.
One of those is a proposed WBC title bout between destructive world champion Daigo Higa (14-0, 14) and unbeaten Welshman Andrew Selby (10-0, 5). This bout was spoken about during 2017, though Selby seemed to suggest that he was against travelling to Japan where Higa is now a break out star and backed by the financially solid Fuji TV. The bout would put the most destructive fighter at Flyweight against one of the most decorated European amateurs, and would be a real clash of styles between ultra-aggressive champion and silky outside fighting challenger.
With a high WBC ranking it does look like this would be the shortest route to a world title for Selby, but he would be up against arguably the best Flyweight on the planet, and would almost certainly have to travel.
The other bout, and one that has had a public call out of sorts, is a WBO title fight between Sho Kimura (16-1-2, 9) and 2-time Olympic bronze medal winner Paddy Barnes (5-0, 2). Interestingly if this bout was made it would see Kimura taking on a third Olympian, following stoppage wins over Zou Shiming and Toshiyuki Igarashi, and a win could see him continue what has been a really surprising run of results. Barnes had targeted former amateur rival Zou Shiming earlier in his career, but may now see the man who stopped his amateur nemesis as the man to fight.
Given that Barnes is 31 later this year he may not want to wait around long for a fight at world level and Kimura hasn't been a fighter making big purses so far. A large offer could get Kimura over to Ireland for the fight, though he has got other options, including a domestic showdown with 2-weight world champion Kosei Tanaka and may look to delay a showdown with Barnes for now.
In 2017 there was several obvious bouts to make at 115lbs. That's because we have a world champion from Europe and several from Asia. But for whatever reason we never saw them face off. Thankfully however not all the doors are shut here, despite the fact Naoya Inoue is leaving the division rather than continue to get frustrated at the other top fighters.
Arguably the most even of the match ups we could get here would be an IBF/WBA unification bout, with Jerwin Ancajas (28-1-1, 19) defending the IBF title against WBA champion Kal Yafai (23-0, 14). Both men seemed to turn down Inoue, and it'd be very hard to favour either man against WBC champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (44-4-1, 40), but against each other they should make for a compelling contest. The bout shouldn't be too tricky to make, with both fighters looking to make a huge name for themselves this coming year. The two teams, Top Rank and Matchroom, have worked together in the past and both could see this as an opportunity to get their guy in a position to make big money.
Sadly lower weight unification bouts have long been a troublesome issue. Both fighters will want to be financially compensated for taking on another top rival, and with the talent in the division it may make more sense to milk a title for a little while longer. A bout between the two is one that we'd love, and we suspect most fans would love to see, but it may be that the two men simply have other plans and too many other options.
Having mentioned Naoya Inoue (15-0, 13) a few times above it only makes sense to mention him here, seeing that he has stated his intent is to fight at Bantamweight in 2018. The “Monster” has been linked to pretty much every notable Bantamweight since mid-December.
Two of these options have some British link. One of those is WBO champion Zolani Tete (26-3, 21), who is South African but is promoted out of the UK and has began to build a cult status in the country. The bout has been spoken about by both teams and Inoue has stated he's willing to travel to the UK for the bout, showing his hunger for a big contest and a third divisional world title. The other British option would be a bout with the talented Northern Irishman Ryan Burnett (18-0, 9), the current WBA and IBF unified champion.
A bout with Tete seems the most likely given that the two teams are talking about the contest. However Inoue could get a unified title by beating Burnett, and get some revenge for the struggles he had at Super Flyweight. The one big spanner in the work for the Burnett bout may be Burnett's promoter Eddie Hearn, who seemed happy to keep Kal Yafai away from Inoue and would likely want to do the same for Burnett, unless life changing money was on offer for his man. Given that financial issue we're much more likely to see the Tete bout than the Burnett one.
Inoue isn't the only fighter moving up in 2018, another is Englishman Jamie McDonnell (29-2-1, 13). The former Bantamweight champion scored notable wins over Tomoki Kameda at Bantamweight and is now moving up to Super Bantamweight, which is stacked with Asian fighters. The amount of interesting match ups McDonnell could have at 122lbs really is huge, and he could have fights with someone like IBF champion Ryosuke Iwasa (24-2, 16) or the skilled and sharp shooting Shingo Wake (23-5-2, 15).
For us though the bout that has the most interest here would be a bout between McDonnell and Filipino warrior Marlon Tapales (30-2, 13). The bout may not have the big name quality of others, but stylistically this would be a lot of fun. Both men can let their hands go, both have pretty good styles and when put under pressure McDonnell can be involved in some real thrillers, as his first bout against Liborio Solis was. Although not a star Tapales is a tough, come forward fighter and could well bring the best out of McDonnell in a back and forth war, with the winner well deserving of a world title fight, and a chance to become a 2-weight world champion.
Unification bouts feel natural for us fans, and there are few more enticing than a Middleweight clash between IBF/WBC/WBA Middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin (37-0-1, 33) and WBO counterpart Billy Joe Saunders (26-0, 12). The bout would leave us with an undisputed champion at 160lbs and would be a brilliant match up between two unbeaten men with very different styles.
On one hand Kazakh fighter Golovkin is one of the sports purest punchers, with thudding power, a chin of rock and a very high intensity pressure style. One the other hand Saunders is a southpaw boxer-mover who moves like a much smaller man, and at his best is one of the purest boxers in and around the division. The questions about the contest would be whether or not Golovkin could cut the ring off and break down Saunders, or whether the fleet footed Englishman could avoid the Kazakh for 12 rounds.
On a much lesser level we'd also love to see a clash between Irishman Jason Quigley (13-0, 10) and Japanese champion Hikaru Nishida (17-8-1, 8). On paper this bout wouldn't get much attention in the build up but the action in the ring would be sensational, as would a bout between Nishida and Gary O'Sullivan (27-2, 19). If either of the Irish fighters are looking for someone with a fan friendly style they could do a lot worse than taking on the aggressive Nishida in a sure fire barn burner.
(Images courtesy of boxmob.jp and boxrec.com)
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