Although world titles titles are becoming more and more of a joke in recent years, with the WBA creating so many worthless titles and the WBC's "Franchise title" devaluing their own "world" title, and creating so much pointless confusion, they are still a major target for fighters and a draw for casual fans. They might be losing their value month after month, but to the legacy of a fighter they are still vital and something every major fighter chases.
With that in mind we've asked ourselves a question this week in regards to world titles:
"Who... should get a world title shot in 2021?"
As is usually the case in this series the three guys will only be looking at fighters from Asia for this question, though it can be any active fighter from Asia, whether they are a former champion or not.
Lee: "I think this week I will pick an obvious answer, and say Wanheng Menayothin should get a world title fight in 2021. Most obviously against Panya Pradabsri, the man he lost the WBC Minimumweight title to last year. In fact I really think this rematch should be one that takes places sooner rather than later and is one I genuinely want to see!
The first bout was fantastic. It was exciting, it had good back and forth, some controversy, Wanheng's first loss, a potential passing of the torch and the the start of the end for the legacy of Wanheng. I would love to see him get the chance to reclaim his title, go out on top, and end his career with the WBC title around his shoulders. The bout would capture the imagination of hardcore fans, like their first bout did, and given the result of the first bout this would have a lot of intrigue and interest.
Alternatively if that rematch can't be made maybe now is the perfect time to see Wanheng Vs Knockout CP Freshmart. Sure it would have been better when both men were champions, but that never seemed to be the plan for promoters. Having them battle now however would either legitimise Knockout or, again, let Wanheng end his career on top."
Takahiro: "Hiroaki Teshigawara. In recent years a lot of Japanese fighters in and around Super Bantamweight have had world title fights (Takahashi, Wake, Kameda, Oguni, Iwasa), but sadly no world title chance has come for "Teshi". I would like it if the 30 year old got a chance now, before his prime years run out. At the moment (time of writing) Teshi is ranked #3 with the IBF (who have no one rated at #1 or #2), #4 with the WBA and #12 with the WBO. It would be great for one of the champions to give him a shot.
Although not a big name outside of Japan Teshi is popular in Tokyo, would draw a good audience of local fans if he got a fight that was shown on WOWOW or DAZN, and would ask questions of any champion. He is tricky, awkward, heavy handed, and can be very fan friendly.
With wins against Kurihara, Pabustan, Kinoshita and Omori I think he's done enough to earn one and hopefully he gets one. I don't think he'd win, but I'd love him to get the chance to try."
Scott: "When this question was first posed, back in March, I didn't have an answer, but now I do. Ryosuke Nishida. In the last 6 months or so we've seen the now 4-0 Nishida beat former world title contender Shohei Omori and former world champion Daigo Higa. Surely a world title fight can't be far away, even in the shark infested waters at Bantamweight.
He might not be the most deserving of contenders, even among Japanese Bantamweights, but I love seeing fighters moved quickly and aggressively and given his last two wins there are very few fighters being moved as quickly, or as aggressively as Nishida.
He did state he wanted to face Johnriel Casimero, and whilst that might be out of the question, for now, there's no real reason that bout can't be targeted for a big end of year show if TBS or Fuji TV jump behind Nishida and help make him a star.
At the moment Osaka lacks a real star and Nishida has the ability to change that, if he can get some TV backing. He has the charisma, the confidence and the tools to be a star, and it would be great if he got a shot at the big time before the bells ring in 2022."
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.
We’re now into 2021 but before we leave last year behind there are a few more things we need to look back on for last year. Among those are the Monthly Award winners for December 2020, and it’s a month really dominated by Japanese action, with Japan hosting a large number of shows during the final part of the year.
Fighter of the Month
Kazuto Ioka (26-2, 15)
The fighter of the month for December was an easy one, but one we really needed to wait until the end of the month for, and that was Kazuto Ioka, who successfully defended his WBO Super Flyweight title with an excellent 8th round TKO win against Kosei Tanaka. The Japanese legend was put under pressure early in the bout, was left with double vision in round 2, and had clear damage around his eye soon afterwards. Despite that he stuck to a game plan, took away Tanaka’s best tools, dropped the younger man twice, and then forced Michiaki Someya to save Tanaka from further punishment. A fantastic performance in the final big bout of the year.
Fight of the Month
Masayoshi Nakatani Vs Felix Verdejo
We genuinely had some amazing fights in December, such as the fantastic bout between Ioka and Tanaka fight, the sensational bout between Ali Akhmedov and Carlos Gongora and the brilliant clash between Ryoji Fukunaga and Kenta Nakagawa bout. The one that stood out above them all however was the amazing 9 round bout between Masayoshi Nakatani and Felix Verdejo in the US. The bout had 4 knockdowns, a huge shift in momentum and saw Nakatani pull himself off the canvas, twice, to stop Verdejo. This is up there with the very, very best of 2020 and is a bout that every fan should watch, if they haven’t already. A genuine fantastic fight.
KO of the Month
Etsuko Tada TKO9 Ayaka Miyao
As well as great fights we also had some sensational KO’s. The best of the bunch came in the WBO female Minimumweight title bout with Etsuko Tada taking out Ayaka Miyao with a single, short, straight, left hand. This was a perfect KO, sending Miyao face first onto the canvas, and giving Tada probably the best KO win of her career. In a month where we had some sensational finishes this was really something special and stands up there with the best female KO’s ever, especially given the proven world class ability of Miyao. If you have a Boxing Raise account and haven’t seen this one already go and check it out!
Prospect of the Month
Ryosuke Nishida (3-0, 1)
It’s rare to see a prospect fake on a former world title challenger in their first few fights but that’s exactly what we saw from Ryosuke Nishida on December 19th, when he beat Shohei Omori. Nishida, who was 2-0, and had only made his debut in October 2019, was too quick, too sharp, too hungry and too good for Omori who struggled to get anything going. Nishida started well as he established an early lead. He a little wobble in the middle of the fight, as Omori tried to turn things around, but roared back in the later rounds and came close to stopping Omori whilst securing himself a massive win. This was brilliant from Nishida in a massive step up, and it’s clear that the young southpaw from the Mutoh Gym has the potential to go a very, very long way. This was a performance that genuinely put him on the map and we’re looking forward to seeing the 24 year old return to the ring later this year.
Upset of the Month
Yuichi Ideta MD8 Ryota Yada
When it comes to upsets few will rival the upset win scored by Yuichi Ideta against former Japanese Welterweight champion Ryota Yada. Coming into the bout Ideta had gone 1-15-1 in his previous 17 bouts. He hadn’t scored a win in almost 10 years and had lost 11 in a row. No one gave him a chance, especially not at the age of 36. But then he simply out worked, out fought, out battled, out gritted and out willed Yada en route to taking a truly unexpected decision win. The heavy handed Yada, who is best known for his brilliant 2019 war with Yuki Beppu, was expected to win this one and move on to an OPBF title bout in 2021, but this loss almost certainly ends those plans and leaves his career in a really precarious situation.
Carlos Gongora TKO12 Ali Akhmedov
Round of the Month
Ryoji Fukunaga Vs Kenta Nakagawa (Rd8)
With a lot of brilliant fights taking place in December we also got a lot of excellent rounds and they came right through the levels of the sport, from some of the Rookie bouts world level bouts. For us however the bouts rounds came late in the fantastic bout between Ryoji Fukunaga and Kenta Nakagawa, with round 8 being the best of the bunch. The two men fought each other to a standstill, they each rocked the other and they went hammer and tong, beating the fight out of each other. This was brutal, it was thrilling, exciting, back and forth action. It was exactly what we needed to see. Not only was it great, but the stakes couldn’t be much higher, with the two men fighting for the WBO Asia Pacific, OPBF and Japanese Super Flyweight titles. This was amazing, and followed up by 2 more great rounds making for a real gem of a fight.
This past week has been another of those weeks that has given us a lot of action, spread over a lot of days. We'll admit this is another week where there has been action late on, and sadly delayed our awards by a few hours. It is also, sadly, a week where a lot of footage hasn't been made available in a timely fashion, most notable the East Japan Rookie of the Year finals, which took place today but won't be aired on TV for another week.
Despite the delay of footage for some shows, we still had a lot to talk about, in what has been a really good week.
Fighter of the Week
Hyun Mi Choi
Unbeaten Korean fighter Hyun Mi Choi did what few ever thought she would, she fought in the USA this week, and managed to put on a showcase of aggression, making for a really fun and exciting bout against the over-matched Calista Silgado. It was certainly not a punch performance from the "Defector Girl Boxer", but that hardly mattered, this was a massive win for her, for Korea and for Korean boxing. Sadly Korean boxing isn't what it once was and Choi is the nation's only world champion, so here win here is massive for Korea and can hopefully help kick start boxing in the country again. Her fight was fun to watch and she fought with a style that wasn't really like her usual one, making sure to leave an impression. This was exactly what she needed to do, and exactly what fans needed to see from the 30 year old.
Performance of the Week
Whilst Choi was the fighter of the week her performance was a very flawed one. Gennady Golovkin on the other hand put in a near flawless performance, and rarely needed to get out of second gear en route to an easy win over Kamil Szeremeta. Golovkin controlled every minute of the fight, dropped Szeremeta 4 times, and landed at will against a Polish challenger who simply shouldn't have been in the ring with him. This was not a Golovkin who looked 38 or like he hadn't fought in over a year, this was a polished, revitalised Golovkin, wanting to show wrinkles in his style that hadn't been seen in years. An excellent performance.
Fight of the Week
Ali Akhmedov Vs Carlos Gongora
Despite the fact we had a lot of fights this past week a lot of this past week many of them failed to deliver drama or action. Mr "Big Drama Show" himself, for example, just battered someone who shouldn't have been in the ring with him. One bout that did stand out however was the 12 round thriller between the unbeaten pairing of Ali Akhmedov and Carlos Gongora. This was a genuinely great fight, with Akhmedov setting the early tempo, Gongora adjusting, Akhmedov tiring himself out, and Gongora coming from behind to score a 12th round stoppage. If you missed this one make sure to do yourself a favour and give it a watch, a genuinely fantastic bout with action, drama, momentum shifts, skills, and a huge comeback
Round of the Week
Ryoji Fukunaga vs Kenta Nakagawa (Rd 8)
The fantastic Boxing Raise service gave us a really great show this past week thanks to Kadoebi Promotions, and it was the main event bout from that show that gave us, arguably, the two best rounds of the week. They were rounds 8 and 9 of the triple title unification bout between Ryoji Fukunaga and Kenta Nakagawa, with both rounds being amazing back and forth battles between two men desperately wanting to become triple crown champions. Fukunaga's power and heavy hands hurt Nakagawa repeatedly in round 8, but he lacked the energy to finish his man, allowing Nakagawa to fire back, and land some huge left hands, that stiffened his legs, only to than have Fukunaga recover and come back at Nakagawa. This was Rocky-like stuff from both and made Boxing Raise well worth the price this month.
KO of the Week
Towa Tsuji TKO3 Kairi Suetsugu
We dip into the realm of the obscure for the KO of the week, which was a brutal left hook from hell from Towa Tsuji, which landed clean as a whistle on Kairi Suetsugu, sending him down hard. The bout was waved off quickly with Seutsugu down on the canvas before he was stretched out of the ring. We doubt Tsuji will ever score a better KO than this, and it was the perfect way for him to end his debut. A real eye catching finish.
Christian Araneta KO1 Roland Jay Biendima
Prospect of the Week
There was only real one contender here for Prospect of the Week and that was Japanese youngster Ryosuke Nishida who stepped up massively this week and scored a brilliant unanimous decision win over Shohei Omori. The talented Nishida, fighting just his third professional bout, started very sprightly, using his speed and movement really well, and despite some trouble in rounds 4 and 5 came back even stronger, Hurting Omori in the final 3 rounds. Credit to Omori for surviving some torid moments in rounds 7 and 8 but this was Nishida's day, and Nishida's week. A fantastic showcase of a sensational prospect.
On November 22nd in Toyonaka we'll get the chance to see a novice take on a former world title challenger, and with that in mind it seems a perfect time to discuss the novice in question as he moves towards the biggest bout of career so far. By some distance. The bout is one that few are giving him a chance in but, if he wins, he'll be rocket boosted towards a title fight, and a chance to make a name for himself.
The man in question is Ryosuke Nishida (2-0, 1) who faces former world title challenger Shohei Omori in just his third professional bout. It might be too soon for Nishida, as many seem to suspect, or it could be right place, right time, for a relatively unknown prospect looking to announce themselves as the next big thing.
Nishida, who fights out of the Mutoh Gym in Osaka, was a stand out amateur who was always regarded as a contender in domestic amateur competitions. Whilst tournament wins weren't something the regularly win he did pick up a National Polity crown in 2014. He was also a major player in the Kindai University team in 2018, winning the MVP award. Although he never regularly won competitions, he was always regarded as one of the main contenders and was a skilled fighter, with clear potential to be a success in the professional ranks.
After impressive in the amateurs he left the sport for a while before returning and heading to the professional ranks last year, taking part in his B license test opposite fellow prospect Yusuke Mine.
Sadly, for someone with clear promise, Nishida didn't debut in Japan. Instead he debuted in Bangkok, on a small show that featured Nishida, Yusuke Mine and very, very few fighters of any note at all. The excuse given was that Takashi Edagawa and team couldn't find anyone suitable for a 6 round bout with Nishida. Despite the underwhelming event of Nishida's debut the youngster did what he needed to and took out the hapless Sakol Ketkul in just 2 minutes.
In his second professional bout Nishida did actually fight in Japan! In fact he fought in Osaka, in a 6 round bout against Filipino visitor Pablito Canada, and this has been the only chance we've had to see Nishida in a professional ring, as it was made available on Boxing Raise. In this bout Nishida looked legitimately class, like a genuine prospect worthy of following. He looked sharp, relaxed, super comfortable in the ring, had great timing, good footwork, solid balance and impressive handspeed. There were areas that he needed work on defensively, but for a fighter in just his second fight it was almost impossible to complain.
After 6 rounds against Canada Nishida took a wide decision. In fact it was 60-52 on all 3 cards, and Nishida seemed to be very much within himself, happy to get rounds under his belt and some ring time, rather than feeling the need to take his man out.
Whilst Nishida did look like a really good prospect last time out there is a difference between looking good against Pablito Canada, whilst fighting at third gear, and even having a chance against someone like Shohei Omori over 8 rounds. Nishida's up coming bout looks like a huge gamble for the skilled, young, southpaw.
From what we've seen Nishida is a natural boxer. He's very happy on the backfoot, moving around the ring, making opponents come to him, making them miss and punishing them. Omori has seen that before however and we'll need to see more from Nishida for him to beat Omori.
We like what we've seen from Nishida, who's a very talented Super Bantamweight, but we can't help feel like is team are unable to really build prospects. This isn't just a step up in class, but is more a case of being thrown in at the deep end of a pool and seeing whether Nishida can sink or swim, after only previously being in a bath tub. Saying that however if he swims Japan have got almost certainly got new star on their hands and Nishida will be in the mix for regional titles in 2021.
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