Generally December is a very Japan centric month in Asian boxing, with the end of shows and Rookie of the Year. This year things seemed even more Japan centric than usual with a host of cards through the month. As a result December's awards were pretty much all in Japan, though that doesn't take away from what was a very interesting month.
Fighter of the Month
In December we had a host of world title fights, some were competitive, some weren't but for us the guy who shone the brightest was Kazuto Ioka. Ioka was in tough with a 2-time Olympian, who was tall, longer and faster. After taking a couple of rounds to figure his man out however Ioka began to adjust and slowly broke down Jeyvier Cintron in what was an excellent over all performance in a fantastic bout. Cintron, we suspect, will win a world title in the future and this is a win that will end up looking very good in a few year's time.
Fight of the Month
Yuki Beppu Vs Ryota Yada
Few fights can truly be described as dramatic, but with 6 knockdowns, bombs being traded through out, and a huge come from behind win it's hard to suggest that anything other than the WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title bout between Yuki Beppu and Ryota Yada was going to win this. There were other great bouts, the rookie of the year bout between Kodai Honda vs Yasutaka Fujita being among them, but nothing was every going to compete with Beppu Vs Yada. A genuine must watch war.
KO of the Month
Mammoth Kazunori TKO5 Lerdchai Chaiyawed
It seemed that December wanted to try and provide us with the best of everything, and the brutal KO scored by Mammoth Kazunori, against Lerdchai Chaiyawed, tried to steal the KO of the Year with just over 2 weeks of the year left. This was originally doing the rounds from a fan cam, but when the bout was upload to Boxing Raise a few days after it took place the KO looked even better. A single solid left hand turned Lerdchai 's lights out...and then he hit the canvas. This was as clean a shot as Kazunori will likely ever land, and the way Lerdchai hit the canvas was just nasty.
Yudai Shigeoka (2-0, 1)
With a win against an OPBF champion in just his second professional bout, it was hard to give this award to anyone else. Shigeoka might not be as brutal as his younger brother, Ginjiro Shigeoka, but out pointing Lito Dante this early in his career was fantastic and a real statement of intent for someone wanting to be fast-tracked.
Amazingly Yudai's brother stopped Rey Loreto and Bektemir Melikuziev out pointed Vaughn Alexander, in just his 4th bout, during the month. This was an excellent month for prospects.
Renz Rosia UD8 Aston Palicte
The "Filipino fighters are involved in upsets" trend continued through December. Jhack Tepora being stopped by Oscar Escandon, Jhunriel Ramonal stopping Yusaku Kuga and Renz Rosia beating Aston Palicte were the short list for the month. For us Rosia's win gets the award due to the fact he completely out boxed, out fought and out though Palicte. This wasn't a wild shot, or beating someone before they warmed up. This was beating them round, after round, after round. This was Rosia exposing Palicte's flaws, and given where Palicte was at the start of this year was a genuine surprise. What made this really stand out is that Rosia was 1-4-1 in his previous 6 bouts! A genuine shocker.
Toshiya Ishii vs Haruki Ishikawa (Round 2)
We had some amazing rounds this past month, and round 4 of Akira Yaegashi Vs Moruti Mthalane will certainly be a hard one to forget. For sheer drama and too and fro action however the pick from the month was round 2 from Toshiya Ishii's incredible battle with Haruki Ishikawa. Ishii was dropped in the opening seconds, regrouped, the two men staggered each and both were hurt several times before the round concluded. This was sheer, unadulterated awesomeness. A real round of the ages, and came in a Japanese Youth title bout, proving that even this low level of title is worth putting it all on the line for.
As boxing fans we love to complain about the sport, and talk about the negatives. We highlight so much bad that we sometimes forget why we even enjoy the sport. This week however we remembered why we love boxing, and for one of the few times this year we had a week that had a lot more good than bad. It wasn't a flawless week, but it was a great week, both in Asia and internationally, with some great fights, amazing action and brilliant match ups. We had some bout, of course we did, but that bad was easily outweighed by the good.
As a result we've mixed up the format for this week's "The good, the Bad and the Ugly" with extra goods, and fewer negatives...after all 'tis the season to be jolly!
1 - Hironori Mishiro Vs Yoshimitsu Kimura
Seeing bouts exceed expectations is sort of a hope now a days in boxing. We don't often see it though, and more often than not a bout fails to meet the bare minimum that we'd expect. This week the OPBF Super Featherweight title fight between Hironori Mishiro and Yoshimitsu Kimura easily out did anything we'd have expected, with the two men putting on a really competitive, exciting and action packed fight. Their was a lack of drama at times, but it was a fight that was consistently good for 12 rounds and swung one way then the other. This was a captivating and truly enjoyable bout where both fighters came out looking better than they had going in.
2 - Mammoth Nakayama's massive KO against Lerdchai Chaiyawed
On Sunday in Kariya the 20 year old Mammoth Nakayama scored a late contender for KO of the year as he completely cleaned the clock of Thai visitor Lerdchai Chaiyawed. The hard hitting Nakayama had been out of the ring for over a year and was taking on an opponent who had never been stopped, and had taken some good fighters the distance, but was totally laid out by a monster of a left hand. This is as sweet a shot as Nakayama will ever land and boy did it look sensational to see Lerdchai's body instantly turn off.
3 - Yuki Beppu Vs Ryota Yada video released
A week ago Yuki Beppu and Ryota Yada battled in a FOTY contender, with 6 knockdowns, power shots from both, excitement through out and serious amounts of heart. Their was a worry that the bout wasn't going to be made available, but in the middle of the week it was finally uploaded to the A-sign boxing youtube channel and, man what a fight!
4 - Yudai Shigeoka shines
We love prospects being fast tracked, and they are rarely put on a trajectory quite like that of Yudai Shigeoka, who beat OPBF champion Lito Dante in just his second professional bout! Whilst this was a 6 round non-title bout it was clear that Shigeoka had the gameplan to beat Dante over a longer distance and it seems very clear that the Watanabe Gym will be pushing their talent youngster into a title bout of some kind in the new year. We love fast tracking, and it's hard not to love the ambition of the Shigeoka brothers.
5 - Bek Bully shows a softer side
After disposing of his first 3 opponents in just 6 rounds Bektemir Melikuziev wasn't expected to show he could box this week, but he did. And by that we mean he completely boxed the socks off the tough Vaughn Alexander, shutting out the American over 10 1-sided rounds that saw him not only land at will but essentially shut down the American, who failed to land more than a handful of shots per round. As mentioned already we love seeing fighters fast tracked and it's clear Melikuziev is being fast tracked. Better than just seeing someone being fast tracked is to see them showing something different to their game, and to see Melikuziev box and move, with the ease he did, was a real positive for his career going forward.
1 - The WBC choose to create another Lightweight title!
It wasn't that long ago that the WBA were alone in creating new titles, but now the WBC have seen the benefit of giving world titles out like they are candy. In the space of just a few months we've gone from having 0 WBC Lightweight champions to having a Franchise champion a Champion in recess and a now vacant title, which will have it's vacancy filled in 2020. We couldn't understand why they made the decision to make Vasyl Lomachneko the Franchise champion or why Devin Haney, who has no legitimate world class win, was given the full version of the title. The WBC should have just made it clear that Haney would get a shot in 2020, either at Lomachenko or the winner of the planned 4-title unification bout. Instead they have made a mess, and it was a mess that never needed to be made.
2 - Michael Conlan Vs Vladimir Nkitin
We're trying to be positive, really we are, but it's hard to take many positives from the 10 round stinker between Michael Conlan and Vladimir Nkitin, round 8 aside. This was just purely dull, unexciting and did little to make us want to watch Conlan again. As a person the 28 year old Irishman is someone we like, he comes across as honest, and a BS type of guy, but in the ring his bouts are tediously dull and unexciting. We understand why this bout was made, and the story behind it, but did next to nothing to make us want to see either man again.
1 - Danny Williams's situation
The world of boxing is a strange one at times, and Saturday night in Germany it got strange, strange turn of events. British Heavyweight veteran Danny Williams had been scheduled to fight in Germany but then pulled out. Unlike most pull outs however it doesn't appear that anyone other than the fighter himself knew he wasn't going to be fighting. Most day of fight pull outs see the fighter make the promoter aware. Williams however got to the ring, dressed in street clothes, and then just flat out told the fans he wasn't going to be fighting. We understand a fighters health being the utmost priority but there are so many issues with this bout that Williams' health needs to be questioned to begin with. Why are promoters still using him? Why didn't Williams let the promoter know that he would be cancelling the bout before he got in the ring? And why the fuck is Danny Williams still fighting?
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 final 10 or so days of April are set to be packed with a fantastic variety of bouts, from national title fights, to world title fights. We see one of the most anticipated bouts of 2019, a female prodigy going for a world title in her 4th bout and the return of the WBSS. This is how you end a month!
After a truly hectic start to the month things slow down a little bit, but we still have a pretty busy middle section to the month, no only with title fights but also really looking support bouts, with several supporting bouts looking like better contests than the bouts for belts.
If you missed part 1 that's available here - What's to come in December...Part 1
Ryota Yada (17-4, 14) Vs Shusaku Fujinaka (16-9-2, 10) - Osaka Japan
Hard hitting Japanese Welterweight champion Ryota Yada looks to see off a break through year as he defends his title, for the second time, and takes on veteran Shusaku Fujinaka. Yada won the belt by stopping Toshio Arikawa and has come in to his own this year, after struggling past Moon Hyon Yun last year. For Fujinaka, who is rarely in a dull fight, this could be the last big chance he gets, following set backs to the likes of Keita Obara and Randall Bailey. We're expecting a very fan friendly bout here.
Takayuki Okumoto (21-8-3, 10) Vs Masayoshi Hashizume (16-0-1, 10) - Osaka Japan
A second Japanese title fight will see Takayuki Okumoto make his first defense of the Japanese Super Flyweight title, taking on unbeaten Ioka gym prospect Masayoshi Hashizume. For the challenger this is a massive step up in class, but he's already won the Rookie of the Year and has share gym time with the likes of Sho Ishida, Masayoshi Nakatani and Kazuto Ioka. For Okumoto this is a great chance to build on his title win, which came against Hiroyuki Kudaka back in August.
Ryosuke Nasu (9-3-3, 2) Vs Yuto Nakamura (8-5, 7) - Osaka Japan
The Japanese Youth title scene is heating up with more and more Youth title fights. A pretty interesting looking Japanese Youth Super Flyweight title fight will see the skilled Ryosuke Nasu battle against the limited but heavy handed Yuto Nakamura, in what should be a much more entertaining and competitive bout than the records suggest. It's clear, to use, that Nasu is the favourite, but this bout is certainly no gimme, for either man. A very good match up between two men each looking to claim a title and push their careers forward.
Masayoshi Nakatani (17-0, 11) Vs Hurricane Futa (25-7-1, 15) - Osaka Japan
As well as the Japanese and Japanese Youth title fights we also get an OPBF title fight, as long term OPBF Lightweight champion Masayoshi Nakatani defends his belt against hard hitting challenger Hurricane Futa, who is a real potential banana skin. In recent fights Nakatani has looked like he's gone a bit stale and off the boil, waiting for the Ioka gym to secure him a big fight, and if he again under-performs there's a chance Futa could score a career defining upset win. Futa, although better than his record suggests, should be regarded as the under-dog, but as a live one, and there is a chance he catches a less than fully focused Nakatani here.
Shohei Omori (19-2, 14) Vs Takahiro Yamamoto (21-5, 17) - Osaka Japan
Former world title challenger Shohei Omori looks to continue his climb towards a second world title fight as he takes on former OPBF Bantamweight champion Takahiro Yamamoto, in what looks like a very explosive match up. Both men are flawed but those flaws should make for an interesting contest. Omori is the more rounded fighter, and the more natural boxer, but can leave himself a bit open whilst Yamamoto the more heavy handed fighter, and the more deliberate puncher. We think Omori should come out on top, but wouldn't be surprised to see him need to get through some rough patches.
Sho Ishida (26-1, 15) Vs Warlito Parrenas (26-8-1, 23) - Osaka Japan
Former world title challengers face off in what is a must win bout for both men. Sho Ishida, who lost to Kal Yafai, is still in the mix for a second world title fight and has impressed since his sole defeat, as he looks to have become a better fighter mentally, building on his physical assets and good boxing skills. Parrenas, who lost in a world title fight to Naoya Inoue, is almost certainly in the final stages of his career, and was last seen losing to Ryuichi Funai. Parrenas has the edge in power here, being a brutish puncher, but almost all the other advantages are to the younger, taller, longer Ishida. Big question is whether Parrenas can land a bomb on the Japanese fighter.
Shuichiro Yoshino (8-0, 6) Vs Kazumasa Kobayashi (10-7-1, 6) - Tokyo, Japan
Unbeaten Japanese Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino seeks his third defense as he goes up against limited 35 year old challenger Kazumasa Kobayashi, in the main event of a Korakuen Hall show. On paper this is little more than a show case for the talented champion, who we expect to be moving up a level next year and be competing for regional titles if not working his way up the world rankings. Kobayashi very much feels like a veteran getting a title shot before retiring, and he has nothing to lose here, but few will be giving him any sort of a chance.
Ryo Sagawa (5-1, 3) Vs Shingo Kawamura (16-4-1, 8) - Tokyo Japan
We have a bit of a hidden gem here as former amateur standout Ryo Sagawa takes on recent OPBF Featherweight title challenger Shingo Kawamura in what looks likely to be an under-the-radar treat for fans. Sagawa really put himself on the map earlier this year, winning a shoot out against former world title challenger Ryo Matsumoto, and it seems clear he's looking to mix in title fights in the near future. Kawamura on the other hand lost last time out, but gave OPBF champion Satoshi Shimizu real problems, before Shimizu's power broke him down. Both men will be looking to go into 2019 with a big win and we expect that will show in their performances here.
Nobuyuki Shindo (20-4-1, 8) Vs Akinori Watanabe (37-7, 31) - Tokyo, Japan
It's rare for the JBC to create an "interim" title but when they do they do tend to force a unification as quickly as they can. One of the few interim titles they've created recently is the interim Light Middleweight title, which was won by Akinori Watanabe in August, and he'll be unifying with regular champion Nobuyuki Shindo in what could be a really interesting fight. The power and experience edges are with Watanabe but Shindo is the younger man and the significantly bigger man, having around 4" in height. It's worth noting that the winner of this bout will have to make a mandatory defense in the first half of 2019.
Hayato Kimura (27-10, 18) Vs Seizo Kono (19-10-1, 12) - Tokyo, Japan
On the subject of Japanese interim titles we'll actually see a Japanese Interim Bantamweight title fight as Hayato Kimura and Seizo Kono clash. Originally the plan wasn't for this to be a title bout but due to illness Yuta Saito is currently on the shelf. Neither Kimura or Kono have had great runs of form coming into this, and for both men it's a bit of a must win bout, with neither really having any where to go if they lose. Kimura is certainly the quicker man, but has fought much of his career at Super Flyweight, losing in several domestic Super Flyweight title bouts. Kono on the other hand is a fully fledged Bantamweight, but is 18 months removed from his last win
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