It's fair to say that February will be a very, very quiet month with only a handful of shows taking place during the month, and sadly that means there are a very small number of bouts to talk about for the month. Despite that we are, of course, bringing you our regular "What's to come" for the month.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Ryu Horikawa (3-0-1, 1) vs Yudai Shigeoka (2-0, 1)
The first notable bout in February featuring Asian fighters will come at Japanese Youth title level as Light Flyweight Ryu Horikawa and Yudai Shigeoka clash in a mouth watering match up. The two youngsters are both tipped for big things during their careers and it's great to see them clashing here, rather than protecting their records like we'd see in other countries. Horikawa is the younger man and is the natural Light Flyweight, however Shigeoka has arguably been more impressive was very impressive in beat Lito Dante in just his second bout. Although not a massive fight this is a very, very interesting one.
Ryo Sagawa (10-1, 5) vs Hinata Maruta (10-1-1, 8)
On the same show as the Japanese Youth title fight we'll also get a mandatory bout for the Japanese Featherweight title as talented champion Ryo Segawa looks for his third defense, and takes on the touted Hinata Maruta in a mouth watering clash. The talented Sagawa has been on a great run of results since an early career loss and looks like a man who could certainly get into the world title mix over the coming years. Although not the most durable, he has been stopped and has been dropped in other bouts, Sagawa is a very talented fighter who can box or fight. As for Maruta the once super-hot prospects has failed to meet the lofty expecations that were on his shoulders when he turned professional, but there is no denying his talent and a win here would put him back on track to bigger and better things.
Fantasy Springs Casino, Indio, California, USA
Joseph Diaz (31-1, 15) vs Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (15-0, 12)
In the first world title fight to feature an Asian fighter this month we'll see Russian based Tajik fighter Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov take on IBF Super Featherweight champion Joseph Diaz in California. For Rakhimov this is a mandatory title fight he has waited well over a year for, earning the shot in 2019 when he stopped Azinga Fuzile. As for Diaz this will be his first defense of the title that he won in early 2020, when he beat Tevin Farmer. In terms of the match up this one should be an all out action fight between two men who like to come forward. Diaz will be the favourite, but Rakhimov is very much a live under-dog here.
The Flash Grand Ballroom of the Elorde Sports Complex, Paranaque City, Metro Manila, Philippines
Bienvenido Ligas (12-1-1, 9) Vs Alphoe Dagayloan (14-3-6-1, 5)
The first major Filipino bout of the new year takes place on the 13th as the once beaten Bienvenido Ligas takes on the criminally under-rated Alphoe Dagayloan in an excellent Flyweight match up. Coming in Ligas will likely be the slight favourite, given his better reord, but in reality Dagayloan is the more proven and has been impressing in recent years, following a stuttering start to his professional career. This should be a genuinely excellent match up, something we, sadly, don't say often enough about All-Filipiuno bouts.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
All Japan Rookie of the Year
Not a specific bout here, but something that is worth noting is that February 21st will bring us the All Japan Rookie of the Year final, ending what has been a delayed and belated tournament. Despite the hiccups along the way, caused by Covid19, we are really looking forward to this show, which will be shown live on G+ in Japan and will almost certainly help launch one or two prospects towards bigger and better things.
Bula Gym, General Santos City, Philippines
Pedro Taduran (14-2-1, 11) Vs Rene Mark Cuarto (18-2-2, 11)
In another very interesting all-Filipino bout IBF Minimumweight champion Pedro Taduran will defend his title, for the second time, as he takes on IBF #3 ranked challenger Rene Mark Cuarto in a really mouth watering match up. Taduran, who won the title in 2019 with a thrilling performance against Samuel Salva, has sadly been out of the ring for a year since making his first defense. As for Cuarto he's unbeaten in his last 3 but has been out of the ring since December 2019. On paper this is, by far, the toughest bout of Cuarto's career and it'll be very interesting to see what he has to offer at world level against an aggressive and heavy handed champion.
Tynyshpayev Academy of Transport and Communications, Almaty, Kazakhstan
Kamshybek Kunkabayev (2-0, 2) Vs Steven Ward (13-1, 4)
In a really nice step up bout unbeaten Kazakh Cruiserweight hopeful Kamshybek Kunkabayev will be battling against Northern Irish fighter Steven Ward in a bout for the WBO Asia Pacific title. Kunkabayev, a former Kazakh amateur standout has impressed since turning professional but there are a lot of questions for him to still answer. Sadly we don't actually expect Ward to be able to ask him those questions and if anything we see Kunkabayev having a pretty easy time of things here.
Nurtas Azhbenov (10-0, 4) Vs Evgeny Smirnov (13-1-3, 3)
Unbeaten Kazakh prospect Nurtas Azhbenov takes his next step forward as he takes on the once beaten Evgeny Smirnov, form Russia, in a very credible step up. Azhbenov has frustrated at times, and despite being a very talented fighter seems to lack power and killer instinct with a lot of his bouts meandering to a rather drama free decision. He certainly has skills but he is not the finished article. Smirnov on the other hand has failed to win his last 3, but has been fighting at pretty decent level in recent bouts.
Janibek Alimkhanuly (9-0, 5) vs TBA
Unbeaten Kazakh hopeful Zhanibek Alimkhanuly will look to stay busy as he takes on a yet to be named opponent late in the month. The talented Middleweight is looking to secure a world title fight later this year, and although this will likely just be a stay busy bout it's great to see him staying active after a frustrating 2020 that saw him unable to build on a solid KO win against Gonzalo Gaston Coria. It's clear that Alimkhanuly is a talent and although we want to see him prove that talent against good fighters we would prefer him staying busy rather than sitting on the side lines waiting for a bout. With that in mind we can't complain too much at the TBA status of his opponent,
Talgat Shayken (3-0, 2) Vs Evgeny Pavko (18-3-1, 13)
Another unbeaten Kazakh prospect in action here is Talgat Shayken, who battles against the much more experienced Evgeny Pavko. The talented Shayken turned professional last year, and despite a rather crude performance on his debut he has impressed in his last 2 bouts and he appears to be a fighter heading places in the coming years. Despite bot being the most polished fighter Shayken is aggressive, strong and very fun to watch. Pavko on the other hand is an experienced Russian, who has lost 3 of his last 6. Despite his faltering form Pavko should, potentially, be a decent test for Shayken over 8 rounds.
Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, Florida, USA
Zhang Zhilei (22-0, 17) v Jerry Forrest (26-4, 20)
Chinese Heavyweight giant Zhang Zhilei continues to waste his career as he takes on American foe Jerry Forret. The 37 year old Zhang has been linked to an Anthony Joshua fight for the last few years, but in reality is trudging along with rather meaningless bouts, and this is another for "Big Bang", who really should have been in with a notable name by now. The 32 year old Jerry Forrest is actually a decent opponent, and gave good tests to Jermaine Franklin and Carlos Takam, but isn't the type of name opponent Zhilei needs to push forward with his career. In fact Forrest is the type of high risk-low reward opponent that doesn't make sense for Zhilei at this point in his career.
This past week hasn't been the busiest, yet there was still a lot to talk about, and whilst the bouts that took place weren't high profile, it was a week that delivered a lot of interestings action.
Fighter of the Week
Kudratillo Abdukakhorov (17-0, 9)
Unbeaten Uzbek fighter Kudratillo Abdukakhorov did amaze or blow anyone away, but did look very good in taking a wide technical decision over former world champion Luis Collazo. The Uzbek fighter moved excellently, threw lovely little combinations on the back foot and simply used Collazo's pressure against him, until a head clash in the 10th round curtailed the bout a minute early. We don't think Abdukakhorov has proven he has the talent to win a world title, but this was still a very good performance from a very good fighter and someone who deserves to be inside the division's top 15, albeit at the lower end of the top 15.
Performance of the Week
Tuguldur Byambatsogt (1-0)
Aged just 20 years old Tuguldur Byambatsogt really, really impressed us, and yet seemed to fight well within himself as he easily out pointed Japanese veteran Shusaku Fujinaka. What was more impressive than just beating Fujinaka was the fact that Byambatsogt did it on his debut, and did with relatively ease. He out boxed, out fought and out brawled Fujinaka and although he was a bit too cautious and negative at times this was still a very accomplished performance for a young man making his debut. Keep an eye on this youngster going forward.
Xiang Li Vs Ryu Horikawa
We'll admit we had very high hopes for this one going in and in fairness it exceeded our expectations. It started relatively slowly but built into a very, very entertaining and exciting fight. As the fight went on and Li began to tire Horikawa tried to turn it on, going for the stoppage, making for some amazing action up close and some fantastic heart from Li, who tried to always fire back. The final rounds were amazing, and it really did get better and better as the fight went on, making for a fantastic bout. Rounds 9 and 10 of this were both great, even if they were a little on the sloppy side, and we would happily watch these two fight again in the future.
Marvin Esquierdo vs Koichi Ito (Round 1)
The first ever round of the Knockout Dynamite Tournament kicked off the tournament in style, with Marvin Esquierdo and Koichi Ito standing and unloading bombs on each from the opening seconds. This was thrilling action, with both men looking to claim the top reward for an opening round win. The fight may not have been a technical show case but it was all action and very, very exciting. Well worthy of a watch, and despite being on Boxing Raise the website has made it available for none-subscribers, so we suggest you check it out here.
Sadly there was no valid KO this week.
Suzumi Takayama (3-0, 3)
Whilst Tuguldur Byambatsogt and Ryu Horikawa were both in the running for this, as was Chainoi Worawut, we've gone with the newly crowned Japanese Youth Super Flyweight champion. Takayama got off to a great start, dropping Tetsuro Ohashi in the first round, got knocked down himself in round 2 but eventually broke down Ohashi in an excellent performance over 8 rounds. This was a great bout, with a great performance from both and Takayama really does deserve a lot more attention than he appears to be getting. Keep an eye on him over the coming years.
Seigo Yuri Akui (13-2-1, 9) vs Shun Kosaka (16-5, 4)
There is a lot of good fights coming up over the next 7 days. For us the best one is likely to be the Japanese Flyweight title between the fast starting and all aggression Seigo Yuri Akui and tough guy Shun Kosaka. This should be a lot of fun, and a real test to see how legit Akui's power is. Whilst Akui's record only has 9 T/KO's in 16 bouts, 8 of those were scored in the opening round and he is very much a fast starter. Kosaka is rugged and could be the sort of fighter to get the very best out of Akui.
The Japanese scene seems to red hot with emerging talent, and this year, probably more than any other recently, we've seen fighters decide to abandon the amateur code and begin their professional campaigns. There's a long list of fighters who have turned pro this year, and one of the most highly regarded among them is Ryu Horikawa (2-0, 1) who has signed with the well established Misako Gym and looks to be their next big hope.
At the moment the Misako gym is absolutely on fire, 5 Japanese champions. The success of Norihito Tanaka, Kenichi Horikawa, Ryo Sagawa, Yusuke Suzuki and Shuichiro Yoshino has got the gym bouncing whilst other names are also making their mark there. The confidence in the gym is high and with Horikawa there they seem to have a real star for the future.
Aged 19 Horikawa is seen as one of the faces of the future for Japanese boxing. He turned professional earlier this year, following a 37-8 amateur career. That amateur record included a good run in the 2018 Japanese High School Selection Tournament, where he lost in the semi-final to Shogo Tanaka, the eventual winner.
In his debut the youngster didn't really impress in the way he should. He seemed over-eager to impress and rather than using the boxing skills he had in his arsenal he came out aggressively and took some solid counters from Jun Ishimoto. The aggression however did pay off when Ishimoto corner stopped the bout in round 3. By that point Horikawa had began to show more maturity and composure, though had been rocked early in the bout.
His debut left question marks, though thankfully his second bout put minds at ease as he out pointed fellow promising youngster Yukji Nakajima in a B class tournament bout. This was a real 50-50 type bout, with both men facing off super early in their careers and both expected to go a long way. Whilst a loss, this early, wouldn't have been the end it was still high risk for both fighters. Impressively Horikawa put on a incredibly mature performance, boxing behind his jab, being aggressive yet smart, and showing real sharpness to his punches. Given his reckless debut this was an incredible transformation and he really did out box Nakajima. After 6 rounds Horikawa was the worthy winner of the bout, taking a clear decision.
Next time out Horikawa will face off with Xiang Li (7-2-1, 2) in a WBO Youth Light Flyweight title bout. That bout, which will take place on October 17th, isn't just Horikawa's first bout but will also be his first bout outside of Japan, with the contest taking place in Shanghai, and his first 10 rounder. Although likely to be the under-dog, given the fact he has to fight in China against a Chinese local, Horikawa will see this bout as a winnable one and a real chance to make his make outside of Japan.
Given his talent, his eagerness to face stiff competition and the strong team behind him, the future is very bright for Horikawa and we're really looking forward to seeing how far he goes, and how quickly he gets there!
This past week has been a busy one, an exciting one and an interesting one with a lot of action taking place right through the week, with a trio of notable mid-week shows in Asia. The bouts might have all been great but there was some outstanding fights, thrilling action, a huge upset, frighting KO's and some excellent rounds.
Fighter of the Week
Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (12-4-1, 11)
The heavy handed Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa became a 2-time OPBF Middleweight champion this week due to an excellent win over Koki Tyson, in a bout that left Tyson looking disfigured which huge gruesome looking swelling around his right eye. The performance certainly wasn't flawless from Hosokawa, but he showed his fighters mentality and took his lumps before forcing the doctor to step in and save Tyson. Not only did Hosokawa become a 2-time champion but following the bout it was revealed he would be making his first defense in a unification bout Kazuto Takesako
Performance of the Week
Jhunriel Ramonal (16-8-6, 9)
At the age of 30 Filipino, and fighting for just the 4th time in 4 years, Jhunriel Ramonal secured the best win of his career, by far. The rugged Filipino battled through a cut, battled through adversity and refused to accept defeat before finally breaking through and dropping the world ranked Shingo Wake. Wake would get up from the first knockdown but not long afterwards Ramonal would drop the former world title challenger, hard. The Filipino was bleeding badly by the time he scored the stoppage, but heart, determination and finish all roll into him earning the Performance of the Week.
Heuk San Lee vs Gyung Mo Yuh
The KBF title might not have huge standing in the sport, but it's hard to refute the fact that some of the KBF title fighters are amazing fights. One great example of that happened this week, when Heuk San Lee and Gyung Mo Yuh tore lumps out of each other in all action 10 round war for the KBF Welterweight title. This bout swung from being a good fight for Lee boxing on the move to an all out war as his feet slowed and Yuh's pressure began to take hold. In the later rounds this was thrilling, none stop, crazy, crude slugging and a must watch bout for those who want to know what the KBF title means to fighters in South Korea. Don't get us wrong, this wasn't a technical show case, but it was thrilling action. Just a shame the judging was a little bit questionable.
Kenichi Horikawa vs Yuto Takahashi (10)
We had some solid rounds this last week, though the one that takes the award for us was the gruelling and tiring final round of the Japanese Minimumweight title bout between Kenichi Horikawa and Yuto Takahashi. This wasn't pretty, and it wasn't a round full of clean action, but this was two men fighting for the decision, using all their heart to try and win the bout. It was messy, it was rough, it was hard and was ugly. It was a exciting mess of a round, and fought at a high quality level than the bout in Korea, which had rounds were more wild, but less tough.
Jhunriel Ramonal TKO3 Shingo Wake
On paper it seemed Friday's bout between Shingo Wake and Jhunriel Ramonal was little more than a tune up for Wake against someone he had already beaten. Instead however it ended up being the worst night of his professional career. Was was supposed to be an easy win for sharp shooting southpaw ended with him being dropped twice, and being left flat out thanks to a huge left hook from Ramonal. The KO blow, at the very end of round 3, was a huge left hook right on the chin that dropped Wake hard. This was brutal, this visually impressive and this was nasty to re-watch with Wake dropping on the spot. This is up there with the best KO's of the year.
Notable mention Shuichiro Yoshino TKO1 Harmonito Dela Torre
Thanongsak Simsri (12-0, 11)
The unbeaten Thanongsak Simsri saw his perfect KO start come to an end this week but he answered a lot of questions as he took a clear and wide decision win over fellow Thai Lerdchai Chaiyawed. The talented Thanongsak found someone he couldn't blow through and instead proved he could go rounds, and out-box a capable opponent. Lerdchai might not be well known but he's a very decent regional journeyman and the 19 year old Thanongsak really did well here to make things look as easy as they were. He's certainly one worth making a note of going forward.
Xiang Li (7-2-1, 2) vs Ryu Horikawa (2-0, 1)
On Thursday we see a mouth watering WBO Youth Light Flyweight title bout as exciting Chinese fighter Xiang Li takes on fast rising Japanese teenager Ryu Horikawa. Neither of these men are big names, yet, but we suspect that both will go on to achieve notable success in the future. Li impressed in his title win, earlier this year in Hong Kong with a win over Raymond Poon KaiChing, whilst Horikawa, who has only been a pro since June, shone in August when he beat the touted Yuki Nakajima. This has the potential to be a thriller, and to put the winner on to the fact track for some very big regional fights.
Following a pretty interesting start to the month things get really intense in the days to come with a lot of notable action, in not a lot of time.
Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (11-4-1, 10) Vs Koki Tyson (14-3-3, 12) II - Tokyo, Japan
In a rematch for the OPBF Middleweight title we'll see Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa take on Koki Tyson, with both men looking to take the currently vacant title. These two fighters fought to a draw earlier in the year and will be going in again to try and take the title that was vacated by Yuki Nonaka. Given that both Hosokawa and Tyson are aggressive, heavy handed but technically flawed fighters we are expecting a very exciting contest here, and hopefully it avoids some of the messy action that their first bout had.
Shingo Wake (26-5-2, 18) Vs Jhunriel Ramonal (15-8-6, 8) II - Tokyo, Japan
Former world title challenger Shingo Wake is pursuing a second world title fight, and to tick over he will eb facing former foe Jhunriel Ramonal. These two fought back in in 2013, when Wake stopped Ramonal in 3 rounds, and it's hard to imagine anything other than a repeat here. Wake should be far too good for the Filipino visitor, but it's still a botu worthy of noting given that Wake is likely to fight for a world title sooner rather than later.
Dmitry Bivol (16-0, 11) Vs Lenin Castillo (20-2-1, 15) - Illinois, USA
Unbeaten WBA Light Heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol was hoping for a big fight but will likely close out his 2019 with a bout against Dominican challenger Lenin Castillo. The champion has improved his resume with solid wins in recent years, but hasn't looked the dynamic and exciting fighter he once was, instead looking to win rather than to dazzle. He should have too much in the locker for Castillo, but the challenger is no "bum" and could give Bivol a genuine test herein he's being over-looked.
Wulan Tuolehazi (12-3-1, 5) vs Satoshi Tanaka (7-5, 1) - Shanghai, China
China's Wulan Tuolehazi has been carving out a solid resume in recent years, with wins over the likes of Jayr Raquinel, Kwanthai Sithmoseng, Ardin Diale and Ryota Yamauchi. He's now looking likely to get a world title shot sooner rather than later and will be defending his WBA International Flyweight title here against Satoshi Tanaka, a relatively weak Japanese challenger. This should be a show case for the champion if we're being honest.
Xiang Li (7-2-1, 2) vs Ryu Horikawa (2-0, 1) - Shanghai, China
We love seeing youngsters face off, with questions being asked of fighters when they are young, rather than seeing records padded before a fighter steps up. With that in mind we love the WBO Youth Light Flyweight title match between China's crafty Xiang Li and Japanese skillster Ryu Horikawa. This should be a real test for both, and despite the risk of some monkey business with the scorecards we're really excited by the contest, which should be a genuinely intriguing one from the first bell to the final bell.
Kudratillo Abdukakhorov (16-0, 9) vs Luis Collazo (39-7, 20) - Pennsylvania, USA
Unbeaten Uzbek Welterweight contender Kudratillo Abdukakhorov looks to continue his drive towards a world title fight as he takes on former world champion Luis Collazo. The unbeaten Abdukakhorov has shown a lot of promise, but has also shown flaws, and issues, and his lack of power is something has left some questioning whether or not he can make it at the top. At his best Collazo was world class, but at the age of 38 there are question marks about just what he has left in his legs. Collazo is a very skilled fighter, and should test the Uzbek in what is a very interesting match up.
Tetsuro Ohashi (7-0-1, 2) Vs Suzumi Takayama (2-0, 2) - Hyogo, Japan
The Japanese Youth title scene continues to give us great fights, and here we'll see the unbeaten pairing of Tetsuro Ohashi and Suzumi Takayama clash for the Youth Super Flyweight title. The 20 year old Ohashi won the Rookie of the Year back in December and this will be his second bout since that win, as he looks to build on his growing reputation. Takayama on the other hand lacks the experience of Ohashi in the pro ranks, but was a solid amateur and has looked very impressive since making his debut this past February. This will be Ohashi's boxing against Takayama's aggression in what should be an excellent match up.
Yusuke Sakashita (18-8-3, 13) vs Naoki Mochizuki (16-4, 8) II - Tokyo, Japan
In a really interesting rematch we'll see Yusuke Sakashita make his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Flyweight title as he takes on Naoko Mochizuki. These two fought back in December 2016, when Mochizuki took a clear win over Sakashita, but since then the two men have had contrasting careers. Mochizuki has gone 5-3, struggling for momentum and was stopped in February by Junto Nakatani. Sakashita however has gone 4-0-1 and claimed his title last time out in May, stopping Masahiro Sakamoto. This could be one of the real hidden gems of the month.
Cristiano Aoqui (14-7-2, 10) vs Daishi Nagata (13-2-1, 5) -Tokyo, Japan
Every so often we see a fight that gets us really excited due to the style match up and the mentality of the two men involved. That is the case here as the exciting Cristiano Aoqui and the rugged Daishi Nagata battle in a Japanese Light Welterweight title eliminator, with the winner getting a shot at the belt in the 2020 Champion Carnival. This bout has two men involved who enjoy a tear up, through heavy leather and should gel stylistically.
From a personal perspective the last week has been an incredibly long one, though from a boxing perspective it's been a packed one with notable fights taking place right through the week. Whilst not every fight was great there was certainly a lot to take in over the last 7 days, and we had some glittering performances by youngsters looking to make a mark for themselves.
Fighter of the Week
Bektemir Melikuziev (2-0, 2)
The biggest standout for the week was Uzbek destroyer Bektemir Melikuziev who fought his second professional bout and destroyed Adrian Luna Flores inside a round, thanks to some brutal body shots. Like many of the tops Uzbek amateurs turning professional he seems to have skipped the early section of a typical professional career and has already taken out a couple of notable opponents to make a statement. The plan seems to be for him to move down in weight to Middleweight, but given the power and technical ability he has already shown there may be a case for him to not drain himself at all and instead just make a run at 175lbs. After just 2 fights he's already gained a reputation as a brutal body puncher and looks like a scary fighter.
Performance of the Week
Bektemir Melikuziev (2-0, 2)
Taking out a notable name like Luna Flores in just his second bout left it hard to select anyone else for our performance of the week. The hard hitting Uzbek blew out a solid Mexican inside a round, a Mexican who had gone the distance with the likes of Ryota Murata. We do wonder whether the notice and weight played a part in Luna Flores being taken out so quickly, but regardless this was still incredibly impressive.
Giovanni Escaner vs Renoel Pael
Whilst we had a lot of action this past week there wasn't actually a lot that was competitive, with many bouts ending up more one-sided than expected. One of the few contests that was truly competitive over 12 rounds was the GAB Bantamweight title fight between Giovanni Escaner and Renoel Pael. Given the styles of the two men it was clear this was going to be a gruelling war and the bout lived up to that expectation with a lot of back and forth, great exchanges of body shots and a real desire to win from both men. The bout won't go down as a classic at the end of the year, but that doesn't take away from how brutal and entertaining this was. Really a fantastic fight.
Ryu Horikawa vs Yuki Nakajima (Rd 6)
With his unbeaten record slipping away Yuki Nakajima moved through the gears and looked to put the pressure on RyuHorikawa in the final round of their 6 rounder. The result of that pressure from Nakajima was a brilliant round with Horikawa being forced to move, respond, mix it up and and give up some great exchanges. Despite some slips from an over-committed Nakajima this wasn't sloppy but was an exciting round of action and really thrilling stuff at a very high level. Not a war, but a high level, super fast boxing showcase. Great stuff.
Bektemir Melikuziev KO1 Ricardo Adrian Luna Flores
We're back to Uzbek destroyer Bektemir Melikuziev and his excellent win over Ricardo Adrian Luna Flores. The finish wasn't the most gorgeous we'll see but it left Flores in agony on the canvas thanks to a truly brutal body shot. Luna Flores had been dropped earlier in the rounds, and had been softened up by repeated body shots, but that doesn't take away from just how brutally savage the finish shot was.
Toshiya Ishii (2-0, 1)
Our view is that Bektemir Melikuziev has already progressed beyond being a typical prospect and is now more of a fringe contender, despite only being a professional for a matter of months. With that in mind we had to look elsewhere for a prospect and it was hard to ignore 18 year old Toshiya Ishii, who booked a place in a Japanese youth title fight thanks to a win over Fumiya Fuse. The youngster really did look like a special talent against a man we regard highly. Ishii isn't the complete package, yet, but he is a really wonderful young talent and we would be hugely surprised if titles aren't in his future.
Giemel Magramo (23-1, 19) vs Komgrich Nantapech (25-5, 16)
This coming Saturday is set to be a hectic day with shows all over Asia, but the best of the bunch looks like it will be an IBF world title eliminator at Flyweight, between Filipino Giemel Magramo and Thai Komgrich Nantapech, aka Eaktwan BTU Ruaviking. On paper this has the hall marks of a FOTY contender. The two men have styles that should gel, both are aggressive, tough and exciting.We're expecting the fighters to meet center ring and engage in a thrilling all action war!
The end of August really is a week where we go out with a bang, with 3 world title bouts and a number of top prospects all in action in the final 7 days of the month!
Kosei Tanaka (13-0, 7) v Jonathan Gonzalez (22-2-1, 13) - Aichi, Japan
Arguably the most interesting of the world title bouts will see WBO Flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka make his second defense as he takes on mandatory challenger Jonathan Gonzalez of Puerto Rico. After a few wars for Tanaka we're now expecting to see him put on a more sound boxing display. Gonzalez is a former amateur stand out, but he has shown vulnerability in his 2 losses and we suspect those vulnerabilities will show again here.
Kento Hatanaka (9-0, 9) v Jaysever Abcede (19-8, 12) - Aichi, Japan
In a really good supporting bout to Tanaka Vs Gonzalez we'll see fast rising Japanese youngster Kento Hatanaka takes on world ranked Filipino Jaysever Abcede. This is a big step up for Hatanaka, but the talented "Prince" is tipped for the top and a win here will help push him into the world rankings. On paper Abcede isn't someone who looks like a challenge for a top prospect but the Filipino has scored recent wins over Stamp Kiatniwat and Seigo Yuri Akui.
John Riel Casimero (27-4, 18) v Cesar Ramirez (18-3, 11) - Metro Manila, Philippines
Staying in Asia we'll see WBO interim Bantamweight champion John Riel Casimero make his first defense, taking on Mexican challenger Cesar Ramirez. The talented Filipino won the title back in April, when he stopped Ricardo Espinoza Franco in the 12th round, and will be further wanting to make his make on the talent packed 118lb division. Ramirez on the other hand is a very limited challenger who has done nothing to earn a shot at a title fight, and was nearly shut out the last time he faced a world class fighter.
Vic Saludar (19-3, 10) v Wilfredo Mendez (13-1, 5) - San Juan, Puerto Rico
In Puerto Rico we'll see former Tanaka opponent Vic Saludar making his second defense of the WBO Minimumweight title as he takes on mandatory challenger Wilfredo Mendez. The under-rated Saludar is a heavy handed boxer-puncher who has really shone in his last two, beating Ryuya Yamanaka and Masataka Taniguchi and despite being on the road, for the third fight in a row, he will again be favoured. Mendez is a talented fighter but is taking a massive step up in class here for what will be his toughest bout, by far.
Shakhram Giyasov (8-0, 6) Vs Darleys Perez (34-4-2, 22) Sonora, Mexico
Unbeaten Uzbek fighter Shakhram Giyasov takes on his most notable opponent to date as he returns to a Mexican ring, for the second time. The talented Giyasov, who didn't look great last time out against Emanuel Taylor, will be up against former world champion Darleys Perez. Giyasov is a talent, and an Olympic silver medal winner, but as a professional it's seemed very much like he either blows opponents away with raw power or struggles. Perez, at his best, was world class, but with a 2-3-3 record in his last 7, with all 3 losses by stoppage, it's hard to know what he has left at this point.
Haruki Ishikawa (7-1, 5) vs Atsushi Takada (6-1-3, 3) - Tokyo, Japan
The Japanese Youth title picture is a really interesting one and although none of the fighters in Yoyuth title bouts are big names they are often emerging talents. In a really good looking JBC Youth Bantamweight title Eliminator we'll see the once beaten Haruki Ishikawa take on Atsushi Takada. The talented Ishikawa suffered his only loss in the 2018 Rookie of the Year final, by majority decision, whilst Takada's only loss was to Tetsu Araki in a Youth title fight. This should be a very good fight.
Fumiya Fuse (8-0, 1) v Toshiya Ishii (1-0, 1) - Tokyo, Japan
Another JBC Youth Bantamweight title eliminator will will see Rookie of the Year winner Fumiya Fuse take on the recently turned professional Toshiya Ishii. The talented Fuse has been impressive since his Rookie of the Year win back in 2017 and has notched some solid wins since his rookie triumph. Ishii on the other hand only debuted back in April but looked excellent on his debut win over Adam Wijaya, though did have a solid amateur career. Despite looking like a mismatch this should be a compelling contest of skills.
The winner of the two eliminators will fight for the vacant title later in the year.
Yuki Nakajima (2-0, 2) vs Ryu Horikawa (1-0, 1) - Tokyo, Japan
On the same card as the two eliminators we'll also see a B Class Tournament bout that pits former amateur standouts against each other, with Yuki Nakajima and Ryu Horikawa facing off. Despite only 3 fights between them this should be a very hotly contest, high skilled battle between two youngsters who, win or lose, will still have a very bright future. The winner of this may "only" have beaten a novice, but will be on the fast track to some much bigger bouts in the very near future.
We've sadly had another very quiet week in the realm of Asian boxing, meaning that, once again, our awards aren't littered with big name winners and outstanding rounds. We have had a few notable performances, though many of those won't even be aired until next week, with the real talking piint being the latest Uzbek amateur star to turn professional
Fighter of the Week
Norihito Tanaka (19-7, 10)
Mid-week fights can often be over-looked and that was likely the case this past week, with a couple of Japanese cards in the middle of the week. It was on one of those shows that Japanese Minimumweight champion Norihito Tanaka made his first defense, avenging a prior loss to Naoya Haruguchi in the process. The under-rated Tanaka is rumoured to be next in line for Wanheng Menayothin and, in all honesty, he would make for a compelling for the unbeaten Thai world champion., especially given the run he's on and performances like the one this week.
Performance of the Week
Bektemir Melikuziev (1-0, 1)
Former Uzbek amateur star Bektemir Melikuziev made his debut, and although it was only a short one, lasting 99 seconds, it was easily the best performance by an Asian fighter this week. He took on Argentinian veteran Martin Fidel Rios and almost gutted him with a brutal body shot. Although big things were expected of Melikuziev we really didn't expect him to take Rios out this quickly! Very impressive.
Kyonosuke Kameda vs Ryugo Ushijima
We didn't see a fight of the year contender this past week, but did see some interesting action, and for us the most interesting was between Kyonosuke Kameda, the cousin of Koki Daiki and Tomoki, and Ryugo Ushijima in a qualifier for the Rookie of the Year. This was hotly contested, highly competitive and really good from a fans perspective. Yes, this wasn't an all out war, but was a genuinely fantastic 4 round bout.
No round, that we saw, stood out this week. It's a shame that there was so little actually visible though, with various shows not being available to watch at the time of writing.
Bektemir Melikuziev KO1 Martin Fidel Rios
It may have been a body shot, m but what a body shot it was! Bektemir Melikuziev showed straight out of the box that he knew how to find the body and how land a fight ending blow to the body, with what was an amazing shot to the mid-section to take Rios out.
Ryu Horikawa (1-0, 1)
Japanese teenager Ryu Horikawa, who turned professional with a fair bit of buzz, may not have had a flawless debut but he looked exciting and fought with a really aggressive style. There's a lot of defensive flaws for him to work on, but he still impressed and looks like the sort of fighter who we could easily see getting big fights after just a couple of years on the domestic scene, make a note of this young man's name.
Whilst Bektemir Melikuziev did look more impressive it's hard to consider hima prospect given he's just beaten a man regarded as a gate keeper, and it's obvious that Melikuziev will be looking to skip the prospect stage of his career.
Hiroto Kyoguchi (12-0, 9) vs Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart (11-0, 5)
We have some great fights coming up, with the pick of them being the WBA "Super" and Ring Magazine Light Flyweight title fight between Hiroto Kyoguchi and Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart, aka Tanawat Nakoon. It's always great to see unbeaten fighters clash at world level, and we're expecting to see something very exciting.
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