For this week’s who the team look to Central for their question and for the man they are tipping to be the face of Kazakh boxing after Gennady Golovkin’s eventual retirement. The trio have been set a rather interesting question and one that they feel could be a great chance to help shine a light on some rising hopefuls from “the Land of the Great Steppe”.
“Who... will be the next world champion from Kazakhstan?”
For the sake of “world champion”, we are considering WBC, IBF, WBO and all the various WBA titles.
Lee: “I had a lot of fun looking through the rising Kazakh prospects, and giving them all a watch, and seeing what they all have to offer the sport. After analysing them and looking through the Kazakh fighters the man I tip as being the next Kazakh world champion is Daniyar Yeleussinov, the talented Welterweight southpaw.
Yeleussinov has a lot to like. He is a talented fighter, has a strong promoter, in the form of Eddie Hearn, and has a team behind him who are hungry for him to break through. He is also 29 years old, turning 30 in March. He is no spring chicken. With that in mind I expect to see him being pushed to a world title this year. I know the Welterweight division is a tough one, a very tough one, right now but I expect to see the division have a big shake up this year and Yeleussinov will be one of the winners of that shake up. He is high risk, low reward, and in a position where he is only 2 or 3 fights from a world title fight.
Takahiro: “Zhanibek Alimkhanuly. The sport right now has some excellent weight classes with lots of depth. It also has some very, very weak divisions where there are only one or two fighters that stand out. One of those divisions is Middleweight. With that in mind I think Alimkhanuly will be a good choice to become a world champion in 2021.
Zhanibek Alimkhanuly is world ranked by all 4 title bodies and has options. He also has MTK and Top Rank behind him, and at 27 year old he is in his prime. He is talented, sharp, fast and powerful. He is adapting to the professional ranks, and he seems to tick a lot of boxes of a future world champion. He might need to wait a year or two for a world title fight, but I think Kazakh boxing fans will begin to see him as the natural successor to Gennady Golovkin as their next big star.
My choice, Zhanibek Alimkhanuly”
Scott: "Sadly I think after Golovkin hangs up the gloves we might need to wait a few years for the next Kazakh world champion. The country is developing a lot of talent, and there are a lot of contenders but I see a lot of those falling short at the highest level, or just not getting a shot until it’s too late. One man who I think will go all though way is Sadriddin Akhmedov, the 23 year old Canadian based Kazakh who fights at 154lbs. He, to me, ticks every single box we could want from a future world champion.
He is young, good looking, talented, heavy handed, exciting, has a good promoter, is in a division where the top guys are, for the most part, on the older side, and a division which will be shaken up, massively, in 3 or 4 years.
It might be a bit of a wait until we see Akhmedov win a world title, but I’m confident he’ll win one, with the main issue being whether he gets there before all of his countrymen or not.”
It’s fair to say that January is usually a quiet month but this January is particularly quiet, with bouts really not being lined up for much of the month, we’ve already seen two scheduled bouts being cancelled due to Covid19 related issues. Despite that we do still have some stuff to be excited about, so let's take a look at what we’ve got coming up this month, and it is very much a prospect heavy month.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Keita Kurihara (15-5, 13) vs Takuma Inoue (13-1, 3)
The first genuinely big bout set to take place in Asia will be on January 14th as OPBF Bantamweight champion Keita Kurihara looks to defend his title against Takuma Inoue. The bout is a genuinely good looking one and will see Kurihara’s power and aggression against the toughness and skills of Inoue. With both men entering the bout world ranked the winner of this will be banging on the door of a world title fight, and we wouldn't be surprised at all by them landing a really big, international level, fight at the end of the year.
Katsuki Mori (7-0, 1) vs Sora Takeda (6-1, 1)
Highly skilled prospect Katsuki Mori looks to continue building his reputation as he takes on Sora takeda, in a battle between two former Rookie of the Year winners. Mori has received a lot of praise since breaking through in 2019, though with only a single bout in 2020 his career needs a big shot in the arm in 2021. Takeda on the other hand won Rookie of the Year in 2018, and has sadly seen his momentum slow with just 2 bouts since then. The winner of this will begin a move towards a potential Japanese Youth title bout, but could take a year or two for either man to land their first title fight.
Keisuke Matsumoto (1-0, 1) Vs Bejita Ishikawa (3-12-2, 1)
Touted Japanese third generation fighter Keisuke Matsumoto will be looking to record his second win as a professional as he takes on Dragonball Z inspired fighter Bejita Ishikawa, who is well known for his Vegeta styled entrance attire. Matsumoto is very highly regarded and his father was a multi time world title challenger, though he’ll want a better performance than his debut, which saw him being dropped before he stopped Hironori Miyake. Ishikawa shouldn’t provide much of a test here, but he is a unique fighter and certainly has popularity that exceeds his ability.
Ryutaro Nakagaki (1-0, 1) vs Yuji Okinori (10-5-2, 3)
Another prospect looking for their second win is former amateur stand out Ryutaro Nakagaki, who will be looking to build on a successful debut in a notable step up in class, as he takes on the experienced Yuji Okinori. Although perhaps not a big internationally there is very high expectations on Nakagaki in Japanese, after an excellent amateur career, and given how he looked on debut the 21 year old Super Flyweight hopeful really does seem to have the potential to go a very, very long way in the sport. Okinori is a very credible opponent for Nakagaki this early in his career, but it’s hard to see anything but a Nakagaki win.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Riku Nagahama (12-2-1, 4) Vs Ryota Toyoshima (12-2-1, 8) - OPBF Welterweight title
The second OPBF title fight of 2021 will see Riku Nagahama seek his first defense as he faces off with the heavy handed Ryota Toyoshima. Nagahama, who holds the OPBF Welterweight title, won the belt in 2020 but has had to wait almost a year to defend it. Although not the biggest puncher Nagahama does have a fan friendly style and does get involved in a tear, even if that’s not the best idea for him. Toyoshima is a more patient fighter than Nagahama, but he’s certainly a bigger puncher and he has very under-rated and sneaky body shots in his arsenal. This could, legitimately, turn out to be a genuine war for the OPBF title and could be a gem in a month where big bouts are few and far between.
Jukiya Iimura (0-0) Vs Daisuke Yamada (6-5, 1)
Whilst there is a lack of big bouts there are a lot of prospects in action over the coming days and one of those is Jukiya Iimura, who went 68-13 in the amateurs. He’ll be getting introduced to professional bout with a bout against the solid Daisuke Yamada, in what should be a solid test for the debuting Flyweight.
Jun Ikegawa (0-0) Vs Kakeru Yoshikawa (4-1-2)
Another debutant looking to make a mark in January is Jun Ikegawa, who went 51-15 in the unpaid ranks. The skilled Ikegawa looks to be in a very solid debut match up as he takes on Kakeru Yoshikawa. The 22 year old Ikegawa is tipped for success and will be looking to make his mark at 122lbs. Yoshikawa is a very credible opponent, and his only loss was a split decision back in July 22017. This is not a gimmie for Ikegawa!
Yugo Kon (0-0) Vs Koji Tsurumi (4-3-1, 1)
One other debutant on this show to make a note of is Yugo Kon. He went a less than spectacular 23-11 in the amateur ranks but is regarded as a long term prospect and we should see him being asked genuine questions by Koji Tsurumi, who is better than his record suggests.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Kosuke Saka (20-5, 17) Vs Takuya Watanabe (37-9-1, 21)
In another potential hidden gem Japanese Super Featherweight champion Kosuke Saka will take on Takuya Watanabe, and this may well end up being a genuinely brutal war. Saka is an aggressive, heavy handed and exciting fighter, but one who can also be super inconsistent. Despite being hot and cold Saka looked fantastic in his 2019 title winning performance, smashing Masaru Sueyoshi in 5 rounds. Watanabe on the other hand is a super tough, technical warrior who tends to box well, but is much more well known for his ability to genuinely fight. Watanabe’s bouts with Jaesung Lee and Taiki Minamoto showed his toughness and he will have to dip into that again here.
Yusaku Kuga (19-4-1, 13) Vs Gakuya Furuhashi (26-8-1, 14)
Another Japanese title fight will see Yusaku Kuga defending his JBC Super Bantamweight title against Gakuya Furuhashi. For Kuga this is a must win after being taken out in a regional title fight by Jhunriel Ramonal at the end of 2019. Although talented Kuga has been in a number of tough wars, and bouts against the likes of Ryoichi Tamura, Shingo Wake and Yasutaka Ishimoto may well have aged him. As for Furuhashi the 33 year old challenger will know it’s now or never after coming up short in two previous Japanese title fights. Style wise Furuhashi is a grinder, who throws a lot and lacks 1-punch fight changing power, again Kuga his style may be his undoing, or it could lead to an early FOTY contender.
Koki Mioya (8-1-2, 2) v Tentaro Kimura (5-0-2)
In a B class tournament final the once beaten Koki Mioya takes on Tentaro Kimura, in what should be a very evenly matched and exciting 5 rounder. This bout, unlike many, has gotten a lot of interest for what is, for all intents, a lower level Japanese bout, with neither fighter being regarded as a major prospect. Both as popular fighters and the bout is being regarded as one that could end up delivering a lot of action. Fans in the west may overlook this one, but it is genuinely generating plenty of buzz among the hardcore Japanese fans.
Shu Utsuki (7-0, 6) v Masashi Wakita (10-10-2, 5)
In an A Class tournament final the fast rising, and heavy handed, Japanese Lightweight hopeful Shu Utsuki will battle Masashi Wakita. This looks like a mismatch on paper and we suspect it will be, but it will still be great to see Utsuki back in the ring, and there’s a real chance of him getting involved in the Japanese title mix in the next 12 to 24 months. Utsuki is a very nasty and serious puncher, and that is likely to be too much for Wakita, who’s been a genuine servant to Japanese boxing over the years.
Yokasta Valle (20-2, 9) Vs Sana Hazuki (8-4-1, 2)
In a surprising world title fight we’ll see OPBF Minimumweight champion Sana Hazuki challenge IBF champion Yokasta Valle near the end of the month. This bout was only announced in January, after Valle had numerous issues securing a unification fight with WBC champion Tina Rupprecht. Valle will be the heavy, heavy favourite, though there is, maybe, a chance she has looked past Hazuki, who really shouldn’t be much of a taste for the Costa Rican world champion.
Manual Artime Community Center Theater, Miami, Florida, USA
Fazliddin Meliboev (0-0) vs Javonn Davis (3-0-1, 3)
Back to debutants we have talented Uzbek 24 year old Fazliddin Meliboev kicking off his career towards the end of January as he takes on unbeaten American Javonn Davis. Meliboev isn’t one of the elite level Uzbek amateurs we’ve seen making their name on the professional ranks in recent years but he was a very credible amateur and showed real potential in the WSB. He’ll come into this bout as an unknown, but we suspect he has the tools to overcome Davis, who has been fighting at a very, very low level so far.
Kozimbek Mardonov (0-0) vs Chown Sims (5-1, 2)
Another Uzbek making his debut is the touted 23 year old Kozimbek Mardonov, who won shone at the 2019 Military Games in Wuhan. On paper Mardonov looks to be in a serious test here as he goes up against 25 year old American Chown Sims. Sims is unbeaten in his last 3, and has taken a couple of cherry’s since beginning his professional career. He was, however, stopped in 2019 by Ty McLeod and we suspect Mardonov will have too much, in what could be a debut to remember for a very promising young Uzbek.
Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico
Sadriddin Akhmedov (11-0, 10) vs Stephen Danyo (17-3-3, 6)
Highly regarded Kazakh prospect Sadriddin Akhmedov will return to the ring after well over a year out as he takes on Dutch fighter Setephen Danya in a bout for 4 minor titles. The excellent Akhmedov has been one of the most promising Kazakh fighters in recent years and he seems to have it all, with skills, power, stamina, a solid boxing brain and a solid promoter behind him. Given what we’ve seen of Akhmedov the view is that he’s one of the men heading towards world titles. Danyo on the other hand has never been stopped, he’s proven himself as a tough nut and he does have the durability and experience to test the Kazakh youngster, especially given his length lay off. This should be a real good test for Akhmedov, but if he’s as good as we think he should take a very clear win.
Luzhniki, Moscow, Russia
Bektemir Melikuziev (6-0, 5) Vs Sergey Kovalev (34-4-1, 29)
Unbeaten Uzbek destroyer Bektemir Melikuziev is set to take a massive step up in class at the end of the month as he takes on former multi-time Light Heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev. With many tipping the “Bully” to be a future world champion this is the sort of test that will help fast track him to a title, and could be a shrewd bit of match making, or a case of biting off too much too soon. Kovalev has been on the slide for a while, and he no longer looks like the “Krusher” who dismantled the likes of Jean Pascal, but with his power and with a Russian crowd behind him he is very much a live under-dog here. On paper this is a real test for Melikuviez, but if he’s as good as we, and many others, think he could end up retiring Kovalev. Interestingly for Kovalev this will be his first bout since his 2019 loss to Saul Alvarez and at 37 father time may well be just as much of an enemy as Melikuziev. Potentially one of the smartest bits of matchmaking we’ll see in 2021, or a big mistake by Melikueziev’s team.
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.
This past week has been a hectic one with a lot of notable action, some big and some small. We've had world title bouts, regional title bouts, domestic title bouts, shows almost constantly,and so much action that we know we've missed things! Rather than waxing lyrical about what we've had, lets take a look at our weekly award winners.
Fighter of the Week
Wanheng Menayothin (54-0, 18)
Unbeaten Thai Wanheng Menayothin has been guilty of cruising through recent defenses and looking worse than he is. This week however he shone, and completely dominated mandatory challenger Simpiwe Konkco in what is one of the best performances from Wanheng. The Thai eased his way into the bout and then really shut down the South African challenger as he took a clear and wide decision win. Their are question about Wanheng's overall competition but there is no doubting how he good he looked here, and if he kept this level of performance up going forward he really could end his career with a 60-0 type record with some more genuinely solid defenses under his belt.
Performance of the Week
Edward Heno (14-1-5, 5)
It's rare to get the Performance of the Week to a fighter who lost, but this week we were incredibly impressed by Edward Heno in his very competitive loss to Elwin Soto. We rate Soto highly and Heno pushed him all the way in a fantastic and contest that was only won by a couple of late rounds. Heno's skills were on show through the middle rounds, though sadly he did end the bout feeling the effects of the Soto's body shots, and had clearly slowed as we went into the championship rounds. Despite the loss we expected to see Heno back at world level sooner rather than later, and that's in part to to how good his performance, in a loss, was.
Ryo Tanimoto (4-2, 3) vs Yusaku Sekishima (8-2, 4)
Every so often Japanese boxing gives us a little cracker hidden down card on a much bigger show. This week get one such bout as Ryo Tanimoto and Yusaku Sekishima gave us a sensational little 6 rounder at Korakuen Hall. The bout started slowly, with both looking to box their way into the fight, but by the final 30 seconds of round 3 the pace was already increasing and from then on it just got better and better with the two getting closer to each other and letting bigger shots go on the inside. This wasn't an all out war, by any stretch, but was a thrilling, competitive, fight that combined boxing with brawling and got better round by round. This was a great little hidden gem for the week and a bout we really enjoyed.
Seung Hee Lee vs Jin Soo Kim (4)
We won't lie and pretend that the Korean bout between Seung Hee Lee and Jin Soo Kim was a technically show case of high tempo boxing and the the perfect combination of technical boxing and exciting action. What we got instead was rock em sock em robots as two novices just swung bombs at each other. Every round here was entertaining, sloppy wild and crazy. Every round of this fight was fantastically fun to watch, but as the two men got more and more tired their movement slowed to a standstill and the bombs were just launched back and forth. This was just great fun to watch, but the type of round that much make trainers pull their hair out.
No KO was considered for this award this week.
Sadriddin Akhmedov (10-0, 9)
Talented Kazakh youngster Sadriddin Akhmedov showed there was more to his boxing than just power punching and aggression as he out boxed Mexican foe Johnny Navarrete, who retired in his corner after 7 rounds. It feels like Akhmedov is just about beyond the prospect stage of his career, but it's not to be impressed by the very talented and promising 21 year old, who looks every bit a world champion in the making. We suspect that this time next year he will be a definite contender and he is seriously one to keep an eye on.
Romero Duno (21-1, 16) Vs Ryan Garcia (18-0, 15)
There's a lot of fights coming up over the next few days, and one of those is a mouth watering clash between hard hitting Filipino Romero Duno and flash American Ryan Garcia. This bout is likely to see bombs thrown, both fighters getting hurt and be a real test for both men. Garcia is certainly the more well schooled and sharper fighter but Duno has legitimately destructive power and we are really looking forward to seeing what happens when these to face off.
The last week of October isn't a crazy one in terms of big fights, but is a very good in terms of noteworthy fights, with a world title bout, a Japanese world title bout a bunch of Japanese title eliminators, several notable prospects and a very good cross roads fight.
Wanheng Menayothin (53-0, 18) vs Simpiwe Konkco (19-5, 7) - Thailand
On Friday October 25th we'll see WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin make his next defense, as he takes on mandatory challenger Simpiwe Konkco from Aouth Africa. The unbeaten Thai is the longest reigning active champion, and whilst his competition, overall, hasn't been great this is a solid defense against a very under-rated challenger. Sadly Wanheng's best wins so far have come against the likes of Tatsuya Fukuhara and Pedro Taduran and he lacks consistency, so a win here will bolster his standing before a potential US debut. For Konkco the bout is a second world title shot a win would put him on the map, big time.
Sadriddin Akhmedov (9-0, 8) vs Johnny Navarrete (33-15-2, 15) - Quebec, Canada
Hard hitting Kazakh prospect Sadriddin Akhmedov fights for the first time as a married man as he takes on Mexican veteran Johnny Navarrete. The hard hitting Akhmedov will be strongly favoured here, and is expected to blow through the Mexican in terms to return for a December card at the Bll Centre. To dat Akhmedov has squeezes 3 fights and his weeding into 2019 and is a busy boy, but given his natural talent, and power, we have no reason to think this will be anything short of a blow out.
Kazuki Tanaka (11-2, 8) Vs Kyosuke Sawada (13-2-1, 6) - Tokyo, Japan
In a very even looking Japanese Bantamweight title eliminator we'll see the aggressive Kazuki Tanaka take on the skilled and smart Kyosuke Sawada. This pits puncher against boxer and should be a very interesting match up between two talented fighters with very different in ring mindsets. We expect Tanaka to press and Sawada try to keep behind his his jab, though we have seen Sawada dragged into a fight before and sooner or later we expect this one to break out into a war.
Hinata Maruta (9-1-1, 7) Vs Takenori Ohashi (17-5-2, 11) - Tokyo, Japan
The wonderfully smooth Hinata Maruta takes on the former Japanese Featherweight champion Takenori Ohashi in a Japanese Featherweight title eliminator. Although very talented Maruta has faltered in his biggest bout to date, losing a competitive decision to veteran Hidenori Otake in an OPBF title match, but has bounced back with some impressive results and will be looking to build on his recent wins over Tsuyoshi Tameda and Coach Hiroto. On the other hand Ohashi is no slouch, and whilst technicall he's slow and clunky he has lights out power, and is a danger through out a bout. This really is boxer against puncher in what could turn out to be the gem of the Japanese title eliminators taking place on October 26th.
Kazuki Saito (7-1, 5) Vs Izuki Tomioka (6-2-1, 2) - Tokyo, Japan
Another Japanese title eliminator will be taking place at Lightweight and will see the talented, but somewhat chinny, Kazuki Saito take on the skilled, but light hitting, Izuki Tomioka. This is a bout that pits two men who have real potential, but big flaws, against each other. Saito is a joy to watch offensively, but his durability issues cannot be ignored, and he has been down in a number of fights and we do worry about him whenever he's caught. Izuki gave Masayoshi Nakatani fights in a 2018 bout for the OPBF Lightweight title, but looked worried against Shuya Masaki just a few months later. Izuki is an excellent and fighter, but his lack of stopping power is a major question mark, even at this level.
Keita Obara (21-4-1, 19) Vs Toshiro Tarumi (12-3-3, 6) - Tokyo, Japan
Former world title challenger Keita Obara drops back down to domestic level for a Japanese Welterweight title eliminator against Toshiro Tarumi. Obara has proven to not be world class, but isn't too far behind and bouts against the likes of Kudratillo Abdukakhorov have shown some of his limitations. Despite that Obara has still only ever been beaten by 1 Japanese opponent, and that was on his debut. Tarumi is a solid domestic fighter, but this is a massive step up in class for him, and we suspect it's too much too soon for him. Tarumi lacks the power needed to get Obara's respect and isn't sharp enough to be able to replicate Abdukakhorov's gameplan.
Wenfeng Ge (11-1, 6) Vs Kompayak Porpramook (60-7, 41) - Chongqing, China
Chinese 32 year old Wenfeng Ge looks to bounce back from a loss in January to Giemel Magramo, which saw him being stopped in the 10th round. The Chinese fighter will be taking on former WBC Light Flyweight world champion Kompayak Porpramook, a 37 year old Thai who has been in some amazing bouts during his long career. We suspect the local fighter will have the energy and speed to avoid an all out tear up with Porpramook, but the Thai never stops trying and we'd expect at least some exciting exchanges here in a bout both men will see as a must win.
Seigo Yuri Akui (13-2-1, 9) vs Shun Kosaka (16-5, 4) - Okayama, Japan
In a bout to crown a new Japanese Flyweight champion we'll see the exciting Seigo Yuri Akui battle the rugged Shun Kosaka. So far we've seen both of these two lose to their best opponents, in fact both share a loss to Junto Nakatani, but they should make for a very interesting domestic title bout, with Akui's quick start and intense aggression being matched against Kosaka's toughness. If Akui can take out Kosaka early this would be very impressive, however the longer it goes the more and more Kosaka's toughness will play a part. A very interesting match up and one that feels very hard to call.
Shu Utsuki (5-0, 4) vs Somphot Seesa (4-2, 4) - Tokyo, Japan
Fast rising Japanese hopeful Shu Utsuki looks to continue his rapid rise as he takes on Thai foe Somphot Seesa. On paper this is, arguably, Utsuki's easiest bout to date and it has a "stay busy" feel to it for the hard hitting Watanabe gym fighter. Seesa has a bit of experience but he was stopped in both of his previous visits to Japan, to Daisuke Sugita and Ren Sasaki, and it's hard to imagine him lasting long with Utsuki here.
Yudai Shigeoka (0-0) vs Manop Audomphanawari (3-2, 3) - Tokyo, Japan
Former amateur standout Yudai Shigeoka, the older brother of Ginjiro Shigeoka, makes his professional as he takes on Thai foe Manop Audomphanawari. In reality this should be a simple win for Shigeoka, but we're looking forward to seeing him in the ring and seeing his rise, especially given the incredibly quick rise of his brother.
The month of March is over and whilst it hasn't been an amazing month it has had it's moments, and has had a very clear Fighter of the Month, Fight of the Month and Upset of the Month. It's a month that had some down time, and didn't seem to be as memorable as either January or February, but was still a pretty good month in terms of highlights.
Fighter of the Month
The "KO Dream Boy" managed to really shine in the middle of the month, retaining his WBO Flyweight title in style as he clearly out pointed former unified Light Flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi. The bout, like most Tanaka fights, was high tempo, exciting and saw the talented Hatanaka promoted fighter trying to put on a show. Tanaka, who at 13-0 is already a 3 weight world champion, is one of the real young stars of world boxing and his performance this month was sensational. He is clearly going looking to create history and it's now assumed that he only has a fight or two left at Flyweight before seeking a 4th divisional world title.
Fight of the Month
Kosei Tanaka Vs Ryoichi Taguchi
Whilst we could wax lyrical about Tanaka it does take two to tango and his bout with Ryoichi Taguchi was clearly the best bout of the month. It was relatively one sided, but was highly skilled, hugely entertaining and pitted the desire and hunger of Tanaka against the guts and heart of Taguchi. To his credit Taguchi refused to lie down and quit, and despite being clearly beaten his will to win cannot be questioned. A fantastic bout, and as good a 1-sided bout as we'll see this year.
KO of the Month
Israil Madrimov vs Frank Rojas
Uzbek fighter Israil Madrimov is no normal prospect. His first 2 professional bouts have both been title bouts, over 10 rounds, with fighters holding records with more wins than losses. He isn't just a fighter with ambitious match making but also real skill, confident, and as seen this month, dynamite punching. The way he took out Venezuelan Frank Rojas on March 9th was clinical and brutal with the final left hook being as brutal a shot as they come.
Canadian based Kazakh Sadriddin Akhmedov has long been a bit of a hidden secret with fight fans who don't follow the Asian scene or the Canadian scene in a hardcore fashion. This month Akhmedov fought in Kazakhstan for the first time and whilst it wasn't his best performance to date he did clearly beat Indonesian tough guy John Ruba over 10 rounds, and prove he had the stamina to go 10 rounds, with out any problem. It's just a shame he was later diagnosed as having suffered an injury in his bout.
Lito Dante TKO12 Tsubasa Koura
The biggest upset of the month, and in fact one of the biggest upsets of the year so far, saw unheralded Filipino tough guy Lito Dante break down the previously unbeaten Tsubasa Koura. Koura, who was ranked #3 by the WBC, seemed set to make one final defense of the OPBF title before moving on to a world title fight, but those planned have been destroyed by Dante. The Filipino had given Koura fits through out the bout before finally forcing the referee to save the Japanese fighter in the final round. A huge upset!
Kosei Tanaka Vs Ryoichi Taguchi - Round 2
We go back to the Kosei Tanaka Vs Ryoichi Taguchi for our round of the month, which gave us an amazing second round. The round was high skilled back and forth, and despite being one of the only really competitive rounds from the fight was a round that gave us everything. Skills, action, intensity, back and forth, guts and desire. This is what boxing is about and this is why we all love this sport.
This past week has been an under-the-radar week, with a lot of action, even if there wasn't a lot of headlines. We've had some really interesting and eye catching moments, and it is certainly a week that will go down as being an over-looked one at the end of the year.
Fighter of the Week
Samuel Salva (17-0, 10)
There was a couple of world title eliminators this week and whilst neither really delivered in terms of being a FOTY candidate, it was good to see Samuel Salva put on a career best performance to over-come Rene Mark Cuarto. Salva hadn't looked great in some previous bouts, but the 22 year old showed a lot to like here, and had certainly improved from the fighter that had previous had footage available. Whether he goes all the way or not is yet to be seen, though he is now firmly in the mix for a world title fight.
Performance of the Week
Sadriddin Akhmedov (8-0, 7)
Kazakh fighter Sadriddin Akhmedov has been carving out a real reputation due to his performances in Canada but this week he returned to his motherland and put on a show for the fans in Kazakhstan, beating up tough Indonesian John Ruba. The bout, for a regional title, saw Akhmedov take the fight to Ruba round after round, though was surprisingly taken the 10 round distance. The "Soldier of Q" will have been disappointed in losing his 100% KO rate, but did get a chance to answer any questions about his stamina and work rate. A fantastic showing.
Ricky Sismundo Vs Maxim Dadashev
Although there was a lot of minor fights from Asia one of the most interesting fights from the week to feature an Asian came from the US as Ricky Sismundo took on hard hitting Russian Maxim Dadashev, and really forced the fight to be a good one. The fight won't be recalled as a Fight of the Year contender but had a great momentum swing and come back. In round 2 Sismundo dropped the unbeaten Russian and seemed confident of attacking Dadashev, before being taken out by a huge 2-punch combination in round 4. A very entertaining contest, even if it's nothing that will be remembered highly at the end of the year.
Notable mention - Jon Jon Estrada Vs Vladislav Krasnoshein
Akzhol Sulaimanbek Uulu vs Mike Tawatchai Round 3
We had some great rounds this past week, and one of the best was the third round of the bout between Akzhol Sulaimanbek Uulu and Mike Tawatchai. The bout overall was 1-sided, with Uulu beating up the Thai veteran, but the 3rd round really saw the Thai gritting his teeth and taking the fight back to Uulu, almost fighting out of desperation. It wasn't an effective tactic for Tawatchai, but did make for some really exciting action before he was broken down.
Roy Nagulman KO2 Angelito Merin
We had a few great KO's this week, including one suffered by Ricky Sismundo, though none was as good as the one score by Filipino teenager Roy Nagulman, who left Angelito Merin out cold, and requiring a stretcher to get out of the ring. The shot that left Merin down was a huge right hand that could not possibly have landed any cleaner. At 17 years old Nagulman looks to be a real prospect and this performance was as much of an eye opener as he team could ever have hoped for.
Yuki Yamauchi (3-0, 2)
Japan's Yuki Yamauchi may not be on the radar of many fight fans yet, despite our recent "Introducing..." article about him, but it's only a matter of time before fans will begin talking about him. He stepped up this week and took the unbeaten record of Claudevan Sese in 3 rounds. Yamauchi could be the best Japanese fighter you're not aware of, and is well worth following. Unlike most Japanese prospects the 23 year old has international amateur experience and fighting at Super Bantamweight he's someone capable of making a big mark on the international stage.
Hironori Mishiro (6-0-1, 2) vs Takuya Watanabe (35-8-1, 20)
We sometimes get amazing match ups that make us lick our lips in anticipation, despite average fans not caring too much. We think we have one such bout this week, as OPBF Super Featherweight champion Hironori Mishiro takes on Takuya Watanabe. This has the potential to be a very, very special bout between two talented fighters. These might not be a world title bout, or even a world title eliminator, but it's a bout we're incredibly excited about and we suspect we'll be getting something very special here.
Earlier this week we looked at a number of Kazakh hopefuls in the first of 2 articles looking at the rising hopefuls of Kazakh boxing, and the fighters that will be looking to build on the success of Gennady Golovkin, Beibut Shumenov and Zhanat Zhakiyanov. For those who missed that it can be read here - The Kazakh Hopes! - Part 1 and for those who did read it, part two can be found below, looking at the Light Middleweight division and below.
Sadriddin Akhmedov (2-0, 2) – Light Middleweight
Quebec based 20 year old Light Middleweight Sadriddin Akhmedov is one of the more obscure fighters on this list, but is likely to be one that will give his team the most frustration going forward. That sounds like an insult but the reality is that Akhmedov already looks too good for his own good and that's a major problem given he only debuted in April, when he stopped Tony Barreras in 31 seconds. He returned to the ring in May, stopping Ariel Alejandro Zampedri in just 84 seconds. Whilst that might not sound too impressive it's worth noting that it took the talented Jayde Mitchell 3 rounds to stop Zampedri.
At just 20 years old Akhmedov might be the best hidden gem from Kazakhstan. His professional start has been impressive and as an amateur he was also pretty impressive, winning the World Youth Championships in 2016 and winning a pair of Kazakh Youth titles. Given his power, which is genuinely terrifying, his amateur skillset, his youth, his speed and timing, and his relaxed nature in the ring it really does seem like Kazakh boxing may well have a star in the making here. Of course it is, very, early in his career but we're been very impressed and suspect Akhmedov will impress again in June, when he's expected to have his third professional bout. With his quick blow outs his team will be wanting to keep him busy, step him up and test him sooner rather than later, as he's likely to just smash through lower level fighters with too much ease.
Zhankosh Turarov (22-0, 15) – Welterweight
One of the most experienced fighters on this list is Welterweight Zhankosh Turarov, a 27 year old who has been a professional since 2009 and slowly worked his way towards the fringes of the world rankings, in what is one of the most high profile divisions in the sport. Having turned professional at 18 he isn't a big name former amateur but has been developed carefully by his team who have had him fighting in Kazakhstan, USA, Dominican Republic and Colombia. It should be noted that whilst he has travelled for fights, on a regular basis, he is actually based in the US and could well find himself on some high profile US televised cards in the near future.
Sadly Turarov hasn't yet made a step up to battling many notable names, though he does seem to be getting matched better in the last couple of years. If that continues in 2018 he could well find himself in with some notable names, which will tell us a lot more about him. From what we have seen of Turarov he looks like a fun, flashy and confident fighter, but that could have a lot to do with the competition he has been facing not being able to punish him for his defensive flaws and allowing him to look better than he actually is. He is a fun fighter, but will need to improve his defense if he's to win at the highest levels, as he can often be seen dropping his guard against his lower level opposition.
Daniyar Yeleussinov (1-0, 1) – Welterweight
Another Welterweight prospect, and arguably a better one than Turarov, is 2016 Olympic gold medal winner Daniyar Yeleussinov. The former amateur star, didn't just win Olympic gold as an amateur but also took gold as the World Amateur Championships and the Asian Games and was one of the top Kazakh amateurs over the last few years. It's little wonder that a top promoter signed him up when he was ready to turn professional and it's fair to say that Matchroom have signed a genuinely top tier prospect here.
As a professional Yeleussinov made his debut on April 28th, and looked a tiny bit unsure of himself to begin with, before stopping the unbeaten Noah Kidd in round 3. It seemed like the 27 year old needed a round or two to adapt to the professional ranks, but in round 3 he turned it up and looked like the class act he was as an amateur. He'll be returning to the ring for his second professional bout on June 6th and will likely try to fit in another 2 or 3 fights before the end of the year, against progressively better opposition. Given his talent and amateur pedigree it's going to be hard for Matchroom to hold him back, so expect him to be moved much quicker than Turarov.
Batyrzhan Jukembayev (13-0-0-2, 11) - Light Welterweight
Another Quebec based Kazakh is Batyrzhan Jukembayev, a Light Welterweight puncher who is on a good role after a bizarre start to his professional career which saw him begin with 2 No Contests. Since then he has been matched aggressively, with all of his opponents having more wins than losses, and has scored notable wins over the likes of Cecilio Santos, Cosme Rivera and Noe Nunez. It's clear that he's yet to face a fellow contender, or prospect, but he's building a reputation for himself and looking damned good doing it.
At 27 years old it does seem like Jukembayev is ready to be let off the leash. He fought 4 times last year and already has a couple of wins this year, suggest they are going to keep him active in 2018. If they step him up again he could well be finding himself in with a contender before the end of the year and could be charging through the world rankings in 2019. He has power, a really nice style, a southpaw stance and a team who seem very confident in his abilities. There is, of course, work to do in his development but he's on the right track and and is likely to be finding himself really making a mark on television very shortly.
Ruslan Madiev (12-0, 5) - Light Welterweight
Another US based prospect from Kazakhtan is 140lb hopeful Ruslan Madiev, who is based in Big Bear, California. Madiev has been a professional for over 5 years, having made his debut on May 26th 2013, but would have a stop-start beginning to his career and take 17 months before returning to action. It wasn't actually until last September that Madiev got much attention, following a big win over the then 23-1-1 Abdiel Ramirez, and since then he has scored two more notable wins over Martin Angel Martinez and the then unbeaten Jesus Perez.
As a stablemate of Gennady Golovkin we know Madiev is in good hands. He also has WSB experience, which has sort of explained “his lack of activity”. That WSB experience shows in just how relaxed Madiev looks in the ring, even when he's under pressure, and he does look like a very composed fighter, who knows his way around the ring, throws very solid body shots and, unlike some on this list, seems to enjoy boxing on the back foot with his counters and movement, as opposed to coming forward and looking destructive.
Bekman Soylybayev (12-0, 4) - Super Featherweight
The Super Featherweight division is a strong one and it's one where Kazakhstan are a bit lacking, though they do have 27 year old Bekman Soylybayevn. Soylybayev has only actually fought a single bout in Kazakhstan, having racked up fights in Ukraine, USA and Mexico and is getting stamps on his passport and getting international experience. His sole bout in Kazakhstan came more than 2 years ago, when he stopped Nikoloz Kokashvili in 2 rounds. It's fair to say that Kokashvili isn't a particularly notable opponent, but Soylybayev has scored other wins against the likes of German Meraz and Fernando Vargas which are worthy of note.
In terms of his boxing style Soylybayev is a pretty patient fighter and looks loose and relaxed in the ring. There is perhaps a sense of laziness at times when watching Soylybayev but he does look a real talent who can fight on the front foot but looks like he's happier on the back foot, and seems very happy fighting off the ropes when he needs to. There is a lot of technical ability here, and a lovely variety to his work. Sadly though he may be held back by his relative lack of power, and 4 stoppage wins from 12 bouts suggests that he may have problems getting respect of world class opponents.
Mussa Tursyngaliyev (7-0, 6) – Featherweight
At Featherweight Kazakh fans have Mussa Tursyngaliyev to get excited about, and he really could be one of the most interesting fighters on this list. Around the start of 2016 he had seemingly signed with AK Promotions in Korea, though would never actually fight for AK and wouldn't actually make his professional debut until November 10th 2017. Amazingly by the end of November he had raced away to 6-0 (5), beating 6 opponents in just 19 days, and made up for lost time with that level of intense activity. Notably he has fought just once since then, scoring a very notable win against Luis Hinojosa this past March, and claiming the WBA NABA USA Featherweight title.
Although it's hard to track down much footage of Tursyngaliyev as a professional he was a pretty accomplished amateur and looked pretty good back in his amateur days. Sadly however that amateur footage is very dated now and it's to imagine him being the same fighter today. Thankfully it does sound like he's going to be chasing bigger and better bouts in the near future and could well be a break out fighter this year, and make it to have some televised contests. If he does then we'll finally be able to see what the hard hitting 23 year old has to offer. From what we understand he will be fast tracked this year and hopefully will get some sort of exposure to help throw some light on exactly how good and how promising Tursyngaliyev actually is.
Madiyar Zhanuzak (4-0, 1) – Flyweight
There isn't a lot of Kazakh fighters in the lower weight classes, though it's worth making a note of Madiyar Zhanuzak, a 23 year old who has fought twice in Russia and twice in Macau, all since July 2017. His competition hasn't been massively impressive but he has already completed a 10 round bout, scored a notable win on the road and looked really impressive so far. From the footage of him he's aggressive, constantly applying pressure has a tight guard to bring that pressure with. He does look a little bit open when letting his shots go, but given he's still a novice that's to be expected. What he perhaps lacks is power but he may well mature into a more powerful puncher.
From what we understand Zhanuzak will be back in action on July 8th on a stacked RCC Boxing Promotions card in Ekaterinburg in a 10 rounder. His opponent hasn't been announced for that bout, yet, but we're hoping it'll be someone who can really test the youngster, who has only lost around 3 rounds in his career so far.
Of course these aren't the only prospect from Kazakhstan, but in our eyes they arre the best of the bunch to begin their professional careers.
Images courtesy of:
Eye of the Tiger Managament
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