Whilst February certainly didn't start quickly it does get going in the second half of the month with a flurry of fights taking place with Asian fighters involved.
Shuichiro Yoshino (11-0, 9) Vs Izuki Tomioka (7-2-1, 2) -
In the headline bout of a Dimond Glove card in Tokyo we'll see Japanese Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino defending his title again mandatory challenger Izuki Tomioka in the second of this year's Champion carnival bouts. For Yoshino this is expected to be a test of his technical boxing skills, as Tomioka is a genuinely talented boxer-mover. On the other hand Tomioka is taking on, arguably, his toughest opponent to date and did come up short in his last bout at this type of level.
Daigo Higa (15-1, 15) Vs Jason Buenaobra (7-4-3, 3)
After almost 2 years away from the ring former world champion Daigo Higa returns, and takes on rugged Filipino foe Jason Buenaobra. This should be a win for Higa, but we expect him to be very emotional, and he is going up against someone who has never been stopped before, so he will have to work hard for the win. It's also worth noting that Buenaobra is the naturally bigger man and will not be there looking to just make up the numbers.
Froilan Saludar (31-3-1, 22) Vs Ryoji Fukunaga (11-4, 11)
Filipino Froilan Saludar returns to Japan to make his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title, as he battles hard hitting, but technically limited, Japanese challenger Ryuji Fukunaga. On paper this looks like it could be very explosive, and we wouldn't be surprised at all with the bout ending early. Fukunaga hasn't been able to show his power when he has faced his toughest opponents, and Saludar is certainly among the best opponents that he has faced.
Yuki Nakajima (3-1, 3) Vs Shisui Kawabata (2-1, 2)
In a mouth watering clash of young prospects we'll see Yuki Nakajima take on Shisui Kawabata. On paper this doesn't look like one that will get fans outside of Japan too excited, but given the skills of the two men we are really excited by this one. Nakajima, the younger brother of Kazuki Nakajima, is a former amateur standout and made a real mark on the domestic amateur scene whilst Kawabata has been used as a sparring partner by Naoya, showing the quality that he has shared the ring with. We expect this to be very, very good.
Ryota Yamauchi (5-1, 4) Vs MJ Bo (8-3-2, 4)
World ranked Japanese fighter Ryota Yamauchi looks to build on August's win over Alphoe Dagayloan. Sadly Yamauchi's win over Dagayloan cost him a Japanese title eliminator, due to the injuries he suffered in that bout, and he'll be lookign to make up for it in 2020. MJ Bo, from the Philippines was stopped last time he fought in Japan, by Yuta Nakayama, but is a capable opponent and should ask questions of Yamauchi.
Emanuel Navarrete (30-1, 26) vs Jeo Santisima (19-2, 16)
Mexican fighter Emanuel Navarrete looks to make his fifth defense of the WBO Super Bantamweight title as he takes on Filipino challenger Jeo Santisima. The bout is expected to be a mismatch by many, especially given Navarrete's run since winning the title in late 2018. The champion is seen a real monster in the Super Bantamweight division and will come into the bout full of confidence. Although the 23 Santisima isn't well known outside of the Philippines he is riding a 17 fight winning run and has stopped 15 of those, so he certainly enters with a punchers chance, if nothing else.
Riku Nagahama (11-2-1, 4) Vs Kudura Kaneko (11-0, 8)
Unbeaten Japanese-Afghan fighter Kudura Kaneko looks to extend his perfect record as he goes up against the talented Riku Nagahama in a bout for the vacant OPBF Welterweight title. Although neither of these two are well known outside of Japan the bout is a significant one and the winner will see their hopes of landing a big international fight given a huge shot in the arm. Of the two Nagahama has faced better competition, but has lost in his 2 most notable bouts, whilst Kaneko looks to be a fighter on the rise. A very interesting clash.
Jae Woo Lee (7-2, 6) Vs Shingo Kusano (12-8-1, 5)
Potentially the hidden gem for the month is a clash between Jae Woo Lee and Shingo Kusano, who clash in one of the two Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament semi finals. The little known Lee made fans sit up and take note last November, when he stopped Tsuyoshi Tameda in a thrilling little war. Shingo Kusano also thrilled when he fought on the same November card, pulling himself off the canvas and battling back through some real scares against Qiang Ma. Expect this one to be exciting, and not to go the distance.
Richard Pumicpic (21-10-2, 6) Vs Daisuke Watanabe (9-4-2, 6)
The other Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament semi final bout will see Filipino veteran Richard Pumicpic battle Japanese foe Daisuke Watanabe. This has the potential to be very exciting, or a total mess. Both guys like to let their hands go but with 6 technical decisions between them there's a real risk of headbutts derailing the fight. Fingers crossed the heads don't come in to contact too often and we instead get a bit of a thriller!
Maybe it's just me but it's beginning to feel rather chilly, and the weeks are starting to become more and more packed with fights! It must mean we're heading towards December, when this are really set to go a little bit crazy! This past week has been a stellar week for action, and although we've not had any massive names fighting we have seen several great fights, amazing rounds a big upset and a world champion retaining his belt. Sure this past week hasn't been the best, but it's been very, very solid.
Fighter of the Week
Can Xu (18-2, 3)
The fighter of the week was an easy one this week with China's Can Xu showing us what a fighter does. The light punching WBA Featherweight champion controlled the previously unbeaten Manny Robles III with output, and although Xu couldn't get the stoppage he hurt Robles a number of times late in the bout. Xu might not be the most amazing fighter in the sport but in 2019 he has quickly become one of the most must watch fighters on the planet, and he showed his all action style against Robles. Whether boxing on the front foot or the back foot Xu unloads so much leather that it's hard to take your eyes off him, and the way he challenged Josh Warrington straight after his win shows his desire to become the best in the division. A fantastic performance by one of Asian boxing's true gems.
Performance of the Week
Shingo Kusano (12-8-1, 5)
Being dropped twice in the opening round of a 6 round fight would mark the end for most, but for Shingo Kusano it seemed to do the opposite. Instead of wilting following a 10-7 round Kusano steadied himself, dug deep and went on to break down Qiang Ma in a thrilling bout at Korakuen Hall. Kusano isn't a world beater, in fact we suspect he loses next time our when he competes in a tournament semi-final bout, but that really doesn't change the fact that his performance this week was excellent and he really did deserve his victory after such a horror start.
Jae Woo Lee vs Tsuyoshi Tameda
Whilst the Kusano Vs Ma bout was a brave fight back through adversity from Kusano it wasn't even the best bout on the show. That honour fell to the intense and incredible war between Korean fighter Jae Woo Lee and Japanese slugger Tsuyoshi Tameda. Any other month of the year this would likely be nailed on for fight of the month honours. It was two guys who both came with the same gameplan, and that gameplan was to throw bombs on the inside, to fight with fire, and to try and break down the other man. This ended up having styles that gelled instantly and from the opening bell to the eventual ending this was a fire fight. If you like inside wars this is really a must watch fight, and saw hooks and uppercuts being thrown shot after shot, with little use, from either man, for a jab. Exceptional, yet short, war!
Jae Woo Lee vs Tsuyoshi Tameda (2)
Given the way the Lee Vs Tameda fight was fought either of the first 2 rounds could have been the round of the week, with both rounds being nothing short of breath taking, none stop action. This is what we watch boxing for! We favoured the second, over the first, as it seemed both ended the round having been damaged at some point. Lee had been rocked early in the round and Tameda ended the round bloodied. But both rounds should be considered among the very finest rounds of action we've had in 2019.
Jhon Gemino KO5 Arnold Alejandro
We didn't have a lot of clan KO's this week, despite how much action we had, but there was one or two, with one really standing out. That standout was Filipino fighter Jhon Gemino taking out the previously unbeaten Arnold Alejandro in the US in spectacular fashion. A huge right hand from Gemino landed as flush as could be on Alejandro, breaking his nose and cleaning his clock. This was a thunder bolt of a right hand. Whilst the result was an upset we can't say it was a huge shock as Gemino is building himself a reputation as a fighter who regularly scores upsets, and this was his third big away from home in less than 12 months! Still in terms of the wonder of the KO it will go down as one of his best.
Ryusei Kawaura (7-0, 4)
Despite there being a lot of action this past week there really wasn't a lot of fighters we'd describe as being prospects. The one man who did fulfil the description of a prospect was Ryusei Kawaura, who continued his careful be intelligent climb up the rankings as he over-came Joy Joy Formentera of the Philippines. This bout was a great test for the unbeaten Japanese fighter and he had to be on point through out an excellent 8 round chess match. He's not a well known prospect, in the grand scheme of things, but Kawaura is certainly one to keep an eye on in 2020.
Zolani Tete (28-3, 21) Vs John Riel Casimero (28-4, 19)
Next week is another without a massive name in Asian boxing in action, but it is a week that has a massive fight, as South African Zolani Tete takes on Filipino John Riel Casimero in a mouth watering WBO Bantamweight title clash. This is a huge fight and the winner instantly finds themselves in the Inoue sweepstakes. Tete hasn't looked great in recent bouts, and is coming back from an injury, and Casimero does blow hot and cold but we still expect this to be a very exciting and entertaining bout over in sunny England!
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