This past week promised plenty and whilst it may have slightly under-delivered there was certainly plenty of highlights in a week that seemed to suggest action was picking up, and that boxing was, slowly, continuing in the right direction. We did, sadly, lose two bouts that looked fantastic on paper, though we got more than enough to talk about in the week's weekly awards.
Fighter of the Week
Although there wasn't any monstrously big fights this week there was an OPBF title bout on Saturday that saw the talented Rikki Naito retain his 140lb belt with a TKO9 over Yusuke Konno. It wasn't a standout performance from Naito, in fact in round 6 it looked like he was in real trouble, but he gritted out some tough times and resumed dominance after Konno suffered a shoulder injury. Despite being the Fighter of the Week, we do still worry about Naito's long term success at 140lbs and we do wonder whether he has the physical power and strength to get the respect of fighters, something he really struggled with here. Despite that he showed some lovely boxing skills, movement, handspeed, timing and a brilliant jab to earn our weekly award.
Performance of the Week
After more than a year out of the ring, and with only 1 fight in 24 months, we didn't really know what to expect from US based Tajik Mekhrubon Sanginov. In the end he really just dominated and controlled American foe Cleotis Pendarvis in what was a controlled yet dominant performance that netted him his first win in over 2 years. We'll not pretend he blew us away, but it was certainly a solid performance, where he forced the action, used his size and controlled a more experienced opponent. This was a solid performance, without being spectacular and left us wanting to see more of Sanginov, who clearly has some tools to work with going forward. Sadly there was no one with a performance that really made us think "wow", but Sanginov getting a solid win in a controlled fashion almost nets this award by default.
Fight of the Week
Yoshimitsu Kimura Vs Shuma Nakazato
Going into the weekend we felt like the 8 round Super Featherweight bout between Yoshimitsu Kimura and Shuma Nakazato could deliver something very special, with both men being hungry youngsters looking to make a mark on the sport, and both able to fight or box. In the end it didn't quite reach the heights we expected of the bout, but it certainly was the standout contest from the week. We had boxing skills on show, we had both men hitting the canvas, flash points early and the a real crascendo late on as Kimura tried to stop Nakazato in the final round. If you missed this one it's on Boxing Raise and is well and truly worthy of a watch. A very good bout, even if it didn't quite become the special bout we had been hoping for.
Round of the Week
Ryoichi Tamura Vs Ryu Oba (RD1)
If you are ever feeling depressed by the state of boxing we seriously recommend just putting on a fight with Ryoichi Tamura, his mentality in the ring is that of someone who wants to let leather fly and at an incredible pace. That was on show this weekend when he took on Ryu Oba and spent the entire first round setting a pace that was simply insane. To his credit Oba fought back bravely, and saw out the storm, but it was Tamura who stole the limelight with some of the most intense offense we've seen in a long time, making this a thrill a second round. It wasn't competitive, or dramatic, but it was just what we needed and was the type of action that it is pure enjoyment as a fan of the sport.
KO of the Week
Jameson Bacon KO2 Roque Agustin Junco
By far, and away, the easiest award this week was the KO of the Week award, which was taken in spectacular fashion by Filipino slugger Jameson Bacon. The hard hitting Pinoy landed brutal left hand on Roque Agustin Junco, who was out cold before heading to the canvas. For fans of brutal 1-punch KO's this is among the best we've seen in 2020 and is well worth hunting down. Truly brutal.
Prospect of the Week
Sadly there was a surprising lack of prospects in action over the last week, due in part to fights featuring Ryosuke Nishida, Suzumi Takayama and Hiroto Yashiro being cancelled. As a result we were really left with very few possible for this award. Despite those issues we did like what we saw of Filipino youngster Dave Apolinario, who again impressed with his boxing brain, ring craft, shot selection and movement as he beat Bonjun Loperez. The youngster, who we have raved about in the past, looks like one of the most rounded Filipino prospects out there and fingers crossed that he does get a much deserved step up to fringe Oriental title level in 2021.
It's fair to say that November has started hot, despite the late cancellation of Kazuto Takesako Vs Riku Kunumoto, but it certainly doesn't end there and the rest of the month continues to be hectic. Here we're going to take a look at the middle portion of the month, and there really is a lot to get through here.
Blue Arena, Samut Prakan, Thailand
Nattapong Jankaew (6-0, 3) Vs Petchbarngborn Kokietgym (44-9, 20)
In an excellent Thai match up we'll see the talented Nattapong Jankaew take on former world title challenger Petchbarngborn Kokietgym, who fought Naoya Inoue a few years ago. We've been really impressed by Nattapong so far and expect him to go a long way, so with that in mind we're expecting him to win this, with ease, but to also show what he can do. Petchbarngborn is a live under-dog, but a very clear under-dog against a very talented professional novice.
Thitisak Hoitong (0-0) Vs Samartlek Kokietgym (34-14-1, 12)
We'll openly admit we know very, very little about Thitisak Hoitong but it's clear his team must have some serious belief in him to match him against former world title challenger Samartlek Kokietgym, on his debut! Whilst we can't talk too much about Thitisak it is worth noting that Samartlek has shared the ring with Naoya Inoue and Akira Yaegashi, and both men were taken long by Samartlek, with Inoue stopping him in 11 and Yaegashi in the 12th. We are expecting Thitisak to win, based on what we known of his amateur pedigree, but nobody has an easy time with Samartlek. Expect the novice to work hard here.
Production Park Studios, South Kirkby, Yorkshire, United Kingdom
Tursynbay Kulakhmet (1-0, 1) vs Macaulay McGowan (14-0-1, 3)
We continue with inexperienced professionals as we move onto a bout featuring the exceptionally talented Tursynbay Kulakhmet from Kazakhstan. The brilliant Kulakhmet will be going for his first title in just his second bout, as he takes on the unbeaten Macaulay McGowan. On paper this is a very real test for Kulakhmet though we suspect he makes it look easy and secures his place on the fast track to the top. He's an sensational talent, he showed that in his amateur days and on his professional debut, and we'd be very surprised if he doesn't stop McGowan here. The Kazakh is a special prospect that doesn't come around very often.
Sultan Zaurbek (9-0, 7) vs Jeff Ofori (10-3-1, 3)
Another Kazakh prospect in action here is Sultan Zaurbek, who appears to be getting his first legitimate test as a professional. The unbeaten 24 year old has barely lost a minute since his debut, just over 2 years ago, but here he goes up against the tricky, and under-rated Jeff Ofori. Ofori will be the under-dog, and rightfully so, but is a live one and proved his value recently in a very close decision loss to Archie Sharp. This is a credible step up for Zaurbek, at the right time, against a very good opponent, who is naturally bigger than himself, but alight puncher. A good bit of match making.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Kimika Miyoshi (15-12-1, 6) vs Yoshie Wakasa (6-2, 2)
In a Japanese female Featherweight title bout we'll see veteran Kimika Miyoshi defending her title against Yoshie Wakasa. For the champion this will be her second defense and although her record might look poor, to say the least, she's a battle hardened veteran who knows her way around the ring, and will likely be aware than she's likely only one loss away from retirement. Aged 36 she can't afford a loss. For Wakasa this is a third title fight, she has lost her last two and will be hoping it's third time lucky. Wakasa will know that she may not get another opportunity any time soon, and it could be now or never for her.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Rikki Naito (24-2, 7) Vs Yusuke Konno (16-4, 9)
OPBF Light Welterweight champion Rikki Naito will be looking to become a double champion as he clashes with fellow Japanese fighter Yusuke Konno for not just the OPBF title but also the vacant WBO Asia Pacific title. On paper Naito will be favoured, and technically he is the better fighter, as well as being the younger, quicker man. But his lack of power may well be an issue in getting Konno's respect, and Naito's questionable stamina will pushed to it's limits here by Konno. This is a genuinely fantastic match up, and the winner will be pretty much the de facto Asian champion at 140lbs.
Yoshimitsu Kimura (12-2, 7) Vs Shuma Nakazato (10-1-2, 7)
Former OPBF Super Featherweight title challenger Yoshimitsu Kimura clashes with Shuma Nakazato in a brilliant, 50-50 match up that really is mouth watering. Both men have similar records, both are talented youngsters with real potential and neither are taking on an easy foe to close out 2020. Kimura is slightly more proven, having fought over 12 rounds twice in very competitive losses, but Nakazato cannot be written off and will come into this knowing a win gets him into the title mix. A brilliant, potentially thrilling high speed technical war, between two criminally under-rated 24 year olds. This could, genuinely, be the hidden gem of the month.
Suzumi Takayama (3-0, 3) Vs Hiroto Yashiro (2-0, 2)
Unbeaten JBC Youth Super Flyweight champion Suzumi Takayama looks to make his first defense as he takes on the very talented Hiroto Yashiro. If we're being honest, this is exactly the type of bout we expected when Japan introduced the Japanese Youth titles, and we're glad to see these sorts of bouts. Both of these men are young, unbeaten, heavy handed, crisp, fluid aggressive fighters. As professionals Takayama is the more proven, and he answered a lot of questions last time out, stopping Tetsuro Ohashi in a tremendous bout 13 months ago. That win will make him the favourite, but Yashiro is a very, very live under-dog, taking a very credible step up. Don't look at the records her and ignore the fight, these two are very advanced professional novices, with solid amateur credentials and we are expecting something sensational here.
Ryoichi Tamura (13-5-1, 7) Vs Ryu Oba (5-4, 3)
Former Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Ryoichi Tamura Looks to score his second win since his brutal title loss to Yusaku Kuga last year. In reality we don't imagine him having any problems with Ryu Oba here, a lower level domestic fighter, but Tamura is known to make life difficult for himself, and to make every fight he's involved in worthy of watching. This will be brutal, rough, tough, exciting, and we can't ask for more than that!
It's fair to say that 2020 has been an odd year so far, with a very stop-start feel to the boxing we've had. Things, of course, haven't been helped by shows being cancelled due to Coronavirus in Asia, but this week was just an odd, odd one. There was fights, but mostly at a low level. The top Asian fighters in action failed to pick up the wins we;d hoped for and the best of the action really came on some obscure cards. With that in mind lets have a look at this weeks award winners
Fighter of the Week
Shuma Nakazato (10-1-2, 7)
Given our criteria of fighter of the week this week was a really weird one. The criteria is the fighter who scored the best win from the week, not the best performance, which comes under the "Performance of the Week" which can account for losses. As a result we really had to look outside the box, given there was so few wins of note by Asian fighters in what was a truly odd week. In the end it seemed hard to argue that Shuma Nakazato's win over Yuji Awata was the best, and most significant. The win came on the first sole-promoted by former world title challenger Shigeru Nakazato, and gave the promoter the result they needed for the show to be a success.
Sadly this week may well end up with us reviewing how we do fighter of the week going forward, though this week was an odd one in general, and this could be an anomaly rather than anything else.
Performance of the Week
Tugstsogt Nyambayar (11-1, 9)
It really was an odd week for Asian boxers, with no one getting a truly big win, in fact the two biggest fights involving Asian fighters both ended in a loss. It was however hard not to be pretty impressed with how Tugstsogt Nyambayar ended up acquitting himself in his loss to Gary Russell Jr. The Mongolian started slowly, but warmed to the task well and proved that he certainly deserves to remain in the world title picture, despite a loss to the talented and speedy American. Don't be surprised to see Nyambayar's loss serve as a learning experience, and the way he picked up the pace in the final 8 rounds showed what he could do. A mixed performance, sure, but also one which showed a lot to get excited about.
Tugstsogt Nyambayar vs Gary Russell Jr
In a fight that had high level skills and was a genuine chess match Tugstsogt Nyambayar and Gary Russell Jr gave us something that was both compelling, exciting, and technical. There was no real debating the winner, with Russell Jr banking the early rounds for the win against Nyambayar's slow start, but this was still a fantastic bout, and something that is well worthy of a watch. It's not going to be a fight of the year contender, but don't let that take away from what was a genuinely solid 12 round, world level bout between two men who are both legitimate top fighters at 126lbs.
Ryosuke Maruta vs Kazunari Kosaka (Rd1)
We'll admit we tend to skip the 4 round Dangan cards, but on a week lacking in action like this the show was certainly worthy of some interest, and it provided some really great action. The best of it, for us, was the opening round of Ryosuke Maruta's bout with Kazunari Kosaka, who really went all out, swinging bombs in a thrilling action packed 3 minutes of chaos. For those wanting technically perfect boxing, counter punching and smart defense do not look at this round, but for those who wild and heavy offense this is for your. This is just great and thrilling wild, crude fun.
Andy Atsushi v Yuta Hasegawa (Rd 2)
Naoya Mitsuhashi TKO2 Harunobu Yamasaki
We stick with the 4 round Dangan cards for the KO of the week, as Naoya Mitsuhashi cleaned out Harunobu Yamasaki in brutal fashion in the second round of their bout. This is one you'll need to hunt down to find, and be a Boxing Raise subscriber to see, but it's worth it as a single clean right hand to the temple sent the 37 year old Yamasaki crashing to his knees, then flat out on his back. This is not what we expected from Mitsuhashi, who was fighting for just the second time, but we'll be keeping an eye on him after this fantastic KO
Narimichi Miura TKO1 Yota Matsui
Abdulkhay Sharakhmatov (1-0, 1)
Talented Uzbke fighter Abdulkhay Sharakhmatov kicked off his career with an expected easy win over Benjie Ebido in the Philippines. Despite stopping Ebido inside the opening round there was a lot to like about Sharakhmatov's performance, and he is certainly one to watch going forward. Make a mental note of his name as he is going to make a big splash in the years to come and should be on people's radar's now. He intelligently pressed Ebido and broke him down mentally and physically in very quick fashion. A real talent with a nice, easy introduction to the professional ranks.
Daigo Higa (15-1, 15) vs Jason Buenaobra (7-4-3, 3)
Although our upcoming bout selection is usually the bout we expect to be the most exciting of the coming week this week's is a little bit different however as the bout we are most looking forward to is a bit of a mismatch. Despite it being a mismatch it's one we're excited about because it's the long awaited return of former world champion Daigo Higa after almost 2 years out of the ring. We expect Higa to beat Filipino foe Jason Buenaobra, without too many problems, however the key here is that the Higa express is back on the line after such a long break from the ring!
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