Whilst March has been a busy month, it ends in amazing fashion with a lot of activity crammed into the last week or so of the month. The action isn't high profile stuff, by any stretch, but we will see a lot of exciting and talented prospects in action and we should end up seeing a lot of quality youngsters looking to show what they can do.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Gonte Lee (2-0-1, 1) Vs Aso Ishiwaki (8-3-1, 6)
On March 25th Teiken will be putting on a show, with several talented and unbeaten fighters in action. Arguably the pick of the match ups on the show will see the unbeaten Gonte Lee take on his first domestic foe and return to the ring after more than a year of inactivity. In the opposite corner will be the always fun to watch Aso Ishiwaki, who will be looking to return to winning ways after a shocking blow out loss to Jin Sasaki at the end of 2020. Give that both men have a lot to prove here we expect a really good bout, and given the styles of the two men we could end up with a very compelling match up.
Katsuya Fukui (2-0, 2) Vs Hiroki Hanabusa (8-1-3, 3)
Another unbeaten Japanese hopeful facing his first domestic foe is Katsuya Fukui, who goes up against the once beaten Hiroki Hanabusa. Fukui has impressed so far, but has only had 4 combined rounds in his career and this is a major step up for him. Saying that however he is regarded as a top prospect and was a good former amateur, who will be looking to get his career back on track after 2020, a year in which he was left out of the ring, twiddling his thumbs. Hanabusa on the other hand went unbeaten in his first 11 before suffering a TKO loss to the brilliabt Toshiki Shimomachi last year, in a Japanese Youth title fight. Hanabusa will be wanting to bounce back from that loss and is a very serious test for Fukui.
Kenji Fujita (0-0) Vs Motosuke Kimura (3-5-2, 1)
In a very easy to over-look bout on this show we'll see former amateur standout Kenji Fujita make his long awaited professional debut, as he takes on the under-rated Motosuke Kimura. On paper this shouldn't be a test for Fujita, who really was an excellent amateur, however Kimura has proven, more than once, that he has the tools to test touted prospects. Just last year we saw Kimura put Shigetoshi Kotari on his backside, and he has also managed to run Hikari Mineta very close. This is a much, much tougher debut than it looks on paper, and should be a very solid test for Fujita.
RCC Boxing Academy, Ekaterinburg, Russia
Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov (16-0, 9) vs Lunga Sitemela (13-0, 7)
Unbeaten Tajik Super Featherweight hopeful Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov will be looking to make the next defense of his WBC International Super Featherweight title as he goes up against South African challenger Lunga Sitemela. On paper this is a brilliant match up, and one to get genuine excited by, with the records suggesting a genuine test for Yaqubov. Sadly we don't think the bout will be as good as it looks, with Sitemela having a rather padded record, but it's always good to see unbeaten fighters risking their records against each other, and Yaqubov is certainly someone to keep an eye on regardless.
Erzhan Turgumbekov (8-1-1, 2) vs Gaibatulla Gadzhialiev (7-2-1, 3)
The once beaten Erzhan Turgumbekov, from Kyrgyzstan, looks to bounce back from a TKO loss to the sensational Albert Batyrgaziev, as he takes on Gaibatulla Gadzhialiev in a very nicely matched bout. Turgumbekov showed good skills and heart in his loss, but was broken down after 10 rounds by Batyrgaziev, who looks like a future world champion, and we suspect his style should make for a fun to watch bout here against Gadzhialiev, from Russia. Notably Gadzhialiev is 1-2-1 in his last 4, but the 3 bouts he didn't win were all very close and we expect this to be another close one. This might be the hidden gem of the weekend.
Mark Anthony Barriga (9-1, 1) vs Junuel Lacar (8-6-3, 6)
After more than 2 years out of the ring we finally see the ring return of former world title contender Mark Anthony Barriga. The brilliantly talented Filipino is a true joy to watch and the boxing purists will love everything he does in the ring. Sadly though he has been out of action since a 2018 loss to Carlos Licona. Given the long break from the ring we can't really complain about him having an easy return here, and he really is in soft as he goes up against the very limited Junuel Lacar, who has lost 5 of his last 6.
Arthur Villanueva (32-4-1, 18) vs Bryan Tamayo (6-1-2, 2)
Another former world title challenger returning to the ring after a lengthy lay off is Arthur Villanueva, who takes on the once beaten Bryan Tamayo. "King" Arthur was once regarded as a talented Filipino who had the skills to go all the way. Sadly he has failed in his biggest fights and now has just 2 wins in the last 4 years. He needs an impressive showing here. Tamayo on the other hand is a rising 23 year old hopeful looking for his biggest win. This might be a case of "right place, right time" for Tamayo.
Suamlum Night Bazaar, Ratchadaphisek, Bangkok, Thailand
Phoobadin Yoohanngoh (10-0, 5) Vs Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo (61-7, 41)
Fast rising 17 year old prospect Phoobadin Yoohanngoh takes his next step forward as he battled against Thai veteran Conlatarn Piriyapinyo, who is more than twice Phoobadin's age. The talented teenager has been getting a lot of attention in recent years, winning "The Fighter" in 2019, then winning a regional title in 2020, which he has since defended with an excellent win against Atchariya Wirojanasunobol, and we could be just a year or two from him really breaking out. Chonlatarn on the other hand has become a faded force and is a long, long way from the fighter who was once 43-0. Despite being a faded force Chonlatarn is a former multi-time world title challenger and should have some tricks up his sleeve to test Phoobadin with.
Tanes Ongjunta (7-1, 4) vs Suriyan Satorn (61-11, 41) (AKA Kompayak Porpramook)
Talented former Thai amateur standout Tanes Ongjunta was shocked last year when he ran into an inspired Adrian Lerasan in March. Since then he has reeled off 3 low key wins and now takes a massive step up in class to face former world champion Suriyan Satorn, better known as Kompayak Porpramook. We've been impressed by the natural boxing of Ongjunta, but the loss last year does leave us with worries about his durability and he really did take a lot of punishment there. As for Suriyan, he's very, very much a faded fighter and he has been picking up a lot of losses in recent years, and is 2-6 in his last 8. Despite being a faded force the veteran always comes to fight and should put in a legitimate effort here, though we suspect he will come up short.
Central Gym, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan
Shun Kubo (14-2, 9) Vs Ruito Saeki (7-4-1, 1)
Former WBA Super Bantamweight champion Shun Kubo has gone through a few horrible years with his career, being battered by Daniel Roman and Can Xu, as well as suffering injuries, but he seems determined to get his career back on track and is after some confidence building wins. Here he's up against the under-rated and determined Reuito Saeki, who looks to return to winning ways after going 0-3-1 in his last 4. On paper this looks a bit like a mismatch, but the style of Saeki will almost certainly be a nightmare for the skilled but fragile Kubo and this could end up being a lot, lot more competitive than it looks on paper.
Takahiro Tai (1-0, 1) Vs Koichi Wakita (7-2-3, 2)
Charismatic prospect Takahiro Tai returns for his second professional bout after an eye catching and very fan friendly debut late last year. In the opposite corner is credible domestic fighter Koichi Wakita, who will not want to be embarrassed by the young upstart. For those who missed Tai's debut it was full of show boating, dropping hands and stance switching as he tried to show off just some of the tricks in his bag. Whilst it was against an over-matched foe we suspect the style he showed is the one we'll see from him a lot over the coming years. Whilst Wakita probably lacks the power to be a real dangerman here, he does have the skills and experience to punish Tai's slip ups and this could end up being a real learning experience for the youngster.
After a somewhat slow burn to begin September things step up in the second part of the month with a number of notable and big fights as the month ends on a high and sends us into October with a big boost of action! As well as meaningful bouts, at world level, we also get some big prospects in action, and a brilliant domestic bout in Thailand!
Mohegan Sun Casino, USA
Tugstsogt Nyambayar (11-1, 9) vs Cobia Breedy (15-0, 5)
We get a great fight to kick off this part of the month as recent world title challenger Tugstsogt Nyambayar takes on the unbeaten Cobia Breedy, who was a relatively late replacement for Eduardo Ramirez. The talented Nyambayar, from Mongolia, will be looking to secure a second world title fight, following a loss to Gary Russell Jr earlier this year. As for Breedy this is a huge step up, but he will enter with the confidence of an unbeaten man, and know there is no expectations on his shoulders.
Rangsit International Stadium, Rangsit, Thailand
Panya Pradabsri (33-1, 21) vs Wichet Sengprakhon (11-7, 6)
World ranked Thai Panya Pradabsri looks set to drop back down to Minimumweight as he takes on the limited Wichet Sengprakhon for a regional title. Panya is one of the most talented Thai's out there, but at 29 his career appears to be on a bit of a standstill, with too many bouts like this in recent years. There is no doubting his ability, but he really should be in the world title mix, not having his third tick over bout of the year.
Josh Taylor (16-0, 12) Vs Downua Ruawaiking (16-0, 13)
In one of the biggest bouts of the year so far we'll see Scotland's Josh Taylor look to defend his IBF and WBA Light Welterweight titles against Thai challenger Downua Ruawaiking. The bout is an IBF mandatory for Taylor and will see him look to build on some great wins in recent years, including his victory in the World Boxing Super Series last year. As for Downua, also known as Apinun Khongsong, the bout is a huge step up, though he did impress last time he stepped up and stopped Akihiro Kondo.
Kobe Central Gym, Japan
Mika Iwakawa (9-5-1, 3) Vs Nanae Suzuki (10-3-1, 1)
After holding the WBO Atomweigth title for more than 2 years we finally see Mika Iwakawa make her first defense, as she takes on former Japanese female champion Nanae Suzuki. It's hard to know what the champion still has to offer, given she's closing in on 40, but we suspect she will be the favourite against a hungry Suzuki. As with all Atomweight bouts expect this to be high tempo and have a lot of leather thrown, even if neither fighter has much pop on their shots.
Shun Kubo (13-2, 9) Vs Takashi Igarashi (13-4, 5)
Former world champion Shun Kubo returns to the ring for the first time since losing in 2019 to Can Xu. There was talk of Kubo retiring following that loss, but instead he's back here looking for a confidence building win as he takes on Takashi Igarashi. On paper this looks a competitive bout, but in reality it's hard to imagine Igarashi, who last fought in 2018, having much to offer. Still it's nice to see Kubo back in the ring, and he's always been a fun and gutsy fighter to watch.
Kohei Oba (36-3-1, 14) Vs Yoshiki Minato (8-3, 3)
Former Japanese Bantamweight champion champion Kohei Oba ends a 6 year break from the ring as he takes on 2018 Rookie of the Year winner Yoshiki Minato. Oba, dubbed the "Mayweather of Nagoya" was once regarded a legitimate prospect, and late a world title contender, but then Kohei Oba looks a loss to Randy Caballero in 2014 ended his world title hopes and eye issues after that sent him into retirement. As for Minato his Rookie of the Year triumph feels like a long time ago and he lost twice in 2019, and now needs a win.
Suamlum Night Bazaar, Ratchadaphisek, Bangkok, Thailand
Phoobadin Yoohanngoh (9-0, 4) Vs Atchariya Wirojanasunobol (12-0, 5)
In a really notable, yet rather odd, all-Thai match up we'll see teenage sensation Phoobadin Yoohanngoh take on Atchariya Wirojanasunobol. The 16 year old Phoobadin really impressed last time out, winning a WBA Asia regional title and going 10 rounds for the first time in a career best win. This is however a massive step up for the youngster who is taking on an opponent who looks very live, on paper. We say on paper as we really have no idea what the once touted Atchariya has left in the tank following a very long and hard battle out of the ring. Atchariya was arrested in 2018, at the airport on the way to face Andy Hiraoka in Japan, and spent more than a year awaiting trial for drug related crimes before beign cleared earlier this year. If the ordeal has taken Atchariya's fighting spirit this could end up being a farce, but if Atchariya has a burning anger and is looking to make a statement he might have too much for the youngster here.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Ayaka Miyao (23-8-2, 6) vs Thi Thu Nhi Nguyen (4-0, 1)
We'll see a new world champion being crowned in Vietnam as we see veteran Ayaka Miyao clash with unbeaten novice Thi Thi Nhi Nguyen in a bout for the WBO Female Minimumweight title. On paper Miyao, a former WBA Atomweight champion, should be strongly favoured, but the veteran is now 37 and has shown some slow down in recent years, and isn't a natural Minimuweight. Nguyen is the much younger fighter, at 23, she's a natural Minimumweight and holds home advantage, though this is a massive step up in class for her.
Fujisan Messe, Japan
Tsubasa Murachi (4-1, 3) Vs Ryotaro Kawabata (12-3-2, 6)
The talented Tsubasa Murachi looks to bounce back from a 2019 KO loss to Froilan Saludar as he takes on domestic foe Ryotaro Kawabata. This is a decent comeback, on paper, for the once touted Murachi who has questions to answer following such a brutal KO loss. Although Kawabata is no world beater he has scored some notable results, including a draw with Rene Dacquel, and a close loss to Mark John Yap, and should prove a decent test for talent youngster.
Rentaro Kimura (1-0, 1) Vs Takafumi Iwaya (4-3)
In a mismatch we'll see brilliant Japanese prospect Rentaro Kimura look to build on his impressive debut win, over Yuya Azuma, as he takes on Takafumi Iwaya. Thuis really isn't expected to be much of a test at all for Kimura, who is one of the best best prospects in Japan, but given he is certainly one to follow this is a bout that should be on the radar of every fan. The 32 year old Iwaya was stopped on his debut but has rebuilt from some early stumbles and come in to this on the back of 3 straight wins. Even with that sort of form a competitive performance against Kimura would be a massive shock.
Koichi Aso (23-9-1, 15) Vs Shogo Yamaguchi (12-5-3, 7)
Former Japanese Light Welterweight champion Koichi Aso was never the best fighter or the biggest puncher but he was someone who has always provided value for fans, and has been in some thrilling contests. Sadly his career seems to be coming to an end, and the 34 year old is likely to hang them up sooner, rather than later. In what may be one of his final professional bouts he takes on Shogo Yamaguchi, who comes into the bout on the back of a career best win over Shuhei Tsuchiya this past February. This isn't a big bout, but we do expect it to be a fun and action packed war for as ling as it lasts.
This past week hasn't been the best or the busiest for Asian Boxing, with a very clear down turn in weekly activity, despite some big fights over the weekend. Sadly with such a lack of activity it has made our weekly awards a little bit focused on the fights from the weekend.
Fighter of the Week
Can Xu (17-2, 3)
The last 7 days have really lacked a big win for Asian fighters, other than China's Can Xu, who retained his WBA "regular" Featherweight title with an excellent stoppage win against Shun Kubo on Sunday. The under-rated Chinese "Monster" shocked us all when he beat Jesus M Rojas in January and the stoppage over Kubo was another impressive performance by a young man with a lot of potential. Although Kubo wasn't really suited to the fight that Xu brought it's hard to take away from Xu who looks like he really is coming into his own, and could very easily be the break out Chinese boxin star the country has needed.
Performance of the Week
Can Xu (17-2, 3)
For a second week running we have a double award winner. It was hard to see anyone really competing with Xu for the performance of the week, as he pressed the action, went through the gears and broke down the determined Kubo. Whilst Kubo seemed to be the more technically skilled fighter Xu's relentless attack, combinations and physicality were impressive and, it's great to see that Xu is now finding power on his shots.
Notable mention - Yuki Strong Kobayashi
Can Xu Vs Shun Kubo
With so little action it was clear that this weeks Fight and Round were unlikely to be spectacular. That's seen notably in the Fight of the Week, which, whilst entertaining, wasn't a FOTY contender or anything like that. This was just a fun, fan friendly bout with Xu moving through the gears and throwing more punches by the round whilst Kubo was eventually broken down. Kubo played his part, standing at mid-distance, trying to fight with Xu and made for an entertaining contest, until he was stopped. No one can doubt Kubo's fighting heart, but with this being his second stoppage loss in 3 bouts it's hard to know where he goes form this.
Can Xu Vs Shun Kubo (round 3)
As we've not managed to see the Osakan show from Sunday, the round of the week was another that will not stand the test at the end of 2019, despite again being fan friendly. This was the pick of the rounds from the Xu vs Kubo fight, and was the point where Xu began to step up his work rate, whilst Kubo would decline quickly in the rounds that followed and eventuaally be broken down.
We had no valid KO's this week
Tulio Kuwabata (3-0, 2)
Unbeaten Japanese prospect Tulio Kuwabata took a major step up this weekend and beat the previously unbeaten Eric Pulgo in a 6 round bout in Osaka. The talented Kuwabata looked sharp and skilled and appears to be one to keep an eye on in the Bantamweight and Super Bantamweight divisions. With this only being his third bout it's hard to know how far he will go, but there is a lot of talent here.
Notable mention - Shichao Gao
Charles Bellamy (28-3-2, 18) vs Yuto Shimizu (12-4-2, 5) II
Back in September Charles Bellamy took a split deciison over Yuto Shimizu in an entertaining 8 round battle. We're expect their rematch, this coming Saturday, to be even better than their first contest. Shimizu is the under-dog, as he was in their first bout, but at 37 years old we do wonder what Bellamy has left in the tank.
The action really doesn't stop this month, and the final third of the month gives us 5 world title bouts along with a lot of other great action as we really end the month with a great flurry of fights.
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