It's fair to say that September, for the most part, was a disappointing month, with some notable gaps between noteworthy bouts. Sure the month finished with a bang, but there were certainly a few weeks where little happened and we were sat twiddling out thumbs waiting for the next notable fight. In October however that won't be happening, with great after great show, and notable name after notable name. Potentially the longest gap we'll see between notable fights will be 7 days. With that in mind we've had to break October into 3 parts for this series.
Korakuen Hall, Japan (G+ - Tape Delay)
Kenichi Ogawa (24-1-1-1, 18) Vs Kazuhiro Nishitani (21-4-1, 12)
The main event of the first notable show of the month will see former Japanese national champions facing off in a very interesting match up. In one corner will be former Japanese Featherweight champion Kenichi Ogawa, best known for his bout with Tevin Farmer, whilst the other corner will play host to Kazuhiro Nishitani, a former Japanese Lightweight champion. Coming into this both of these fighters have got world rankings, and both will know a loss will end their dreams of getting a big fight. On paper this could end up being a very, very good bout, with the styles of the two men expected to gel well. A great way to kick off the month.
Hayate Kaji (14-0, 9) Vs Hiroki Yajima (9-8-3, 4)
Unbeaten Japanese hopeful Hayate Kaji once looked like a star in the making and seemed destined for huge things. In recent performances however he has struggled to shine, and there's been a feeling that his career has started to stall with poor performance and a lack of professionalism. Sadly for Kaji the hope of taking on an opponent that could push his career forward isn't being realised here as he faces lower level domestic foe Hiroki Yajima. Coming into this Yajima has lost 3 of his last 4, and is 2-3-2 in his last 7. Despite his form Yajima has never been stopped and will likely make this tricky and awkward for Kaji.
Shokichi Iwata (4-0, 3) Vs Ryo Narizuka (9-9-1)
The hotly tipped Shokichi Iwata looks to stay busy as he steps into 8 round territory for the first time. Regarded as a future world champion Iwata is being moved smartly and this is a decent domestic level test for him as he takes on Ryo Narizuka. Whilst Narizuka isn't anything special he is generally quite durable and should give Iwata some rounds here, allowing the youngster to shake some ring rust. Given that Iwata has been out of the ring since November a fight like this is ideal, before potentially heading for a title fight in 2021, when the Japanese boxing scene is more "normal" than it is at the moment.
Korakuen Hall, Japan (G+ - Live)
Hironobu Matsunaga (16-1, 10) Vs Yuto Shimizu (14-4-2, 5)
In the first Japanese title bout of the month we'll see JBC Light Middleweight champion Hironobu Matsunaga defending his title against mandatory challenger Yuto Shimizu, in what could be a real thriller. Matsunaga is a thrilling little warrior who sets a high work rate, comes forward and looks to break opponents down with an aggressive and exciting style. Shimizu on the other hand is a tough, tricky, opponent who is big, strong, rangy and should be able to blunt some of Matsunaga's aggression. This might end up messy at times, but should be a compelling match up between the aggression of the champion the crafty skills of the challenger.
Kenshi Noda (2-0, 2) Vs Toshiki Kawamitsu (4-0, 1)
A low key one to watch will see the touted Kenshi Noda take on fellow unbeaten Toshiki Kawamitsu in a brilliant looking 6 rounder. Noda, a fooirmer amateur standout, is a Teiken hopeful who debuted last year and blitzed his first 2 opponents in under 3 and a half minutes, combined. He is tipped very highly and is regarded as one of the best prospects at Teiken, but this is very much his first bout against someone trying to beat him. Although he's been less impressive in terms of results Kawamitsu is the more proven professional and has faced stiffer competition whilst also getting more rounds under his belt. This is a hard one to call, and pits Noda's amateur experience and power against Kawamitsu's professional seasoning. A very interesting bout.
Shigetoshi Kotari (1-0, 1) Vs Motosuke Kimura (3-4-2, 1)
Talented hopeful Shigetoshi Kotari is regarded as one of the brightest hopes at the MT Gym, the same gym as Junto Nakatani, and here we see him in his second professional bout. On debut Kotari looked sharp, powerful and promising, but was up against a very limited opponent. On paper Motosuke Kimura isn't a big step up in class, but Kimura is better than his record suggests, and gave Hikari Mineta a good test last year. With that Mineta bout in mind we suspect he will take Kotari rounds here, but ultimately the gulf in class will prove too much.
Workpoint Studio, Bang Phun, Thailand
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (48-5-1, 41) Vs Jomar Fajardo (17-17-2, 9)
In Thailand we'll see former 2-time WBC Super Flyweight champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai return fight in a stay busy bout against limited Filipino Jomar Fajardo. Srisaket, who fought back in July, is expected to get a world title shot in 2021 and is looking to keep the rust off here in a bout that even the broadcaster describe as a tune up. Fajardo was once a capable fighter at Light Flyweight but will be expected to be blasted out here by Srisaket.
Apichet Petchmanee (6-0, 2) vs Musheg Adoian (7-1, 7)
In one of the more interesting bouts we'll see this month in Thailand the unbeaten Apichet Petchmanee will take on Thai based Russian fighter Musheg Adoian, in a bout for that will see Apichet defending a minor WBC title. The unbeaten Thai looked great in his first few bouts, but has looked less good in more recent bouts, and we do wonder if he's as good as first thought. In Adoian we have someone who could give Apichet a serious chin checking and let us see what the Thai really is made of. Adoian is no world beater himself but is a live under-dog here.
Microsoft Theater, Los Angeles, California, USA (FS1 - Live)
Mark Magsayo (20-0, 14) Vs Rigoberto Hermosillo (11-2-1, 8)
World class Filipino Mark Magsayo looks to move a step closer to a world title bout, and score win #21, as he takes on Rigoberto Hermosillo. The bout sees Magsayo take on a late replacement, who is a massive down grade, but that hardly matters here as the focus is on the Filipino looking good, getting his face in front of a US TV and getting back in the ring after a lengthy break. Expect bigger and better matches for Magsayo in 2021, with this acting as little more than a show case for the unbeaten Pinoy.
Korakuen Hall, Japan (Fuji TV - Tape Delay)
Hiroaki Teshigawara (21-2-2, 14) Vs Shingo Kawamura (16-5-4, 8)
The second title fight to be held in Japan in October will see OPBF Super Bantamweight champion Hiroaki Teshigawara defending his title against domestic foe Shingo Kawamura. The talented Teshigawara is hoping to land a world title fight in the coming year or two, and has transferred over to Misako Gym, which should help him secure a shot at the top. As for Kawamura he has come up short in an OPBF title bout at Featherweight and is dropping down in weight here, though we don't imagine he'll have much success against the under-rated Teshigawara.
Taiki Minamoto (16-6-1, 13) Vs Kanehiro Nakagawa (9-6, 5)
Former Japanese Featherweight champion Taiki Minamoto looks to bounce back from a frustrating 2019, in which he drew with Reiya Abe and lost to Takuya Watanabe, as he takes on Kanehiro Nakagawa. The heavy and talented Minamoto is in the hunt for a Japanese title at 130lbs and should be favoured here against the less experienced Nakagawa. Saying that however Nakagawa is no push over and he is riding a 4 fight winning streak, including upsets over Seiichi Okada and Ken Osato. On paper this doesn't look great but in reality we are expecting a very interesting match up between men who should be more evenly matched than their records suggest.
July felt like a bit of a turning point with boxing, as we had shows return to Thailand and Japan, we managed to see a show in Belarus with some Kazakh hopefuls, we had upsets, action, excitement and some brilliant debuts as the sport finally begins to turn a corner. Thankfully that momentum looks likely to continue in August with a host of notable events set for the coming month. With their being a lot planned and scheduled for August lets take a look at what we're getting in the first half of the month!
PLEASE Note - All bouts are subject to change, cancellations and postponements, something that is a lot more rife right now than usual due to the on going situation.
Workpoint Studio, Bang Phun, Thailand
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (47-5-1, 41) Vs Amnat Ruenroeng (20-3, 6)
The month kicks off with one of the biggest non-title bouts in Thai history, as former world champions Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Amnat Ruenroeng clash in the headline bout of the month's WP Boxing event. The event, which will be streamed not just by Work Point but also by Matchroom, is expected to help launch Srisaket into world title bout, as he looks to become a 3-time champion. Although Amnat is a very capable fighter, and a master of the dark arts, we do wonder if he had enough left in the tank to make this as interesting in the ring as it seems.
Chainoi Worawut (10-0-1, 9) Vs Jomar Fajardo (17-16-2, 9)
In a supporting bout on that same WP Boxing show is a match up for talented Thai prospect Chainoi Worawut, one of the leading Thai hopefuls for the future. The unbeaten Worawut will be up against Jomar Fajardo, a man best known for his two wars with Francisco Rodriguez Jr. Sadly Fajardo has struggled, massively, since those battles and is 3-12-1 (2) in his last 16 bouts. This should be a straight forward win for Worawut, but he is certainly one to watch, and if you tune in to the WP Boxing show he's the guy on the under-card most likely to fight for a world title in the next few years.
Zhan Kossobutskiy (13-0, 12) Vs Kamil Sokolowski (9-17-2, 3)
Unbeaten Kazakh Heavyweight hopeful Zhan Kossobutskiy looks to continue his unbeaten run as he returns to the ring in Minsk to take on English based Polish Heavyweight hopeful Kamil Sokolowski. On paper this is a total mismatch, but in reality Sokolowski is a very well respected journeyman in the UK who does come to win, rather than survive, and he will give this a genuine go. Kossobutskiy isn't the most talented, smooth or quickest and we wouldn't be surprised if Sokolowski managed to expose some of Koosobutskiy's flaws. Saying that however we do think the Kazakh will pick up the win.
Bucheon, Gyeonggi, South Korea
In Duck Seo (12-3-2, 7) Vs Jung Kyoung Lee (8-3-1, 4)
In South Korea we get a KBA show that was originally planned for July. The main event here is WBA Asia Welterweight title bout that looks mouth watering on paper and will pit In Duck Seo against former OPBF Light Middleweight champion Jung Kyoung Lee. We don't see many good looking All-Korean bouts so this one really does stand out as something to get excited about, and style wise this should be a war. Notably this is a KBA show, so the bouts are likely to end up being uploaded afterwards and we would advise fans to keep some time aside to catch up on this one if they can't catch it.
Jong Seon Kang (10-0-2, 6) Vs Seong Yeong Yang (8-2-5, 4)
In a second good looking all Korean bout we'll see the unbeaten Jong Seon Kang take on Seong Yeong Yang in a KBA Featherweight ranking bout. For those who have seen these two fighters in action it should be no surprise if this something very special. Both men were in some thrilling contests in 2019 with Kang's bout against Tomjune Mangubat being a sensational 10 round thriller whilst Yang's bout with Jian Wang was just an 10 round toe to toe slugest. Don't expect high quality boxing here, but do expect high intensity and thrilling action.
City Sogo Gym, Hirakata, Osaka, Japan
Toshiki Shimomachi (11-1-2, 7) vs Hiroki Hanabusa (8-0-3, 3)
In a very interesting looking Japanese Youth Super Bantamweight title bout we'll see defending champion Toshiki Shimomachi defending his title against the unbeaten Hiroki Hanabusa. For Shimomachi this will be his first defense, and comes just over a year after he won the title, stopping Kenta Nomura. As for Hanabusa this will be his first title bout, though he has fought in notable bouts before including a Rookie of the Year Final and a bout in China, where he had the crowd against him. This should be a real test of what both men have in the locker, and hopefully the two youngsters will both go on to have successful, and perhaps a rematch somewhere down the line.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Ryo Sagawa (9-1, 4) Vs Yuri Takemoto (8-1-1, 4)
Action returns to Tokyo on August 13th for a Japanese Featherweight title bout between defending champion Ryo Sagawa and underwhelming challenger Yuri Takemoto. Originally the plan was for Sagawa to defend his title against Hinata Maruta, but with the Champion Carnival essentially messed up by what's been going on in the world that bout was essentially put on ice, for now. As a result we'll be getting Takemoto challenging the brilliant champion. Also this is an underwhelming title defense Takemoto is a solid fighter, who won the Rookie of the Year in 2018, but he's done nothing to suggest he'll be a test for the fantastic Sagawa.
The Super Flyweight division has been one of our favourites with a lot of great bouts, fantastic fighters and intriguing match ups, even if some fail to live up to expectations. Despite the division being so good in recent years there are bouts that we did miss out on, and with that in mind we bring you the latest bout in the "Fights we wish we had.." series. This time we look at a bout that would have been a brilliant, fun and exciting match up, though one where we do have a clear favourite going in.
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai Vs Kohei Kono
As we did when we first started this series we're looking at an all out war that could have taken place at various in the 2010's. The bout would pit one of the most destructive fighters of the last decade against one of the toughest. It would put an offensive monster against a true fighter. It would have been mayhem between two men who both became 2-time world champions between 2010 and 2019 but were never really spoken about as potential opponents for each other, sadly. So with that in mind lets talk about a potential show down between Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Kohei Kono.
Of the two men it was actually Kohei Kono who had his first world title first, with Kono coming up short in a WBC title bout way back in September 2008 and again in September 2010. It wasn't until the very end of 2012 that he won his first world title, stopping Tepparith Kokietgym in a major upset. His reign was short but he became a 2-time champion in March 2014 and held that title until 2016 and was still regarded as a world class fighter into 2017, and maybe even 2018.
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai on the other hand won his first world title in May 2013, when he stopped Yota Sato, and would hold that belt until May 2014, making just a single defense. He then reclaim the title in March 2017 and held it until April 2019.
The window for the two men to unify really didn't exist, but in reality a bout between the two at some point 2013 and 2016 would have been a recent decent sized window and would have made for a great match up in that time between two definitive world class fighters.
As mentioned both men were 2-time world champions.
Japan's Kohei Kono was a 2-time WBA champion and a real tough guy. He had built a reputation early in his career as a tough, hard working but crude fighter who's win over Tepparith Kokietgym, at the age of 32, seemed to essentially save his career. He was a rugged fighter who let his hands go a lot, and was involved in some amazing bouts, not just at world level but also at Japanese and Oriental level. Despite not being one of the best boxers he was very much a great fighter, with heart, desire, energy and a brilliant chin. Boxing out of the Watanabe gym his career was often over-shadowed by that of Takashi Uchiyama, but was a fighter involved in more excited wars that Uchiyama, for the most part.
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai was, and still is, a Thai Super Flyweight who held the WBC title twice and was, in his pomp, and avoided fighter. He was an unknown outside of Thailand until he defeated Yota Sato for the WBC title and then became a man with a belt, that no one wanted to face, resulting in his only world title defense coming against Hirofumi Mukai. Despite struggling to get contenders in the ring with him he was staying busy, destroying regional fighters in stay busy fights. He lost the title in a competitive bout with Carlos Cuadras in a mandatory but couldn't secure a rematch, needing to wait almost 3 years for second crack at the title. At his best he was a power, perpetual punching machine, fighting out of the southpaw stance with an iron chin. He wasn't polished, or the smoothest fighter but was an aggressive monster with terrifying physical strength and power.
How would we see it playing out?
We see this as a genuinely fun mismatch. Whilst we absolutely love Kohei Kono as a fighter his style is almost made to order for a fighter like Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. The aggression, and brave mentality of Kono would see him walking into Srisaket's wheel house, fighting at mid-to-close range and try to have a war with the Thai. Kono would certainly have moments early on, his chin holding out during the early few rounds. As the bout went on however Kono would start to have his toughness question, his heart would be the only thing keeping him in there against a stronger more powerful fighter.
By the middle rounds Kono would be backing up, where he's a lot less effective, and begin wilting under the pressure with Srisaket eventually getting him out of there in the second half of the bout. It would be a gallant effort from Kono, and he wouldn't go down without swinging, likely landing some really solid shots on Srisaket...though they'd have little to no effect.
This would be fun, but we can't see any way in which Kono would come out on top, sadly.
Would history of been changed?
With this bout potentially taking place between 2013 and 2016 we would certainly have seen history changing. We may have, potentially, see Srisaket winning the WBA title from Kono, had the bout come during Kono's reign, or he could have defended his own WBC title against Kono, strengthening his first reign.
As a result of this bout we don't imagine Kono would have fought with Naoya Inoue, at the end of 2016, or Rex Tso, in 2017. Two bouts that would have been genuine losses. On the other hand there's also a good chance that we may not have gotten Srisaket's big wins in the US against Roman Gonzalez or Juan Francisco Estrada, which would also have been big losses.
In reality whilst we do wish we had got this bout, we suspect the bouts we would have missed out on would have been a big price to pay. This would have been an amazing bout in it's own right, and would have been one of the most fan friendly 1-sided bouts we'd ever get.
The lines of the WBA and WBC titles would be different had we had this bout. It's hard to be sure exactly what would have changed, with their being such a big window of opportunity for this bout, but we're glad with the reality we ended up getting instead.
When we first started this site, heading towards over 6 years ago now, the Thai boxing scene was one of the most active. In 2013 there was 148 shows in the country, many of those were televised with, Channel 7 (CH7) showing fights pretty much weekly and Channel 3 (CH3) also doing regular broadcasts.
To put that number into some perspective Japan had 233 shows in 2013, Philipines had 126, Indonesia had 95 and South Korea had 31.
There wasn't just an incredible level of activity but that activity was mostly about developing fighters as part of the next wave of the Thai boxing scene. An example of that was between January 25th and January 28th 2014 there was fights for Yodmongkol Vor Saenghtep, Wanheng Menayothin, Petch Sor Chitpattana, Suriyan Sor Rungvisai, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Nawaphon Por Chokchai.These men were allowed to be active, were allowed to fight frequently on television shows and build their profiles.
In that year alone Wanheng and Srisaket, two of the biggest Thai names right now, each fought 7 times. They weren't the only busy fighters, but are certainly the two who appear to have benefited the most from that high level of activity.
As well as the emerging fighters, which also included Amnat Ruenroeng and Knockout CP Freshmart, we also saw the end of the legendary Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, who fought 3 bouts during the year before his retirement. Yes he came back in 2018 for 2 bouts, including the infamous rematch with Koki Kameda, but his career really ended in 2013. Like wise it was the last year that Denkaosan Kaovichit scored a win of note,
It was a transition year for the country, but a great year all the same, and a year that gave us some amazing fights, such as Kompayak Porpramook's FOTY contender with Koki Eto, and the entertaining bout between and Pornsawan Porpramook abd Rey Loreto.
At the time it seemed like the Thai scene, along with the Filipino and Japanese scenes, was amazingly healthy and as we entered 2014 we also seemed to be on the verge of a break out year for Fahlan Sakkreerin, Jr, who had stopped Ryo Miytazaki in Japan at the very end of 2013.
Sadly though things have gone backwards for Thai boxing since then. Activity has dropped, with no year since ever having the same amount of shows. Although 2015 boasted 140 cards that numbers declined to just 99 in 2016 and 2017 wasn't much better with 105. Although it climbed slightly in 2018, when there was 115, it was still a massive reduction from what we had seen just 5 years earlier.
That decline is despite the huge success of Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, the 52 fight unbeaten streak of Wanheng and the emergence of Knockout CP Freshmart.
Worryingly yet, there has only been 31 Thai shows this year as we write this. That's less than 8 a month and it doesn't appear that the trend is set to change, in fact the upcoming scheduled seems to be worryingly scarce. We are well on course for the lowest number Thai shows since the millenium, and we need to go all the way back to 1998 for a year with less than 8 shows a month. That was a year where there was only 71 shows in Thailand, and even then there was unique circumstances behind things. After all 1998 was a year that had followed a massive financial crisis through out Asia, a financial crisis which began in 1997 in Thailand.
Thailand has long been one of the Asian boxing powerhouses, but right now it's a country floundering and a country that is paying for it's mistakes in the sport. Despite the attention given to Srisaket.
For years it has delivered awful match ups, packing records with wins, but not developing fighters. The focus has seemingly been to turn away from fighters carrying the name of top gyms, and instead to carrying the name of a sponsor, showing a shift in focus. Gone are the days of regularly seeing fighters reprresent OnesongChaigym, Kokietgym and Kratingdaenggym, and now are the days of seeing fighters carrying names like CP Freshmart or Ruawaiking. There are a few exceptions, but the gym names being part of a fighters identity are a lot rarer than they used to be.
The TV companies, including long time boxing support CH7, have gradually changed their view on the sport. In fact CH7 have changed their policy on the sport so much that what were once weekly broadcasts are now a near rarity, with the channel only airing world title bouts. We've gone from having shows aired on different channels at the same time, to waiting weeks for a televised show, and even longer for one with some intrigue. The main channels of the past have fallen by the say side in some ways and been over-taken by a relative new comer who have raised the production standards and quality expected of a Thai show
That new channel is WorkPoint, who have really managed to step in, put money into the sport and been putting in what resembles quality control. That had been lacking at times, but was really needed when they moved into the sport last year. In 2018 Work Point put on 11 shows under their "WP Boxing" banner, and despite not always being huge shows, they were consistently worth watching. They were different to what other channels were putting on, and were a shining light in what was becoming a rather dark and dreary Thai sign.
With Workpoint it's not all doom and gloom, and boxing in Thailand isn't dead. It's not like Korea, where it's hanging on by it's finger nails. But it is hard in seeing what the next wave of Thai contenders is going to look like, and just how long their top names of today can remain relevant.
At the moment the top 3 fighters in Thailand are Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, who is 32, Wanheng Menayothin, who is is 33, and Knockout CP Freshmart, who is 28. Srisaket, of course, lost last time out to Juan Franisco Estrada, Wanheng is 52-0 but is showing signs of aging in recent fights and will likely see his perfect record come to an end sooner rather than later, and Knockout has bored fans with dull performances.
Aside from the top 3 it's really unclear what is actually worth caring about in the Thai scene.
Their are prospects, like Apichet Petchmanee, Singsayan CP Freshmart, up coming world title challenger Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart and Chainoi Worawut and Thanongsak Simsri but they are few and far between. To get big bouts they will need to travel, their is little money backing the prospects and securing home advantage against good journeymen, gatekeepers and fellow hopefuls. If these fighters can get the bouts they need they could give us towards a new era in Thai boxing, but the feeling is that they won't be given the development match ups they need. They will either pad their records, and climb the rankings on the back of a lengthy unbeaten run, or be thrown to the wolves.
There is also the worrying trend for Thai fighters to be on the way down at a young age. The promising Fahlan Jr is looking to be on the slide at just 25 years old whilst the once touted Stamp Kiatniwat, at just 21, is looking like his career might be over before many fighters even turn pro.
Whilst there is clearly a lot to the downfall in the Thai scene, despite the huge success of Srisaket, the main thing is that it's happening, and that it's clearly happening. This isn't some gradual thing, but is something that is happening alarmingly fast. The change in CH7's policy is a big change, but the downturn was happening well before that, though it is hard to pin point when this downturn began. In fact it is likely a combination of the issues we've mentioned and a lot more.
There is, of course, one thing we've not yet mentioned, and that is the effect of ONE, which held it's first show in Thailand in 2016, the same year that there was less than 100 boxing shows in Thailand. The competition from other combat sports, including the traditional Muay Thai, is there and no longer is boxing the best alternative source of income for a top Muay Thai fighter who can join something like ONE. It's also worth noting that in 2013 the Sports Authority of Thailand lifted a ban on MMA, which may also have played a notable role in the decline of boxing.
It's hard to know for sure how much of an impact the rise of MMA had, but longer term we suspect it will deny the sport the chance to acquire some top Muay Thai fighters, something that has been a key source of talent.
One other thing to note is the strengthening of the Baht in recent years, meaning the Thai currency is stronger than it was in 2013, meaning domestic are essentially costing more than they did.
Despite all of this, it is not the end of Western style boxing in Thailand, it is however the start of a worrying trend. A trend that needs to end quickly of Thai boxing isn't going to be into a proverbial dark age. Hopefully the rise of Srisaket will kick start the next generation of Thai fighters, if it doesn't then it's hard to see what it will stop the current in decline in boxing in Thailand., though as mentioned there are a few beacons of hope and hopefully those will become the game changers Thailand needs right now.
We saw the sport bounce back from the big issues in the 1990's, and we've seen Thai boxing producing a gem when it's needed one in the past. Fingers crossed they produce another and the sport will be given another shot in the arm for what has been a major player for the Asian scene ever since Pone Kingpetch won the World Flyweight title back in 1960.
As we head into May, which us set to be a crazy month we bow out of April, and to be fair to April it's not been the worst month even if there has been inconsistent action. This past week was one of those where there wasn't a steady stream of notable bouts, but there was certainly enough to be entertained. Sadly the biggest bouts of the week both failed to live up to expectations, with Srisaket Sor Rungvisai fighting with some of the strangest tactics we've seen and Zolani Tete needing to pull out of his bout with Nonito Donaire. Despite those issues this week was certainly worthy paying attention to.
Fighter of the Week
Nonito Donaire (40-5, 26)
Whilst Donaire may have seen original opponent Zolani Tete pull out of the scheduled WBSS semi final that really can't take away from the fact Donaire himself turned up, and took out Stephon Young to move forward towards the WBSS final.The Filipino veteran, now aged 36, walked down Young before stopping him in 6 rounds to retain the WBA "Super" and WBC Diamond Bantamweight titles. The performance showed that Donaire is still young enough to over-come speedy younger southpaws, though the reality was that this was a massive step down to what had been planned.
Performance of the Week
Kasumi Saeki (4-0, 3)
Japan's Kasumi Saeki may not be a name that is on the lips of many fight fans but her performance this past Saturday was fantastic. Fighting in her first world title bout, in just her 4th professional bout, Saeki was up against Mexican foe Elizabeth Lopez and shone. Saeki would totally dominate Lopez before stopping in 6 rounds to become a new world champion, just 11 months after her debut. For those who haven't yet managed to see Saeki they really should be looking to follow her, she's a very, very special young fighter.
Seigo Yuri Akui vs Yoshiki Minato (Round 1)
When we get a 1 round fight that's something special it's sometimes hard to know if this belongs in "Round of the Week" or "Fight of the Week". We had this issue again this week thanks to the brilliant opening round of Seigo Yuri Akui's bout against Yoshiki Minato. The round saw both men swinging for the fences from the opening moments. Akui would be dropped, before bouncing back and dropping Minato twice, then stopping Minato on his feet. It was crazy, intense and thoroughly amazing action, the sort of 1-round thriller that we all love. The bout was one that we had been looking forward to, and will be uploaded to Boxing Raise in the coming days, we suggest that those who use Boxing Raise make sure to give this one a watch
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai Vs Juan Francisco Estrada II (Round 11)
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai put in one of the strangest ever performanes of a world champion this past Friday. The hard hitting southpaw actually fought out of the orthodox stance for the most part, giving away some of his biggests strengths. In round 11 however the Thai finally began to fight as a southpaw, reverting to his typical stance, and this lead him to have real success, taking the fight to Estrada, who let machismo kick in and gave us a great round. Srisaket picked up his pressure and Estrada was forced to respond. This was a great round, and it's just a shame that Srisaket spent so much of the fight, fighting the wrong fight.
Nonito Donaire KO6 Stephon Young
We're back with the Filipino Flash who's much vaunted and thoroughly destructive left hook landed clean on the chin of Stephon Young in the 6th round of their clash. Donaire has been looking for the shot through much of the bout, landing it less flush a few times, but the one that closed the show was truly fantastic, landing clean and sending Young crashing to the ring, hard. That was it, with Young left looking up at the lights, with the lights on but nobody home.
Han Bin Suh (4-0-2, 3)
We're off to Korea for our prospect of the week, as 19 year old Han Bin Suh gets the plaudits from ourselves. The youngster, who had scored back to back draws prior to his bout this week took the Korean Super Bantamweight title with an 8th round TKO win against Dae Young Lee, Whilst Lee was nothing special to be put into a 10 round bout this early in his career Suh is certainly one to make note of. He's perhaps a little bit fortunate that there was many other prospects in action, but that shouldn't devalue the teenager winning such a big bout so early in his career.
Taiki Minamoto (16-5, 13) Vs Reiya Abe (19-2, 9)
This coming week is set to be a very busy week, and for us the most interesting match up will see Japanese Featherweight champion Taiki Minamoto defending his title against slick southpaw challenger Reiya Abe. The bout might not have a world title on the line, but it's a sensational match up and could end up being one of the best bouts on Japanese soil this year. The styles should gel, the desire of both men will be huge and we really are expecting something very, very special here.
This past week hasn't been the best in Asian boxing, but we have had plenty of stuff going on, so with that said, who won our weekly awards over these past 7 days?
Fighter of the Week
John Riel Casimero (27-4, 18)
Talented Filipino veteran John Riel Casimero might have only had his recent bout seen by a handful of fight fans, but he was the clear fighter of the week. The 30 year old "Quadro Alas" travelled to the US, fought off TV and stopped Ricardo Espinoza Franco in the final round to claim the WBO "interim" Bantamweight title. Less than 2 years ago we saw him putting in a relatively hopeless performance against Jonas Sultan, at Super Flyweight, and to think he's dug deep to score a 12th round stoppage to claim a "world" title at a third division is incredible. Obviously he won't be favoured against the eventual WBSS winner, but for this week he deserves so many plaudits.
Performance of the Week
Joe Nonay (17-2-1, 6)
Travelling to enemy territory can always be daunting but for a fighter, but Filipino fighter Joe Noynay made things look easy as he travelled to Japan and stopped former Japanese Featherweight champion Kosuke Saka in 2 rounds to claim the WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight title. Noynay dropped Saka early and forced the referee to interject in round 2. The Filipino, who isn't known for his power, looked devastating with his left hand, and this is the sort of performance that will help put him on the map. Marvellous.
Sadly due to a lack of footage from the week no fight really stood out as being worthy of a mention for Fight of the Week.
Yuta Saito Vs Hayato Kimura (round 4)
The Japanese Bantamweight unification bout between Yuta Saito and Hayato Kimura promised a lot, though failed to really give us the 50-50 match up we had hoped for. What it did deliver, however, was an amazing 4th round, that saw both fighters trading blows on the inside in a round is worth rewatching again and again. This was heavy handed trading at close range, for 3 hard fought minutes, and is among the best rounds in a Japanese title fight this year.
Notable mention - Nihito Arakawa Vs Denys Berinchyk (round 12)
Chainoi Worawut TKO2 Muhammad Ashiq
Thai puncher Chainoi Worawut claimed the WBC Youth Super Bantamweight title this Saturday with a big KO win over Singapore's Muhammad Ashiq. Ashiq was totally out of his depth but the finishing blow, a huge right hand, was brutal and left Ashiq out. This wasn't once of the biggest KO's of the year, but was a still a brutal one, and came from one of the hottest prospects in Thailand. Keep an eye on this young man over the coming years.
Toshiya Ishii (1-0, 1)
We love watching young fighters go from debutant to contender, and we suspect Toshiya Ishii will be one such fighter following his classy debut performance this past week.Ishii had been a a decent amateur on the domestic scene and although he was only up against Adam Wijaya of Indonesia there was still a lot to like about his performance here. He dropped Wajiya with body shots, twice, and showed fantastic variety, speed and composure. This is the sort of performance that showed Japan has another great prospect on their hands.
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (47-4-1, 41) vs Juan Francisco Estrada (38-3, 26) II
Arguably the most obvious choice of the year. The fight we're most looking forward to this coming week is the rematch between Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Juan Francisco Estrada. The bout is a do-over of their 2018 Fight of the Year contender and we're expecting something really, really special here. This WBC Super Flyweight title fight should be something every fight fan is excited about!
The final 10 or so days of April are set to be packed with a fantastic variety of bouts, from national title fights, to world title fights. We see one of the most anticipated bouts of 2019, a female prodigy going for a world title in her 4th bout and the return of the WBSS. This is how you end a month!
This past week has been one of the quietest of the year so far, at least in terms of Asian fighters and fighters involving Asian fighters. It wasn't silent by any stretch, but much of the action was relatively low key. That however doesn't take away from what we did have.
Fighter of the Week
Ben Mananquil (17-1-3, 4)
Although his fight isn't yet available to watch, with Boxing Raise set to post next week, it's hard to argue that anyone deserves Fighter of the Week more than Filipino fighter Ben Mananaquil. The 26 year old southpaw travelled to Japan and easily outboxed Japanese youngster Tenta Kiyose on Sunday to become the new WBO Asia Pacfic Bantamweight champion.Mananquil has been one of the sports over-looked men in recent years, with a number of unlucky results on the round, including bouts with Kwanpichit Onesongchaigym and Jing Xiang. He did get a bit of luck last year, with a draw against Hinata Maruta, but generally hasn't had much luck. He didn't need it against Kiyose, dropping the Japanese fighter on route to a clear win.
Performance of the Week
Reymart Gaballo (21-0, 18)
The unbeaten Reymart Gaballo is one of the forgotten men of the Bantamweight division, but he really shouldn't be. The 22 year old boxer-puncher is one of the best young fighters in boxing, and can box, bang, brawl and really excite. This past Saturday he showed how good he was as he completely destroyed the brave but outgunned Yuya Nakamura. Gaballo would drop Nakamura twice in the opening round and once in round 2 to record a 2nd round TKO. At times he looked wild, yet found the target time, and time, and time again. It was the sort of performance that deserved a bigger platform than ESPN5, and hopefully fans will find the time watch the bout, just to see how good Gaballo looked, and how good he is. We're really hoping for Gaballo to have a big bout this year, and this performance showed exactly why so many are so high on him.
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (47-4-1, 41) Vs Nawaphon Por Chokchai (44-1-1, 34)
This past week has had some good fights, but nothing really stood out in terms of overall quality, excitement or value. There was good fights that just missed something, or had a lack of intensity. With that in mind we're taking the odd step of selecting the televised exhibition between Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Nawaphon Por Chokchai as out fight of the week. It was fought with headgear and over-sized gloves, fought for charity and fought an insane pace as both men looked to try and take the other out. It won't go down on either man's record, but it was certainly fun to watch on Friday morning.
Hiroki Okada Vs Raymundo Beltran (Round 2)
A great round is made from the combination of drama and excitement and the second round of the enthralling bout between Japan's Hiroki Okada and Mexican Raymundo Beltran is hard to beat. The round saw Beltran applying pressure, dropping Okada then being hurt badly himself as Okada came close to forcing a knockdown of his own. It was a really great round and deserves to be in the conversation for round of the year so far. Sadly the bout had too many slower rounds, especially in the middle of the fight, to be in the Fight of the Year conversation, but it was a great round in a very good, but not amazing, fight. Had the bout not had it's slow spell in the middle this would likely have taken the Fight of the Week award.
Romero Duno KO2 Kuldeep Dhanda
This week we saw arguably the KO of the Year so far when heavy handed Filipino Romero Duno flattened over-matched Indian foe Kuldeep Dhanda in what was a really scary KO. The Indian had been down and wobbled badly in the opening round, but had shown bravery to try and fight back. That turned out to be a huge mistake and he was left out cold from a monstrous right hand from Duno about a minute into the second round. Referee Ferdinand Estrella gave a 10 count, when he really didn't need to, and it took a good few minutes for Dhanda to move after getting medical assistance. Thankfully he did get to his feet and seemed to walk out of the ring by himself, following some really worrying scenes.
Dave Apolinario (10-0, 6)
We had a number of prospects in action though none shone like Dave Apolinario, who clearly beat Romshane Sarguilla over 8 rounds. The fight was a clear win, Apolinario near enough shut out his countryman, but was force to work though out the contest and never had time to relax. Despite the hot tempo Apolinario seemed to enjoy the fact he had an opponent who came to win, and that drew the best out of the southpaw who really did look like one to watch in the Flyweight division. At just 20 years old
he is someone who should be on everyone's radar going forward. A fantastic, sharp, quick, intelligent fighter who has the potential to go all the way!
Hiroaki Teshigawara (18-2-2, 11) vs Yuki Iriguchi (10-2-1, 4)
This coming week has a lot of great bouts scheduled for it, though the one that has us most interested is Thurday's OPBF Super Bantamweight title bout between defending champion Hiroaki Teshigawara and 21 year old challenger Yuki Iriguchi. Watching both men we see two aggressive, exciting, fighters who are happy to engage in a real fight. Stylistically this bout is the one that intrigues us the most, despite not being the most significant contest of the week. We do expect Teshigawara to win, but we also expect some all out violence until he gets the victory.
Ryosuke Iwasa Vs Cesar Juarez, Edward Heno Vs Koji Itagaki, Shohjahon ErgashevVs Mykal Fox
Katsunari Takayama to compete on March 1st!
There wasn't a huge announcement this week, though the Japanese Boxing Awards did get plenty of attention. Instead we had a bit of a scatter gun news week, with arguably the most notable single story being that of Katsunari Takayama's return to action. The hugely popular warrior will be fighting at the Japanese selection event for the Asian Championships, beginning his journey towards a potential Olympic berth. Whether Takayama's dream comes to reality or note, and he manages to make it to Tokyo 2020 is yet to be seen, but we're so glad to hear that he will be in the ring on March 1st as he continues to be a bit of a Japanese trail blazer.
It's fair to say that action is picking up, and going through February we are expecting to see a lot of great fights, in fact we've already seen some fantastic stuff, with this weekend being very notable.
Fighter of the Week
Junto Nakatani (18-0, 13)
Japan's Junto Nakatani has long been viewed as a major prospect as Flyweight and as one of Japan's hottest young talents. Coming into 2019 he had claimed the Rookie of the Year and Japanese Youth titles, showing that he had progressed beyond the novice leagues. This week he showed that he was far beyond that level as he took the Japanese Flyweight title, stopping the very brave, but thoroughly out classed, Naoki Mochizuki. Some had anticipated a walk in the park for Nakatani, though he was forced to work for this win and that brought out the best in him as he showed he could box, bang, move, and soak up pressure, before unleashing his uppercuts later on. It wasn't flawless from the youngster, but it was impressive.
Performance of the Week
Aston Palicte (25-2-1, 21)
Filipino puncher Aston Palicte really left us with no option this week, when it came to the "Performance of the Week", as he decimated the previously unbeaten Jose Martinez in just 2 rounds. The win saw Palicte become the WBO Super Flyweight mandatory challenger, but it was how he earned that position that was so impressive. The first round was quiet, it was as if Palicte wanted to see what Martinez had, before moving through the gears and just battering Martinez, dropping him repeatedly before the referee decided enough was enough. It was destructive, brutal and a real statement of intent from "Mighty".
Notable mention - Janibek Alimkhanuly - We had long criticised Alimkhanuly and his ability to fight with a professional boxing style, but few can fault how he performance this week. He did appear to carry Steven Martinez but was in total control. Now we will expecting top performances from the former amateur star.
Koki Eto (23-4-1, 18) Vs Romel Oliveros (9-4-1,4)
This past week is the first one where we didn't really get a fight that stood out as being something amazing, however it did have some really great moments. The best single bout, was another from the Japanese card on Saturday and saw the always amusing Koki Eto end up getting involved in a war with Filipiono Romel Oliveros. The fight looked like a mismatch, especially at the end of the opening round, when Oliveros was dropped twice. The Filipino however seemed to have the attitude of "if I'm going down I'm going to try and take you with me" which drew out the machismo from Eto who stood and had a war with Oliveros. Eto has long been a must watch fighter, making even mismatches incredibly tough for himself, and here he was again in a stupidly entertaining battle.
Ryugo Ushijima vs Shota Ogasawara (Round 2)
We know we're picking quite a lot of obscure rounds in this series for our Weekly Round of the Week section, but we can't help the fact that it's the Japanese under-card bout that are delivering breath taking stanza's. That was seen again this week when unbeaten 17 year old Ryugo Ushijima took on Shota Ogasawara. On paper this was not a bout worthy of attention, it was the first bout on a televised Japanese card, neither man was well known and, if we're being honest, the opening round seemed to suggest that Ushijima was too good of a boxer to struggle with Ogasawara. In round 2 however things went crazy as Ogsawara dropped Ushijima and we ended up getting something very special. A show of hear, courage and will to win. This is easily worth 3 minutes of time from any boxing fan.
Mikito Nakano KO1 Ekarak Laprakorn
We've not seen many real KO's this year, and even fewer have been body shots, but Mikito Nakano, take a bow. The former Japanese amateur standout knew he was too good for his over-match Thai opponent, Ekarak Laprakorn, and wasn't going to waste time carrying his man. Instead he closed the show mid-way through the opening round with a truly brutal straight left hand to the body. The shot was so painful you could almost see tears in Ekarak's eyes as he wondered whether or not his liver was going to function properly afterwards. It wasn't a competitive match up, which does take some shine away from the blow, but it was brutal and gorgeous to watch in all the angles that G+ later showed the shot from.
Notable mentions: Kuntae Lee KO1 Aphisit Namkhot, Ryugo Ushijima TKO2 Shota Ogasawara
Kuntae Lee (1-0, 1)
This was a strange week for prospects. You had two top Japanese prospects, Kuntae Lee and Mikot Nakano, in total mismatches against Thai's and the only other fighters you could regard as a prospect would be Takuya Mizuno, a who had his 17th fight and has bene a professional for more than 5 years, Junto Nakatani, who is now a Japanese national champion with 18 fights, or 25 year old former World Amateur Champion Janibek Alimkhanuly, who made his debut in 2016. Given those options we'll give this week to the debuting Lee. He was in a mismatch, and everyone knew it, but he showed a really sharp jab, lovely control of distance and lived up to the expectations put on his shoulders. Hopefully his next bout will be a more significant test though, as this was too easy.
Notable mentions: Mikito Nakano and Janibek Alimkhanuly
Hiroki Okada (19-0, 13) Vs Raymundo Beltran (35-8-1-1, 21)
The coming week sees quite a lot of exciting action to come, with notable shows in Thailand, the US and the Philippines. The pick of the bunch, at least on paper, seems to be the final bout with an Asian interest of the week, and will see unbeaten Japanese fighter Hiroki Okada taking on Mexican veteran Raymundo Beltran, in what looks likely to be a really interesting war. Okada will be the betting under-dog, given how disappointing he was on his US debut, but Beltran has looked old and worn and knows he will be fighting for his career. A really good match up! Our preview of this bout can be read here Okada and Beltran set to battle in must win bout!
Srisaket to fight on DAZN, will be featured on Febaruy 8th charity show!
This past week was a busy one, out of the ring, for Thailand with numerous stories, the most significant, by some margin, was that Srisaket Sor Rungvisai's future lies with DAZN. The WBC and Ring Magazine Super Flyweight champion has signed up with the streaming service who will air his next official fight. We say "official" fight as he is set to take part in an exhibition before that with Nawaphon Pro Chokchai, in what will be a charity event to raise money for medical supplies.The rematch with Juan Francisco Estrada is now expected to take place in early April on DAZN US.
Having already looked at 12 rumoured bouts, it makes sense to cover more bouts that appear to be getting spoke about, before we start to see action picking up in the coming days.
If you missed part 1 and part 2 they are available:
6 bouts rumoured to be in the works for 2019
6 more bouts rumoured to be in the works for 2019 (AKA Part 2!)
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (47-4-1, 41) vs Jerwin Ancajas (30-1-2, 20)
In part 1 of this mini-series, if you will, we mentioned that IBF Super Flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas had a mandatory title defense against Ryoichi Funai hanging over his head. In part 2 we mentioned that WBC Super Flyweight Srisaket Sor Rungvisai had his own mandatory looking against Juan Francisco Estrada. Interestingly however both Srisaket and Ancajas have expressed a desire to unify the WBC and IBF titles, and that bout has been rumoured as being something both fighters are targeting for March. It would seem likely that the two world title bodies would allow the champions to unify if, and only if, they can get the bout sorted sooner rather than later. We suspect March has been given to both parties as a sort target with April likely the hard deadline for the bout. If it gets made it will be a very special bout and we've got out fingers tightly crossed that this one does get made sooner rather than later!
Kosei Tanaka (12-0, 7) Vs Ryoichi Taguchi (27-3-2, 12)
WBO Flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka and countryman Ryoichi Taguchi were meant to meet when both were Light Flyweight world champions, but injuries suffered by Tanaka derailed those plans, before he moved up in weight. Now the two are supposedly targeting in a late Spring date for the match up, with Taguchi moving up to chase Tanaka. Of the two Tanaka is the more naturally gifted talent, and the more internationally well known due to his rapid rise to being a 3-weight world champion. Taguchi on the other hand is the naturally bigger fighter, the more experience man and arguably the fighter the fighter who's body will suit Flyweight better. The teams are said to be working on this bout and it's one both fighters want, and one without any TV issues, with the two fighters essentially both fighting on the same network. There really is no reason for this bout not to get made this year!
Moruti Mthalane (37-2, 25) Vs Masayuki Kuroda (30-7-3, 16)
At the end of 2018 we saw Moruti Mthalane make his first defense, of his second reign, of the IBF Flyweight title, stopping Masahiro Sakamoto. Going in to that bout the two men knew he would have a mandatory defense against Japan's Masayuki Kuroda in 2019, with the IBF giving the winner 90 days to make that defense. Mthalane is one of the most over-looked and under-rated fighters out there, and although he has spoke about unification bouts it's unlikely he'll get one without facing his mandatory first, as the IBF do tend to enforce mandatory defenses. Kuroda is best known for losing in a WBA Flyweight world title bout against Juan Carlos Reveco, though has since re-established himself with a number of decent performances on the talent laded Japanese scene. Mthalane would be the favourite, but Kuroda is a live under-dog.
Ryosuke Iwasa (25-3, 16) Vs Cesar Juarez (23-6, 17)
Originally rumoured for December 2018, though now seemingly delayed until 2019, is a world title eliminator between former IBF Super Bantamweight champion Ryosuke Iwasa and exciting Mexican warrior Cesar Juarez. When the bout was first mentioned it appeared Iwasa was still unsure about his future, but in recent weeks he has been training for a comeback to the ring. This is the sort of stylistic match up where we see heavy handed fighters face off, one is a more pure boxer, Iwasa, whilst the other is an aggressive pressure fighter and together it should make for some real fireworks.
Shakhram Giyasov (6-0, 5) Vs Shohjahon Ergashev (15-0, 14)
A lot of the Uzbek fighters seem to be good friends, however in recent weeks we've seen 2016 Olympic Silver medal winner Shakhram Giyasov and fellow unbeaten Light Welterweight puncher Shohjahon Ergashev doing a TV Face-Off and allowing a lot of talk about the two fighting each other. The two are already world ranked, both had huge 2018's, with both climbing into the world rankings and scoring notable wins, and both can bang. It's hard to predict a winner between these two, but it would certainly be a very special bout between two fantastic fighters. Although they are already building hype in the bout there is a chance that the bout will be held off until one, if not both, hold a world title, adding a even more prestige to the contest.
Floyd Mayweather Jr (50-0, 27) Vs Manny Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39) II
Although it's unlikely, at the time of writing, there has been talk of a rematch between Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao, with the Filipino recently signing with Al Haymon, something that was seen as making the bout even more likely. These two clashed in a massive, yet well over-due, bout in May 2015 and could end up rematching again this year. Both are said to be keen on raising their profiles in Japan, with Mayweather recently featuring on Rizin 14 and having business interests in the country and Pacquiao also stating he wanted to fight in the country, following a deal with a fitness company. They could also fight in the US, where both are major names, even if fans are cynical based on their original contest. This has been rumoured, and we wouldn't be surprised if it's not rumoured every year going forward, even as the men both slide further and further beyond their primes.
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