What a week we've had! It may not have been day to day action and huge news, but what a week! We have had the WBSS Bantamweight final, and it was clearly worth the wait, we have seen the God's Left final being set, and we know who will challenger for the Japanese Super Featherweight title at the 2020 Champion Carnival. We've also seen Kazakh prospects shine Stateside and a lot more! Sadly though the awards have been dominated by 1 fight, though in fairness it was a little bit special!
Fighter of the Week
Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16)
Going into this week we all knew that Naoya Inoue was an offensive machine, he was stopping top fighters with ease and blitzing through the likes of Jamie McDonnell, Juan Carlos Payano and Emmanuel Rodriguez. What we didn't know was how he took a shot, how he handled real adversity, and what he'd do when a fighter didn't just wilt under his power and pressure. Was he going to break mentally? Was he chinny? This week Inoue's win over Nonito Donaire answered those questions in style. Inoue fought through his first professional cut, he gritted through Donaire's incredible hook, and even battled hard though what turned out to be a fractured orbital and a broken nose. He not only battled through injury but he did so against a really dangerous puncher, and should, really, have become the second man to stop Donaire, who was only allowed to continue after a 10 count in round 11 due to some bizarre work from the referee. Now the IBF and WBA Bantamweight champion and the Muhammad Aliu Trophy winner, there was never any doubt over the Fighter of the Week was
Performance of the Week
Nonito Donaire (40-6, 26)
A real rarity is a fighter who loses being given the Performance of the Week honours, but it's hard to argue with Nonito Donaire deserving almost as many plaudits as Naoya Inoue. The Filipino was expected to be destroyed, taken out early on and was hardly given a chance heading into the WBSS final. Many wanted to complain about how he'd reached the final, the injuries to Ryan Burnett and Zolani Tete and hoe he had essentially gotten to the WBSS final by default. He however knew he got there on merit, and was a legitimate top Bantamweight, even at the age of 36. Up against Inoue, as a massive under-dog Donaire put in one of his greatest ever performances. He managed to not only take the best shots of the Monster, but also injured Inoue, fracturing Inoue's right eye and nose, cutting Inoue and rocking Inoue. He managed to get up from a sickening body shot in round 11 and gave a performance that was truly exceptional. Even in defeat the "Filipino Flash" showed what a credit to the sport he was.
Naoya Inoue Vs Nonito Donaire
When the Fighter of the Week takes on the man who had the Performance of the Week it's fair to say they also had the bout of the week. In fact they had one of the bouts opf the year. The fight swung one way, then the other with several notable moment shifts, notably swinging to Donaire in round 2, Inour in round 3, Donaire in round 8, then back to Inoue at the end of round 10. Not only was there momentum shifts, but there was drama, with Inoue being cut early on, Donaire being rocked several times before being dropped, Inoue himself being rocked. Not only was it dramatic but it was also a technical war, with clean, power shots being landed by both. This was a war, but a very technical one, with massive punches, respect and heart from both. It was the WBSS final we deserved, more than 1 year after the tournament began.
Takuya Watanabe Vs Taiki Minamoto
Naoya Inoue Vs Nonito Donaire (Rd 11)
We should really just sub-title this weeks awards as "The Inoue Vs Donaire award week" as they have also taken the Round of the Week award for the dramatic and amazing 11th round. The round was the only 10-8 round in the fact, despite what one judge ended up doing, and in fact it could actually have been a 10-7 round. Despite that it was a round that was simple amazing, with the only complaints being about the referee. Inoue gone into the round with confidence rebuilt after some tough rounds and part way through the round he landed a huge left hand to the body which sent Donaire down. Inoue looked go for the finish before Donaire went down, but was essentially blocked by the referee who also gave Donaire a very long 10 count. Despite being robbed of the stoppage Inoue went for the finish through what was left of the round, hurting, wobbling and damaging Donaire. The Filipino some how stayed up right before for the full round in what was a sensational battle of aggression against heart. This was one of the best rounds of the year, despite being relatively one sided.
Takuya Watanabe Vs Taiki Minamoto (3)
Souhadou Traore KO1 Ekarat Gordon
We obviously need something obscure in our weekly awards right? Right! Well we head over to Thailand for the KO of the week as Thai based Souhadou Traore, originally from the Ivory Coast, blasted out 19 year old debutant Ekarat Gordon. The 34 year old Traore connected with a brutal right hand behind the ear that completely flattened Gordon. Thankfully Gordon did get up by himself after the bout, but was clearly out cold following the shot.
Shokichi Iwata (4-0, 3)
There were a number of prospects in action this week, though the one who impressed us the most was unbeaten Japanese youngster Shokichi Iwata, who stopped Alejandro Cruz Valladares live on DAZN. The performance wasn't flawless, in fact it was very flawed, but very exciting and saw Iwata fight to his opponents weaknesses. Valladares was lacking in power and Iwata knew he could take the shots of the Mexican whilst also being aggressive himself. Eventually the difference in punching power paid off, with Cruz being stopped in what was a fun bout, and a smart move from Iwata's team. Interestingly this bout wasn't shown on Japanese TV, but was on the American DAZN.
Keita Kurihara (14-5, 12) Vs Sukkasem Kietyongyuth (24-10, 16)
After a few really good weeks there is a bit of a downturn in bout quality this coming week, however we really like the look of the scheduled 8 rounder on Friday between Keita Kurihara and Sukkasem Kietyongyuth. This bout won't be for Kurihara's OPBF title, but does pit two world ranked fighters against each other and we're expecting a genuine fire fight here between two men who do believe in their power. Kurihara, should he win, will likely be moved towards a potential world title eliminator, so is risking a lot against a very under-rated Thai foe.
It's fair to say that May is typically a busy month in world boxing, with things picking up globally. It's with that in mind that we feel we don't really need to say that the month is going to be a hectic in terms of Asian boxers, with a host of notable fights taking place through the month. Here we look at the first part of the month, and it is set to be a huge first week for the month of May.
Taiki Minamoto (16-5, 13) Vs Reiya Abe (18-2, 9) - Tokyo, Japan
The first title bout takes place on May 1st and it's a brilliant match up, pitting hard hitting Japanese Featherweight champion Taiki Minamoto up against slick southpaw Reiya Abe, in a mandatory defense of the title. Minamoto will be looking for his second defense, and will be hoping to putt in a performance more a kin to his title winning victory than his first defense, which was a poor performance. Abe on the other hand will be looking to extend his impressive winning run and make the most of his first title opportunity.
Hinata Maruta (8-1-1, 7) vs Coach Hiroto (13-2-2, 4)-Tokyo, Japan
On the same show as Minamoto's bout with Abe is a brilliant contest between highly tipped prospect Hinata Maruta and the experienced Coach Hiroto. Maruta is looking to build on an excellent win over Tsuyoshi Tameda late last year and move towards a potential title shot later in the year, possibly even against the winner of the Minamoto Vs Abe bout. Hiroto on the other hand is looking for redemption after essentially being kicked out of the Kadoebi gym following issues making weight last year. If Hiroto is up for this it could be very, very interesting.
Kudura Kaneko (9-0, 6) Vs Rikuto Adachi (12-1, 9) - Osaka, Japan
We often over-look the Japanese Welterweight scene, but the reality is that it is pretty interesting, and looks set to become more interesting in the coming years thanks to some good emerging young talent. Two of those talented youngsters clash here in a battle for the JBC Youth Welterweight title. In one corner is unbeaten champion Kudura Kaneko, an Afghan-Japanese fighter who really impressed last year when he stopped Toshio Arikawa. In the other corner is Hiroki Ioka protege Rikuto Adachi, talented boxer-puncher. This has the potential to be a sensational bout, and the winner will likely find themselves in the mix to face newly crowned national champion Yuki Nagano in the near future.
Masaru Sueyoshi (18-1-1, 11) Vs Ken Osato (15-2-1, 4) II - Tokyo, Japan
The second Japanese title fight of the month will see Super Featherweight champion Masaru Sueyoshi defending his title against his mandatory challenger, Ken Osato. This is a rematch of a 2018 encounter that saw Osato scoring a knockdown before being stopped himself and we're again excepting a competitive contest. Since their first bout both have improved, with Osato gaining some valuable experience and building his confidence whilst Sueyoshi has fought to a draw with OPBF champion Hironori Mishiro. The champion will be favoured, but he is in with a live challenger
Shokichi Iwata (1-0, 1) vs Daiki Kameyama (7-2-1, 2) - Tokyo, Japan
On the same card we'll also see touted prospect Shokichi Iwata make his Japanese debut, taking on 2018 Rookie of the Year Daiki Kameyama in a 6 round contest. Iwata made his professional debut in the US, among some solid fanfare, but this is a big step up in class and and Kameyama has won 4 in a row, including the Rookie of the Year title, winning that in December. This might look amazing on paper, but we're expecting a very good bout.
Al Toyogon (10-2-1, 6) vs Ryo Sagawa (6-1, 4) - Metro Manila, Philippines
At the same type of time as the Tokyo show there will be an ESPN5 broadcast in the Philippines headlined by an amazing match up between WBC ABC Silver Super Featherweight champion Al Toyogon and talented Japanese fighter Ryo Sagawa. This has the ingredients of an excellent match up, with Toyogon's exciting but crude offense against Sagawa's skilled boxing, but somewhat questionable toughness. This may not get the attention the Japanese card gets, but could be an even better contest.
Jerwin Ancajas (30-1-2, 20) vs Ryuichi Funai (31-7, 22) - California, USA
Another big bout of note on May 4th sees attention turn to California as IBF Super Flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas takes on mandatory challenger Ryuichi Funai. For the champion this will be his 7th defense of the title, and follows a couple of disappointing performances including a forgetable win over Jonas Sultan and a draw with Alejandro Santiago Barrios. Funai on the other hand will be getting his first world title bout, and also having his first bout outside of Japan. If Ancajas fights like he has in his last 2 bouts this could be very, very tough for the champion, though he will clearly be favoured over the little known challenger.
Riku Kano (14-4-1, 7) Vs Mektison Marganti (5-10-1, 3) - Hyogo, Japan
Former world title challenger Riku Kano battled to repair his career when he fights for the WBC Youth Light Flyweight title. The talented Kano has had a tough time in recent years, losing to the likes of Katsunari Takayama and Shin Ono, but will feel confident of picking up a win here against limited Indonesian Mekitson Marganti, who has interestingly shared the ring with Wanheng Menayothin. This is a must win for Kano, and in fact he needs to win and look good.
Hikaru Matsuoka (15-4-3, 2) Vs Kyohei Tonomoto (8-2, 4) - Hyogo, Japan
More Japanese youth title action will be on this same Hyogo show, with Hikaru Matsuoka making his first defense of the JBC Youth Featherweight title. Matsuoka won the title late last year, scoring his third straight win, but does have a lot of questions to answer in regards to his long term potentnial. Tonomoto, who reached the Rookie of the Year final all the way back in 2014, will be looking to claim his first title and this should make for a very, very interesting match up, even if it's only at domestic youth title level.
Arata Matsuoka (7-6, 4) Vs Jukiya Washio (7-2-1, 2) - Hyogo, Japan
Hikaru Matsuoka's brother Arata Matsuoka also looks to make his first defense of a Japanese youth title, as he defends the JBC Youth Light Flyweight title against Jukiya Washio. Matsuoka, who also won his title late last year, has the clear edge in experience here, but Washio is very much a lice challenger and enters on the back of 3 straight wins. This is the weakest of the 3 bouts on the Hyogo card, but could end up being the most competitive.
Yukinori Oguni (20-2-1, 8) Vs Sukkasem Kietyongyuth (22-9, 14) - Tokyo, Japan
Former IBF Super Bantamweight champion Yukinori Oguni returns to the ring for his second bout since losing the world title. The talented Kadoebi gym fighter had some ring rust lats year, when he ended a lengthy break from the ring, and will be looking to shake a bit more here as he goes in with a world ranked Thai. Although world ranked Sukkasem is nothing hugely special, and has lost the last 7 times he's fought outside of Thailand with 2 of those losses coming in Japan. Given Oguni's inactivity this could be tough, but he should still come out on top.
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