It's fair to say action picked up, notably, in October but that's nothing compared to what we are set to get through November, as boxing races towards the end of the year with a brilliant, packed and stacked month. The next few weeks are among the best we've had in a long time with lots of notable names and interesting bouts, and thankfully we don't need to wait long between some of these exciting match ups!
Aioi Hall, Kariya, Aichi, Japan
Masanori Rikiishi (8-1, 4) vs Soreike Taichi (7-3, 5)
The first bout of real note in November takes place on November 1st, with Japanese Lightweight hopeful Masanori Rikiishi looking to continue his strong run of form. The talented fighter from the Midori Gym is looking for his 7th straight win following a 2018 loss to Kosuke Saka, and a win here would likely take him to within touching distance of a Japanese title fight. Taichi on the other hand will be there looking to get his career back on track following a loss in February to Kazuma Sanpei. Sadly for Taichi he has been stopped in 2 of his 4 losses to naturally smaller men than Rikiishi, and we see him failing to complete the schedule here too.
Intex Osaka, Osaka, Osaka, Japan
Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) vs Thanongsak Simsri (14-0, 12)
The first major bout of the month will see WBA Light Flyweight "Super" champion Hiroto Kyoguchi make his next defense as he takes on unbeaten Thai challenger Thanongsak Simsri. The talented Kyoguchi hasn't looked as good in recent bouts as he did when he won the title at the end of 2018, but will be regarded as the very clear favourite here as he takes on a relatively unknown contender. Although unknown outside of Asia Simsri has looked impressive and is a heavy handed youngster from the same region as Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. We do see Simsri as a future champion, but feel this may be too much too soon for him.
Jinki Maeda (5-0, 3) vs Kaito Okubo (5-1, 2)
Also on November 3rd is brilliant prospect Jinki Maeda, who won Rookie of the Year in 2020. The talented, sharp punching and fast rising Maeda isn't being matched easily here as he takes on the once beaten Kaito Okubo, who has notched up two wins since his sole defeat in 2019 and will tower over Maeda in the ring. We expect to see Maeda win, but we are expecting him to answer some questions on route to victory. The perfect type of match up for the unbeaten 24 year old
Korakuen Hall, Japan
Junto Nakatani (20-0, 15) Vs Giemel Magramo (24-1, 20)
After several delays it now seems we will finally see a new WBO Flyweight champion being crowned this month as we finally get the long awaited showdown between Junto Nakatani and Giemel Magramo. The title has been vacant since Kosei Tanaka vacated it earlier in the year, and we had hoped to see Nakatani and Magramo battle in the Spring, and then the summer. Despite the, repeated, delays this is still one of the most interesting Flyweight bouts on the docket and is a real 50/50 bout. Both men can box, both have solid power, and both are looking for a top tier divisional win. This is the sort of bout we, as fans, should all be behind.
Korakuen Hall, Japan (G+)
Kazuto Takesako (11-0-1, 11) Vs Riku Kunimoto (4-0, 2)
In a delayed Champion Carnival bout we'll see Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako taking on mandatory challenger Riku Kunimoto. As with the Nakatani Vs Magramo bout this has been delayed numerous times, due to the on going situation and then training issues affecting Kunimoto. On paper this is a massive step up for Kunimoto, who has never faced anyone even close to Takesako's ability or power. Despite the step up this is not a foregone conclusion, and will instead be an interesting way for both men to answer a lot of questions about their ability.
Takeshi Inoue (16-1-1, 10) Vs Nath Nwachukwu (6-0-2, 3)
WBO Asia Pacific Light Middleweight champion Takeshi Inoue is in action here, but not a title defense, as he takes on Japanese ranked Middleweight Nath Nwachukwu. On paper this really does just look like a stay busy bout for Inoue, who's best known for 2019 fight with Jaime Munguia, but in fairness Nwachukwu will be coming to win, and won't be wanting to give up his unbeaten record. Inoue's the clear favourite, but we do expect him being forced to work for a win here.
Takuma Takahashi (5-0, 5) Vs Kodai Kiyota (9-6-2, 9)
The exciting, flawed, heavy handed, crude, Takuma Takahashi looks to put controversy behind him and build on his highly entertaining bout with Leonardo Doronio from back in January. In that bout Takahashi was in all sorts of trouble, and seemed lucky that Biney Martin let him get away with some very questionable tactics. Here he's up against domestic foe Kodai Kiyota in what should be a very easy win for the unbeaten man. A real confidence builder more than anything else.
RCC Boxing Academy, Ekaterinburg, Russia
Ravshanbek Umurzakov (10-1, 7) vs Zoravor Petrosian (9-0, 4)
Back on to the subject of delayed fights here as we finally see Uzbek fighter Ravshanbek Umurzakov take on Ukrainian youngster Zoravor Petrosian. This bout was originally scheduled to take place in mid-September but fell through at the 11th hour when Umurzakov was unable to get into Russia. Despite the bout falling through a few weeks ago Petrosian fought anyway, looked really good, and we're now set to see them get in the ring together. This could be the hidden for the weekend.
Workpoint Studio, Bang Phun, Thailand
Thananchai Charunphak (10-1, 8) Vs Pigmy Kokietgym (61-13-2, 25)
Once beaten Thai prospect Thananchai Charunphak is among the most promising fighters in Thailand, and this week we get to see him step up again for what is essentially his third bout against a notable foe. The once beaten 20 year old, who already holds wins over Samartlek Kokietgym and Kompayak Porpramook, is tipped very highly.In the opponent corner will be veteran Pigmy Kokietygym, a former world title challenger who has seen better days, but should still provide something of a test for the youngster.
Pungluang Sor Singyu (54-8, 36) Vs Amnat Ruenroeng (20-4, 6)
In a brilliant match up between veterans we'll see former WBO Bantamweight champion Pungluang Sor Singyu take on former IBF Flyweight champion Amnat Ruenroeng. At his best Pungluang was a strong, powerful aggressive fighter, who came forward and let his hands go. As he's aged he's slowed down, but is still having success and recently upset Campee Phayom. Amnat however has always been a tricky, awkward, fast, skilled, nightmare who knows the dark arts and how to get away with things. We're not expecting this to be the most action packed bout, but it is a genuinely intriguing one, and one of the most interesting non-title boutswe've seen in Thailand in years.
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Hollywood, Florida, USA
Zhilei Zhang (21-0, 16) vs Devin Vargas (22-6, 9)
Chinese Heavyweight contender Zhilei Zhang looks to continue his unbeaten record as he takes on Devin Vargas in Florida. The Chinese giant, who stands at 6'7", is a real talent, a quick handed, well schooled, southpaw with surprising speed and power. Sadly though he's 37, and any dreams of him getting a big fight before father time inflicts a loss on him are slim, even with Matchroom behind him. Vargas is a serviceable opponent for a prospect, but the 38 year old American is little more than that and shouldn't really ask questions of a contender, like Zhang. A really pointless match up that does little more than keep a 37 year old busy, rather than building his profile in what is the "now or never" part of his career.
In mid-April 2019 we covered Takuma Takahashi (5-0, 5) in our introducing feature. At the time the promising Japanese Welterweight was 3-0 (3) and looking like the next face of the World Sport Boxing Gym, following the likes of Takeshi Inoue and Kazuto Takesako. As we sit now however it's really hard to envisage Takahashi becoming the star we had hoped for him to be. In fact on his last performance it's hard to imagine him being any sort of a serious threat, even at domestic level.
When we spoke about Takahashi last year he had just scored an excellent 85 second blow out win over Jonel Dapidran. It was his third win in just 5 rounds of in ring action and he looked like he was a destructive puncher, albeit one with a relatively crude and open style. He wasn't pretty to watch, but he was destructive, eye catching and fun.
In August 2019 Takahashi continued his perfect start to the professional ranks as he stopped tough Thai Sitthidet Banti in 6 rounds. Takahashi was in control through out the bout but was, for the first time, forced to answer some questions. The bout saw Takahashi prove he could fight for 6 rounds if he needed to, it proved he could box as well as bang, and that he had some polished skills, even if we only managed to see glimpses of them.
Despite the better performance from Takahashi against Banti the unbeaten fighter left a lot of questions that needed answering. Takahashi was in control, but Banti was doing little more than not falling over. The Thai didn't put together much offense of his own and the rare shots he did throw were slapping, and cuffing, with little conviction on them. It made for a poor match up and Takahashi would have had much tougher sparring sessions.
This past January Takahashi was finally given a test, and boy did it turn out to be a test. On paper it wasn't a big step up as he went in with established Filipino journeyman Leonardo Doronio. At this point Doronio had as many losses as wins and was not expected to ask questions of the rising Japanese fighter. What ended up happening was very different to what was expected.
In the opening round Takahashi was dropped, twice, by Doronio. The first knockdown wasn't too bad but the second seemed like it taken his legs away and Takahashi was very lucky the bell rang when it did. Takahashi showed his heart to get back into the fight but would end up cut in round 3, before he finished off Doronio. The finish it's self wasn't without controversy with Takahashi hitting Doronio when he was down, from two different knockdowns.
Although Takahashi had managed to come out on top of a total dog fight with Doronio he had left us with more questions than answers. He proved he had dog in him, digging deep and stopping the Filipino, but left questions about his chin, his defense and his honesty in the ring. A less forgiving referee would certainly have taken points from him, if not disqualified him all together.
It was good to see Takahashi getting tested but wasn't good that it had come against such a limited opponent. We're now very unsure on how far he can go but it's going to be fun following him over the coming years. He can certainly punch, but with question marks about his chin, his defense, his technical polish and ring IQ we don't suspect that Takahashi will go as far as we once expected. In fact we wouldn't be surprised to see Takahashi fail to win a Japanese title, but we expect him to be in a lot of dramatic fights before he hangs them up.
So that was January 2020 and the first month of a new decade was interesting without really being sensational. We certainly had plenty of noteworthy action, though compared to December was a significant downturn, and a much less interesting month. Then again that is pretty normal for a January.
With that said lets have a look at what we deem the best of January!
Fighter of the Month
Murodjon Akhmadaliev (8-0, 6)
The fighter of the month was a pretty obvious pick, with Uzbek Super Bantamweight Murodjon Akhmadaliev being the clear, and standout, winner. The talented former amateur standout ended the month was a fantastic, albeit very competitive, win over Daniel Roman. The win, which netted Akmadaliev the IBF and WBA "Super" titles, was huge and it's hard to deny that "MJ" has kicked off the year in a huge way! If he can build on this win through the year he really could be one of the names for 2020, much like Can Xu was in 2019.
Fight of the Month
Han Bin Suh Vs Dong Myung Shin
There was some good fights this past month, but nothing that will be in the conversation for Fight of the Year. Despite that it's hard to pick fault with the compelling 10 round Korean Super Bantamweight title bout between Han Bin Suh and Dong Myung Shin. This was compelling through out, with Suh refusing to ever accept defeat, and instead he kept ploughing forward hoping to break down the much more polished Dong Myung Shin. This was brilliant and a real hidden gem part way through the month. It wasn't the most high skilled bout of the month, or the most exciting, but it blended the action, activity and skills well.
KO of the Month
Shohjahon Ergashev KO1 Adrian Estrella
It was a weird month for KO's with very few of them really standing out, though it may take a while for us to see a better one than Shohjahon Ergashev's body shot KO against Adrian Estrella. This was naturally beautiful and left the Mexican in pure agony on the canvas, It's rare for body shots KO's to be this good, and it's another KO for an Ergashev KO reel. A truly sensational shot, that is going to be worth watching and over through the year.
Tuguldur Byambatsogt (2-0)
January had a lot of stellar performances from prospects from all over the place, with emerging fighters from Uzbekistan, Korea, Japan and China all impressing. It was however a Mongolian that shined the brightest, with Tuguldur Byambatsogt really showing what he could do with a clear and impressive win against Vladimir Baez. This young man from Mongolia is a potential star of the future, and no one impressed quite as much as he did. For a fighter in just his second professional bout Byambatsogt has put down a marker of intent and hopefully he and his team will continue to aim high through the rest of 2020.
Esneiker Correa TKO7 Ravshanbek Umurzakov
We didn't have too many upsets of any note this past months, but the one that did raise have the most shock value came in Russian when 21 year old Venezuelan Esneiker Correa stopped previously unbeaten Uzbek hopeful Ravshanbek Umurzakov in 7 rounds. We'd expected the highly regarded Uzbek to pick up his 11th straight win against someone who was fighting outside of Latin America for the first. Instead Correra broke down and beat up Umurzakov to claim a massive victory in the 7th round. This wasn't just a big upset for Umurzakov but the type of win that allowed him to announce himself as one to watch. And seriously we would advise keeping an eye on this young puncher, he is someone to get excited about.
Takuma Takahashi vs Leonardo Doronio (Round 3)
There were some amazing rounds, truly amazing rounds. For us the the third round between Takuma Takahashi and Leonardo Doronio takes the honours, just. This was drama, controversy, and action all rolled into one. Takahashi twice dropped Doronio, could have had points taken both times for hitting his downed opponent, and was cut in a round that was absolutely sensation. This was almost 3 minutes of chaos in which both men were hurt. Well and truly worth a watch below!
This past week has been an interesting one with a lot of action at the end of it, some explosive action in the US and some real exciting and notable moments in both Japan and South Korea. With that said, lets take a look at this weeks award winners!
Fighter of the Week
Kazuto Takesako (12-0-1, 11)
Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako scored the biggest win of his career as he defeated Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa, unifying the Japanese and OPBF titles in the first OPBF title fight of the year. This was expected to be a total war but in the end Takesako was in control through out. Early on it was the body shots and combinations of Takesako that set the tone for the bout, before the contest descended into a bit of a mess. In the a very good win for Takesako even if the performance wasn't the most spectacular and the bout not that memorable.
Performance of the Week
Dong Myung Shin (3-0)
With only 12 rounds to his name as a professional prior to yesterday we were expecting to see former amateur standout Dong Myung Shin being worn down and and eventually drowned by all action teenager Han Bin Suh. Instead it was Shin who handled the 10 rounder incredibly well, fighting hard to take a decision, and the KBM Super Bantamweight title. Shin proved he could fight, he could box and despite his record it does appears that he has a bit of pop as well, hurting Suh several times. At 31 Shin will likely be fast tracked this year, so do not be surprised to see him fighting for a regional title in the very near future.
Han Bin Suh Vs Dong Myung Shin
We love Korean action and it was Korea that shone this week with a very good show that went under-the-radar. The show was stacked with title action and it the KBM Super Bantamweight title bout that delivered. Teenager Han Bin Suh showed the all action, come forward mentality that caught our eye big time last year, whilst former amateur standout Dong Myung Shin showed off his polished boxing skills in what ended up being a truly fantastic 10 round battle. This is one to hunt down when SPOTV or KBM upload it, and whilst not a FOTY contender it was a brilliant low level bout.
Takuma Takahashi vs Leonardo Doronio (Round 3)
One bout we didn't expect to be mentioning in our weekly awards was the 6 round bout between fast rising Japanese prospect Takuma Takahasi and Filipino journeyman Leonardo Doronio. It was however the hidden gem of the weekend, with 4 knockdowns, and some wild exchanges. The third round of the bout had everything. It hard a couple of knockdowns, some truly crazy 2-way action, drama, controversy and intensity. This was a round that deserves to be watched, rewatched, and watched again. The controversy, left by the referee Biney Martin not taking a a point from Takahashi for hitting Doronio when he was down leave a shadow over the round in some ways, but added to the drama of it in others. This is a round that we've included below and suggest every fan watches this week!
Shohjahon Ergashev KO1 Adrian Estrella
Uzbek fighter Shohjahon Ergashev got the chance to show case what he could do on Friday night, as he took on Mexican fighter Adrian Estrella as part of a Shobox telecast. He really took his chance to showcase his power, taking out Estrella with a truly brutal body shot that will be replayed over and over during 2020. The sharp left hand, that sneaked in past the elbow of Estrella, left the Mexican in agony and really caught the eye. As fans of brutal body shot KO's this was spectacular.
Min Jang (10-0-2, 2)
We weren't mega blown away by 19 year old Korean Min Jang, though that was more due to the fact he didn't to blow us away. The talented southpaw showed glimpses of brilliance against the over-matched Junhui Zhao, but never needed to move through the gears. Jang looks like a confident, talented boxer-mover and someone we are very excited to see progress over the coming years. Fingers crossed we see what he can really do next time out, hopefully against a better opponent than Zhao.
Batyrzhan Jukembayev (17-0-0-1, 13) Vs Maximiliano Ricardo Veron (12-3-1, 4)
After a blitz of action this past week things really drop off over the coming week, with only a very small number of fights taking place. As a result we were almost forced into a selection by default. Despite that we do still have an interesting one as unbeaten Kazakh contender Batyrzhan Jukembayev takes on upset minded Argentinian Maximiliano Ricardo Veron. With Jukembayev moving towards a world title fight this is a bit of a must win for the Kazakh and we suspect this will turn out to be a decent test for him, but a test he should pass. Expect a few tricky moments for Jukembayev, but overall a comfortable, yet exciting, win for the Kazakh hopeful.
This past week has been a busy one, with fights all over Asia at various levels, from Rookie of the Year to world title bouts. It's not been the best of weeks at the top level, but it has been a very interesting week!
Fighter of the Week
Kazuto Takesaka (11-0-1, 11)
After blowing out his first 10 opponents Kazuto Takesako found out that Shuji Kato couldn't be steam rolled when the two fought to a draw earlier in the year. This week Takesako and Kato had their rematch and Takesako showed so many new strings to his bow that he looked like a fighter who had not only vicious power but also added skills to go with that power and it was obvious from the performance that he has come a long way from their draw. He again struggled with Kato's jab, southpaw stance and movement, but went on to break down his man in a career best win.
Performance of the Week
ArAr Andales (10-1, 2)
We often praise winners, and over-look the efforts of losers, but this week it was ArAr Andales that impressed, despite losing in a WBA Minimumweight title bout to Knockout CP Freshmart. The Filipino teenager really was up against it, and in fairness would likely have needed a KO to have had any chance of winning, but gave the bout everything he could, before the bout was terminated in round 8 due to a cut to Knockout, that the referee ruled was from a headclash. Prior to the early finish it seemed like Andales was coming on strong and he certainly looked like someone who was going to come again and win a world title in the future. A great performance, despite the loss.
Kazuto Takesako (10-0-1, 10) vs Shuji Kato (10-1-2, 6) II
The Japanese Middleweight title really refuses to give us a stinker, and this Saturday fight fans at Korakuen Hall got a barn burner as Kazuto Takesako made his third defense of the title and beat Shuji Kato into submission. The bout wasn't a re-run of their first bout, which was an ultra-competitive back and forth, but it was a war and neither man came out of this unscathed with both looking like they had taken a lot of punishment at the end of the bout. After back to back wars against each other we now hope, for their health, they both avoid a war next time out.
Shuhei Hamano vs Nobuo Maruoka (Rd1)
We don't why but these year we've seen so many thrilling shoot outs between Japanese novices. The latest of those came on July 31st when Shuhei Hamano and Nobuo Maruoka met in an East Japan Rookie of the Year semi final bout. From the opening moment to the last these two were engaged in a phone booth tear up. The quality of punching might not have been amazing but the heart, desire and action were brilliant. This is Rookie of the Year action, and this is why Rookie of the Year is always worth following.
Lee Si-Woo KO1 Jeong Ho-Jun
Korean fights tend to be worthy of attention due to the Korean mentality of "punch, punch, punch". They tend to be action fights, with exciting back and forths and high intensity action. This week however it delivered one of the best KO's of the Year, if not the best, as Lee Si Woo brutally took out Jeong Ho Jun in a KBC Rookie of the Year fight. The two men were in the first round of their bout when they started to fight up closes, with Woo landing two right followed by a huge left that sent Jun falling face forward. The only thing breaking Jun's fall was Woo's shoulder, and even that didn't stop Jun from eventually face planting the canvas. A truly sensational KO and one we need to thank @Hock1717 for bringing to our attention.
Takuma Takahashi (4-0, 4)
As seems to be a regular thing recently there was a number of prospects in action the last week. One who caught our attention was Japan's Takuma Takahashi, who answered a lot of questions and really showed that he is one to watch. The hard hitter from the World Sport Boxing gym scored a career best win as he stopped tough Thai foe Sitthidet Banti, who had never previously been stopped. Takahashi, who had only a handful of rounds as a professional prior to this bout, showed he has a decent gas tank, that his power is legitimate and that he can mix up his work more than previously thought. There are still flaws, but this was a very good win for the 25 year old.
Hiroaki Teshigawara (19-2-2, 12) vs Shohei Omori (20-2, 15)
This coming Thursday we get a truly amazing OPBF Super Bantamweight title fight as hard hitting champion Hiroaki Teshigawara takes on former world title challenger Shohei Omori. This is as good a bout that we'll see at OPBF level all year, and on paper might be the best since Kosei Tanaka challenged Ryuji Hara. Both "Teshi" and Omori have eyes much bigger things than the OPBF title but they will have to get through the other man to get there.
The month of August is set to be a hectic one, both in terms of boxing and our personal lives. Despite being hectic it's a month that doesn't have many huge fights through out it, with pretty much all the big ones taking place over a single day, but does have a lot of notable right through the month. We have Japanese title fights, Japanese youth title bouts, OPBF title bouts, prospects in action and so much more, even if we don't have a huge number of world title bouts.
Knockout CP Freshmart (19-0, 7) Vs ArAr Andales (10-0, 2) - Bangkok, Thailand
The first major bout of the month is one of the few world title bouts and will see unbeaten WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart return to the ring for his first bout of 2019. In the opposite corner to the unbeaten champion will be unbeaten Filipino youngster ArAr Andales, who looks to become one of the few Filipino's to have won a world title as a teenager. Knockout has had a frustrating reign, often showing glimpses of brilliance but crowding them with long stretches of tedium and his fanfare has certainly eroded, with the mocking name of "Unanimous Decision CP Freshmart" seeming a lot more apt than his actual name. Andales on the other hand was an unknown 12 months ago, but a regional title has boosted him to this fight and a chance to end the tiring and dull reign of the Thai champion.
Koki Eto (24-4-1-1, 19) Vs Jeyvier Cintron II (10-0-0-1, 5) II - Florida USA
A few hours later our attention turns to the US as we see Japanese slugger Koki Eto and unbeaten Puerto Rican hopeful Jeyvier Cintron go again. The two men fought just 3 months ago, with the bout ending in a No Contest due to a clash of heads, and they will both be looking to avoid a similar fate here. The winner will be the leading challenger for the WBO Super Flyweight title, currently held by Kazuto Ioka, though both men will bee annoyed that they have had to wait, given they would have expected a shot at the end of the year, had it not been for their headclash. From their first bout Cintron clearly looked the better fight, but Eto did look dangerous, especially with his booming and hard right hand. If we avoid a similar conclusion to last time we could be in for something very exciting.
Takeshi Inoue (13-1-1, 7) Vs Patomsuk Pathompothong (38-10-1-1, 24) - Tokyo, Japan
Recent world title challenger Takeshi Inoue returns to the ring for the first time since losing to Jamie Munguia, and will re-enter the title mix immediately as he battles against Thai veteran Patomsuk Pathompothong for the WBO Asia Pacific Light Middleweight title. This really should be a straight forward win for the aggressive and physically strong Inoue, as he takes on a naturally smaller, older and limited for. For the Thai, who has been stopped in his last 2 bouts in Japan, this really will be his last chance at this level and another loss could well end his career.
Kazuto Takesako (10-0-1, 10) Vs Shuji Kato (10-1-2, 6) II - Tokyo, Japan
Another title fight on the same card will see Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako take part in a rematch with Shuji Kato. The two men had a real thriller earlier in the year, which resulted in a draw that pleased neither man. This rematch will see both men desperate to avoid another draw, though given how well their styles gelled the first time around we're struggling to see anything but another close one. Takesako, seeking his third defense here, is the big punching favourite but Kato is the smarter boxer, and his southpaw jab gave Takesako all sorts of issues in their first match up. This might not be a Fight of the Year contender but will certainly be a very entertaining and intriguing bout all the same.
Takuma Takahashi (3-0, 3) vs Sitthidet Bantti (11-4, 5)
The fast rising Takuma Takahashi looks to continue his perfect start as he takes on Thai visitor Sitthidet Bannti. The hard hitting Takahashi may not have polished his style, yet, but looks like a natural dangerman and wins in hs first 3 against Joepher Montano and Jonel Dapidran are impressive.He'll be a clear favourite here and will, hopefully, face a domestic opponent later in the year to begin moving towards some form of a title bout. Bantti on the other hand has never been stopped and has been in with some good fighters, including Atchariya Wirojanasunobol, Xiangxiang Sun and Saddam Kietyongyuth. A win for Takahashi is expected, but the way that win comes will be very interesting.
Issei Ochiai (0-0) Vs Lerdchai Chaiyawed (1-2)
Celes Kobayashi's big new signing Issei Ochiai makes his debut, with a lot of expectations on his shoulders. The Celes gym has failed to develop many guys, but their success with Ryosuke Iwasa is fairly notable and Ochiai is one of the more talented amateurs that the gym has signed since Iwasa won a world title. Although talented he should be asked some real questions here by a Thai who a win over Samartlek Kokietgym and gave tough 8 round bouts to Ryoki Hirai and Seita Ogido when fighting in Japan. The visitor is no bum, and this is a real test for the Japanese novice.
Takayuki Okumoto (22-8-4,10) Vs Dynamic Kenji (11-3, 7)- Osaka Japan
Japanese Super Flyweight champion Takayuki Okumoto looks to put 3 very close bouts behind him and score his third defense of the title he won last year as he takes on the heavy handed, though very unheralded, Dynamic Kenji. Okumoto is a true veteran, who debuted at the age of 15, and has been given a number of chances, before finally making the most of one last year when he usurped Hiroyuki Kudaka, since then he has narrowly retained the title and is a rather lucky champion. Kenji on the other hand is getting his first shot at this level, and he's unlikely to be in the mix again if he losses, given his lack of a big name promoter and his rather low profile. This is a hard bout to call, and like the Takesako Vs Kato bout certainly has one guy being much more skilled and the other being the much bigger puncher.
Toshiki Shimomachi (9-1-2, 5) Vs Kenta Nomura (6-2, 3) - Osaka Japan
Another title bout from Osaka will see Toshiki Shimomachi and Kenta Nomura battle for the currently vacant Japanese Youth Super Bantamweight title. Coming in both fighters have some momentum, with Shimomachi on a good unbeaten run following an early career and Shimomachi looking very powerful since moving up to Super Bantamweight after fighting mostly at Super Flyweight. This bout should be very exciting and could well give the winner a huge shot in the arm ahead of some bigger an better bouts over the next 24 months.
Thanongsak Simsri (9-0, 9) Vs Melianus Mirin (10-5, 6) - Osaka, Japan
Whilst the Osaka show will be a notable one thanks to the Japanese and Japanese youth titles it's hard to ignore that Thai youngster Thanongsak Simsri, who looks to score his 10th straight T/KO win and live up to the "Srisaket II" moniker the Thai boxing press have given him. In the opposite corner to the 19 year old Thai prospect will be the limited but tough Melianus Mirin, who has yet to be stopped and has fought stiff competition, including Wanheng Manyothin and
Daud Yordan (38-4-0-1, 26) Vs Patomsith Pathompothong (21-11, 10)- Pattaya, Thailand
The popular Indonesian fighter Daud Yordan gets his return from a 2018 loss to Anthony Crolla as he travels to Thailand to battle the limited Patomsith Pathompothong. The well travelled Yordan, who has fought will be fighting in his 6th different country in as many fights, will be strongly favoured here and will obviously be hoping to get his career back in track after inactivity and the Crolla loss. The Thai on the other hand has picked up 4 wins this year, but his level of competition has been incredibly low. Despite Yordan being the man on the road he has to be the favourite.
Hiroaki Teshigawara (19-2-2, 12) Vs Shohei Omori (20-2, 15) - Tokyo, Japan
Arguably the pick of the early month bouts is an OPBF Super Bantamweight title bout pitting hard nosed champion Hiroaki Teshigawara against the excellent Shohei Omori. For Teshigawara this is a big step up in class and a win will mark him a definitive fringe contender, at worst. He's on a good roll already and has been notching good wins over regional opposition, but this is a step up. Omori on the other hand is rebuilding following his second loss to Marlon Tapales, and has looked fantastic since moving to Super Bantamweight. The hard hitting southpaw challenger was once tipped as the successor to Shinsuke Yamanaka at Bantamweight but he really appears to have found his better weight 4lbs north and could see a win here as a launch pad to a second world title fight. An excellent match up and one we're really looking forward to.
Kenichi Horikawa (40-15-1, 13) Vs Ryuto Oho (12-5-1, 4) - Tokyo, Japan
Japanese veteran Kenichi Horikawa looks to extend his second reign as the Japanese Light Flyweight champion as he takes on youngster Ryuto Oho. The often under-rated veteran, who holds the record for most wins of any active Japanese fighter, is heading towards his 40th birthday but continues to fight with the vigour and fire of a much, much younger man. Horikawa's reign isn't likely to lead to a world title fight, but we're certainly glad the little warrior is having some success towards the end of his career. Oho is a talented youngster but has shown durability issues and will need to rely on his youth and speed to survive Horikawa's aggression here. An interesting match up, but one where the champion enters as the clear favourite.
Masahiro Suzuki (2-0, 1) Vs Kosuke Arioka (9-3-1, 8) - Tokyo, Japan
Talented Japanese prospect Masahiro Suzuki might not be getting much fan fare but the highly skilled 24 year old has impressed us in both of his pro bouts so far and now he takes on his first domestic opponent. The excellent Suzuki has shown a lot in just 12 rounds of professional boxing, we know he's a smart fighter, we know he can fight on the front foot or the back foot and we know he's a very sharp puncher. His promoter now wants us to see how he copes against a puncher. Although fairly limited Kosuke Arioka can bang and he'll be expected to give Suzuki a real chin check before the unbeaten youngster looks to climb through the national rankings.
The World Sport Boxing Gym is a criminally over-looked one, which has started to sign up some pretty notable amateur fighters from across Japan. One of their most notable recent signings is Welterweight Takuma Takahashi (3-0, 3), who joins the likes of Takeshi Inoue, at Light Middleweight, and Kazuto Takesako, at Middleweight, in the heavier weights for Japanese fighters. The 25 year old has long been tipped for big things, and was a former amateur star on the domestic scene.
Born in the Sumiyoshi Ward of Osaka, Takahashi had a stellar amateur career. During his years in the unpaid ranks he went 77-24 (68) showing not only a habit of winning, but also hitting hard. That amateur record didn't just result in some pretty numbers but also actual achievements, with 4 amateur championships.
Although full details of what he won, and when, is hard to find we do know that he shone at the 2010 Japanese Junior Selection Tournament in Gunma, stopping Takayuki Nishii in the final, and reached the semi-finals of two national championships, losing in 2012 to Kiyoshi Hattori and in 2013 to Kazuki Saito.
Following his long amateur career Takahashi turned professional, signing up with the World Sport Boxing gym in Tokyo. He would take part in his protest in April 2018, sharing the ring with Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako for his pro-test bout. The pro-test saw Takahashi showing off good skills and under-standing of the ring and made a number of people within Japanese boxing circles take note, especially given that his debut was pencilled in for just a few weeks late, on June 2nd.
On his debut Takahashi took on Thai foe Weerayut Wannasri and looked a pretty promising talent, though not like a fighter with over 100 amateur bouts. There was a sense of stiffness to his work, his straight punches looked flawed and like there was work to do. He lacked the fluidity that we see in a lot of Japanese amateurs who turn professional. What he did show however was that he threw smart body shots and was heavy handed, with a commitment to forcing opponents on to the back foot. He would stop his Thai foe in the second round, and clearly show his team that whilst he was powerful there was real work to do.
In his second bout Takahashi's defensive issues reared their head as he dropped from a big right hand by Filipino Joepher Montano, a crude but heavy handed visitor. Despite being dropped he was composed when he recovered to his feet and quickly caught Montano with a counter to stop the Filipino and move to 2-0 (2).
Takahashi's most recent bout came in March, when he took on Filipino Jonel Dapidran. On paper this was a notable step up, but proved to be a relatively pointless match with Dapidran looking very poor, and Takahashi scoring an opening round win. Again Takahashi looked defensively flawed, open and stiff, but seemed to have worked on his defense, become more relaxed, and landed a gorgeous right hand to drop Dapidran, and stop the bout. There was still work to do, but he was making the right strides, especially at such an early stage in his career.
The unbeaten Takahashi clearly has a lot of work to do, but as a promising puncher there is real potential for him to be in some fun to watch bouts. He is crude, he is unpolished and he is flawed, but those issues will only make him more and more fun to watch, knowing he can be hurt, just as easily as he can hurt others.
At the moment his next bout hasn't been arranged, those we're hoping it'll be in the summer and be another step forward for his development.
March is always an interesting month in Asian boxing, as bouts across the globe began to ramp up, after a relatively quiet start to the year. The month this year is packed with bouts right across the continent, including a lot of promising prospects.
Kazuto Takesako (10-0, 10) Vs Shuji Kato (10-1-1, 6) - Tokyo, Japan
The first major bout in March will see unbeaten Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako defending his belt against mandatory challenger Shuji Kato. The bout is expected to be another KO win for the champion, but the champion is certainly not unbeatable and Kato comes into this bout full of confidence following an upset win over former champion Hikaru Nishida.
Takuma Takahashi (2-0, 2) Vs Jonel Dapidran (10-3, 6) - Tokyo, Japan
Touted and unbeaten prospect Takuma Takahasi made his debut last year, and has scored back to back early wins against visitors. Now he takes a step up in class going up against Filipino opponent Jonel Dapidran. Dapidran was beaten in 3 rounds last October, by Rikuto Adachi, but we're expecting a better performance form him here. It's also worth noting that this will be Takahashi's first 8 round bout.
Masahiro Suzuki (1-0, 1) Vs Kelvin Tenorio (4-4, 2)- Tokyo, Japan
We were incredibly impressed by Masahiro Suzuki on his debut, showing all the touches of a future star, and we're really excited to see him return to the ring here as he takes on Filipino foe Kelvin Tenorio. We suspect this will be easier for Suzuki than his debut, which came against a very dangerous foe, but he's certainly not being matched softly at this early stage.
Jin Minamide (2-0, 2) Vs Marjun Pantilgan (18-7, 14) -Tokyo, Japan
Unbeaten Celes Kobayashi managed fighter Jin Minamide has fought for just over 3 minutes as a professional, taking out two experienced Filipino's already. Now he'll be taking a major step up in class to take on Marjun Pantilgan, who has been brought over to Japan a couple of times and tested very good prospects. Pntilgan is tough and will come to win, making this a very risky bout for Minamide at this stage in his career.
Charly Suarez (1-0, 1) Vs Justin Cabarles (4-0, 2) -Davao del Norte, Philippines
We travel over to the Philippines for the next notable bout, as former Olympian Charly Suarez goes for his first title. The 2016 Olympian will be up against fellow unbeaten Justin Carbarles in a bout for the MinProBA Lightweight title. It's hard to imagine Suarez losing, but he will need to be fast tracked after this bout if he's to make the most of his talent, as he is already the wrong side of 30.
Denver Cuello (36-5-6, 24) Vs Jack Amisa (21-45-2, 14) - Philippines
Former world title challenger Denver Cuello has been out of the ring for well over 3 years but returns this month to take on Indonesian journeyman Jack Amisa. Cuello was once seen as a potential star of the Minimumweight division, and had huge support from Filipino fans due to his hard hitting style, but injuries destroyed a number of his prime years. It's unclear what he has left, but it is great to see him return, and give the sport one last chance.
Sonny Boy Jaro (44-14-5, 31) Vs Frans Damur Palue (15-21-3, 10) - Philippines
Cuello isn't the only Filipino veteran in action today, as former WBC Flyweight champion Sonny Boy Jaro returns to the ring for his 64th professional bout. Jaro has been a professional since 2001 and faced a real who's who, so Indonesian journeyman Frans Damur Palue will not pose much of a threat. At the age of 36 however we do wonder how much longer Jaro has left in the tank.
Robert Paradero (17-0, 11) Vs Wilfredo Mendez (11-1, 4) - Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico
The on again off again match up between Filipino Robert Paradero and Puerto Rican Wilfredo Mendez is pencilled in again here, in what will be a WBO Inter-Continental Minimumweight title bout. This bout was supposed to take place in December, being arranged for, then re-arranged for the month, so we'd not be shocked to see this being cancelled, but it is a very good match up and hopefully does take place this time around.
Dmitry Bivol (15-0, 11) vs Joe Smith Jr (24-2, 20) - Verona, USA
Kyrgyzstan born Russian Dmitry Bivol will be making his next defense of the WBA Light Heavyweight title as he takes on big punching American Joe Smith Jr in what should be a very exciting contest. Bivol is the much more rounded fighter, but Smith is tough, heavy handed, and has proven to be very dangerous at the fringe world level. This should be a clear win for Bivol, but he won't be able to get cocky against someone who hits as hard as Smith does.
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