The past week has been an interesting one in Asian boxing. We had expected two world title fights but sadly Covid19 struck, removing one of those fights from the schedule the day before the bout was supposed to take place. Despite that we actually had a really good week. It was a week full of great stories, surprisingly good action, and a week that is worth look back over quite happily. It may not have been the biggest week we've had but it was a really good week!
Fighter of the Week
There really was only one man in the running for the Fighter of the Week and that was Junto Nakatani, who announced himself on the world stage with a TKO win over Giemel Magramo. The 22 year old from Japan shone as he outboxed, out fought, out punched, out though and generally out did Magramo in every which way to claim the WBO Flyweight title. After talking about Nakatani for years, following his Rookie of the Year success, we are so proud of seeing Nakatani getting plaudits from around the boxing world and it's well and truly due!
Performance of the Week
Not only did Nakatani get the biggest win of the week, which is generally what our Fighter of the Week award is for, but he also put in the performance of the week. He made a very dangerous, talented fighter look third rate. Magramo isn't a bad fighter but if that was the first time you'd seen him you were left with the impressed that he was completely inept. Nakatani didn't just beat Magramo at range, where he could have made life very, very easy, but beat him on the inside too, showing how effective he can be at either range. It wasn't quite a flawless performance, but it wasn't far off from the brilliant youngster. This was a complete performance and a star making one!
Fight of the Week
Amnat Ruenroeng Vs Pungluang Sor Singyu
We'll admit that we had high expectations and genuine excitement when we saw the announcement that Amnat Ruenroeng and Pungluang Sor Singyu would face off on a WP Boxing show. What we didn't expect was for the two men to put on something truly brilliant. This 8 round bout was marred with controversy before hand, with Amnat citing a hand injury, changing the weight of the bout and the length of the bout, but in the ring the two veterans put on a show and over-delivered. They was 8 rounds of fantastic action, with styles that gelled perfectly. Pungluang was the aggressor through out, pressing and pressuring whilst Amnat played the role of counter puncher, making for a sensational bout with brilliant back and forth. If you've a bad taste in your mouth after the DAZN and PBC cards give this one a watch, it'll remind you why you follow this sport!
Round of the Week
Junpei Tsujimoto vs Daiki Ogura (Rd2)
Whilst the Amnat Vs Pungluang bout was the best bout it didn't have the best round. That honour belonged to round 2 of the bout between Junpei Tsujimoto and Daiki Ogura. In fact this goes down as one of the best rounds of the year. The round started slowly but about 40 seconds in an Ogura left hook buckled Tsujimoto's knees and a follow up dropped him. To his credit Tsujimoto got to his feet and took a pounding whilst trying to survive. He was holding, spoiling, and doing anything to buy time to recover, whilst Ogura landed a number of big left hooks. It seemed almost certain that Tsujimoto would be heading down to the canvas again but he managed to shake the cobwebs and, 2 minutes after being dropped himself he knocked Ogura down and out with a huge right hand, turning the tables in a must see round. Fantastic stuff!
KO of the Week
Thananchai Charunphak KO4 Pigmy Kokietgym
We had some dramatic finishes this week, including the one between Tsujimoto and Ogura, but few were as painful looking and devastating as the brutal body shot KO scored by Thananchai Charunphak, who damn near gutted Pigmy Kokietgym. To his credit Kokietgym came to win, he just wasn't good enough to be competitive with the very highly skilled Thananchai who took control early on, and then started hammering Pigmy in round 3 and 4. In round 4 Pigmy was down twice, with the second knockdown being the finish. It came from a single, devastating, left hook tot he mid section that left Pigmy in pure agony on the canvas. This was what a body KO is supposed to look like and is a real treat for those who like to see bouts finished with gut busters and rib wreckers.
Prospect of the Week
When a promoter matches a novice with a former world title challenger that tends to mean one of two things. Either the novice is there to lose, and lose quickly, or he's seen the real deal. Thitisak Hoitong falls firmly in the category of "real deal". The 24 year old debuted on Sunday morning in Samur Prakan, Thailand, and boy did he leave an impression. He out boxed 2-time world title challenger Samartlek Kokietgym with ease and looked like a veteran. On his debut. Thitisak moved around the ring with ease, picked his punches perfectly, looked relaxed and calm throughout and showed all the touches of a future star. This may have been his first bout as a professional but we dare say his future is looking incredible and he really could be fighting for a world title in the next year or two. He looks like a very, very special fighter and if you missed his debut we really suggest hunting it down at some point this week. We suspect you'll be very impressed by the debutant, just like we were.
It's fair to say that 2020 has been a crap year in general. We don't think we really need to explain how garbage it's been, how hard it's been for people or anything else. What we can do is take positives from it, and one of the few positives is that we have seen better bouts in Thailand in 2020 than we do in a typical year. We have seen an increase in good All-Thai bouts, and that has been one of the very, very few positives.
Thanks to a better quality of bouts in Thailand this year we have managed to enjoy a lot more action from Thailand and spotted quite a few prospects who have excited us. One of those is 20 year old Thananchai Charunphak (10-1, 8), who has become one of the most exciting fighters on the WP Boxing shows from Nakornluang. The youngster looks like a future champion, and has so many things to get excited about at this early stage in his career
Charunphak debuted back in July 2018, at the age of just 18. On debut, on a WP Boxing show, he stopped fellow teenage debutant Piphat Rattana inside a round. Just 2 months later he was back in the ring, and was matched hard, against fellow young hopeful Phongsaphon Panyakum. Sadly for Charunphak he was to lose that bout, though it was a brilliant 4 rounder, which is worth a watch and has been included at the bottom of the article.
Despite the loss in just his second bout there wasn't really any slowing down for Charunphak who was back in the ring just a month later, scoring a KO win over another Thai novice. In fact after the loss to Panyakum we saw Charunphak score 4 wins, all by KO, within a year, as he got his career back on track, in a big way.
Having bounced back from his sole loss Charunphak was 5-1 (5) just a year after his debut. He had quickly proven himself against low level domestic talent, and was showing himself as an exciting, heavy handed fighter, who was becoming a staple on the WP Boxing series of shows. He was however desperately in need of stiffer competition, better opponents and a win to make fans sit up and take not. He had, essentially, proven he needed better foes than Thai novices.
In October 2019 Charunphak finally got his first real test, taking on former 2-time world tile challenger Samarlek Kokietgym. The bout was a huge step up for Charunphak but wasn't an issue for the 19 year old youngster, who took a decision win over the veteran who had once faced Naoya Inoue. The victory was Charunphak's first decision win, and it was followed 3 months later by a decision over veteran Phupha Por Nobnom.
Despite boasting an early record of a puncher Charunphak was determined to prove he was a boxer, and the back to back decisions were a good sign of that. The real proof however came earlier this year, way back in March, when he took on former world champion Kompayak Porpramook. The rugged Porpramook was his usual typical self, pressuring from the off, taking the fight to Charunphak. The youngster however soaked it up, and used the ring, used his straight punches and had a real coming of age performance. He completely out boxed Porpramook, bust up his forced a 9th round TKO win.
Not only did Charunphak stop Porpramook, but he also ended up taking his first title with that win, winning the WBC Asian Boxing Council Flyweight title.
Sadly boxing in Thailand was pretty much shut down in the days that followed Charunphak's win over Kompayak. As a result he lost a lot of the momentum that he had built, and when boxing restarted in Thailand Charunphak scored a couple of low key wins over Thai novices, the same sort of opponents that he had began his career against.
Thankfully Charunphak's next fight, on November 7th, looks a more interesting one as he takes on former world title contender Pigmy Kokietgym. Although Pigmy is well, and truly, past his best he is still a notable name in Thailand and a win over him, added to wins over Samartlek and Kompayak, would be a third win of note for the 20 year old in just over 2 years as a professional. Not a bad start to his career.
According to WP Boxing Charunphak is a boxer-fighter, at his best however he looks more like a pure boxer. His jab is fantastic, he uses the ring well, moves well, understands how to use the ring and and fights well at range. There are flaws in what he does, as we saw against Seksan Khumdee back in September, but he's still a young novice, learning his trade, and he already looks like someone worthy of interest.
If you want a Thai to follow over the coming years there are plenty emerging through the ranks, and Charunphak is one of the best from the group.
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.
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