One of the things we, as boxing fans, all want to do is spot the talent before they make it big, and follow their journey from obscurity to the top. Of course to follow them, they need to be on the radar of fans, and with that in mind the guys at Asian Boxing have decided to share some of their picks for the future.
This week they share those picks as they answer the questions:
"Who... should be on the radars of fans but aren't?"
The guys were told to make two choices, with each choice coming from a different country and to pick fighters who really weren't on the radar of fans. Essentially if they were world ranked, they were too well known.
Lee: "I'll be honest and state the obvious. There is probably no Korean boxer right now on the radar of your average boxing fan. It's a sad shame and a real downer for us Korean fans of the sport. Thankfully however the country does some talent coming through the ranks. The most notable of those is a real talent, called Sung Min Yuh. Who I am a huge fan of!
The 20 year old Light Middleweight has been a professional since 2019 and has already won the Battle Royale tournament, the KBM version of "Rookie of the Year", and the KBM Light Middleweight title.
Watching Yuh I see a fighter who has IT. He's talented, he's big, he's growing, he's skilled, he's defensively smart, he can fight inside, he oozes charisma and charm and he knows how to entertain. There is work to do, but at 20 years old and without much amateur experience that's to be expected.
Given the local lack of talent, and his young, young age, I think we'll see Yuh travel outside of Korea before his career is over, and he could well well find himself mixing at a very high level. Get him on your radar now fans!
Outside of Korea, I would also advise taking a look at Ikboljon Kholdarov, who recently turned professional and made his debut in April. He is a super talented young fighter out of Uzbekistan. He was a very highly regarded amateur and someone who has the tools to go a very, very, very long way in the professional ranks. And he has the ability to climb the rankings very quickly."
Takahiro: "I think most Japanese prospects are on the radar of fight fans who read this website. Fighters like Ginjiro Shigeoka, Yudai Shigeoka, Jinki Maeda, Rentaro Kimura, Shokichi Iwata, Shu Utsuki and so many other fighters who have been featured in our "Introducing" series. One man who hasn't been in that series, yet, is Tsubasa Narai.
The 21 year old Narai turned professional in 2019, scoring 3 wins in the year, but really came alive during covid19 delayed Rookie of the Year, winning 4 bouts in the tournament, in 5 months, all by TKO (in fact it took just 9 rounds for him to win those 4 bouts). During his 7 fight career he has barely lost a round, he has been thrilling to watch and he has proven himself as one of the ones to watch going forward. Do not sleep on this unheralded Super Featherweight hopeful.
Kazakhstan is another country that we have spoken about a lot in our "Introducing" series and done numerous articles on some of the nations most promising talent. One fighter who hasn't had much attention is Mikhail Kokhanchik, who made his professional debut last November. The 22 year old Cruiserweight made his debut last year and he looked like a man who every fan should have on their radar. He's not a big guy at Cruiserweight, but he's aggressive, lets his hands go and likes to come forward. He was a good amateur who sadly struggled to fight on the international stage due to the depth that Kazakhstan had, but now I see him being one to watch going forward. He's not the most polished fighter, but he looks like a lot of fun and very impressive on debut."
Scott: "My first pick this week Thai professional novice Thitisak Hoitong, who made his professional debut last year, beating Wittawas Basapean (aka Samartlek Kokietgym) in a 6 rounder. He looked fantastic on his debut, showed cased a brilliant boxing brain, a lot of variation in what he could do in the ring and really looked like the sort of fighter who could be moved very quickly. He was a good amateur, but given how good he looked in his professional debut I get the feeling his moved to the paid ranks will be an excellent one.
Of course saying that I'm assuming other top Thai hopefuls, like Phoobadin Yoohanngoh, Chainoi Worawut, Thanongsak Simsri, Phongsaphon Panyakum and Thananchai Charunphak are all already on your radar.
Another fighter who should be on the radar of every fight fan, is Filipino fighter April Jay Abne, a very young Flyweight who looks like he has all the tools to reach the higher levels in the sport. He is talented, sharp, very young and very promising. He's in his early 20's and has a lot of time to develop. Sadly however he's not been particularly active in recent years and has lost the momentum he seemed to be building in 2019, when he won the Ultimate Boxing Series. Fingers crossed he'll be more active soon and get his career back on track."
For this week's "Who..." the team who set up Asianboxing.info take a look at Thailand for their question and they also take a look at the future, as the trio put for their cases for this week's question, and once again they've come up with 3 different fighters for fans to take note of.
This weeks question for the trio is:
"Who... is the best prospect in Thailand?"
Lee: "In 2020 there was a lot of Thai fighters who caught my attention, and got me excited for the future of boxing in Thailand. I'm sure some of those fighters will be mentioned by the other guys but the one I want to tip as the best is teenage fighter Sangarthit Looksaikongdin (Phoobadin Yoohanngoh).
With Sangarthit/Phoobadin I think we have the perfect mix of long term potential, given he is only 17, a weight class that gets international attention and a fighter with fantastic skills in his tool box. The fact he is so young gives him a lot of time to polish off his skills, build on foundations he already has and mature his man strength. He clearly understands the sport, he's quick and sharp, understands distance and angles and looks like one of the hottest prospects in world boxing.
I do have some reservations. His training appears to be very hard on his young, and still developing, body. I worry that maybe he is taking too much out of himself with some of his training. I also think fighting at 140 or 147 may limit his potential opponents in Asia. But I think there is too much upside to avoid."
Takahiro: "For this week, I am picking Boonrueang Phayom.
I like to see young fighters with exciting styles and power and it's hard for me to not be a big fan of a young man with a perfect 9-0 (9) record. The 21 year old Boonrueang made his debut in 2017, vanished for a while, matured away from the ring, and since returning in 2019 has been a busy boy.
His competition is admittedly not very good, a lot of Thai fighters fight not very good fighters to build experience. But he has results that are better than other fighters, like his win over Tongthep Taeyawong is quicker than the one scored by Koki Mioya and Petch CP Freshmart and we have seen him fight into the 7th round before.
I like Boonrueang Phayom a lot. He will go a long way."
Scott: "There is a lot of talent coming through in Thailand right now. Fighters like Nattapong Jankaew, Thanongsak Simsri, Thananchai Charunphak, Phongsaphon Panyakum, Nonthasith Petchnamthong, Pattawee Phansawat, Yuttapong Tongdee, Theeraphan Polsongkarm and the men mentioned by Taka and Lee. There really is so much excitement bubbling under the radar in Thailand that narrowing it down to just 1 prospect was a problem.
If someone held a gun to my head and made me pick one however I'd go with Thitisak Hoitong, a fighter who really does have me very, very excited for the future.
Aged 25 Thitisak isn't the youngest out there, and physically he's maybe only a year or two away from his prime. He is however a very talented fighter, with a strong amateur background, an insane level of confidence in the ring and a very clear natural affinity for the sport. We saw in his debut, against Samartlek, that he has the tools to do great things in professional boxing. Also he's at Flyweight, a division where Asia is rife with fighters, and where good bouts should be easy for him to get. There isn't a need for him to chase bigger names around the globe, but instead fly off to Japan and the Philippines for regional level fights and training.
To me the age issue with Thitisak is less of an issue and more of an upside. His team know they don't need to molly coddle him, and can let him loose sooner rather than later. If you're not aware of him, make a note of his name now, as he will likely be in the regional title mix by the end of the year, and potentially the world rankings by the time we enter 2022."
Maybe it's just us but it really does seem like November was an incredibly long month, with so much going on and so many fights taking place. It seemed, during the entire month, that there was no time to sit and breathe as there was always a bout taking place or a bout being announced, or cancelled. It really does seem hard to believe that Naoya Inoue's win over Jason Moloney came just over a month ago, at the end of October, and since then so much has happened in the boxing world.
We're not here today for a history however, and instead we are here for the Monthly Award for November, and boy was there some hot competition for a number of these awards.
Fighter of the Month
Back on November 6th we saw Japanese youngster Junto Nakatani announce himself on the world stage with a clinical, brilliant, and educated win over Giemel Magramo, stopping the Filipino in 8 rounds to claim the WBO Flyweight title. This was just fantastic from Nakatani who controlled at range and dominated up close, which was supposed to be Magramo's wheel yard. The youngster has been the toast of Japan since and it's clear to see the youngster from Sagamihara City has all the tools needed to be a huge star in Japan over the coming years. This was the break out win he needed and the future is sensationally bright for him.
Honourable mention -
Fight of the Month
Yoshimitsu Kimura Vs Shuma Nakazato
We've been lucky in November to have a lot of fights worth talking about during the month, though for us the best was the stand out 8 rounder from Tokyo between Yoshimitsu Kimura and Shuma Nakazato. This was one of those rare bouts where we couldn't call it going in, and neither could fans. It was a true 50/50 match up on paper, and it was a 50/50 match up in the ring, from the first round, to the last. Both men boxed at a high level, both were dropped and both dug in deep when the tempo increased. This was worth the price of Boxing Raise for the entire month. A sensational fight that deserved a bigger crowd and a bigger stage.
Honourable mention -
Amnat Ruenroeng Vs Pungluang Sor Singyu
Wanheng Menayothin Vs Panya Pradabsri
KO of the Month
James Bacon KO2 Roque Agustin Junco
There was only going to be one winner here and that was always going to be Filipino slugger James Bacon and his jaw dropping, brutal and vicious KO of Roque Agustin Junco, which is one of the best KO's we've seen this year. Anywhere! Bacon caught his man with a vicious sweeping left hook, that he turned right into and landed bang on the chin. Junco was out cold before he hit the canvas and lay, on the ring, like an Angel for a few moments before coming to. This was absolutely sensational and is KO we advise everyone to go and watch. Just, a jaw dropping KO and we were all glad to see Junco responsive afterwards, and sitting on his stool.
Thitisak Hoitong (1-0)
We had a lot of excellent prospects in the ring during the month, though we'll admit the man who left the biggest impression on us was the debuting Thitisak Hoitong, who really impressed in a 6 rounder against multi-time world title challenger Wittawas Basapean. During the bout Wittawas was out boxed, out fought, out thought, out manoeuvred and pretty much beaten in every which way. Thitisak looked like a sensation here and like one of the most skilled novices we're ever seen. At one point it seemed like he had Wittawas ready to go, but then took his foot off the gas and got 6 good rounds of experience. Genuinely one to watch
Honourable mention - Phoobadin Yoohanngoh
Panya Pradabsri Vs Wanheng Menayothin
We only had one or two upsets of any note, though we did have a particularly big one towards the end of the month and that was the unanimous decision win by Panya Pradabsri against Wanheng Menayothin to claim the WBC Minimumweight title. The bout opened with Wanheng as a 1/12 favourite, close to unbackable in our eyes, with the bookies and whilst the odds did topple significantly by fight night Wanheng was still the clear favourite with his 54-0 record expected to have another win added to it. Instead we saw the 29 year old challenger take the victory and the WBC title in a career defining performance.
Honourable mention - Hyuma Fujioka UD6 Ryugo Ushijima
Junpei Tsujimoto vs Daiki Ogura (Rd2)
We legitimately had so many standout rounds in the month of November that we could probably put 12 together to make for an amazing full length fight, and still have rounds that are worth a watch missing out. For us the best round of the month was the second round of the bout between Junpei Tsujimoto and Daiki Ogura. This wasn't a world class round of high quality action, which we know some prefer, but this was drama, heart, determination, shock and surprise. For much of the round Tsujimoto looked a goner, he was rocked, hurt, dropped, and all over the place for much of the round until he turned it around later on with 1 huge right hand. There was no round as dramatic as this one. A truly tremendous round that deserves to be watched over and over.
Honourable mentions -
Ryoichi Tamura Vs Ryu Oba (RD1)
Takahiro Hamazaki Vs Takuya Takahashi (Rd 3)
Ken Koibuchi v Tetsuya Kondo (Rd 3)
Wanheng Menayothin Vs Panya Pradabsri (Rd 6)
Yoshimitsu Kimura Vs Shuma Nakazato (Rd7)
Wanheng Menayothin Vs Panya Pradabsri (Rd 11)
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 November has started hot, despite the late cancellation of Kazuto Takesako Vs Riku Kunumoto, but it certainly doesn't end there and the rest of the month continues to be hectic. Here we're going to take a look at the middle portion of the month, and there really is a lot to get through here.
Blue Arena, Samut Prakan, Thailand
Nattapong Jankaew (6-0, 3) Vs Petchbarngborn Kokietgym (44-9, 20)
In an excellent Thai match up we'll see the talented Nattapong Jankaew take on former world title challenger Petchbarngborn Kokietgym, who fought Naoya Inoue a few years ago. We've been really impressed by Nattapong so far and expect him to go a long way, so with that in mind we're expecting him to win this, with ease, but to also show what he can do. Petchbarngborn is a live under-dog, but a very clear under-dog against a very talented professional novice.
Thitisak Hoitong (0-0) Vs Samartlek Kokietgym (34-14-1, 12)
We'll openly admit we know very, very little about Thitisak Hoitong but it's clear his team must have some serious belief in him to match him against former world title challenger Samartlek Kokietgym, on his debut! Whilst we can't talk too much about Thitisak it is worth noting that Samartlek has shared the ring with Naoya Inoue and Akira Yaegashi, and both men were taken long by Samartlek, with Inoue stopping him in 11 and Yaegashi in the 12th. We are expecting Thitisak to win, based on what we known of his amateur pedigree, but nobody has an easy time with Samartlek. Expect the novice to work hard here.
Production Park Studios, South Kirkby, Yorkshire, United Kingdom
Tursynbay Kulakhmet (1-0, 1) vs Macaulay McGowan (14-0-1, 3)
We continue with inexperienced professionals as we move onto a bout featuring the exceptionally talented Tursynbay Kulakhmet from Kazakhstan. The brilliant Kulakhmet will be going for his first title in just his second bout, as he takes on the unbeaten Macaulay McGowan. On paper this is a very real test for Kulakhmet though we suspect he makes it look easy and secures his place on the fast track to the top. He's an sensational talent, he showed that in his amateur days and on his professional debut, and we'd be very surprised if he doesn't stop McGowan here. The Kazakh is a special prospect that doesn't come around very often.
Sultan Zaurbek (9-0, 7) vs Jeff Ofori (10-3-1, 3)
Another Kazakh prospect in action here is Sultan Zaurbek, who appears to be getting his first legitimate test as a professional. The unbeaten 24 year old has barely lost a minute since his debut, just over 2 years ago, but here he goes up against the tricky, and under-rated Jeff Ofori. Ofori will be the under-dog, and rightfully so, but is a live one and proved his value recently in a very close decision loss to Archie Sharp. This is a credible step up for Zaurbek, at the right time, against a very good opponent, who is naturally bigger than himself, but alight puncher. A good bit of match making.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Kimika Miyoshi (15-12-1, 6) vs Yoshie Wakasa (6-2, 2)
In a Japanese female Featherweight title bout we'll see veteran Kimika Miyoshi defending her title against Yoshie Wakasa. For the champion this will be her second defense and although her record might look poor, to say the least, she's a battle hardened veteran who knows her way around the ring, and will likely be aware than she's likely only one loss away from retirement. Aged 36 she can't afford a loss. For Wakasa this is a third title fight, she has lost her last two and will be hoping it's third time lucky. Wakasa will know that she may not get another opportunity any time soon, and it could be now or never for her.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Rikki Naito (24-2, 7) Vs Yusuke Konno (16-4, 9)
OPBF Light Welterweight champion Rikki Naito will be looking to become a double champion as he clashes with fellow Japanese fighter Yusuke Konno for not just the OPBF title but also the vacant WBO Asia Pacific title. On paper Naito will be favoured, and technically he is the better fighter, as well as being the younger, quicker man. But his lack of power may well be an issue in getting Konno's respect, and Naito's questionable stamina will pushed to it's limits here by Konno. This is a genuinely fantastic match up, and the winner will be pretty much the de facto Asian champion at 140lbs.
Yoshimitsu Kimura (12-2, 7) Vs Shuma Nakazato (10-1-2, 7)
Former OPBF Super Featherweight title challenger Yoshimitsu Kimura clashes with Shuma Nakazato in a brilliant, 50-50 match up that really is mouth watering. Both men have similar records, both are talented youngsters with real potential and neither are taking on an easy foe to close out 2020. Kimura is slightly more proven, having fought over 12 rounds twice in very competitive losses, but Nakazato cannot be written off and will come into this knowing a win gets him into the title mix. A brilliant, potentially thrilling high speed technical war, between two criminally under-rated 24 year olds. This could, genuinely, be the hidden gem of the month.
Suzumi Takayama (3-0, 3) Vs Hiroto Yashiro (2-0, 2)
Unbeaten JBC Youth Super Flyweight champion Suzumi Takayama looks to make his first defense as he takes on the very talented Hiroto Yashiro. If we're being honest, this is exactly the type of bout we expected when Japan introduced the Japanese Youth titles, and we're glad to see these sorts of bouts. Both of these men are young, unbeaten, heavy handed, crisp, fluid aggressive fighters. As professionals Takayama is the more proven, and he answered a lot of questions last time out, stopping Tetsuro Ohashi in a tremendous bout 13 months ago. That win will make him the favourite, but Yashiro is a very, very live under-dog, taking a very credible step up. Don't look at the records her and ignore the fight, these two are very advanced professional novices, with solid amateur credentials and we are expecting something sensational here.
Ryoichi Tamura (13-5-1, 7) Vs Ryu Oba (5-4, 3)
Former Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Ryoichi Tamura Looks to score his second win since his brutal title loss to Yusaku Kuga last year. In reality we don't imagine him having any problems with Ryu Oba here, a lower level domestic fighter, but Tamura is known to make life difficult for himself, and to make every fight he's involved in worthy of watching. This will be brutal, rough, tough, exciting, and we can't ask for more than that!
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