Back in August 2019 we were really excited to talk about an emerging Japanese hopeful by the name of Toshiya Ishii (then 1-0 (1), now 3-1 (2)). Now, more than a year later we’re going to take a look back at what he’s been up to since we last spoke about him, where his career now and where heading in the near future. Of course with a loss against his name things haven’t been perfect for him, but is still certainly regarded as a top prospect and as a man heading towards big things in the future.
When we spoke about Ishii in 2019 he had scored a debut win over Adam Wijaya in April 2019 and was days away from his second bout, against the then 8-0 Fumiya Fuse, who had won the All Japan Rookie of the Year in 2017. When that bout with Fuse came along we saw Ishii take his second win, claiming a technical decision over Fuse to move his record forward and advance his career onto bigger and better things.
The win over Fuse saw Ishii getting some attention, but it was a mild buzz. That buzz grew massively in December when Ishii battled against Haruki Ishikawa for the Japanese Youth Bantamweight title at Korakuen Hall. Ishii, fighting for just the third time as a professional, went to war with the then 8-1 Ishikawa, and the two men ended up giving a legitimate thriller. In the opening round Ishikawa was dropped, before battling back and rocking Ishii, who was then dropped himself later in the round. In round 4 Ishii managed to see Ishikawa, scoring a sensational finish to what was a brilliant fight.
Sadly Ishii’s rise, like that of so many youngsters in 2020, hit a brick wall in a year where Covid19 essentially closed down boxing for long stretches. The momentum of the win over Ishikawa was soon forgotten, and Ishii sadly began to have his shining career dim a little, despite getting rave reviews from world class fighters that he had been sparring with.
After more than 11 months away we saw Ishii return to the ring in November 2020 when he stepped up massively and took on former world title challenger Sho Ishida in Hyogo. The bout, streamed live by TV Osaka, was a fantastic 8 round bout that saw Ishii acting as the aggressor and the puncher, and Ishida showcasing his excellent jab, his sharp movement and top level experience. In the end it was the jab and experience of Ishida that proved to be key, as he took a very competitive decision win over Ishii.
The loss for Ishii is one of those rare “good losses”, where Ishii’s reputation wasn’t hindered at all. He managed to impress those that saw the bout, but also had some flaws shown up, such as the way he marched without using his jab, and how he failed to cut off the ring when he needed to. It was a loss, and a “1” on his record, but it was a fantastic learning experience for a man who was still just 19 at the time.
Despite the loss to Ishida only coming in November we’ve already seen Ishii’s next bout being scheduled, and that will be on March 11th as he takes on Kaito Takeshima. The bout will be Ishii’s first defense of the Japanese Youth Bantamweight title, and we suspect to see footage of this one shown on Fuji TV, with the bout taking place on Ohashi promoted event.
With a record of 3-1 (2) it would be easy to write off Ishii, but the reality is that we really shouldn’t be writing him off. He ran a former world title challenger close in his only loss, in his fourth bout, he impressed in that loss, and he had already impressed, both in bouts and in terms of top level sparring. He will come again and in 2021 he and his team should concentrate on letting the youngster get a few more bouts under his belt, running up 3 or 4 wins during the year, and then look to chase senior titles in 2022. He’s a brilliant young fighter, and there is no need at all to look down on him for his one loss.
For those that haven’t seen him in action we’ve included his 2019 thriller with Ishikawa below. If you’ve never seen it before you should make time to enjoy this brilliant Youth title bout.
We're going to be honest, November has felt like a very, very long month, but also a strangely exciting one, with a lot of action and a lot of great fights. Now we're in the final stretch of the month and we return with our final look at what's to come in the penultimate month of the year.
Bunka Center, Sanda, Hyogo, Japan
Riku Kano (16-4-1, 8) vs Ryoki Hirai (12-6-1, 4)
In the main event of a 2-part show in Hyogo we'll see a new WBO Asia Pacific Light Flyweight champion being crowned, as former world title challenger Riku Kano takes on Ryoki Hirai for the vacant title. Of the two men it's Kano who has the pressure on his shoulders, despite being the much younger man. After challenging Hiroki Ioka's Japanese record for youngster world champion his career has really struggled and another set back here would likely end his hopes of ever reaching the top of the mountain. Hirai on the other hand is an often over-looked fighter who will almost certainly see this as a chance to make a name for himself. Don't expect a knockout, but do expect a high intensity game of cat and mouse in this regional title fight.
Sho Ishida (28-2, 15) vs Toshiya Ishii (3-0, 2)
If you must have fire works then the fight to expect them from on November 23rd is the show down between former world title challenger Sho Ishida and thrilling Japanese youngster Toshiya Ishii. For Ishida this is a must win bout following a loss to Israel Gonzalez last December, but he will be moving up in weight and for the bout and he's never really looked all that impressive in jaunts to 118lbs. Ishii on the other hand is a thrilling youngster who won the Japanese Youth Bantamweight title last year and will be looking to score a massive win here. If he can over-come Ishida we suspect Ishii will find himself right in the mix for a Japanese or regional title next year. A compelling match up and one of the most interesting of the month.
Katsunari Takayama (31-8-0-1, 12) vs Reiya Konishi (17-2, 7)
Of course fireworks come in various forms and we are guaranteed explosive action in the 6 round bout between former multi-time world champion Katsunari Takayama and Reiya Konishi. This has the makings of an all out war between two men who like massive power but make up for it in grit, determination and work rate. At the 37 Takayama knows he can't afford a loss, but a win could open doors to another world title fight to the always fun to watch "Lightning Kid". Konishi on the other hand has come up short in 2 world title bouts and will almost certainly know that another one here ends his dream of becoming a world champion. If you like intense action, and incessant output this is almost certainly set to be right down your alley!
Shinjuku FACE, Tokyo, Japan
Jin Sasaki (8-0, 7) Vs Tatsuya Miyazaki (9-13-1, 9)
Hard hitting Japanese teenager Jin Sasaki might not be a name on the lips of many fans but he certainly should be. The 19 year old power puncher is one of the hottest prospects in Japan and looks capable of making a mark at both 140lbs and 147lbs. Blessed with power, good looks and natural charisma he's a fighter that will be worth following for every bout. Here he's up against an over-matched foe, but that hardly matter. Tatsuya Miyazaki will be there hunting an upset but, in all honesty, he's going to get mowed down here.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Norihito Tanaka (19-8, 10) Vs Yuni Takada (8-5-2, 3)
Former world title challenger Norihito Tanaka returns to the ring for the first time since losing to Knockout CP Freshmart earlier this year as he takes on Yuni Takada. It's unlikely we'll see Tanaka get another big fight, given he's already 35, but the former Japanese national champion will likely be looking to land another major domestic fight before his career is over. As for Takada he's a very live under-dog having recently fought to a draw with future Japanese title challenger Hizuki Saso. This might not look a good one on paper, but sometimes we need to ignore the paper and look at the actual fighters involved.
Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand
Wanheng Menayothin (54-0, 18) Vs Panya Pradabsri (34-1, 22)
The highlight for this part of the month will see WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin return to the ring for his 13th defense as he takes on fellow Thai Panya Pradabsri, in what will be the 13th "Bloodline Battle". The unbeaten champion has received widespread attention for his record, and the way he has gone past Floyd Mayweather's 50-0 record, though a loss here would be a nasty mark before his retirement. For Panya this is an opportunity to grab the torch for Thai boxing and plant himself on the wider boxing stage. This is a compelling all-Thai world title bout, and the first in over a decade!
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Hollywood, Florida, USA
Daniyar Yeleussinov (9-0, 5) vs Julius Indongo (23-2, 12)
Unbeaten Daniyar Yeleussinov takes his first major step up in class since turning professional as he takes on former unified world champiuon Julius Indongo. The talented Kazakh looked great in 2016, when he won Gold at the Rio Olmypics, but has yet to set the world on fire as a professional. A win over Indongo would be a good step in the right direction and a notable name on his record before bigger and better fights next year. As for Indongo he has seen better days, but he has shocked the boxing world before, and may well have one final upset in him. This isn't likely to be the most exciting of clashes, but it could be an intriguing one.
Mahammadrasul Majidov (2-0, 2) vs Sahret Delgado (8-0, 7)
Former Azeri Super Heavyweight standout Mahammadrasul Majidov goes for win #3 as he takes on unbeaten Puerto Rican foe Sahret Delgado. The heavy handed Majidov signed with Matchroom in 2019, and it seemed the plan was to move him quickly, given he was 32 when he made his debut, but with two low key bouts and and now this one it seems clear that Matchroom have already given up on ever getting the Azeri ready for a world title fight. At 34 it's a shame Majidov isn't 3 or 4 years younger. As for Delgado the 26 year old Puerto Rican has a nice looking record but his competition is very poor and we suspect this will be a serious wake up call for him as he goes in with a live opponent for the first time.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Musashi Mori (11-0, 6) vs Tsuyoshi Tameda (21-5-2, 19)
In the final noteworthy bout of the month we'll see WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight champion Musashi Mori defending his title against the hard hitting Tsuyoshi Tameda in an intriguing match up of Skills Vs Power. Mori is by far the more skilled fighter in here, and Tameda has typically struggled with skilled fighters, such as Reiya Abe and Hinata Maruta, but Tameda is a legitimate power house and has dynamite fists, which could be too much at this early stage for Mori. A very interesting match up that should tell us a lot about where both men can go with their career's.
It's fair to suggest that February has been a slow month for fight fans in Asia, in fact at times it's felt down right glacial, with little happening, especially in the middle of the month. We had a good start, and a good end but then we had almost 2 weeks with nothing much happening. Thankfully March is set to be a whole different kettle of fish with interesting bouts right through the month.
With that said lets take a look at what to expect in the first part of March!
Daiki Tomita (14-1, 5) vs Kenichi Horikawa (40-16-1, 13)
A new Month kicks off with OPBF Light Flyweight title action as Daiki Tomita and Kenichi Horikawa clash for the vacant title. For Tomita this is a second shot at an OPBF belt, having come up short against Tsubasa Koura in 2018, whilst Horikawa will be lookin to bounce back from the loss of the Japanese national title to Yuto Takahashi. Although neither man is a huge name this is a very interesting looking bout, and could either send Horikawa into one final title run, or into retirement.
Dennapa Kiatniwat (21-2, 16) Vs Jeny Boy Boca (13-6, 11) -
Former world title challenger Dennapa Kiatniwat defends his WBA Asia Flyweight title against heavy handed, but very much out of form, Filipino Jeny Boy Buca. The Thai local got a world title fight last year and looked second rate against WBA king Artem Dalakian, but should have too much at this level. Buca was once regarded as a promising puncher, but then went 4-5 (2) and lost pretty much all of the momentum he had built in his first 10 bouts.
Nakhon Sawan, Thailand
Knockout CP Freshmart (20-0, 7) Vs Norihito Tanaka (19-7, 10)
Unbeaten WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart seeks his 8th defense as he takes on Japanese challenger Norihito Tanaka. The once highly regarded, and still unbeaten, champion has failed to inspire in recent bouts, and with 5 decision wins in a row his name has become rather a joke. Although talented Knockout has certainly not enthralled. Sadly however it's hard to imagine the 35 year old Tanaka having the energy and power needed to defeat the local fighter, and become the first Japanese man to ever claim a world title in Thailand.
Hironobu Matsunaga (16-1, 10) Vs Yuto Shimizu (14-4-2, 5)
In the main event of the monthly "Dynamic Glove" show we'll see Japanese Light Middleweight champion Hironobu Matsunaga defending his title against mandatory challenger Yuto Shimizu as part of the 2020 edition of the Champion Carnival. Matsunaga has looked mightily impressive in recent outings and will be looking to make his second defense. Although Shimizu is less exciting and aggressive than Matsunaga he is a big, awkward lump and give the champion fits with his size alone. A very interesting match up.
Keita Kurihara (15-5, 13) Vs Joe Tanooka (15-7-5, 1)
On the same Japanese show world ranked slugger Keita Kurihara takes on the talented, but feather fisted, Joe Tanooka in a bout that really does give us very different styles. Kurihara is a genuinely dynamite puncher who has gone 12-1 (10) in his last 13 bouts and will be looking to show he can box a but, before taking apart Tanooka. Tanooka on the other hand is a quick, technically capable fighter who will be looking to lure Kurihara into a mistake and countering. A very interesting contest, even if it lacks in terms of big name intrigue.
Reiya Abe (19-3-1, 9) vs Ren Sasaki (10-0, 6)
Former 2-time Japanese national title challenger Reiya Abe looks to move towards a third potential title bout when he takes on unbeaten southpaw Ren Sasaki. The talented Abe had a 2019 to forget, fighting to a draw with Taiki Minamoto and losing to Ryo Sagawa, and needs to rebuild his moment. In terms of achievement he should be seen as a big favourite here, however he doesn't get a gimme. The unbeaten Sasaki is no push over, and is a very decent boxer himself, having won the All Japan Rookie of the Year in 2017. Expect this to be a compelling 8 rounder.
Jacob Ng (13-0, 10) vs Valentine Hosokawa (25-7-3, 12)
In a potential hidden gem Australian Jacob Ng will be defending his IBF International and WBO Oriental Lightweight titles against the under-rated Valentine Hosokawa. On paper Ng should be regarded as a big favourite. He's the bigger, younger, hard hitting, unbeaten champion. And he's at home. But Hosokawa can't be over-looked at this level and the Japanese fighter is a very strong, aggressive fighter who throws a lot of leather and can take a lot of punishment. Don't be surprised if this one is one of the real highlights of March.
Akzhol Sulaimanbek Uulu (15-0, 8) vs Mark Urvanov (17-2-1, 9)
Unbeaten 29 year old Kyrgyzstan born Akzhol Sulaimanbek Uulu will be looking to continue his rise through the ranks, and take a huge step towards a potential world title fight as he takes on Russian fighter Mark Urvanov. This will be Uulu's first 12 round bout and we dare say if he wins here his team will begin hunting a world title eliminator for him, for later in the year. Although no world beater Urvanov is a good test at this level and comes in on the back of a career best result, stopping former world title challenger Evgeny Chuprakov back in November. Hard not to like this one....a lot!
Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov (15-0, 9) Vs Tomas Rojas (51-18-1-1, 34)
Unbeaten Tajik hopeful Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov looks to take his next step forward as he faces former world title holder Tomas Rojas. On paper this looks like a step up against a grizzled old veteran, but with the fight taking place up at Super Featherweight we do wonder whether Rojas, who was a Super Flyweight at his best, will simply be over-powered and out manned by Yaqubov. At the age of 39 and with a 2-4 record in the last 3 years we really do wonder what Rojas has left, other than his name.
Seigo Yuri Akui (14-2-1, 10) Vs Seiya Fujikita (13-4, 6) -
Hard hitting Seigo Yuri Akui looks to make his first defense of the Japanese Flyweight title as he takes on mandatory challenger Seiya Fujikita. The explosive punching Akui has proven to be scarily dangerous early on, with 9 opening round T/KO's, and will be looking to make it #10 here. Fujikita has never been stopped stopped but with only a single, low key, win in the since June 2018 it's hard to know what he has to offer. Fujikita could be the type of durable test who can see out the Akui storm, or could be the next early victim for the destroyer from Okayama.
Rey Caitom (9-0-1, 4) vs ArAr Andales (10-2, 2)
Former world title challenger ArAr Andales is going to be in rebuilding mode this year after back to back losses in 2019, losing to Knockout CP Freshmart and Joel Lino. Rather than having an easy bout to kick off 2020 the 20 year old will be up against the unbeaten Rey Caitom, in a tough looking bout. Andales will be favoured, and has impressed at a higher level, but with those losses we do wonder about how he is mentally. Caitom has fought at a much lower level will clearly be in the ring knowing a win pushes him to within touching distance of a world title shot.
Shingo Wake (26-6-2, 18) Vs Toshiya Yokogawa (11-12-2, 10)
Former world title challenger Shingo Wake was shockingly upset last year, by Jhunriel Ramonal, and now looks to begin rebuilding. He's being matched easily here, as he takes on 34 year old domestic foe Toshiya Yokogawa. Given the loss to Ramonal, and how brutal it was, we can't complain about Wake getting an easy bout here, but he really can't spend too long fighting at this level, and we suspect this will be a tune up to a much bigger bout in the summer as Wakes begins his climb, again, to a second world title fight.
Toshiya Ishii (3-0, 2) Vs Issei Ochiai (2-0, 1)
On the same card we'll also see Japanese Youth Bantamweight champion Toshiya Ishii make his first defense, as he takes on the touted Issei Ochiai. Ishii has impressed since turning professional and his title win, back in December over Haruki Ishikawa, was a sensational bout. The challenger hasn't quite impressed like the champion, but this is certainly a chance for him to shine. We expect big things from both men going forward, but the winner should be put on the fast track to more notable honours.
Yuto Takahashi (11-4, 5) vs Masamichi Yabuki (10-3, 10)
Another Japanese title fight will see Japanese Light Flyweight champion Yuto Takahashi make his first defense, as he goes up against his mandatory Masamichi Yabuki. Takahashi scored a surprise title win last October, when he over-came veteran Kenichi Horikawa, and will be looking to prove that he can over-come a prime puncher like Yabuki, as well as a faded veteran like Horikawa. For Yabuki this is his first title fight and he'll be looking to prove he really is destructive at Light Flyweight, having move down to the division last year.
Generally December is a very Japan centric month in Asian boxing, with the end of shows and Rookie of the Year. This year things seemed even more Japan centric than usual with a host of cards through the month. As a result December's awards were pretty much all in Japan, though that doesn't take away from what was a very interesting month.
Fighter of the Month
In December we had a host of world title fights, some were competitive, some weren't but for us the guy who shone the brightest was Kazuto Ioka. Ioka was in tough with a 2-time Olympian, who was tall, longer and faster. After taking a couple of rounds to figure his man out however Ioka began to adjust and slowly broke down Jeyvier Cintron in what was an excellent over all performance in a fantastic bout. Cintron, we suspect, will win a world title in the future and this is a win that will end up looking very good in a few year's time.
Fight of the Month
Yuki Beppu Vs Ryota Yada
Few fights can truly be described as dramatic, but with 6 knockdowns, bombs being traded through out, and a huge come from behind win it's hard to suggest that anything other than the WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title bout between Yuki Beppu and Ryota Yada was going to win this. There were other great bouts, the rookie of the year bout between Kodai Honda vs Yasutaka Fujita being among them, but nothing was every going to compete with Beppu Vs Yada. A genuine must watch war.
KO of the Month
Mammoth Kazunori TKO5 Lerdchai Chaiyawed
It seemed that December wanted to try and provide us with the best of everything, and the brutal KO scored by Mammoth Kazunori, against Lerdchai Chaiyawed, tried to steal the KO of the Year with just over 2 weeks of the year left. This was originally doing the rounds from a fan cam, but when the bout was upload to Boxing Raise a few days after it took place the KO looked even better. A single solid left hand turned Lerdchai 's lights out...and then he hit the canvas. This was as clean a shot as Kazunori will likely ever land, and the way Lerdchai hit the canvas was just nasty.
Yudai Shigeoka (2-0, 1)
With a win against an OPBF champion in just his second professional bout, it was hard to give this award to anyone else. Shigeoka might not be as brutal as his younger brother, Ginjiro Shigeoka, but out pointing Lito Dante this early in his career was fantastic and a real statement of intent for someone wanting to be fast-tracked.
Amazingly Yudai's brother stopped Rey Loreto and Bektemir Melikuziev out pointed Vaughn Alexander, in just his 4th bout, during the month. This was an excellent month for prospects.
Renz Rosia UD8 Aston Palicte
The "Filipino fighters are involved in upsets" trend continued through December. Jhack Tepora being stopped by Oscar Escandon, Jhunriel Ramonal stopping Yusaku Kuga and Renz Rosia beating Aston Palicte were the short list for the month. For us Rosia's win gets the award due to the fact he completely out boxed, out fought and out though Palicte. This wasn't a wild shot, or beating someone before they warmed up. This was beating them round, after round, after round. This was Rosia exposing Palicte's flaws, and given where Palicte was at the start of this year was a genuine surprise. What made this really stand out is that Rosia was 1-4-1 in his previous 6 bouts! A genuine shocker.
Toshiya Ishii vs Haruki Ishikawa (Round 2)
We had some amazing rounds this past month, and round 4 of Akira Yaegashi Vs Moruti Mthalane will certainly be a hard one to forget. For sheer drama and too and fro action however the pick from the month was round 2 from Toshiya Ishii's incredible battle with Haruki Ishikawa. Ishii was dropped in the opening seconds, regrouped, the two men staggered each and both were hurt several times before the round concluded. This was sheer, unadulterated awesomeness. A real round of the ages, and came in a Japanese Youth title bout, proving that even this low level of title is worth putting it all on the line for.
Our final "Introducing" of 2019 isn't going to be one of our usual articles looking at a specific fighter but instead a look back at some of the fighters we've mentioned during the last 12 months, ahead of the changes we'll be making to these articles in the coming year.
Since we started this way back on January 8th we've looked at some winners, some losers and some fighters who's future isn't as clear as we'd have hoped. We won't go through all 50 fighters here, but we will talk about those who have have shined the most, and those who have disappointed the most.
The first Introducing saw us talk about Mikito Nakano, who was 1-0 (1) at the time and has since added 3 wins, all inside the distance. He has gone from a good novice into a fine prospect and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him fighting for a title in 2020.
Just a week later we spoke about Ginjiro Shigeoka, who was also 1-0 (1) and his rise has been legitimately meteoric. In just his fourth bout he claimed the WBO Asia Pacific Minimumweight title and if he picks up a win on New Year's Eve, against Rey Loreto, there is no doubt that he will be in the world title mix in 2020.
We spoke about Shokichi Iwata in week 25 and since then he has scored back to back TKO5 wins, with both of those victories coming on massive Japanese cards. The 23 year old Teiken prospect looks like he has the potential to go all the way to the top, and to do so quickly. He has shown he can box, or brawl, and whilst he may not quite have figured out his style in the ring he already looks like a special talent.
What a year Andy Hiraoka has had! We featured him in week 26, when he was then 13-0 (9) and since then he has scored the biggest win of his career, signed with Top Rank and made his US debut. The talented 140lb'der showed he could go 10, as he did in victory over Akihiro Kondo, and looked very good in his American show case in November.
Another man who has had a great year is Toshiya Ishii, who was covered in week 33. He made his debut in April, took the unbeaten record of Fumiya Fuse in August then took the Japanese Youth Bantamweight title in December. His win Fuse, who we covered in an introducing article in week 4 was impressive but his war with Ishikawa was something special and we advise all fans to give that a watch.
In week 34 we looked at Yudai Shigeoka and although he didn't debut for a few weeks after that he has shone since some much. His debut was an easy win over a Thai, but despite the ease of the win he showed so much ability, brilliant crisp punching, fantastic movement and ring IQ. He then followed that up with a win over Lito Dante and looks set to have a monstrous 2020, following in his brother's footsteps.
In week 9 we looked at Yoji Saito, who entered the year 1-1 (1) and looked like a huge punching monster. He fought twice in 2019, and went 0-0-2. Notably his first bout of the year, a draw with Aso Ishiwaki, looks very good on reflection and Ishiwaki used that bout as a great opportunity to shine, and was the focus of his own "Introducing" in week 38!
In week 17 we discussed Tsubasa Murachi and his year is a really tricky one to try and dissect. On one hand he impressed, in his win over Raymong Tabugon, and there was clearly skill and ambition with the youngster. But on the other hand he ended the year in September, following a brutal KO loss to Froilan Saludar, and the road back up to that level is going to be a rough journey for the 22 year old. Don't write him off, but he's going to have to go back to the drawing board.
Another man who is hard to get a good read on was Kai Ishizawa who may take more credit from his loss to Masataka Taniguchi in September, than most fighters take from a win. He was fantastic in defeat, he showed his toughness, his braveness, his power and his will to win. Sadly he lacked in technical areas, and Taniguchi was too good for him, but the reality is that both men came out with enhanced reputations. Sadly it was still a loss, and his one other bout this year was a blow out against an over-matched Indonesian
We love watching Christiano Aoqui, who we introduced in week 40, and despite a loss to Daishi Nagata following our article it's hard to write off the hard hitting Japanese-Brazilian, who has lost in the past and bounced back. He's never going to be a world beater but we expect him to remain in the domestic title mix next year.
Well we got that one wrong
In week 35 we spoke about the return of Teppei Kayanuma, who was supposed to fight in September. Though didn't. And we're not totally sure why. We are hoping that changes, and that he does return to the ring, but with more than 3 years since his last bout it now seems unlikely.
For week 46 we spoke about Dominique Kenshin, by this point we were trying to tweak the formula slightly and pick fighters who were in action during the week of the article, and as a result felt Kenshin was the man to cover. That was the wrong choice and he was was stopped in a round by Hiro Ichimichi. He's not fought since, and being honest he has a lot of work to do, in every part of his boxing.
Changes Will be Made
So as for 2020, "Introducing..." is changing. We are taking it more international, and instead of being exclusively Japanese fighters, as it was in 2019, we will be looking around Asia for fighters to cover. Whilst the key focus will, again, be prospects, we aren't going to be too rigid in that and we'll look at covering other fighters we find interesting as the year goes on. This could mean anyone from novice, to journeyman, fringe contender to prospects. The only fighters we'll not cover in this section are clear world level fighters. We want to shine a light on a fighter without much attention, and the hope is that we help a bring a fans attention to a fighter they aren't aware of. In 2019 we generally had good success picking our prospects, and we hope that continues in 2020.
See you in the new year for the next "Introducing...", and the next chance to see a light shined on a fighter you may not have even knew existed!
(Image credits - Kadoebi and Teiken)
We absolutely love the Japanese Youth title scene, and whilst not every bout delivers amazing action the title is building a reputation as a platform for some sensational back and forth bouts. Typically they are very well matched bouts and give fantastic 2-way action, with several legitimate Japanese Fight of the Year contenders in 2019. In December we got an absolute treat of a of a fight, as Toshiya Ishii and Haruki Ishikawa gave us a thrilling shoot out for the Japanese Youth Bantamweight title.
The first round had seen Ishii drop his man, and in all honesty he looked the much more skilled boxer, whilst Ishikawa looked a strong brawler. In round 2 however the fight became an all out action brawl as Ishii began to fight Ishikawa's fight. Within seconds there was a knockdown, soon followed by an incredible exchange that saw both fighters being staggered simultaneously, and both men continued firing off bombs as the round progressed.
Whilst the round did have some sloppiness to it, the drama and danger that both men put themselves through more than made up for the few brief instances where things got messy. This was young two men fighting not only for their pride, but for their chance to claim their first title, and neither man wanted to be the one seen to be backing off from the challenge.
Sadly the bout didn't remain such an exciting war, with round 3 seeing the action subdue before a fantastic finish in round 4, but this 3 minutes is up there with 3 of the very best from the year.
For those wondering about what the two men have done since, the truth is that this fight took place only a few weeks ago and neither has fought since. And we wouldn't expect to see either man until Spring, at the earliest.
As we head towards Christmas it appears boxing has decided to give us some earlier gifts, and this past week was full of them, with several brilliant match, great fights and even the delay release of an amazing fight from a week earlier. This was a genuine fantastic week, even if it wasn't a week with high profile Asian action. One of those rare weeks where the less known fighters got their chance to shine, and delivered.
Fighter of the Week
Hiroaki Teshigawa (21-2-2, 14)
The past week had a lot of title fights on the regional and domestic levels. The one man who made it clear that he was well above the level that he was fighting at was Hiroaki Teshigawaa, who destroyed Shohei Kawashima in 5 rounds to retain his OPBF Super Bantamweight title. The talented "Crush Boy" did what neither Cristian Mijares or Juan Miguel Elorde could do, and that was stop Kawashima. After the bout it was clear Teshigawara wanted a world title fight and given he has proven to be above regional level it does make sense for he, and mentor Koichi Wajima, to push for a world title fight in the new year.
Performance of the Week
Bektemir Melikuziev (4-0, 3)
After going just 6 rounds in his first 3 bouts we had a lot of questions we were wanting to see answered from Uzbek fighter Bektemir Melikuziev. This week he answered them as he took a 10 round shut out win over tough American Vaughn Alexander. The power of Melikuziev wasn't on show as much as usual, but instead we saw him taking a 10 round decision and prove he could go deep in fights, he could box and move, he could fight behind his jab, a cut wasn't a big issue and he wasn't just a 1-trick pony. This was as impressive as we could have hoped from him against someone like Alexander and it's clear that Melikuziev and his team will look to face more interesting tests next year.
Hironori Mishiro Vs Yoshimitsu Kimura
The week had some great action though perhaps the best of it was the 12 round back and forth bout between OPBF Super Featherweight champion Hironori Mishiro and Yoshimitsu Kimura. The bout wasn't a fight of the year contender, but it was a fantastic, high level, hotly competitive 12 round back and forth. This was the sort of bout that whilst never the incredible heights of some bouts, was consistently very exciting and never looked like it was getting too sloppy or too slow. It was consistently engaging, and truly competitive. The sort of bout that won't attract new fans to the sport, but will please every one who is already a fan.
Toshiya Ishii Vs Haruki Ishikawa (Round 2)
We've really enjoyed the Japanese Youth title fights, which had typically been really well matched and exciting contests between two young men who come to fight. That was shown again this past week in a 4 round shoot out between Toshiya Ishii and Haruki Ishikawa, who traded blows for the Japanese Youth Bantamweight title. The bout was exciting from the off, had 3 knockdowns in 4 rounds and a sensational second round that saw both men being rocked hard. This was 3 minutes of amazing violence, intense action real danger from both men. This was a great round that everyone should check out before the year is over.
Kazunori Nakayama TKO5 Lerdchai Chaiyawed
We originally posted this with no set winner, as when the article was first posted we hadn't managed to see some footage of under-card bouts from across the shows. Only moments afterwards we spotted a twitter post from @takayukimonaco which showed one of the KO's of the year. The bout between Kazunori Nakayama and Thai Lerdchai Chaiyawed ended in truly brutal fashion as a single right hand from Nakayama knocked the Thai clean out. The referee could have counted to 50, instead of instantly waving it off, and there was still no way Lerdchai was getting up.
We also want to give a mention to Toshiya Ishii's TKO finish against Haruki Ishikawa. The shot, a counter right hand, completely scrambled Ishikawa's senses an sent him stumbling forward before falling over one of the middle ropes. Given a 10 count we suspect Ishikawa would have "beaten the count" but wouldn't have been deemed fit to continue. A brilliant finish, even if it wasn't lights out.
Yudai Shigeoka (2-0, 1)
Whilst Bektemir Melikuziev was incredibly impressive the reality is that he isn't really a prospect, he's already a contender in our eyes and his recent title win has already seen him claim a regional title and potentially a world ranking. Instead our prospect for the week was Yudai Shigeoka, who out boxed, out sped and out thought OPBF Minimumweight champion Lito Dante over 6 rounds. The bout may end up with Shigeoka taking a world ranking, given that Dante was world ranked himself, but with this only being a 6 rounder there's a chance he'll miss out. What is clear is that this young man is a sensational boxer and he is someone worth getting behind, as he is going to be raced to a title very, very soon.
Apichet Petchmanee (5-0, 2) vs Ari Agustian (8-0, 8)
This coming week is an interesting one with a number of shows, though very few 50-50 match ups. One of the few even looking contests, other than the Rookie of the Year show, is an excellent looking encounter between unbeaten Thai Apichet Petchmanee and Indonesian puncher Ari Agustian. We've not been impressed by Apichet this year, and tipping him highly in 2018, whilst Agustian has failed to build on his 2018 win over Baolin Kang. This could be very entertaining and tell us a lot about what both men are capable of. One of the rare bouts in Thailand that has us genuinely excited.
The action involving Asian fighters really doesn't stop for breath in December, the middle part of the month is packed with some great fights, promising rising stars, title bouts, and everything we could have wished for as an early Christmas present!
Hironori Mishiro (8-0-1, 3) vs Yoshimitsu Kimura (12-1, 7) - Tokyo, Japan
Unbeaten Super Featherweight hopeful Hironori Mishiro looks to extend his reign as the OPBF Super Featherweight champion as he defends his title against the once beaten Yoshimitsu Kimura in an interesting looking bout. On paper the champion will be favoured, with his strong amateur background and early professional success, however Kimura will not be in the ring to lose and this could end up be a genuine thriller between two young men who are both expected to make their mark on the sport in the coming years.
Yudai Shigeoka (1-0, 1) Vs Lito Dante (16-10-4, 8)-Tokyo, Japan
Just weeks after making his professional debut Japanese prospect Yudai Shigeoka takes a huge step up in class to battle against OPBF Minimumweight champion Lito Dante. This is a monstrous step up in class for Shigeoka but a win here will instantly put him in the mix for a title fight, whilst Dante gets a second success bout against a touted and unbeaten Japanese fighter. With this bout being over 6 rounds Shigeoka's team have taken a calculated risk, but Dante will be there looking for the scalp of the very talented youngster.
Tsuyoshi Sato (9-1-1, 5) vs Masashi Tada (13-6-3, 8) - Tokyo, Japan
Although most the bouts on this list are title bouts, or something of some notable standing in the boxing world we felt the need to talk about this interesting little bout between Tsuyoshi Sato, who has smashed his way into the Japanese rankings, and 2-time Japanese title challenger Masashi Tada. This isn't an eliminator or anything like that, but Sato has quickly become one of the must watch youngsters in Japan and his future is going to be so much fun to follow. Whilst this bout might not be an easy one to see it's one worth having in the back of your mind, and we really do suggest that fans give Sato a follow, win or lose he's going to be great to watch in the coming years.
Hiroaki Teshigawara (20-2-2, 13) vs Shohei Kawashima (18-3-2, 4) - Tokyo, Japan
The in form Hiroaki Teshigawara looks to continue his impressive run of form as he defends the OPBF Super Bantamweight title against fellow Japanese fighter Shohei Kawashima. The talented Teshigawara has been edging towards a world title fight for a while now, and wins over the likes of Teiru Kinoshita and Shohei Omori have shown what he can do. The highly skilled Kawashima is no push over, but we don't see him having the physical tools to deal with the powerful and exciting Teshigawara, who may well be in the world title mix next year.
Ryo Sagawa (8-1, 4) vs Ryo Hino (13-1-2, 8) - Tokyo, Japan
Talented Japanese Featherweight champion Ryo Sagawa looks for his first defense as he takes on mandatory challenger Ryo Hino in a great match up, at leats on paper. Sagawa has been in sensational form since an early career stoppage loss, and wins over the likes of Ryo Matsumoto, Al Toyogon and Reiya Abe really have shown that he has a very, very high ceiling. Hino on the other hand has failed to build on a 2017 win over Sho Nakazawa and has seemingly got this shot due to the mess of a good division, rather earning it on merit. Still this should be a very good first defense for Sagawa.
Haruki Ishikawa (8-1, 6) vs Toshiya Ishii (2-0, 1) - Tokyo, Japan
A third title fight on the same card in Tokyo will see a new Japanese Youth Bantamweight champion being crowned, as the heavy handed Haruki Ishikawa takes on professional novice Toshiya Ishii. Both of these youngsters took part in a 4 man tournament to earn their shot at the the title, and both impressed. Albeit in very different ways. Ishii beat Fumiya Fuse, and looked like a really talented young boxer whilst Ishikawa battered Atsushi Takada into submission. This boxer Vs puncher and should be a very compelling contest.
Tenkai Tsunami (26-12-1, 15) vs Jessebelle Pagaduan (12-1-1, 5) - WBO Female Light Flyweight
The only world title fight during this stretch of the month is a female world title fight, though given the quality of regional title bouts we don't think the lack of world titles is a major issue. The bout will see WBO female Light Flyweight champion Tenkai Tsunami make her second defense as she battles aggressive Filipino Jessebelle Pagaduan, who is hoping it's third time lucky. This isn't a huge profile bout, but we can't stop thinking that it'll be an action packed and hotly competitive one.
Kyohei Tonomoto (9-2, 4) vs Ryotaro Motohashi (9-1, 2) -Osaka, Japan
In his first defense of the Japanese Youth Featherweight title Kyohei Tonomoto will take on the once beaten Ryotaro Motohashi in a very evenly matched bout on paper. Of the two men it's the champion who has impressed more, and he was the runner up in the All Japan Rookie of the Year way back in 2014, though Motohashi will be hungry for his first title and looking to build on a 7 fight winning run. This isn't the most appealing bout we'll see before the end of the year, but it is certainly an interesting match up all the same and the winner will be ear marked for more title glory down the line.
Kotatsu Takehara (15-12-3, 8) Vs Ryu Ueda (8-1-1, 5) II - Kariya, Japan
In a bit of an oddity we'll see a new Japanese Heavyweight champion crowned, as Kotatsu Takehara takes on Ryu Ueda, in a second bout between the two men. Takehara, a real veteran at the age of 41, stopped Ueda in their previous meeting, way back in 2016, but since then has aged whilst Ueda is now, technically, in his peak years. This is an interesting match up, but the reality is that the Japanese Heavyweight title will remain a bit of a joke, no matter who wins.
Rikito Shiba (4-0, 2) Vs Masamichi Yabuki (9-3, 9) - Kariya, Japan
In a really, really, good match up we'll see talented and unbeaten Rikito Shiba take on the hard hitting Masamichi Yabuki in a Japanese Light Flyweight title eliminator. Shiba has impressed us ever since turning professional and he looks like a genuine star of the future, but this is a real test of the youngsters ability to take a shot. Of course this isn't all about Shiba and Yabuki has been knocking on the door of a title fight for some time now, and has bounced back well from a loss to Daniel Matellon last year.
Tomomi Takano (11-5, 8) Vs Sachiko Kondo (2-4-2) - Kariya, Japan
In a pretty low level, yet very notable bout, we'll see Tomomi Takano return to a Japanese ring for the first time in over 2 years. The former world title challenger, who fellow out with her former gym and began fighting in Mexico, is certainly not looking for a test as she restarts in Japan against Sachiko Kondo, but in reality it's just great to see the enigmatic model-come-boxer back in action. Given how instantly marketable Takano is, we need to suspect their are big plans for her, and a win here will move those plans along to the next step.
Genesis Servania (33-2, 16) Vs Pungluang Sor Singyu (53-7, 35) - Ishikawa, Japan
Sometimes it's better late than never, and in reality we would have loved a clash between Genesis Servania and Pungluang Sor Singyu when both fighters were in their primes. Now though it feels like both are well past their best. Yes they are both very capable fighters but both have slipped. Regardless of being on the downslide a bout between the two just fills us with a little bit of Joy, as we suspect this could be one the gems of the month. Both fighters have similar styles, both like to have a fight, and both are rather flat footed. We suspect this is going to end up a very fun fight.
Jung Kyoung Lee (7-3-1, 3) Vs Saddam Kietyongyuth (28-6, 22) - Seoul, South Korea
To end this section out attention turns to South Korea as former OPBF Light Middlweight champion Jung Kyoung Lee takes once touted Thai fighter Saddam Kietyongyuth, in a bout for a regional WBO title. Coming into this Lee will be looking to rebuild following his title loss to Akinori Watanabe earlier in the year. Although once regarded highly Saddam host lost 4 of his last 6, and seems very unlikely he'll make anything notable of his career.
From a personal perspective the last week has been an incredibly long one, though from a boxing perspective it's been a packed one with notable fights taking place right through the week. Whilst not every fight was great there was certainly a lot to take in over the last 7 days, and we had some glittering performances by youngsters looking to make a mark for themselves.
Fighter of the Week
Bektemir Melikuziev (2-0, 2)
The biggest standout for the week was Uzbek destroyer Bektemir Melikuziev who fought his second professional bout and destroyed Adrian Luna Flores inside a round, thanks to some brutal body shots. Like many of the tops Uzbek amateurs turning professional he seems to have skipped the early section of a typical professional career and has already taken out a couple of notable opponents to make a statement. The plan seems to be for him to move down in weight to Middleweight, but given the power and technical ability he has already shown there may be a case for him to not drain himself at all and instead just make a run at 175lbs. After just 2 fights he's already gained a reputation as a brutal body puncher and looks like a scary fighter.
Performance of the Week
Bektemir Melikuziev (2-0, 2)
Taking out a notable name like Luna Flores in just his second bout left it hard to select anyone else for our performance of the week. The hard hitting Uzbek blew out a solid Mexican inside a round, a Mexican who had gone the distance with the likes of Ryota Murata. We do wonder whether the notice and weight played a part in Luna Flores being taken out so quickly, but regardless this was still incredibly impressive.
Giovanni Escaner vs Renoel Pael
Whilst we had a lot of action this past week there wasn't actually a lot that was competitive, with many bouts ending up more one-sided than expected. One of the few contests that was truly competitive over 12 rounds was the GAB Bantamweight title fight between Giovanni Escaner and Renoel Pael. Given the styles of the two men it was clear this was going to be a gruelling war and the bout lived up to that expectation with a lot of back and forth, great exchanges of body shots and a real desire to win from both men. The bout won't go down as a classic at the end of the year, but that doesn't take away from how brutal and entertaining this was. Really a fantastic fight.
Ryu Horikawa vs Yuki Nakajima (Rd 6)
With his unbeaten record slipping away Yuki Nakajima moved through the gears and looked to put the pressure on RyuHorikawa in the final round of their 6 rounder. The result of that pressure from Nakajima was a brilliant round with Horikawa being forced to move, respond, mix it up and and give up some great exchanges. Despite some slips from an over-committed Nakajima this wasn't sloppy but was an exciting round of action and really thrilling stuff at a very high level. Not a war, but a high level, super fast boxing showcase. Great stuff.
Bektemir Melikuziev KO1 Ricardo Adrian Luna Flores
We're back to Uzbek destroyer Bektemir Melikuziev and his excellent win over Ricardo Adrian Luna Flores. The finish wasn't the most gorgeous we'll see but it left Flores in agony on the canvas thanks to a truly brutal body shot. Luna Flores had been dropped earlier in the rounds, and had been softened up by repeated body shots, but that doesn't take away from just how brutally savage the finish shot was.
Toshiya Ishii (2-0, 1)
Our view is that Bektemir Melikuziev has already progressed beyond being a typical prospect and is now more of a fringe contender, despite only being a professional for a matter of months. With that in mind we had to look elsewhere for a prospect and it was hard to ignore 18 year old Toshiya Ishii, who booked a place in a Japanese youth title fight thanks to a win over Fumiya Fuse. The youngster really did look like a special talent against a man we regard highly. Ishii isn't the complete package, yet, but he is a really wonderful young talent and we would be hugely surprised if titles aren't in his future.
Giemel Magramo (23-1, 19) vs Komgrich Nantapech (25-5, 16)
This coming Saturday is set to be a hectic day with shows all over Asia, but the best of the bunch looks like it will be an IBF world title eliminator at Flyweight, between Filipino Giemel Magramo and Thai Komgrich Nantapech, aka Eaktwan BTU Ruaviking. On paper this has the hall marks of a FOTY contender. The two men have styles that should gel, both are aggressive, tough and exciting.We're expecting the fighters to meet center ring and engage in a thrilling all action war!
The past few days have been incredible ones in Asian boxing circles with so much activity that it's been hard to keep tabs on everything. Thanks to the incredible activity it's made the awards for this week really interesting, with some really hard competition in some of the categories!
Fighter of the Week
Kosei Tanaka (14-0, 8)
This week has been one of the weirdest in some ways with our Fighter of the Week being one who really under-performed yet turned it on when it mattered to grab victory from the jaws of defeat. That was Kosei Tanaka who seemed to realise the WBO Flyweight title was slipping from his grasp before turning it on in round 7 and stopping Jonathan Gonzalez to record his second defense. This was an really under-whelming performance, on the whole, but the way he stepped it up,
Performance of the Week
Jayr Raquinel (11-1-1, 8)
This was arguably the toughest category this week, with great performances from the likes of Shakhram Giyasov, Shohjahon Ergashev, Ryota Yamauchi and John Riel Casimero. For us the winner, just, was Jayr Raquinel, who shines again on Japanese soil and became the first man to stop Takuya Kogawa. The talented and young Filipino was dropped in the opening round but bounced back brilliantly and took Kogawa out truly sickening fashion. At just 22 years old the Flyweight division has got a wonderful little talent in it's ranks, but one that needs just a bit more nurturing.
Orlie Silvestre vs Ronald Alapormina
Despite us having some great performances the actual overall quality of bouts wasn't amazing with the 6 round bout between Orlie Silvestre and the upset minded Ronald Alapormina being the best of the bunch. This was just a really fun, low level action packed bout with the skills of Silvestre going up against the aggression and work rate of Alapormina. A very fun fan friendly bout.
Alphoe Dagayloan vs Ryota Yamauchi (Rd8)
Whilst overall bouts weren't amazing, on the whole, we did have some great rounds and the 8th round of a nail biter between Alphoe Dagayloan and Ryota Yamauchi was one such round. The bout had aggression from both, moments were both seemed to be exhausted, brilliant exchanges and bombs being thrown back and forth. Despite the high volume of power shots this wasn't sloppy, and instead the shots were being landed clean and hard, with high level of skills on show from both.
Jayr Raquinel TKO8 Takuya Kogawa
We've seen few KO's this year that have caused the rushed panic of a fighters team as Jayr Raquinels 8th round knockout of veteran Takuya Kogawa. The tough Kogawa was wobbled hard and responded by trying to throw big power shots, he was then countered by a monstrous straight left hand from Raquinel which dropped him hard. The referee instantly called off the bout, Kogawa's team rushed to his aide and Raquinel walked over to the corner to prey. Thankfully Kogawa is fine, and this KO will be one that deserves serious consideration at the end of the year.
Notable mention - John Riel Casimero KO10 Cesar Ramirez
Kento Hatanaka (10-0, 9)
We love seeing prospects stepping up in class and that's what Kento Hatanaka did this week as he moved from young local hopefuls to the world ranked Jaysever Abcede, and was pushed all the way. This was a huge step up for the youngster and a step up he made, just. For the first time Hatanaka was forced to go to the final bell, was forced to pick himself off the canvas and was forced to fight against someone who was physically stronger. After the win Hatanaka seemed to realise he had been given a real test, but he it was just the next step forward in a very interesting career for the youngster who will likely find himself in, or near, the world rankings shortly.
Notable mention - Criztian Pitt Laurente (3-0, 3), Charly Suarez (3-0, 3)
Fumiya Fuse (8-0, 1) vs Toshiya Ishii (1-0, 1)
Not ever bout that intrigues us is at the highest level, and a Japanese Youth title eliminator between Fumiya Fuse and Toshiya Ishii is proof of that. Fuse really impressed us in his 2017 Rookie of the Year win and Ishii was a former amateur standout who has been tipped for big things. For Fuse this will be a real test, against a very capable and well schooled youngster whilst Ishii will be expected to answer some real questions. This is a bout that may not interest international fans in the same way that some of the other bouts coming up will, but for us this is a brilliant match up and something to geet very, very excited about.
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