So that was January 2020 and the first month of a new decade was interesting without really being sensational. We certainly had plenty of noteworthy action, though compared to December was a significant downturn, and a much less interesting month. Then again that is pretty normal for a January.
With that said lets have a look at what we deem the best of January!
Fighter of the Month
Murodjon Akhmadaliev (8-0, 6)
The fighter of the month was a pretty obvious pick, with Uzbek Super Bantamweight Murodjon Akhmadaliev being the clear, and standout, winner. The talented former amateur standout ended the month was a fantastic, albeit very competitive, win over Daniel Roman. The win, which netted Akmadaliev the IBF and WBA "Super" titles, was huge and it's hard to deny that "MJ" has kicked off the year in a huge way! If he can build on this win through the year he really could be one of the names for 2020, much like Can Xu was in 2019.
Fight of the Month
Han Bin Suh Vs Dong Myung Shin
There was some good fights this past month, but nothing that will be in the conversation for Fight of the Year. Despite that it's hard to pick fault with the compelling 10 round Korean Super Bantamweight title bout between Han Bin Suh and Dong Myung Shin. This was compelling through out, with Suh refusing to ever accept defeat, and instead he kept ploughing forward hoping to break down the much more polished Dong Myung Shin. This was brilliant and a real hidden gem part way through the month. It wasn't the most high skilled bout of the month, or the most exciting, but it blended the action, activity and skills well.
KO of the Month
Shohjahon Ergashev KO1 Adrian Estrella
It was a weird month for KO's with very few of them really standing out, though it may take a while for us to see a better one than Shohjahon Ergashev's body shot KO against Adrian Estrella. This was naturally beautiful and left the Mexican in pure agony on the canvas, It's rare for body shots KO's to be this good, and it's another KO for an Ergashev KO reel. A truly sensational shot, that is going to be worth watching and over through the year.
Tuguldur Byambatsogt (2-0)
January had a lot of stellar performances from prospects from all over the place, with emerging fighters from Uzbekistan, Korea, Japan and China all impressing. It was however a Mongolian that shined the brightest, with Tuguldur Byambatsogt really showing what he could do with a clear and impressive win against Vladimir Baez. This young man from Mongolia is a potential star of the future, and no one impressed quite as much as he did. For a fighter in just his second professional bout Byambatsogt has put down a marker of intent and hopefully he and his team will continue to aim high through the rest of 2020.
Esneiker Correa TKO7 Ravshanbek Umurzakov
We didn't have too many upsets of any note this past months, but the one that did raise have the most shock value came in Russian when 21 year old Venezuelan Esneiker Correa stopped previously unbeaten Uzbek hopeful Ravshanbek Umurzakov in 7 rounds. We'd expected the highly regarded Uzbek to pick up his 11th straight win against someone who was fighting outside of Latin America for the first. Instead Correra broke down and beat up Umurzakov to claim a massive victory in the 7th round. This wasn't just a big upset for Umurzakov but the type of win that allowed him to announce himself as one to watch. And seriously we would advise keeping an eye on this young puncher, he is someone to get excited about.
Takuma Takahashi vs Leonardo Doronio (Round 3)
There were some amazing rounds, truly amazing rounds. For us the the third round between Takuma Takahashi and Leonardo Doronio takes the honours, just. This was drama, controversy, and action all rolled into one. Takahashi twice dropped Doronio, could have had points taken both times for hitting his downed opponent, and was cut in a round that was absolutely sensation. This was almost 3 minutes of chaos in which both men were hurt. Well and truly worth a watch below!
The year is still new, which is a relief as so far the Asian action hasn't been worth talking about for the most part. Earlier today we had the first Japanese show of 2020, but it was ravaged by changes that ended up removing 2 bouts from the card changing another, and it never really seemed to get going. There was Chinese action, which was alright but nothing spectacular and of course Bakhtiyar Eyubov was batted in Atlantic City.
Despite being left with scraps we have managed to come up with some honours for our weekly awards.
Fighter of the Week
Marvin Esquierdo (16-2-1, 10)
The Filipino is unlikely to ever make it beyond regional level, if he even gets that far, but we can't fault his attitude and his mentality. He's been given a chance to shine in the Knock Out Dynamite tournament and he has made the most of that opportunity in both of his tournament bouts. This week he seemed to be the only man in Japan who realised that he could get a hefty bonus for scoring a stoppage, and went after Ribo Takahata early, dropping the veteran hard in round 2. Esquierdo couldn't get the finish there and then, but did get one in round 4 to net himself a nice bonus.
Performance of the Week
Tuguldur Byambatsogt (2-0)
Whilst it was a very quiet week it was still a week where we did see some impressive action, with Mongolian fighter Tuguldur Byambatsogt really impressing with both his boxing, and his fighting ability. The former amateur standout spent 3 rounds out boxing Vladimir Baez by simply doing the basics. He moved around the ring, landed the jab to control distance and took advantage of the openings Baez gave him. After a tired looking fourth round he found a new gear and dropped Baez completing what had been a solid performance from a genuinely talented young Mongolian hopeful. Fingers crossed we see a lot more of Byambatsogt over the coming years.
Yihao Wang vs Keon Woo Kim
There is something about watching a tough nosed Korean fighter barrelling forward, despite taking big shots that makes things enjoyable. That's what we had at the start of the week as the unbeaten, but under-sized, Keon Woo Kim took on Chinese foe Yihao Wang. Kim, who was always pursuing his man, and taking shots as a result, made this a fun contest despite really getting busted up and broken down. His desire to get close and make this a war made this a fight that had our attention, despite how one sided it was at times, and as Kim's face began to swell his hunger just grew. Of course Wang played his part, and his stamina and punch picking needs to be given credit as well. This wasn't a fight of the year contender, not even close, but was an entertaining little fight all the same.
Marvin Esquierdo vs Ribo Takahata (Round 3)
There was no round that truly stood out this week, but we did really enjoy the third round of Marvin Esquierdo's win over Ribo Takahata. The previous round had seen Esquierdo dropping Takahata, hard, and had the round been just 15 seconds longer the bout could have been over. Even with the minute to recover Takahata still seemed shaken at the start of the round, and Esquierdo tried to take him out. Then Takahata recovered, and tried to take out Esquierdo in what was a fun round that saw both men being hurt and letting their shots go. This was fun, exciting and saw both men digging deep.
There was no suitable contender for KO of the Week
Tuguldur Byambatsogt (2-0)
We could legitimately rave about the Mongolian fighter all day, but we won't. He showed so much more in just his second professional bout than many show in their first 15. He looked composed, strong, skilled, and like he was fighting well within himself. We look forward to seeing more of him and hopefully we'll see more of his offensive side. For a 2-0 prospect to have done what he's done is really impressive, and he is certainly one to get very excited about.
Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (12-4-1, 11) vs Kazuto Takesako (11-0-1, 11)
The coming few weeks have quite a bit of action and after a slow start we do see things begin to pick up. Next weekend is a great example of that and on January 18th we get a brilliant clash of champions, with OPBF Middleweight champion Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa battling Japanese champion Kazuto Takesako. Noth only are both champions, but both are tough guys and both can bang. We are expecting this to be a legitimate shoot out and one of the highlights for the month! Keep an eye on this one next Saturday!
Last October in the first round of the Knock Out Dynamite tournament one man had us incredibly intrigued prior to the show, and left us thinking "wow this guys good....and there's more to come...a lot more". That was Mongolian youngster Tuguldur Byambatsogt (1-0), who made his debut with an excellent decision win over Shusaku Fujinaka, in a bout that saw him come in just above 140lbs.
Aged just 20 at the time the Mongolian youngster looked a sensational talent, but there was little really on record about Byambatsogt before he beat Fujinaka. We could find some amateur details at the time, but not a lot, and although we were told a lot of positives in advance we were still not sure what to expect. And then we saw him easily out box Fujinaka and then slowly details emerged about just how good Byambatsogt was as an amateur, and what a bright prospect he really was.
Born the harsh realities of Mongolia in 1999 Byambatsogt had become an amateur prodigy before making his debut last year. Reports suggest that he had 106 amateur bouts and won 85 of them. We couldn't find proof of all 106 bouts, but what we could verify was very impressive and included appearances at international competitions. They included the Asian Junior Championships in 2015, the Asian Youth Championships in 2017, the Feliks Stamm Memorial in 2018 and the 2018 Konstantin Korotkov Memorial. We also found a tournament win at the 2017 Mongolian Youth National Championships.
That amateur pedigree was on show when Byambatsogt beat Fujinaka in one of the most impressive debuts in recent years. The novice Byambatsogt completely out boxed the much more experienced Fujinaka, and unlike many Mongolian fighters his style was almost entirely based on back foot boxing, movement, and the text book basics. There was none of the typical all-out Mongolian aggression, or in your face toughness, but instead just boxing, simple, effective, well schooled boxing. It wasn't ideal for the tournament format, which offered bonuses for KO's, but it was a perfect display of what the youngster could do and why we, as fans, should be interested in following him.
On January 12th we'll see Byambatsogt back in the ring in a professional contest, as he takes on the hard hitting Vladimir Baez in the final of their Knock Out Dynamite Tournament bout. A win there would almost certainly see regional promoters sniffing around him. It is however a very, very tough bout for the youngster, and is no gimme. A win would be a real statement, though it's a clear step up from the Fujinaka bout just a few short months ago.
So the new year is here! And although we've not got a lot happening in January, we do have more than we expected, with title bouts, eliminators, tournament finals and a little of everything!
Pyeongtaek, South Korea
Yoo Seung Jun (6-1) vs Seung Hee Lee (4-6, 1)
One of two KBM eliminators at 154lbs will see the once beaten Yoo Seung Jun take on Seung Hee Lee. Our understanding is that the winner here will fight for the vacant title later in the year against the winner of the other eliminator.
Sung Min Yuh (3-0) Vs Se Yul Yang (3-4-2, 1)
Talking about that other eliminator, that will see Sung Min Yuh take in Se Yul Yang. Notable if Yuh and Jun win their bouts it would be a rematch of the "Battle Royale" final from last November, and would have an interesting sub-plot of revenge or repeat, as well as being for the KBM title.
Da Won Gang (3-0, 1) Vs Jin Soo Kim (6-7-1, 3)
Another KBM eliminator will be at 140lbs where the touted Da Won Gang takes on Jin Soo Kim. The talented Gang is regarded by those in Korea as one of the countries best talents in recent years, and like Sung Min Yuh he won the "Battle Royale" last year. A win here sets him for a big 2020.
New Jersey, USA
Jaron Ennis (24-0, 22) vs Bakhtiyar Eyubov (14-1-1-1, 12)
The limited but heavy handed Bakhtiyar Eyubov, from Kazakhstan, is up against it here as he takes on touted American Jaron "Boots" Ennis in what looks likely to be a show case for the talented local hopeful.
Vladimir Baez (26-5-2, 24) vs Tuguldur Byambatsogt (1-0)
In a Knock Out Dynamite Final we'll see Japanese based Dominican slugger Vladimir Baez battle against Mongolian professional novice Tuguldur Byambatsogt. On paper a mismatch, but in reality this could be a big break out for Byambatsogt, who impressed us in his semi-final bout.
Ribo Takahata (16-8-1, 6) vs Marvin Esquierdo (15-2-1, 9)
Another final at the Knock Out Dynamite Tournament will see Japanese veteran Ribo Takahata take on Filipino foe Marvin Esquierdo. Notably Esquierdo fought in the first ever Knock Out Dynamite Tournament bout, and netted the highest bonus with an opening round win, will he look for the same here?
Shohjahon Ergashev (17-0, 15) vs Adrian Estrella (29-4, 24)
Touted Uzbek puncher Shohjahon Ergashev looks to kick in the new year as he takes on once touted Mexican Adrian Estrella. Neither of these are the most polished of fighters, but both are heavy handed and we expect this one to be short, but very explosive!
Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (12-4-1, 11) vs Kazuto Takesako (11-0-1, 11)
OPBF Middleweight champion Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa defends his belt against hard hitting Japanese national champion Kazuto Takesako. This is not expected to hear the final bell, with both men being heavy handed fighters, and will be one of the highlights of the month!
Takeshi Inoue (15-1-1, 9) vs Cheng Su (14-2-1, 8)
Former world title challenger Takeshi Inoue will be looking to defend his WBO Asia Pacific Light Middleweight title against Chinese challenger Cheng Su. Inoue, who is enjoying his second reign as the WBO Asia Pacific champion, will be looking to get a second world title shot in the near future, but needs to get past Su to keep that dream alive.
Kenia Enriquez (22-1, 9) vs Chaoz Minowa (6-2, 5)
Talking about world title fights WBC "interim" female Light Flyweight champion Kenia Enriquez will be defending her title at home in Mexico against Japanese challenger Chaoz Minowa. For Minowa this is a third crack at world level, and a loss here will likely end her hopes of ever becoming a world champion.
This past week hasn't been the busiest, yet there was still a lot to talk about, and whilst the bouts that took place weren't high profile, it was a week that delivered a lot of interestings action.
Fighter of the Week
Kudratillo Abdukakhorov (17-0, 9)
Unbeaten Uzbek fighter Kudratillo Abdukakhorov did amaze or blow anyone away, but did look very good in taking a wide technical decision over former world champion Luis Collazo. The Uzbek fighter moved excellently, threw lovely little combinations on the back foot and simply used Collazo's pressure against him, until a head clash in the 10th round curtailed the bout a minute early. We don't think Abdukakhorov has proven he has the talent to win a world title, but this was still a very good performance from a very good fighter and someone who deserves to be inside the division's top 15, albeit at the lower end of the top 15.
Performance of the Week
Tuguldur Byambatsogt (1-0)
Aged just 20 years old Tuguldur Byambatsogt really, really impressed us, and yet seemed to fight well within himself as he easily out pointed Japanese veteran Shusaku Fujinaka. What was more impressive than just beating Fujinaka was the fact that Byambatsogt did it on his debut, and did with relatively ease. He out boxed, out fought and out brawled Fujinaka and although he was a bit too cautious and negative at times this was still a very accomplished performance for a young man making his debut. Keep an eye on this youngster going forward.
Xiang Li Vs Ryu Horikawa
We'll admit we had very high hopes for this one going in and in fairness it exceeded our expectations. It started relatively slowly but built into a very, very entertaining and exciting fight. As the fight went on and Li began to tire Horikawa tried to turn it on, going for the stoppage, making for some amazing action up close and some fantastic heart from Li, who tried to always fire back. The final rounds were amazing, and it really did get better and better as the fight went on, making for a fantastic bout. Rounds 9 and 10 of this were both great, even if they were a little on the sloppy side, and we would happily watch these two fight again in the future.
Marvin Esquierdo vs Koichi Ito (Round 1)
The first ever round of the Knockout Dynamite Tournament kicked off the tournament in style, with Marvin Esquierdo and Koichi Ito standing and unloading bombs on each from the opening seconds. This was thrilling action, with both men looking to claim the top reward for an opening round win. The fight may not have been a technical show case but it was all action and very, very exciting. Well worthy of a watch, and despite being on Boxing Raise the website has made it available for none-subscribers, so we suggest you check it out here.
Sadly there was no valid KO this week.
Suzumi Takayama (3-0, 3)
Whilst Tuguldur Byambatsogt and Ryu Horikawa were both in the running for this, as was Chainoi Worawut, we've gone with the newly crowned Japanese Youth Super Flyweight champion. Takayama got off to a great start, dropping Tetsuro Ohashi in the first round, got knocked down himself in round 2 but eventually broke down Ohashi in an excellent performance over 8 rounds. This was a great bout, with a great performance from both and Takayama really does deserve a lot more attention than he appears to be getting. Keep an eye on him over the coming years.
Seigo Yuri Akui (13-2-1, 9) vs Shun Kosaka (16-5, 4)
There is a lot of good fights coming up over the next 7 days. For us the best one is likely to be the Japanese Flyweight title between the fast starting and all aggression Seigo Yuri Akui and tough guy Shun Kosaka. This should be a lot of fun, and a real test to see how legit Akui's power is. Whilst Akui's record only has 9 T/KO's in 16 bouts, 8 of those were scored in the opening round and he is very much a fast starter. Kosaka is rugged and could be the sort of fighter to get the very best out of Akui.
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