Over the last few months we've not had much boxing to talk about, but thankfully that's all set to change in July with the sport returning to various countries after they have managed to get on top of the on going situation. With that in mind we have some fights to look forward this month!
Korakuen Hall, Japan
Satoshi Shimizu (8-1, 8) Vs Kyohei Tonomoto (9-2-1, 4)
OPBF Featherweight champion Satoshi Shimizu returns to the ring after a brutal loss to Joe Noynay last August as he defends his title against the unheralded Kyohei Tonomoto. The hard hitting Shimizu has a lot of questions to answer following his loss and will know that a loss here ends any hope he has of fighting for a world title. As for Tonomoto this is a huge opportunity to make a mark at Oriental level.
Koki Inoue (15-0, 12) Vs Daishi Nagata (14-2-1, 5)
Unbeaten Japanese Light Welterweight (140lbs) champion Koki Inoue will make his next defense as he takes on mandatory challenger Daishi Nagata. Originally this bout was scheduled for March, before Inoue was injured, then delayed due to the ongoing situation. For Inoue this could be his last bout at domestic level and he could well be looking to make a mark at a higher level in the very near future. As for Nagata this is his second shot at a title, after losing in an OPBF title bout against Rikki Naito. This could well be a very, very exciting bout.
Kazakhstan (IFL TV, ESPN+)
Dauren Yeleussinov (8-0-1, 7) Vs Arman Rysbek (7-0, 6)
In a very good looking all-Kazakh bout we'll see Dauren Yeleussinov, the brother of Olympic champion Daniyar Yeleussinov, take on Arman Rysbek. This is the sort of bout we're always excited about, two unbeaten, talented punchers facing off with everything to gain. At 34 Yeleussinov needs a big win, and this should be seen as a must win for him. Rysbek on the other hand is a bit younger, at 29, but can still ill afford a loss. Expect this one to be an excellent bout with two men looking to prove a point
Tursynbay Kulakhmet (0-0) Vs Sagadat Rakhmankulov (6-1, 4)
We love seeing top amateurs matched hard in a their debuts and that's what we have here with Tursynbay Kulakhmet, the 2019 amateur champion at Middleweight and World Championship bronze medal winner, taking on the once beaten Sagadat Rakhmankulov. It's expected that Kulakhmet will be fast tracked and with a debut like this the intention is clear, he is being eyed as a super talent and will be raced to the top. As for Rakhmankulov this will actually be his domestic debut, after entirely in the West so far. This is a big test, and hugely interesting debut.
Talgat Shaiken (0-0) Vs Berikbay Nurymbetov (5-0, 1)
Another notable debut is that of Talgat Shaiken, another Kazakh who is tipped for big things. Shaiken is only a youngster, but is a very strong and powerful kid who if being matched tough here for such a youngster, as he takes on Berikbay Nurymbetov. This is a tough debut, but should be a win for the former Youth Olympic silver medal winner.
Korakuen Hall, Japan (Fuji TV)
Kenta Nakagawa (18-3-1, 12) Vs Yuta Matsuo (15-4-2, 8) - Japanese Super Flyweight title fight
In the second Japanese title fight for the month we'll see Japanese Super Flyweight champion Kenta Nakagawa defending his title, in a mandatory, against Yuta Matsuo. Given the styles of the two men this should be a very good bout, with Matsuo known for his pressure and Nakagawa being known for his solid punching. A very nice bout and one that should be a very competitive one.
Rentaro Kimura (0-0) Vs Yuya Azuma (5-3-1, 1)
Yet another debutant of note for the month is Rentaro Kimura, who will take on Yuya Azuma. Those in Japan are raving about Kimura, who has stated that he wants to fight for a world title in his first 10 bouts. His debut comes against the relatively unknown Yuya Azuma, in what should be a rather straight forward debut for the youngster.
Kobe Central Gymnasium, Japan
Kenichi Horikawa (40-16-1, 13) Vs Daiki Tomita (14-1, 5) - OPBF Light Flyweight title fight
The second OPBF title bout for the month will see veteran Kenichi Horikawa take on Daiki Tomita for the vacant OPBF Light Flyweight title. This bout was supposed to take place in March, though was postponed when boxing was put on an hiatus in Japan. The title, which was vacated by Edward Heno, is often regarded as a stepping stone for world champions, and the title has been held by numerous fighters who have gone on to bigger and better things. For Horikawa a loss will almost certainly be the end of his great career, though a win would see him complete a domestic and regional grandslam. As for Tomita this is his second chance at a title, and a win here would be a huge boost to his fledgling career.
Aioi Hall, Japan
Masamichi Yabuki (10-3, 10) Vs Tsuyoshi Sato (10-1-1, 5) - Japanese Light Flyweight title fight
The final Japanese title fight for the month will take place on July 25th and will see fans attending the event as Masamichi Yabuki and Tsuyoshi Sato battle for the vacant Japanese Light Flyweight title. The title here became vacant when Yuto Takahashi announced his retirement from the sport following issues with motivation and training. Yabuki will be favoured here, given his brutal power, but Sato has been impressive with his pressure, high out put and under-rated power. For one of the first bouts with fans this should be a genuine highlight for the month, and the styles of the men should gell brilliantly.
It's fair to say that 2020 has been a very, very messed up year. We don't feel we need to explain anything there, but it really has been a screwed up year in so many ways. Despite that we do have some interesting boxing on the horizon. One of the most interesting things coming up is the debut of Tursynbay Kulakhmet (0-0), who appears to be getting a baptism of fire in the professional ranks in July.
The 26 year old Kulakhmet became one of the latest Kazakh fighters to turn professional earlier this year, signing with MTK Kazakhstan, and instantly those who followed amateur boxing knew the pros had just gotten another sensationally talented Central Asian fighter to get excited about.
Sadly it's almost impossible to come across full amateur numbers for Kulakhmet thought what is known is that he was a genuinely exceptional amateur and had been for years. He won the 2013 Asian Youth Championships at 75KG, and was among a group of medal winners that also included Kosei Tanaka and Israil Madrimov, who both won Silver medals.
A year later Kulakhmet took a Silver medal at the 2014 World University Championships, losing a split decision to local favourite Imam Khatayev. He took a Silver at that year's China Open in Guiyang and won the Agong Cup in Malaysia.
Following Kulakhmet maturing from a youth into an adult his success continued and in 2019 he had a stand out year. Firstly he won Gold at the 2019 Asian Champions in Bangkok. Along his way to that medal he beat Israil Madrimov in the quarter final and barely lost a round in the competition. Just a few months later he would claim Bronze at the World Championships in Yaketerinburg, losing in the semi-final to Filipino star Eumir Marcial.
Of course we've only highlighted Kulakhmet's international honours here, but unsurprisingly he was also a dominant force on the domestic amateur scene and it's due to his domestic success that he got so many chances to shine internationally.
Like many emerging Central Asian fighters Kulakhmet doesn't have a purely amateur style, even in the amateurs. He's aggressive, exciting, and has a real entertainers attitude in the ring with a hands down style involving lots of upper body movement. It's a style that works well over the short distance but may be tricky to maintain over 10 or 12 rounds. He's a southpaw who has an educated lead hand and a brilliant backhand that's sharp and accurate.
Whilst we wouldn't go as far as to suggest Kulakhmet is Lomachenko-esque, there are certainly traits of Lomachenko's style in Kulakhmet, and like Lomachenko you know you're seeing a special talent at work when you see Kulakhmet.
Although Kulakhmet is clearly a special boxer there are worries we have about him. One is his style, and whether he can fight with so much movement for 10 rounds or 12 rounds. If he can he is going to go very far, if not then it's going to be interesting to see how he accomodates. It could be that he just slows things down, which would would, or completely reworks his style, which would be much tougher. We also wonder if he can drop his hands as much in the professional ranks.
Those worries aside the Kazakh looks like a special fighter and in his debut, on July 18th, he's expected to be asked questions as he takes on Sagadat Rakhmankulov (6-1, 4). An impressive performance there could see him being put on a Madrimov-like race through the rankings to a world title.
With his amateur experience, his incredible skill level, and thrilling style Tursynbay Kulakhmet is a someone every fan should make an effort to be aware of before he makes his debut in a few weeks time.
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