Although world titles titles are becoming more and more of a joke in recent years, with the WBA creating so many worthless titles and the WBC's "Franchise title" devaluing their own "world" title, and creating so much pointless confusion, they are still a major target for fighters and a draw for casual fans. They might be losing their value month after month, but to the legacy of a fighter they are still vital and something every major fighter chases.
With that in mind we've asked ourselves a question this week in regards to world titles:
"Who... should get a world title shot in 2021?"
As is usually the case in this series the three guys will only be looking at fighters from Asia for this question, though it can be any active fighter from Asia, whether they are a former champion or not.
Lee: "I think this week I will pick an obvious answer, and say Wanheng Menayothin should get a world title fight in 2021. Most obviously against Panya Pradabsri, the man he lost the WBC Minimumweight title to last year. In fact I really think this rematch should be one that takes places sooner rather than later and is one I genuinely want to see!
The first bout was fantastic. It was exciting, it had good back and forth, some controversy, Wanheng's first loss, a potential passing of the torch and the the start of the end for the legacy of Wanheng. I would love to see him get the chance to reclaim his title, go out on top, and end his career with the WBC title around his shoulders. The bout would capture the imagination of hardcore fans, like their first bout did, and given the result of the first bout this would have a lot of intrigue and interest.
Alternatively if that rematch can't be made maybe now is the perfect time to see Wanheng Vs Knockout CP Freshmart. Sure it would have been better when both men were champions, but that never seemed to be the plan for promoters. Having them battle now however would either legitimise Knockout or, again, let Wanheng end his career on top."
Takahiro: "Hiroaki Teshigawara. In recent years a lot of Japanese fighters in and around Super Bantamweight have had world title fights (Takahashi, Wake, Kameda, Oguni, Iwasa), but sadly no world title chance has come for "Teshi". I would like it if the 30 year old got a chance now, before his prime years run out. At the moment (time of writing) Teshi is ranked #3 with the IBF (who have no one rated at #1 or #2), #4 with the WBA and #12 with the WBO. It would be great for one of the champions to give him a shot.
Although not a big name outside of Japan Teshi is popular in Tokyo, would draw a good audience of local fans if he got a fight that was shown on WOWOW or DAZN, and would ask questions of any champion. He is tricky, awkward, heavy handed, and can be very fan friendly.
With wins against Kurihara, Pabustan, Kinoshita and Omori I think he's done enough to earn one and hopefully he gets one. I don't think he'd win, but I'd love him to get the chance to try."
Scott: "When this question was first posed, back in March, I didn't have an answer, but now I do. Ryosuke Nishida. In the last 6 months or so we've seen the now 4-0 Nishida beat former world title contender Shohei Omori and former world champion Daigo Higa. Surely a world title fight can't be far away, even in the shark infested waters at Bantamweight.
He might not be the most deserving of contenders, even among Japanese Bantamweights, but I love seeing fighters moved quickly and aggressively and given his last two wins there are very few fighters being moved as quickly, or as aggressively as Nishida.
He did state he wanted to face Johnriel Casimero, and whilst that might be out of the question, for now, there's no real reason that bout can't be targeted for a big end of year show if TBS or Fuji TV jump behind Nishida and help make him a star.
At the moment Osaka lacks a real star and Nishida has the ability to change that, if he can get some TV backing. He has the charisma, the confidence and the tools to be a star, and it would be great if he got a shot at the big time before the bells ring in 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)
It's Sunday, it's the end of the week, and we get the latest chance to recognise the fighters from the past week in our awards series. If we're being honest this is the first week, in a very long time, where we seemed to have a full week of action and a lot of fighters in the running for numerous awards, and it felt much more like the "pre-covid19" days, with world title fights, great action and some stellar performances. It may not have been the biggest week, but it was a very, very solid week of action.
With that in mind lets take a look at who deserves attention from this past 7 days.
Fighter of the Week
There was only going to be one winner for the Fighter of the Week award this week and that was the newly crownd WBC Minimumweight champion Panya Pradabsri. The once beaten Thai ended the 6 year reign of Wanheng Menayothin and became the 49th male world champion from Thailand. The unheralded Pradabsri, also known as Petchmanee CP Freshmart, was the big under-dog going up against the 54-0 Wanheng but put in a solid performance, landed some solid body shots, took the early lead and looked confident through out, even when he was under pressure. He had to dig deep at times, as Wanheng turned up the pressure, but he did enough in the eyes of the judges to score a career defining, generational changing win.
Whilst some may disagree with the result, we need to remember that the "Fighter of the Week" is typically the fighter who scored the biggest win, and there was no bigger win than Panya's this week!
Performance of the Week
We've often been critical of Kazakh hopeful Daniyar Yeleussinov, who looked like it took him a lot of time to adapt to the professional ranks, and he seemed to lack the 4th and 5th gears needed to be a star. It was clear he was always very talented talented, but was also very frustrating. This week however the penny seemed to drop and the talented Olympic gold medal winner put in a performance to remember. He dropped Julius Indongo in round 1, smelled blood and went for the finish. Credit to Indongo for surviving, but that survival mentality didn't last long and in round 2 he was down again, and then stopped. A fantastic performance worthy off the praise he's been getting. Finally it appears as if Yeleussinov is really showing what he can do, and it's really exciting.
Fight of the Week
Wanheng Menayothin Vs Panya Pradabsri
We're back to the WBC Minimumweight title bout between Wanheng Menayothin and Panya Pradabsri for our fight of the week, and what a fight it was! This was brilliant, truly brilliant. We had the younger, fresher champion taking the early initiative, and doing enough to get his nose in front, and then we have the experienced champion picking up the pace and coming on strong in the second half of the bout. As the pace picked up we got some thrilling exchanges, brilliant back and forth, and sensational 2-way action. We got high level pressure, fantastic counter punching and everything else we could hope for in a brilliant 12 round bout. This was close, competitive, compelling, and the perfect show case for the Minimumweight division, in a bout that had genuine international attention. Brilliant stuff!
Takahiro Hamazaki Vs Takuya Takahashi
Round of the Week
Wanheng Menayothin Vs Panya Pradabsri (Rd 6)
We had some amazing rounds this past week, and we could easily have selected from 3 or 4 rounds from the bout between Wanheng Menayothin and Panya Pradabsri. We've settled on round 6, which was probably the best round, but there was stiff competition through the bout. This came after a very good round for the challenger and saw Wanheng show that champions class as he put his foot to the peddle and tried to beat down the challenger, in an attempt to put him back in his place. This was absolute brilliant stuff but the entire fight was fantastic, and we really were very lucky this week in terms of quality action.
Takahiro Hamazaki Vs Takuya Takahashi (Rd 3)
Ken Koibuchi v Tetsuya Kondo (Rd 3)
KO of the Week
Jin Sasaki Vs Tatsuya Miyazaki
We don't recall seeing any clean knockouts in Asia this week, but the TKO scored by Jin Sasaki against Tatsuya Miyazaki is well worthy of a mention. This was brutal and Miyazaki was defensless, over the ropes when the final shots were landed. The killer instinct shown was fantastic and the awkward position of Miyazaki, trapped and in need of saving, made it look even more brutal.
Prospect of the Week
Aged just 16 we know that Phoobadin Yoohanngoh is a youngster, in a sport of youngsters, but boy, oh boy, is he a talent. He looked sensation on Saturday morning soaking up pressure from Atchariya Wirojanasunobol early on, landing counters and moving well against an aggressive and unbeaten foe. He then turned the bout on it's head late in round 5 before taking out Atchariya in round 6. This was a massive step up for Phoobadin but he shined in exceptional fashion. This young man is someone who can go a long, long way, and we suggest writing his name down as he really does look the goods. A genuine boxing prodigy and despite being just 16 he is already 10-0 (5). A sensational performance by a very special young fighter.
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.
After a few weeks where we've not had much to talk about the past week has been a much more engaging and interesting one, with some great bouts, some exciting announcements, some free streams, and plenty negatives to talk about as well as the positives.
1-CBC's live stream
Although CBC's stream this week wasn't of a huge show, it was, as we've come to expect from them, fantastic from start to end. The broadcaster aired the entire show from Kariya live on Tuesday, in excellent quality, with no issues, live replays, great camera angles and perfect sound mixing. Sadly for everyone else CBC have brought TV level production values to the free streaming game, and it's going to be down to everyone else to play catch up. As well as the quality of the stream the fights were also rather solid, especially the main event between Kento Hatanaka and Roland Jay Biendima, and Hiroki Hanabusa's body shot KO was sublime.
If someone else is going to do a free stream, this is level they should be aiming for. Amazing from start to end!
2-Nakatani Vs Magramo being made official!
We know we mentioned this bout last week, and actually the CBC free stream, but this week saw the confirmation of Junto Nakatani Vs Giemel Magramo! Better yet it's set for a Dynamic Glove show, meaning that we're expecting it to be shown live on G+. Not only is this an exceptional match up for the WBO Flyweight title but it's the type of bout that excites us, and is a risk for both men. Given that both fighters could have taken different routes to a world title we can't help but be proud of both fighters for signing up to this one!
3-Wanheng Menayothin gets date for US debut
With a 54-0 record WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin has the longest active unbeaten stream in boxing, along with the longest world title reign of any man in the sport. One thing he hasn't got is an international bout to his name. That changes in April after this weeks news of the Thai setting off for the US! Wanheng will make his international debut on April 25th, when he takes on Marco John Rementizo. The bout might not be the biggest, or the best, and the scheduling for it is fucking stupid, clashing with Naoya Inoue Vs Johnriel Casimero, but it's great to finally see Wanheng outside of his comfort zone.
4-Yuki Nakajima's uppercut
It's not often we'll talk about a specific punch on here but the uppercut Yuki Nakajima landed on Shisui Kawabata in round 6 was something special. Huge credit to Kawabata for not being left flat on his back, but the punch is up there with the best of them. Those with boxing raise owe it to them selves to rewatch this it was amazing.
1-Koki Inoue's injury
In unfortunate news Koki Inoue has suffered and injury that has forced him to postpone his mandatory title defense against Daishi Nagata. The talented and unbeaten Japanese 140lb champion thankfully doesn't appear to be too seriously injured, given he'll be defending the title against Nagata in May, but it is still said news that both men will delay their return to the ring by a couple of months.
2-Yudai Shigeoka's next opponent
We love the Shigeoka brothers. We see both becoming future world champions. We fully accept that both are super prospects. So we need to wonder what the idea is in having Yudai Shigeoka's next bout come against Sanchai Yotboon, the fighter that Ginjiro Shigeoka took out in 3 rounds on his debut! Absolutely pointless match up by Watanabe gym. This is a mismatch, and should be little more than a stay busy for Shigeoka, who beat Lito Dante a few months ago, and should have been matched much tougher than this.
3-Daigo Higa's comments on the future
After almost 2 years away from the ring we finally saw former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa back in action. Higa would win his return, stopping Jason Buenaobra, but sadly comments after the bout leave us confused as to whether he will continue fighting or will leave the sport for good. Given he's only 24 it would be a massive shame if Higa hung them up now, after just 17 fights, and we genuinely hope he can find something to motivate him again. Higa, at Bantamweight, would be at a disadvantage, but given his style and tenacity we'd love to see him making a splash in the division. We really hope he continues in the sport, but if not, we're glad to have seen the destructive little marvel on his way up, and see him walk away with his health intact. It would just be a huge shame for his name to be added to the list of "what could have been".
1-Bektemir Melikuziev Vs Oscar Cortes
We understand late replacements aren't always great but Oscar Cortes was a simply awful late replacement, especially for a fighter like Bektemir Melikuziev. The Mexican was under-sized, under-powered and essentially had lost by the time he had his ring walk. Whilst we can't blame Cortes, who obviously took his pay day, and Melikuziev, who isn't responsible for his original opponent pulling out, we do need to question the California State Athletic Commission, who should have said no. There was no point in this bout, and no one came off looking good.
2-Merlito Sabillo's leg
We've yet to hear any actual confirmation on what, if any, injury Merlito Sabillo suffered but the way his leg bent and buckled as he got knocked down by Sho Kimura suggested something nasty. As did the way he was lying on the canvas. We really hope it is nothing series, but bloody hell did it look nasty, and we wouldn't be surprised, given his age and run of 4 losses, if he ends up in retirement. If he's injured, in the way we believe, it'll likely be 9 months, or longer, until he returns, and he'll around 37 by then
3-GAB's live stream
We started with a free stream, so lets end on a free stream. CBC raised the bar, with a brilliant, professional, well edited, and high quality stream. Just days later the GAB put on a stream that was inconsistent, repeatedly froze, stopped and started, low quality and was just hard to watch, and even harder to enjoy. We know the GAB streams can work and can be wonderful, as they were at the end of the show, but for the most part the show was just terrible. Fingers crossed they get these sorted in the future, as they are a really valuable asset for boxing fans, when they work. We don't expect GAB to hit the professional levels of CBC any time soon, but if they can get a consistent stream going it would be a great starting point!
(Image courtesy of A. McGovern - Top, and Boxmob - Bottom)
As we head towards the new year we've had a big look at the current scene and come up with "20 fights we'd like to see in 2020", yeah another series ahead of the new decade!
As is always the case with what we do, these articles will have an Asian flavour, and every bout we mention in the series will have at least 1 fighter from Asia involved. So for those of you expecting us to talk about Deontay Wilder Vs Anthony Joshua, that won't be listed.
What we'll be looking at is well matched contests with either some form of back story, a great stylistic clash or bouts with some form of significant meaning. If they tick all the boxes then that is even better! Each fight will be given it's own article and each of these will come with an introduction to the fighters, and why the bout is being featured in the list.
Wanheng Menayothin (54-0, 18) Vs Ginjiro Shigeoka (5-0, 4)
The Minimumweight division seemed to be on standstill for much of 2019 with the two longest reigning champions really....not doing much. The WBO title was fought for a few times but hardly set the world on fire and IBF title was vacated before Pedro Taduran claimed it in the summer, then sat on it and didn't do anything with it. We expect changes in 2020 and there are 3 very notable novices sniffing big chances in the new year. Here we look at one of those novices, and a bout against the longest reigning male world champion currently in the sport!
Wanheng Menayothin, the man who broke Floyd Mayweather's 50-0 record, may not be well known in the west but the Thai is a solid fighter. His 54-0 record might not be the strongest record out there, but he's managed to run up 12 defenses and is actually a very good fighter, even if his performances are inconsistent at times. During his reign he has beaten a mix of world class challengers, like Tatsuya Fukuhara, Simpiwe Konkco and Pedro Taduran, as well as lesser challengers, like Go Odaira and Jerry Tomogdan. A lack of unification bouts has hurt his career, but at 34 it's now likely too late for him to land the divisional super fights, and it may be best for his career to repeal the next generation of fighters. Score wins that will age well, if you will.
In Ginjiro Shigeoka Japanese boxing has a fast tracked sensation. The 20 year old boxer-puncher has been a sensation since turning professional in 2018 and has made it clear that he wants to fight for a world title as soon as possible. At the end of 2019 he became only the second man to stop Rey Loreto and a that win, although tough, would likely have helped solidify his belief that he's ready for a world title fight. Stylistically the champion that makes the most sense for him to fight would maybe not be Wanheng, but if he wishes to make the biggest splash, which he appears to want to do, then there probably isn't a better option for him than the unbeaten Thai.
The match up would pit a defensively sound, sharp combination punching Thai veteran, who turns 35 in October, against a young sharp prodigy who is lightning quick, bullish strong and full of confidence. It would, on paper, be either a passing of the torch fight for the Minimumweight division or an old lion repelling the challenge of a young cub, too eager to make his mark. Either way the bout would have real intrigue.
Whilst this bout likely wouldn't occur early in the year, there's no reason this couldn't be set up for later in 2020, potentially after both men have fit in a bout earlier in the year, moving to 55-0 and 5-0. Both men seem to want an international bout, so maybe even popping this on the lower end of a DAZN card Stateside wouldn't be impossible either, given that Wanheng has signed with Golden Boy Promotions.
This past week has been a hectic one with a lot of notable action, some big and some small. We've had world title bouts, regional title bouts, domestic title bouts, shows almost constantly,and so much action that we know we've missed things! Rather than waxing lyrical about what we've had, lets take a look at our weekly award winners.
Fighter of the Week
Wanheng Menayothin (54-0, 18)
Unbeaten Thai Wanheng Menayothin has been guilty of cruising through recent defenses and looking worse than he is. This week however he shone, and completely dominated mandatory challenger Simpiwe Konkco in what is one of the best performances from Wanheng. The Thai eased his way into the bout and then really shut down the South African challenger as he took a clear and wide decision win. Their are question about Wanheng's overall competition but there is no doubting how he good he looked here, and if he kept this level of performance up going forward he really could end his career with a 60-0 type record with some more genuinely solid defenses under his belt.
Performance of the Week
Edward Heno (14-1-5, 5)
It's rare to get the Performance of the Week to a fighter who lost, but this week we were incredibly impressed by Edward Heno in his very competitive loss to Elwin Soto. We rate Soto highly and Heno pushed him all the way in a fantastic and contest that was only won by a couple of late rounds. Heno's skills were on show through the middle rounds, though sadly he did end the bout feeling the effects of the Soto's body shots, and had clearly slowed as we went into the championship rounds. Despite the loss we expected to see Heno back at world level sooner rather than later, and that's in part to to how good his performance, in a loss, was.
Ryo Tanimoto (4-2, 3) vs Yusaku Sekishima (8-2, 4)
Every so often Japanese boxing gives us a little cracker hidden down card on a much bigger show. This week get one such bout as Ryo Tanimoto and Yusaku Sekishima gave us a sensational little 6 rounder at Korakuen Hall. The bout started slowly, with both looking to box their way into the fight, but by the final 30 seconds of round 3 the pace was already increasing and from then on it just got better and better with the two getting closer to each other and letting bigger shots go on the inside. This wasn't an all out war, by any stretch, but was a thrilling, competitive, fight that combined boxing with brawling and got better round by round. This was a great little hidden gem for the week and a bout we really enjoyed.
Seung Hee Lee vs Jin Soo Kim (4)
We won't lie and pretend that the Korean bout between Seung Hee Lee and Jin Soo Kim was a technically show case of high tempo boxing and the the perfect combination of technical boxing and exciting action. What we got instead was rock em sock em robots as two novices just swung bombs at each other. Every round here was entertaining, sloppy wild and crazy. Every round of this fight was fantastically fun to watch, but as the two men got more and more tired their movement slowed to a standstill and the bombs were just launched back and forth. This was just great fun to watch, but the type of round that much make trainers pull their hair out.
No KO was considered for this award this week.
Sadriddin Akhmedov (10-0, 9)
Talented Kazakh youngster Sadriddin Akhmedov showed there was more to his boxing than just power punching and aggression as he out boxed Mexican foe Johnny Navarrete, who retired in his corner after 7 rounds. It feels like Akhmedov is just about beyond the prospect stage of his career, but it's not to be impressed by the very talented and promising 21 year old, who looks every bit a world champion in the making. We suspect that this time next year he will be a definite contender and he is seriously one to keep an eye on.
Romero Duno (21-1, 16) Vs Ryan Garcia (18-0, 15)
There's a lot of fights coming up over the next few days, and one of those is a mouth watering clash between hard hitting Filipino Romero Duno and flash American Ryan Garcia. This bout is likely to see bombs thrown, both fighters getting hurt and be a real test for both men. Garcia is certainly the more well schooled and sharper fighter but Duno has legitimately destructive power and we are really looking forward to seeing what happens when these to face off.
The last week of October isn't a crazy one in terms of big fights, but is a very good in terms of noteworthy fights, with a world title bout, a Japanese world title bout a bunch of Japanese title eliminators, several notable prospects and a very good cross roads fight.
Wanheng Menayothin (53-0, 18) vs Simpiwe Konkco (19-5, 7) - Thailand
On Friday October 25th we'll see WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin make his next defense, as he takes on mandatory challenger Simpiwe Konkco from Aouth Africa. The unbeaten Thai is the longest reigning active champion, and whilst his competition, overall, hasn't been great this is a solid defense against a very under-rated challenger. Sadly Wanheng's best wins so far have come against the likes of Tatsuya Fukuhara and Pedro Taduran and he lacks consistency, so a win here will bolster his standing before a potential US debut. For Konkco the bout is a second world title shot a win would put him on the map, big time.
Sadriddin Akhmedov (9-0, 8) vs Johnny Navarrete (33-15-2, 15) - Quebec, Canada
Hard hitting Kazakh prospect Sadriddin Akhmedov fights for the first time as a married man as he takes on Mexican veteran Johnny Navarrete. The hard hitting Akhmedov will be strongly favoured here, and is expected to blow through the Mexican in terms to return for a December card at the Bll Centre. To dat Akhmedov has squeezes 3 fights and his weeding into 2019 and is a busy boy, but given his natural talent, and power, we have no reason to think this will be anything short of a blow out.
Kazuki Tanaka (11-2, 8) Vs Kyosuke Sawada (13-2-1, 6) - Tokyo, Japan
In a very even looking Japanese Bantamweight title eliminator we'll see the aggressive Kazuki Tanaka take on the skilled and smart Kyosuke Sawada. This pits puncher against boxer and should be a very interesting match up between two talented fighters with very different in ring mindsets. We expect Tanaka to press and Sawada try to keep behind his his jab, though we have seen Sawada dragged into a fight before and sooner or later we expect this one to break out into a war.
Hinata Maruta (9-1-1, 7) Vs Takenori Ohashi (17-5-2, 11) - Tokyo, Japan
The wonderfully smooth Hinata Maruta takes on the former Japanese Featherweight champion Takenori Ohashi in a Japanese Featherweight title eliminator. Although very talented Maruta has faltered in his biggest bout to date, losing a competitive decision to veteran Hidenori Otake in an OPBF title match, but has bounced back with some impressive results and will be looking to build on his recent wins over Tsuyoshi Tameda and Coach Hiroto. On the other hand Ohashi is no slouch, and whilst technicall he's slow and clunky he has lights out power, and is a danger through out a bout. This really is boxer against puncher in what could turn out to be the gem of the Japanese title eliminators taking place on October 26th.
Kazuki Saito (7-1, 5) Vs Izuki Tomioka (6-2-1, 2) - Tokyo, Japan
Another Japanese title eliminator will be taking place at Lightweight and will see the talented, but somewhat chinny, Kazuki Saito take on the skilled, but light hitting, Izuki Tomioka. This is a bout that pits two men who have real potential, but big flaws, against each other. Saito is a joy to watch offensively, but his durability issues cannot be ignored, and he has been down in a number of fights and we do worry about him whenever he's caught. Izuki gave Masayoshi Nakatani fights in a 2018 bout for the OPBF Lightweight title, but looked worried against Shuya Masaki just a few months later. Izuki is an excellent and fighter, but his lack of stopping power is a major question mark, even at this level.
Keita Obara (21-4-1, 19) Vs Toshiro Tarumi (12-3-3, 6) - Tokyo, Japan
Former world title challenger Keita Obara drops back down to domestic level for a Japanese Welterweight title eliminator against Toshiro Tarumi. Obara has proven to not be world class, but isn't too far behind and bouts against the likes of Kudratillo Abdukakhorov have shown some of his limitations. Despite that Obara has still only ever been beaten by 1 Japanese opponent, and that was on his debut. Tarumi is a solid domestic fighter, but this is a massive step up in class for him, and we suspect it's too much too soon for him. Tarumi lacks the power needed to get Obara's respect and isn't sharp enough to be able to replicate Abdukakhorov's gameplan.
Wenfeng Ge (11-1, 6) Vs Kompayak Porpramook (60-7, 41) - Chongqing, China
Chinese 32 year old Wenfeng Ge looks to bounce back from a loss in January to Giemel Magramo, which saw him being stopped in the 10th round. The Chinese fighter will be taking on former WBC Light Flyweight world champion Kompayak Porpramook, a 37 year old Thai who has been in some amazing bouts during his long career. We suspect the local fighter will have the energy and speed to avoid an all out tear up with Porpramook, but the Thai never stops trying and we'd expect at least some exciting exchanges here in a bout both men will see as a must win.
Seigo Yuri Akui (13-2-1, 9) vs Shun Kosaka (16-5, 4) - Okayama, Japan
In a bout to crown a new Japanese Flyweight champion we'll see the exciting Seigo Yuri Akui battle the rugged Shun Kosaka. So far we've seen both of these two lose to their best opponents, in fact both share a loss to Junto Nakatani, but they should make for a very interesting domestic title bout, with Akui's quick start and intense aggression being matched against Kosaka's toughness. If Akui can take out Kosaka early this would be very impressive, however the longer it goes the more and more Kosaka's toughness will play a part. A very interesting match up and one that feels very hard to call.
Shu Utsuki (5-0, 4) vs Somphot Seesa (4-2, 4) - Tokyo, Japan
Fast rising Japanese hopeful Shu Utsuki looks to continue his rapid rise as he takes on Thai foe Somphot Seesa. On paper this is, arguably, Utsuki's easiest bout to date and it has a "stay busy" feel to it for the hard hitting Watanabe gym fighter. Seesa has a bit of experience but he was stopped in both of his previous visits to Japan, to Daisuke Sugita and Ren Sasaki, and it's hard to imagine him lasting long with Utsuki here.
Yudai Shigeoka (0-0) vs Manop Audomphanawari (3-2, 3) - Tokyo, Japan
Former amateur standout Yudai Shigeoka, the older brother of Ginjiro Shigeoka, makes his professional as he takes on Thai foe Manop Audomphanawari. In reality this should be a simple win for Shigeoka, but we're looking forward to seeing him in the ring and seeing his rise, especially given the incredibly quick rise of his brother.
This past week hasn't been a big one for Asian fighters, unfortunately, as we hit the June slump, but there was still a fair bit of action, and some solid performances.
Fighter of the Week
Wanheng Menayothin (53-0, 18)
Unbeaten Thai Wanehng Menayothin extended his unbeaten record this past Friday, when he took a technical decision win over Tatsuya Fukuhara. The bout wasn't a great one, but again saw the talented Thai show off the skills, accuracy and sharp punching that has taken him to over 50 wins. It's a shame the bout ended when it did, with Fukuhara seemingly coming on at the time of the conclusion, but there is no doubting that Wanheng was value for his win.
Performance of the Week
Junto Nakatani (19-0, 14)
It didn't take long for Japanese Flyweight champion to go through Filipino foe Philip Luis Cuerdo, in what looked like an interesting assignment on paper. Instead of being a good test against a naturally bigger southpaw Nakatani took him out inside half a round to move a step closer to a world title fight. Whilst this won't prepare Nakatani for someone like Moruti Mthalane or Charlie Edwards it was a great statement win and the next step forward.
Mugicha Nakagawa vs Jin Miura
There wasn't a FOTY contender in Asia this past week, in fact there was little in terms of amazing bouts in general, there was however a solid, well contested and exciting bout on Friday in Tokyo, as Mugicha Nakagawa and Jin Miura fought to a draw. This was entertaining without ever becoming anything special. Just unfortunately the week lacked in terms of great fights, with lots of solid action and nothing spectacular.
Kook Min Moon vs Yo Sub Lee (1)
Sometimes the best rounds aren't the ones fought at the highest level, but instead the ones where we see some intense action and give a great sense of "action per second". There are few rounds this year that gave us more action second than the opening round of Kook Min Moon's battle with Yo Sub Lee, which featured 3 knockdowns in just over a minute. The quality wasn't amazing, the skills on show were limited, but the action was intense.
There was no valid KO for the award this week
Kai Ishizawa (6-0, 6)
Hard hitting Japanese youngster Kai Ishizawa used Indonesian foe Silem Serang like a yo-yo, dropping him several times on route to a 4th round TKO win. Whilst the win was always expecred this was the sort of performance that Ishizawa needed after sych a tough bout against Yuga Inoue last year November. This was a sign that Ishizawa was still the destructive monster he had looked in his first 4 bouts, and fingers crossed he'll build on this win with a big step up later in the year.
Carl Jammes Martin (12-0, 11) vs Rakesh Lohchab (6-0, 2)
The Filipino fight scene has had a strange year, with ALA beign eerily quiet and the likes of Gerry Penalosa and Sanman beign the key promotional players this year. Although ALA, and their stable are quiet, there are a number of rising Filipino fighers bringing action and excitement to Filipino viewers. For us the most exciting rising prospect in the country is the all action Carl Jammes Martin, who takes on unbeaten Indian Rakesh Lohchab this coming weekend, and we are really looking forward to seeing Martin back in the ring. He is one of the most exciting fighters on the planet, and every fight of his going forward will be must watch TV, including this one.
The action really doesn't stop this month, and the final third of the month gives us 5 world title bouts along with a lot of other great action as we really end the month with a great flurry of fights.
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