The month of May is set to be a very weird one, and one that could see bouts in Japan return to the no fan era, and has already seen shows for the 1st, 5th, 6th and 9th of May being postponed. With more potentially also needing to find new dates.
With that in mind we are going to look at what the current schedule looks like for May, though note that things are in a very fluid situation right now due to the on going pandemic, which has seen several parts of Japan go into another State of Emergency.
London, United Kingdom
Dmitry Bivol (17-0, 11) vs Craig Richards (16-1-1, 9)
The first major bout of note will see Kyrgyzstan born Russian based Dmitry Bivol defending his WBA Light Heavyweight "Super" title as he takes on British fighter Craig Richards. The talented Bivol hasn't been in the ring since October 2019, so it's hard to complain too much about a relatively easy defense, but it's fair to say that this is certainly an underwhelming match up between arguably the best Light Heavyweight in the world and someone who, is potentially only the fifth best in the UK. Richards has the style to ask some questions of Bivol, though it's hard to imagine anything but a dominant win by the champion, who really needs to take this opportunity to look good, and not just take a clear win.
Saturday 8, May 2021
AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas, USA
Elwin Soto (18-1, 12) Vs Katsunari Takayama (32-8-0-1, 12)
A week after Bivol's in action we see Japanese veteran Katsunari Takayama get a chance to become a 2-weight world champion as he takes on WBO Light Flyweight champion Elwin Soto. The now 37 year old Takayama, who turns 38 just days after this fight, is one of the true fan favourites of the lower weights and his wars with the likes of Francisco Rodriguez Jr and Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr have been must watch affairs with drama and action. Soto on the other hand is an emerging force, with a really intimidating reputation as a big puncher, and a youngster with a point to prove. Soto will enter the bout as a very, very clear favourite, and he should be, though Takayama will be entering the bout knowing this is likely to be his final bout at world level, we expect he will go out on his shield, win or lose. For those who haven't seen these two in action before, this will be something to savour!
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Musashi Mori (12-0, 7) Vs Satoshi Shimizu (9-1, 9)
Given how many Japanese shows have already been affected by the State of Emergency, which is supposed to be lifted on May 11th, it seems likely that the first major Japanese show of the month will come on May 13th, and it is one that is headlined by something a little bit special. That's a Featherweight unification bout between WBO Asia Pacific champion Musashi Mori and OPBF champion Satoshi Shimizu. This will be a brilliant match up between a skilled youngster, in Mori, who is a very fighter with a good boxing brain, and a flawed, ugly fighter with insane power, in Shimizu. Although stylistically a potential mess, this should be really entertaining and see both men forced to answer some very serious questions about their ability.
Kazuki Nakajima (9-0-1, 8) Vs Kai Chiba (13-1, 8)
A second title bout on this show will see the unbeaten Kazuki Nakajima take on the once beaten Kai Chiba in a bout for the now vacant OPBF Bantamweight title, which was given up by Takuma Inoue a few weeks ago. Nakajima is an interesting fighter who isn't the most natural boxer, and does look rigid and stiff, but has frightening power and long powerful levers. He's the type of guy who can be befuddled by movement, but can destroy people if they stand in front of him. Likewise Chiba is a fighter who hasn't typically used his feet as much as he should, but also has very respectable pop on his shots and could the type of fighter who could get Nakajima's respect. Although Chiba should box and move there is a real chance that he will be dragged into a shoot out here and this could end up being a "blink and you miss it" type of bout.
Keisuke Matsumoto (2-0, 2) Vs Hiromu Murota (6-4-2, 4)
Third generation fighter Keisuke Matsumoto looks to build on his fledgling career as he takes on Hiromu Murota in a scheduled 8 rounder. Matsumoto hasn't looked the most convincing in his first two bouts, though he shown a lot to like, including an ability to bite down when he's needed to and we suspect the plan for him is to build up his experience in bouts like this going forward. The 25 year old Murota shouldn't be much of a threat, though does come in to this following a draw with former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Seiichi Okada and is unbeaten in his last 5 following a 2-4-1 start his pro career.
Katsuya Yasuda (7-0, 4) Vs Tomoki Takada (8-5-2, 5)
Ohashi's "forgotten man" Katsuya Yasuda will be looking for his 8th win as he takes on Tomoki Takada. The plan for Yasuda seems to be much slower than some of the other top Ohashi fighters, but his talent is clear and his performance against Omrri Bolivar last September earned rave reviews from his promoter. Interestingly Takada, despite his record, comes into this bout ranked #9 by the JBC and a win for Yasuda would boost his standing in the sport massively. although no world beater Takada is dangerous and has scored 3 opening round KO's in his last 5. If he lands he could chin check Yasuda, though it's hard to imagine anything but a win for the Ohashi man.
Manchester Arena, Manchester, Lancashire, United Kingdom
Hyun Mi Choi (18-0-1, 4) Vs Terri Harper (11-0-1, 6)
Just 2 weeks after the Bivol bout our attention turns to the UK against as Korean fighter Hyun Mi Choi gets the chance to unify her WBA female Super Featherweight title with the WBC and IBO versions held by English fighter Terri Harper. Choi looked less than impressive in her international debut, last December against Calista Silgado, and will need a much better performance here to over come Harper, who is quickly becoming one of the faces of female boxing. Harper on the other hand needs to build on her last performance, which was an excellent display against Katharina Thanderz. The winner of this will be the queen of the division, and will be looking to the others titles to their collection in what should make for a great year or two at 130lbs in female boxing.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Kazuto Takesako (11-0-1, 11) Vs Riku Kunimoto (4-0, 2)
After numerous delays we'll finally see Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako defending his title in a mandatory against Riku Kunimoto. This bout was originally sheduled for the Champion Carnival in 2020, then got delayed due to covid, training issues, an injury and then the recent State of Emergency in Tokyo. On paper Takesako will be the big favourite and will be tipped to be too strong and too good for Kunimoto, who will be fighting for the first time in over 2 years. On the other hand Kunimoto has the style that could pose real issues for Takesako, who is powerful but a bit robotic, and the movement and speed of Kunimoto could see him asking real questions of the champion.
It's fair to say that the start of April was a little bit crazy, and thankfully for us fight fans, the action continues to come thick and fast through the middle portion of the month with prospects and title fights!
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Keita Obara (23-4-1, 21) Vs Shoki Sakai (25-11-2, 12)
The first of the title fights from this part of the month will see Japanese Welterweight champion Keita Obara defending his title, for the first time, as he takes on Shoki Sakai in a very interesting match up. The hard hitting Obara won the title in early 2020, when he stopped Yuki Nagano, but he's been out of the ring since and at 34 it's unclear what drive he has left for the sport. Sakai on the other hand has only just began to fight on the Japanese scene, having spent much of his career fighting out of Mexico. Given the pressure style of Sakai we expect him to be a nightmare for Obara, but he might be just a little too basic for the hard hitting champion.
Go Hosaka (4-0, 3) Vs Kanta Fukui (7-3-1, 5)
Talking about fighters who are new to Japan we can't ignore the wonderfully promising Go Hosaka. Hosaka is a Japanese born fighter who began his career over in the Philippines, fighting out of the now defunct ALA stable, and will now be making his Japanese debut. So far we've been impressed by Hosaka, who has looked very promising, but this should be the toughest bout of his career so far, and Fukui will be there to pick up the W. Fukui is no world beater but he's no push over either and we are expecting him to put in a very solid shift in one of, if not the, biggest fight of his career so far.
Mohegan Sun Casino, Uncasville, Connecticut, USA
Jerwin Ancajas (32-1-2, 22) vs Jonathan Javier Rodriguez (22-1, 16)
The most important bout from this portion of the month for us, by far, will see IBF Super Flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas defending his title, for the 9th time, as he takes on mandatory challenger Jonathan Javier Rodriguez. This bout, which was first scheduled for November 2019, yes 2019!, has been scheduled a few times but has slipped due to visa issues and Covid19. Despite the wait the bout is actually a fairly interesting one, especially given that fact that Ancajas, a fighter who relies on speed and sharpness, has been out of the ring for well over a year coming in to this. Rodriguez might not be the most technically polished fighter out there but he's tough, strong and brings the heat, something that could genuinely trouble Ancajas after such a long lay off.
Balai Sarbini Convention Hall, Jakarta
Tibo Monabesa (20-1-2, 8) vs Toto Landero (11-4-2, 2)
It's rare that we can get excited about a fight in Indonesia but we'll honestly say we're getting one such fight here. In one corner will be Indonesian hopeful Tibo Monabesa, who's sole loss came to Hiroto Kyoguchi, and in the other is former world title challenger Toto Lanadero, who gave Knockout CP Freshmart fits in 2018. Since being stopped by Kyoguchi Monabesa has fought just twice, though has picked up credible wins in both of those bouts, and he is clearly sniffing around for a world title fight in the talent laden Light Flyweight division. As for Landero he is 1-3 in his last 4, and 3-4 in his last 7, though has mixed at a very high level with losses to Knockout, Simpiwe Konkco and Melvin Jerusalem. Monabesa is the bigger man, and the man at home, but Landero will not be there to make up the numbers, and he could well be a banana skin here.
Hebi Marapu (15-0, 11) Vs Hero Tito (27-15-2, 11)
Althoiugh not a huge bout, by any stretch, we are excited to see Hebi Marapu back in the ring for his first fight since 2019. The unbeaten Indonesian puncher caught our eye around 3 years ago, when he almost gutted Phutthiphong Rakoon with a body shot, but sadly he failed to kick on since then, picking up 3 low key wins. He should pick up another here. Hero Tito is a stalwart of the Indonesian scene, having debuted in 2004, but he has been racking up losses in recent years and is likely to suffer another here. Tito is tough, and could drag Marapu late, but we would be hugely surprised if he gave Marapu a loss. Saying that, it's still a shame that Marapu's career failed to develop in the way it really should have.
EDION Arena Osaka, Osaka, Osaka, Japan
Toshiki Shimomachi (12-1-2, 8) Vs Thunder Teruya (7-8-1, 4)
Over in Osaka we'll see one of the hidden gems of Japanese boxing in action, as Toshiki Shimomachi kicks off his 2021 with a bout against Thunder Teruya. The talented Shimomachi is a slippery, skilled, and tricky Japanese fighters, who's style really does appeared to be inspired by the American defensive masters. Teruya is no push over, and he gave Rentaro Kimura solid test last year, but we're expecting a show case from Shimomachi. If you've not seen the once beaten 24 year old we suggest you give him a watch before this show, as he's been very impressive in recent times.
Jinki Maeda (6-0, 4) Vs Yushi Fujita (9-8-4, 2)
Hard hitting Japanese youngster Jinki Maeda continues his rise through the ranks as he takes on the experienced Yushi Fujita. On paper this should be no test for the sharp punching Maeda, who won the All Japan Rookie of the Year in 2019, though we have a feeling that Fujita will not go away quietly and he could serve as a genuine test for Maeda, despite the records of the two men. Maeda, like stablemate Shimomachi, is a bit of a hidden gem from Japan despite his Rookie of the Year triumph and we have a feeling that Green Tsuda want to let him develop without too much fuss. Fujita is the perfect opponent for him at this point in his career.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Ryusei Kawaura (8-0, 5) vs Joe Tanooka (15-7-5, 1)
One other under-the-radar Japanese prospect in action here is the wonderfully skilled Ryusei Kawaura, who is banging on the door of a title fight. The man dubbed "Untouchable II", after his mentor Hiroshi Kawashima, looks to be the real deal and has all the tools to be moved very, very quickly. We've been impressed by his skills, his boxing IQ and his understanding of range, though he has often been in against fighters who have allowed him to show those tools. Here he's up Joe Tanooka, a talented, but feather fisted, boxer who should be able to ask some questions that we've not yet seen Kawaura being asked. Tanooka won't have the power to hurt Kawaura, but he will have the tools to test him, and right now that's exactly what Kawaura needs. Someone to test his skills against, before a potential title fight.
The past few months have, sadly, been rather quite on the boxing front, at least compared to pre-pandemic times. Despite that it does feel like April is going to be a truly stacked month of action with more fights of note than we've seen all year. Genuinely this coming month is set to be massive, with every type of fight we could hope for! With that in mind lets take a look at what's to come in the early part of the month.
Humo Arena, Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Murodjon Akhmadaliev (8-0, 6) vs Ryosuke Iwasa (27-3, 17)
The big fight to kick the month off will see IBF and WBA "Super" Super Bantamweight champion Murodjon Akhmadaliev defending his titles against IBF "interim" champion Ryosuke Iwasa in a highly anticipated bout that would have taken place last year were it not for Covid19. For Akhmaaliev it's his first bout since winning the titles from Daniel Roman in a sensational 2020 bout whilst Iwasa has been out of the ring since beating Marlon Tapales in 2019. The Super Bantamweight division is a criminally slept on one right now, and the winner of this will be in the mix for some brilliant match ups later in the year. For this bout we suspect the strength and technical ability of Akhmadaliev will be up against the power of Iwasa, and we should get something a bit special.
Israil Madrimov (6-0, 5) vs Emmany Kalombo (14-0, 14)
Talking about special it's fair to say that Israil Madrimov might be a bit special, and he gets a chance to show what he can do on this show as he takes on the unbeaten Emmany Kalomobo. The talented Madrimov has been touted as a future world champion since making his debut but showed some cracks last time out. We're expecting a really big performance from him here. Saying that howeber Kalombo will not have travelled from South Africa to Uzbekistan to hand over his unbeaten record and he should be regarded as a live opponent here.
Shakhram Giyasov (10-0, 8) vs Patricio Lopez Moreno (28-4, 20)
Another hotly tipped Uzbek is Shakram Giyasov, who took a silver medal at the 2016 Olympics. He has looked hot and cold at times as a professional, though it appears when he's on song he is an incredible talent with a bright future. We suspect to see him at his very best here, as he takes the chance to impress his countryman. In the opposite corner is highly experienced Mexican Patricio Lopez Moreno, who is no push over, and went 12 rounds with Denys Berinchyk in 2019. Moreno has the tools to test Giyasov, but we are, as mentioned, expecting something impressive from the unbeaten Uzbek.
Hasanboy Dusmatov (2-0, 2) vs Muhsin Kizota (11-2, 5)
Whilst there is a lot of press regarding Madrimov and Giyasov, who have both fought on DAZN before, the Uzbek that really could steal the show is Hasanboy Dusmatov, another Olmypic champion and a man who is wanting to fight for a world title sooner rather than later. The excellent Dusmatov has gone through his first 2 professional bouts without much attention, picking up very easy wins. Here we expect to see him taking on his toughest test so far as he battles Tanzanian fighter Muhsin Kizota. Dusmatov is a very, very special fighter, and needs to move his career quickly to real the heights his potential deserves and we suspect an impressive win here will see his team look to secure a world title fight in 2021. Kizota Kizota's record lacks in terms of quality, but it is worth noting that he went 7 rounds with Sivenathi Nontshinga, and we suspect that Dusmatov will try to take him out quicker than that.
Also on this show are exciting prospects Bakhodir Jalolov (7-0, 7), Elnur Abduraimov (7-0, 6), Sanjar Tursunov (2-0, 1) and the debuting pair of Ikboljon Kholdarov (0-0) and Mirazizbek Mirzakhalilov (0-0).
Round 10 Boxing Club, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Donnie Nietes (42-1-5, 23) vs Pablo Carrillo (25-7-1, 16)
The long awaited ring return of Donnie Nietes, who hasn't fought since the final day of 2018, takes place this month as he clashes with Colombian veteran Pablo Carillo. The excellent Nietes, a 4 weight world champion who's only loss needs a giant "*" next to it, is looking to secure a career defining fight before finally hanging them up. Carrillo shouldn't pose a threat to Nietes, if Nietes is half the fighter he was, but with such a long lay off it's going to be very interesting to see how Nietes looks here.
Zhankosh Turarov (24-0, 17) Vs Tyrone McKenna (21-2-1, 6)
Unbeaten Kazakh fighter Zhankosh Turarov looks to make a big step up in class as he takes on Tyrone McKenna in what looks like a very good match up. Turarov has been touted for a while, but had a very, very stop start career, plagued by injuries and inactivity. Dubbed "Da Kazakh Kid" he is now 30 and it's do or die time for his career, which has seen him fighting as a pro since 2009! His opponent will be Northern Irishman Tyrone McKenna, who will be incredibly hungry to take a win here, and bounce back from a controversial 2020 loss to Ohara Davies. Although not a marquee fight by any stretch, this should be a hotly contested one, and a bout that sees both men in the ring to win.
Tursynbay Kulakhmet (2-0, 1) Vs Heber Rondon (20-0, 13)
Another unbeaten Kazakh in action is professional novice Tursynbay Kulakhmet, who will be looking to defend his WBC International title for the first time as he takes on the unbeaten Heber Rondon. On paper this looks a really good match up and a good chance to Kulakhmet to show what he can against a solid looking opponent. Although he is being fast tracked there are plenty of areas for Kulakhmet to work and we'd love to see a more polished performance from him here, after a bit of flawed showing last time out. As for Rondon, an unbeaten Venezuelan, this will be his first bout away from home, an is a very steep step up in class. Rondon could be a bit of a surprise fighter here, though we suspect Kualkhmet will have far too much for him.
Workpoint Studio, Bang Phun, Thailand
Nawaphon Por Chokchai (50-1-1, 40) Vs Sophon Klachun (5-5-1, 1)
Former world title challenger Nawaphon Por Chokchai was hoping to land a WBC title fight in March, tough Covid19 restrictions in France saw that bout collapse. As a result he's now set for a stay busy fight in April as he takes on Sophon Klachun. Ranked #2 by the WBC, in some of the strangest rankings we've seen, Nawaphon is edging towards a second world title fight and really should just be focusing on shaking some ring rust here.
Sakai City Industrial Promotion Center, Sakai, Osaka, Japan
Kaori Nagai (5-2-3, 2) Vs Natsuki Tarui (4-6-2)
JBC Atomweight champion Kaori Nagai will make her first defense of her title as she takes on Natsuki Tarui. On paper this looks a very low level title fight, but in reality the styles of the two should gel really well and we're expecting a fantastic, high tempo bout here. Nagai is in really good form, having won her last 4, and gone unbeaten in her last 8, but Tarui is also much better than her record suggests and is 3-1-1in her last 5. This should be a very good bout.
Sakai City Industrial Promotion Center, Sakai, Osaka, Japan
Tenkai Tsunami (27-12-1, 16) Vs Shione Ogata (11-6-1, 3)
A second Japanese female fighter defending her title on April 4th is WBO female Light Flyweight champion Tenkai Tsunami, who takes on the under-rated Shione Ogata in a solid, if unspectacular, match up. The highly experienced Tsunami 36 and has been a professional since 2005, mixing against many of the best in the world, and is going through one of the best runs of her career. Ogata on the other hand is taking a big step up here, unbeaten in her last 5 and won the WBA Asia, WBO Asia Pacific and OPBF female Light Flyweight titles in her last 4 bouts. This really should be a very, very entertaining clash of styles and a hotly contested 10 rounder.
Whilst March has been a busy month, it ends in amazing fashion with a lot of activity crammed into the last week or so of the month. The action isn't high profile stuff, by any stretch, but we will see a lot of exciting and talented prospects in action and we should end up seeing a lot of quality youngsters looking to show what they can do.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Gonte Lee (2-0-1, 1) Vs Aso Ishiwaki (8-3-1, 6)
On March 25th Teiken will be putting on a show, with several talented and unbeaten fighters in action. Arguably the pick of the match ups on the show will see the unbeaten Gonte Lee take on his first domestic foe and return to the ring after more than a year of inactivity. In the opposite corner will be the always fun to watch Aso Ishiwaki, who will be looking to return to winning ways after a shocking blow out loss to Jin Sasaki at the end of 2020. Give that both men have a lot to prove here we expect a really good bout, and given the styles of the two men we could end up with a very compelling match up.
Katsuya Fukui (2-0, 2) Vs Hiroki Hanabusa (8-1-3, 3)
Another unbeaten Japanese hopeful facing his first domestic foe is Katsuya Fukui, who goes up against the once beaten Hiroki Hanabusa. Fukui has impressed so far, but has only had 4 combined rounds in his career and this is a major step up for him. Saying that however he is regarded as a top prospect and was a good former amateur, who will be looking to get his career back on track after 2020, a year in which he was left out of the ring, twiddling his thumbs. Hanabusa on the other hand went unbeaten in his first 11 before suffering a TKO loss to the brilliabt Toshiki Shimomachi last year, in a Japanese Youth title fight. Hanabusa will be wanting to bounce back from that loss and is a very serious test for Fukui.
Kenji Fujita (0-0) Vs Motosuke Kimura (3-5-2, 1)
In a very easy to over-look bout on this show we'll see former amateur standout Kenji Fujita make his long awaited professional debut, as he takes on the under-rated Motosuke Kimura. On paper this shouldn't be a test for Fujita, who really was an excellent amateur, however Kimura has proven, more than once, that he has the tools to test touted prospects. Just last year we saw Kimura put Shigetoshi Kotari on his backside, and he has also managed to run Hikari Mineta very close. This is a much, much tougher debut than it looks on paper, and should be a very solid test for Fujita.
RCC Boxing Academy, Ekaterinburg, Russia
Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov (16-0, 9) vs Lunga Sitemela (13-0, 7)
Unbeaten Tajik Super Featherweight hopeful Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov will be looking to make the next defense of his WBC International Super Featherweight title as he goes up against South African challenger Lunga Sitemela. On paper this is a brilliant match up, and one to get genuine excited by, with the records suggesting a genuine test for Yaqubov. Sadly we don't think the bout will be as good as it looks, with Sitemela having a rather padded record, but it's always good to see unbeaten fighters risking their records against each other, and Yaqubov is certainly someone to keep an eye on regardless.
Erzhan Turgumbekov (8-1-1, 2) vs Gaibatulla Gadzhialiev (7-2-1, 3)
The once beaten Erzhan Turgumbekov, from Kyrgyzstan, looks to bounce back from a TKO loss to the sensational Albert Batyrgaziev, as he takes on Gaibatulla Gadzhialiev in a very nicely matched bout. Turgumbekov showed good skills and heart in his loss, but was broken down after 10 rounds by Batyrgaziev, who looks like a future world champion, and we suspect his style should make for a fun to watch bout here against Gadzhialiev, from Russia. Notably Gadzhialiev is 1-2-1 in his last 4, but the 3 bouts he didn't win were all very close and we expect this to be another close one. This might be the hidden gem of the weekend.
Mark Anthony Barriga (9-1, 1) vs Junuel Lacar (8-6-3, 6)
After more than 2 years out of the ring we finally see the ring return of former world title contender Mark Anthony Barriga. The brilliantly talented Filipino is a true joy to watch and the boxing purists will love everything he does in the ring. Sadly though he has been out of action since a 2018 loss to Carlos Licona. Given the long break from the ring we can't really complain about him having an easy return here, and he really is in soft as he goes up against the very limited Junuel Lacar, who has lost 5 of his last 6.
Arthur Villanueva (32-4-1, 18) vs Bryan Tamayo (6-1-2, 2)
Another former world title challenger returning to the ring after a lengthy lay off is Arthur Villanueva, who takes on the once beaten Bryan Tamayo. "King" Arthur was once regarded as a talented Filipino who had the skills to go all the way. Sadly he has failed in his biggest fights and now has just 2 wins in the last 4 years. He needs an impressive showing here. Tamayo on the other hand is a rising 23 year old hopeful looking for his biggest win. This might be a case of "right place, right time" for Tamayo.
Suamlum Night Bazaar, Ratchadaphisek, Bangkok, Thailand
Phoobadin Yoohanngoh (10-0, 5) Vs Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo (61-7, 41)
Fast rising 17 year old prospect Phoobadin Yoohanngoh takes his next step forward as he battled against Thai veteran Conlatarn Piriyapinyo, who is more than twice Phoobadin's age. The talented teenager has been getting a lot of attention in recent years, winning "The Fighter" in 2019, then winning a regional title in 2020, which he has since defended with an excellent win against Atchariya Wirojanasunobol, and we could be just a year or two from him really breaking out. Chonlatarn on the other hand has become a faded force and is a long, long way from the fighter who was once 43-0. Despite being a faded force Chonlatarn is a former multi-time world title challenger and should have some tricks up his sleeve to test Phoobadin with.
Tanes Ongjunta (7-1, 4) vs Suriyan Satorn (61-11, 41) (AKA Kompayak Porpramook)
Talented former Thai amateur standout Tanes Ongjunta was shocked last year when he ran into an inspired Adrian Lerasan in March. Since then he has reeled off 3 low key wins and now takes a massive step up in class to face former world champion Suriyan Satorn, better known as Kompayak Porpramook. We've been impressed by the natural boxing of Ongjunta, but the loss last year does leave us with worries about his durability and he really did take a lot of punishment there. As for Suriyan, he's very, very much a faded fighter and he has been picking up a lot of losses in recent years, and is 2-6 in his last 8. Despite being a faded force the veteran always comes to fight and should put in a legitimate effort here, though we suspect he will come up short.
Central Gym, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan
Shun Kubo (14-2, 9) Vs Ruito Saeki (7-4-1, 1)
Former WBA Super Bantamweight champion Shun Kubo has gone through a few horrible years with his career, being battered by Daniel Roman and Can Xu, as well as suffering injuries, but he seems determined to get his career back on track and is after some confidence building wins. Here he's up against the under-rated and determined Reuito Saeki, who looks to return to winning ways after going 0-3-1 in his last 4. On paper this looks a bit like a mismatch, but the style of Saeki will almost certainly be a nightmare for the skilled but fragile Kubo and this could end up being a lot, lot more competitive than it looks on paper.
Takahiro Tai (1-0, 1) Vs Koichi Wakita (7-2-3, 2)
Charismatic prospect Takahiro Tai returns for his second professional bout after an eye catching and very fan friendly debut late last year. In the opposite corner is credible domestic fighter Koichi Wakita, who will not want to be embarrassed by the young upstart. For those who missed Tai's debut it was full of show boating, dropping hands and stance switching as he tried to show off just some of the tricks in his bag. Whilst it was against an over-matched foe we suspect the style he showed is the one we'll see from him a lot over the coming years. Whilst Wakita probably lacks the power to be a real dangerman here, he does have the skills and experience to punish Tai's slip ups and this could end up being a real learning experience for the youngster.
Whilst the start of March was quiet the middle portion of the month really does see action step up a great, and there is a lot of action in not a lot of time. Better than just having a lot of action is the fact it's really varied action as well ranging from world title fights to prospects.
American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas, USA
Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) vs Axel Aragon Vega (14-3-1, 8)
The most notable bout of the month, featuring an Asian fighter, will see Ring Magazine and WBA "Super" Light Flyweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi making his US debut as he takes on Mexican youngster Axel Aragon Vega. The talented Kyoguchi had a frustrating 2020, with two bouts being cancelled, and will be looking to make a statement in his first bout since signing with Matchroom. As for Vega this will be his second world title fight, following a narrow loss last year in a WBO Minimumweight title bout, despite that he will be a clear under-dog.
Workpoint Studio, Bang Phun, Thailand
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (49-5-1, 42) Vs Kwanthai Sithmorseng (50-7-1, 27)
Former 2-time WBC Super Flyweight champion will be in a tune up bout here, with big plans for later in the year, as he takes on former WBA Minimumweight champion Kwanthai Sithmorseng. On paper this looks interesting, especially as Srisaket is taking on a former world champion, but in reality this should be little more than a brisk work out for Srisaket who should be too big, too strong, and too powerful for the rather limited Sithmorseng. Despite that this will be a good chance to see what Srisaket is like ahead of third bout with either Roman Gonzalez or Juan Francisco Estrada.
Phongsaphon Panyakum (11-1, 6) vs Karoon Jarupianlerd (44-10, 20)
Touted Thai prospect Phongsaphon Panyakum will look to secure his biggest win so far as he takes on former Naoya Inoue foe Karoon Jarupianlerd, aka Petchbarngborn Kokietgym. Although not too well known internationally Phongsaphon has been impressing on the Thai scene and we're really excited about his future. On paper this is a huge step up for Phongsaphon, though he will be favoured to pick up a win and answer a number of questions about his potential.
Chainoi Worawut (13-0-1, 12) Vs Pungluang Sor Singyu (54-9, 36)
Another Thai looking to progress their career is Chainoi Worawut, who takes a massive step up to take on former 2-time WBO Bantamweight champion Pungluang Sor Singyu. The hard hitting and exciting "Rockman" has impressed through his career with an exciting style but has, mostly, had things his own way against typically under-skilled and over-matched opponents. Pungluang on the other hand is a skilled pressure fighter, with a good chin and a real will to win. We expect Pungluang to push Chainoi all the way here in a real test for the youngster.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Saemi Hanagata (16-7-4, 7) Vs Eri Matsuda (4-0, 1)
Japanese veteran Saemi Hanagata will be looking to record her second defense of the IBF Atomweight title as she takes on fellow Japanese fighter Eri Matsuda. The aggressive and exciting Hanagata is a true veteran at 36 years old, and although being an "older" fighter she has looked full of energy in her most recent bouts. As well as an energetic fighter she is rugged, aggressive and exciting and brings a lot of pressure. Matsuda on the other hand is a rangy tall boxer, with a very smooth technical style, based on outside boxing. Despite being a professional novice Matsuda has been hugely impressive and she can't be written off here, even if this is only her 5th professional bout.
Narumi Yukawa (0-0) vs Yuya Azuma (5-4-1, 1)
Controversial fighter Narumi Yukawa will make his long awaited professional debut, almost 5 years after his last amateur bout. The talented Yukawa was given a suspended sentence after being convicted of drug offenses, which ended his amateur career and almost ended his entire boxing career. Now however he has served his time and is looking to make an impact on boxing once again. In the opposite corner to Yukawa will be Yuya Azuma, who is best known for his 2020 loss to Rentaro Kimura. This should be a really good test for Yukawa, and it'll be great to see what he looks like in the ring after all these years.
Banana Sports Complex, Binan City, Laguna, Philippines
Criztian Pitt Laurente (5-0, 3) Vs Ernesto Saulong (22-6-2, 9)
Over in the Philippines we're expecting to see touted youngster Criztian Pitt Laurente take on his most notable test, by far, since he turned pro in 2019. The talented 21 year old hopefully will be sharing the ring in an 8 rounder with former world title challenger Ernesto Saulong. Laurente turned professional with a lot of expectations after being a very solid amateur but has yet to make any sort of a mark at all on the professional scene. Saulong, best known for challenging Ryosuke Iwasa in 2018, should have the experience and skills to test Laurente, even if he is expected to come up short here.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0-2, 4) vs Tulio Kuwabata (3-1-1, 2)
Unbeaten hopeful Seiya Tsutsumi had a frustrating 2020, fighting to 2 draws, and he'll be looking for a much better 2021 as he returns to the ring here and takes on former amateur standout Tulio Kuwabata. The talented Tsutsumi is one to watch, and is a genuine prospect despite the setbacks last year, and he will enter this bout as a clear favourite. Kuwabata turned professional with a lot of hype back in 2018 but an upset loss in 2019 to Ken Jordan popped his hype bubble, and that was then followed by a technical draw with Yoshihiro Utsumi in 2020. Those setbacks have left Kuwabata in desperate need of a win. We expect this to be a very exciting bout, but one where Tsutsumi needs to be strongly favoured.
Takuya Kogawa (31-6-1, 14) vs Shun Kosaka (16-6, 4)
Former world title challenger Takuya Kogawa looks to continue his long career as he takes on Shun Kosaka, in what should be a very fan friendly match up. The talented Kogawa has shown some wear and tear in recent years, and his numerous wars have been catching up with him, however he still some tricks in the tank and he'll be hoping to show those here. Kosaka on the other hand has been beaten in 3 of his last 4 and desperately needs a win here if he's to remain relevant. Given the styles of the two men this should be very exciting, though neither fighter is likely to go on to big things after this bout.
Jukiya Iimura (1-0, 1) vs Tomoki Kawasaki (0-0)
A very easy to over-look bout will see novices Jukiya Iimura and Tomoki Kawasaki clash in a 6 rounder. Iimura really impressed us in his debut, back in January, and we are really excited to see him back in the ring, especially so soon after his debut and prior to turning professional he had been a very solid amateur. Kawasaki on the other hand was an impressive amateur who will be kicking off his professional career, and we're excited to see what he'll be bringing to the pros. This might not be a massive bout, but we are really excited to see how these two men will match off and it's arguably more interesting than any other bout on the March 24th show.
We wouldn't be stretching things to suggest that February 2021 was one of the quietest months since boxing restarted following the start of the Covid19 pandemic. Thankfully it appears normality resumes in March as we have a lot to get excited about, and better yet it comes from all over the globe as Asian fighters look to make a name for themselves both internationally and at home.
With that in mind lets take a look at what's to come in the first part of the month.
Municipal Boxing Gym Felix Pagan Pintor, Guaynabo, Puerto Rico
Ruslan Madiyev (13-1, 5) Vs Danielito Zorrilla (14-0, 11)
The first notable bout to feature an Asian will see once beaten Kazakh Ruslan Madiyev return to the ring for the first time in well over a year as he takes on unbeaten Puerto Rican Danielito Zorrilla as part of the "Ring City USA" series. On paper this looks like a really well matched bout, and Madiyev will know that a win here can get his career back on track, though in reality we suspect Zorrilla will be too good and too strong for the US based Kazakh fighter.
Miami, Florida, USA
Kozimbek Mardonov (1-0, 1) vs Abel Nicolas Adriel (23-20-3, 5)
Former Uzbek amateur standout Kozimbek Mardonov will be another Central Asian fighter to keep an eye out for early in the month. The talented 23 year old made a quick impact on his debut, at the end of January and will be looking to impress against as he takes on 31 year old Argentinian Abel Nicolas Adriel. Stood at 6' and fighting at Super Middleweight Mardonov has the potential to be a star of the future and we suspect he'll impress against the experienced, but limited, Adriel. Despite having 20 losses to his name Adriel has only been stopped 4 times, though we suspect another stoppage is on the cards for him here.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Andy Hiraoka (16-0, 11) Vs Fumisuke Kimura (9-6-1, 6)
Unbeaten Japanese Light Welterweight Andy Hiraoka returns to a Japanese ring for the first time since July 2019 as he takes on limited domestic foe Fumisuke Kimura. Hiraoka's last 2 bouts were both in the US, as he linked up with Top Rank, but there is clearly a desire to show what he can do at home as well, and we suspect he'll look to make a statement here. Sadly Kimura is 0-2-1 in his last 3, and we suspect Hiraoka will take him out relatively early on.
Yoshiki Takei (0-0) v Kazunori Takai (6-7-3, 3)
Former K-1 champion Yoshiki Takei makes his professional boxing debut as he takes on Kazunori Takai in a 6 rounder. Despite making his name in kickboxing Takei looks like he has excellent hands, and has impressed not just in K-1 but also in his pro-test with Tsuyoshi Tameda and an exhibition bout with Sho Kimura. There is genuine a lot of buzz around Takei in Japanese boxing circles. As for Takai he's a 34 year old who is 0-5-1 in his last 6, and hasn't scored a victory since September 2017. This should be little more than a show case for Takei.
Taku Kuwahara (7-0, 4) vs Yoshiki Minato (9-3, 4)
In a mouth watering clash between youngsters we'll see the unbeaten Taku Kuwahara take on Yoshiki Minato, a former Rookie of the Year winner. The talented Kuwahara has been tipped for major success since turning professional, but his career stalled massively in 2020, due to Covid19, and he'll feel he needs to make up for lost time this year. Aged just 22 Minato has time on his side, but is 1-2 since winning the 2018 All Japan Rookie of the Year and his sole win came against the returning Kohei Oba, who looked shot to pieces.
Rikuto Adachi (14-2, 11) Vs Takeru Kobata (8-5-1, 3)
The first Japanese Youth title fight of the month takes place at Welterweight as the once touted Rikuto Adachi takes on Takeru Kobata. The bout will be Adachi's second shot at the title, and his first bout since signing with the Ohashi Gym in 2020, and he'll know that he needs a win to get his career back on track after an injury plagued 2020. Kobata on the other hand will be looking to build on a solid performance, albeit in a loss, against Shoki Sakai. Stylistically this could end up being a very exciting match up, and it's a real chance of being a banana skin for Adachi.
Bolton Whites Hotel (formerly De Vere Whites), Bolton, Lancashire, United Kingdom
Viktor Kotochigov (12-1, 5) Vs Gary Cully (11-0, 5)
Staying with title action we'll see once beaten Kazakh fighter Viktor Kotochigov look to get his career back on track, and bounce back from an upset loss to Maxi Hughes, as he takes on Gary Cully for the WBO European Lightweight title. The talented Kotochigov looked lost and confused at times against Hughes, who turned in one of the best performances of his career, and it's clear that Kotochigov cannot afford another loss here. The unbeaten 25 year old Cully is regarded as one of the most promising Irish fighters and will be looking to build on a successful 2020, which saw him beat Joe Fitzpatrick and Craig Woodruff. Although not a huge bout, this is very much an interesting match up to end this portion of the month with.
It's fair to say that February will be a very, very quiet month with only a handful of shows taking place during the month, and sadly that means there are a very small number of bouts to talk about for the month. Despite that we are, of course, bringing you our regular "What's to come" for the month.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Ryu Horikawa (3-0-1, 1) vs Yudai Shigeoka (2-0, 1)
The first notable bout in February featuring Asian fighters will come at Japanese Youth title level as Light Flyweight Ryu Horikawa and Yudai Shigeoka clash in a mouth watering match up. The two youngsters are both tipped for big things during their careers and it's great to see them clashing here, rather than protecting their records like we'd see in other countries. Horikawa is the younger man and is the natural Light Flyweight, however Shigeoka has arguably been more impressive was very impressive in beat Lito Dante in just his second bout. Although not a massive fight this is a very, very interesting one.
Ryo Sagawa (10-1, 5) vs Hinata Maruta (10-1-1, 8)
On the same show as the Japanese Youth title fight we'll also get a mandatory bout for the Japanese Featherweight title as talented champion Ryo Segawa looks for his third defense, and takes on the touted Hinata Maruta in a mouth watering clash. The talented Sagawa has been on a great run of results since an early career loss and looks like a man who could certainly get into the world title mix over the coming years. Although not the most durable, he has been stopped and has been dropped in other bouts, Sagawa is a very talented fighter who can box or fight. As for Maruta the once super-hot prospects has failed to meet the lofty expecations that were on his shoulders when he turned professional, but there is no denying his talent and a win here would put him back on track to bigger and better things.
Fantasy Springs Casino, Indio, California, USA
Joseph Diaz (31-1, 15) vs Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (15-0, 12)
In the first world title fight to feature an Asian fighter this month we'll see Russian based Tajik fighter Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov take on IBF Super Featherweight champion Joseph Diaz in California. For Rakhimov this is a mandatory title fight he has waited well over a year for, earning the shot in 2019 when he stopped Azinga Fuzile. As for Diaz this will be his first defense of the title that he won in early 2020, when he beat Tevin Farmer. In terms of the match up this one should be an all out action fight between two men who like to come forward. Diaz will be the favourite, but Rakhimov is very much a live under-dog here.
The Flash Grand Ballroom of the Elorde Sports Complex, Paranaque City, Metro Manila, Philippines
Bienvenido Ligas (12-1-1, 9) Vs Alphoe Dagayloan (14-3-6-1, 5)
The first major Filipino bout of the new year takes place on the 13th as the once beaten Bienvenido Ligas takes on the criminally under-rated Alphoe Dagayloan in an excellent Flyweight match up. Coming in Ligas will likely be the slight favourite, given his better reord, but in reality Dagayloan is the more proven and has been impressing in recent years, following a stuttering start to his professional career. This should be a genuinely excellent match up, something we, sadly, don't say often enough about All-Filipiuno bouts.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
All Japan Rookie of the Year
Not a specific bout here, but something that is worth noting is that February 21st will bring us the All Japan Rookie of the Year final, ending what has been a delayed and belated tournament. Despite the hiccups along the way, caused by Covid19, we are really looking forward to this show, which will be shown live on G+ in Japan and will almost certainly help launch one or two prospects towards bigger and better things.
Bula Gym, General Santos City, Philippines
Pedro Taduran (14-2-1, 11) Vs Rene Mark Cuarto (18-2-2, 11)
In another very interesting all-Filipino bout IBF Minimumweight champion Pedro Taduran will defend his title, for the second time, as he takes on IBF #3 ranked challenger Rene Mark Cuarto in a really mouth watering match up. Taduran, who won the title in 2019 with a thrilling performance against Samuel Salva, has sadly been out of the ring for a year since making his first defense. As for Cuarto he's unbeaten in his last 3 but has been out of the ring since December 2019. On paper this is, by far, the toughest bout of Cuarto's career and it'll be very interesting to see what he has to offer at world level against an aggressive and heavy handed champion.
Tynyshpayev Academy of Transport and Communications, Almaty, Kazakhstan
Kamshybek Kunkabayev (2-0, 2) Vs Steven Ward (13-1, 4)
In a really nice step up bout unbeaten Kazakh Cruiserweight hopeful Kamshybek Kunkabayev will be battling against Northern Irish fighter Steven Ward in a bout for the WBO Asia Pacific title. Kunkabayev, a former Kazakh amateur standout has impressed since turning professional but there are a lot of questions for him to still answer. Sadly we don't actually expect Ward to be able to ask him those questions and if anything we see Kunkabayev having a pretty easy time of things here.
Nurtas Azhbenov (10-0, 4) Vs Evgeny Smirnov (13-1-3, 3)
Unbeaten Kazakh prospect Nurtas Azhbenov takes his next step forward as he takes on the once beaten Evgeny Smirnov, form Russia, in a very credible step up. Azhbenov has frustrated at times, and despite being a very talented fighter seems to lack power and killer instinct with a lot of his bouts meandering to a rather drama free decision. He certainly has skills but he is not the finished article. Smirnov on the other hand has failed to win his last 3, but has been fighting at pretty decent level in recent bouts.
Janibek Alimkhanuly (9-0, 5) vs TBA
Unbeaten Kazakh hopeful Zhanibek Alimkhanuly will look to stay busy as he takes on a yet to be named opponent late in the month. The talented Middleweight is looking to secure a world title fight later this year, and although this will likely just be a stay busy bout it's great to see him staying active after a frustrating 2020 that saw him unable to build on a solid KO win against Gonzalo Gaston Coria. It's clear that Alimkhanuly is a talent and although we want to see him prove that talent against good fighters we would prefer him staying busy rather than sitting on the side lines waiting for a bout. With that in mind we can't complain too much at the TBA status of his opponent,
Talgat Shayken (3-0, 2) Vs Evgeny Pavko (18-3-1, 13)
Another unbeaten Kazakh prospect in action here is Talgat Shayken, who battles against the much more experienced Evgeny Pavko. The talented Shayken turned professional last year, and despite a rather crude performance on his debut he has impressed in his last 2 bouts and he appears to be a fighter heading places in the coming years. Despite bot being the most polished fighter Shayken is aggressive, strong and very fun to watch. Pavko on the other hand is an experienced Russian, who has lost 3 of his last 6. Despite his faltering form Pavko should, potentially, be a decent test for Shayken over 8 rounds.
Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, Florida, USA
Zhang Zhilei (22-0, 17) v Jerry Forrest (26-4, 20)
Chinese Heavyweight giant Zhang Zhilei continues to waste his career as he takes on American foe Jerry Forret. The 37 year old Zhang has been linked to an Anthony Joshua fight for the last few years, but in reality is trudging along with rather meaningless bouts, and this is another for "Big Bang", who really should have been in with a notable name by now. The 32 year old Jerry Forrest is actually a decent opponent, and gave good tests to Jermaine Franklin and Carlos Takam, but isn't the type of name opponent Zhilei needs to push forward with his career. In fact Forrest is the type of high risk-low reward opponent that doesn't make sense for Zhilei at this point in his career.
It’s fair to say that January is usually a quiet month but this January is particularly quiet, with bouts really not being lined up for much of the month, we’ve already seen two scheduled bouts being cancelled due to Covid19 related issues. Despite that we do still have some stuff to be excited about, so let's take a look at what we’ve got coming up this month, and it is very much a prospect heavy month.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Keita Kurihara (15-5, 13) vs Takuma Inoue (13-1, 3)
The first genuinely big bout set to take place in Asia will be on January 14th as OPBF Bantamweight champion Keita Kurihara looks to defend his title against Takuma Inoue. The bout is a genuinely good looking one and will see Kurihara’s power and aggression against the toughness and skills of Inoue. With both men entering the bout world ranked the winner of this will be banging on the door of a world title fight, and we wouldn't be surprised at all by them landing a really big, international level, fight at the end of the year.
Katsuki Mori (7-0, 1) vs Sora Takeda (6-1, 1)
Highly skilled prospect Katsuki Mori looks to continue building his reputation as he takes on Sora takeda, in a battle between two former Rookie of the Year winners. Mori has received a lot of praise since breaking through in 2019, though with only a single bout in 2020 his career needs a big shot in the arm in 2021. Takeda on the other hand won Rookie of the Year in 2018, and has sadly seen his momentum slow with just 2 bouts since then. The winner of this will begin a move towards a potential Japanese Youth title bout, but could take a year or two for either man to land their first title fight.
Keisuke Matsumoto (1-0, 1) Vs Bejita Ishikawa (3-12-2, 1)
Touted Japanese third generation fighter Keisuke Matsumoto will be looking to record his second win as a professional as he takes on Dragonball Z inspired fighter Bejita Ishikawa, who is well known for his Vegeta styled entrance attire. Matsumoto is very highly regarded and his father was a multi time world title challenger, though he’ll want a better performance than his debut, which saw him being dropped before he stopped Hironori Miyake. Ishikawa shouldn’t provide much of a test here, but he is a unique fighter and certainly has popularity that exceeds his ability.
Ryutaro Nakagaki (1-0, 1) vs Yuji Okinori (10-5-2, 3)
Another prospect looking for their second win is former amateur stand out Ryutaro Nakagaki, who will be looking to build on a successful debut in a notable step up in class, as he takes on the experienced Yuji Okinori. Although perhaps not a big internationally there is very high expectations on Nakagaki in Japanese, after an excellent amateur career, and given how he looked on debut the 21 year old Super Flyweight hopeful really does seem to have the potential to go a very, very long way in the sport. Okinori is a very credible opponent for Nakagaki this early in his career, but it’s hard to see anything but a Nakagaki win.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Riku Nagahama (12-2-1, 4) Vs Ryota Toyoshima (12-2-1, 8) - OPBF Welterweight title
The second OPBF title fight of 2021 will see Riku Nagahama seek his first defense as he faces off with the heavy handed Ryota Toyoshima. Nagahama, who holds the OPBF Welterweight title, won the belt in 2020 but has had to wait almost a year to defend it. Although not the biggest puncher Nagahama does have a fan friendly style and does get involved in a tear, even if that’s not the best idea for him. Toyoshima is a more patient fighter than Nagahama, but he’s certainly a bigger puncher and he has very under-rated and sneaky body shots in his arsenal. This could, legitimately, turn out to be a genuine war for the OPBF title and could be a gem in a month where big bouts are few and far between.
Jukiya Iimura (0-0) Vs Daisuke Yamada (6-5, 1)
Whilst there is a lack of big bouts there are a lot of prospects in action over the coming days and one of those is Jukiya Iimura, who went 68-13 in the amateurs. He’ll be getting introduced to professional bout with a bout against the solid Daisuke Yamada, in what should be a solid test for the debuting Flyweight.
Jun Ikegawa (0-0) Vs Kakeru Yoshikawa (4-1-2)
Another debutant looking to make a mark in January is Jun Ikegawa, who went 51-15 in the unpaid ranks. The skilled Ikegawa looks to be in a very solid debut match up as he takes on Kakeru Yoshikawa. The 22 year old Ikegawa is tipped for success and will be looking to make his mark at 122lbs. Yoshikawa is a very credible opponent, and his only loss was a split decision back in July 22017. This is not a gimmie for Ikegawa!
Yugo Kon (0-0) Vs Koji Tsurumi (4-3-1, 1)
One other debutant on this show to make a note of is Yugo Kon. He went a less than spectacular 23-11 in the amateur ranks but is regarded as a long term prospect and we should see him being asked genuine questions by Koji Tsurumi, who is better than his record suggests.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Kosuke Saka (20-5, 17) Vs Takuya Watanabe (37-9-1, 21)
In another potential hidden gem Japanese Super Featherweight champion Kosuke Saka will take on Takuya Watanabe, and this may well end up being a genuinely brutal war. Saka is an aggressive, heavy handed and exciting fighter, but one who can also be super inconsistent. Despite being hot and cold Saka looked fantastic in his 2019 title winning performance, smashing Masaru Sueyoshi in 5 rounds. Watanabe on the other hand is a super tough, technical warrior who tends to box well, but is much more well known for his ability to genuinely fight. Watanabe’s bouts with Jaesung Lee and Taiki Minamoto showed his toughness and he will have to dip into that again here.
Yusaku Kuga (19-4-1, 13) Vs Gakuya Furuhashi (26-8-1, 14)
Another Japanese title fight will see Yusaku Kuga defending his JBC Super Bantamweight title against Gakuya Furuhashi. For Kuga this is a must win after being taken out in a regional title fight by Jhunriel Ramonal at the end of 2019. Although talented Kuga has been in a number of tough wars, and bouts against the likes of Ryoichi Tamura, Shingo Wake and Yasutaka Ishimoto may well have aged him. As for Furuhashi the 33 year old challenger will know it’s now or never after coming up short in two previous Japanese title fights. Style wise Furuhashi is a grinder, who throws a lot and lacks 1-punch fight changing power, again Kuga his style may be his undoing, or it could lead to an early FOTY contender.
Koki Mioya (8-1-2, 2) v Tentaro Kimura (5-0-2)
In a B class tournament final the once beaten Koki Mioya takes on Tentaro Kimura, in what should be a very evenly matched and exciting 5 rounder. This bout, unlike many, has gotten a lot of interest for what is, for all intents, a lower level Japanese bout, with neither fighter being regarded as a major prospect. Both as popular fighters and the bout is being regarded as one that could end up delivering a lot of action. Fans in the west may overlook this one, but it is genuinely generating plenty of buzz among the hardcore Japanese fans.
Shu Utsuki (7-0, 6) v Masashi Wakita (10-10-2, 5)
In an A Class tournament final the fast rising, and heavy handed, Japanese Lightweight hopeful Shu Utsuki will battle Masashi Wakita. This looks like a mismatch on paper and we suspect it will be, but it will still be great to see Utsuki back in the ring, and there’s a real chance of him getting involved in the Japanese title mix in the next 12 to 24 months. Utsuki is a very nasty and serious puncher, and that is likely to be too much for Wakita, who’s been a genuine servant to Japanese boxing over the years.
Yokasta Valle (20-2, 9) Vs Sana Hazuki (8-4-1, 2)
In a surprising world title fight we’ll see OPBF Minimumweight champion Sana Hazuki challenge IBF champion Yokasta Valle near the end of the month. This bout was only announced in January, after Valle had numerous issues securing a unification fight with WBC champion Tina Rupprecht. Valle will be the heavy, heavy favourite, though there is, maybe, a chance she has looked past Hazuki, who really shouldn’t be much of a taste for the Costa Rican world champion.
Manual Artime Community Center Theater, Miami, Florida, USA
Fazliddin Meliboev (0-0) vs Javonn Davis (3-0-1, 3)
Back to debutants we have talented Uzbek 24 year old Fazliddin Meliboev kicking off his career towards the end of January as he takes on unbeaten American Javonn Davis. Meliboev isn’t one of the elite level Uzbek amateurs we’ve seen making their name on the professional ranks in recent years but he was a very credible amateur and showed real potential in the WSB. He’ll come into this bout as an unknown, but we suspect he has the tools to overcome Davis, who has been fighting at a very, very low level so far.
Kozimbek Mardonov (0-0) vs Chown Sims (5-1, 2)
Another Uzbek making his debut is the touted 23 year old Kozimbek Mardonov, who won shone at the 2019 Military Games in Wuhan. On paper Mardonov looks to be in a serious test here as he goes up against 25 year old American Chown Sims. Sims is unbeaten in his last 3, and has taken a couple of cherry’s since beginning his professional career. He was, however, stopped in 2019 by Ty McLeod and we suspect Mardonov will have too much, in what could be a debut to remember for a very promising young Uzbek.
Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico
Sadriddin Akhmedov (11-0, 10) vs Stephen Danyo (17-3-3, 6)
Highly regarded Kazakh prospect Sadriddin Akhmedov will return to the ring after well over a year out as he takes on Dutch fighter Setephen Danya in a bout for 4 minor titles. The excellent Akhmedov has been one of the most promising Kazakh fighters in recent years and he seems to have it all, with skills, power, stamina, a solid boxing brain and a solid promoter behind him. Given what we’ve seen of Akhmedov the view is that he’s one of the men heading towards world titles. Danyo on the other hand has never been stopped, he’s proven himself as a tough nut and he does have the durability and experience to test the Kazakh youngster, especially given his length lay off. This should be a real good test for Akhmedov, but if he’s as good as we think he should take a very clear win.
Luzhniki, Moscow, Russia
Bektemir Melikuziev (6-0, 5) Vs Sergey Kovalev (34-4-1, 29)
Unbeaten Uzbek destroyer Bektemir Melikuziev is set to take a massive step up in class at the end of the month as he takes on former multi-time Light Heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev. With many tipping the “Bully” to be a future world champion this is the sort of test that will help fast track him to a title, and could be a shrewd bit of match making, or a case of biting off too much too soon. Kovalev has been on the slide for a while, and he no longer looks like the “Krusher” who dismantled the likes of Jean Pascal, but with his power and with a Russian crowd behind him he is very much a live under-dog here. On paper this is a real test for Melikuviez, but if he’s as good as we, and many others, think he could end up retiring Kovalev. Interestingly for Kovalev this will be his first bout since his 2019 loss to Saul Alvarez and at 37 father time may well be just as much of an enemy as Melikuziev. Potentially one of the smartest bits of matchmaking we’ll see in 2021, or a big mistake by Melikueziev’s team.
So, Christmas is just around the corner, and we want to wish you all a great, whether you celebrate Christmas or not. We also bring good tidings, with the final "What's to come" of 2020, the third part of our look at what December will bring, and it's a lot between December 26th and December 21st!
Sumida City Gymnasium, Tokyo, Japan
Masayuki Ito (26-2-1, 14) Vs Hironori Mishiro (9-0-1, 3)
One of the most interesting match ups from this end of year run will see former WBO world champion Masayuki Ito clash with OPBF champion Hironori Mishiro. The two men are best known for their exploits at 130lbs, but will be clashing at Lightweight here in what should be a really good fight. Ito is, by far, the more experienced professional and has fought at a higher level, but Mishiro was a very good amateur, and appears to be the more rounded and technically polished professional. This should be a compelling 10 rounder.
Jin Sasaki (9-0, 8) vs Aso Ishiwaki (8-2-1, 6)
The hidden gem from this part of the year will be the 140lb Japanese Youth title fight pitting 19 year old hard hitting sensation Jin Sasaki against all out warrior and toughnut Aso Ishiwaki. This is one we expect to be a complete and utter war. Sasaki has been really impressive in recent bouts, and has blown out his last 3 opponents in the opening round, but this is a genuine step up in class for him. Ishiwaki isn't the most skilled, but he's teak tough, comes to fight and is physically very strong. If Ishiwaki can see out the opening storm this could become something truly spectacular to end the year.
Kai Chiba (12-1, 8) vs Haruki Ishikawa (8-2, 6)
We expect fireworks to fly when we finally see Kai Chiba and Haruki Ishikawa trading blows. The men were set to fight earlier this year before Ishikawa tested positive for Covid19 at the weigh in, and going into the original date we were hugely excited of what we were set to see. Despite the delay hanging over this one we are still expecting something of a thrilling nature, and both men will believe they have the power to take the other man out.
Aioi Hall, Kariya, Aichi, Japan
Masamichi Yabuki (11-3, 11) vs Toshimasa Ouchi (22-9-3, 8)
Hard hitting Japanese Light Flyweight champion Masamichi Yabuki puts his title on the line for the first time as he takes on veteran Toshimasa Ouchi. Yabuki won the title in the summer, when he blitzed Tsuyoshi Sato, and will be looking to end the year on a high and move towards a potential world title fight in 2021. As for Ouchi this will be his third, shot at a title, and likely his last. It really is hard to imagine the 35 year old Ouchi getting another big fight if he loses here.
EDION Arena Osaka, Osaka, Osaka, Japan
Ryota Yada (20-6, 17) Vs Yuichi Ideta (13-15-1, 7)
Former Japanese Welterweight champion Ryota Yada returns to the ring in what looks likely to be a stay busy bout, as he takes on limited veteran Yuichi Ideta. Yada, who is eyeing an OPBF title fight in 2021, will be looking to get a couple of rounds here, before seeing off Ideta. As for Ideta the bout the bout will be his 30th professional contest, and at the age of 36 could prove to be his last one. Not a great bout, but very clearly put together to keep Yada ticking over.
Takayuki Okumoto (23-9-4, 11) Vs Akio Furutani (8-4, 3)
Another former Japanese champion looking for a relatively easy win is former Super Flyweight champion Takayuki Okumoto, who looks to bounce back from a 2019 loss to Kenta Nakagawa. The solid, and generally fun to watch, Okumoto should have far too much in the locker for Furutani, who is the naturally smaller man. Despite that Furutani has momentum and has won his last 4 in a row, including a big upset win over former OPBF Flyweight champion Keisuke Nakayama. Whilst we don't imagine this will be a competitive bout, we do expect it will be an exciting one.
Katsunari Takayama (31-8-0-1, 12) vs Reiya Konishi (17-2, 7)
We get a potential post-Christmas cracker as we get the rescheduled show down between Katsunari Takayama and Reiya Konishi. This was originally meant to take place in November before Konishi tested positive for Covid19, in what now appears to have been a false positive. The two men should make for a sensational bout, with both known for letting their hands go, being tough, and fighting with intensity. The big question going in is what does a 37 year old Takayama look like after more than 4 years away from professional boxing? If he's half the fighter he used to be this will be an amazing battle.
Toshiki Shimomachi (12-1-2, 8) Vs Satoru Hoshiba (7-4, 2) II
Japanese Youth Super Bantamweight champion Toshiki Shimomachi looks to make his second, and final, defend of the Youth title as he takes on the aggressive and exciting Satoru Hoshiba. These two men clashed in the 2017 Rookie of the Year, with Shimomachi winning, and since then he has gone on to become one of the top prospects in Japan. Hoshiba on the other hand will be after revenge, after the title and a chance to go into 2021 with a big win to his name. We expect this to be boxer against brawler, and the styles should gel well to give is a very, very good fight.
Jinki Maeda (5-0, 3) Vs Kaito Okubo (5-1, 2)
Exciting 2019 All Japan Rookie of the Year winner Jinki Maeda looks to extend his unbeaten start at he takes on the once beaten Kaito Okubo, in a very good match up. We've been really impressed by Maeda in recent bouts, and the youngster appears to have the tools to go a long way, with good boxing, brilliant movement and smart understanding of distance. Okubo on the other hand shouldn't be over-looked and he has stopped his last 2. We're expecting a cat and mouse style fight early on, but this could descend into a very compelling fight after a couple of rounds.
Ota-City General Gymnasium, Tokyo, Japan
Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14) Vs Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9)
In a huge all-Japanese year ending WBO Super Flyweight world title bout we'll see Kazuto Ioka take on the unbeaten Kosei Tanaka. For Ioka the bout will serve as his second defense of the title he won in 2019, and a win here will see him keep his status as not just a world champion but also one of the biggest and most important names in Japanese boxing. For Tanaka the bout is a chance to become a 4-weight world champion and essentially rip the torch of stardom from Ioka. This is expected to be a very, very high level bout, with both men hungry to make a point and go into the new year as a world champion. Expect excitement, and a lot of adapting and altering game plans from both men here.
Yuki Strong Kobayashi (16-8, 9) vs Daigo Higa (16-1-1, 16)
A second title fight in Japan on New Year's Eve will see WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight champion Yuki Strong Kobayashi defending his title against former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa. This is a huge opportunity for Kobayashi to make his way towards a potential world title fight and get a big name on his record, whilst Higa desperately needs to shine after an under-whelming performance against Seiya Tsutsymi last time out. Although clearly over-shadowed by the world title bout this should end up being a brilliant bout, and could well end up being a sensational 12 round back and forth battle as Higa goes up against a naturally much bigger man.
It's fair to say that December is the best month of the year and over the next 2 weeks or so we are getting a great run of fights up to Christmas, with several notable names and big shows set to take place all over the world.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Ryoji Fukunaga (12-4, 12) vs Kenta Nakagawa (19-3-1, 12)
In a bout for all the regional and domestic marbles at 115lbs we'll see JBC champion Kenta Nakagawa battle WBO Asia Pacific champion Ryoji Fukunaga, with two title the men hold, as well as the OPBF title, up for grabs. The two men are a long way behind world class, but against each other they are very well matched, and both men can punch, so this should be a genuinely thrilling shoot out. A very hard one to call and a potentially very exciting match up, with both men being hurt.
Hiroki Okada (19-2, 13) vs Izuki Tomioka (7-3-1, 2)
The out of form Hiroki Okada returns to a Japanese ring for the first time since May 2018 as he takes on the talented and slick Izuki Tomioka. Coming in to this Okada has lost his last 2, by stoppage, in the US and will known that a loss to a domestic foe could spell the end of his career. Tomioka, who is in his early 20's, has proven to be a very talented and tricky fighter, but very much a work in progress and has lost his 3 biggest bouts to date. Style wise this is a very interesting match up and it really could go either way, depending on how Okada is mentally following his recent set backs.
Mikio Sakai (2-0) vs Toshihiro Kai (6-11-3, 2)
It's not often we get to talk about Japanese Middleweights so with that in mind we felt it was worthy of giving this bout some attention. Mikio Sakai was a former Japanese amateur standout who has looked very good since turning professional. He'll be strongly backed to pick up win #3 here against the limited and somewhat fragile Kai, who has been stopped a number of times recently. Given the lack of depth on the Japanese scene at Middleweight a win here would likely leave Sakai only a fight or two away from a domestic title bout.
December 16th -
Aidos Yerbossynuly (14-0, 9) vs Issah Samir (19-0, 16)
Unbeaten Kazakh hopeful Aidos Yerbossynuly looks to extend his unbeaten record and take another step towards a potential world title bout as he takes on fellow unbeaten Issah Samir, from Ghana. This bout will see Yerbossynuly defending a number of minor titles and taking on his most dangerous foe to date, with Samir certainly being able to puncher and boasting an unbeaten record of his own. Although Yerbossynuly is stepping up it's also fair to state that Samir is taking on his toughest test to date, and will be doing so as the under-dog, in his first bout outside of Ghana. On paper one of the most attractive bouts in this pre-Christmas period.
Bek Nurmaganbet (2-0, 1) vs Emmanuel Danso (32-5, 26)
Touted Kazakh hopeful Bek Nurmaganbet fights for the third time this year as he takes on Emmanuel Danso, who like Samir is from Ghana. Danso has an imposing looking record and looks like a real danger man for the unbeaten 22 year old Kazakh former amateur standout. On paper a major test. Sadly however looking beneath the numbers Danso is perhaps a calculated risk and the "Kwahu Tyson" has been stopped in 4 of his 5 losses and has come up short every time he's left Africa for a bout. Despite, probably, being a mismatch it is worth noting that Danso has shared the ring with Umar Salamov, Ruslan Fayfer, Feng Manlong and Robin Krasniqi, so Nurmaganbet will be able to compare himself to some notable contenders after just 3 professional bouts.
Bekzad Nurdauletov (1-0, 1) vs Kabiru Towolawi (13-2, 10)
The sensationally talented Bekzad Nurdauletov returns to the ring for his second professional bout as he takes on Nigerian 40 year old Kabiru Towolaw. On paper this is another bout that looks dangerous until you dig below the numbers and realise that Towolawi hasn't beaten a fighter with a winning record, though has proven to be tough. We expect to see nothing other than an easy win for the Kazakh here, who will likely be looking for a second stoppage win.
Microsoft Theater, Los Angeles, California, USA
Eumir Marcial (0-0) Vs Andrew Whitfield (3-1, 2)
Talented Filipino amateur standout Eumir Marcial will kick start his professional career as he takes on fellow professional novice Andrew Whitfield in a scheduled 4 rounder. Marcial is tipped for an Olympic medal at the Tokyo games and has turned professional to staty busy and get some rounds under his belt before the Olympics, and a subsequent full professional career. Whitfield shouldn't be much of a test, but will be there looking to pick up a win upset the very highly regarded Pinoy pugilist.
December 17th -
Wild Card Boxing, Los Angeles, California, USA
Madiyar Ashkeyev (14-0, 7) Vs Charles Conwell (13-0, 10)
Staying on the subject of Kazakh's the unbeaten Madiyar Ashkeyev takes a major step up in class he faces fellow unbeaten Charles Conwell on December 17th's edition of Ring City, the brilliant new idea to put on events with 50-50 match ups in the US with out promotional bias. Similar in some ways to some of the DANGAN cards in Japan. This is a really mouth watering bout with the 32 year old Ashkeyev now being given a chance to sink or swim. Conwell is a very highly regarded American prospect and a win here will shoot the 23 year old to within touching distance of a world title fight. A fantastic match up and one we are really looking forward to. In fact we're really looking forward to following the Ring City project in general as it's a brilliant concept.
December 18th -
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Hollywood, Florida, USA
Gennady Golovkin (40-1-1, 35) vs Kamil Szeremeta (21-0, 5)
Remaining on the subject of Kazakh fighters, the biggest name in Kazakh boxing returns as Gennady Golovkin looks to defend the IBF Middleweight title against relatively unknown Polish challenger Kamil Szeremeta. We are of the opinion that Golovkin is a shadow of the fighter he once was, but at 38 he's only coming down the other side of the hill, and has got tot he bottom yet. With that in mind we suspect he'll be too big, too strong and too powerful for Szeremeta. On the other hand Golovkin has been in tough fights recently and they are clearly taking a toll on him, with numerous injuries in recent years. This should be an easy one, but if he struggles we suspect Golovkin will consider 2021 as his final in the sport.
Ali Akhmedov (16-0, 12) vs Carlos Gongora (18-0, 13)
Another Kazakh on this card will be Ali akhmedov, who is in a really interesting looking match up against Ecuador's Carlos Gongora. The exciting Kazakh has run out his record to 16-0 but hasn't really been tested since his 2016 debut, with his toughest bouts being a wide 8 round decision win over Mike Guy and a wide 10 round decision over DeShon Webster. Gongora on the other hand was a 2-time Olympian who competed 3 times in the World Amateur Championships, but has sadly been matched very softly since turning professional. Gongora certainly has the amateur pedigree to suggest he's a talent, but the 31 year old has been matched even softer than Akhmedov. For both men this is a step up in class, and one that feels over-due for both fighters.
Hyun Mi Choi (17-0-1, 4) vs TBA
Unbeaten Korean Hyun Mi Choi makes her international debut though at the time of writing her opponent is unknown. She was originally slated to be rematching Mexican foe Jessica Gonzalez, though it appears that Choi's team have had to look elsewhere for an opponent and have seemingly offered the opportunity to vocal fighter who made it clear the offer wasn't suitable for her. Sadly what should have been a chance for Choi to increase her international profile has seen her become the latest fighter to sign with Matchroom and have her opponent be a mystery. Sadly this is becoming a trend with Matchroom in the both the UK and the USA
December 19th -
Mohegan Sun Casino, USA
Nonito Donaire (40-6, 26) Vs Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-1, 12)
On December 19th Filipino boxing legend Nonito Donaire will face off with Emmanuel Rodriguez for the vacant WBC Bantamweight title. Originally we were supposed to see Donaire battle Nordine Oubaali, but Oubaali has contracted Covid19, forcing him to pull out of this bout and be given the WBC "champion in recess" tag and leaving the WBC title vacant. Interestingly Donaire and Rodriguez were both last seen in the ring losing to Naoya Inoue, though in very different fashion, with Donaire last 12 rounds with Inoue and Rodriguez being blasted early on. Donaire will be the favourite, but it's going to be interesting to see just how much the 38 year "Filipino Flash" has left more than a year removed from his excellent performance against Inoue in the WBSS final.
Reymart Gaballo (23-0, 20) Vs Jose Velasquez (28-6-2, 19)
On the same show as Donaire Vs Roodriguez we get another interesting Bantamweight bout as unbeaten Pinoy puncher Reymart Gaballo takes on Chilean veteran Jose Velasquez in a bout for the WBA "interim" Bantamweight title. For Gaballo this is a chance to become a 2-time "interim" champion, having won the title in 2018 with a win over Stephon Young, though his first reign lead nowhere. For Velasquez this is a huge match up and his first shot at any form of a world title. On paper Gaballo is the favourite, but his wild, free swinging aggression may get him in some trouble against his tough Chilean foe.
Olive Convention Centre, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Moruti Mthalane (39-2, 26) vs Jayson Mama (15-0, 8)
The final big fight before Christmas sees us focusing on South Africa as unbeaten Filipino fighter Jayson Mama challenges Moruti Mthalane for the IBF Flyweight title. The 23 year old Pinoy is really taking a huge leap up in class here, going from bouts against faded contenders, like Fahlan Sakkreerin, and domestic fighters, like Dexter Alimento, up to genuine world class. Mthalane, now aged 38, is certainly fighting father time, but the "Babyface" has defied age over and over. Interestingly this will be Mthalne's first bout in his home town and we do wonder if he plans to wave good bye to the sport, win or lose, with a chance to bow out on top at home. Notably it has been almost a year since Mthalane beat Akira Yaegashi in Yokohama and we do wonder if age and ring rust will be an issue against a young and hungry fighter like Mama.
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