Whilst February certainly didn't start quickly it does get going in the second half of the month with a flurry of fights taking place with Asian fighters involved.
Shuichiro Yoshino (11-0, 9) Vs Izuki Tomioka (7-2-1, 2) -
In the headline bout of a Dimond Glove card in Tokyo we'll see Japanese Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino defending his title again mandatory challenger Izuki Tomioka in the second of this year's Champion carnival bouts. For Yoshino this is expected to be a test of his technical boxing skills, as Tomioka is a genuinely talented boxer-mover. On the other hand Tomioka is taking on, arguably, his toughest opponent to date and did come up short in his last bout at this type of level.
Daigo Higa (15-1, 15) Vs Jason Buenaobra (7-4-3, 3)
After almost 2 years away from the ring former world champion Daigo Higa returns, and takes on rugged Filipino foe Jason Buenaobra. This should be a win for Higa, but we expect him to be very emotional, and he is going up against someone who has never been stopped before, so he will have to work hard for the win. It's also worth noting that Buenaobra is the naturally bigger man and will not be there looking to just make up the numbers.
Froilan Saludar (31-3-1, 22) Vs Ryoji Fukunaga (11-4, 11)
Filipino Froilan Saludar returns to Japan to make his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title, as he battles hard hitting, but technically limited, Japanese challenger Ryuji Fukunaga. On paper this looks like it could be very explosive, and we wouldn't be surprised at all with the bout ending early. Fukunaga hasn't been able to show his power when he has faced his toughest opponents, and Saludar is certainly among the best opponents that he has faced.
Yuki Nakajima (3-1, 3) Vs Shisui Kawabata (2-1, 2)
In a mouth watering clash of young prospects we'll see Yuki Nakajima take on Shisui Kawabata. On paper this doesn't look like one that will get fans outside of Japan too excited, but given the skills of the two men we are really excited by this one. Nakajima, the younger brother of Kazuki Nakajima, is a former amateur standout and made a real mark on the domestic amateur scene whilst Kawabata has been used as a sparring partner by Naoya, showing the quality that he has shared the ring with. We expect this to be very, very good.
Ryota Yamauchi (5-1, 4) Vs MJ Bo (8-3-2, 4)
World ranked Japanese fighter Ryota Yamauchi looks to build on August's win over Alphoe Dagayloan. Sadly Yamauchi's win over Dagayloan cost him a Japanese title eliminator, due to the injuries he suffered in that bout, and he'll be lookign to make up for it in 2020. MJ Bo, from the Philippines was stopped last time he fought in Japan, by Yuta Nakayama, but is a capable opponent and should ask questions of Yamauchi.
Emanuel Navarrete (30-1, 26) vs Jeo Santisima (19-2, 16)
Mexican fighter Emanuel Navarrete looks to make his fifth defense of the WBO Super Bantamweight title as he takes on Filipino challenger Jeo Santisima. The bout is expected to be a mismatch by many, especially given Navarrete's run since winning the title in late 2018. The champion is seen a real monster in the Super Bantamweight division and will come into the bout full of confidence. Although the 23 Santisima isn't well known outside of the Philippines he is riding a 17 fight winning run and has stopped 15 of those, so he certainly enters with a punchers chance, if nothing else.
Riku Nagahama (11-2-1, 4) Vs Kudura Kaneko (11-0, 8)
Unbeaten Japanese-Afghan fighter Kudura Kaneko looks to extend his perfect record as he goes up against the talented Riku Nagahama in a bout for the vacant OPBF Welterweight title. Although neither of these two are well known outside of Japan the bout is a significant one and the winner will see their hopes of landing a big international fight given a huge shot in the arm. Of the two Nagahama has faced better competition, but has lost in his 2 most notable bouts, whilst Kaneko looks to be a fighter on the rise. A very interesting clash.
Jae Woo Lee (7-2, 6) Vs Shingo Kusano (12-8-1, 5)
Potentially the hidden gem for the month is a clash between Jae Woo Lee and Shingo Kusano, who clash in one of the two Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament semi finals. The little known Lee made fans sit up and take note last November, when he stopped Tsuyoshi Tameda in a thrilling little war. Shingo Kusano also thrilled when he fought on the same November card, pulling himself off the canvas and battling back through some real scares against Qiang Ma. Expect this one to be exciting, and not to go the distance.
Richard Pumicpic (21-10-2, 6) Vs Daisuke Watanabe (9-4-2, 6)
The other Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament semi final bout will see Filipino veteran Richard Pumicpic battle Japanese foe Daisuke Watanabe. This has the potential to be very exciting, or a total mess. Both guys like to let their hands go but with 6 technical decisions between them there's a real risk of headbutts derailing the fight. Fingers crossed the heads don't come in to contact too often and we instead get a bit of a thriller!
It feels like January has been an incredibly bitty month for fight fans, with stretches without bouts, and a real lack of consistency through the month. We've had some notable bouts, of course we have, but for the most part it's concentrated on only a few days and hasn't been spread through much of the month. Thankfully that is set to change in February when we have a lot more to look forward to.
Nuevo León, Mexico
Pedro Taduran (14-2, 11) Vs Daniel Valladares (22-1, 13)
The most significant bout at the start of February sees IBF Minmumweight champion Pedro Taduran travel off to Mexico to defend his title, for the first time. The exciting champion, who won the belt in September when he stopped Samuel Salva in a short but thrilling bout, will be up against talented Mexican Daniel Valladares in what should be a really good bout. Taduran isn't the most polished, but sets a high work rate and lets power shots go, as if the judges are people he doesn't want to see. Valladares is more polished but will be moving down in weight for this bout. Expect this to be a genuinely brilliant fight!
Tokyo, Japan [G+ - Live]
Yuki Nagano (17-2, 13) Vs Keita Obara (22-4-1, 20)
The 2020 Champion Carnival kicks off with a brilliant looking Japanese Welterweight title fight, pitting in form champion Yuki Nagano against mandatory challenger Keita Obara. A win here for Nagano will push him on to the fringes of the world rankings, though he'll be a clear under-dog against the hard hitting Obara. For Obara a win here would see him becoming a 2-weight Japanese national champion and claim his third win since losing in a world title eliminator last March, as he looks to build some career momentum.
Ryusei Ishii (8-5-1, 5) Vs Yamato Hata (9-1, 9)
In a JBC Youth Super Featherweight title fight fight the limited Ryusei Ishii takes on the heavy handed Yamato Hata, with both men looking to move their career forward and claim their biggest win to date. Hata will be the favourite but Ishii has competed at a higher level and is no push over.
Kenshi Noda (1-0, 1) Vs Thomas Tope Hurek (2-4-1, 1)
Former amateur standout Kenshi Noda looks to continue his professional journey as he takes on Indonesian foe Tomas Tope Hurek. This should be little more than a showcase for the talented Noda.
Hiroto Yashiro (1-0, 1) Vs Abdul Rauf (1-2)
Another prospect in action here is Hiroto Yashiro, who is also expected to pick up a very easy win as he takes on Indonesia's Abdul Rauf. Given this is early in his career we can't complain too much about an easy fight for Yashiro, but don't be surprised if this one is over quickly.
Jasurbek Latipov (0-0) Vs TBA
Talented former amateur stand out Jasurbek Latipov makes his professional debut at the start of February. At the moment we've not been informed who Latipov will be facing, but the bout is being described as a chance for the excellent Uzbek to try and catch the eye of promoters, and we suspect he is going to look sensational here. He is certainly one to watch and this debut is one that should be of interest to fans who want to get in on the ground level for someone who will be looking to get fast tracked.
Rustam Tulaganov (2-0, 1) v Norbert Dabrowski (23-8-2, 10)
Touted Uzbek fighter Rustam Tulaganov takes a huge step up in class as he takes on Norbert Dabrowski. The talented Tulaganov was tipped for big things when he debuted in 2017 but hasn't been active enough to get to where he should be now. Thankfully he, and his team, are willing to take risks and a win here will help him make up for lost time.
Pennsylvania, USA [Showtime - Live]
Gary Russell Jr (30-1, 18) Vs Tugstsogt Nyambayar (11-0, 9) -
In a bout we're really looking forward too we'll see WBC Featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr defending his belt against mandatory challenger Tugstogt Nyambayar. This is a mouth watering bout and a great chance to see whether or not the unbeaten Mongolian is for real. The American champion, who has gained a reputation for not liking the sport, and not by anywhere active enough, is talented but incredibly frustrating and has wasted his prime years. Nyambayar on the other hand is getting his shot at the big time, at last, and will know a win here will be huge for his career. In fact a win here for Nyambayar will see him becoming only the second Mongolian world champion. A really important and significant bout.
Kento Hatanaka (10-0, 9) Vs Roland Jay Biendima (15-5-1, 8) -
In Kariya we'll see WBC Youth Flyweight champion Kento Hatanaka make his next defense of the title as he takes on Filipino foe Roland Jay Biendima. On paper this looks like a mismatch but in reality this should be another great test for Hatanaka, who struggled last time out against Jaysever Abcede. Although talented and exciting Hatanaka does need time to mature and develop and this type of bout is perfect for that. Biendima isn't a world beater but should serve as an excellent test for Hatanaka at this point in time.
The final part of February is a really interesting one, with a lot of action in less than 2 weeks including world title bouts, prospects, world title eliminators and a regional title fight.
Dave Penalosa (14-0, 10) vs Marcos Cardenas (19-6-1, 15) - Metro Manila, Philippines
For a second straight week we see a Filipino prospect called Dave in a notable step up on ESPN5. First there was Dave Apolinario and now we get Dave Penalosa, who looks to over-come Marcos Cardenas for the WBO Oriental Featherweight title. Penalosa, who carries a legendary surname, showed early promise but inactivity has cost years of his career, and he will now be looking to get back in the right track. Cardenas is heavy handed but this is a huge step up for the Mexican.
Johnriel Casimero (25-4, 16) vs Kenya Yamashita (13-4, 10)- Metro Manila, Philippines
Former 2-weight world champion John Riel Casimero returns to a Filipino ring for the first time since losing in a world title eliminator to Jonas Sultan back in September 2017. In the opposite corner is flawed, but exciting, Japanese youngster Kenya Yamashiita, who should make for a really interesting opponent. Casimero should be favoured, but he has been disappointing at times and he may well be on the slide.
Carl Jammes Martin (11-0, 10) vs Petchchorhae Kokietgym (17-2, 8)- Metro Manila, Philippines
Another exciting prospect on this card is the unbeaten and prodigiously young Carl Jammes Martin, who will be making his TV debut in a bout against Thai visitor Petchchorhae Kokietgym. This looks like a really tough match up for Martin's first bout on TV, but a win here will really allow him to announce himself on the Filipino fans who may not have had a chance to see the youngster yet. The Thai is no pushover but has lost his two most notable bouts to date.
Ryosuke Iwasa (25-3, 16) Vs Cesar Juarez (23-6, 17)- California, USA
In the US we'll see an IBF world title eliminator at Super Bantamweight, as former world champion Ryosuke Iwasa takes on the always entertaining Cesar Juarez in what should be a very entertaining battle. Iwasa needs to impress to remain in the mix, and this will be his US debut after having had a previous Stateside aborted when his opponent failed to make weight. Juarez lost his last bout at world level, being stopped by Isaac Dogboe, but has bounced back well and will be really up for this contest, in what could be a very, very entertaining bout and potentially the highlight of the weekend.
Yesenia Gomez (14-5-3, 6) vs Erika Hanawa (10-3, 4) - Quintana Roo, Mexico
In a female world title fight we'll see Japan's Erika Hanawa challenge WBC Female Light Flyweight champion Yesenia Gomez. Despite being a world title fight few would consider either of these as truly world class, with both suffering set backs in recent bouts. It's those setbacks, and the need to shine brightly here, that makes this bout more intriguing than if both were in good form, and neither can afford a loss. Sadly though in a division with Yesica Yolanda Bopp, Kenia Enriquez and Tenkai Tsunami it's hard to see the winner of this bout as truly top level fighter.
Akihiro Kondo (31-7-1, 18) Vs Downua Ruawaiking (14-0, 11) - Tokyo, Japan
A second IBF world title eliminator is set to take place at Light Welterweight, as the teak tough Akihiro Kondo battles unbeaten Thai prospect Downua Ruawaiking. This is a really interesting match up that not only lets us see what Kondo has left in the tank, after 2 straight forward bouts since his loss to Sergey Lipinets, but also see what Ruawaiking has to offer. The Thai has looked good so far, but this is a big step up in class, and his first bout outside of his homeland. A win for Downua would put him on the map, but this is a really stiff test for him.
Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (11-3, 10) Vs Yuki Nonaka (32-10-3, 10) - Osaka, Japan
Potentially the fight of the month will see the big punching Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa defending his WBO Asia Pacific and OPBF Middleweight titles against skilled veteran Yuki Nonaka. This bout will likely be brawn against brain and should be a real thriller. Hosokawa only fights one way, and that is with intense aggression, the sort of thing Hosokawa has made a career out of soaking up, countering and using against fighters. We really do see this as a highlight and can't wait to see Boxingraise posting the fight on demand.
Vic Saludar (18-3, 10) Vs Masataka Taniguchi (11-2, 7) - Tokyo, Japan
Another potential highlight will see WBO Minimumweight champion Vic Saludar defending his title for the first time, taking on Japanese challenger Masataka Taniguchi. Both of these men are aggressive, heavy handed, skilled and exciting. We're expecting bombs to be traded, though not in a wild way. Instead this should be a compelling chess match with shotguns and rocket launchers. A potentially brilliant contest, that is only really harmed by the fact TBS won't be broadcasting the fight live but instead showing it on tape delay.
The middle section of February is pretty interesting , with a number of notable regional level bouts.
Ben Mananquil (16-1-3, 4) Vs Tenta Kiyose (15-2-1, 7) - Hyogo, Japan
Filipino fighter Ben Mananquil travels to Japan to take Tenta Kiyose in what appears to be a really well matched bout for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight title. Mananquil has been unlucky in a number of his bouts, though was fortunate to get a draw against Hinata Maruta. Kiyose on the other hand hasn't fought at the same level as Mananquil, but did score a very notable win over Oleydong Sithsamerchai last July and will be looking to build on that win here. This looks like a very interesting match up an should be very, very competitive.
Hiroki Okada (19-0, 13) Vs Raymundo Beltran (35-8-1-1, 21)- California, USA
Japan's Hiroki Okada takes part in his second US bout, as he battles former world champion Raymundo Beltran, in what looks to be an unofficial world title eliminator for the WBC Light Welterweight title. Okada failed to shine in his US debut, last year, but is a talented boxer-puncher and is certainly better than he looked last time out. Beltran, at his best, was handful for anyone other than the elite, and would have been strongly favoured against Okada, but he has looked to be on the slide in recent bouts, making this a very interesting match up, and something close to a 50-50 fight.
Genesis Servania (32-1, 15) vs Carlos Castro (21-0, 9)- Califnornia, USA
Former world title challenger Genesis Servania, from the Philippines, will be looking to take a huge step towards his second world title fight as he takes on the unbeaten Carlos Castro. Castro is taking a massive step up in class, and will be regarded as the under-dog, but Servania knows he needs to shine, not just win, if he's to open up the doors he needs to get a second title shot. Servania is best known in the US for his fantastic bout with Oscar Valdez and fans will be aware of how good he is, however Castro is an unknown, and could see this as his huge chance to make a name for himself, in what could be a very interesting match up.
Edward Heno (13-0-5, 5) Vs Koji Itagaki (18-13-3, 7)- Hiroshima, Japan
Filipino fighter Edward Heno returns to Japan to make his next defense of the OPBF Light Flyweight title, as he takes on Japanese veteran Koji Itagaki in Hiroshima. The unbeaten Filipino won the title in Japan back in 2017, when he stopped Seita Ogido, and has made 2 impressive defenses since. As for Itagako, he has come up short in Japanese and WBO Asia Pacific title bouts, but this will be his first for an OPBF belt. The Japanese fighter, who is now 35, is in last chance saloon, but has sadly not looked great in recent bouts and has scored just 2 wins in his last 7. All signs point towards another defense for the champion, but can Itagaki put in a career defining performance to save his career?
Hiroaki Teshigawara (18-2-2, 11) Vs Yuki Iriguchi (10-2-1, 4)-Tokyo, Japan
Over the last few year's we've been incredibly impressed by Hiroaki Teshigawara, who will be looking to make his next defense of the OPBF Super Bantamweight title, as he takes on Yuki Irigughi. This is a bout where the champion will be the clear favourite, but the challenger is far from a patsy, and holds a win over recent world title challenger Ryohei Takahashi. Given the styles of both men we're expecting a potential FOTY candidate and both men really do love to let their shots go. Sadly for the challenger he may not have the power needed to make the champion respect him, though he will have the self belief to bring the fight. This really could be the highlight of the week.
Kenichi Horikawa (38-15-1, 12) Vs Satoru Todaka (9-2-4, 3) -Tokyo, Japan
On the same show as the Teshigawara Vs Iriguchi bout is a brilliant bout to crown a new Japanese Light Flyweight champion, as veteran Kenichi Horikawa takes on little known foe Satoru Todaka. Horikawa is a former Japanese and WBO Asia Pacific champion who is an incredibly experienced fighter. At 38 Horikawa is coming towards the end of his career, but he showed there was still life in his legs last year when he stopped the previously mentioned Koji Itagaki. At 29 years old Todaka is the much younger man, but this is a major step up in class for him.
Shohjahon Ergashev (15-0, 14) vs Mykal Fox (19-0, 5)- Kansas, USA
In Kansas we'll see unbeaten men colliding, as highly touted Uzbek puncher Shohjahon Ergashev takes on Mykal Fox in a very interesting looking match up. The Uzbek shined last year, when he went 5-0 (4) putting himself on the map with notable wins over Sonny Fredrickson and Wang Zhimin. Fox, a tall rangy fighter, is stepping up massively here, but a win will boost his chances of a huge fight and he will likely be coming into this bout with the knowledge that this could be his coming out party. It's always good to see prospects colliding, and that's exactly what we have here!
If we're being honest January was a bit of a slow burn month, with a lack of action at the start of the month before picking up over the last 2 weekends. There was action through January but it was very bitty and very slow to get going. Thankfully the same can't be said for February which starts hot and continues to be busy throughout, even if the action doesn't hit the same heights as January in terms of quality.
Junto Nakatani (17-0, 12) Vs Naoki Mochizuki (15-3, 8) - Tokyo, Japan
The first Japanese title fight of the new month sees Junto Nakatani and Naoki Mochizuki battle for the vacant Japanese fight title, which Masayuki Kuroda vacated in late 2018. Coming in to the bout Nakatani will start as the favourite but Mochizuki is a tough and underrated fighter who will know this is a huge opportunity to claim a national title, put himself in the mix for big fights down the line and impress on a televised Japanese card.
Kenichi Ogawa (21-1-0-1, 17) vs Roldan Aldea (12-6-1, 6) - Tokyo, Japan
Former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Kenichi Ogawa returns to the ring after more than a year out of action, following a failed drugs test. The hard hitting Ogawa, who is best known for taking a controversial win over Tevin Farmer that was later over-turned due to the aforementioned drug test, will be facing off with Filipino journeyman Roldan Aldea, in what is supposed to be a show case for the talented and returning Japanese fighter.
Gonte Lee (0-0) vs Aphisit Namkhot (1-1, 1) - Tokyo, Japan
One of the biggest debuts of 2019 will see Japanese-Korean fighter Gonte Lee, a former amateur standout, take on Thai foe Aphisit Namkhot. The talented Lee won over 100 amateur fighters, with 62 wins in a row, competed for North Korea and was expected to go to the 2020 Olympics. Instead he chose to go professional and his debut is something to be very highly excited about. The Thai foe is expected to provide little more than the perfect foil for Lee's debut.
Mikito Nakano (1-0, 1) vs TBA - Tokyo, Japan
Talking about amateur standouts it's worth noting that another Japanese amateur stand out will also be on this card, Mikito Nakano. Nakano, who debuted last year, is tipped for huge success and will be looking to score his second professional win. His opponent is currently unknown, though we do know it will be a Thai, and like Lee's bout this should be little more than a show case for a fantastically talented young prospects.
Janibek Alimkhanuly (4-0, 1) vs Steven Martinez (18-4, 13) - Texas, USA
In the US we'll see Kazakh fighter Janibek Alimkhanuly take a good step up in class as he battles Steven Martinez. The talented Alimkhanuly has yet to shine since signing with Top Rank in 2018, putting in two forgetable performances last year. Despite failing to look great recently we do have high hopes for the 25 year old Kazakh and we're expecting to see him show that potential sooner rather than later. Martinez is a tough opponent, with ambitions of his own, but we suspect that Alimkhanuly will have the skills to defeat the tough American.
Dave Apolinario (9-0, 6) vs Mark Vicelles (9-0-1, 5) - Metro Manila, Philippines
Young prospect Dave Apolinario takes on his stiffed test to date as he battled against fellow unbeaten Filipino Mark Vicelles, in what looks like an excellent bout on paper. Apoinarion, the younger brother of former world title challenger Mark John Apolinario, has looked like an excellent prospect since making his debut back in 2017 but has yeat to face someone looking to score a win of their own. Vicelles on the other hand has proven he can get through hungry fighters, taking the unbeaten records of Rey Tagulaylay and Roldan Sasan. He's a capable fighter himself and will know a win here would be huge. This has the hallmarks of a weekend stealing contest.
Reymart Gaballo (20-0, 17) vs Yuya Nakamura (9-2-1, 7)- Metro Manila, Philippines
WBA "interim" Bantamweight champion Reymart Gaballo is one of the forgotten men at 118lbs, due to the WBSS, but is building a reputation at home, a reputation he'll be looking to enhance here when he takes on charismatic Japanese warrior Yuya Nakamura. Gaballo is an excellent boxer-puncher with really crisp punching and he looks like one of the better contenders in the division. Nakamura on the other hand is a fun but limited fighter who we suspect will play his part in a fun fight, but a fight that he loses.
Romero Duno (18-1, 14) vs Kuldeep Dhanda (7-1, 1) - Metro Manila, Philippines
Filipino boxer-puncher Romero Duno put his name on the international stage when he travelled to the US and upset the much fancied Christian Gonzalez in 2 rounds. Since then he has fought only once in the Philippines, and 4 times in the US, whilst building his international presence. He returns "home" to face Indian foe Kuldeep Dhanda in what appears to be a stay busy contest for the Filipino hopeful, who will be expected to return to the US later in the year for potential world title eliminator, or minor title bout of some kind.
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