Over the last decade or so there has been a massive lack of boxing video games. Whilst we're all aware that the "Fight Night" series has been missing in action, as EA focus on UFC and other sports games, there also hasn't been many lesser known boxing games released in recent years. The likes of the ridiculous "Funky Head Boxers", the classic "Punch Out!!", licenced games like "George Foreman's KO Boxing" and the "Foes of Ali", and the often over-looked "Victorious Boxers" have all vanished from the shelves and the sport really is lacking in terms of games.
Thankfully it does appear that "ESports Boxing Club" is set to change that, when it's released, but the sport certainly deserves more than one boxing game every few years.
Rather than focusing on the politics of video games, or complaining about why we get so few boxing games now a days, the team at Asian boxing have been asked to suggest fighters for future video games, as they answer this week's Who... question:
"Who... would you like to see in a video game?"
They been told that they are two fighters, one modern day and one from the past, and that both fighters need to be from Asia.
Lee: "I've been a little bit predictable this week and selected two fighters from South Korea, but in fairness I have picked two very different fighters.
For my modern pick I want to go with Hyun Mi Choi. I think getting females involved in boxing video games would be amazing, and anything to get more attention on Choi, and what a great story she has been for boxing would be fantastic. It's a shame she spent so much of her career in relative obscurity, here in Korea, but now she's big news and should be featured in any potential video game. She, along with the current female fighters at 130lbs and 135lbs would make for some very interesting match ups, and I would love to see ladies boxing in video game form.
For my fighter from the past I was struggling between three fighters but settled on Jung Koo Chang. I think from all the possibilities Chang would be the most interesting. It would be great to see how the game developers would manage to make someone who fights the way Chang does fit into their system, and it would also highlight the career of one of the best little men in history. Chang deserves more attention from fans than he gets, and having him in a widely available video game would be great for his profile, and for the profile of Korean boxing.
For those wondering, the other two I thought about were Myung Woo Yuh and Sung Kil Moon. I think Chang would be the most fun to play as, but any of the three would be great!"
Takahiro: "When it comes to my modern pick, there is only one fighter I need to mention. Naoya Inoue! The inclusion of Inoue would help the game sell in Japan, it would be a great sign that Inoue has made it as a global boxing star, and it would be so much fun to play as the Monster against all the other fighters in the game. I would love to see how they would make him, and how life like it would be. If it was really life like they could include things like his ring walk music, "Departure" by Naoki Sato. And lets be honest. Everyone would want to see the Monster in a video game putting him in with some of the best from the past!
As for retired fighters I want to see Koichi Wajima in a video game! His style would be funny to see a game, with his Frog Punch technique and his peculiar stance. Whilst Wajima is certainly not a big name to international fans, and isn't regarded as a legend in the eyes of many in the west, at least not like Fighting Harada and Yoko Gushiken, I think playing as Wajima would be so much fun"
Scott:"Knowing that Taka was going to pick Inoue I was a little bit unsure who I wanted to select for the modern day fighter, I though about Kosei Tanaka and seeing how they would put his speed into a game, or how they would manage to put Diago Higa's pressure style into a game or how Gennady Golovkin's power would translate or how Srisaket Sor Rungvisai's strength and aggression would work in video game form.
In the end however I've decided the modern day fighter I would like the most would be Kazuto Ioka, with Ioka being included in both his Minimumweight form and his Super Flyweight form. There would be the body punching, aggressive fighter and the more intelligent but slower and less heavy handed version in a two-for-one deal. Ioka's a big enough name to attract a Japanese audience and a special enough talent to add value to the game.
For my retired pick I'm going a little bit left field and picking Saensak Muangsurin. There's never enough Thai fighters in video games, and Saensak would allow one to be included, in a weight class that fans would pick quite regularly. As with a number of other picks it would be really interesting to see how they would adapt his style to video games, and his Muay Thai stance that never looked right in boxing would makee him seem very unique in a game. That's ignoring his rock solid chin, his porous defense and his brutal power. To me having someone with such a unique style in the game would be pretty awesome, and it would also draw attention to someone who has been sadly over-looked a lot in recent years. He wouldn't add to the sales, so I understand him not being in a game, but I'd still love him being there due to how different he would be compared to the others in the game."
Although world titles titles are becoming more and more of a joke in recent years, with the WBA creating so many worthless titles and the WBC's "Franchise title" devaluing their own "world" title, and creating so much pointless confusion, they are still a major target for fighters and a draw for casual fans. They might be losing their value month after month, but to the legacy of a fighter they are still vital and something every major fighter chases.
With that in mind we've asked ourselves a question this week in regards to world titles:
"Who... should get a world title shot in 2021?"
As is usually the case in this series the three guys will only be looking at fighters from Asia for this question, though it can be any active fighter from Asia, whether they are a former champion or not.
Lee: "I think this week I will pick an obvious answer, and say Wanheng Menayothin should get a world title fight in 2021. Most obviously against Panya Pradabsri, the man he lost the WBC Minimumweight title to last year. In fact I really think this rematch should be one that takes places sooner rather than later and is one I genuinely want to see!
The first bout was fantastic. It was exciting, it had good back and forth, some controversy, Wanheng's first loss, a potential passing of the torch and the the start of the end for the legacy of Wanheng. I would love to see him get the chance to reclaim his title, go out on top, and end his career with the WBC title around his shoulders. The bout would capture the imagination of hardcore fans, like their first bout did, and given the result of the first bout this would have a lot of intrigue and interest.
Alternatively if that rematch can't be made maybe now is the perfect time to see Wanheng Vs Knockout CP Freshmart. Sure it would have been better when both men were champions, but that never seemed to be the plan for promoters. Having them battle now however would either legitimise Knockout or, again, let Wanheng end his career on top."
Takahiro: "Hiroaki Teshigawara. In recent years a lot of Japanese fighters in and around Super Bantamweight have had world title fights (Takahashi, Wake, Kameda, Oguni, Iwasa), but sadly no world title chance has come for "Teshi". I would like it if the 30 year old got a chance now, before his prime years run out. At the moment (time of writing) Teshi is ranked #3 with the IBF (who have no one rated at #1 or #2), #4 with the WBA and #12 with the WBO. It would be great for one of the champions to give him a shot.
Although not a big name outside of Japan Teshi is popular in Tokyo, would draw a good audience of local fans if he got a fight that was shown on WOWOW or DAZN, and would ask questions of any champion. He is tricky, awkward, heavy handed, and can be very fan friendly.
With wins against Kurihara, Pabustan, Kinoshita and Omori I think he's done enough to earn one and hopefully he gets one. I don't think he'd win, but I'd love him to get the chance to try."
Scott: "When this question was first posed, back in March, I didn't have an answer, but now I do. Ryosuke Nishida. In the last 6 months or so we've seen the now 4-0 Nishida beat former world title contender Shohei Omori and former world champion Daigo Higa. Surely a world title fight can't be far away, even in the shark infested waters at Bantamweight.
He might not be the most deserving of contenders, even among Japanese Bantamweights, but I love seeing fighters moved quickly and aggressively and given his last two wins there are very few fighters being moved as quickly, or as aggressively as Nishida.
He did state he wanted to face Johnriel Casimero, and whilst that might be out of the question, for now, there's no real reason that bout can't be targeted for a big end of year show if TBS or Fuji TV jump behind Nishida and help make him a star.
At the moment Osaka lacks a real star and Nishida has the ability to change that, if he can get some TV backing. He has the charisma, the confidence and the tools to be a star, and it would be great if he got a shot at the big time before the bells ring in 2022."
"This week we the guys behind Asian boxing answer another "Who?" question, and like last week's this one is a bit of a fun one, rather than an overtly serious one. The world is too depressing to be serious all the time, and sometimes we need a laugh.
This week the guys have been tasked to answer the following question:
"Who... has the least appropriate nickname in the sport?"
As is typically the case, they have been asked to keep it to Asian fighters for the sake of this, and by inappropriate they have been advised that doesn't just mean a bad nickname, but a misleading one, or that really doesn't make much sense.
For example a British example was Johnny "The Entertainer" Nelson, who was best known for having sleep inducing fights during his active career.
Lee: "Nicknames are supposed to strike fear into an opponent, or tell us something about a fight and his style. They are supposed to mean something. The best nicknames stand out and are memorable. Sadly though some names are just terrible, and for my answer this week I'm not choosing a nickname as such, but instead a fighting name. A very misleading fighting name.
Knockout CP Freshmart.
You love it, you can hate it, and you can be indifferent to it. But one thing you can't deny is the fact "Knockout" doesn't live up to his name. At all. As I'm answering this "Knockout" has scored 7 T/KO's in 21 bouts, a 33.33% stoppage rate. That's pretty bad, but things get worse when we look at recent fights, where Knockout has a single stoppage in his last 10 wins. A 10% stoppage rate!
Knockout needs rebranding as "Unanimous Decision CP Freshmart" and to lean into his new fighting name.
I know I'm picking an easy target, but I really needed to get this off my chest. Knockout CP Freshmart, has the most misleading name in world boxing!"
Takahiro: "The standout here for the least suitable nickname in Asian boxing is a very, very, very easy question to answer! Former Japanese Bantamweight champion Kohei Oba was dubbed the "Mayweather of Nagoya". I don't think I need to add anything here. That's a bad nickname, it's a wrong nickname, and it's a misleading nickname. It's a very, very, very bad one.
It was clear that Oba tried to mimic the style of Floyd Mayweather Jr at times, using a shoulder roll and upper body movement. But he was a very weak imitator of the American great and lacked everything that made Mayweather a star. He didn't have the stinging power of Mayweather, the lighting reflexes, the incredible boxing brain, the speed or anything else that Mayweather had.
It is still, even now, a funny nickname that makes me smile, but that's because it's inappropriate for Oba. The only part of the nickname that was right was "of Nagoya" and even that later proved to be wrong, as he fought much of his career out of Hyogo."
Scott: "I seriously love nicknames of boxers, and there really are some amazing nicknames out there. Sadly their are some dreadful ones.
Whilst doing research for this I came across some incredible nicknames. These included former Filipino fighter Kid Moro's nickname of "Love Me Tonight", making it sound like he's going to make his opponents his bitch for the night, or Bert Somodio, who had he super intimidating nickname of "Nursery Kid".
I also need to admit I love Lito Dante being known as "Naruto".
A really bad one was "Shōsha manbokusā", the nickname that was used by Yu Kimura. The name literally translates as "Trading Company Man Boxer". That's going to properly strike fear into the hearts, and minds, of opponents isn't it? I know lots of boxers use nicknames based on their jobs, things like the "Punching Postman", but this most be the most mundane and dull of those types of nicknames. I get that it sounds better in Japanese but...still awful, awful nickname! This might be a technically correct nickname, but it's certainly not a good one and given the sport he's competing in
Some others that don't really translate from Japanese into English very well such as "Lucky Man", one of the nicknames given to Katsushige Kawashima.
The least appropriate however was the nickname used by 4-time world title challenger Hiroyuki Kudaka. The exciting Kudaka was known as the "Sexy Soldier". Unlike some names, where a mistranslation can be used as an explanation of a bad nickname, this was the name Kudaka himself used on his blog in the past. Now, don't get me wrong, he's a decent looking guy, but "Sexy Soldier" is hardly going to make a boxer fear him. In fact it almost sounds like he's going to go pole dancing after his fights or be a stripper or something. A very, very odd, peculiar, and inappropriate nickname."
For this week in our "Who..." series we're going to have a bit of fun, be a little bit silly and stop taking the sport so seriously. We've looked at very factual things so far and really sometimes the sport is more about fun, and being a bit outlandish. With that in mind we're going to focus not on who we would love to see getting an opportunity or getting honoured in the hall of fame or anything like that.
Instead we're going to focus on something very different as we go very much into the world of fiction, and being shallow as hell as the guys behind Asian Boxing bring you the fighter tell you...
"Who... would make for a great movie villain?"
Before we get on to the answers, the guys have been told to select only Asian fighters, and by "villain" they can also include henchmen.
Lee - "Ok I'm going to pick someone based on how they looked in their prime, rather than how they look now. With that in mind, my selection is In Chul Baek.
Baek, to me, has the look of a heavy in some kind of a gangster movie. The old, grizzled veteran, who comes in to sort out the good guys who think they can get their hands on the boss. Of course he can also back it up with frightening power.
To me he always looked "rough and tough" and looked like he could hold his own in a street fight if needed. But also looked like he could hold his anger if he needed to. Of course we also know he liked to drink. A lot. And that would also make him great as a right hand man in a gangster movie.
The only issue I have with Baek as a villain, is that he was a bit small. But dress him in a suit, get him to be super quiet, and let be the ace in the hole for when he needs to step in and beat up the do gooders, or when ever his boss just wanted someone to have a good beating."
Takahiro - "A good villain has to look rough, look like he can handle himself, and knows how to fight. He also has to be bigger than most guys around him, and like he could kick anyones ass. For me the idea fighter for that task is former Japanese Heavyweight title contender Kotatsu Takehara.
At 6'1"he is much taller than most Japanese men, he is no pretty boy with a weathered and weary face, and although he's a very nice guy he looks very scary. A very intimidating man.
If I am looking for a movie henchman, or a man baddie, I would very much pick Takehara. He was a man who looked like he would batter people if they irritated him in the slightest and had a naturally angry look on his face."
Scott - "When a fighter is known as "Death Mask" it seems like we have an easy choice for this question. Former Thai great Veeraphol Sahaprom is a very obvious answer. He wasn't the biggest man, or the toughest man out there, but he already had the moniker, and had those cold steely eyes, with an emotionless face. If I could cast him he would be the emotionless hitman, shooting people in the back of the head then moving on.
Unlike the other guys mentioned he wouldn't be intimidating for his size or his looks necessarily, but I suspect the emotionless face of his would make him such a good movie hitman.
Maybe, as a sidekick, Veeraphol could have Rolando Navarrete alongside him. The "Bad Boy from Dadiangas" could be the wild and reckless one, causing trouble that Veeraphol needs to tidy up in his merciless way."
One of the things we, as boxing fans, all want to do is spot the talent before they make it big, and follow their journey from obscurity to the top. Of course to follow them, they need to be on the radar of fans, and with that in mind the guys at Asian Boxing have decided to share some of their picks for the future.
This week they share those picks as they answer the questions:
"Who... should be on the radars of fans but aren't?"
The guys were told to make two choices, with each choice coming from a different country and to pick fighters who really weren't on the radar of fans. Essentially if they were world ranked, they were too well known.
Lee: "I'll be honest and state the obvious. There is probably no Korean boxer right now on the radar of your average boxing fan. It's a sad shame and a real downer for us Korean fans of the sport. Thankfully however the country does some talent coming through the ranks. The most notable of those is a real talent, called Sung Min Yuh. Who I am a huge fan of!
The 20 year old Light Middleweight has been a professional since 2019 and has already won the Battle Royale tournament, the KBM version of "Rookie of the Year", and the KBM Light Middleweight title.
Watching Yuh I see a fighter who has IT. He's talented, he's big, he's growing, he's skilled, he's defensively smart, he can fight inside, he oozes charisma and charm and he knows how to entertain. There is work to do, but at 20 years old and without much amateur experience that's to be expected.
Given the local lack of talent, and his young, young age, I think we'll see Yuh travel outside of Korea before his career is over, and he could well well find himself mixing at a very high level. Get him on your radar now fans!
Outside of Korea, I would also advise taking a look at Ikboljon Kholdarov, who recently turned professional and made his debut in April. He is a super talented young fighter out of Uzbekistan. He was a very highly regarded amateur and someone who has the tools to go a very, very, very long way in the professional ranks. And he has the ability to climb the rankings very quickly."
Takahiro: "I think most Japanese prospects are on the radar of fight fans who read this website. Fighters like Ginjiro Shigeoka, Yudai Shigeoka, Jinki Maeda, Rentaro Kimura, Shokichi Iwata, Shu Utsuki and so many other fighters who have been featured in our "Introducing" series. One man who hasn't been in that series, yet, is Tsubasa Narai.
The 21 year old Narai turned professional in 2019, scoring 3 wins in the year, but really came alive during covid19 delayed Rookie of the Year, winning 4 bouts in the tournament, in 5 months, all by TKO (in fact it took just 9 rounds for him to win those 4 bouts). During his 7 fight career he has barely lost a round, he has been thrilling to watch and he has proven himself as one of the ones to watch going forward. Do not sleep on this unheralded Super Featherweight hopeful.
Kazakhstan is another country that we have spoken about a lot in our "Introducing" series and done numerous articles on some of the nations most promising talent. One fighter who hasn't had much attention is Mikhail Kokhanchik, who made his professional debut last November. The 22 year old Cruiserweight made his debut last year and he looked like a man who every fan should have on their radar. He's not a big guy at Cruiserweight, but he's aggressive, lets his hands go and likes to come forward. He was a good amateur who sadly struggled to fight on the international stage due to the depth that Kazakhstan had, but now I see him being one to watch going forward. He's not the most polished fighter, but he looks like a lot of fun and very impressive on debut."
Scott: "My first pick this week Thai professional novice Thitisak Hoitong, who made his professional debut last year, beating Wittawas Basapean (aka Samartlek Kokietgym) in a 6 rounder. He looked fantastic on his debut, showed cased a brilliant boxing brain, a lot of variation in what he could do in the ring and really looked like the sort of fighter who could be moved very quickly. He was a good amateur, but given how good he looked in his professional debut I get the feeling his moved to the paid ranks will be an excellent one.
Of course saying that I'm assuming other top Thai hopefuls, like Phoobadin Yoohanngoh, Chainoi Worawut, Thanongsak Simsri, Phongsaphon Panyakum and Thananchai Charunphak are all already on your radar.
Another fighter who should be on the radar of every fight fan, is Filipino fighter April Jay Abne, a very young Flyweight who looks like he has all the tools to reach the higher levels in the sport. He is talented, sharp, very young and very promising. He's in his early 20's and has a lot of time to develop. Sadly however he's not been particularly active in recent years and has lost the momentum he seemed to be building in 2019, when he won the Ultimate Boxing Series. Fingers crossed he'll be more active soon and get his career back on track."
We all have fighters we're personal fans of, that we feel go over-looked and don't get the attention and love they should. There are so many amazing fighters through the history of the sport, that it can be easy to over-look them, and never go back.
With that in mind the guys at Asian boxing have been tasked at trying to highlight some of those fighters, as they answer the question:
"Who... should every fight fan go and check out?"
The question came with 2 rules. Each one of the guys was allowed to name two fighters, and the fighters in question all had to be retired (they will be answering a similar question about active fighters in the future). With those rules in mind, lets look at the suggestions put forward!
Lee-"I'm going to pick two Korean fighters here, both of whom are among my personal favourites.
The first is Light Flyweight legend Myung Woo Yuh, who was just so much to watch and made offensive, pressure fighting look like an art form. Yuh was strong and tough, but it wasn't those qualities that made him a must watch. Instead it was his incredible work rate and the overall excitement of his fighters. He climbed into the ring to fight and he unleashed punches like some kind of perpetual punching machine. It would be easy to just say he threw a lot of leather, but that wasn't true. He didn't just throw a lot, but he landed a lot. He seemed to know where he was in the ring, and despite throwing, a lot, he rarely missed. There was some bizarre magic going on with his fights, where his punches were some how attracted to his opponents. He was an offensive genius. One of the greatest offensive fighters ever. I know most, including Yuh himself, would say Jung Koo Chang , was better but I always preferred watching Yuh.
Given my first pick was Yuh I don't think I need to explain that I like offensive fighters! With that in mind my second pick is former Featherweight Young Kyun Park, who was just so, so much fun. Dubbed the "Bulldozer" he really did fight like a bulldozer. Technically he flawed, very flawed, but he was all action and a marauding offensive force who came forward, threw a lot of heavy leather and just, well, bulldozed through people. His reign WBA Featherweight world title reign, from 1991 to 1993 was short in terms of time, but it was a really busy reign with 8 defences in total. He beat some top fighters during his time, including Antonio Esparragoza, who he took the title from, Eloy Rojas, Seiji Asakawa and Koji Matsumoto, and always put on a show. A forgotten legend!"
Takahiro-"I only have one pick this week, but I think it's a good one! Naoto Takahashi. The prince of the reversal. The former 2-weight Japanese national champion. The man who encapsulated what boxing meant to me! The man who I can enjoy watching any time.
Naoto Takahashi fought from 1985 to 1991, fighting just 23 bouts. But from those 23 bouts there was so many instant classics. His bout with Mark Horikoshi is one of the best bouts to ever take place at Korakuen Hall, and is the must watch bout of his. It's amazing. But it's not a one off great bout. His second bout with Mitsuo Imazato and his first bout with Noree Jockygym are amazing. Even his less memorable bouts, like his second bout with Tadashi Shimabukuro and his first bout with Mitsuo Imazato were brilliant action clashes.
Takahashi was a man known for boxing with his heart, not his head. His career was short because he took a lot of punishment, retiring due to a brain injury, but the way he fought appealed to me so much. He gave fans value for money. He gave his all. He won my boxing heart. Amazing fighter. If you've never seen him, go watch him. Now!
Oh, I have to make 2 choices? Okay! Fine! My second choice is Hozumi Hasegawa! The sensational 3 weight world champion.
There are lots of reasons to watch Hasegawa! Like Takahashi he often fought with his heart, rather than his brain. He was a smart fighter, when he wanted to be, but often had a fight when he didn't need to, which always made me a fan! Even at the end of his career, in his final round against Hugo Ruiz, he managed to let the fighting spirit show as he fought off the ropes. Another reason is his record and the perception that Hasegawa was feather fisted. He wasn't! He was actually a huge puncher, who showed his power at world level, stopping Veeraphol Sahaprom and Vusi Malinga among others. His power was freakish, and was powered by his speed. He was a dazzling fighter to watch. A speed demon with scary power, a very good boxing brain, and a heart that told him to fight! Fight! He was also just a very, very good guy!"
Scott-"I've decided to pick two very different fighters, one for excitement and one for technical brilliance.
The exciting fighter I want every one to watch is Takanori Hatakeyama, though it was a really hard choice between him, Lakva Sim and Yong Soo Choi who were all around at the same time and all involved in some amazing bouts, many between each other. I've gone with Hatakeyama however as as its not just his wars that are great but he also has some other highlights.
If you're going to watch great bouts with Hatakeyama involved you need to watch his two wars with Yong Soo Choi, his bouts with Koji Arisawa, Gilberto Serrano, Hiroyuki Sakamoto and Rick Yoshimura along with his loss to Lakva Sim. If you just want a highlight to watch his KO against Jae Woon Park is one of the most brutal KO's ever scored.
Honestly though you can't go wrong with fights featuring Sim or Choi if you've seen all of Hatakeyama's.
As for technical brilliance, I suggest everyone goes and watches Gerry Penalosa in action. The fantastic Filipino is one of the best technical boxers from any part of Asia, ever. He was intelligent in the ring, and did so many things incredibly well. His technique was brilliant, his understanding of the sport was on another level to many out there, and did the little things that so many fighters ignores. His balance was tremendous, his ability to read range was brilliant, he was accurate, didn't waste much of anything and was incredibly tough. Too tough for his own good at times.
Sadly whilst Penalosa was fantastic he was also an incredibly unlucky fighter. There are so many fights that could, and probably should, have gone his way. Sometimes he was to blame, he was bit too cautious at times, and didn't go all out to win the judges over on foreign soil. But other times he was robbed, such as the deplorable split decision loss against Eric Morel.
For fans wanting to see a technical genius, incredible skills and a fighter who got by without the freakish traits of a Manny Pacquiao or Nonito Donaire. He was the sort of fighter that every fight fan should watch and enjoy. He's not flashy, he's not oozing charisma, and his fights weren't always the most enjoyable to watch, but he was a genuine boxing genius. A brilliant boxing mind, and a man who showed that skills genuinely do pay the bills."
Every year boxing journalists talk about the latest entrants to the International Boxing Hall of Fame, an event that has become less international as the years have gone on and become sadly rather American centric. Whilst not everyone in the sport can be included there are a lot of names that should be in one of the sections that aren't there, for whatever reasons. Today the team at Asian boxing have been tasked with looking at some of those names and making a case for some Asian boxing people who should be in the Hall of Fame.
Unlike many of these types of articles however we weren't just focusing on boxers. After all the hall of fame looks at things like Participants and Observers, and this left the team with a lot of interesting possibilities ranging from promoters to artists, from significant industry insiders to photographers.
With that in mind let see who the guys came up with to answer the question:
"Who... belongs in the hall of fame?"
Lee - "I have two very different choices, and both really do belong in the hall of fame for very different reasons.
My first nomination is Filipino Manuel Nieto, who was one of key people involved in the development of the OPBF, serving as it's first president. He wasn't the only man involved at the start of the formation of the then OBF (Oriental Boxing Federation), his presidency of the organisation is part of the reason we are still talking about the OPBF more than 60 years on. The body is well respected, not something we can typically say for boxing organisations, and is still going strong. That was, in part, to Nieto's great work.
My second nomination is "Mama Shim", or Young-ja Shim. Shim is an often forgotten name in global boxing but was one of the most important female promoters in the sport and one of the most remarkable Korean promoters. She was the star Korean promoter of the 1980's and 1990's and promoted the likes of Kyung Yun Lee, Yong Kang Kim, Sung Kil Moon and Bong Jon Kim. Her inclusion in the non-participant category would be a fitting place for her. Sadly she died in 2020 but this would be a great way to honour her life, death and career in the sport.
Whilst writing this I also came up with a third suggestion that I would like to make, even if he wasn't Asian. And that is Sidney Jackson. Jackson was an American boxer originally, but would become better known as the first great trainer in Uzbekistan, where he basically put down the foundations of the Uzbek amateur system which is now one of the best in the world. There are people in the Hall of Fame that did a lot for boxing than Sidney Jackson who's name is rarely mentioned outside of amateur boxing fans, and that is a massive shame. What Jackson did helped create a boxing powerhouse, and we really do not recognise his achievements anywhere near enough."
Taka - "I have 3 names I want to nominate.
Firstly, former boxer Joichiro Tatsuyoshi. I would put him in for the same type of reasons as Arturo Gatti and even Barry McGuigan. Tatsuyoshi isn't an all time great boxer. There is no denying he was a limited boxer, with massive technical issues and a career that didn't reach the heights in the ring that many need to become a Hall of Famer. What he did however was fame. He was a star among stars, he helped cause a boxing boom in Japan and he was a star. A true star. A man who the media and fans connected with and a man who inspired so many fighters afterwards. Yes Tatsuyoshi doesn't belong there on talent, but what he did for the sport was huge. He is fame.
Given that Sylvester Stallone is in the Hall of fame as an Observer I want to nominate two other Observers. The first of those is Jyoji Morikawa, who has had a massive, massive impact on boxing due to his fictional work, as well as his continued involvement in the sport as a promoter. Whilst I don't think every boxing fan will recognise Morikawa's name they will recognise his work, as he is the man behind Hajime No Ippo and that brilliant Ring Magazine cover featuring Naoya Inoue. Morikawa's work has inspired so many Japanese youngsters to take up the sport, and has also seen his work become an international success. If Stallone is in then Morikawa deserves to be knocking on the door.
My second Observer nomination is a bit of a gimmie, and that's photographer. Naoki Fukuda. If we're being honest when we think of boxing photographers there's only a handful of names that we ever think about, and Fukuda is always among those names. His work has regularly been award winning and his ability to take a picture at the right time has seen him become the sports star photographer. He is a special man behind the camera and someone who deserves his place in Canastota one day. As I said he's a gimmie, and if he doesn't get in then serious questions need to be asked!"
Scott - "I'm being super selfish here with 4 names I want to nominate but they include only one is a fighter and the the 3 are connected to each other.
The one fighter is Masako Takatsuki, who I will get blank looks at mentioning. I nominate her for the Women's Trailblazer category, which is really lacking in terms of fighters. She was the first Japanese professional female fighter and was a rather notable curiosity in an era before female boxing was even recognised in Japan. Her boxrec record shows her as having gone 1-1 but her complete record is reported as being 8-2-1 (3). Due to the JBC not recognising female boxing at the time, and they didn't until the 21st century, many of her bouts were fought either overseas or under the auspices of the All Japan Women's Martial Arts Federation, who crowned her the first All Japan female boxing champion. To be the first Japanese female boxer is, to me, a trailblazer, especially given how female boxing in Japan would become in the 00's and the 2010's, some 30 years after Takatsuki's final bout.
The other 3 I want to mention are Hiroyasu Kikuchi, Munehide Tanabe and Yachiyo Manabe, who between them are responsible for much of the Japanese boxing as we know it now.
Hiroyasu Kikuchi was the clerical powerhouse of the early JBC, serving as the first Executive Director, and was responsible for the collection of a lot of data used in boxing. Such as health records, contracts and records. He was the administrator that allowed others to work around him and it was due to his great work that things went, relatively, smoothly during the country's new era of professional boxing. He was also a brilliant mediator and a fantastic negotiator. His impact in boxing is so overlooked. He worked not just for the JBC but also the WBA and WBC during his career in the sport and was also an often overlooked factor in the rise of Yoshio Shirai.
Although not known outside of Asia, Munehide Tanabe and Yachiyo Manabe are really important figures in Japanese boxing, and are brothers-in-laws who helped establish Japanese boxing.
Born in 1881 Munehide Tanabe was a business man who later became one of the key figures in Japanese boxing. He would be one of the key early figures in the Korakuen Stadium Company, now known as the Tokyo Dome, and would go on to be the first commissioner of the JBC (holding the role from 1952 to 1957), establishing the organisation with Akira Honda. After that he helped bring Japan in line with the NBA (National Boxing Association, now the WBA), and later helped develop the Oriental Boxing Federation, which later became the OPBF. During his roles he was a major player in establishing the creation of the Korakuen Hall, the Holy Land of Japanese boxing. Interestingly he is inducted in the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame, for the effects he had on baseball in the country, which saw him play a role in creating the Korakuen Eagles. His role in professional sport in Japan is incredibly over-looked and deserves more than a paragraph here.
Sadly Munehide Tanabe passed away in 1957 and his role of JBC commissioner ended up being passed on to his brother-in-law, Yachiyo Manabe. Manabe, a lawyer and businessman himself, continued the excellent work of Tanabe and served as the JBC's commissioner from 1957 to 1975. Not only did he head the JBC for almost 20 years but he also played a major role in the development of the OBF (which he later served as a chairman for), helped further build the Korakuen Group and guided Japanese boxing into becoming a powerhouse of the sport. He was later named honorary chairman of the WBA for life due to his huge, and amazingly overlooked, impact on the sport. He was also inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame and, along Tanabe, deserves a place in the Boxing Hall of fame for the work he did in helping set up the JBC. Outside of boxing he played massive role in baseball, crafting a relationship with the Yomiuri Giants, and also began boxing’s relationship with NTV, which continues to this very day!
In many ways Tanabe, Manabe and Kikuchi were the founding fathers of modern day Japanese boxing, along with Akira Honda."
One of the most amazing things about boxing is the sheer number of stories the sport has given us over the years. They range from the incredibly well documented, such as Muhammad Ali's and Mike Tyson's, to the almost unknown stories of fighters who never managed to become famous enough for fans around the world to know about them.
Over the years many, many stories of boxers, their careers and their lives have managed to be told through biopics, something that seems to be coming more and more popular in recent years. In recent years alone we have seen biopics released about a wide array of fighters from our great sport. These have included movies about legends like Muhammad Ali, Manny Pacquiao, Roberto Duran and Max Schmelling, fan favourites like Vinny Pazienza, Chuck Wepner, Mickey Ward and national heroes like Mary Kom, Muhammad Shah and Olli Mäki.
With those movies in mind the team of guys behind Asian boxing was tasked with answering the question of:
"Who... should have a biopic made about their life and career?"
The only rule for this was that the fighter had to be Asian and the idea of the biopic was to tell a story that hadn't been told before to a wider, global audience.
Lee: "There are a lot of fantastic stories of fighters from Asia, and a lot of really good ones from Korea. I would love to see the tale of Yo Sam Choi given the big screen treatment, as I think it would really tear at the heart strings of viewers. His WBC world title win, with his battle to keep Korean boxing relevant, his retirements, his untimely death and his organ donations would be a really touching story with implications that could massively help raise the profile of organ donations. It could even end with interviews from the people who received organs and their families, as a poignant ending and showing that Choi still lives on. It's also worth noting that LeeSSang did a song regarding Choi, and it would be an amazing song to feature in the movie.
Another that I would love would be a biopic on Hyun Mi Choi. I know Choi's story is starting to be told thanks to her signing with Matchroom, but a lot of the story will never really be told. The way she was scouted for the 2008 Olympics, her and her family fleeing from North Korea, the need to create a new life in South Korea, the rise through the amateur ranks, her world title win, the double crossing of her team and the way she was taken advantage of, before finally making it big and fighting in the US.
Whilst I would love Yo Sam Choi's tale to be told, and I think it would be an amazing advert for what organ donations can do, I think the emotional push and pull would be an incredibly painful one to watch. As for Hyun Mi Choi it would be a feel good story, and a chance to get an insight into North Korea and what the regime was like. Two really good potential stories."
Takahiro: "If we were going to have a biopic about a fighter there are lots of names that spring to mind, but I think the best, as a viewer, would be Jiro Watanabe. The story would have carious chapters. Starting with his childhood and his success in Nippon Kempo as a youngster. Then for the middle portion we move on to boxing, the disappointment of his first world title fight, the eventual rise to the top, the politics between the WBC and WBA that denied him a unification, his world title reign and his unfulfilled rivalry with Khaosai Galaxy. Then we get to the bulk of the action and the eventual conclusion, his down fall, the Yakuza issues, and the stories that have plagued him since he hung up the gloves.
If I'm allowed a second choice I would also love to see a movie on the international stage of Iwao Hakamada. As many will know Hakamada wasn't a famous boxer, but his name is well known internationally due to the "Hakamada Incident" where he was found guilty of the murders of his boss and their family. He would serve a lengthy time on death row before his legal team, with the help of those in Japanese boxing, managed to get his case retried. I think a biopic on Hakamada, at one of the film festivals, would raise the profile of Hakamada further and really force the world to take a look at the Japanese criminal justice system. A system that has failed Hakamada, and needs to be changed. I think given the success of "The Hurricane" this would do well, and would be the spiritual brother of that movie
I will take biopics on Jiro Watanabe or Iwao Hakamada please!"
Scott: "Whenever I see this question one name that always jumps immediately to mind is Hiroyuki Sakamoto. He has a tale that would just feel so good to watch, despite a dark start. He was abused as a child, along with his brother, and he would end up in an orphanage. Despite that he was bit by the boxing bug, and ended up being a star in the sport. He was a star despite not being a loud mouth, or really talking much at all. He let his boxing do the talking and was known as the "Japanese Duran" due to his power and aggression.
After a sad start to the movie we would get to see Sakamoto fight through the rankings, becoming a multi time world title challenger, with a lot of focus on his astonishing fight with Gilberto Serrano, one of the craziest comebacks in the sport. Then his big opportunity against Takanori Hatakeyama. More disappointment. I would end the part about his in ring career here, though can see some value in showing the final few bouts of it. Then fast forward a few years and we'd get the chance to see Sakamoto's post boxing career, the success of the SRS Boxing Gym which he set up, as well as Sakamoto receiving the "HEROs SPORTSMANSHIP for THE FUTURE" award for his charitable work with the Aozora Foundation that he set up. We'd go from grief, and extreme sadness at Sakamoto's child hood and career to jubilation to what he does now.
As well as Sakamoto I think another fighter who deserves the big screen treatment is Sirimongkol Singwancha. His career and life is crazy. His father basically pushed him into boxing, he raced to a world title, had an incredible 1997 bout with Joichiro Tatsuyoshi, had a scandal with nudes back in 2005, a drug issue in 2009 saw him given a 20 year sentence, he was given an early pardon, then would fight on, and on, and on! Fighting all the way in to 2020, when he was in his early 40's and very much a washed up fighter."
Another week is here and the team at Asian Boxing have again been tasked with answering a "Who...?" question. This week we are looking at fighters who failed to reach their potential, as the guys answer the question:
"Who... failed to live up to your expectations in the last 20 years?"
Lee: "There are so many fighters that fit into this category from all over the world. I wish I could have picked a Korean here, but the reality is the first man that springs to mind is actually a Filipino, and one who is still technically active. But is very much a "bust" for me. That is Marvin Sonsona.
When Sonsona turned professional there was real buzz in the Philippines, and the way he was moved quickly and aggressively in the first few years of his career was really exciting. Less than 2 year after his debut he had stopped veteran Wandee Singwancha and just a fight later he won the WBO Super Flyweight title beating Jose Lopez in Canada. He was 19 at the time and looked almost nailed on to be the next big Filipino boxing star. Then things went wrong, he missed weight for his first defense, got beat by Wilfredo Vaquez Jr the following year, and his career went off the rails.
After 2010 we only saw him sporadically. He should real class in his win over Akifumi Shimoda in Macao and looked amazing for 5 rounds in a rematch with Vazquez Jr, but then stunk out the joint for 5 rounds. Since then there has been nothing positive from Sonsona who has gotten old, fat, and looks unlikely to ever come close to being the fighter he had the potential to be.
I'll be harsh. He's the biggest wasted talent of the last 20 years in my opinion."
Takahiro: "In 2013 Hikaru Marugame turned professional and I was very, very excited to see him fight in the pros, because was a stand out amateur.
In 2017 however Muragame fought for the last time. His professional record was 6-3-1 (4). He had so much potential, but never came anywhere close to that potential.
What few Western people will know is just how good of an amateur Muragame was. In the unpaid ranks he went 60-14, he won the National Athletic Meet and the All Japan Championship in the amateurs and also competed at the 2009 World Amateur Championships.
Those amateur achievements seemed like they were going to put Muragame on the fast track to the top of the sport. Sadly however he did almost nothing with his career. He won his first 5 bouts, the went 1-3-1 in his last 5 bouts before retiring.
He did fight some notable fighters, including Reiya Abe and Kinshiro Usui, but never managed to even fight for a title.
I had so many hopes for Muragame, but he fell so very, very, very short."
Scott: "A few years before this site was set up there was a number of exciting Japanese prospects that managed to get me interested in the Japanese boxing scene. One of those was a youngster by the name of Yohei Tobe, who was 23 at the time of his debut. On his debut he beat the Korean national champion, Jin Ki Jung, then he beat the experienced Wandee Singwancha in his second bout and then former world title challenger Kohei Kono in his third bout. Within just 10 months of his debut he was 3-0 (2) with two notable wins.
By this point I was doing research on him and I was really excited about the youngster, and learned he had been a decent amateur with more than 40 wins and had been a 2-time winner at the National Polity.
After learning that I got so excited about Tobe. I thought he was going to be a star. I thought he was going to be the future of Japanese boxing and a future world champion. Then he went 1-1-1 in his next 3 fights, losing to Ryo Akaho in an OPBF title bout and fighting to a draw with Richard Pumicpic. He managed to rebuild from those set backs, winning the Japanese Super Flyweight title and the WBA International title, but never came close to a world title fight.
Whilst there were certainly bigger prospects, and brighter hopefuls than Tobe I don't think there was anyone I had bigger hopes of than Tobe, who really did fall short of my expectations. He wasn't awful, not by any stretch, but he certainly failed to achieve what he seemed capable of."
"Who... from the history of the Light Flyweight division, would you have liked to have seen fighting today?"
Last week we looked at which fighters during the history of the Super Flyweight division we would have loved to have plonked into today's boxing scene.
The idea was a fun one, and we came across a number of interesting answers as we looked at some of the legends of the divisions. This week we're doing a similar idea though moving down the scales to 108lbs, to answer a very similar question.
"Who... from the history of the Light Flyweight division, would you have liked to have seen fighting today?"
Lee: "There are two obvious choices for me, and I can't split them. Jung Koo Chang and Myung Woo Yuh.
Of the two men I think Chang was the better fighter, the more exciting, and the more skilled. Him in today's boxing scene against the likes of Hiroto Kyoguchi, Felix Alvarado, Kenshiro Teraji, Elwin Soto and Carlos Canizales would have provided a lot of amazing action. So many thrilling fights. Sadly however I think Chang would have been a short term fighter in any era. He famously retired when he was just 25, and whilst I think his career would have been prolonged in today's boxing world, with fewer fights per year, his out of the ring activities would have caught up with him.
Yuh on the other hand was the longer term option. He still looked really good in his later bouts, and had a more serious professional side to him. His style would have also gelled amazingly with the modern day guys and I think he would have faced more of the top guys than Chang and he would have travelled for more of the big fights. Neither man was a huge fan of using their passport, but I see Yuh as the type of fighter who would have gotten on board with DAZN more than Chang.
Either man in today's world would have been amazing. I'd have loved to have had either in this golden era of Light Flyweights".
Takahiro: "Yoko Gushiken. There is no other answer for me, Yoko Gushiken. I think Gushiken wouldn't have been able to have such a long reign in today's world but I think he would have been less active, wouldn't have burned out as quickly as he did and would have hada much longer career had he been around now. He would also have been able to fight some amazing fighters.
One of Yoko's biggest issues was he came along with the division was too new. There wasn't enough top fighters in the division in the 1970's for him to beat a lot of amazing fighters and this was a shame. If he fought today he would have suitable opponents, big name fights, and his style would have been so good to watch. Sign me up for Yoko Gushiken Vs Sho Kimura!
Easy answer. Yoko Gushiken."
Scott: "I'm going in a slightly different direction to the other two guys. They have both selected legends, and are looking at the world title picture. I'm instead going to go with Yo Sam Choi. If Choi was still fighting Korean boxing would still be relevant, and Choi wouldn't have passed away in the sad way that he did.
Choi isn't "legend" like like Chang, Yuh and Gushiken, but he was one of the last fighters who cared about Korean boxing, and one of the nations last shining lights in the sport. I would have loved for him to have been around now, for him to have been relevant in 2020, and for him to be given opportunities to showcase his skills in the US. I don't think he would have held his own with the top fighters of today, but he would have been great on the Oriental title level, and as a regular contender knocking on the door at the top.
Also I genuinely don't imagine the various medical issues that cost Choi his life being repeated in 2020.
I would have love Korean boxing to be big now, and Choi would have been ideal. His backers seemed to fail him so often that I think he would have travelled willingly and flown the Korean flag around the world. He would have been the figure head for Korean boxing now."
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