We’re now into 2021 but before we leave last year behind there are a few more things we need to look back on for last year. Among those are the Monthly Award winners for December 2020, and it’s a month really dominated by Japanese action, with Japan hosting a large number of shows during the final part of the year.
Fighter of the Month
Kazuto Ioka (26-2, 15)
The fighter of the month for December was an easy one, but one we really needed to wait until the end of the month for, and that was Kazuto Ioka, who successfully defended his WBO Super Flyweight title with an excellent 8th round TKO win against Kosei Tanaka. The Japanese legend was put under pressure early in the bout, was left with double vision in round 2, and had clear damage around his eye soon afterwards. Despite that he stuck to a game plan, took away Tanaka’s best tools, dropped the younger man twice, and then forced Michiaki Someya to save Tanaka from further punishment. A fantastic performance in the final big bout of the year.
Fight of the Month
Masayoshi Nakatani Vs Felix Verdejo
We genuinely had some amazing fights in December, such as the fantastic bout between Ioka and Tanaka fight, the sensational bout between Ali Akhmedov and Carlos Gongora and the brilliant clash between Ryoji Fukunaga and Kenta Nakagawa bout. The one that stood out above them all however was the amazing 9 round bout between Masayoshi Nakatani and Felix Verdejo in the US. The bout had 4 knockdowns, a huge shift in momentum and saw Nakatani pull himself off the canvas, twice, to stop Verdejo. This is up there with the very, very best of 2020 and is a bout that every fan should watch, if they haven’t already. A genuine fantastic fight.
KO of the Month
Etsuko Tada TKO9 Ayaka Miyao
As well as great fights we also had some sensational KO’s. The best of the bunch came in the WBO female Minimumweight title bout with Etsuko Tada taking out Ayaka Miyao with a single, short, straight, left hand. This was a perfect KO, sending Miyao face first onto the canvas, and giving Tada probably the best KO win of her career. In a month where we had some sensational finishes this was really something special and stands up there with the best female KO’s ever, especially given the proven world class ability of Miyao. If you have a Boxing Raise account and haven’t seen this one already go and check it out!
Prospect of the Month
Ryosuke Nishida (3-0, 1)
It’s rare to see a prospect fake on a former world title challenger in their first few fights but that’s exactly what we saw from Ryosuke Nishida on December 19th, when he beat Shohei Omori. Nishida, who was 2-0, and had only made his debut in October 2019, was too quick, too sharp, too hungry and too good for Omori who struggled to get anything going. Nishida started well as he established an early lead. He a little wobble in the middle of the fight, as Omori tried to turn things around, but roared back in the later rounds and came close to stopping Omori whilst securing himself a massive win. This was brilliant from Nishida in a massive step up, and it’s clear that the young southpaw from the Mutoh Gym has the potential to go a very, very long way. This was a performance that genuinely put him on the map and we’re looking forward to seeing the 24 year old return to the ring later this year.
Upset of the Month
Yuichi Ideta MD8 Ryota Yada
When it comes to upsets few will rival the upset win scored by Yuichi Ideta against former Japanese Welterweight champion Ryota Yada. Coming into the bout Ideta had gone 1-15-1 in his previous 17 bouts. He hadn’t scored a win in almost 10 years and had lost 11 in a row. No one gave him a chance, especially not at the age of 36. But then he simply out worked, out fought, out battled, out gritted and out willed Yada en route to taking a truly unexpected decision win. The heavy handed Yada, who is best known for his brilliant 2019 war with Yuki Beppu, was expected to win this one and move on to an OPBF title bout in 2021, but this loss almost certainly ends those plans and leaves his career in a really precarious situation.
Carlos Gongora TKO12 Ali Akhmedov
Round of the Month
Ryoji Fukunaga Vs Kenta Nakagawa (Rd8)
With a lot of brilliant fights taking place in December we also got a lot of excellent rounds and they came right through the levels of the sport, from some of the Rookie bouts world level bouts. For us however the bouts rounds came late in the fantastic bout between Ryoji Fukunaga and Kenta Nakagawa, with round 8 being the best of the bunch. The two men fought each other to a standstill, they each rocked the other and they went hammer and tong, beating the fight out of each other. This was brutal, it was thrilling, exciting, back and forth action. It was exactly what we needed to see. Not only was it great, but the stakes couldn’t be much higher, with the two men fighting for the WBO Asia Pacific, OPBF and Japanese Super Flyweight titles. This was amazing, and followed up by 2 more great rounds making for a real gem of a fight.
This past week has been a brilliant one for us. We've had great fights on a number of days, we've celebrated Christmas, and managed, for at least a week, to enjoy a mix of boxing and normal life. We're of course not the only ones who have had a good week, and so have a number of fighters! So with that said lets take a look at the big winners of the past week as we hand out our weekly awards!
Fighter of the Week
We open this up with a somewhat peculiar pick, but a very valid one, and that is Yuichi Ideta as the fighter of the week. The 36 year old Ideta hadn't won a fight in almost 10 years. He was being given almost no chance and the popular opinion, including that of ourselves, was that he was a patsy for Ryota Yada to swat aside. A mere showcase bout for Yada, a former Japanese champion. We were wrong, very, very wrong, and instead of coming to the ring to lose Ideta out worked, out muscled, out battled and out fought the younger, more proven Yada. This was a huge, career defining win for Ideta, who looked like a man with a point to prove and proved it in the perfect way. Ideta has almost certainly gone from the cast of yard, to the regional and domestic title mix.
Performance of the Week
Aged 37 and having not been in a professional boxing ring for well over 4 years few gave Katsunari Takayama much of a chance when he returned to the ring on Sunday. He had been written off by many, but within seconds of the bout starting it was the Takayama of old, the sharp, quick, mosquito like fighter who was light on his feet, with good upper body movement and accurate jabs. He looked much smaller than Reiya Konishi but that never looked like it mattered as he easily out boxed, out fought, out though and out pointed Konishi. Konishi was there to win, don't get us wrong, but he could never cope with the incessant movement and punching of Takayama. This was a hell of a performance from a man we thought was done.
Fight of the Week
Hironori Mishiro Vs Masayuki Ito
The 10 round Lightweight bout between OPBF Super Featherweight champion Hironori Mishiro and Masayuki Ito was streamed live, worldwide on Boxing Day and it delivered a brilliant, technical, well matched bout that saw both men showing exactly what they could do. Through the bout it seemed like Ito was landing the heavier single shots but Mishiro's jab was a constant weapon and turned out to be the difference on the scorecards, with Mishiro sneaking the win. This was 10 rounds of high skill chess, fought at a very high speed, with momentum shifts, and each man needing to find a solution to their opponents strengths. Maybe not a Fight of the Year contender, but a genuinely fantastic bout.
Bakhodur Usmonov vs Vildan Minasov
Round of the Week
Bakhodur Usmonov vs Vildan Minasov (Rd 4)
Talented Tajik amateur Bakhodur Usmonov made his debut this past week, on Christmas eve, when he took on Vildan Minasov in what turned out to be a truly fantastic 6 round back and forth that saw both men showing off solid boxing skills, heart, power and determination. Minasov looked to make it a war from the off and Usmonov was under intense pressure, whilst trying to stick to his boxing. In round 4 Usmonov was in troubler again, before he gritted his teeth and tried to turn the fight around, going to war with Minasov, giving us 3 minutes of brutal, back and forth action. This was fantastic
KO of the Week
Jinki Maeda TKO2 Kaito Okubo
In one of the final bouts of the week we saw the brilliantly talented Jinki Maeda in action, as he took on Kaito Okubo. In round 2 of their bout, with Okubo near the ropes Maeda landed a dynamite straight left hand that forced Okubo to spin and sent him down hard. His team immediately signalled to the referee to stop this and let them help Okubo. This was a sensational KO by a young man who has been very impressive in 2021 and fingers crossed we'll see him in an interesting fight next year.
Ryo Akaho TKO2 Yuto Nakamura
Jin Sasaki TKO3 Aso Ishiwaki
Prospect of the Week
We were expecting to see the hard hitting 19 year old Jin Sasaki being given a genuine test this week when he took on Aso Ishiwaki. Instead Sasaki just went into the ring and made a statement, dropping Ishiwaki 3 times to secure the Japanese Youth Light Welterweight title. Sasaki stormed out and came close to stopping Ishiwaki in the first round, dropping him twice and leaving him on wobbly legs at the end of the opening round. It seemed clear Sasaki wanted an early win and wanted to use his power to make a statement. In round 2 he took his foot off the gas but closed the show in style in round 3 and made it very clear that this was his week. This was a prospect announcing himself in a big, big way and putting the 140lb division in Japan on notice.
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