As we continue into new year we've had a big look at the current scene and come up with "20 fights we'd like to see in 2020", yeah another series ahead of the new decade!
As is always the case with what we do, these articles will have an Asian flavour, and every bout we mention in the series will have at least 1 fighter from Asia involved. So for those of you expecting us to talk about Deontay Wilder Vs Anthony Joshua, that won't be listed.
What we'll be looking at is well matched contests with either some form of back story, a great stylistic clash or bouts with some form of significant meaning. If they tick all the boxes then that is even better! Each fight will be given it's own article and each of these will come with an introduction to the fighters, and why the bout is being featured in the list.
Yuki Beppu (21-1-1, 20) Vs Kudura Kaneko (11-0, 8)
The Welterweight scene in Jappan doesn't get much attention, but last year it gave us a legitimate Fight of the Year contender, and whilst the talent isn't the best it does have a nice mix of fighters who all appear to be pretty evenly matched. It's this competitiveness that has made the division interesting to follow, without having a star to really create attention there. Today's bout looks an interesting match up that could take place in the coming year for a regional title and would promise to be a very interesting contest.
The hard hitting Yuki Beppu has had a really interesting career. He debuted in 2012 and won the Rookie of the Year in 2014, scoring his his 8th straight early win in the All Japan final against Hironobu Matsunaga. His KO run extended until he was 14-0, and then fought to a draw with Charles Bellamy, proving that he could box as well as punch despite only managing a draw. A loss to Yuki Nagano in a Japanese title eliminator in 2018 slowed his ascent but just 14 months later he won the WBO Asia Pacific title, winning a sensational bout with Ryota Yada. That Yada bout was truly amazing, with Beppu pulling himself off the canvas 5 times before stopping a swollen and tired Yada, in a remarkable come from behind win.
Japanese based Afghan born Welterweight Kudura Kaneko is relatively unknown, unless you follow the Japanese scene in depth, but has been quietly impressing over the last few years with wins against domestic foes like Masaharu Kaito, Change Hamashima, Toshio Arikawa, Rikuto Adachi and Moon Hyon Yun. The next step for him seems to be a title bout of some kind. The 21 year old Kaneko has really impressed and seems well on his way to winning major silverware, and a shot at the WBO Asia Pacific title seems like a logical choice. He is less experienced than Beppu, but like Beppu he's a strong boxer-puncher and given his recent form, his record isn't actually much behind that of Beppu, in terms of quality at least.
This would be two talented boxer-punchers against each other. Beppu is probably the more explosive, but Kaneko cannot be over-looked and he is a big, strong, powerful kid who is probably the more polished boxer of the two men. Beppu would find himself up against a guy who can box well, and throws everything with natural power, whilst Kaneko would be up against someone who could hurt him, something we've yet to see any opponent do so far.
This would be a very, very interesting, explosive and exciting match up, which genuinely could see Beppu build on his huge win over Yada or help Kaneko announce himself as a legitimate one to watch.
(Images courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Generally December is a very Japan centric month in Asian boxing, with the end of shows and Rookie of the Year. This year things seemed even more Japan centric than usual with a host of cards through the month. As a result December's awards were pretty much all in Japan, though that doesn't take away from what was a very interesting month.
Fighter of the Month
In December we had a host of world title fights, some were competitive, some weren't but for us the guy who shone the brightest was Kazuto Ioka. Ioka was in tough with a 2-time Olympian, who was tall, longer and faster. After taking a couple of rounds to figure his man out however Ioka began to adjust and slowly broke down Jeyvier Cintron in what was an excellent over all performance in a fantastic bout. Cintron, we suspect, will win a world title in the future and this is a win that will end up looking very good in a few year's time.
Fight of the Month
Yuki Beppu Vs Ryota Yada
Few fights can truly be described as dramatic, but with 6 knockdowns, bombs being traded through out, and a huge come from behind win it's hard to suggest that anything other than the WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title bout between Yuki Beppu and Ryota Yada was going to win this. There were other great bouts, the rookie of the year bout between Kodai Honda vs Yasutaka Fujita being among them, but nothing was every going to compete with Beppu Vs Yada. A genuine must watch war.
KO of the Month
Mammoth Kazunori TKO5 Lerdchai Chaiyawed
It seemed that December wanted to try and provide us with the best of everything, and the brutal KO scored by Mammoth Kazunori, against Lerdchai Chaiyawed, tried to steal the KO of the Year with just over 2 weeks of the year left. This was originally doing the rounds from a fan cam, but when the bout was upload to Boxing Raise a few days after it took place the KO looked even better. A single solid left hand turned Lerdchai 's lights out...and then he hit the canvas. This was as clean a shot as Kazunori will likely ever land, and the way Lerdchai hit the canvas was just nasty.
Yudai Shigeoka (2-0, 1)
With a win against an OPBF champion in just his second professional bout, it was hard to give this award to anyone else. Shigeoka might not be as brutal as his younger brother, Ginjiro Shigeoka, but out pointing Lito Dante this early in his career was fantastic and a real statement of intent for someone wanting to be fast-tracked.
Amazingly Yudai's brother stopped Rey Loreto and Bektemir Melikuziev out pointed Vaughn Alexander, in just his 4th bout, during the month. This was an excellent month for prospects.
Renz Rosia UD8 Aston Palicte
The "Filipino fighters are involved in upsets" trend continued through December. Jhack Tepora being stopped by Oscar Escandon, Jhunriel Ramonal stopping Yusaku Kuga and Renz Rosia beating Aston Palicte were the short list for the month. For us Rosia's win gets the award due to the fact he completely out boxed, out fought and out though Palicte. This wasn't a wild shot, or beating someone before they warmed up. This was beating them round, after round, after round. This was Rosia exposing Palicte's flaws, and given where Palicte was at the start of this year was a genuine surprise. What made this really stand out is that Rosia was 1-4-1 in his previous 6 bouts! A genuine shocker.
Toshiya Ishii vs Haruki Ishikawa (Round 2)
We had some amazing rounds this past month, and round 4 of Akira Yaegashi Vs Moruti Mthalane will certainly be a hard one to forget. For sheer drama and too and fro action however the pick from the month was round 2 from Toshiya Ishii's incredible battle with Haruki Ishikawa. Ishii was dropped in the opening seconds, regrouped, the two men staggered each and both were hurt several times before the round concluded. This was sheer, unadulterated awesomeness. A real round of the ages, and came in a Japanese Youth title bout, proving that even this low level of title is worth putting it all on the line for.
As boxing fans we love to complain about the sport, and talk about the negatives. We highlight so much bad that we sometimes forget why we even enjoy the sport. This week however we remembered why we love boxing, and for one of the few times this year we had a week that had a lot more good than bad. It wasn't a flawless week, but it was a great week, both in Asia and internationally, with some great fights, amazing action and brilliant match ups. We had some bout, of course we did, but that bad was easily outweighed by the good.
As a result we've mixed up the format for this week's "The good, the Bad and the Ugly" with extra goods, and fewer negatives...after all 'tis the season to be jolly!
1 - Hironori Mishiro Vs Yoshimitsu Kimura
Seeing bouts exceed expectations is sort of a hope now a days in boxing. We don't often see it though, and more often than not a bout fails to meet the bare minimum that we'd expect. This week the OPBF Super Featherweight title fight between Hironori Mishiro and Yoshimitsu Kimura easily out did anything we'd have expected, with the two men putting on a really competitive, exciting and action packed fight. Their was a lack of drama at times, but it was a fight that was consistently good for 12 rounds and swung one way then the other. This was a captivating and truly enjoyable bout where both fighters came out looking better than they had going in.
2 - Mammoth Nakayama's massive KO against Lerdchai Chaiyawed
On Sunday in Kariya the 20 year old Mammoth Nakayama scored a late contender for KO of the year as he completely cleaned the clock of Thai visitor Lerdchai Chaiyawed. The hard hitting Nakayama had been out of the ring for over a year and was taking on an opponent who had never been stopped, and had taken some good fighters the distance, but was totally laid out by a monster of a left hand. This is as sweet a shot as Nakayama will ever land and boy did it look sensational to see Lerdchai's body instantly turn off.
3 - Yuki Beppu Vs Ryota Yada video released
A week ago Yuki Beppu and Ryota Yada battled in a FOTY contender, with 6 knockdowns, power shots from both, excitement through out and serious amounts of heart. Their was a worry that the bout wasn't going to be made available, but in the middle of the week it was finally uploaded to the A-sign boxing youtube channel and, man what a fight!
4 - Yudai Shigeoka shines
We love prospects being fast tracked, and they are rarely put on a trajectory quite like that of Yudai Shigeoka, who beat OPBF champion Lito Dante in just his second professional bout! Whilst this was a 6 round non-title bout it was clear that Shigeoka had the gameplan to beat Dante over a longer distance and it seems very clear that the Watanabe Gym will be pushing their talent youngster into a title bout of some kind in the new year. We love fast tracking, and it's hard not to love the ambition of the Shigeoka brothers.
5 - Bek Bully shows a softer side
After disposing of his first 3 opponents in just 6 rounds Bektemir Melikuziev wasn't expected to show he could box this week, but he did. And by that we mean he completely boxed the socks off the tough Vaughn Alexander, shutting out the American over 10 1-sided rounds that saw him not only land at will but essentially shut down the American, who failed to land more than a handful of shots per round. As mentioned already we love seeing fighters fast tracked and it's clear Melikuziev is being fast tracked. Better than just seeing someone being fast tracked is to see them showing something different to their game, and to see Melikuziev box and move, with the ease he did, was a real positive for his career going forward.
1 - The WBC choose to create another Lightweight title!
It wasn't that long ago that the WBA were alone in creating new titles, but now the WBC have seen the benefit of giving world titles out like they are candy. In the space of just a few months we've gone from having 0 WBC Lightweight champions to having a Franchise champion a Champion in recess and a now vacant title, which will have it's vacancy filled in 2020. We couldn't understand why they made the decision to make Vasyl Lomachneko the Franchise champion or why Devin Haney, who has no legitimate world class win, was given the full version of the title. The WBC should have just made it clear that Haney would get a shot in 2020, either at Lomachenko or the winner of the planned 4-title unification bout. Instead they have made a mess, and it was a mess that never needed to be made.
2 - Michael Conlan Vs Vladimir Nkitin
We're trying to be positive, really we are, but it's hard to take many positives from the 10 round stinker between Michael Conlan and Vladimir Nkitin, round 8 aside. This was just purely dull, unexciting and did little to make us want to watch Conlan again. As a person the 28 year old Irishman is someone we like, he comes across as honest, and a BS type of guy, but in the ring his bouts are tediously dull and unexciting. We understand why this bout was made, and the story behind it, but did next to nothing to make us want to see either man again.
1 - Danny Williams's situation
The world of boxing is a strange one at times, and Saturday night in Germany it got strange, strange turn of events. British Heavyweight veteran Danny Williams had been scheduled to fight in Germany but then pulled out. Unlike most pull outs however it doesn't appear that anyone other than the fighter himself knew he wasn't going to be fighting. Most day of fight pull outs see the fighter make the promoter aware. Williams however got to the ring, dressed in street clothes, and then just flat out told the fans he wasn't going to be fighting. We understand a fighters health being the utmost priority but there are so many issues with this bout that Williams' health needs to be questioned to begin with. Why are promoters still using him? Why didn't Williams let the promoter know that he would be cancelling the bout before he got in the ring? And why the fuck is Danny Williams still fighting?
This coming December is absolutely insane with notable fights taking place almost daily. As has become traditional Japan has a packed scheduled for the month, but this time around it's not just Japan delivering the action in the final month of the year, in what is really a massive month all around the globe!
Koki Inoue (14-0, 11) Vs Jheritz Chavez (9-3-2, 7) - Tokyo, Japan
The first notable show of the month will see unbeaten Japanese national champion Koki Inoue look to add the WBO Asia Pacific Light Welterweight title to his collection as he takes on Filipino foe Jheritz Chavez, This should be a really interesting match up between two men who have power and can both take a show. Inoue should be favoured, as the unbeaten local is a real talent, but Chavez will not be there to just make up the numbers, and the Filipino has proven himself to be a dangerous fighter, having come close to beating Rikki Naito. This could end up being much, much tougher for Inoue than many expect.
Jerwin Ancajas (31-1-2, 21) vs Miguel Gonzalez (31-2, 8) - Puebla, Mexico
On a packer Saturday we'll see a lot going on. Among the most notable bouts, for us at least, we'll see IBF Super Flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas take on Chilean challenger Miguel Gonzalez, in what looks like a good bout on paper. Sadly we suspect the paper lies here and can't see anything other than an Ancajas win. The Filipino world champion should be too quick, too sharp and too powerful for the game, but light hitting and limited, Gonzalez who has come up short the two times he has mixed at close to world class. One thing worth noting is that Ancajas was supposed to fight a few weeks earlier, before having that bout cancelled, and may well look lacklustre as a result of having a change of opponent. Even with that in mind we still see this as being an easy win for the "Pretty Boy"
Marlon Tapales (33-2, 16) vs Ryosuke Iwasa (26-3, 16) - New York, USA
A second major IBF bout on December 7th will see former world champions collide for the IBF "interim" Super Bantamweight title. In one corner is the criminally under-rated Marlon Tapales, who is a former WBO Bantamweight and has proven himself as a hard hitting road warrior who is much more dangerous than his record suggests. Tapales will be up against former IBF Super Bantamweight champion Ryosuke Iwasa, who is the naturally bigger man, but very much a fighter who blows hot and cold. This is a hard one to call, though we are leaning to Tapales, and is a wonderful bout mixing fighters with different styles that should gel, and heavy hands. A potential hidden gem for the month, despite the "interim" title.
Joe Noynay (18-2-1, 7) vs Kenichi Ogawa (24-1, 18) - Tokyo, Japan
In 2019 Filipino fighter Joe Noynay has has impressed. He travelled to Japan and stopped Kosuke Saka to claim the WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight title and then returned to stop Olympic bronze medal winner Satoshi Shimizu. Noynay looks to make it 3-0 against Japanese fighters this year as he takes on Kenichi Ogawa in a really, really, good looking bout. Ogawa is attempting to move towards a second world title bout, but will need to over-come the in form Noynay, which is tough for anyone. There's a lot on the line here, and the winner will be in the world title mix in 2020, whilst the loser will have some genuine rebuilding to do in the new year. This bout is very much high risk, high reward, for both men.
Masaru Sueyoshi (19-1-1, 11) vs Kosuke Saka (19-5, 16) - Tokyo, Japan
A second title bout at 130lbs, on the same show in Tokyo in fact, will see Japanese national champion Masaru Sueyoshi defending his title against Kosuke Saka, who looks to bounce back from his loss to Joe Noynay. For Sueyoshi this bout will mark his 5th defense of the title as he continues to edge closer and closer to a bout for some form of international or world title. The talented, though often frustrating, Sueyoshi is a tricky man to beat, though we do have questions over his chin. Hopefully Saka will manage to test Sueyoshi's whiskers though we suspect that the boxing brain and unique rhythm of the champion will be too much for the naturally smaller Saka to deal with here.
Sadriddin Akhmedov (10-0, 9) vs Jose Antonio Villalobos (12-5-2, 7)
Hard hitting Kazakh youngster Sadriddin Akhmedov looks like he has got superstar potential, with an exciting style, a great look, and the ability to box or bang. He is as a good a prospect as Kazakhstan has right now and his promoters in Canada seem to know they have a special talent on their hands. Despite Akhmedov being a special talent Eye of the Tiger Management aren't rushing him, and here he gets another fight to develop his experience and talent, as he goes up against tough Argentinian fighter Jose Antonio Villalobos, who has only been stopped once. This should be another win for Akhmedov, who already has 4 wins this year, but we're glad he's being kept active and getting experience at such a young age. Bigger fights will come for the 21 year old, and this is just the next step to those bigger bouts.
Musashi Mori (10-0, 6) vs Takuya Mizuno (17-1-1, 14) - Osaka, Japan
Unbeaten Japanese youngster Musashi Mori has been tipped as one to watch for a while by those in the know in Japan and the currently WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight champion is certainly an excellent prospect, with a lot of potential. Here we'll see him risking his title and unbeaten record against the heavy handed Takuya Mizuno in a very interesting test. Mori once looked like a bit of raw talent, but has been getting nurtured this year and has been taken under the win of Ismael Salas, who is expected to to help round off the rough edges that Mori has, and calm his offensive mentality. That'll be a big ask, but if Salas can get Mori to buy into the philosophy he can go a very long way. Mizuno is technically quite crude, but with heavy hands he tends to be able to punch his way to victory, and if he catches Mori the youngster could be in trouble. We suspect Mori should have the scales to win, but this is no walk in the park for the youngster.
Takayuki Okumoto (23-8-4, 11) Vs Kenta Nakagawa (17-3-1, 12) - Osaka, Japan
Takayuki Okumoto looks to make his next defense of the Japanese Super Flyweight title as he takes on former champion Kenta Nakagawa in what looks like a decent match up. Okumoto has been in great form over the last few years in terms of results, but looks to be very much a transitional champion, who is rather lucky the division is a weak one in Japan right now. Nakagawa held the title for 5 months in late 2016 and early 2017, but lost in his first defense and hasn't really impressed since then. Nakagawa has the skills to test Okumoto, but we suspect the champion will retain again here.
Yuki Beppu (20-1-1, 19) Vs Ryota Yada (19-5, 16) -Osaka, Japan
We'll see a potential shoot out at Welterweight as former Rookie of the Year Yuki Beppu faces former Japanese champion Ryota Yada for the WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title. Both of these men can bang, both are aggressive and both believe in their power. Of the two Yada is the more proven, but he's also been stopped multiple times, whilst Beppu has shown a gritty toughness that could help here in what could be one of the most exciting bouts of the month. We don't expect this one to go the distance, and instead we expect fireworks, a lot of fireworks! If you're watching this one, don't blink!
Toshiki Shimomachi (10-1-2, 6) vs TBA -Osaka, Japan
The once beaten Toshiki Shimomachi is pencilled in to make his first defense of the JBC Youth Super Bantamweight title. At the moment no opponent has been named, sadly, We suspect an opponent was in mind but that bout has failed to materialise and Shimomachi has been left opponent-less. There is a chance his team will secure a decent opponent in the coming days but it is looking less and less likely as the days go by. As for Shimomachi he's a very talented, having won Rookie of the Year in 2018 and the Japanese Youth title earlier this year.
Thanongsak Simsri (12-0, 11) vs Christian Bacolod (12-0, 9) - Osaka, Japan
One of the most interesting match ups for the month comes quite low down the profile scale, but features two unbeaten young hopefuls in what could be a truly compelling match up. In one corner is Thai punch Thanongsak Simsri, who has already been compared to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, whilst the other corner plays home for world ranked Filipino Christian Bacolod. On paper this looks excellent, and despite being quite far down the card, and lacking any immediate title honours, we suspect this could be a bit of a thriller.
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