Back on September 23rd 2019 we took a look at exciting Japanese Light Welterweight Aso Ishiwaki (then 6-2-1 (4), now 8-3-1 (6)) as part of our “Introducing” series. Since then Ishiwaki has had an up and down run, where he scored his best win, but also took a high profile beating on a major show and lost the momentum he had been building through 2019.
Before we take a look at what Ishiwaki has been upto recently we probably need to go back a little bit and look at what the now 21 year old hopeful had done earlier in his career.
Ishiwaki had turned professional as a teenager and was stopped on his debut, inside a round in 2017. He rebuilt well from that setback however and was unlucky not to win the 2018 All Japan Rookie of the Year, losing a split decision over 5 rounds against George Tachbibana, falling to 5-2 (3) with that loss. Despite losing in the Rookie of the Year final he had shown real promise, an aggressive mentality and a fan friendly fun style. In 2019 he really impressed in a 6 round war with Yoji Saito before making his international debut and stopping Sudtay Daungmala in Thailand.
That was pretty much where we were when we spoke about Ishiwaki in 2019, just days before he was set for his 10th professional bout, against Takuya Matsusaka in Toyonaka.
The bout with Matsusaka saw Ishiwaki do a number on his man, stopping Matsusaka in the 3rd round of a scheduled 6 rounder. Ishiwaki was one of the main draws for that card and his win kept the momentum going from his draw with Saito and his win in Thailand. It was, however, an expected win against a man who had already been stopped 7 times and had been blown out inside a round in a number of his fights. It was an easy win against someone who he was expected to defeat.
Less than 2 months later Ishiwaki returned to the ring in a genuine step up as he took on former Japanese title challenger Ryuji Ikeda. The 24 year old Ikeda had recently challenged Koki Inoue, losing in 5 rounds to Inoue, and had also managed to go 8 rounds with Darragh Foley before a cut caused a technical decision to be rendered. Although no world beater Ikeda was expected to give Ishiwaki a lot to think about and a genuine test. In the end however the power and physicality of Ishiwaki was too much and he stopped Ikeda in just 2 rounds, making what seemed like a statement to close out 2019.
Sadly 2020 struck and the momentum and buzz Ishiwaki had begun to create slowled, like that of many fighters, and he was unable to fight through much of the year. Part way through the year however an idea was floated online for Ishiwaki to clash with rising young stud Jin Sasaki. Originally the bout wasn’t announced, with Sasaki’s team keeping their man active. On November 23rd 2020 however the bout was officially announced, with the two men going face to face after Sasaki had stopped Tatsuya Miyazaki. Soon afterwards it was confirmed that Ishiwaki and Sasaki would clash for the Japanese Youth 140lb title on December 26th, as one of the main supporting bouts to the brilliant match up between Masayuki Ito and Hironori Mishiro.
On paper the bout between Ishiwaki and Sasaki looked like an amazing one, between two young fighters who could both punch and both enjoyed a fight. Sadly however Sasaki’s power turned out to be too much for Ishiwaki, who was dropped twice in the opening round before being taken out in round 3 in a truly impressive performance from Sasaki.
At the age of 21 the loss to Sasaki, who looks to be a special fighter, isn’t the end for Ishiwaki, though it is a very clear set back. The youngster, who wasn’t helped at all by inactivity, had a lot to like and he shouldn’t feel that he can’t rebuild from the loss. Thankfully the Japanese scene at 140lbs is one where he can be involved in a lot of fun bouts over the next few years and hopefully the loss doesn’t see him losing his confidence and will to fight good competition. If the Neyagawa Ishida Boxing Club, who manage Ishiwaki's career, do right by him in 2021 we could see him in fun bouts against the likes of Kentaro Endo, Yasutaka Fujita, Kodai Honda, Ukyo Yoshigai or Shogo Yamaguchi. If that happens he could well be on the verge of another Youth title fight in 2022.
Ishiwaki isn’t going to be a world champion, but he does have the potential and style to be a very, very fan friendly and TV friendly fighter and to us that is not something to be ashamed by. We want to enjoy watching boxing, and we always enjoy watching Ishiwaki. We will always tune in when Ishiwaki fights, and we hope he and his team can continue to get him televised and streamed opportunities as he is far too much fun to miss out on. Sadly though 2021 could end up being another tough year for the youngster given how Covid19 continues to limit the opportunities for fighters all over the world.
When we talk about boxing families there are few as controversial as the Kameda family. Now a days the family is a lot less significant in the world of boxing than it used to be, but in the 2000's and 2010's the family was one of the most notable and significant in the sport. That was due to the success of Koki, Daiki and Tomoki Kameda, the three brothers who all went on to win world titles.
Of the trio it is often Daiki Kameda (29-5, 18) who gets the most over-looked and with that in mind we thought we'd take a chance to shine a light on the career of the former 2-weight world champion. To do that we've had a look through his career, and here are we bring you the 5 most significant wins for... Daiki Kameda.
1-Denkaosan Kaovichit II (February 7th 2010)
Unlike his brother's Daiki Kameda didn't manage to win his first world title bout, losing famously to Daisuke Naito. In fact he also lost in his second world title fight, losing a close decision to Denkaosan Kaovichit in 2009. Just 4 months after that loss Kameda clashed with Kaovichit for a second time, and this time he went on to win a decision, claiming the WBA Flyweight title in the process. This was the win that finally showed Kameda could win the big one and the the prodigy could put it together when he needed to. At this point he was still only 21, but had he lost he'd have been 15-3 and it would have been hard to imagine him getting another shot any time soon. Despite the win this was not a memorable bout, and Joe Koizumi was very critical of the contest. It wasn't a total stinker, but the highlights were few and far between. This win also saw the Kameda brothers, Daiki and Koki, become the first Japanese brothers to win world titles.
2-Takefumi Sakata (September 25th 2010)
Around 7 months after winning the WBA Flyweight title Kameda made his first defense, and took on former champion Takefumi Sakata. The bout saw Kameda successfully defending the title with a clear 12 round and send the 30 year old Sakata into retirement. Although the most amazing bout ever it was a very significant one for a lot of reasons when looking back on Kameda's career. Obviously as a first defense it's a meaningful win, helping solidify his reign, and the fact it came against a former champion also adds to the meaning of the win. Amazingly it was also the first time Kameda had beaten a Japanese opponent, in what was his then 20th professional bout. In fact it would be his only career win against a Japanese opponent, and only his second bout against a Japanese foe, with the other being his loss to Naito in 2007.
3-Silvio Olteanu (December 26th 2010)
Just 3 months after beating Sakata in his first title defense Kameda returned for his second defense, taking on Romanian challenger Silvio Olteanu, who would become a genuine stalwart of the European during his long career. Olteanu was the European champion and wasn't expected to give Kameda trouble in Japan. However that's exactly what he did, pushing Kameda to a split decision in what would be Kameda's second and final defense of the title. After this bout Kameda left the Flyweight division, vacating the title just days after this win, with his body out growing the division.
Notably this win came on a great show for the Kameda's with Tomoki picking up a low key win and Koki Kameda's winning the WBA "regular" Bantamweight title win, adding to the significance of the victory for Daiki.
4-Raul Hidalgo (September 24th 2011)
After leaving the Flyweight division at the start of 2011 Kameda began to make waves at Super Flyweight, with his eyes on becoming a 2-weight world champion. Unlike many top Japanese fighters who move up in weight he wasn't able to secure an immediate world title fight, and instead had to go some way towards earning a shot. To do that he went and won the WBA International title, doing so with a blow out win against Raul Hidalgo in Mexico. This wasn't just a win that opened up a world title opportunity, with the bout serving as an eliminator, for Kameda but was also his first, and only, win on international soil.
Unlike his younger brother, Tomoki, who made a name for himself in Mexico, Daiki really was pretty much based completely in Japan with just 2 fights on foreign soil, this one, and his final bout in 2015, a loss to Victor Ruiz in the US.
5-Rodrigo Guerrero (September 3rd 2013)
After coming up short in his first attempt to become a 2-weight champion, losing to the then WBA Super Flyweight champion Tepparith Kokietgym in December 2011, it took Kameda almost 2 years to get a second Super Flyweight title fight. That came against Mexican warrior Rodrigo Guerrero in September 2013, in what turned out to be a really, really good fight. Kameda was pushed all the way by Guerrero, but did enough to take the unanimous decision and the IBF Flyweight title. By it's self that wouldn't mean much, but it was a win that helped change the face of Japanese boxing, with Kameda becoming the first Japanese fighter to win an IBF title since the JBC began to recognise the IBF. The previous two Japanese fighters to win IBF titles, Satoshi Shingaki and Katsunari Takayama, didn't have their reigns recognised whilst Kameda did.
Not only was this win one that granted Kameda 2-weight champion status, and saw him the first Japanese fighter to win an IBF title since the JBC changed their rules, but it would also be his final career victory.
Notably the IBF title also lead to Kameda fighting in a unification bout with Liborio Solis some 3 months later. This bout saw Solis miss weight, and caused a lot of issues for the JBC, the Kameda gym, the IBF, the WBA and the JPBA. Due to Solis missing weight Kameda was unable to lose his title, however that wasn't what fans were lead to believe, leading to a lot of confusion and anger. Had Kameda not beaten Guerrero that mess would have been avoided.
Back on December 31st we saw the end of 2020 and the year ended on a high for fight fans with a brilliant matchup between Kazuto Ioka and Kosei Tanaka. Sadly for the thrilling and exciting Tanaka the bout saw him suffer his first loss, being stopped by the more experienced Ioka, who boxed brilliantly and showcased some sensational counter punching throughout the contest.
Despite the loss it was clear that Tanaka was going to bounce back and return to the ring in 2021.
With that in mind the three co-founders of Asianboxing.info got together to put their ideas forward as to what is next for Tanaka in the third instalment of “Who…” as we try to answer the question:
“Who... should Kosei Tanaka face next?”
Lee: “I think in all honesty the options for Tanaka right now are quite limited, due to Covid19, and it’s clear he won’t be bringing in a limited imported opponent just to get a win. Saying that though, Tanaka has never had an easy bout and I don’t expect that to change now he has a loss on his record. Instead I think he will fight a good Japanese domestic fighter. The question really is “Who?” And sadly there aren’t that many options for him to look to face at the moment. The gulf between Kazuto Ioka and the rest in Japan is massive and anyone will feel like a massive downgrade for Tanaka.
For Tanaka I think the focus needs to be on testing his stamina and testing his strength at Super Flyweight. He can work on the skills in the gym, but he needs to get rounds, he needs to be pushed and made to work hard. With that at the forefront of my thinking, I think he should fight Hiroyuki Kudaka next. Kudaka is a 4 time world title challenger. He’s tough. He comes to fight. He presses and pressures. He always makes fighters work hard. He also knows some veteran tricks. To me he is the ideal opponent for Tanaka to learn things from. An easy win, but also a good win.”
Takahiro: “The answer here is easy for me. Ryoji Fukunaga. There are not many fighters in Japan at 115lbs who are world ranked and the one that stands out the most is JBC, OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific unified champion Ryoji Fukunaga. I know that Tanaka will want to fight someone suitable. Someone good. And get in there with someone who will ask questions. He has something to lose themselves. Someone who, if he beats, he is still in the world title mix. With that in mind Fukunaga is the easy answer. The only answer.
At the moment Fukunaga has 2 world rankings. He is unlikely to get a world title fight himself, without scoring a massive win, and a win over Tanaka would be appealing to him as well. The bout would also work with the current covid19 issues, and not require Hatanaka and CBC to pay money for a fighter to sit in quarantine.
Make this bout and get it in Tokyo. Kosei Tanaka Vs Ryoji Fukunaga! Triple crown on the line”
Scott: “I’ve gone with a similar tactic to Takahiro and looked through the world rankings for Japanese fighters given the Covid19 situation. There isn’t as many Japanese ranked fighters as I assumed there would be at 115lbs and there’s also some oddities, like the IBF ranking Koki Eto #7 despite the fact he’s retired. I’m also at a loss as to how Akio Furutani is ranked #11, even with his win over Takayuki Okumoto fresh in my mind. Doing this left me with two options.
The first of those was Sho Ishida, who is world ranked, a very live contender, best known for losing his biggest bouts, a friend of Ioka’s and a former stablemate of Ioka’s. On paper Ishida ticks almost every box, though I think Ishida will probably stick to fighting at Bantamweight and won’t move back down to Super Flyweight again.
With that in mind I was left with one other name, and it’s a name of someone I genuinely want to see Tanaka share the ring with again. That’s former WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura. This bout just seems to make so much sense to re-do. Their first bout was the 2018 Fight of the Year and given the super close nature of that bout it deserves a rematch. It’s also one of the bouts that CBC know they can sell to an international audience, and if they are smart they could get this on TV in Latin America and potentially the UK. Kimura might not be the natural Super Flyweight that some would want to see Tanaka in with, but iron sharpens iron and if Tanaka wants a good test to return to the ring with Kimura is the man for me.”
On February 13th we'll see hard hitting Tajik Super Featherweight Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (15-0, 12) get his first world title bout, as he challenges IBF world champion Joseph "Jo Jo" Diaz in Indio California. For many this will be the first time they've had the chance to see the Tajik fighter, and with that in mind we though we'd take the opportunity to help get fans up to date with the Tajik, and learn get an idea of what to expect when he shares the ring with Diaz.
Born in August 1994 in Bokhtar, which is also known as Qurghonteppa in the south of Tajikistan, Rakhimov has been on the boxing scene for years. In fact he's been on the radar of those who following amateur boxing since he was a teenager.
As is typical with amateur records it's hard to know exactly when Rakhimov first fought as an amateur, but we do know that he was making a mark internationally as a teenager, as he competed at the 2011 AIBA World Junior Championships in Astana, Kazakhstan. Unfortunately he was eliminated in his first bout, losing a competitive bout to local fighter Erbolat Ermekov at 57KG's.
In 2013, whilst still a teen, Rakhimov won the first of 3 Tajik national championships, repeating the feat in 2014 and 2015 as he dominated the domestic scene.
Of course it wasn't only domestic competitions that Rakhimov competed in. In 2013, at the World Championships in Kazakhstan, he reached the last 16 before being eliminator by Ermek Sakenov. In 2014 he reached the quarter finals of the Serik Konakbayev Prizes Tournament, and later went on to win bronze at the World University Championships eliminating talented Uzbek Ravshanbek Umurzakov along the way.
Sadly an appearance at the 2016 Rio Olympics eluded Rakhimov after he lost to Indian fighter Manoj Kumar in the quarter finals of the World Olympic Qualifier in Azerbaijan.
Like many Central Asian fighters Rakhimov had his eyes on success in both of the amateur ranks and professional ranks. Despite wanting to compete at the Rio Olympics, and going to a qualifying event in the summer, he had actually made his professional debut in late 2015. He had signed with Russian based company "RCC Boxing Promotions", and quickly got off to a good startm scoring his first two wins in December 2015, both by stoppage.
Despite viewing the Olympics highly Rakhimov managed to secure 3 more professional wins before the Olympic qualifying event, and was 5-0 (3) by the time he attended the Olympic qualifier. Not only that but he had also answered some questions. He showed his heart with a win over the then 9-0 Mirzhan Zhaxylykov, who dropped Rakhimov before the Tajik bounced back, and showed his stamina with a 6 round win over Musaib Asadov.
Following the Olympic qualifying event Rakhimov began to take the professional game more seriously and in late 2016 scored noteworthy stoppage wins over Filipino fighters Jerry Castroverde and Rolden Aldea. The win over Castroverde sa Rakhimov claim the WBO Inter-Continental Youth Super Featherweight title, which he then defended against Aldea just a month later.
Rakhimov continued to face Filipino fighters in the first half of 2017, stopping Rogelio Jun Doliguez and Jimmy Paypa mid-way through scheduled 10 rounders. Those wins lead him to bigger tests and in September 2017 he over-came tough Mexican fighter Amanuel Lopez, with a 12 round decision, to claim the lightly regarded IBO Super Featherweight world title. This was the first time Rakhimov had been beyond 6 rounds, and again got a chance to answer questions about his potential and his ability.
Despite the IBO title being regarded as a bit of a joke in many places Rakhimov defended it against solid challengers. His first defense saw him stopping former IBF Super Featherweight champion Malcolm Klassen in 8 rounds, giving Klassen his first stoppage in 43 bouts. He then followed that up by stopping the always under-rated Robinson Castellanos in 2 rounds, in what was Castellanos' first bout since losing a split technical decision to WBA "super" champion Jezzrel Corrales. The he notched a third defense, stopping South African challenger Rofhiwa Maemu.
With impressive wins stacking up for the hard hitting southpaw Rakhimov was starting to climb the world rankings, and in September 2019 he got the chance to travel to Southg Africa for an IBF world title eliminator against unbeaten South African slickster Azinga Fuzile. The South African seemed too quick, too smart, and too sharp for Rakhimov through the first 7 rounds, but Rakhimov showed his toughness his desire and his will to win, getting to his man in round 8, and dropping Fuzile twice to force a stoppage.
After the win over Fuzile controversy emerged with Rakhimov's team accused of using illegal substances to help their man. The controversy took another turn with various things reportedly being found in his hotel room. Despite a protest from the IBF the result stood, and Fuzile became the mandatory for the IBF champion.
At the time that was Tevin Farmer, but Farmer would lose the title a few months later to Diaz, meaning Rakhimov became the mandatory to Diaz. After more controversy, with Diaz said to have owed Farmer a rematch, the IBF ordered a bout between Rakhimov and the new champion.
In the ring Rakhimov is a somewhat basic pressure fighter, though he brings his pressure behind deliberate footwork and an awkward southpaw stance. There's no bells and whistles with him and he's not the quickest, sharpest, or smartest. He is however a very strong fighter, with heavy hands, a real will to win and genuine hunger. He looks like the sort of fighter who can be outboxed, as we saw Fuzile do to him, due to his slow and deliberate footwork. However doing it for 12 rounds is a real test anyone's stamina and mental toughness. Getting into a fire fight with him is dangerous, especially with his sneaky body shots and nasty power, though he has been dropped more than once, and there are question marks around his chin.
Win or lose against Diaz we suspect the 26 year will be around the world title picture for the next few years. Rakhimov is young enough to come back from a defeat and certainly has the tools to be in some very interesting bouts. He's not the most natural boxer, but he is a very solid fighter, and that can often be enough to take someone to a world title. Saying that however Rakhimov will certainly be the under-dog when he steps in the ring against Diaz on February 13th.
In recent years we've seen Kazakh fighters begin to make a bigger and more significant mark on the professional boxing scene than ever before. The charge, lead by Gennady Golovkin, has seen the likes of Beibut Shumenov and Zhanat Zhakiyanov winning world titles and an emerging number of prospects. Among those prospects are notable names, like Daniyar Yeleussinov, Aidos Yerbossybuly, Sadriddin Akhmedov, Zhan Kossobutskiy and Batyrzhan Jukembayev along with a host of lesser known hopefuls.
Later this month we expect to see another Kazakh hopeful begin his professional journey, which was actually pencilled in to begin late last year before the bout was cancelled very close to fight time.
That is 28 year old Darkhan Zhumsakbayev (0-0), who is pencilled in to debut on February 12th in Florida.
Like many Kazakh's who turn professional Zhumsakbayev had a very long and notable amateur career. He was never banging on the doors for the big global championships, in part due to the depth of talent coming out of the country, but was regularly seen in international tournaments, racking up serious experience in the unpaid ranks. It's due to that experience that his, eventual, professional debut is something to get excited about.
As a fighter Zhumsakbayev has been making his name on the Kazakh scene for years, though was often regarded as the #3 or #4 in his homeland, where there really has been stiff competition over the last decade or so.
We obviously won't go through all of Zhumsakbayev's amateur achievements, but we will go some of the highlights, and show just how long he has been on the radar of those who follow the Kazakh amateur scene.
One of his earliest highlights was in 2009, when Zhumsakbayev won the Kazakh Youth Championships. The following year he reached the last 16 at the World Youth Championships. Sadly as he began to compete at senior level he found himself up against stiff competition and ended up struggling to win at the highest levels of domestic competition. Despite that he was a losing finalist in 2013 Kazakh national Championships and and twice lost in the semi-finals showing how consistent he was on the domestic scene.
Zhumsakbayev's good showings in domestic competition saw him getting the chance to compete in various international competitions such as the "President's Cup" in 2014, where he lost to Filipino Charlie Suarez, and the 2015 World Cup of Petroleum Countries, where he was the losing finalist. Incidentally that same tournament also had the brilliant Christian M'Billi taking home a silver medal along with Serge Michel.
Despite competing, a lot, as an amateur relatively recent footage of Zhumsakbayev is rather scarce. Thankfully however there is some decent quality footage from some older tournaments, including a bout with Thai Sailom Ardee from 2015. In that bout Zhumsakbayev looked a little bit under-sized but showcased a lot to like, with an aggressive mindset, a lot of head movement and actually managed to upset the Thai at home. In other bouts he was also a high energy and aggressive fighter, who looked like he had a style very much suited to the professional ranks.
Sadly we're not sure how Zhumsakbayev will look now, a few years on from that win, but a result like that shows what he can do, and the style he showed in that bout was certainly fan friendly. With that in mind we are looking forward to his debut.
Sadly at the age of 28 the Featherweight will have to be moved quickly, though with his extensive amateur background that shouldn't be an issue. The fact he's going to debut in a 6 rounder is a good sign that he, and his team, may well feel he has the background to be matched well this year and fingers crossed in 2022 and 2023 we begin to see him in with some noteworthy names, before father time starts to get his mitts on Zhumsakbayev.
Another month is upon us and we have another chance to look at some the great, weird, whacky and wonderful names that are in the BoxRec database. For this months volume of Great Boxing Names we're going to be spending the entire time in Indonesia where we have managed to find 5 more brilliant names with a mix of humour and WTF'kery!
Please note, and this should be clear by now, this is very much a light hearted series, and isn't supposed to be taken seriously, though all the names used in and their records are legitimately on boxrec.
We begin with a sense of mystery as we talk about a fighter known only as "X", though we suspect he should be referred to as "Mr X". X only has bout listed on his record, and that is a 1925 loss to a fighter called "Maxim", which came by 8 round decision in Jakarta. Given his short, and very limited, career we don't expect too much more to ever be revealed about him, and that, sadly, includes his real name. So with that in mind we give you Mr X.
Heri Suparman (1-0)
Another man who only fought once, and may be hiding an alter-ego is Heri Suparman, who we believe may be a long haired super hero! Suparman, not Superman obviously, has a single recorded bout on his record from 2001 when he took an 8 round decision over Anton Tena. It's hard to believe he debuted in an 8 round, so we're assuming he did have other bouts, perhaps under a less memorable name, but his record, as we right this stands as a perfect 1--0 one. That was because he was Suparman!
Gigah Volt (0-1)
Full of power but he couldn't use it! The electrically charged Gigah Volt had so much power he simply couldn't stay in the sport and retired after a single bout, losing in 2016 via 3rd round TKO to Jackson Koel Lapie, who we suspect may have been a rock type Pokémon. As with all these fighters we really wouldn't be surprised by Volt having more bouts to his name his record shows, but sadly Indonesian record keeping is awful and we miss out on knowing just how many times a fighter fought.
M Bazoka (0-1)
Another fighter who was too dangerous for the sport was M Bazoka, who, like Gigah Volt, fought fought just a single recorded bout and lost, by stoppage. Bazoka was around a few years before Mr Volt, fighting in his sole recorded bout in 2013, when he was stopped in the opening round by Sahlan Coral. Interestingly that bout was scheduled for 10 rounds, which really does make us assume that Bazoka was a much more experienced fighter than his record shows. Either way he was blown up in a round in the recorded bout of his career and didn't fight again.
Now to end this we have a proper thinking man's fighter as we bring you one time Featherweight fighter Socrates! Sadly the fighter wasn't very good, unlike his namesakes from the fields of Philosophy and Football/Soccer, but that doesn't matter here! Socrates's record in the ring was seemingly just 3 bouts long, losing all 3 bouts between 1988 and 1993, though we suspect his record is incomplete. He was stopped in 2 of his losses and really didn't achieve anything in the sport, other than being featured in this rather silly series!
It's fair to say that January was a disappointing month in terms of action. We really didn't get too many shows, or bouts, and the month meandered slowly from one one notable bout to another, with little to keep our attention in between. Despite that we did have some stellar match ups, some great performances, and a lot of prospects. With that in mind we'll kick off the year with out first month awards for 2021!
Fighter of the Month
Despite the fact there wasn't a lot going on in January there were some standout performances, a number of really noteworthy bouts and several very solid contests. For us the winner for Fight of the Month was the fighter who impressed us the most, and that was Gakuya Furuhashi, who put on a determined and brilliant performance to stop Yusaku Kuga. Their bout was amazing, genuinely an amazing bout, but it was the performance of Furuhashi that made it what it was. He walked through bombs and looked like a man possessed as he broke down Kuga. At the age of 33 he would have known this was going to be his last chance, and fought like he knew it was now or never.
Fight of the Month
Jong Seon Kang vs Nam Jun Lee
It's fair to say that January was a very, very quiet month, and there really wasn't too many Asian shows taking place through the month. Despite that we did get some amazing bouts, and the most exciting of those was the brilliant, brutal and all action bout between Jong Seon Kang and Nam Jun Lee, who battled on January 9th in a bout for the WBO Oriental Featherweight title. This was 12 rounds of sensational action and could well be in the running for the Fight of the Year come December, a truly fantastic war to kick off the year.
Yusaku Kuga Vs Gakuya Furhashi
Riku Nagahama Vs Ryota Toyoshima
Joon Sun Lee v Tae Hyub Go
KO of the Month
No suitable KO
Note - We did get some solid TKO's but in terms of KO's there was nothing that seemed award worthy.
We had plenty of prospects in action in January but for us the one that stood out was Jukiya Iimura, who looked sensational in his debut win over Daisuke Yamada. The 22 year old, at the time, Iimura dropped Yamada twice and instantly generated buzz from a sensational debut that has left us really looking forward to seeing his next bout, which will take place in March. Iimura looked exciting, heavy handed and like a fighter who has instantly adapted to the professional style of boxing. There is work to do, but he looked really, really good, and is certainly one to get excited about.
Seigo Hanamori TKO4 Naoto Mizutani
On paper Seigo Hanamori's January 29th win over Naoto Mizutani didn't appear to be a shock, given the records of the two men. Paper however doesn't tell us the full story or explain just how big of a shock this actually was. Going into the bout Mizutani was ranked by the JBC and since 2018 his only losses had come to very good fighters, in Ryo Akaho and Fumiya Fuse. Not only that but he had real momentum in the back up upset wins over Joe Tanook and Naoya Okamoto. Despite the success of Mizutani coming in he was stopped in 4 rounds by Hanamori, who had never previously defeated a fight with more wins than losses. This really was a career best win by Hanamori, by some margin.
Yusaku Kuga Vs Gakuya Furuhashi (Rd 6)
Although we didn't get a lot of fights in January we did get a lot of amazing rounds from a number of all action wars, each delivering numerous round of the month contenders. If forced to pick a single one however round 6 of the Japanese Super Bantamweight title fight between Yusaku Kuga and Gakuya Furuhashi gets the nod, just. The fight had 8 amazing rounds, but for us the 6th stands out just a little more than the others, as it seemed, during the round, that the tide began to turn against the defending champion, giving the bout a swing. Despite the tide of the fight turning in the round, it was a round that swung one way then the other. It's a round that had intense action, clean, solid, exchanges, and the entire 3 minutes was pretty much a none stop highlight reel. A genuinely amazing 3 minutes of action.
It's fair to say that February will be a very, very quiet month with only a handful of shows taking place during the month, and sadly that means there are a very small number of bouts to talk about for the month. Despite that we are, of course, bringing you our regular "What's to come" for the month.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Ryu Horikawa (3-0-1, 1) vs Yudai Shigeoka (2-0, 1)
The first notable bout in February featuring Asian fighters will come at Japanese Youth title level as Light Flyweight Ryu Horikawa and Yudai Shigeoka clash in a mouth watering match up. The two youngsters are both tipped for big things during their careers and it's great to see them clashing here, rather than protecting their records like we'd see in other countries. Horikawa is the younger man and is the natural Light Flyweight, however Shigeoka has arguably been more impressive was very impressive in beat Lito Dante in just his second bout. Although not a massive fight this is a very, very interesting one.
Ryo Sagawa (10-1, 5) vs Hinata Maruta (10-1-1, 8)
On the same show as the Japanese Youth title fight we'll also get a mandatory bout for the Japanese Featherweight title as talented champion Ryo Segawa looks for his third defense, and takes on the touted Hinata Maruta in a mouth watering clash. The talented Sagawa has been on a great run of results since an early career loss and looks like a man who could certainly get into the world title mix over the coming years. Although not the most durable, he has been stopped and has been dropped in other bouts, Sagawa is a very talented fighter who can box or fight. As for Maruta the once super-hot prospects has failed to meet the lofty expecations that were on his shoulders when he turned professional, but there is no denying his talent and a win here would put him back on track to bigger and better things.
Fantasy Springs Casino, Indio, California, USA
Joseph Diaz (31-1, 15) vs Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (15-0, 12)
In the first world title fight to feature an Asian fighter this month we'll see Russian based Tajik fighter Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov take on IBF Super Featherweight champion Joseph Diaz in California. For Rakhimov this is a mandatory title fight he has waited well over a year for, earning the shot in 2019 when he stopped Azinga Fuzile. As for Diaz this will be his first defense of the title that he won in early 2020, when he beat Tevin Farmer. In terms of the match up this one should be an all out action fight between two men who like to come forward. Diaz will be the favourite, but Rakhimov is very much a live under-dog here.
The Flash Grand Ballroom of the Elorde Sports Complex, Paranaque City, Metro Manila, Philippines
Bienvenido Ligas (12-1-1, 9) Vs Alphoe Dagayloan (14-3-6-1, 5)
The first major Filipino bout of the new year takes place on the 13th as the once beaten Bienvenido Ligas takes on the criminally under-rated Alphoe Dagayloan in an excellent Flyweight match up. Coming in Ligas will likely be the slight favourite, given his better reord, but in reality Dagayloan is the more proven and has been impressing in recent years, following a stuttering start to his professional career. This should be a genuinely excellent match up, something we, sadly, don't say often enough about All-Filipiuno bouts.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
All Japan Rookie of the Year
Not a specific bout here, but something that is worth noting is that February 21st will bring us the All Japan Rookie of the Year final, ending what has been a delayed and belated tournament. Despite the hiccups along the way, caused by Covid19, we are really looking forward to this show, which will be shown live on G+ in Japan and will almost certainly help launch one or two prospects towards bigger and better things.
Bula Gym, General Santos City, Philippines
Pedro Taduran (14-2-1, 11) Vs Rene Mark Cuarto (18-2-2, 11)
In another very interesting all-Filipino bout IBF Minimumweight champion Pedro Taduran will defend his title, for the second time, as he takes on IBF #3 ranked challenger Rene Mark Cuarto in a really mouth watering match up. Taduran, who won the title in 2019 with a thrilling performance against Samuel Salva, has sadly been out of the ring for a year since making his first defense. As for Cuarto he's unbeaten in his last 3 but has been out of the ring since December 2019. On paper this is, by far, the toughest bout of Cuarto's career and it'll be very interesting to see what he has to offer at world level against an aggressive and heavy handed champion.
Tynyshpayev Academy of Transport and Communications, Almaty, Kazakhstan
Kamshybek Kunkabayev (2-0, 2) Vs Steven Ward (13-1, 4)
In a really nice step up bout unbeaten Kazakh Cruiserweight hopeful Kamshybek Kunkabayev will be battling against Northern Irish fighter Steven Ward in a bout for the WBO Asia Pacific title. Kunkabayev, a former Kazakh amateur standout has impressed since turning professional but there are a lot of questions for him to still answer. Sadly we don't actually expect Ward to be able to ask him those questions and if anything we see Kunkabayev having a pretty easy time of things here.
Nurtas Azhbenov (10-0, 4) Vs Evgeny Smirnov (13-1-3, 3)
Unbeaten Kazakh prospect Nurtas Azhbenov takes his next step forward as he takes on the once beaten Evgeny Smirnov, form Russia, in a very credible step up. Azhbenov has frustrated at times, and despite being a very talented fighter seems to lack power and killer instinct with a lot of his bouts meandering to a rather drama free decision. He certainly has skills but he is not the finished article. Smirnov on the other hand has failed to win his last 3, but has been fighting at pretty decent level in recent bouts.
Janibek Alimkhanuly (9-0, 5) vs TBA
Unbeaten Kazakh hopeful Zhanibek Alimkhanuly will look to stay busy as he takes on a yet to be named opponent late in the month. The talented Middleweight is looking to secure a world title fight later this year, and although this will likely just be a stay busy bout it's great to see him staying active after a frustrating 2020 that saw him unable to build on a solid KO win against Gonzalo Gaston Coria. It's clear that Alimkhanuly is a talent and although we want to see him prove that talent against good fighters we would prefer him staying busy rather than sitting on the side lines waiting for a bout. With that in mind we can't complain too much at the TBA status of his opponent,
Talgat Shayken (3-0, 2) Vs Evgeny Pavko (18-3-1, 13)
Another unbeaten Kazakh prospect in action here is Talgat Shayken, who battles against the much more experienced Evgeny Pavko. The talented Shayken turned professional last year, and despite a rather crude performance on his debut he has impressed in his last 2 bouts and he appears to be a fighter heading places in the coming years. Despite bot being the most polished fighter Shayken is aggressive, strong and very fun to watch. Pavko on the other hand is an experienced Russian, who has lost 3 of his last 6. Despite his faltering form Pavko should, potentially, be a decent test for Shayken over 8 rounds.
Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, Florida, USA
Zhang Zhilei (22-0, 17) v Jerry Forrest (26-4, 20)
Chinese Heavyweight giant Zhang Zhilei continues to waste his career as he takes on American foe Jerry Forret. The 37 year old Zhang has been linked to an Anthony Joshua fight for the last few years, but in reality is trudging along with rather meaningless bouts, and this is another for "Big Bang", who really should have been in with a notable name by now. The 32 year old Jerry Forrest is actually a decent opponent, and gave good tests to Jermaine Franklin and Carlos Takam, but isn't the type of name opponent Zhilei needs to push forward with his career. In fact Forrest is the type of high risk-low reward opponent that doesn't make sense for Zhilei at this point in his career.
Through the years the Asian boxing scene has had some legendary world champions, who will go down in the annals of time as some of the true greats. The likes of Fighting Harada, Khaosai Galaxy, Flash Elorde, Jung Koo Chang and Pongsaklek Wonjongkam to name just a few. It's also had it's share of forgotten champions, and fighters who got lucky, taking a title an never replicating the performance that took them to the top.
One such fighter is the often forgotten Shigeo Nakajima (13-5-1, 7), who won the WBC Light Flyweight title more than 40 years ago and rarely ever gets mentioned in any conversations at all. He was tipped for big things when he turned professional but only the hardcore of the hardcore, outside of Japan, will even recognise his name.
Sadly for Nakajima his reign as a world champion was a very short one, lasting less than 12 weeks. He was, for all intents a fighter who was in the right place at the right time. He's a fighter who got that one big win, but else his record is a hard one to decipher.
With that in mind we've decided to take a look at the 5 most Significant wins for... Shigeo Nakajima...and this is among the most frustrating in this series, as Nakajima really doesn't have many stand out wins.
1-Beaver Kajimoto (December 14th 1976)
The first win of real significance for Nakajima came in December 1976 when he took a big step up in class to take on Beaver Kajimoto in his 4th professional bout. Up to this point Nakajima had been facing novices, and fighters with low level experience, nothing to match his own 95 bout amateur career. Just 5 months after his debut he took on the highly experienced Kajimoto, who had had 50 professional bouts and had twice fought to a draw in bouts for the Japanese Flyweight title. Although not a world beater Kajimoto was a legitimate player on the Japanese scene, and Nakajima defeated him in his 4th professional bout. This was a win of real value for Nakajima, and should have been a sign of things to come, though sadly it wasn't.
2-Koichi Maki (June 21st 1977)
A really under-rated win came in the summer of 1977 when Nakajima narrowly beat Koichi Maki. The bout was Nakajima's third 10 rounder and this he really had to work for his win with Maki battling hard against the then unbeaten Nakajima. Coming in to the bout Maki had ambitions of his own and had won the 1974 All Japan Rookie of the Year at Flyweight. Despite having 7 losses to his name two of those had come to Yoko Gushiken, and he had been very competitive in a lot of his defeats, as he was with Nakajima. For Nakajima this bout served as a true gut check and a sign that he could dig deep and battle hard. Given this was only his 6th professional bout this was a great victory for the youngster, and was made to look even better when Maki became the Japanese Flyweight champion just 9 months later.
3-Kazunori Tenryu (August 23rd 1977)
Nakajima's third bout of note came just months after his win over Maki. Whilst Maki would go on to win a Japanese title Kazunori Tenryu was the then Japanese Light Flyweight champion, and he had held that title since March 1975. Tenryu had challenged for the WBA Light Flyweight title, losing a split decision to Jaime Rios, and had made 8 defenses of the Japanese title. Nakajima took him out in just 3 rounds, getting the Japanese boxing world really excited about his potential. Sadly for Nakajima this wasn't a title bout, and was fought above the Light Flyweight limit, but it was still a very solid win for him, very early early in his career.
4-Hong Soo Yang (November 6th 1979)
By the summer of 1979 Nakajima's record had fallen to 9-2-1 (6), with losses to Bernabe Villacampo and Hwan Jin Kim in 1978. The good run he had early on was over and he was struggling. After those losses he would score a couple of easy wins before stepping up once agin. In that step up he faced Hong Soo Yang, an experienced Korean who was the then OPBF Flyweight champion with 3 defenses of that title. The bout was a hotly contested 10 rounder, though, as he had against Maki he dug deep and edged out a close bout to secure his 12th professional win and take a huge step towards a world title fight.
5-Sung Jun Kim (January 3rd 1980)
Just 2 months after beating Yang we saw Nakajima have his career defining moment, as he faced off with the then WBC Light Flyweight champion Sung Jun Kim. The Korean had won the title in 1978, dethroning Netrnoi Sor Vorasingh, and had made 3 defenses before travelling to Japan to face Nakajima.
For the bout Nakajima had been trained by Joe Kouizumi and the tactics and performance were spot on, with Kim taking a clear win over the Korean to win the title. It was the first time Nakajima had gone more than 10 rounds, it was the first time he had fought for any kind of title, and it was the only time, in his career, that he scored a legitimate top level win. Sadly it would also be the last win of his professional career.
Sadly for Nakajima his reign would end on March 24th 1980, losing a close decision to Hilario Zapata. A rematch with Zapata resulted in another loss for Nakajima, who returned to the ring in May 1981 and was stopped by Nobuyuki Watanabe, before being retiring on the back of 3 straight losses. He had reached the pinacle, and then crashed back down to earth, to end what had been a truly under-whelming career, that had promised a lot, but sadly under-delivered.
Last week we began our "Who..." series by looking at who would be the next OPBF champion from South Korea and we're back again this week with the second in this series as we look towards the past and try to answer a new question about the world of Asian boxing.
This week the question is..
"Who... will be the next world champion from Uzbekistan?"
Lee: "I really like how many options we have here, and how exciting the rise of Uzbek boxing has become. It's really come out of nowhere, unless you follow the amateur scene, and has been hugely exciting. Like a breathe of fresh air. In many ways it reminds me of what boxing was like here in the 1970's, 80's and early 90's, where top amateurs raced to titles. There was no fear of being moved too quickly, and that was really exciting, seeing fighters move fast. If you were good enough, you were good enough.
For Uzbekistan the contender leading the way for me is Israil Madrimov, who I think will win a world title this year. He's in a tough division, but I think he'll win some version of the WBA title in 2021, hopefully the main version of the title. He has the power, skills, speed and hunger to be a big star. My only worry is whether the pandemic has started to chip away at his mental drive and his physical fitness. But I am still confident he will be a world champion. Maybe just a short reign though."
Takahiro: "Whilst Japan is going through a golden age the Uzbek scene is just as hot with so many exciting fighters coming from the country, and making their name in the US. That is really exciting and shows the backing a lot of their fighters are getting.
The backing has let Murodjon Akhmadaliev fight for a world title in just his 8th bout and I think other fighters will look to match that target. With that in mind I will be picking Bektemir Melikuziev, who I think will win a world title this year, in his 8th fight. It's a unfortunate that Sergey Kovalev failed a drug test, as that would have been good preparation for "Bully". I think the fact he can fight at 168lbs or 175lbs is a good advantage for him, and I think he will pick up some form of WBA belt. Maybe not main WBA belt, but enough to claim a "world" title. In 2022 maybe he get a "real" title. as well.
My Pick, Bek Bully!"
Scott: "As the other two guys have said, the Uzbek's are really making a mark and doing things in a really, really exciting fashion. There is a lot of top amateur fighters who are now chasing professional honours, and a lot of them are taking a rather untraditional route there. They aren't wasting their time, and their prime years building up fancy 20-0 records against opponents they would be 1/100 to beat, but are instead looking to skip the easy bouts and the often pointless record building stage of their careers. Whilst it's the fast track will work for some and fail for others, it's something I personally enjoy watching, and it condenses the wait to find out if someone is a legitimate talent.
I'm looking at the other end of the scales though. Rather than in the middling weights I'm looking at the lower weights and picking Olympic champion Hasanboy Dusmatov to be next, and to do so in 2022.
The lower weights are often the ones where we see fast tracking done and Dusmatov is certainly ticking the boxes that will see him being moved aggressively. He's now aged 27, is in his prime, he's got the skills, power, speed, and the amateur experience to be matched hard and will not want to waste his career. The big question is "what weight will we see him winning a belt at?" And I think 108lbs is among the toughest divisions out there, but I see him having success there, if he needs to. Alternatively there are weak title holders at 105lbs, which we have to assume he can make with a day before weigh in, or even 112lbs.
Alternatively he could very easily make a mark at 112lbs. I think those options are what his team will be looking to weigh up this year, and early next year he'll win a world title. Whether that's a lesser champion at 105lbs or an aging veteran at 112lbs I'm not sure. but I'm confident he picks up a belt next year"
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