It's fair to say that recent DAZN shows have been under-whelming, to say the least, and that it's hard to get excited about some of the bouts they have on the docket for the end of the year. We understand the service is good for boxing on paper, but it needs to put on good bouts, and give boxing fans a reason to buy it. Thankfully it does that this week with our One to Watch. It's a bout expect will be technical, tactical, and a coming out party of sorts, for a very talented, and often over-looked, Kazakh hopeful.
The One to Watch?
Daniyar Yeleussinov (9-0, 5) vs Julius Indongo (23-2, 12)
November 27th (Friday)
This bout will see an Olympic champion take their first real step up to world class as they take on a former unified world champion in a major test. A win for the prospect will put on the verge of a world title fight, and legitimise them as a world class professional. It's a test that he needs and a chance to show what he can do against a frustrating, talented, awkward opponent. For all intents and purposes this is an acid test for a very talented and well regarded prospect.
Unbeaten 29 year old Kazakh Daniyar Yeleussinov was one of the standout fighters at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Prior to the Olmypics he had been one of the top amateurs in the world for years and had won pretty much everything there was to win in the unpaids ranks. He had taken gold at World Championships, Asian Games and the Olympics. When he turned professional there was big expectations on his shoulders to go a long way. Sadly however when he turned professional he didn't initially "click". He had incredibly skills, but something was missing. He seemed to lack that professional style early on, but recently he has shown that spite, and now he looks like a fighter who has "IT".
Namibian fighter Julius Indongo is a 37 year old who really was an unknown for much of his career. He'd been a capable amateur, and gone to the 2008 Olympics, but no one outside of Namibia really knew much about him, or followed him during the early portion of his career. In 2014 he claimed a region WBO belt, which helped him get a WBO ranking, but he was still tucked away from the vast majority of boxing fans, picking up wins in his homeland. That was until December 2016, by which point he was 20-0, when he travelled to Russia, as a major under-dog against IBF Light Welterweight world champion Eduard Troyanovsky. The then 33 year old Indongo was supposed to lose, but look like a capable opponent with his unbeaten record. He did what no one expected and stopped the Russian inside a round. He then unified the IBF title with the WBA title, beating Ricky Burns, before losing by stoppage to Terence Crawford and Regis Prograis, as he career looked to wind down. In the ring he's a long, awkward, frustrating fighter, with unexpected power, but his two losses have shown he lacks durability, and at 37 we really do wonder what ambition he has left.
What to expect?
Had this been the Indongo of a few years ago, before his losses, we think this would be an incredibly interesting and tough bout to call. He may never have been the most attractive fighter but in his two big wins the man from Namibia proved there was real talented there, and a genuine awkwardness. Now however he looks about done, and is moving up to Welterweight for this bout. At 37 we really do question what he has in the tank, and what he'll be bringing to the table.
It's not Indongo that we're expecting things from however, instead we are expecting to see Yeleussinov shine here. We expect to see that Kazakh take his chance, grab it with both hands and dominate Indongo. We expect the Kazakh to take may 2 rounds to feel his way into the bout, something expected given he's been out of the ring since December 2019, and then go to town, unleashing his power and speed on the veteran.
If this goes beyond 5 rounds Yeleussinov will feel disappointed. He'll go into this bout knowing he needs to do a number on Indongo, and that's exactly what we expect. An early, dominant, destructive, KO for the Kazakh Thunder.
The bad news?
Sadly for fans we do expect this to be a relative wash, and little more than a showcase. DAZN do put on too many show cases for our liking and this is another in a long line of them, as they try to create stars to market their service on in the future. In fair the entire card looks very much like it will be one sided. Still, we suspect this will be a break out opportunity for an often over-looked Welterweight hopeful
For this week we have a "One to watch Extra", with a second one to watch, and like the Katsunari Takayama Vs Reiya Konishi bout, this is one we are incredibly excited about, and expect fire works. We expect skills, power shots, and excitement here in a very, very good looking 8 round bout from Hyogo.
The One to Watch?
Sho Ishida (28-2, 15) vs Toshiya Ishii (3-0, 2)
November 23rd (Monday)
We love seeing talented prospects stepping up early and that's exactly what we are seeing here, with a talented 19 year old stepping up, in just his 4th professional bout, to take on a former world title challenger. Not only that but the former world title challenger desperately needs to look good here, after a set back in a world title eliminator last time out. On paper this might look like a mismatch, but in reality this is a very, very interesting match up.
Of the two men involved in this one it's the 29 year old Sho Ishida who is the more well known fighter. He's been in 30 previous professional bouts since making his debut in 2009, and doing so as one of the members of the then vibrant Ioka Gym. He was tipped as a future world champion very early in his career and seemed to tick a lot of boxes as a future star. He was talented, he was tall, rangy, a physical freak at 115lbs, and had a very good team around him. He was in the same gym as Kazuto Ioka, Ryo Miyazaki and Masayoshi Nakatani. He had also shown what he could do in good wins early in his career against the likes of Petchbarngborn Kokietgym, Yohei Tobe Taiki Eto, Hayato Kimura and Ryuichi Funai.
Sadly Ishida has never managed to win above regional level. He first came up short in a WBA world title bout in the UK, against Kal Yafai, and then lost again last year against Israel Gonzalez in a world title bout. Between those two losses he dipped his toes at Bantamweight, and struggled to really shine against the likes of Warlito Parrenas and Ikuro Sadatsune, in what was a very debated win. Sadly it appears that Bantamweight isn't a weight suited for him, but will be the weight for this bout.
Whilst Ishida is relatively well know Toshiya Ishii really isn't, but he should be. He turned professional last year, at the age of 18, and did so after a solid amateur career. As a professional been fast tracked, beating Rookie of the Year winner Fumiya Fuse, who was then 8-0, in just his second bout and then beating the then 8-1 Haruki Ishikawa for the Japanese Youth Bantamweight title in just his third bout. That bout with Ishikawa was a sensational bout that saw Ishii answering a lot of questions in a bout that saw him being dropped, hurt and showing that he can fight, punch, brawl and box. That was the sort of performance where both men came out with enhanced reputations and proved that Ishii was a legit prospect.
Although we've been really impressed by Ishii he is a 19 year old novice with just 11 professional rounds to his name and he is a short fighter, for a Bantamweight, who has been dropped and hurt. He is a talent, but this is a major step up for him, and it will be really interesting to see how he copes with someone like Ishida, who will tower over him.
What to expect?
This is a tough one to really predict, and we can see route to victories for both men.
On one hand Ishida has the size, the experience, the body punching and the speed to be a nightmare for anyone below the world class fighters in the division. He might not be able to beat the top guys, but most guys will struggle with him, and most will struggle to force him to fight their fight. He is legitimately a very good fighter, and if he can fight to his strengths he can out box a guy like Ishii. On the other hand he has struggled at Bantamweight and hasn't been a fan of a physical fight. He can box, but can he fight?
On the other hand Ishii is such a professional novice that we really don't know if he has the tools to drag Ishida into a fight. If he can then there's a great chance that he will break down the more experienced man. However there's a good chance he'll get caught on the way in, taste Ishida's power, and decide that taking risks is not something he can do against the former world title challenger.
We suspect the bout will start slowly, with both men trying to use their jab, trying to feel the other out. The height difference of the two will force Ishii to put on the gas, and we suspect he will choose to take the risk, he will take a shot or two to get in, pressing and pushing Ishida around. When that happens we suspect Ishida will try to respond, and for the final few rounds we could end up with really compelling back and forth action.
We don't think either man has the power to take the other out, but we really are intrigued by whether Ishii can over-come the gulf in experience, or whether Ishida can keep it long, rack up rounds and take home the decision.
A really tough one to call the winner for.
The bad news?
Nothing bad to talk about here, thankfully. It will be shown on TV Osaka, online, and we suspect left online to watch on demand. It's a great bout. It's free. It's intriguing and it ticks all the boxes we want to see from a fight.
It feels like it was a very, very, very long time that we opened up the 2019 Treasure Trove, looking back on some of the best Asian action of 2019, and it's been a really fun time looking back on the year that was, though today we begin to close the treasure trove and begin to look forward. For those wondering, this will actually be the final 2019 Treasure Trove bout that we cover.
Originally the plan was to keep this going for 12 months, then move on to bouts from 2020. Unfortunately 2020 has been a horror of a year, and we thankfully had more than enough bouts from 2019 to cover over a year, in fact we've managed, quite easily, to exceed the 52 bout target we set ourselves for this series and although 2020 has not been the year we had been hoping for we feel we now have enough bouts to begin looking back at 2020.
With that said, lets take a look at the last of the 2019 treasure's in our trove!
Kazuto Ioka (23-2, 13) Vs Aston Palicte (25-2-1, 21)
For thos bout we head back to the summer of 2019, and focus on the Makuhari Messe in Chiba for a contest that pit former 3-weight world champion Kazuto Ioka against hard hitting Filipino Aston Palicte. It was a bout that saw both men looking to claim the WBO Super Flyweight title, a title they had come razor close to claiming in 2018, when both were denied by Filipino legend Donnie Nietes.
Of the two men Ioka was the much, much more well known. The Japanese 30 year old was a bona fide star in Japan, he had won world titles at Minimumweight, Light Flyweight and Flyweight, was the nephew of a boxing from the 1980's and 1990's, and had been groomed for success. Although his personal life had gotten a bit messy, with a public falling out with his father and a divorce from a popular musician, he was still one of the biggest draws in Japanese boxing. Coming in to this he was looking to become the first Japanese man to claim world titles at 4 weight classes, adding another piece of history to his brilliant, and often over-looked, career.
On the other hand Aston Palicte was a huge Super Flyweight, with spiteful power, and he looked like he belonged at least one weight class higher than Ioka, if not 2 or even 3. He was a 28 year old who had shown what he could do in 2018, when fought to a draw with Donnie Nietes, and was being groomed under the promotional stable of Roy Jones Jr to be a star. He ticked many boxes of a future world champion and many in the Philippines were tipping him as being too big, too strong, and too fresh for the smaller, but more skilled Japanese fighter.
This bout was rarely a war, but it was consistently intriguing, and the sort of fight where the ending felt like it could come at any moment.
From the off the size distance between the two men was clear, and Palicte looked much, much bigger than Ioka, who looked cautious. Despite giving away size Ioka was smartly using his speed, his movement and his experience to ease his way into things and get a read on Palicte's power and timing. By the end of the opening round both men were beginning to find their groove, with Ioka managing move through the gears just a little better than the Filipino.
In round 2 the pace was beginning to turn up a notch, with both men putting their foot on the gas slightly. It was clear that Palicte was the bigger puncher, but the skills, jab and counter punching of Ioka were off setting that power well. Despite that Palicte's reach was working well for him and he was catching Ioka at range, with his jab, and catching him coming in as well.
With both men getting a study on what the other had in the locker we began to see Ioka step into the reach of Palicte, showing great head movement to make Palicte miss, regularly, and judging the distance brilliantly. Palicte still looked the more dangerous man, but was, slowly, being out thought, out boxed, out sped and out manoeuvred. Palicte even got rocked from a left hook as Ioka's power told for the first time.
By round 4 the pace was solid, without being spectacular. This was tactical, cerebral, smart, patient, yet intense. The men were never far apart, neither man was negative as such, but neither seemed willing to take too many risks. Instead they were boxing smartly, and this was high level stuff with really intelligent work from both without fireworks ever being lit. What was really notable was the ring IQ of Ioka, who was really doing the subtle things well. He was making Palicte fight the wrong fight, he was making Palicte over think, and for fans who like smart boxing this was brilliant.
In round 6 we were beginning to see Ioka move up the gears again, he was starting to play with Palicte mentally. The Filipino was regularly coming forward, and Ioka was slipping and sliding in the pocket, catching Palicte coming in. Palicte tried to let his hands go, and had some success in the final minute, but Ioka took the play away quickly answering back almost immediately and forcing Palicte to back off.
In round 7 we saw Palicte putting his foot hard on the gas. He let it all hang out and it seemed like he felt it was his time. He had to turn the bout around and he was throwing the kitchen sink at Ioka. It was the change he needed to make and it saw him wobble Ioka for a moment. After 6 relatively interesting, but cautious rounds, the fight was coming alive and Ioka had to respond, which he did in the final minute of the round, with Palicte looking like he was feeling the pace of his effort.
After a thrilling round 7 the pace dropped off massively in round 8 as Ioka resumed control of the bout behind his boxing skills and Palicte paid the price of his big 7th round charge. With Palicte looking like he wasn't able to get his gas tank going again Ioka began to turn the screw, coming on the inside and using the left hand really well, Palicte had moments firing back, but was struggling to get any sustained success, and taking solid single shots himself.
In round 10 the solid, clean, accurate shots of Ioka began to add up as he let combinations fly. Those combinations landed clean and began to hurt Palicte who was left stumbling, reeling, and needed saving by the referee as Ioka went through the gears and showed exactly what he could do.
Although not the most exciting of bouts, or the biggest bout of the year, this really did have it all. It had skills, it was cerebral, it was smart, it was high level boxing. It had drama and action in round 7, it then had the skills and finishing instincts of Ioka who seemed to turn a switch in round 10 to force the stoppage.
This was the treasure that had a bit of everything. If you're here for a war unfortunately you need to dig deeper into the Treasure Trove, and in fairness we have included of wars in this series. But here we have something a little bit special, and something that saw Ioka become only the second Japanese fighter to win world titles in 4 weights, following in the footsteps of female star Naoko Fujioka.
This coming Monday is an exciting day thanks to TV Osaka who will be showing a couple of small shows from Japan. It's from those that we pick our one to watch, and it has the potential to be something very exciting and very action packed. It's also going to be free thanks to TV Osaka who will be allowing fans to watch the bout live on their website, and have typically archived their bouts on YouTube!
The One to Watch?
Katsunari Takayama (31-8-0-1, 12) vs Reiya Konishi (17-2, 7)
November 23rd (Monday)
Every so often we get a bout between two men who, stylistically, should guarantee something very, very special and that's what we think we'll be getting here. Both of the men involved like to fight, like to let their hands go and like to dig their toes in. The bout also marks the ring return of one of our favourite little men, who will know that a loss here will almost certainly end their boxing career, which has been one of the most intriguing of any Japanese fighter in the 21st century.
In one corner we will have 37 year old veteran Katsunari Takayama, one of the good guys of Japanese boxing and one of the most fan friendly fighters the sport has had. He's really been a man who has been a trailblazer the sport for Japanese boxing and has always been in charge of his career, along with mentor Hiroaki Nakade. Takayama has previously handed in his JBC license to pursue the IBF and WBO titles, chasing the IBF around the world, then turned amateur to chase an Olympic place before coming back to the professional ranks after missing out on Olympic selection.
For fans who haven't seen Takayama we really need to say you've missed out on a legendary career. The Japanese warrior has won WBC, IBF and WBO world titles, and the WBA interim title, before they were being handed out like candy, and he has been in sensational wars with the likes of Yutaka Niida, Roman Gonzalez, Mario Rodriguez and, of course, his 2014 epic with Francisco Rodriguez Jr. Sadly however he's now 37 and hasn't fought as a professional in over 4 years, so there are real worries about what he has left in the tank.
Unlike Takayama we've never seen Reiya Konishi win a world title, but he has had two shots at world honours, coming up short in a close bout against Carlos Canizales and losing a pretty clear one to Felix Alvarado. Despite not yet winning a world title bout we have seen Konishi involved in some great bouts as his all action style is made for excitement. He's a come forward fighter who's strong, doesn't hit hard, but throws a lot of leather. He can be bullied, as Alvarado did, but he has shown no quit, and has become a cult favourite of sorts thanks to his toughness and tenacity. Sadly for him he is a slow starter, and it does take a few rounds for him to find his groove, and this could be a potential issue here.
At the age of 27 this is Konishi's big chance to bounce back from the loss to Alvarado and to plant his flag for another world title fight, potentially against a fellow Japanese fighter in 2021. A loss, however, would likely spell the end of any dreams he has to reach the top of the sport.
What to expect?
If these two men were in their primes we would have no problem in marking this down as a "potential FOTY candidate", sadly however there are a lot of questions over it, and it's only scheduled for 6 rounds. We expect a lot of action, a lot of excitement, but we don't expect it to be FOTY contender. Sadly.
We expect a fast start from Takayama. Whilst he has been away from professional boxing for 4 years he has been dabbling with amateur boxing, over the shorter distances, and we expect that will show here. He'll probably still look rusty, but will move around the ring, use his feet well, and rack up the first few rounds on his boxing skills. In rounds 3 and 4 however we expect to see Konishi getting closer, bulling in, and making things tough. We then expect Konishi to begin to take over by rounds 5 and 6.
We expect hoitly contested action, a lot of punches being thrown, and cuts. We almost expect to see Takayama's paper skin cut every time he fights, and we don't see this being any difference. The real question is "when will he be cut?" If the skin holds up for 4 rounds we see Takayama taking the razor thin decision, any earlier and we suspect Konishi takes home the win.
The bad news?
Obviously this is going to have a 37 year old, ring rusty Takayama, with damaged paper skin. It's not the Takayama of 2014, who went to war with Francisco Rodriguez Jr. There's also a very, very real chance that he will bust open early, especially with head clashes. We are, genuinely, looking forward to this, but there is a worry it could be a bloody, messy, bout with a very early, disappointing ending. Fingers crossed we avoid that!
South Korean boxing is a long, long way, from what it once was. Despite that the sport has been able to provide some amazing bouts in the last few years, in a variety of settings. They haven't always been the tidiest, or prettiest of bouts, but they have had their own charm. Today we share one such bout, from our Treasure Trove, and this is really one of the most bizarre, thrilling, action packed, messy wars you're likely to see this week.
Seung Hee Lee (3-6, 1) vs Jin Soo Kim (6-6-1, 3)
In October 2019 the WJ Boxing Club played host to a small card, featuring a number of lesser talented fighters. Despite the limitations of the men involved many of the men on the show felt this was a chance to make a mark and pick up a victory. Two such men were Seung Hee Lee and Jin Soo Kim.
Entering the bout the 26 year old Lee was 3-6, he had won just 1 of his previous 5 and had done very, very little of note. He had been testing the water at Middleweight in bouts prior to this one but a lack of success there saw him move down the scales and take this fight, just above the Light Middleweight limit.
Kim on the other hand was a 30 southpaw and, on paper, had the better record. Despite having the better record his recent form was even worse than that of Lee and he was 0-4-1 in his previous 5. He had scored a win since April 2013 and was naturally the smaller man, having regularly fought at Light Welterweight.
The bout didn't start too well. In all honesty it was a mess to begin with, as Lee struggled with the southpaw stance of Kim, and Kim struggled to get anything going himself. To his credit Lee was pressing forward, taking the center of the ring, and forcing the fight, but Kim was tying him up and thwarting his aggression. By the end of the round however Lee's pressure and relentlessness was forcing Kim to fight back out of the corner and by the end of the round we were getting a fight. It wasn't pretty, but it was exciting, rough and had huge shots thrown by both.
After the rather frustrating start to the opening round we saw the pace pick up in round 2. There was still some messy clinches, and moments that were frustrating, as the men got too close, but for the most part this was a war, with Lee fighting like a man possessed and Kim trying to do all he could to him away.
Round by round we saw the two men hammering each other. Bombs flying both ways. Defense playing a clear second fiddle to offense. As Kim realised he couldn't just hold and spoil he let his hands go more, catching Lee coming in with clean counters, but Lee walked through them, desperate to get Kim back against the rounds, ropes, using anything and everything at his disposal to make this fight.
In the end the willingness to use anything and everything up close saw us going to an early conclusion, heading to the scorecards in round 5, but prior to the ending this was chaotic violence. This was entertaining, rough, tough and brilliantly violent. It was an ugly, grimey fight, but it was thrilling, adrenaline filled and so much fun!
For fans who want boxing to be clean, technical, smooth, angles and high IQ, we have something great for next week in this series. For those who just want to see two blokes unloading wide punches on each other in dingy little gym, this is for you. This type of fight in the UK would be described as a small hall classic. In Korea it was simply a gym fight. To us, it's a rough, crude, ugly, treat and a genuine treasure.
This week for our one to watch we focus on a bout in England, as we see a talented Kazakh take a step up and go for his first professional title in a mouth watering match up for a minor title. For once this is actually a case of a minor title being used properly and a chance for a talented youngster to show why so many fans are excited about him. For those wanting to tune in it will be shown in IFL TV in much of the world and ESPN+ in the US.
The One to Watch?
Tursynbay Kulakhmet (1-0, 1) vs Macaulay McGowan (14-0-1, 3)
November 11th (Wednesday)
In one corner we have arguably the most exciting Kazakh prospect on the planet, and a man who is being tipped to be raced to the top in a fashion seen by very, very few others. In the opposite corner we have a man unbeaten in 15, who will not be wanting to be beaten by a professional novice. This is, to us, the type of bout that top prospects should be having, and the type of bout that fight fans should be very, very excited about!
The 26 year old Tursynbay Kulakhmet was one of the outstanding Kazakh amateurs of recent years and unlike many fighters who get molly coddled early in their career he has made it clear he wants to moved quickly, rapidly rising through the ranks. On his professional debut, in August, he looked like a star in the making, showing everything we could want to see from a young fighter and we're expecting more of that here. As early as the first round in to his debut it was clear he understood what professional boxing was about, and not only out boxed, out punched and out fought his more experienced professional but also entertained. He's very much fitting in the mould of current general of Central Asian and Eastern European fighters with the right mentality of the correct understanding of what being a professional boxer is.
Macaulay McGowan on the other hand is a 25 year old English fighter who has been a professional since 2014. His career has been a bit of a slow burn one so far, but he has developed a good amount of experience over the last 6 years and has answered plenty of questions whilst running up a 15 fight unbeaten run. Sadly he has never fought above British level, and his best wins, to date, are over the likes of Sullivan Mason and William Warburton. However this is his big chance to claim a WBC International title, get a big win, and win the backing of MTK Global. In fact a win here would legitimately change his career, and help him secure the fights he needs to make a name for himself, just days before his 26th birthday.
What to expect?
Whilst this is a chance for McGowan to make a name for himself we suspect it's not much of a chance. A win over over Kulakhmet would be massive for him, though it would also be one of the biggest boxing surprised of 2020.
What we expect to see here is for Kulakhmet to begin slowly, get a feel for McGowan before going through the gears, breaking the Englishman down, and using the opportunity to show case exactly what he can do. We could even end up seeing the 1-0 fighter play with his man, toying him to the point of mental defeat just as much as physical defeat.
It's perhaps unfair to write off the chance of McGowan but for him this is a massive step up in class and it's hard to see what he has to offer to really test Kulakhmet. The Englishman lacks the fire-power, size, strength or speed to get Kulakhmet's respect, and we suspect this will be a very, very dominant victory for the Kazakh, potentially in just 4 or 5 rounds.
The bad news?
Whilst this is very much one to watch, it's also expected to be a total mismatch, and little more than a show case for Kulakhmet, who will be looking to make a statement.
For this week's treasure trove we get to share one of the true forgotten classics from 2019, and a bout that had skills, excitement, drama, competitive action and ticked the boxes that we all want to see from fights. It did so in a way that combined everything else with high level boxing, and two men who both wanted to move their careers forward, and both delivered great performances in a bout that really deserved more international attention that it got.
Hironori Mishiro (8-0-1, 3) vs Yoshimitsu Kimura (12-1, 7)
In one corner was OPBF Super Featherweight champion Hironori Mishiro, a man tipped for success from the moment he signed a professional contract with the Watanabe Gym. He had been a talented amateur and after 3 fights, to get comfortable with the professional scene, he was put on the fast track. In just his 6th bout he won the OPBF Super Featherweight title, beating Carlo Magali, and was unfortunate not to unify the title with the Japanese title just 4 months later, fighting to a draw with Masaru Sueyoshi.
In his fourth defense the then 25 year old Mishiro took on 23 year old challenger Yoshimitsu Kimura.
Kimura wasn't tipped for big things when he turned professional. Instead of a strong amateur background Kimura had learned on the job and began his career in 4 rounders before winning the 2016 All Japan Rookie of the Year. In 2018 he stepped up, big time, and came up short against tricky Filipino Richard Pumicpic, in a WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight title bout. Following that loss he allowed his frame to fill out and quickly found his groove at Super Featherweight, with 3 stoppages.
The bout looked interesting on paper and the two fighters seemed to not only respect each other, but also boxing history, producing a poster for the event that mirrors the design used for the iconic bout between Takanori Hatakeyama and Koji Arisawa. The build up had been genuine, the fighters were genuine and both were regarded as very solid technical fighters.
What we didn't expect was a bout that was going to deliver a brilliant, high tempo battle of skills, wits and determination.
From the opening moments the two men looked to set a high pace behind their jabs. Both men were looking to create space for their jabs, though it was Mishiro who seemed to establish his first. As a result Kimura began to chance tactics, trying to get inside and letting shots go up close. Sadly for him Mishiro responded and a right hand dropped the challenger less than 2 minutes into the bout.
With the knockdown scored Mishiro took the early lead however Kimura wasn't done, not in the slightest. He hadn't been hurt and his hopes were merely banged.
The technical action was back in play in round 2, with Mishiro using his jab well, keeping range for the most part, but Kimura wasn't afraid of the champion and picked his moments to step on the gas. This gave us a quiet, but tense round, where we had some exciting moments, but nothing too dramatic until late on.
From there on the bout began to build and build with Kimura settling well in round 3 and beginning to put his foot on the gas in round 4. He had realised he couldn't match Mishiro in a boxing contest and instead looked to make things into a war. Mishiro was forced to respond as Kimura's pressure began to amp up. By the mid-point of round 4 we were starting to see something a little bit special unfold in front of us. It wasn't a brawl, it wasn't a war, but it was a technical, exciting battle that had a bit of everything between two men who matched each other really well.
The middle rounds saw more and more action coming on the inside as the two men became happier to stand their ground and let their shots go, trying to get the upper hand.This lead to some amazing exchanges, with Mishiro generally landing the flashier work and Kimura landing the harder shots. For those who like to watch single rounds the 7th was particularly good, with both being hurt during a fantastic 3 minutes of action.
The brilliant back and forth was becoming more and more tricky to score, with the judges struggling to split them in what was a fantastic 2-way technical battle. A battle so tightly fought that it genuinely went to the wire.
This wasn't an all out war, it wasn't a pure technical fight, instead it merged the two perfectly. It gave us smooth boxing, brilliant technical work, a high tempo, some thrilling exchanges and such a hotly fought and competitive bout that it is well worthy of a watch.
Note - Not all rounds are shown on the broadcast of this fight, but the ones that are show just how great this contest was, and makes it worthy of a place in the Treasure Trove.
For this week's one to watch we're going to go over and focus on Thailand for a compelling match up that, in all honest, we didn't think we wanted, until we saw the two men in the ring essentially announcing the bout live on Work Point TV. From the moment they did that we have been massively excited about the contest and the compelling mash of styles.
The One to Watch?
Pungluang Sor Singyu (54-8, 36) Vs Amnat Ruenroeng (20-4, 6)
November 7th (Saturday)
It's rare, at least in Thailand, to get two pretty well known domestic fighters in the ring against each other. Typically Thai shows are "big name against unknown" or "rising prospect against faded fighter" here however we have two past their best former world champions facing off in what looks like a match watering, well matched and truly intriguing match up. This isn't one we expect will be a war, but we are anticipating a very, very interesting contest.
Of the two men we would assume that the 40 year old Amnat Ruenroeng is the more well known fighter. The former IBF Flyweight champion is a truly compelling character who was once in prison due to drug offenses, before turning his life around, having success in amateurs and then in the professional ranks. At the age of 34 he won the IBF Flyweight title and defended it against some top fighters, such as Kazuto Ioka, McWilliams Arroyo, Zou Shiming and John Riel Casimer, before losing the belt in 2016. It was assumed that would be the end of him, but he later went to the Olympics, fought Tenshin Nasukawa in kick boxing, and has a boxing resurgence in 2019.
Now aged 40 it's fair to ask what Amnat has in the tank, though he showed he was very much a tricky master last time out, giving Srisaket Sor Rungvisai a real test in August and the awkward, frustrating Thai is certainly not shot, but is shop worn.
Despite being less well known Pungluang Sor Singyu is a 2-time WBO Bantamweight champion who has been a professional since 2001, and is still only 31. Some how. He first won the WBO Bantamweight title in 2012, beating the popular AJ Banal, but lost the belt just 5 months later, to Paulus Ambunda. He worked his way into a second world title shot, and was giving Tomoki Kameda fights before being taken out by the brilliant Japanese fighter. when Kameda vacated the title Pungluang had his second reign, beating Ryo Akaho before losing the bout in a great bout against Marlon Tapales.
In recent years Pungluang has toiled a little bit, going 2-4 following the loss to Tapales, but scored a notable upset earlier this year, against Campee Phayom, and that has opened the door for a fight like this, for him.
What to expect?
One thing we expect with Amnat bouts is that they can get ugly, and Pungluang isn't against making fights ugly himself, when he needs to. So there is a risk that this could end up being a mess. Thankfully however we expect that risk will be somewhat low, with the weight, Featherweight, being one that would favour Pungluang in an up close wrestling match.
Instead we expect to see Amnat trying to play the role of move-boxer, getting on the outside, jabbing, slipping, tiping Punluang. The younger man will be coming forward, looking to throw his own heavy, straight shots, trying to get inside and work away with hooks. Interestingly Amnat is probably the naturally longer, taller man, and he'll try to use that to his advantage early on. As the bout goes on however we expect his legs to slow, and for Pungluang to try and ground down the veteran.
In regards to outcome this is a very, very hard one toi predict, and we wouldn't be surprised by a close decision either way.
The bad news?
For once there isn't really any bad news. The bout is an interesting one, it'll be available for free on WP Boxing's YouTube and Facebook pages and, better yet, it won't clash with Dynamic Glove, as the Japanese show will be shown on Tape Delay and not live!
Takahiro Onaga is a regular contributor to Asian Boxing and will now be a featured writer in his own column where his takes his shot at various things in the boxing world.