This week I had planned, and written, a "One to Watch" regarding the new cancelled Masayuki Ito bout with Yongqiang Yang. That bout is now off, due to Ito suffering a nasty injury, as as a result we have looked elsewhere and managed to come up with an excellent replacement bout for this week's hidden fight, as we head from China to the Philippines.
The One to Watch?
Alphoe Dagayloan (14-3-5-1, 5) vs Carlo Caesar Penalosa (14-2, 7)
February 1st (Saturday)
The Filipino domestic scene rarely gives us a bout that genuinely excites us, and it's a shame that the scene in Manila has been flooded by mismatches, often involving over-matched foreign talent. Here however we have a brilliant Filipino Flyweight title bout between two men who will both be in the ring looking to win, looking to claim the Filipino title and take a huge step towards securing another bout on the international stage, where they both suffered a loss in 2019. This is a bout with actual meaning and purpose on a Filipino domestic card!
In one corner is the criminally under-rated Alphoe Dagayloan, a 28 year old southpaw who began his career with an ugly looking 4-2-4-1 (1) record before reeling off a run that saw him go 11-1-1 (4). That 13 fight run saw him scoring notable wins over Mateo Handig, Madiyar Zhanuzak, Ronggup Wu, Danrick Sumabong and Esneth Domingo. The only loss in those 13 bouts was an ultra close one to Japanese fighter Ryota Yamauchi last year. We rate Yamauchi very, very highly and the fact that Dagayloan gave him genuine fits was impressive, showing how good the Filipino is. He's not the biggest puncher, or the fastest, but like countryman Richard Pumicpic he's nightmare to fight, with under-rated skills, a gritty toughness and an impressive work rate. A real horror to fight and physically strong to boot.
The 26 year old Carlo Caesar Penalosa is also a southpaw and is part of the huge Penalosa fighting family. He's the grandson of Carl Penalosa and the nephew of Dodie Boy Penalosa, the inaugural IBF Light Flyweight champion. From such a deep fighting family the expectation was on Carlo to achieve things in the ring, but sadly he's not yet managed to make a major mark on the global boxing scene. He would win his first 7 bouts before suffering a slip up to Reymark Taday and another 7 fight winning run ended last year when he came up short to Maximo Flores. Despite those losses Penalosa is a talent, he hits harder than his record suggest and he can box. He's just coming into his physical prime. In fact right now he's probably the most determined he has ever been following last year's loss Flores.
What to expect?
We don't expect this to be pretty, rarely are all southpaw bouts pretty. Instead what we expect to see is a messy yet exciting battle between two well matched fighters who will stand their ground and fight. Penalosa is the better boxer, and the better puncher, but that's not always the decider and with Dagayloan being a rugged fighter who will press up close and look to turn it into a fight. We don't think Penalosa wants a fight with Dagayloan.
If the bout is fought at mid range, and Penalosa is allowed to box and dictate the tempo he should be able to win. We however to see Dagayloan work on the gameplan that Maximo Flores used against Penalosa. Roughing up the third generation fighter and forcing him to fight fire with fire.
The bad news?
Obviously we have mentioned this could be ugly and it really could. It'll be potentially very exciting as a bout, and again we love seeing Filipino bouts with meaning, but it could be a real eye sore at times.
This coming week isn't the best for fights, but there are plenty of interesting contests out there. For this week's one to watch we look over to China where we see an unbeaten local take on a criminally under-rated Filipino visitor in Haikou.
The One to Watch?
ZongLi He (6-0, 1) vs Alphoe Dagayloan (14-3-5-1, 5)
November 22nd (Friday)
We really enjoy watching Alphoe Dagayloan and we also love seeing unbeaten prospects, like ZhingLi He, being tested. Here we see Dagayloan being the test for an unbeaten prospect, looking to rise through the ranks with the next logical step forward in his career. Prospect against fringe contender.
Chinese 25 year old ZongLi He is a promising but light punching Super Flyweight who began his career in 2017 and was fighting in 10 rounders just over a year later. In just his 4th professional bout he beat Diarh Gabutan for a minor regional title and since then has claimed a couple more minor titles with wins over Vincent Astrolabio and Hamson Lamandau. Although talented he is a very light puncher and hasn't yet learned to sit on his shots.
The 27 year old Alphoe Dagayloan, from the Philippines has a very odd looking record but there is a lot to like about him. He's a young veteran, having debuted way back in 2010, and was a bizarre 4-2-4-1 (1) after 11 bouts. Since then he has gone 10-2-1 (4), and has won 8 of his last 9, with his only defeat coming at the hands of the fantastic Ryota Yamauchi in a brilliant fight in August. Although no world beater he's a fighter who will likely find himself in the title mix in the coming years, and has legitimately proven himself on the regional scene.
What to expect?
He is a very safety minded fighter, who uses a lot of movement, speed and footwork. He is offensively frustrating, with low output, but when he lets his hands go he lands good counters and looks very sharp with with his shots. There's never much on his punches, but he does look like he has a nice variety of shots in his locker, even if he doesn't always use what he's got at his disposal.
Dagayloan on the other hand brings pressure. He's not a polished fighter, but he is an aggressive one, and a real nightmare for fighter who lack power, and can't get his respect. That was shown in a big way when he walked through Madiyar Zhanuzak, and could be shown again here if He can't get his respect, and there's a good chance he can't.
We expect Dagayloan to pressure, push and force the fight, with He forced to fight at a higher pace than usual. The local is the naturally bigger man, but Dagayloan is the stronger man, and we suspect that power and strength will be the difference. Expect He to box, but to be ground down in the middle and later rounds.
The bad news?
In recent months it has become harder and harder to find replays of Chinese fights, so if you miss this one live, you may end up missing out, at least in the short term. This should be a fun one, but certainly may not be as widely available as Chinese fights form the past
Due to the Flyweight division being in a state of change in 2018, what may go down as one of the division's most transitional years in living memory, it's been awkward in really recognising the divisional contenders. It seems like so many of the highest ranked fighters haven't had the management or mentality to fight fellow contenders and prove they deserve a shot.
Thankfully the division has delivered in terms of prospects, with a host of youngsters making their charge and looking to climb through the rankings.
If you missed out look at the champions in the division you can catch up here The state of the Division - Flyweight - The Champions whilst out look at the contenders is here The state of the Division - Flyweight - The Contenders
Junto Nakatani (17-0, 12)
Japanese 20 year old boxer-puncher Junto Nakatani might have 17 bouts to his name and not yet have had a world title fight but the youngster has already won the All Japan Rookie of the Year, the Japanese title and will fight for the main Japanese title in the new year, battling Naoki Mochizuki in February for the vacant title. He's been one to watch for a few years now and wins against the likes of Masamichi Yabuki, Mario Andrade, Seigo Yuri Akui and Dexter Alimento have all put him in a place where a world title fight looks inevitable. The biggest question when it comes to Nakatani is "when" and not "if" he'll fight at the very top level in the division.
Ryota Yamauchi (4-0, 4)
Top Japanese prospects are well known for being fast tracked and so far Ryota Yamauchi looks like he is on the fact track, having already beaten two notable names in just 4 bouts. The talented 23 year old has already stopped Lester Abutan and Yota Hori and looks like a very talented boxer puncher. Despite the obvious talent and belief of his team it does seem like we'll be seeing him held back just a touch, and wouldn't be surprised if he only competes for his first title towards the end of 2019. Over the coming years however he will likely find himself well and truly in the mix at world level.
Mekhdi Abdurashedov (5-0, 2)
The Russian boxing scene is set to have a new wave of great talent, following the old guard of fighters like Denis Lebedev and Alexander Povetkin. One of the new wave is the unbeaten Mekhdi Abdurashedov, who turns 20 before the end of the year. At such a young age it's hard to know just how good he really is, but he looked like a sensation when he stopped Prince Andrew Laurio in 3 rounds and has also impressed in wins over Iwan Zoda and Hugo Hernandez Aguilar. It might be a long wait to see Abdurashedov fighting for a world title, but after just 5 fights he already looks like he will, eventually, end up fighting at world level.
Kento Hatanaka (7-0, 7)
WBC Youth World champion Kento Hatanaka is a second generation fighter, following in the footsteps of his father Kiyoshi Hatanaka, a world champion back in the 1990's. Kento is aged 20 and already appears to have the tools needed to go a long way, with vicious power, great speed, exciting combination punching and a real desire to make an impression. There is still a lot of improving for Hatanaka to do before he moves onto senior titles, but with the tools he has been blessed with, as well as the training he'll get along side current WBO world champion Kosei Tanaka there is real potential for Hatanaka to not only improve but to go on and become a world champion of the future.
Dave Apolinario (9-0, 6)
Filipino teenager Dave Apolinario doesn't turn 20 until January 2019 but is already getting rave reviews in the Philippines due to his combination of skills, power and ring craft. The youngster hasn't really fought anyone of real note yet, but has looked incredible at the early stages of his career and already shown an ability to go 8 rounds, as well as the ability to blow opponents away early on. He's perhaps a few years away from reaching his physical prime, but when he develops his man strength he will become a very hard man to beat. At the moment we expect to see Apolinario being given baby steps, but that's certainly not a problem.
Alphoe Dagayloan (11-2-5-1, 5)
We see quite a lot of Filipino's with really misleading records, and Alphoe Dagayloan is another in that mould. The Southpaw has a less than stellar record but a lot of that has to do with baffling 4-2-4-1 start to his professional career. He is now riding a 5 fight winning run and has scored notable wins over Madiyar Zhanuzak and Rongguo Wu in his last 2 bouts. He can be our boxed, but he's a nightmare as he comes forward, throws a lot of hard shots and breaks opponents down. His record may put some off believing him to be a prospect but we've been impressed and suspect he could go on to challenge for a world title in the future, if he continues his current run of form.
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.