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
The Welterweight division has a really interesting, exciting, and varied collection of fighters from across the planet. In fact we don't think any other division has the national variance in prospects that the Welterweight division currently has.
If you missed our previous looks into the Welterweight division they are available here:
The state of the Division - Welterweight - The Champions
The state of the Division - Welterweight - The Contender
Thulani Mbenge (15-0, 12)
Unbeaten South African Thulani Mbenge put himself on the map in 2018. Last he went from a 12-0 (10) prospect that was best known winning the South African national title and holding a win over Jayar Inson to a 15-0 (12) fringe contender/prospect with stoppage wins over Diego Gabriel Chaves and Miguel Vazquez. Not only were his bouts shown in South Africa but he also got exposure in the UK, via Boxnation, and looks set to have another big year ahead. He's a tall, wiry, big punching fighter, who has some raw edges, but a lot of promise.
Josh Kelly (8-0, 6)
"Pretty Boy" Josh Kelly is arguably the most promising fighter in England, and is one of the most pleasing to watch fighters coming through the Welterweight division. He was a stellar amateur, who competed in numerous international competitions and won medals in things like the World Youth Championships in 2012, and the European Championships in 2015. The 24 year old is being fast tracked, and has already scored notable wins over Carlos Molina and Kris George, and was looking to fight David Avanesyan prior to an illness forcing that bout to be cancelled at late notice.
Custio Clayton (15-0, 10)
At the age of 31 Canadian fighter Custio Clayton hasn't got time to waste, and we suspect that in 2019 he will be ramping up the level of competition he's facing. He's yet to score a big win, bug has got solid victories over Cristian Rafael Coria, Johnny Navarrete and Stanislas Salmon. Clayton is aggressive, exciting, heavy-handed and very talented, with a strong amateur background. His age is the big worry when it comes to Clayton, but he has got the ability to go a long way, if his team pushes him aggressively this year.
Jaron Ennis (22-0, 20)
At the age of 21 American hopeful Jaron "Boots" Ennis is one of the most promising American fighters out there, He turned professional back in 2016 and has been incredibly busy since then, fighting 22 pro bouts in less than 3 years. Not only is he active but he's heavy-handed, and has stopped his last 12 opponents, with no one lasting more than 4 rounds with Ennis. Despite his high level of activity his competition hasn't been great, but he does have notable names on his record like Ayi Bruce, Mike Arnaoutis and Raymond Serrano. He has time on his side, a lot of ability and great power. There is so much to like about Ennis, and we expect he will become a major player over the next few years.
Kudura Kaneko (9-0, 6)
Afghan born Japanese based 20 year old Kudura Kaneko has had a remarkable rise though the Japanese domestic system since debuting in 2015. He won the Japanese Youth title in 2018 before going on to beat former national champion Toshio Arikawa in an excellent performance late in the year. Although clearly a boxing baby Arikawa is a hungry talented fighter, who hits hard and looks to be improving with every fight. We suspect he'll get a senior title bout in 2019 and then look to face decent international tests in 2020, before potentially climbing into the rankings. As with anyone who has seen war in Afghanistan it's hard to doubt the mental toughness of Kaneko and his desire to build a school in Afghanistan is something that will drive him and his career.
Jordy Weiss (21-0, 3)
Unbeaten Frenchman Jordy Weiss, "El Gitano", is a 25 year old who has already claimed the European Union Welterweight title and scored solid wins at that type of level against the likes of Steven Bloyer and Aitor Nieto. There's a long way for him to go, but he has shown plenty of promise and skills. One of the big question marks about Weiss is how he reacts to fighters walking through his shots, which will happen sooner rather than later. It seems like he won't have the power to get opponents respect at a higher level, but we have been surprised in the past and he certainly has the potential to mix on a very competitive basis on the European title scene.
Sergey Lubkovich (10-0, 7)
Fats rising Russian 23 year old Sergey Lubkovich made his debut in 2016 and already has notable wins over Jose Ocampo, Viktor Plotnikov, Karim Mayfield and Juan Ruiz. He's talented, hits hard, and looks like he has the belief of his team, who haven't tried to protect at all during his short career. He still needs a bit more maturing before taking on a true world-class fighter, but it seems inevitable that he will fight at world level sooner rather than later, and there's a good chance, given his age, that he does pick up a title down the line.
Gor Yeritsyan (9-0, 8)
Scary hard hitting Armenian fighter Gor Yeritsyan is one of the division's "hidden gem" fighters. He made his debut in May 2017 and has fought all but 1 of his fights in Russia, hiding away on cards that Western fans may not have seen. Despite being hidden from most fans Yeritsyan has scored notable wins over Ali Funeka, Jose Luis Prieto and Alvin Lagumbay. With 5 bouts in 2018 his team have kept him busy and if he continues that level of activity in 2019 there's a real chance he will crash into the world rankings by the end of the year.
Eimantas Stanionis (7-0, 5)
Baby faced Lithuainian fighter Eimantas Stanionis debuted in 2017 and has climbed up the rankings gradually, with a huge win last August over Levan Ghvamichava being the pick of his victories. Aged 24 Stanionis has time on his side and has a strong amateur background, that saw him reaching the second round of the 2016 Olympics. Based in Oxnard it's clear Stanionis has got top sparring and training on offer and there is real potential for 2019 to be a big break out year for him.
Daniyar Yeleussinov (5-0, 3)
Unbeaten Kazakh fighter Daniyar Yeleussinov is a 27 year Matchroom promoted southpaw who won Olympic gold in 2016 and has over-come some early career problems. Originally Yeleussinov didn't look suited to the professional side of boxing, but impressive performances against Matt Doherty and Marcos Mojica have seen Yeleussinov show amazing improvements and the plan for 2019 is for him to fight in his first title bouts. An announcement on his next bout is expected shortly and there is real expectations on his shoulders to continue to shine following his last two wins.
Jon Miguez (9-0, 5)
Spanish hope Jon Miguez, the "Goodboy", is a 22 year old who has shown promise but is still finding his feet in terms of competition. He took a good step up in class last time out, against Abdessamad Nechchad and looks to be stepping up again in early 2019, taking on Vasyl Kurasov in February. A win there should help Miguez find his feet at a new level and hopefully he'll continue moving forward through the rest of the year. He's still not developed his man strength, but has scored a stoppage over durable Spanish based Nicaraguan Miguel Aguilar and clearly has sting on his punches, even if he's not a KO artist.
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.