A few days ago I looked at state of the Minimumweight division by looking at the champions, now we take a look at a handful of fighters who make up some of the more interesting contenders and ones to watch.
Vic Saludar (20-4, 11)
The hard hitting Vic Saludar is a former WBO world champion who will be looking to become a 2-time world champion in 2020. He lost the WBO title to Wilfredo Mendez in August 2019, in what was his second defense, though will be sniffing around another title fight. Although not the quickest Saludar is a good technical fighter, with very heavy hands, and he has proven his quality with wins against the likes of Ryuya Yamanaka, Masataka Taniguchi Lite Dante, the current OPBF champion.
Ginjiro Shigeoka (5-0, 4)
Rising Japanese superstud Ginjiro Shigeoka is expected to fight for a world title before the end of 2020 and comes into the year following an excellent win over Rey Loreto, becoming just the second man to stop the Filipino veteran. Shigeoka is quick, well schooled and heavy handed. Although he is lacking in experience as a professional he did have more than 50 amateur bouts and certainly knows his way around the ring. So far he has already proven his ability to box, brawl and bang and if he continues the way he's going he could end up have a very long reign at the top.
Yudai Shigeoka (2-0, 1)
Ginjiro Shigeoka's older brother Yudai Shigeoka looks to be just as promising as his sibling, in fact if we're being honest Yudai maybe the more promising of the two. Yudai looks to be the better the better pure boxer, the more defensively sound fighter and the one more willing to use his legs to get out of range, rather than fight in the trenches. He is, however, also regarded as the less physically imposing of the two. His debut was a show case, but his second win saw him take a decision over current OPBF champion Lito Dante in a non-title bout, and the odds are that he will be looking for titles himself in 2020.
Jing Xiang (17-4-2, 3)
Chinese boxing is riding a high following a sensational year for Can Xu, which saw Xu win and and defend the WBA Featherweight title. The next potential world champion for China is Jing Xiang, a skilled pure boxer from the same promotional team as Xu. Although not a big name Xiang has been banging on the door of a world title fight at 108lbs and 105lbs in recent years, dropping down in weight in 2019. With wins against Merlito Sabillo and Kompayak Porpramook he has created a buzz in Asia though still needs to face a top, prime, opponent to really make his mark and that could be a world title fight in 2020!
Hasanboy Dusmatov (1-0, 1)
One final interesting novice in the division, arguably the most interesting of the bunch, is Uzbek fighter Hasanboy Dusmatov. The 2016 Olympic champion is a sensational talent and should be fast tracked like the star in the making that he is. He debuted in 2019, after years of rumours and scored an easy win over a Mexican youngster. That win was little more than an introduction to the professional ranks for Dusmatov who already has his eyes on bigger and better things, including a potential world title fight in 2020 with WBA champion Knockout CP Freshmart
Kai Ishizawa (6-1, 6)
Whilst we have included fighters above who we think will be in the world title mix in 2020 we don't believe that will be the case for Kai Ishizawa, but he deserves a place on this section due to the fact that we want him to be on everyone's mind as we enter the new year. The 23 year old brawler is one of the most exciting fighters in the division, and although rather crude he is the type of fighter who puts bums on seats. Everything Ishizawa throws is with bad intention and he combines that with a high output. If you get the chance to see him fight in 2020 make sure you take it, as you'll not regret watching the exciting youngster from Kanagawa. He will likely be in the mix for a regional title at some point in 2020 and that's good enough for us!
The 3 bouts we want in 2020:
Wanheng Menayothin Vs Ginjiro Shigeoka
Knockout CP Freshmart Vs Jing Xiang
Wilfredo Mendez Vs Hasanboy Dusmantov
The Minimumweight division is the focus of our first look at the divisions as we head in to the new year. Over the past day or so we have looked at the world champions, "The state of the Division - Minimumweights - The Champions" and the leading contenders, The state of the Division - Minimumweights - The Contenders now we look at our final part of the division, the prospects, and other notable fighters.
Kai Ishizawa (5-0, 5)
Unbeaten Japanese 22 year old Kai Ishizawa has been a professional for about 18 months but already appears to be one to watch. He's a pretty basic pressure fighter, but his flaws make him a must watch fighter, with his attitude being to stop opponents no matter what. He can be out boxed, as we've seen in the past, but his power is thudding and consistent. Potentially a real danger man of the future.
Samuel Salva (16-0, 10)
Samuel Salva is another, from the many, Filipino fighters who is making their mark on the division. The 21 year old has done his stuff relatively quietly, with out making a lot of international buzz, but is rising through the ranks and will hopefully begin taking on international opponents in 2019. He's young, active, heavy handed and building up his experience, he just needs to share the ring with better opponents now.
Daiki Tomita (12-1, 4)
The once beaten Daiki Tomita made his debut in 2015 and went on to win the Rookie of the Year the following year. In 2017 he scored his biggest win to date, defeating Desierto Nagaike and proved his ability in a loss, losing in September 2018 to Tsuaba Koura, who made it into the Contenders section. He's only 21 but has shown plenty to be excited about and he has the potentially to take his loss and really build on the lessons Koura gave him
Yuga Inoue (7-1-1, 1)
Another once beaten Japanese youngster looking to be a big success is 19 year old Yuga Inoue, who isn't related to the Ohashi promoted Inoue clan. Yuga made his debut in 2016 and won the 2017 Rookie of the Year. His sole loss has come to the aforementioned Kai Ishizawa, and prior to being stopped he looked the better fighter. Young, skilled and promising, the one thing Inoue needs is a but more physical development.
ArAr Andales (8-0, 1)
Filipino teenager ArAr Andales has only just turned 19 but has already fought in a couple of 8 rounders and looks to be developing quite nicely. He has a lot of work to do before getting a major international bout, but by the time he steps up in class there is a chance he will develop his punching technique, power and physical strength.
Ginjiro Shigeoka (1-0, 1)
Another 19 year old prospect looking to make their mark at 105lbs is Ginjiro Shigeoka, who was a Japanese amateur stand out, and who looked sensational on debut this past September. He looks like something very special, with power, speed, skills and at only 19 he is already a physically imposing fighter. Possible the best prospect in Japan right now.
Leroy Estrada (16-3, 6)
Panamanian southpaw Leroy Estrada is a former world title challenger, who is regarded by some as a top contender. For us however he's more of a "wildcard" entry in the division. He was stopped this year by Wanheng Menayothin, and made to look like a boy against the champion, but is ranked highly due to a big win over Saul Juarez. We tend to see him as someone who isn't likely to be a major player in the division, despite the high regard that some hold him in.
Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart (10-0, 4)
Unbeaten Thai Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart is seen by some in Thailand as the future of the division, though his performances as a professional boxer suggest other wise. He's been matched mostly in soft matches as a professional, but was pushed all the way last time out by Marco John Rementizo and we suspect that performance tells us more than his other 9 bouts. He might be unbeaten but we don't see him as being good enough to carry the flag at the top of the division any time soon, if ever.
Shin Ono (23-9-3, 6)
Japanese champion Shin Ono is one of the division's elder statesmen, with his 36th birthday coming later this month. He's been a professional for close to 18 years and is a 2-time world title challenger. We don't expect him to win a world title, though he does have a place as a gate keeper and only very good fighters will beat him at the weight. It's worth noting that he defends the Japanese title in January, against Norihito Tanaka, and if successful he may get one more shot at a title. A loss to Tanaka would likely spell the end of his career, but a win keeps him on the fringes of another title shot.
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.