When we do this weekly series of Treasure Trove bouts we’ve always wanted to have a mix between well known bouts, such the attention grabbing world title contests that some fans may have missed out one, as well as the less well known and obscure bouts that few outside of the hardcore would have seen. This week we certainly look to focus on a more obscure bout, but still a sensational one, that took place in Russia back in August.
Erzhan Turgumbekov (8-0-1, 2) vs Albert Batyrgaziev (1-0, 1)
In one corner was 25 year old Erzhan Turgumbekov, an unbeaten Russian based fighter from Kyrgyzstan, who had debuted in 2018 and built himself a decent little record after just 9 bouts. The most noteworthy thing on his record was a very good win over Heorhii Lashko in 2019, but he had also been putting in solid performance against lesser opponents and was generating a little bit of buzz for himself.
In the opposite corner was Russian amateur standout Albert Batyrgaziev, who was a truly outstanding young amateur. Coming into this fight he was 22 years old and had only made his professional debut a few weeks earlier, when he had beaten Armen Ataev in 7 rounds. As an amateur he had proven himself as a skilled and aggressive fighter, but there were question marks as to why, with the day before weigh in, he was fighting at 130lbs, when he seemed like he could make 122lbs. The reality, if we’re being honest, is like the fact he wanted to be developed quickly as a professional and be tested against bigger, stronger men.
Unlike many bouts there absolutely no feeling out process here, the two men started fast with both looking to establish their busy, crisp, clean jabs. Throughout the opening round both men had success, but the bigger, heavier shots seemed to come from the wiry frame of Batyrgaziev, who looked incredibly composed for a man who had only had 7 professional rounds to his name. The entire first round was fought at a great pace, it was technical, clean and efficient boxing from both, but it was highly entertaining, with both men fully aware of how to box, and how to do so in an aggressive manner.
The tempo continued to be quick through round 2, though both men began to trade more on the inside. It was still high quality action, from both, but rather than keeping at range, they were now working their way inside, and letting hooks and uppercuts fly. With 2 minutes of the round gone we finally got the first clinch, but it was a short one, with the referee splitting them quickly and letting the high intensity action resume almost immediately. The only disappointing thing was the fact that neither man seemed to have the power to actually hurt the other, though both were landing solid amounts of leather.
In round 3 it was getting clear that the skill level between the two men was obvious. Batyrgaziev was much, much more polished, crisp and natural than Turgumbekov, who was landing plenty of shots but was getting caught much more often. Turgumbekov, who looked the naturally bigger, stronger and more powerful man, was often hitting air, being countered and being forced to back up. Despite being tagged a lot, Turgumbekov continued to try and match his more skilled Russian foe, that sadly seemed to just draw out a more determined response from Batyrgaziev, who looked absolutely brilliant for a man in just his 2nd professional bout.
Through the middle rounds the bout had become even more one sided, and the work rate of Batyrgaziev had started to really chip away at Turgumbekov, who looked to break away more often, and seemed to need to spend a bit more time catching his breath. He also had a point deducted in round 6 for a low blow. Unfortunately for Turgumbekov it seemed clear that Batyrgaziev had no intention of letting his foe take a breather and kept the pressure and the tempo high. Not only was the tempo still high in rounds 7 and 8 but the most telling factor was that Turgumbekov was starting to visibly wilt, and seemed to begin coming apart in round 8. The key was Batyrgaziev’s intelligent approach to the action, landing straight shots almost continually when the men were at range. He prevented his foe from ever settling, and completely controlled the rhythm of the action.
In round 9 Batyrgaziev seemed to hurt his man once again, but to his credit Turgumbekov showed heart and determination, digging deep to fight back, trying to summon everything he had to discourage the Russian and turn the action around. Sadly for him it wasn’t nearly enough and the final minute of the round was a really painful one for Turgumbekov, who took a lot of heavy leather. His team could, in fairness, have pulled him out between rounds but let him continue into round 10. A mistake as Batyrgaziev really wanted a stoppage and put his foot hard on the gas in the final round, clobbering his man around with big left hands up top, finally sending his man to the canvas. It was ruled a slip, but Turgumbekov’s legs had gone and only moments later the referee jumped in to save the brave, but beaten Turgumbekov.
This hidden gem is a high quality fight, fought at an amazing tempo. It’s brilliant throughout with few clinches and is up there with the best all-southpaw battles from recent years. It may have lacked a little bit in terms of drama, given that much of the bout was one sided, but in terms of action, skills, determination and entertainment this was brilliant and is a true gem of 2020. You will not regret watching this one.
Just one thing to add, the bout is completely void of commentary, which, in some ways, improves the action and viewing experience. Fingers crossed we’ll see multiple premium services offering a commentary free option over the coming years!
It's fair to say that 2020 was a year where Thailand shined with a lot of great shows and fantastic all-Thai bouts. The most notable of those often featured emerging talents and prospects looking to make a statement, move their career's forward and begin to show what they could do against decent opposition. The pandemic, whilst certainly an issue for Thailand, ended up being a partial blessing for their boxing scene with fighters from Indonesia no longer padding out cards and acting as easy wins for local fighters. As a result we ended up with several all-Thai Treasure Trove bouts from 2020 including today's compelling contest featuring two youngsters at 140lbs. It wasn't the most exciting bout we'll feature, but it was a compelling chess match that got better as the bout went on, and featured a young prospect who we suspect we'll be hearing a lot about over the next 10 to 15 years.
Phoobadin Yoohanngoh (8-0, 5) Vs Kulabdam Sor Jor Piekuthai (2-1, 1)
In one corner was 15 year prodigy Phoobadin Yoohanngoh, a touted youngster who had won TL Promotion's "The Fighter" tournament in 2019 and had been building a reputation for himself as a young fighter with a lot of potential. He was young, really young, and had made his debut as a 14 year old child back in 2018. He had been impressive but had mostly fought limited opponents in the professional ranks, often novices and those without much of a fighting background. He had also never fought in a bout scheduled for more than 6 rounds, and had only gone beyond 3 rounds twice in his 8 bouts. Here however he was scheduled for 10 rounds against a fighter who had made his name in Muay Thai, where he was highly regarded.
In the opposite corner to the teenager was Kulabdam Sor Jor Piekuthai, a kick boxing prodigy who had began to make his name all the way back in 2016, and had really become a bit of a star in 2017 when he began to pick up awards. He had continued to build a solid reputation in kick boxing circles with appearances at ONE and was a multi-time Lumpinee Stadium champion before turning his hands to professional boxing at the end o 2019. In professional boxing he took part in TL Promotion's "The Fighter" and reached the semi-final of the tournament, losing to Thosaphol Thongplew. Despite that loss their was still big hopes for him as a boxer, and the loss was expected to be a major learning experience for the youngster, who had bounced back from losses in Muay Thai and knew a defeat wasn't the end of the road.
Despite both men being youngsters and relative professional novices, TL Promotions made this a 10 rounder for a WBA Asia title at 140lbs. Giving the bout some extra allure, and setting us up for a regional champion who was 15 or had just 4 fights to his name. Either way the winner was going to be on the radar going forward.
From the opening bell things were tense. Kulabdam looked the bigger, stronger man and took center ring whilst Phoobadin looked to box at range, using his speed and jab to feel out what Kulabdam had. Despite the inexperience of both men this was a very technical start to the bout, with neither fighter wanting to slip up, and neither wanting to give their opponent an opening. Despite being high level stuff it wasn't the most entertaining, and it really was a tense, technical start from two men were surprisingly skilled for such novices.
In round 2 the pace began to pick up just a little bit, though was again not the most exciting with both men still trying to figure out what the other had in their locker. They were both playing very safe, and not wanting to dig into their arsenal too soon. In some ways there were probably still too respectful, but it was an improvement from the first round. The bout kept improving and round 3 saw the pace pick up again as Phoobadin got more active on the outside and Kulabdam's pressure moved up a notch, forcing Phoobadin to fire off some heavy shots in an attempt to get Kulabdam's respect. Although Phoobadin managed to land some solid shots himself it was Kulabdam landing a shot very late in the round that seemed to be the lasting memory before the start of round 4.
The pace picked up again in round 4 as Kulabdam's pressure really forced the action. It wasn't always the most successful of pressure, but it was pressure that was forcing Phoobadin to respond, and it was pressure that gave Phoobadin openings to land his own shots, especially when he countered. By the end of the round it was clear we had gone from a slow start to a bout that was warming into a really exciting match up between a pressure fighter and a pure boxer.
Through the middle rounds we continued to see the battle of pressure vs boxer, Kulabdam was determined to press, press and press. It was calculated pressure, based off his footwork, upper body movement and jab. Phoobadin was happy boxing off the ropes, soaking up the pressure, countering when the opportunities arose, and using his speed and polished skills well. Both men continued to have moments and success, and both continued to take the odd clean shot. It was making scoring incredibly hard, and the bout, by the end of round 8, seemed to be all up for grabs still, and really dependent on whether the judges preferred the come forward style of Kulabdam or the clean punched of Phoobadin.
Round 9 was more of the same, though it seemed like Kulabdam was landing some of his best shots of the fight, as his pressure ramped up even more. Phoobadin had moments, and forced Kulabdam back at one point, but it was certainly one of the most impressive rounds from Kulabdam, who landed some solid shots to both head and body. We were entering the final round expecting more of the same, pressure from Kulabdam, movement and counters from Phoobadin. The youngster however had a different plan in mind and after landing some good southpaw lefts early on turned the tables, backing Kulabdam up momentarily, creating more space than he'd seen in recent rounds and landing his left hands at will.
Through much of the contest it really was a case of "scoring what you like". You could see judges giving Kulabdam a number of rounds based on his intelligent, but conservative, pressure, but at the same time the defensive skills of Phoobadin and his counter punching was eye catching, and he looked in control for a lot of the bout, despite fighting almost entirely on the back foot.
In the end the judges gave it to the teenager, giving him a genuinely huge win at a very young age.
The bout won't go down as one of the most exciting bouts of 2020, though it was a very enjoyable contest through out and a compelling match up with styles that gelled well. It will, however, go down as the bout that helped put Phoobadin on the map, with the teenager taking the decision win and the WBA Asia title.
It's fair to say that 2020 was not a year that any of us expected, with the world pretty much shut down due to the pandemic. The reality is that boxing was a long way down the priority for most fans and just surviving through things was more important. Rather than talking about what we all went through we want to actually raise a note before we look at this week's Treasure Trove bout, and that is China. Over the previous few years China was growing as a key area for boxing, it was hosting notable bouts and was giving us more and more shows worthy of tuning in to. In 2020 however the country held very few bouts with any international attention.
One of the very few they did have with anything representing a genuine international level bout came on January 12th in Qingdao. The main event of that card was a particularly interesting matchup as it pit an exciting and fun to watch Korean against an exciting and fun to watch local, in a bout for a regional title. It wasn't a huge bout, but it was one of the few bouts of genuine note to take place in China during 2020.
With that introduction out the way let's take a look at this week's Treasure Trove bout!
Youli Dong (15-2-1, 9) vs In Duck Seo (12-2-2, 7)
The match up featured Chinese hopeful Youli Dong battling against South Korean In Duck Seo for the OPBF Silver Welterweight title. The bout was part of a 4 bout show and was, by far and away, the most interesting match up on the card.
The 24 year old Dong was one of the few Chinese hopefuls of real note. He had been beaten a couple of times, though he had avenged a 2018 loss to Adam Diu Abdulhamid and the only other loss came on the road in a close bout to the unbeaten Mikka Shohena. He lacked recognisable names on his record, but his style was fun to watch and he would have thought that the OPBF silver title would have begun to open doors for him, if he could win here.
Seo on the other hand was more well known internationally. He was a South Korean who had clashed with a number of Central Asian fighters in South Korea and had scored a brutal KO in Australia against Tysinn Best, in a genuinely big upset. Coming in to this bout he had lost a close technical decision to Khusniddin Pulatov, which had slowed the momentum he had been building, but he has won his 3 prior bouts and there was still some hope that he was going to make a mark on the regional and become one of the major players for Korean boxing.
The bout got off to a very, very quick start with Seo being put down within seconds, from a jab! This was just 20 seconds into the bout and not a good sign for the Korean. Despite being down he wasn't hurt, but it did, essentially, help secure the momentum for the local, momentum that Seo tried to slow almost immediately as he got to his feet and began to pressure Dong around the ring.
With the first round not going his way Seo tried to set the pace for round 2 and Dong answered back almost immediately. It was a great start to the ring with both men freely letting their shots go. Technically it wasn’t the sweet science, but it was a good fun early round, with both men being forced to take some big shots during a captivating 3 minutes. It was a round that clearly showed the defensive and technical limitations of the two men involved but it was also a round that provided some good action. That good action spilled over into the start of round 3 as the quicker, sharper Dong looked to punish the clumsier, slower Seo. It very much seemed like Dong was having things his way, despite the pressure and tenacity of Seo.
As we got into the middle rounds of the bout the tempo increased. Seo, now becoming more desperate, was pressing more and throwing more, whilst Dong continued to use his feet well and looked comfortable when he had to fight in the pocket with combinations to the body. Seo’s face was reddening but he hardly seemed to notice and he trudged forward looking to break down Dong, and looking to land the punches needed to make the Chinese fighter question himself. In round 6 we finally seemed to see Dong showing some cracks under the pressure, but Seo couldn’t make them stick before Dong began to have success again, leading to a brilliant sequence at the end of the round.
With the rounds ticking on Seo would have gone into the final rounds knowing he needed something big, and to his credit he kept looking. He kept coming forward, trying to draw Dong into a war on the inside. He had success, and caught Dong with a lot of clean shots, but they came at a price. He was eating a lot coming forward, he was eating a lot when the two men traded blows, and he was putting a lot into trying to close the distance. Midway through round 9 however he had shaken Dong to his core, and had left the Chinese fighter with blood smeared across his face. Seo knew there was still a chance to turn this around as we went into the 10th, and final, round whilst Dong likely knew he needed to remain on his feet. With that in mind it’s no surprise we continued to see Seo come forward, launching bombs and further punishing the then swollen, bloodied and damaged face of the Chinese fighter.
We won’t ruin the result of this one, but it’s a wonderfully brutal, yet sloppy, hard hitting affair. At times this looks more like a drunken pub fight than the skilled art of boxing, but through out it’s wonderful. It’s violent. It’s exciting. It’s the sort of bout that we enjoy and was one of the very, very few boxing highlights from China in 2020.
*Note - The video for this bout has some weird cuts, including one towards the end of round 2 and 5 among other rounds, and some terrible sound that jitters between almost silent commentary and loud, brash music between rounds. Sadly alternative videos for the bout were worse than this one.
One of the things that makes the "Treasure Trove" series more enjoyable than most other series we do for this site is the fact that every bout is made even before the first bell. We don't favour a fight due to who is in it, or the importance of the bout, and instead we get to enjoy the action in the ring and decide whether or not the bout deserves more attention afterwards.
With this in mind we end up with some bouts that don't get much attention, but deserve to be spoken about and watched again. Today we include one such bout that took place in early 2020 and was one that, on paper, didn't deserve any attention at all. It was however a very entertaining little war that proved paper doesn't mean anything when it comes to how exciting a fight can be!
Taisei Sakai (3-3-1, 1) vs Yuki Yazan (3-2, 2)
The bout in question here was a 4 round Super Bantamweight bout shown on Boxing Raise, via their agreement with Kadoebi, and was later uploaded directly to Kadoebi's own YouTube channel.
In one corner was 23 year old novice Taisei Sakai, a low key fighter who had been a professional since 2016 but had done very little prior to this bout. Interestingly he had started his career 0-3-1 but had then began to build some momentum winning 3 in a row before getting into the ring with Yuki Yazan. On paper Yazan was very similar, though a few years older. Yazan had made his debut in 2007 and had gone 3-1 to begin his career before a loss in late 2019 to Tsubasa Narai.
There was almost no fanfare going in to this one and no hype at all. In fact much of the attention was on the main event, a bout featuring Froilan Saluda and Ryoji Fukunaga. Despite that fans who were watching the whole show got something of an unexpected treat here.
From the off the taller, rangier Yazan looked the more natural fighter and the man who tried to use his advantages, using his long reach well. Sakai however knew he needed to find a response to the physical disadvantages he had, and ran in occasionally, rushing Yazan. It was a tactic that had mixed success in the opening round but certainly saw him show some hunger and fire. Despite the rushing tactics of Sakai it was Yazan landing the bigger, better, stiffer shots.
The second round started slowly, but quickly caught fire with both men holding their feet and giving us some amazing exchanges. Sadly for Sakai he seemed to come off worse in every exchange, but the gutsy little guy was like a terrier, and kept coming back for more. That was despite taking some huge bombs from the wiry Yazan. The tenacity from Sakai saw him ending round 2 with some real success, and it suddenly seemed like he had taken the best from Yazan and was starting to turn things his way. And then the bell came.
Sakai started round 3 like he had ended round 2 though midway through the round Yazan had began to rediscover his groove, and Sakai's effort seemed to have taken a toll on him, until the two men began to exchange again, this time in center ring. Sadly the exchanges were shortly lived with Yazan being cut from a clash of heads. Thankfully the cut wasn't fight ending and the action continued soon afterwards with a thrilling exchange just moments after the restart. Now it seemed like Yazan was fighting with a point to prove whilst also having a giant target on his face for Sakai's shots.
After 3 really solid rounds, with plenty of highlights, we entered the 4th and final round and, in all honesty, the bout was still up for grabs. Yazan likely won 2 of the first 3, but a good performance from Sakai in the final 3 minutes could have earned him a draw, and he knew it. As for Yazan he would have been desperate to not allow Sakai back into the bout. In the end round was another action packed one, with some great back and forth,
This wasn't an amazing bout, not by any stretch, but it was a wonderfully entertaining little war, with both men standing and exchanging shots. The low profile nature of the bout hid what was a very fun to watch fight and was one that really helped bolster the winner's career. In fact later in 2020 the winner of this one went on to win the East Japan Rookie of the Year, fighting in the All Japan final in early 2021. Sadly the loser of this bout hasn't, at the time of writing, fought since this contest.
Sometimes it's easy to overlook bouts due to the records of men, but as this bout proves, sometimes records need to be ignored and fights just need to be enjoyed, and this is one we genuinely enjoyed!
Whilst not the best division in the sport in recent years the Featherweight division has been a compelling weight class, with numerous compelling bouts below the world level and today we dig into the Treasure Trove to bring one such bout. It was a bout with lots of expectations in Japan and it exceeded all those expectations, giving us a genuinely thrilling action bout between a puncher and a boxer. The match up certainly didn't create much buzz in the west, but hardcore fans who did give the bout a watch managed to enjoy a compelling, exciting bout between two men with a point to prove and plenty of skills to show off.
Unlike some bouts in this series this match combines two of the things we love to see in a Treasure Trove bout. It has action, and it features a rising prospect, giving you two reasons to give the bout a watch!
Musashi Mori (11-0, 6) Vs Tsuyoshi Tameda (21-5-2, 19)
For this bout we rewind to November 28th 2020 for an Ohashi promoted event at Korakuen Hall. The card was littered with promising prospects but it was the main event that really had our attention and that was an WBO Asia Pacific title fight between unbeaten champion Musashi Mori and the heavy handed Tsuyoshi Tameda.
For fans who haven't followed the Japanese Featherweight scene in recent years it's fair to say neither of these men are household names in the west, yet both are talented and exciting fighters.
The more promising of the two going in was Mori, the 21 year old champion who had celebrated his birthday just a day before the bout. He had won the Rookie of the Year in 2017, aged just 18, and had won the WBO Asia Pacific title the following year, with a technical decision against the awkward Richard Pumicpic. Here he was seeking his third defense of the title and building on his impressive reputation as one of the brightest young talents in Japan. He had proven to be a skilled boxer with good speed, clever movement and was developing well under the guidance of Ismael Salas before the pandemic slowed his rise through the ranks. Despite the pandemic Mori and his team were looking to move him on to a world title fight as soon as they could, and he couldn’t afford a slip up here.
Tsuyoshi Tameda had one been groomed as a prospect himself, and had been guided early on by the legendary Kenji Yonekura, before the Yonekura gym closed its doors. He had been a professional since 2011 and despite being a crude fighter he was born with god given power. From 21 wins 19 were by stoppage and many of them were very early in bouts, with 13 wins inside 3 rounds. Whilst he had, regularly, beaten lower level fighters he had also proven what he could do with wins against decent fighters, like Takenori Ohashi, Mark Bernaldez, Retsu Kosaka, Tae Il Atsumi and Joe Tejones. He was regarded as a crude, but dangerous power puncher, and the type of fighter who could expose weaknesses with Mori, if the youngster had any issues with his chin or heart.
Interestingly both men were also being guided by former world champions. In charge of Mori's career was former WBC Bantamweight champion Yasuei Yakushiji whilst Tameda was being promoted by Hideyuki Ohashi, a former 2-time Minimumweight champion, who had taken over from Yonekura in regards to promoting Tameda.
On paper the bout had a lot to be excited about. A talented, fast rising youngster, looking to move his career forward up against a dynamite puncher looking to get his career back on track and claim his first title.
From the off Tameda’s intentions were clear as he raced at Mori and tried to behead him with a wild right hand. Mori, wisely, avoided the shot as Tameda stumbled to the canvas in a bizarre start. Despite the crude approach it was clear that Tameda was there looking for a stoppage and within 30 seconds Tameda had gotten close and we were getting a brawl. The style of fight was one that Tameda wanted, though Mori maintained his composure and fought fire with fire, landing several excellent counters. Through the round both men kept up an incredible pace, giving us a genuinely thrilling opening round.
The sensational pace from the opening round continued into round 2, though Tameda was slightly less reckless than he had been in the opening round. Mori again showed his composure, landed the more consistent shots overall but Tameda landed some brutal bombs on him and even seemed to make Mori stumble part way through the round with an uppercut. It was a fantastic round of two halves, with Mori impressing early on before Tameda roared back. After just 2 rounds it was clear we were getting something a little bit special and that continued into round 3, as Mori tried to get Tameda’s respect early on. For Mori it wasn’t his power that was key, but his consistency, his ability to land clean and his footwork, whilst Tameda’s power and work rate made him seem like he was only a few punches away from turning the tide. Although dangerous it was worth noting that Tameda was putting a lot of energy into everything he was doing, and he was taking some very clean body shots through the early rounds.
The fantastic action from the first 3 rounds went up another gear in round 4 as Tameda got close in the first minute and let rip with some huge shots. He failed to phase Mori, but it was clear that even his shots on the arms were damaging blows. Mori, smartly, began to hold, clinch and use negative tactics to neutralise some of the pressure, picking his moments to strike back well and showed some very nice footwork to create the space he needed to take some of the steam from Tameda’s pressure.
Through the middle portion of the fight we began to see Tameda slowing down and Mori creating space to work with on a regular basis. The younger man seemed to have taken much of the sting from Tameda’s pressure and continued to pick some brilliant counter shots. Tameda was still there, and still coming forward, but his work rate and intensity seemed to drop off, making it easier and easier for Mori to control the range and tempo. Despite that Tameda was certainly not done, and he kept trying, kept coming forward and kept looking to try and break down Mori.
With the pace slowing Mori was able to control much of the second half of the fight, boxing well and using his footwork, movement and boxing brain to rack up the rounds, and take a grip on the contest. Tameda, still as hungry as ever, refused to just accept a decision loss, but things were certainly going Mori’s way in the second half of the fight and the momentum was with the champion as we went towards the championship rounds, despite a determined effort from Tameda.
After having had 10 great rounds we went into round 11. It seemed like Tameda should be in the lead, but neither man had been down and both looked lively as we entered the penultimate round of the bout. Both had taken the best the other had to offer and both were still up and still fighting. The intensity might have dropped but the action was still fantastic throughout. Sadly though part way through the round a headclash left Tameda with a brutal cut above his right eye. The cut wasn’t the end of the bout, but seemed to take his concentration and Mori began to pour it on, backing Tameda in to the corner and forcing the referee to step in, waving off the bout and saving Tameda. Although the cut wasn’t the end, it was the start of the end and Tameda never looked quite right after suffering the cut.
Although not regarded as a Fight of the Year candidate, this was certainly an exciting, high tempo war, with a mix of skills, aggression, power shots, counter punching and excitement. Even the clear rounds, either way, still had moments for the other guy and the bout was certainly one of the most fan friendly WBO Asia Pacific title bouts we had in 2020.
A real must watch for fans wanting to enjoy the best hidden gems of 2020.
For today's Treasure Trove we're looking outside of the usual places for Asian boxing, and glancing over at Pakistan for a bout that we would describe as a fun, entertaining slopfest. For those expecting high quality action you look elsewhere, however for those who want boxing's version of fast food this will be a real ride, from a country that rarely gets any attention from the boxing media. This is the sort of bout we enjoy, knowing that both men are desperate to win, and really did give their all. Even if their all isn't all that impressive.
Adil Said (0-0) vs Abbas Ali (0-0)
The bout in question took place in October 2020 in Islamabad and pit debutants Adil Said and Abbas Ali, also spelled "Abbass Ali", against each other in a 4 round Middleweight bout. Coming into this neither man had any professional bouts to their name, and that likely showed given just how raw they were in the ring. Despite that neither man wanted to begin their professional career with a loss.
Of the two men Said was the older man, aged 26, and the heavier man on the scales, weighing in at 158lbs. He was based in Mardan, about 140KM or almost 90 miles from Islamabad, and that was essentially all we knew about him coming into this bout.
Ali on the other hand was 22 years old, came in at 154½lbs and came from Kamalia, which is about 430KM or around 200 miles from Islamabad. Other than that there was little to read into him.
In all honesty we went into this one blind when the bout was uploaded by the Pakistan Boxing Council, weeks after it took place. That however hardly mattered when the fight began and we were instantly entertained by the in ring action.
At the start of the bout Said rushed towards Ali and within seconds bombs were being thrown by both men. Neither man looked polished, or particularly well schooled in the first 20 seconds, but it was clear that both men were in there to let their hands fly and that's exactly what they did. Sadly for Ali it was often Said getting the better of the exchanges and his lack of defense was being punished. Ali tried to fire back but every time he did he seemed to come off second best, with Said landing some big but crude straight left hands. To end the round they just stood, squared up and unloaded bombs in a thrilling finish to the round that looked truly brutal.
It was really clear that neither man was technically well school, but they were well matched, and evenly crude, making for a really compelling round of crude, brawling, sloppy action.
The two men came out hungry in round 2 and again it was Said on the front foot, looking the bigger, stronger, more powerful man. Ali knew he was outsized but tried to be game, tried to use his quicker feet to avoid a tear up. Sadly for him however he couldn't stay off the ropes and Said pinned him against up against the ropes, unloading until the referee stepped in and waved it off.
Again this isn't the most skilled fight, it really is two raw novices swinging away at each other. Despite that the bout is wonderfully entertaining and wildly exciting. We also want to add that the commentary for this is brilliant. It was as if the commentator had little understanding of the sport, and was easily excitable as a result, adding to the raw entertainment factor. This looked like a fight outside of a pub on a Friday night, and whilst that can be a bad thing, it made this bout more endearing and was a very fun all debutant clash.
Expect to be entertained, but not impressed here!
Usually in this serious we look at the best bouts, the most exciting action and the best back and forth. Sometimes however the fights we feature in the Treasure Trove are not included due to the action of the bouts, but rather the fighters involved in them. That's the case today as we shine a light on a hugely enigmatic fighter who caught our attention when he made his debut in December and put on a performance that we feel deserves to be viewed again. It was interesting, it was exciting and it was very much a "non-Japanese" style performance from someone who wanted to make an impression from the off.
Takahiro Tai (0-0) vs Ryosei Hamaguchi (6-6, 2)
The debutant in question was Takahiro Tai, a young switch hitter who had been a solid amateur on the Japanese scene before turning professional under the gym run by his father. Before his debut he had spoken about wanting to show what he could do in the professional ranks and seemed like an ambitious youngster, looking to race through the ranks at a young age. He wanted people to remember his name, to sit up and to take note of him. At this point in time he was just 23 and despite being young he was very much the sort of fighter who wanted to grab attention and not waste time to create a buzz about himself.
In the opposite corner was 24 year old Ryosie Hamaguchi, who had debuted in 2015 and had had mixed success. Up to this point he had fought 12 bouts, and despite losses piling up he had shared the ring with some decent opposition, such as Yuki Iriguchi and Toshiki Shimomachi. Sadly coming in to this bout his form had been faltering, and he had lost his previous 3, and 4 of his previous 5, but came into this with a point to prove. He didn't want to be shown up by a debutant, he didn't want another defeat on his record and he wanted to kick start his career against a some what cocky fighter. He wanted to give Tai an introduction to the professional ranks.
The confident Tai came out southpaw but after just 10 seconds made his first switch and quickly began fighting with his hands at his waist. It was a weird start for a man in his debut, given that so many fighters on their debut show nerves and focus on winning rather than looking stylish or flash. It was also not a very Japanese style, with Tai's style looking more like of Emanuel Augustus than a typical Japanese one. Switches were a regular thing through the round, as was Tai opening up with some wild, wide shots, that were thrown with bad intent. He was being caught, quite a bit, himself, but he really didn't seem to be phased by anything and was instead trying to entertain, show what he could do and show glimpses of the flash and style that he had been talking about before his debut. He was, in some ways, the perfect mix of clowning and action, and within a round it was hard to look away from him as we really didn't know what was about to happen next.
I n round 2 Tai looked a bit more serious and the clowning was toned down a notch as he got more aggressive. That was afor around 20 seconds before the clowning resurfaced and he began to try and embarrass Hamaguchi. Sadly Hamaguchi had no answer. When he let his hands go Hamaguchi would be punished, when he showed some ambition Tai would cover up and counter, and it was clear the men were operating on totally different levels. That was shown even more when Tai put his man down with a sweeping left hand. Hamaguchi beat the count but Tai wasn't there to waste his time and a follow up left forced the referee to jump in.
For those expecting a competitive bout this wasn't one of those. For those wanting to see a debutant entertain and show a fun, flashy style this is perfect. This was entertainment first, this was almost exhibition stuff at times from Tai who looks like a genuine character. He might not be the sensational talent he thinks he is, and he will almost certainly need to tighten up to reach title level, but there's no denying that this youngster caught our attention and made us desperate to see more and more of him. We think his cockiness will catch up with him one day, but until that happens we're going to enjoy the new clown of Japanese boxing thanks to this performance.
The Treasure Trove series is designed to share fights you might have originally missed, but are worth watching. That's because they are either controversial, exciting, dramatic or a showcase of a top prospect. For today's bout we are looking at a dramatic one from the East Japan Rookie of the Year final. It didn't have the clearest of endings, but it did have drama and action and featured one of the men regarded as one of the favourites for the tournament. It was a bout we had high expectations from and it was a bout that delivered more than expected.
Kosuke Tomioka (4-0, 3) vs Shunpei Kubo (5-1-1, 3)
the bout in question was the East Japanese Rookie of the Year final at Super Flyweight, a division that tends to see Rookies make a solid mark on the Japanese, Oriental and even world scene after the tournament finishes. Given the division is one of the most notable for the Rookie of the Year the match up already had attention on it, and that was before we even looked at the fighters in question.
The younger of the two men was the unbeaten Kosuke Tomioka, a charismatic, almost cocky, youngster who had impressed in his first 4 bouts. He was a touted amateur at junior level, came from the Tomioka boxing family which included him, two brothers and his cousin, and was regarded as one of the hot favourites for the tournament. He was just a teenager but he was widely seen as a super stud with talent, speed, reactions and enough experience from the amateurs to be a star.
In the opposite corner was the unheralded Shunpei Kubo, a 23 year old who had won his first 3 bouts before suffering a TKO loss to Rui Ikari in 2019. He had bounced back with 2 wins but was then held to a draw by Aito Abe, in what was a real hidden gem of a 4 rounder. Despite the older man, and the more experienced professional, he was seen as the under-dog, and the man expected to pick up a loss. He was fully aware that he was the under-dog but that hardly mattered, and he was there to win. In fact he was determined to prove the pre-fight perceptions very wrong.
At the opening bell Tomioka was half way across the ring and seemed relaxed whilst looking to control the action from the middle of the ring. Kubo seemed wary of making mistakes and didn't give Tomioka much to counter in the first minute, and it was clear Kubo was wary of Tomioka's power and speed. Despite being cautious Kubo did land some solid shots through the first round, particularly with his right hand, making the most of Tomioka's rather low guard. It was a technical first round, but one that seemed to suggest that both men knew what was at stake, and it had a very clear sense of tension.
The action picked up in round as Tomioka began to land powerful single shots, including a huge left hand that dropped Kubo about a minute into the round. Following the knockdown Tomioka went hunting, landing a number of solid shots, though Kubo took them surprisingly well. It seemed like Tomioka was zoned in and regularly landing hard lefts up top, he seemed to have found his groove, his timing and his range and Kubo was forced to take some genuine punishment without landing much himself.
In round 3 Kubo began pressing with a little more intensity and backed up Tomioka and within 20 seconds of the round starting the pressure had success as he dropped Tomioka with a right hand. Tomioka rushed to his feet, holding the ropes, as the referee looked at him and quickly decided he was unfit to continue.
The stoppage seemed a quick one, and soon after the fight Tomioka looked fine. It would have been good to have seen the referee take the mandatory 8 to make a decision, but the finish aside, this was one to watch. We had technical action, we had drama, and given the ending we also had some controversy. All in all a short, tense, but exciting fight, with a drama turn around, and a bout well worthy of a watch if you missed it the first time around.
For this week's Treasure Trove fight we return to Korakuen Hall and bring you another really easy to over-look bout which took place in December. It wasn't a notable bout going in, as it featured two novices and wasn't a Rookie of the Year or a tournament bout of any kind, but managed to deliver some fantastic action in a short but thrilling contest well worthy of a watch.
Kenshiro Ishimori (1-0) Vs Tomoya Tanaka (0-2)
The bout matched Kenshiro Ishimori and Tomoya Tanaka, two really unknown fighters who were both in their 20's and both looking to make the most of a rare TV opportunity, with the bout being aired live on G+.
Aged 24 at the time Ishimori was a novice who had taken a 4 round decision win in his debut, way back in February 2019. Following his debut he had been out of the ring for almost 22 months coming into this bout. There was essentially no momentum in his career and coming into this he would have been desperate to try and find a way to catch the eye of fans and TV viewers alike.
Aged 23 Tanaka was a win-less fighter who desperately needed to get a victory to his name. He had made his debut in December 2019, losing a very wide decision, before being stopped in his second professional bout in August 2020. Given his first two performances he desperately needed not just a good performance, but a positive result. He would have known that falling to 0-3 would be a very hard position to rebuild from.
From the opening bell it was clear that Tanaka wanted to make a point as he came across the ring to meet Ishimori. Sadly for Tanaka it quickly became apparent that Ishimori was the quicker handed fighter and the more polished boxer as he started to make the most of his jab, moved well and began to land a lot of jabs. Tanaka however wasn't going to be thwarted by some simply jabs and kept pressing forward himself, despite tasting a lot of leather as a result. As a result of Tanaka's desire and Ishimori's jabs we were getting a really fun opening round that ended up getting better. With less than 30 seconds of the round left Tanaka was rocked and Ishimori tried to jump on him, looking for a quick finish before taking a huge right hand himself, and hitting the canvas. Ishimori beat the count, but looked shaken as we went to the bell, and he was somewhat fortunate that the bell came when it did, giving him a minute to shake the cobwebs.
In round 2 we saw Tanaka coming after his man, hoping that Ishimori hadn't had enough time to recover. This saw the two men trading some jabs, though it seemed like Tanaka could smell blood and was looking to turn the screw. Sadly for him however chasing Ishimori proved to be a mistake and after about 25 seconds of the round Ishimori landed a brilliant straight right hand, dropping Tanaka. To his credit Tanaka got to his feet, but had no idea where he was as the referee waved off the bout.
Although this was short it was dramatic, it was exciting and it was a really fun bout which left us wanting to see more of both men.
For this week's Treasure Trove fight we're looking at a November bout from Korakuen Hall that was shown on G+ and featured two relatively unknown fighters who ended up giving us a genuine treat in a bout that few would expected to deliver anything. That match didn't have any name value attached to it, in fact the show it was on was a pretty low key one, headlined by an 8 rounder after the originally planned main event was cancelled at short notice. For fans tuning in however, they were given something really exciting early on the show.
Shun Sekine (4-0, 3) vs Atsuyuki Sato (5-2-1, 3)
Coming in to the bout Shun Sekine was an unbeaten 23 year old Featherweight hopeful who had debuted in late 2018 and picked up 3 wins in 2019, including 2 in Thailand. On paper his record looked good at first glance, but his 4 opponents up to this point had a combined record of 1-10, and he had never faced a fighter with a winning record. He had looked powerful at times, but it was really hard to read much into his performances given how poor his competition had been. Having been out of the ring for 16 months it was clear he was going to want to make a statement here, and he was stepping up, not just in terms of opponent but also length of bout, with this being his first scheduled 6 rounder.
In the opposite corner to Sekine was fellow 23 year old Atsuyuki Sato. Sato's record was less eye catching than that of Sekine but in reality he had proven himself more than his foe. He had began his career in 2017, with a win, before going 1-1-1 in his next 3 fights to leave him with a 2-1-1 record. In 2019 he began a charge and managed to reach the East Japan Rookie of the Year final, losing a razor thin decision to eventual All Japan Rookie of the Year winner Hyoga Taniguchi in November 2019. He had been inactive since then, and like Sekine was desperate to get a win in his first 6 rounder. Interestingly his competition up to this point had a combined record of 15-20-4, significantly better than the competition of Sekine.
The fight started quickly, with both men looking to pump out their jabs and establish a range they were comfortable at. After about a minute of jostling for range the two men both upped their pace and tempo and during the second minute of the fight both men were standing their ground and letting their hands got up close. We had gone from a slightly fast start to the bout to a contest that was very exciting, very quickly. Neither man looked like they managed to hurt the other, but the round flew by and it was genuinely exciting, competitive and a great way to kick off the fight. It seemed Sato landed the better shots, but it was close either way.
The second round took off where the first ended and saw Sekine begin to find the range for his big right hand whilst Sato looked to walk him down and force a fight up close. This resulted in another fantastic round that saw a lot of work up close on the inside from both men. It seemed to be the fight Sato wanted but, in fairness, Sekine held his own and when there was space it was often Sekine having the better success.
The in fighting continued through round 3 as the tempo, some how, intensified. The two men spent less and less time at range, and although their work was slowly becoming sloppy, it was still incredibly enthralling, and it seemed, late in the round, that Sato was staggered, before he regrouped and fired back himself, showing his toughness and desire as the fans began to get far, far more than any of them would have expected.
Sadly with neither man having gone beyond 4 rounds prior to this fight, and the pace and tempo of the contest, both men began to show their flagging stamina in the second half of the fight. Whilst this impact the quality both men threw with, and seemed to limit their output in the later stages, they both continued to give their all, and the phonebooth exchanges continued time and time again. With the tempo slowing it seemed like Sekine was slowly getting more and more success, using his more refined boxing skills, but every time he seemed to be getting the upper hand Sato would come forward and will himself back into the contest.
The final round was one of the best we saw in 2020. The two men stood their ground and let shots fly, they traded bombs, and they threw everything they had in their arsenal, fighting right to the bell in 3 minutes of crazy, none stop action. If the bout had taken place before the covid19 rules limited fan behaviour, this would have resulted in fans on
For those who love in fighting, high tempo bouts, lots of uppercuts and body shots this is a great watch. It's well worth the 25 or so minutes needed to watch it. It really is a sensational fun, and action packed bout!
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.