When it comes to Asian boxers there are few, if any, who can hold a candle to the fighter that is Manny Pacquiao.
Pacquiao is the Asian equivalent to boxing, what Yao Ming was to the edge.twinspires.com NBA odds for a long time. He is an icon in Philippines and in the whole continent.
We're not here to generally wax lyrical about his career though. Instead, we're going to pick out a few of the best fights of Manny Pacquiao's career.
Number 5. Vs Floyd Mayweather Jr.
It will surprise a lot of people that we've opted to include a fight that Pacquiao actually lost. It's pretty close to impossible to ignore a fight with a combined purse of over $300m that was bought by nearly five million fans to make it the biggest PPV fight ever.
In the fight itself, Mayweather showed he has one of the best defences of all time whilst countering effectively. Pacquiao lost to a unanimous points decision with punters left wondering what might have happened had the two giants of the sport gone at it a few years earlier.
Number 4. Vs Lehlohonolo Ledwaba
Ledwaba isn't a name that rolls of the tongue nowadays; rewind to 2001 though and the South African was widely considered one of the best in the business. For Pacquiao the fight was somewhat of a gamble.
Despite having some experience under his belt this fight was to be his first showing on US soil. It came with hardly any lead time too; the Pac Man had just two weeks to prepare. Still, with the IBF a title on the line, Pacquiao wasn't about to pass it up. Ledwaba fell to his defeat in round six courtesy of a TKO; it was a huge deal for Pacquiao and just a second career loss for Ledwaba.
Number 3. Vs Marco Antonio Barrera
Pacquiao and Barrera have clashed a couple of times over the years, here we look at their 2003 match up. It's not too dissimilar to the Ledwaba fight in that it was Pacquiao's opponent who came into the fight dubbed as one of the best pound for pound fighter around.
By round three, Barrera was put on the canvas and the attacks didn't stop there. The fight wouldn't end until the penultimate round when Barrera's team would fly the white flag but the entire fight had been an offensive masterclass by Pacquiao.
Number 2. Vs Antonio Margarito
This 2010 bout was a challenge for Pacquiao in more obvious ways than some of the others we've already touched on. Margarito, 5'11, stood much taller than the Pac Man who is some six inches shorter and weighed in some 17lbs heavier too.
Pacquiao proved himself to be the far superior boxer though. Margarito would ensure the fight went the distance but he never looked like winning as Pacquiao's smart footwork and quick combinations meant he was the dominant fighter throughout. It was a real lesson for Margarito; Pacquiao won by the most comfortable of unanimous decisions. His opponent was rushed to hospital with pretty much every expert claiming the fight should have been ended earlier - much earlier.
Number 1. Vs Oscar De La Hoya
The fight that tops our list of the best Manny Pacquiao fights of all time is his 2008 bout with De La Hoya. 'The Golden Boy' came into the fight as the heavy favourite having dropped down from middleweight to face a Pacquiao that what having to step to the 147lb catch weight.
It didn't affect Pacquiao one bit; the southpaw came out on the front foot and De La Hoya simply couldn't live with the persistent onslaught. After eight rounds, the American decided he'd had enough and refused to leave his corner for round nine. Pacquiao had fully arrived at the elite. De La Hoya never fought again.
There you have it, the best fights of Manny Pacquiao's career. Which one did we miss?
We've all heard of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, and we've decided to put our spin on things with "Six degrees of separation" looking to connect Asian fighters you may never have assumed were connected! Today we connect former Filipino world champion Eric Jamili to former Indonesian world champion Nico Thomas.
Just as ground rules, we're not doing the more basic "A beat B who beat C who beat D" type of thing, but instead we want to link fighters in different ways. As a result we will limit A fought B connections, and try to get more varied connections together, as you'll see here! We also know there are often shorter routes to connect fighters, but that's not always the most interesting way to connect them.
1-Although rarely spoken about now a days former Filipino fighter Eric Jamili was the first ever Filipino to win a WBO world title title, stopping Mickey Cantwell in London for the WBO Minimumweight title in December 1997. Other Filipino's to have won the WBO Minimumweight title since Jamili including Vic Saludar.
2-The hard hitting Vic Saludar won the WBO Minimumweight title in 2018, beating Ryuya Yamanaka with a 12 round decision. Prior to turning professional, in 2013, Saludar was a highly regarded Amateur fighter and regularly featured in international competition. They included the 2010 Tammer Tournament, where he beat Charlie Edwards.
3-Englishman Charlie Edwards was highly touted when he turned professional and was rushed to a world title fight, getting his first shot in 2016, in his 9th professional bout, when he faced off with John Riel Casimero for the IBF Flyweight title. Edwards was the second fighter to lost via TKO10 in an IBF Flyweight title fight, following Jacob Matlala in 1991. The third was Masahiro Sakamoto in 2018.
4-Osakan fighter Masahiro Sakamoto began his career in 2014 and retired in 2019, following a 6th round TKO loss loss to Yusuke Sakashita. During his career Sakamoto held the WBO Asia Pacific Flyweight title and won the 2015 All Japan Rookie of the Year, stopping Hiroyasu Shiga in 3 rounds. Another fighter who won Rookie of the Rookie of the Year in 2015 was Tsubasa Koura, who won at Minimumweight.
5-Following his 2015 Rookie of the Year triumph Tsubasa Koura went on a tear and ended up breaking into the world rankings and winning the OPBF Minimumweight title. He successfully defended that OPBF belt 3 times before suffering a surprise upset loss to Lito Dante in 2019, in one of the biggest upsets of the year. Amazingly Koura was the first man to be stopped in the 12th round of an OPBF Minimumweight title bout since Little Pono way back in 1986!
6-After being stopped in the aforementioned OPBF Minimumweight title bout Little Pono faced almost nobody of any note. The one exception to that was future world champion Nico Thomas, who Pono actually beat in November 1986!
We all like knockouts and we all love watching a punching in action, and for this week's mid-week fact article we've decided to look at a true KO artist from the Japanese domestic scene!
The man in question is former Japanese Middleweight champion Tomohiro Ebisu (17-5, 17), who never needed the judges to help him get a win as 17 of his professional wins were by stoppage. His career was relatively short, running from 2008 to 2017, but it was a thrilling one, whether Ebisu was winning or losing!
With that introduction out of the way here we bring you 5 Midweek Facts about Tomohiro Ebisu!
1-As an amateur Ebisu went 17-7 (10), and won a National Sports title in 2006. The enxt major achievement of his career was winning the All Japan Rookie of the Year in 2009.
2-During his in ring career Ebisu was not just fighting out of the Yokohama Hikari Gym but working there too! He was there working as a fitness instructor at the gym.
3-On December 24th 2016 Ebisu became the first, and so far only, man to hold the interim version of the Japanese Middleweight title, thanks to a thrilling win over Makoto Fuchigami. For fans wanting to enjoy a fantastic fight we've included this below thanks to A-Sign Boxing.
4-Ebisu's retirement came in the same month as fellow Yokohama Hikari Gym fight fighter Daiki Kaneko, who has previously challenged Takashi Uchiyama. This saw Ebisu and Kaneko both hanging up the gloves in September 2017.
5-Due to Ebisu's power and weak chin his first 21 bouts all ended early, with 17 wins by stoppage and 4 losses by stoppage. In total those 21 bouts lasted just 77 rounds, around 3.6 rounds each. Amazingly he only went the distance in his final career bout, a decision loss to Hikaru Nishida in 2017 in a Japanese Middleweight title bout. Amazingly 12 of his 22 career bouts never even got beyond round 3
When we think about Japanese fighters we typically think about lower weight fighters, who make their name at Featherweight or below. What's rather notable however is that there have been several Japanese fighters winning world title at Light Middleweight. One of those is the often forgotten Tadashi Mihara (24-1, 15).
The hard hitting Mihara made his debut in 1978 and fought through 1985 whilst racking up a solid and notable professional career. Although not too well remembered in the west he managed to have success as an amateur and as a professional, even winning a world title in the US in 1981.
The highlight of Mihara's career was obviously winning the WBA Light Middleweight title, defeating Rocky Fratto, though his reign was a short one, and he lost in his first defense, losing to Davey Moore.
Despite how short his reign was he was a notable fighter and today we bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know about...Tadashi Mihara
1-Mihara was born in Misato, Gunma. That town no longer exists, and in 2006 it was merged into the city of Takasaki. When it was merged the town had about 20,000 people living there, and Mihara was one of the very few notable figures from the town. Other notable figures from Misato include painter Kaoru Yamaguchi, sumo wrestler Kotonishiki Katsuhiro and tennis player Zenzo Shimizu
2-Mihara had an amateur record of 28-10 (15)
3-Only 1 of Mihara's bouts was scheduled for less than 10 rounds, with that being his 6 round debut. He would go on to feature in 10 bouts scheduled for 10 rounds, 7 bouts scheduled for 12 rounds and 2 bouts scheduled for 15 rounds
4-Mihara managed to win national, regional and world titles during his career. Strangely however the final of the titles for him to win was the Japanese. His first title was the OPBF title, won in his 5th bout, the second was the WBA title which he won in his 15th bout, and then the Japanese title, which he won in his 18th bout. For those interested all 3 titles were at Light Middleweight.
5-Having mentioned that Mihara won an OPBF title in his 5th professional bout it should be noted that this was a then Japanese record and stood as the record for 35 years. The record would be tied by Eiji Kojima, Akira Yaegashi and Naoya Inoue, before Kosei Tanaka broke it in 2014, winning the OPBF Minimumweight title in his 4th bout.
6-In 1981 Miahara won the Japanese fighter of the Year. Interestingly he won this award after Yoko Gushiken had won the award for 5 years in a row, and was followed by Jiro Watanabe, who won it every year from 1982 to 1985.
7-Mihara married the daughter of the then Chairman of the Misako gym, though did later get divorced from her
8-Mihara was the third Japanese fighter to win a world title at 154lbs, following Koichi Wajima and Masashi Kudo.
9-When Mihara won the WBA Light Middleweight title in 1981 in the US, beating Rocky Fratto, few would have expected a lengthy break for a Japanese champion to be crowned on foreign soil. Amazingly however it would take more than 10 years for another Japanese fighter to win a world title away from home, with Akinobu Hiranaka achieving the feat in Mexico in 1992. Amazingly it would take more than 30 years from Mihara's title win for the next Japanese fighter to win a world title in the US, with that being Masayuki Ito, who won the WBO Super Featherweight title in 2018!
10-Following his retirement he became a trainer at the Misako Gym
For this week's Remarkable Round we're not looking at a round that had knockdowns, but we are looking at a round that had high level boxing and one of the best sequences from the entire of 2016. Better than just the action, which was brilliant, is the fact this round came in a world title fight, and it ended up being the final round in the career of a true modern day Asian icon of the sport.
The bout really summed up the skill set of one of the men, and the desire of the other, and ended up giving us something memorable. Despite that it was really this round that stood out as being genuinely exceptional and something that was truly highlight worthy. That was despite the fact that the round was a massively intense one, in fact first 2 minutes of it saw little happen, but the final minute or so, boy was that something special!
Hozumi Hasegawa (35-5, 15) vs Hugo Ruiz (36-3, 32)
The bout it's self was a WBC Super Bantamweight world title bout and saw hard hitting Mexican world champion Hugo Ruiz travel over to Japan to defend his title against the popular and often exciting Hozumi Hasegawa.
At the time of this bout Ruiz was seen as a destructive force, a big punching Mexican fighter who was huge at Super Bantamweight. Stading at 5'9" he was a big guy and at just 29 years old he was regarded as still being well within his prime. With 39 fights to his name was a veteran of the ring, but from those 29 bouts he had scored 32 T/KO's. His only losses were an early career one to Enrique Quevedo, a controversial decision to Koki Kameda and a stoppage to Julio Ceja, which had been avenged.
Hasegawa on the other hand was 35 and had looked an old man. He had been stopped in 3 of his last 10, and had been battered in to submission in his previous world title bout at Super Bantamweight, against Kiko Martinez, more than 2 years earlier. Although he had been a great, especially at Bantamweight, he was regarded as a man who was really being advised to retire and was thought of as being shot, especially given how badly he had struggled just 1 bout earlier against Carlos Ruiz. He was also a massive under-dog here, with bookies in the US making him a 3/1 dog.
The first 8 rounds had been highly engaging and relatively competitive. With the WBC's open scoring being in effect in Japan we knew the scores around 30 seconds into round 9, and these were 78-72 to Hasegawa, 76-74, also to Hasegawa, and 76-74 to Ruiz. For those wondering, Hasegawa had been deducted a point in the opening round for a clash of heads, before Ruiz was deducted a point, also for a clash of heads, in round 7, with both deductions coming under the WBC's accidental foul rule.
With the scores known, and with 4 rounds left, the bout was all to play for in the final stages, and both men knew it.
The start of the round, as mentioned previously, wasn't too exciting. Hasegawa was trying to use his speed to line up southpaw left hands, and make the most of Ruiz's slow feet. Ruiz on the other hand was cautious pressing, hoping to line up Hasegawa, who smart footwork to create some space when he needed it. It seemed that Ruiz's size and power were something that Hasegawa had to be wary of and midway through the round Ruiz managed to connect, forcing Hasegawa back and exciting Ruiz who came forward with some new energy. It hurt Hasegawa who bucked and looked to hold before backing on to the ropes.
It was with Hasegawa on the ropes that the round got it's highlight as Ruiz went for the kill and Hasegawa slipped, slid and countered wonderfully with his back against the ropes. It was an amazing back and forth exchange, and one that saw both men letting their hands go, almost none stop for 15, heart in mouth, seconds. This was just amazing to watch, incredibly intense action and it saw the tide change, with Ruiz hurt, backing off and having his face, which was bloodied at the start of the round, looking smashed to pieces. Hasegawa could smell blood and looked for the finish, though was respectful and didn't risk too much against the power of Ruiz.
Immediately as the round ended Ruiz's team waved in the towel, deciding their man was done. Ending the bout, and the round, with their man's health at the forefront of their mind.
Amazing Ruiz had won the round on two of the judges scorecards, despite ending the round with his corner waving the towel.
After bout Hasegawa sat on the title for a few months, before deciding this was the perfect time to end his career, retiring as a 3-weight world champion, having accomplished the target he had set himself years earlier. As for Hugo Ruiz his career continued and in 2019 he was stopped, inside a round, by Gervonta Davis, in what is likely to be his final career bout.
It's rare for us to focus a full article on a non-Asian fight, but here we go with one of those rarities.
In the run up to this weekend's WBA female Bantamweight title bout between Shannon Courtenay (6-1, 3) and Ebanie Bridges (5-0, 2) we've seen a lot of rather strange and silly comments thrown around regarding the fight, what it means for female boxing and what it means for the value of a "world title".
Let us begin this by saying that neither Courtenay or Bridges are close to beating the best female Bantamweights out there, at least from what they've done so far in their careers. And, of course, the bout is getting a lot of attention due to the looks of the women, rather than their fighting pedigree, records or ability. Both are good looking women and both have managed to promote themselves during the last year or two really well, something more talented fighters should learn from. That's despite some rather nasty older tweets from Courtenay being found that made her seem like she's not a particularly nice person or something resembling an inspiration, as Sky have tried to sell her as.
We cannot blame fighters for promoting themselves well. In fact it's something that we should be encouraging. However they do it. Whether that's posing with their clothes off, something that has helped Mexican great Mariana Juarez get attention, doing charity work, helping with society, or using something like twitch to connect with fans and show their personality away from the ring. Very, very few fighters have been doing this well in recent years, with Ryan Garcia being another rare example. A fighter who can connect with an audience will have a bigger fan base, and can get fights based on that support.
Yes these two women have essentially marketed themselves around their looks. But they aren't the first, I'm looking at you Ogleidis Suarez, Riyako Goshi and Tomomi Takano, and they sure won't be the last.
Of course it's not just the fighters who have been criticised here, but also the WBA, who are a very easy target and an organisation who appear to willingly paint a target on their backs regularly with inconsistencies and bizarre decisions. They have, over the past 20 years or so devalued their own titles via their proliferation of their own world title belts. They have been out handing title belts like AOL used to hand out free trial CD's.
If someone is suggesting THIS BOUT has devalued a title, or the claim of being a world champion then I can only assume they've been burying their head in the sand the last few years. We have seen the WBA allow Beibut Shumenov to hold a title for years without defending it, the same with Manuel Charr, who they seem to want to dethrone but aren't sure how to do it, they have Trevor Bryan holding a version of their Heavyweight title and have so many champions at Super Bantamweight that they don't seem to know who needs to face who next.
And that's men's boxing. Something we all view, and we all know about. What about female boxing then? In 2018 we saw Mayela Perez (then sporting a 19-21-4 (10) record) fighting for the WBA Atomweight title, that same year Soledad del Valle Frias (then 13-10-4 (4)) fought for the Light Flyweight title, Cristina Del Valle Pacheco ((11-11-2, 2) at the time) fought for the Super Bantamweight title and in 2019 Sarah Dwyer (then 3-4-2 (1)) challenged for the Light Middleweight title.
If you think men's boxing is ripe with unfit challengers, you sure as hell don't pay much attention to female boxing. The example above are only WBA title fights from 2018 and 2019, a few selected examples, sure, but that's a few examples of record with a total from just 36 WBA female title bouts in 2018 and 2019 combined. And there were plenty of others that could have been added.
Amazingly however in that time there hasn't been WBA female Bantamweight title bout. In fact the title has essentially been stuck in the back of a cupboard since Mayerlin Rivas retained it with a draw against Dayana Cordero way back in November 2017. That's a long time ago by anyone's standards, but it gets even more depressing when we look over the entire history of the title, which has only been fought for 17 times since 2005. And has only been fought for 4 times from 2014 to the start of 2021.
It can be easy to say a weak champion or a string of weak challengers devalues a title, even more so in this era of so many titles. In reality however a title that is stuck in the bottom of a cupboard, getting rusty and being forgotten about is more devalued than having two fighters fight for it, and actually showing they want the belt.
We can criticise the skill level, the performances and the competition for both fighters, but we need accept that fighters getting in the ring and wanting something adds value to that title. It beats the title essentially looking like the ugly child at a school disco, with no one to dance with.
We're not predicting a high level of boxing tonight. We're not suggesting either fighter will put on a great performance. We're not saying the winner will become a great champion. But the bout is being criticised for the wrong reasons.
The two fighters have promoted themselves into getting an opportunity, rather than relying on being a faded name getting a shot, or getting a shot just because a champion wants an easy defense (you can insert your own IBF mandatory challenger joke here if you wish). There has been an unwanted title, that has been collecting dust because no one wants it, likely already feeling the WBA are too much a joke to take seriously, and they have managed to talk the WBA into letting them fight for it, after all the WBA don't get any fees if their titles aren't being fought for, and here we are.
For those criticising this bout for devaluing a world title, maybe take a look at how little value the belts have before this bout.
Today we continue with a run of upsets by Filipino fighters, though we leave Manny Pacquiao alone and look at another Filipino in an upset. This win was less high profile than some of the others we'll feature here, but did come in a world title eliminator and is a relatively recent one, coming back in 2014. It also came on a US TV broadcast with the opinion leading into the bout being that the previously unbeaten prospect was heading towards a world title fight.
July 2nd 2014
Foxwoods Resort, Mashantucket, Connecticut, USA
Michael Farenas (38-4-4-1, 30) Vs Mark Davis (18-0, 5)
When we look back over some upsets we can be a little surprised to even find out they were upsets, but in the summer of 2014 that's exactly what we saw when experienced Filipino Michael Farenas took on unbeaten American Mark Davis.
Heading into the bout the 30 year old Filipino, known as "Hammer Fist", had been seen as old, shot and beyond his best. He was well respected by those who knew the sport and had fought all over the place, though had done so with mixed success. During his first 47 bouts the most notable results on his record was a technical draw in a world title bout against Takashi Uchiyama and a loss to Yuriorkis Gamboa.
In terms of his biggest wins they had Farenas had beaten veteran Hector Velazquez and taken a split decision over Fernando Beltran. He was however viewed as just a tough, slow, clumsy fighter who could be out boxed and out sped.
The then 27 year old Mark "Too Sharp" Davis was being eyed up as a future star. He had had over 200 amateur bouts and was a genuinely celebrated US amateur. It was assumed his amateur skills would take him to the top of the sport. He had the athletic ability, the boxing brain and the skills to do great things in the ring, and if matched well he was going to be a major player at 130 for the coming years.
Coming in to the bout Davis was ranked higher than Farenas with the IBF. It was unclear what Davis had done to earn such a high ranking but it was clear that someone saw something big in him and he was now stepping up big time thanks to promoted 50 Cent.
Although he was stepping up Davis was the betting favourite, priced at around 1/2 to win, and this was supposed to be his break out win.
Despite being the favourite Davis was under pressure from the off with Farenas pressing the action from the very start. After about a minute Davis was cut around the eye, from a punch, and from there on Farenas had a target for his southpaw left hands.
Davis, knowing he had to turn things around quickly, tried to use his speed and skills, using the ring to create distance. Sadly for Davis however he had nothing to get Farenas's respect. Instead the unfancied Filipino just kept the pressure coming, pressing forward round after round and landing numerous huge left hands.
By round 5 Davis' speed was going, his confidence was crumbling, his skills weren't enough and he simply couldn't do anything to stop Farenas, wh dominated the round. In fact if anything what Davis was doing was making it easy for Farenas, standing in front of the stronger Filipino, who made the most of Davis's poor tactical decisions. Davis not only tried to fight with Farenas, but also stood still too much and was being broken and battered.
Farenas, although never a good technical fighter, was simply too strong, too big, too experienced, too heavy handed and ferocious for Davis, who was spoken to by the doctor after round 6. The bout probably could have been stopped there and then but Davis was allowed to come out for round 7, being given the opportunity to have one more round.
Impressive from Davis he actually had a very decent 7th round. It wasn't a round that saw him shake Farenas or anything, but was a round that saw him doing better than he had in the previous few. He did enough to be allowed out for round 8.
Despite making his way through round 7 with no major issues that luck and fortune ran out in round 8, when Farenas rocked him to his core with about 50 seconds of the round gone. A follow sent Davis stumbling and Steve Smoger finally came in and stopped Davis.
Sadly for Davis his career never recovered and this was the end for him. His once promising career was over.
For Farenas there wasn't a world title fight fight to follow this. Instead he was put in another eliminator which he lost against Jose Pedraza. That set back didn't end Farenas' career but did end his hopes of competing at the top of the sport again, and he would only fight 3 more times afterwards, picking up 3 low key wins.
On reflection this wasn't a huge upset, but certainly was an upset in regards to the pre-fight odds. Farenas was seen as a live under-dog, but exceeded tat expectation and ended up pummelling the pre-fight favourite in what would be his final notable win.
Last weekend we saw a massive show in Uzbekistan, headlined by standout Super Bantamweight Murodjon Akhmadaliev (9-0, 7) who made his first defense of the IBF and WBA "super" titles, as he stopped Ryosyuke Iwasa. The stoppage may have been a bit early, though it was certainly coming, however the key to take away from the bout wasn't the result, but the performance, and what it means for the Super Bantamweight division.
The win sees Akhmadaliev continue to have a strong claim as the #1 fighter in the division, following back to back wins over Daniel Roman and Ryosuke Iwasa, as well as other solid wins over Carlos Carlson and Isaac Zarate. The division is, however, one of the best in the sport and there are so many other options out there for claiming to be the divisional number. It's why the division has, in the last few years, become one of the most compelling.
With his latest win now on his record lets take a look at five for... Murodjon Akhmadaliev
1-Stephen Fulton (19-0, 8)
On paper the best match up in the division would see Akhmadaliev take on unbeaten American Stephen Fulton to unify the IBF, WBA "super" and WBO titles. Not only would this be a triple title unification bout but it would also be a clash between two unbeaten world champions, something we also love to see, and two men who are just coming in to their primes. Both fighters are in their mid 20's, both guys have legitimate claims to be the best in the division and both have the attitude of wanting to face the best out there. From a fan perspective this bout isn't just a massive clash for the division but also one of the most fan friendly bouts we could get at 122lbs. This is the bout the division needs, but a hard one to make, as many of these will be, due to the issues between PBC and DAZN.
2-Luis Nery (31-0, 24)
Another potential bout that would have fans excited, though would again need someone to work some political magic, would be a bout between Akhmadaliev and controversial Mexican Luis Nery. Again this would be a 3 title unification bout, with Nery being the current WBC champion, and it would again have the ingredients to be something special. As with the Fulton match up this would be a triple title unification bout between two unbeaten men with styles that would gel and would again need to see someone cross the street. Although a fantastic match up this ones doesn't have the same appeal as the Fulton bout as Nery looked pretty poor last time out, as he struggled past Aaron Alameda, and there are question marks about how he will really get on at 122lbs going forward.
3-Daniel Roman (28-3-1, 10) II
Yet another bout that could be scuppered by the DAZN/PBC rivalry would be a rematch between Akhmadaliev and Daniel Roman. These two gave us a special bout in 2020, as Akhmadaliev took a split decision over Roman to claim his titles, and a rematch seems so obvious. Obviously this wouldn't be a unification bout but is a bout we know would be good, we know from their first bout that the men match up well, we know their styles gel and we know there is a back story here. We also know that Akhmadaliev will want to prove he didn't need some luck from the judges to take the win in their first bout, and we know Roman will want revenge for his loss in 2020. Roman will also want to make a statement to Matchroom, who had the chance to extend his contract, though chose not to after the loss to Akhmadaliev, adding a real sense of something else to this potential rematch. This bout makes too much sense not to happen, and we really hope the rivalry between the two different stables doesn't stop this one happening.
4-Hiroaki Teshigawara (22-2-2, 15)
Given how many of the top names are unlikely to cross the road for a bout with Akhmadaliev we need to take a look at fighters not affiliated with PBC, Top Rank and Frank Warren. Thankfully one such name is that of Hiroaki Teshigawara, who just so happens to be the leading contender with the IBF and is essentially unaffiliated with any Western promoter. Teshigawara is the current OPBF Bantamweight champion and is a 30 year old from Japan, who has been knocking on the door of a world title fight for a few years now, but has lacked the backing to secure a big fight. He is currently riding a 10 fight winning run, including wins over Keita Kurihara, Teiru Kinoshita and Shohei Omori and given his availability and IBF ranking he makes for a perfect opponent. He also comes with the Japanese angle, something that's worth noting following Akhmadaliev's recent win over Iwasa.
5-Thomas Patrick Ward (29-0-1, 4)
There are many, many, many options we would prefer to see Akhmadaliev in with that Englishman Thomas Patrick Ward, we need to make that clear. Ward wouldn't be in our top 10 choices, if we could just pick bouts for Akhmadaliev. He is however a likely, plausible, and easy to make bout for Akhmadaliev's next defense. The 26 year old Ward has something that very, very, few fighters at 122lbs have, and that is an existing working relationship with Eddie Hearn, one of the main promoters behind Akhmadaliev. The unbeaten Englishman doesn't have the competition to suggest he belongs in the ring with the Uzbek, but would be a cheap option, and easy to make option and give British fans extra reason to tune into seeing Akhmadaliev in action. This bout could also take place in the UK later in the year and act as a relative cheap world title bout for Hearn to add to a bigger show.
We need to make it clear. We would see this as a massive, and brutally one-sided mismatch, but we also see it as a very likely option for Akhmadaliev if he wishes to have a speedy turn around and be back in the ring at some point in the summer, or wishes to fight on British soil sometime soon.
(Note - Given we had so many fighters who would need to "cross the street" to face Akhmadaliev, such as Fulton, Nery and Roman, Brandon Figueroa, Raeese Aleem and Angelo Lee rather than making this list all about fights we want, but almost certainly won't be getting. Likewise we have over-looked potential bouts with Top Rank fighters Carlos Castro and Naoya Inoue for the same reason. It just doesn't seem likely for those bouts to happen at this juncture.)
(Note 2 - This list was put together before the WBA ordered Akhmadaliev to face Ronny Rios, which was missed from the list, but is a fantastic match up. The WBA's decision to order the bout seemed an odd one, given they had previously ordered Rios to face Brandon Figueroa, but it's a fantastic bout and one we'll happily look forward to).
This past weekend we saw Filipino fighter Donnie Nietes (43-1-5, 23) return to the ring after more than 2 years out of action. The talented Filipino great looked brilliant for a 38 year old Super Flyweight with almost 50 bouts to his name, and although there was ring rust that needed shaking he looked very fresh and lively for an "old man" in a division where fighters tend to age quickly.
At the weekend Nietes easy defeated Colombian veteran Pablo Carrillo, despite a very weird scorecard from Ferenc Budai, and immediately thoughts turned to what should be next for "Ahas" as he looks to climb to the top of the sport once again.
With that in mind lets take a look some potential options for Nietes' next bout as go through Five For... Donnie Nietes.
Before we look at the 5 fighters we have to remember that a number of the top men in the division already have their next bouts decided. With that in mind we will not be including Jerwin Ancajas, who fights this coming weekend, Juan Francisco Estrada, Roman Gonzalez, Carlos Cuadras and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, with those 4 men involved in a 4 man tournament of sorts, ordered by the WBC. Those 5 men are among the most interesting possibilities for Nietes, though there is no guarantee they will win their next bouts, which would massively damage a bout with Nietes.
1-Kazuto Ioka (26-2, 15) II
The most obvious bout for Nietes, given all the currently unavailable fighters, is a rematch with Kazuto Ioka, the man he beat at the end of 2018 to become the WBO Super Flyweight champion, before vanishing from the sport. Since then Ioka has picked up 3 wins, claimed the WBO Super Flyweight title, moved into the Ring Magazine top 10 Pound for Pound fighters and really boosted his reputation, thanks in part to a big win at the end of 2020. Ioka might not be the huge name that Roman Gonzalez is, but given the history between Nietes and Ioka, and Ioka's enhanced international profile this bout makes a lot of sense. In fact it would probably be the biggest bout currently available for either man. Due to the links both fighters have internationally it could take pretty much anywhere, and would be a brilliant match up to act as either a main feature in the East or a fantastic supporting bout in the West. This bout would have high level boxing, two brilliant legacies and a bit of history.
2-Jeyvier Cintron (11-1-0-1, 5)
Although not a massive name, one fighter we would love to see Nietes facing off with is Jeyvier Cintron, in what would be a compelling contest. Nietes is as crafty, smart and intelligent as they come and he would need to rely on all that guile here if he was to take on the younger, bigger and faster Puerto Rican. The bout wouldn't have "huge" appeal, and we fully accept that, but the two men aren't particularly limited by where they fight, meaning they could, potentially, put this on a bigger card and have it as a potential eliminator to face someone more notable. For example putting it on the same card Estrada Vs Gonzalez III, to help build for a bout down the line. Cintron is a fantastic boxer, he would pose questions of Nietes and we'd love to see how Nietes handles him.
3-Kosei Tanaka (15-1, 9)
Talking about potential eliminator bouts we'd love to see, another would be Nietes taking on former 3-weight world champion Kosei Tanaka, who is looking to rebuild following his 2020 loss to Kazuto Ioka. This bout would be wily old, sneaky veteran against the young, quick upstart. It would be two men at completely different points in their career, fighting in what would be a must win for both men. Could Nietes' boxing brain out fox the speed and power of Tanaka? Would Tanaka be able to avoid the counters of Nietes? Again this isn't a monster bout, not by any stretch, but it's one we would love to see and it would be a stylistic match up for the ages. Interestingly a bout like this may also be enough to get Tanaka out of Japan, something fans have wanted to see him do for a while. We suspect CBC wouldn't want him to travel, given the time they have spent promoting him, but letting Tanaka fight in the US against Nietes would be huge for his profile. A win for Nietes would almost guarantee him a world title fight later in the year, or in early 2022.
4-Charlie Edwards (16-1, 6)
One interesting proposition that may be sent to Nietes would be a fight in Europe. The veteran has fought in Asia, North America, Central America, and the Middle East, but has never fought in Europe. The current centre of European boxing is the UK, and why not have Nietes finally show what he can do to a European audience? With that in mind we need to look at the British options at the weight and there isn't too many. The most interesting is former WBC Flyweight champion Charlie Edwards, who currently holds world rankings with the WBC, IBF and WBO. If Nietes can only fight in the UK once, then there doesn't make much sense in facing a C tier fighter, or a fellow import. It makes more sense to face a British fighter, and better yet Edwards is a former world champion who is also managed by the same management company as Edwards, MTK Global. This bouts makes sense, even if it's not a huge bout for Nietes.
5-Naoya Inoue (20-0, 17)
We know, we know, we haven't included fighters with bout arranged, though here want to make a single exception, and that's for a bout between Nietes and Japanese star Naoya Inoue.
This is a bout that actually makes more sense to take place later in the year, rather than any time soon, unlike the other bouts. And a bout that looks very possible, with a huge amount for both men to gain and a compelling stylistic match up. Inoue's next bout, expected in June, will see him battle against Michael Dasmarinas in an IBF mandatory title fight, in Las Vegas. If he gets past that, as we expect, it'll lead to Filipino fans wanting to see another Filipino have a shot at the Monster. Whilst the obvious choice is John Riel Casimero, an alternative is Nietes. The bout would also give Nietes the super fight he craves, a chance to become a 5-weight world champion, and a chance to beat a man who beat fellow Filipino legend Nonito Donaire. It would be another chapter in the long running Japan Vs Philippines rivalry. It would be easy to make, with Bob Arum and MTK regularly working together, and Nietes would be the most technically sound fighter that Inoue has faced. Given this isn't an immediate option, it would give Nietes the time to bulk an extra 3lbs for the Bantamweight division and get ready for the biggest test of his career.
We might be fantasising a little bit here, but we would genuinely love to see Inoue Vs Nietes later in the year in what could easily be sold as legends colliding.
Some of the best stoppages come from fighters we don't regard as punches. Today we get to look at one such example from 2006 that helped to prove that a man who wasn't stopping people, genuinely could punch. Not only that but he had really nasty power when he landed the perfect shot. The bout has a genuinely dramatic ending, and sadly it lead to the eventual end for one man, who was never the same, whilst it help boost the other to being one of the biggest names in Asian boxing for around a decade.
Hozumi Hasegawa (19-2, 6) vs Veeraphol Sahaprom (51-2-2, 35) II
In 2005 Japanese fighter Hozumi Hasegawa put him a fantastic and mature performance to over-come Thai great Veeraphol Sahaprom in their first bout. The contest saw Hasegawa become the WBC Bantamweight champion, claiming his first world title. The win for Hasegawa ended a 14 defense reign of the Thai, who had held the title for more than 6 years, and gave Sahaprom his first loss in over 9 years. It was a big upset at the time and a win that really put Hasegawa on the map.
Having lost his title and his long unbeaten run Sahaprom returned to Japan in 2006 to try and reclaim the belt and get revenge over Hasegawa.Following the loss he had gone back to Thailand, picked up 5 wins, stopping 4 of his 5 foes, and had rebuilt some of his aura. He was, however, now 37 and had had 55 pro boxing bouts to go alongside a very long Muay Thai career. He was still a top fighter, but very much a man who had seen better days.
As for the 25 year old Hasegawa this was set to be his second defense following a win over the very poor Gerardo Martinez in September 2005. It was a chance to prove his title win wasn't a fluke and prove that he really was world class.
Through the first 8 rounds the bout was an intriguing one with not much splitting the men up to that point. In fact if anything it seemed that whilst Hasegawa had had a good start Sahaprom was starting to build some momentum through the middle rounds and was starting to come on come on Hasegawa began to throw less, move less and fight the wrong fight against the more physical Sahaprom.
Then we got to round 9 and we got to the finish. It was a blink and you miss it finish. As the two men both threw about 10 seconds into the round Sahaprom dropped to the canvas from a right hand of Hasegawa, following a jab. He tried to beat the count, but his body didn't do what he wanted it to, instead his legs betrayed him, and he ended up on his back.
Watching the shot "as live" it looked somewhat innocuous, like it shouldn't have dropped a legend like Sahaprom. Then we saw the replay and it showed just how perfect the shot was.
The replay showed that the right landed perfectly as a counter Sahaprom's own right hand narrowly missed the target. Whilst it didn't look amazing "live" it had Sahaprom' s coming into the shot, it landed perfectly, and took out the Thai in excellent, fashion. This was brilliant.
With the win Hasegawa legitimised his reign and went on to record a further 8 defenses before later becoming a 3-weight world champion. As for Sahaprom this was pretty much the start of the end for him. Whilst he did score 15 wins before losing in a world title eliminator in 2008 to Vusi Malinga, in what was Sahaprom's last big fight as a professional boxer.
Thinking Out East
With this site being pretty successful so far we've decided to open up about our own views and start what could be considered effectively an editorial style opinion column dubbed "Thinking Out East" (T.O.E).