One of the problems we have with this site is being so focused on what happens with traditional boxing countries, such as Japan, South Korea, Thailand and the Philippines, and often missing what goes involving fighters from Central and Western Asia. The reality is that until recently Central Asia was very much a region that dominated amateur boxing, something we don't really focus much on, and that Western Asia has really lacked notable boxers in number. Despite that there are some fighters from both that have stood out, and Central Asia is certainly set to become a massive player in the professional ranks.
Today we get the chance to look an upset caused by an Iranian fighter in the UK, in what is a bit of a rarity, but something that is worthy of attention.
July 7th 2001
Velodrome, Manchester, Lancashire, England
Mehrdud Takaloo (16-2, 12) vs Anthony Farnell (26-0, 17)
British born Iranian Mehrdud Takaloo is one of the very, very few Iranian fighters who has left a mark on the sport of professional boxing. Saying that however he did that by essentially becoming a force on the British scene from 1997 to 2011, becoming a major player on the British Light Middleweight scene. Early on however that never seemed likely and he lost 2 of his first 7 bouts. By 1999 he was 5-2 (3) but rebuilt well with 11 wins, albeit mostly against limited opponents, before taking on the hugely popular Anthony Farnell.
In the summer of 2001 Anthony Farnell, known as the "Warrior", was one of a number of fighters from the North West of England creating a lot of buzz. There was Farnell, and there was also Jamie Moore, Michael Gomez, Michael Jennings and a little ginger haired fellow called Ricky Hatton. It was expected that British boxing in, and around, Manchester was set to be huge over the following decade and that it would become one of the hubs of the British boxing scene thanks to all the talent that was coming through at the same time.
Although not all that talented managed to reach the top they generated a lot of buzz and huge fans in the Manchester Velodrome.
With a 26-0 record Anthony Farnell was seen as being on the verge of a big fight. First however he was going up against Takaloo for the lightly regarded, and vacant, WBU Light Middleweight title.
Coming into the fight Farnell, fighting at home in Manchester, was the betting favourite, priced at 2/5 to win. Takaloo was a live under-dog at 7/4 as they entered the bout, but still a clear under-dog.
From the off Takaloo came out firing to the body, Farnell tried to cover up but the first 30 seconds or so saw Takaloo really ripping to the mid-section and landing them clean. Farnell managed to have some success with his jab but every time he had a moment Takaloo seemed to take the play away from him in a good opening 90 seconds.
The good start got even better for Takaloo when he managed to land a gorgeous right uppercut on Farnell's chin, dropping the previously unbeaten man. To his credit Farnell got to his feet, but Takaloo had no intention of letting his opening go, and unloaded on Farnell with huge head shots.
At the bout's end the fans booed. whilst Ian Darke, doing commentary for Sky Sports stated "Nobody thought that could happen" and "The Kent based Iranian has scored the most astonishing victory."
Whilst not the biggest upset ever the result, and the nature of the win, was a genuine shock.
This past month has been one of the least notable in regards to Boxing Raise, who had no live shows at all in the month. Instead they gave us a lot of Rookie of the Year content, not a bad thing but not as good as a live card. Despite the lack of live action we've sifted though the content from September and have found some really great contests that are well worthy of a watch as the service continues to be a must have for those wanting to follow the Japanese domestic scene.
As with our previous "Best of Boxing Raise" article all the fights featured here can be accessed by subscribers by logging into Boxing Raise and adding the "movie/####" to "https://boxingraise.com/".
Just to make everyone aware these are all Rookie of the Year bouts, with the 6 cards put up by Boxing Raise this month all being Rookie of the Year shows.
Short and to the point! - Shugo Namura (2-0, 2) Vs Kei Fujita (1-0, 1) [movie/8410]
One of the best things about Rookie of the Year bouts is the flaws of the fighters involved and their general attitude to making things exciting. That's exactly what we saw in the short, intense, thrilling brawl between Shugo Namura and Kei Fujita. Not too much we can say here without spoiling the contest, but it was short, it violent, it was exciting, and it was bombs away! Lasting less than a round this is a great one if you only have a few minutes.
Super Thrilling Super Flyweight! - Yota Sato (1-0, 1) vs Hironori Shioya (2-0, 2) [movie/8414]
Another short, thrilling, all action bout saw Yota Sato and Hironori Shioya unloading on each other. As with most bouts this month on Boxing Raise this was very low level action, and rather sloppy, but thoroughly entertaining with Shioya looking to set an intense tempo from the off and take the fight to Shioya who had to respond. This wasn't pretty but was truly enthralling.
Blink and ya miss it! - Aito Abe (1-0, 1) Vs Kentaro Omori (2-2, 1) [movie/8418]
At just 17 seconds long you won't find many shorter bouts this month than the Aito Abe Vs Kentaro Omori one, but it's worth a watch. You blink and you miss it, and you miss a rather brutal knockout. Seriously folks give this one a watch. It's short, it ends in eye-catching fashion, what more could you want?
Ending with a BANG! - Sora Fukunaga (5-0, 2) Vs Shuya Kuwabuchi (2-1, 2) [movie/8515]
On the subject of short bouts another short one worthy of attention was the West Japan Rookie of the Year bout between Sora Fukunaga and Shuya Kuwabachi. This wasn't an all out war but was another short one with a fantastic and a show case of one of the most exciting Rookie of the Year competitors this year. This was a bit more of a technical battle than some of the bouts we're including this month, but still a very fun bout.
Punches fly in hidden gem! - Riku Kondo (1-1, 1) vs Aito Takabatake (2-1-1) [movie/8542]
Enjoy lots of leather being thrown? Inside back and forth? Competitive action from the off? Well this is the one for you! This was pure entertainment with both men being very happy to let shots fly, in some really good 2-way action., It did have sloppy moments, as we tend to expect from Rookie of the Year bouts, but was still utterly enthralling as both fighters gave everything they had. A real hidden gem on a show that was easy to over-look.
All action thriller! - Ryo Yoshida (1-0) Vs Ricky Hasegawa (2-1, 1) [movie/8594]
Ricky Hasegawa set off at an electric pace and had Ryo Yoshida in all sorts of problems through the first round, dropping him part way through. Yoshida saw out the storm as we ended up getting something very special as he came back and both men fought to exhaustion. This was two men wearing their hearts on their sleeves and providing something exhilarating. If you're a fan of fighters like Kenya Yamashita then this is seriously worth a watch. It was thrilling, intense, and raw.
Knockdowns traded in war! - Tsubasa Narai (3-0, 2) Vs Tomohiro Igarashi (2-0, 1) [movie/8600]
Drama and action are two of the things we look for in a fun fight and the Super Featherweight bout between Tsubasa Narai and Tomohiro Igarashi had both of those giving us something special from the early going to the eye catching finale. Before we got to the end both men were down, both had landed some bombs and the crowd had been given a spectacular treat. This was genuinely a great fight mixing skills, aggression, action and doing enough to get applause from the scattering of fans allowed into the Korakuen Hall.
This past weekend we saw Tugstsogt Nyambayar (12-1, 9) score his latest win, beating Cobia Breedy by a split decision in what was an entertaining, well fought and competitive contest. The plan was for that to be a WBC Featherweight title eliminator, but the performance it's self seemed to leave us with more questions than answers in regards to what Nyambayar can do, and will do. With that in mind we've decided to look at 5 potential bouts for the Mongolian, including two potential bouts for the WBC Featherweight title, and 3 other bouts that could be what he needs to show what he can really do.
1-Gary Russell Jr II
The obvious match up that's next for "King Tug" is a rematch with Gary Russell Jr, the current WBC Featherweight champion. The two men fought this past February, with Nyambayar losing a clear decision to the American, though the assumption is that he has learned from that loss. That bout was lost in the first 8 rounds, with Nyambayar doing little more than following Russell Jr early on, whilst the American cased his skills and speed. Nyambayar did get going late in the bout, and gave Russell something to think about, but it was far too little far too late. If we're being honest we don't see Nyambayar having the intensity to ever beat Russell Jr, but he'll surely want to run it back and try to avenge his sole defeat.
There has been talk about Gary Russell Jr vacating the WBC title, in search of bigger tests, and if that happens "King Tug" would be the mandatory challenger for the vacant title. Currently ranked #1 by the WBC is Jessie Magdaleno, who would likely make up the other side of a vacant title fight. Magdaleno is a former WBO Super Bantamweight champion, he has something of a name value, and has a style that we suspect will force Nyambayar to actually go for it and fight. Although not the best fighter out there Magdaleno hits hard, he hits fast and he's a legitimate world level contender. He should make for a great fight with Nyambayar and it will be a sink or swim type of contest for both men.
Another fan friendly potential option for the Mongolian would be a bout with the dangerous Julio Ceja. The Mexican might not be a natural Featherweight but he is world ranked by the WBC, is dangerous, comes to fight, and should force Nyambayar into a fight. We suspect we need an aggressive and dangerous fighter to get the most from the Mongolian and Ceja is that type of fighter, boasting heavy hands, a good work rate and questionable toughness. Ceja and Nyambayar make a good stylistic match up, should provide fireworks, and would see the Mongolian enter as the clear favourite and in a position to get a big win.
Although really, really, unlikely we would absolutely love to see Nyambayar to take on WBA champion Can Xu in what would be a sensational fight to watch. One of our big complaints with the Mongolian is that he doesn't let his hands go often enough, and it's something we feel is holding him back from reaching his potential. Matched against Can Xu, a man who never stops throwing, we suspect we'll see the best from the Mongolian. We also suspect we'll see Xu being in yet another thriller against a tough and hard hitting challenger and of course, the elephant in the room, the build up. This will be China Vs Mongolia, and the hype videos and build up have Genghis Khan and his conquest of China to use as a visual backdrop for any hype videos. This would be great to watch, a bout that sells it's self and fight that would have historic rivalry behind it. Come on boxing, this is too obvious not to happen!
5-Jesus M Rojas
Another bout that would be fun would be a bout between Nyambayar and former WBA champion Jesus M Rojas, which would be a fight that would give us action, be a fun one to watch and give both men a big bout, just as they need it. Of course both men would prefer a world title bout, and Nyambayar would clearly prefer a bout with Russell Jr or Magdaleno, but if those bouts can't come off a contest with Rojas would certainly not be a bad alternative. The Mongolian would be up against a Puerto Rican willing to let his hands go and make a fight of things, whilst Rojas would get a chance to take a huge step towards a second world title fight. Style wise this would be fun, both men would have their chins checked and both would be firing off heavy leather. Rojas is also the type of fighter who would draw the best from Nyambayar, who couldn't get away with being lazy in this match up.
Over the last few years we have seen more and more sports people using their platform to talk politics. We famously saw Colin Kaepernick refusing to stand for the American national anthem and we've also seen Colby Covington go the other way, with a pro-Trump stance. We know some fans want to keep sports and politics apart, and we do understand that, but the reality is that two are linked, and have long been linked. From people like Muhammad Ali, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, George Weah, Alexis Arguello, Irman Khan and Vitali Klitschko sports and politics are do go hand in hand.
Whether you agree with the views of the sports people or not is somewhat irrelevant, it's not going to change things and we will always see sports people show an interest in politics. With that in mind we are going to look at 7 boxers who have, in some way been linked to both politics and sport, in one way or another.
Note - This is not extensive list, a lot of other Asian fighters have involved themselves in both boxing and politics.
Masamori Tokuyama - One Korea
The political affiliation of Masamori Tokuyama is arguably more well known than his boxing career, despite the fact he was a 2-time world champion and managed 9 successful world title defenses.
Tokuyama, who fought 1994 and 2006, was a third generation Zainichi Korean who affiliated with North Korea for much of his boxing Korea and was often seen with the North Korean flag, or the One Korea flag. Unlike many Zainichi Korean's Tokuyama didn't really hide his heritage, and in fact it was used to sell a number of his bouts, such as his two contests with In Joo Cho. He not only fought as a North Korean but also used their national anthem as his ring walk tune and even defended the reported kidnappings of Japanese citizens by North Korea. He was regarded as a hero in North Korea, there was special stamps created in celebration of him and he managed to meet top North Korean officials.
The political views he had drew significant attention and saw him being banned from the USA. After his retirement however he renounced North Korea and became a South Korean citizen, making one of the biggest U-Turns in sport.
Tae San Kil and Heuk San Lee - Political refugee
You can't get much more political than a political refugee and we have a number of those involved in Korean boxing. These include Cameroonian born fighters Tae San Kil and Heuk San Lee, who were both born and raised in Cameroon and have since sought solace in South Korea, with both being given asylum status in their new home.
Both fighters left Cameroon having been in the military and abandoned the Cameroonian team during the 2015 World Military Games. Both cited persecution and abusive treatment as to why they left their team.
Kil, who was born Jean Durandal Etobil Etobil, revealed how his life was in Cameroon when he spoke to the Korea Herald and explained:
"The brutality, torture would torment me physically and mentally. My wage would often be withheld. I had to participate in daily training and maintain ‘the right position,’ even when I was sick,”
Lee, also known as Abdoulaye Assan, swore that he wouldn't return to Cameroon. It was thought that if either did they would have been arrested for deserting the military. The same military that had persecuted them when they were members.
Both failed in their first attempt at getting Asylum status, but thankfully were successful after submitting a petition to the Ministry of Justice, in 2017. Both have managed to carve out small but notable career in their new, adoptive, homeland.
Payao Poontarat - Politician
Thai great Payao Poontarat had a truly remarkable, and yet horribly tragic life, fitting a lot into his 49 years. In 1976 he won an Olympic bronze medal, becoming the first Thai to win an Olympic medal. Following his amateur success he would turn professional and win the WBC Super Flyweight title, before twice losing the Japanese star Jiro Watanabe.
Following his boxing career Poontarat got a role within the police, rising through the ranks there, before later turning his hand to politics, joining the Democratic Party in Thailand.
As a politician Poontarat struggled to begin with but in 2001 he was voted into the Thai House of Representatives, whilst running as a democratic candidate and looked set for a successful career in politics. Sadly any long term hope of his being a major politician ended early when he began suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, and in 2006 he passed away at the age of 49.
Takefumi Sakata - Politician
We stay with boxers who have become politicians as we talk about former world champion Takefumi Sakata, who has actually been in politics for around a decade now and has been elected 3 times now.
As a fighter Sakata fought from 1998 to 2010 and won the Japanese and WBA Flyweight titles, fighting the likes of Daiki Kameda, Denkaosan Kaovichit, Roberto Vasquez and Lorenzo Parra. He announced his retirement in January 2011 and just a few months later he was elected to the Inagi City Council. He has been part of that council ever since being re-elected in 2015 and 2019
As a sitting council member Sakata is an independent and has pushed for better education and stronger child care support among other things
Manny Pacquiao - Politician
We end this with the most obvious example of a boxer being involved in politics as finish with Filipino boxing icon and sitting senator Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao, a man who may one day become the leader of the Philippines.
As a boxer Pacquiao has become a national treasure for the Philippines, a multi-weight world champion and the inspiration to a generation of fighters. As a politician he has quickly risen through the ranks, after originally struggling to make a mark, and is now creating a new legacy in politics.
Pacquiao, like Poontarat, actually failed to get elected in his first attempt, losing in the 2007 to Darlene Antonino-Custodio, whilst running as a Liberal in South Cotabato's 1st district. In 2010 he got elected to the Filipino House of Representatives, whilst running under the People's Champ Movement. He would be re-elected 3 years later as part of the UNA, and has remained in office since.
Despite being in office Pacquiao has certainly shared some questionable political beliefs. They have included being against same sex marriage, and being a backer of Rodrigo Duterte war on drugs, which has pushed for capital punishment. A rather big turn around for a man who originally ran as a Liberal back in 2007.
Unlike Poontarat and Sakata we have seen Pacquiao continue to compete in the sport whilst also holding office, and he has had some notable success since becoming a senator.
And a fighter who has tried to avoid politics:
Hyun Mi Choi - Defector
We're back in Korea here with the very interesting case of Hyun Mi Choi. Unlike Tokuyama, who spoke about his allegiance to North Korea, Choi did the opposite, quite literally.
She was first scouted by the North Korean government, who tried to turn into an amateur star and a North Korean boxing hero. The plan had been to take her to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, when there was talk of female boxing being the Beijing games. In late 2003/early 2004 Choi, and family, would abandon North Korea and move south of the border, defecting from the North to the South.
Unlike some in similar positions Choi has actually tried to distance herself from politics, stating that she wants to be known for boxing, rather than the defection. Despite that she has played a major role in proving that defectors can be a positive and her career in the ring is one of the few boxing highlights South Korea has had in recent years.
Choi is, unlike some on this list, linked to politics due to things outside of her control and sadly for her she will remain a figure in Korean political discussion, whether she wants to be, or not.
This past Saturday we had a fair bit of action, with Showtime and ESPN running shows at the same time. Whilst neither show provided a Fight of he Year contender the best of the fights was a hotly contested WBC Featherweight world title eliminator between Tugstsogt Nyambayar (12-1, 9) and Cobia Breedy (15-1, 5). The bout was regarded as a mismatch by the bookies, but turned into a really, really good fight. We had drama, heart, desire, and moments of genius.
The bout won't be mentioned in the end of year awards shortlists, and it shouldn't be, but it was still a very a solid fight well worthy of a watch. For those that missed it, and for those who watched it and care about our opinions, we have decided to share some of our take aways from the bout.
1-Nyambayar needs to show more intensity
We need to begin this with the obvious, Tugstsogt Nyambayar is missing that fire needed to really shine. The Mongolian is talented, heavy handed, tough, has under-rated hand speed, a solid jab and is technically very, very good. He does however lack intensity in the ring and he repeatedly falls to sleep during bouts. It wasn't just this one but seems to be a regular habit of his. When we see him throw combinations he looks sensational, he's got smooth offensive work and looks amazing. But far, far too often he looks for he looks for the perfect shot, and doesn't go for the kill. We saw it a lot here, especially in round 2 following the second knockdown. He could have made this easy for himself, but instead he turned off and let Breedy into the bout.
2-We want to see more of Cobia Breedy
Cobia Breedy came into the bout as an unknown, he was expected to get stopped and after being dropped in the first two rounds it looked like the bout was a foregone conclusion. Following that however he looked great, was ultra competitive and did enough to lose a close decision and earn another big fight. This was a massive step up for him and he legitimately impressed us. It would be great if PBC could give him another opportunity, and we doubt we're the only ones wanting to see him. He's quick, tough, brave, exciting, lets his hands go and has the intensity that Nyambayar lacks!
3-Don Trella...what the hell was he watching?
We'll give Cobia Breedy a lot of credit for his performance. He made the bout incredibly close, fought back well after a horror start and made us into fans. Sadly however there was no way we could see to give him the bout. As for Don Trella he somehow had the man from Barbados as the winner. We'd love to see him explain his scorecard here. We saw it as a close, but clear, win for Nyambayar, helped in part by the two knockdowns, but couldn't possibly see a way to get a win for Breedy.
4-Nyambayar gives odd interviews
After the fight Tugstsogt Nyambayar gave an interview and it was...odd. We're sure there was a lost in translation effect here, but it was still a very, very odd interview and we'd love to see more of these. He's not the most naturally charismatic, but the awkward, strangeness of his interview made us want to hear more of him. He's lacking the catchphrase of a Gennady Golovkin, or the simplistic turn of phrase of Can Xu, but there was still something charming about the strange vibe of his answers.
5-Don't blow your bloody nose!
Cobia Breedy made 3 big mistakes. One was getting dropped in round 1, one was getting dropped in round 2 and one was blowing his damn nose between rounds 6 and 7 that caused his left eye to almost swell shut. This was nasty and could have caused the bout to stop, either from the swelling it's self or from giving Nyambayar a nice big target to aim for. This was very much a self inflicted injury and not a good one. Hopefully everyone learns from this. If in a fight, don't blow your damn nose!
One of the bouts shown last weekend on Fuji TV was the Super Bantamweight clash between the unbeaten Kazuki Nakajima (9-0-1, 8) and the upset minded Kenta Nomura (7-4, 3). On paper this wasn't expected to be much of a test for Nakajima, and in the end he didn't need to work too hard for the win, stopping Nomura in the third round of a scheduled 8 rounder.
With the bout now aired and having been watched, and rewatched, we've got some take aways from the bout to share.
1-Nakajima is horribly stiff and upright
The first thing to note watching this bout, and other Kazuki Nakajima bouts, is that Nakajima is so stiff and upright. He looks really rigid, everything he does looks forced and his chin is in the air. We get that it's very much his style, but he looks so hittable, predictable and like someone with a bit of skill will be able to take him out. Nomura wasn't the guy to ask questions, but we did see Seiya Tsutsumi ask those questions earlier in the year and we assumed that Nakajima would have looked less stiff here than he there. Nope. Just as stiff. The focus for Ohashi should be on trying to get him to relax in the ring a little bit, it's obviously not easy, but it would improve his game so much. Despite being stiff he does have surprisingly quick handspeed.
2-Despite being stiff Nakajima has a nasty straight left hand
Again we're not stating anything new here but Kazuki Nakajima has a fantastic straight left hand. It's straight, it's quick, it's powerful and it's sharp. It's a bit on the predictable side of things, as a lot of Nakajima's work is at range and worked off his straight shots, but it's easily the best punch in his arsenal and does, in some ways, remind us of Shinsuke Yamanaka. It's not quite as brutal as Yamanaka's, but the way he makes every shot counts, and is efficient with is it Yamanaka-like.
3-Koji Matsumoto wears glasses in a weird way
This is an odd one, for sure, but it was weird that Koji Matsumoto put his glasses on the back on his head. It's more of an observation than anything else, but we are curious as to why the great trainer rests his glasses in such an odd position. Several of our team wear glasses and we put them on the top of our heads, but Koji, he puts them on the back of his head, under his ponytail when working in the corner, as he was for Nakajima. If anyone can explain this one we'd love to hear it!
4-Nomura isn't very good against southpaws
This was Nomura's second bout against a southpaw in 13 months and he has been stopped by both of them. He tried to box with Nakajima, and didn't look like he had any idea how to cope with the left stance. He was throwing out range finder jabs that had no effect, was caught regularly by left hands and looked genuinely lost and confused. Nakajima, although rather stiff looking, is quite tricky, but Nomura really showed no idea how to deal with even the most basic of Nakajima's work.
5-Michiaki Someya is a referee that is in the right place at the right time
We've mentioned Michiaki Someya in one of these before and we do so again here as he once again showed his ring positioning is brilliant, and he's where he needs to be, when he needs to be there. This wasn't a tough bout for him but we can't ignore that he was consistently doing what he had to, was in the perfect place for the stoppage and made things crystal clear. He's not a big name referee but he is certainly a very good one, and from his showings on this card he's one we'll be keeping a close on here following two solid performances on this show.
Some of the best KO's come from fighters we don't think of as punchers and that's what we have today thanks to a 2017 bout that saw a brilliant KO scored by someone who think more of as a boxer-mover rather than a puncher. Interestingly it came against someone who was boasting a high KO rating. This was genuine one of the most over-looked KO's of the year and one of the most perfectly timed.
Masaru Sueyoshi (13-1, 8) vs Allan Vallespin (9-0, 8)
Japanese boxer Masaru Sueyoshi was climbing his way through the ranks as we entered 2017. He had scored 10 straight wins and was moving towards a domestic title fight thanks to wins against the likes of Kazuma Sanpei, Roman Canto and Shingo Eto. Although he had been in great form, and showing a lot of improvements, he wasn't seen as a puncher. In fact Sueyoshi was more of an awkward, high skilled boxer who often controlled the distance and tempo of a bout whilst keeping things at long range.
Allan Vallespin on the other hand was a relative unknown outside of the Philippines. At home he was blowing away low level opponents. From his first 9 bouts he had scored 5 wins in the opening round, and had also picked up the GAB Super Featherweight title. Despite looking good against low level domestic opposition this bout was a big step up in class and was coming in Vallespin's international debut. He was expected to have the power and aggression to bother Sueyoshi, but probably not the skills to over-come the rising local.
What we ended up with was a stunning finish. Before we got there the bout was really not too interesting.
Anyone who has seen Sueyoshi before will know what to expect from the first few rounds. He tried to set an awkward distance, drawing mistakes and countering without taking too much damage or over exerting himself. It wasn't the most exciting of bouts but it was clear that Sueyoshi was neutralising the apparent power and aggression of Vallespin. It wasn't pretty but it was effective from Sueyoshi who used his educated jab very well.
Early in round 3 Vallespin became more aggressive, throwing wild shots at Sueyoshi in the hope of landing something. It wasn't an issue for Sueysohi, who saw the shots coming a mile off, but it did give the Japanese fighter openings to really counter.
About 45 seconds into the round Vallespin over-committed and missed with a right hand, catching a left hook as punishment, a left hook from Vallespin was then thrown as he was tagged by a huge straight that sent him crashing to the canvas.
This was gorgeous to watch and perfectly executed by Sueyoshi, who certainly opened up the eyes of some fans on the back of this impressive finish.
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 world champions Ratanapol Sor Vorapin and Takanori Hatakeyama.
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-Fantastic little Thai Ratanapol Sor Vorapin was a brilliant fighter in the 1990's running up numerous defenses of the IBF Minimumweight title over 2 separate reigns. Although he was never the best in the division he was one of the staples at the top. He wasn't the only fighter in the family however and his brother Ratanachai Sor Vorapin was also a world class fighter, winning a world title at Bantamweight.
2-Whilst Ratanachai Sor Vorapin is best known for his WBO Bantamweight title reign, which lasted over a year, that's not the only thing of note he did. In fact he fought several opponents of note outside of his title reign, including Indonesian great Chris John. In fact John had one of his closest decision wins in 2002 when he narrowly over-came the Thai.
3-Fantastic Indonesian Chris John is best known for his lengthy reign as the WBA Featherweight champion that wasn't the only title he held during his career. Another belt that John Held was the PABA Featherweight title, which was later held by thrill a minute Korean warrior Ji Hoon Kim.
4-Notably the PABA Featherweight title wasn't the only regional title that Ji Hoon Kim held. Later in his career he moved up in weight and won the WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title, which was later won, in an all out war, by Japanese puncher Yuki Beppu.
5-Japanese Welterweight puncher Yuki Beppu first made a name for himself in December 2014, when he won the All Japan Rookie of the Year at Welterweight with a KO2 win against Hironobu Matsunaga.
6-Hironobu Matsunaga one of the latest starts from the Yokohama Hikari Gym. That's the same gym that lead Takanori Hatakeyama to being a 2-weight world champion!
For a second week running we turn out attention to South Kore for our Tuesday feature as we focus on former Welterweight contender Chung Jae Hwang (28-3, 25). The big puncher from Seoul fought between 1979 and 1989, a fairly long career for a Korean fighter from that time period. During his career he fought in 15 OPBF Welterweight title bouts, including 13 successful title defenses, and was one of the standout Asian Welterweight fighters of his time.
Although Hwang's career wasn't the most successful he did face some pretty well known names, the most notable or which was Saensak Muangsurin, and before turning professional he had been a successful amateur, again on the Asian scene.
With that introduction out of the way lets take a look at 5 Midweek Facts about Chung Jae Hwang.
1-In 1975 Hwang was arrested and spent time in prison. At the time he was very much a ruffian, and admitted that his actions were "really stupid". Following this he turned his aggressive nature into that of a boxer.
2-After turning things around Hwang became a genuinely good amateur. His amateur career really took off after he defeated 1976 Olmypian Ju Seok Kim and he went on to win gold at the 1978 Asian Games in Bangkok.
3-Notably Hwang's professional debut came against a former OPBF Champion. That was Fred Rolando Pastor, who had previously held the OPBF Lightweight title. Whilst it's not unheard of for fighters to debut against former champions this is still a pretty impressive feat for Hwang.
4-Interestingly Hwang is the only man to defeat Saensak Muangsurin in Thailand. The Thai great did suffer 6 losses in total, but the other all came abroad. They occurred in Spain, twice, Korea, Philippines, and the USA. It should however be noted that Hwang's win over Muangsurin did come in the Thai's final professional bout, and he was very much a diminished fighter by this point.
5-Hwang released an album in 2018 as he turned to music, and almost a bit of male modelling. We have included a live performance of him singing below.
It's been a while since we've had some action worthy of breaking down into one of our Take Away articles, but last week we had several bouts of note. One of those was the latest win for unbeaten Japanese prospect Katsuki Mori (7-0, 1), who over-came Yuki Uchida (7-8, 1) in a 6 round bout at Korakuen Hall. The bout wasn't shown live, but was televised over the weekend on Fuji TV, giving us a chance to watch the contest, albeit on delay.
1-Mori Carries himself like a star
Watching Katsuki Mori in action leaves us feeling like we are watching a star in the making. He oozes charisma, know that he needs to come forward and take risks, and knows how to put on a show, which we saw in round 6. He's a lovely aggressive stylist who controls range very well, has a tight guard and really does have very quick hands. Not only has he got the skills and mentality to be a star but, at just 20, he already appears to be connecting with the Japanese fans, and it's clear that they too are buying into the Mori journey. His baby faced good looks will help appeal to female fans and it's hard to not see him becoming one of the more notable stars of the lower weights.
2-Mori's shorts were familiar
This is probably a coincidence more than anything but the shorts Mori wore, with the red design and gold trim, were very, very similar to the shorts Naoya Inoue wore against Yuki Sano. Whilst Mori and Inoue are obviously very, very different fighters the similarities in their shorts, and overall look, was starling. What this even more notable was that for both men it was the first time they were shown on Fuji TV. For Inoue the bout with Sano was shown live, and part of a major broadcast, whilst Mori had never had a bout shown in full on terrestrial TV, with G+ carrying some of his previous bouts. Maybe, just maybe, they view him as being the next special talent from the Ohashi gym and want to evoke these connections as soon as they can.
3-Uchida was the perfect foil
Although Yuki Uchida had a pretty poor looking record the selection of him as the opponent for Mori was perfect. Uchida was known as a flawed, slower fighter who's tough and will come to fight. That allowed Mori chances to counter, chances to box, and a chance to prove he can fight 6 rounds at a good pace. Don't get us wrong, Uchida didn't have much of a chance, but he always seemed to feel like he felt he had one, and he wasn't just accepting a loss. He came to win, he gave an honest effort, and he asked questions of Mori. This is what we want to see from fighters with losing records, not the survival mentality but someone giving it a go. These sorts of efforts actually help the prospects develop quickly, and do more than a string of meaningless wins, like we see in some countries.
4-Japanese referees continue to keep things simple
Whilst this wasn't a hard bout for an official, and one where he was rarely needed. However if you concentrate on Michiaki Someya, the referee for the bout, he was doing a lot of little things that were very notable. He was always maintaining a good distance from the action a good view of the two men, he, for the most part, remained out of camera shot and let the action go on the inside when he had to. Once again we can't help but be impressed by how well Japanese referees are letting the action flow.
5-Mori is still a work in progress
We are massive Katsuki Mori fans, and we do see him as a star in the making. He is however still "in the making" and is certainly a long, long way from being the complete product. He's high skilled, has star appeal but, fast hands and a good boxing brain. What he's missing is experience, man strength and power. Experience is guaranteed to come with time and as long as Ohashi keep him busy we'll see him building on that part of his game. The power and man strength issue is the thing that is still holding him back. He repeatedly caught Uchida clean and yet struggled to really hurt him. Against Uchida that wasn't too much of a problem, but as he steps up in class he will need to have some stopping power. It may never come, which would limit how far he can go, but we suspect it will, and as he matures we do see him having enough pop to get the attention of his opponents.
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).