On November 7th Nonito Donaire will have one of, if not the, biggest fight of his career as he takes on Japanese sensation Naoya Inoue in Japan. The bout, the WBSS Bantamweight final, is expected to have more than 10,000,000 tuning in on TV in Japan alone, and more than 20,000 people in attendance.
Of course, with Donaire being such a big name, and such a well known boxing figure we seem to think that fans know a lot about the "Filipino Flash". Despite that, we've tried to come up with 10 facts you probably didn't know about...Nonito Donaire.
1-Donaire comes from a real boxing family. His brother is Glenn Donaire and his cousin is Richard Donaire, both of whom were professional fighters and his father, Nonito Donaire Sr, was an amateur boxer in the 1990's
2-He attended the same school as Manny Pacquiao
3-Although not well known for his amateur career Donaire actually went 68-8 in the unpaid ranks. Nonito and his brother Glenn Donaire, both took part in the 2000 US Olympic Trials at 48KG's and both were beaten by Karoz Norman and Brian Viloria. Notably they didn't actually face each other though.
4-One other note about his amateur career comes from 1999, when he competed at the Junior Olympic International Tournament. At the tournament Donaire would go on to win the 48KG tournament, among other winners at this competition was Andre Ward, who won the 67KG tournament and the once touted Francisco Bojado, who was victorious at 57KG.
5-With Donaire now set to face Naoya Inoue, in what will be Donaire's Japanese debut, it's interesting to note that he has often visited Japan and is a manga and anime fan. Although his fight with Inoue will be his first bout in Japan he has trained in the country a number of times, and is well regarded in Japanese boxing circles. He's also known to read Hajime No Ippo and has met it's creator George Morikawa, who actually did the second Naoya Inoue Ring Magazine cover!
6-Donaire was the first Asian fighter to claim a world title from all 4 major world title bodies. He won his first IBF title in 2007, his first WBO in 2011, along with his first WBC, and would add a WBA title in 2014. In fact to date Donaire has won 2 IBF titles, 3 WBO, 1 WBC and 2 WBA titles!
7-Donaire featured in an energy drink advert for Cobra Energy Drink in the Philippines, in which he beat up a robot, and an advert for a water product too
8-Donaire also has an acting credit from a movie to his name for his role in "Palad ta ang nagbuot", where he plays a major part. We've included a trailer from this movie below, where you can see Donaire's acting at work.
9-Fellow Filipino-American Nump, recorded a song "Filipino Flash" about Donaire, who was in the music video for the track. As with the trailer for the movie we mentioned, this can also be seen below.
10-As well as being a world class boxer and his acting credit, Donaire is also a talented photographer, and has been known to take ringside photographs for publications in the past.
In 2017 Japanese fighter Sho Kimura travelled to China and dethroned local hero Zou Shiming to claim the WBO world title. Many know that was the first time a Japanese male had won a world title in China, and he went on to become a genuine star in Chinese boxing circles. He would lose the title less than 14 months later, in an instant classic with Kosei Tanaka, in what was regarded by many as the 2018 Fight of the Year.
Whilst a lot is known about Kimura, we now bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know about...Sho Kimura
1-Following Kimura's win over Shiming he was referred to in some circles as the Heisei Cinderella man, referring to the Japanese Heisei era and his journey to a world title, which was unexpected and saw him essentially coming from nowhere to win major title.
2-Kimura's first stoppage win came in his 10th professional bout against Kamon Singram, who had a record of 0-24 with 12 stoppages losses before facing Kimura. Following this win Kimura scored 10 stoppages in his 11 subsequent wins!
3-Kimura's entrance song is “Forever Young” by Japanese folk singer Takehara Pistol, the full version of this song has been included at the bottom of this article.
4-Prior to winning the WBO Flyweight world title he had worked in a liquor store, a job he began doing in 2016
5-Although known as a tough and rugged fighter Kimura was dropped twice on his debut, a 75 second loss to Shosuke Oji.
6-Kimura's September 2014 draw against Akira Kokubo saw him being eliminated from the Rookie of the Year due to the rules of the Rookie of the Year. Incidentally this was Kokubo's third straight draw before he suffered 4 straight defeats.
7-When he won the world title in 2018 he became the first male world champion for the Aoki gym, which had been founded in 1945. Prior to Kimura's success the most notable fighter at the gym was female fighter Momo Koseki, who holds the record for the most world title defenses by a Japanese world champion.
8-Kimura's mother died when she was 44 and he was 20. After winning the WBO Asia Pacific and WBO world titles he took them to his mother's grave.
9-Whilst we all know Kimura's career defining win is his victory in China against Zou Shiming, what's fairly forgotten is that entering that bout he was a total unknown and you could get odds of 9/1 on Kimura beating Shiming!
10-Kimura won his first professional title, the WBO Asia Pacific title 1 day before his 28th birthday. Coincidentally his third professional bout came on his 25th birthday.
BONUS FACT-In beating Zou Shiming and Toshiyuki Igarashi, in back to back fights no less, Kimura actually beat 2 men who competed in the Light Flyweight division at the 2004 Athens Olympics!
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
After weeks of trying to come up with a regular Saturday feature we've finally got one thanks to our good friend Derek Bonnett, from Seconds Out, who's regular posts on facebook lead to things clicking. Whilst we know Derek wasn't the first to come up with the idea, it's been his regular posting of them that has really flicked a switch and lead us to begin this new series.
To begin with we must admit we're not 100% sure which we this will end up going and what will take priority. The original idea was going to be "The 5 best wins for..." though our realisation was that the "best" didn't always mean significant, and in the end it can be a frustrating task to summarise what is really "better" than something else. As a result we've decided to mix the two pretty interchangeably to begin with. This may change in the future, but for now we're going with a hybrid of "best", "significant", "meaningful" and "impressive".
To kick things off with we're going to look at former 3-weight Japanese world champion Hozumi Hasegawa (36-5, 16). The "Ace of Japan debuted in 1999 and fought for the final time in 2016. During his long he won the WBC Bantamweight, WBC Featherweight and WBC Super Bantamweight title whilst becoming a genuine star in his homeland and one of the most widely respected fighters out there.
Of course we all know who Hasegawa is, but what were his Top 5 wins?
5-Jess Maca (May 18th 2003)
The first win we'd like to talk about when it comes to Hasegawa is his 2003 win over Filipino veteran Jess Maca for the OPBF title. This isn't a win that got much attention in the west but showed that the 22 year old Hasegawa was a real one to watch. Coming in to the bout Maca had developed a reputation as a "Japanese killer" winning against a string of Japanese fighters, including Setsuo Segawa, Shigeru Nakazato, Shin Yamata and Katsushige Kawashima, whilst running up 7 defenses of the OPBF Bantamweight title. Hasegawa managed to end Maca's run with an excellent performance, taking a narrow split decision over the Filipino. This was Hasegawa's first title win, and put him on the road to the top.
4-Veeraphol Sahaprom (April 16th 2005) - Fight I
After making 3 defenses of the OPBF title Hasegawa got his first world title fight, taking on Thai great Veeraphol Sahaprom, for the WBC Bantamweight title.The Thai boasted a 46-1-2 (31) professional record, with his only loss coming Nana Yaw Konadu way back in 1996, a loss that had been followed by a 44 fight unbeaten run including 14 defenses of the WBC Bantamweighr title. Like Maca we'd seen Sahaprom prove to be a thorn in the side of Japanese boxing, with 2 wins against the legendary Joichiro Tatsuyoshi, a 2-0-2 series with Toshiaki Nishioka. Hasegawa would go on to take a close and competitive decision over Sahaprom, ending the Thai's lengthy world title reign.
3-Vusi Malinga (March 12th 2009)
It was somewhat hard to place Hasegawa's two wins over notable South African fighters. The first of those came in 2007, when he took a decision win over Simpiwe Vetyeka, and the other came less than 2 years later when he beat Vusi Malinga. The bout with Vetyeka is one that certainly aged very well, though in reality was a hard to watch bout between two talented 26 year old's who pretty much cancelled each other out. Against Malinga however Hasegawa impressed, blitzing the tough Southpaw inside a round, giving him his only stoppage loss. This was arguably the most impressive destruction job Hasegawa ever managed and showed that the Ace could punch much harder than his record suggested. In just 157 seconds Hasegawa took out a legitimately tough guy. This wasn't the most notable win, but was one of the most impressive.
2-Hugo Ruiz (September 16th 2016)
At the age of 35 Hasegawa was seen as a man coming to the end of his career, and his 2016 bout with Hugo Ruiz was expected to one final roll of the dice in his attempt to become a 3-weight world champion. Almost 30 months earlier he had been broken down by the then IBF champion Kiko Martinez and just 9 before facing Ruiz he had been dropped twice by Carlos Ruiz. He looked done. Ruiz on the other hand was a was a huge Super Bantamweight, who had real power, was 29 years old and had avenged a stoppage loss to Julio Ceja. Ruiz's only other losses were a 2007 loss to and a very close decision loss in Japan to Koki Kameda. Despite being beyond his best Hasegawa put up a great performance and forced Ruiz to retire in his corner after 9 rounds. At the time of the stoppage Hasegawa was in a very narrow lead, and in fact one judge had him down, but finally he'd done it. Almost 6 years removed from his last world level win, he had become a 3 weight champion.
1-Veeraphol Sahaprom (March 25th 2006) - Fight II
Whilst Hasegawa's first win over Veeraphol Sahaprom, in 2005 was an excellent performance to win the WBC Bantamweight title we'd actually go with the rematch, just 11 months later, as a better win. For Hasegawa this was his second defense, following a rather easy win over Gerardo Martinez. For Veeraphol however the bout was a chance to avenge his loss, reclaim the title and scoring a 6th straight win. This time around Hasegawa took the result out of the judges hands and seemed to toy with Sahaprom at times before landing a brutal right hand early in round 9 to take out the Thai with 1 shot. This was only the second time the Thai had been stopped, and despite the fact he was 37 the finish here, and the pressure to perform at the highest level earned this bout the #1 place.
Last week Chinese Flyweight Wulan Tuolehazi (13-3-1, 6) recorded his second defense of the WBA International Flyweight title, stopping Satoshi Tanaka. As we write this the awkward Chinese fighter is ranked highly by both the WBA and WBO and has scored several notable wins whilst extending a winning run to 8 straight victories. His competition might not be the top names in the Flyweight division but wins over OPBF champion Jayr Raquinel and the very promising Ryota Yamauchi, do show he has real momentum behind him. With that in mind he makes a perfect candidate for our latest "Five For...".
1-Kosei Tanaka (14-0, 8)
The Chinese fighter is clearly someone who will be looking to get a world title fight sooner, rather than later, and with a number of recent wins over Japanese fighters it makes sense for him to chase a Japanese world champion Kosei Tanaka. For Wulan the bout would be a massive step up in class, but it would give the 26 year old, yes we were surprised Wulan was so young as well, a chance to make his mark before he ends up picking up a loss. Tanaka didn't look great last time but would be expected to beat Tuolehazi, whilst Tuolehazi really couldn't have much more momentum coming it. This makes sense, and should see Wulan's team striking whilst the iron is hot!
2-Giemel Magramo (24-1, 20)
As well as Japanese fighters we've seen Wulan have success against Filipino fighters, and Giemel Magramo is arguably the best Filipino fighting at 112lbs. And Magramo has history with China, stopping Wenfeng Ge earlier this year. Both of these men are looking to get a world title bout and this would work as a fantastic eliminator between two men who are heading onwards and upwards. Technically it would be hard to favour Wulan, but we've said that in the past only to see him shock us and pick up the win against fighters we fancied beating him. Magramo would be the toughest test so far for Wulan, but Wulan would also be one of the biggest tests for Magramo so far. A fantastic match up.
3-Ronnie Baldonado (15-2-1, 9)
Another Filipino option for Wulan would be 23 year old Ronnie Baldonado, who is hovering in the world rankings. Baldonado has fought in China twice before, stopping the once touted Iwan Zoda in Beijing and stopping Yi Ming Ma, both in 2017 and has also shared the ring with Kosei Tanaka, giving Baldonado a direct comparison to the WBO champion in terms of result. Baldonado is, so far at least, not a proven world class combatant, but is a very tough and rugged guy who should expected Wulan well in a fairly competitive bout. This would be a good warm up before a potential world title eliminator, if Wulan's team feel he needs another bout at that type of level.
4-Mirco Martin (14-0-1, 6)
It may take real money to get Germany's Mirco Martin out of his based in Europe but that money may be worth it to get a win over the #2 WBO ranked fighter. Sadly fighting in Germany is a no-no against Martin who has quickly gained a reputation for getting some awfully suspect scorecards in his favour. The very limited 27 year old has received a "bit of luck" against Robert Onggocan, Atsushi Kakutani and Ernesto Irias, and it seems clear that whilst he's fighting at home he'll be protected by officials. On the other hand even the German officials will get fed up with him eventually. If Wulan's team couldn't get Mirco out of his homeland we wouldn't expect this bout, but if they can make him travel then this would be a relatively easy win for the Chinese contender.
5-Masayuki Kuroda (30-8-3, 16)
Sometimes the best way to prepare for a world title fight is to face someone in a similar situation and if Wulan's team could get a match with 2-time world title challenger Masayuki Kuroda that would certainly be a great idea. Kuroda looked brave in defeat earlier this year against Moruti Mthalane and although he came up very short against the South African he proved he could still go at world level. Wulan would have the edge in youth but Kuroda's experience could be the difference if the Chinese fighter isn't smart. Although suspect Wulan's team to be able to get home advantage there would also be the possibility of getting this on a neutral venue due to the Nitta gym's relationship in places like Vietnam. We feel this is a really interesting bout, and one we'd love to see.
To go along with our regular Sunday feature, "10 facts you probably didn't know about..." we've decided to try a similar feature here looking at something a little bit different. The OPBF. Here bring you "10 facts you probably didn't know about... the OPBF"
1-The OPBF was originally founded in 1952 as the OBF, the Oriental Boxing Federation, which it continued to be called until November 1977. It wasn't related to the previous Oriental Boxing Federation (OBF), which had existed before World War 2. It changed it's name after Australia and New Zealand were approved to join, necessitating the addition of "Pacific" to it's name.
2-It was set up by Japan, Thailand and the Philippines, with Korea joining in 1957
3-The OPBF themselves recognise the first OBF champion as Filipino legend Gabriel "Flash" Elorde for his October 18th win over Hiroshi Horiguchi, for the OBF Bantamweight title. In total Elorde fought in 23 OPB title bouts during his legendary career, and he actually fought against the second ever OBF champion, when he challenged Larry Bataan in May 1953 for the OBF Featherweight title. Elorde is also the first OBF champion as recognised by the WBC, who are the world title body associated with the OBF/OPBF.
4-Interestingly Boxrec lists the first OBF champion as Chamroen Songkitrat, who they say won the OBF title Lightweight title on October 13th 1952 with a win over Speedy Cabanela on October 13th 1952. From what we can find Chamroen's reign wasn't officially recognised until March 1953, when he stopped Masashi Akiyama, making him the fourth OBF champion, not the first.
5-The 21 defenses of the OPBF Middleweight title by Jae-Doo Yuh, from 1971 when he beat Cassius Naito to when he retired in 1978, is the most of any champion. Strangely Boxrec list him as having 22 defenses of the belt. The confusion with boxrec here is that the March 30th1975 bout against Nobuyoshi Ozaki, the second bout between the two men, isn't regarded as an official title defense. Regardless of the confusion he's the only fighter to have had 20 or more defenses of an OBF/OPBF title.
6-The "Gentle Giant" Rev Santillan, a Filipino who fought from 1995 to 2010, is the only man to be hold an OPBF title 4 times. He managed to win, and lose, the OPBF Welterweight title 4 times between 2001 and 2008. Interestingly he would fight numerous rematches during that time frame and went 1-1-1 with Hiroshi Watanabe, losing the belt and reclaiming it from Watanabe, losing the belt and regaining it from Kazuhiko Hidaka and losing twice to Motoki Sasaki
7-The OPBF began to recognise women's boxing in 2009, and had no connection to the OPFBA. Despite only being official recognised in 2009 they did recognise Susie Ramadan's 2008 victory over Michelle Preston as the first OPBF female title bout, and when the two rematched in 2009 Ramandan did record the first ever OPBF female title defense.Despite recognising female boxing there are only 11 weight classes recognised, from Atom to Welterweight excluding Light Welterweight.
8-Roman Kovalchuk, who won the OPBF Cruiserweight title in 2000 and defended it once, is the only European fighter to have won an OPBF title. He was from Ukraine.
9-On a similar note Xiong Zhao Zhong is the only Chinese fighter to have held an OPBF title, having won the OPBF title in 2015 with a win over Crison Omayao. Strangely he never defended the title.
10-Several reigning OPBF champions have been beaten by debutants. These include Akio Shibata, who was stopped by Ryota Murata, and Sae Chul Kang, who was beaten over 10 rounds by Ki Soo Kim
Recently we asked on twitter for fighters who fans wanted to see covered in these "10 facts you probably didn't know about..." articles. One of fighters we had requested was Yoko Gushiken, so here are "10 facts you probably didn't know about...Yoko Gushiken".
1-As an amateur Gushiken ran up a 62-3 (50) record
2-Before turning to boxing Gushiken had wanted to play baseball but was turned down by a team due to being too small.
3-Gushiken had a dog that he named after Juan Antonio Guzman, the man he originally beat for the title in 1976.
4-After becoming a world champion in 1976 Gushiken continued to work at a tonkatsu store. In fact he worked there until around the time of his 5th world title defense. His typical shifts were 11am to 3pm and he would typically earn around ¥40,000 a month for his work there.
5-Gushiken was managed by former fighter Masaki Kanehira who opened the Kanehira Gym, which would later become the Kyoei Gym. As a fighter Kanehira had a 15-19-3 (1) record yet his gym would go on to be one of the most significant in Japan
6-Gushiken has revealed on TV that he doesn't like cucumber
7-Gushiken was awarded the equivalent to the Japanese Fighter of the Year award 5 years in a row, form 1976 to 1980
8-"Conquistador" by Maynard Ferguson was his introduction music. The same track was later passed down to his protégé Daigo Higa. This can be heard below in the video on the right.
9-Gushiken was featured in advertising for Okinawa's "730 campaign", which was a a campaign to change the side of the road drivers in Okinawa drove on. The campaign saw Okinawa switch from driving on the right hand side of the road to the left hand side of the road. In the short TV advert he filmed he said something that translates as "People are right, cars are left". This can be seen below in the short video on the left.
10-After retirement Gushiken has become a popular contestant on Japanese quiz shows where he has a reputation for giving humorous, and incorrect answers. Strangely however he has shown an incredible knowledge for Japanese place names and local specialities.
Last week we saw Japan's Rikki Naito (22-2, 7) make his third defense of the OPBF Light Welterweight title, with a good win in South Korea over Gyu Beom Jeon. The bout had been rescheduled several times, and in the end it really wasn't competitive, with Naito dominating much of the bout with his boxing skills, until slowing down late and Jeon just a slight window of opportunity. In the end bout was a clear victory Naito.
With the OPBF title still around his waist Naito will have a target on his back and he looks a very beatable champion, especially by fighters who can force him to fight at a high pace and get to him late. Today we look at 5 potential opponents for Naito going forward.
1-Koki Inoue (14-0, 11)
On December 2nd Koki Inoue will look to claim the WBO Asia Pacific title, as he faces Jhertiz Chavez, and add it to a collection that also includes the Japanese title, a match with Naito would therefore clear who is the best at 140lbs not only in Japan but also the wider region. The two have some history, following them from the amateurs, they are both regarded as being among the best in regions and stylistically they should make for a compelling all southpaw bout. This has everything, history, titles, and regional domination. Of course Inoue will need to get past Chavez, and that is certainly not a given, for this bout to have the allure in 2020.
2-Mercito Gesta (32-3-2, 17)
Another bout that is dependent on future bout would be a showdown with US based Filipino veteran Mercito Gesta. Gesta has a bout scheduled for November, but if he comes through that unscathed a bout with Naito would certainly be an interesting looking contest. For Gesta it would be a chance to face a fellow Asian fighter, something he's not done recently, having fought solely in the US since 2007 mostly against American and Mexican opponents. On the other hand it would give Naito a great chance to fight in the US and make his American debut, and in a bout he would see as very winnable. Gesta would likely be the favourite but this certainly would be interesting.
3-Yusuke Konno (15-4, 8)
We go back to Japan for our third option, and a bout with the under-rated Yusuke Konno. On paper this doesn't have the greatest allure, but in reality this would be the type of bout that would push Naito, and test him to his absolute limits. In terms of skills and speed the advantages lie with Naito, however Konno has the advantages in stamina, power and will be in there to win. We saw Konno score a career best win earlier this year over Baishanbo Nasiyiwula in China, to extend his current winning streak to 4, and he would be make for a fantastic bout with Naito. This would be skill against will, speed against power and brilliant to watch.
4-Miguel Vazquez (41-9, 15)
In his prime Miguel Vazquez was an avoided fighter, nobody wanted to share the ring with the awkward, talented, and smart Mexican. In the last few years however he has been able to get the role of gatekeeper and has landed a lot of fights against solid prospects and hopefuls. Although he typically loses he always puts up a good effort, and exposes areas for youngsters to work on. With that in mind he makes the perfect opponent for a future Rikki Naito fight. Naito should have enough to beat him, but this would still be a very good at this point and a chance for Naito to be compared to some of the better fighters in the division. If the Naito gym could get this in the US it would also help improve Naito's international profile and could be his US debut.
5-Downua Ruawaiking (16-0, 13)
A high risk-high reward option would be a showdown with unbeaten Thai puncher Downua Ruawaiking, aka Apinun Khongsong. The Thai poses a lot of risk and danger with his power but by that same token he is the IBF #1 ranked fighter in the division and if Naito could secure a fight with him, and beat him, he could find himself in line for a world title fight. It would take a lot of money to make the Thai and his team risk their future fight for the title, maybe too much money to risk here, but it would make for a very interesting boxer-mover vs boxer-puncher match up and the type of high risk-high reward fights that we love seeing fighters take.
Japanese boxing has many stars, and of the most well known is 4-weight world title holder Kazuto Ioka. The nephew of former 2-weight world champion Hiroki Ioka has been a star in Japan for years, he has been strongly backed by TV giant TBS and has regularly featured on their end of year broadcasts.
There's lots that is known about Ioka but here are 10 facts you probably didn't know about...Kazuto Ioka
1-In junior high school Ioka first boxed out of the Green Tsuda gym, a gym that had trained his father and uncle. Despite training at Green Tsuda gym as an amateur Kazuto wouldn't actually fight out of it as a professional, instead he would actually leave to join the gym his uncle, Hiroki Ioka, had set up.
2-Although a very successful amateur on the Japanese domestic scene Ioka's international amateur success was limited with his most notable achievement being a bronze medal at the 2008 King's Cup, where he lost to Amnbat Ruenroeng in the semi-final.
3-After failing to make the Japanese team for the 2008 Olympics Ioka dropped out of university and decided to turn professional instead, debuting less than a month after his 20th birthday.
4-In his professional debut Ioka defeated Thongthailek Sor Tanapinyo in 3 rounds. At the time Thongthailek was the Thai Flyweight champion, having won the belt 2 months earlier. Interestingly Thongthailek's previous bout in Japan had seen him face off with future Ioka opponent Akira Yaegashi.
5-Ioka retired from boxing at the end of 2017, in fact he did so on December 31st live on Japanese TV channel TBS, following the end of year bouts that TBS had shown as part of their Kyokugen event. The retirement hadn't been a total shock, but his retirement notice had only been accepted by the JBC (Japanese Boxing Commission) 1 day earlier.
6-Outside of boxing Ioka has been married twice. His first marriage was to singer Nana Tanimura whilst the name of his second wife hasn't been widely reported, though she was revealed to have been a model in the past. With his second wife Ioka has a son, who was born on August 17th 2019.
7-As an amateur Ioka went 95-10 (64), one of his few losses on the Japanese scene came in the 2008 All Japan Championship finals to Taro Hayashida. Hayashida is notable for not only this win but also for giving Naoya Inoue one of his very few amateur losses.
8-Early in his career Ioka was referred to as "Golden Boy", taking the nickname of one of his favourite fighters, Oscar De La Hoya.
9-Ioka was dropped in his 4th professional bout by Indonesian foe Heri Amol. The knockdown came in the 9th round from an over-hand right with only seconds of the bell left. Although the shot that sent him down was clean as a whistle he didn't seemed hurt, looked clear headed when he got back to his feet and went on to win the following round.
10-In just his third bout he fought a former world title challenger. His opponent there was Takashi Kunishige, who had challenged Edgar Sosa just 18 months earlier. Ioka took a wide and clear 10 round decision over Kunishge who would remain a notable fighter on the Asian scene right through to his final bout in 2013. Following the loss to Ioka he would go on to lose decisions to Suriyan Sor Rungvisai, Norihito Tanaka, Go Odaira, Denver Cuello and Ryuji Hara.
Extra fact - He's very good friends with Japanese musician AK69 and his bout against Aston Palicte saw AK69 do a live performance.
Following his win over Milan Melindo last Saturday Junto Nakatani (20-0, 15) took a huge step towards a potential world title fight. Despite that win we feel he still needs 1, or maybe 2, more bouts on the fringes of world class to be fully prepared to face best in the division, so we though who better to feature in this week's regular "Five For..."
1-Noknoi Sitthiprasert (71-5, 44)
To prepare for a world title fight we think the best idea for Nakatani is to face someone who has fought for a world title, and proven their toughness. With that in mind we see Noknoi Sitthiprasert as a perfect candidate for Nakatani's next fight. The Thai veteran is no world beater, a long way from it in fact, but his bout with Kazuto Ioka in 2017 proved he was tough and could take punishment. Since losing to Ioka the Thai has reeled off 9 more wins, all against very limited opposition, and is sniffing around a big fight. Nakatani, in a world title eliminator, could well be that big fight.
2-Maximino Flores (25-4-1, 17)
With Nakatani edging towards a world title fight, a good idea would be to take on a top fighter from outside of Asia, getting a chance to face someone with a different style to what he has typically seen. With that in mind Mexican fighter Maximo Flores would be an idea candidate. He's the type of fighter who has shown a willingness to travel, is aggressive, and despite being flawed does have a desire to win. Last time out he travelled to the Philippines and defeated Carlo Caesar Penalosa and if you put him in with Nakatani it would be a great chance to see what Nakatani does under pressure.
3-Ryoichi Taguchi (27-4-2, 12)
Passing of the torch fights are one of the key signs of a fighter moving from prospect to contender, and there may be no better option for Nakatani than facing fellow Japanese fighter Ryoichi Taguchi. The 32 year old Taguchi, like Melindo, is on the slide, but has recently gone 12 rounds in a world title fight with WBO champion Kosei Tanaka, he has the dimensions of a true Flyweight but lacks world class power and should be a safe option but yet a credible step in the right direction. For Taguchi it could be one final big fight, a loss would send him into retirement but a win would leave him in the world title mix.
4-McWilliams Arroyo (19-4, 14)
Staying with the idea that Nakatani should be knocking on the door of a world title fight with his next bout, there may be no better opponent than Puerto Rican fighter McWilliams Arroyo. The talented 33 year old Arroyo is a 2-time world title challenger and has a history against Japanese fighters, with 2 of his 4 losses coming to fighters from the Land of the Rising Sun. Arroyo is a known name in the west, and a win for Nakatani would give him an increase in western attention ahead of a world title bout. Arroyo is of no slouch, and his losses to the likes of Amnat Ruenroeng, Roman Gonzalez and Kazuto Ioka have shown he belongs at world level and he's tough. This would be a real test for Nakatani and is the perfect high risk type of opponent he needs to really see what he has.
5-Julio Cesar Martinez Aguilar (14-1, 11)
If Nakatani does want a world title fight the obvious option appears to be a crack at the vacant WBC title against Mexican puncher Julio Cesar Martinez Aguilar. The hard hitting Martinez is set to get a world title fight at the vacant WBC belt, a title that he would be holding had it not been for stupidity in August that lead to him hitting a downed Charlie Edwards. Martinez is an absolute monster at 112lbs, he's bull strong, a huge puncher and one of the few contenders who looks like he's actually coming into his peak. With recent wins over Martin Tecuapetla, Victor Ruiz and Andrew Selby he's in form a little wrecking ball. With the WBC title on the line this would be a fight with a high risk and high reward, and seems to be the bout Nakatani wants.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
This past weekend Kazakh fighter Gennady Golovkin (40-1-1, 35) reclaimed a portion of the Middleweight crown as he narrowly outpointed Sergiy Derevyanchenko to become the new IBF Middleweight champion. The bout was supposed to be a mismatch for Golovkin, but the 37 year old was pushed all the way by the "Technician" and it now seems like time is running out for Golovkin and his career.
With that in mind we've decided to do a special mid-week "Five For..." for the hard hitting "GGG", along with our regular Friday "Five For...", which will look at options for Japanese Flyweight Junto Nakatani.
1 - Sergiy Derevyanchenko (13-2, 10) II
The most obvious match up for Golovkin is to re-run this weekend's match and give Sergiy Derevyanchenko a rematch. The first bout was fantastic, competitive, and a back and forth war that saw both men digging deep. With that in mind a rematch next time out would be a very marketable bout, though one that may not be something that Golovkin will be rushing head first towards. Whilst the Kazakh does have big money on the table from DAZN Derevyanchenko brings very little to the table, and given how hard he pushed Golovkin the bout is a high risk low reward bout for "GGG", but one that fans may be demanding due to just how close their first contest was.
2 - Ryota Murata (15-2, 12)
For the last few years the Japanese press have been regularly pushing the narrative of Golovkin coming to Japan and fighting 2012 Olympic champion Ryota Murata. The bout has long been mooted as being something that could headline at the Tokyo Dome, something no Japanese fighter has ever done, and would be a big money spinner for both. Murata and his team have been rumoured to have the money to bankroll a Golovkin fight, and throwing the money into the kitty that DAZN would already have set aside for Golovkin would suggest this could be a huge money fight. There are issues with TV, both in Japan and the US, but those issues could be solved relatively easily and we have seen the promoters for the two men working together in recent months. The feeling we get is it's now or never to pull the trigger on this one.
3 - Demetrius Andrade (28-0, 17)
If Golovkin is going to remain in the US, and the rematch with Derevyanchenko isn't going to happen then a possible alternative is a unification bout with WBO champion Demetrius Andrade. The unbeaten American is desperate for a big fight and Golovkin, although looking like a faded force, is still a big fight and remains one of the division's biggest names. For Golovkin it gives him a chance to unify 2 of the Middleweight titles, again, and try to secure one more big win. For Andrade it delivers the big fight he is said be craving and gives him a dance partner who will be looking to beat him. This isn't much a great match up stylistically, but it does tick boxes for both men and would be a compelling match up, even if it's not likely to be a great fight to watch.
4 - Billy Joe Saunders (28-0, 13)
Murata isn't the only fighter to have long been linked to Golovkin, but not yet managed to secure a fight with the Kazakh. Another fighter in a similar situation is English fighter Billy Joe Saunders, who has come close to facing GGG but the never has never ended up being done. Earlier this year Saunders attended an event in Kazakhstan calling for a fight in Golovkin's native country and it seems like that would be a bout that would make sense. Win or lose facing Saunders in Kazakhstan would give Golovkin a home coming bout, and a chance to fight in front of the Kazakh fans. If he's planning on fighting in Kazakhstan before calling it a day on his career this is the bout that makes the most sense, and would work, win or lose, as a great swansong for his career.
5 - Alfredo Angulo (26-7, 21)
A left of field suggestion would be a bout with the hard hitting Alfredo Angulo, who just put himself back on the map with an upset win over Peter Quillin. The reality is that this wouldn't be a big bout, but would see Golovkin going up against a fighter trained by his old trainer, Abel Sanchez. More importantly than that it would be the type of bout that we'd imagine Golvokin win would win with out too many problems, look good doing so and would let him retire on a high. This isn't the sort of bout that would really excite fans, but for a farewell bout, sold as such, this would an ideal way to close out his career next May.
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).