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 Manny Pacquiao and....Akira Yaegashi!
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, or the most fun, and at the end of the days, these articles are supposed to be a bit of fun!
1-Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao has established himself as one of the all time greats, a legend who will not only leave a mark during his career but a mark that will continue to be felt well after his retirement. It's something that few Asian fighters have managed to do. Pacquiao was born on December 17th 1978. That same day Venezuelan fighter Fulgencio Obelmejias won the WBC FECARBOX Middleweight title, yes those regional titles are a lot older than you realise!
2-The hard hitting Fulgencio Obelmejias would go on to achieve a lot more with his career than just holding the FECARBOX title. He would go on to have a number of high profile bouts against the likes of Marvin Hagler, Chong Pal Park and In Chul Baek.
3-The monstrously hard hitting In Chul Baek was one of the stars of Korean boxing in the late 1980's. Win or lose it was rare for his bouts to go to the final bell. In fact in 50 career bouts only 5 bouts went the distance, 90% of his 50 bouts ended in side the distance! Surprisingly he scored at least one (T)KO in every round, except for round 8. Whilst only 10% of his bouts went the distance, he actually scored stoppages in 86% of his career bouts! On man who did see the final bell with In Chul Baek was English born Australian Troy Waters.
4-Although not a big name Troy Waters did have an interesting career. He lost to In Chul Baek by split decision in his 6th professional bout, and later faced Terry Norris, Simon Brown and Felix Trinidad, during a career that saw him go 28-5 (20). Troy Water's wasn't the only boxer in his family, another was Guy Waters.
5-Guy "Arc Angel" Waters wasn't as successful as Troy Waters, but faced some notable names in a career that saw him going up and down the weights. He began his career at Light Heavyweight, even fighting Virgil Hill in 1993 for the WBA world title, moved up to Cruiserweight, where he challenged the then WBC Champion Juan Carlos Gomez in 1998, before dropping down to Super Middleweight. In 2000 Guy Walters beat Yoshinori Nishizawa.
6-Yoshinori Nishizawa was a fighter from the Yonekura Gym, managed by Kenji Yonekura alongside close friend Hideyuki Ohashi. Their friendship has seen Nishizawa become a trainer at the Ohashi Gym. The gym that has promoted Akira Yaegashi through his entire professional career!
(Image courtesy of Pixabay and Boxmob)
Over the last few years Japan has gained a reputation for ending the boxing year in style, with major shows in the final few days of the year. Typically those bouts get announced through November, as promoters officially announce the bouts and put their shows together along with major domestic television companies.
As we enter November we thought it would be fun to look at some of those rumours for the month, and some of the confirmed bouts, as well as those that have been mentioned as possible, and those on the verge of being officially announced.
We'll start by looking at what we know, with the confirmed notable bouts from the month.
December 1st is set to be a crazy day with several major shows.
In Tokyo we'll get a card televised by G+ which will be headlined by Valentine Hosokawa (23-6-3, 10) defending his Japanese Light Welterweight title against Takashi Inagaki (20-17-2, 9). The card will also feature a brilliant match up between Seiya Tsutsumi (4-0, 3) and Matcha Nakagawa (13-1-1, 5) as well as the ring return of former IBF Super Bantamweight champion Yukinori Oguni (19-2-1, 7)
On the same day in Osaka we get two Shinsei Gym cards, featuring a combined 6 title bouts. The shows will be Real Spirits vol 60 and Real Spirits vol 61, with the first card featuring 4 female title bouts, including a WBO female Minimumweight title bout between Kayoko Ebata (12-7, 6) and Etsuko Tada (17-3-2, 5) and an OPBF Atomweight title bout between Eri Matsuda (1-0) and Minayo Kei (6-3, 1).
The second card will see former world title challenger Reiya Konishi (16-1, 6) defending the WBO Asia Pacific Light Flyweight title against Richard Rosales (13-7-2, 7) and a potentially thrilling contest between Masao Nakamura (24-3, 23) and Carlo Magali (23-10-3, 12) for the WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight title.
December 3rd will give us a single big show, headlined by OPBF Featherweight champion Satoshi Shimizu (7-0, 7) and Takuya Uehara (16-0, 10), with a brilliant supporting bout between Hinata Maruta (7-1-1, 6) and Tsuyoshi Tameda (18-3-2, 16), which is one of the bouts we're most looking forward to!
On December 9th things get a bit crazy again. We will get a Japanese Welterweight title fight, as Ryota Yada (17-4, 14) defends his belt against Shusaku Fujinaka (16-9-2, 10), and a Japanese Super Flyweight title bout, with Takayuki Okumoto (21-8-3, 10) making his first defense against Masayoshi Hashizume (16-0-1, 10). These bouts have been officially announced and confirmed.
The same day we're set to see to see Shohei Omori (19-2, 14) taking on Takahiro Yamamoto (21-5, 17) and Sho Ishida (26-1, 15) taking on Warlito Parrenas (26-8-1, 23). These bouts haven't been formally announced, though teams from both have confirmed they are taking place, and will be at the EDION Arena Osaka. It's unclear if they will share the same card as the other bouts or if the EDION will host another double dose of boxing with two shows. There is also some speculation that if this is a second show there will be one more big bout to add to the card.
On December 13th we'll see Japanese Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (8-0, 6) defending his belt against Kazumasa Kobayashi (10-7-1, 6) at the Korakuen Hall and a week later we'll see Nobuyuki Shindo (20-4-1, 8) and Akinori Watanabe (37-7, 31) fight to unify the Japanese Light Middleweight title.
The only other show of real significant that has been confirmed is the Japanese Rookie of the Year final on December 23rd. Nothing after Christmas, but before the start of 2019, has really been announced. But we have had a lot of rumours, speculation for December!
One bout that is supposed to be, finally, made is the long awaited IBF Light Middleweight world title eliminator between Takeshi Inoue (13-0-1, 7) and Julian Williams (25-1-1-1, 15), a bout that has seemingly been delayed, rescheduled and redelayed several times already this year. Fingers crossed this is actually made before the year is over, as it seems both fighters have wasted a lot of this year waiting for this bout to take place. Interestingly this could be the only bout to actually take place outside of Japan.
Another IBF eliminator which is rumoured to take place in December is a Super Bantamweight title eliminator between Ryosuke Iwasa (25-3, 16) and Cesar Juarez (23-6, 17). This bout is supposedly set to take place in Tokyo, though no date has been made public. If this is confirmed then we are in for a treat as these two, together, should be an amazing contest, with both being heavy handed and flawed. Fingers crossed we get this one announced shortly!
Staying on the subject of IBF title fights there has been speculation in Japan that Masayuki Kuroda (30-7-3, 16) may get an unexpected shot at Flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane (36-2, 24). This rumour has come about after a scheduled eliminator with Kuroda and Eaktwan BTU Ruaviking fell through after the Thai suffered an injury. Kuroda's seemed to suggest this would be a long shot, but they are chasing the bout and it could, potentially, be on.
The first of the rumoured big cards to end the year is expected to be on December 30th and is expected to be the Fuji TV card. The strongest rumour for this show is a WBO Super Featherweight title defense for Masayuki Ito (24-1-1, 12), with the named linked to him being Evgeny Chuprakov (20-0, 10). This bout is expected to be confirmed in the coming days, or at the very least Ito's part of it is, with Chuprakov perhaps not being the opponent. The same date is also pencilled in as a potential date for Kenshiro (14-0, 8) to make his next defense of the WBC Light Flyweight title, though no opponent has been linked to him.
The December 30th Fuji card has also been set as the potential date for a WBC Bantamweight title bout between Petch Sor Chitpattana (48-0, 33) and Takuma Inoue (12-0, 3). This bout depends on another bout not taking place, as per an order at the WBC convention in early October, so we should see this bout being either confirmed or not very quickly. There is also a rumour that Takuma's stable mate at the Ohashi gym, Akira Yaegashi (27-6, 15) may also be involved on the same show.
If the rumours for December 30th are a bit of an exciting mess things get even crazier for New Year's Eve. For weeks we've been hearing that WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (51-0, 18) would be defending his title against Shin Ono (23-9-3, 6). This was rumoured to be part of a triple header, which has changed a few times but new seems most likely to feature a rematch between Ryoichi Taguchi (27-3-2, 12) and Hekkie Budler (32-3, 10), with Taguchi looking to reclaim the WBA Light Flyweight title from the South African. Along with that rematch is rumoured WBO Light Flyweight title bout between Angel Acosta (19-1, 19) and Hiroto Kyoguchi (11-0, 8). If this triple header is done, then TBS would be expected to show at least 2 bouts live on their Kyoguken show.
Things get more complicated when we consider the other rumours, which include a potential WBO Flyweight world title defense by Kosei Tanaka (12-0, 7). His could be squeezed on TBS as an early bout, or could be used to stack the show to a quadruple header or could end up being only CBC live, with TBS showing it on tape delay. It's really unclear how he fits in, but he will almost certainly be wanting to fight on a year ending show, after missing out on the chance last year due to injury.
Last, but certainly not least, is the rumoured WBO Super Flyweight title bout between Kazuto Ioka (23-1, 13) and Donnie Nietes (41-1-5, 23), a bout so big that TBS have seemingly given Ioka the option to take the date and broadcast if he wants it. This was rumoured strongly in September, and Japanese sources were suggesting that it could take place in the Philippines with TBS still airing it live, however the rumours did quieten quickly. It should be noted that Ioka's not been one for leaking news in the past, this could be well in the works. Given how silent things have gone however we may well see this bout being delayed into 2019, potentially as part of the next Superfly card.
(Bottom image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
This past Monday we had the chance to see an excellent All Japanese world title fight, with Kosei Tanaka narrowly defeating Sho Kimura to claim the WBO Flyweight world title. It was the latest in a long line of amazing All Japanese world title fighters dating back over 50 years. Here we take a look at 5 memorable all Japanese world title bouts.
Yoshiaki Numata (33-4, 9) Vs Hiroshi Kobayashi (50-6-2, 7)
December 14th 1967 - Kokugikan, Tokyo, Japan
The first ever all Japanese world title fight saw Yoshiaki Numata battle against Hiroshi Kobayashi. Coming in the the bout Numata was the WBC and WBA Super Featherweight champion, having taken the titles from the legendary Flash Elorde. When he won the titles he was the 5th ever Japanese world champion. In his first defense Numata faced off with the much more experienced Kobayashi. Kobayashi had made his name on the Japanese domestic scene mainly, where he had been the Featherweight champion, making 7 defenses before moving up in weight to challenge Numata.
The bout was an action packed one and would be award the Japanese fight of the year. Notably both men went on to have success after this bout and when the WBC and WBA titles split there was an 18 months time window when the two men were both world champions. The bout also got 41.9% of the audience tuning in from the Kanto region, one of the highest ever for a boxing contest!
Masao Oba (31-2-1, 13) vs Susumu Hanagata (34-10-8, 4) II
March 4th 1972-Nihon University Auditorium, Tokyo, Japan
Amazingly it would be more than 4 between the first and the second all-Japanese world title fight, though the wait was worth it with WBA Flyweight champion Masao Oba, one of the greatest Japanese fighters of all time, battling against Susumu Hanagata. This was a rematch of a bout the two men had had in 1968, when an 18 year old Oba was beaten by Hanagata, suffering his second career loss. Following their first bout Oba had become one the best fighters in the division, reeling off 15 straight wins and making two world title defenses. Hanagata had gone 10-2 following their first bout, with both losses coming on the road in world title bouts. This was high work rate and very exciting from both men.
Interestingly Oba's bout with Orlando Amores was voted the Japanese fight of the year for 1972 and unfortunately Oba would pass away less than a year after this bout, following a motor vehicle accident. Hanagata would go on to fight for a few more years and would actually score a huge win over Chartchai Chionoi in 1974 to put his name in the history books.
Yasuei Yakushiji (22-2-1, 16) Vs Joichiro Tatsuyoshi (10-1-1, 8)
December 4th 1994-Rainbow Hall, Nagoya, Aichi, Japan
Almost 30 years after the first ever all Japanese world title fight we had the first “unification” bout between two Japanese fighters as WBC Bantamweight champion Yasuei Yakushiji and Interim champion Joichiro Tatsuyoshi faced off at the Rainbow Hall. This bout was massive for Japanese boxing with Tatsuyoshi being the face of boxing in Osaka, due to his charismatic and exciting style. Yakushiji on the other hand was the more technically correct boxer, but was over-looked by some due to the popularity of Tatsuyoshi. That was despite the fact Yakushiji was the “real” champion and was looking to make his third defense.
This bout would achieve an audience number of 39.4% in the Kanto region, another of the highest ever in Japan, and like the Tanaka Vs Kimura bout it would live up to all the expectations with high tempo action, heavy shots landed by both and very little to split the men, both of whom were looking worse for wear at the end of the bout. This would be another winner of the Japanese Fight of the Year award.
Takanori Hatakeyama (23-1-2, 18) vs Hiroyuki Sakamoto (35-4, 25)
October 11th 2000-Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan
In 2000 Japanese fight fans had another all-Japanese Fight of the Year as WBA Lightweight champion Takanori Hatakeyama and Hiroyuki Sakamoto beat the ever living snot out of each other in a bloody, violent, thrilling clash. Hatakeyama was the champion going into the bout, he enjoying his second reign as a world champion having previously held the WBA Super Featherweight title, and had won the Lightweight belt in brilliant fashion stopping Gilberto Serrano, with this being his first defense. Sakamnoto had lost two other world title fights, including one to Serrano, but had won the OPBF and Japanese titles. This was mostly an inside war fought between two men who did not want to hear the final bell.
As mentioned this was a Japanese Fight of the Year and seemingly took a lot out of both men. Neither man would go on to score a win of note, and in fact between them the only real good result was a draw in 2001 between Hatakeyama and Rick Yoshimura. This fight essentially ruined both men.
Kazuto Ioka (9-0, 6) Vs Akira Yaegashi (15-2, 8)
June 20th 2012-Bodymaker Colosseum, Osaka, Osaka, Japan
Almost 20 years after the brilliant Yakushiji/Tatsuyoshi bout we had the first true unification bout, as WBC Minimumweight champion Kazuto Ioka faced off with WBA champion Akira Yaegashi. The bout was a brilliant contest with a combination of skills and heart, with Yaegashi fighting through badly swollen eyes for much of the fight and managing to drag Ioka into his fight. Ioka always looked like the guy with more rounded skills, and speed, but Yaegashi's heart, determination and sheer will to win made this into a fantastic bout. It managed to give us some of the best rounds of the year and was another of the All-Japanese world title bouts to be awarded the Japanese Fight of the Year.
In the years since this bout both men have moved through the weights, with both claiming world titles at Light Flyweight and Flyweight, and now, remarkably, both are competing at Super Flyweight as they look to become 4-weight champions.
It's worth noting that there has been a lot All Japanese title bouts than we've covered. These range from the controversial, such as Daisuke Naito's bout with Daiki Kameda, to the frankly massive contest between Daisuke Naito and Koki Kameda which got a ridiculous 43.1% audience share. They also include other Japanese fights of the year, such as Takashi Uchiyama's bout with Daiki Kaneko.
Amazingly there has only ever been one all-Japanese world title fight to end in the first round, and that was the second bout between Masamori Tokuyama and Katsushige Kawashima. Interestingly the trilogy between Tokuyama and Kawashima saw Tokuyama win 2-1 taking decisions in both of his wins. Amazingly there has only ever been 1 draw in an all Japanese world title fight, that came in 2001, in the aforementioned bout between Takenori Hatakeyama and Rick Yoshimura.
For those who care about TV numbers all 3 of the high rating bouts were screened on TBS.
Over the next 12 months we're expecting to see a lot of changes in the world of professional boxing. As a result we have put together a list of 30 Asian fighters to keep an eye out for 2016. These range from champions to novices but all are expected to make a mark on the sport over the next 12 months. Here is part 2 which looks at 5 young novices who have impressed in 2015 and look likely to do the same over the next year.
For those who missed them the previous parts are available below-
Part 1 is here
Part 2 is here
Part 3 is here
Part 4 is here
Whilst Christmas is fast approaching the action doesn't really end for Asian fight fans with Japanese and Filipino fighters being in a number of notable before the year is out. Here we look at those big upcoming bouts.
Shun Kubo Vs Lloyd Jardeliza
The first of the “post Christmas” bouts comes just a day after the festivities and sees one of Japan's most promising prospects, Shun Kubo (8-0, 6), battle against a Filipino puncher, Lloyd Jardeliza (7-2-3, 6), for the OPBF Super Bantamweight title. The bout looks to be, on paper, a late Christmas present, and one that could well be a cracker. Kubo is seen as the next fighter of note from the Shinsei Gym, the gym that has managed Hozumi Hasegawa, and Kubo is supposed to the fighter who follows in Hasegawa's footsteps. Jardeliza has lost 2 of his last 4 but is regarded as a serious puncher and could well follow in the footsteps of Marlon Tapalese, who recently upset Shohei Omori in Japan. This could be a shoot out, an exposure or a break out win.
Kenichi Horikawa Vs Ken Shiro
Just a day after the Kubo/Jardeliza fight we get two Japanese title fights. In our eyes the more interesting of the two comes down at 108lbs where veteran Kenichi Horikawa (30-13-1, 7) defends his title, for the first time, against the fast rising Ken Shiro (5-0, 3). The men have a good friendship but have a local rivalry, with both being Kyoto fighters, and are likely to have that rivalry over-rule their friendship in what could be a real coming out party for the talented Ken Shiro, or a statement win for Horikawa, who looked better than ever last time out when he stopped Shin Ono.
Yuki Nonaka Vs Koshinmaru Saito
The other Japanese title fight on December 27th sees Light Middleweight champion Yuki Nonaka (27-8-3, 9) defending his title against Koshinmaru Saito (22-7-1, 12). Nonaka, now in his second reign as champion, will be hoping to secure his third successive defense of the title whilst also making his ring return for the first time since his controversial draw against Takayuki Hosokawa back in April. Saito is an experienced title level fighter though has gone 0-4 in title bouts so far, and isn't really being given much of a chance to end that run.
Riku Kano Vs Pigmy Kokiegym
Whilst the two title bouts on December 27th are worthy or attention there is another bout which perhaps deserves to be more than just a foot note. That bout will see teenage hopeful Riku Kano (7-1-1, 4) go up against former world title challenger Pigmy Kokietgym (58-8-2, 23). For Kano, 18, this is a monstrous step up in class however it's one his team will believe he's capable of making, especially considering they are talking about Kano challenging the record for the youngest Japanese world champion. Notably Pigmy is just 4 months removed from his upset loss to Jaysever Abcede.
Naoya Inoue Vs Warlito Parrenas
Whilst December 26th and 27th are notable days it's fair to say that December 29th over-shadows the earlier action. That is mostly due to the ring return of wunderkind Naoya Inoue (8-0, 7) who defends his WBO Super Flyweight title against Filipino slugger Warlito Parrenas (24-6-1, 21). On paper this shouwl be a win for Inoue, especially if he's as good as we believe, however Parrenas is a huge puncher and Inoue's inactivity and injuries could well take their toll and he might not be the fighter he once was, or become he fighter we all wish he would become.
Akira Yaegashi Vs Javier Mendoza
The Inoue/Parrenas bout isn't the only world title fight on December 29th as Inoue's stablemate and close friend Akira Yaegashi (22-5, 12) attempts to become a 3-weight world champion. The popular Yaegashi will be up against aggressive Mexican fighter Javier Mendoza (24-2-1, 19), who will be defending his IBF Light Flyweight title. Yaegashi, a former champion at 105lbs and 112lbs, lost twice last year and will likely know that a loss here will be the end of his career at the top level. He has however got the experience and skills to give Mendoza a tough one, if his body can hold up at 108lbs.
Takuma Inoue Vs Rene Dacquel
Takuma Inoue (5-0, 1), Naoya's younger brother, is also on the card defending a title as he risks his OPBF Super Flyweight title against talented, yet under-rated, Filipino Rene Dacquel (15-5-1, 5). This will be the first defense by Inoue of a title he won earlier this year, when he out pointed Mark Anthony Geraldo, and an impressive showing could see his team push him towards a world title fight in 2016. For Dacquel, a former GAB champion, this is a chnce to really make a name for himself, and add another belt to his collection, as well as improving his 1-1-1 record in Japan. This really could be a tough ask for Inoue.
Satoshi Hosono Vs Akifumi Shimoda
One other title bout here sees a former world champion take on a former world title challenger in a bout that could, very easily have, have headlined a lesser show. That bout will see former 3-time world title challenger Satoshi Hosono (29-2-1, 20) defending his Japanese Featherweight title against former WBA Super Bantamweight champion Akifumi Shimoda (30-4-2, 12).. The loser of this really can kiss their dreams of another top level fight good bye, however the winner will be regarded as a genuine world title challenger for 2016. This bout will be over-shadowed but is incredibly significant.
Takashi Uchiyama Vs Oliver Flores
We get a host of title bouts on New Years Eve, in fact there are 5 world title bouts on the day. Of the bouts in action the biggest mismatch is in Tokyo where long term WBA Super Featherweight champion Takashi Uchiyama (23-0-1, 19) defends his belt against limited Nicaraguan challenger Oliver Flores (21-1-2, 17). On paper this looks like an interesting match up for the unbeaten 36 year old champion though footage of Flores really doesn't impress and we suspect Uchiyama finishes off the challenger quickly before moving towards a major bout in early 2016.
Ryoichi Taguchi Vs Luis De la Rose
Staying in Tokyo fans get the chance to see Uchiyama's stablemate Ryoichi Taguchi (22-2-1, 9) defending his WBA Light Flyweight title against the horribly limited Luis de la Rosa (24-5-1, 14). The talented champion is looking for his second defense and shouldn't have to look too hard given the Colombian challenger has lost every time he has faced a notable opponent, and is 3-4 in his last 7. Sadly for Taguchi's fans this is a farce and they will know it, especially given the talent that is in the division and hopefully Taguchi will be facing a much better opponent in early 2016.
Kazuto Ioka Vs Juan Carlos Reveco II
Although both the title bouts in Tokyo are poor we have to admit that Osaka has got a great title fight to end the year as Kazuto Ioka (18-1, 10) defends the WBA Flyweight title against Juan Carlos Reveco (36-2, 19). Ioka beat Reveco, by majority decision, to win the title earlier this year in a really good bout. This rematch was ordered by the WBA but it really is almost certainly going to be one of the most exciting bout to end the year. Both men have a lot on the line here and both will bring the action in what should be something very special.
Katsunari Takayama Vs Jose Argumedo
Staying in Osaka it's also the venue for an IBF Minimumweight world title bout between defending champion Katsunari Takayama (30-7-0-1, 12) and little known challenger Jose Argumedo (15-3-1, 9). This will be Takayama's 3rd defense of the year but seems like a significant step backwards following a win last time out against Ryuji Hara. For Argumedo this is his first bout in 13 months and he enters the bout 1-1 in the last 2 years, leading to real questions as to why he's managed to get a world title fight.
Kosei Tanaka Vs Vic Saludar
Takayama isn't the only Minimumweight champion defending his title as WBO champion Kosei Tanaka (5-0, 2) makes the first defense of his title, in Aichi. The talented 20 year old will be up against Filipino puncher Vic Saludar (11-1, 9) in what looks like a solid first defense on paper. The talented Tanaka has been frustratingly inactive since winning his title in May but is likely to get a chin check here against a man who has serious power and will be looking to continue a 9 fight unbeaten run.
Takahiro Yamamoto Vs Yuki Strong Kobayashi
Going back to the Osaka card, the same show also has two lower level title fights on it, with an OPBF and a JBC title up for grabs. In the OPBF title fight we see Bantamweight kingpin Takahiro Yamamoto (16-4, 13) defending his crown against Yuki Strong Kobayashi (9-4, 5). For Yamamoto this will be his first defense since winning the title, with a TKO victory against Yu Kawaguchi, sadly however it is a bit of a “gimme” against a man we don't see posing any threat to the champion.
Sho Ishida Vs Ryuta Otsuka
As for the Japanese title fight, that comes at Super Flyweight where unbeaten champion Sho Ishida (20-0, 10) defends his belt against Ryuta Otsuka (15-8-2, 5). The talented Ishida will be looking for his 4th title defense whilst Otsuka will be hoping to claim a title in his shot. It's hard to see what Otsuka really offers, given he has lost 3 of his last 5, though it's clear that Ishida still needs a little bit more experience and seasoning before he moves onto the next level.
May 2015 will be one of the most significant in boxing history. We all know that professional boxing will get the attention of the world on May 2nd however that's not the only date of note this coming month.
To begin the month we get 4 notable bouts as the month kicks off in style. The first of those will see former 2-weight world champion Akira Yaegashi (20-5, 10) begin his career as a Super Flyweight following back to back losses in late 2014. The popular Yaegashi has been matched with an easy opponent though it's still going to be a joy to see him in action.
On the same card as Yaegashi's bout we will see Japanese Olympic gold medal winner Ryota Murata (6-0, 4) battle against WBO world ranked foe Douglas Damiao Ataide (13-1-1, 6). This is a step up for Murata and a win here will move him towards a possible WBO world title fight though it also promises to be his toughest bout so far.
Also on this card is a WBC Super Featherweight world title fight which will see the hard hitting Takashi Miura (28-2-2, 21) defending his title against former Featherweight title holder Billy Dib (39-3-0-1, 23). This is a high profile opportunity for Miura who has yet to become the star despite having a very fun to watch style.
The remaining bout of note takes place in the US where Japan's Takahiro Ao (27-3-1, 12) looks to claim the WBO Lightweight title and over-come the tough Raymundo Beltran (29-7-1, 17). This bout will give Ao an opportunity to become a 3-weight world champion though it's not an easy contest for the popular Japanese fighter.
It goes with out saying that the biggest bout of the month takes place in a little venue in the US on May 2nd as Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao (57-5-2, 38) battles against the unbeaten Floyd Mayweather Jr (47-0, 26) in a bout to unify the WBO, WBC and WBA “super” titles at Welterweight. This bout is set to break all sorts of records and is, with out a doubt, the most significant bout in recent memory. The winner of this long anticipated fight will be viewed as the fighter of their generation and it's fair to say the fans of the loser will be left wondering “what if” had the bout taken place several years ago when both were still in their pomp.
The action returns on May 6th world title triple header. The most exciting match up here will see WBA Super Featherweight “super” champion Takashi Uchiyama (22-0-1, 18) defending his title against unbeaten Thai Jomthong Chuwatana (9-0, 4) in what looks to be an amazing contest. This is not going to be easy for either man and a win for Uchiyama will hopefully lead to a unification whilst a win for Jomthong would instantly make him a boxing star.
In a Light Flyweight title bout Ryoichi Taguchi (21-2-1, 8) will be defending his WBA title against Thai veteran Kwanthai Sithmorseng (49-3-1, 26). This will be Taguchi's first defense following his victory against Alberto Rossel in December and whilst it looks like a good bout on paper it really isn't very good with Sithmorseng having come up short against almost every notable foe that he's faced.
The third world title fight will see WBO female Minimumweight champion Kumiko Seeser Ikehara (6-1-2, 3) defending her belt against Kayoko Ebata (8-5, 4). This will be Ebata's 4th shot at a world title having come up in 3 previous title fights whilst Ikehara will be defending her title for the second time following a disappointing technical draw with Jessebelle Pagaduan in February.
One of the busiest days of the year comes on May 9th when we get a host of notable bouts taking place around the world.
The most notable bout takes place in the US where Tomoki Kameda (31-0, 19) will battle against Jamie McDonnell (25-2-1, 12) in a WBA Bantamweight title bout. Originally this bout was announced a WBA/WBO unification contest but the WBO refused to sanction the bout and as a result Tomoki vacated the belt so that the bout could go on. It's a really good bout and one that we are genuinely excited about.
One of the most notable bouts takes place in Kobe as former 2-weight world champion Hozumi Hasegawa (33-5, 15) battles against the unbeaten and heavy handed Horacia Garcia (29-0, 21). This will be Hasegawa's comeback bout following his loss to the then IBF Super Bantamweight champion Kiko Martinez last year, sadly however he's up against a very, very good opponent.
Also in Japan we get a female world title fight as Yuko Kuroki (12-4-1, 6) defends her WBC female Minimumweight title against former world title challenger Masae Akitaya (9-5-2, 3). This isn't a great bout but it will likely give a lot of action for the fans at the Aqua Bunka Hall and will see Kuroki being forced to answer serious questions about her talent.
A notable bout in the UK will see the heavy handed Rey Megrino (21-20-3, 18) attempt to upset the very highly regarded Khalid Yafai (14-0, 9). Yafai is talented but this is a step up for the youngster and although it looks like a mismatch Megrino does have that power which can be a problem for anyone in the lower weight classes. [Note-This bout now appears to be in doubt]
A third successive Saturday of note comes on May 16th when we get two stateside bouts of note.
One of those bouts will see unbeaten Kazakh destroyed Gennady Golovkin (32-0, 29) defending his collection of titles against the once beaten boxer-mover Willie Monroe Jr (19-1, 6). This will be Golovkin's 7th bout in the US as he looks to continue to continue his destructive run through the contenders of the Middleweight division. For Monroe this is a huge opportunity but one we certainly can't see him winning.
On the same show we will also see the Teiken promoted Roman Gonzalez (42-0, 36) defending his WBC Flyweight title and making his long over-due HBO debut. The exciting Nicaraguan will be facing off against Mexican veteran Edgar Sosa (51-8, 30) in what should a very exciting bout and a great introduction for the US who haven't seen much of Gonzalez despite his sensational career.
On May 30th we get a couple of bouts that have us excited. To us the most notable of those is in Aichi as the unbeaten teenager Kosei Tanaka (4-0, 2) attempts to set the Japanese record for few fewest fight to win a world title when he battles the much more experienced Julian Yedras (24-1, 13) for the vacant WBO Minimumweight title. The bout isn't the best the division could have given us but it is a brilliant chance to see if Tanaka is as good as he looks and a stoppage against Yedras would be very impressive.
In the UK fans will see the Teiken promoted Jorge Linares (38-3, 25) defending his WBC Lightweight title against Britain's popular Kevin Mitchell (39-2, 25). This will be Linares's first defense of the title after winning the belt on December 30th last year, stopping Javier Preito, and will also be his UK debut. This bout really is exciting with men being able to hurt and be hurt and we'd be very surprised to see it go the distance.
Another world title bout takes place in Mexico as the once beaten Milan Melindo (32-1, 12) battles against Javier Mendoza (23-2-1, 19) in a bout for the IBF Light Flyweight title. This is a very tough bout for Melindo, as he takes on a very hard hitting, aggressive and exciting champion, however the Filipino has got the ability to bring back the title if he performs at his very best. [Note-This bout was originally scheduled for May 9th though was rescheduled due to TV]
The final bout of note will come on the final day of the month as former Japanese and OPBF Minimumweight champion Ryuji Hara (18-1, 10) battles against Petchnamchai Sor Sakulwong (1-2, 1). This will be Hara's comeback bout following his sole loss, a 10th round TKO defeat by Kosei Tanaka, and we're expecting to see a very impressive performance by Hara here who will be wanting to make up for lost time and begin fighting for titles sooner rather than later.
Many Western fans who follow boxing make a horrible mistake in not following the lower weight divisions whilst maintaining the mentality that none of the best fighters fight each other. Whilst it's true that the big names in some divisions don't fight the concept simply doesn't hold water in the lower weights where we keep seeing the top fighters battling each other time and time again.
Over the next 6 weeks or so we are expecting to see a frenzy of activity in the Flyweight division with every major title on the line, 4 big bouts and another bout of significance. It's fair to say that over the next few weeks we will see a divisional reshuffle and the division transform in ways that should make it clearer who is really the best in the division.
Akira Yaegashi Vs Roman Gonzalez (September 5th)
The "Flyweight Frenzy" kicks off this coming Friday as the WBC and Linear champion Akira Yaegashi (20-3, 10) defends his belt against one of boxing's most highly regarded little men, Roman Gonzalez (39-0, 33). The bout is one of those that really should excite every single boxing fan whether you're Japanese, Nicaraguan American, British, Thai, Filipino, Mexican or from any other country. It is one of those dream fights and is as close to a sure fire war as you can get.
For those who haven't seen these two guys in action the question is "why not?" Gonzalez has long been one of the sport's most exciting fighters. He has great power, fights with intense pressure and throws some of the sports most brutal combinations. Whether you're typically a fan of the lower weights or not Roman Gonzalez is a fighter who really should transcend any feeling of ill will or contempt towards the sport's smaller men. As for Yaegashi the Japanese fighter is a man with a warrior's heart who has been involved in thrillers with Pornsawan Porpramook, for the WBA Minimumweight title, and Kazuto Ioka, in a Minimumweight unification bout. Unlike many warriors Yaegashi doesn't have power to bail him out of a war though has the toughness to hang in with anyone from the first round to the last and doesn't know the meaning of the world quit.
Both men go against the grain in boxing as both are highly respectful of each other and the sport. Both have the mentality of "let the best man win" and neither has ducked a rivalry. These two are what the sport of boxing really is about and it's little wonder international fans are talking about this bout in the way they are. This is a special bout and the perfect way to kick off "Flyweight Frenzy"
Juan Francisco Estrada Vs Govani Segura (September 6th)
If we suggest that Flyweight has 3 major fighters in the division we can openly state that two of them are Gonzalez and Yaegashi, the other is Juan Francisco Estrada (26-2, 19). Estrada is a former foe of Gonzalez though has managed to leap frog the Nicaraguan in terms of where he stands in the Flyweight division. Gonzalez, who took a very hard fought decision over Estrada, decided to remain at Light Flyweight whilst Estrada made the move to Flyweight and claimed the WBA "super" and WBO title with an excellent victory over Brian Viloria.
This Saturday, just a day after the Yaegashi/Gonzalez bout, we see Estrada defending his belts against WBO mandatory challenger Giovani Segura (32-3-1, 28), a major puncher with bad intentions in every shot and a real mentality of beating his opponents up as opposed to just winning. When Segura is in the ring we are guaranteed excitement and his battles with Ivan Calderon and Hernan Marquez tell you everything you need to know about him.
As with the bout on Friday this contest promises a lot and it fails to deliver a FOTY contender many fans will disappointed, no matter how good it actually is. The styles of the men involved should make for a thriller, the mentality of the men should make for a war and with it being an All-Mexican bout we know there is going to be a real show of machismo in the ring.
Notably for many reading this there is no Asian involved in the bout. Despite that the bout means a lot to the division and it's likely that the winner could end up fighting an Asian fighter in the near future. This bout is a vital one to division and deserves all the attention given to the other bouts.
Amant Ruenroeng vs McWilliams Arroyo (September 10th)
Less than a week after the bouts we've already mentioned we will see the IBF champion Amnat Ruenroeng (13-0, 5) in action. Ruenroeng is the dark sheep of the division and isn't a warrior or a puncher though is one of those talented boxers who no-one will ever look good against. A typical member of the "who needs him" club. Gifted with very long arms, excellent skills, impressive speed and an astonishing sense of calmness Ruenroeng has the ability to beat anyone in the division though is clearly regarded by many as a secondary champion to the other fighters in the division.
Having won the title earlier this year Ruenroeng will be defending his title against mandatory challenger McWilliams Arroyo (15-1, 13), a Puerto Rican with major power. Last time out Arroyo impressed by knocking out Froilan Saludar and he'll be hoping to do the same here however Ruenroeng looked incredibly skilled as he over-came Japanese star Kazuto Ioka and he'll be hoping to showcase those same skills here.
Whilst the previous two bouts are sure fire excitement with two action fighters this one looks like a boxer vs puncher bout and those sorts of contests are usually not entertaining as when two warriors battle. Saying that however this bout could show how good Ruenroeng is at neutralising a big puncher or could launch the career of a future Puerto Rican star. Another key point about this bout is that if Ruenroeng wins he's expected to fight Chinese star Zou Shiming in early 2015, another major bout to add the list of great possibilities at Flyweight.
One thing to note about this bout is that lacks the name value of some of the others however both are talented fighters and their styles should make for an interesting bout, even if it's not the most exciting.
Kazuto Ioka Vs Pablo Carrillo (September 16th)
The only non-title bout listed here takes place less than a week after Amnat's fight and see's his former foe Kazuto Ioka (14-1, 9) returning to the ring for the first time since his loss to the Thai. Ioka, a former 2-weight world champion will be fighting against the WBA #14 ranked Flyweight Pablo Carrillo (15-2-1, 8).
Although Carrillo is world ranked he is relatively unknown however this bout is all about Ioka. It's thought that if Ioka wins he'll be moved towards a world title bout on New Years Eve. If the unthinkable happens and he loses however then his career will really be in tatters and many would be assuming that he'll have to rethink his future, and maybe even return to Light Flyweight where he is a somewhat more physical fighter than he appeared to be last time out.
I enjoy watching Ioka though need to admit that he is still a very flawed fighter for a 2-weight world champion. He looked like he was fighting to the wrong game plan against Ruenroeng and almost as if his experience and relative immaturity came back to haunt him. This bout coming up will be a chance for Ioka to get some experience as a Flyweight, to fill into a Flyweight and to help rebuild some confidence be fore another big bout in the division.
Whilst the Colombian is being over-looked he has proven his toughness in twice going the distance with the vicious Luis Concepcion who has disposed of the likes of Denkaosan Kaovichit, Manuel Vargas, Odilon Zaleta and Eric Ortiz. This will be tougher than it looks for Ioka though the Japanese fighter should, if he has his head straight, take a wide decision.
Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep Vs Juan Carlos Reveco (October 17th)
The final major bout comes on October 17th in Argentina as WBA interim champion Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep (34-2, 20) travels in an attempt to unify his belt with the regular title held by Juan Carlos Reveco (34-1, 18). This bout, like the Ruenroeng/Arroyo bout, is clearly a second tier title bout but is one that will help shape the division over the next year or two.
For Yodmongkol it's a chance to upgraded his standing boxing and to prove himself on the international stage. It's a chance to prove that he belong at world level and that his controversial decision last time out over Takuya Kogawa wasn't the real Yodmongkol. Sadly for the Thai however he can be lazy in the ring and that could bite him in the back side as he becomes the away fighter for this upcoming contest against one of the sports most impressive body punchers.
As for Reveco he too needs a big win after failing to impress against Felix Alvarado last time out. In that bout Reveco got the win though many felt he didn't deserve it and that the title should have gone to the Nicaraguan, who was incidentally beaten in a Light Flyweight title bout by Kazuto Ioka. Reveco has blown hot and cold at times though will be built up as an enemy of Thailand courtesy of his win over Nethra Sasiprapa more than 7 years ago.
This bout might not have the allure of some bouts on this list but both men will know that they will be linked to really big fights if they win this one.
Other upcoming bouts at Flyweight include:
Takuma Inoue (2-0) Vs Chanachai Sor Siamchai (0-0)-This bout will be this coming Friday and will see Takuma Inoue return to the ring. Many have described Takuma as a future world champion and he is already world ranked after just 2 bouts. Don't be surprised if he becomes a star over the net few years.
Atsushi Kakutani (14-4-1, 7) Vs Dawut Manopkanchang (0-1)-This bout is supposedly an OPBF prelude for for Kakutani, a former world title challenger. Although we'd not describe Kakutani as a future world champion he could very easily be involved in memorable contests on the regional level and that's never a bad thing.
Renan Trongco (15-4, 9) Vs Hayato Yamaguchi (12-4-1, 2)-In a bout for the WBC International title fans in the Philippines will get to see Trongco take on Yamaguchi. This is for a world ranking though neither man has shown the traits needed to become a world champion, it should however be competitive.
Moruti Mthalane (30-2, 20) Vs Odilon Zaleta (15-4, 8)-Although this is a bout with no Asian link it's a key divisional bout as Mthalane attempts to defend his IBO title. Although only the IBO title holder at the moment Mthalane is a divisional dark horse and appears to have gotten his career back on track after a horror run as the IBF champion and being ordered into some horrific mandatory defences.
Suguru Muranaka (20-2-1, 6) Vs Yusuke Sakashita (12-4-2, 7)-The world ranked Muranaka defends his Japanese title against the little known Sakashita. The bout isn't a major one though we do expect to see Muranaka working his way towards bigger and more prestigious belts in the near future so for him this is an important bout, even if the wider boxing world will see it as a mismatch.
Ardin Diale (23-9-3, 10) Vs Renerio Arizala (11-0-1, 4)-On the same day that Muranaka defend his Japanese title we also get to see former world title challenger Diale defend his Philippines Games & Amusement Board title. Diale, who was last seen in a thriller with Koki Eto will know that Arizala will be putting his unbeaten record on the line in what appears to be a very significant bout for both men, at least domestically.
Valery Yanchy (23-3-2, 7) Vs Kevin Satchell (12-0, 2)-Another none Asian bout will see Spanish based Belorussian Yanchy defending the European title against unbeaten British hopeful Satchell. The bout will be Satchell's second since he struggled past Iain Butcher in 2013 and although Yanchy is in his late 30's he looks like he has plenty left in the tank. A great fight even if it's not got any Asian connection.
Zou Shiming (5-0, 1) Vs Kwanpichit OnesongchaiGym (27-0-2, 12)-Going into the future a bit further for this one but the bout is pivotal for 2015. Shiming, the biggest money draw in the division, is thought to want a fight with Amnat though first he will need to get past Kwanpichit. As for Kwanpichit we're not impressed by him but his edge in experience and unbeaten record will look pretty up against Shiming's "inexperience".
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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).