From September 26th to November 23rd there are set to be a number of Japanese shows made available, for free, on YouTube. Whilst we'll be tuning in to all of them we know some fans need a reason more than just "free boxing" to put their time aside, so with that in mind let us try to tempt you into watching the free action we'll be getting!
Firstly the shows are free. There is no catch there. If these are a success they may become a more regular thing, and may show promoters that there is a market for these, and a reason to put them on. Secondly they give everyone a chance to dip their toes into Japanese boxing during a time when life is certainly not great for many of us, and it could a bit extra escapism from what is going on outside of where we all live.
And there's also some interesting fighters and bouts coming up on those shows.
On paper this is probably the show we are the least interested in, especially given the other action taking place on the same day, however this shouldn't be ignored outright. Firstly the fact that BOXING REAL are behind the stream is something to sit up and make a note of, as they have provided amazing streams in the past and are very much a growing channel at the forefront of these free streams.
Anyone who has ever watched an Atomweight fight will know the women are small, but never stop throwing and we suspect that will be the case again here when Mika Iwakawa (9-5-1, 3) defends her WBO Atomweight title against Nanae Suzuki (10-3-1, 1). It may not be the most dramatic bout of all time, but it will certainly by a high tempo battle and given that women's rounds are still 2 minutes long this will really fly by. We're expecting non-stop punching, in a thrilling, if some what low level affair.
Former world champion Shun Kubo (13-2, 9) isn't a huge name in the sport but as a former world champion it'll be interesting to see what, if anything, he still has to offer the sport. He shouldn't struggle too much with Takashi Igarashi (13-4, 5), but there is a chance that Kubo's heart isn't in the sport after stoppage losses to Danny Roman and Can Xu in recent bouts.
One time world title contender Kohei Oba (36-3-1, 14), who was once dubbed the "Mayweather of Nagoya", will end a multi-year break from the ring to take on former Rookie of the Year winner Yoshiki Minato (8-3, 3). Not a great bout, but you've got to admit that having the nickname of "Mayweather of Nagoya" is at least a little bit interesting and we're curios as to what he has left in the tank.
Whilst the September 26th show isn't the best we do really want you to get behind the September 27th show if possible. This is from a small local promoter in Shizuoka who are almost certainly losing money to put this show on, but wanted to continue to have boxing in the region during these tough times. Originally they had wanted to run a boxing festival, as they have the last few years, but the on going situation prevented that but they are going to showcase local fighters regardless. With that in mind it'd be great to get behind the Suruga gym for this one.
If the feeling of supporting a small promoter isn't good enough there are 3 interesting bouts on this show.
The first of those is the return of Tsubasa Murachi (4-1, 3), who was knocked out hard by Froilan Saludar last year. Murachi was hoping to be fast tracked and risked it all against Saludar, who's experience and power proved too much. Rather than having an easy comeback he's taking on under-rated domestic foe Ryotaro Kawabata (12-3-2, 6) in a well matched 8 rounder. This looks competitive on paper and will let us see what Murachi's loss to Saludar has done to the 23 year old.
Although a faded force Koichi Aso (23-9-1, 15) has been a consistently exciting fighter to watch. Win or lose Aso is rarely in a dull fight and his aggressive, pressure style makes him on of Japan's most fan friendly fighters. He's up against a man flying high, as he takes on Shogo Yamaguchi (12-5-3, 7), who scored a a career best win over Shuhei Tsuchiya last time out, having been knocked down before pulling out the victory. This has the potential to be a real humdinger of a bout!
There are a lot of exciting prospects making their name in Japan, this is not a secret. One of the very best from those is Rentaro Kimura (1-0, 1), who made his debut earlier this year with a KO of the Year contender, which you can see below. He is the big hope of Shizuoka, a former amateur standout and a man who we suspect will be fighting for titles in 2021. One thing we'd love to see from fans is for them to get on the Kimura express early, and if you missed his debut there's no need to miss his second bout, as he takes on Takafumi Iwaya (4-3) on this show. There's a good chance this ends in Brutal fashion just as Kimua's debut did
From where we're sat the October 13th card on A-Sign Boxing is the show that needs the least amount of "selling" done for it. Before we even mention the fighters we need to just say this is promoted by arguably the most forward thinking promoter in world boxing. Ichitaro Ishii is thinking out of the box regularly, employing social media brilliantly, adapting things like behind the scenes and special documentaries into promoting events and giving fans more access to knowing fighters than any other promoter in the sport. What he's doing on a relatively small budget brilliant for the sport.
As for the bouts the main event is a truly fantastic match up between world ranked Featherweight Reiya Abe (19-3-1, 9) and the unbeaten Ren Sasaki (10-0, 6). Abe is one of the most talented boxers in Japan, but also a frustrating one, with a style is focused around countering, a lot. As a result Abe needs a suitable dance partner to look good against, and we suspect Sasaki will be such an opponent. If you like boxing skills, counter punching, ring craft, a cerebral approach to boxing and in ring genius, this is a bout you'll enjoy. A lot.
Of course not everyone likes the cerebral stuff and some people just want to see action! You need not worry as Kai Ishizawa (6-1, 6) is in the house and taking on the rugged Masashi Tada (13-7-3, 8). Ishizawa is a super heavy handed, aggressive youngster who's somewhat rough around the edges, but scary strong, a serious puncher and one of the most exciting youngsters in the sport. When he gets in the ring it's always worth tuning in for. Tada isn't the best fighter, but he's tough and it'll be great to see if he can blunt the buzz saw that is Kai Ishizawa.
Although the other two bouts mentioned for this show have the ingredients to be show cases of different styles the bout we suspect will be the best of the bunch is the clash between Kai Chiba (12-1, 8) and Haruki Ishikawa (8-2, 6). On paper these two are made for each other, and in the ring we'll likely see that play out. Chiba is a real solid boxer-puncher, who had his chin cracked by Brian Lobetania. We know Chiba can punch, and can be taken out. Ishikawa on the other hand gave us one of the best fights of 2019 last time out, as he took on Toshiya Ishii, and in that fight showed a willingness to wage war on Ishii.
For something of a taster for the Chiba Vs Ishikawa bout, enjoy round 2 of Ishikawa's last bout:
We don't think we need to really tell people why they should tune in to see Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) take on unbeaten Thai Thanongsak Simsri (14-0, 12), but if you're not already on board for this one we'll try to entice you to tune in on Kyoguchi's own YouTube channel.
Kyoguchi is regarded by many who follow the lowest divisions as one of the very best at 108lbs. Don't take our word for that though but instead that of experts. He's the Ring Magazine champion, the WBA "Super" champion, and is ranked #2 by BoxRec, TBRB and ESPN. He's a fun, exciting fighter and is quickly becoming a YouTube star in his own right, with his own channel being the outlet for this bout.
Simsri is obviously not regarded as highly as Kyoguchi, but he is a hotly tipped Thai fighter who has been dubbed "Srisaket II" by the Thai press and is regarded as one of the brightest hopes in Thailand. He's actually fought in Osaka a few times and despite being in Kyoguchi's homeland we don't see that being an issue for the hard hitting Thai. He'll be there to win and should make for a thrilling bout here.
On paper the best card, from what we know of right now, is the final card which takes on November 23rd and features a former multi-time world champion and 3 world title challengers and a man we have already mentioned for one of his previous bouts. This is being shown by Osaka TV and should, in theory, have the best production values, and the stronger overall name name appeal.
The main event here will see youngster Riku Kano (16-4-1, 8) one of the former world title challengers, battle against Ryoki Hirai (13-6-1, 4) in a brilliantly well matched bout do the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Light Flyweight title. At one point Kano was seen as the super prospect, and fought for a world title when he was just 18! Sadly things haven't gone his way since then, but it's still way too early to write him off. Hirai on the other hand had a terrible start to his career but is very much in the mix for regional and domestic titles. We expect this to be a compelling, and hotly fought 12 rounder for the belt.
Another of the world title challengers on this show is Sho Ishida (28-2, 15), who is best known for his competitive bout with Kal Yafai in the UK. Once tipped as a potential face of Osakan boxing Ishida's career is beginning to struggle and he's likely hoping that a move to Bantamweight will help save give new life to his once promising boxing career. In the other corner is the unbeaten Toshiya Ishii (3-0, 2), the main who faced off with Haruki Ishikawa in that round we shared a little bit earlier. Given Ishii's fun aggressive boxing style and Ishida's need to win to remain relevant this really can't disappoint.
Once again we have saved the best until last with former multi-time world champion Katsunari Takayama (31-8-0-1, 12) taking on multi-time title challenger Reiya Konishi (17-1, 7) in a 6 rounder that could end up being something very, very special. This will be Takayama's first bout since announcing his return to professional boxing earlier this year, afater failing to qualify for the Tokyo games, and there are real questions over what he has left in the tank. On the other hand Reiya Konishi is no push over and has twice fought for world titles, showing his heart and toughness in those bouts. Both of these men like letting their hands go, both get involved in trench warfare far too often and together they have the potential to give us the best damn 6 rounder of 2020!
For those note familiar with Takayama we have have left one final treat below, his incredible war with Francisco Rodriguez Jr, from 2014.
With no fights currently taking place we've had a bit of time on our hands, and with that in mind we've decided to look at the sport in terms of how divisions sit, and do something that had previously been requested. The Asian divisional top 10's. We'll be starting this at Minimumweight and working our way through the divisions over the coming days and weeks. We know there will be some debate about some rankings and there is certainly some area for discussion, and that is certainly not a bad thing at all!
Today we take a look at the Light Flyweight division, which is a rather interesting weight class right now. The 108lb weight class is, potentially, the best in the sport on a global basis, and would make for a fantastic tournament with the top guys from around the bout. We see some of the best fighters in the division in Asia however the drop off in the division is start between the best, and the best of the rest.
1-Kenshiro Teraji (17-0, 10)
There will be debate between the #1 and #2 in the division, however for us the pick is rather easy based on achievement and competition at the weight class. Kenshiro Teraji has been the WBC champion since May 2017 and has scored 7 defenses, some of which have come against fighters lower down this list. The talented boxer-mover has looked near untouchable at times and beaten the likes of Ganigan Lopez, Pedro Guevara, Milan Melindo and Jonathan Taconing. An excellent technical boxer Kenshiro has made so many improvements since winning the title that he hardly seems the same fighter that he was 3 years ago. A real revelation at the top of the division.
2-Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9)
Whilst we have Kenshiro at #1 we know some would suggest fellow Japanese fighter Hiroto Kyoguchi, the Ring Magazine champion, should be top. Whilst he's the Linear champion his reign at 108lbs has yet to match that of his countryman. He won the WBA "Super" and Ring magazine titles in December 2018, when he stopped Hekkie Budler in a great win, but wins against Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart and Tetsuya Hisada were both tougher than expected for the Watanabe Gym fighter. Kyoguchi is certainly ahead of the rest of the field, but so far he's shown less versatility at Light Flyweight and doesn't look as dangerous as he did at Minimumweight. Still a top fighter however and he's going to be very hard to dethrone.
3-Reiya Konishi (17-2, 7)
The drop off between the top 2 and the rest really is massive and even then the argument for #3 is a really close one. We've gone with 2-time world title challenger Reiya Konishi at number 3, though could see 3 or 4 fighters all having a fair claim to the position. Konishi has only lost at world level against ultra-dangerous fighters, Carlos Canizales and Felix Alvarado, and holds wins against decent fighters like Masataka Taniguchi, Shin Ono and Orlie Silvestre. A little warrior Konishi has a great work rate but lacks single punch power and makes life very difficult for himself time and time again. A legitimate top 15 globally, he's a man who had proven he's on the bubble of world class, but hasn't yet scored the big win. Saying that however he gave Carlos Canizales a very tough bout back in 2018.
4-Petchmanee Kokietgym (32-1, 21)
Thailand's Petchmanee Kokietgym, also known as Panya Pradabsri among other names, is perhaps the divisions least well known contender. The 29 year old Thai was unlucky in his sole defeat, a loss in China to Xiong Zhao Zhong, and has bounced around between Light Flyweight and Flyweight since then. Despite having over 30 wins to his name his competition is rather mixed, and is certainly not the best out there. When he has stepped up to fringe regional level however he has impressed, stopping the likes of Jerry Tomogdan, Robert Onggocan and Dexter Alimento. Very much a fighter who is just a win or two away from making a mark, and at 29 he does have a bit of time to go out and make a statement before a world title bout.
5-Edward Heno (14-1-5, 5)
Former OPBF champion Edward Heno has impressed multiple times, with wins against the likes of Seita Ogido, Merlito Sabillo, Jesse Espinas and Koji Itagaki. He also impressed last year in his loss to Elwin Soto, in what was a very competitive bout against the dangerous Mexican. Aged 27 the Filipino southpaw is pretty much in his physical prime and the loss to Soto do more good than harm, instilling a confidence in Heno that he belongs at world level. Before the current global situation he was supposed to fight in March against Francis Jay Diaz, and that would be a big test of his mentality after the Soto bout. Arguably the most skilled of the contenders he has a bright future, if he can get up for the lower level tick over fights until landing another big one.
6-Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart (11-1, 5)
Another Thai with an under-rated standing in the sport is 27 year old Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart, aka Tanawat Nakoon. The talented Thai had done little in boxing before landing a fight with Hiroto Kyoguchi last year and giving the Japanese fighter some trouble over 12 rounds. The bout was a clear one for Kyoguchi on the cards but Satanmuanglek proved he was on the fringes of world class and that he was tough, skilled, smart and promising. Since that loss he has had some Muay Thai action, though hopefully we see him back boxing in 2020. He has the ability to be well and truly in the mix though needs to face more opponents like Marco John Rementizo and few like Crison Omayao, if he's to develop and progress the way he should.
7-Jonathan Taconing (28-4-1, 22)
Just a year ago Johnathan Taconing would have come much higher up this list but the 33 year old Filipino southpaw is very much a fighter on the way out. The heavy handed puncher was always regarded as a dangerman in the division, and one of the most brutal punchers in the weight class. He matched that power with an iron jaw and will to win. Sadly though a KO loss last year to Kenshiro has seen the jaw now left with question marks and at 33 time is not on his side. He's likely to be too good for those at regional level but going 0-3 in world title bouts is a telling stat, and we don't imagine we'll see him picking up a world title before he hangs them up.
8-Thanongsak Simsri (14-0, 12)
Exciting Thai teenage Thanongsak Simsri is one of the division's most promising and exciting hopefuls. He's only 19 but is a heavy handed boxer-puncher who is show real potential, and is getting international experience with bouts not just in Thailand but also Japan. Whilst his competition hasn't been the toughest so far he has impressed with wins against Ricardo Sueno, Lerdchai Chaiyawed and Christian Bacolod already. In 2019 he fought 8 times and the intention was to move him into regional title bouts this year. We might see that happen, but given how the year has been so far any plans for the youngster have been put on hold. For now.
9-Randy Petalcorin (31-4-1, 23)
Another Filipino worthy of note in the division is former world title challenger Randy Petalcorin. He's a long way from the top fighters in the division, but is certainly on the fringes of world class. Last time out he fought Kenshiro Teraji, as a late replacement for Felix Alvarado, and was stopped in 4 rounds by the WBC champion. At 28 years old the talented southpaw has time to bounce back, but unfortunately for him there is a lot of young and emerging talent coming through the division. We mentioned Simsri a moment ago and there are others looking to over-take Petalcorin in regards to his standing in the division.
10-Tibo Monabesa (20-1-2, 8)
Indonesian fighter Tibo Monabesa found that he wasn't ready for the top when he lost to Hiroto Kyoguchi, but the 29 year old has distinguished himself from those outside of the top 10 wins a number of notable victories. In his 23 fight career he has already defeated Rene Patilano, Lester Abutan, Lito Dante, Samartlek Kokietgym and Omari Kimweri. Before the world changed he was pencilled in to face Toto Landero in March, and a win there would have boosted his career to being a legitimate fringe contender. He's on a good run since being beaten by Kyoguchi and the hope is that he will get a world title fight in the coming future.
On the bubble:
Masamichi Yabuki, Daiki Tomita, Christian Bacolod, Kenichi Horikawa and Christian Araneta.
Notes - Tetsuya Hisada has stated his intention is to move up to Flyweight in the future, so wasn't considered here. Yuto Takahashi has announced his retirement from the sport
This past Tuesday we saw WBA "super" and Ring Magazine Light Flyweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) [京口 紘人] retain his titles with a thrilling 12 round decision win over Tetsuya Hisada. Following the win Kyoguchi stated that he would be taking the rest of the year away from the ring to rest, whilst visibly sporting a swollen shut left eye. The bout was supposed to be an easy one for the champion, but it was certainly not a walk in the park for the Watanabe gym fighter.
With a rest now booked, it's clear we won't see Kyoguchi rushing back to the ring any day soon, however when he does return there are a lot of options out there for him, with the Light Flyweight division being one of the very best in the sport. Here we're going to look at 5 potential bouts we could see Kyoguchi in when he returns in 2020.
1-Carlos Canizales (22-0-1, 17)
On paper the most logical match up we could hope for would see the WBA"super" title being unified with the "regular" title. To do that Kyoguchi would need to take on unbeaten Venezuelan Carlos Canizales, in a real divisional dream bout. The Canizales has shown a willingness to travel, twice fighting in Japan and also fighting in China, and seems to put in his best performances whilst in Asia. Stylistically these two should should gel perfectly, and they would beat really hammer each other with hard shots through 12 rounds. From a fans perspective this could be a contender for Fight of the Year, from a logical point of view it makes sense and from the fighter's view it clears up the WBA mess. The only issue is that neither man would likely walk out of this the same fighter they were previous. This could be a career shortening bout for both.
2-Kenshiro (16-0, 9)
Whilst a bout with Canizales makes a lot of sense, there is a good argument that it's not actually the best we could make at the weight involving Kyoguchi. Instead that is an all-Japanese showdown with WBC champion Kenshiro. This bout had been mooted for the end of 2019, though now clearly will have to be pushed back. Two Japanese fighters are good friends, were rivals in the amateurs and are widely regarded as the #1 and #2 in the division, with a bout between them giving clarity over who is the best at Light Flyweight. It would also be a super rare all-Japanese unification bout. The main stumbling block for this one is the fact the two men are linked to different TV networks, with Kenshiro being one of the faces of Fuji TV and Kyoguchi being a TBS fighter.
3-Felix Alvarado (35-2, 30)
Another unification bout that would be highly anticipated would be a clash with IBF champion Felix Alvarado, arguably the most dangerous man in the division. Alvarado is a Nicaraguan puncher who although being crude is incredibly dangerous. He's heavy handed, has an incredible gas tank, is physically terrifying and teak tough. Although Alvarado can be out boxed, out thought, out sped and out manoeuvred he's never going to be an easy out for anyone with his incessant aggression. One type of fighter no one likes to face is the high risk, low reward fighter, but that is exactly what Alvarado is. Yes he has the IBF title, but the risk still out weighs the reward, that's how dangerous he is. From a fans perspective however a Kyoguchi Vs Alvarado fight would be tremendous.
4-Angel Acosta (20-2, 20)
Another of the division's many danger men is Angel Acosta, who has also been willing to travel for fights as seen in his losses, which have both come on the road. Acosta is heavy handed, aggressive, but also skilled and isn't a brawler like many fighters with power, instead he's a really good boxer-puncher with genuine power and he's also durable. He lost the WBO title earlier this year, with a very suspect stoppage loss, and his only other loss came in Japan to Kosei Tanaka. A return to Japan could see him pick up a win in the "Land of the Rising Sun" and would give him a chance to become a 2-time champion. Likewise having Acosta's name on Kyoguchi's resume would do his standing the world of good. A really interesting fight and one that would deserve a lot of attention on both sides of the Pacific.
5-Reiya Konishi (17-2, 7)
Whilst it's easy to think that unifying with the WBO champion would be a priority we suspect that the WBO title scene will be out of reach for a while. If that's the case then there's no reason why Kyoguchi can't take part in a fan friendly bout against a fighter who should make for a fun, low level, action bout. Ideal for that is compatriot Reiya Konishi, who is aggressive, exciting, throws a lot and will engage in an inside war of attrition, and will do so without having big 1-punch power. On paper this isn't one of the "big bouts" that Kyoguchi would be wanting on his return, but would be a very fun to watch bout, against a rugged, though limited, challenger. A win here would be expected, but would give him an instant comparison to Alvarado and Canizales, both of whom took a decision over Konishi.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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)
In the west we tend to see fighters fighting a dozen or so bouts before they take a real step up in class. We often hear about how great they are going to be whilst they defeat opponents who simply aren't fit to be sparring partners. Sadly as a result of this mentality we often wait 3 or 4 years before we have any idea if the fighter in question is actually that good, of if his opponents are just that bad.
Sadly the “western” system means we have cases like David Price, who looked like a million dollars as he climbed to 15-0 (13) in a little under 4 years. Those 15 wins however so him face opponents who he blitzed through without being tested,in fact at best those 15 were domestic opponents. It's an unfortunate system that often sees fighters taking baby steps when they don't need to, and can often see them leaping from facing domestic fighters to world class fighters. Sometime they can make that leap, whilst other times they won't manage to do it, and in other cases they might need a second bite of the cherry, such as the case with Gary Russell Jr who looked like a fighter who was under-developed as a professional when he took on Vasyl Lomachneko, but looked a much better fighter in his second world title fight, against Jhonny Gonzalez.
Thankfully not everywhere has that same mentality and in some places the idea isn't about running up a long list of wins to build a name but instead about racing to the top, trying to make a point early in a fighters career and not bothering to pad a fighters record. With that in mind I've decided to look at the “Top 5 Under 5”, the 5 best prospects with less than 5 bouts. The only rules for this is that they must have made their professional debut and must have fewer than 5 fights in the traditional paid ranks, so bouts fought under WSB and APB rules don't count towards their records.
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).