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 talented Uzbek Israil Madrimov to former Japanese world title challenger Nobuto Ikehara.
Just as ground rules, we're not doing the more basic "A beat B who beat C who beat D" type of thing, but instead we want to link fighters in different ways. As a result we will limit A fought B connections, and try to get more varied connections together, as you'll see here! We also know there are often shorter routes to connect fighters, but that's not always the most interesting way to connect them.
1-Uzbek fighter Israil Madrimov is making a name for himself in the professional ranks as we write this. Prior to his days as a professional he was a stand out amateur, winning medals in numerous international tournaments. One of those medals that Madrimov won was a Silver medal at the 2014 Asian games in Incheon, South Korea. The games were plagued by controversy in boxing, but Madrimov still impressed before losing in the final to Daniyar Yeleussinov. Another man to win a Silver medal at the same games was Kazakh Light Flyweight Birzhan Zhakypov.
2-Prior to winning a Silver medal in the 2014 Asian Games Birzhan Zhakypov had been a well regarded amateur fighter for years. Way back in 2005 he had taken a Bronze medal at the World Championships in Mianyang, China. Another fighter who took Bronze at that very same championship was American Rau'shee Warren. In fact Warren won his Bronze medal in the weight class above Zhakypov.
3-Of course Rau'shee Warren would go on to have professional success, but before then he actually competed at 3 Olympics. In the 2004 Olympic Qualifying event he took on Argentinian fighter Nestor Daniel Narvaes. In fact Warren actually stopped Narvaes in 3 rounds, in the quarter finals, before going all the way and winning the qualifying event just 3 days later.
4-Although the names are spelled slightly different Nestor Daniel Narvaes has a more well known brother. That's the incredibly successful, and often massively over-looked Omar Andres Narvaez.
5-Whilst the success of Omar Andres Narvaez is really impressive, winning world titles at Flyweight and Super Flyweight and defending both more than 10 times, he was actually notable amateur. In the unpaid ranks he won a Bronze and a Silver in World championships, was a South American champion and a Pan Am games champion. He was also a 2-time Olympian. Sadly though he ran into Volodymyr Sydorenko in he 2000 Olympics and lost to the Ukrainian, who had also beaten Daniel Ponce De Leon in the competition.
6-After his amateur success Volodymyr Sydorenko turned professional and had real success of his own, winning the WBA Bantamweight title in 2005 and making 6 defenses before losing it to Anselmo Moreno in 2008. One of those 6 defenses for Sydorenko came in 2008 when he defeated Nobuto Ikehara via a clear 12 round decision win!
We've all heard of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, and we've decided to put our spin on things with "Six degrees of separation" looking to connect Asian fighters you may never have assumed were connected! Today we connect former world title challenger Daiki Kaneko to Uzbek sensation Israil Madrimov.
Just as ground rules, we're not doing the more basic "A beat B who beat C who beat D" type of thing, but instead we want to link fighters in different ways. As a result we will limit A fought B connections, and try to get more varied connections together, as you'll see here! We also know there are often shorter routes to connect fighters, but that's not always the most interesting way to connect them.
1-Japan's Daiki Kaneko never managed to win a world title, though did at one point look a good bet to go all the way. Sadly his only world title fight was a loss to Takashi Uchiyama in one of the TV Tokyo end of year shows. The only title he did win was the Japanese Super Featherweight title which he defended 4 times, just like Takashi Miura.
2-Known as "Bomber Left" Takashi Miura was a hard hitting southpaw who was known for his toughness and his power, two things that made him a must watch attraction. His career saw him win the Japanese title and the WBC title, and become a bit of a cult favourite among international fans. Interestingly he debuted on a card that saw Noel Arambulet score a huge win over Yutaka Niida.
3-Venezuelan fighter Noel Arambulet was a pretty well travelled fighter in his prime, fighting around the globe. Although a good majority of his fights were at home he get passport stamps for Panama, Haiti, France, Colombia and Japan, which hosted 6 of his bouts. The final of those Japanese bouts saw him suffer his first stoppage loss, losing to Koki Kameda.
4-The controversial Koki Kameda, the oldest of the 3 Kameda fighter brothers, debuted back on December 21st 2003. On the same show were Takayuki Hosokawa, multi-time WBC world champion Nobuo Nashiro and multi-time world champion Katsunari Takayama.
5-During his very successful career Katsunari Takayama won numerous world titles, including the WBO Minmumweight title, twice. Interestingly his two reigns with that title sandwich a reign of fellow Japanese fighter Kosei Tanaka.
6-During a long and success amateur career Kosei Tanaka not only had success on the domestic scene but also competed on the international level. Among the competitions he won a medal at was the 2013 Asian Youth Championships in the Philippines, where he took home a Silver medal. Another man taking home silver from that competition was Uzbek fighter Israil Madrimov.
This past weekend we saw talented Uzbek Israil Madrimov (6-0, 5) score his latest win, as he defeated tough American Eric Walker. The bout was a real eye opener and saw Madrimov go the distance for the first time, going 12 rounds. The bout was a dramatic one, with a huge botched call by the referee being the talking point. Despite the total mess caused by the referee even that didn't really cover over the cracks that Madrimov showed.
Plenty have now cooled the jets on Madrimov and we have all been left with more questions than answers. The reality is that before he gets a world title fight it'll be best for him to answer those questions, regarding his defense, his movement, his chin and his stamina. With that in mind we've given Madrimov the "Five for..." treatment this week, looking at 5 possible opponents that we would love to see the Uzbek in with next, before a potential world title fight in 2021.
1-Wale Omotoso (28-5, 22)
The truth is Madrimov needs to face opponents who can either take a shot, or can hurt him, if not both. The reality is that veteran Wale Omotoso can potentially do both those things. He's a rugged, hard hitter who has seen better days but is certainly still a serviceable gatekeeper, who just last year faced the brilliant Brian Carlos Castano. At 35 years old Omotoso is on the slide but is still danger, as we saw against Curtis Stevens last year, and he's only a few fights removed from giving Jamal James all he could handle. On paper Omotoso is the smaller man, and that will give Madrimov some breathing space, but he's also a veteran and not someone Madrimov can take liberties with. This would be a rather fun bout and give Madrimov, and his team, a chance to compare against Castano, who is widely regarded as one of the top 10 in the division.
2-Takeshi Inoue (16-1-1, 10)
We, like many fans, enjoy a war, with two tough aggressive fighters letting their shots go. With that in mind a bout between Madrimov and teak tough Japanese fighter Takeshi Inoue ticks all the boxes we could want to be ticked for a fan friendly fight. Coming in Inoue is ranked by 3 of the 4 world title bodies, with only the WBA currently not ranking him, and Madrimov is in line for a WBA world title fight. Ranking wise this would open up lateral options for the winner, and as a bout, god damn this would be amazing to watch, and wonderfully violent. More than anything this would serve as a gut check for Madrimov, who would have to dig deep against a fellow strong, aggressive and tough fighter. Inoue might not have the skills, but does have the stamina and toughness to ask new questions of Madrimov and the Uzbek's mental attitude,
3-Brandon Cook (22-2, 15)
We'd like to see Madrimov in with someone who likes to fight a bit, and with that in mind we would love to see him fight Canadian veteran Brandon Cook. The 34 year old Canadian is unlikely to get a second world title fight, losing a stoppage loss to Jaime Mungia, in 2018, but he's still very much a live, exciting puncher in the division. With both of his losses coming by stoppage we know he's not the toughest and most durable fighter out there, but he comes to fight, has plenty of pop and is a former world title challenger, which is, on paper at least, the type of opponent that we want to see Madrimov in with. We don't imagine this will be the toughest bout for Madrimov, but Cook has the power to test his chin, as we saw when he stopped Steven Butler. We see this as a fan friendly bout and one that should help get people back on the Madrimov express after his recent struggle with Eric Walker.
4-Kell Brook (39-2, 27)
It's really hard to know what exactly Englishman Kell Brook has left. If he's half the fighter he once was then he's a legitimate contender, but with just 2 fights in the last 24 months he may well be shot to bits. If he's still got ambition we'd like to see him in a live fight and a bout with Madrimov would certainly be a live bout for him. For Brook this would be a chance to prove he belongs in with the world champions at 154lbs. On the other hand Madrimov would get the chance to score a win over a notable name and a former world champion. This bout would be an easy one to make, in theory, as both are promoted by Matchroom, but Matchroom don't have a great record of matching their contenders, sadly.
5-Tony Harrison (28-3, 21)
Whilst a bout between Madrimov and Brook should be easy to make it's fair to say that Brook is a faded force. A more interesting bout, but a much tougher one to make, would be a contest between Madrimov and recent world champion Tony Harrison. Harrison is technically very good, and Madrimov would need to have his head screwed on to cope with "Super Bad", but the power and aggression of the Uzbek may well be enough to break down the American, who has been stopped in all 3 of his losses. Sadly this is tricky one to make, but one we would love to see and think it would really show what both men have to offer the sport..
This past weekend we saw Uzbek hopeful Israil Madrimov (6-0, 5) take a decision win over Eric Walker (20-3, 9). The bout was a lot tougher than anyone expected it to be but left us with a number of take aways to think about and to talk about. With that in mind let us bring you the first in what will be another semi-regular feature, "The Take Aways", where we'll take a look at a recent bout and mention some things of interest relating to it.
1-Gary Ritter blew it!
Lets start with the most obvious one, referee Gary Ritter really blew the call, and looked confused by what was going on in a situation he created. In round 9 a huge, leaping, off balance, left hand from Madrimov landed clean and dropped Walker. Following the puncher an over-balanced Madrimov fell into Walker in his follow through. The referee, who stated the shot was clean, had two clear options here. He should have either given Walker a count, following the knockdown, or taken the bout to the score-cards if he thought an accidental foul played a role, due to the fact that Walker had essentially been knocked out.
Walker lasted the distance, when the bout resumed, but really shouldn't have been in that position.
Whilst Ritter technically followed the WBA's rules here, which we've included below, the reality is that he got it wrong and that the rules need a look at. Walker took a huge head shot, and appeared to be concussed, there is no reason that bout should have gone on any longer, and we're very lucky that Eric Walker is fine.
The rule here is:
"The referee shall be the only authorized person to determine if a foul has produced an injury, and if it was accidental or intentional. The referee shall have the authority to stop a fight and make a decision if he considers that the bout has become dangerously one-sided, or if any of the boxers is in such condition that if the fight continues he is likely to suffer serious injury. "
2-The WBA's rules need changing
As we can see from the above, the rules need changing. That should have been stopped by the local commission or the doctor if the referee wasn't willing to put Eric Walker's health first. Walker took a lot of head shots following the incident and we really are lucky that Walker didn't appear to suffer some serious damage, but there is no reason to have extra risk in an already risky sport.
If the WBA don't want to give the commission and the physician that sort of power then they need to bring in an instant replay for these types of situations. That may have convinced the referee that the shot that was landed should have ended the bout, whether that was by KO or taking us to the cards early.
3-Eric Walker is a genuinely tough guy
A more positive take away is that Eric Walker showed incredible toughness here. He not only saw out the round 9 incident but took a pounding to the body early on, a huge flurry of head shots in round 6, and then some monstrous leather late on. These weren't just shots from an average puncher but were from a legitimately heavy handed guy like Madrimov. These were shots that would take out most fighters and Walker took a lot them. It wasn't really until late in round 12 that he looked like they had taken the fight out of him.
We're not sure what Eric Walker is made out of, but if you can bottle it and sell it to the military you've got yourself a very profitable business.
4-Israil Madrimov can dig deep, but has work to do
It's fair to say that for the first time since making his professional debut Israil Madrimov was given a real test and wasn't able to have things all his own way. Some will say that's a sign Madrimov isn't as good as fans are saying, or isn't as good as the hype. For us however it's not as simple as that.
Firstly Madrimov was forced to dig deep, he looked terrible in rounds 7 and 8, and seemed like a man who had blown his load. The fact he got through that, and dropped Walker in round 9, is something to take real positives from. He gutted out the first tough patch in his career, landed one of the best shots of the year, and showed he can tough it out. That is a major test for a fighter and a hurdle that many fighters don't cross until it's much later in their career.
Secondly Madrimov is still a work in progress, and for us the biggest part of that isn't his talent or ability, but how he uses his skills and the mental side of things. We have often seen him and though he looked bored in bouts, and actually needs to face fighters who come to win to get the best out of him. We dare say that he expected to win very easily against Walker and fought a tactically reckless bout, where he believed the 37 year old Walker was going to break down. For us the bit he needs to improve is that mental aspect, and he needs to realise opponents from here on are actually going to be tough and come to win.
If, or when, Madrimov gets his head in check and uses his skills properly we think we'll see a much, much better performance. We'll see him pace himself better, show off his footwork more and plough forward less. Fingers crossed this was a wake up call there.
5-Fitness during the current situation may be lacking
Whilst the bout was fought at a great pace early on both men seemed gassed at various points. Walker looked exhausted in rounds 5, 6, 11 and 12 whilst Madrimov looked knackered in rounds 7 and 8. Whilst some of that was certainly down to the tempo, and some was down to the conditions they were fighting in, with the temperature in Tulsa not being the greatest to box in, it did seem like general conditioning was an issue. This was brought up by Madrimov in his post fight interview and we do wonder if the less than ideal situation to prepare for the bout affected both fighters. This was one of the most intense 12 round bouts since the sport restarted and we do wonder if fighters are maybe only 80%-90% of full fitness.
We may be reading too much into this, but it is something that we do suggesting keep an eye on going forward. Especially given other things, like David Benavidez missing weight and poor performances in the UK by the likes of Archie Sharpe.
This is one of those things that we expect will show its self as we begin to get more and more competitive bouts, and it could take a bout or two for fighters to adjust to "the new normal".
The 154lb Light Middleweight division is one of the most interesting in the sport, both globally and in regards to Asian fighters. The division has no standout on the global scene, and whilst that can be bad for a division it actually helps to make the division really intriguing with a feeling that the top 5 or 6 guys, if not more, can all beat each other. The division could hold some brilliant tournaments and it'd be very hard to pick the eventual winner.
Saying that however we're not here right now to discuss the division at large rank the top Asian fighters in the division. And boy is this a trickier one than we imagined with a huge drop off towards the bottom end of the top 10.
1-Israil Madrimov (5-0, 5)
The 25 year old Israil Madrimov is one of the most promising fighters on the planet, and in just 5 fights has proven to be an exceptional talent with all the tools to be a superstar in boxing. The talented Uzbek, dubbed "The Dream", can box, bang, brawl, fighter, punch, entertain and looks to have all the tools to be something very, very special. With wins over solid fringe contenders, like Alejandro Barrera and Charlie Navarro we've seen Madrimov facing very advanced competition for someone with so few fights and he has been impressive every time we've seen him. Madrimov is one of the surest "future world champions" in the sport today.
2-Sadriddin Akhmedov (11-0, 10)
Another man we're tipping for the top is Kazakh youngster Sadriddin Akhmedov, but like Madrimov he's not just one for the future but a fantastic fighter right now. Akhmedov, a Kazakh based Canadian, is a boxer-puncher who is an absolute joy to watch. He's not as destructive as Madrimov but at just 22 years old he is still looking like a very, very special fighter. His record isn't the best among the Asian fighters, but his skill-set, and talent is incredible and in regards to the eye he's passing with flying colours. His best wins are over the likes of John Ruba and Jose Antonio Villalobos but he can clearly beat better than he's been facing. Akhmedov is one of the best hidden gems in world boxing today.
3-Takeshi Inoue (16-1-1, 10)
The most proven of the Asian fighters at the weight is former world title challenger Takeshi Inoue. The 30 year old Japanese mauler is best known for his 2019 loss to Jaime Munguia, in which he took Munguia 12 rounds and managed to back up the Mexican youngster. Inoue has scored wins against the likes of Akinori Watanabe, Yuki Nonaka and Riku Nagahama, he's also a former unified Japanese, OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific champion and the current WBO Asia Pacific king. In terms of professional accolades he's top, but it really feels like Akhmedov and Madrimov both have significantly better skills and potential.
4-Hironobu Matsunaga (16-1, 10)
Japanese national champion Hironobu Matsunaga is someone in a very rich vein of form and has won his last 10 in a row, following a loss in the 2014 All Japan Rookie of the Year final at Welterweight. The pint size fighter from the Yokohama gym is one of the shortest men in the division but also an absolute nightmare to fight. Matsunaga is a physically strong pressure fighter who breaks opponents down with volume and pressure. He doesn't have a big international performance under his belt but wins over the likes of Je Ni Ma, Koshinmaru Saito and Nobuyuki Shindo he has proven his ability on the domestic and fringe regional scene and is, for us at least, the #2 in Japan.
5-Madiyar Ashkeyev (14-0, 7)
We return to Western based Kazakh's now with 31 year old fringe contender Madiyar Ashkeyev, who is based in Oxnard, California. The unbeaten Ashkeyev turned pro in 2015 and has slowly been making a name for himself, with decent wins against the likes of Luis Hernandez, Cecil McCalla and Rodolfo Ezequiel Martinez. The hope is that Ashkeyev will jump in with a higher level of opponent later in the year, though his career has been rather frustrating at times and it has felt like he could have stepped up a level much earlier. A talent, but some one with questions still to answer and at 31 time is ticking down on his prime years.
6-Teerachai Kratingdaenggym (43-1, 31)
Once beaten Thai Teerachai Kratingdaenggym, also known as Tewa Kiram, is best known for his loss to Lucas Matthysse at Welterweight. Since then he rebounded well with 5 wins and a move up in weight. We'd love to see him in with a regional level test soon, but the WBA Asia champion is a man who is hard to get a read on. We know he's better than many Thai's with padded records, and we thought he was giving Matthysse fits. He does however have a questionable chin, as we saw against Matthysse, and we do wonder if he can dig deep when the going gets tough. A solid boxer-puncher, but we wouldn't be surprised if his level was fringe regional, and we certainly wouldn't fancy him against any of the guys above him.
7-Akinori Watanabe (39-7-1, 33)
Japanese veteran Akinori Watanabe has had a truly compelling career since he turned professional in 2004. He was a crude puncher early on, suffering a number of stoppage losses as a result, but has become a more rounded boxer-puncher in recent years, and looks much sturdier at 154lbs than he did at Welterweight. During his long career he won Japanese, OPBF and PABA Welterweight titles and since moving up he has held the Japanese "interim" title and the OPBF title. Although not a world class fighter, by any stretch, the 34 year old is a good, solid, regional level fighter, and someone who would put up a fight, win or lose, against anyone else on this list. The top guys would beat him, but they'd be forced to work for their wins.
8-Tonghui Li (12-2, 6)
Chinese 30 year old Tonghui Li is a bit of a wild card. He's a former OPBF "silver" and IBF Asia champion and has some notable wins against the likes of Romeo Jakosalem, Larry Siwu and Arnel Tinampay. Sadly though he's also picked up a couple of losses, including a 2018 defeat to Jung Kyoung Lee. Li is one of those fighters who we don't expect to see much from, but a win over Tinampay means a lot and we wouldn't be that shocked if we saw him fighting for a regional title when boxing resumes. Li against Watanabe or Teerachai would be very interesting, and maybe the sort of bout we could end up with in December if travel restrictions allow.
9-Rei Nakajima (3-0)
Another wild card selection is 21 year old Rei Nakajima, a Japanese fighter promoted by Nobuhiro Ishida. At 5'5" he's a very short Light Middleweight but also a very, very talented fighter in the division. Having debuted last July it's still really early to get too excited about him, but he's proven he can do 6 rounds, something he's now down 3 times, and with a win over Patomsuk Pathompothong this early in his career it seems like he and his team have got eyes on making a mark at title level sooner rather than later. Yes it's early, yes he's unproven, but boy does this kid look good!
10-Arnel Tinampay (26-25-1, 12)
The dark sheep of the division is tried and tested Filipino journeyman Arnel Tinampay, who has one of the sports most confusing and misleading records. With just 26 wins from 52 bouts it's easy to suggest that Tinampay isn't good, but the reality is that his record could, and should, be very different. The 35 year old has scored notable upsets against the likes of Yosuke Kirima, Shoma Fukumoto and Koshinmaru Saito and had a number of losses that should have been wins, including a 2019 bout against Hassan Mwakinyo. If you're preparing to face Tinampay and look at his record rather than look at footage of him you're in trouble.
On the bubble:
Jugn Kyoung Lee, Nobuyuki Shindo, Nath Nwachukwu, Sung Miun Yuh and Vikas Krishan
This past weekend we saw Japanese 154lb fight Takeshi Inoue (16-1-1, 10) retain his WBO Asia Pacific title with an early win against the horribly over-matched Cheng Su. The bout was his third win since losing in a WBO world title bout in January 2019 to Jaime Munguia, and it seems clear that he wants to move back towards big bouts by the end of 2020.
With Inoue's recent win it seems an ideal time to look at 5 possible opponents for Inoue for later this year, as we do the latest in our "Five for..." series.
1-Hironobu Matsunaga (16-1, 10)
Our number 1 pick here is probably the most likely and the easiest fight to make, by far. Inoue has dominated the Japanese and Oriental scene at the weight, beating the likes of Akinori Watanabe, Koshinmaru Saito, Riku Nagahama and Yuki Nonaka. The only domestic fighter of note he's yet to face is current Japanese champion Hironobu Matsunaga, who will defend his national title in March then be available to face who he wants. Matsunaga, like Inoue, is an aggressive fighter and physically strong fighter at 154lbs who has the style to make for some excellent fights. Both of these men are lacking a bit of size at the weight but both are physical fighters and a fight between the two should be thrilling!
2-Tony Harrison (28-3, 21)
There's not many world class fighters that Inoue would be given much a chance against, however a man who has been stopped in 3 losses would give Inoue an outside chance. Former world champion Tony Harrison would be the perfect match up for Inoue to try and prove that he belongs on the world level. Harrison lost his world title in December, when he was stopped by Jermell Charlo, and facing off with him now would be a smart move if Inoue and his team can secure the bout. Inoue would clearly have to travel for the fight but his style would give Harrison, a boxer-mover, real problems. The aggression and pressure from Inoue against the skills and movement of Harrison, for 12 rounds would be great to see and a really interesting mix of styles.
3-Israil Madrimov (4-0, 4)
Unbeaten Uzbek Israil Madrimov is known to be struggling in terms of getting opponents, and getting rounds. His first 4 bouts have gone a total of 19 rounds and he could do with an opponent to test his stamina and his ability to fight over a longer distance. Inoue would answer those questions, and also ask question questions of Madrimov's in ring mentality against someone who is bull strong and physical. A clash between the two would see Madrimov enter as the big favourite, but it would still be an excellent test for the Uzbek, and the type of fight he needs to prove himself, before a world title fight. On paper this isn't a big name fight, but it would be a match up we would be very interested in seeing.
4-Julian Williams (27-2-1, 16)
Hours after Inoue defeated Cheng Su we saw Julian Williams being upset against Jeison Rosario, and losing the WBA "super" and IBF titles to the hard hitting Dominican fighter. Williams had made it clear that he will be making the most of a rematch clause in their contract, and that will likely be next for him, though we do like Inoue Vs Williams, and it's a bout with a back story. Originally the two were ordered to have an IBF eliminator in 2018, the saga went on and on and in the end the two men went in different directions. We can't help but feel this would be a great fight to watch and would love to see the two men facing off.
5-Carlos Adames (18-1, 14)
Dominican fighter had his flaws shown up last year, when he lost to Patrick Teixeira, but showed and aggressive and exciting style against the more skilled Brazilian. We can't help but feel that Adames' style and Inoue's style would gel for an excellent stylistic clash. Both men are physically strong, come to fight, let their hands go and don't know how to back up. Adames would be the favourite, and would be looking to bounce back from the loss to Teixeira in what was an instant classic, whilst Inoue has the momentum of his last 3 wins. This would be brutal, entertaining and something that both men could benefit from.
Last November we ran what we thought would be a one off article, entitled "1 and 0 so good! The 1-0 fighters to make a note of!", now, almost a year one, we've decided to revisit that idea and look at some fighters who are currently 1-0.
Before we go any further we've decided to briefly look at the 5 men we mentioned in last year's article:
Tsendbaatar Erdenebat - was (1-0) and is now 2-0 (1) - The Mongolian has been switching between amateur and professional codes, so hasn't really built his record from a year ago, scoring only a single win in the professional ranks since his debut.
Makhmud Gaipov - was (1-0, 1) and is now 2-1 (1) - The touted Uzbek youngster notched a win just days after our article, but was beaten in March 2019, by Vazir Tamoyan, and hasn't been seen in the professional ranks since. At 23 years old there is time, but it does seem like maybe he's not the star in the making that he seemed following his debut.
Israil Madrimov - was (1-0, 1) and is now 4-0 (4) - Whilst Gaipov has failed to build on his debut win the same can't be said of Israil Madrimov, who has quickly become one of the sports must watch fighters. The confident switch hitting 154lb boxer-puncher has taken on progressively better fighters and has managed to impress every time. He has gone from prospect to contender incredibly quickly and we are expecting him to fight for a world title sooner rather than later.
Apichet Petchmanee - was (1-0, 1) and is now 5-0 (2) - The most active fighter featured on last year's list is Thai fight Apichet Petchmanee, who has fought 4 times since we put the list together. He's a weird one in many ways, as he's now scored 2 wins over former world title challenger Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo but hasn't looked great in those wins and there are now more questions over the 30 year old than we have liked. He's a talent, but maybe not the face of Thai boxing as hoped a year ago.
Ginjiro Shigeoka - was (1-0, 1) and is now 4-0 (3) - Japanese youngster Ginjiro Shigeoka had only fought 3 rounds when we covered this subject a year ago. Since then he has added 10 more rounds, scored a couple of blow out wins and claimed the WBO Asia Pacific Minimumweight title. Like Madrimov he looks like he could be in the world title mix very soon, and and he looks like one of the best young prospects in world boxing.
With that update on the 5 men we covered last November out the way, lets have a look at 5 men who are currently 1-0 and are already being tipped for big, big things going forward.
Yudai Shigeoka (1-0, 1)
Having included Ginjiro Shigeoka in last year's list it only makes sense to include his brother in this year's list! The talented Yudai Shigeoka is a couple of years older than Ginjiro but, like his younger brother, he looks like a sensation. On debut Yudai took out Manop Audomphanawari (3-3, 3), and whilst that's not a huge win it was the performance that really impressed. He showed a lovely variety of shots with some of the most impressive body punching we've seen from a debutant. We know Yudai wants to get into the title mix quickly, and we wouldn't be surprised at all by him fighting for some type of title by the end of next year.
Miras Ali Sarsenov (1-0, 1)
Following a 211 bout amateur career we're really excited to see how Kazakh youngster Miras Ali Sarsenov goes on as a professional. In the unpaid ranks Sarsenov won 188 bouts before signing with MTK Global earlier this year, and debuting in October. He looked good on debut, when he stopped Davit Natsvlishvili in 2 rounds, and whilst his opponents wasn't up to anything the 22 year old Kazakh still impressed with sharp punching, good movement, and good shot variety. He's certainly one to watch in 2020, though we need to hope that MTK Global won't hold him back, as we have seen from them in the past with other fighters.
Nurdos Tolebay (1-0)
Another Kazakh worth making a noting of with a 1-0 record is Nurdos Tolebay, who is also managed by MTK Global. He's aged just 18 and is tipped highly by those in Kazakhstan, despite not having the biggest or strongest amateur pedigree. He looked good on his debut, back in mid October, and was slated to return to the ring in mid November, as he looks for his second win. At just 18 years old MTK won't be rushing him, then again MTK aren't well known for rushing fighters, and will instead keep him busy over the next year or two, giving him time to develop.
Tuguldur Byambatsogt (1-0)
In October we saw 20 year old Mongolian fighter Tuguldur Byambatsogt make his debut, and he impressed as he out pointed Japanese veteran Shusaku Fujinaka over 5 rounds in the Knock Out Dynamite tournament. We'll admit it did feel like Byambatsogt was fighting within himself, but even then he out out boxed Fujinaka, and looked like he had an extra 2 or 3 gears to go through. He showed really smart movement on debut, a lot of skills and we're looking forward to seeing his next bout, which will come in Japan against Vladimir Baez. That bout should see Byambatsogt answering a lot more questions about his chin, his durability and his ability to go through the gears. From what we've seen of him on his debut however he looked very good.
Hiroto Yashiro (1-0, 1)
The only fighter on this list that've sadly not been able to watch, though have had very positive feed back from, is Japanese Bantamweight Hiroto Yashiro. Yashiro is a 22 year old southpaw who debuted in September when he stopped Adundet Khonwong and turned professional following a very, very impressive amateur career. The youngster went an incredible 75-19 in the unpaid ranks and managed to come 3rd in a national tournament. He's a really interesting fighter, who has stated that he wants to fight for youth titles sooner rather than later. Not only does he have the amateur pedigree but also boxing in his blood, with his cousin being Yoshimitsu Yashiro, a former Japanese Super Featherweight champion who twice fought Takashi Miura. We're really hoping to see Yashiro in the ring sooner rather than later and hopefully his next bout will be broadcast some how, as from what we understand he is one exceptional young fighter and someone with a lot of potential to live up to.
(Images courtesy of Watanabe Gym and Teiken)
Through out this month we've posted Part 1 and Part 2 of our 19 for 19, looking at Asian prospects, and here's our third part. If you missed the first part that's here 19 for 19: Part 1 - The Teenage Prospects and the second part is here 19 for 19: Part 2 - A Rookie, an Uzbek puncher, a Pinoy Prodigy and an Olympic champion
Here we are looking at 4 novices, with a combined record of 7-0 (7) but all 4 men involved have looked incredibly promising and appear to be well worthy of attention.
Lei Wang (1-0, 1)
It can be easy to get over-excited about Chinese prospects, and we might be heading that way with Lei Wang, however there is a lot to get excited about. The 28 year old Chinese fighter was a very good amateur and when he made his debut this past September he did so in style, stopping Filipino Anthony Sabalde in 5 rounds, doing what Nihito Arakawa and Wang Zhimin both failed to do. On debut Wang looked razor sharp, both on defense and offense, he looked like a fighter with a great boxing brain, a flashy style and like someone incredibly exciting. He looks incredibly relaxed in the ring and we're hoping to see a lot more of him in 2019.
Israil Madrimov (1-0, 1)
Uzbek fighters all look like they are trying to out do each other at the moment, much like the Ukrainians did in the wake of the 2016 Olympics. So far we've seen several Uzbek fighters all begin their careers with aggressive match making, though no one rivals Israil Madrimov, who debuted in a 10 round bout and took a minor WBA title in his very first professional contest. The 23 year old, dubbed "The Dream" looks to be a phenomenal switch hitter who is a natural in the ring, sharp with both hands and has an excellent boxing brain. We've got a lot of questions to see him answer, but we've also been hugely impressed by Madrimov's sole professional outing.
Apichet Petchmanee (1-0, 1)
Former Thai amateur stand out Apichet Petchmanee made his debut this past October, at the age of 28, but did so in a notable bout against the then 13-0 Attanon Kunlawong. He'll be back in the ring on December 22nd, when he fights for the OPBF "silver" title at 140lbs and he may well find himself fighting for the full OPBF title in 2019. He really impressed on debut and we're expecting a really bright future for him, given how strong his amateur background is. Sadly he is now 29 years old, though we suspect he will be fast tracked and will end up fighting notable international opponents before the end of 2020.
Ryota Yamauchi (4-0, 4)
At the end of 2017 we were raving about Ryota Yamauchi, who was then 2-0 (2). During 2018 he doubled that record, and scored a big domestic win over Yota Hori, but a lack of activity has left the 23 year old Flyweight failing to reach our predictions for the year. Despite failing to build massively on his impressive start he has continued to develop and the hope now will be for 2019 to be his break out year, and if he can fit 3 fights into the year he should well be in the mix for a title by the end of the year. He's aggressive, quick, heavy handed and managed by the highly recognised Kadoebi gym, who just need to keep him active, and well matched next year
Going in to 2019 we'll be hoping to see the emergence of a number of new fighters. At the moment there a number of very promising fighters who are starting to create a buzz despite having only had a single professional bout. Here we take a look at 5 such fighters who are going to potentially have a big year ahead of them and be fast tracked to success.
Tsendbaatar Erdenebat (1-0) - Mongolia
Mongolian amateur standout Tsendbaatar Erdenebat made his professional debut in China this past September, and did so in relative obscurity with sources originally listing him as "Tsendbaatar Tsendbataar", likely an issue with translating his name from the Chinese bout sheet. On debut he dominated Chinese based Filipino Joseph Omana over 6 rounds, to take a unanimous decision and he looked really exciting with his performance.
In 2016 Tsendbaatar lost in the Olympic to eventual silver medal winner Shakur Stevenson but would go on to win the 2018 Asian Games gold medal. Those were among the highlights of a very long and successful amateur career that should give him the grounding for a bright professional career.
Makhmud Gaipov (1-0, 1) - Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan are turning out talent like no ones business right now, and they have two fighters on this list. One of those is 22 year old Makhmud Gaipov, who debuted in November stopping Tanzania's Iddi Mkwera in the 3rd of a scheduled 4 rounds, having dropped Mkwera 4 times. He seems to have been signed with RCC Promtoions, who will keep him busy, keep him active and move him aggressively on their shows. The best thing about fighting under the RCC banner however will be the exposure, with thm streaming their cards internationally.
Gaipov, like everyone else on this list, was an experienced amateur who came runner up in the 2014 Asian Youth Championships and also competed in the WSB, giving plenty of "pro-style" experience. There is work to do but given how he looked on debut there is a lot to be excited about here.
Israil Madrimov (1-0, 1) - Uzbekistan
The second Uzbek to make it to this list, and the more well known of the two, is Israil Madrimov, who made his debut recently on the under-card of Dmitry Bivol's win over Jean Pascal. Unlike most debutants he matched in a 10 rounder to begin his career, and quickly claimed a minor WBA title in the process, as he stopped Mexican Vladimir Hernandez in 6 rounds. The performance he put on was exciting, confident and really showed what he could do in the ring, switching stands, trading when he wanted to and really digging in brutal body shots. With World of Boxing behind him the future is incredibly bright for him.
Given he debuted in a 10 round bout it should be no surprise that he was a decorated amateur, winning gold at the 2018 Asian games, the 2017 Asian Championships, a Silber medal at the Asian Youth Championships in 2013 and picking up numerous national and minor titles.
Apichet Petchmanee (1-0, 1) - Thailand
Thailand, who do often fast track stand out kicks boxers, may have a gem among their ranks with Apichet Petchmanee who was a former amateur standout who made his professional debut back in October, dominating Attanon Kunlawong, aka Kongthara KKP. Apichet is tipped to be a success and his performance against the then 13-0 Kunlawong really was a statement of a result, and an incredible performance, though one that should have been expected.
At 29 years old Apichet doesn't have a lot of time to waste, though with a strong amateur background, WSB experience and a style that already looks suited to the professional ranks it may not need much time to fly through the rankings, especially if Workpoint get behind his rise. The only problem he might have is getting suitable regional competition whilst fighting at 140lbs.
Ginjiro Shigeoka (1-0, 1) - Japan
The youngest fighter on this list is Japanese teenager Ginjiro Shigeoka, who debuted in September and really looked the part, as we expected given his 56-1 (17) amateur record. At just 19 years old there is no for the Watanabe gym to out and out rush him, though we suspect his desire will be to be moved fast in 2019, and there is also a chance he will fit in another fight at the end of this year. He is one of the most exciting little men in the sport and will likely have a similar career trajectory to fellow Watanabe gym fighter Hiroto Kyoguchi.
Whilst his amateur record is impressive it is worth noting that his sole loss was a family issue, where he would have faced his brother in a prefectural tournament final. Sadly he also lacks in terms of international amateur experience. That aside we're struggling for reasons not to gush over Shigeoka's potential
The new year is fast approaching and I'll be honest I'm really excited about the coming year. It's fair to say that 2018 has been a great year for boxing, despite being a pretty poor year on a personal level, but I'm expecting 2019 to be even better as the sport continues to develop, and be reshaped into something more and more spectacular. If I'm being honest I suspect 2019 may well be one of the best year's the sport has had in a very long time, building on the momentum of a great 2018.
With that in mind I've put together 5 predictions for the new year, and how I think they will effect the boxing world in general
Naoya Inoue wins the WBSS
An obvious one to start with. Japan's Naoya Inoue is strongly favoured to win the WBSS Bantamweight series and for good reason. "The Monster" is one of the few fighters who really lives up to his reputation every time he steps in the ring, and in 2018 he quickly despatched recognisable foes Jamie McDonnell and Juan Carlos Payano without breaking a sweat. I suspect that his current impressive run takes him to the Muhammad Ali Trophy in the coming year, beating Emmanuel Rodriguez in the Spring before winning the final in the Summer. After that it's unclear whether he'll immediately look for bigger challenges at Super Bantamweight or will look to clean up at Bantamweight, with a potential fight against Luis Nery certainly a possibility.
Fast Tracking continues
If we've seen anything really come to the fore these past few years it's been that fast tracking has really exploded. No longer is it just a Japanese and Thai thing but we're seeing Europeans, and Central Asian's fighters all stepping up incredibly quickly. I suspect that actually intensifies in the coming year, with more and more fighters shrugging off the usual preliminary stages of their professional careers and being moved aggressively. Lu Bin was too aggressively matched, but I expect others, like Murodjon Akhmadaliev, Apichet Petchmanee, Ginjiro Shigeoka and Israil Madrimov, to be competing for world titles within 7 fights. Top amateur fighters making their debuts next year will also be pushed hard early on.
A big year for India
Top Rank have made a very conscious effort in signing two of the most notable Indian fighters, Vijender Singh and Vikas Krishan, and I suspect that will only be the start for what could be a massive year for Indian boxing. The market is ripe for surge, and top young amateur fighters like Amit Panghal and Gaurav Solanki could well have professional promoters trying to snap them up as key figures for the long term growth of Indian boxing. The sport isn't huge in India, yet, but with over 1,000,000,000 people living there the potential is massive, if a promoter can sign the right fighters and work well with the local media. It will be a risky market to jump into but given the right promoter it could end up being a game changer. I also expect to see aforementioned Vijender Singh challenge for a world title before the end of 2019.
Boxing Grows in non-Boxing Countries
It's not just India that I expect to see boxing grow in but also Vietnam, Teipai, Malaysia and Singapore. We've certainly seen Singapore and Malaysia develop their scenes recently, but Vietnam and Teipai will likely follow suit, albeit for different reasons. Malaysia and Singapore are key hubs for the area, and money in those countries towards boxing has grown due to the promoters wanting to build the scenes. For Vietnam and Teipai however it seems likely that the OPBF will be the fulcrum behind their growth, and the development of the OPBF Silver titles, specifically in those two countries, will be key. In fact we could see that extending into other locations like Mongolia as the OPBF become more than just a title body but also, in association with the JBC, an overseer of several, non-boxing countries as they plant seeds of potential growth.
An Uzbek Take Over
It's hard to believe that only two Uzbek fighters have ever won world titles, Artur Grigorian and Ruslan Chagaev. This coming year I'm expecting that to change and wouldn't be massively surprised to see that number double in 2019, with the likes of the aforementioned Akhmadaliev along with Shakhram Giyasov, Elnur Abduraimov and Kudratillo Abdukakhorov all likely to be fighting for world titles by the end of the year. The Uzbek take over will be a hostile one, as the fighters look to put not only themselves on the boxing map, but also their country and we suspect the number of Uzbek amateurs turning professional will grow substantially in not only 2019, but also 2020. Uzbek fighters who miss out on the 2020 Olympics will likely jump at the chance to turn professional, and I expect them to do so with a lot of ambition to climbing the rankings as quickly as possible.
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).