This past weekend we saw IBF Super Flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas (33-1-2, 22) record his 9th defense as he over-came mandatory challenger Jonathan Javier Rodriguez in a brilliantly competitive and exciting bout. The bout was, by far, the most entertaining world title defense for Ancajas, who has held the IBF title since September 2016 and failed to secure a genuine A tier defense, having ticked over with mandatories and B tier challengers.
After the win it seemed like he wanted some big bouts to establish himself as more than just a title holder, but as one of the legitimate best at 115lbs. Sadly a number of the top fighters in the division are engaged in a 4 man tournament for the WBC and WBA titles, but that does still leave a lot of good options out there for Ancajas.
With that in mind lets take a look at those options as we give Jerwin Ancajs the "Five for..." treatment.
1-Kazuto Ioka (26-2, 15)
The most obvious choice to Ancajas to target right now is WBO champion Kazuto Ioka, in what is the only legitimate unification bout out there right now for either man and seemingly the logical bout to make for both men. Ancajas has had a lengthy reign from lesser challengers, with those defenses frustrating fans who want to see more from him and find out how good he really is. A bout with Ioka would let us find out if Ancajas is really a top level fighter in the division. Likewise it would give Ioka another chance to fight on US soil, something he has spoken about wanting to do regularly since returning to the sport in 2018. Not only is this the biggest possible match up for both men, but it's also a truly interesting one from a style point of view, between two men who are technically very good, but very different. This is easily the best bout the division can give us outside of the aforementioned 4 man WBC and WBA mini tournament.
2-Kosei Tanaka (15-1, 9)
Ioka isn't the only Japanese fighter who would be sniffing around a fight with Ancajas. Another is former 3-weight world champion Kosei Tanaka, who lost to Ioka in a thrilling bout at the end of 2020 but seems like the type of fighter who would love a second shot at a Super Flyweight title sooner rather than later. Tanaka would, coming off the back of the loss to Ioka, probably be better off with an interim fight himself, but from Ancajas' point of view this bout has enough about it to make it an interesting one. It would be a bout against a world class fighter, with some name value, an exciting style, and someone who, if he beats quickly enough, will boost his value in a potential Ioka match up. For Ancajas it's a bout with value, despite Tanaka's recent loss, and for Tanaka it's a huge chance to fight outside of Japan, something he's spoken about wanting to do, as well as a second shot at becoming a 4 weight world champion.
3-Donnie Nietes (43-1-5, 23)
It's fair to say that Ancajas is a quality boxer, but one who lacks major names on his record. One thing he needs are recognisable opponents. With that in mind an all-Filipino bout with Donnie Nietes would certainly be one worthy of some attention. Nietes, who fought back on April 3rd, is certainly a major name in the lower weight classes and even at 38 has the tools and boxing IQ to be a top player in the division. Whilst Nietes wants a big name himself it's fair to say his options are as limited as Ancajas', given the 4 man WBC/WBA tournament, and the best options for Nietes himself are Ioka and Ancajas. For Ancajas a win over Nietes would be huge for his career and his standing in the sport, whilst a win for Nietes would see him having some more bargaining power for a potential future unification bout. Sadly though Nietes has previously spoken about not wanting to face fellow Filipino's, though things may have changed now given the lack of other options for the Filipino legend.
4-Francisco Rodriguez Jr (35-4-1, 24)
Although not a huge name, and certainly not the high level fight that we suspect Ancajas would want, we can't help but think a bout between the Filipino and Mexican Francisco Rodriguez Jr would be an interesting one, and certainly a fun one. Rodriguez is best known for his days down at 105lbs, where he unified the WBO and IBF titles and since then he has moved up through the weights. He was supposed to face WBC Flyweight champion Julio Cesar Martinez on the under-card of Saul "Canelo" Alvarez Vs Callum Smith, but that bout was cancelled when Martinez was ill. Sadly Rodriguez missed out there however we suspect he would jump at the chance to face Ancajas for a title, even up at Super Flyweight. For Ancajas, who will want to win fans over, this would be ideal as Rodriguez always comes to fight and would make for a very entertaining clash here.
5-Franklin Gonzalez (24-0, 24)
The current IBF rankings at Super Flyweight are weak, despite the division it's self being strong. Going through the rankings there really aren't many options that are that appealing. One exception to that, at least on paper, is 24 year old Venezuelan Franklin Gonzalez, who sports a perfect 24-0 (24) record. As with many Venezuelan fighter with impressive looking records it's hard to know how good he is, and there isn't any substance at all to his paper record, but given the rest of the IBF rankings he makes for a bout that would have "some" intrigue. An unbeaten puncher, with a perfect record tends to either be legitimate, or be swatted out super fast when they take on a highly skilled fighter, as we saw recently with Heber Rondon. If this turns out to be an easy one for Ancajas then he can have a quick turn around.
Sadly for Ancajas he's in an awkward position, as many top Super Flyweights are currently booked up and a move to Bantamweight, whilst tempting, doesn't bring too many interesting potential bouts for him in the immediate future. Sadly many of the top Bantamweights, such as Naoya Inoue, Nordine Oubaali, Nonito Donaire and John Riel Casimero are all pretty much off limits to him right now and and outside of Ioka, Tanaka and Nietes there isn't a legitimate, and obvious, big name available to him until very late in the year.
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!
One of the most interesting division's in the sport, and particularly in Asia, is the Super Flyweight division. The division has had the spotlight shined on it a lot in recent years with, and has had more than it's share of great bouts. Here we look at the best in Asia.
1-Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (47-5-1, 41)
Although no longer holding a world title former 2-time WBC champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai is widely regarded as one of the best of the best in the division. The now 33 year old Thai has the best record in the division, with wins against Yota Sato, Jose Salgado, Roman Gonzalez, twice, and Juan Francisco Estrada. Blessed with heavy hands, an iron chin, freakish size and an awkward southpaw stance he's a very tricky man to beat. He was beaten last time out, in his second bout with Juan Francisco Estrada, though that was at partly down to some of the stupidest tactics seen in a world title bout. We do wonder how much longer Srisaket can continue to compete at the top, 33 is old for a man in the division and with 46 fights he has taken damage but for now he's in the divisional elite.
2-Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14)
WBO champion Kazuto Ioka is perhaps not the top Asian in the division but is almost certainly the Asian money man with TBS and SANKYO backing him heavily. The Japanese fighter won the WBO last year to become the first Japanese male 4 weight champion and has since defended the belt once. A tactically smart boxer-puncher, with some of the best body shots in the sport, he's managed to look like a strong and complete fighter at 115lbs, not something we expected when he was looking like an under-sized Flyweight a few years ago. With wins against McWillians Arroyo, Aston Palicte and Jeyvier Cintron in his last 4 bouts, to go alongside a close loss to Donnie Nietes the Osakan has proven his value at the weight. At 31 years old time is certainly not running down on his career, and he's got the perfect mix of skills and experience.
3-Jerwin Ancajas (32-1-2, 22)
Current IBF champion Jerwin Ancajas has one of the longest active reigns of any world champion in the sport, and the 28 year old "Pretty Boy" also has one of the most significant promoters on the planet, with Bob Arum behind him. He began his IBF title reign back in 2016, when he beat McJoe Arroyo, and has made 8 defenses of the belt. Whilst that sounds impressive some of his opposition during his reign has been disappointing. Despite some of his competition being questionable he does have noteworthy wins over Arroyo, Israel Gonzalez and Jonas Sultan, among others. When Ancajas is in full flow he's a joy to watch, though his draw against Alejandro Santiago Barrios does leave us wondering how he'd cope with some of the more technical capable fighters at 115lbs.
4-Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9)
Another Japanese multi-divisional champion is Kosei Tanaka, who signalled his intent to move up in weight earlier this year, vacating the WBO Flyweight title to join the ranks at Super Flyweight. It's hard to know what he's going to be like at 115lbs but the reality is that he's move proven, as a fighter, than anyone outside of the top 3 in the division. He's the mandatory for Ioka, and they could potentially clash later this year if the suspension on boxing is lifted. The 24 year old has a lot of questions to answer at the weight, but given his speed, will to win, under-rated power and his skills he could be a genuine handful. His ranking is based, at least somewhat, on what he's done at lower weights, but see him fitting right into the mix at the top of the division when he returns to the ring.
5-Sho Ishida (28-2, 15)
It's really hard to know how go Sho Ishida is. When he's been matched against better competition he's come up short, losing to Kal Yafai and Israel Gonzalez, but by that same token he has shown flashes of brilliance and looks like a talent. At least at times. The tall and rangy Osakan is a former stable mate of Ioka's and it's clear he has learned a few things from Ioka, but it very much feels like he's missing a higher gear. It would be great to see him in with some top regional fighters in the next year or two to see if he can sink or swim at the Oriental level. Right now it feels very much like his Japanese title reign, which ran from August 2014 to mid-2016, is a very long time ago and he's not managed to replicate that level of performance since.
6-KJ Cataraja (11-0, 9)
At 24 years old the time is rife for KJ Cataraja to go from being one of the best kept secrets in Asian boxing to being a star. The former amateur standout had been matched well early on, and was fighting in 8 round bouts as early as his third contest. Sadly it took a bit too long for him to progress into facing a genuine test, with his 2018 bout against Victor Hugo Reyes being his one true test so far. He's ready to be let off the leash, but ALA Promotions, who guide his career, had a horror in 2019 rarely putting on shows and seeing Nietes vacate his title. If ALA can't push Cataraja forward when boxing returns to the Philippines we wouldn't be surprised by the youngster leaving the ALA stable and following Mark Magsayo in the pursuit of bigger and better things. He's too good to waste his career against the likes of Delfin De Asis and Crison Omayao, the two opponents he faced in 2019.
7-Ryusei Kawaura (7-0, 4)
Of course Cataraja isn't the only promising youngster ready to be unleashed when boxing returns on a wider scale in Asia. Another is Ryusei Kawaura, the protege of Hiroshi Kawashima. The unbeaten Kawaura only fought twice in 2019 but his competition there was solid with wins against Renoel Pael and Joy Joy Formentera. He proved his boxing brain and toughness in those bouts, and was asked questions that he had to answer. Although he's yet to fight beyond 8 rounds it's worth noting he has gone 8 completed rounds in 3 of his last 4 bouts and doesn't appear to have struggled with that distance so far. Hopefully 10 or 12 rounds will come for him in the next year or two and he's got skills, a smart manager and a lot of potential. One thing he will need to do however is get more eyes on him, and so far he's lacked any form of TV coverage, something that will need to change sooner rather than later.
8-Kongfah CP Freshmart (32-1, 16)
Kongfah CP Freshmart, aka Jakkrawut Majoogoen, is arguably the forgotten man of the division.The 25 year old Thai has been a professional since 2013 and his only career defeat came way back in 2015 to Daigo Higa. Since then he has reeled off 18 wins including victories over Renz Rosia, Ryoji Fukunaga and Hyuma Fujioka. Whilst much of his competition has been poor he has been climbing up the rankings based on his competition, and his win over Fukunaga is certainly one worthy of note, as he also fits into the top 10. Talented, with respectable power, good speed, work rate and toughness he could go on to be a player in the division, but really will need to step up his competition when boxing resumes in Thailand.
9-Ryoji Fukunaga (12-4, 12)
Current WBO Asia Pacific champion Ryoji Fukunaga scored a career defining win last time out, when he stopped Froilan Saludar. Prior to that win he had done little of note since winning the All Japan Rookie of the Year back in 2016. His career seemed to go off the tracks, especially when he suffered back to back losses in 2018 to Yuta Matsuo and Kongfah CP Freshmart, but the win over Saludar has given the 33 year old a major win and a chance to build something from. Sadly at 33 years old his potential is limited, but with his power and will to win he'll make for some interesting fights, until father time takes him down. It'd be interesting to see him in with the likes of KJ Catraja or Ryusei Kawaura in the future, but we feel the youngsters both have the tools to out point Fukunaga, even at this point their career's.
10-Froilan Saludar (31-4-1, 22)
Once tipped as a future world champion the 31 year old Froilan Saludar rounds out our top 10. The former WBO Asia Pacific champion is very much a fighter who has failed to reach the heights expected of him, but yet has remained a constant enigma. At his best he is very good, but it's hard to know how good he really is when he keeps losing his biggest bouts. Set backs against McWilliams Arroyo, Takuma Inoue, Sho Ishida and Fukunaga show he isn't world class, but he's very much in the mix at the regional level. He's skills, heavy handed and dangerous, but question marks about his durability and stamina will always hang over him and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him become a regional gate keeper in the coming years.
On the bubble
Kenta Nakagawa, Jonas Sultan, Takayuki Okumoto, Jade Bornea and Yuta Matsuo
Note - Donnie Nietes has not been considered as he has been inactive for over a and would be at least 38 by the time he returns to the ring. His long break from the ring may not have been confirmed as a retirement but it's impossible to know what he'll have left it he returns.
For a second week running we've decided to take an international fighter and look at 5 Asian options that they may consider for a future bout, following on from something similar we did last week in regards to Emanuel Navarrete. This week things are a little bit different however, as the international fighter we look at is very closely linked to Japan, and actually fights for a Japanese promoter. Despite that we thought it was worth talking about Nicaraguan star Roman Gonzalez (49-2, 41) in our second international "Five For...".
Thankfully due to Gonzalez's links to Japan and comments made after his recent win over Kal Yafai it's obvious he is willing to return to the Land of the Rising sun for bouts, and there's where two of the bouts would likely take place, though we certainly have other potential match ups for Chocolatito.
1-Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14)
The bout that Gonzalez himself seems to be chasing is arguably the most interesting between himself and an Asian fighter, with that being a clash with WBO champion Kazuto Ioka, . Gonzalez, the current WBA champion, would be looking to unify with Ioka and this is a bout between two men who have circled each other for much of their careers, but things never really lined up. By the time Ioka won his first world title, the WBC Minimumweight title, Gonzalez had left the division. By the time Ioka moved up to 108lbs Gonzalez was on his way out of the division and by the time Ioka was looking settled at Flyweight Gonzalez had moved up again. Neither man blatantly avoided each other, but the windows for the two men to fight were rather slim, they existed but only for a matter of months rather than years. Now they are in the same division, both are world champions and this would be a very special unification bout between 2 men who have held world titles in 4 weight classes.
2-Donnie Nietes (42-1-5, 23)
Another potential bout between a couple of 4-weight world champions would see Gonzalez take on Filipino veteran Donnie Nietes. The Filipino has chased this bout publicly but has failed to secure it, with his team not really having the financial clout they once did. On paper this would have been a brilliant match up when the two men were in their primes, but with his 38th birthday fast approaching, and with more than a year away from the ring, we really need to wonder what Nietes has left in the tank. At his best the talented Filipino was a nightmare for anyone, with fantastic skills, and a brilliant high level IQ, but would that ever have been enough to deal with the power, poise and pressure of Gonzalez? This is probably a safer option for Gonzalez to face next, but in reality Gonzalez has rarely been able having "safer" fights as title defenses.
3-Jerwin Ancajas (32-1-2, 22)
Another potential bout that would see Gonzalez not only facing a Filipino, instead of Neites, but also getting a chance to unify, instead of facing Kazuto Ioka, is a bout with Jerwin Ancajas. The long reigning, though somewhat underwhelming, IBF champion has the longest active reign in the division, dating back to September 2016, but has yet to get that A level championship type of bout. He's beaten a mix of B tier contenders, and worse, but hasn't yet notched a real top tier defense of the IBF crown. If this bout takes place it would finally give Ancajas a chance to face an A tier opponent, and he would have significant size advantages over the Nicaraguan, but Gonzalez would almost certainly be the betting favourite.
4-Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9)
Not the most likely choice, but an interesting choice all the same, would be a bout between Gonzalez and 3-weight world champion Kosei Tanaka. Both men are chasing a bout with Kazuto Ioka, and a clash between the two would essentially be an eliminator, of sorts, to face the WBO king. In reality neither man needs this bout, but it would be a brilliant match up with the old veteran looking to tame the young lion. Gonzalez would be strongly favoured, and would be expected to take out Tanaka, but Tanaka has shown an incredible will to win, and has the speed to make life difficult for someone like Gonzalez. The bout would test what Gonzalez has left, and give Tanaka not only a chance to become a 4-weight champion but also a chance to announce himself internationally. It's an unlikely bout to happen but one worth thinking about, and a really fun one to imagine. Sadly though if Gonzalez is 80% the fighter he once was he would likely grind down Tanaka around the middle rounds.
5-Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (47-5-1, 41) III
We've mostly looked at bouts where Gonzalez would be the favourite, but lets finish this by looking at a bout where the Nicaraguan wonder would be the under-dog, a bout with Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. Or rather a third bout with Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. The heavy handed Thai is the only man to have beaten Gonzalez, having done so twice, and is known to be looking to get back into the world title mix in 2020. For Srisaket the bout would be against a fighter he knows he can beat, and beat decisively, as he did in the rematch. It would also be a bout where Srisaket can, after Gonzalez's last performance, come in knowing the Nicaraguan isn't a shot fighter, and is still very much a top name at Super Flyweight. As for Gonzalez it would give him a chance to avenge his defeats and beat the only man to have beaten him during his legendary career.
Of course when it comes to Roman Gonzalez the modern day legend has numerous other options out there, including a second bout with Juan Francisco Estrada, or a potential bout with one of the current Flyweight kings such as Moruti Mthalane or Artem Dalakian, or unbeaten Australian Andrew Moloney. There are so many options out there for him that his win over Kal Yafai opens the doors to yet another amazing champter for Gonzalez, and a chapter we are really lookign forward to seeing play out of the coming months and years.
Last weekend we saw IBF Super Flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas (32-1-2, 22) continue his reign and record his 8th defense in just over 3 years. On paper that sounds impressive but in reality Ancajas has been kept away from the big dogs of the Super Flyweight division since upsetting McJoe Arroyo for the title back in September and his reign has really failed to impress, and big fights have slipped by, including a unification bout a few years ago with the then WBO champion Naoya Inoue.
Thankfully there is time to turn things around, and rebuild his reputation as a true world champion. A chance to put defenses against the like Miguel Gonzalez, Israel Gonzalez, Jamie Conlan and Teiru Kinoshita behind him and get back to the point where he is on par with some of the divisions other top names. Here we give you Five For... Jerwin Ancajas.
1-Francisco Rodriguez Jr (33-4-1, 24)
We've always liked a match up between Ancajas and former unified Minimumweight champion Francisco Rodriguez Jr, aka "Chihuas". The Mexican is highly regarded, and is currently ranked in the top 10 by the WBC and WBA, and despite not currently having an IBF ranking it would be out of the the realms of logic for them to place him in there soon, especially given they currently rank a retired fighter in their top 15. Rodriguez brings aggression, power, a fun style and a decent name to the ring. Sure he made his name at 105lbs, but he was always outgrow the division and has settled well at 115lbs and has won 14 in a row, with 11 T/KO's. This is a bout we'd genuinely love to see.
2-Donnie Nietes (42-1-5, 23)
Nietes has been out of the ring since the end of 2018, when he beat Kazuto Ioka to become a 4-weight world champion. For whatever reason Neites gave up the title he won there, though hasn't officially retired. What better way to retire than after a fight with Ancajas? For Nietes it gives him a chance to add one more notable name to his brilliant legacy, and claim a world title in 3 different decades. For Ancajas it would be a chance to rip the torch from Nietes and carry it as the Filipino flag bearer for the lower weight classes. This is cross generational fight and one with real appeal, matching Ancajas's speed and fluid boxing against the excellent experience and ring craft of Neites. A really appealing bout for a neutral fan and a huge bout for Filipino fans specifically.
3-Kazuto Ioka (24-2, 14)
Unification bouts have been absent from the Super Flyweight division for too long, and even planned unification bouts seem to fall apart for no real reason. So, how about an all-Asian unification bout at Super Flyweight between IBF champion Ancajas and WBO Champion Kazuto Ioka? It wouldn't match the height of Naoya Inoue Vs Nonito Donaire in terms of attention, another Japan Vs Philippines unification bout, but it would still be huge and give the winner a stronger claim as the best in the division. Technically this would be a joy to watch, with both being technically solid, aggressive fighters, with some of the sweetest looking punches in the division. This bout is, of course, dependent on Ioka winning his year ending bout against Jeyvier Cintron, but we do see that as a bout Ioka should win.
4-Roman Gonzalez (47-2, 39)
Like Ioka we'll see Roman Gonzalez in action in December, in what looks to be a straight forward come back bout. A win there and the door opens up for "Chocolatito" to get some bigger bouts and why not a shot at Ancajas? For both men this should be seen as an appealing match up. For Ancajas it's finally a chance to take on a well known name, albeit a faded and post-prime Gonzalez, and a win over Gonzalez would do his reputation the world of good. Yes even this version of Gonzalez. As for the Nicaraguan the bout would allow him a shot to reclaim a portion of the Super Flyweight crown, and if he wins it would increase his negotiating power in a potential divisional unification bout with Juan Francisco Estrada.
5-Kosei Tanaka (14-0, 8)
Another man with a fight before the year ends, but another really interesting option for Ancajas, is Japanese youngster Kosei Tanaka. Tanaka is already a 3 weight world champion and he has spoken about moving up to Super Flyweight in the relatively near future. If he retains his WBO Flyweight title on December 31st then a move up in weight would certainly be something of interesting. For Tanaka a chance to become a 4 weight world champion in just 16 or so fights must be something that's hugely appealing to a man who has tied Vasyl Lomachneko's record for fewest fights to become a 3-weight champion. For Ancajas this would be a chance to take on a naturally smaller man, but someone who has a growing fan base, and has very high standing among hardcore fans. Ancajas would be the betting favourite, but that doesn't take away from the quality of the match up, and the fact it's a genuine test for the Filipino. This might not be the best possible match up, but is certainly a very interesting bout all the same
The month of May promised a lot for Japanese fighters, with a staggering 8 world title fights featuring Japanese fighters during the first month of the new Reiwa period of Japanese history. Sadly what could have been a huge month for Japanese fighters was a nightmare, with their fighters going 1-7 for the month at the top level. Whilst history was made in Europe, Japanese fighters suffered losses on Japanese, Chinese and American soil, and some defeats were horribly one sided.
The first of the Japanese fighters to fall short was Ryuichi Funai (31-8, 22) who was stopped in the 7th round by Jerwin Ancajas (31-1-2, 21) on May 4th, in an IBF Super Flyweight title bout. Ancajas was a big under-dog, but his performance saw him being totally out classed, and used as a punch bag by Ancajas, who had one of his best performances. Whilst Fuani showed his toughness his lack of defense, speed and movement really cost him hard here and allowed Ancajas one of his best performances so far.
Just over a week later, on May 13th, we saw Masayuki Kuroda (30-8-3, 16) put up a brave effort as he lost to Moruti Mthalane (38-2, 25), in an IBF Flyweight title bout. To credit Kuroda he was always seen as the under-dog and was really competitive in the first half, though ended the bout as the clear loser, suffering awful facial swelling in the process. Kuroda's effort deserves so many plaudits, but at the end of the day Mthalane was too good, too sharp and too skilled.
The third man to lose again put up a brave effort, with Reiya Konishi (17-2, 7) coming up short in an IBF Light Flyweight title fight with Felix Alvarado (35-2, 30) on May 19th. Again the Japanese challenger put up a great effort, and was competitive at times, but was unable to match the champion overall, and was rocked hard late on as Alvarado came close to dropping the Shinsei man. All credit to Konishi for his effort, but he was clearly second best here to the excellent champion
The weekend of May 25th and 26th was a nightmare for Japanese fighters, a real nightmare, with a 0-3 run over the weekend. The first of those to lose was Masayuki Ito (25-2-1, 13), who lost the WBO Super Featherweight title to Jamel Herring (20-2, 10), in what was regarded as a 50-50 bout. Herring really boxed to a fantastic gameplan to out point Ito, who failed to ever get a read on the southpaw stance of Herring.
Just a day later we saw back to back losses for Shun Kubo (13-2, 9) and Sho Kimura (18-3-2, 11).
Kubo put in a fan friendly performance, though was stopped by Chinese fighter Can Xu (17-2, 3) in a WBA "regular" Featherweight title fight. Kubo came to win, and gave a good account of himself, but was worn down by Xu, who made his first defense.
Kimura on the other hand was lacklustre, and very disappointed in himself, as he lost to WBA "regular" Light Flyweight champion Carlos Canizales (22-0-1, 17). Kimura, who dropped down in weight, looked like he had lost 25% of his usual hunger, desire and energy and was rarely a threat to Canizales.
The final set back came on May 31st when former WBO Minimumweight champion Tatsuya Fukuhara (21-7-6, 7) lost a technical decision to WBC champion Wanheng Menayothin (53-0, 18). This rematch was expected to be hotly contested, but Fukuhara was just doing enough to lose competitive rounds to Wanheng, who extended his unbeaten record.
The only shining light for Japanese boxing at the world level this past month was the sensational Naoya Inoue (18-0, 16), who created history in Glasgow by stopping Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-1,12) in 2 rounds to add the IBF Bantamweight title to his WBA regular belt. This bout, on May 18th, saw a Japanese fighter win a world title bout on European soil for the first time, after 20 losses, and proved to be their only success at world level this past May.
Whilst many of those who lost were clear under-dogs, such as Funai, Mthalane and Kubo, others weren't. Kimura was the betting favourite and Ito was a 50-50 shot. To see such a band month is a real worry and one that will linger in the mind of Japanese fans for the foreseeable future, as all the countries other top fighters, several of which have big fights in June and July.
Whilst the month promised a lot, it was a disaster for Japanese fighters, and hopefully not a sign that the Reiwa era will be a bad one for the Land of the Rising Sun.
It's fair to say that the month of August was relatively quiet for Asian fight fans. It wasn't “silent” by any means, but it was certainly quiet with the boxing turning down down during the Olympic period. That silence however ends tomorrow and we move in to a very busy, exciting and active September.
With so much action during the month we've decided to try and mark off some key dates for the month with a 3-part article of the upcoming Asian bouts. This is the first of those three parts and briefly covers fights between September 1st and September 12th.
Jerwin Ancajas Vs McJoe Arroyo
The action kicks off on the first Saturday of the month as Filipino star Jerwin Ancajas (24-1-1, 16) takes on IBF Super Flyweight champion McJoe Arroyo (17-0, 8). The bout will be the first defense by the Puerto Rican fighter, who won the title last year with a technical decision win against Arthur Villanueva. On the other hand Ancajas will be riding an 11 fight stoppage run into what is his first world title bout.
Naoya Inoue Vs Petchbarngborn Kokietgym
Just a day after the IBF Super Flyweight title be we see the WBO version of the title being fought for as Naoya Inoue (10-0, 8) looks for his third defense of the title. The “Monster” will be battling against Thai veteran Petchbarngborn Kokietgym (38-7-1, 18) in what looks like a straight forward defense for the champion. Whilst Inoue will be strongly favoured the Thai isn't travelling to just pick up a pay cheque and will instead be looking for one of the biggest upsets of the year.
Takuma Inoue Vs Froilan Saludar
On the same show on September 4th we will have several other bouts of note, including a mouth watering test for youngster Takuma Inoue (7-0, 2), who takes on Froilan Saludar (23-1-1, 14). This is a genuinely tough test for Inoue, who goes up against a man many tipped a few years ago to win a world title. Saludar knows that a loss here could be the end of his career whilst Inoue knows a win will help open the door to a world title fight either later this year or early next year.
Koki Inoue vs Heri Andriyanto
A third Inoue in action on September 4th is Koki Inoue (4-0, 3) who takes a step up in class as he faces Indonesian veteran Heri Andriyanto (22-22-2, 10) in an 8 round bout. The talented and exciting Inoue hasn't set the world on fire yet but has shown real potential and a win here against Andriyanto may be able to push him towards a domestic title fight. For the visitor the bout is likely to be painful but he's certainly proven his toughness in the past.
Satoshi Shimizu vs In Kyoo Lee
Still staying on that September 4th 4th card we'll finally see the professional debut of Satoshi Shimizu (0-0) who goes up against Korean visitor In Kyoo Lee (3-2, 1). The Japanese debutant is 30 years old and is expected to be fast tracked to the top so will almost certainly be looking to look fantastic here. But Lee is no push over and won't be travelling to just fall over in front of the 2012 Olympic Bronze medal winner.
Keita Obara Vs Eduard Troyanovsky
One of the most interesting bouts this month takes place in Russia and sees Japanese puncher Keita Obara (16-1-1, 15) battle against IBF Light Welterweight champion Eduard Troyanovsky (24-0, 21). The bout hasn't got much attention but looks almost certain to be a war between two massive punchers each looking to score a career defining win. We don't see this one going the distance but it will be fire works from start to end and should be a bit of a hidden gem.
Kenichi Ogawa vs Kento Matsushita
The month really steps up on September 10th, a day where an avid fan gets the chance to watch hours, and hours, of fights. The first of the many title bouts featuring Asian fighters takes place in Japan and sees Japanese Super Featherweight champion Kenichi Ogawa (18-1, 15) defending his title against veteran Kento Matsushita (34-9-7, 13). The bout should be a straight forward defense for the champion but he did look poor last time out before stopping Satoru Sugita.
Johnriel Casimero vs Charlie Edwards
The first of a number of world title fights involving an Asian fighter will see Filipino fighter Johnriel Casimero (22-3, 14) defending his IBF Flyweight title against unbeaten British novice Charlie Edwards (8-0, 3) in London. On paper this looks like an opportunity that has come too for Edwards however it's good to see Western fighters on the fast track and testing themselves against world class fighters like Casimero rather than padding their records.
Gennady Golovkin vs Kell Brook
Staying in London we'll also see a battle of unbeaten men trading blows for the Middleweight crown, as well as the WBC, IBF and IBO titles. The bout in question will see Kazakh star Gennady Golovkin (35-0, 32) taking on British fighter, and IBF Welterweight champion, Kell Brook (36-0, 25). Golovkin will be heavily favoured though some have suggested that this could be Golovkin's hardest bout so far and it could well open real doors in the UK for “GGG”.
Jesus Soto Karass vs Yoshihiro Kamegai II
Potentially the Fight of the Month is rematch as Japan's popular Yoshihiro Kamegai (26-3-2, 23) battles against Jesus Soto Karass (28-10-4, 18). These two men faced off in an all out war earlier this year and we're expecting something similar here with the two men both having styles which will always be fun to watch. Kamegai seemed to do enough to claim a win in their first bout, but the judges disagree and we'd not be shocked to see both putting it all out there for the win here.
Carlos Cuadras vs Roman Gonzalez
In a rare all-Teiken bout we'll see WBC Super Flyweight champion Carlos Cuadras (35-0-1, 27) defending his belt against pound-for-pound sensation Roman Gonzalez (45-0, 38). For Caudras the bout is great chance to legitimise his world title reign, which has been disappointing so far, whilst Gonzalez will be looking to become a 4-weight world champion. The bout is a rare title bout between unbeaten fighters and we can't help but be excited by this one.
Genesis Servania vs Alexander Espinoza
Action continues through Japan for much of the much and on September 11th fans in Ishikawa will get the chance to see world ranked Filipino Genesis Servania (27-0, 11) take on the heavy handed Alexander Espinoza (11-7, 10). Servania has had a frustrating career recently with inactivity, fighting only twice last year and not fighting this year, but will have to be careful here against a big punching Venezuelan who has gone the world distance with two former world champions.
Given the activity during the month part will be posted in the upcoming days and feature bouts from the 12th of September and onwards, including several world title bouts, the first of the WBO Asia Pacific title bouts to be held in Japan and a lot more!
Over the last few weeks we've looked at 30 fighters who we tipped as “ones to watch in 2016”, unsurprisingly however we had to miss out on a lot of fighters. Here we are doing a bonus part trying to include an extra 20 fighters who missed out on our original 6 parts! With these 20 extra fighters it brings the total covered up to an amazing 50 fighters!
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
Part 5 is here
Part 6 is here
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).