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 champion Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym to Kazuto Ioka.
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-Talented Thai former world champion Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym is a really interesting fighter who is perhaps best known in the west for failing a medical prior to facing Guillermo Rigondeaux. Despite that issue he had a great career that included wins against the likes of Ricardo Cordoba, Leo Gamez, Somsak Sithchatchawal, Bernard Dunne, Satoshi Hosono and Shoji Kimura. His debut came on a card that also featured Sornpichai Kratingdaenggym.
2-The talented Sornpichai Kratingdaenggym was another Thai world champion, though was a former world champion by the time he shared a card with Poonsawat. He had originally held the WBA Flyweight title, from 1999 to 2000. He lost the belt in 2000 to the controversial Eric Morel whilst seeking his second defense of the title.
3-Eric Morel is certainly a controversial figure, but we're not going to get into our views of Morel's out of the ring activities as we're here to speak about boxing. In regards to boxing one of Morel's most controversial wins was his robbery of Filipino fighter Gerry Penalosa in 2010, which was a terrible decision.
4-Sadly for Gerry Penalosa his loss to Eric Morel wasn't the only dodgy decision he suffered, in a career that was plagued with questionable judging and officiating. Despite the poor judging Penalosa actually had a brilliant career, scoring more than 50 wins in a career that ran from 1989 to 2010. One of his standout wins was his 2007 KO win over the big punching Mexican Jhonny Gonzalez for the WBO Bantamweight title.
5-Hard hitting Mexican Johnny Gonzalez has fought a number of Asian fighters, not just Penalosa. These include Toshiaki Nishioka, Hozumi Hasegawa, Ratanachai Sor Vorapin, Akihiko Katagiri, Kazuki Hashimoto, Hurricane Futa, Hirotsugu Yamamoto and Jessie Cris Rosales. Of those the most notable was his 2011 win over Hozumi Hasegawa at the World Memorial Hall in Kobe, in April 2011.
6-The World Memorial Hall hasn't been used too often as a venue for professional boxing, but it has hosted a number of big bouts and big fighters and big fighters. One of those fights was the February 2011 bout between Kazuto Ioka and Oleydong Sithsamerchai, which saw Ioka claim the WBC Minimumweight title with a 5th round win over the previously unbeaten Thai, announcing himself on the world stage!
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.
One of the world champions who defended their world title at the very end of 2019 was WBO Flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9). The man from Chukyo made his third defense of the title in impressive fashion, putting on a near punch perfect display against Chinese challenger Wulan Tuolehazi, before clinically closing the showing with some sensational uppercuts.
With 3 defenses behind him and a potentially massive 2020 ahead of him it seems we're now at an ideal time to give Kosei Tanaka the "Five For" treatment, and look at five potential match ups for the "KO Dream Boy". Here are 5 options he, and manager Kiyoshi Hatanaka, should be looking at if they want to have a huge year!
1-Moruti Mthalane (39-2, 26)
A bout between Tanaka and South African Moruti Mthalane would be a sensational match up between two men who are incredibly talented and smart in the ring, but go about things very differently. Mthalane, the current IBF champion, is a defensively sound fighter, with clean punches and a willingness to press forward behind a tight guard to force mistakes and open up counter opportunities. Tanaka on the other hand is a speedy fighter who likes to let his hands go, and will involve himself in a war far too easily. This could end up being a brilliantly exciting, yet high skill, war, though with Mthalane now in his late 30's we'd want this sooner rather than later.
2-Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14)
Leading into the end of year show to close out 2019 it seemed TBS and the WBO were both building to a potential all Japanese show down between Tanaka and WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka. The bout would see Tanaka leaving the Flyweight division, just as it seems to be heating up, but for a bout against a Japanese icon like Ioka, with a 4th divisional title on the line it'd have been hard to fault Tanaka for going this route. Sadly since the show on New Year's Eve this bout has began to seem unlikely, at least for now. It seems both are on different paths, and if they do cross, it could well be 2 or 3 years from now.
3-Julio Cesar Martinez (15-1, 12)
Although it seems WBC champion Julio Cesar Martinez won't be available until the middle of the year, given he's pencilled into defend his title in late February, this is still a match up that genuinely intrigues us. On one hand you'd have Tanaka, a lightning quick boxer-puncher, blessed blink and you miss it speed. On the other hand you have "El Rey", a destructive freak of nature, who walks through opponents, with intense pressure and brutal power. Speed against power is always fun to see, and we can't help but view this as a super competitive bout between men with very different abilities, but abilities that would gel well. Oh and it'd be a unification bout!
4-Artem Dalakian (19-0, 14)
Another unification bout, and another we'd have to wait until summer for, would be a clash between Tanaka and WBA champion Artem Dalakian. Tanaka might not yet have truly shined as a Flyweight, though has beaten decent competition in his defenses, but Dalakian has completely wasted the good will of his title win. Despite being an excellent fighter Dalakian has done little of note since winning the belt in the US against Brian Viloria. Dalakian set to make his 4th defense in February, against Josber Perez, and that should be his final easy bout. With Dalakian turning 33 in August he needs big bouts, and he needs them soon, what better than facing Tanaka, in a unification bout in summer?
5-Sho Kimura (18-3-2, 11) II
The dark horse bout, though it really shouldn't be, would see Tanaka take on former foe Sho Kimura in a rematch of their 2018 Fight of the Year. Their first bout was a sensational war that helped put Tanaka on the map, and for him to give Kimura a chance to reclaim his title would be the right thing to do. If we ended up with a rematch half as good as their first contest then we wouldn't be complaining at all! We do imagine Tanaka would win a rematch easier than he won their first bout, but we'd still absolutely love to see these two share the ring one more time!
In the final world title bout of 2019 we saw WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14) make his first defense. After the bout there was 3 names linked to him, and whilst one of those is now looking less and less likely, it is an interesting point in Ioka's career, especially if the rumours of him going independent and setting up his own gym turn out to be true. If he does that it would essentially give him the chance to call the shots on his career in a way that was never previously possible, and give him full flexibility in terms of match making.
With that in mind Ioka seems the perfect fighter for the first "Five For" of 2020!
1-Juan Francisco Estrada (40-3, 27)
The main Ioka has publicly stated is his ideal opponent is Mexican Juan Francisco Estrada, the current WBC Super Flyweight champion and a former WBO and WBA Flyweight champion. The two do have some history, with Ioka being the mandatory back when Estrada was a Flyweight champion, before the Mexican vacated to pursue Super Flyweight action. They also have rather similar styles, with both being technical and adaptable fighters. Estrada is the more pure boxer of the two, but both are fantastic, and have found ways to adapt to over-come naturally bigger fighters. Despite being technicians both are happy to let their hands go and this would be amazing high speed chess.
2-Roman Gonzalez (48-2, 40)
Another name mentioned by Ioka in a recent article is Nicaraguan great Roman Gonzalez, who like Ioka is a 4-weight world champion having won titles from 105lbs to 115lbs. Although now seen as a faded force Gonzalez is still one of the biggest names in the lower weights and recently returned to a Japanese ring for the first time in over 5 years. Various reports from Japan suggested that Gonalez's fight on December 23rd was designed to help build this potential show down, and it's one that would certainly be a big fight, still. The two have circled each other for years, but never shared the ring, and it would be a great shame if we don't get to see them face off at some point. In his prime we suspect Gonzalez would have been too much for Ioka, but with Gonzalez slipping, this would be a real test to see what he has left in the tank.
3-Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9)
In the lead up to the New Year's Eve show this year there had been a lot of talk in Japan about Kazuto Ioka potentially facing WBO Flyweight Kosei Tanaka in 2020, with Tanaka moving up to Super Flyweigth for the bout. The talk of that has quietened a bit since, with Tanaka suggesting he was happy to remain at Flyweight for now. The bout certainly isn't dead in the water, but it does seem likely the two men will continue on different trajectories, at least for now. Despite that the bout is a brilliant all-Japanese bout pitting two of TBS's top fighters against each other in what would be a sensational high speed fight. The reality is that it's "bad" for Japanese boxing, particularly for TBS, though it would be good for fans. If this one waits a year or two we don't think many would complain, as long as both face fitting competition.
4-Jerwin Ancajas (32-1-2, 22)
If Ioka is going to go with his own gym and does want a unification bout it wouldn't be a bad idea to do that by working with Bob Arum and taking on IBF champion Jerwin Ancajas. The Filipino is known in Japanese fighting circles due to wins over Teiru Kinoshita and Ryuichi Funai, he's also a man who had ESPN broadcasting his fights, and would likely be an easier unification fight to make than facing off with Kal Yafai. Technically this would be an interesting fight, where both are against skilled fighters and both would enter the bout with belief they could walk away a double champion. Notably however Ancajas does have a mandatory due in 2020 against Israel Gonzalez, who earned his shot with a recent win over Ioka's former stablemate Sho Ishida.
5-Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (47-5-1, 41)
We want the best to fight the best right? Then pitting Ioka and Srisaket is about as good as it gets, with the exception of the Estrada fight. Ioka would be taking on the single most dangerous man of his career, and Srisaket would be getting a chance to become a 3-time world champion. This would be skills against power, speed against strengths, body punching against bludgeoning punching. It's a real shame that Srisaket hasn't fought since losing to Estrada in April 2019, and to return against Ioka would be perfect. Given how it seems Eddie Hearn is already bored with the Thai there is a real chance this could take place in Japan and continue the long and stories Japan Vs Thailand rivalry as well. Double it up with Tanaka against a Thai in a wonderful double header and fans would be in with a treat!
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 Kazuto Ioka to Choi Tseveenpurev.
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-Well known by modern day boxing fans as a multi-weight world champion and one of the best Japanese fighters of the current generation Kazuto Ioka isn't actually the first member of his family to be a boxing star. Whilst his father Kazunori Ioka, failed to leave a big mark in the pro ranks his uncle Hiroki Ioka, was a fantastic fighter and a multi-weight world champion him.
2-As a youngster Hiroki Ioka was a great talent, and he would become the 6th world champion to be trained under the legendary Eddie Townsend, who is such a big part of Japanese boxing that he's even had an award named after him, the "Eddie Townsend Award". Townsend was one of the most revered and legendary trainers in Japan and his time as a trainer really changed Japanese boxing, and how the sport was taught in the country.
3-The "Eddie Townsend Award" is one of the major Japanese boxing awards, and has been around since 1990. It recognises the best trainer in Japan in a given year, and has seen a number of very notable winners. In 2014 the winner was Shingo Inoue, the father of Naoya Inoue.
4-Japanese trainer Shingo Inoue is one of a number of trainers who also happen to be fathers of the fighters they train. Others come from all over the world, with a notable and loud mouthed example being Angel Garcia.
5-Angel Garcia has trained his son, Danny Garcia, for more than 20 years and whilst he's a controversial figure the work he has done for his son has been brilliant. Angel has often deflected attention from Danny and his performances, as well as teaching him the tools for Danny to go a very long way in the sport and have success through out his career. That includes Garcia's professional and amateur career. During his son's days as an amateur he won gold at the 2005 Tammer Tournament in Tampere, Finland.
6-Going back to the 1994 Tammer Tournament, 21 years before Danny Garcia won his, we saw popular Mongolian fighter Choi Tseveenpurev winning a gold medal! This was long before he made his name in the pros as a tough nosed warrior in the UK, and became a bit of a cult figure in British boxing circles.
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
Japanese boxing has many stars, and of the most well known is 4-weight world title holder Kazuto Ioka. The nephew of former 2-weight world champion Hiroki Ioka has been a star in Japan for years, he has been strongly backed by TV giant TBS and has regularly featured on their end of year broadcasts.
There's lots that is known about Ioka but here are 10 facts you probably didn't know about...Kazuto Ioka
1-In junior high school Ioka first boxed out of the Green Tsuda gym, a gym that had trained his father and uncle. Despite training at Green Tsuda gym as an amateur Kazuto wouldn't actually fight out of it as a professional, instead he would actually leave to join the gym his uncle, Hiroki Ioka, had set up.
2-Although a very successful amateur on the Japanese domestic scene Ioka's international amateur success was limited with his most notable achievement being a bronze medal at the 2008 King's Cup, where he lost to Amnbat Ruenroeng in the semi-final.
3-After failing to make the Japanese team for the 2008 Olympics Ioka dropped out of university and decided to turn professional instead, debuting less than a month after his 20th birthday.
4-In his professional debut Ioka defeated Thongthailek Sor Tanapinyo in 3 rounds. At the time Thongthailek was the Thai Flyweight champion, having won the belt 2 months earlier. Interestingly Thongthailek's previous bout in Japan had seen him face off with future Ioka opponent Akira Yaegashi.
5-Ioka retired from boxing at the end of 2017, in fact he did so on December 31st live on Japanese TV channel TBS, following the end of year bouts that TBS had shown as part of their Kyokugen event. The retirement hadn't been a total shock, but his retirement notice had only been accepted by the JBC (Japanese Boxing Commission) 1 day earlier.
6-Outside of boxing Ioka has been married twice. His first marriage was to singer Nana Tanimura whilst the name of his second wife hasn't been widely reported, though she was revealed to have been a model in the past. With his second wife Ioka has a son, who was born on August 17th 2019.
7-As an amateur Ioka went 95-10 (64), one of his few losses on the Japanese scene came in the 2008 All Japan Championship finals to Taro Hayashida. Hayashida is notable for not only this win but also for giving Naoya Inoue one of his very few amateur losses.
8-Early in his career Ioka was referred to as "Golden Boy", taking the nickname of one of his favourite fighters, Oscar De La Hoya.
9-Ioka was dropped in his 4th professional bout by Indonesian foe Heri Amol. The knockdown came in the 9th round from an over-hand right with only seconds of the bell left. Although the shot that sent him down was clean as a whistle he didn't seemed hurt, looked clear headed when he got back to his feet and went on to win the following round.
10-In just his third bout he fought a former world title challenger. His opponent there was Takashi Kunishige, who had challenged Edgar Sosa just 18 months earlier. Ioka took a wide and clear 10 round decision over Kunishge who would remain a notable fighter on the Asian scene right through to his final bout in 2013. Following the loss to Ioka he would go on to lose decisions to Suriyan Sor Rungvisai, Norihito Tanaka, Go Odaira, Denver Cuello and Ryuji Hara.
Extra fact - He's very good friends with Japanese musician AK69 and his bout against Aston Palicte saw AK69 do a live performance.
Over the last few years Japan has gained a reputation for ending the boxing year in style, with major shows in the final few days of the year. Typically those bouts get announced through November, as promoters officially announce the bouts and put their shows together along with major domestic television companies.
As we enter November we thought it would be fun to look at some of those rumours for the month, and some of the confirmed bouts, as well as those that have been mentioned as possible, and those on the verge of being officially announced.
We'll start by looking at what we know, with the confirmed notable bouts from the month.
December 1st is set to be a crazy day with several major shows.
In Tokyo we'll get a card televised by G+ which will be headlined by Valentine Hosokawa (23-6-3, 10) defending his Japanese Light Welterweight title against Takashi Inagaki (20-17-2, 9). The card will also feature a brilliant match up between Seiya Tsutsumi (4-0, 3) and Matcha Nakagawa (13-1-1, 5) as well as the ring return of former IBF Super Bantamweight champion Yukinori Oguni (19-2-1, 7)
On the same day in Osaka we get two Shinsei Gym cards, featuring a combined 6 title bouts. The shows will be Real Spirits vol 60 and Real Spirits vol 61, with the first card featuring 4 female title bouts, including a WBO female Minimumweight title bout between Kayoko Ebata (12-7, 6) and Etsuko Tada (17-3-2, 5) and an OPBF Atomweight title bout between Eri Matsuda (1-0) and Minayo Kei (6-3, 1).
The second card will see former world title challenger Reiya Konishi (16-1, 6) defending the WBO Asia Pacific Light Flyweight title against Richard Rosales (13-7-2, 7) and a potentially thrilling contest between Masao Nakamura (24-3, 23) and Carlo Magali (23-10-3, 12) for the WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight title.
December 3rd will give us a single big show, headlined by OPBF Featherweight champion Satoshi Shimizu (7-0, 7) and Takuya Uehara (16-0, 10), with a brilliant supporting bout between Hinata Maruta (7-1-1, 6) and Tsuyoshi Tameda (18-3-2, 16), which is one of the bouts we're most looking forward to!
On December 9th things get a bit crazy again. We will get a Japanese Welterweight title fight, as Ryota Yada (17-4, 14) defends his belt against Shusaku Fujinaka (16-9-2, 10), and a Japanese Super Flyweight title bout, with Takayuki Okumoto (21-8-3, 10) making his first defense against Masayoshi Hashizume (16-0-1, 10). These bouts have been officially announced and confirmed.
The same day we're set to see to see Shohei Omori (19-2, 14) taking on Takahiro Yamamoto (21-5, 17) and Sho Ishida (26-1, 15) taking on Warlito Parrenas (26-8-1, 23). These bouts haven't been formally announced, though teams from both have confirmed they are taking place, and will be at the EDION Arena Osaka. It's unclear if they will share the same card as the other bouts or if the EDION will host another double dose of boxing with two shows. There is also some speculation that if this is a second show there will be one more big bout to add to the card.
On December 13th we'll see Japanese Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (8-0, 6) defending his belt against Kazumasa Kobayashi (10-7-1, 6) at the Korakuen Hall and a week later we'll see Nobuyuki Shindo (20-4-1, 8) and Akinori Watanabe (37-7, 31) fight to unify the Japanese Light Middleweight title.
The only other show of real significant that has been confirmed is the Japanese Rookie of the Year final on December 23rd. Nothing after Christmas, but before the start of 2019, has really been announced. But we have had a lot of rumours, speculation for December!
One bout that is supposed to be, finally, made is the long awaited IBF Light Middleweight world title eliminator between Takeshi Inoue (13-0-1, 7) and Julian Williams (25-1-1-1, 15), a bout that has seemingly been delayed, rescheduled and redelayed several times already this year. Fingers crossed this is actually made before the year is over, as it seems both fighters have wasted a lot of this year waiting for this bout to take place. Interestingly this could be the only bout to actually take place outside of Japan.
Another IBF eliminator which is rumoured to take place in December is a Super Bantamweight title eliminator between Ryosuke Iwasa (25-3, 16) and Cesar Juarez (23-6, 17). This bout is supposedly set to take place in Tokyo, though no date has been made public. If this is confirmed then we are in for a treat as these two, together, should be an amazing contest, with both being heavy handed and flawed. Fingers crossed we get this one announced shortly!
Staying on the subject of IBF title fights there has been speculation in Japan that Masayuki Kuroda (30-7-3, 16) may get an unexpected shot at Flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane (36-2, 24). This rumour has come about after a scheduled eliminator with Kuroda and Eaktwan BTU Ruaviking fell through after the Thai suffered an injury. Kuroda's seemed to suggest this would be a long shot, but they are chasing the bout and it could, potentially, be on.
The first of the rumoured big cards to end the year is expected to be on December 30th and is expected to be the Fuji TV card. The strongest rumour for this show is a WBO Super Featherweight title defense for Masayuki Ito (24-1-1, 12), with the named linked to him being Evgeny Chuprakov (20-0, 10). This bout is expected to be confirmed in the coming days, or at the very least Ito's part of it is, with Chuprakov perhaps not being the opponent. The same date is also pencilled in as a potential date for Kenshiro (14-0, 8) to make his next defense of the WBC Light Flyweight title, though no opponent has been linked to him.
The December 30th Fuji card has also been set as the potential date for a WBC Bantamweight title bout between Petch Sor Chitpattana (48-0, 33) and Takuma Inoue (12-0, 3). This bout depends on another bout not taking place, as per an order at the WBC convention in early October, so we should see this bout being either confirmed or not very quickly. There is also a rumour that Takuma's stable mate at the Ohashi gym, Akira Yaegashi (27-6, 15) may also be involved on the same show.
If the rumours for December 30th are a bit of an exciting mess things get even crazier for New Year's Eve. For weeks we've been hearing that WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (51-0, 18) would be defending his title against Shin Ono (23-9-3, 6). This was rumoured to be part of a triple header, which has changed a few times but new seems most likely to feature a rematch between Ryoichi Taguchi (27-3-2, 12) and Hekkie Budler (32-3, 10), with Taguchi looking to reclaim the WBA Light Flyweight title from the South African. Along with that rematch is rumoured WBO Light Flyweight title bout between Angel Acosta (19-1, 19) and Hiroto Kyoguchi (11-0, 8). If this triple header is done, then TBS would be expected to show at least 2 bouts live on their Kyoguken show.
Things get more complicated when we consider the other rumours, which include a potential WBO Flyweight world title defense by Kosei Tanaka (12-0, 7). His could be squeezed on TBS as an early bout, or could be used to stack the show to a quadruple header or could end up being only CBC live, with TBS showing it on tape delay. It's really unclear how he fits in, but he will almost certainly be wanting to fight on a year ending show, after missing out on the chance last year due to injury.
Last, but certainly not least, is the rumoured WBO Super Flyweight title bout between Kazuto Ioka (23-1, 13) and Donnie Nietes (41-1-5, 23), a bout so big that TBS have seemingly given Ioka the option to take the date and broadcast if he wants it. This was rumoured strongly in September, and Japanese sources were suggesting that it could take place in the Philippines with TBS still airing it live, however the rumours did quieten quickly. It should be noted that Ioka's not been one for leaking news in the past, this could be well in the works. Given how silent things have gone however we may well see this bout being delayed into 2019, potentially as part of the next Superfly card.
(Bottom image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
This past Monday we had the chance to see an excellent All Japanese world title fight, with Kosei Tanaka narrowly defeating Sho Kimura to claim the WBO Flyweight world title. It was the latest in a long line of amazing All Japanese world title fighters dating back over 50 years. Here we take a look at 5 memorable all Japanese world title bouts.
Yoshiaki Numata (33-4, 9) Vs Hiroshi Kobayashi (50-6-2, 7)
December 14th 1967 - Kokugikan, Tokyo, Japan
The first ever all Japanese world title fight saw Yoshiaki Numata battle against Hiroshi Kobayashi. Coming in the the bout Numata was the WBC and WBA Super Featherweight champion, having taken the titles from the legendary Flash Elorde. When he won the titles he was the 5th ever Japanese world champion. In his first defense Numata faced off with the much more experienced Kobayashi. Kobayashi had made his name on the Japanese domestic scene mainly, where he had been the Featherweight champion, making 7 defenses before moving up in weight to challenge Numata.
The bout was an action packed one and would be award the Japanese fight of the year. Notably both men went on to have success after this bout and when the WBC and WBA titles split there was an 18 months time window when the two men were both world champions. The bout also got 41.9% of the audience tuning in from the Kanto region, one of the highest ever for a boxing contest!
Masao Oba (31-2-1, 13) vs Susumu Hanagata (34-10-8, 4) II
March 4th 1972-Nihon University Auditorium, Tokyo, Japan
Amazingly it would be more than 4 between the first and the second all-Japanese world title fight, though the wait was worth it with WBA Flyweight champion Masao Oba, one of the greatest Japanese fighters of all time, battling against Susumu Hanagata. This was a rematch of a bout the two men had had in 1968, when an 18 year old Oba was beaten by Hanagata, suffering his second career loss. Following their first bout Oba had become one the best fighters in the division, reeling off 15 straight wins and making two world title defenses. Hanagata had gone 10-2 following their first bout, with both losses coming on the road in world title bouts. This was high work rate and very exciting from both men.
Interestingly Oba's bout with Orlando Amores was voted the Japanese fight of the year for 1972 and unfortunately Oba would pass away less than a year after this bout, following a motor vehicle accident. Hanagata would go on to fight for a few more years and would actually score a huge win over Chartchai Chionoi in 1974 to put his name in the history books.
Yasuei Yakushiji (22-2-1, 16) Vs Joichiro Tatsuyoshi (10-1-1, 8)
December 4th 1994-Rainbow Hall, Nagoya, Aichi, Japan
Almost 30 years after the first ever all Japanese world title fight we had the first “unification” bout between two Japanese fighters as WBC Bantamweight champion Yasuei Yakushiji and Interim champion Joichiro Tatsuyoshi faced off at the Rainbow Hall. This bout was massive for Japanese boxing with Tatsuyoshi being the face of boxing in Osaka, due to his charismatic and exciting style. Yakushiji on the other hand was the more technically correct boxer, but was over-looked by some due to the popularity of Tatsuyoshi. That was despite the fact Yakushiji was the “real” champion and was looking to make his third defense.
This bout would achieve an audience number of 39.4% in the Kanto region, another of the highest ever in Japan, and like the Tanaka Vs Kimura bout it would live up to all the expectations with high tempo action, heavy shots landed by both and very little to split the men, both of whom were looking worse for wear at the end of the bout. This would be another winner of the Japanese Fight of the Year award.
Takanori Hatakeyama (23-1-2, 18) vs Hiroyuki Sakamoto (35-4, 25)
October 11th 2000-Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan
In 2000 Japanese fight fans had another all-Japanese Fight of the Year as WBA Lightweight champion Takanori Hatakeyama and Hiroyuki Sakamoto beat the ever living snot out of each other in a bloody, violent, thrilling clash. Hatakeyama was the champion going into the bout, he enjoying his second reign as a world champion having previously held the WBA Super Featherweight title, and had won the Lightweight belt in brilliant fashion stopping Gilberto Serrano, with this being his first defense. Sakamnoto had lost two other world title fights, including one to Serrano, but had won the OPBF and Japanese titles. This was mostly an inside war fought between two men who did not want to hear the final bell.
As mentioned this was a Japanese Fight of the Year and seemingly took a lot out of both men. Neither man would go on to score a win of note, and in fact between them the only real good result was a draw in 2001 between Hatakeyama and Rick Yoshimura. This fight essentially ruined both men.
Kazuto Ioka (9-0, 6) Vs Akira Yaegashi (15-2, 8)
June 20th 2012-Bodymaker Colosseum, Osaka, Osaka, Japan
Almost 20 years after the brilliant Yakushiji/Tatsuyoshi bout we had the first true unification bout, as WBC Minimumweight champion Kazuto Ioka faced off with WBA champion Akira Yaegashi. The bout was a brilliant contest with a combination of skills and heart, with Yaegashi fighting through badly swollen eyes for much of the fight and managing to drag Ioka into his fight. Ioka always looked like the guy with more rounded skills, and speed, but Yaegashi's heart, determination and sheer will to win made this into a fantastic bout. It managed to give us some of the best rounds of the year and was another of the All-Japanese world title bouts to be awarded the Japanese Fight of the Year.
In the years since this bout both men have moved through the weights, with both claiming world titles at Light Flyweight and Flyweight, and now, remarkably, both are competing at Super Flyweight as they look to become 4-weight champions.
It's worth noting that there has been a lot All Japanese title bouts than we've covered. These range from the controversial, such as Daisuke Naito's bout with Daiki Kameda, to the frankly massive contest between Daisuke Naito and Koki Kameda which got a ridiculous 43.1% audience share. They also include other Japanese fights of the year, such as Takashi Uchiyama's bout with Daiki Kaneko.
Amazingly there has only ever been one all-Japanese world title fight to end in the first round, and that was the second bout between Masamori Tokuyama and Katsushige Kawashima. Interestingly the trilogy between Tokuyama and Kawashima saw Tokuyama win 2-1 taking decisions in both of his wins. Amazingly there has only ever been 1 draw in an all Japanese world title fight, that came in 2001, in the aforementioned bout between Takenori Hatakeyama and Rick Yoshimura.
For those who care about TV numbers all 3 of the high rating bouts were screened on TBS.
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).