With December 2020 now firmly behind us and our feet both into 2021 we thought there was no better time to look back at what Boxing Raise brought us in December, in what was a genuinely excellent month for the service. The month brought us some amazing KO’s, brilliant bouts, thrilling wars and some of the best entertainment the service has provided in the entirety of 2020
As with our previous "Best of Boxing Raise" article all the fights featured here can be accessed by subscribers by logging into Boxing Raise and adding the "movie/####" to "https://boxingraise.com/".
Brutal KO in women’s world title bout - Etsuko Tada (19-3-3, 6) Vs Ayaka Miyao (23-8-2, 6) II [movie/9127/]
Really early in the month we saw WBO female Minimumweight title bout between former world champion Etsuko Tada and Ayaka Miyao. The bout was a rematch of a draw from earlier in the year and delivered everything we needed for a great contest, with good back and forth action and one of the best KO’s in female boxing in recent memory. This was a brutal finish in a bout between two legitimate world class fighters
Japanese title bout! - Masataka Taniguchi (12-3, 7) vs Hizuki Saso (12-6-2, 4) [/movie/9128/]
On the same show as the Tada Vs Miyao rematch was a Japanese title bout between Masataka Taniguchi and Hizuko Sasao, who look to fill the vacancy left by Norihito Tanaka back at the start of the year. This wasn’t the most competitive or best of bouts, but it was great to see a new champion being crowned almost a year after the belt was vacated. Even though it’s not the best of bouts it is still worthy of a watch.
Women’s world title action in Osaka - Miyo Yoshida (14-1) vs Tomoko Okuda (6-2-2, 1) [/movie/9160/]
The second female world title bout to be made available on the service was the WBO female Super Flyweight bout between Miyo Yoshida and Tomoko Okuda. This didn’t end in the brutal fashion of the Tada Vs Miyao bout but was certainly among the most meaningful and significant contests on Raise during December. Well worthy of anyone’s time during the next few days, where there is a lack of fighters in general.
War for Triple Crown! - Ryoji Fukunaga (12-4, 12) vs Kenta Nakagawa (19-3-1, 12) [movie/9185/]
The best bout on Boxing Raise during December, by some margin, was the tremendous triple title unification bout between Ryoji Fukunaga and Kenta Nakagawa, who fought to unify the OPBF, WBO Asia Pacific and Japanese Super Flyweight titles. This one of the very best bouts of 2020, not just December on Boxing Raise, and saw both men being hurt, both digging deep, both landing some monstrous shots and both fighting incredibly hard. If you like brutal wars and punishing battles this is one you must watch!
Hard hitting champion takes on rugged veteran - Masamichi Yabuki (11-3, 11) vs Toshimasa Ouchi (22-9-3, 8) [movie/9266/]
The final Japanese title fight of 2020 came on December 26th when Japanese Light Flyweight champion Masamichi Yabuki made his first defense, taking on veteran Masamichi Yabuki. On paper this was a test to see what Yabuki could bring if his power didn’t do the job, especially given the number of early blowouts he’s had, and it was a bout that saw the champion needing to answer a number of questions.
Sharp finish between Japanese youngsters - Jinki Maeda (5-0, 3) vs Kaito Okubo (5-1, 2) [/movie/9292/]
On one of the final Japanese shows of 2020 we saw youngsters Jinki Maeda and Kaito Okubo clash in what looked like a really compelling match up. This was a tactical battle from the off, with both men looking to control the range until a sudden, and brutal finish in round 2. The bout wasn’t the most exciting but it showcased some stuff from two youngsters, and a finish that really did look incredibly brutal. A gorgeous finish worth watching the bout for.
A legend returns! - Reiya Konishi (17-2, 7) vs Katsunari Takayama (31-8-0-1, 12) [/movie/9290/]
After more than 4 years away from professional boxing we saw former multi-time world champion Katsunari Takayama return to the ring and take on 2-time world title challenger Reiya Konishi. The bout was one that had been scheduled for November and then got added to a December show after Konishi got a false positive Covid19 test. Despite the delay this one lived up to all the expectations and was a high tempo war throughout. A real gem of a post-Christmas fight between two high tempo fighters each letting shots fly.
Veteran takes on former champion - Ryota Yada (20-6, 17) vs Yuichi Ideta (13-15-1, 7) [/movie/9284/]
The final bout to be shown on Boxing Raise in 2020 was supposed to be a mismatch as former Japanese Welterweight champion Ryota Yada took on the completely out of form Yuichi Ideta. This was supposed to be a mismatch for the hard hitting Yada though no one told Ideta he was supposed to lose again and the veteran took the fight to Yada making this a thrilling battle of will Vs skill. It’s not the prettiest fight you’ll see but it is a solid one and a real enjoyable watch as Ideta tries to roll back the clock to the days when he was once regarded as a genuine prospect and hopefu.
Back on December 3rd we saw talented Japanese fighter Masataka Taniguchi (13-3, 8) claim the Japanese Minimumweight title, stopping the over-matched Hizuki Saso in the 10th round of their bout.
The win, although not a massive in terms of the division, was a major one for Taniguchi who's career had promised a lot when he turned professional but had been hit by several setbacks, including narrow losses to Reiya Konishi and Tsubasa Koura as well as a 2019 defeat to the then WBO champion Vic Saludar. Now however he has had back to back notable wins and his career appears to be heading in the right direction.
With that win in mind we've decided to take a look at 5 potential bouts for Taniguchi in this week's Five For.
1-Melvin Jerusalem (15-2, 9)
When we look at these match ups we tried to look at ones that make the most sense and promise the most action. With that in mind we'd love to see Taniguchi take on Filipino Melvin Jerusalem in a WBC world title eliminator. Both men are highly ranked, and it would make sense in 2021 if neither man could secure a world title fight. On paper it's a very even looking contest, and in terms of styles they should make for a thriller with their styles and in ring mentalities almost guaranteeing a fun, technical, high tempo battle. From a logistical point of view, given the world is the world right now, the bout might not be the easiest to make, but man what a fight this would be.
2-Kai Ishizawa (7-1, 7) II
In 2019 we had a legitimately brilliant Japanese title eliminator between Taniguchi and Japanese youngster Kai Ishizawa, with Taniguchi taking a clear but hard fought decision over the hard hitting youngster. Since then Ishizawa has remained a top domestic contender and Taniguchi has gone on to win the title. Given their brilliant first bout, the way both have picked up wins since and the fact Ishizawa is set to be the top ranked Japanese contender by the end of the year this is the bout that makes the most sense domestically. We'd expect another tear up here, and despite Taniguchi winning their first bout we wouldn't be surprised at all if a more mature and experience Ishizawa proved to be too much for him in a rematch. Genuinely the best that can be made in Japan at 105lbs.
3-Lito Dante (17-11-4, 9)
Before the global situation became what is it Taniguchi was originally supposed to face OPBF champion Lito Dante in a rather odd JBC/OPBF title unification bout, due to the way the local rules work. This would have been a brutally entertaining, tough and exciting bout. Taniguchi has all the technical advantages, the speed and the skills, however Dante is one of the toughest, must rugged fighters out there and his pressure over 10 or 12 rounds is a nightmare for anyone. This would have been great in the first half of 2020 and now makes just as much sense for 2021. As with the potential Jerusalem bout the key issue is the "on going global situation", but if they can work around that this is a bout we would love to see in the new year!
4-Norohito Tanaka (20-8, 10)
Going back to Taniguchi's Japanese title it's fair to say Ishizawa won't be the only fighter with eyes for the belt, and former champion Norihito Tanaka is also likely to be in the conversation for a shot. Tanaka gave up the title at the start of 2020, as he began to prepare to face WBA champion Knockout CP Freshmart, and would likely see a bout with Taniguchi as the best fight out there for him in 2021. Tanaka, now in his mid 30's, is unlikely to get another really big fight with out taking risks and beating fellow contenders, such as Taniguchi, so this makes sense from him. For Taniguchi it would be a chance to beat a former world title challenger, and prove he's the best in Japan by beating the previous champion. This wouldn't be as good as a bout with Ishizawa, but it's not a bad second choice.
5-Wilfredo Mendez (16-1, 6)
A bit of a wild card entry to finish with but a bout between Taniguchi and WBO world champion Wilfredo Mendez will be something on Taniguchi's mind. For this bout to be a reality two things need to be dealt with in a way that makes sense. Firstly the on going global situation needs to be dealt with in a way that would allow Mendez over to Japan in the new year, and secondly it's contingent on Mendez beating Alexis Diaz later this month. Of all the champions in the division Mendez is the one that would make the most sense to target if you were in Taniguchi's situation, with the Japanese fighter currently ranked #3, and is also stylistically the best for him. Maybe a long shot for his next bout but potentially a bout for late 2021, and a longer term target for Taniguchi and the Watanabe Gym.
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!
We'll begin by looking at Minimumweight today and work our way through the weights in the future one by one.
1-Wanheng Menayothin (54-0, 18)
There is, of course, some debate about the #1 and #2 in the division between two Thai's. Of the two we have Wanheng Menayothin, the WBC champion, as the #1 guy in the division. His 54-0 record might not be full of quality, but in terms of his overall record his resume is better than anyone else's in the division. Wins over Florante Condes, Oswaldo Novoa, Saul Juarez, Melvin Jerusalem, Tatsuya Fukuhara, Pedro Taduran and Simpiwe Konkco are do put him ahead of anyone else. At 34 years old his career hasn't got long left, but until he's dethroned it's hard to put anyone above him, especially given his resume to date. It's also worth noting that he has already ran up a very impressive 12 defenses of the title since winning it more than 5 years ago.
2-Knockout CP Freshmart (21-0, 7)
The other Thai in the running for top spot is Knockout CP Freshmart, the WBA champion. The 29 year old Knockout has been inconsistent at times, in both his performances and his competition. At his best he looks fantastic, but unfortunately he has built a reputation as someone more than happy to stink out the joint, as he did against Byron Rojas in 2018. Wins over the likes of Carlos Buitrago, Byron Rojas, Muhammad Rachman, Rey Loreto and Xiong Zhao Zhong look good on paper but in reality he's not looked the most impressive in some of those and really has managed frustrate fans. He did look good earlier this year, when he beat Norihito Tanaka, but that came after a number of uninspired performances.
3-Pedro Taduran (14-2-1, 11)
IBF Minimumweight champion Pedro Taduran is an interesting case here. On paper the 23 year old is some way behind the WBA and WBC champions, though he did give Wanheng one of his toughest bouts to date. He impressed in his title win last year, when he stopped Samuel Salva in a 4 round thriller, and was unfortunate to see his first defense to end in a technical draw in February. Unlike the men ranked #1 and #2 Taduran is a real fun fighter to watch, with an aggressive and exciting style, though it does seem likely that he will lose the title sooner rather than later. We suspect his next bout will be a rematch with Daniel Valladares, and given their bout earlier this year we will not be complaining about them re-running that, as it was a great fight.
4-Vic Saludar (20-4,11)
Former WBO champion Vic Saludar is a hard man to place on this list. The 29 year old has looked great at times, such as in his loss to Kosei Tanaka and his wins over Ryuya Yamanaka and Masataka Taniguchi. At other times however he has looked questionable. His title loss last August, to Wilfredo Mendez, ended what had been a reign that started well but never really got going. He's talented, heavy handed, has an under-rated boxing brain but is a touch on the slow slide and can be out boxed. At his best he's a nightmare for anyone in the division, though we do wonder if his days at Minimumweight are numbered.
5-Ginjiro Shigeoka (5-0, 4)
One of the most exciting and promising prospects in the sport, Ginjiro Shigeoka is a special fighter and the youngster has already claimed the WBO Asia Pacific title and put himself in the running for a world title fight. Aged just 20 years old he has already shown he can box or punch. His body shot KO of Clyde Azarcon was truly brutal and his stoppage of Rey Loreto, in just his 5th professional bout, legitimised him as a true contender. The rating here might be a little high however that is, in part, due to his potential, which we expect we will see a lot of when the sport returns to the ring.Don't be surprised at all if Shigeoka fights for a world title in his next fight or two.
6-Melvin Jerusalem (15-2, 9)
Another Filipino youngster who needs to be mentioned is 26 year old contender Melvin Jerusalem. Jerusalem does have a couple of losses to his name, but one of them was a razor thin loss to Wanheng Menayothin and another was a close loss to the always tricky Joey Canoy. Since losing those fights, which were back to back in 2017, Jerusalem has won his last 4 including solid wins over Philip Luis Cuerdo and Toto Landero. He's yet to have a win at the world level, but our feeling is that will change sooner rather than later and he prove himself as a world class fighter in the next year or two. A really exciting, talented youngster with a lot of promise.
7-Lito Dante (17-11-4, 9)
On paper Lito Dante doesn't belong on this list, with 11 losses in his 32 bout career. The reality however is that the records of fighters don't always reflect their ability, or how dangerous they are and that's the case with Dante. The 30 year old Filipino is the current OPBF champion and is one of the division's hidden danger men. He's got 11 losses but has never been stopped and most of his losses have come in 6 rounders. We mention that because Dante's big strength is not just his toughness, but also his insane stamina, making him a total nightmare to fight over the longer distances. Over 10 or 12 rounds he will be a handful for anyone and would give any of the champions fits.
8-Masataka Taniguchi (12-3, 7)
Japan's Masataka Taniguchi is another of those hard men to place, like Vic Saludar who holds a win against him. Taniguchi is a very real talent, and we were looking forward to his proposed showdown with Lito Dante before boxing in Japan was put on hiatus. He's a solid puncher, had under-rated skills, an exciting style, but still has a lot of work to do. The 26 year old isn't a KO artist, he's not got the best stamina, and he does have areas to work on. But, he's also a very, very good fighter and has been unfortunate in 2 of his 3 losses, with the other coming to Saludar in a world title fight. Don't be surprised to see Taniguchi banging on the door of future world title fights down the line. He does however need to find that extra gear in the coming years if he's to win a top level belt.
9-Yudai Shigeoka (2-0, 1)
The 23 year old Yudai Shigeoka is the older brother of Ginjiro Shigeoka and actually appears to bee the more polished fighter of the two, though he lacks the explosiveness and physical strength of his younger brother. Yudai made his debut just over a year ago and then really impressed as he beat Lito Dante, over 6 rounds, in his second professional bout. The talented southpaw looks to be an excellent, sharp boxer, with some brutal body punching, educated foot work and a very smart boxing brain. He certainly fights to his strengths, though we do wonder whether or not he can fight the way he does over 10 or 12 rounds. That's the one big question over Shigeoka and one we hope to see answered later this year.
10-Samuel Salva (18-1, 11)
Former world title contender Samuel Salva is someone who came up short in his biggest bout to date, being stopped by Pedro Taduran, but at 23 years old has a lot of time to rebuild and learn from that loss. Against Taduran we saw a really talented young fighter, with good power, good technical ability and good speed, but a fighter who lacked the mental toughening he needed against Taduran. He had early success but didn't like it when he was on the receiving end of Taduran's pressure. There's a chance that Salva will never like being under intense pressure, as he was against Taduran, but we're going to give him the benefit of the doubt and go with the idea that that loss will actually make him a better fighter. He now knows what he needs to work on, he'll hopefully learn to bit down on his gum shield a bit more, and maybe even take a bit of a whooping in sparring to mentally preparing him for when the going gets tough again. He's got the skills, now he just needs maturing, and mentally toughening up.
On the bubble:
ArAr Andales, Jing Xiang, Marco John Rementizo, Tsubasa Koura and Hasanboy Dusmatov
Note - Typically a fighter with a win against a ranked fighter would be above the ranked opponent. Here though we've decided that the 6 round limit neutralises Shigeoka's win over Dante a little bit, and have left Shigeoka behind Dante, however not a lot separates the two of them, or Taniguchi at this present moment in time.
After small break the action returns this week and we have a packed few weeks left in October.
Ryo Takenaka (14-3-1, 8) vs Randy Braga (19-1-1, 5)
Attention turns back to Tokyo this week as we get the chance to see Ryo Takenaka defend the OPBF Featherweight title against once beaten Filipino Randy Braga. On paper this is a step up for Braga, but the Filipino has been impressive and is unlucky to have a loss against his name, with that coming by controversial decision on foreign soil. For the champion this is a second defense and whilst he will be favoured he is returning from a hand injury and may be suffering the effects of the damage, as well as a bit of ring rust.
Masataka Taniguchi (4-0, 4) vs Dexter Alimento (11-0, 7)
On the same card in Tokyo we get a bout that has us more than justa little bit excited as the unbeaten pairing of Masataka Taniguchi and Dexter Alimento face off. Taniguchi has impressed since his debut and looks like an exciting, aggressive and powerful young fighter racing through the ranks but is stepping up massively here. Alimento scored his break out win earlier this year, when he defeated Chanachai CP Freshmart for the WBC Youth Minimumweight title and really impressed with his skills, defense and counter punching, which could all be a nightmare for someone as aggressive as Taniguchi. This really is mouth watering.
Shintaro Matsumoto (13-4, 9) Vs Jayde Michell (9-1, 4)
For the second time in less than a week we get OPBF title action as Super Middleweight champion Shintaro Matsumoto looks to make the first defense of his title and over-come Australian Jayde Mitchell in what should be a really intriguing match up. Matsumoto is a rather weak champion but shocked the Oriental scene earlier this year by over-coming Yuzo Kiyota and will be looking to prove he deserves the title. For Mitchell the bout is a great chance to claim a major regional title, but does seem him needing to make his international debut.
On October 22nd we see the “Strongest Korakuen” with 4 bouts to decide 4 of the mandatory challengers for Japanese titles. Whilst each of the bouts are significant one of them, a Super Bantamweight bout between veteran Jonathan Baat (32-7-5, 14) and heavy handed new comer Yusaku Kuga (12-2-1, 8). The show is a significant one and will see mandatory challengers at Light Flyweight, Super Bantamweight, Super Featherweight and Light Welterweight all being decided in what should be a thrilling and important show for Japanese fans.
Takuya Kogawa (27-4, 13) Vs Yudai Arai (8-3-3, 4)
Japanese Flyweight champion Takuya Kogawa returns in the final week of the month to defend his title, for the fourth time, as he takes on the little known Yudai Arai. We love Kogawa, he's one of the most exciting fighters on the planet, but he always makes life difficult and always gets involved in a war, even when he doesn't need to. We think that'll be the case again here and although we don't think he'll struggle to beat Arai we'd be surprised if the fight didn't end up being a typical Kogawa tear up. And who doesn't like watching a tear up?
Kanat Islam (21-0, 18) vs Patrick Allotey (34-2, 28)
In a bout for multiple titles we'll see Kazakh hopeful Kanat Islam battle against Ghana's Patrick Allotey. Originally this bout was pencilled to be for the WBA interim title at 154lbs but instead it'll just be for 3 secondary titles, form the WBA, WBO and IBO. The bout will see Islam face one of his most notable foes to date and should see him being given a chance to answer some questions about his ability, whilst also making his Kazakh debut. Allotey is ona 4 fight winnign streak coming into this, but Islam will be strongly backed.
Zhankhozh Turarov (19-0, 13) vs Isaac Aryee (24-8, 22)
Promising Kazakh Zhankhozh Turarov looks to continue his winning run as he takes on heavy handed slugger Isaac Aryee. This is going to be Turarov's toughest bout, at least on paper, but Ayree is 0-3 away from Ghana and has shown little to show he can travel without struggling. Despite lacking a win on the road Aryee is a puncher and could well be a threat if Turarov is lacking in terms of a chin.
Zhanibek Alimkhanuly (0-0) Vs Milton Nunez (33-16-1, 29)
Also in Kazakhstan we'll see the professional debut of Zhanibek Alimkhanuly as he begins his campaign as a professional fighter. The 2016 Olympian is diving in at the deep end here against the hugely experienced and heavy handed Nunez, who has faced the likes of Gennady Golovkin, Daniel Jacobs, Sergio Mora and Matt Korobov. Sadly for Nunez he has been beaten by every recognisable opponent that he's faced so far.
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).