Many division's out there are really interesting, and have a lot of brilliant match ups that could be made at any moment. One of the most interesting is the Featherweight division, which isn't the "deepest" but is among the most "interesting", not just in Asia but globally. Despite not being as deep as the Bantamweight and Super Bantamweight division's it's still a very, very good weight class.
Again we're only considering Asian fighters for these rankings.
1-Can Xu (18-2, 3)
The stand out Asian fighter in the division is Chinese "Monster" Can Xu. Unlike another monster, who is known for his power and being a physical freak, Xu is a monster in terms of stamina, chin and output. The 26 year old is the current WBA "regular" Featherweight champion and really came along wonderfully in 2019, when he beat Jesus M Rojas, Shun Kubo and Manny Robles III. Although not a technically perfect boxer, or a big puncher Xu is a nightmare to fight with a swarming busy style and an ability to take a punch whilst letting his shots go. A total nightmare to take on.
2-Tugstsogt Nyambayar (11-1, 9)
Earlier this year we saw Tugstsogt Nyambayar come up short in a competitive, but clear, loss against Gary Russell Jr. That may have ended Nyambayar's unbeaten record but with wins over Harmonito Dela Torre, Oscar Escandon and Claudio Marrero it's hard to question his #2 ranking. Yes he's not scored a world level win yet, but in reality he's done more than anyone on this list, other than Xu. The heavy handed boxer-puncher was a former amateur standout and is a quality professional, but needs to be much more active and he has fought only 4 times in the last 36 months, completely wasting some of his prime years. Incidentally enough that's the same accusation that has been sent Gary Russell Jr's way over the years as well.
3-Ryo Sagawa (9-1, 4)
The Japanese domestic scene at Featherweight is legitimately crazy with 6 very good and interesting fighters in and around the top top. The best of those is, probably, Ryo Sagawa, who holds wins over 2 of the other top Japanese guys at the weight. Sagawa is the current Japanese national champion, an excellent boxer, who controls distance well and looks like a true natural in the ring with a really eye pleasing and smooth style. When he needs to brawl and fight he can, though at his best he is an excellent boxer. Despite being a genuine talent Sagawa also has some questions still hanging over him, and his chin is certainly still suspect, meaning that whilst he's talented, there is always a risk he'll be stopped, making his fights the type that will have you on the edge of your seat.
4-Reiya Abe (19-3-1, 9)
The man Sagawa beat for the Japanese title was Reiya Abe, another of the excellent Japanese fighters at Featherweight. Abe is a brilliant technical boxer, an intelligent southpaw with a very good jab and he controls distance fantastically well. He was unfortunate in 2019 to fight to a draw with Taiki Minamoto and then lose a very close one against Ryo Sagawa. Abe is clearly below Sagawa in the rankings, but there was much that separated the men when they fought and in reality there's still not much between them. In fact whilst Sagawa does have the head to head win, Abe has solid wins himself over the likes of Daisuke Watanabe and Satoshi Hosono, among others. With a tough 2019 behind him we're really looking forward to seeing what the future brings for the skilled Abe.
5-Mark Magsayo (20-0, 14)
As well as a bunch of fantastic Japanese fighters at Featherweight we also have a number of talented Filipino's. The best among the Pinoy's is Mark Magsayo, who has been banging on the door of a world title fight for a while now, but not managed to get the shot at the big time yet. Despite not getting a fight at world title level yet Magsayo already has wins over Chris Avalos, Shota Hayashi and Pungluang Sor Singyu. He made a smart move a few years ago, in leaving ALA Promotions but hasn't yet managed to secure a big fight with his new promoter. Magsayo is an excellent boxer puncher, and like many fighters we feel he will look better when he steps up faces tough competition.
6-Hinata Maruta (10-1-1, 8)
Back to Japan for our #6 entry in the form of 23 year old Hinata Maruta. The talented Maruta has promised a lot since making his professional debut way back in 2015 and whilst he's yet to accomplish what was expected of him there is no doubting his ability. The one thing we need to see from Maruta is his chin being tested and his ability to move through the gears. It's often felt like he's only had 3 gears and that really did cost him against Hidenori Otake, in his sole loss. Thankfully since his defeat to Otake he has shown a lot to be excited about and wins over Tsuyoshi Tameda and Takenori Ohashi have been excellent. If Maruta can continue to improve as he has done recently he'll be finding himself with some big wins soon. Interestingly he is mandated to fight Abe in a Japanese title bout, though it now seems likely that that bout could slip to 2021 due to the ongoing situation. That may actually be a good thing for Maruta, give him extra time to grow into his man strength.
7-Jhack Tepora (23-1, 17)
It's really hard to know what is going on with Jhack Tepora. At times he looks fantastic hi KO of Lusanda Komanisi in 2017 was brutal, and his win in Malaysia against Edivaldo Ortega should have helped launch him to some huge fights. They didn't and instead he fought a meaningless bout to Jose Luis Gallegos last June before being upset by Oscar Escandon in December 2019. That loss was among the bigger upsets of 2019, and completely killed what moment he had. Rumour from the Philippines circulated suggesting he had fallen out with his team, and that they had gotten fed up with some of his out of the ring habits. Whether their is truth to those rumours or not is unclear, but what is clear is a lack of activity has been a major issue for Tepora, who has fought just 3 times since the start of 20918. He needs to sort his career out before it's too late.
8-Musashi Mori (11-0, 6)
Talented youngster Musashi Mori is the current WBO Asia Pacific champion and is very much "one of the future". At the time of writing he's just 20 years old but has already accomplished a hell of a lot, winning the 2017 Rookie of the Year and winning his regional title, taking it from Richard Pumicpic, which he has defended twice. Although still a work in progress two wins over Pumicpic and one over Takuya Mizuno pretty much show that he's already incredibly talented. For recent bout he has been training under the guidance of Ismael Salas so we're expecting to see significant improvements form the youngster in his next few fights. He's a talented southpaw, though does lack his man strength and power, and it will be interesting to see if he can develop that side of his game as he matures.
9-Richard Pumicpic (21-11-2, 6)
With two close losses to Musashi Mori and a close loss to Ryosuke Iwasa it's easy to understand why Richard Pumicpic had double digit defeats. He has been matched hard, had to travel for bouts, and still run good fighters very close. He has now lost 3 in a row, but in reality he's deserved better from the judges. He's not the most powerful, or the quickest, or the biggest, but he's a nightmare. He's tough, rough, knows his way around the ring and really makes life difficult for anyone in the division. On his day he could beat men ranked well above him on this list, but has certainly lacked any form of luck and good fortune during his career. Fingers crossed we see the now 29 year old getting another opportunity to show what he can do in the near future. He's one of those fighters where you need to ignore his record, and just watch what he can do.
10-Ryo Matsumoto (23-3, 21)
Arguably the most over-looked man in the division is former world title challenger Ryo Matsumoto, who moved up to Featherweight in 2018 following his loss to Daniel Roman. Matsumoto has all the things needed to be a star. He's good looking, powerful, quick, skilled, has great size for the division and is someone with an amazing story, fighting through a nasty illness. He also has a sense of vulnerability, with 2 stoppage losses against him. He has the things needed to be a feel good story in boxing, but needs to be given time to adapt to the division, which he has naturally grown into. A rematch with Ryo Sagawa would be interesting and is potentially something he and his team are viewing for the future.
On the bubble:
Satoshi Shimizu, Jhon Gemino, Genesis Servania, Shohei Omori and Shun Kubo
The month of December was an incredibly busy one, with things like the Rookie of the Year, the New Year's Eve show, the Fuji show on the 23rd, and a host of other cards giving us a truly crazy month.
It was also a month that Boxing Raise actually didn't shine, with just 6 tape delay cards, and nothing live. It did however have some interesting, intriguing and exciting bouts hidden away on the service. And now we'll have a look at some of the highlights the services provided during the month.
Before we start however we will just make everyone aware that we are totally ignoring the Kadebi promoted "Slugfest 12" card. The reason for this is that the content featured on that show isn't exclusive to Boxing Raise, it's been uploaded to youtube by Kadoebi themselves giving all fans a chance to see all the action from the card without the need of a Boxing Raise subscription.
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/".
Compelling more than excelling - Musashi Mori (10-0, 6) vs Takuya Mizuno (17-1-1, 14) [movie/7134/]
The WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight title bout between the unbeaten champion Musashi Mori and the heavy handed Takuya Mizuno never really caught fire in the way we had hoped, but in terms of being compelling this was always interesting. Just sadly lacking true drama. Mori, who is just 20, was fighting for the second time under Ismael Salas and it's clear he is developing with every fight, but sadly the styles never really worked here. Still if you want to see one of the brightest Japanese youngsters you could do a lot worse than giving this a watch and getting a head up on Mori before he lands a big international fight. The youngster, is talking about moving into world title level later this year and he's certainly one to be aware of.
Boom goes the Dynamite - Mammoth Kazunori (5-2-1, 5) vs Lerdchai Chaiyawed (2-4, 1) [/movie/7188/]
We had a lot of brilliant knockouts in 2019 and one of the final ones came in mid-December, tucked away on a Japanese under-card bout. The fight saw big punching Japanese hopeful Mammoth Kazunori take on Thai tough guy Lerdchai Chaiyawed and, well, lets just say this ended in spectacular fashion. The bout hadn't been the most thrilling, but the ending makes it worth a watch. A seriously eye-catching KO!
A prospect to watch - Ryosuke Nishida (1-0, 1) vs Pablito Canada (7-17-4, 1) [movie/7219/]
The December 22nd show from Muto gym was a bad idea from the off, putting it on the same day as the All Japan Rookie of the Year, and having one of their brightest beaten in a round. Thankfully though it wasn't all bad news and it was a good chance to see what the hype was regarding Ryosuke Nishida. And in fairness to the 23 year old, he looked damned good. He was the less hyped of 3 Muto prospect and yet was the only one who really shined. If you get the chance give this a watch and keep a close eye on Nishida
A change in tactic proves vital - Yusuke Mine (2-0, 1) vs Ardin Diale (35-15-4, 17) [/movie/7221/]
Whilst we seriously think Muto will want to forget about their December 22nd show we suspect they will also be proud of the promising Yusuke Mine who showed a lot, both good and bad, in his third professional bout. Taking on Filipino veteran Ardin Diale we saw Mine being dropped in rounds 1 and 3, raising real questions about his chin, balance and durability. Then he bit down on his gum shield and pressured, in an attempt to turn the bout around. His change of tactics, and desire are real positives, but being dropped twice will be a worry. A very interesting bout that had genuine drama.
A debut to view - Kantaro Juri (0-0) Vs Makruf Bambali (0-4-1) [/movie/7233/]
Although many debuts are a mismatch they do give us a chance to see what a fighter can do, and we were genuinely impressed by what Kantaro Juri shows in his debut, against the horribly over-matched Makruf Bambali of Indonesia. Juri, who is a bit of a hidden gem, looked a natural in the ring with a very sharp jab, some nice picking and very fast hands. It'll be an interesting journey to follow with him, but we liked him a lot and the Nakazato gym might have someone a little bit special on their hands here. Polish needs to be done, but they have a genuine diamond in the rough.
Wild and even eliminator - Hiroyuki Kudaka (26-18-3, 11) vs Yuta Matsuo (15-4-1, 8) [/movie/7206/]
A Japanese title eliminator at Super Flyweight matched together Hiroyuki Kudaka and Yuta Matsuo in what proved to be, unsurprisingly, a really good fight. These two let their shots fly through out and provided plenty of action in a fun 8 rounder. With the men involved we always expected something special could be on the cards, and whilst this wasn't truly spectacular it was a very fun back and forth battle with some truly brilliant moments. The final round of this was truly excellent, as the two tired men put it on the line.
IBF eliminator provides action - Sho Ishida (28-1, 15) vs Israel Gonzalez (24-3, 11) [/movie/7242/]
The final bout of the month for the service was the best, as Sho Ishida and Israel Gonzalez battled in an IBF Super Flyweight world title eliminator. This was actually fantastic to watch, and it was most down to Gonzalez, who brought so much action and pressure through out. He let his hands go, he forced the fight and it wasn't until late on that Ishida managed to find a foot hold in what was a real gem. It's a shame this wasn't given some form of TV coverage in Osaka as it should have had a bigger viewing audience than it got, but still a very good fight and one that Boxing Raise subscribers should make an effort to watch whilst we're still lumbering through a quiet month of fights.
(Images courtesy of boxmob, and Boxingraise)
Man what a crazy week we've had. We were expecting the WBSS semi finals to be announced, and although that hasn't happened, we have had some notable news across various part of Asian boxing from contract signings to announcements about up coming bouts, to a pretty notable legal case. Unlike last we've we've tried to break our stories in subsections this week, grouping similar stories together.
Srisaket inks deal with DAZN! Details of Feb 8th ring appearance confirmed!
During the week we saw Eddie Hearn announce that he, and Matchroom USA, had inked a deal with WBC and Ring Magazine Super Flyweight champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (47-4-1, 41) [ศรีสะเกษ นครหลวงโปรโมชั่น], making the Thai a DAZN exclusive fighter. This is a huge coup for DAZN who will be showing his rematch with Juan Francisco Estrada, with that bout being eyed for an early April date.
Before Srisaket fights his first bout on DAZN however he will be "fighting" in Thailand in an exhibition bout as part of a stacked February 8th card to raise money for a local hospital. The line up for that card was also announced this week, and more details on that show can be read here:
Muhammad Waseem signs with MTK Global, said to be targeting an April ring return
Another notable fighter signing a contract with a new team was Pakistani Flyweight Muhammad Waseem (8-1, 6) [محمد وسیم] who has now signed with MTK Global ahead of the next chapter of his career. He is best known for his 2018 bout with Moruti Mthalane, and his work with Korean promoter Andy Kim, but it seems like he is needing a promoter with big pockets, and that is what he has got here with MTK Global. Whilst this doesn't explicitly tie Waseem to a particular channel it does seem like it will land him some big fights in the UK, and we're really looking forward to seeing what he can do with MTK Global now guiding his career.
Ryosuke Iwasa to face Cesar Juarez in February!
Former IBF Super Bantamweight champion Ryosuke Iwasa (25-3, 16) [岩佐 亮佑] will be returning to the ring on February 16th to take on exciting Mexican Cesar Juarez (23-6, 17). This is a bout that was rumoured late last year, but was announced until this week, when Juarez let the cat out of the bag. It was later confirmed by the Iwasa team. The contest will be an IBF world title eliminator, and will also be Iwasa's US debut. The match up was announced at short notice, less than 4 weeks before taking place, but with both men being aware of the bout it's hard to imagine either man being ill prepared for what could be a sleeper FOTY contender.
Eri Matsuda and Nanae Suzuki to battle in unification bout!
We all want to see Champion Vs Champion bouts, fighters unifying titles and looking to prove who is the best. This week we saw the announcement that OPBF Atomweight champion Eri Matsuda (2-0) [松田恵里] would be facing Japanese female champion Nanae Suzuki (8-2-1, 1) [鈴木 菜々江], in a mouth watering unification bout. Matsuda looks to be one of the hottest prospects in female boxing, but will need to show what she can do against a more experienced and equally hungry opponent. This is likely to push the winner on to a world title fight, and should be seen as a very significant match up, at least for the fighters involved.
Musashi Mori Vs Richard Pumicpic II set for April 14th, Tsutsumi, Shigeoka and Takeda on undercard!
Last year we saw Musashi Mori (8-0, 5) [森 武蔵] defeat Filipino Richard Pumicpic (21-9-2, 6) to claim the WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight title, in what is clearly his best win to date.The first bout was curtailed due to a headclash, but the fact we're getting a rematch in mid April is certainly not a bad thing.
Not only was the rematch announced here but the under-card was also a lovely bonus, with Ginjiro Shigeoka (1-0, 1) [重岡銀次朗], Seiya Tsutsumi (4-0, 3) [堤聖也] and Rookie of the Year winner Sora Takeda (4-1) [竹田宙] all announced for the show. Sadly none of them have their opponents announced, but we would be very surprised if at least one of them does face a Japanese ranked opponent. A great main event with a potentially solid under-card.
Yuko Kuroki to face Nao Ikeyama in April!
On the same day as the previously mentioned Mori Vs Pumicpic rematch we'll get a mos win female bout, as WBO Atomweight champion Nao Ikeyama (18-5-3, 5) [森脇恵子], who is edging towards her 50th birthday, take on former WBC female Minimumweight champion Yuko Kuroki (17-6-1, 8) [黒木優子]. Female boxing might not be huge but that doesn't stop the sport giving us some huge female bouts, and a contest between Ikeyama, a legend who has competed with the best despite being well beyond the retirement age of most fighters, and Kuroki should be sensational. The loser really has no where to go, but the winner will be on the verge of another world title fight. A high risk, high reward bout between two recent world champions.
Kasumi Saeki to fight for a world title in April!
Staying with female boxing, unbeaten prospect Kasumi Saeki (3-0, 2) [佐伯霞] got informed, live at an event she was speaking at, that her team were pencilling her in for a world title fight on April 27th. The details are lacking, but the WBO Asia Pacific female Minimumweight champion, looks set for a huge step up in class as her team look to make her into a star. We're expecting more details to be announced in the coming weeks, but it's clear that w could see Saeki announce herself on the world stage in just a few weeks.
Notable the April 27th date is also being rumoured as the date for Reiya Konishi's bout with IBF Light Flyweight champion Felix Alvarado.
Suzumi Takayama passes B license test, set for debut on February 26th!
Former amateur standout Suzumi Takayama [高山 涼深] is pencilled in to fight on February 26, he has been for quite some time, but he didn't actually take his B license test until this past week. He has, as expected, passed all the tests and there isn't any issue with him being licensed, and joining the strong stable of hopefuls at the Watanabe Gym.
Shokichi Iwata takes part in B class pro-test
Japanese youngster Shokichi Iwata (1-0, 1) [岩田翔吉] may have made his professional debut last year, but he wasn't allowed to fight under a JBC license until this week, when he claimed a B class licensed and linked up with Teiken. It doesn't seem totally clear on what direction Iwata's career is going to take, but he has opened up doors to fight in Japan, as well as the USA.
Golovkin suing former managers
On a really serious issue, former unified Middleweight king Gennady Golovkin (38-1-1, 34) has began court action as he looks to sue former managers Maximilian and Oleg Hermann, who he claims owe him $3.5 million. The legal action has been filed with claims the Hermann's had their contract ended in 2017 but continued to make money off their relationship with Golovkin. It's going to be very interesting to see how this story develops in the coming months.
The new year is only a few short weeks away and wonderfully there is so many prospects to get excited about as we enter what could be a very big year for professional boxing. With that in mind we've compiled a 19 for 19 list, looking at 19 of the top prospects in Asian boxing.
Before we get into part 1 of this series of articles we just want to, quickly, determine what fighters will and won't qualify as a prospect. We've not set an age limit or fight limit for this article, though most fighters have only had a handful of fights. One limitation we have applied here however is that a fighter isn't allowed to be world ranked on December 6th 2018. This rules out Shakhram Giyasov, Carls Jammes Martin, Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov and Murodjon Akhmadaliev, who are all in at least 1 top 15 world ranking.
We've also ruled out fighters where we've not been able to get some sort of video of the men in action, as we feel sharing footage of the men included is vital. This has ruled out fighters like Taku Kuwahara and Junjun He among others.
Right so lets begin by having a look at part 1 of this list, which will feature only men who are under the age of 20. The men in this part are proper professional novices in terms of experience, but all of them have impressed us in 2018 and we expect to see them do the same in 2019.
Ginjiro Shigeoka (1-0, 1)
Japanese 19 year old Ginjiro Shigeoka turned professional earlier this year, following a 56-1 career in the amateur ranks, and immediately impressed, stopping Thailand's Sanchai Yotbooon. Although he was in with an over-matched opponent it was clear that Shigeoka was a special talent, with amazing shot selection, exciting aggression, and very explosive hands. His debut performance saw the East Japan Boxing Association award him with their newcomer of the month, for September, and with Watanabe backing him there is massive potential for him to go a very long way, very quickly.
Musashi Mori (8-0, 5)
By the time you read this Musashi Mori may have creeped into the world rankings, but at the time of writing he isn't. The 19 year old Japanese boxer really burst on to the domestic scene in 2017, when he won the All Japan Rookie of the Year at Super Featherweight. Since then he has gone 3-0 (1) and claimed notable international wins against Filipino pair Allan Vallespin and Richard Pumicpic, claiming the WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight title in the process. He has shown great development this year and his performance against Pumicpic is by far the best of his career.
Dave Apolinario (9-0, 6)
Filipino boxer-puncher Dave Apolinario is another 19 year old who has really impressed, since his debut in June 2017. In 2018 he has gone 5-0 (3), stepped up his competition well and claimed the WBC Asian Boxing Council Youth Flyweight title, with a win over Michael Camelion. Interestingly for such a young fighter he had already gone 8 rounds twice, and looks to be learning from the mistakes of older brother Mark John Apolinario. It's worth noting that he was a very good amateur on the domestic scene and shows those traits every time he's in the ring. Hopefully he'll have a busy 2019 and continue to step up his competition as he did in 2018.
Jeong Han Cha (3-0, 3)
It's nice to get excited about a Korean fighter against and Jeong Han Cha is someone worth getting excited about, especially now that it seems the Korean scene is finally calming down and settling into some sort of order, after years of being a mess. Like the best Koreans of the past Cha is an aggressive fighter, with a little bit of a "rough around the edges" style, but at 18 years old, with power, heart and decent fundamentals he looks like someone who could, potentially, make a mark for himself on the international scene. It will take time and effort to develop him, but Korea do have a talent on their hands here.
Note - Cha will be fighting on December 9th
The sport of boxing is full of promising prospects. Some of those will fall short, whilst others will achieve a lot more than expected. Today we'll look at 5 of the best teenage prospects from Asia, some of whom have already won their first titles, whilst others will be chasing them in the very near future.
Although not fighting an impressive calibre of opponent, yet, it's hard not to be impressed by Sobirov, who looks very strong for a teenager, very accurate and has brilliant ring IQ with fantastic ability to apply intelligent and intense pressure. With his amateur background we're expecting him to step up massively in 2019 and could well find himself fighting for titles in the next 12 to 18 months!
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).