In the days following Christmas Boxing Raise were in Osaka where they recorded the latest Green Tsuda show, from the EDION Arena Osaka. Among the bouts on that card was the highly anticipated return of Katsunari Takayama (32-8-0-1, 12), who faced Reiya Konishi (17-3, 7) in a bout that was originally scheduled for November. The bout, Takayama's first in more than 4 years, saw the former multi-time world champion look fantastic as he out sped, out pointed, out landed, out boxed and out thought the naturally bigger and naturally stronger Konishi, who looked second best throughout.
Having recently re-watched the bout we've decided to share what we took away from the bout, and what the bout really tells us about the two men.
1-Takayama looked so sharp
Little fighters age quicker, and fighters who fight at 105lbs or 108lbs tend to not have very long careers. In fact by their mid 30's they are usually done at the top tier and never really recapture any form. Aged 37 however Takayama looked fantastic, and didn't look like a man who's last professional bout came back in 2016. Whilst he had fought a few amateur bouts since his last professional contest it was still a real surprise to see him looking this good. He was just as fleet as he had ever been, he seemed to have improved his head movement since his 2016 bout with Riku Kano, he looked full of energy, and set a high output, to go along with his non-stop movement. Unsurprisingly he never looked close to stopping Konishi, someone who has gone the distance with Carlos Canizalez and Felix Alvarado, but he dominated pretty much every minute of the fight. A brilliant performance.
2-Stylistically this was a bad bout for Konishi
Through his now 20 fight career Reiya Konishi has been involved in some great scraps, and this one had the potential to be another nail biter, at least on paper. In the end however wasn’t as exciting as we expected and that was because of the styles the two men employed. Konishi has great work rate and a fun physical style, but he’s got relatively slow feet and due to the movement of Takayama he could never force his will, despite being the naturally bigger man. He whiffed at the air time and time again, missing, whilst eating leather. He pressed forward, only to taste more and more of Takayama’s shots. Against the right opponent, one who is willing to stand and trade rather than box on the move, Konishi does have success, but Takayama’s movement, and sharp clean really made him look incredibly limited here.
3-There was real respect for the fighters by the crowd
One of the things that has been a negative in recent months for Japanese boxing is the deathly silent crowd, something that is essentially a requirement from the JBC who aren’t allowing cheering due to Covid19. Despite that this bout did receive plenty of noise from fans in the venue with regular applause, but at the end of the round and during rounds. It was nice to hear noise in a venue, something that has been missing from Japanese bouts, even some really good competitive bouts. Yes this wasn’t anywhere near the noise that would have been made had the bout took place in 2019, but it was still a very nice addition to a really solid fight and we’d love to hear more applause at future fights. Alternatively maybe fans should be allowed to bring something musical to fights, like a drum, to try and boost the atmosphere.
4-This should have been an 8 rounder...if not 10
The only real complaint we have about this fight was that it was only a 6 rounder. This really should have been over 8 rounds, minimum. Both of these fighters are proven at a high level, both have gone 12 multiple times in world title fights, and a 8 rounder, or even a 10 rounder, would have told us so much more about Takayama’s stamina and fitness. He never looked like he struggled, at all, here but it would still have been much more interesting to see how he looked in a longer fight to know whether or not he’d be able to keep this up if he was to get a world title fight in 2021, something that is very possible. A longer distance in this bout would have favoured Konishi, and it would have made the bout a lot more interesting down the stretch.
Sadly for Takayama we suspect he’ll need another fight before a world title bout, and hopefully that will be over a longer distance than this one.
5-Nobuto Ikehara really had little to do
Referee Nobuto Ikehara, himself a former fighter, didn’t have too many appointments as the third man in the ring in 2020 but this would have been among the very easiest he’ll have had. He had to call a couple of obvious slips early on, but other than there was literally nothing for him to do other than enjoy the best view in the house. There was pretty much no clinching, wrestling was kept to a minimum and when he was needed he was decisive, though he was happy to let them fight out of the clinch when they did occur, something Japanese referees tend to allow. For a 6 rounder to have as few breaks as this had was great to watch and enjoy and really easy work for a very good, and very underrated official. According to boxrec this was the first show he had worked since getting the job for the Junto Nakatani Vs Giemel Magramo fight, which he officiated excellently. Despite having an easy bout here he never let his concentration slip and was very rarely out of position.
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.
From September 26th to November 23rd there are set to be a number of Japanese shows made available, for free, on YouTube. Whilst we'll be tuning in to all of them we know some fans need a reason more than just "free boxing" to put their time aside, so with that in mind let us try to tempt you into watching the free action we'll be getting!
Firstly the shows are free. There is no catch there. If these are a success they may become a more regular thing, and may show promoters that there is a market for these, and a reason to put them on. Secondly they give everyone a chance to dip their toes into Japanese boxing during a time when life is certainly not great for many of us, and it could a bit extra escapism from what is going on outside of where we all live.
And there's also some interesting fighters and bouts coming up on those shows.
On paper this is probably the show we are the least interested in, especially given the other action taking place on the same day, however this shouldn't be ignored outright. Firstly the fact that BOXING REAL are behind the stream is something to sit up and make a note of, as they have provided amazing streams in the past and are very much a growing channel at the forefront of these free streams.
Anyone who has ever watched an Atomweight fight will know the women are small, but never stop throwing and we suspect that will be the case again here when Mika Iwakawa (9-5-1, 3) defends her WBO Atomweight title against Nanae Suzuki (10-3-1, 1). It may not be the most dramatic bout of all time, but it will certainly by a high tempo battle and given that women's rounds are still 2 minutes long this will really fly by. We're expecting non-stop punching, in a thrilling, if some what low level affair.
Former world champion Shun Kubo (13-2, 9) isn't a huge name in the sport but as a former world champion it'll be interesting to see what, if anything, he still has to offer the sport. He shouldn't struggle too much with Takashi Igarashi (13-4, 5), but there is a chance that Kubo's heart isn't in the sport after stoppage losses to Danny Roman and Can Xu in recent bouts.
One time world title contender Kohei Oba (36-3-1, 14), who was once dubbed the "Mayweather of Nagoya", will end a multi-year break from the ring to take on former Rookie of the Year winner Yoshiki Minato (8-3, 3). Not a great bout, but you've got to admit that having the nickname of "Mayweather of Nagoya" is at least a little bit interesting and we're curios as to what he has left in the tank.
Whilst the September 26th show isn't the best we do really want you to get behind the September 27th show if possible. This is from a small local promoter in Shizuoka who are almost certainly losing money to put this show on, but wanted to continue to have boxing in the region during these tough times. Originally they had wanted to run a boxing festival, as they have the last few years, but the on going situation prevented that but they are going to showcase local fighters regardless. With that in mind it'd be great to get behind the Suruga gym for this one.
If the feeling of supporting a small promoter isn't good enough there are 3 interesting bouts on this show.
The first of those is the return of Tsubasa Murachi (4-1, 3), who was knocked out hard by Froilan Saludar last year. Murachi was hoping to be fast tracked and risked it all against Saludar, who's experience and power proved too much. Rather than having an easy comeback he's taking on under-rated domestic foe Ryotaro Kawabata (12-3-2, 6) in a well matched 8 rounder. This looks competitive on paper and will let us see what Murachi's loss to Saludar has done to the 23 year old.
Although a faded force Koichi Aso (23-9-1, 15) has been a consistently exciting fighter to watch. Win or lose Aso is rarely in a dull fight and his aggressive, pressure style makes him on of Japan's most fan friendly fighters. He's up against a man flying high, as he takes on Shogo Yamaguchi (12-5-3, 7), who scored a a career best win over Shuhei Tsuchiya last time out, having been knocked down before pulling out the victory. This has the potential to be a real humdinger of a bout!
There are a lot of exciting prospects making their name in Japan, this is not a secret. One of the very best from those is Rentaro Kimura (1-0, 1), who made his debut earlier this year with a KO of the Year contender, which you can see below. He is the big hope of Shizuoka, a former amateur standout and a man who we suspect will be fighting for titles in 2021. One thing we'd love to see from fans is for them to get on the Kimura express early, and if you missed his debut there's no need to miss his second bout, as he takes on Takafumi Iwaya (4-3) on this show. There's a good chance this ends in Brutal fashion just as Kimua's debut did
From where we're sat the October 13th card on A-Sign Boxing is the show that needs the least amount of "selling" done for it. Before we even mention the fighters we need to just say this is promoted by arguably the most forward thinking promoter in world boxing. Ichitaro Ishii is thinking out of the box regularly, employing social media brilliantly, adapting things like behind the scenes and special documentaries into promoting events and giving fans more access to knowing fighters than any other promoter in the sport. What he's doing on a relatively small budget brilliant for the sport.
As for the bouts the main event is a truly fantastic match up between world ranked Featherweight Reiya Abe (19-3-1, 9) and the unbeaten Ren Sasaki (10-0, 6). Abe is one of the most talented boxers in Japan, but also a frustrating one, with a style is focused around countering, a lot. As a result Abe needs a suitable dance partner to look good against, and we suspect Sasaki will be such an opponent. If you like boxing skills, counter punching, ring craft, a cerebral approach to boxing and in ring genius, this is a bout you'll enjoy. A lot.
Of course not everyone likes the cerebral stuff and some people just want to see action! You need not worry as Kai Ishizawa (6-1, 6) is in the house and taking on the rugged Masashi Tada (13-7-3, 8). Ishizawa is a super heavy handed, aggressive youngster who's somewhat rough around the edges, but scary strong, a serious puncher and one of the most exciting youngsters in the sport. When he gets in the ring it's always worth tuning in for. Tada isn't the best fighter, but he's tough and it'll be great to see if he can blunt the buzz saw that is Kai Ishizawa.
Although the other two bouts mentioned for this show have the ingredients to be show cases of different styles the bout we suspect will be the best of the bunch is the clash between Kai Chiba (12-1, 8) and Haruki Ishikawa (8-2, 6). On paper these two are made for each other, and in the ring we'll likely see that play out. Chiba is a real solid boxer-puncher, who had his chin cracked by Brian Lobetania. We know Chiba can punch, and can be taken out. Ishikawa on the other hand gave us one of the best fights of 2019 last time out, as he took on Toshiya Ishii, and in that fight showed a willingness to wage war on Ishii.
For something of a taster for the Chiba Vs Ishikawa bout, enjoy round 2 of Ishikawa's last bout:
We don't think we need to really tell people why they should tune in to see Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) take on unbeaten Thai Thanongsak Simsri (14-0, 12), but if you're not already on board for this one we'll try to entice you to tune in on Kyoguchi's own YouTube channel.
Kyoguchi is regarded by many who follow the lowest divisions as one of the very best at 108lbs. Don't take our word for that though but instead that of experts. He's the Ring Magazine champion, the WBA "Super" champion, and is ranked #2 by BoxRec, TBRB and ESPN. He's a fun, exciting fighter and is quickly becoming a YouTube star in his own right, with his own channel being the outlet for this bout.
Simsri is obviously not regarded as highly as Kyoguchi, but he is a hotly tipped Thai fighter who has been dubbed "Srisaket II" by the Thai press and is regarded as one of the brightest hopes in Thailand. He's actually fought in Osaka a few times and despite being in Kyoguchi's homeland we don't see that being an issue for the hard hitting Thai. He'll be there to win and should make for a thrilling bout here.
On paper the best card, from what we know of right now, is the final card which takes on November 23rd and features a former multi-time world champion and 3 world title challengers and a man we have already mentioned for one of his previous bouts. This is being shown by Osaka TV and should, in theory, have the best production values, and the stronger overall name name appeal.
The main event here will see youngster Riku Kano (16-4-1, 8) one of the former world title challengers, battle against Ryoki Hirai (13-6-1, 4) in a brilliantly well matched bout do the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Light Flyweight title. At one point Kano was seen as the super prospect, and fought for a world title when he was just 18! Sadly things haven't gone his way since then, but it's still way too early to write him off. Hirai on the other hand had a terrible start to his career but is very much in the mix for regional and domestic titles. We expect this to be a compelling, and hotly fought 12 rounder for the belt.
Another of the world title challengers on this show is Sho Ishida (28-2, 15), who is best known for his competitive bout with Kal Yafai in the UK. Once tipped as a potential face of Osakan boxing Ishida's career is beginning to struggle and he's likely hoping that a move to Bantamweight will help save give new life to his once promising boxing career. In the other corner is the unbeaten Toshiya Ishii (3-0, 2), the main who faced off with Haruki Ishikawa in that round we shared a little bit earlier. Given Ishii's fun aggressive boxing style and Ishida's need to win to remain relevant this really can't disappoint.
Once again we have saved the best until last with former multi-time world champion Katsunari Takayama (31-8-0-1, 12) taking on multi-time title challenger Reiya Konishi (17-1, 7) in a 6 rounder that could end up being something very, very special. This will be Takayama's first bout since announcing his return to professional boxing earlier this year, afater failing to qualify for the Tokyo games, and there are real questions over what he has left in the tank. On the other hand Reiya Konishi is no push over and has twice fought for world titles, showing his heart and toughness in those bouts. Both of these men like letting their hands go, both get involved in trench warfare far too often and together they have the potential to give us the best damn 6 rounder of 2020!
For those note familiar with Takayama we have have left one final treat below, his incredible war with Francisco Rodriguez Jr, from 2014.
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!
Today we take a look at the Light Flyweight division, which is a rather interesting weight class right now. The 108lb weight class is, potentially, the best in the sport on a global basis, and would make for a fantastic tournament with the top guys from around the bout. We see some of the best fighters in the division in Asia however the drop off in the division is start between the best, and the best of the rest.
1-Kenshiro Teraji (17-0, 10)
There will be debate between the #1 and #2 in the division, however for us the pick is rather easy based on achievement and competition at the weight class. Kenshiro Teraji has been the WBC champion since May 2017 and has scored 7 defenses, some of which have come against fighters lower down this list. The talented boxer-mover has looked near untouchable at times and beaten the likes of Ganigan Lopez, Pedro Guevara, Milan Melindo and Jonathan Taconing. An excellent technical boxer Kenshiro has made so many improvements since winning the title that he hardly seems the same fighter that he was 3 years ago. A real revelation at the top of the division.
2-Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9)
Whilst we have Kenshiro at #1 we know some would suggest fellow Japanese fighter Hiroto Kyoguchi, the Ring Magazine champion, should be top. Whilst he's the Linear champion his reign at 108lbs has yet to match that of his countryman. He won the WBA "Super" and Ring magazine titles in December 2018, when he stopped Hekkie Budler in a great win, but wins against Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart and Tetsuya Hisada were both tougher than expected for the Watanabe Gym fighter. Kyoguchi is certainly ahead of the rest of the field, but so far he's shown less versatility at Light Flyweight and doesn't look as dangerous as he did at Minimumweight. Still a top fighter however and he's going to be very hard to dethrone.
3-Reiya Konishi (17-2, 7)
The drop off between the top 2 and the rest really is massive and even then the argument for #3 is a really close one. We've gone with 2-time world title challenger Reiya Konishi at number 3, though could see 3 or 4 fighters all having a fair claim to the position. Konishi has only lost at world level against ultra-dangerous fighters, Carlos Canizales and Felix Alvarado, and holds wins against decent fighters like Masataka Taniguchi, Shin Ono and Orlie Silvestre. A little warrior Konishi has a great work rate but lacks single punch power and makes life very difficult for himself time and time again. A legitimate top 15 globally, he's a man who had proven he's on the bubble of world class, but hasn't yet scored the big win. Saying that however he gave Carlos Canizales a very tough bout back in 2018.
4-Petchmanee Kokietgym (32-1, 21)
Thailand's Petchmanee Kokietgym, also known as Panya Pradabsri among other names, is perhaps the divisions least well known contender. The 29 year old Thai was unlucky in his sole defeat, a loss in China to Xiong Zhao Zhong, and has bounced around between Light Flyweight and Flyweight since then. Despite having over 30 wins to his name his competition is rather mixed, and is certainly not the best out there. When he has stepped up to fringe regional level however he has impressed, stopping the likes of Jerry Tomogdan, Robert Onggocan and Dexter Alimento. Very much a fighter who is just a win or two away from making a mark, and at 29 he does have a bit of time to go out and make a statement before a world title bout.
5-Edward Heno (14-1-5, 5)
Former OPBF champion Edward Heno has impressed multiple times, with wins against the likes of Seita Ogido, Merlito Sabillo, Jesse Espinas and Koji Itagaki. He also impressed last year in his loss to Elwin Soto, in what was a very competitive bout against the dangerous Mexican. Aged 27 the Filipino southpaw is pretty much in his physical prime and the loss to Soto do more good than harm, instilling a confidence in Heno that he belongs at world level. Before the current global situation he was supposed to fight in March against Francis Jay Diaz, and that would be a big test of his mentality after the Soto bout. Arguably the most skilled of the contenders he has a bright future, if he can get up for the lower level tick over fights until landing another big one.
6-Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart (11-1, 5)
Another Thai with an under-rated standing in the sport is 27 year old Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart, aka Tanawat Nakoon. The talented Thai had done little in boxing before landing a fight with Hiroto Kyoguchi last year and giving the Japanese fighter some trouble over 12 rounds. The bout was a clear one for Kyoguchi on the cards but Satanmuanglek proved he was on the fringes of world class and that he was tough, skilled, smart and promising. Since that loss he has had some Muay Thai action, though hopefully we see him back boxing in 2020. He has the ability to be well and truly in the mix though needs to face more opponents like Marco John Rementizo and few like Crison Omayao, if he's to develop and progress the way he should.
7-Jonathan Taconing (28-4-1, 22)
Just a year ago Johnathan Taconing would have come much higher up this list but the 33 year old Filipino southpaw is very much a fighter on the way out. The heavy handed puncher was always regarded as a dangerman in the division, and one of the most brutal punchers in the weight class. He matched that power with an iron jaw and will to win. Sadly though a KO loss last year to Kenshiro has seen the jaw now left with question marks and at 33 time is not on his side. He's likely to be too good for those at regional level but going 0-3 in world title bouts is a telling stat, and we don't imagine we'll see him picking up a world title before he hangs them up.
8-Thanongsak Simsri (14-0, 12)
Exciting Thai teenage Thanongsak Simsri is one of the division's most promising and exciting hopefuls. He's only 19 but is a heavy handed boxer-puncher who is show real potential, and is getting international experience with bouts not just in Thailand but also Japan. Whilst his competition hasn't been the toughest so far he has impressed with wins against Ricardo Sueno, Lerdchai Chaiyawed and Christian Bacolod already. In 2019 he fought 8 times and the intention was to move him into regional title bouts this year. We might see that happen, but given how the year has been so far any plans for the youngster have been put on hold. For now.
9-Randy Petalcorin (31-4-1, 23)
Another Filipino worthy of note in the division is former world title challenger Randy Petalcorin. He's a long way from the top fighters in the division, but is certainly on the fringes of world class. Last time out he fought Kenshiro Teraji, as a late replacement for Felix Alvarado, and was stopped in 4 rounds by the WBC champion. At 28 years old the talented southpaw has time to bounce back, but unfortunately for him there is a lot of young and emerging talent coming through the division. We mentioned Simsri a moment ago and there are others looking to over-take Petalcorin in regards to his standing in the division.
10-Tibo Monabesa (20-1-2, 8)
Indonesian fighter Tibo Monabesa found that he wasn't ready for the top when he lost to Hiroto Kyoguchi, but the 29 year old has distinguished himself from those outside of the top 10 wins a number of notable victories. In his 23 fight career he has already defeated Rene Patilano, Lester Abutan, Lito Dante, Samartlek Kokietgym and Omari Kimweri. Before the world changed he was pencilled in to face Toto Landero in March, and a win there would have boosted his career to being a legitimate fringe contender. He's on a good run since being beaten by Kyoguchi and the hope is that he will get a world title fight in the coming future.
On the bubble:
Masamichi Yabuki, Daiki Tomita, Christian Bacolod, Kenichi Horikawa and Christian Araneta.
Notes - Tetsuya Hisada has stated his intention is to move up to Flyweight in the future, so wasn't considered here. Yuto Takahashi has announced his retirement from the sport
The month of May promised a lot for Japanese fighters, with a staggering 8 world title fights featuring Japanese fighters during the first month of the new Reiwa period of Japanese history. Sadly what could have been a huge month for Japanese fighters was a nightmare, with their fighters going 1-7 for the month at the top level. Whilst history was made in Europe, Japanese fighters suffered losses on Japanese, Chinese and American soil, and some defeats were horribly one sided.
The first of the Japanese fighters to fall short was Ryuichi Funai (31-8, 22) who was stopped in the 7th round by Jerwin Ancajas (31-1-2, 21) on May 4th, in an IBF Super Flyweight title bout. Ancajas was a big under-dog, but his performance saw him being totally out classed, and used as a punch bag by Ancajas, who had one of his best performances. Whilst Fuani showed his toughness his lack of defense, speed and movement really cost him hard here and allowed Ancajas one of his best performances so far.
Just over a week later, on May 13th, we saw Masayuki Kuroda (30-8-3, 16) put up a brave effort as he lost to Moruti Mthalane (38-2, 25), in an IBF Flyweight title bout. To credit Kuroda he was always seen as the under-dog and was really competitive in the first half, though ended the bout as the clear loser, suffering awful facial swelling in the process. Kuroda's effort deserves so many plaudits, but at the end of the day Mthalane was too good, too sharp and too skilled.
The third man to lose again put up a brave effort, with Reiya Konishi (17-2, 7) coming up short in an IBF Light Flyweight title fight with Felix Alvarado (35-2, 30) on May 19th. Again the Japanese challenger put up a great effort, and was competitive at times, but was unable to match the champion overall, and was rocked hard late on as Alvarado came close to dropping the Shinsei man. All credit to Konishi for his effort, but he was clearly second best here to the excellent champion
The weekend of May 25th and 26th was a nightmare for Japanese fighters, a real nightmare, with a 0-3 run over the weekend. The first of those to lose was Masayuki Ito (25-2-1, 13), who lost the WBO Super Featherweight title to Jamel Herring (20-2, 10), in what was regarded as a 50-50 bout. Herring really boxed to a fantastic gameplan to out point Ito, who failed to ever get a read on the southpaw stance of Herring.
Just a day later we saw back to back losses for Shun Kubo (13-2, 9) and Sho Kimura (18-3-2, 11).
Kubo put in a fan friendly performance, though was stopped by Chinese fighter Can Xu (17-2, 3) in a WBA "regular" Featherweight title fight. Kubo came to win, and gave a good account of himself, but was worn down by Xu, who made his first defense.
Kimura on the other hand was lacklustre, and very disappointed in himself, as he lost to WBA "regular" Light Flyweight champion Carlos Canizales (22-0-1, 17). Kimura, who dropped down in weight, looked like he had lost 25% of his usual hunger, desire and energy and was rarely a threat to Canizales.
The final set back came on May 31st when former WBO Minimumweight champion Tatsuya Fukuhara (21-7-6, 7) lost a technical decision to WBC champion Wanheng Menayothin (53-0, 18). This rematch was expected to be hotly contested, but Fukuhara was just doing enough to lose competitive rounds to Wanheng, who extended his unbeaten record.
The only shining light for Japanese boxing at the world level this past month was the sensational Naoya Inoue (18-0, 16), who created history in Glasgow by stopping Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-1,12) in 2 rounds to add the IBF Bantamweight title to his WBA regular belt. This bout, on May 18th, saw a Japanese fighter win a world title bout on European soil for the first time, after 20 losses, and proved to be their only success at world level this past May.
Whilst many of those who lost were clear under-dogs, such as Funai, Mthalane and Kubo, others weren't. Kimura was the betting favourite and Ito was a 50-50 shot. To see such a band month is a real worry and one that will linger in the mind of Japanese fans for the foreseeable future, as all the countries other top fighters, several of which have big fights in June and July.
Whilst the month promised a lot, it was a disaster for Japanese fighters, and hopefully not a sign that the Reiwa era will be a bad one for the Land of the Rising Sun.
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.
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)
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).