For a second week running we've decided to take an international fighter and look at 5 Asian options that they may consider for a future bout, following on from something similar we did last week in regards to Emanuel Navarrete. This week things are a little bit different however, as the international fighter we look at is very closely linked to Japan, and actually fights for a Japanese promoter. Despite that we thought it was worth talking about Nicaraguan star Roman Gonzalez (49-2, 41) in our second international "Five For...".
Thankfully due to Gonzalez's links to Japan and comments made after his recent win over Kal Yafai it's obvious he is willing to return to the Land of the Rising sun for bouts, and there's where two of the bouts would likely take place, though we certainly have other potential match ups for Chocolatito.
1-Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14)
The bout that Gonzalez himself seems to be chasing is arguably the most interesting between himself and an Asian fighter, with that being a clash with WBO champion Kazuto Ioka, . Gonzalez, the current WBA champion, would be looking to unify with Ioka and this is a bout between two men who have circled each other for much of their careers, but things never really lined up. By the time Ioka won his first world title, the WBC Minimumweight title, Gonzalez had left the division. By the time Ioka moved up to 108lbs Gonzalez was on his way out of the division and by the time Ioka was looking settled at Flyweight Gonzalez had moved up again. Neither man blatantly avoided each other, but the windows for the two men to fight were rather slim, they existed but only for a matter of months rather than years. Now they are in the same division, both are world champions and this would be a very special unification bout between 2 men who have held world titles in 4 weight classes.
2-Donnie Nietes (42-1-5, 23)
Another potential bout between a couple of 4-weight world champions would see Gonzalez take on Filipino veteran Donnie Nietes. The Filipino has chased this bout publicly but has failed to secure it, with his team not really having the financial clout they once did. On paper this would have been a brilliant match up when the two men were in their primes, but with his 38th birthday fast approaching, and with more than a year away from the ring, we really need to wonder what Nietes has left in the tank. At his best the talented Filipino was a nightmare for anyone, with fantastic skills, and a brilliant high level IQ, but would that ever have been enough to deal with the power, poise and pressure of Gonzalez? This is probably a safer option for Gonzalez to face next, but in reality Gonzalez has rarely been able having "safer" fights as title defenses.
3-Jerwin Ancajas (32-1-2, 22)
Another potential bout that would see Gonzalez not only facing a Filipino, instead of Neites, but also getting a chance to unify, instead of facing Kazuto Ioka, is a bout with Jerwin Ancajas. The long reigning, though somewhat underwhelming, IBF champion has the longest active reign in the division, dating back to September 2016, but has yet to get that A level championship type of bout. He's beaten a mix of B tier contenders, and worse, but hasn't yet notched a real top tier defense of the IBF crown. If this bout takes place it would finally give Ancajas a chance to face an A tier opponent, and he would have significant size advantages over the Nicaraguan, but Gonzalez would almost certainly be the betting favourite.
4-Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9)
Not the most likely choice, but an interesting choice all the same, would be a bout between Gonzalez and 3-weight world champion Kosei Tanaka. Both men are chasing a bout with Kazuto Ioka, and a clash between the two would essentially be an eliminator, of sorts, to face the WBO king. In reality neither man needs this bout, but it would be a brilliant match up with the old veteran looking to tame the young lion. Gonzalez would be strongly favoured, and would be expected to take out Tanaka, but Tanaka has shown an incredible will to win, and has the speed to make life difficult for someone like Gonzalez. The bout would test what Gonzalez has left, and give Tanaka not only a chance to become a 4-weight champion but also a chance to announce himself internationally. It's an unlikely bout to happen but one worth thinking about, and a really fun one to imagine. Sadly though if Gonzalez is 80% the fighter he once was he would likely grind down Tanaka around the middle rounds.
5-Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (47-5-1, 41) III
We've mostly looked at bouts where Gonzalez would be the favourite, but lets finish this by looking at a bout where the Nicaraguan wonder would be the under-dog, a bout with Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. Or rather a third bout with Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. The heavy handed Thai is the only man to have beaten Gonzalez, having done so twice, and is known to be looking to get back into the world title mix in 2020. For Srisaket the bout would be against a fighter he knows he can beat, and beat decisively, as he did in the rematch. It would also be a bout where Srisaket can, after Gonzalez's last performance, come in knowing the Nicaraguan isn't a shot fighter, and is still very much a top name at Super Flyweight. As for Gonzalez it would give him a chance to avenge his defeats and beat the only man to have beaten him during his legendary career.
Of course when it comes to Roman Gonzalez the modern day legend has numerous other options out there, including a second bout with Juan Francisco Estrada, or a potential bout with one of the current Flyweight kings such as Moruti Mthalane or Artem Dalakian, or unbeaten Australian Andrew Moloney. There are so many options out there for him that his win over Kal Yafai opens the doors to yet another amazing champter for Gonzalez, and a chapter we are really lookign forward to seeing play out of the coming months and years.
The month of September was a month with a few stand out days, October however looks mouth watering with numerous days of note.
Waseem Muhammad Vs Min Wook Lee
The new month kicks off with an intriguing debut in South Korea. The bout in questions sees Pakistani debutant Waseem Muhammad (0-0) battle against Korean local Min Wook Lee (2-2) in a bout for the South Korean (KBC) Bantamweight title. On paper it looks a strange one but Muhammad is based in Korea and AK Promotions seem to have invested heavily in the former Pakistan amateur stand out. A win for Muhammad as we may see him become the first Pakistan born fighter of real note.
Shusaku Fujinaka Vs Randall Bailey
On the same card as Muhammad's debut we'll see an intriguing match up between Japan's Shusaku Fujinaka (12-5-2, 8) and American veteran Randall Bailey (45-8-0-1, 38), with the two men fighting for the WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight crown. Fujinaka isn't a great fighter but this bout has garnered real attention with Bailey, a former multi-time world champion, bringing genuine attention to the South Korean boxing scene. With Bailey contracted to AK Promotions this could end up being the first of many fights in Korea for the “KO King”.
Ken Shiro Vs Rolly Sumpalong
It's again minor title action that has our attention as Japan's fast rising Ken Shiro (4-0, 3) battles against unbeaten Filipino Rolly Sumalpong (9-0-1, 4) in a bout for the WBC Youth Light Flyweight title. We've been impressed by Ken Shiro since his debut, last year, and if he wins here we're expecting to see him fight for a Japanese title in early 2016. Sumalpong on the other hand has gone under our radar but did claim the WBC Eurasia Pacific Boxing Council Minimumweight title earlier this year and could himself be one to watch.
Yoshitaka Kato Vs Ricky Sismundo
On the same card as the Ken Shiro Vs Sumpalong fight is a potentially explosive Lightweight clash between Yoshitaka Kato (29-5-1, 9) and Ricky Sismundo (29-8-2, 13). This bout will likely go under-the-radar for many fans but it really does look like it could be a very special bout between two tough guys with under-rated power and under-rated skills. It is only scheduled for 8 rounds but it could end up being one of the best 8 round bouts of the year.
Kohei Kono Vs Koki Kameda
In a genuinely historic bout fans will get the chance to see two Japanese fighters fight for a world title on US soil, the first time such a bout has taken place in America. The bouts will see current WBA Super Flyweight champion Kohei Kono (30-8-1, 13) take on mandatory challenger Koki Kameda (33-1, 18) in what is likely to be a must win bout for both men. At 34 years old Kono will be unlikely to get another shot if he loses here to Kameda whilst a loss for Kameda would end a horror year for the Kameda clan, which has also seen Tomoki lose twice and Daiki suffer a huge shock loss. A loss for Koki and the Kameda's really will have lost the appeal they once had.
Gennady Golovkin Vs David Lemieux
It's rare to have bouts with every ingredient, but we think we may have one here with hard hitting Kazakh king Gennady Golovkin (33-0, 30) facing off against Canadian destroyed David Lemieux (34-2, 31). Coming into the bout both men are major punchers and world champions, with Golovkin holding the WBA “super”, WBC “interim” and IBO titles whilst Lemieux is the IBF title holder. Potentially this has “FOTY” written all over it, though could be over in a blink of an eye given the power, and styles, of the men involved. It's been a while since a world title bout had us this excited, and we've got it admit it might be a while before we see another, equally as exciting, unification bout.
Roman Gonzalez Vs Brian Viloria
Teiken promoted Nicaraguan sensation Roman Gonzalez (43-0, 37) looks to continue his rise to the top of the sport as he faces Filipino-American Brian Viloria (36-4-0-2, 22) in what looks to be another brilliant bout. Coming in to this one Gonzalez is looking for the 3rd defense of his WBC Flyweight title whilst Viloria is fighting to remain relevant in the sport. A win here for Gonzalez helps cement his place atop the pound-for-pound rankings and could move us a step closer to the potential super fight between the Nicaraguan and Japan's Naoya Inoue whilst a win for Viloria will give his career one more run at the top and continue his up-and-down career.
Donnie Nietes Vs Juan Alejo
In another title bout fans will get to see talented Filipino Donnie Nietes (36-1-4, 21) make his US debut as he defends his WBO Light Flyweight title against little known Juan Alejo (21-3, 13) of Mexico. The bout, which is to take place in California, is part of ALA's first US show and is part of their move towards establishing their outfit as a world wide promotional outfit. A loss for Nietes would be disastrous for both the fighter and the promoter, but he hasn't been matched hard here and it'd be a shock to see Nietes given any real problems.
Naoko Fujioka Vs Hee Jung Yuh
Former 2-weight world champion Naoko Fujioka (13-1, 6) looks to continue her brilliant career as she attempts to claim a 3rd divisional world title. The exceptional Japanese fighter faces South Korean fighter Hee Jung Yuh (15-2, 6) in a bout for the WBO female Bantamweight title in what looks, on paper, like a brilliant fight. Aged 40 Fujioka is certainly “old” but she's in great shape and will be favoured over Yuh, who has won 14 in a row. Interestingly Yuh is married to another fighter Young Kil Bae, who set to fight for a world title himself in early November.
Hikaru Marugame Vs Jonathan Baat
On the same show as the Fujioka/Yuh bout is a great test for one of Japan's most under-rated prospects, Hikaru Marugame (5-0, 3). The talented Marugame steps up massively here as he takes on the highly experienced Jonathan Baat (30-6-3, 14), a Japanese based Filipino. A win for Marugame is expected, but Baat has scored notable upsets in the past, including popping 4 cherries and this is clearly a dangerous assignment for the 25 year prospect.
Momo Koseki Vs Ayaka Miyao
We get the second world title unification of the month a week after the Golovkin/Lemieux bout as WBC Atomweight champion Momo Koseki (20-2-1, 7) takes on WBA champion Ayaka Miyao (20-5-1, 4). This bout has been on the radar of fans for a while and is finally happening due to the fact both fighters have, essentially, run out of worth while opponents. We're expecting a lot of action here and although it won't be the cleanest action it should be sensationally exciting and amazing fun to watch. Interestingly the winner will claim a place in history as the first ever unified Atomweight champion.
Satoshi Hosono Vs Hideyuki Watanabe
Japanese Featherweight champion Satoshi Hosono (28-2-1, 20) returns to the ring for his second defence in the space of about 9 weeks af he takes on the tough and gutsy Takuya Watanabe (36-5-1, 12). Hosono, a multi-time world title challenger, is looking to record his 4th successive defence but will be up against a man who simple doesn't know how to quit. Watanabe came to our attention last year, in the wake of his “bloody” bout with Jaesung Lee and having seen that war we suspect he'll go through anything in an attempt to claim the title. This could be the perfect bout to close out the month.
Many Western fans who follow boxing make a horrible mistake in not following the lower weight divisions whilst maintaining the mentality that none of the best fighters fight each other. Whilst it's true that the big names in some divisions don't fight the concept simply doesn't hold water in the lower weights where we keep seeing the top fighters battling each other time and time again.
Over the next 6 weeks or so we are expecting to see a frenzy of activity in the Flyweight division with every major title on the line, 4 big bouts and another bout of significance. It's fair to say that over the next few weeks we will see a divisional reshuffle and the division transform in ways that should make it clearer who is really the best in the division.
Akira Yaegashi Vs Roman Gonzalez (September 5th)
The "Flyweight Frenzy" kicks off this coming Friday as the WBC and Linear champion Akira Yaegashi (20-3, 10) defends his belt against one of boxing's most highly regarded little men, Roman Gonzalez (39-0, 33). The bout is one of those that really should excite every single boxing fan whether you're Japanese, Nicaraguan American, British, Thai, Filipino, Mexican or from any other country. It is one of those dream fights and is as close to a sure fire war as you can get.
For those who haven't seen these two guys in action the question is "why not?" Gonzalez has long been one of the sport's most exciting fighters. He has great power, fights with intense pressure and throws some of the sports most brutal combinations. Whether you're typically a fan of the lower weights or not Roman Gonzalez is a fighter who really should transcend any feeling of ill will or contempt towards the sport's smaller men. As for Yaegashi the Japanese fighter is a man with a warrior's heart who has been involved in thrillers with Pornsawan Porpramook, for the WBA Minimumweight title, and Kazuto Ioka, in a Minimumweight unification bout. Unlike many warriors Yaegashi doesn't have power to bail him out of a war though has the toughness to hang in with anyone from the first round to the last and doesn't know the meaning of the world quit.
Both men go against the grain in boxing as both are highly respectful of each other and the sport. Both have the mentality of "let the best man win" and neither has ducked a rivalry. These two are what the sport of boxing really is about and it's little wonder international fans are talking about this bout in the way they are. This is a special bout and the perfect way to kick off "Flyweight Frenzy"
Juan Francisco Estrada Vs Govani Segura (September 6th)
If we suggest that Flyweight has 3 major fighters in the division we can openly state that two of them are Gonzalez and Yaegashi, the other is Juan Francisco Estrada (26-2, 19). Estrada is a former foe of Gonzalez though has managed to leap frog the Nicaraguan in terms of where he stands in the Flyweight division. Gonzalez, who took a very hard fought decision over Estrada, decided to remain at Light Flyweight whilst Estrada made the move to Flyweight and claimed the WBA "super" and WBO title with an excellent victory over Brian Viloria.
This Saturday, just a day after the Yaegashi/Gonzalez bout, we see Estrada defending his belts against WBO mandatory challenger Giovani Segura (32-3-1, 28), a major puncher with bad intentions in every shot and a real mentality of beating his opponents up as opposed to just winning. When Segura is in the ring we are guaranteed excitement and his battles with Ivan Calderon and Hernan Marquez tell you everything you need to know about him.
As with the bout on Friday this contest promises a lot and it fails to deliver a FOTY contender many fans will disappointed, no matter how good it actually is. The styles of the men involved should make for a thriller, the mentality of the men should make for a war and with it being an All-Mexican bout we know there is going to be a real show of machismo in the ring.
Notably for many reading this there is no Asian involved in the bout. Despite that the bout means a lot to the division and it's likely that the winner could end up fighting an Asian fighter in the near future. This bout is a vital one to division and deserves all the attention given to the other bouts.
Amant Ruenroeng vs McWilliams Arroyo (September 10th)
Less than a week after the bouts we've already mentioned we will see the IBF champion Amnat Ruenroeng (13-0, 5) in action. Ruenroeng is the dark sheep of the division and isn't a warrior or a puncher though is one of those talented boxers who no-one will ever look good against. A typical member of the "who needs him" club. Gifted with very long arms, excellent skills, impressive speed and an astonishing sense of calmness Ruenroeng has the ability to beat anyone in the division though is clearly regarded by many as a secondary champion to the other fighters in the division.
Having won the title earlier this year Ruenroeng will be defending his title against mandatory challenger McWilliams Arroyo (15-1, 13), a Puerto Rican with major power. Last time out Arroyo impressed by knocking out Froilan Saludar and he'll be hoping to do the same here however Ruenroeng looked incredibly skilled as he over-came Japanese star Kazuto Ioka and he'll be hoping to showcase those same skills here.
Whilst the previous two bouts are sure fire excitement with two action fighters this one looks like a boxer vs puncher bout and those sorts of contests are usually not entertaining as when two warriors battle. Saying that however this bout could show how good Ruenroeng is at neutralising a big puncher or could launch the career of a future Puerto Rican star. Another key point about this bout is that if Ruenroeng wins he's expected to fight Chinese star Zou Shiming in early 2015, another major bout to add the list of great possibilities at Flyweight.
One thing to note about this bout is that lacks the name value of some of the others however both are talented fighters and their styles should make for an interesting bout, even if it's not the most exciting.
Kazuto Ioka Vs Pablo Carrillo (September 16th)
The only non-title bout listed here takes place less than a week after Amnat's fight and see's his former foe Kazuto Ioka (14-1, 9) returning to the ring for the first time since his loss to the Thai. Ioka, a former 2-weight world champion will be fighting against the WBA #14 ranked Flyweight Pablo Carrillo (15-2-1, 8).
Although Carrillo is world ranked he is relatively unknown however this bout is all about Ioka. It's thought that if Ioka wins he'll be moved towards a world title bout on New Years Eve. If the unthinkable happens and he loses however then his career will really be in tatters and many would be assuming that he'll have to rethink his future, and maybe even return to Light Flyweight where he is a somewhat more physical fighter than he appeared to be last time out.
I enjoy watching Ioka though need to admit that he is still a very flawed fighter for a 2-weight world champion. He looked like he was fighting to the wrong game plan against Ruenroeng and almost as if his experience and relative immaturity came back to haunt him. This bout coming up will be a chance for Ioka to get some experience as a Flyweight, to fill into a Flyweight and to help rebuild some confidence be fore another big bout in the division.
Whilst the Colombian is being over-looked he has proven his toughness in twice going the distance with the vicious Luis Concepcion who has disposed of the likes of Denkaosan Kaovichit, Manuel Vargas, Odilon Zaleta and Eric Ortiz. This will be tougher than it looks for Ioka though the Japanese fighter should, if he has his head straight, take a wide decision.
Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep Vs Juan Carlos Reveco (October 17th)
The final major bout comes on October 17th in Argentina as WBA interim champion Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep (34-2, 20) travels in an attempt to unify his belt with the regular title held by Juan Carlos Reveco (34-1, 18). This bout, like the Ruenroeng/Arroyo bout, is clearly a second tier title bout but is one that will help shape the division over the next year or two.
For Yodmongkol it's a chance to upgraded his standing boxing and to prove himself on the international stage. It's a chance to prove that he belong at world level and that his controversial decision last time out over Takuya Kogawa wasn't the real Yodmongkol. Sadly for the Thai however he can be lazy in the ring and that could bite him in the back side as he becomes the away fighter for this upcoming contest against one of the sports most impressive body punchers.
As for Reveco he too needs a big win after failing to impress against Felix Alvarado last time out. In that bout Reveco got the win though many felt he didn't deserve it and that the title should have gone to the Nicaraguan, who was incidentally beaten in a Light Flyweight title bout by Kazuto Ioka. Reveco has blown hot and cold at times though will be built up as an enemy of Thailand courtesy of his win over Nethra Sasiprapa more than 7 years ago.
This bout might not have the allure of some bouts on this list but both men will know that they will be linked to really big fights if they win this one.
Other upcoming bouts at Flyweight include:
Takuma Inoue (2-0) Vs Chanachai Sor Siamchai (0-0)-This bout will be this coming Friday and will see Takuma Inoue return to the ring. Many have described Takuma as a future world champion and he is already world ranked after just 2 bouts. Don't be surprised if he becomes a star over the net few years.
Atsushi Kakutani (14-4-1, 7) Vs Dawut Manopkanchang (0-1)-This bout is supposedly an OPBF prelude for for Kakutani, a former world title challenger. Although we'd not describe Kakutani as a future world champion he could very easily be involved in memorable contests on the regional level and that's never a bad thing.
Renan Trongco (15-4, 9) Vs Hayato Yamaguchi (12-4-1, 2)-In a bout for the WBC International title fans in the Philippines will get to see Trongco take on Yamaguchi. This is for a world ranking though neither man has shown the traits needed to become a world champion, it should however be competitive.
Moruti Mthalane (30-2, 20) Vs Odilon Zaleta (15-4, 8)-Although this is a bout with no Asian link it's a key divisional bout as Mthalane attempts to defend his IBO title. Although only the IBO title holder at the moment Mthalane is a divisional dark horse and appears to have gotten his career back on track after a horror run as the IBF champion and being ordered into some horrific mandatory defences.
Suguru Muranaka (20-2-1, 6) Vs Yusuke Sakashita (12-4-2, 7)-The world ranked Muranaka defends his Japanese title against the little known Sakashita. The bout isn't a major one though we do expect to see Muranaka working his way towards bigger and more prestigious belts in the near future so for him this is an important bout, even if the wider boxing world will see it as a mismatch.
Ardin Diale (23-9-3, 10) Vs Renerio Arizala (11-0-1, 4)-On the same day that Muranaka defend his Japanese title we also get to see former world title challenger Diale defend his Philippines Games & Amusement Board title. Diale, who was last seen in a thriller with Koki Eto will know that Arizala will be putting his unbeaten record on the line in what appears to be a very significant bout for both men, at least domestically.
Valery Yanchy (23-3-2, 7) Vs Kevin Satchell (12-0, 2)-Another none Asian bout will see Spanish based Belorussian Yanchy defending the European title against unbeaten British hopeful Satchell. The bout will be Satchell's second since he struggled past Iain Butcher in 2013 and although Yanchy is in his late 30's he looks like he has plenty left in the tank. A great fight even if it's not got any Asian connection.
Zou Shiming (5-0, 1) Vs Kwanpichit OnesongchaiGym (27-0-2, 12)-Going into the future a bit further for this one but the bout is pivotal for 2015. Shiming, the biggest money draw in the division, is thought to want a fight with Amnat though first he will need to get past Kwanpichit. As for Kwanpichit we're not impressed by him but his edge in experience and unbeaten record will look pretty up against Shiming's "inexperience".
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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).