It's been a while since we've been able to share the "Best of Boxing Raise" but after the month we've just had we feel it's an ideal time to bring back this series, and celebrate how much boxing has been added to the service this past month. We do that knowing the service has had one of the best KO's of the year and one of the best bouts of the year in recent weeks!
For those unaware Boxing Raise is a brilliant little Japanese subscription service, run by the people behind the DANGAN shows, and combined video on demand with live streams to give us an excellent outlet for non-televised Japanese domestic bouts. At around $9 it's a fantastic value service and is something we suggest all fans wanting to get a deeper knowledge of Japanese domestic bouts considers.
Of course August didn't feel like the biggest months for boxing, but we are now seeing regular new and fresh content being added to Boxing Raise, and we saw their first live show since boxing returned to Japan, and it was a good one. With that in mind we really do feel like the month is one worthy of sharing some of the service's highlights
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/".
Rookie Brawl - Shota Tanaka (2-0, 1) Vs Shunta Terai (2-5-1, 2) [/movie/8214/]
Back on August 3rd,in front of an empty Korakuen Hall, Shota Tanaka and Shunta Terai battled in East Japan Rookie of the Year bout, and put on a real brawl! This wasn't high quality but was hotly competitive, exciting, and thrilling back and forth. If you want some thrilling low level action this is well worth 15 minutes of your time!
Good night! - Tsubasa Murata (2-1, 1) Vs Yuya Miyazaki (1-1, 1) [/movie/8252/]
We stay with Rookie of the Year action for this recommendation, which came in a Central Japan Rookie of the Year bout between Tsubasa Murata and Yuya Miyazaki. This was less of an action fight and is instead more worth watching due to the finish, which is one of the best KO's we've seen this year. This was a sensational finish and one worth watching the full bout for.
Blink and you miss it! - Kosuke Hayashi (0-0) vs Kanta Yamauchi (0-2-1) [/movie/8240/]
Only got 2 minutes? Then we have the fight for you! This was a short, brutal and intense war between the debuting Kosuke Hayashi and the previously win-less Kenta Yamauchi. The bout really is a blink and you miss it bout that just sees the two men tosses bombs at each other from the opening bell. Short, exciting, and very much bite sized!
Blink and You miss it 2! - Kazuki Terasaki (2-1-1, 2) vs Shori Umezu (0-0) [/movie/8242/]
Of course it wasn't just Hayashi and Yamauchi who decided to have a shoot out this month, and Kazuki Terasaki and Shori Umezu also gave us a shoot out. This was two young men fighting like they had been told they had 1 round to shine, and both just unloaded on each other. This was entertaining violence from the off and a truly brilliant fight!
Regional champion is crowned - Ryota Yamauchi (6-1, 5) vs Satoru Todaka (10-3-4, 4) [/movie/8333/]
In the only title bout on Boxing Raise this past month we saw Ryota Yamauchi take on Satoru Todaka for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Flyweight title. This was, for all intents, the most significant bout on the service this month, and it also turned out to be a pretty fan friendly bout, and a great chance to see one of the most promising Flyweights show what he can do. This is again a shorter bout, but one well worthy of watching if you use the service.
WAAARRR! - Daisuke Watanabe (10-4-2, 6) vs Shingo Kusano (13-8-1, 5) [/movie/8359/]
The best bout of the month, at least in terms of Asian boxing, was actually shown on Boxing Raise and saw Daisuke Watanabe and Shino Kusano go to war in the final of the Hajime No Ippo 30th Anniversary tournament. This was 8 rounds that gave us everything. This had nice boxing early on, with both men showing good skills, and thrilling back and forth action on the inside later in the bout. This had everything we could want from a tournament final. This is the true stand out fight of the month and the one that is worth the 40 or so minutes it'll take to watch. A genuinely brilliant bout that got better and better as it went on!
On Wednesday we got the chance to see talented Japanese Flyweight Ryota Yamauchi (7-1, 6) claim his most important win to date as he over-came Satoru Todaka (10-4-4, 4) to become the WBO Asia Pacific Flyweight champion. The bout was one that never seemed in double for the rising Yamauchi, who had Todaka down at the end of round 3 before the corner said enough was enough.
Whilst the bout wasn't shown live it was made available online hours after it took place, and with that in mind we felt it was another great fight to feature in our Take Away's series.
1-Yamauchi still has work to do
We are massive fans of Ryota Yamauchi and have been since very early in his professional career. For a fighter in just his 8th bout he looked very advanced, and seemed to be calming his usual aggression somewhat, using his jab more and having a much tighter defense than we've seen at times. Saying that however there is still real work to do before he thinks about a world title fight. It's clear the intention of this bout was to get him in the WBO rankings and move him closer to a world title shot, which is the right move, but we suspect he is still a few fights away from that level.
That's not to take anything at all away from his performance, but we suspect he's still not ready for any of the true top 10 in the division and a little more seasoning will seriously help him out. He was also caught, in round 2, by some big head shots, that he will will not want to take from the top fighters, he also left himself very open when trying to close the show in round 3. If we were at Kadoebi we would give him another year of before we let him loose at world level.
We genuinely think he has the physical tools and the arsenal to reach the top. His jab is great, his body shots are wicked and his punches are crisp. He does however often end up too close, and doesn't always use his size well, which he probably needs to at world level. A good gate keeper type opponent next would do his career the world of good.
2-Todaka was too small for Flyweight
Although it seems almost certain that Satoru Todaka will be hanging them up after this bout, something he alluded to at the weigh in, we can't help but think Flyweight is not, was not, and never will be, a weight suited to him. He wasn't massively dwarfed in terms of height by Yamauchi, though was clearly the shorter man, but his style was never going to work at the weight. He's not strong enough or powerful enough to make his head down pressure style count. We do wonder whether he could have made 105lbs earlier in his career, as his toughness and determination could have brought him genuine success at the weight.
3-Corner men in Japan aren't too brave
Some thing we've seen recently in the UK and US are corner men that are "too brave" and watch their fighter take rounds of unnecessary punishment in a fight they have no chance of winning. Here we saw Todaka's corner make a swift decision to stop the bout when their man was beginning to fall apart. It was the right decision and a decision that saw them do right by their fighter.
Whilst some fighters obviously want bouts to continue, and again Todaka had spoke about retirement before this bout, there is sometimes a need for a merciful corner and the folk from the Leopard Tamakuma gym did exactly the right thing. Not letting this go on too long and stopping their fighter from taking too much punishment.
4-Boxing Raise is amazing
Whilst there has been a lack of boxing in recent months we are seeing the sport resume and gear up in recent weeks. One of the notable services that is often getting over-looked is the Boxing Raise service. The monthly subscription service delved into their archives when there was no fights taking place and are now picking up a lot of the shows in Japan. For them to have same day availability of this fight is brilliant a testament to the hard work they do. TV channels and bigger services need to take note of what Boxing Raise are doing and begin asking themselves why they can't do similar. This was available just hours after it took place, not days, like Fuji TV, or even weeks, like TBS.
At ¥980 a month this is a bargain for fans of the Japanese scene, and we really recommend people wanting to follow Japanese boxing do give it a shot, especially now that boxing is back!
5-Fans at Korakuen Hall is still a worry
Earlier this week, in our Take Away's article about Ryo Sagawa Vs Yuri Takemoto, we mentioned how fans were sat at Korakuen Hall, and suggested it was a potential issue given what is going on in the world. This show solidified those feelings with the benches again very crowded in the center, and the space not used well for social distancing. We really do wonder whether it's the angle or whether social distancing just isn't in effect. If it's not, it probably should be, even if it does look bad on camera. On the other hand it is great to see everyone wearing masks, with ringside officials wearing face shields as well.
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!
The third division in this series is the rather weird looking Flyweight division. Historically it's been a rich division, full of excellent Asian talent, but right now it's a division that is very much transitional in Asia and there is no recognised #1, like their is in most other divisions. Despite that it's not actually a poor division, in fact it's a deep one, just one lacking in terms of star power.
1-Junto Nakatani (20-0, 15)
Whilst we don't know who the true #1 is in the division it's probably fair to suggest that Junto Nakatani is one of the leading pack now that Kosei Tanaka has left the division. The 22 year old Japanese southpaw is regarded as one of the best youngsters in the sport and with wins over Dexter Alimentoo, Shun Kosaka, Naoki Mochizuki and Milan Melindo in recent bouts he's clearly among the very best in Asia, if not the best. Given his age, his style, his performances and his freakish size he's going to be a very, very hard man to beat. He was supposed to fight for the WBO Flyweight title earlier this year, but as of now, given everything going on, it's unclear when, and even if, that will end up happening.
2-Giemel Magramo (24-1, 20)
The man that Nakatani was supposed to fight for the WBO title was Filipino fighter Giemel Magramo. The once beaten 25 year old is a real talent, who was unfortunate in his only loss more than 3 years ago. Since suffering his sole loss he has scored 7 wins, all by stoppage. They have included victories over Richard Clavers, Petchchorhae Kokietgym and Wenfeng Ge. It's really the win over Ge that has strengthened Magramo's claim as a top Flyweight. Whilst Magramo's record suggests he's a pure puncher he's not, instead he's actually a very heavy handed boxer-puncher. He's aggressive, exciting, talented and has solid pop on his shots. There are area's for him to improve, and he can look a bit raw, but there is no doubting his ability and how much of a danger man he is in the division.
3-Sho Kimura (19-3-2, 12)
Despite being the only former world champion on this list it's hard to really know where to place Sho Kimura. In terms of achievement he's the number one, by some distance, but since losing the WBO Flyweight title to Kosei Tanaka he's not really shown much. Last year he made an ill fated move down in weight, where he was easily beaten by Carlos Canizales, and since then he has only beaten Merlito Sabillo, who suffered what looked like an horrific injury. If Kimura is still the same fighter he was against Zou Shiming, Toshiyuki Igarashi, Froilan Saludar and Kosei Tanaka he'd be the #1 in the division, but at the moment question marks do hangover him. Those questions are magnified by the fact he's also changed gyms, leaving the the Aoki gym that lead him to his success.
4-Muhammad Waseem (10-1, 7)
The most successful amateur on this list Pakistani fight Muhammad Waseem looked like a star in the making early on, when he was impressing in Korea. In his first 5 bouts he had not only won the South Korean Bantamweight title but also beaten Jether Oliva and Giemel Magramo. Sadly financial backing failed to materialise and he would struggle to build on that early success. More than 3 years on he has managed to have only 2 more bouts of note, a close decision loss in an IBF title bout against Moruti Mthalane and a close win over Ganigan Lopez last year. Although clearly talented the 32 is no spring chicken and will likely be 33 by the time he returns to the ring. A real example of why a financially strong backer is needed, even at the lower weights.
5-Jayr Raquinel (12-1-1, 9)
Filipino hopeful Jayr Raquinel is one of the hidden gems in the division. The 23 year old boxer-puncher has scored some very big wins over the last couple of years or so, stopping Keisuke Nakayama, Shun Kosaka and Takuya Kogawa in OPBF title bouts. Clearly a heavy handed fighter Raquinel still has work to do, and we saw him suffer a disappointing loss in China in 2018, when he seemed to be old manned by Wulan Tuolehazi. That loss hopefully serve as a turning point for Raquinel's training, and help him increase his activity in bouts, rather than sleep walking through portions of bouts. He's not yet ready for a world title fight, in our eyes, but is quickly moving towards one and could be ready in 2021 for a very big fight.
6-Wulan Tuolehazi (14-4-1, 7)
With wins over 2 fighters in the top 10 there will be an argument that Wulan Tuolehazi should be higher up the rankings, but in reality he's a hard man to judge. He beat Jayr Raquinel in 2018 but then squeaked some questionable decisions against Ryota Yamauchi and Ardin Diale in 2019, before being decimated by Kosei Tanaka at the end of last year. Had his bouts with Yamauchi and Diale not been in China we would be looking at a very different career for Tuolehazi, and there's a good chance he wouldn't have got the Tanaka fight. Although not a world beater he's proven himself a solid fighter, just maybe not as good as his results suggest. It's going to be very, very interesting to see what he does in his next few fights, as they could make or break him. At 27 he's in his physical prime, but it really is unclear as to how much further he can develop.
7-Masayuki Kuroda (30-8-3, 16)
Former 2-time world title challenger Masayuki Kuroda is one of the more well known names on this list and has certainly proven to be a legitimate fringe world level fight during his 41 fight career. He's been a professional since 2005 and whilst his career is definitely coming to an end, the 33 year old is looking for one more shot at the top. Last year he put on a brave effort against Moruti Mthalane en route to a clear decision loss. That defeat ended a 6 fight winning run for the Japanese veteran who had taken wins over Takuya Kogawa, Yuta Matsuo and Katsunori Nagamine. Given his age and wear and tear he'll not have long left in the sport, but could well have one more crack at the top before hanging them up.
8-Seigo Yuri Akui (14-2-1, 10)
Fast starter Seigo Yuri Akui should be regarded as one of the division's true danger men, though also someone who perhaps struggles if bouts don't finish early on. His 17 fight career has seen him scoring 9 opening round wins, but being stopped every time he has gone beyond 5 rounds. Akui is currently the Japanese champion and holds wins against Ryuto Oho, Masamichi Yabuki, Yoshi Minato and Shun Kosaka, but needs a solid international win to back up his ranking. Interestingly Akui could certainly see beat some of the man ranked higher up this list than himself, but also lose to some of the un-ranked fighters. That makes him very tricky to rank but also very exciting to watch.
9-Tetsuya Hisada (34-10-2, 20)
Another tricky man to rank is Japanese veteran Tetsuya Hisada, who announced that he was intending to compete as a Flyweight for the final few bouts of his career. The former Light Flyweight world title challenger had his best success at 108lbs, where his strength and physicality proved vital, and a move up could see him losing those assets. At 35 years old we can't begrudge Hisada's move up in weight, but he'll likely be 36 by the time he fights again and unless he can land a big fight at the weight we'll maybe never really know what he could do in the division. With 10 losses to his name he's unlikely to lure a big opponent in to the ring with him before calling a close on his career.
10-Ryota Yamauchi (6-1, 5)
One of the divisional stars of the future 25 year old Ryota Yamauchi looks like he could be unleashed back on a fast track when the sport resumes in Japan. He looked red hot early on but a controversial loss to Wulan Tuolehazi in China, in a great bout that saw both being dropped, and he followed that up with a disappointingly messy bout against Alphoe Dagayloan. Whilst he defeated Dagayloan he suffered a cut that prevented him from fighting in a Japanese title eliminator, and miss out on a bout with Akui. He did manage to return to the ring in February but it's hard to know when he'll be back out there and who he'll be against. A talented boxer who can brawl and fight he's one of the division's most interesting hopefuls.
On the bubble:
Wenfeng Ge, Jayson Mama, Taku Kuwahara, Kento Hatanaka, Jaysever Abcede, Alphoe Dagayloan and Dave Apolinatio
*Kosei Tanaka has signalled his intention is to move up and fight at Super Flyweight so isn't included here.
Through out this month we've posted Part 1 and Part 2 of our 19 for 19, looking at Asian prospects, and here's our third part. If you missed the first part that's here 19 for 19: Part 1 - The Teenage Prospects and the second part is here 19 for 19: Part 2 - A Rookie, an Uzbek puncher, a Pinoy Prodigy and an Olympic champion
Here we are looking at 4 novices, with a combined record of 7-0 (7) but all 4 men involved have looked incredibly promising and appear to be well worthy of attention.
Lei Wang (1-0, 1)
It can be easy to get over-excited about Chinese prospects, and we might be heading that way with Lei Wang, however there is a lot to get excited about. The 28 year old Chinese fighter was a very good amateur and when he made his debut this past September he did so in style, stopping Filipino Anthony Sabalde in 5 rounds, doing what Nihito Arakawa and Wang Zhimin both failed to do. On debut Wang looked razor sharp, both on defense and offense, he looked like a fighter with a great boxing brain, a flashy style and like someone incredibly exciting. He looks incredibly relaxed in the ring and we're hoping to see a lot more of him in 2019.
Israil Madrimov (1-0, 1)
Uzbek fighters all look like they are trying to out do each other at the moment, much like the Ukrainians did in the wake of the 2016 Olympics. So far we've seen several Uzbek fighters all begin their careers with aggressive match making, though no one rivals Israil Madrimov, who debuted in a 10 round bout and took a minor WBA title in his very first professional contest. The 23 year old, dubbed "The Dream" looks to be a phenomenal switch hitter who is a natural in the ring, sharp with both hands and has an excellent boxing brain. We've got a lot of questions to see him answer, but we've also been hugely impressed by Madrimov's sole professional outing.
Apichet Petchmanee (1-0, 1)
Former Thai amateur stand out Apichet Petchmanee made his debut this past October, at the age of 28, but did so in a notable bout against the then 13-0 Attanon Kunlawong. He'll be back in the ring on December 22nd, when he fights for the OPBF "silver" title at 140lbs and he may well find himself fighting for the full OPBF title in 2019. He really impressed on debut and we're expecting a really bright future for him, given how strong his amateur background is. Sadly he is now 29 years old, though we suspect he will be fast tracked and will end up fighting notable international opponents before the end of 2020.
Ryota Yamauchi (4-0, 4)
At the end of 2017 we were raving about Ryota Yamauchi, who was then 2-0 (2). During 2018 he doubled that record, and scored a big domestic win over Yota Hori, but a lack of activity has left the 23 year old Flyweight failing to reach our predictions for the year. Despite failing to build massively on his impressive start he has continued to develop and the hope now will be for 2019 to be his break out year, and if he can fit 3 fights into the year he should well be in the mix for a title by the end of the year. He's aggressive, quick, heavy handed and managed by the highly recognised Kadoebi gym, who just need to keep him active, and well matched next year
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).