This past weekend we saw former world title challenger Shingo Wake (27-6-2, 19) return to the ring and score a dominant win over fellow Japanese fighter Shohei Kawashima. The win was one that saw Wake dropping Kawashima 4 times, and looked like he was in cruise control for the most part with his brilliant counter punching being the main difference between the two men.
Following that win we were actually asked what was next for Wake, and whilst we really don't know, there are a lot of interesting options out there for the popular Japanese southpaw right now. With that in mind we're going to take a look at potential opponents for Wake as we give him the Five For... treatment this week.
Unfortunately Wake isn't currently world ranked, and this means he's unlikely to get some of the fights we'd like to see, for example a showdown with Hiroaki Teshigawara, due to the risk-reward of fighting him. But there are still a lot of interesting options out there and some really are fantastic match ups.
1-Jhunriel Ramonal (17-8-6, 10) III
Our first choice for Wake's next bout would be a rubber match with Filipino slugger Jhunriel Ramonal. The first bout between the two saw Wake stop Ramonal way back in 2013, to retain the OPBF Super Bantamweight title. A rematch last year saw Ramonal get revenge with a brutal KO of Wake, in a massive upset. That rematch was supposed to be one final bout before Wake get a second world title bout, but ended up dashing any chances of a shot at a top title. Now a third bout between the two would be brilliant and the winner would certainly be on the verge of a world title fight. The bout would let Ramonal prove his win wasn't a fluke, it would allow Wake a chance for revenge, and would also, potentially, be fore the WBO Asia Pacific title and a lofty world ranking. Style wise it would be an interesting fight between aggressive slugger and skilled counter puncher and with the previous results we know either man can win.
2-Jeo Santisima (19-3, 16)
Staying with Filipino fighters a second Pinoy option for Wake would be recent world title challenger Jeo Santisima, The 24 year old came up very short against Emanuel Navarrete in February and hasn't fought since then, but does have that recency value as a very recent world title challenger. That, alone, is worth something and a win over him would mean something, even if Santisima did show that he didn't belong at that level. Style wise Santisima should make Wake look really good, with the Filipino being aggressive and open, the sort of style that Wake loves to pick apart. We suspect that this could be easy to make when travel from Philippines to Japan is made possible, and would likely be one that Santisima would take if offered. It should, however, be said that at the moment Santisima's promotional situation is unclear after ALA closed, and he could end up actually moving over to Japan and signing up with one of their gyms down the line. This would be an interesting one to watch, and could open doors for Santisima, win or lose.
3-Ryohei Takahashi (18-4-1, 8)
Staying with the idea of Wake looking to face off with recent world title challengers, a bout with former IBF title challenger Ryohei Takahashi, who lost to TJ Doheny, may also be an attractive option for Wake, if the bout can be made. Takahashi, like many others on this list, has a style that looks like it could be well suited to making Wake look good, and does so without too much risk as Takahashi doesn't have fight changing 1-punch power. If Wake and his team and looking for someone to make their make look sensational Takahashi should be getting a call. As for Takahashi he may feel his pressure and relentlessness would eventually get to Wake, meaning he does have a chance, but it's a slim one.
4-TJ Doheny (22-2, 16)
As a neutral the bout that would be the biggest would be a contest between Wake and former IBF champion TJ Doheny, who is known in Japan for his win against Ryosuke Iwasa. From what we understand neither of these two are currently world ranked, but both certainly want a big fight. Both are fringe world class, at absolute worst, and both have suffered major upsets in recent bouts. With both men being in their 30's time is ticking down on their days in the sport and both need a noteworthy win to get back into the mix. Given that this is a perfect bout to make, and one that wouldn't just be meaningful in terms of their standing in the sport, but also really interesting from an in ring perspective. Both fighters are good southpaws both guys like to box, and bother have under-rated bang in their hands. The winner of this would certainly help their chances of getting another world title fight and it would be a really good, and very makable, bout.
5-Abigail Medina (20-4-2, 10)
A left of center choice to end this is Spanish based Dominican fighter Abigail "Bebe" Medina. The aggressive Medina has fought in Japan before, losing to Tomoki Kameda and had a fan friendly, aggressive, pressure style. He walked through the shots of Kameda and pressed through out. That sort of style would test Wake, be very fan friendly, and would draw the best from Wake. The aggression and pressure of Medina against the skills, movement and counter punching of Wake would make for an amazing dynamic and a really good bout that neither man could afford to lose. If Wake's team are looking for a potential international bout for Wake this would be the one we'd love to see. Although Wake can be effective on the front foot he's better off fighting as a counter puncher, and Medina would give him those opportunities.
This past weekend was a busy one for fight fans who were looking to follow all the fights that took place. Among the ones that were somewhat over-looked was the contest between former world title challenger Shingo Wake (27-6-2, 19) and fellow Japanese fighter Shohei Kawashima (18-5-2, 4). This was certainly not a big fight, but it was an interesting one, even if it did lack in terms of drama and action.
With that bout watched, and now rewatched, we have decided to share our Take Aways from the bout.
1-Using cut outs for Social Distancing was a genius move
To begin with lets talk about Korakuen Hall and how it was laid out. We have complained recently about the venue not enforcing social distance but this time there was social distancing, and it was done in a very clever way. The headline bout of the show was the Hajime No Ippo 30th Anniversary tournament final, and for the entire show there was cut outs of characters from the anime in the crowd. This made the venue look relatively full at first glance but did make people sit between a gap between each other. This was ingenious and something that we should see continue to be done! Also once again it's great to see that everyone is still wearing masks, even though or two people did take them down at times.
2-Shingo Wake is still a fantastic counter puncher
Last year we saw Shingo Wake being upset by Jhunriel Ramonal, this was his first bout since that loss and he looked super sharp at times. His picked his shots well, made Shohei Kawashima pay when he missed and really made it very clear that he was the boss. Scoring 4 knockdowns is impressive against a solid domestic talent like Kawashima, but the way he scored them is worthy of attention. The first was a brilliant little right hook, the second was from a solid straight left hand, the third was a truly brilliant counter straight left hand. If you make a mistake against Wake you better be prepared to pay for it!
3-Can Wake put his foot on the gas?
Although we were really impressed by Wake's counter punching, accuracy, power and timing on the back foot, we did feel like there was a lack of aggression from him at times. He seemed happy to go through the motions, happy to try to land the perfect shot. When he had to force the action it just look natural at all and he really struggled to force the issue. At times it seemed like he was playing with his food as a result and it did mean the bout went on a round or two longer than it had to. Whilst Kawashima is a good counter puncher himself he never looked like he had the power to hurt Wake, and it's a shame that Wake didn't manage to jump on his man and take him out in style. We do wonder if this was a change to a safety conscious style following his loss last time out, or if he really can't keep up an offensive charge now at the of 33.
4-Shohei Kawashima is coming to the end of his career
We're maybe reading too much into this result, but we can't help thinking that Shohei Kawashima's career is coming to an end sooner rather than later. This is his third loss in 4 bouts and his his 5 losses in 9 bouts, his second successive stoppage loss and another very damaging one. We do have to wonder about his punch resistance and whether there is much reason for the 29 year old to continue. After winning Rookie of the Year there was real hope for him, but in recent years he has either been matched softly, or matched too hard. There was a lack of developmental fights from his team and that shows now a days.
5-Dangan do pre-fight videos right!
Dangan are, easily, one of the best promoters in the sport. Watching their shows however we don't tend to see much hype in their things, instead focusing on the fights taking place. Here we got some training footage, interviews and comments before the men got in the ring. We'd love to see more of that type of thing on these Dangan cards. We hate how over the top some TV channels go with their pre-fight hype, and ESPN are terrible for it but a short, 3 or 4 minute build up does add something without getting tiring. Hopefully that sort of thing will becoming a normal thing and will extend to more bouts on a show, rather than just the top bout or two.
We recently looked at the incredibly packed Bantamweight division, and the top 10 there was genuinely amazing. It's not the only super stacked division for Asian fighters through and we also have some amazing depth at Super Bantamweight. In fact the division might be even deeper than the Bantamweight.
1-Murodjon Akhmadaliev (8-0, 6)
The #1 in the and the division is unbeaten Uzbek Murodjon Akhmadaliev who showed his ability last time out when he defeated Daniel Roman to become the WBA "Super" and IBF champion in the division. The win over Roman alone, is the biggest of anyone in this list, and arguably bigger than anyone has right now in the division. For Akhmadaliev to have done that in just his 8th bout was truly exceptional. With a pair of titles around his waist and a completed 12 round under his belt the 25 year is only going to get better and better and will be the number in the division until he gets beat. A fantastic boxer puncher who brawl when he needs to. A truly fantastic fighter and one who proved us wrong in his win over Roman, a bout we felt was maybe too early at the time but "MJ" proved other wise.
2-Ryosuke Iwasa (27-3, 17)
Former IBF champion Ryosuke Iwasa, who is actually the current IBF "interim" and the mandatory for Akhmadaliev, is a very hot and cold fighter. When he's at his best he's a special talent, a hard hitting boxer-puncher. Sadly though he's had a number of off nights during his career, can look very one paced and has historically struggled against fellow lefties. Although technically good Iwasa is more of a puncher than a boxer, and his power has impressed against the likes of Kentaro Masuda, Yukinori Oguni and Marlon Tapales. Sadly he really failed to get going against TJ Doheny in 2018 and was made to look awful against Lee Haskins in 2015. Those set backs are now in the rear view mirror and wins last year against Cesar Juarez and Marlon Tapales have really put him right back in the mix.
3-Hiroaki Teshigawara (21-2-2, 14)
Current OPBF champion Hiroaki Teshigawara is a man who is very much knocking on the door of a world title fight, which he had been hoping to get this year. The 29 year old made his debut in 2011 and but it's really been the last few that he's managed to make a mark on the sport. It's fair to say that the main turning point in Teshigawara's career was his close loss to Ryo Akaho in 2016. Since that loss he has reeled off 9 straight wins including victories over Keita Kurihara, Jason Canoy, Teiru Kinoshita and Shohei Omori. Although on first glance Teshigawara can look a bit rough around the edges at times he's an incredibly smart boxer puncher who manages to dictate the pace and tempo off his very smart feints and educated lead hand. Teshigawara might be some way behind Akhamdaliev and Iwasa, but he's very much in the mix for a potential world title fight when international boxing resumes later in the year.
4-Jhunriel Ramonal (17-8-6, 10)
If this list was based solely on "what have you done recently" Ramonal would be banging on the door for the #1 position. Despite sporting a journeyman-like record the dangerous 30 year old Pinoy puncher stopped both Shingo Wake and Yusuaku Kuga in 2019. He's the current WBO Asia Pacific champion and is riding a 5 fight unbeaten run, with his last loss coming way in November 2014. Although not the most talented, quickest or smartest fighter out there Ramonal is a dangerous fighter and not someone you can look past. With stone like hands and a great will to win he's #4 on merit, though there are question marks about how long his current run will last.
5-Shingo Wake (26-6-2, 18)
Talented Japanese southpaw Shingo Wake is someone who is a very smart technical boxer, he uses his reach, his range and his jab fantastically, and has enough power on his shots to get respect, without being a puncher. We also cannot question Wake's heart, and his desire against Jonathan Guzman in 2016 was incredible, especially given how battered his face was. In 2019 he was stopped in 3 rounds by Ramonal, ending a 6 fight run of stoppages including wins over Panomroonglek Kaiyanghadaogym, Yusaku Kuga and Takafumi Nakajima. His comeback is pencilled in for July, though given the current situation it's currently unclear if that bout will take place or not.
6-Tomoki Kameda (36-3, 20)
Former WBO Bantamweight champion Tomoki Kameda is the only one of the Kameda brothers still fighting, after brothers Koki and Daiki retired. The 28 year old is carrying on the Kameda name and seeking to become a 2-weight champion and he pursues a bout at 122lbs. High skilled, with quick hands and good movement Kameda has the ability to win a title, but unfortunately appears to have a lack of power at the weight, and his shots, whilst they look good, don't appear to get opponents respect, something that will be an issue against the best in the division. He was also comfortably beaten last time out, when Rey Vargas out boxed him at range. There is a feeling that Kameda's skills won't be enough to over-come the physical advantages of the top fighters in the division, but at he's certainly not going to be an easy man to beat. We suspect he'll be too good for regional level bouts but not quite good enough to take a world title here.
7-Yukinori Oguni (21-2-1, 8)
Former IBF champion Yukinori Oguni is hard to place in these rankings. He has lost to Shingo Wake and Ryosuke Iwas, but holds a huge 2016 win over Jonathan Guzman. Another reason he's so hard to rank is due to what he's done since his 2017 loss to Iwasa. Originally he retired following that loss, but then came back in 2018 and has scored two wins. He's not looked his best in those victories but, it did seem like the 31 year old was more focused on shaking ring rust than trying to impress people. Fingers crossed we get a good chance to see what Oguni had next time left as he's a really talented, and often over looked fighter who could, and perhaps should, have achieved more than he has so far. Although not a puncher he does hit harder than his record suggests and is certainly a clean puncher, who is accurate, smart and has some very nice looking body shots.
8-Marlon Tapales (33-3, 16)
Another former world champion here is 28 year old Filipino Marlon Tapales, a really under-rated southpaw. Tapales was a former WBO Bantamweight champion, who won the title in a brilliant comeback against Pungluang Sor Singyu, but lost the belt on the scales 9 months later. Despite only having 16T/KO's in his 33 wins the Filipino is a solid puncher, with a lot of his decision wins coming early in his career before he got his man strength. Despite being a talented fighter it is worth noting that he was made to look second last time out, by Ryosuke Iwasa, and was stopped in 11 rounds. That bout was very much a beating for the Filipino and it's going to be very interesting to see what he's like when he returns to the ring. Notably that loss was his first defeat in over 6 years and his first stoppage loss in over a decade.
9-Albert Pagara (32-1, 23)
Once beaten Filipino Albert Pagara was supposed to be the next big Filipino star, and sadly he's not yet got there. The talented 26 year old obviously has time on his side but also has a lot of questions to answer about his mental and physical toughness. The "Prince" is a sharp boxer-puncher, who very quick and very heavy handed, but was stopped himself by Cesar Juarez in 2016 and he's yet to return to that fringe level. If we're being honest Pagara passes the eye test with ease, but we'll remain unsure about his potential until he get in another dog fight, then we expect that we'll see a lot of questions answered about him. Sadly his 32 wins so far really haven't done much to prove his ability, and he desperately needs a step up in class when boxing returns to the Philippines.
10-Yusaku Kuga (19-4-1, 13)
2-time Japanese champion Yusaku Kuga is a rough, tough, crude but exciting fighter, but one who is maybe feeling the effects of a hard career. At his best Kuga is an aggressive boxer-puncher, and he's score notable wins over the likes of Yusuke Suzuki, Yasutaka Ishimoto and Ryoichi Tamura however those wins have often come in very punishing bouts, and both of his bouts with Tamura were massively damaging wars, for both men. Notably Kuga has been stopped in 2 of his last 5, with those losses coming to Jhunriel Ramonal and Shingo Wake. Although he's "only" 29 we do wonder how much those tough, gruelling bouts with Tamura have taken from him. He's supposed to make a mandatory defense of his Japanese title against Gakuya Furuhashi later this year, and that will likely tell us what he has left in the tank.
On the bubble:
Mike Plania, Ye Joon Kim, Chainoi Worawut, Gakuya Furuhashi and Jeo Santisima
One of the great things about Japanese boxing right now is the excellent Boxing Raise service which is quickly becoming a necessity for those wanting to watch the best action in Japan every month. The service is certainly not flawless, and the way they share their schedules is nothing short of infuriating at the moment, but it keeps showing some of the best action in Japanese rings on a month by month basis.
With that in mind we've decided to begin a new monthly feature looking at the Best of Boxing Raise. In these articles we will look at the best moments Boxing Raise gave us in the previous month. With this being posted in November we'll be looking over the moments from October, and better yet we'll also include the video reference for those who already subscribe, and briefly explain why the bout is worth watching. We won't, however, share the videos as they are Boxing Raise exclusives, though if you have Boxing Raise and add the "movie/####" to "https://boxingraise.com/" you should be able to go straight to the fight after logging in.
Rematch war-Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (11-4-1, 10) vs Koki Tyson (14-3-2, 12) II [movie/6862/]
Earlier in 2019 we had seen Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa and Koki Tyson fight to a draw in a bout for the OPBF Middleweight title. That was a good bout, but not spectacular. In October they had a rematch and boy was this one good! The two men fought to a standstill, with both landing some huge shots. Tyson was looking to fight at range and Hosokawa refused to let him, and as a result both men were forced to trade on the inside. A truly fantastic battle
Boom goes the Dynamite-Shingo Wake (26-5-2, 18) Vs Jhunriel Ramonal (15-8-6, 8) [movie/6860/]
The rematch between the world ranked Shingo Wake and Filipino journeyman Jhunriel Ramonal had very few people raving about it before hand, but saw a lit of attention afterwards thanks to a KO of the year Contender. This wasn't the most exciting of bouts to begin with, but was full of drama by the end. A must watch for fans of massive knock outs.
Knock Out Dynamite excitement-Marvin Esquierdo (14-2-1, 8) Vs Koichi Ito (11-7-3, 10) [movie/6892/]
The first bout from the Knock Out Dynamite tournament saw Filipino fighter Marvin Esquierdo go to war with Koichi Ito and although it was a short lived bout on OCtober 19, it was all action in a full on intense shoot out. For us this was the type of bout that the Knock Out Dynamite tournament was designed for, and man was this fun. Sadly though none of the other bouts lived up to this one. A very fun, if short, shoot out!
Prospect Debut-Tuguldur Byambatsogt (0-0) Vs Shusaku Fujinaka (16-11-2, 11) [movie/6899/]
The Knockout Dynamite Tournament was designed to encourage fighters to go for early wins. We didn't actually see that happened when Mongolian fighter Tuguldur Byambatsogt made his debut against Japan's Shusaku Fujinaka. Despite not going for the knock out, the Mongolian genuinely impressed, and for a debut this was the sort of performance that allowed fans a glimpse of what he can do.
Japanese Youth Title action-Tetsuro Ohashi (7-0-1, 2) vs Suzumi Takayama (2-0, 2) [movie/6919/]
One of the real hidden gems of the the month was the Japanese Youth Super Flyweight title bout between Tetsuro Ohashi and Suzumi Takayama. This was fantastic, saw both men being dropped and show cased excellent skills and technique from two very talented youngsters. Although there was a winner and a loser we suspect both men will have improved thanks to this truly fantastic bout from October 19th
Domestic title bout- Seigo Yuri Akui (13-2-1, 9) vs Shun Kosaka (16-5, 4) [movie/6951/]
We've known for a while that Seigo Yuri Akui is a fast starter, though we were interested to see how he'd cope with the usually durable Shun Kosaka in a bout for the Japanese Flyweight title. This looked good on paper, and whilst it didn't live up to expectations it's still well worth a watch for a short and rather explosive performance
Prospect Debut- Yudai Shigeoka (0-0) vs Manop Audomphanawari (3-2, 3) [movie/6969/]
One of the most anticipated debuts in Japan this year was that of prospect Yudai Shigeoka, who's debut came against Thai foe Manop Audomphanawari on the Watanabe promoted "Fight The Power", on October 30th. This wasn't so much a great bout but a showcase for one of Japan's future stars.
(Images courtesy of boxingraise and Boxmob)
We're now set to enter July, so we thought what better time to look over the most notable action from June, which seems to have been a relatively quiet month over-all
The month kicked off quickly as Wanheng Menayothin (38-0, 13) made the second defense of his WBC Minimumweight title as he easily over-came the horribly over-matched, though brave, Jerry Tomogdan (17-6-3, 9) of the Philippines. There was never any real risk here for the Thai champion though he did look sharp and strong in his second of 4 planned defenses this year. Although Tomogdan was never in the fight we do suspect he'll bounce back well and make a name for himself on the Filipino domestic scene.
On the first Saturday of the month we the biggest day in Indonesian boxing since the retirement of Chris John. The show was headlined by Daud Yordan's (34-3-0-1, 24) competitive win over Maxwell Awuku (40-3, 26) though also features wins for many of the “next generation” Indonesian fighters such as Defry Palulu (12-1, 11), Iwan Zoda (6-1,5) and Ferdinand Unitly (3-0, 1). We won't pretend that Indonesian boxing is set for a golden age but this was certainly a notable show and Raja Sapta Oktohari should be proud of the event.
The only OPBF title bout of the month came on June 8th as the exciting Koki Eto (17-3-1, 13) managed to over-come the challenge of Yuki Fukumoto (17-10, 5), who really did perform better than expected. In some ways Eto looked to have under-performed, starting particularly slowly, though we suspect he over-looked his foe as he continues to chase for a world title bout. On this performance we can't see Eto putting up a serious threat to any champion however we will always look forward to seeing him in action.
Kyoei put on one of the most notable Japanese shows of the month on June 10 as we had an IBF world title eliminator as well as the return to action of a recent world title challenger.
The aforementioned world title challenger was Hisashi Amagasa (29-5-2, 19) who over-came Thai visitor Patomsith Pathompothong (12-4, 5) with a clear 10 round decision. The world title eliminator saw Shingo Wake (19-4-2, 11) over-come Mike Tawatchai (35-8-1, 21) with a wide decision. The win for Amagasa was his first bout since his December loss to Guillermo Rigondeaux whilst Wake's win has netted him an IBF world title fight.
One of the months few title fights to feature an Asian fighter came on June 13th when Ryosuke Iwasa (19-2, 12) unfortunately came up short against Englishman Lee Haskins (32-3, 14) in the UK. Iwasa looked one-paced at times though was starting to have success before he walked into a monstrous left hand that he never recovered from. The win for Haskins saw him claim the IBF “interim” Bantamweight title
The month ended in frustrating fashion as IBF Flyweight champion Amnat Ruenroeng (16-0, 5) was allowed to foul and spoil his way through what appeared to be a good match up with Johnriel Casimero (21-3, 13). What was a promising match up on paper was ruined by poor officiating and some dirty tactics that left many thinking that Ruenroeng may struggle to get notable challengers will to travel to Thailand in the future.
(Image courtesy of Thairec.com)
The month of June has been a long and eventful one for boxing fans, and now we're about to roll into June, which again promises a lot of action. Here's what we, at Asian Boxing, have to look forward to over the coming weeks.
The month kicks off with WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (37-0, 12) defending his title for the second time. The talented Thai, who won the title last year by stopping Oswaldo Novoa, will be facing the unknown Jerry Tomogdan (17-5-3, 9) of the Philippines. For Tomogdan it's a huge opportunity to make a name for himself, however there is nothing about his resume that suggests he has any chance against the often under-rated Wanheng.
On June 6th we'll see popular Indonesian warrior Daud Cino Yordan (33-3-0-1, 24) battle against the experienced Maxwell Awuku (40-2-1, 26). This will be Yordan's first bout of the year and he's apparently looking to move towards a WBO world title fight. Better yet this card is set to be littered with the best prospect in Indonesian boxing, and be screened internationally on RCTI. A win all-round even if the card isn't the strongest.
On the same day, in Japan, fans will have the chance to see a couple of former world champions in action as Toshiyuki Igarashi (20-2-1, 11) and Akifumi Shimoda (28-4-2, 12) both fight for the first time this year. Neither man is taking on a global name but it's worth noting that both men will be expecting big fights later in the year if they come through unscathed.
On June 8th Japanese fans get an interesting double header at the Korakuen Hall. The first of those bouts will see unbeaten Japanese Super Featherweight champion Rikki Naito (12-0, 5) make the move to Lightweight where he will face the teak tough Nihito Arakawa (25-5-1, 16) in a very attractive looking bout. Although no titles are on the line this is a really significant bout for both men with Arakawa's career really needing a win and Naito really wanting to continue his unbeaten run.
The other bout will see exciting OPBF Flyweight champion Koki Eto (16-3-1, 12) defending his title against Japanese challenger Yuki Fukumoto (17-9, 5). We don't really see what purpose this bout serves but it's always a joy to watch Eto in action and he hope certainly seems to be to get him a world title fight later in the year.
Talking about world title fights it has seemed like Shingo Wake (18-4-2, 11) has been on the verge or a shot at the gold for a long time. On June 10th Wake gets the chance to take a huge step towards a world title fight as he faces Thailand's Mike Tawatchai (35-7-1, 21) in an IBF world title eliminator. The winner of this is expected to fight Carl Frampton later in the year or early next year.
In a female bout on this card Tomomi Takano (7-1, 5) will fight Nongbua Lookpraiaree (9-12-1, 1) for the OPBF female Super Bantamweight title. This will be Takano's first title bout and although it looks easy on paper it is still a test for the model-come-boxer who has shown frailties in the past.
The same card will also see Hisashi Amagasa (28-5-2, 19) in his first bout since being stopped by Guillermo Rigondeaux. The lanky Japanese fighter will be up against Thai visitor Patomsith Pathompothong (12-3, 5) and has the intention of chasing an IBF Featherweight title bout later in the year. It's not a given that he will get one but this is his first step towards one.
Remaining on the theme of world title bouts, we'll see a the once beaten Ryosuke Iwasa (19-1, 12) travel to England to battle against Lee Haskins (31-3, 13) in a contest for the IBF interim Bantamweight title. Iwasa has the opportunity to become the first Japanese fighter to win a world title in Europe however he will be expecting to fight Randy Caballero, if he were to win here, to become the IBF's “real” champion.
On June 20th we get two very different looking “secondary” title bouts. Neither is great but, if we're being honest, one is a joke.
The relatively interesting bout comes form Mexico where Filipino puncher Warlito Parrenas (24-6, 21) battles Mexico's very own David Carmona (19-2-4, 8) in a fight for the WBO interim Super Flyweight title. The winner of this will be matched with Naoya Inoue later in the year, giving us a bout that is genuinely significant for both Inoue and Parrenas. On paper Carmona has nothing to trouble the Filipino though this will be Parrenas's first bout outside of Asia.
The other fight is in Las Vegas as Beibut Shumenov (15-2, 10) attempts to claim the WBA “interim” Cruiserweight title. Shumenov, a former title holder at Light Heavyweight will be up against once beaten American BJ Flores (31-1-1, 20) in a bout that we're really struggling care about. The bout will receive more widespread attention than the Parrenas/Carmona bout but it really shouldn't and the WBA really should be asked questions about sanctioning this contest.
The middle part of the month is mostly quiet but we do get an exciting looking closer for the month as unbeaten IBF Flyweight champion Amnat Ruenroeng (15-0, 5) defends his title against mandatory challenger Johnriel Casimero (21-2, 13). Casimero, a former champion at Light Flyweight, is a real threat to the talented Ruenroeng and although the Thai is a the king of slowing the pace Casimero is explosive enough to really give Ruenroeng a hard time here.
On the same day female fans in South Korea can see their very own Eun Hye Lee (7-0, 2) battle against Thai youngster Ploynapa Sakrungrueng (12-5-1, 1) in a contest for the WBO female Light Flyweight title. This bout has really gone under-the-radar but it could potentially see South Korea claiming another female world champion, as recognised by “The Big 4”. It's certainly less high profile than some of the months other bouts but it is a notable one all the same and one where Lee seems to be the clear favourite.
Images courtesy of-
Thairec.com and boxmob.jp
We have to say that January 2015 was one of the least memorable starts to the year that we can remember, in a very long time. Thankfully however things get under-way properly in February and here are the bouts that we suspect will be the highlights.
WBC Minimumweight Title Fight [February 5th]
The month kicks off in style as Thai boxing get it's first world title fight of the year. That fight will see WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (36-0, 12) defending against unbeaten Filipino fighter Jeffrey Galero (11-0, 5). This bout looks a bit like a mismatch, given the competition Galero has faced so far, though we did see Wanheng step up big time last year and Galero may well feel he can do the same in his first world title shot.
Pinoy Pride 29 [February 7th]
The first major Filipino show of the year closes out the first week of February and although there are no world title bouts on the card there are 3 highly ranked Filipinos, and a former world champion all in action.
The stand out fighter in action is Genesis Servania (25-0, 11) who is one of the most naturally talented Filipinos currently making his name on the boxing scene. Servania, who is very highly ranked in the Super Bantamweight division, is expecting to get a world title fight later this year though will have to get past Juan Luis Hernandez (17-3-1, 9) on this show first.
Another man who will need to record a win if he's to get a chance at a world title somewhere down the line is Jason Pagara (34-2, 21), the older brother of the monstrously talented Albert Pagara. Pagara will be taking on Cesar Chavez (24-7, 12) and a win here us likely to lead him to a big bout in the US, though a loss will set him back big time.
Talking about a man who cannot bare to take a loss right now it's fair to say that Arthur Villanueva (26-0, 14) cannot even think about losing. Ranked #3 by the WBO at Super Flyweight Villanueva has a lot to lose and little to gain as he takes on former WBO Flyweight champion Julio Cesar Miranda (38-11-2, 29). Miranda needs a win to keep his career alive and Villanueva needs a win to open up a chance at getting a world title fight later this year. It's fair to say that this is the most important bout of the day, by some margin.
On the same day, albeit in Japan, we see the return to the ring of former WBC and Lineal Flyweight champion Toshiyuki Igarashi (19-2-1, 11) who fights against Mexico's Efrain Perez (17-5, 12) in what looks to be a must win bout for the Japanese fighter. On paper this looks like an easy win however Perez is a gutsy fighter who will almost certainly bring the best out of Igarashi in what could be a very tough 10 rounds for the Japanese southpaw who had only 9 rounds of action in the last 17 months.
DANGAN 121 [February 9th]
We get the first Japanese title fight of the year on February 9th as unbeaten men collide in a really enticing looking contest of speed and skills for the Japanese Super Featherweight title. Going into the bout the champion is the much touted Rikki Naito (11-0, 5) however his challenger is the equally as touted Masayuki Ito (16-0-1, 7) and the winner will almost certainly emerge as yet another Japanese Super Featherweight to keep an eye on. With both men being in their early 20's a loss isn't a major set back though neither will be wanting anything but a win in a contest that just looks a little bit special
Legend Fight Vol 3 [February 18th]
We've been fans of Ryosuke “Eagle Eye” Iwasa (18-1, 11) for a long time and finally he's getting his shot at the big time as he battles in an IBF Eliminator against American fighter Sergio Perales (24-2, 16). It's hard to see anything but a win for Iwasa here who will move towards a world title fight with Randy Caballero if he comes out on top here. Iwasa has been patiently waiting for a shot a world title and we suspect he'll be fully prepared for what is certainly the most important bout of his career so far.
Earnest Efforts 3 [February 19th]
Just a day after we get a world title eliminator we get a world title double.
The key bout here is an all-Japanese bout for the IBF Light Flyweight title as Naoko Shibata (13-3, 4) battles against Saemi Hanagata (9-5-2, 4) in what looks like to be a really intriguing battle of wills. Shibata, entering as the champion, will be looking to record her 3rd defence of the title whilst Hanagata will be hoping to claim her first world crown.
On the same show the legendary WBC Atomweight champion Momo Koseki (19-2-1, 6) will be hoping to keep her record setting run going as she hunts title defence #15. Rough, tough and a real handful it's hard to see anyone at 102lbs beating Koseki and we can't see Aisah Alico (5-4, 5) even coming close to beating her here.
Thunderbolt [February 21st]
The always exciting Gennady Golovkin (31-0, 28) returns to the ring for his first bout of 2015 and looks to defend his WBA “super”, IBO and WBC interim Middleweight titles against the touted Martin Murray (29-1-1, 12) of the UK. Murray is seen as being one of Golovkin's toughest tests so far and is expected to give him a tough bout however Golovkin does carry a sensational run of 18 straight stoppages and it's hard to see Murray ending that run which dates back more than 6 years!
Wake Vs Paypa-OPBF Title Fight [February 27th]
In Asia the last fight of note comes from Japan where the world ranked Shingo Wake (17-4-2, 10) attempts to defend his OPBF Super Bantamweight title for the 5th time. Wake will be battling against Filipino challenger Jimmy Paypa (16-2-1, 6) in a bout that was originally penciled in, though never formally announced, for December 30th 2014. It's thought that a win here for Wake will put him into a world title fight in Summer.
Loreto Vs Joyi II-The Rematch [February 28th]
In 2014 we saw a major shock as the then unheralded Rey Loreto (19-13, 11) knocked out the highly regarded South African Nkosinathi Joyi (24-3-0-1, 17). Not only did Loreto shock the boxing world with the win but he also claimed the IBO Light Flyweight title and left fans around the world talking about him. Sadly the momentum of that win faded however the memory hasn't and the two will get it on again to close out February 2015. We suspect Joyi will be more aware of the man he is up against whilst Loreto will know a win here could take him on to a “real” world title fight later in the year.
(Image courtesy of www.sportsviewlondon.com)
Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux (12-0, 8) is a fighter who widely splits opinion. If you listen to HBO, Ring Magazine or even Bob Arum you'd assume that Rigondeaux was as boring as listening to paint dry.
If you listen to fans of "the sweet science" however, Rigondeaux is generally seen as a supremely gifted fighter who has the ability to make good fighters look ordinary and ordinary fighters look garbage.
Sure he may not have the most exciting bouts fight after fight but one thing about Rigondeaux we can all agree on is that he's a special boxer. Not necessary a great fighter but clearly the top Super Bantamweight on the planet right now.
Unfortunately despite being the clear #1 at 122lbs it seems unlikely that HBO will willingly cover his next bout. With that in mind we started to wonder, what is next for the main who beat "The Filipino Flash" Nonito Donaire (31-2, 20)?
Our conclusion was that "El Jackal" would be best off looking to the East for his next fight, as a number of top Super Bantamweights ply their trade over there, in fact there is so many match ups that Ringondeaux could be looking at if he traveled to either Macau or Japan that his career for the next few years could be as busy as he wanted it to be.
The most logical option, if Rigondeaux does look for a fight in the Orient, would be against former 2-weight world champion Hozumi Hasegawa (33-4, 15).
Hasegawa would almost certainly love a chance to claim a third divisional title, he has the ability to draw a crowd and is still, despite losses in recent years, seen as one of the top Japanese fighters.
In terms of the fight it's self Hasegawa would not only bring some TV money and a crowd but also speed, in fact he may be the only fighter at 122lbs who can match Rigondeaux for pure hand speed. His style should actually suit Rigondeaux's counter punching and whilst we could get a chess match it would certainly be a high speed and exciting one with both men having questionable chins.
Incidentally a Hasegawa victory over Rigondeaux would see him fulfilling one of his future goals in becoming a unified champion.
If a fight with Hasegawa couldn't be made for whatever reason there is a trio of Teiken fighters who would all likely be willing to fill a slot with the Cuban.
Firstly you have former WBA champion Akifumi Shimoda (27-3-2, 12), who's highly ranked by both the WBA and WBO. Shimoda certainly wouldn't be given much of a chance by the boxing public but he is known by US fans and could well serve as a supposed "stay busy fight" for the Cuban.
Secondly you have Yasutaka Ishimoto (22-6, 5), pictured, who has been on a recent Bob Arum promoted Macau show, where he scored a notable upset defeating former world champion Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. Ishimoto is ranked highly by the WBO and whilst he's unlikely to put up a great challenge he's a fighter who knows that a win would open up major paydays.
The final Teiken option would be Shinsuke Yamanaka (19-0-2, 14), the current WBC Bantamweight champion. Of course Yamanaka would have to move up a division for the bout but Rigondeaux himself is a small Super Bantamweight. Although this is the least likely of the "Teiken Trio" it would certainly be a fight that would have fans across the globe very interested, arguably more so than the Hasegawa bout mentioned above.
Aside from the 4 men mentioned above there is other options, in fact there is really huge selection of options.
One possibility would be Shingo Wake (14-4-2, 7), the current OPBF champion. Of course Wake has a bout with Filipino Jhunriel Ramonal lined up for October, though after that a Rigondeaux bout would likely be his dream contest for early 2014.
In terms of mass attention, perhaps the only fight in Japan that would be bigger than a Yamanaka/Rigondeaux contest would be Rigondeaux against Koki Kameda (31-1, 17). Unfortunately this is likely to be a total no-no for Kameda who has been selective with opponents and would need to step up both a weight class and an opposition class. Saying that though the attention this bout would get, with Kameda looking for a fourth divisional title would be massive.
Of course it's not just Japan that has options and in fact Indonesia has a very, very interesting option, as long as Rigondeaux himself is willing to move up a division.
A bout between Rigondeaux and Chris John (48-0-3, 22) in Jakarta or even Singapore, at Featherweight would be massive.Sure this is a highly unlikely bout but there would be major interest from fans across the globe wondering if Rigodeaux could compete at 126lbs and wondering if Chris John can genuinely beat a world level fighter.
Unfortunately this bout really does have a number of stumbling blocks. Not only would money be an issue, or venue but also the dreaded "Golden Boy/Top Rank" rivalry which has already denied up a number of bouts.
One thing is for certain, despite what Bob Arum and HBO seem to think, there are fights out there for Rigondeaux that can draw a real interest and there are options out there. Hopefully it's not long before Arum realises he can send Rigondeaux out to Macau or Singapore and try to capitalise on the busy Asian scene.
If Rigondeaux's next fight isn't in the East, it's fair to say Arum has missed a trick.
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).