Although boxing through much of January has been limited we do seem to be heading towards some great cards in early February. One such show is "Dangan 93" which features 2 title fights
The main event at "Dangan 93" is, for us, a bit of a mismatch as Shingo Wake defends his OPBF Super Bantamweight title against Jovylito Aligarbes. For that bout we really can't see Wake losing.
Thankfully the shows other title fight is actually a lot more interesting as the unbeaten Rikki Naito (8-0, 4) takes on the highly experienced Hiroyasu Matsuzaki (22-6-2, 11) in a battle for the vacant Japanese Super Featherweight title.
The title, which was vacated by Daiki Kaneko last year, prior to Kaneko's WBA world title bout with Takashi Uchiyama, isn't going to decide the best Japanese fighter at 130lbs but will almost certainly be seen as a stepping stone to a possibly lucrative world title fight somewhere down the line.
Of the two men it's clear that Matsuzaki is the more experienced. The 31 year old has had 30 career fights since beginning his professional career way back in 2003. Although he's far from a star he is a genuinely accomplished, domestic level fighter who has twice fought for the Japanese title, coming short both times.
Whilst Matsuzaki's record may not suggest he's a great fighter, he's been unfortunate to be in a division that has been amazing in Japan over the past few years. This has been shown by the fact that the experienced fighter has picked up losses to domestic foes including Yusuke Kobori, who went on to win a world title, and Daiki Kaneko, who looks certain to win a world title somewhere down the line. Had he been in another generation, or been able to fight at Featherweight he'd have almost certainly have won a national title.
Talented and with good speed Matsuzaki's main problems have been his relative lack of power and the fact he's also not the toughest. That's not to suggest a gust of wind knocks him over but he can be stopped, as he has been 3 times in his 6 losses.
Aged just 22 Rikki Naito is a novice, though he's a man who has always had boxing around his life. His father, Cassius Naito, was a former Japanese and OPBF Middleweight champion back in the 1970's and although Cassius was well retired before Ricky was born it's obvious there is a bit of his dad in him.
Rikki's career has been followed intensely by some in Japan with interview and reports in of many of his early fights. This has allowed chronicles of his career and seen him develop from a somewhat unfocused youngster who was dropped in his second professional contest to a man now competing for the Japanese national title just over 2 years later.
Unfortunately for Rikki, who is talented with natural speed, he has a lot of pressure on him to follow in his father's footsteps. He's expect to be a champion one day. Having watched him a few times however it's hard to believe that he's ready for a title fight. In all honestly his struggles with Keiichi Izumi in the "Strongest Korakuen" leaves us thinking that this fight has come a year, if not 2, too early for the young prodigy. It'd have been really nice if Rikki had been given another year to work on his punching which is often not crisp as he'll perhaps need here.
We know that Rikki, with the unbeaten record, will be favoured but we're expecting to see experience being the key factor here with Matsuzaki just knowing too much for his young rival who we imagine will come again in a years time with a bit more experience and know how under his belt.
If one Japanese fighter impressed us last year, without getting major acclaim, it was the sharp shooting Shingo Wake (15-4-2, 8) who really came in to his own. Wake, a relative unknown prior to last year, began to live up to his promise in 2013 and also claimed the OPBF Super Bantamweight title in the process as he moved from Japanese domestic class to fringe world class.
The talented Wake, who kicked off his 2013 with an upset stoppage over the previously unbeaten Yukinori Oguni, went 3-0 (3) in the year. This was his year, the year that saw him believing in his talent and putting a few forgettable years well and truly behind him.
Despite the success of 2013 Wake will be hoping to keep his career momentum going when he returns for his first bout of 2014, a bout that sees him defending his OPBF title against Japanese based Filipino challenger Jovylito Aligarbes (10-2, 4) on February 10th at "Dangan 93". Although on paper Wake will be the favourite, Wake himself will know all too well that being the under-dog can be a blessing in disguise.
Of course Wake's biggest win was the victory over Oguni, an upset that wasn't foreseen by many. At the time Oguni was 10-0 (2) and world ranked, Wake was a distinctly average looking 12-4-2 (5). It's fair to say that Wake was in the situation Aligarbes is in now, a man looking to score their break out victory. For Wake though he'll not be wanting to through away what he has accomplished over the last 12 months, especially not to a fighter like Aligarbes.
Wake, at his very best, is a nightmare to fight. He's slippery, he's fast, he's accurate and most frustratingly is the fact he lures opponents in time and time again before countering with a sharp straight shot. He's just as frustrating as he is talented and if he doesn't beat you physically with his sharp accurate shots he beats you mentally by making you chase shadows and tag the air. What makes Wake even more frustrating to fight is that he's a southpaw and a tall for the weight at 5'8".
At his worst though, Wake can be very disappointing, lazy and lacking the fire to really be a star. Thankfully however Wake did seem to find his fire in 2013 and hopefully that will continue in to 2014.
Aligarbes, also known as Jovy Katsumata, is a fighter who as just 19 years old is improving and is clearly talented. Unfortunately for the youngster he's still a long way from beating the likes of Wake.
From his career so far Aligarbes has shown some genuine class, though he's also making a lot of mistakes still. He's a typical diamond in the rough that we often see with promising Filipino fighters. Unfortunately he suffers from one of the other problems of being a talented young Filipino, he's being matched in an harsh and unfair manner. Sometimes it works, as it did when Aligarbes took on Monico Laurente, but there is a big difference between the likes of Laurente and Wake.
Added to Aligarbes problems regarding his unpolished skills is the fact he's moving up in weight. Aligarbes is the WBC Youth Super Flyweight champion and moving up to Super Bantamweight to take on Wake just seems like a ridiculously tough step up in terms of weight and class. Of course a loss to Wake isn't the end of the world but he certainly doesn't need another loss. Aligarbes should be given more fights in his division at his level than taking this big step up.
We're expecting Aligarbes to start confidently and try and get to Wake but Wake's movement and accuracy will make him pay. By round 3 or 4 Aligarbes will be getting broken down and whilst we expect him to go out on his shield he'll never really be in the bout.
Hopefully, for Wake, this will be his final bout against a lesser foe before moving on. He can, by all means, continue defending his OPBF title though he should only really continue defending it if he can get someone like Hidenori Otake, Genesis Servania or Albert Pagara in the ring with him. No one else in the OPBF Super Bantamweight rankings deserve to be in the ring with him and none of the other others would even give Wake a competitive bout.
When you hear the name Nkosinathi Joyi (24-2-0-1, 17) you think real world class. The South African, who has previously held the IBF Minimumweight title, was, at one point, on some pound-for-pound lists and looked unbeatable. He was simply exceptional with the combination of speed, power, size, strength, skills it was a joy to watch him.
Unfortunately for the South African his best looks to be behind him. He might only be 31 but he's clearly not the fighter he once was. He's no longer the fighter who dominated Florante Condes or defeated Katsunari Takayama instead he's the man who ran out of gas against Mario Rodriguez and the guy who lost in a major domestic clash with Hekkie Budler. Of course Joyi may put those losses down to struggling to make weight though to us he's just not the same fighter.
On February 1st one man hoping that Joyi really has faded will be Filipino Rey Loreto (17-13, 9), a man who will be given next to no chance against Joyi when they meet in Monte Carlo for the IBO Light Flyweight title.
The 23 year old Loreto is, like many Filipino boxers, a man with more losses than his talent perhaps deserves. Unfortunately he picked up many of those losses very early in his career and since then has developed significantly from the fighter he once was.
Loreto debuted back in 2008 when he was just 17. Within a year of his debut he was 0-4 having dropped 4 decisions. Although things did get better for Loreto he wasn't well looked after by a promoter and by the summer of 2011 he was 8-11, his career looked like that of a career journeyman and he was treat like one being sent to Thailand to face Yodngoen Tor Chalermchai, Paipharob Kokietgym and Noknoi Sitthiprasert who between them were 51-4.
Surprisingly Loreto has really turned his career around with 9 wins in his last 11 bouts including a stoppage over Wisanu Kokietgym and a technical decision over Pornsawan Porpramook. The only losses in those 11 fights have come to Atsushi Kakutani and Benezer Alolod, both in very close decisions that Loreto could well have won.
Young, hungry, improving and maturing Loreto a lot more dangerous than his record would suggest. Sure he's not an exceptionally talented but he's a man who has improved so much over the last few years that both the WBA and WBC rank him as amongst the in the world.
For Joyi this bout is one that he's supposed to win. There is no way he's expecting to lose, though the same could be said for his bout with Rodriguez. He was supposed to go over Mexico and destroy an over-matched Mexican, instead however Joyi started well then imploded. The Rodriguez bout was Joyi's only previous bout outside of South Africa and he was unable to fight for 12 rounds he has been able to in the past. Yes the conditions in Monte Carlo and Mexico are different but those memories will haunt him and with Loreto managing to win his last 2 bouts outside of his homeland he'll be confident.
Joyi at his best would beat Loreto. We're confident of that. A man who can beat Condes and Takayama can beat Loreto. Joyi isn't at his best any more, he's 31, has had his confidence destroyed by 2 losses in his last 4 bouts and although still talented isn't the destructive fighter he once was. The South African will still be favoured, of course he will, but then again Loreto was also the under-dog against Pornsawan and Wisanu, he's a man who enjoys being the under-dog and will be hoping to prove, once again, that this dog bites.
This bout will be on the same card as Gennady Golovkin's upcoming WBA Middleweight title defense against Osumanu Adama.
It'll be no surprise at all if we said that the Korean boxing scene isn't what it once was. Back in the 1970's and 1980's the country was a hive of boxing activity with numerous world champions and countless top contenders. Unfortunately that 70's and 80's were a long, long time ago and right now those memories are just distant memories.
The state of Korean boxing is somewhat summed up by the case of Jong-Min Jung (4-6, 1), pictured, the current South Korean Bantamweight champion. Yes, the national champion has a losing record.
It'd be possible to defend Jung if his career started 0-6 or 1-5 before he went on a short but impressive winning run, unfortunately though his career has never really gotten going and he's actually lost 2 of his last 3. That alone would be bad though it's made worse by the fact that the Bantamweight scene in Korea is awful to the least, as summed up by the fact Jung beat Sung-Baek Noh (now 3-6-2) for the title last year.
Although not a great fighter Jung has been unfortunate for various reasons. Firstly he's often fought above Bantamweight and has been as high as Super Featherweight. Add the fights above his natural weights to the fact he's been in with the world level Jung-Oh Son, who gave Koki Kameda an absolute headache last year, and the OPBF ranked Yoshihiko Matsuo and you can understand why he has a losing record.
Although Jung has got a losing record that's probably not his biggest issue. His biggest issue is that he completely lacks fire power. His sole stoppage victory came against Noh in his title fight and whilst he has only been stopped once himself he lacks the fire power to keep opponents honest and this will be an issue.
In the opposite corner to Jung on February 9th will be his first challenger, Ye-Joon Kim (6-1-2, 1) a fighter who boasts a much better record than the champion and hasn't been beaten since his second professional bout, which came back in March 2012.
Since turning professional in 2012 Kim has had a somewhat easier career than Jung. He has been allowed to fight in and around the Bantamweight division in every fight, never venturing above the Super Bantamweight limit where he has fought most of his career. As well as fighting at his natural weight Kim has also never faced a fighter ranked as highly as Jung-Oh Son or Yoshihiko Matsuo.
Whilst Kim's record is much better than that of the champion it's also worth noting that Kim well have lost both of the fights that were judged as draws and was run very close in bouts with Masatoshi Tomita and Pil-Joon Kim. Had those 4 bouts gone against him he'd have been sitting with a record of 4-5 himself, and these bouts have been at a much lower level than some of Jung's. Put in to context then, these fighters are actually a lot more even than their records indicate.
From the footage available we have to say that Kim doesn't look as good as his record indicates. He has some good traits though they tend to be outweighed by his bad ones, for example a poor looking defense, a lack of power and his shots often lack the technical finesse that one would like to see. That's not to say he can't throw punches, but they tend to lack any visible snap in them, something that perhaps explains his lack of stopping power. If he got taken to a good gym in perhaps the Philippines we could see a lot of his issues being tightened up though unfortunately we don't imagine someone will give him the opportunity to work on his skills.
For Jung the footage is equally as interesting. We'd have expected, from his record, someone who looked like they lacked cohesion in the ring. Interestingly however Jung looks a lot more skilled than perhaps expected. He shows glimpses of good movement, the ability to switch hit, a nice crisp looking jab and the surprisingly ability to set some traps, unfortunately though all of those traits are only shown for short flashes of time. It appears, as with Kim, that there is a good fighter there, though the polishing needed to get the most from him is something the coaches he has, are unable to provide him.
Having been able to see a bit of both men, we think that Jung has more variety to what he does. He's not as "Korean" as some would like to see in the ring, though he's certainly got talent and has learned a lot from his losses.
Whilst we expect others to be picking Kim, based on his record, we'll be leaning to Jung who we believe is the more naturally talented and the better Bantamweight. We'd not massively shocked if Kim won, though we would be very surprised if either man managed to score a stoppage with neither showing KO power so far and neither looking particularly frail so far in their career.
Although highly competitive, despite their records, we don't see this bout being as entertaining as the other two title bouts on the show which of course include the WBO female Minimumweight title bout between Su-Yun Hon and Mako Yamada and the Korean Light Welterweight bout between Taek-Min-Kim and Ja-Ik Goo. Together however the trio of title bouts should provide fans with a bit of everything in what looks like a fantastic card for the Korean audience who we believe can catch all 3 bouts on MBC Sports Plus.
In a year that promises a lot of great fights we know that some fights won't be as advertised whilst others will go above and beyond expectation. One fight we're expecting to be a thriller is the first South Korean Light Welterweight title fight of the year, despite the fact the records of the two men are hugely difference.
The champion, Taek-Min Kim (15-6, 10) is an experienced campaigner with a 9 year professional career under his belt. In those 9 years he has claimed Korean titles at both Super Featherweight and Light Welterweight whilst also picking up the PABA Super Featherweight title along the way. To say he's an accomplished fighter is to merely state the obvious and when you consider he also holds a win over Min Wook Kim things are pretty impressive.
In the opposite corner to Kim is novice Ja-Ik Goo (2-0, 2), pictured, a fighter who has been highly impressive with his power since turning professional last year. Unfortunately whilst Goo has shown impressive power so far, stopping both opponents inside a round, he has also shown some apprehensiveness, as hard to believe as it is. The apprehensiveness of Goo has seen him put under pressure, especially last time out when he faced Kazuki Hayashi, though so far his power has bailed him out.
With his experience Kim will obviously be the favourite. He not only has more than 10 times as many pro fights as his challenger but he also has 54 times as many rounds as Goo! This huge edge in experience is a genuine rarity in professional boxing, though it needs to said that Goo was actually a national champion in the amateurs and appears to have been an accomplished fighter nationally even if he lacks international recognition.
Kim's professional experience is he key advantage. Yes, as mentioned above, Goo does have amateur experience, but Kim knows what it's like to go the scheduled 10 rounds, even if he has only done it once himself. Not only does he know what it's like to go 10 rounds but he's also faced a higher level of foe including Taisho Ozawa who actually stopped Kim inside a round. Unfortunately for Kim it's not only been the higher level fighters that have beaten him however and with 3 losses in his last 4 he's certainly not a fighter who's about to go on a major run to a world title.
With 3 stoppage losses against him Kim will know that he needs to protect himself early on before trying to get to Goo later on, though footage of Kim has shown that defense is certainly leaky.
For Goo this fight is a tricky one. Can he be as apprehensive as he was in his debut with Jung-Hoon Go, where both fighters were warned twice for lack of activity? Can he let Kim attack him from the off as he allowed Hayashi? The answer to both is probably not. He'll know he has power and from clips of him fighting as an amateur we can see Goo can take a shot and fire back.
Thankfully for Goo his power is the great equaliser. A well timed right left Hayashi spread-eagled whilst a blistering assault dropped Go twice. If he starts fast against Kim we have no doubt the power of Goo will stop Kim inside a round and become the new champion. He's naturally bigger, naturally stronger and despite being inexperienced we think the biggest issue about Goo is his confidence.
If Goo jumps on Kim, or lures him in well then we have to favour the challenger.
This really is a bit of a 50-50 bout. It depends on whether or not Kim can take the sting out of Goo, or whether Goo can connect early enough to finish off Kim. We're putting our money on Goo, though can genuinely see both men winning very different fights.
For fight fans wanting to watch this, we expect the bout will be shown on MBC Sports Plus, alongside the brilliant WBO female Minimumweight fight between Su-Yun Hong and Mako Yamada and the interesting looking Korean Bantamweight title fight.
When we get a replacement opponent for a fight we often get left with a poor looking match up that is expected to be one sided and relatively dull. This Saturday however we get a real firecracker of a late replacement as once beaten Filipino Marco Demecillo (19-1-1, 14) travels to Mexico to take on the equally big hitting Mexican David Sanchez (23-2-2, 18) in a fight for the WBA international Super Flyweight title.
Between them the two men have 32KO's from 48 bouts and neither has been stopped.
With the bout taking place in Mexico it's fair to assume that Sanchez will be the favourite. World ranked by all 4 of the major organisations Sanchez is ranked as highly as #3 (by the WBA) and as low as #13 (by the WBC) suggesting that we are talking about a genuine world level fighter and one who is really just waiting for a world title bout.
As well as the world rankings Sanchez has genuine talent. He's unbeaten since 2010, when he lost to Mario Macias by 8 round split decision, and since then he has strung together 13 straight wins with 10 coming by stoppage. On paper that's great especially when you consider he blasted out former WBA Flyweight title champion Jean Piero Perez inside a round. Although powerful Sanchez has struggled in bouts where his power hasn't been enough. Not only with the loss to Macias, who Koki Kameda stopped in 4 rounds, but also in close decisions over Jose Carlos Vargas and Marlon Tapales.
Sanchez seems to be a fighter who's a bit of a bully. If his power effects you then you're unlikely to be able to beat him. Skills wise however, he's nothing spectacular and with out trying to sound harsh he's a long way from a world class "boxer".
Going in to this bout Sanchez isn't the only man with limited boxing. Demecillo, a Filipino who has held both the PBF and GAB versions of the Super Flyweight title, was out boxed in his sole loss, a bout that saw him clearly out pointed by the very talented Arthur Villanueva. Aside from that loss, and a very early career technical draw with Marvin Mabait, Demecillo has a perfect record.
Demecillo's strength is his power game. If he hurts you he tends to know he's hurt you and has power to both the head and body. In fact it's the body shots of Demecillo that seem to be the key part of his arsenal with them being use to grind down his foes. Unfortunately despite a nice array of punches Demecillo does often look quite basic and even a little bit predictable. Powerful but predictable.
One of the problems for Demecillo going in to this bout is that he'll be fighting away from the Philippines for the first time. Whilst he has been spending time in Japan recently, and will be in shape, he's never had a fight away from his homeland which can often a big issue. More over is the fact he's actually traveling to Sanchez's home town. Whilst Hermosillo, Sonora wasn't too harsh for Marlon Tapales, who was controversially out pointed by Sanchez, it may be too fat too soon for Demecillo.
We do tend to feel that Sanchez is the more likely to win. Fighting at home with friends and family around him he will be cheered to the rafters and given the close rounds. Though with Demecillo's power and the fact he was a late call up we refuse to suggest that the Filipino has no chance and with that in mind we're actually going to call the upset with Sanchez walking on to a bomb and not recovering in what turns out to be the "sleeper" of the weekend.
Some bouts genuinely leave us wondering what is going on in our great sport, and not in a good way. This Friday sees one such bout as unbeaten Thai Teerachai Kratingdaenggym (23-0, 17) defends his PABA Welterweight super title against a Mexican challenger.
The PABA, or Pan Asian Boxing Association, is, well, the Asian off shoot of the WBA. How a Mexican qualifies for a PABA title fight is genuinely a mystery though it seems that Fernando Castaneda (21-7, 14) is some how able to fight for an Asian title. Now idea how but that's what we have.
Teerachai, pictured, one of the most promising young Thai's in the sport, is a fighter who has been slowly climbing in to the world rankings on the back of credible, as opposed to great, victories. The 21 year old, who is incredibly strong, has already shown traits needed to become a future world champion. He has shown solid power, the ability to go 12 rounds, a hurtful jab and very solid skills that appear to be developing fight after fight.
Although relatively untested, with his best win to date coming against Behzod Nabiev, Teerachai is a fighter who is likely to be moved up this year as he attempts to make the most of his skills. Unfortunately however he kicks off his year with this fight against Castaneda.
Castaneda, who has been a professional since 2007, has had a relatively up and down career. The peak of it came in July 2011 when he defeated Fidel Monterrosa Munoz though just months later Castaneda was stopped by Johan Perez in an interim world title fight at Light Welterweight.
Since the loss to Perez things have been good on paper for Castaneda with 4 wins though they have all come at a very low and he did lose his most recent contest, being out pointed by unbeaten Colombian Janer Gonzalez.
Fighting in Asia for the first time it's hard to see Castaneda coming away with a positive result, even more so when you consider he's facing a hard hitting and well schooled fighter in Teerachai who will be looking to establish his heavy jab and hurtful straight right. When the Thai gets them going then it's hard to see Castaneda surviving the distance. The Mexican will likely start well though by the mid rounds will have slowed with Teerachai and the Thai conditions getting too much for the Mexican challenger, who has already been stopped 3 times, including two to much lower level fighters than Teerachai.
We're not sure how the PABA have sanctioned this one though we are sure that Teerachai will be successful.
The second Japanese title fight of the year takes place on February 1st in the Light Flyweight division. The title, which was vacated late last year by Naoya Inoue, is up for grabs as the #1 ranked Yu Kimura (12-2-1, 2) takes on the #2 ranked Kenichi Horikawa (25-12-1, 4).
From looking at the fighters records it'd be fair to assume that Horikawa would be the under-dog. Although he's more experienced with 38 fights on his ledger he has lost around 30% of his contests. This is however a case where numbers don't tell us the full story and in fact will mislead people.
Horikawa, 33, started his career back in 2000 and actually started his professional career with a 3-4 record. Despite that poor start Horikawa developed and advanced his record to an impressive 17-5-1 by August 2008. Having won 14 of 16 fights he had genuinely established himself on the domestic stage and moved in to a position to get a national title fight.
In 2009 Horikawa would get his first title fight. Unfortunately for him it came against Akira Yaegashi who narrowly outpointed Horikawa over 10 hard fought rounds to claim the Japanese Minimumweight title. Less than a year later Horikawa lost to Michael Landero in an OPBF Minimumweight title fight and since then his career has struggled for traction with losses in 4 of his subsequent 10 bouts.
Although Horikawa has been losing fights regularly over the past few years he has been facing a high calibre of opponent with losses coming to Florante Condes, Edgar Sosa Ryuji Hara and Noknoi Sitthiprasert. Those losses, whilst bad on paper, were often competitive with the losses to Hara and Noknoi both being very competitive. Horikawa may have several losses but he has mixed in extremely good company and will have learned more from those losses than he will have learned from many of his victories.
Aged 30 Kimura is the younger man though is much less experienced in terms of both quantity and quality of fights. He has been a professional since 2006 and started his career unbeaten through 5 bouts, going 4-0-1, before dropping a technical decision to Shin Ono. That loss was soon put behind him as he recorded 5 straight victories, including one over Masayoshi Segawa, to move to 9-1-1.
Unfortunately for Kimura he would then run into his most well known opponent, Ryoichi Taguchi, who stopped him in 6 rounds to inflict the first stoppage loss on Kimura's record. Since then he has bounced back with a trio of victories though when you consider that the most recent of those came against Tatsuya Fukuhara, who was beaten by the debuting Takuma Inoue back in December, then it's fair to say he's not yet proven his real quality.
The one certainty here seems to be that the bout will go the distance. Neither man has real power and in fact with just a combined 6 stoppages from 37 wins it's fair to say that neither man will fear the others power. Sure both have been stopped before but those stoppages have come to a higher level of fighter.
Going in to this fight we know to expect a decision and we also assume that many will be picking Kimura, we however fancy that the experience of Horikawa will help see him through to the victory. He's proven to be tough, he's tricky and whilst not the most technically skilled he does look like the sort of fighter who will give anyone who lacks concussive power a real nightmare. Not only does Horikawa have the experience edge but he also knows that this will likely be his final title opportunity, that can help fighters find an extra gear and we think that will just do enough to see him over the line.
The PABA may not currently have a working website but they do have some of their titles on show this coming Friday. One of the two PABA title fights on Friday sees the Light Flyweight title on the line as Thailand's Samartlek Chaiyonggym (14-4, 5) meets Filipino journeyman Donny Mabao (21-20-1, 4).
Samartlek, pictured, is the better known of the two men. Aged 29 he has been a professional since 2010 and holds several noteworthy victories, including decisions over Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr and Muhammad Rachman. Despite those two big victories however Samartlek is probably better known for his losses to Yuki Chinen, Denver Cuello and Randy Petalcorin, all of which came on foreign soil.
Although somewhat unknown Mabao has had an interesting career and faced a genuine whose who of who. This has seen Mabao sharing the ring with Wisanu Kokietgym, Kwanthai Sithmorseng, Paipharob Kokietgym, Merlito Sabillo, Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep, Ryo Miyazaki, Mateo Handig and most recently Florante Condes. Whilst he has lost to most of those men he is actually on a 4 fight winning streak with victories over Handig and Condes.
Unfortunately for Mabao he has several issues going in to this bout. Firstly he has been inactive since December 2012, when he upset Condes, and second he is 0-9 on the road. He has never won outside of the Philippines. With this fight taking place in Pathum Thani, Thailand it's hard to see him changing that run, especially considering he lacks power with just 4 stoppages in 41 bouts.
Although not a big hitter himself Samartlek will feel that his home field advantage as well as the fact he has been active more recently than Mabao will see him through to victory.
Having fought 4 times in 2013, including bouts for the interim PABA Minimumweight and WBC Asian Boxing Council Minimumweight title Samartlek will be rust free and confident, even more so when you consider he's on a 6 fight winning streak. Despite this we believe the fight will be very competitive, much more so than the records of the two men would have you think. With that in mind we'd favour Samartlek to claim the title in a hard fought decision.
On the same card we expect to see a PABA Super Featherweight title fight featuring Terdsak Kokietgym in what looks like a much more predictable contest.
For many in the west Thai Terdsak Kokietgym (51-4-1, 33) is best known for his first name. Unfortunately for him many fans don't seem to realise that he's actually a genuinely talented fighter who has been in and around the world stage for the better part of a decade.
Having fallen short in world bouts with Juan Manuel Marquez, Steve Luevano and Takahiro Ao some may feel that Terdsak will never win a world title. The Thai however appears confident that he will get another chance somewhere down the line. Though of course that does depend on his future results.
This coming Friday sees Terdsak returning to the ring for his first fight of 2014 as he defends his PABA Super Featherweight title against Filipino southpaw Mark Sales (20-35-3, 6).
Unlike the Thai champion Sales is much less well known. He doesn't have the humorous name or the world level experience though he is certainly an experienced fighter with 58 bouts and 432 rounds on his ledger. Unfortunately for Sales he also doesn't have the world level skills, despite being a man who has shared the ring with numerous high level fighters.
In a career dating back to 1997 Sales has shared the ring with genuinely talented fighters including Pongsaklek Wongkam, Fahlan Sakkreerin, Nonito Donaire, Sod Kokietgym, Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo and Ji-Hoon Kim. All of whom have either won or challenged for a world title.
Whilst Sales having lost to pretty much every notable name he's fought, other than Bernabe Concepcion, it's fair to suggest that he hasn't really got the talent to push Terdsak all that hard. Though what Sales certainly does have is toughness. In his 58 fight career Sales has been stopped just 4 times, the most recent of which came back in 2004 against Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo. With this in mind we think he could give Terdsak some decent rounds, though it's hard to see anything but a Terdsak victory.
Ranked #11 by the WBA Terdsak will know that he could get one more world title fight somewhere down the line, though at 32 years old he hasn't got long to earn it and will know that a loss to Sales will see his world title dreams over, with that in mind he'll have his game face on and get the job done here. He'll use his skills and power to slowly grind down the tough Filipino and either take a clear decision or a late stoppage as he looks for his 6th straight victory since losing to Ao back in 2012.
Having canned the old "Full Schedule" of Asianboxing we have instead decided to concentrate more on the major bouts. This section, the "Preview" section will look at major bouts involving OPBF and national titles. Hopefully leading to a more informative style for, you the reader.