Action returns to the Korakuen Hall this coming Friday for a small, but notable card featuring a few names known around the Asian scene.
The main event of the card will see the teak tough Tatsuya Takahashi (29-8-5, 21) take on the underrated Gaku Aikawa (9-6-1, 3). The 29 year old Takahashi first came to our attention in 2014, when he challenged the then Japanese Bantamweight champion Kentaro Masuda in a thrilling 10 round contest, in which Takahashi was described as a "zombie" afterwards. Since losing to Masuda in their entertaining bout Takahashi has gone 11-1-2 (8) and been in some entertaining contests. Aikawa is a win some, lose some fighter, going 6-6 in his last 12, though has mixed with good fighters. Sadly for Aikawa it's hard to imagine him picking up a win against Takahashi, even if Takahashi is himself rather crude.
Another bout of note on this card will see former Japanese Minimumweight title challenger Masashi Tada (12-5-3, 8) take on former OPBF Light Flyweight title challenger Lester Abutan (13-9-3, 7) in an interesting match up. Coming into this Tada is 1-2-2 in his last 5, dating back 5 years, whilst Abutan has lost 4 of his last 6, though those losses do include defeats by Kenshiro in an OPBF title bout and Ryota Yamauchi in late 2017. Neither of these are a world beater, but this should still be an interesting and competitive contest.
As well as the Japanese card there will also be a show in Thailand, featuring 2 notable Thai fighters.
The main event will see OPBF "silver" Super Flyweight champion Kongfah CP Freshmart (24-1, 13) defending his title against Filipino foe Salatiel Amit (11-5-2, 8). This is a mismatch on paper, but the reality is that Amit is much better than his record suggests, and we suspect that Kongfah will have to work hard for a win here. We don't expect to see the title changing hands, but Amit will certainly give Kongfah a really tough test.
Another bout on this card will see WBA #2 ranked Flyweight Noknoi Sitthiprasert (68-5, 42) take part in what was being promoted as a tune up bout ahead of a potential world title fight later in the year.
H Kelly Woto puts on his next show this coming Thursday, with the main event being a contest between Indonesuan veteran Stevie Ongen Ferdinandus (27-17-1, 14) and Thai visitor Uthit Punsen (20-4, 1), who will be battling for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Silver Super Welterweight title. The 38 year old Ferdinandus debuted in 2009 and has already crammed 46 fights into his career, though he has sadly lost his last 3 bouts, including an embarrassing performance against Tim Tszyu. The Thai, also known as Yodkhunpol Nakornluang, has lost his most notable bouts, including a loss last October to Muhamad Farkhan, but is a live fighter here against the local favourite.
As well as the card in Indonesia there is also set to be a card in China, though a very low profile one. Arguably the most intriguing match up will see Canadian Helmand Meran Alekozai (6-0, 2) return to the ring after more than a year out, to take on Chinese based Spanish fighter Jose Vinuelas Borras (0-1), who lost on debut in December.
This coming Sunday attention turns to Vietnam, where we see Cocky Buffalo put on a pretty notable card, with a regional title bout and a couple of Uzbek prospects.
The main event will see WBA Asia Light Middleweight champion Khusniddin Pulatov (6-3, 4) make his first defense, defending his title against Filipino foe Rodel Wenceslao (13-16-2, 5). It's hard to know how this bout will go, with the champion certainly not being a quantity and the challenger being known to be less than stellar. Their limitations and question marks about both should make this interesting, even if it's nothing spectacular.
In a supporting bout Uzbek Abdurasul Ismoilov (3-1, 3), who is reportedly 2-0 despite boxrec's record suggesting he's 3-1, will be facing off with Filipino veteran Jaime Barcelona (41-63-1, 10). The Uzbek is highly regarded in the Uzbek press and this will be a good chance for him to prove what he can do against a durable veteran. Barcelona was once well regarded for his durability, but has had a very long and hard career, which has began to take it's toll on him.
A third bout, and possibly the easiest one to pick a winner in, will see the unbeaten Ravshanbek Shermatov (2-0, 1) taking on Indonesian journeyman Waldo Sabu (13-13, 3). It's hard to imagine anything but a win for the unbeaten Uzbek.
Attention turns to Nevada this coming Saturday for the biggest card of the weekend, and one featuring several Filipino fighters.
The headline bout, and one of the biggest bouts of the month, will see Filipino legend Manny Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39) defending the WBA Welterweight title against controversial American Adrien Broner (33-3-1-1, 24). This will be Pacquiao's first defense of the title he took last July, when he beat Lucas Matthysse, and could potentially help set up another big bout later in the year, if he can over-come Broner. For the American, who was once tipped as the future of boxer, this is a must win bout and another loss, especially to a 40 year old Pacquiao, will be hard to bounce back from. This isn't the bout it could have been a few years ago, but should still be a very interesting must win bout. Our preview of this bout is available here Pacquiao and Broner battle for WBA Crown
Another title fight on this show will see WBA "interim" Featherweight champion Jhack Tepora (22-0, 17) defending his title against Mexican challenger Hugo Ruiz (38-4, 33). The unbeaten fighter, from the Philippines, took the title last year in Malaysia and has shown to be a brutally heavy handed fighter, who is lacking in terms of speed and crispness, but is very hard hitting and very dangerous. Ruiz on the other hand made name at Bantamweight, where he was a WBA interim champion, and Super Bantamweight, where he held the WBC title, but has been relatively inactive recently and has shown shaky whiskers. We're expecting this to be very explosive and very exciting, with both having very good power. Our preview of this bout is here Tepora looks to make first defense of "interim" crown, takes on hard hitting Ruiz
Interestingly both Jayar Inson (18-1, 12) and Genisis Libranza (17-1, 10) were scheduled to be on this card, though it now appears that neither man will actually feature. Sadly. Libranza was lined up to face former world title challenger Carlos Buitrago (30-4-1-1, 17) though only Libranza is actually listed for the show now and Libranza has been removed.
We also get a really notable card in Tokyo, as G+ televise the first Dynamic Glove card of the new year, a card featuring 3 very attractive bouts.
The main event will see former OPBF and Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Shingo Wake (25-5-2, 17) taking on Japanese veteran Takafumi Nakajima (29-11-1, 13), in what will be the second bout between the two men. These two met way back in May 2012, with Nakajima defeating Wake via unanimous decision. Since their first bout Wake has gone on the have notable success, going 15-1 (12) and has fought for a world title. Nakajima on the other hand has gone 9-6 since beating Wake, losing in title bouts to Hidenori Otake and Mark John Yap. This is clearly a bout to give Wake revenge for his last loss at domestic level, but is still an interesting match up, and one with a bit of history behind it.
The chief support bout will see the unbeaten Daisuke Sugita (4-0, 3) face off with Reiya Abe (18-2, 9), in a strange yet compelling match. Sugita, who is a full time policeman outside of the ring, has impressed since making his debut and is tipped for big things, but obviously stiffer tests than he has been getting following a very impressive amateur career. This is however a massive step up in class for Sugita, who has never faced anyone like the world ranked Abe. For Abe the bout is a risky one, given his next bout has already been arranged and is a Japanese Featherweight title bout in the middle of the year. This bout see Abe losing his title fight, if he loses, but an injury or a cut could force his plans to change. We suspect Abe will have too many tools for Sugita, at this early stage, but this is still an incredibly interesting match up. Our preview of this bout is available here World ranked Abe takes on Policeman Sugita!
The third terrific match up on this card pits ranked youngsters against each other. In one corner will be Japanese ranked Teiken promoted 24 year old Kenshin Oshima (4-1-1, 3) whilst the other corner will host 21 year old southpaw Ikuro Sadatsune (9-2-3, 3), who holds Japanese WBO Asia Pacific rankings. Coming into this bout Oshima is riding a 4 fight unbeaten run, including an ugly but notable win over Joe Tanooka back in August. Sadatsune on the other hand has won his last 3, with notable wins over Ryo Suwa and Tatsuya Takahashi. We're expecting to see Oshima's power and aggression against Sadatsune's skills and movement in a very well matched and intriguing contest.
Seoul, South Korea
In South Korea we'll see the first card under the recently announced Annihilation banner, which co-promotes MMA and boxing. The main event of this card will see Korean fighter Jung Kyoung Lee (6-2-1, 2) battling against Australian based veteran Samuel Colomban (25-10-1, 11) for the vacant OPBF Light Middleweight title. The bout will be the first OPBF title fight on Korean soil in quite some time, and seems to suggest that KBF are coming out for 2019 with some new fire in their belly. It should be noted Colomban has seen much, much better days but is still a very live fighter against the inexperienced Korean. Our preview of this bout is available here Lee and Colomban battle for OPBF crown!
One other bout of note will take place in Onratio, where we see Canadian based Indian fighter Sukhdeep Singh Bhatti (3-0, 2) kicks off his 2019 with his first 6 round bout. Bhatti will take on Mitch Louis Charles (5-1-2, 2). Bhatti made his debut in March 2018and picked up 3 low key wins during the year. This is a credible step up, at least on paper, for the unbeaten man. We say on paper, because Charles hasn't fought in over 4 years and it's unclear what he'll look like given that lengthy lay off.
Our attention turns to New York this coming Friday where we get the chance to see several Asian fighters in action.
New York, USA
The biggest of the bouts in New York will see little known Japanese fighter Ryohei Takahashi (15-3-1, 6) challenge IBF Super Bantamweight champion TJ Doheny (20-0, 14). This is a huge step up class for Takahashi and an opportunity that few would have expected to see Takahashi get. This is Doheny's first title defense, and he really be the major favourite as he takes on the little known challenger. Takahashi had to wait until January 11th to get his visa for the fight but had been training for a potential clash with Doheny since early December. We've previewed this bout bout here Preview: Doheny Vs Takahashi
New York, USA
A separate card in New York will feature a trio of Asian fighters in bouts.
One of those Asian fighters in action is Filipino fighter Jessie Cris Rosales (22-1-1, 10), who will take on the very highly regarded American Shakur Stevenson (9-0, 5) in a very attractive looking contest. Stevenson, a 2016 Olympic silver medal winner, is regarded as one of the brightest prospects in American boxing and looked fantastic last time out, when he blitzed Romanian veteran Viorel Simion. Rosales on the other hand has a good record and his only loss is to the monstrously hard hitting Jhonny Gonzalez. A win for Rosales isn't expected, but he should be the best test for Stevenson so far.
Former Indian amateur stand out Vikas Krishan (0-0) will be making his debut on this show as he faces off with Steven Andrade (3-3, 2). The gifted Krishan is a 2-time Olympian who announced his intention to turn professional last year and signed with Top Rank, who will look to guide his career to the top. There are huge hopes for Krishan who will begin his career in a 6 round bout here and will be looking to show what he can do. Sadly Adrade has lost his last 3, his last 2 by stoppage, and it's hard to see Krishan being tested at all here in what is likely to be an easy showcase for his debut.
A third Asian on this show is Uzbek fighter Fazliddin Gaibnazarov (6-0, 3), a 2016 Olympic gold medal winner and a 27 year old who is starting to understand the professional boxing scene. The unbeaten Uzbek will be up against Dominican fighter Ricardo Garcia (14-4-1, 9), in what is a very credible step up in class for Gaibnazarov. The Olympic champion has had his struggles, and was dropped on his debut, but does look to be improving and this is a real test. We would expect Gaibnazarov to win, but it'll be very interesting to see how he looks en route to that win.
We also get some action from Thailand.
In one of the major bouts Flyweight contender Dennapa Kiatniwat (20-1, 15), aka Sarawut Thawornkham, will be up against Filipino foe Mateo Handig (15-17, 9), in what looks likely to be a straight forward win for the Thai, who is currently ranked #1 by the WBA at Flyweight. In recent years Handig has been picking up a lot of losses, and we expect to see another one here against the hard hitting Thai.
On the same card we'll see Teerachai Kratingdaenggym (39-1, 29) make his first defense of the WBA Asia Light Middleweight title he won last year, as he takes on Tanzania's Meshack Mwankemwa (17-5-2, 10), in what we're expecting to be a total mismatch in favour of the Thai fighter.
Attention turns to the Philippines this coming Wednesday where fans will get a small card with a few notable domestic level fighters involved.
Thghhe main event will see 33 year old veteran Monico Laurente (30-13, 7) take on Anthony Sabalde (12-8-0-1, 7) in a bout for the vacant PBF Super Featherweight title. Coming in to this Laurente has won 6 of his last 7, with the only loss during that run coming to the once touted Kazuki Tanaka. At 33 we do wonder what Laurente has left in the tank but he is proven at this level. As for Sabalde this is a chance to end a 3 fight losing streak, which included losses to Nihito Arakawa and Lei Wang. Sabalde is limited but durable and should be able to make this pretty interesting.
In a leading support bout Raymond Empic (6-2, 2) will take on Margarito Moya (9-7, 3). The 26 year old Empic is riding a 4 fight winning streak, though has fought only twice in the last 4 years. Moya on the other hand has lost his last 5, by stoppage, and is more than 2 years removed from his last win. It's an interesting match up, but not a mouth watering or exciting looking one.
Once beaten Filipino fighter Mike Plania (17-1, 10) will kick off his 2019 as he takes on American foe Juan Antonio Lopez (12-4, 4). The talented Filipino has bounced back well from his sole loss, a competitive decision defeat to Juan Carlos Payano on his US debut, and has reeled off 3 straight stoppages since then. He will be looking to keep that form going here, but is up against a man who has never been stopped. Lopez has lost 4 of his last 6, but has mixed with good competition, losing to Oscar Cantu, Stephon Young and Rico Ramos.
On paper this is a really good bout, but we do wonder what notice Lopez got for this bout as Plania was originally scheduled to face Ramiro Robles (15-8-2, 9).
We get the first Japanese card of 2019 this coming Saturday, and it's a good one to begin the year with a pair of Japanese title fights.
The main event of the card will see Mugicha Nakagawa (24-5-1, 14) get his long awaited first Japanese title fight as he takes on former title challenger Ryoichi Tamura (11-3-1, 6) for the vacant Japanese Super Bantamweight title, which was vacant by Shingo Wake towards the end of 2018. The 29 year old Nakagawa narrowly missed out on a mandatory shot in 2018, losing an eliminator by split decision to Yasutaka Ishimoto, and perhaps should have had a shot before then. Interestingly Tamura got a shot in 2018 due to Ishimoto, the man who had cost Nakagawa, retiring. In Tamura's previous title fight he gave Yusaku Kuga hell, and has strung together wins since then. Our preview of this bout can be read here Nakagawa and Tamura battle for Japanese crown!
The other title fight will see veterans colliding, as Shin Ono (23-9-3, 6) looks to make his second defense of the Japanese Minimumweight title, and takes on Norihito Tanaka (17-7, 9), in a mandatory defense as part of the 2019 Champion Carnival. Ono won the belt in April, beating Ryoki Hirai in Kobe, and made his first defense in August, suffering a nasty cut that now appears to have fully healed. Tanaka had his first title fight way back in 2011, challenging Akira Yaegashi, but took a break soon after losing to Yaegashi and is now essentially taking part in the comeback stage of his career. Neither of these are big punchers, but both are tough, and have a lot of desire, and this should make for a hard 10 round bout, that will take a lot from both men. We've previewed this bout here Ono and Tanaka clash for Japanese title!
Pathum Thani, Thailand
In Thailand fans will be able to see the hard hitting Natthaphong Wannametee (6-1, 6) fighting for the Thai Super Featherweight title, though his opponent is current unknown.
We'll see a couple of Kazakh hopefuls in action this coming Friday as they compete on a small card in California.
One of those Kazakh hopefuls is 30 year old Light Middleweight Madiyar Ashkeyev (10-0, 6), who takes on Luis Hernandez (16-6, 9) in an 8 round bout. The unbeaten Kazakh fighter has faced most limited opponents since his December 2015 debut, and it's a shame to have seen him treading water so much, given that he has got a fair bit of talent. Hernandez, from Puerto Rico, has lost 4 of his last 5, and 5 of his last 8, but is durable and should force Ashkeyev to work for a win here.
The other Kazakh on this card is 25 year old Middleweight prospect Meiirim Nursultanov (9-0, 7), who will be up against Ramon Aginaga (13-1, 9), who is the third opponent Nursulatanov has had to prepare for following his opponent changing twice. On paper this is another step forward for Nursultanov, who claimed the NABF Junior Middleweight title last time out. We're interested in seeing how the Kazakh develops and would expect him to be given a real test by the end of 2019, given that he has been impressing time and time again. Aginaga hasn't had great notice but is dangerous and has picked up wins on the road before, including a win over Shakeel Phinn in Canada, though was stopped in 5 rounds by exciting French prospect Christian Mbilli.