Macao S.A.R., China
The biggest Asian show this coming Saturday comes from Macao, where we get several bouts of note thanks to the IBF, who are holding a convention and having boxing take place around that event.
On paper the best bout is an all-south Light Heavyweight clash between Fanlong Meng (14-0, 9) and Adam Deines (17-0-1, 8), who battle in what is an IBF final world title eliminator. Unbeaten fighters, with ambition, clashing is always a good thing, and whilst neither will be given a chance against IBF world champion Artur Beterbiev this should still be a worth while clash. With a world title fight up for grabs for the winner this is a really important contest, and potentially the hidden gem of the weekend.
Another unbeaten fighter on this card is Australian Steve Gago (10-0, 4), who takes on criminally under-rated Filipino Adam Diu Abdulhamid (14-7, 6), in what should be a much, much tougher test than it appears on paper. Although Abdulhamid has 7 losses to his name he is a very talented fighter and a real potential banana skin for the unbeaten Gago.
A third bout will see China's Sen Chen (11-1, 2) battle against Filipino veteran Richie Mepranum (33-7-1, 9), for a minor regional title. This is a big step up for Chen, but a win would help him out his name out there. At his best Mepranum is a solid fighter, but in recent years he has just been picking up more losses than wins, and has lost 3 of his last 5. A good test for Chen, but it should be a winnable one.
From the Korakuen Hall we'll get the next Dynamic Glove card, and unfortunately it won't be shown live, and instead it's going to be put on tape delay the following Wednesday.
The main event of the card was supposed to be the first defense of the Japanese Flyweight title by Junto Nakatani (18-0, 13), who was pencilled in to face Wolf Nakano (6-7-4, 2). That was a disappointing bout and was cancelled when Nakano suffered an injury in training, and he has now been replaced by Filipino foe Philip Luis Cuerdo (11-6-1, 4). On paper this is a better bout than the original match up, but should be little more than the next step forward for Nakatani, who is looking like one of the brightest prospects in Japan.
On paper the bout of the show looks likely to be the rematch between Charles Bellamy (28-3-2, 18) and Yuto Shimizu (12-4-2, 5), who had a cracking bout last September. The Bellamy, a popular Japanese based American, took a narrow win over Shimizu last year, and will be favoured here. Shimizu however is no push over, as he showed in their first bout, and this could be a very, very good bout.
Another really good looking match up here will see Japan's Ryota Toyoshima (10-2-1, 7) look to build on a big 208 as he takes on Korean visitor Woo Min Won (10-1, 6). Toyoshima went 3-0 (2) last year, with a very notable win over Moon Hyun Yun, and will be looking to continue that run here. The Korean fight will be fighting on Japanese soil for the second time, having beaten Daiki Koide in Nagoya in 2016. Interestingly this will be Kim's 4th straight bout against a Japanese foe, and so far he has a 3-0 (2) record against Japanese fighters.
Hard hitting Minimumweight prospect Kai Ishizawa (5-0, 5) might not be one of the most rounded prospects in Japan but he is a very heavy handed fighter with a lot of promise, and he's very, very young. On this show he will take on Indonesian journeyman Silem Serang (13-19-2, 1), in what should be little more than a show case for the very exciting Ishizawa.
One other bout of note will see Rookie of the Year runner up Hikari Mineta (5-1, 3) kick off his 2019 with a bout against 32 year old Motosuke Kimura (3-1-2, 1). We were impressed by Mineta in the Rookie of the Year, though he did have a nightmare in the early stages of the final, and it's going to be great to see what the Teiken man can go on to achieve over the coming years.
On the subject of Japanese fighters it's worth noting that Swiss based Japanese born veteran Aniya Seki (34-4-3, 5) will be up against journey woman Ivanka Ivanova (1-10-2) in Berne. Seki, now aged 40, is unlikely to achieve her dream of becoming a world champion, but she should pick up an easy win here against her Bulgarian foe who hasn't won in her last 9.
We turn to the US for much more notable action towards the end of the day, with a number of Filipino fighters in action.
Sadly whilst there are some talented fighters on the card, the most notable of the Filipino fighters looks to be, on paper at least, in a stay busy fight. That is former WBO Bantamweight champion Marlon Tapales (32-2, 15), the criminally under-rated southpaw, taking on Mexican foe Roberto Castaneda (23-11-2, 16). On paper this is a mismatch, though Castaneda has had some interesting performances in recent years coming close to upsetting Jose Lopez in 2014 and securing a draw Tyler McCreary last time out.
Another highly regarded Filipino on this card is the hard hitting Jhack Tepora (22-0, 17), who returns to the ring following a weight mishap earlier in the year. He'll be up against fellow puncher Jose Luis Gallegos (16-6, 12) and should manage to secure a pretty straight forward win, though has clearly lost some of his career moment after a huge 2018.
Filipino-America John Leo Dato (10-0-1, 7) looks to extend his unbeaten record, as he takes on tough veteran German Meraz (62-55-2, 39). The Mexican veteran has 120 bouts to his name, and although his losses are stacking up he has only 8 stoppage defeats with the latest coming more than 2 years ago to Tugstsogt Nyambayar. Meraz will test Dato, but isn't likely to score the upset.
This coming Friday features 2 notable shows, one of which will end a saga that has dragged on for over 2 months with some frustrating moments and the other being a lesser notable, though perhaps more interesting, card.
After months of rescheduling we finally see WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (52-0, 18) face off with former WBO champion Tatsuya Fukuhara (21-6-6, 7) in what will be their second bout. This was originally scheduled for early March, then late March then April and finally the end of May. It's a bout that we're looking forward to, given that Fukuhara gave Wanheng fits in their first bout, but are thoroughly annoyed by, due to all the scheduling changes. Wanheng, although still unbeaten, has looked more and more beatable in recent years but has found a way to maintain his winning run and title. Fukuhara on the other hand will likely know that he won't be getting too many more shots in the near future, and really needs to make the most of this. A full preview of this bout is available to read here Wanheng and Fukuhara battle again for WBC crown
As well as the world title show in Thailand we also have a compelling lesser card in Japan, where we get a number of faltering youngsters in action.
One of the most talented fighters on this card is the skilled but light punching Izuki Tomioka (5-2-1, 1), who gave Masayoshi Nakatani fits in an OPBF title bout. The talented Tomioka will be up against Filipino journeyman Marbon Bodiongan (15-8-2, 11), in what should be a straight forward win for Tomioka, who desperately needs a victory after going winless in his last 3. The Filipino does usually come to fight, but will struggle with the movement of Tomioka.
On the subject of someone who desperately needs a victory Kiyohei Endo (2-2, 2), a former talented amateur, cannot possibly have another defeat at this stage of his career, but he's in hard against Daiki Maniwa (7-3-1, 4). Endo was touted when he turned professional but was shocking stopped by Piyanut Sintao, in what could be classed as a fluke, and he hasn't lived up to his talent since. Whilst Endo needs a win, he may not get it here, and Maniwa, who has been stopped in 2 of his last 3, will be looking to save his own career in what is a must win for both men.
On paper the best of the bouts will see Jin Miura (10-3-1, 1) battle against the talented, and exciting, Mugicha Nakagawa (24-6-1, 14), who is looking to bounce back from a decision loss to Ryoichi Tamura in a Japanese title fight. It's hard to see anything but a Nakagawa win, but this should be a fairly entertaining contest, as most Nakagawa bouts are.
One other bout of some note will see the light punching Ryo Narizuka (9-8-1) battle against Seiya Fujikita (12-4, 5), in what should be an interesting bout though one that isn't likely to be particularly explosive.
Originally planned for this past Sunday we see a return to the BoxingM Battle Royale series. This show is set to feature 16 bouts and serve as the quarter finals to the regular BoxingM tournament.
Given this is a Rookie show there are no notable names involved but there are a few fighters who do stand out. These include 19 year old puncher Kyung Min Hwang (4-0, 3), who takes on fellow unbeaten Seung Ho Jun (1-0) in an all southpaw fight; 39 year old US born Korean based Heavyweight Darin Shaw (0-2), who returns after more than 3 years out of the ring to take on Soo Ho Hong (1-1) and Korean based Russian Bekhruz Makhmudov (1-0, 1), who takes on Jung Min Kim (0-0-1).
From what we understand the show was delayed a day due to issues with securing the venue, though a single day delay shouldn't cause many issues given that the fighters were given quite a bit of notice.
As well as the Korean card there is also set to be a card in the Philippines. This isn't a great card but does have some note worthy names on the show.
In the main event we'll see John Kenan Villaflor (8-5-3, 2) take on Crison Omayao (24-19-4, 8), the man that was actually Naoya Inoue's debut foe. At just 26 Omayao is still a young fighter, but this is already his 48th bout, and he has already been stopped 9 times in his career, making us wonder just how much longer he'll continue in the sport. Villaflor is no world beater, but could get a respectable win here.
Also in action will be the once beaten Roldan Sasan (7-1, 3) who will face off against Dave Maningkil (5-9-2, 1). These two fought in 2012, with Sasan stopping Maningkil in 8 rounds, and he'll be looking for something similar here.
This coming Sunday we see two very notable cards in Asia, both of which are double headers, though both are at very different levels. The more notable is in China, though a Japanese card is certainly worth being aware of.
The Chinese card is expected to be a huge show in terms of local fan interest, with the new face of Chinese boxing headlining along side an incredibly popular foreign fighter, from nearby Japan.
The local star is current WBA "regular" Featherweight champion Can Xu (16-2, 2), who looks to make his first defense, as he takes on Japanese challenger Shun Kubo (13-1, 9), himself a former WBA Super Bantamweight champion.We saw Xu shock the boxing world earlier this year when he defeated Jesus M Rojas for the title in the US, announcing himself on the world stage in impressive and exciting fashion. As for Kubo this will be only his second fight since losing the WBA Super Bantamweight title to Daniel Roman back in September 2017, and he comes in to the ring following surgery to his eyes and more than a year of inactivity. This should be a really, really entertaining and action packed bout, but one where the champion should be favoured. A full preview of this bout can be found here Will Xu be successful in first defense as he takes on Kubo?
The other world title bout on this card will see WBA Light Flyweight champion Carlos Canizales (21-0-1, 17) take on former WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura (18-2-2, 11), who is dropping down 4lbs for this bout. Canizales has really made his name in Asia, despite being from Venezuela, with great performances against Ryoichi Taguchi, Reiya Konishi and Lu Bin. He has been very hard hitting, aggressive and exciting, and and will be looking to record his second defense. Kimura, who is huge in China following his win over Zou Shiming, will be looking to recapture world gold following his sensational 2018 loss to Kosei Tanaka but there are questions over how he will cope with dropping down to Light Flyweight. If Kimura can make weight safely we could be in for a true FOTY contender. An in depth preview of this bout is available here Canizales and Kimura battle for gold in China!
Another notable match up on this show will see world ranked Chinese Flyweight Wulan Tuolehazi (11-3-1, 5) taking on Filipino veteran Ardin Diale (35-13-4, 17). Tuolehazi will be looking to build on a very hotly contested win over Ryota Yamauchi from March, a bout that was much, much closer than the scores suggest and will be strongly favoured here. Diale is a veteran, but is well below world level and this should be a straight forward win for the Chinese local.
Another bout of note on this card will see Chinese youngster Shichao Gao (3-0-1, 1) take on former world title challenger Nop Kratingdaenggym (23-1, 9). The 21 year old Gao looked fantastic in March, when he beat Koji Igarashi, and will know that a win here will give his career a massive boost. A win isn't however a foregone conclusion for the Chinese fighter, and Nop is no push over, with 6 wins in a row since his 2016 loss to Nehomar Cermeno back in 2016. This could be a very compelling contest and a real test for the naturally bigger local.
As well as the card in China we also get a pretty notable regional title double header in Osaka, featuring two WBO Asia Pacific title fights and a bout featuring a very promising local hopeful.
One of the WBO Asia Pacific title fights will take place at Flyweight title as former world title challenger, Masahiro Sakamoto (13-2, 9) takes on Yusuke Sakashita (17-8-3, 12) in a bout that should be a lot more interesting than it looks. Sakamoto looked totally out classed when he faced Moruti Mthalane last year, and it was clear he isn't world class, but this regional title level is where he should find himself being really competitive. Sakashita is a solid Japanese domestic fighter, but we don't imagine him having the skills to really test Sakamoto, who looks to re-capture the WBO Asia Pacific Flyweight title. A preview of this bout can be found here Sakamoto and Sakashita battle for regional title!
The other title bout will see WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight champion Ben Mananquil (17-1-3, 4), defending his title against former OPBF title challenger Yuki Strong Kobayashi (14-8, 8). This looks like an easy win for Mananquil, who will be looking to make his first defense and build on February's big win over Tenta Kiyose, also in Japan. For Kobayashi this will be his first bout since since losing in December to Keita Kurihara, in a controversial and very entertaining clash. That bout with Kurihara saw Kobayashi show great resilience and a good boxing brain, and he is a lot better than his record suggests. He will however be the under-dog here. A preview of this bout is available here Manaquil looks to defend regional crown against Kobayashi!
The other bout of note here will see rising prospect Tulio Kuwabata (2-0, 2) take on former world title challenger John Mark Apolinario (20-13-3, 5), in what is a huge step up in class for Kuwabata. Despite being a step up the 23 year old Japanese fighter will be strongly favoured and will know a win here is a huge step towards a a regional title bout. Apolinario was once a credible fringe world class contender but with a 6-13-1 (3) record in his last 20 it's clear he has lost his desire and will be expected to pick up another loss here.
One other Asian card set to take place this Sunday is in Mumbai, where Arif Khan promoted a rather low key affair. Although most of the bouts are scheduled for 6 rounds they are mostly between novices. The bout with the most experienced sees a combined 18 bouts between the men involved, with Rahukl Kumar (5-1-1, 4) taking on Shiva (8-3, 3) in a Welterweight bout.
Although it's good to see bouts in India, there's nothing to get too excited about here.
Our attention turns to Florida this Saturday where two Asian fighters will be involved in a notable Top Rank card.
The main bout will see Japan's Masayuki Ito (25-1-1, 13) make his second defense of the WBO Super Featherweight title, as he takes on American challenger Jamel Herring (19-2, 10). Originally the WBO stated this bout wouldn't take place for their title, though it appears the organisation quickly back tracked, and in fairness it is a really interesting match up. The champion, who won the title last year when he beat Christopher Diaz in his US debut, looked solid in December, when he made a mandatory defense, but this looks likely to be a much tougher bout. Herring, a 2012 Olympian, has lost 2 of his last 6 but those losses were at Lightweight and he looks much better suited to Super Featherweight. This is an interesting match up, but one where the champion should be regarded as the favourite. A full preview of this bout is available here Ito returns to the US to take on Herring!
The other bout with an Asian fighter will see former WBA "interim" Flyweight champion Koki Eto (24-4-1, 19) take on 2-time Olympian Jeyvier Cintron (10-0, 5) in a WBO Super Flyweight world title eliminator. Those who have seen Eto will know what to expect from him. He's a wild, fighter who could probably be knockdown shadow boxing, but he's fun to watch, aggressive and has been involved in some incredible bouts during his career, which began in 2008. Cintron, on the other hand, is a talented former amateur standout who turned pro in 2014 and looks like he is on the fast track to success. Cintron looks like he has all the tools to deal with Eto, but the Japanese fighter does have incredible will to win and will not go down without a fight. We've previewed this bout here Eto makes US debut, takes on unbeaten Cintron
Staying in the US fans will also be able to see 2016 Olympic gold medal winner Daniyar Yeleussinov (6-0, 3) battle against limited veteran Miguel Zamudio (43-12-1, 27), who has previously lost to Shakhram Giyasov, the man Yeleussinov beat in the Olympic final. It's hard to see anything but a win for the unbeaten Kazakh here.
As well as the action in the US there is also a fight of some minor note in Australia. The bout here sees unbeaten prospect Conor Wallace (5-0, 4) take on limited Indonesian visitor Marco Tuhumury (13-23-2, 5). The Indonesian has lost his last 6, and will likely pick up another loss here. Wallace is a decent prospect, but a win over Tuhumury will prove little, and it seems his team are aware of this with another bout for the prospect looking like it's already been arranged for July.
Pyeongtaek, South Korea
There will also be a small 7 rookie card in Korea. This isn't part of Battle Royale tournament but is being sold as a Boxing M 4 round Parade show with 7 bouts, all between novices, set to compete on the card.
Our attention turns to Florida on Friday night as we get the chance to see a couple of Asian fighters compete.
The more experienced, in terms of professional experience at least, is Filipino fighter Mark Bernaldez (18-2, 12), who takes on Argentinian fighter Nicolas Atilio Velazquez (11-5, 3). Although relatively unknown outside of the Asia-Pacific region Bernaldez is a solid fighter who's only losses have been to Tsuyoshi Tameda and Kye MacKenzie, sadly though both of those losses have been by stoppage. The Argentinian fighter has been stopped in 3 of his last 4, including a 15 second loss to Shakhram Giyasov, but has been fighting at a heavier weight than Bernaldez. We favour the Filipino, but we do expect Velazquez to be a tough test physically for the Filipino.
The other Asian on this card is American based Kazakh Serik Musadilov (5-0, 5), who returns to the ring 18 months after his last pro bout. The unbeaten Musadilov, who will be making his US debut, will be up against Daniel Najera (8-3-1, 4) in what is a notable step up in class. To day Musadilov's 5 pro bouts have all been in Mexico, against total novices, so this should see him answering some questions about his potential
As well as the action in the US there will also be a card in Egypt featuring a somewhat notable Thai in what is likely to be a tough assignment. The Thai in question is the once touted Saddam Kietyongyuth (28-6, 22), who has now lost 4 of his last 6 including shock losses to Yangcheng Jin and Sitthidet Banti. The now 36 year old Saddam will be up against big punching Greek born Egyptian Andreas Valavanis (13-1, 11). On paper this is a step up for Valavanis but given Saddam's recent form it shouldn't be any problem for Egyptian based fighter.
Unbeaten Kazakh hopeful Madiyar Ashkeyev (11-0, 6) will be looking to extend his unbeaten record this coming Thursday when he takes on 34 year old American Cecil McCalla (21-3, 8). The talented Ashkeyev is really in need of a step up and at 30 years old can't waste much more time if he's wanting to move on to a bigger and better fight in the near future. On paper this is a solid step up for the Kazakh, though McCall has scores just a single win in the last 4 years, and that came against the limited Jairo Jesus Siris. What is notable about McCalla is that he's tough, he's never been stopped and has gone the distance in loses against Chris Van Heerden, Ishe Smith and Tony Harrison. Ashkeyev will likely be forced to go 10 rounds, but should pick up a straight forward victory.
In Laguna this coming Wednesday there's a small card in the Philippines. The show doesn't really have any major bouts, but does have some fighters worthy of note.
In one of the few bouts of note former OPBF Super Bantamweight title challenger Jhunriel Ramonal (14-8-6, 7) will take on Danny Tampipi (8-9-2, 5). Coming in to this Ramonal is without a win in well over 4 years, with his last victory coming in August 2014 against Kota Fukuoka in Japan. In fact Ramonal is 1-2-2 in the last 6 years. Tampipi is also in poor form, having lost 3 of his last 4, and will be expected to lose again here.
Another noteworthy fighter on this card is 21 year old prospect Jino Rodrigo (5-1-1, 4), who takes on domestic journeyman Daffy Dempo (5-10, 4), in their second clash. These two fought last November, when Rodrigo stopped Dempo in the 5 rounds and he'll be looking to repeat that here.
One other bout of some interest will see the tough Robert Onggocan (11-5, 7) take on Vincent Bautista (5-13-4, 1). Despite suffering 5 losses, including 4 in his last 6 bouts, Onggocan is a solid fighters and could easily have a very different record if he'd had had just a bit of luck. Bautista is almost 3 years removed from a win and has gone 0-8-1 in his last 9 bouts, and we don't see him changing that here. If we're being totally honest this looks like little more than a confidence builder for Onggocan.
The most notable card this coming Sunday comes from Kobe where we get a world title fight, a Japanese title fight, a once beaten hopeful and an unbeaten prospect.
The world title bout will see the once beaten Reiya Konishi (17-1, 7) challenge huge punching IBF Light Flyweight champion Felix Alvarado (34-2, 30), in what looks like a really tough test for the Japanese hopeful. Konishi is a former Japanese Minimumweight champion who is best known for losing a competitive bout to Carlos Canizales last year, in a really good but now forgotten bout, and this will be his second shot at a world title. Alvarado on the other hand is looking to make his first defense of a title he won last year, when he battered Randy Petalcorin into submission. Alvarado is one of the true danger men at 108lbs and we suspect he will be too powerful for Konishi, though few can question Konishi's heart and desire, which could make this very, very fan friendly. A full preview of this bout can be read here Konishi challenges heavy handed champion Alvarado!
The second title fight on this card will see Japanese Light Flyweight champion Kenichi Horikawa (39-15-1, 13) make his first defense, as he goes up against Masashi Tada (13-5-3, 8). Horikawa is a true veteran of the Japanese scene, and is enjoying his second reign at the age of 39. Although an old man Horikawa has great energy and desire and is riding an excellent 7 fight winning run into this bout, having gone unbeaten since a 2017 loss to Tetsuya Hisada. As for Tada this will be his second Japanese title fight, following a loss in 2014 to Go Odaira in a bout for the Japanese Minimumweight title. The loss to Odaira saw Tada take a lengthy break from the ring before returning in 2017 and going 0-1-2 in his first 3 bouts, though he has now scored back to back wins to get this shot at Horikawa. At 29 Tada has youth on his side, but this is a massive step up for him. Our preview of this bout is available here Veteran Horikawa battles Tada!
Also on this card are Ryo Suwa (10-1, 1) and Tetsuro Ohashi (6-0-1, 1), neither of whom have had their opponents named at the time of writing. Suwa has scored 3 straight wins since losing in 2017 to Ikuro Sadatsune, and is a very talented fighter, even if he lacks power. Ohashi, also a feather fisted fighter, impressed last year when he won the Rookie of the Year and we're really excited to see where the 20 year old Super Flyweight can go following that success.
A second Japanese card comes from Shizuoka, where we get the next Suruga Boys card. Although a much smaller card than the Kobe one, it is an interesting one with several good looking match ups, and the next appearance of a very promising young prospect.
The main event will see former Japanese title challenger Satoru Sugita (14-6-1, 9) take on the heavy handed but limited Daiki Ichikawa (11-5, 9). Coming in to this Sugita has gone 4-4, alternating wins and losses in his last 8, and using that record he should be on track to pick up a win here. Ichikawa has lost 3 of his last 5 and whilst he's not the most skilled fight he does have heavy hands, and if he lands cleanly on the crafty Sugita he could pick up a shock stoppage.
The chief support bout will see Japanese ranked Super Bantamweights clashing, with Yuta Horiike (15-6-3, 3) taking on Gakuya Furuhashi (24-8-1, 13). Of the two men it's Furuhashi who is better known, thanks to 2 domestic title fights, but the 31 year old from Kanagawa has had a very tough career and is stepping up after 6 relatively straight forward wins. At 34 Horiike is the older man, and whilst he hasn't got the in-ring miles that Furuhashi has he isn't as technically good as his foe. The loser of this really will have no where to go.
Arguably the best bout on this card is actually a huge step up for a touted prospect. That prospect is Tsubasa Murachi (3-0, 3), who leaps up in class to take on Filipino Raymond Tabugon (21-9-1, 11) in a mouth watering clash. Although little known outside of Japan Murachi is a fantastic talent who had real questions to answer last time out, against Chinese fighter Sheng Peng, and we're expecting him to need to answer more questions here. Tabugon is a 28 year old who has lost 2 of his last 3, but has mixed with a who's who, including Luis Nery, Juan Francisco Estrada, Andrew Moloney and has previously scored upsets in the past, including wins over Lito Dante and Jake Bornea. This could be a very, very tough test for Murachi.
The big headline bout this coming weekend sees us focus on Glasgow, Scotland, as the WBSS moves towards the final bouts. The bout of interest for us is the highly anticipated WBSS Bantamweight semi-final bout between WBA "regular" champion Naoya Inoue (17-0, 15) and IBF champion Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-0, 12). The bout is a clash between unbeaten world class fighters, who are both looking to move one step closer to proving they are the best Bantamweight on the planet. For Inoue this will be his first bout in Europe, and he will be looking to become the first Japanese fighter to win a world title bout in the continent, whilst Rodriguez returns to the country that he won the IBF title in, when he beat Paul Butler. Coming in both are in great form, though it should be noted that Rodriguez went 24 rounds last year, Inoue has only gone 20 rounds combined in his last 6 fights. If Rodriguez can survive the early going Inoue's lack of activity could be a problem here, as could history. A full review of this bout can be read here Inoue and Rodriguez go one on one in semi final!
Before the action in the UK there will be some action in Asia, including a notable show at Korakuen Hall in Toyko.
The main event of this show will see Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Ryoichi Tamura (12-3-1, 6) make his first defense, as he takes on former champion Yusaku Kuga (17-3-1, 11), in what will be a second bout between these two. Thee two men fought in 2017, with Kuga taking a narrow decision win over Tamura to retain the title, since then however Kuga has been stopped by Shingo Wake and Tamura has bounced back from losing to Kuga to win the title. Given their first bout was a brilliant and violent fight we're expecting something really special here. A full preview of this bout is available here Tamura and Kuga to meet again, potential war set?
In a major supporting bout we'll see Tatsuya Yanagi (15-5-2, 6) and Koichi Aso (23-8-1, 15) clash at Lightweight, in a bout that should be very fan friendly. Coming in to this Yanagi is unbeaten in 5 bouts, including a draw in a Japanese title eliminator last year with Accel Sumiyoshi, but this is likely to be a really tough bout for him. Aso, a veteran and former Japanese Light Welterweight champion, will be dropping down in weight but always brings intense pressure and will be looking to break down Yanagi. This could be an all out war if Yanagi can't keep Aso at range.
At Super Bantamweight we'll see ranked fighters clash, as Naoya Okamoto (13-7-1, 6) and Yosuke Fujihara (17-6, 4) face off in a bout that could well set up a future title fight with the winner of the main event. Okamoto narrowly missed out on a title fight, when he lost a technical decision in October in a Japanese title eliminator, and will be hungry here to shine. Fujihara on the other hand is someone who has challenged for a title before but has lost 3 of his last 4 and really needs a good performance here.
Another bout featuring domestic ranked fighters will see Kenta Nakagawa (16-3-1, 11) take on Ryosuke Nasu (10-4-3, 2). Nakagawa is a former Japanese Super Flyweight champion, holding the title in 2016-2017, and has won 3 in a row since losing the belt to Ryuichi Funai. Nasu on the other hand is a former Japanese Youth Super Flyweight champion who will know that a win here will prove to be a huge step towards a potential senior title fight later in the year.
Another name worthy of noting on this card is Kazuki Saito (6-1, 5), though our understanding is a planned bout has been cancelled and he will instead compete in a spar rather than an actual fight.
Bang Phun, Thailand
At the Workpoint Studio we'll former world title challenger Nawaphon Por Chokchai (44-1-1, 34) take on former champion Sonny Boy Jaro (45-14-5, 32), in what looks almost certain to be a fun fight. Nawaphon, at 27, is the much younger man and needs a big win, and a win over Jaro would be among his very best. Jaro, who is known in Thailand due to his shock win over Pongsaklek Wonjongkam back in 2012. At the age of 37 it's hard to know what Jaro really has left, though he was stopped in 2017 by Jonas Sultan, a none puncher, and surely has to be coming very close to the end of his career.
In Russia we'll see a couple of hard hitting Uzbek fighters in action.
One of those fighters is Ravshanbek Umurzakov (7-0, 7), who takes on Anthony Moloisane (11-3-1, 7) in a bout scheduled for 10 rounds. The talented Umurzakov has shown a lot of promise but isn't being moved up through the levels yet, sadly, and that shows again here, with South African fighter Moloisane, who isn't bad, but also isn't a clear step up for the Uzbek who should be taking on much better opponents now.
A second Uzbek on this show will see Elnur Abduraimov (4-0, 4) in action, as he hunts his 5th straight stoppage. He's stepped up in his last two bouts, but it's clear he needs a real test in the near future, so fingers crossed that happens sooner rather than later. He's too good to be wasting his time against limited opposition and would be served much better by take on someone to extend him some rounds and help prepare him for bigger and better bouts. At the time of writing the opponent for this bout hasn't been named, suggesting a limited and late notice opponent for the Uzbek.
Also on this card is unbeaten Kazakh youngster Stanislav Kalitskiy (7-0, 3), who will be stepping into his first 8 round bout. Sadly there is not currently an opponent confirmed for Kalitskiy, and as with Abduraimov it seems like he will be matched softly with a late notice foe.
Another Asian card will take place in Taiwan, though this is a very low level card, headlined by an 8 round bout between Chia Ching Hung (4-1-1, 4) and Anurak Madua (6-3, 4). Hung is a local to Taiwan, but hasn't fought in over a year, and is 1-1-1 in his last 3. Madua on the other hand was stopped in 77 seconds last time out, when he fought in Osaka against Kyosuke Tsutsumimoto.
The rest of this card is mostly novices bouts with debutants.