The big focus this Saturday is in the Kazakh Capital of Nur-Sultan, where the country will be celebrating Capital City day. To celebrate the day MTK will be putting on a stacked card in the city with a world title fight main event, several interesting support bouts and a host of prospects.
The main event will see WBC Bantamweight champion Nordine Oubaali (15-0, 11) defending his title, for the first time, as he takes on Filipino challenger Arthur Villanueva (32-3-1, 18). The talented French-Moroccan is a real talent, and he was one of the many top Bantamweights frozen out of the WBSS, but is getting on in age and won't remain the skilled boxer-puncher that he's looked for much longer. Despite being the older fighter Oubaali will be strongly favoured here against a challenger who has lost his 3 biggest bouts, and would need a career best performance to even come close against the Frenchman. Villanueva isn't a bad fighter, but his ability is more that of a gatekeeper than a true contender. A full preview of this bout is available here Villanueva takes on Oubaali for WBC Bantamweight crown
In the main supporting bout we'll see unbeaten Kazakh Zhankosh Turarov (23-0, 16) take on Mauro Maximiliano Godoy (31-4-1, 16) in a bout for the WBO Inter-Continental Light Welterweight title. The unbeaten Turarov returned to the ring in June after almost 21 months out of the ring, and took a really disappointing win over Richmond Djarbeng, who sat in his corner complaining of stomach cramps after the second round. Godoy should prove to be a good test for Turarov, but the Argentinian has lost 3 of his last 7 and may be on the slide from the fighter he once was. Still this is easily Turarov's best test on paper, so far.
Another notable supporting bout will see the unbeaten Viktor Kotochigov (9-0, 4) taking on Jairo Lopez (24-10, 16), who was once regarded as a fringe contender. On paper this is a step up for the unbeaten Kazakh but Lopez is 3-4 in his last 7 and has been stopped in 3 of those 4 losses. This should be easier than it looks on paper for Kotochigov.
This card will b stacked with other Kazakh prospects, as MTK go all out to put on a show for local fans with Kazakh talent. Among the prospects are Ali Baloyev (8-0, 7), Sultan Zaurbek (7-0, 5), Nurtas Azhbenov (5-0, 1), Abay Tolesh (2-0, 2) and Abilkhaiyr Shegaliyev (5-0, 4), who are in relatively easily here and won't face too much of a test as they continue to build their careers and move towards bigger bouts.
As well as the Kazakh show there is also a notable card in Tokyo thanks to Teiken. This card is a really interesting one, with a notable name in the main event, a really good chief support bout, and a host of notable prospects
The main event will see Kenichi Ogawa (23-1-0-1, 17) take on limited Filipino visitor Glenn Medura (10-5-1, 6) in what will be little more than a stay busy bout for Ogawa. Originally the Japanese puncher was scheduled to have an IBF world title eliminator eliminator with South African Azinga Fuzile (14-0, 8), but Fuzile failed to secure a visa in time for the bout leading to Medura, who is 0-4 in Japan, getting the bout. We don't see this going very long at all.
A much better Japan Vs Philippines bout will see Shuya Masaki (12-1, 5) take on Al Toyogon (10-3-1, 6) in an excellent match up. The once beaten Masaki, who's only loss came to Hironori Mishiro, hasn't really shined as Teiken would have wished and this is a long way from a gimme. Masaki is talented, but really needs to get prove he can put on good performances, something we don't really see from him with any consistency. Toyogon on the other hand is looking to bounce back from a recent loss to Ryo Sagawa, and will be coming into this out with a point to prove. A very interesting bout contest.
One of the other main supporting bouts will be a Welterweight bout between Masaya Tamayama (12-1, 6) and Riku Nagahama (9-2-1, 4), with both men wanting to tak a big step towards a potential Japanese title fight in the near future. Nagahama is looking to secure a second win since his TKO loss last year to Yuki Nagano, who has since gone on to win the Japanese title, whilst Tamayama is looking for a 9th straight win, and a chance to take a huge step towards a big bout.
Among the other supporting bouts we will see Japanese Super Flyweight prospect Hayate Kaji (12-0, 9) take on Japanese based Filipino veteran Rey Orais (20-18-2, 5), in what looks to be a chance for Kaji to take a huge step towards a Japanese title fight. It feels like Kaji has been on the verge of a break out fight for a while and whilst this isn't going to be it, it seems like a win and his next one will be his long awaited break out bout. For Orais questions should be asked why he's continuing to fight, rather than focus more on the training role he has at the Flare Yamagami gym.
Lower down on this card we'll see two more touted Japanese prospects both take big steps up in class against Filipino foes. One of those is the fantastic Mikito Nakano (2-0, 2), who takes on Arvin Yurong (12-2, 3) in a genuinely good test. Nakano looks like he has the ability to move through the rankings quickly, and could fight for a title as early as late 2020, and Yurong is a very under-rated young fighter who should force answers from Nakano.
The other is Kuntae Lee (1-0, 1), who's debut saw him look fantastic against an opponent who didn't want to be there. Here Lee takes on unbeaten Filipino Marlon Paniamogan (9-0-1, 5) in what should be a much, much better match up. Sadly not much is known about the visitor, so it's unclear what type of a test he will actually pose for the very talented Lee.
A smaller show takes place in the Phillipines where we see a few interesting Filipino fighters in action with a really good main event.
The main event will see the unbeaten Mark Vicelles (10-0-1, 5) take on the once touted Jesse Espinas (19-3, 11). The 23 year old Vicelles isn't well known but comes into this on the back of an excellent win over Robert Onggocan, and this is a logical step up in class. As for Espinas this is a slight step backwards, but is one that makes sense given he was beaten last time out in an OPBF title bout against Edward Heno. A very interesting match up, and rightfully the main event of the card.
In a good supporting bout Ponciano Remandiman (10-4-1, 5) and Prince Andrew Laurio (10-2-1, 7) will face off for the Philippines Visayas Professional Boxing Association Super Flyweight title. The 22 year old Remandiman has turned around a 2-4-1 start with 8 straight wins and has great momentum coming into this bout, as well as a good win last time out against Renz Rosia. Interestingly Lauio's career is going in the opposite direction, and he is 2-2-1 in his last 5, with stoppage losses in his last 2 bouts. His early potential appears to have been massively over-hyped and he is now really faltering.
One other bout of note here will see the one beaten Tomjune Mangubat (10-1-1, 9) take on Joffrey Garcia (6-10-4, 5), in what should be another straight forward win for Mangubat.
This coming Saturday is a really interesting day for Asian fight fans, with a notable show in Japan and the Philippines, and then fighters from those two countries colliding in California at the end of the day. As well as the major shows there is also a small card in Singapore.
The biggest bout of the day is, obviously, the US bout, which will see IBF Super Flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas (30-1-2, 20) defending his title against mandatory challenger Ryuichi Funai (31-7, 22). For Ancajas the bout will serve as his 7th defense of the title, which he won back in September 2016, and will be his third mandatory. The champion really under-performed last time out, narrowly holding on to the belt against Alejandro Santiago Barrios, and would be expected to put on a better showing here. Funai on the other hand is an unknown outside of Japan, though is a former Japanese and WBO Asia Pacific champion who has mixed in good company, with bouts against the likes of Shinsuke Yamanaka, Rolly Lunas, Sho Ishida and Warlito Parrenas. The challenger has earned this shot, winning an eliminator last year, but will be regarded as a clear under-dog. A full preview of this bout is available here - Ancajas takes on mandatory challenger Funai
In Tokyo fans will get the chance to attend a Teiken promoted card at Korakuen Hall. Sadly this will only be shown on tape delay, meaning those not in the venue will have to wait to see the bouts.
The main event here will see Japanese Super Featherweight champion Masaru Sueyoshi (18-1-1, 11) defending his title in a mandatory bout against Ken Osato (15-2-1, 4), in what is their second meeting. These two fought in February 2018, when Sueyoshi had to recover from a knockdown to stop Osato in the 8th round. Since then Sueyoshi has gone 1-0-1, fighting to a draw over 12 rounds with Hironori Mishiro, and will be looking for bigger bouts later in the year. Osato on the other has scored back to back decision wins since losing to Sueyoshi, but this is a step up from those wins. A full preview of this bout is available here Sueyoshi looks to over-come Osato again!
The chief support bout here will see the once beaten Shuya Masaki (11-1, 5) take on Korean visitor Nam Jun Lee (10-5-3, 4). For Masaki the bout is the first since his narrow win over Izuki Tomioka last year, in what was his third bout of 2018. It's notable Lee's first bout since June 2017. Notably the 35 year old Korean has had a very stop start Korea, but does hold notable wins over Sa Myung Noh and Jelbirt Gomera, so could be a better test than his record suggests.
Another very notable bout on this card is the Japanese debut of Shokichi Iwata (1-0, 1), who debuted last year in the US. The talented and touted Iwata will face 2018 Rookie of the Year winner Daiki Kameyama (7-2-1, 2), in a very, very interesting match up. Iwata won his debut but didn't look sensational, and this could prove to be too much too soon for the former amateur standout, and a huge chance for the 22 year old Kameyama to build on his Rookie success.
Other interesting bouts on this card include Junpei Tsujimoto (4-1-3, 2) battling against Tetsuya Yoshimura (5-3-1, 4) and Hiroki Yajima (9-7-3, 4) facing off with Mirai Imagawa (9-5, 3), with both Imagawa and Tsujimoto having won Rookie of the Year in recent years. There will also be a chance for the hard hitting Yamato Hata (7-1, 7) to pick up another win, as he takes on Indonesian Alvius Maufani (6-2-2, 3), in what should be a straight forward bout for the local.
Metro Manila, Philippines
Of course it's not just Japan that has a great show but also the Philippines, with ESPN5 set to show a title fest from Metro Manila, with this show being aired live.
The pick of the bouts here is another Philippines Vs Japan clash, as Al Toyogon (10-2-1, 6) looks to defense his WBC Asian Boxing Council Silver Super Featherweight title against in form Japanese fighter Ryo Sagawa (6-1, 4). The 21 year old Toyogon will be seeking his second defense here, and will be looking to record a 6th straight win as he continues to develop into a very solid fighter. Sagawa on the other hand gets his first title shot, and he clearly deserves it on the back of wins against Junki Sasaki, Ryo Matsumoto and Shingo Kawamura. This is probably the more intriguing bout of the day, even more saw than the world title bout. A full preview of this bout is available here Toyogon and Sagawa battle for regional title!
A second WBC Asian Boxing Council Silver title fight takes place at Bantamweight and will see the heavy handed Jun Blazo (11-6-3, 8) take on Benezer Alolod (19-11-5, 7). Blazo has lost 4 of his last 7, but has spun off 3 straight wins coming into this bout and will be confident of extending that run. Alolod is very much Mr Inconsistent with a 6-6 record in his last 12. Hard to get a read on this, but if both are up for it we could get a very good fight.
In a GAB Lightweight title fight Roldan Aldea (12-7-1, 7) will be seeking his first defense, as he takes on Rey Ramos (8-11-2, 3), in what looks like a mismatch whilst 5lbs north we'll see Jheritz Chavez (8-3-2, 6) seek his second defense of the GAB Light Welterweight title, facing off with Junar Adante (7-11-1, 4). Sadly neither of these domestic title bouts look particularly competitive.
In Singapore local hopeful Nurshahidah Roslie (12-2, 9) will be seeking a 5th straight win as she takes on Thai novice Suphansa Phooong (1-0), in what looks like a mismatch, over 6 rounds. Roslie isn't the huge star that Singaporean boxing needs to really kick-start something but the Thai is an inexperienced teenager, and will be making her international debut.