The biggest show, for us, on Thursday will take place at the Korakuen Hall and feature a trio of title bouts.
The headlining bout will see OPBF Light Welterweight champion Rikki Naito (20-2, 7) defending his title for the second time, as he takes on fellow Japanese fighter Daishi Nagata (11-1-1, 5), in his first title bout. Naito won the title in January, when he stopped Jeffrey Arienza, and only just managed to retain the belt in May, when he narrowly defeated Jheritz Chavez in what was a very fortunate win that saw the Japanese fighter having a torrid final few rounds. Coming in to this Nagata is riding a 3 fight winning run, but was dominated in April 2017 when Vladimir Baez walked through him and stopped him in 7 rounds. That bout showed that Nagata wasn't the toughest, but he is skilled and this could be a lot more competitive than many suspect. Neither is much of a puncher but both are highly skilled and this should make for a really good contest. A preview of this bout can be read here Naito takes on Nagata in next OPBF title defense!
The co-main event of this card is an OPBF Super Bantamweight title fight, as the exciting Hiroaki Teshigawara (17-2-2, 10) takes on the inform Glenn Suminguit (21-3, 11) of the Philippines. The hard hitting always fun to watch Teshigawara is currently riding a 5 fight winning run, including wins over Keita Kurihara, Jason Canoy and Teiru Kinoshita, but this bout will see him moving up in weight, following his impressive run at Bantamweight. Suminguit on the other hand is 9-1in his last 10, with notable wins of his own over the likes of Lloyd Jardeliza, Renoel Pael and Alvin Bais. The Filipino will be the under-dog here, but will not be in Tokyo to make up the numbers and really could give Teshigawara fits in an action packed contest. - A full preview of this bout can be read here - Teshigawa hunts OPBF title as he faces Suminguit!
A third title bout on this card will see the unbeaten Ryuto Owan (5-0, 3) take on fellow youngster Tetsu Araki (11-1-1, 2) in a bout for the JBC Youth Bantamweight title. The 20 year old Owan was a stand out amateur at the youth level before making his professional debut last year. Since debuting he has shined and scored notable wins already over both Alvin Medura and Jun Blazo, leading to some in Japan getting very excited about him. Coming in to this Araki has won his last 7, since a split decision loss to Tenta Kiyose in September 2015. Araki isn't as highly regarded as Owan, but he does have the edge in experience and at 23 he should be just a tough more physically mature.
As well as the exciting card in Tokyo there is also a notable card in China with a couple of title fights.
One of those title fights will see the unbeaten Mingcun Chen (4-0, 4) face off with Clint Alderton (8-2-1, 6) in a bout for the WBF international Light Heavyweight title. The unbeaten Chinese fighter made his debut last November and has never gone between 2 rounds thanks to his power. This is however a huge step up in class for the 20 year old. Alderton is himself a solid puncher, but is 1-1-1 (1) in his last 3 and whilst he can bank there are question marks about his heart and his overall ability.
The other title bout will see the unbeaten Ziqiang Huo (7-0-1) taking on the limited Gregory Bell (4-3, 1) in a bout for the WBC Australasian Welterweight title. Aged 29 Huo is in his physical prime, but really lacks power and is without a stoppage through his 8 fight career. Bell on the other hand has shown a little bit of power, but the reality is that he's proven his ability either and we suspect that this could have messy distance bout written all over it.
In the US Kazakh prospect Ali Akhmedov (12-0, 9) will essentially be fighting in a stay busy bout, as he faces off against the limited Jovany Javier Gomez (17-14, 11). Gomez is a blown up Light Welterweight and shouldn't pose any threat at all to the excellent Akhmedov, who deserves a much better opponents than Gomez.
There isn't much action of note this coming Wednesday but there is a bout of interest to us in California, as unbeaten Kazakh hopeful Ali Akhmedov (11-0, 8) takes on Jorge Escalante (9-1-1, 6) in a bout scheduled for 6 rounds. The unbeaten 23 year old shone last year, going 6-0 (4) but has been inactive through out this year, which has sadly killed his momentum and explains why he is going from 10 rounders down to 6 rounders. On paper Escalante has a decent looking record, but has fought very low quality opponents, and was defeated last time out by IsaiasOrtega, who entered the contest with a 1-2 record. This bout is clearly for Akhmedov to shake some ring rust, but it is a shame that his career has slowed so much after a fantastic 2017.
As with the last few years this year is set to end with a spate of Japanese action. The first of two big shows to end 2017 is in Yokohama, where Ohashi and Fuji TV put on an interesting looking show.
The main event of this year closer will be the end in the latest chapter of Naoya Inoue's (14-0, 12) career, as he makes his 7th, and likely final, defense of the WBO Super Flyweight title. The talented Japanese fighter had been ruining out of willing opponents and will close 2017 with a bout against the inform Frenchman Yoan Boyeaux (41-4, 26). On paper it looks good but the reality is that this is a huge step up in class and likely serves as a dummy run for the “Monster” before he moves up to Bantamweight in pursuit of a third divisional world title.
A second world title bout on this show will see WBC Light Flyweight champion Ken Shiro (11-0, 5) make his second defense, as he goes up against confident Panamanian visitor Gilberto Pedroza (18-3-2, 8), who fights in his first world title bout. The talented Ken Shiro has had a career defining year with wins over Ganigan Lopez and Pedro Guevara and closing out the year with a third win would, in fairness, put him on the fringes of the Fighter of the Year shortlist. As for Pedroza this is a huge opportunity to claim a world title and make a name for himself ahead of the near year.
A third title bout on this card will see OPBF Featherweight champion Satoshi Shimizu (4-0, 4) make his first defense as he looks to move towards a world title fight. The talented Japanese fighter, who came to international attention in 2012 when he claimed a Bronze medal at the London Olympics, will be up against Filipino challenger Eduardo Mancito (15-7-2, 9). The champion won the title in impressive fashion earlier this year, when he stopped Korean Sa Myung Noh and is expected to make an easy first defense here. Although limited Mancito is tough and is expected to get some rounds out Shimizu, who can prove whether his power is legitimate or not here.
In one of the leading support bouts Takuma Inoue (9-0, 2) will take on 2-time Japanese Bantamweight champion Kentaro Masuda (27-8, 15), in what looks likely to be a mismatch. The talented Takuma was supposed to fight for a world title a year ago, but an injury ruled him out and he now seems to be trying to get back to fully fitness and shake off any ring rust before moving back into the world title picture. Masuda is an exciting fighter, but with recent stoppage losses to Shohei Omori and Mark John Yap his limitations have been shown, and he's a fun but crude fighter who should be easily out boxed by Inoue.
A third Inoue on this card is the fast rising Koki Inoue (9-0, 8), who takes on Korean visitor Dong Hee Kim (8-1-2, 3). The Korean enters the bout as the Korean Light Welterweight champion and an OPBF ranked fighter and it's clear that Inoue is chasing titles, with this bout potentially opening the door for an OPBF title fight in 2018. Inoue has been very impressive, very exciting and very aggressive since his debut however the Korean has never been stopped, looks to be tough and durable and will not have travelled to just roll over to Inoue.
Also on this card as Ohashi novices Katsuya Yasuda (1-0, 1) and Kazuki Nakajima (2-0, 2), who will both be in 6 rounders and will be looking to have big 2018's.
A second Asian show will take place in Kazakhstan where we get a number of interesting, though lower key bouts.
One of the key bouts from the show will see once beaten Kazakh hopeful Firuza Sharipova (7-1, 4) battle against Belgian fighter Djemilla Gontaruk (13-4-1, 2) in a bout for the WBC silver Female Super Featherweight title. The bout looks like a good one on paper, but coming in to this the Kazakh has won 7 in a row whilst Gonturak has lost against every notable opponent she has faced, including a loss last time out to Ramon Kuehne and her wins have been against very limited foes.
Another title bout on this card will see Aidyn Yelzhanov (4-0, 3) take on Sergey Dudinsky (4-1, 3) for a WBC regional title at Super Bantamweight. The 24 year old Yelzhanov has impressed so far,but has been fighting at a very liw level and will have to show something new to over-come the hungry Dudinsky, who has won his last two.
One other bout of note will be the home coming, of sorts, for Light Heavyweight prospect Ali Akhmedov (10-0, 7), who takes on Ismat Eynullayev (12-2, 8). Akhmedov has fought 5 of his last 6 outside of Kazakhstan, where he is incidentally 5-0 (5), and will be looking to put on a show here. Eynullayev, from Azerbaijan, has won his last 3 but will not be expected to put up much of a challenge against the home town hero.
In the Russian capital fan will be able to see Russian Uzbek Ulugbek Khakberdiev (4-0, 2) look to build on his solid 2017 as he takes on Ugandan puncher Med Sebyala (17-10-1, 14). The unbeaten Kazakh has gone under the radar this year, despite stopping Dmitry Sukhotsky in September and looks to end his year with a 5th straight win. The 37 year old Sebyala has lost 2 of his last 3, but does appear to be a legitimate puncher and could chin check the powerful Kazakh.
This coming Friday isn't a busy day, but there is a string of bouts worthy of note.
The most notable Asian card of the day takes place at the Korakuen Hall and is headlined by a Japanese title eliminator.
That eliminator comes at 140lbs and will see Japanese based Dominican Vladimir Baez (23-3-2, 21), aka “Destino Japan”, take on the in form Kazuyasu Okamoto (14-4, 4). Baez really impressed last time out, battering Daishi Nagata into submission in 5 rounds, and has scored 2 stoppage wins this year to get his career back on track following a loss to Teerachai Kratingdaenggym last year. Okamoto was stopped by Kazuya Murata back in December 2014 but has since gone 5-0 (1) and will be be fully aware that this is a great opportunity to secure a title fight in 2018.
In one of a number of notable supporting bouts we'll see the light punching Ryo Narizuka (8-7) take on Japanese ranked Light Flyweight Naoyuki Tsukada (8-3-4, 3). Without a stoppage to his name it's hard to see a win for Narizuka, here. As for Tsukada he's in good form, going 5-0-3 (1) in his last 8, but hasn't really beaten a fighter of any note during that run.
A bout between two Japanese ranked fighters will see Ganbare Shota (14-7-2, 2) take on Hikaru Ota (8-6, 4), with both men knowing a win will move them towards a potential Japanese title fight in 2018. At the time of writing Shota was ranked #13 and Ota #14 by the JBC at 112 lbs, and it's clear the winner should move to the top 10, whilst the loser will likely drop out of the top 15.
One other bout on this card will see the touted Koki Koshikawa (5-1, 3) v look for his second win of the year. The Celes Gym fighter was tipped for big things, but a loss in 2015 put the breaks on his career, and saw him take more than 24 months out. Here he will be expecting a straight forward win as he takes on Thai visitor Taengthong Sithsaithong (0-3).
There will also be notable Asian action in Texas, with a trio of Asian fighters fighting on the same card.
The most notable of those bouts will see exciting Filipino puncher Aston Palicte (23-2, 19) fight for the second time on US soil. The heavy handed Filipino fighter will be up against former 2-time world title challenger Jose Alfredo Rodriguez (32-6, 19), who has lost in world title bouts against both Kazuto Ioka and Jerwin Ancajas. Coming in to this bout Rodriguez has suffered back-to-back losses, and is almost a year removed from his last win, and is unlikely to pose and threat to Palicte.
Unbeaten 22 year old Kazakh Ali Akhmedov (9-0, 7) takes a notable step up on this card in the chief support bout, as he takes on fellow unbeaten fighter DeShon Webster (9-0, 6). The Kazakh has looked very destructive recently, and has stopped his last 3 fights to claim his first two titles. Those titles, the WBC Youth and NABF Light Heavyweight titles, will be on the line here. Aged 26 Webster really does seem to be the one taking the bigger step up in class here, but like Akhmedov he's unbeaten and will be full of confidence here going into the biggest bout of his career.
Another unbeaten Kazakh on this card is Iskander Kharsan (2-0, 2), who takes on fellow novice David Alfaro (1-0) in a 6 rounder. This looks like a good match up on paper, but it's hard to see past the 20 year old Kazakh, who does appear to have some confident backers in his camp.
Several Asian fighters will be fighting in Victoria.
The most notable bout, at least for us, will see Sylvia Scharper (7-1-2, 1) take on Thai Ploynapa Sakrungrueng (13-10-1, 1) in a bout for the WIBA Super Flyweight title. The Thai has lost her last 4, including a stoppage to Momo Koseki and had previously fought Eun Hye Lee for a WBO world title, again suffering a stoppage. Scharper is far from being a world class fighter, but should be far, far too good for the Thai.
Australian Capital Territory, Australia
A second Australia show will take place in Woden, and we'll see a number of Asian fighters in action, mostly they are there to pad a local's record, sadly. One of those likely to pick up another loss is Egy Rozten (5-17-2, 3), who will be up against the unbeaten Haithem Laamouz (11-0, 4). Rozten has lost his last 5, and will almost certainly suffer another defeat again here, potentially inside the distance.
There isn't much action this coming weekend, as we await next week's bumper weekend, but there is some Asian action, including a trio of Filipino's in Australia.
In one of the main bouts we'll see WBA Oceania Super Flyweight champion Andrew Moloney (13-0, 8) defending his title against Raymond Tabugon (20-7-1, 10), and also fighting for the OPBF Silver title. The talented Moloney won the title last year and will be looking to record his 4th defense of the title, and continue his success over Filipino's, including Renoel Pael, Jether Oliva and Markquil Salvana. Tabugon has fought on the road before, but has gone 1-4 outside of the Philippines, and is unlikely to come out on top here.
In the co-feature Andrew's brother Jason Moloney (13-0, 11) will be defending his WBA Oceania Super Bantamweight title against Lolito Sonsona (21-1-4, 9) in what looks like a more competitive bout. Moloney, like his brother, will be the favourite for what will be his 5th defense of the title. Like his brother we've seen Jason defeat a string of Filipino's, but this does look like a step up in class. Sonsona is unbeaten in his last 8, with his only loss being a decision to the talented Ardin Diale. This could genuinely be a very good test for both men
A third bout of note between an Aussie and a Filipino will see the once beaten Ibrahim Balla (11-1, 7) take on former world title challenger Silvester Lopez (28-13-2, 19). Balla comes into this having won his last 2 since suffering a stoppage loss last year to Neil John Tabanao and it's fair to say that the heavy handed Lopez will be looking to repeat Tabanao's success. Lopez has been inconsistent in recent years, but can be a handful on his day and won't have travelled to suffer a 14th loss.
We also get some title action in the US as Kazakh Ali Akhmedov (7-0, 5) takes on fellow unbeaten Curtis Hill Jr (10-0, 5) in a bout for the WBC Youth Light Heavyweight title. It's always good to see unbeaten fighters face off against each other early in their career and it's hard to complain about this fight. The 22 year old Kazakh has proven to be dangerous early, with 5 stoppages in the openign round, but has also proven his stamina over 8 rounds. Hill on the other hand is less proven and this will be a sizeable step up for him.
For the second day running we'll get low key action in Jinan, with a trio of 6 rounders.
One of those is an all teenage bout which will see the unbeaten Jiancong Bao (2-0) battle Guangxiong Li (4-1-1). On paper this is a solid contest, though the lack of power, on behalf of both fighters, does make it unlikely that we'll see a stoppage. Whilst it's probably going the distance it could still be a very fun bout.
Another teenager looking to extend his unbeaten record is Alimujiang Abulaiti (1-0, 1), who takes on a really stiff test against Jianzheng Wang (5-0, 3) in a Cruiserweight bout. This one really does look like a tough test for the teenager, but he may well have the skills, and power needed to over-come his 30 year old foe.
Another notable unbeaten is Jianjing Wang (5-0-1, 3) who will be taking on fellow Middleweight southpaw Ju Xiang Huang (6-4-2, 5) in a second bout between the two men, who fought to a draw in 2016. In their first bout the judges all scored it 38-38, but this time around both men will be looking to close the show, or at least take a clear victory.
In Mexico we'll see a local former world champion take on a little known, yet unbeaten, Filipino hopeful. The former champion is monstrous punching veteran Jhonny Gonzalez (63-10, 53), who has won titles at Bantamweight and Featherweight, who battles 25 year old Pinoy Jessie Cris Rosales (21-0-1, 9). For Gonalez the bout is supposed to be another step towards a Super Featherweight title fight, potentially facing off with Miguel Berchelt, whilst Rosales will be looking to make a name for himself and claim the biggest win of his career.
Mindoro Occidental, Philippines
In the Philippines there will be a small card featuring a few hopefuls taking on domestic journeymen.
The most interesting of those fighters is 20 year old puncher Jerald Daniega (11-0, 8), who takes on the limited Rey Ramos (7-8-2, 3) in a 10 rounder. It should be noted that Ramos has been stopped in 2 of his last 3, but did beat Landy Cris Leon last time out and is the naturally bigger man, having fought at much higher weights than Ramos.
Arguably the biggest names in regards to the prospects is former amateur stand out Mark Anthony Barriga (5-0, 1) who takes on Joel Taduran (8-6-1, 2). Although a proven quality in the amateur ranks Barriga hasn't yet shone as a professional and his lack of power could be a serious issue going forward, but he did stop his last opponent, and may well be finding his footing as a professional fighter.
Another of the hopefuls is the once beaten, but heavy handed, Joepher Montano (7-1-2, 6) who takes on veteran Gabriel Royo (10-17-3, 8). Royo once showed some promise but that promise is now long forgotten and he's gone 1-10-1 in his last 12 bouts, and it's clear that he's there to merely make up the numbers against Montano.
The final prospect of note for us is teenager Daniel Lim (4-0, 2), who takes a small step up in class to face off with Jerry Salivio (1-5, 1). Give he's 17 there is no problem with Lim fighting at this level for now, but we're looking forward to seeing him step up in the near future.
North Carolina, USA
We'll also get the chance to see two promising central European fighters fighting in the US.
One of those is Kazakh Light Heavyweight Ali Akhmedov (6-0, 4), who faces 40 year old veteran Brad Austin (12-25, 9). It's hard to see this being anything more than an easy night for the 22 year old unbeaten man, but it's hopefully more about getting him used to the US than really trying to develop his fighting style. He's promising, but will need more serious tests in the near future.
On the same card Tajik fighter Mekhrubon Sanginov (3-0, 2) will be in action making his debut. The 21 year old Middleweight has fought got an active passport with this being the 4th country for him to fight in in the space of 10 months. Sadly at the time of writing his opponent hasn't been named.