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.
The key action for us this coming Sunday comes from California where Top Rank will be putting on a show with two notable Asian fighters, each looking to take a huge step towards a world title fight.
One of those fighters is Hiroki Okada (19-0, 13), who will be taking on Mexican veteran Raymundo Beltran (35-8-1-1, 21) in a Light Welterweight bout. For Okada this will be his second bout Stateside, after a disappointing and close win over journeyman Cristian Rafael Coria in September. On paper this is a massive step up from that bout, but a win almost surely secure him a shot at the WBC champion later in the year. For the 37 year old Beltran this bout is a return to the ring after being beaten last year by Jose Pedraza, and losing the WBO Lightweight title. Beltran has certainly seen better days and his long career, which began back in 1999, looks to be catching up with him given his last 3 performances were less than stellar. A move up in weight, as this is, may give Beltran a new lease of life, or could be what sends him into retirement. A real must win for both men. Our preview of this bout can be found here - Okada and Beltran set to battle in must win bout!
The other Asian fighter on this card is talented Filipino Genesis Servania (32-1, 15), who takes on unbeaten American Carlos Castro (21-0, 9). Servania has been a staple on the Asian scene long before he made his US debut in 2017, when he faced off with Oscar Valdez in a WBO Featherweight title bout. Despite losing to Valdez the Filipino impressed and this will be his third bout on US soil, following a 2018 win over former world title challenger Carlos Carlson. Servania is a sharp puncher with good defense and a lot of experience, not just his 33 pro bouts but also numerous sparring sessions with the likes of Naoya Inoue. Castor is a bit of an unknown, despite having a good-looking record. His career began way back in 2012 and his best wins against the likes of Alexis Santiago, a shot to bits Juan Palacios and German Meraz. For Castro this is a chance to raise his profile, massively, but he is very clearly the under-dog.
As well as the action Stateside there will also be a somewhat notable card in Hyogo, headline by a regional title.
That regional title bout will see local hopeful Tenta Kiyose (15-2-1, 7) battle against Filipino Ben Mananquil (16-1-3, 4) for the WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight title, which was vacated by Hiroaki Teshigawara last year. The match up sees both men knowing that a win will push their career forward, massively, but both will also be aware that this won't be an easy bout. Kiyose's career was given a huge boost last year when he stopped Oleydong Sithsamerchai, and that's really the stand out win on his ledger. His other wins of note include decisions over Tetsu Araki and Takuya Mizyuno, in the 2015 Rookie of the Year, a stoppage victory over Ryuta Otsuka and a decision win over Joe Tejones. As for the Filipino his best results are draws against Kwanpichit OneSongchaigym, Jing Xiang and Hinata Maruta, with his best wins coming against compatriots Glenn Porras and Jess Rey Waminal. Both are solid fighters, but both will enter this bout know that a win pushes them a lot close to a major bout. We suspect it'll be a tough and compelling match up and a real chance for both to show what they are made of. Our preview of this bout can be read here Mananquil and Kiyose battle for WBO regional honours!
A second title bout on this card will see Yumi Narita (3-2-3, 1) taking on Chie Higano (7-7-1, 2) in a bout for the Japanese Female Minimumweight title, in what is actually a rematch of a draw from last October. The 29 year old Narita has gone unbeaten in her last 4 bouts, but that includes 3 draws, including one with Higano and 2 with Kaori Nagai, As for the more experienced Higano, who is now 34, she has actually gone 1-3-1 in her last 5, but has fought at a high level with losses to Momo Koseki and Eun Hye Lee. We suspect this will be competitive, and be a very hard one to call, just given how their previous meeting went.
As well as the card in Hyogo there will also be a card in Shizuoka. This is a much smaller card, with the main event being a contest between Japanese female Flyweight champion Yumemi Ikemoto (6-1) and Filipino foe Gretel de Paz (5-4-1, 2), in what is supposedly a world title warm up bout for Ikemoto.
The only other bout of any note on this card will see Shogo Yamaguchi (11-4-2, 6) take on Masafumi Ando (5-8-1, 2) in a 6 round bout. Yamaguchi is better than huis record suggests, despite losing 4 of his last 7. He has shared the ring with Akihiro Kondo, Genki Meada, Accel Sumiyoshi and Andy Hiraoka, so he's certainly a solid fighter. Ando on the other hand will be the naturally bigger man and could use his natural size to make this more interesting than it looks on paper.
Metro Manila, Philippines
This coming Thursday our attention turns to the Philippines where we get the chance to see one of the best prospects in world boxing, a regional female title fight, a runner up in the 2017 Japanese Rookie of the Year and experienced local hopeful.
That top prospect is Hinata Maruta (7-1, 6) who is stepping back up in class for the first time since losing in an OPBF title challenger against Hidenori Otake. The talented youngster form the Morioka gym will be taking on OPBF Silver champion Ben Mananquil (16-1-2, 4). Although the bout will be a non-title fight it is a very interesting match up and we suspect the winner of it will be moved into an OPBF title fight towards the end of this year, or very early next year. The Japanese fighter, as mentioned, as only been beaten by Otake whilst the Filipino's only loss has come to Jing Xiang, with that defeat coming in China. We suspect this could be a very special bout between two young, hungry and driven fighters looking to take a huge step forward with their careers.
In a female title bout fans will see Umi Ishikawa (6-2, 4) battle against Wassana Kamdee (3-3, 2) for the vacant WBC Asian Boxing Council Female Minimumweight Title. Ishikawa has come up short at title level before, losing to Norj Gurop earlier this year, but she should have too much for Kamdee, who is 0-3 against fight a win on their record. Kamdee has faced the better opponents, including the likes of Yuko Kuroki and Hee Jung Yuh, but we'd still be surprised to see her put that experience to real use here.
Another Japanese fighter with potential on this card is the hard hitting Arashi Iimi (6-1, 6), hwho came runner up in the 2017 Rookie of the Year at Super Bantamweight. The hard hitting 22 year old will be up against limited Filipino Danny Tampipi (8-8-2, 5). Tampipi isn't terrible but as his record suggests he's nothing special either and it's hard to see anything but a win for Iimi, who we think will hit too hard for the local.
Outside of the bouts with Japanese fighters it's worth noting that Glenn Porras (31-7, 19) will be up against Renante Suacasa (7-19, 1). The 32 year old Porras is now a faded force, having lost 3 of his last 5, but should see this as a straight forward win over a man he dropped 3 times less than 2 years ago. Suacasa is a very limited opponent and should be a safe win for Porras, even at this stage of his career.
Cotabato del Sur, Philippines
The first Filipino show of 2018 takes place this coming Sunday in General Santos City, and features a pair of title fights.
In the main event we'll see the unbeaten Jayson Mama (8-0, 4) take on Michael Camelion (10-6-1, 8) for the WBO Asia Youth Flyweight title. The unbeaten Mama made is debut in late 2016 and has looked promising, whilst fighting at the lower levels of the Filipino domestic scene, and beating the usual combination of novices and flawed veteran. The 23 year old Camelion once looked like he could make a mark on the domestic but has lost 4 of his last 5, including an opening round loss to Hiroto Kyoguchi in late 2016 and two more subsequent stoppage defeats.
The other title fight will see former world title challenger Tomomi Takano (10-3, 7) face off with Joan Ambalong (6-7-1, 3) in a bout for the interim OPBF female Bantamweight title. Takano did hold the full version of this title not too long ago, but has lost 2 of her last 4 and appears to be on the slide. In saying that however the Filipino is very limited, naturally smaller and has lost 3 of her last 4, with this likely to be another loss for the Tampilisan fighter.
It should be noted that Takano has retired according to the JBC and there is some suspicion that this fight will not take place, and if it does it would be seen as an unsanctioned bout by the JBC.
Another fighter of interest on this card is Ben Mananquil (15-1-2, 3), who is involved in a huge mismatch as he takes on Alvin Bais (15-10-1, 4). We think Mananquil is a genuine talent with a lot of upside, but bouts like this won't do his development any favours, especially given that Bais has been stopped in his last 4 and is more than 2 years removed from his last win.
The real show of note for us this weekend comes from Carson California in what is arguably the best card of the last few years. It's not stacked with 50-50 bouts, though two bouts could well fit into that category, but it is stacked with talent with potentially the top 5 fighters at Super Flyweight all in action with a trio of bouts that have a logical reason to be on the same show. This is a card which has had thought behind it, and promises so much. It's one of those rare card where if one bout turns out to be a disappointment, for example an early technical draw, there is still enough for the card to be remembered fondly.
The main event of the card is a rematch of one of the best fights of the year, as Thailand's Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (43-4-1, 29) takes on Nicaraguan great Roman Gonzalez (46-1, 38). Their first bout saw Srisaket drop Gonzalez in the first round en route to a close, and disputed, decision over the previously unbeaten Gonzlez. Srisaket will be looking to repeat the victory and make the first defence of his second reign of the WBC Super Flyweight title. Gonzalez will be seeking revenge for his first, and only, loss and looking to reclaim the title that he lost to the Thai back in March.
A second world title fight on this card will see Japanese sensation Naoya Inoue (13-0, 11) defending the WBO Super Flyweight title against Antonio Nieves (17-1-2, 9), in what is Inoue's US debut. The extremely talented Japanese youngster is viewed by many as one of the best natural talents in the sport, and will know that this is his chance to show the world just how good he is in front of an audience of fans from around the globe. Although the huge under-dog Nieves is coming into the bout confident, and knows that a win here really puts him on the boxing map. The challenger is a bit of an unknown, and this opportunity is huge, but it's a huge step up in class for him.
Interestingly a former Gonzalez foe is part of the under-card here, with Brian Viloria (37-5-0-2, 22) taking on Miguel Cartagena (15-3-1, 6), who is known in Asian circles for his win over Jobert Alvarez and his nasty technical draw with Toshiyuki Igarashi, from this past April. The 25 year old American is tough, aggressive and could be a genuine handful for the 36 year old Viloria, who has fought just once since his October 2015 loss to Gonzalez. At his best Viloria would be a huge favourite, but this bout could be extremely tough for the veteran.
Also on this card will be the unbeaten Nick Frese (5-0, 5), who faces Nam Phan (3-2-1, 2). Dutch born Thai based Frese will be fighting outside of Asia for the first time and will be hoping to show his skills, and pick up another quick win. The unbeaten man us pencilled in to fight again in October and has been ultra busy this year, but has also been destructive racking up a combined 10 rounds from his 5 bouts. Nam Phan, who is an American based American, hasn't fought in will over a year and is 10 years removed from his last win, but the bout really is supposed to just showcase Frese.
As well as the bouts mentioned the card will feature an all-Mexican bout, back at Super Flyweight, as Juan Francisco Estrada (35-2, 25) takes on Carlos Cuadras (36-1-1, 27), with the winner set to become the mandatory for the Srisaket Vs Gonzalez winner.
A second notable show packed with Asian fighters comes in Central Asian country Kazakhstan,where we get a number of notable and unbeaten Kazakh's in action, against opponents who look very solid on paper.
The main event of the card will see the world ranked Kanat Islam (24-0, 19) take on Brandon Cook (18-0, 11) in a really mouth watering match up. The unbeaten 32 year old Islam is slowly edging towards a world title fight, and is regarded as one of the notable Kazakh's in the professional ranks so far, but his career has been a slow burning and he's been a professional for close to 5 years with out yet really making a big splash. Aged 31 Cook has also been a bit of a slow burner as a professional, though his win in January against Steven Butler did get him some international attention, due to a post fight incident which saw Cook being hit with an item thrown at him. This really is a must win for both, and who ever loses will find it very hard to rebuild at this stage.
Another good looking bout towards the top of the card will see the very promising Zhankosh Turarov (21-0, 15) battle with Argentinian puncher Bruno Leonardo Romay (21-4, 18). Although less well known than Islam we have got high hopes for Turarov, who is 26 and has shown real flashes of being a genuine prospect. Romay will be hoping to make the most of his power, but this is a big step up for the South American, who's fighting in Asia for the first time.
Arguably the most notable prospect on this card is also the least experienced, as a professional. That's former amateur star Zhanibek Alimkhanuly (1-0, 1), who looks to impress in his second bout as he takes on Carmelito De Jesus (18-5, 15). We saw Alimkhanuly really shine in the amateurs, winning World and Asian championship gold in 2013 and reach the quarter finals of the 2016 Olympics. On his professional debut the Kazakh destroyed Milton Nunez and we're expecting a similar performance here. De Jesus, from Brazil, has scored wins on the road before, stopping Italian Stefano Castellucci, and will be there hunting the upset but he'll likely have little success against the Kazakh sensation.
Another notable prospect is Nursultan Zhanabayev (2-0, 1), who made his debut last year in China and has already competed in a pair of 10 rounders. His upcoming bout will see him take on the heavy handed Brazilian Alex Sandro Duarte (13-1-1, 10). Although Duarte has a nice record on paper he has lost to his most notable foe to date, and we expect another set back for him here.
Other hopefuls on this card include Ali Akhmedov (8-0, 6), who was last seen stopping the unbeaten Curtis Hill Jr, battling against Justin Thomas (18-2, 7), and Aidos Yerbossynuly (6-0, 5), who's fighting for the first time since going the distance with Devin Butcher, who will look to shine against the more experienced Jonathan Geronimo Barbadillo (17-4-1, 14).
Cotabato del Sur, Philippines
In the Philippines we have a pretty notable show.
One of the most notable bouts on the show will see Ben Mananquil (14-1-2, 3) battle against Jess Rhey Waminal (11-1-1, 6) in a bout between talented and once beaten fighters., looking to claim the interim OPBF Bantamweight title. Of the two men Mananquil is the more proven man, and he's unlucky not to have a stoppage win over Kwanpichit OnsongchaiGym to go along with his wins over Mateo Handig and Glenn Porras. Although less well known Waminal can't be over-looked and has scored notable wins over Joe Tejones and Gerpaul Valero. This isn't going to be a true OPBF title level fight, but the reality is that it is still a brilliant match up, with both fighters looking to go in there and prove they are the better fighter.
A less exciting looking bout will see veterans collide as Eden Sonsona (36-7-2, 13) takes on Jaime Barcelona (39-61-1, 10). The talented Sonsona is an upset minded fighter, as we saw in 2015 when he stopped Adrian Estrella in 2 rounds, but will be the favourite here against a man who really is just a journeyman, but a damned tough one who has only been stopped 5 times in 101 bouts. Although Sonsona will be the favourite it is worth noting that he only just took a narrow decision over Barcelona last December, and this could be another hotly contested bout, despite the hugely different looking records.
A really good match up on this card will see unbeaten Filipino prospect Jade Bornea (8-0, 5) taking on once beaten Thai Kongfah CP Freshmart (19-1, 11) in a mouth watering match up for the IBF Youth Super Flyweight title. The Filipino prospect was an amateur stand out before turning professional in 2014. He's tipped to go a long way but this is a big step up in class for the 22 year old Pinoy. For Kongfah this will be his most significant fight since he faced a then unknown Daigo Higa back in 2015, when Higa stopped the Thai in a 7 round thriller! This could be a coming out party for Bornea or a chance for Kongfah to climb back up the rankings, a great match up!
In a mismatch worthy of noting we'll see the world class Randy Petalcorin (26-2-1, 19) take on veteran Jetly Purisima (21-23-4, 6). The bout shouldn't be competitive,with Petalcorin being better than Purisima in every way, but it does give the talented “Razor” a chance to shake some ring rust after more than 6 months of inactivity. Petalcorin is a natural talent and should be fighting at world level so hopefully his team will move him in that direction next year, rather than keep him in there with horribly over-matched opponents, like Purisima.
There will also be two promising novice prospects on this card in low key bouts. One of those is Mark Antonio (2-0, 2), who will look to keep his stoppage run alive as he takes on Michael Padayag (3-8-1) in what should be a straight forward win and Dave Apolinario (2-0, 1), who will be strongly favoured to over-come Rudy Salaton (0-1).
The key show this coming Sunday comes from Tokyo where we get a triple title show courtesy of Watanabe gym.
The main event of this card is an IBF Minimumweight title fight as reigning world champion Jose Argumedo (20-3-1,12) defends his title against heavy handed Japanese fighter Hiroto Kyoguchi (7-0, 6). For Kyoguchi the bout could see him become the new face of the Watanabe gym, and the fastest fighter, in terms of time, to win a world title from Japan, around 15 months after his debut. For Argumedo the bout will be his 4th defense, and see him return to Japan, where he won the title at the end of 2015, when he beat Katusnari Takayama. On paper this is a really mouth watering match up, as a big and tough champion takes on a destructive ball of power punching energy, and we expect to see serious questions asked about both men. If Kyoguchi is ready for Argumedo, he's potentially ready to shake up the who division, but it's possible that Watanabe rushed just a touch too quick.
The other world title bout will see Watanabe's only current male world champion defending his title. That's Ryoichi Taguchi (25-2-2, 11) who makes a mandatory defense of his WBA Light Flyweight title against Colombian foe Robert Barrera (18-1, 12), in what could be a testing bout for the frustrating Taguchi. At his best Taguchi is a brilliant fighter, who can box at range and make the most of his physical attributes, which include a very long reach. Problem is that he's frustratingly struggled with less fighters and seems to find it hard to get up for some opponents, and struggles against supposedly easier foes. Barrera, as a mandatory, should pose a good test, but it's hard to say for sure. If the Colombian is determined and fired up he could, potentially, scupper a strongly rumoured unification bout between Taguchi and WBO champion Kosei Tanaka. It's fair to say that Taguchi should be hungry to prove a point, but whether we see that in the ring is hard to predict.
A third title bout will see Japanese Super Flyweight champion Ryuichi Funai (27-7, 19) defending his title, for the first time. In the opposite corner to the champion will be first time challenger Takayuki Okumoto (18-7-3, 8), and it's fair to say that the champion will be the favoured fighter here. Funai won the title at the Champion Carnival, stopping good friend Kenta Nakagawa, and will be hoping to extend his reign in a voluntary defense. Okumoto was once seen as a prodigy but has become a streaky fighter and will need to record a career best win to dethrone the champion.
A name to make a note of in action on this card is touted former amateur star Hironori Mishiro (2-0, 1),who is tipped as another to follow in the footsteps of Kyoguchi and be moved quickly through the ranks following a very strong amateur grounding. He's looked good since turning professional but still needs to continue his development. He'll be up against a Thai foe, but sadly we've not been given the foes name.
Someone else up against an unknown Thai is former 2-time world champion Kohei Kono (32-10-1, 13), who returns to the ring for the first time since his stoppage loss to Naoya Inoue. The bout is designed to help Kono shake off some ring rust ahead off a more meaningful bout with Rex Tso later in the year.
Cotabato del Sur, Philippines
In the Philippines there is a card primarily focused on prospects.
On of those prospects is the once beaten Ben Mananquil (13-1-2, 3), who we have been impressed by since his controversial draw against Kwanpichit OnesongChaigym back in 2013. Although Mananquil has got a loss, it was a razor thin one in China and we'd suggest he's one to follow going forward. With that said we clearly expect him to defeat the heavy handed but limited Kim Lindog (5-4-1, 4).
Another of the top prospects if former amateur stand out Jade Bornea (7-0, 4), who takes on the experienced, but very limited, Nicardo Calamba (7-24-4, 4). As an amateur Bornea won numerous trophies and scored a number of big wins, and huge things are expected of him. For this bout he should have way too much for Calamba, who has really struggled to pick up wins in recent years.
As well as the prospects we'll also see a veteran in action, as the highly experienced Eden Sonsona (36-7-2, 13) takes on JP Macadumpis (11-9-1, 5), and returns to the ring following a loss in Russia to unbeaten prospect Evgeny Chuprakov. On paper this should be an easy win for the 28 year old Sonsona, but there may be questions about how he looks given his stoppage loss last time out.
Also on this card will be two novice prospects looking to secure their second professional wins. One of those is Dave Apolinario (1-0, 1), who takes on the win-less Elizer Ambon (0-1), who was recently signed to a professional contract and looked on debut. The other is his stable mate Mark Antonio (1-0, 1), who signed with and debuted at the same time as Apolinario. Antonio will be up against the debuting Jeffrey Diale (0-0), and will also be looking for his second victory.
In South Africa we'll see the really promising Filipino youngster Dexter Alimento (12-1, 8) take on South African local DeeJay Kriel (11-1-1, 6) in a bout for the currently vacant WBC International Minimumweight title. Alimento came to our attention last year, when he stopped Chanachai CP Freshmart, and despite a very close loss to Masataka Taniguchi we still have huge hopes for him. Kriel is unbeaten since a points loss on his debut in 2014 but as wit many African fighters his record is a hard one to read, with no fights against opponents that we can say much about. This is a hard one to get a read on, but could tell us a lot about both mem
This coming Sunday we see action all across Asia in one of the busiest days of the year so far.
The main action for the day comes from Kumamoto in Japan, where fight fans get the chance to see a local star attempt to open the doors to some major fights.
That local star is the unheralded Tatsuya Fukuhara (18-4-6, 7) who faces Mexican Moises Calleros (25-6-1, 14) in a bout for the WBO Interim Minimumweight title, with the winner set to get a fight at regular champion Katsunari Takayama later in the year. Fukuhara has come a long way since suffering a defeat to the the debuting Takuma Inoue in 2013 and has gone 6-0-3 with wins over Takumi Sake and Genki Hanai to earn this shot, as well as draws with Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr and Shin Ono. Although Fukuhara is one of Japan's hidden gems he will be stepping up here to face a Mexican who is riding high following a win over Mario Rodriguez. Interesting Calleros has fought as high as 120 recently and will be fighting at 105lbs for the first time in over 7 years, so he's likely to be bigger and stronger that Fukuhara. Notably the Mexican has suffered a few poor losses and will be fighting outside of his homeland for the first time.
On the under-card we'll see Japanese and OPBF ranked Light Welterweight Ryusei Yoshida (29-8, 15) take on limited Thai Lekker Bangkok 2007 (0-3), in what should be an easy win for Yoshida. The Thai visit or has been stopped in all3 of his previous bouts, including loss last June to then debuting Kazuki Saito.
Cotabato del Sur, Philippines
In Cotabato del Sur we'll get a notable Filipino card.
One of those title bouts will see Lolito Sonsona (20-1-4, 9) face off with Renren Tesorio (15-9-3, 4) in a bout for the WBF Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title. Coming in to this Sonsona is on a 7 fight unbeaten streak, including a notable win over Bobby Concepcion. Whilst Sonsona has been in form the same cannot be said of his foe, with Tesorio having lost his last 3, including a 10th round TKO loss to Daigo Higa.
A much better looking bout sees the under-rated Ben Mananquil (12-1-2, 3) take on Glenn Porras (29-5, 17) for the WBF International Bantamweight title. Mananquil is one of the hidden jewels of the Filipino boxing scene. His only loss was a controversial one in China it Jing Xiang and he was also controversially denied a win against Kwanpichit OnesongChaigym. Porras on the other hand Porras has been relatively inactive with just a 1-1 record in the last 4 years, he was however once a touted fighter and did show a lot of potential early on. This could be a very interesting match up.
In a WBF International Super Featherweight title bout we'll see the in form Eden Sonsona (35-6-2, 12) take on Jovany Rota (9-9, 6). Sonsona is 9-0-2 in his last 11, including a massive win in 2015 over Adrian Estrella, and although he fought only once last year he will be full of confidence coming into this bout. Rota on the other hand is a bit of a domestic journeyman and shouldn't provide much of a test for Sonsona.
Arguably the best of the bouts is an IBF Youth Super Flyweight title bout between the super talented Jade Bornea (6-0, 4) and once beaten puncher Raul Yu (9-1-2, 8). Bornea was an amateur standout, and holds a notable amateur win over Kosei Tanaka, but is stepping up as a professional here and Yu is certainly his biggest test since his pro debut in October 2014. Yu is a series puncher and although he has suffered a loss, a decision loss in February 2015, he is a dangerman who will be looking to make a point here. Coming into this Yu is unbeaten in 6 and will looking to claim his first professional title.
Also on this card will be world class Light Flyweight Randy Petalcorin (25-2-1, 18), who fights in a stay busy fight against compatriot Mark Anthony Florida (9-6, 7) in what should be an easy win for Petalcorin, who will have bigger fish to fry.
On a second card in the Philippines we'll see a less exciting series of fights.
In the main event we'll see the once beaten Pedro Taduran (9-1, 7) take on Jerome Clavite (6-3-2, 2). The 20 year old Taduran, nicknamed “Rattle Snake”, is a good puncher at domestic level but did suffer a loss 10 months ago to Joel Lino. Since that loss he has bounced back with 3 wins an will be looking to keep that run going here. Whilst Taduran is back to winning ways it's hard to really know where Clavite's career is going. He has won just once in his last 5, but has been matched against some very decent domestic competition and should be seen as a step up for Taduran in what could be a very good match up for both men.
In an under-card bout from this show fans will see Rex Tito (5-7-2, 2) battle Marlon Arcilla (8-5, 1) in a bout between limited guys. Tito will be returning to the ring following a break of more than 4 years. Prior to his sabbatical he had gone 0-7-1 in his previous 8, with set backs to the likes of Jerwin Ancajas and Giovnni Escaner. As for Arcilla,he has lost his last 3, though has been matched hard with bouts against Ryosyuke Iwasa and Reymart Gaballo. He should be strongly favoured here but a hungry Tito could make life tricky for the 22 year old Arcilla.
Gimhae City, South Korea
We're also set for some title action in South Korea courtesy of a KBA show.
The main event of the show will see former world title challenger Young Gil Bae (27-6-1, 21) battle against Thailand's Chatchai Or Benjamas (7-8, 6) (7-8, 6) for the vacant WBC Asian Boxing Council Flyweight title. The bout will be Bae's first since his 4th round TKO loss last year to Rex Tso, 15 months ago, and see him entering on a 2-2 record in the last 24 months. Although talented at this level Bae's future, at the age of 37, looks to be very limited. On paper Chatchai has been in good form, winning 6 of his last 7, but his competition during that run has been awful with only Kevin Jake Cararaja being of any note, and he stopped Chatchai in 4 rounds last year.
The co-feature will see Hee Jung Yuh (17-3, 8) take on novice Nongkiat Saithonggym (1-1) in about for the WBC Asian Boxing Council female Super Flyweight title. As with the other bout it's hard to see the local losing here with Yuh being a very solid fighter, even if that wasn't evident in her wide decision loss last year to Naoko Fujioka. The Thai, who possibly has an incomplete record, is best known for a 2011 stoppage loss to Yuko Kuroki and we don't imagine she'll see the distance here.
Amazingly there will also be action in China, though the show is relatively weak over-all.
The most notable of the bouts on the show will see the light hitting Yelieqiati Nihemaituola (8-0-1, 1) battle against Thai visitor Petchwanchai Sor Visetkit (14-9, 6). On paper the Thai looks like he has a fighting chance here but he has lst his last 3 bouts, all by stoppage in a combined 7 rounds, and is almost 3 years removed from a win. Although the unbeaten Nihemaituola isn't a puncher it wouldn't be a huge surprise to see him win here.
In another bout of some interest Maimaitijiang Nuermaimaiti (3-0-1, 3) will risk his unbeaten record against fellow unbeaten Hongfeng Li (4-0, 1) in what looks likely to be a power vs skill match up with genuine intrigue.
This coming Sunday is a hectic day in Japanese boxing with a number of cards.
The biggest card comes from Osaka, and will be featured on Boxingraise on a delayed basis.
The main event of the card sees the WBO Asia Pacific titles continue to rise in Japan as Ryota Yada (12-3, 10) takes on unbeaten Filipino Jayar Inson (12-0, 8) for the Welterweight crown. The bout isn't a huge one by any stretch, but it is a very attractive one with two talented, hungry fighters each looking for a major international title and a potential WBO world ranking. Although interesting on paper Inson is moving up from Lightweight and is likely to look very small compared to Yada.
In a supporting bout Takayuki Okumoto (17-7-2, 7) will be defending his Japanese Super Flyweight ranking as he faces off against the limited Takanori Hayashida (7-10-3). Ranked #3 by the JBC Okumoto will be looking for a title fight in 2017 and will know that any sort of a set back will ruin those dreams. On paper this looks like a mismatch, and will likely be very one sided, but Hayashida has won his last 2 bouts following an 8 fight win-less streak and will be eager to keep his current winning form going.
One of the most attractive match ups on the card will see Takahiro Murai (14-6-2, 5) face the talented but fragile Takeru Kamikubo (11-2, 8) in a really interesting match up. Murai is Japanese ranked at Flyweight and is clearly looking to get a title fight in the near future, with his recent competition being solid on the domestic level. Kamikubo did show real promise at one point but back to back stoppage losses in 2015 derailed his career and he is very much needing to rebuild here.
Also on the card are several notable prospects. One of those Naotoshi Nakatani (9-0, 6), who risks his unbeaten record against Masashi Wakita (6-4-2, 2), another is Kazuki Tanaka (5-0, 4), who has yet to have his opponent for the show to be named, and also school girl boxer Fuka Komura (1-0), who faces Mizuki Matsuoka (0-1)
A second show comes from Aichi.
The main event of this card will see former OPBF title challenger Eita Kikuchi (19-4-4, 8) take on Kazuki Fukakura (9-11-2, 3) in what appears to be a total mismatch. Kikuchi is best known for his 2013 loss to Shingo Wake, and whilst he did lose his following bout he has gone on a 5 fight winning run and looks to have rebuilt some confidence whilst moving into a top 10 JBC ranking at Bantamweight. Fukakura has gone 2-5 in his last 7, dating back more than 2 years, and is unlikely to win here, but does have the ability to be competitive at this type of level.
In the most interesting of the supporting bouts we'll see Takashi Igarashi (8-3, 3) battle the Yoshiki Kawamura (5-6-2, 3). The bout isn't a competitive bout, and it'd be a genuine shock to see Igarashi lose, but it should be better than it looks on paper and the 20 year old Igarashi should be tested a bit here.
A third show is in Yamaguchi.
The main event here will see OPBF and JBC ranked Lightweight Accel Sumiyoshi (7-4-2, 2) battle against Japanese ranked Super Featherweight Yusuke Nakagawa (10-5-1, 6) in what should be a really intriguing match up. Despite neither guy having a great record on paper the two should be well matched and are both much better than the raw numbers suggest. Sumiyoshi is the naturally bigger guy, and should be favoured, but it is a very competitive match up.
Another really interesting match from this show will see the under-rated Burning Ishii (7-3-1, 2) battled Japanese based Korean Teiru Atsumi (11-1, 5). Ishii is the promoter's fighter and has mixed with good company, but was stopped last time out by Kosuke Saka and has now been stopped twice whilst also showing little real power. Atsumi is arguably the most promising Korean fighter in the sport and has scored 3 stoppages since relocating to Japan, including a huge win over Sho Nakazawa and a notable stoppage against Dennis Tubieron. Hard not to favour Atsumi here, but it's another intriguing match up.
Cotabato del Sur, Philippines
Outside of Japan there will also be action in the Philippines.
In the main event here we see former WBA “interim” Light Flyweight champion Randy Petalcorin (24-2-1, 18) take on Arnold Garde (7-3-2, 3) in a bout for the IBF Pan Pacific Light Flyweight title. This will be Petalcorin's second bout since his controversial loss to Omari Kimweri and should be a straight forward win against Garde, who has been stopped 3 times at domestic level, including an opening round stoppage to the then debuting Zoren Collado,
In a notable supporting bout we'll see Eden Sonsona (34-6-2, 12) return to the ring for the first time since his huge May 2015 upset win over Adrian Estrella. Sadly for Sonsona he was unable to build on the win over Estrella and now, 19 months later will be taking on Eusebio Baluarte (19-17, 12) in what looks like a massive step backwards. Although a step backwards it's nice to see Sonsona back in the ring.
One of a number of interesting prospects in action here is the unbeaten John Vincent Moralde (17-0, 8), who looks to extend his winning run as he takes on the limited Joas Apericio (12-17-1, 9). We do like Moralde, and he does have a lot of talent, but Apericio really won't do anything to test the youngster and there's a reason that he's gone 0-7-1 in his last 8. A horrible mismatch in favour of the very talented unbeaten Moralde.
Another Filipino that we like is Ben Mananquil (11-1-2, 3), who came close to stopping Kwanpichit OnesongChaigym back in 2013. The once beaten Filipino has been away from the ring for 15 months but should return with a win this weekend as he takes on the limited Romulo Ramayan Jr (7-8-3, 3) in an 8 rounder.
There will also be action in Thailand where we'll see a national Super Flyweight title fight as Chatchai Or Benjamas (6-8, 5) faces Yodpichai Sithsaithong (12-15, 6) for the vacant title. The bout doesn't pit two major names but does look like it could be a competitive and even match up, even if it is at a very low level.
The most notable action featuring Asian fighters this coming Sunday comes from Texas where we get two former world champions in action as they both look bounce back from losses in world title action.
Of the two men the most notable is former WBO Bantamweight champion Tomoki Kameda (31-1, 19) who faces Englishman Jamie McDonnell (26-2-1, 12), in an attempt to avenge his first career defeat and claim the WBA Bantamweight title. These two faced each other earlier this year in a brilliantly compelling bout that saw McDonnell climb off the canvas to take a narrow decision win over the youngster of the 3 Kameda brothers. Kameda, who had a rematch clause, will be looking to become a 2-time world champion but will need to show much more than he did in the first meetign with McDonnell, especially down the stretch.
The other is Tomoki's older brother Daiki Kameda (29-4, 18). Daiki, a former Flyweight and Super Flyweight world champion, willl be facing Mexican slugger Victor Ruiz (19-5, 14) in what looks like a good match up on paper. Kameda hasn't fought since late 2013, when he lost a Super Flyweight unification bout to Liborio Solis, and will likely be rusty here though should over-come Ruiz who has a very padded looking record.
Whilst the Kameda's will be the biggest name Japanese fighters in action they will certainly not be the only Japanese fighters in action with a show in Toyama.
Notably this show will be headlined by two non-Japanese fighters as Venezuelan Juan Jose Landaeta (26-8-1, 20) battles against Panama's Walter Tello (21-8, 8). Landaeta is now based in Japan and will be hoping show some of the form that once lead him to holding the WBA interim Minimumweight title. As for Tello this will be his second bout since he was stopped by Randy Petalcorin in June 2014, and we'd expect him to come up short again here.
In another feature bout on this card fans will see the once beaten Aiko Yamagishi (4-1-1, 2) battle former world title challenger Saemi Hanagata (9-6-2, 4) in a 6 round female bout. Hanagata has come up short in her last two bouts but did run Naoko Shibata very close back in February and we expect her to show her ability here. Notably Yamagishi was stopped last time out and this is a big step up in class for her.
The most attractive of three Filipino shows comes from Benguet where we get two bouts that have really caught our eye.
The most notable of those bouts will see the once beaten Ben Mananquil (10-1-2, 2) battle against former world ranked fighter Mateo Handig (13-9, 7) in an intriguing Super Flyweight bout. We are fans of Mananquil, who at 23 years old is genuine one to keep an eye on. Handig, who holds a major win over Katsunari Takayama has lost his last 4 and will know that another defeat will spell the end of any dreams he has to make a real name for himself.
The other bout will see former world ranked slugger Alie Laurel (13-4, 9) take on Gerry Patenio (4-8-2, 2). Although this is a mismatch we always enjoy watching Laurel in action and he certainly knows a thing or two about upsets, holding wins over Nobuhisa Coronita Doi and Tiger Tor Buamas. We're looking forward to seeing more of Laurel down the line, but this is an easy win following a loss to Ernesto Saulong back in May.
As well as the bouts mentioned there will be a number of bouts featuring Indian fighters.
Another notable show comes from Wastern Samar.
The most interesting bout on this card will see the once beaten Neil John Tabanao (11-1,7) attempt to bounce back from his recent loss to Randy Braga. The talented and young Tabano will be up against the limited Alvin Makiling (10-12-3, 3) in what should be a one-sided bout with the 21 year old Tabano coming out on top.
In an 8 round support bout the unbeaten Rambo Lagos (4-0-2, 2) will be up against the limited JR Salvador (5-23-3). This should again be a win for the unbeaten man though this could be an interesting test for Lagos.
One other bout of note here will see 20 year old Margarito Moya (7-1, 2) in action. Moya was originally reported to be up against Renan Portes (4-2, 1), though it now looks like Moya is out of the bout.
Cotabato del Sur, Philippines
On another Filipino show fans will get the chance to see promising 21 year old Genesis Libranza (7-0, 5) battle against the very experienced Michael Rodriguez (13-41-1, 3) in a bout set for 10. It's hard to go against the unbeaten man though he does have a lot of questions to be asked before he's stepped up too much.
In the co-feature of this show fans will see the return to the ring of Drian Francisco (27-3-1, 21) who faces Jilo Merlin (13-23-2, 2). This will be Francisco's first bout since he was beaten in a round by Jason Canoy, who was recently announced as the opponent for Hianata Maruta's upcoming debut, and this is as a safe a comeback fight as Francisco could possibly have with Melin having lost his last 8.
We return to action after having had a short break for Christmas and the return is certainly an interesting one with notable action in both Japan and China.
In the first post-Christmas show in Japan we see a genuinely recognisable name in action in what is a relatively small show.
The most notable man in action is former WBA interim Light Middleweight champion Nobuhiro Ishida (26-10-2, 10) who continues his Heavyweight project as he takes on fellow Japanese Heavyweight Kotatsu Takehara (10-10-3, 4) in what is, for all intents a Japanese Heavyweight title eliminator. Both men have lost to Japanese champion Kyotaro Fujimoto but both would presumably like another fight with him, he is after all the only money in the division domestically. We know Ishida went to Heavyweight in pursuit of the Japanese title but he does need to win here to keep that dream alive.
In the co-feature on this card fans will see Japanese ranked Featherweight Kazuki Hashimoto (9-4, 5) fighting against Yoichi Oguma (15-6, 3). For Hashimoto this will be his first bout since February as he looks for a third successive win following a trio of losses. The 34 year old Oguma has been inactive even longer, in fact the southpaw has been inactive since last December, where he was stopped by Mike Tawatchai in Thailand. The loser here really will need to give a serious thought to retirement.
Although the show in Japan features the well known Nobuhiro Ishida we've got to admit we're more excited by the other show of the day which comes from China and features a trio of title fights.
The most interesting of the 3 bouts is a compelling rematch for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Flyweight title. The bout will see China's very own Xiang Jing (7-3-2, 1) battle against unbeaten Filipino Ben Mananquil (10-0-2, 2). The men fought to a split decision draw earlier this year and we've got to admit this is a rematch we really like the look of. Although somewhat unknown we do like Mananquil a lot and feel he his first draw was very unfair in a bout that he should have had an opening round TKO over Kwanpichit OnesongchaiGym. Jing however held his own with Mananquil last time out and this is by far the most well matched bout of the day.
Another rematch on this card will see Xian Wei Qian (5-4-1) defending his WBA Asian Boxing Council Featherweight title against Thailand's Thewa Onesongchaigym (5-1, 1). These two met back in August with Qian beating Thewa to become the first Chinese fighter to win a title in Thailand, he'll now be hoping to defend that belt for the first time.
Amazingly the third title bout will also be a rematch as Thailand's heavy handed Kajornsak Sithsaithong (7-3, 7) battles against Russia's Andrey Kalyuzhnyy (5-1, 3) in a bout for the IBF Youth Super Middleweight title. In their first bout the Russian stopped Kajomsak in just 32 seconds and he'll be hoping to do the same here.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)