The biggest bout for us this Saturday is from the US as Filipino maestro Mark Anthony Barriga (9-0, 1) takes on fellow unbeaten Carlos Licona (13-0, 2) in a bout for the vacant IBF Minimumweight. The bout, on the same as Deontay Wilder's contest against Tyson Fury, will be for the title Hiroto Kyoguchi gave up, as he moved up to Light Flyweight, and promises to Barriga a notable platform to showcase his skills, which have been compared to those of Floyd Mayweather Jr, Licona is a bit of a mystery to some, but should prove a good opponent for Barriga. Sadly with neither being much of a puncher this has the potential to be a less than thrilling fight to watch, but in terms of skills on show, both are very talented, and this really could be a special one for purists. A preview of this world title fight can be read here Barriga looks to announce himself on world stage, faces Licona for IBF title
As well as the bout in the US there is also a lot of action in Japan, with 7 title bouts spread across 3 different shows.
The main event of this card will see Japanese Light Welterweight champion Valentine Hosokawa (23-6-3, 10) make his second defense, as he goes up against fellow veteran Takashi Inagaki (20-17-2, 9). The all action Hosokawa won the title late last year and made his first defense in the Champion Carnival earlier this year, stopping Vladimir Baez in May. At the age of 37 Hosokawa is likely fighting father time, but has looked very impressive recently, and a win here will set up a defense against Koki Inoue. Inagaki, fighting in his 40th professional bout, will be getting a third title shot, but will be the clear under-dog against Hosokawa. We expect this will be fun, but it's hard to see Inagaki over-coming the high octane champion. A preview of this Japanese title fight can be read here Hosokawa takes on Inagaki on December 1st!
A potentially exciting supporting bout will see ranked Light Welterweights facing off. In one corner will be Hosokawa's stablemate Yusuke Konno (13-4, 7), the #2 ranked Japanese contender, whilst the other cone will play host to recent Japanese title challenger Vladimir Baez (24-4-2, 22), the same man who was stopped by Hosokawa. Konno will know that he could get a title fight next year, but needs to over-come Baez. Baez on the other hand is ranked by the OPBF and the WBO Asia Pacific as well as the JBC. The winner here will go into the new year with their eyes on title glory, but the loser will have some serious rebuilding to do.
Another supporting nout will see former IBF Super Bantamweight champion Yukinori Oguni (19-2-1, 7) return to the ring for the first since losing the world title to Ryosuke Iwasa In September 2017. The talented Oguni will be easing himself back into action here as he takes on Indonesian journeyman Arega Yunian (6-11, 1) in what should be little more than a tune up for bigger and better things in 2019.
As well as the action in Tokyo there is a busy day in Osaka, with a couple of shows there, featuring a combined 6 title bouts! One of those shows is a female card with 4 title bouts on it.
The most significant of the title contests on the female show will see Kayoko Ebata (12-7, 6) defending her WBO female Minimumweight title against former WBA and IBF champion Etsuko Tada (17-3-2, 5), in what looks like a brilliant must win bout between two veterans. This will be Ebata's second defense of the title she won in May 2017, when she finally won a world title in her fifth shot. Sadly for Ebata she is now 42 and her desire to have a long reign, after all the time she spent chasing a belt, does seem unlikely. At 37 Tada is no spring chicken, but the former 2-time champion does have the edge in youth, experience and winning mentality. We're expecting both to show their age, but that will likely lead to more exchanges and more intense action, which we won't complain about. This world title bout was previewed here Ebata looks to defend WBO crown against Tada
In the chief support bout fans will see former amateur standout Kasumi Saeki (2-0, 1) fight in her first title bout, as she takes on Thai visitor Wassana Kamdee (3-4, 2) in a bout for the WBO Asia Pacific female Minimumweight title. Saeki is seen as one of the top Japanese female prospects and will be expected to do a number the Thai, who has been stopped in all 4 defeats, though her performance may decide whether her team fasts tracks her to a world title fight in early 2019 or not.
In an OPBF female Featherweight title bout we'll see Wakako Fujiwara (6-2-2, 2) take on the woman she took the title from, Kimika Miyoshi (13-11-1, 5). Fujiwara's win over Miyoshi for the belt, back in July, saw her extend her unbeaten run to 6 fights, and add the Oriental title to her reign as the Japanese national champion. Sadly for Miyoshi the loss to Fujiwara is her third in a row, and she's now without a win since June 2016. Fujiwara's first win over Miyoshi was an upset, but we suspect this will be a repeat, given the form of both fighters coming into the fight.
The remaining title bout is another OPBF title bout, which will see novice professional Eri Matsuda (1-0) look to set a Japanese record by claiming an OPBF title in just her 2nd professional bout. The talented Matsuda will be up against Minayo Kei (6-3, 1) in a bout for the vacant OPBF female Atomweight title, and if Matsuda wins there's a chance she could set a Japanese record for fewest fights taken to win a world title. Matsuda was a good amateur and it's clear that she believes she can be a very good professional, but this is a genuine test.
The second show in Osaka will also be a Shinsei promoted card from the EDION Arena Osaka, this time however the fous will be men, with two WBO Asia Pacific male title bouts on the show.
One of those bouts will see WBO Asia Pacific Light Flyweight champion Reiya Konishi (16-1, 6) defending his title against Filipino challenger Richard Rosales (13-7-2, 7). For Konishi this will be his first defense, following a victory over Orlie Silvestre for the belt earlier in the year, and he's said to be expecting a world title fight next year, if he wins here. Rosales will play the part of a game challenger, be we suspect he will be ground down by Konishi, and his high intensity work rate and body shots. Despite strongly favouring the champion to retain we do expect this to be a very fan friendly bout. We've previewed this bout here Konishi looks to end year with defense against Rosales
The other title bout will see Masao Nakamura (24-3, 23) and Carlo Magali (23-10-3, 12) battle for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight. Both of these men have held the OPBF version of this title, and both are talented fighters in their own right. Of the two Nakamura is the more pure fighter, and he's a damned good boxer-puncher, but also the more vulnerable. The much shorter Magali is the more defensively sound and has regularly found ways to get inside bigger fighters and breaking them down. This has the potential to be a genuine thriller, with both men capable of hurting the other. A full preview of this bout can be read here Nakamura and Magali to battle for regional crown!
Originally the card was also announced as having former WBA Super Bantamweight champion Shun Kubo (13-1, 9) facing off with Indonesian veteran Noldi Manakane (33-25-2, 18), but this bout was cancelled back in November due to an injury suffered by Kubo. As a result Manakane will face off with 19 year old prospect Ryo Suwa (9-1, 1), who will be looking to score his third win of the year.
The main show for us this coming Wednesday will come from the Differ Ariake in Tokyo. The card will feature a number of a very good bouts, mos of which will be Japan Vs China, though is headlined by an OPBF title fight between a Filipino champion and a Japanese prospect, in what ios a really mouth watering match up.
The main event of the card will see OPBF Super Featherweight champion Carlo Magali (23-9-3, 12) face off with Japanese prospect Hironori Mishiro (5-0, 2), in a bout that is genuinely mouth watering. Magali has had a frustrating 2018, with several bouts announced and then falling through, and as a result this will be his return to the ring for the first time since his impressive January win over Masatoshi Kotani. Against Kotani we saw the Filipino show that he was a lot better than his record suggests, and it seems the OPBF title is helping Magali improve as a fighter, building his self belief. As for Mishiro the Japanese fighter was a former amateur stand out who only debuted 15 months ago but already holds notable domestic wins against Shuma Nakazato and Shuya Masaki and will be full of confidence coming into this bout. A win for Magali will perhaps move him on to bouts against top tier regional fighters, such as Masaru Sueyoshi or Reiya Abe, however a win for Mishiro will shoot him up to being one of the leading prospects in Japan. A really good match up, and a tough one to call!
The leading support bout is one of the many Japan vs China bouts and will see recent Japanese Flyweight title challenger Katsunori Nagamine (14-2-1, 10) battle against Yujie Zeng (11-7-1, 6) in what should be a very exciting bout, as is the norm for a Nagamine bout. Nagamine came close to claiming the Japanese Flyweight title this past March, when he lost a very lose decision to Masayuki Kuroda, and he should come in to this bout with a point to prove. It's also worth notign that Nagamine's only other loss was to WBC Light Flyweight champion Ken Shiro, more than 3 years ago. Zeng on the other hand is pretty much an unknown outside of those who follow the Chinese domestic scene. His only real bout of note came last September, when he lost to promising Filipino Genesis Libranza, and aside from that there isn't really much we can take from the Chinese fighter's record, other than that he seems to be fighting from Minimumweight to Super Bantamweight. Given what we know of Nagamine we're expecting a win for the Japanese fighter here.
In another Japanese Vs China bout fans will see the once beaten Shuma Nakazato (7-1-1, 6) battle against Qixiu Zhang (9-4-1, 3). Nakazato is one of the many hidden gems in Japanese boxing and managed to reach the 2015 Rookie of the Year, before needing to take almost 18 months away from the ring. Last year Nakazato suffered a narrow loss to Mishiro but has bounced back since with a blow out win against a Thai foe. The Chinese fighter is pretty unknown, though did impress last time out, when he travelled to Korea and scored an 11th round KO win against Nak Yul Park in May. That win aside there is little of note on Zhang's record and it;s hard to say what eh really has the potential to do, so this should give him a chance to answer some questions about his potential.
As well as the action in Japan there will also be a show in Thailand, headlined by a regional title fight between Japan's Ryohei Takahashi (14-3-1, 6) and Thai veteran Mike Tawatchai (45-11-1, 28). The two men, who are clashing over the IBF Pan Pacific Super Bantamweight title, are at different stages in their careers and Tawatchai, a genuine veteran with close to 60 fights, seems to be looking past his foe already with another bout set for September. That could well be a mistake as Takahashi is a very capable fighter with good wins over Kazuki Tanaka and Matcha Nakagawa, and defeatuing Tawatchai isn't out of the question here.
The calm to begin the year ends this coming Saturday as we get the first Dangan card of 2017, and it is a brilliantly intriguing card with two OPBF title bouts, and two very good looking support bouts.
The main event of the card will see former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Rikki Naito (18-2, 6) take on Filipino foe Jeffrey Arienza (16-6-1, 10) in a bout for the vacant OPBF Light Welterweight title. The talented Naito will be looking for one of the most significant wins of his career, and whilst he will be favoured here he should be expecting to have a fight against Arienza. The Filipino visitor is far from a world beater but will likely know that one more loss is the end of him at this level, and he really cannot afford another set back if he's to remain relevant.
In a more 50-50 bout we'll see Filipino fighter Carlo Magali (22-9-3, 11) defending the OPBF Super Featherweight title against Japan's Masatoshi Kotani (22-2, 15). On paper this is a very interesting match up and will potentially see the winner move into a very intriguing position as fighters look towards getting a shot at the OPBF title. Magali and a limited but aggressive fighter and will take the fight to Kotani whilst the challenger will look to use his slightly better boxing skills to take the title from the champion. A really even match up.
Another mouth watering match up will see touted Teiken fighter Shuya Masaki (9-0, 5) take on Watanabe gym's Hironori Mishiro (4-0, 2) in what could be the surprise bout of the month. Masaki is ranked #3 by the JBC and will be looking towards getting a title fight later in the year, if he wins, but a win here is certainly no forgone conclusion. Mishiro has only been a professional for 10 months but has shone, and his October win over Shuma Nakazato was absolute incredible. This is set to be a war and should be something very special for fans watching.
Another very strong looking supporting bout will see Coach Hiroto (13-2-1, 4) take on the once beaten Ryo Hino (11-1-1, 6). The talented Hiroto took almost 5 years out of the ring until returning last June, and since then he has scored 2 wins. He will however be up against it here with Hino riding a 6 fight winning streak, including a huge win last time out against Sho Nakazawa. Coming in to this the 27 year Hino looks to be the man in form, and the man going places, but at 26 years old Hiroto shouldn't be over-looked in what appears to be a very competitive looking match up on paper.
In Illinois fight fans will be able to see American based Uzbek hopeful Rustam Tulaganov (1-0) take on the once beaten Martez McGregor (4-1, 4) in a 6 rounder. The 26 year old Uzbek was a former amateur standout, having claimed an Olympic Bronze medal and an Asian Championship's Silver medal and will be favoured here. The heavy handed McGregor has never been beyond 2 rounds and is likely to come out swinging here, win or lose.
This coming Sunday is expected to be a really interesting day for fight fans with a number of show of interest, and some really notable fighters in action. Whilst it's not a huge day, it is certainly an interesting one, and one well worth making a mental note of as we move towards the weekend.
The show of the day comes from Russia where we get a host of Asian fighters making up the supporting cast of a card headlined by the always fun to watch Denis Lebedev.
The most notable bout on the card will see Russian fighter Dmitry Mikhaylenko (22-1, 10) battle against fast rising Uzbek contender Qudratillo Abduqaxorov (11-0, 8), with the Uzbek looking to make his first defense of the WBC Silver Welterweight title. On paper this is really the stand out bout of the day, and a real chance for the Uzbek to prove himself as a top contender, it is however a really tough test on Russian soil and he'll have to really be on the top of his game to shut down the “Mechanic”.
Another mouth watering bout sees former world title challenger Daiki Kaneko (26-5-3, 18) face off with the unbeaten Pavel Malikov (11-0, 5). The Japanese fighter is best known for his bout with Takashi Uchiyama, in which he dropped Uchiyama late, and sine then he has struggled to really shine, going 7-2. He will however see this as a huge opportunity to get his career back on track. For Malikov the bout is his first against a former world title challenger, and is a huge step up for the 31 year old Russian.
In another Russia Vs Japan bout we'll see Mark Urvanov (10-1, 6) take on Jin Miura (9-1, 1), with the two men fighting for the WBO Asia Pacific Youth Featherweight title. The bout looks great on paper, even if it's clear neither has lights out power. It's a huge test for both men and is the type of bout we love to see, with both men having something to gain and something to lose.
Another bout where both fighters will be fighting for a title will be a contest between unbeaten Tajik fighter Mukhammadkhuja Yaqubov (7-0, 4) and Japanese puncher Daiki Ichikawa (9-2, 7), who will face off for the WBO Lightweight title, currently held by Yaqubov. This is a real corker on paper and could be a coming out party for Ichikawa, who has stopped his last 3 and bounced back from a couple of defeats. Yaqubov has struggled himself, especially early in his career, and will need to prove himself here.
One final bout of note will see the unbeaten Zaur Abdullaev (4-0, 3) face off with Japanese fighter Mao Kawanishi (4-2, 1), in what looks likely to be a competitive 4 rounder.
The more notable of two Japanese cards comes from Osaka where we'll see a former Japanese title challenger headline and a former touted amateur make their debut.
Before we talk about the bouts which will take place we will just make a quick note that the card was supposed to be headlined by Juiki Tatsuyoshi (6-0, 4). Originally Tatsuyoshi was supposed to face off with Indonesian Jundullah M Fauzan (3-1), but the bout was cancelled just over a week before the contest due to Juiki suffering an injury. Sadly that injury has seen the card being pulled from the planned TV coverage that G+ was going to give the show.
The former Japanese title challenger on the card is former 2-time challenger Satoru Sugita (12-4-1, 7), who will now headline the card with a bout against Indonesian visitor Egy Rozten (5-15-2, 3). With losses in 2 of his last 3 we can't begrudge Sugita an easy bout, but it's a shame that the bout will now headline the card, because it's not a headline worthy contest.
In a supporting bout Kyosuke Tsutsumimoto (4-1, 3) will look to bounce back from his first career loss as he battles Takashi Okura (5-5, 1). The 22 year old Tsutsumimoto has been out of action since suffering his sole loss, in March 2016, but looks to be back with some hunger for his first 6 rounder. Okura has also been out of the ring for more than a year, and will be the under-dog, but will be a hungry fighter here looking for a chance to make a name for himself.
The most intriguing bout on the card sees former amateur stand out Ginjiro Tsutsumimoto (0-0), who really looked like a joy in some of his amateur contests, face off with Jio Alfriando (3-2, 2). In the unpaid ranks Tsutsumimoto went 24-3 and looked like a more accomplished fighter than his record suggests. He may not be in the mould of a super prospect, but he is certainly a highly capable young fighter, and the 19 year old is one to keep an eye out for.
A second show in Japan will take place in Chiba, with this card being a much smaller one
The first of two bouts of note on this card will see Yudai Tamagawa (9-8-1, 3) take on Ryuki Ishii (5-2, 4) in what looks like an intriguing bout, but nothing too mouth watering. Both of these fighters are southpaws and the bout should be competitive, but we do suspect that Ishii will be too good for Tamagawa.
A much more notable fight will see the unbeaten Fire Ikkyu (4-0, 3) take on Yoshiki Abe (5-5-3, 1) in a 6 rounder. Ikkyu will be fighting in his first 6 round bout and he should be favoured, however Abe is better than his record suggests and could put up a genuine fight here.
In Colorado we'll see Uzbek veteran Bexzod Nabiyev (25-9-1, 17) battle against Manuel Perez (27-12-1, 7) in a really well matched bout. The 31 year old Nabiyev looked like his career was fading away when he won 1 of 7 bouts a few years ago, but he's won his last 3 and will feel like he can make it 4 in a row as he takes on Perez, however Perez is much better than the opposite than Nabiyev has been beating.
For a second day running we're expecting to see action in Jakarta.
The main event of this card will see Stevanus Nana Bau (6-8-2, 2),who has twice lost to the touted Iwan Zoda, battle against the win-less Abeito Freitas (0-3) in a bout for the vacant Indonesia Boxing Association Light Flyweight title. Whilst we always doubt the completion of Indonesian records it's hard to believe that Freitas will be getting this title bout after being out of the ring for more than 4 years.
A more attractive under-card bout will see the half decent Isack Junior (24-7-2, 8), who has lost 6 of his last 8 but has lost those all on the road to good fighters, take on Boido Simanjuntak (23-46-2, 9). On paper this looks like a mismatch, but Junior has been inactive recently and the experienced Simanjuntak could be looking at this as a chance to end a 12 fight losing run.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
In Malaysia we'll see the experienced Filipino Carlo Magali (21-9-3, 10) face off with unbeaten Indian hopeful Sandeep Balhara (4-0, 3), who will be fighting outside of India for the first time. On paper the Filipino will be favoured, given his significant experience advantage, but it' lear that Balhara's team have got belief in their man to even take this fight.
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Metro Manila, Philippines
There isn't much action this coming Sunday but there will be a show in Metro Manila with some notable fighters.
The main event of the card will see former world title challenger Richard Claveras (16-2-2, 13) battle against Roilo Golez (16-16-1, 7) in an 8 rounder. It's hard not to fancy Claveras her, given his power and ability, but there will also be pressure on him to perform knowing that a 3rd loss in 7 fighters will really harm his potential to get another world title shot.
Another 8 rounder will see Japan's Hirotsugu Yamamoto (20-13-2, 4) battle against Filipino Pablito Canada (5-11-2, 1). Although Yamamoto has lost 2 of his last 3 one of those did come to Jhonny Gonzalez and he is much better than his record suggests. Canada, who has won just once in his last 9 bouts, did win last time out but shouldn't be given much a chance here.
Also on the card will be Carlo Magali (20-9-3, 10), Eduardo Mancito (14-5-2, 8) and Nathan Bolcio (13-12-3, 4) who should all be favoured to over-come poor domestic foes.
There will also be a small card in Bangkok, with the biggest name being Japan's Naoya Haruguchi (11-7, 5), who will be looking for his first win outside of Japan.
Negros Occidental, Philippines
To begin action for April we get a trio of OPBF “interim” title fights, and although we don't agree with interim title fights these fights do all have some appeal.
One of those “interim” OPBF title fights comes at Super Flyweight where local fighter Rene Dacquel (16-6-1, 5) battles unbeaten Thai hopeful Lucky Tor Bumas (7-0, 7). Dacquel came up short last December in a bout for the regular OPBF title, losing to Takuma Inoue, and will be hoping that it's second time lucky here. As for the Thai this is a huge step up in class and it's hard to see him continuing his perfect record here.
Another of those “interim” OPBF title fights comes at Super Featherweight where the under-rated Carlo Magali (19-7-3, 10) battles former OPBF Featherweight title challenger Mark Gil Melligen (21-6-1, 12). It's hard to see why either of these men are fighting for an OPBF title fight, however the contest should be a good one, with both knowing that a win would be a defining moment in their career.
The best of the “interim” title fights will come at Bantamweight and see the heavy handed Rey Megrino (22-20-3, 19) face off against the criminally under-rated Jonathan Baat (30-7-4, 14). This could be a genuinely thrilling match up, and although the records of the two men may not be impressive the bout is almost certainly going to be something very special.
Another bout of note on this card will see Venezuelan Omrri Bolivar (3-0, 1) battle Filipino Gerry Patenio (4-10-2, 2). This is Bolivar's third bout in Asia and we're expecting him back, in China, later in the month. If he can get past Patenio here.
District of Columbia, USA
In the US fans will see promising Kazakh Shyngyskhan Tazhibay (2-0, 2) risk his unbeaten record as fellow unbeaten Riarus Dudley (2-0-1, 2) in what looks like a very interesting 4 rounder.