Boxing through much of January and February has been slow. We know we sound like a broken record with the sheer number of times we've said that but it's true, it has been slow, it's been relatively dull and on the whole it's not had that much to keep us entertained. Worst of all their has been gaps between notable fights and every time we seemed like their was something exciting happening, it ended up not being as exciting as we expected.
Thankfully that is set to change in March and and things kick off as they mean to carry on and to begin the month we get two notable cards one in the Philippines and one in Japan.
Philippines, Metro Manila
Originally the better card of two in Asia was easily the Filipino card, "Pinoy Pride XXIV: The Future is Now". Unfortunately the card has had to have some alterations this week, though has still remained very interesting, just not the run away "better card" that it was a week ago.
The main event here sees the unbeaten Genesis Servania (23-0, 9) defending his WBO Inter-Continental Super Bantamweight title against former WBA Super Flyweight champion Alexander Munoz (36-5, 28). Although Munoz isn't the fighter he once was, he is still a superb puncher and not the type of guy you want to take risks against. If Servania want's to put on a show for the fans he'll have to be very careful. We think he should win but there will certainly be an air of risk going in to this fight.
The co-feature was supposed to see the unbeaten Arthur Villanueva (24-0, 14) defending his WBO International Super Flyweight title against Mexican Juan Hernandez (23-3, 16) unfortunately however Hernandez has been forced to pull out after suffering an injury in an auto-mobile accident. Given the short notice it was obvious ALA promotions weren't going to get an equally as good of an opponent on such short notice and that's been shown in the fact Villanueva will now be facing Fernando Aguilar (9-6, 1).
The change of opponent hasn't just caused Villanueva to share a ring with an opponent who simply doesn't belong to be in the same fight as him, but has also seen the fight relegated down the card. Instead of Villanueva/Hernandez being the co-feature that honour now belongs to Albert Pagara (18-0, 12) who will take a notable step up to face Indonesia's Isack Junior (22-4-2, 8) in what looks like a decent enough step up for Pagara, who many are tipping as a world champion in the making.
Of course ALA are the biggest promoters in the Philippines and arguably the diamond in the rough for them is the unbeaten Mark Magsayo (4-0, 3) who will be hoping to continue his development as he battles Roy Sumugat (9-9-1, 5) in what should be a great test for the young Magsayo.
Also on this card are Melvin Gumban (15-0, 7) and former Cuban amateur Reymi Castellano Aleye (3-0, 1) who was based in Cambodia though now seems to have set up base with ALA.
Although this card wasn't as good as first announced it's certainly not a poor card, if anything it's still a very strong show.
Whilst the card in the Philippines is still strong, the card in Japan has arguably the best Asian bout of the day as Akio Shibata (21-8-1, 9), the Asian Middleweight champion, battles the big punching Daisuke Nakagawa (22-3-2, 17), the Japanese Middleweight champion, in a much anticipated Middleweight title unification bout. It's a hard one to call this on as Shibata does hold a win over Nakagawa though with Nakagawa's power we do favour him to take home both belts here, especially after the job Ryota Murata did on Shibata on debut.
Unfortunately for this show, the "522th Dynamic Glove", the rest of the card is weak with the best under-card contest being a contest between former world title challenger Makoto Fuchigami (20-8, 11) and Hikaru Nishida (9-6-1, 3). Whilst this bout is important and both fighters are ranked by both the OPBF and the JBC it's a bout we imagine will be one in favour of Fuchigami.
The only other bout worth making a note of at all is the bout involving world ranked Shin Ono (16-5-2, 2). Ono, a former OPBF Light Flyweight champion, is talented though has suffered injuries in recent bouts which have curtailed his climb up the rankings. He continues his comeback by taking on the very limited Takumi Suda (10-9-2, 2) in what should be a complete mismatch in favour of the fringe world title contender.
There are a total of 7 bouts on this card though we've covered the 3 notable ones, the rest really are at a low level and have next to no significance to them unfortunately. That's why we still consider the Filipino show the better one, despite the unfortunate pull out by Hernandez.
(Picture courtesy of Watanabe Gym)