Attention turns to Kazakhstan this coming Friday for a Qazaq Promotions card from Almaty. The card isn't a massive one, but it is a notable one, with the ring return of a popular unbeaten Kazakh contender, who has had his career ruined by injury, a Kazakh Heavyweight hopeful against a former world title challenger and several rising hopefuls.
The main event of the show will see the unbeaten Kanat Islam (25-0, 20) return to the ring, for the first time since September 2017, to take on Dominican puncher Julio De Jesus (27-1, 24).Islam was on the verge of a world title fight when he beat Brandon Cook in his last bout, but repeated injuries have kept him out of the ring since then really destroying his chances of a world title fight. De Jesus, on paper, looks like a good test though is the naturally smaller man and we do wonder how his power holds up here against a solid fighter like Islam.
In one of the main supporting bouts we'll see unbeaten Kazakh Heavyweight hopeful Ruslan Myrsatayev (5-0, 5) take on English Heavyweight veteran Danny Williams (53-26-0-1, 40). The unbeaten Kazakh is talented and heavy handed, but at 34 years old time is running out if he's really after a big fight he needs to make his move this year. Williams, best known for beating Mike Tyson and being dominated by Vitali Klitschko in a WBC world title bout, is now 45 and needs to really consider walking away from the sport before getting seriously injured.
Another bout will see Madiyar Ashkeyev (12-0, 6), fresh off throwing water over a journalist, take on Estonian journeyman Pavel Semjonov (24-11-2, 9). This should be a straight forward win for Ashkeyev, but Semjonov tends to be a tough foe so we're expecting a decision win for the unbeaten Kazakh here.
Also on this card will be unbeaten teenager Dastan Saduuly (3-0, 3) and Ablaikhan Khussainov (9-0, 6), though it's unclear who these two will be up against at the time of writing.
The biggest bout involving an Asian fighter this coming Sunday comes from Maryland, as former world champions collide! The bout will see Lamont Peterson (35-4-1, 17) take on Kazakh-Russian Sergey Lipinets (14-1, 10), in what should be a tremendous bout. Both of these men need a win if they are to remain in the world title mix, and both will be looking to bounce back from a recent loss, with Lipinets losing to Mikey Garcia and Peterson losing to Errol Spence Jr. Their styles should make for a fun fight and this is a really good quality match up between world class fighters.
Staying in the US there's also a couple of unbeaten Kazakh prospects in action in California.
One of those is Ali Akhmedov (13-0, 10), who will be dropping down to Super Middleweight to face off with Mike Guy (9-3-1, 5). The unbeaten Akhmedov wasn't as active as we'd have hoped in 2018 but with his first bout of 2019 taking place this early he could end up having a really big year this year. Guy is a solid enough opponent, who has done 8 rounds with Tyron Zeuge and came close to doing the same with Sergiy Derevyanchenko, show he's durable. This might be a very tough test for Akhmedov but is also a chance for him to make a statement.
On the same card will be Meiirim Nursultanov (10-0, 8), who will be fighting his second bout of the year and looks likely to have a huge year. He fought 4 times in 2018 and although his competition hasn't been the best he is making noise as one to watch. At 25 years old he has time to really build his record and reputation before moving onto big fights. He will be up against Puerto Rican fighter Luis Hernandez (16-7, 9).
Staying with Kazakh's there is also set to be a show in Almaty featuring a couple more notable Kazakh fighters.
In one of the main bouts Aidos Yerbossynuly (10-0, 8) will take on tough Namibian Lukas Ndafoluma (15-1, 6) in a bout for minor titles from the WBO, WBA and WBC. This could end up being one of the low key bouts of the weekend and is a very real threat to Yerbossynuly's unbeaten record. The Kazakh has shown promise but has been down in a couple of his fights whilst Ndafoluma has managed to show toughness and skills on the road, upsetting British fighter Craig Cunningham in the UK in 2017. This is a potential banana skin for the unbeaten Kazakh.
On the same card Nursultan Zhangabayev (6-0, 4) is scheduled to make his first defense of the WBC Asian Boxing Council Light Middleweight title. His opponent will be 25 year old Venezuelan fighter Ivan Matute (28-1, 23), who has a really good looking record, but there is no real quality on there. The unbeaten Zhangabayev won the belt last December, when he took a decision over tough Filipino Arnel Tinampay, and was given a real test, so we're hoping for another test here.
Also on this show will be 21 year old Kazakh prospect Sadriddin Akhmedov (7-0, 7) who will be fighting for a WBC Asia title. The talented Kazakh will be up against John Ruba (17-5-1, 9), who shouldn't really be much of a match for Akhmedov, who will be expected to move to 8-0 (8) without too many problems.
The under-card is also set to feature a number of prospects, including Dastan Saduuly (2-0, 2), Iskander Kharsan (5-0, 4) and Ulugbek Khakberdiev (5-0, 3).
As well as all the Kazakh's in action there is actually set to be a couple of Japanese shows on the same day. The more notable of those takes place in Hyogo and is a Shinsei promoted card.
The main event of this card will see Japanese ranked fighters clashing, as Shun Kosaka (15-5, 4) takes on Shunji Nagata (12-17-2, 4) in an 8 round bout at a contracted 51.5KG's. The winner of this could end up finding themselves in a Japanese title bout later this year. Coming in Kosaka has lost his last 2, being stopped in an OPBF title fight by Jayr Raquinel and being out pointed by Junto Nakatani, but remains #2 ranked by the JBC at Flyweight. Nagata on the other hand has struggled for consistent results, with 6 losses in his last 8, but has shown the ability score an upset on his day and is better than his record suggests.
World ranked Lightweight Kazuhiro Nishitani (19-4-1, 11) will be taking on Filipino visitor Glenn Medura (10-4-1, 6), in what looks like a straight forward bout for Nishitani. Medura has lost 3 of his last 5, losing all 3 of them in Japan by stoppage. Although Nishitani isn't anything special he has won his last 4 by stoppage and is a former Japanese national champion, so should have little problem picking up the win here.
Talented and highly touted prospect Yuki Yamauchi (2-0, 1) will seek his third win as he takes on unbeaten Filipino Claudevan Sese (7-0-3, 1). This looks like a good step forward for Yamauchi, who will be in his first 8 rounder just 8 months after his debut. For Sese this will be his international debut, and a big step up in class, though he has never tasted defeat and has gone 8 rounds twice during his career.
One other bout of note on this card will see Yuri Takemoto (5-1-1, 3) take on Reymond Empic (6-2, 2), in what looks like a pretty even match up. Takemoto left his mark last year, when he took the All Japan Rookie of the Year crown at Featherweight, and he looked to hit much harder than his record indicates in his final win over Hikari Mineta. Empic should prove to be an interesting assignment for Takemoto, but one that Takemoto will be confident of passing.
It's also worth noting that this show will feature the retirement ceremony of Eita Kikuchi (21-6-4, 8), who challenged for both the OPBF Super Bantamweight and Japanese Bantamweight title during his 31 fight career that began back in 2005.
As well as the Shinsei card there will also be a Western Japan Rookie of the Year card in Fukuoka. Among the bouts on this card is an interesting bout between Ryusuke Ushihara (4-1-1, 1) and Yutaka Asakura (3-1-1, 2), which looks really competitive on paper.