Metro Manila, Philippines
Ateention turns to the Philippines this coming Saturday as ESPN5 televised their first show of the new year. It's not a bumper card, but does feature some notable names as the channel looks to increase the profile of a number of Filipino fighters.
One of the notable bouts on this card will see the unbeaten pairing of Dave Apolinario (9-0, 6) and Mark Vicelles (9-0-1, 5) battle for the WBO Asia Pacific Youth Flyweight title. We've been impressed by Apolinario since he made his debut back in 2017 and the 20 year old looks like a dynamite prospect with speed, skills, power and a lot of potential. This however is a step up in class and Vicelles will be coming to do more than just make up the numbers. The 23 year old Vicelles has already ruined 22 unbeaten records, and will be looking to expose another touted domestic rival here. We're expecting real fireworks and excitement here in what should be the show stealing bout.
In a good supporting bout Reymart Gaballo (20-0, 17) will be taking on Japanese foe Yuya Nakamura (9-2-1, 7) in what should be an interesting assignment. Gaballo will be favoured, he really impressed last year with wins against Stephon Young and Julias Kisarawe, but Nakamura is no push over, and he impressed in December when he should have had a win over Yougu Yu, though the judges found a way to score that a draw. Gaballo should win, but Nakamura won't be there to just make up the numbers.
In another supporting bout the hard hitting Romero Duno (18-1, 14) will face off with Indian Kuldeep Dhanda (7-1, 1) in what is expected to be little more than a stay busy bout for Duno. The Filipino puncher is on a 9 fight winning run, including his break out win over Christian Gonzalez from March 2017, and looks like a potential world title contender. Dhanda on the other hand has never previously fought outside of India and lacks a win of any note, suggesting he will be completely unable to cope with Duno's power and skills.
Jeonju, South Korea
In Korea fans will be getting a double title show, with domestic Cruiserweight and Welterweight titles up for grabs. The theme of the show is Korea Vs Japan Vs China, but sadly the international bouts are over shadowed by the title bouts.
The Welterweight title will see either Yong Hwan Jun (4-4-1, 2) or Dong Young Kang (4-5-2) being crowned as the new champion. Neither of these two are great, but the Korean Welterweight scene isn't very good right now and hopefully getting the title scene up and running will kick start that, with fighters vying for a shot.
The Crusierweight title fight on the other hand will see Hyun Tae Bae (5-1-1, 3) battle against Kyung Hak Lee (3-5-1, 1). The 29 year old Bae returned in December, after more than 2 years out of the ring, and stopped Tae San Kil to earn his shot at the title. Lee on the other hand is without a win since March 2011, and it seems like this is little more than a coronation event for Bae.
One other bout of note here will see the unbeaten Dong Myung Shin (1-0), who impressed on debut in September, battle against Chinese fighter Yiping Gao (3-5, 1). Shin looked really good, defeating Hiroyuki Sagehashi on debut, and we're expecting him to shine again here. At the age of 30 Shin will need to be active to make any mark on the sport, but could be one of the few Korean with the skillset to impress internationally.
Another Asian fighter in action in the US is Filipino Genisis Libranza (17-1, 10), who will be looking to make his US debut following an aborted bout in January against Carlos Buitrago, who failed to make weight for a bout with Libranza. He will be up against Gilberto Mendoza (11-6-2, 4), who is a 29 year old who has yet to score a win of note. This should be seen as a showcase to Libranza if we're being honest.
Metro Manila, Philippines
One of the best Filipino cards of the month comes on the final Monday of the month, surprisingly, where we get a world title fight, a world title eliminator, a regional title bout and several interesting prospects in action.
The main event will be a brilliant match up between talented and sharp punching Filipino Randy Petalcorin (29-2-1, 22) and destructive Nicaraguan Felix Alvarado (33-2, 29), who meet for the vacant IBF Light Flyweight title. On paper this is a really interesting contest between two very different but very talented fighters each looking to claim a world title for the first time. Although Petalcorin has the home advantage Alvarado comes into the bout in terrifying form, with 14 stoppage wins in his last 15 bouts! This could be a modern classic. A preview of this bout can be read here Petalcorin and Alvarado meet for IBF crown!
In a major supporting bout Filipino Kenny Demecillo (14-4-2, 8) will take on English southpaw Lee Haskins (35-4, 14) in an IBF Bantamweight world title eliminator. The unheralded Filipino is taking a massive step up in class to face the former world champion, but at 26 years old Demecillo is just coming into his prime whilst Haskins is an old 35. Whilst the Filipino is the youngster it's hard to see him defeating the tricky, slippery and ultra-awkward Haskins.
Another major supporting bout will see the once beaten Giemel Magramo (21-1, 17) defending his WBO Oriental Flyweight title against Mexican visitor Sebastian Sanchez (11-5, 8). The only loss on Magramo's record was a razor thin one to Muhammad Waseem in Korea and he's very highly regarded as a fighter who will, at the very least, challenge for a world title. The 26year old Sanchez has lost 4 of his past 5, but has been matched hard with bouts against the likes of Paul Butler, Cristofer Rosales and the aforementioned Alvarado.
Lower down the card we'll see Ronnie Baldonado (12-1-1, 9) look to score his third wins since losing to Kosei Tanaka, as he faces Enrique Magsalin (5-0-2, 1) in a decent domestic bout. The very touted Jade Bornea (12-0, 8) will face journeyman Macrea Gandionco (12-6-3, 7), who appears to have been a late replacement for former world champion Sonny Boy Jaro and teenage prospect Dave Apolinario (8-0, 5) will be hoping to notch his next win as he faces Joan Imperial (14-7-6, 9).
Cotabato del Sur, Philippines
The most notable show this coming Sunday is in the Philippines as we get a title double, with a supporting cast of Uzbek hopefuls.
One of those title bouts will see the once beaten Mike Plania (15-1, 8) take on domestic journeyman Angelito Merin (9-8-3, 3) in a bout for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Silver Super Bantamweight title. The 21 year old Plania will be fighting for the second time since losing to Juan Carlos Payano back in March, and will be looking to build on an opening round blow out win against Jugn Rey Lauza. As for Merin things haven't been so smooth with the 28 year old going 2-6-1 in his last 9 bouts. Although Merin has, on the whole, faced better competition we have been impressed by Plania and strongly fancy him here.
The other title bout will see the unbeaten Dave Apolinario (7-0, 5) take on fellow Filipino Michael Camelion (10-9-1, 8) in a bout for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Youth Flyweight title. The 19 year old Apolinario looks like a real prospect and and has both a solid amateur background as well as power, speed and youth, with Sanman seemingly having a pure talent on their hands with him. Aged 23 Camelion is starting to look like damaged goods with 5 stoppage losses, including defeats to Hiroto Kyoguchi, Vince Parras and Jayson Mama. Given Apolinario's power we don't see this one going long.
The Uzbek fighters, who are all taking on limited Filipino fighters, are Jasur Akhmadjonov (6-0-1, 4), Bekzod Tursunboev (1-0, 1) and Ulugbek Sobirov (7-0, 5). Coming in to this Akhmadjonov will be hoping to put a draw with Rodel Wenceslao behind him, teenager Sobirov will be looking to impress Filipino fans once again whilst Tursunboev will be wanting to build on an opening round KO against Roy Mukhlis.
As well as the card in the Philippines there will also be a card in Fukuoka.
In the main event Yuki Ozawa (12-6, 3) will battle Katsuhiko Kanno (10-11-7, 4) in an 8 round contest. Ozawa has lost 6 of his last 8, but has mixed with decent company, including Ryo Takenaka, and is better than his record and recent form suggests. Kanno has also struggled in recent bouts, and was blown out inside a round earlier this year by Tae Il Atsumi. Kanno is usually durable, but we don't think he'll put up too much of a test for Oazawa.
The card also has a really interesting looking support bout, as Tetsuwan Takashi (3-1-2) faces Fumiaki Sueyoshi (5-1, 4) in a 6 rounder. The 24 year old Takashi lost on debut, back in 2014, but has since gone 3-0-2 and this will be his first bout over the 6 round distance. The heavy handed Sueyoshi started his career with 4 straight wins before suffering a stoppage loss in September. Since that loss Sueyoshi has moved through the weights and looked rejuvenated when he stopped Bejita Ishikawa back in March. This could be very interesting.
The most significant card this coming Sunday will come from Rizal where we get a world title eliminator as well as a card featuring a host of notable Filipino fighters, who are sadly taking on a number of over-matched foes.
The main bout is an IBF Minimumweight final eliminator with unbeaten Filipino sensation Mark Anthony Barriga (8-0, 1) battling against Colombian Gabriel Mendoza (29-5-2, 23). The talented Filipino has been waiting for an eliminator for some time, having seen various foes drop out, and will now be looking to dazzle as he takes on the limited but hard hitting Mendoza. As for Mendoza this will be his second bout since losing to Jose Argumedo in an IBF title fight, and although he's not world class he can hit hard and could test Barriga chin, if he can land on the slippery Filipino. Interestingly the winner of this will likely face Hiroto Kyoguchi later in the year, if Kyoguchi can retain his title against Vince Paras later this year
One of the most notable names on this show is recent world title challenger Genesis Servania (30-1, 13), who fights for the second time since his loss to Oscar Valdez. The talented Servania will be up against Indonesian journeyman Jason Butar Butar (27-23-1, 18), in what should really bee little more than a show case for Servania. Although a mismatch the bout will see Servania fight in the Philippines for the first time since February 2015.
Another very notable name in action is the enigmatic Marvin Sonsona (20-1-1, 15), who looks once again to kick start his frustrating career. The former WBO Super Flyweight champion hasn't fought since May 2015, when he struggled past Jonathan Arrellano. Whilst Sonsona is a genuine talent there is real question marks surrounding the Filipino and his desire to make the most of his skills. He'll be up against Arief Blader (23-27-2, 8) in what should be a really easy ring return, though we really don't know what Sonsona will turn up.
Also on this card are AJ Banal (35-2-1, 23), James Enterina (10-0-1, 4), Lolito Sonsona (21-2-4, 9) and Dave Apolinario (6-0, 4) among others.
A second Filipino show will be held in Bulacan, and will be a much smaller show.
The most notable bout here will see Jose Roda Jr (3-1-1) take on Richard Morales (3-2, 2) in a bout scheduled for 6 rounds. Both men will come into this feeling confident of picking up the win and as a result this should make for an interesting contest, but we're not expecting anything in terms of high quality, at least compared to the other Filipino show which is much, much better than this card.
As well as the action in the Philippines there is also two shows in Japan, one of which is being held in Yamaguchi by Kanmon Japan.
The chief support bout on this card is a terrific match up as the unbeaten Kudura Kaneko (6-0, 4) takes on Change Hamashima (10-2-1, 4) in a rematch of their 2017 clash. In the first bout between these two Kaneko won a wide decision over 6 rounds but will be stepping up to the 8 round distance here. Interestingly this will be the first time either fighter has been scheduled in an 8 round bout, and should be a good test for the stamina of both men. Given how clearly Kaneko won the first bout however it's hard to see why these two are having rematch so soon after their first contest.
The main event of this card is fantastic on paper with Accel Sumiyoshi (10-4-2, 3) taking on Shogo Yamaguchi (11-3-2, 6). Since losing to Masayoshi Nakatani in an OPBF Lightweight title bout back on 2015 we've seen Sumiyoshi go 6-0-1 with notable wins over Tatsuya Yanagi, Allan Tanada, Naotoshoi Nakatani and Motoki Sasaki and really build himself a solid record at this level. As for the 24 year old Yamaguchi we've seen him begin to struggle. Yamaguchi went 9-0-1 (4) to begin his career but has since gone 2-3-2 and was stopped last year by Andy Hiraoka. Given the momentum in both men's careers it's hard to pick against Sumiyoshi, but it is a very good bout on paper.
The second Japanese show is from Ibaragi, where the fans will get the chance to see a number of unbeaten men in action.
One of the unbeaten fighters is Fumiya Fuse (5-0, 1), who is scheduled to face off with an Indonesian visitor. Last year we saw Fuse claim the Rookie of the Year crown at Bantamweight, when he stopped Hiroki Tokuyama in the final, and he'll be looking to build on that success here as he kicks off his 2018 and looks to secure a 6th straight win.
The bout scheduled as the final bout on the card is all unbeaten contest as Hideaki Onuki (3-0) takes on Akihiko Kurita (2-0) in a bout scheduled for 4 round. This looks almost certain to go the distance but should still prove to be a very interesting and well matched bout between two fighters with similar records and similar experience.
The biggest fight for us this coming Saturday will see IBF Light Welterweight champion Sergey Lipinets (13-0, 10) risk his title against the outstanding Mikey Garcia (37-0, 30), with Garcia looking to become a 4-weight champion. The American based Kazakh born champion won the title late last year following a competitive win over teak tough Japanese fighter Akihiro Kondo and will be looking to prove he's world class as he takes on Garcia. For Garcia the bout will see him looking to further prove himself as a pound for pound elite. On paper Garcia will be the heavily fancied man here,and the better pure boxer, but Lipinets is the naturally bigger and stronger fighter and could prove a tougher than expected test for Garcia.
Another world title bout will take place in Germany, with Tamao Ozawa (13-4, 5) taking on Raja Amasheh (20-1-1-1, 4) for the vacant WBO female Super Flyweight title. On paper the 35 year old Amasheh will be heavily favoured, given she has the home advantages and the much better record, though she has been out of the ring for almost a year and has just a single win in the last 24 months. For Ozawa the bout will be her second world title bout, following a loss to Su Yun Hong last year in a bout for the WBO Female Light Flyweight title. Despite losing to Hong Ozawa may feel more comfortable here, given she is naturally a Super Flyweight, and had to really boil down to make the Light Flyweight limit. This could be much better than it looks on paper.
Metro Manila, Philippines
Fans in Asia will also get the chance to see a small card in Metro Manila thanks to the promotional outfit of the legendary Gerry Penalosa.
The main event will feature the once beaten Carlo Caesar Penalosa (10-1, 3) battling against Tanzania's Adam Yahaya (18-2-1, 7) in a very good looking match up. Coming into this Penalosa has won his last 3 following a surprise defeat to Reymark Taday early last year. The visitor lost 2 of his first 5 bouts but has since gone 15-0-1. On paper that sounds impressive but Yahaya has fought some dire opposition and this is his toughest bout on paper, by some margin.
Another bout of note will see Malaysian prospect Muhamad Farkhan (5-0, 5) take on Indonesian veteran Jamed Jalarante (23-22-1, 11). The unbeaten Farkhan is arguably the most promising Malaysian fighter currently coming through the ranks, though how far he can go is yet to be seen. The 33 year old Jalarante was once a promising fighter, but over the last 8 years he has racked up losses, many by stoppage, and struggled to score any wins of note. Farkhan should win, and continue his rise, and hopefully he'll move on to a real test later this year.
Another unbeaten puncher on this card is teenager Dave Apolinario (5-0, 4), who looks to extend his unbeaten record as he takes on the limited Dexter Dimaculangan (3-15-5, 1). Aged 19 Apolinario looks like one of the most exciting young Filipino fighters rising through the ranks, and whilst he is clearly some way from getting fights his rise is going to be a fun one to follow, and this will just be the next chapter in that rise.
Another Filipino card is set to take place in Laguna, with two title bouts.
One of those title bouts will see Jheritz Chavez (7-2-2, 5) take on a the hard hitting Reymond Yanong (9-3-1, 8) for the GAB title at 140lbs. This should be a really interesting test and will test Yanong's power against Chavez's toughness in what could be a very good contest for the fans in attendance, even if neither fighter is a world beater in the making.
The other title bout will see the once beaten Umi Ishikawa (5-1, 3) face off with local southpaw Norj Guro (9-7-1, 4) for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental Female Minimumweight title. Neither of those fighters have looked that impressive but they should make for a compelling contest together, with neither really able to take another defeat at this stage, if they are wanting to go on to bigger and better things.
In Australia fight fans will get the chance to see Australian based Filipino veteran Jack Asis (38-20-5, 19) take on Rivan Cesaire (15-5-1, 3). The 34 year old Asis has been one of the feel good stories of the last 6 or 7 years, as he turned his record around from 21-19-4 to actually being in the world rankings. He has however suffered a couple of recent defeats which has lead him to fighting low key bouts, like this one. Cesair is himself an Australian based import, originally from Cameroon, and at 33 years old he will be looking to avoid another defeat, and scored his 5th straight win. This should be an interesting bout between two men who will both be hungry for the victory.
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 Saturday is set to be a huge one in the Philippines where a host of notable fighters will be in action across three different shows.
One of those Filipino shows is in Cebu and features a former world title challenger, a former world title contender and two really promising prospects.
The biggest name in action here is fringe contender Froilan Saludar (24-2-1, 15), who takes on Salatiel Amit (10-2-2, 7) in what should be a straight forward win for the once touted Saludar. Although Saludar isn't as highly regarded as he once was, with some picking him as a world champion in the making several years ago, he should still be far too good for Amit here.
Froilan's brother, Vic Saludar (14-2, 9), will continue to rebuild from his 2015 loss to Kosei Tanaka, in a WBO Minimumweight title bout, as he takes on the once beaten Toto Landero (8-1-2, 2). On paper this looks like it could be the bout of he day, and although Saludar will be favoured, given his destructive power, Landero is well schooled and won't be getting in the ring to suffer a second career defeat.
Another pretty good looking bout will see the unbeaten Vince Paras (10-0, 9) take on Jimboy Haya (10-3-2, 6). Again the puncher should be favoured, given he's unbeaten and on the rise, but Haya has never been stopped, and lasted 12 rounds with the aforementioned Vic Saludar last year, suggesting he can take a shot even if he was widely beaten but the former world title challenger.
Another unbeaten on this card is Robert Paradero (13-0, 8), who faces veteran Fabio Marfa (25-33-4, 12). Marfa began his career back in the mid 1990's and began as a promising teenager, going 9 bouts unbeaten before suffering his first defeat, sadly he's gone 0-12 in the last 9 years or so, and is unlikely to pose any real test for Paradero.
Cotabato del Sur, Philippines
Another notable Filipino card takes place in Cotabato del Sur and will again feature some notable names in action.
One of the most notable name on the card is the fast rising Romero Duno (13-1, 12), who looks to follow up on his career best win over Christian Gonzalez back in March. The once beaten Duno will be hotly tipped to score a 5th straight win as he takes on puncher Jason Tinampay (8-4-1, 7). This could be a shoot out, given that Tinampay's only chance seems to be a puncher's one, but it's still hard to doubt anything but a Duno win.
In one of the other notable bouts we'll see big punching hopeful Aston Palicte (22-2, 18) take on former world title challenger John Mark Apolinario (18-8-3, 4) in a bout that really should be a stepping stone for the much fancied Palicte. The twice beaten man, who was very controversially beaten in Mexico not too long ago, should be too strong and too powerful for Apolinario, who doesn't have the power to get the respect of a fighter like Palicte.
Malaysian Muhamad Farkhan (3-0, 3) will be in the remaining headline bout, as he takes a huge step up to take on Marlon Alta (12-7, 9). The talented Farkhan has looked promising and has 11 rounds under his belt, but this is a big step up in class against a Filipino who can punch, and is an experienced professional. Although Alta's record isn't great he has mixed in good company, facing the likes of Makoto Fuchigami, and Peng Qu, and should ask questions of Farkhan.
This card also features the debut of two touted youngsters. One of those is Dave Apolinario (0-0), who is viewed as a real prospect following success in the amateurs, and he will be up against Prince Canonero (0-3) and the other is Mark Antonio (0-0), who will be facing fellow debutant Rusty Padua (0-0).
A smaller show in the Philippines comes from Cavite and really lacks attention grabbing name action.
In one of the bigger bouts Alphoe Dagayloan (5-2-4, 2) will face limited veteran Ryan Tampus (11-18, 8) whilst another leading bout will feature Jerome Clavite (7-4-2, 3) taking on Mark Anthony Florida (9-7, 7). With all the other action in the Philippines it is, admittedly, hard to card much about this show.
Staying in Asia there will also be a show in China, where we'll see a number of notable of bouts. One of those will see former world title challenger Angky Angkotta (28-14-1, 14) battle against Chinese southpaw Yong Cai Liu (4-4-3, 3) in an interesting looking 6 rounder. On paper Angkotta will be favoured, but it's been a while since he last scored a win and Liu will be looking for his biggest win to date.
The best bout,on paper at least, will see Zhong Liu (8-0, 2) battle against Sen Chen (8-0, 2) in a perfectly balanced bout. Liu is a 25 year old Southpaw, and will be the slightly more experienced with 5 rounds more than 24 year old Chen, but the bout really is a toss up on paper.
Gauteng, South Africa
We get some really good looking bouts in South Africa as Filipino warriors continue to show their grit on the road.
The main event is an IBF Minimumweight title fight, which will see Simphiwe Khonco (17-5, 7) battle Lito Dante (13-7-4, 7) in a battle of the under-rated. Of the two men Khonco is likely the more well known, having lost in a thrilling WBA title bout to Hekkie Budler in 2015 before defeating Nkosinathi Joyi last time out. Dante however shouldn't be over-looked and could be a genuine banana skin for the local here.
In an even more mouth watering match up we'll see the Jayar Inson (13-0, 9) take on Thulani Mbenge (10-0, 10) in a battle of unbeaten punchers. Inson caught our eye last year, when he stopped Ryota Yada in Osaka and announced himself as a genuine prospect, but he's in tough here against a local puncher who has been taking out foes quickly, with only one bout going beyond 4 rounds for Mbenge. This could be a very exciting shoot out.
In Russia we'll see Uzbek novice Ulugbek Xakberdiyev (2-0, 1) take on Russian based Argentinian veteran Oscar Roberto Medina (27-14-2-1, 9). Although Xakberdiyev has only fought 7 rounds so far we already know that top Uzbek fighters don't wait around and we don't expect to see the 24 year old to actually struggle here, given that Medina has lost 5 of his last 6 and is now a 35 year old who has had than 230 professional rounds under his belt.