This Saturday is a huge one for us with a host of notable fights, including a possibly historic bout in Mexico for one of our favourite fighters in the sport today.
Nuevo Leon, Mexico
For us the biggest fight, by a long way, is in Nuevo Leon where IBF Minimumweight champion Katsunari Takayama (27-6-0-1, 10) attempts to become the first Japanese fighter to complete a grandslam. For Takayama to claim the grandslam he will need to get past hard hitting Mexican Francisco Rodriguez Jr (14-2, 10), the current WBO champion. This is much easier said than done and Rodriguez is a hard hitting and tough Minimumweight who is likely to make a serious name for himself in the coming years. This is one of those rare bouts which pits two world class fighters against each other but gets over-looked by the wider boxing public, a huge shame for what has the potential to be one of the best bouts of the year.
Takayama isn't the only man of note involved in a world title fight and in Crimea fans will get to see Russia's unbeaten Dmitry Chudinov (13-0-2, 8) defending his WBA interim Middleweight title against French veteran Mehdi Bouadla (30-5, 11). Bouadla, who is ranked #12 by the WBA, shouldn't be getting this shot considering his recentactivity and the fight also shouldn't be in Crimea given the political issues there between Russia and Ukraine though it is a pleasure to see Chudinov develop from crude slugger into a heavy handed boxer-puncher and we imagine he could become one of the names to follow in the division in the coming years.
On the same card as Chudinov are 2 other bouts of note. For us the key one, is that of the very promising Arif Magomedov (11-0, 8) who battled against the usually durable Patrick Mendy (15-7-1, 1). Mendy fought to an 8 round draw with Chudinov last July but was stopped, inside a round, by Callum Smith 2 months later. We'd imagine Magomedov stops Mendy, though we're unsure when. We'll admit that we think Magomedov's a better talent than Chudinov and at just 22 years old Magomedov is a baby, his potential is phenomenal.
The remaining bout on this card will see Pavel Doroshilov (0-0) make his debut against the very experienced Danny Williams (46-22-0-1, 35). We don't know much about the debutant though one would assume that if he wins here he will quickly become one of the men to keep an eye on in coming years, especially given the lack of talent in the Heavyweight.
Gauteng, South Africa
Another "world" title bout will be fought in South Africa as former OPBF Super Bantamweight champion Roli Gasca (22-4-1, 6) attempts to claim the IBO Super Bantamweight title. Sadly for Gasca he is up against the monstrously hard hitting Thabo Sonjica (19-2, 14) who has stopped 4 of his last 5 opponents, including Gasca's compatriot Silvester Lopez. This is a tough one for the Filipino but it is winnable if Gasca is on song.
On the same card Russia's Denis Grachev (13-3-1, 8) will be trying to claim the WBC Silver Light Heavyweight title as he battles the unbeaten Ryno Liebenberg (15-0, 11). This is potentially Grachev's 4th loss in 5 fights and this could well be an "all or nothing" fight for the Russian.
New South Wales, Australia
In another title bout Filipino Ryan Sermona (16-5, 9) will be trying to capture the WBC International Super Featherweight title as he takes on the light hitting Corey McConnell (13-1-1, 1). McConnell will be best know by international fans who saw him being stopped by Lee Selby and really shouldn't be that much of a favourite against the capable Sermona.
The undercard here will feature 2 other Filipinos. One of those will be the hard hitting Joebert Delos Reyes (12-4-1, 9), who is looking to build on his win over Valentine Borg by taking on John Min (7-6, 4). For those who remember Delos Reyes stopping Borg that was one of the KO's of the year and if he lands that shot anyone he has a chance of stopping them, sadly however he is limited and lacks a certain kind of toughness himself, at least he did early in his career.
The other Filipino will be Joel Dela Cruz (17-21-3, 7) who will be looking to secure a victory over Wade Ryan (5-2). Sadly for Dela Cruz it's hard to see him coming out on top here given that Ryan is a naturally bigger man and given that Dela Cruz has now gone well over 2 years since last scoring a win.
Staying in Australia Arnon Yuchareon (0-4) will be battling against the debuting Luke Hall (0-0) in a 4 rounder. With both men battling for their first win this could be interesting though we tend to feel that Arnon is being selected to lose to Hall.
We have yet another Russian in action in the US as Vasily Lepikhin (15-0, 8) puts his unbeaten record on the line against Robert Berridge (24-1-1, 20). Berridge has won his last 9 by T/KO and it wouldn't be a huge shock for him to take the "0" from Lepikhin here.
(Image courtesy of nakazatoboxing.com)
This Saturday is a day full of action but the action also continues on Sunday with yet more action of varying note.
The bigger of two Japanese shows is in Kanagawa as fans get to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the popular Tsuneo "Piston" Horiguchi. The show, which features 10 bouts in total is more of a celebration card than a huge boxing show though is plenty to be excited about.
The main event is a middleweight bout which will see Kazuaki Irisawa (7-5, 4) battle visiting Thai Petchdum Manopchaygym (0-1) in a pretty miserable looking main event. In fact the chief support bout, which will see Wataru Miyasaka (7-2-1, 2) fighting Shogo Ojima (10-2-1, 2), looks a much better contest.
Whilst the top bouts aren't great we have been informed that the show will see Ohashi world champions Naoya Inoue, the WBC Light Flyweight champion, Akira Yaegashi, the WBC Flyweight champion, and Ayaka Miyao, the WBA Atomweight champion, all making appearances on the show giving it some real star power even if the actual live boxing won't be great.
The other show is in the Kyushu Electric Power Memorial Gymnasium in Fukuoka. This show, which features a scheduled 8 bouts, doesn't have any real quality on it and all but 1 of the bouts are scheduled to be 4 rounders. Despite that we do expect some interesting action to take place with the bouts, to our understanding, being competitive contests.
The bout we are fully aware of is the main event which pits female novice Kasumi Fujimitsu (1-0, 1) again fellow novice Sayuri Koto (0-1).
As well as the Japanese action there is also action in Russia with two world title fights.
The more notable of those world title fights will see Dmitry Chudinov (12-0-2, 8) fighting against Patrick Nielsen (22-0, 11) in a WBA interim Middleweight title bout. We view this as a very even looking bout and although Chudinov is easily the bigger puncher Nielsen is far more skilled and this really does look like a boxer against a puncher type of fight.
The other world title fight on the show will see Svetlana Kulakova (9-0, 1) fighting against Ana Laura Esteche (10-3-1, 2) in a bout for the WBA female Light Welterweight contest. We're favouring the technical skills of the Russian but it's not an easy fight, in fact it's another that could easily see an upset as Esteche really is a handful for more fighters out there.
We're expecting 3 other bouts on this show, but the two above are easily the most notable ones.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)