The key action for us this coming Sunday comes from California where Top Rank will be putting on a show with two notable Asian fighters, each looking to take a huge step towards a world title fight.
One of those fighters is Hiroki Okada (19-0, 13), who will be taking on Mexican veteran Raymundo Beltran (35-8-1-1, 21) in a Light Welterweight bout. For Okada this will be his second bout Stateside, after a disappointing and close win over journeyman Cristian Rafael Coria in September. On paper this is a massive step up from that bout, but a win almost surely secure him a shot at the WBC champion later in the year. For the 37 year old Beltran this bout is a return to the ring after being beaten last year by Jose Pedraza, and losing the WBO Lightweight title. Beltran has certainly seen better days and his long career, which began back in 1999, looks to be catching up with him given his last 3 performances were less than stellar. A move up in weight, as this is, may give Beltran a new lease of life, or could be what sends him into retirement. A real must win for both men. Our preview of this bout can be found here - Okada and Beltran set to battle in must win bout!
The other Asian fighter on this card is talented Filipino Genesis Servania (32-1, 15), who takes on unbeaten American Carlos Castro (21-0, 9). Servania has been a staple on the Asian scene long before he made his US debut in 2017, when he faced off with Oscar Valdez in a WBO Featherweight title bout. Despite losing to Valdez the Filipino impressed and this will be his third bout on US soil, following a 2018 win over former world title challenger Carlos Carlson. Servania is a sharp puncher with good defense and a lot of experience, not just his 33 pro bouts but also numerous sparring sessions with the likes of Naoya Inoue. Castor is a bit of an unknown, despite having a good-looking record. His career began way back in 2012 and his best wins against the likes of Alexis Santiago, a shot to bits Juan Palacios and German Meraz. For Castro this is a chance to raise his profile, massively, but he is very clearly the under-dog.
As well as the action Stateside there will also be a somewhat notable card in Hyogo, headline by a regional title.
That regional title bout will see local hopeful Tenta Kiyose (15-2-1, 7) battle against Filipino Ben Mananquil (16-1-3, 4) for the WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight title, which was vacated by Hiroaki Teshigawara last year. The match up sees both men knowing that a win will push their career forward, massively, but both will also be aware that this won't be an easy bout. Kiyose's career was given a huge boost last year when he stopped Oleydong Sithsamerchai, and that's really the stand out win on his ledger. His other wins of note include decisions over Tetsu Araki and Takuya Mizyuno, in the 2015 Rookie of the Year, a stoppage victory over Ryuta Otsuka and a decision win over Joe Tejones. As for the Filipino his best results are draws against Kwanpichit OneSongchaigym, Jing Xiang and Hinata Maruta, with his best wins coming against compatriots Glenn Porras and Jess Rey Waminal. Both are solid fighters, but both will enter this bout know that a win pushes them a lot close to a major bout. We suspect it'll be a tough and compelling match up and a real chance for both to show what they are made of. Our preview of this bout can be read here Mananquil and Kiyose battle for WBO regional honours!
A second title bout on this card will see Yumi Narita (3-2-3, 1) taking on Chie Higano (7-7-1, 2) in a bout for the Japanese Female Minimumweight title, in what is actually a rematch of a draw from last October. The 29 year old Narita has gone unbeaten in her last 4 bouts, but that includes 3 draws, including one with Higano and 2 with Kaori Nagai, As for the more experienced Higano, who is now 34, she has actually gone 1-3-1 in her last 5, but has fought at a high level with losses to Momo Koseki and Eun Hye Lee. We suspect this will be competitive, and be a very hard one to call, just given how their previous meeting went.
As well as the card in Hyogo there will also be a card in Shizuoka. This is a much smaller card, with the main event being a contest between Japanese female Flyweight champion Yumemi Ikemoto (6-1) and Filipino foe Gretel de Paz (5-4-1, 2), in what is supposedly a world title warm up bout for Ikemoto.
The only other bout of any note on this card will see Shogo Yamaguchi (11-4-2, 6) take on Masafumi Ando (5-8-1, 2) in a 6 round bout. Yamaguchi is better than huis record suggests, despite losing 4 of his last 7. He has shared the ring with Akihiro Kondo, Genki Meada, Accel Sumiyoshi and Andy Hiraoka, so he's certainly a solid fighter. Ando on the other hand will be the naturally bigger man and could use his natural size to make this more interesting than it looks on paper.
This coming Sunday fans in Ishikawa and in Ekateringburg will be able to see a number of notable Asian talent in action.
We'll start with Ishikawa as we get a notable exhibition on a card that really feels like it had promise but failed to deliver, outside of the exhibition.
That exhibition is a 3 round show case between 3-weight world champion Naoya Inoue (16-0, 14) and recent world title challenger Genesis Servania (31-1, 14). This bout was announce around the same time as the show was confirmed and will see two men who have shared the ring a lot recently putting on something special for the fans, before Inoue looks towards his upcoming WBSS bout with Juan Carlos Payano. This bout won't matter to either man's record or be featured on boxrec but is notable given the quality and profile of the men involved.
The main card will be headlined by the hard hitting Hurricane Futa (24-7-1, 15) battling Indonesian Roy Tua Manihuruk (19-18-2, 15) in what looks like a mismatch. Although Futa is no world beater he has scored notable wins over the likes of Will Tomlinson and Vage Sarukhanyan in recent years and certainly should be matched tougher than this. The Indonesian visitor is 0-11 on the road and it's hard to imagine him scoring a win against someone as talented as Futa.
In a supporting bout Omrri Bolivar (6-1, 3) will face off with Filipino foe Lorence Rosas (9-1-2, 3). Bolivar, now fighting under the Kashimi Gym, was a former Venezuelan amateur standout with more than 80 amateur bouts and it's clear that his team in Japan want to test him immediately, which is why he's been matched with Rosas. The Filipino is a hungry fighter himself, who was very competitive in his sole defeat, and will certainly be in Ishikawa to pick up a win.
In a female bout Asami Jinnari (5-3-1, 2) will battle against Miki Mitsuda (3-4, 2). On paper this looks competitive but the reality is that Jinnari enters the bout as a JBC and OPBF ranked fighter looking to pick up a win and chase a third bout with current OPBF title holder Wakako Fujiwara.
In Russia we get a number of Asian fighters in some pretty interesting looking match ups.
The pick of the bunch will see IBO Super Featherweight champion Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (12-0, 9) defending his title against the criminally under-rated Robinson Castellanos (24-13, 14). The unbeaten champion, from Tajikistan, will be making his second defense and will be looking to build on impressive wins over Emanuel Lopez and Malcolm Klassen. Although clearly favoured the champion is up against a tough opponent with Castellanos having really big wins over the likes of Celestino Caballero, Ronny Rios, Rocky Juarez and Yuriorkis Gamboa. If Castellanos is on form here he could end up with another major upset win, but he does blow hot and cold.
Another title fight will see Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov (11-0, 7) take on Victor Alejandro Gonzalez (18-1, 9) in a bout for the WBC International Super Featherweight title fight. The 23 year old Yaqubov, also from Tajikistan, is looking to build on an impressive win over Mark Urvanov and claim yet another title in his early career. The unbeaten man is stepping up slightly here, but will feel he's got the moment as he goes up against 19 year old Mexican fighter Gonzalez. The visitor has won his last 5, since being stopped by Salvador Briseno, but will clearly need a career best performance to pick up a win here.
Another unbeaten prospect is Uzbek hopeful Ravshanbek Umurzakov (4-0, 3), who takes a huge step up to take on experienced Filipino Eden Sonsona (36-8-2, 13) in what looks like a a massively testing bout for Uzbek “Prince”. The unbeaten man made his debut last December and hasn't faced anyone of real note, but this time out he'll be facing a genuine veteran. Sonsona is a veteran, with over 14 years of professional experience, but has lost his last 2 bouts and has shown some genuine wear and tear in recent years. He should give the Uzbek some good rounds, but we can't see him coming out on top against the fresher man.
In Moscow fans will get the chance to see another unbeaten Uzbek prospect, as Shohjahon Ergashev (12-0, 11) headlines the show and take on Ugandan foe Juma Waswa (10-2-1, 4). The exciting Ergashev impressed in January, when he destroyed Sonny Fredrickson, and has since added a notable win over Zhimin Wang. Waswa on the other hand has lost his last 2 and at 37 years old is well beyond his prime. Notably the Ugandan has never been stopped, but he has never shared the ring with a fighter like Ergashev.
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.
This coming Sunday is an interesting day for Asian fight fans. We get a world title fight, several interesting prospects, and a recent world title challenger all in action.
The biggest bout for the day, by some margin, is in Fukuoka and will see WBC female Minimumweight champion Yuko Kuroki (17-4-1, 8) take on long reigning WBC Atomweight queen Momo Koseki (23-2-1, 9). The bout will see Koseki move up in weight after an incredible 9 year reign as the Atomweight champion, which has seen her defend the title an incredible 17 times. For Kuroki the bout will be her 6th defense, and if she wins here she really will continue to build her reputation as the rising force in the division, perhaps even solidifying her place as the division's #2 fighter behind Anabel Ortiz.
Another notable female bout on this card will see Sana Hazuki (6-2, 2) battle Nanae Suzuki (5-2, 1) in a bout to decide the mandatory challengers for the Japanese female Atomweight title. On paper this is a real 50-50 fight with both being beatable but decent fighters, at least at domestic level. Coming in Suzuki has won her last 4, including a notable win over Chie Higano last time out, whilst Hazuki has gone 2-2 in her last 4, but has fought a slightly higher level of competition.
We get a trio of notable fighters in Ishikawa, unfortunately all three look like total mismatches on paper. The one possible saving grace of this show is a Japanese female title bout.
The main event of the card sees the entertaining Hurricane Futa (22-7-1, 13) take on Thai novice Detanan Rongriankila Korat (1-1, 1), in what looks set to be an easy ring return for Futa following a 5th round TKO loss to Ernie Sanchez in April. The tough Futa had never previously been stopped, so this bout will be all about how he is mentally following that defeat.
Another man returning to the ring following a loss last time out is Genesis Servania (29-1, 12), who put in a solid showing en route to a loss against Oscar Valdez in a WBO Featherweight title fight. The Japanese based Filipino stepped up and impressed against Valdez and will fighting a stay busy bout against a Thai here, before potentially moving towards a second world title fight in 2018.
The third mismatch featuring a fighter of note will see OPBF ranked Super Bantamweight Takashi Igarashi (11-3, 4) face off with Satopet Saithonggym (0-2). Coming in to this Igarashi has won his last 4, and will be looking for a third win of the year here. Satopet will be fighting for the third time this year, and in his previous bouts of the year he was stopped, with both bouts coming in Japan. It'd be a surprise to see the Thai avoid a third straight stoppage loss.
Arguably the one bout of real intrigue here is a Japanese female Featherweight title fight, as Asami Jinnari (5-2, 2) takes on Wakako Fujiwara (4-2-1, 2) for the vacant title. The 33 year old Jinnari has won her last two, following a 2016 loss to Ayumi Goto, whilst the 36 year old Fujiwara is aon a 3 fight winning run and appears to have the moment coming in to this one.
In Tokyo fight fans get the chance to see a couple of notable fighters, but sadly they are both in mismatches.
One of those fighters is the really promising and very much in form Reiya Abe (15-2, 7). Abe has had a really great few years and is riding a 7 fight winning streak with notable wins against the likes of Ryo Hino, Hikaru Marugame, Tsuyoshi Tameda and Satoshi Hosono. Given that level of competition that Abe has been facing we can't begrudge him an easy bout, but it's still disappointing that he's not being moved more aggressively towards a title fight of some kind.
In another bout fans will see 2016 Super Featherweight Rookie of the year Yuji Awata (9-4, 3) in action. Sadly, like Abe, he's up against a Thai visitor and is not expected to get much of a test here.
Cotabato del Sur, Philippines
In the Philippines there's a small but relative intriguing card.
The main event of the card looks likely to be a genuine entertaining contest as the once beaten Genisis Libranza (13-1, 9) takes on the often exciting Michael Enriquez (13-8-1, 9). The talented Libranza has notched up two wins since suffering a loss in April to Moruti Mthalane and will be favoured here against his more experienced foe. On paper Enriquez looks limited and he's lost 6 of his last 9, however he has been in thrillers with Rex Tso and Stamp Kiatniwat and we suspect this could also be a very entertaining contest, and Enriquez is likely to put up a better than his record suggests.
In a notable step up we'll see 20 year old Vincent Astrolabio (10-0, 7) take on former world title challenger John Mark Apolinario (18-11-3, 4). The unbeaten youngster stopped 7 of his first 8 but has gone the distance in his last 2 bouts and will likely feel he's proven his stamina in those two bouts. Apolinario foiught for the WBA Bantamweight title way back in 2013, losing a wide decision to Koki Kameda. Since that loss he has gone 2-8 and it's likely to become 2-9 here, with Apolinario having shown little desire since the loss to Kameda.
One really interesting bout here will see 19 year old Vince Paras (12-0, 10) risk his unbeaten record against fellow unbeaten Aldren Moreno (3-0, 2). The bout really could be very exciting. Both fighters are young, punchers who are being given an opportunity to prove themselves here. On paper Paras's extra experience will likely serve him well here, but Moreno was a former amateur stand out and his team wouldn't throw him to the wolves unless they believed he could win.
The biggest Asian show this coming Saturday takes place in Cebu where ALA host their latest “Pinoy Pride” card.
The main event of the card will see former 2-weight champion Donnie Nietes (39-1-4, 22) take on Thai visitor Eaktwan BTU Ruaviking (22-3, 15) in a bout for the vacant IBF Flyweight title, that was vacated by Johnriel Casimero. On paper it's hard to go against the Filipino veteran, who hasn't lost since a very controversial defeat back in 2004, but at 34 years old and fighting in his first title fight at Flyweight this could be a really good test to see what Nietes has left in the tank. As for Eaktawan this could be a huge chance to score a break out win and announce himself on the world stage.
In the lead support bout fans will see the touted Mark Magsayo (15-0, 11) take on Tanzania's Issa Nampepeche (24-7-4, 11). The unbeaten Magsayo is slowly working his way towards a world title fight and although this won't put him in the mix it does seem him go in there with a live opponent and he will have to make sure that he doesn't over-look the “Peche Boy”.
Another notable prospect in a supporting role is Jeo Santisima (12-2, 11), who puts a 10 fight T/KO run on the line against Indonesian visitor Master Suro (11-8-1, 2). The heavy handed Santisima looks like he could be one of the next big stars of the Philippines and at just 20 years old there is real excitement in regards to his future. Suro isn't anything great but he has proben to be tough through his career so far, with his only stoppage loss so far coming to recent OPBF title challenger Kaewfah Tor Buamas.
Metro Manila, Philippines
Staying with the Philippines there will also be a small show in Metro Manila.
The main event of thise card will see Danny Tampipi (7-6-2, 4) battle against experienced domestic foe Albert Alcoy (14-23-8, 4) in a bout for the "interim" Philippines Boxing Federation (PBF) Bantamweight title. It's not a great bout but it should be a competitive one, and could well be a fun one with both men fighting to claim some silverware.
In Osaka fight fans will be able to get a little bit more world title action.
That world title bout will see WBC female Flyweight champion Nana Yoshikawa (7-1, 4) battle against Mexican challenger Monserrat Alarcon (8-3-2). The bout will be Yoshikawa's first defense of her title and on paper looks a really good one, though truthfully we're not too sure what Alarcon really brings to the table here and she could be a very tough foe for the 38 year old champion.
Also on this card will be a bout feature the promising Shingo Kawamura (13-3-1, 6), who takes on a Thai visitor, and an interesting looking bout will see Yu Konomura (7-4-2, 1) battle against Yuki Iriguchi (7-1-1, 4).
Another Japanese show will take place in Ishikawa, where we get a pretty interesting looking card.
The main event will see the unbeaten Genesis Servania (28-0, 11) battle against Ralph Jhon Lulu (12-1-2, 5) in a bout for the WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight title. The once touted Servania has seemingly wasted the last few years, but a win here will help put him back into the title mix with the WBO. For Lulu a win would be a potential career changer and put him in the mix for some notable fights later in the year.
In the co-feature Hurricane Futa (22-6-1, 13) will be battling against Ernie Sanchez (16-9-1, 7) in what should be a really fun to watch battle. Both guys are better than their records suggest, with both being tough, heavy handed and exciting fighters.
The activity of the weekend continues on Sunday with 3 Japanese cards as well as a show in the Philippines and one in Korea.
The best of 3 Japanese cards this Sunday comes from Ishikawa and features several notable fighters taking on Venezuelan visitors.
In the main event fight fans will see Hurricane Futa (21-6-1, 12), fresh off his upset win over Will Tomlinson back in August, face off against Luis Araguayan (12-9, 7). Futa's win over Tomlinson will have filled him with a lot of confidence coming in to this one but the visitor is better than his record suggests and he managed top give Shinya Iwabuchi a tough test before being stopped in 7 rounds last year.
In the chief support bout fans will see world ranked Filipino Genesis Servania (27-0, 11) battled against the heavy handed and tough Alexander Espinoza (11-7-1, 10). Servania hasn't actually had a fight since last December, but has stayed sharp with sparring sessions along side the Inoue brothers, and should be favoured here. Saying that however Espinoza is a puncher and is genuine tough having gone the distance with former world champions Jhonathan Romero and Jorge Solis in his last 2 bouts.
In a third bout of note Suoer Bantamweight Jonathan Baat (31-7-5, 14) faces Iwier Henriquez (9-8-1, 4) in what should serve as a tune up for Baat ahead of his October 22nd bout with Yusaku Kuga in the Strongest Korakuen. Baat's record may not show it but he's a really talented fighter and shouldn't have any problems with his Venezuelan foe who has lost his last 4, including a decision to Keyvin Lara, and is naturally a Super Flyweight.
In Osaka we get the Rookie of the West finals. The card, in total, features 10 bouts but 3 genuinely stand out as being mouth watering.
The first of those is the Minimumweight bout which will see Shintaro Ryuko (3-0, 1) face off against Daiki Tomita (5-0, 1) in a brilliant match up between two young fighters looking to take a huge step in their careers. Tomita, aged 18, is the younger man but he is the more experienced fighter whilst the older man himself is only 21. With both fighters being really young they have a lot of potential and could just be a few bouts away from a Japanese ranking, with that in mind both will put it all on the line here.
At Super Featherweright the 22 year old Shu Takeuchi (3-0, 2) will facing 23 year old Ryuji Ueda (5-0) in another bout between unbeaten fighters. Takeuchi definitely has the edge in power but Ueda is much more experienced with 20 rounds, as compared to Takeuchi's 11 rounds.
The best of the fights is at Super Flyweight, and is the only 5 rounder on the card. The bout will see the teenager Kenta Nomura (4-0, 1) face off with fellow teen Kota Fujimoto (4-0, 1). Not only are both fighters teens but both have identical records and very similar amount of career rounds. Whilst Super Flyweight is one of the deepest divisions in Japan we wouldn't be surprised to see both of these men in the Japanese rankings in the future.
In Nagasaki fight fans will be able to see ting return of 35 year old puncher Aozora Nishida (12-2-2, 11), who ends an almost 6 year break from the ring, to face Shota Yamaguchi (13-3, 8). At his best Nishida was a genuinely promising fighter, and was last seen stopping Kota Fukuoka, but given his age and inactivity he probably won't be the same fighter he was. Yamaguchi has been stopped in 2 of his last 3 but given his activity and freshness compared to Nishida he may well be to out last the veteran here.
Surigao del Norta, Philippines
In the Philippines fans will see Renoel Pael (19-4-1, 9) face off against Rogen Flores (14-31-6, 7) in a bout for the PBF Super Flyweight title. For Pael, who will clearly be the favourite, the bout should see an end to a 3 fight losing streak, which has included losses to Go Oanaga and Suguru Muranaka in Japan along with a defeat in an OPBF Flyweight title fight against Ardin Diale. Given Pael's recent losses however Flores may see this as a great chance to pick up a major upset.
There will also be action in South Korea, action that is set to be streamed over youtube.
The main event here is a PABA Bantamweight title bout between defending champion Woo Hyun Kim (6-1, 1) [김우현] and Jong Min Jung (7-7, 2). This is one of two title bouts on the card with a Korean Cruiserweight title bout also on the show.
In Russia fight fans will get the chance to see Kyrgyzstan's Akzhol Sulaymanbek uulu (1-0, 1) fight in his second professional bout.
The first show on a busy day is a Hatanaka promoted card, which will have it's headline bout broadcast on TBS.
That main bout will see WBO Minimumweight champion Kosei Tanaka (5-0, 2) defend his crown, for the first time, against Filipino puncher Vic Saludar (11-1, 9). On paper this looks a good test for the 20 year old Tanaka, who has sadly been inactive since winning the belt back in May. Saludar is genuinely dangerous and could well upset Tanaka if the Japanese champion has taken his eye off the ball, as compatriot Shohei Omori did recently.
On the under-card we see several interesting bouts. One of those features the unbeaten Yushi Tanaka (15-0-3, 9), who is tipped as a future champion. The unbeaten 24 year old will be up against Indonesian visitor Zun Rindam (11-8-1, 5), who is hoping to score his first win in Japan having twice been blown out in the country, losing in the opening round against both Yasutaka Ishimoto and Ryo Matsumoto.
Another bout of note sees world ranked Filipino fighter Genesis Servania (26-0, 11) makes his Japanese debut as he takes on Hendrik Barongsay (29-23-3, 18) in what should be little more than a showcase for the excellent Servania. The year has been a frustrating one for the Filipino and we suspect that frustration will come out here against an opponent who will have very little too offer in terms of competition.
On paper the show of the day is the Ioka promoted card from Osaka, which is also set to be televised by TBS.
The main event, and one of two world title fights, will see Kazuto Ioka (18-1, 10) defending the WBA Flyweight crown against former champion Juan Carlos Reveco (36-2, 19). Ioka beat Reveco for the belt back in April, claiming a majority decision, and will be hoping for a more conclusive result this time against the Argentinian visitor. For Reveco it's a chance to avenge his second professional loss whilst Ioka gets the chance to further strengthen his claim as a top Flyweight, and possibly move towards a potential unification bout with conqueror Amnat Ruenroeng.
The other world title bout will see IBF Minimumweight champion Katsunari Takayama (30-7-0-1, 12) defending his title against Mexican foe Jose Argumedo (15-3-1, 9). For Takayama this will be the 3rd defense of the title that he won a year ago, when he stopped Go Odaira, and he will be hoping to build on his last win, back in September against Ryuji Hara. The all action Takayama will be hoping to retain the title here to set up a unification bout in 2016. For Argumedo this is a huge opportunity but one that he does enter as a clear under-dog and isn't expected to really present much of a challenger
As well as the two world title bouts this card also features an OPBF title fight and a Japanese title fight. The OPBF title bout comes at Bantamweight where heavy handed champion Takahiro Yamamoto (16-4, 13) defends his title against Yuki Strong Kobayashi (9-4, 5). This will be Yamamoto's first defense of the title that he won earlier this year, when he stopped Yu Kawaguchi in a 7 round thriller. It's fair to say the champion is more proven, heavier handed and will go in to this one as a clear favourite. For Kobayashi, who was battered around by Hinata Maruta's in Maruta's pro-test, this is a huge opportunity bur one he's not expected to win, especially given that he is 3-3 in his last 6.
As for the Japanese title fight, that will see Super Flyweight champion Sho Ishida (20-0, 10) defending his title against Ryuta Otsuka (15-8-2, 5). Ishida, another member of the prestigious Ioka gym, will be hunting his 4th defense of the title and continue what has been a good year for the Osaka based gym. For Otsuka this is a second shot at the title, having previously lost to Teiru Kinoshita in November 2011. Despite being given a second shot at a title it's fair to say Otsuka will; be regarded as a major under-dog following recent losses to Malcolm Tunacao and Ryuichi Funai.
On the under-card fans get the chance to see former world champion Ryo Miyazaki (23-1-3, 14) take on Thai visitor Thongchai Chaiyonggym (0-1) in what is a stay busy fight for the highly ranked Osakan warrior. A win here is expected for Miyazaki who will be hoping to fight for a world title, at 108lbs, in 2016, he was however famously upset on the same date 2 years ago by Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr and will know that he cannot afford another set back like that.
Another under-card bout will see the very exciting Masayoshi Hashizume (9-0, 6) battle against a Thai novice, thought to be “Ken Meanyothin”. We have been impressed by Hashizume and are hoping to see him step up in class in 2016, with a potential title fight coming towards the end of the year.
As well as the action on TBS there is also a TV Tokyo card thanks to Watanabe.
The main event of this show sees WBA Super Featherweight “super” champion Takashi Uchiyama (23-0-1, 19) defending his belt against Nicaraguan challenger Oliver Flores (27-1-2, 17). This botu is widely regarded as a huge mismatch and it's hard to see Flores upsetting the long term champion, who looks for his 11th defense. If Uchiyama wins there is serious talk from his team about taking him to the US for 2016, with a bout against Nicholas Walters looking very likely.
Uchiyama's world title defense is one of two on the card with stable mate Ryoichi Taguchi (22-2-1, 9) defending his WBA Light Flyweight title against Colombian challenger Luis de la Rosa (24-5-1, 14). On paper this too is an awful mismatch with nobody giving de la Rosa any chance, and in fairness it's hard to see what he has to compete with the talented Taguchi, who could be looking at unification bouts in 2016 if he comes through this one.
Sadly this under-card is lacking with the most notable name on it being former Japanese title challenger Hayato Kimura (23-8, 15), who is in an awful mismatch against Thai visitor Petchnamnung Sor Thiebkhun (0-11), who is likely to suffer his 10th “recorded” stoppage loss.
As a bonus we also get a small bit of Indonesian action with the very promising Iwan Zoda (7-1, 6) battle in a 10 rounder against Thai visitor Phupha Por Nobnom (11-9-1, 10). The visitor's record isn't great but he has shared the ring with Tepparith Kokietgym, Richie Mepranum and Albert Pagara, so he has mixed at a good level, albeit he has been stopped by those 3 men. For Zoda this is his first bout since he stopped Petchchorhae Kokietgym in September, in what was an incredible win for the 19 year old Indonesian.
On the under-card of this show is an Indonesian title bout between Agus Kustiawan (13-4, 5) and Boido Simanjuntak (18-33-1, 7), who will be recognised by people who follow the Thai fight scene.
Whilst the action has been warming up through out February it really begins to catch fire on February 7th with a couple of notable cards, one in the Philippines and one in Japan.
Davao del Sur, Philippines
The stronger of the two notable cards comes from the Philippines as ALA put on the next in their headline series of “Pinoy Pride” shows. The card may not feature a world title bout but it does feature a number of men who are world ranked.
One of those world ranked fighters in action is the unbeaten and highly touted Genesis Servania (25-0, 11) who will be hoping to keep his world title dreams alive as he battles against 32 year old Mexican fighter Juan Luis Hernandez (17-3-1, 9). It's hard to see what Hernandez has to challenger Servania here but the Filipino will no that no slip ups are allowed when he's this close to a world title shot.
Another fighter who is highly ranked and features on this card is 140lber Jason Pagara (34-2, 21). Pagara will bring a 7 fight winning streak to the ring as he battles against the fragile Cesar Chavez (24-7, 12) who has been stopped in all 7 of his losses. Pagara is risking a very high ranking though the risk is slim against the very limited Chavez who has been stopped in the first 4 rounds in all of his losses.
Possibly the best looking of the 3 main bouts is a Super Flyweight bout which will see the highly regarded “King” Arthur Villanueva (26-0, 14) battle against free swinging former world champion Julio Cesar Miranda (38-11-2, 29). Villanueva has failed to impress in has last few bouts though there is the possibility that he was unmotivated for them. If he performs equally bad here there is every chance he could be stopped by the exciting Miranda. The winner of this bout will take a huge step towards a world title bout and possibly even a clash with WBO champion Naoya Inoue later in the year.
In the chief support bout from the undercard fans will get the chance to see the fast rising prospect Mark Magsayo (9-0, 7) take on Thai fighter Sukkasem Kietyongyuth (13-3, 8). Magsayo ran up an impressive 5 wins last year but this is a very clear step up in class for the man known as “Magnifico”. As for Sukkasem he comes into this bout following an 8th round stoppage loss to Ik Yang last August.
Like the Filipino fans, the Japanese fans don't get any world title action here but the show it's self features a former world champion and several interesting domestic level match ups.
The main event here is easily the best bout on the show as former WBC Flyweight champion Toshiyuki Igarashi (19-2-1, 11) battles against tough Mexican Efrain Perez (17-5, 12). Perez may be familiar to fans for his bout in Macau with Mark Anthony Geraldo and we suspect he has the ability to give Igarashi a very hard 10 rounds here.
Although the support bouts aren't there are very interesting bouts. The most notable of those will see former 2-time OPBF Light Middleweight title challenger Takehiro Shimokawara (19-9-3, 6) battling against Yuto Shimizu (8-2-2, 2). For Shimizu this is a great opportunity to move towards a title fight whilst Shimokawara will feel he needs a win to remain relevant.
A really interesting, and potentially explosive, encounter at Super Featherweight will see Kenichi Ogawa (13-1, 11) battle against Kazuya Nakano (8-3, 7). This domestic level contest will almost certainly not go the distance but should be captivating from the first bell. On paper Ogawa looks the favourite however Nakano has mixed with better company and his losses have come to good fighters in the form of Hiroki Okada, Kenta Takahashi and Masayuki Ito.
Another good looking competitive match up will see the heavy handed Heisuke Ono (5-2-2, 5) battle against the light punching Tatsuya Mukai (5-3-2, 1) in a bout scheduled for 6 rounds
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
September 5th-Akira Yaegashi Vs Roman Gonzalez and Naoya Inoue Vs Samartlek Kokietgym highlight amazing day!
It's not often that the Asian fight scene has every knowledgeable boxing fan actually being excited but this Friday is an exception as we get several top prospects in action, a top pound-for-pound fighter, two world champions and two of the sports most exciting fighters all in action on the same day!
The biggest show of the day, in fact one of the biggest shows of the year, takes place today at the Yoyogi #2 Gymnasium in Tokyo. The show is one of those we've been looking forward to since it was announce and featured 4 bouts we're really excited about and 1 other bout of note.
We'll start with that bout of note which will see rising teenager Takuma Inoue (2-0) taking on Thai debutant Chanachai Sor Siamchai (0-0). From our point of view this is a big step back for Takuma who looked great in his recent win over Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr though it seems like he's just getting some experience under his wings before moving up to title level, something we expect to see him doing in the next 12 months.
Although Takuma is taking a step backwards we're glad to see the unbeaten Ryo Matsumoto (11-0, 9) take a huge step up to fight former world champion Denkaosan Kaovichit (63-4-1, 26). Matsumoto did seem to struggle slightly in his last notable bout, against Hiroyuki Hisataka, though he has been groomed for stardom from his debut and will have had serious work on his stamina between that fight and this one. As for Denkaosan this could be his last fight if he loses, ending a long career. Last time out the Thai over-came Gaspar Ampolo though that was a gimme after an 8th round KO at the hands of Kohei Kono earlier this year. We're not going to suggest that this will be one sided but Matsumoto is bigger, faster and younger and needs to be favoured.
Another man taking a step up, albeit it a small one, is Ryota Murata (4-0, 4) who will be battling Mexico's Adrian Luna Flores (17-2-1, 11). We're unsure if this is really a step up from Murata's previous bout with Jesus Angel Nerio but we're expecting a similar result with Murata stopping Flores in the middle of the fight. Flores does come into this bout as the Mexican champion though he's clearly not the top Middleweight in Mexico, in fact he's a million miles away from the likes of Marco Antonio Rubio who really is world class.
Following those 4 bouts we then move on to the two world title bouts. The first of those will see WBC Light Flyweight world champion Naoya Inoue (6-0, 5) fighting for the first time as a world champion. Inoue, a former Japanese and OPBF champion, will be defending his WBC world title against Thailand's little known Samartlek Kokietgym (17-4, 5). Sadly like his brother it appears that Naoya is taking a huge step backwards here, especially considering the way he disposed of the then champion Adrian Hernandez last time out. Samartlek is a PABA champion and does hold wins over Muhammad Rachman and Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr though this is clearly a huge step up in class for him and easily his toughest bout to date. For Inoue however it's likely to be little more than an easy day at the office.
The main event is "The Fight" we've been looking forward to all year as WBC Flyweight champion Akira Yaegashi (20-3, 10) defends his title for the 4th time. In the opposite corner to Yaegashi is the exceptional Roman Gonzalez (39-0, 33) who should prove to be the most talented foe that Yaegashi has faced to date. This is one of those real lower weight super clashes between two men who are both viewed very highly and although they are different types of fighters, with Yaegashi being a speedy boxer and Gonzalez being a destructive pressure fighter, we expect the styles to gel marvellously. Do not be shocked if they turns out to be one of the true fight of the year candidates and helps enhance the winner into the mythical "pound for pound top 10". Amazing bout on paper and hopefully it will live up to expectation.
As well as the big card in Tokyo we also have an historic card in Dubai as Filipino promotional powerhouse ALA Promotions take their show on the road and go to the World Trade Center in Dubai for "Pinoy Pride 27".
This show features a trio of notable Filipino fighters in action in 3 very interesting bouts. The "least significant" of the three major bouts will see the popular Rey Bautista (35-3, 25), a former world title challenger, take on Mexico's aggressive Juan Jose Martinez (19-1, 15). Although the bout is "less significant" it promises to be a thriller with both men being aggressive and both men often hunting the stoppage victory. This could really be all action for as long as it lasts.
Following the Bautista fight we then get two world ranked Filipino's in seperate bouts. One of those is the very hotly tipped Genesis Servania (24-0, 10) who puts his unbeaten record and world ranking on the line against former world title challenger Jose Cabrera (22-4-2, 10). Servania will start as a clear favourite here though we're hoping to see him tested, unfortunately Cabrera was stopped last time out and hasn't looked impressive since fighting to a draw with the then unbeaten Daniel Rosas almost 3 years ago.
The other unbeaten and world ranked Filipino is Arthur Villanueva (25-0, 14) who puts his ranking and record on the line against Nicaraguan puncher Henry Maldonado (19-3-0-1, 14). Villanueva looked very poor last time out as he was given a rough time by Fernando Aguilar who was stopped in 6 rounds by Maldonado just a few weeks back and it's fair to say that the Nicaraguan fighter won't be coming to play with the Filipino fighter. This one has the potential to be a fire cracker if Maldonado has his way though Villanueva is better than he looked last time out.
We also have a televised show in Thailand with titles on the line and some of the most exciting young fighters in Thailand courtesy of Channel 7.
The main event here will be the latest PABA Welterweight title defence by Teerachai Kratingdaenggym (26-0, 20). Teerachai, a world ranked 22 year old power house from Burriram, will be battling fellow 22 year old Nelson Gulpe (8-2, 3) from the Philippines. Interestingly Gulpe is 0-2 outside of the Philippines and has lost his last 2 bouts, including a Lightweight contest to Japanese novice Accel Sumiyoshi. Needless to say Teerachai will be strongly favoured here.
On the under-card we will get the chance to see Inthanon Sithchamuang (22-7, 13), best known for his loss in Macau to Jerwin Ancajas, battling against Heri Amol (34-18-4, 14) of Indonesia. For what it's worth this is Amol's first bout since being beaten by Japanese debutant Ken Shiro at the start of August and we suspect he'll be no match for the Thai here.
The card will also feature one of our favourite Thai prospects Eaktawan Mor Krungthepthonburi (4-0, 3) who will be putting his unbeaten record on the line against professional loser Safwan Lombok (1-25-1) of Indonesia. Although Lombok will pose no threat at all to the talented Thai the question is whether or not Eaktawan will be able to stop Lombok who has proven to be a relatively sturdy opponent with only 7 stoppages losses in 25 total losses.
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
Out side of the Asian shows we have some smaller profile fight cards as well. One of those is in Burkina Faso as Filipino slugger Silvester Lopez (22-7-2, 16) battles against the once beaten Alexis Boureima Kabore (22-1, 6) in an attempt to claim the WBC International Super Bantamweight. This bout was meant to take place several weeks ago though Lopez had travel issues and the bout had to be rescheduled at late notice. We're suspect that Lopez will need a KO to get the win though Kabore has certainly not shown world level ability and Lopez should be seen as a "live under-dog".
Another lesser bout takes place in Italy as the Japanese born Swiss based Aniya Seki (24-3-2, 2) takes on journey-woman Claudia Ferenci (8-35-5, 3). The bout appears to be a clear mismatch though the 35 year old Seki was shocked last time out when Judith Rodriguez blasted her out in 2 rounds in another bout that looked like a mismatch on paper.
(Image courtesy of Ohashi Gym)
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)