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.
Attention turns to Nevada this coming Saturday for the biggest card of the weekend, and one featuring several Filipino fighters.
The headline bout, and one of the biggest bouts of the month, will see Filipino legend Manny Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39) defending the WBA Welterweight title against controversial American Adrien Broner (33-3-1-1, 24). This will be Pacquiao's first defense of the title he took last July, when he beat Lucas Matthysse, and could potentially help set up another big bout later in the year, if he can over-come Broner. For the American, who was once tipped as the future of boxer, this is a must win bout and another loss, especially to a 40 year old Pacquiao, will be hard to bounce back from. This isn't the bout it could have been a few years ago, but should still be a very interesting must win bout. Our preview of this bout is available here Pacquiao and Broner battle for WBA Crown
Another title fight on this show will see WBA "interim" Featherweight champion Jhack Tepora (22-0, 17) defending his title against Mexican challenger Hugo Ruiz (38-4, 33). The unbeaten fighter, from the Philippines, took the title last year in Malaysia and has shown to be a brutally heavy handed fighter, who is lacking in terms of speed and crispness, but is very hard hitting and very dangerous. Ruiz on the other hand made name at Bantamweight, where he was a WBA interim champion, and Super Bantamweight, where he held the WBC title, but has been relatively inactive recently and has shown shaky whiskers. We're expecting this to be very explosive and very exciting, with both having very good power. Our preview of this bout is here Tepora looks to make first defense of "interim" crown, takes on hard hitting Ruiz
Interestingly both Jayar Inson (18-1, 12) and Genisis Libranza (17-1, 10) were scheduled to be on this card, though it now appears that neither man will actually feature. Sadly. Libranza was lined up to face former world title challenger Carlos Buitrago (30-4-1-1, 17) though only Libranza is actually listed for the show now and Libranza has been removed.
We also get a really notable card in Tokyo, as G+ televise the first Dynamic Glove card of the new year, a card featuring 3 very attractive bouts.
The main event will see former OPBF and Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Shingo Wake (25-5-2, 17) taking on Japanese veteran Takafumi Nakajima (29-11-1, 13), in what will be the second bout between the two men. These two met way back in May 2012, with Nakajima defeating Wake via unanimous decision. Since their first bout Wake has gone on the have notable success, going 15-1 (12) and has fought for a world title. Nakajima on the other hand has gone 9-6 since beating Wake, losing in title bouts to Hidenori Otake and Mark John Yap. This is clearly a bout to give Wake revenge for his last loss at domestic level, but is still an interesting match up, and one with a bit of history behind it.
The chief support bout will see the unbeaten Daisuke Sugita (4-0, 3) face off with Reiya Abe (18-2, 9), in a strange yet compelling match. Sugita, who is a full time policeman outside of the ring, has impressed since making his debut and is tipped for big things, but obviously stiffer tests than he has been getting following a very impressive amateur career. This is however a massive step up in class for Sugita, who has never faced anyone like the world ranked Abe. For Abe the bout is a risky one, given his next bout has already been arranged and is a Japanese Featherweight title bout in the middle of the year. This bout see Abe losing his title fight, if he loses, but an injury or a cut could force his plans to change. We suspect Abe will have too many tools for Sugita, at this early stage, but this is still an incredibly interesting match up. Our preview of this bout is available here World ranked Abe takes on Policeman Sugita!
The third terrific match up on this card pits ranked youngsters against each other. In one corner will be Japanese ranked Teiken promoted 24 year old Kenshin Oshima (4-1-1, 3) whilst the other corner will host 21 year old southpaw Ikuro Sadatsune (9-2-3, 3), who holds Japanese WBO Asia Pacific rankings. Coming into this bout Oshima is riding a 4 fight unbeaten run, including an ugly but notable win over Joe Tanooka back in August. Sadatsune on the other hand has won his last 3, with notable wins over Ryo Suwa and Tatsuya Takahashi. We're expecting to see Oshima's power and aggression against Sadatsune's skills and movement in a very well matched and intriguing contest.
Seoul, South Korea
In South Korea we'll see the first card under the recently announced Annihilation banner, which co-promotes MMA and boxing. The main event of this card will see Korean fighter Jung Kyoung Lee (6-2-1, 2) battling against Australian based veteran Samuel Colomban (25-10-1, 11) for the vacant OPBF Light Middleweight title. The bout will be the first OPBF title fight on Korean soil in quite some time, and seems to suggest that KBF are coming out for 2019 with some new fire in their belly. It should be noted Colomban has seen much, much better days but is still a very live fighter against the inexperienced Korean. Our preview of this bout is available here Lee and Colomban battle for OPBF crown!
One other bout of note will take place in Onratio, where we see Canadian based Indian fighter Sukhdeep Singh Bhatti (3-0, 2) kicks off his 2019 with his first 6 round bout. Bhatti will take on Mitch Louis Charles (5-1-2, 2). Bhatti made his debut in March 2018and picked up 3 low key wins during the year. This is a credible step up, at least on paper, for the unbeaten man. We say on paper, because Charles hasn't fought in over 4 years and it's unclear what he'll look like given that lengthy lay off.
The main show this coming Saturday comes from Osaka as Harada Promotions, along with reason Promotions, where we get a Japanese title double header.
One of those bouts will see Japanese Light Flyweight champion Tetsuya Hisada (30-9-2, 19) defending his title against mandatory challenger Koji Itagaki (18-11-3, 7). Coming in to this bout Hisada has made 2 defenses already and is working his way towards a world title fight, in fact at the time of writing Hisada is ranked in the top 10 by all 4 world title bodies and talking about getting a shot at a belt by the end of 2018. Itagaki got this shot on the back of a win over Koki Ono last October, but with 11 losses in 32 fights, and recent defeats to Kenichi Horikawa and Rey Loreto don't suggest he'll be a tough challenger for the in form Hisada.
The other title fight will be a rematch between Go Onaga (28-3-4, 19) and Hiroyuki Kudaka (25-17-2, 11), who fight for the vacant Japanese Super Flyweight title. These two fought to a technical draw last year, in what was a title eliminator, but both will be getting a shot following Ryuichi Funai vacating the belt. At 37, soon to be 38, it's hard to envisage Onaga having much left in the tank but this will almost certainly be his final shot at winning a title, following set backs in previous Japanese and OPBF title shots. For Kudaka, who is a 4-time world title challenger, this is a chance to add to his career honours, which includes a short reign as the World Boxing Council International Silver Flyweight champion back in 2010. Kudaka has lost 7 of his last 11, but has mixed at a very high level losing to the likes of Omar Andres Narvaez, Ryo Matsumoto, Mark John Yap and Takuma Inoue. It's hard to not think the 33 year old Kudaka will come out on top here.
As well as the title action in Japan there will also be a title action in Benguet, in the Philippines.
One of those bouts will see GAB Flyweight champion Ryan Rey Ponteras (21-12-1, 10) make his second defense as he takes on one the once beaten Genisis Libranza (14-1, 9). Although Ponteras' record isn't impressive on paper he's far from a push over and on his day can be a real night mare, as he showed against Rusalee Samor in 2012, and more recently against Renerio Arizala. The 24 year old Libranza looked like a very promising prospect before being thrown to the wolves last year and getting stopped in 4 rounds by the criminally under-rated Moruti Mthalane in South Africa. Since that loss he has picked up 3 confidence building wins but this is a step up from those victories.
Another fighter of note on this card is the unbeaten Jayson Vayson (5-0, 3), who not only had a great name but also an unbeaten record. The 19 year old Vayson will be fighting in his 3rd 6 rounder as he takes on Alvin Tayo (2-5-1, 2). On paper this is a mismatch but Tayo pushed Vayson all the way last September and is clear going to be up for this mismatch, whilst Vayson will be wanting to leave no doubt this time around.
In the US fans will have a chance to see Uzbek Heavyweight prospect Rustam Tulaganov (1-0) fight in his second professional bout, as he takes on the dangerous Martez McGregor (5-1, 4). The Uzbek, a bronze medal winner a the 2016 Rio Olympics, is a top talent and is one to watch going forward. Despite the Uzbek's amateur credentials this is a very tough test for a second professional outing and McGregor is very dangerous early on, with all 4 of his stoppages coming in the first 2 rounds. A win for Tulaganov is expect, but he could also be given a chin check here.
In India fight fans will see unbeaten local Vikas Singh (5-0-1, 4) battle against former OPBF Super Middleweight title challenger Kajornsak Sithsaithong (11-7, 10), in a bout for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Silver Cruiserweight title. The unbeaten Singh fought to a draw last time out, with the result ending a 4 fight stoppage run, but coming into this he's unbeaten and looks like he's taking a bit of a step up here, despite the fact the Thai is far from a natural Cruiserweight. The Thai is best known for his 2015 fight against Yuzo Kiyota, where he dropped the then OPBF champion before being stopped in the 10th round. At his best the Thai could be a nightmare for Singh, though he would need to be at his best to get the win in India, especially given that Kajornsak is 1-5 outside of Thailand. Despite his poor form away from home, Kajornsak did score an upset in his last fight, out pointing Yamato Fujinaka in Japan, and will be somewhat confident coming into this bout.