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.
Action returns to the Korakuen Hall this coming Monday as fight fans get a small but interesting card from the Misako Gym.
The main event off the card will see Japanese ranked fighters facing off, with Naoki Mochizuki (14-3, 8) taking on Seiya Fujikita (12-3, 5) in a bout that will push the winner close to a national title fight. The 24 year old Mochizuki has lost 2 of his last 5, but those losses came to notable fighters in the form of Keisuke Nakayama and Eaktwan BTU Ruaviking, and he is certainly very capable at this level. Fujikita comes into this bout on the back of 4 stoppage wins, and all 3 of his defeats were razor close, including losses to Yuta Matsuo and Hayato Yamaguchi. We really like the look of this match up.
Another excellent domestic clash will see Ikuro Sadatsune (8-2-3, 2) take on Isao Aoyama (11-6-1, 2). We're fans of Sadatsune, who has been matched hard in recent bouts against the likes of Kai Chiba, Ryo Suwa and Tatsuya Takahashi and see him as a future title challenger, at least domestically. Whilst we're fans of Sadatsune we know the youngster can't over-look Aoyama who has a scratchy record but has been very competitive in 5 of his 6 losses and also held Sho Kimura to a draw. This is a very tough match up to call and should be a very tactical one.
One of the other notable bouts on this card looks to be a mismatch as the popular and experienced Gakuya Furuhashi (22-8-1, 11) faces off with the little known Taichi Ueno (6-2, 3). Furuhashi went through a bad run of results in 2015 and 2016 but is now riding a 4 fight unbeaten run. Sadly that winning run has come against fighters similar to Ueno and it would be nice to see him step up again sooner rather than later.
This coming Monday attention returns to the Korakuen Hall as Yamaguchi Tsuchiura put on a small domestic card.
The main event will see former Japanese Bantamweight title challenger Tatsuya Takahashi (28-7-5, 20) battle against youngster Ikuro Sadatsune (7-2-3, 2) in a pretty good looking bout. Takahashi really made his name in 2014, when he had a thrilling 10 round war with Kentaro Masuda. Since then he has gone 9-1-2 (7) and chasing a second title fight. As for Sadatsune he's less well known, but has shown his toughness, and not only took Kai Chiba the distance but also scored a very good win over Ryo Suwa last time out. This should be much better than it looks on paper.
Another bout with promise to be better than it looks is the chief support bout between Keisuke Ota (10-11, 3) and Sho Nagata (8-4, 2). The 33 year old Ota has a dire looking record but hasn't been given many easy bouts, battling the likes of Yuchiro Kasuyra, Masashi Noguchi and Tatsuya Yanagi and he is better than the numbers suggest. Nagata however will be the favourite and the 22 year old is a very capable fighter despite losing 3 of his last 6 bouts. Both will be seeking a win and both will see this as a winnable bout, so we're expecting a very competitive contest here.