The month of February kicks off this coming Saturday, and we start to see action return to normal with the second Dynamic Glove card of the year, and a Kazakh prospect in action in the US.
Toyko, Korakuen Hall
The Dynamic Glove card is an interesting one, with a ring return of a fighter who has served a year long suspension, a Japanese title fight and the second bout of a very highly regarded prospect.
The returning fighter is Kenichi Ogawa (22-1-0-1, 17), who will be fighting for the first time since December 2017 when he faced Tevin Farmer. The former Japanese Super Featherweight champion has served a 12 month ban for testing positive for illegal substance and will be looking to put that year behind him as he takes on Filipino foe Roldan Aldea (12-6-1, 6). The Filipino has lost his last 2, but did become the first fighter to take the exciting Shawn Oda the distance, doing that last April, and will be looking to have another solid performance here, even if he does end up coming up short again.
The Japanese title fight will see the unbeaten Junto Nakatani (17-0, 12) look to enhance his growing reputation as he takes on Naoki Mochizuki (15-3, 8) for the vacant Japanese Flyweight title. The title was vacated in late 2018, as Masayuki Kuroda put his focus on preparing for a world title fight, allowing Mochizuki to face Nakatani in the Champion Carnival. The unbeaten Nakatani is a former Rookie of the Year and Japanese Youth Champion who has already broken into the world rankings and is expected to go a very, very, long way. Mochizuki on the other hand is underrated due to his losses, with 2 of those being very competitive and one of those being suffered early in his career. Mochizuki has proven to be tough, have a good work rate and could well spring the upset over the much fancied and very highly regarded 21 year old Nakatani, but many will be tipping the youngster. We've previewed this bout here Nakatani and Mochizuki battle for Japanese title!
Another notable name on this card will be former WBA "interim" Flyweight and OPBF Super Flyweight champion Koki Eto (23-4-1, 18), who will be up against Filipino visitor Rommel Oliveros (9-4-1, 4). This looks like it will be little more than a tune up bout for Eto who is wanting to fight for a world title this year, though is likely to continue just ticking over, as he has done since facing Carlos Cuadras way back in 2015.
Also on this card is the second professional bout of former amateur standout Mikito Nakano (1-0, 1) and the professional debut of Gonte Lee (0-0), also an amateur standout. These two Teiken prospects will be up against Thai visitors in what we expect will be little more than show case bouts for the novices, who are expected to achieve great things in the near future, as the Teiken gym rebuild after a few disappointing years.
As well as the Japanese action fight fans will also get the chance to see touted Kazakh fighter Janibek Alimkhanuly (4-0, 1) take on Steven Martinez (18-4, 13), in a dangerous looking bout. We were excited to see Alimkhanuly goo full on professional last year, and sign with Top Rank, though his performances in 2018 left us wondering whether he really is suited to the professional ranks. He is very talented, sharp and accurate, but there is a feeling that something hasn't yet clicked, though in fairness he has been matched hard and there is incredibly high expectations on his shoulders. Martinez is a 28 year old who is tough, having never been stopped, but has been beaten by his most notable opponents, such as Terrell Gausha, Denis Douglin and Christopher Pearson. This should be a very good test for the Kazakh.
The best single bout to feature an Asian fighter comes from Glasgow, where legendary Filipino Nonito Donaire (38-5, 24) takes on WBA Bantamweight “super” champion Ryan Burnett (19-0, 9) in the final WBSS Bantamweight quarter final. This has the potential to be Donaire's last bout, if he loses, given he turns 36 on November 16th, but a win secures him a semi-final bout against Zolani Tete. For the unbeaten Burnett the bout is a chance to score a big win over a huge name in the lower weights, as well as setting himself up for a bout with Tete. This is real must win for both men, but sadly has the potential to be a bit of a stinker with Burnett likely to be too quick, too smart and too elusive for the Filipino veteran. A full preview of this bout can be read here Burnett and Donaire face off for final semi-final place!
The most notable card for us this coming Saturday comes from the Korakuen Hall where we get a Japanese Middleweight title bout and bouts featuring several notable Japanese prospects.
The Japanese title bout will see Japanese Middleweight king Kazuto Takesako (9-0, 9) make his first defense, as he faces off with former champion Sanosuke Sasaki (12-6, 6). The unbeaten champion won the title earlier this year, decimating Hikaru Nishida in 92 seconds, and since then has fought only a stay busy bout against tough Thai visitor Chaiwat Mueanphong. Former champion Sasaki had a 4 month reign from last 2012 to early 2013 but is 1-5 coming into this bout and looks to be a very under-whelming challenger for the heavy handed champion. It's nice to see Takesako defend the title, but it's a shame that he's not in there with a man anyone is giving much of a chance to. A preview of this title fight can be read here Takesako's first defense sees him takes on former champion!
In a supporting bout Masaya Tamayama (11-1, 6) will battle against Daijiro Yuki (8-4-1, 4). Coming in to this the 25 year old Tamayama is riding a 7 fight winning streak, and has broken into the JBC rankings at Welterweight. Yuki, also 25, is unbeaten his last 2 bouts but is 3-4-1 in his last 8, and has been stopped twice. We can't see anything but a win for Tamayama, but we do expect him to have to earn it.
Another supporting bout will see Daiki Funayama (7-3-1, 2) take a part in his first 8 rounder, as he takes on once beaten puncher Kenta Yamada (5-1-1, 4). Funayama has won his last 4, though has had to go the distance in those wins, and seems to lack power, even at the low end of the domestic level. Yamada on the other hand will be fighting for the first time in over 2 years. Although no world beater Yamada does hold a notable win over Kazuki Sanpei and will be looking to get himself back on the domestic map here.
One of the notable prospects is Jin Minamide (1-0, 1), who will take a notable step up in class to face Filipino Conrado Tanamor (10-2, 4). On paper this looks like a great match up for the young prospects, though digging beneath the surface we do wonder what Tanamor really brings to the ring following back to back stoppage losses, and a 0-2 record in fights outside of the Philippines. Despite Tanamor not being a great opponent we are looking forward to seeing how Minamide goes about his business here
Another of the prospects on this show is the debuting Masahiro Suzuki (0-0), who is scheduled to take on Antonio Sismundo (6-1, 6). Suzuki is a touted fighter who is a notable Japanese amateur with a lot of expectation on his shoulders, and he's been matched aggressively here against a man who clearly has power. Sismundo has stopped 6 men inside the first 3 rounds, but was stopped himself in his sole defeat back in September 2017.
Staying in Asia we also get a title double header in the Philippines, though neither match looks particularly competitive.
One of them will see Eranio Semillano (16-9-3, 5) and Edison Berwela (16-39-8, 5) battle for the PBF Bantamweight title. It's hard to imagine Semillano losing here, but Berwela is a live under-dog and did shock the Asian scene earlier this year when he stopped Saenganan Sithsaithong way back in January. It should be noted that since that upset win Berwela has lost his last 2 bouts.
The other bout will be for the PBF Super Flyweight bout and will see Cris Alfante (14-7-1, 6) take on Zoren Pama (8-14-3, 5). Alfante has mixed with great competition, such as Knockout CP Freshmart, Andrew Moloney and Daigo Higa, and we suspect that he will have far too much for Pama, who lacks a win of any note, though did surprisingly go 7 rounds before losing a technical decision to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in 2014.
There will also be a couple of bouts of note in Texas where two Kazakh prospects will be in action.
One of those prospects will be the very highly touted Janibek Alimkhanuly (3-0, 1), who faces off against Vaughn Alexander (12-1, 8) in what looks like an excellent test for the unbeaten man. The 25 year old Kazakh southpaw failed to really shine in his US debut, back in September, but he is a genuine talent and the expectation is that he will adapt to the professional ranks quickly. The once beaten Alexander is looking to bounce back from an August loss to Dennis Doughlin, and will not be coming in to this bout to lose. This should be an excellent test for Alimkhanuly.
The other prospect is less hyped Sagadat Rakhmankul (3-0, 1), who hunts his fourth win as he takes on the once beaten Nicklaus Flaz (5-1, 4). The unbeaten Rakhmankul has been impressive so far, following a debut this past February, and will be looking to close out the year with arguably his best win so far, as the 25 year old looks to move to the next level. Flaz is a 22 year old Puerto Rican who was beaten last time out by Hurshidbek Normatov and will be looking to get back to winning ways, though sadly hasn't fought since that Normatov bout back in December 2017.
The most notable show for us is in California where we two notable Asian fighters in action. One is defending a world title whilst the the other is kicking off his career properly, after a very stop-start to his professional boxing career.
The world champion is Filipino fighter Jerwin Ancajas (30-1-1, 20), who will be making his 6th defense of the IBF Super Flyweight title. Sadly for a man who has been a world champion for over 2 years Ancajas has had a disappointing reign, and it won't be helped here, as he takes on the little known Alejandro Santiago Barrios (16-2-4, 7). The 22 year old Mexican challenger has never scored a win of note, fighting a draw in his most notable bouts. Ancajas should be mixing with the top Super Flyweight, who mostly seem to be wanting to fight each other, but instead is fighting third tier foes like this. A full preview of this bout can be read here - Ancajas returns to defend title against little known Mexican
Thankfully the other bout involving an Asian on this show is much more interesting, despite being less significant. That's because we'll finally see former Kazakh amateur star Janibek Alimkhanuly (2-0, 1) make his US debut, and take on the hard hitting Carlos Galvan (16-7-1, 15). The touted Alimkhanuly has had a very frustrating start to professional boxing, fighting once in 2016 and once in 2017, but now appears to have his mind set on becoming a full time professional. Galvan is no push over. Like many Colombian Galvan is a big puncher, but he also showed his toughness earlier this year, when he went the distance against Willie Monroe Jr. This is a great chance for Alimkhanuly to impress US audiences and to shine in front of new promoter Bob Arum.
A second Kazakh will be on this show, albeit in a minor role. That will be Askhat Ualikhanov (3-1, 2) who will be stepping up in class to take on 27 year old American fighter Angel Hernandez(13-10-2 8 KOs).
We also get a really interesting Kazakh Vs Colombian match up in Florida as the unbeaten Mussa Tursyngaliyev (7-0, 6) takes foe Deivi Julio Bassa (20-5-0-1, 12) in a 10 round contest. The unbeaten Kazakh began his career on fire, winning his first 6 bouts in the space of 19 days. Since then however he's only fought once, stopping Luis Hinojosa. This is a big step up for Tursyngaliyev but the Colombian fighter has struggled in recent years, and has lost 3 of his last 4. A few years ago when Bassa lost his unbeaten record to Kenichi Ogawa, and since then he has really struggled. We expect that struggle to continue here.
In Asia the most interesting card is from China, where we get several title bouts with a number of notable names involved. We won't go through all the bouts, but we will look at 3 of them.
The most interesting is a China Vs Philippines contest, as Wulan Tuolehazi (8-3-1, 4) takes on OPBF champion Jayr Raquinel (10-0-1, 7) in a bout for the WBC silver Flyweight title. On paper this doesn't look brilliant, but Tuolehazi is much better than his record suggests with a 7 fight unbeaten run, with some good wins during that run, including a 4th round TKO over Kwanthai Sithmorseng. Talking about good runs Raquinel has notched two big wins this year over Keisuke Nakayama and Shun Kosaka to win and defense the OPBF title. This could be very competitive.
In a supporting bout at Lightweight Zhimin Wang (10-3, 3) will face off with Indonesian foe Hero Tito (27-13-2, 11) for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Lightweight title. Again this doesn't look amazing but Wang isn't a push over, he's no world beater but on the Asian scene there are a lot of potential match ups for him to be involved in down the line. Tito is pretty much a regional journeyman if we're being honest but should take Wang the rounds in what could be an entertaining contest.
In a Heavyweight bout unbeaten Chinese hopeful Zhilei Zhang (19-0, 15) will face off with American Don Haynesworth (15-2-1, 13) in what will be Zhang's first defense of the WBO Oriental Heavyweight title. At the age of 35 Zhang can ill afford bouts at this level if he wants to move on to fighting for a world title. In theory this will help with his WBO ranking but little else. The 36 year old Hayenesworth does have power, and could be a risk if he can connect on Zhang, but has lost to the only notable name he's face, losing in 3 rounds to Bryant Jennings. We expect Zhang to win, but we don't really know why he's wasting his time with bouts against the likes of Haynesworth.
We are also getting a show from Japan, which doesn't look much on paper but is actually the second set of East Japan Rookie of the Year semi finals. The winners will face the winners from the bouts on Thursday. Given the fact there will be 10 bouts on this card we'll only take a snapshot and look at a few of the more interesting looking contests.
The Minimumweight bout here will see Masatora Okada (4-2, 2) face off with Shunsuke Isa (6-1, 1). Neither of these two are unbeaten but they do look well matched and we expect this to be 4 rounds of competitive action. Of the two men Okada is the older man, at 24, and is arguably the naturally trickier given he's a southpaw. However he has only won a single bout out of his last 3. Isa is 20 years old and has bounced back from his sole, to the 2017 East Japan Rookie of the Year, with a couple of decision wins. This could be very interesting and very competitive.
At Super Featherweight we see 21 year old's clash with Keita Hayashi (4-3, 3) facing off with Yusaku Sekishima (5-1, 3). Through his 7 fight career Hayashi has been a “stop or be stopped” fighter, with only 1 of his bouts going the distance. Whilst he can hit he can also be hurt. As for Sekishima he has been on a roll, and strung together 5 straight wins after a loss on debut. The form is certainly on Skeishima's side, but Hayashi's power could be the game changer.
At Welterweight the hard hitting Tetsuya Yoshimura (4-2-1, 3) will face off with the unbeaten Kojiro Nishikawa (3-0, 1). As with the aforementioned Hayashi we tend to see Yoshimura either stopping his foes, or scoring a stoppage, with only 2 of his 7 bouts going the distance. Saying that however it was his last 2 bouts that both went the schedule. At 30 years old Nishikawa will likely see the 2018 Rookie of the Year as the way to put himself on the map and will not be wanting to get this far for nothing.
East Jakarta, Indonesia
Another small show till take place in Indonesia, with Martin Daniel promoting the card.
The main event will see Andika Sabu (14-0, 7), also known as Andika D'Golden Boy, risk his unbeaten record against Melianus Mirin (9-5, 6). On paper this is a mismatch between the two Indonesian youngsters, but the realities is that Sabu isn't that proven and is actually the man stepping up in class here. Mirin has suffered his last couple of losses against talented Thai's and he certainly has the skills to give Sabu a test here.
On the under card Rivo Kundimang (5-0, 1) and Jufri Kakahure (1-0, 1) will be in action, as they both look at advance their career. Both will be facing local foes and looking to take a big step forward, towards bigger and better fights.