This coming Saturday is set to be a huge day for Asian boxing, with a number of fighters taking place across a number of shows. This includes a big bout in Mexico, a pair of shows in China and a pretty notable card in the Philippines.
Nuevo León, Mexico
One of the Mexican fights takes place in Nuevo León and will see former IBF and WBO Minimumweight champion Francisco Rodriguez Jr (27-4-1, 19) battle against former Japanese Super Flyweight champion Yohei Tobe (13-2-1, 9) in a contest for the for Rodriguez's WBC Latino Silver Super Flyweight title. The Mexican is best remembered for his incredible 2014 bout with Katsunari Takayama but since then has gone 9-2-1 and moved up from Minimumweight to Super Flyweight, which doesn't appear to have suited him quite as well as the smaller divisions. Tobe was once one of the most touted prospects in Japan, and although he has failed to reach the expectations many had for him, this is a great chance to make a mark and put himself in the mix for a world title fight.
Of the actual shows in Asia the most notable is an ALA promoted card in Leyte.
The main event of the card will see the hard hitting Jeo Santisima (15-2, 13) take on Thai foe Yodsingdaeng Jor Chaijinda (16-5, 10) in a bout for the WBO Oriental Super Bantamweight title. The heavy handed Santisima has won his last 13 in a row, with 12 stoppage, and we expect to see him continue that run here. Despite that this isn't a foregone conclusion and Yodsingdaeng is a credible foe, with his only loss since 2015 coming in a decision to Juan Martin Elorde. This should be a good test for Santisima.
In the co-feature we'll see the touted Albert Pagara (29-1, 20) battle against Laryea Gabriel Odoi (20-3-2, 14), with this bout being for the WBO Inter-Continental Super Bantamweight title. Pagara has been rebuilding well since his 2016 loss to Cesar Juarez, but on paper this bout is a step from his last 3 contests, all of which were pretty straight forward wins for the Filipino. Odoi, from Ghana, began his career by losing his first 2 bouts, and was 1-1-2 after 4 contests, but has rebuilt well with 19 wins from his following 21 bouts. Despite being a step up for Pagara from recent opponents we're not expecting the Filipino to come up short here, but he will be forced to work for his win.
In main supporting bouts we have two former world title challengers in action. One of those is Melvin Jerusalem (12-2, 7), who takes on fellow Filipino Philip Luis Cuerdo (10-4-1, 4) in what looks like an interesting match up. Jerusalem impressed in a narrow loss to Wanheng Menayothin, for the WBC Minimumweight title, but a loss to Joey Canoy last year does leave us wondering if he has the fire to prove himself. Cuerdo should be able to test Jerusalem here, but he been stopped in 2 of his last 3, and it would be a shock to see him pick up a victory over the former world title challenger.
The other former world title challenger on this card is Arthur Villanueva (31-3, 17), who has twice come up short when fighting for a world title. The technically well schooled Villanueva who has lost to McJoe Arroyo, Zolani Tete and Luis Nery, will be strongly favoured to pick up a win here as he take on domestic foe Renren Tesorio (16-12-3, 4).
Albert Pagara's older brother Jason Pagara (40-3-1, 25) is also on this card, and will be battling against Geisler Ap (12-10-1, 9). The 29 year old Pagara once promised so much but has disappointed in recent contests, including a draw with James Onyango and a loss last time out to Hiroki Okada. Despite those set backs it's hard to imagine Ap having much to test the Filipino.
The card is also set to see the debut of former Japanese stand out Go Hosaka (0-0), who will battle Holly Quinones (3-9-1, 1) in a “special attraction” bout. The 21 year old Hosaka signed with ALA not too long back and is tipped for big things. Despite this being his debut it's hard to imagine Hosaka losing to a fighter like Quinones, who has been stopped in 7 of his 9 losses.
On one Chinese show fight fans will see IBF female Minimumweight Zongju Cai (10-1, 1) battle against Mexico's Ana Victoria Polo (7-2, 1) for the IBO Female Minimumweight title. The Chinese fighter is looking to become a double champion, though from what is being reported won't be risking her IBF title here. Despite not risking her own title Cai will be strongly fancied here, and she is a genuine talent who is quickly become the face of female boxing in China. Aged 36 Polo is a fighter who has fought just once in the last 18 months and is unlikely to have the speed or skills match the local favourite.
The other title bout in China will see former world title contender Qiu Xiao Jun (21-4, 10) battle against the once beaten Petch Kokietgym (32-1, 5) in a contest for the OPBF “silver” Super Bantamweight title. The Chinese fighter hasn't fought since December 2016, when he suffered his second loss to Nehomar Cermeno, but will be favoured here against the very limited Petch. On paper the Thai looks a good fighter but his competition has been horrific so far and it's hard to image he has anything to test Jun with, even if Jun is rusty. Interestingly the winner of this will move towards a potential show down with Hidenori Otake.
On the final Tuesday before Christmas Japanese fight fans get a really good looking Kadoebi promoted card from the Korakuen Hall, with several bouts of genuine significance.
The most important of the bouts is the main event of the show, which will see the unbeaten Hiroki Okada (16-0, 11) take on the highly experienced Jason Pagara (40-2-1, 25) for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Light Welterweight title. The Japanese local knows that a win here will almost certainly be followed by a world title eliminator next year, with Okada having been ordered to face Ivan Baranchyk in an IBF eliminator however Pagaea is no push over. Interestingly Pagara, who is the WBO #8 ranked fighter at 147lbs, comes into this bout on the back of a FOTY contender against James Onyango, a bout that showed Pagara's faults and heart as he narrowly came away with a draw. This could be a very entertaining fight, and is a very significant one for both men involved.
The chief support bout will see touted former amateur star Ryota Yamauchi (1-0, 1) take a huge step up in class to face off with Lester Abutan (12-6-3, 6). The talented and touted Yamauchi impressed on debut and will now be tasked with facing someone who really is a very tough opponent for a second bout and is ranked in the top 15 by the OPBF. For Abutan the bout sees him returning to Japan for his second bout in the country, with the first being a loss in an OPBF title fight to Ken Shiro. It should be noted that Abutan hasn't just faced off with Ken Shiro but also fought to a split with Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr and is a really still test for Yamauchi
A third bout pitting Japan against the Philippines will see Yuta Nakagawa (21-5-1, 12) take on Markquil Salvana (13-4, 7). We last saw Nakagawa involved in a thrilling contest with Yasutaka Ishimoto, in a Japanese title eliminator, with Nakagawa losing the split decision in that bout. That loss to Ishimoto saw Nakagawa ending a 12 fight unbeaten run, and he'll be looking to get back to winning ways here. Salvana was once 9-0 (3) but has gone 4-4 (4) in his last 8 bouts, including losses in Japan to Takuya Uehara and Shota Hayashi, and has interestingly never won outside of his homeland.
In an all Japanese bout fans will see Japanese ranked Light Welterweight Yusuke Konno (11-4, 5) take on Welterweight puncher Kazuya Maruki (20-5, 13). The 32 year old Konno was last in the ring back in June, when he lost in a thriller against Koichi Aso for the Japanese Light Welterweight title. That bout showed that Konno really could fight, and he'll be looking to put in a similar performance here. The naturally bigger, and younger, Maruki has gone 3-3 in his last 6, including 2 losses in his last 3 bouts, but will likely feel his edge in youth and natural size advantage will be enough. It's hard to not excited about this bout given that both are flawed, aggressive and exciting fighters.
One other fighter of note on this card is Japanese Youth Bantamweight champion Wataru Takeda (11-1-1, 5), who will be facing off with a Thai opponent. Takeda has won his last 2 by stoppage following a close loss to Ryohei Takahashi in October 2016 and it does seem like his team have got big plans for 2016, with this bout serving as just a stay busy fight before Christmas.
It seems that we're getting some great fights week after week at the moment, and this coming weekend looks set to deliver something special with a number of noteworthy bouts.
The biggest bout of the weekend, by far, and one of the biggest bouts this year will see Middleweight kingpin Gennady Golovkin (37-0, 33) defending his WBA, WBC, IBF and IBO titles against Mexican icon Saul Alvarez (49-1-1, 34). For the mainstream sports fan the bout might not have the appeal of the recent Floyd Mayweather Vs Conor McGregor bout but for a boxing fan this is a bigger bout and it will see two of the biggest names in the sport collide in a really interesting match up. Will the biggest name in Mexican over-come the most destructive Middleweight of his generation, or will the Kazakh hero defeat the face of Mexican boxing.
It's not just in American that we get a world title fight, as we also get one in the Philippines, and this is another really well matched one which headlines a stacked card.
That world title bout will see IBF Light Flyweight champion Milan Melindo (36-2, 13) defending his title against former WBA Minimumweight champion Hekkie Budler (31-2, 10). The Filipino took the title earlier this year with a surprising first round win over Akira Yaegashi, setting a divisional record in the process, and will be looking to build on a fantastic little run which also includes a win over Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr. For Budler the bout sees him looking to become a 2-weight champion and score a third straight victory since his upset loss to Byron Rojas back in March 2016. This could be the fight of the weekend.
Talking about possible fights of the weekend it's hard not to think that John Riel Casimero (24-3, 15) against Jonas Sultan (13-3, 9) has the potential to be something special. Casimero, a former world champion at both Light Flyweight and Flyweight is seeking a world title fight at Super Flyweight and finds himself in there with a fighter who has slowly been building a reputation as one to watch. Whilst Casimero is a proven world level fighter, with wins against the likes of Luis Alberto Lazarte and Amnat Ruenroeng, it's hard not to be impressed by Sultan, who has run up recent stoppages against Tatsuya Ikemizu, Makazole Tete and Sonny Boy Jaro. This has the potential to be a very good fight.
Whilst the bouts mentioned above are all about fighters looking to kick on and go to better places it should be noted that this card also features a bout where neither man can afford another set back. That bout will see former world title challengers Arthur Villanueva (30-2, 16) and Richie Mepranum (31-6-1, 8) face off in a must win. Villanueva was last seen suffering a horribly one-sided loss to Zolani Tete in the UK, where Villanueva looked completely out of his depth, whilst Mepranum has been stopped in his last 2. Notably Villanueva is the naturally bigger man, and should win with out problems, but his performances in big bouts has left much to be desired so far.
One man looking to eventually get a big bout is Jason Pagara (40-2, 25), though he will need to over-come James Onyango (23-11-1, 19) if he's to get a shot at a world title. He's ranked #3 in the world by the WBO, and could be in the running for a shot very soon, but can't afford any slip ups here.
One man still looking to carve out his early career is Kevin Jake Cataraja (6-0, 5), who takes a small step up against Wiljan Ugbaniel (13-5-1, 4). The young Cataraja is regarded by those in the Philippines as one of the country's best prospects but will need to prove that against better foes than Ugbaniel. The more experienced man has lost his last 3 by stoppage, in a combined 4 rounds, and although he was once seen as a prospect it does seem like his career as a hopeful is now over.
We get another notable bout in Ukraine, as the unknown Uzbek Jamshidbek Najmiddinov (14-0, 9) takes on former world champion Viktor Postol (28-1, 12). For Postol the bout serves as his comeback contest following his wide decision loss to Terence Crawford back in July 2016 whilst the contests serves as a huge opportunity for Najimidinov to make a name for himself and score a career defining best win.
On a lower level we'll see two Thai's fighting in Australia.
One of those will see Paitoon Jaikom (7-32, 2) take on the unbeaten Matthew Triffett (3-0, 1) whilst the other will see Aphichat Koedchatturat (2-16-1) take on Lachlan Higgins (1-0, 1). It's clear these bouts won't get much attention given the other action for the day, but they will make up some under-card in Tasmania.
The biggest card of the weekend comes form Cebu and is a stacked ALA card.
The main event of the card will see former world title challengers Milan Melindo (34-2, 12) and Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr (31-4-1, 16) face off to crown a new IBF “interim” Light Flyweight champion, and decide the mandatory challenger for current world champion Akira Yaegashi. Melindo, fighting in his third world title fight, should be favoured here but Fahlan has put in his best performances as the under-dog, and the Thai is of course best known for upsetting Ryo Miyazaki. The bout should be a really intriguing one given the match up, and the fact that the winner moves into a world title bout this is an incredibly significant bout.
In a support bout will see the world ranked Jason Pagara (39-2, 24) battle former world champion Jose Alfaro (28-10-1-2, 24) in an interesting 10 rounder. Alfaro is a long way removed from his short reign as the WBA Lightweight world champion, but still has power and could still hurt Pagara who has shown himself to be a genuine world class fight. Sadly for Alfaro his only chance is a puncher's chance.
Staying with the Pagara family another bout will see the once beaten Albert Pagara (26-1, 18), who was last seen being stopped by Cesar Juaez, take on the tough but limited Raymond Commey (16-3, 9), who we saw lose to Qiu Xiao Jun not too long ago. The bout is a big question of Pagara's mental state, and whilst he should be favoured there is some worries that he will be damaged goods given the way he couldn't see Juarez and was stopped himself as Juarez rode the storm and came back strongly. Commey appears to be very durable and could be a real nightmare down the stretch for Pagara.
A really interesting looking all Filipino under-card bout will see former OPBF title challenger Jimmy Paypa (18-3-1, 6) battle the under-rated Jerry Nardo (21-9, 11) in what could potentially help decide a future OPBF title challenger. On paper Paypa should be favoured, especially given that Nardo has gone 2-5 in his last 7, but Nardo can spring upsets at domestic level and this bout could be a banana skin for Paypa.
Another good looking all-Filipino domestic bout will see Jeo Santisima (11-2, 10) face recent OPBF challenger Rex Wao (11-3, 9) in what look like a potentially explosive bout between very well matched fighters, at least on paper.
One of the most promising Filipino fighters is Kevin Jake Cataraja (4-0, 3) who looks for win #5 as he takes on the more experienced John Kenan Villaflor (6-1-2, 2) on a minor step up, and will hopefully be Cataraja's final bout before being stepped up. Another unbeaten hopeful in action here is the big punching Melvin Jerusalem (10-0, 7), who takes on Bonjun Loperez (10-5-1, 5) in a bit of a stay busy bout for the unbeaten youngster.
A second Filipino card of the day comes from Batangas.
In the headline bout on this card we'll see a rematched between the experienced Roberto Gonzales (27-2, 17) and Ryan Sermona (19-8, 12), who fight for the GAB Lightweight title. On paper it looks like a straight forward first defense for Gonzalez, who has won his last and 7 bouts, however he was stopped by Sermona when the two men first fought back in May 2012 and Sermona will be confident of scoring a second win over Gonzalez.
In an interesting match up we'll see the experienced Al Sabaupan (25-2-1, 20) battle Jheritz Chavez (5-1-2, 3) in a real cross roads. Sabaupan had once been tipped as a world title contender but losses in 2012 and 2013 ended those hopes. Sabaupan has won his last 5 but hasn't shown his early promise in recent years and has only fought twice in he last 25 months. Chavez was beaten last time out but is unbeaten at home and could prove to be a total handful for Sabuapan.
Another bout on the show will see Glenn Porras (29-4, 17) battle against the very limited Jayar Estremos (10-12, 4). Porras was beaten just 2 fights back, though that was back in December 2012 and he has did return to winning ways last time out. Estremos is a very limited fighter and it would be a huge surprise for him to test Porras, even with Porras' recent lack of activity.
Icheon City, South Korea
In South Korea fans will see former world champion Eun Hye Lee (8-1, 3) battle against Thailand's Nongnun Mor Krungthepthonburi (5-3-1) in a bout for the WIBA Flyweight title. Lee was unlucky to not become a 2-weight world champion this year, losing a controversial bout to Nana Yoshikawa. The Thai will be the huge under-dog and we can't see how she wins here.
In Mexico we'll see Japanese born, Mexican based, Shoki Sakai (21-6-1, 13) face off with Jose Lopez (26-6-2, 15) in a really well matched bout. Sakai has suffered back-to-back setbacks, albeit controversial ones, and will be looking to score his second win of the year. Whilst Sakai has been unfortunate this year Lopez had been in a bad run of form, going 1-3-1 in his last 5 bouts over the last 14 months.
Whilst there is action through out Asia this coming Saturday the most interesting names in action are in the US.
The most notable name in action is fast rising Filipino hopeful Albert Pagara (26-0, 18) who faces the tough and brave Cesar Juarez (17-5, 13), who gave Nonito Donaire hell last year in a WBO Super Bantamweight world title bout. In many ways this is a gut check for Pagara and if he wins the odds are he will get a world title fight either at the end of this year or very early in 2017. For Juarez it's a chance to beat a big name Filipino fight following the Donaire bout.
The other Filipino in a starring role on this card is Albert's older brother Jason Pagara (38-2, 23) who faces off against the limited Abraham Alvarez (21-9-1, 10), who has been stopped in all 9 of his loses. On paper this doesn't look an awful match up but Alvarez is 4-8 in his last 12 and shouldn't be any sort of a challenge for Pagara.
Another “big” name is in action in Japan with that being “Tatsuyoshi”, unfortunately it's not the great Joichiro Tatsuyoshi but his less talented, and less charismatic, son Juiki Tatsuyoshi (4-0, 2) who will be up against Rio Nainggolan (2-2, 2) in what will be Juiki's first 6 rounder. Despite it being a step up in rounds for Tatsuyoshi it's hard to really view this bout as a step up in class.
Another notable fighter on this card is touted prospect Kazuaki Miyamoto (0-0), who will be making his debut against a Thai opponent. Miyamoto is starting his career in a 6 round bout and it expected to make a mark at either 135lbs or 130lbs. At 22 years old he has time on his side, but we suspect he may be fast tracked through the domestic scene.
In the Philippines we get title action as the unbeaten Jenel Lausa (6-0, 4) takes on Jon Jon Estrada (8-2-1, 7) for the interim PBF Super Bantamweight title. This looks like a mismatch on paper but it will be Lausa's first fight against an opponent with a winning record. We won't say Estrada is a proven fighter but he is a step up from what Lausa has been facing far.
On the under-card we have two intriguing bouts between unbeaten fighters. One of those will see Edward Heno (7-0-4, 2) battle against Jayr Raquinel (5-0, 3) whilst the other will see Carlo Caesar Penalosa (4-0, 1) face off against Ryan Pinola (2-0). These are two excellent match ups on paper and although a win won't prove a lot for any of the fighters it should see them tested.
We also get two shows in China with one of those taking place in Beijing.
This card will feature the promising Qu Peng (10-1-1, 6) in a stay busy assignment against Evy Johannes Akoundou (0-1) in what should little more than a straight forward win for the Chinese Light Heavyweight hopeful.
At Super Featherweight the unbeaten Jin Xiang Pan (6-0, 4) will be up against Yong Cai Liu (5-3-2, 4) in an 8 rounder. The 18 year old Pan beat Liu last year, by split decision, and has rolled off 4 straight stoppages since whilst Liu will be coming into this one looking looking for revenge.
The card also features some interesting debuts with Kazakh Makhsat Shman (0-0) kicking off his career with a 6 round bout against China's Tong Hui Li (5-1, 3) whilst Chinese Heavyweight hopeful Leilang Wang (0-0) begins his career with a bout against Manolov Aleksandrov (0-0), a fellow debut. We have been told that Wang is one that potentially could set the Chinese Heavyweight scene on fire so we'll be very interested to see how he goes here.
The other Chinese card will be in Chengdu with the major bout of note being between Filipino Sonny Katiandagho (9-1, 5) and unbeaten Armenian Rafik Harutjunjan (9-0, 5), who will be facing off for the WBC Eurasia Pacific Boxing Council Welterweight title. Although relatively unknown outside of his homeland Katiandagho has scored back to back wins of note over Allan Tanada and Hyun Woo Yuh and will be confident here against the very promising Dutch based Armenian.
Another bout of note here will see Melissa St Vil (7-2-3) face Katy Wilson Castillo (18-1, 11) in a female bout. St Vil will be up against it here against a former world champion, however Castillo hasn't fought in 3 years and could well be very rusty coming in to this one.
Nuevo León, Mexico
In Mexico local veteran Miguel Roman (55-11, 42) will be facing off again Filipino Jerope Mercado (27-7-3, 9). On paper this looks well matched but Roman has fought at the highest level and is on a 17 fight winning streak, including an upset win over Juli Giner in Spain last time out. Mercado on the other hand is 2-4 in his last 6 and is unlikely to upset the Mexican veteran.
New York, USA
In the US fight fans will be able to see Myanmar born fighter Neyeine Muang (2-2-2) take on the unbeaten Will Madera (8-0, 3) in what looks like a really tough ask for the Utica based Asian fighter.
Recent weeks have seen a rise in fights of note, and that's certainly the case this coming Saturday with a host of fights featuring Asian fighters, 3 of which feature world title bouts.
The most notable of those world title bouts comes in California as Middleweight kingpin Gennady Golovkin (34-0, 21) defends his WBA “super”, IBF and WBC “interim” titles against IBF mandatory challenger Dominic Wade (18-0, 12). The bout pits unbeaten fighters together but the reality is that the bout is widely seen as a mismatch with Golovkin a clear favourite and a man who is simply destroying the contenders at 160lbs as he continues to hunt more titles and unifications bouts.
Another of the world title bouts headlines a card in the Philippines and, like the bout in California, this one is also viewed as a mismatch.
The world title bout in question will see WBO Super Bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire (36-3, 23) defending his title against the very unqualified Hungarian challenger Zsolt Bedak (25-1, 8). For Donaire the bout will be his first since reclaiming the title in December, winning a very competitive bout with Cesar Juarez, and it's an easy first defense if we're being honest. Bedak has only lost once, losing by 10th round TKO to Wilfredo Vazquez Jr, but has done nothing since that loss to deserve a world title fight.
Whilst the world title bout on this show is likely to be a exercise in pointlessness for the champion the show does feature a really tasty looking support bout as the touted Mark Magsayo (13-0, 10) battles former world title challenger Chris Avalos (26-4, 19) in a bout for the WBO International Featherweight title. Avalos has lost 2 of his last 3, by stoppage, but this should be a good test for Magsayo who is stepping up in quality fight by fight.
On the under card are several notable fighters, one of which is Light Welterweight contender Jason Pagara (37-2, 23) who faces off against Mexican Miguel Zamudio (35-8-1, 21), who is best known for his exploits down at Featherweight, where fought for a WBA interim title. Sadly given the natural size difference this looks to be another mismatch in favour of the local favourite who seems to be treading water.
Another undercard bout will see former world title challenger Rocky Fuentes (36-8-2, 21) ace off against Romnick Magos (12-5, 7, in what looks like a safe fight for Fuentes. The bout will be the “Road Warrior's” second contest since his stoppage loss to Roman Gonzalez in late 2014 and looks to be a case of staying busy rather than anything else. As for Magos the “Daredevil” will be looking for a career best result, though is unlikely to find it here.
The third world title fight to feature an Asian will see Filipino Richie Mepranum (31-4-1, 8) battle against WBC Super Flyweight champion Carlos Cuadras (34-0-1, 26). On paper this is a mismatch in favour of the Mexican champion, who is looking for his 6th defense of the title, but Mepranum has got experience at this level and holds a notable win over Hernan Marquez. Saying that however Cuadras should be too big and too good for the challenger. Notably however the winner of this will go into a mandatory title bout against Thailand's all action Srisaket Sor Rungvisai later in the year.
In the US fans will get their first chance to see Mexican based Japanese fighter Shoki Sakai (20-5, 13), who makes his US debut against Texan Carlos Villa (11-2-1, 6). The bout should be a win for the under-rated Sakai, though travelling to Villa's home state may make things difficult for Sakai,
Metro Manila, Philippines
Back in the Philippines fans get a low level domestic card, with the most notable bout being a contest between former world ranked fighter Renan Trongco (17-6, 10) and domestic journeyman Ricky Oyan (4-27-2, 2), in what should be a straight forward win for Trongco.
This coming Saturday is certainly a busy day in Asian boxing.
New York, USA
The main action of the day comes from the US with a card in New York getting particular interest thanks to two bouts, each of which promises to be exciting and will highlight a man who some regard as the top fighter on the planet.
For many the stand out bout is the Middleweight unification bout between WBA “super”/IBO/WBC “interim” champion Gennady Golovkin (33-0, 30) and IBF title holder David Lemieux (34-2, 31). This bout promises to be an incredibly exciting one with fans sat on the edge of their seats due to the power of the two fighters, though everything suggests that it will be Golovkin's tougher resolve and more varied skill set that gets him the win.
The other bout of note will see Filipino-American Brian Viloria (36-4-0-2, 22) take on unbeaten WBC Flyweight king Roman Gonzalez (43-0, 37) in what looks to be an equally interesting match up. We know that many, including ourselves, regard Gonzalez as the best fighter on the planet, pound-for-pound, though this should serve as a test of that tag and a real proof of his credentials as well as continuing to break him out to the American market, who have sadly only began to cotton on to the excitement of the lower weights.
In California we'll see Filipino promotional outfit ALA put on their first show in the US with the next of their “Pinoy Pride” cards.
In the main event we'll see long reigning world champion Donnie Nietes (36-1-4, 21) defendign his WBO Light Flyweight belt against unknown Mexican challenger Juan Alejo (21-3, 13), who we struggled to find any footage of. On paper this looks like an easy win for the champion, who is certainly a known quantity, however Alejo will be full of confidence and is riding an excellent 21 fight winning streak, albeit against some questionable opposition.
Whilst Nietes is the elder statesman of the card the show will also feature a couple of fighters from the new wave of Filipino boxing. One of those is the brilliant Mark Magsayo (11-0, 9) who puts his unbeaten record on the line against Yardley Suarez (13-0, 8), a relatively unknown Mexican foe.
The other member of the new wave of Filipino boxing in action here is Albert Pagara (24-0, 17) who will be putting his unbeaten record and work rankings on the line against Nicaraguan William Gonzalez (27-5, 23). Pagara,if he wins as expected, will likely be looking towards a world title fight in 2016, and in fairness to him there's a good chance he could claim a major title in the next 12 months.
A fourth bout of note here will see the older of the Pagara brothers in action as Jason Pagara (36-2, 22), who will be up against Nicaragua's Santos Benavides (25-7-2, 19) in what looks like a genuine matched bout that could well steal the show, despite being the least interesting bout in terms of the future. This really could be a low level war, though for Pagara it's a must win with the Filipino being very highly ranked by the WBO in the Light Welterweight division.
There is a small show in Ishikawa.
The main event here will see Filipino born Japanese based fighter Mark Gil Melligen (21-5-1, 12) battle against Japan's very own Yudai Tamagawa (7-6-1, 2) in what should be an easy win for Melligen, who lost last time out to Vinvin Rufino in an OPBF title bout.
An interestingly matched support bout will see Yukiya Hanabusa (8-2-2, 2) take on Yudai Arai (6-3-3, 3). This bout isn't an amazing one but should be a very good 8 round contest between two well matched fighters.
A bout that caught our eye will see Venezuelan novice Omrri Bolivar (2-0, 1) take on Chinese fighter Xinghua Wang (11-12-1). Bolivar was last seen in China, beating Khunkhiri Wor Wisaruth and now fighting in Japan it seems he could be one of the more interesting imports to the the east, where hopefully he will begin to base himself in the coming months.
Whilst the remaining 4 bouts on this card are less than exciting they do feature some international fighters with a Thai and a Korea both on the under-card.
A card in Gifu is scheduled or 6 bouts though, unfortunately, only features one really interesting bout.
That interesting match up will see the touted Genki Hanai (4-0, 3) face off against Junya Nishikawa (7-6-2, 2). This bout is supposed to be a Japanese title prelude for Hanai who is expected to fight for either a Japanese or OPBF title early next year.
Baja California, Mexico
In Mexico we'll see Filipino tough guy Vergel Nebran (14-9-1, 9) take on the very exciting Jessie Magdaleno (21-0, 15), in what is a huge ask for Nebran. This is unlikely to end well for the 25 year old Filipino though he may be able to ask some questions of the unbeaten Magdaleno, who has looked like a champion in the making so far.
To end the week we get a genuinely busy day with action all across Asia.
The most notable bout of the day comes from Thailand where we get a WBO Bantamweight title fight between hard hitting Japanese slugger Ryo Akaho (26-1-2, 18) and Thai veteran Punluang Sor Singyu (50-3, 34), who is hoping to become a 2-time world champion. On paper it's hard to bet against Akaho, who is big, strong and hits like a mule, however no Japanese fighter has ever won a world title bout in Thailand and it could well be a case of history repeating it's self here.
Also on this show will be two other title bouts. One of those will see Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo (55-2, 36) defending his WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight title as he battles Indonesian visitor Boido Simanjuntak (18-28-1, 7) in what is a clear mismatch. The visitor enters this bout 0-14 on his trips to Thailand whilst Chonlatarn is unbeaten in his homeland and has only lost to world class ighters.
The other title bout will see the once beaten Kwanpichit Onesongchaigym (31-1-2, 16) defending his WBO Oriental Flyweight title as he continues to rebuild following his 2014 loss to Chinese star Zou Shiming.
Whilst the biggest bout of the day is in Thailand the best card is actually in Dubai as ALA return to the oil rich emirate and show case some of their most exciting fighters.
The most exciting of the fighters on this card is the unbeaten Super Bantamweight hopeful Albert Pagara (23-0, 16). The 21 year old “Prince” Albert will be defending his IBF Inter-Continental title against Mexican challenger Jesus Rios (31-7-1, 25), who is expected to supper his 8th stoppage loss. Given the ability of Pagara we would like to see him step up in a class but that was never likely on this particular card
Albert's older brother Jason Pagara (35-2, 22) will also be in action as he battles Ramiro Alcaraz (15-4-1, 9) in what amounts to a 10 round stay busy contest at a contracted 143lbs. The bout is really little more than a ticking over bout for Pagara who is world ranked by the WBO and could potentially get a world title fight sooner rather than later.
One other notable name on this card is Jimrex Jaca (39-8-4, 22) who battles 24 year old foe Pablo Lugo Montiel (21-5, 17). On paper this looks a lot tastier than than the other two major bouts however Montiel has gone 4-4 in his last 8 and going through his record shows that he hasn't scored a win of any real note so far
There will also action at the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo where fans get the chance to see several crossroad bouts.
The most exciting bout on the card will see former Japanese title contenders collide in what is essentially a Japanese title eliminator at 122lbs. In one corner is Gakuya Furuhashi (17-5-1, 7), who was recently held to a draw by current champion Yukinori Oguni, whilst in the other corner will be Yasutaka Ishimoto (25-8, 7), who was narrowly beaten by Oguni last year. This bout may not be one that gets international attention but the winner will be regarded as a fringe contender on the world scene and could well end up getting a national title fight next year before a possible step up to a world title fight at some point. This will be a relatively tactical affair but a very good fight all the same.
Another intriguing match up on this card is a rematch of a Japanese Middleweight contest that is a must win for both men. In one corner for this bout is the criminally under-rated Hikaru Nishida (12-7-1, 4) who looks to score his second win over former OPBF and Japanese champion Makoto Fuchigami (21-10, 12), who is best known for his loss in a world title bout to Gennady Golovkin. On paper it's easy to back Fuchigami but in their first meeting Nishida won a unanimous decision and has gone 6-1 in his last 7 whilst Fuchigami has struggled for form with 4 losses in his last 6.
On the under-card there are two novices who are expected to receive notable attention. One of those is the unbeaten Kohei Kashino (2-0, 1), who battles Hizuki Saso (4-1), and the other is Riyako Goshi (3-3), who faces Chie Higano (3-3). Kashino is, from what we understand, a highly qualified young man who is attempting to make his name in boxing whilst Goshi is a model known for risque pictures, and always seems to get more attention than her talent deserves.
We also have two bouts in Australia featuring Asian fighters.
The most notable of those fights is a PABA Light Welterweight title fight that sees the talented Czar Amonsot (28-3-3, 17) battle against Indonesian fighter Rusmin Kie Raha (14-7-2, 3). It's hard to see what Raha has to really test Amonsot but the Filipino has everything to lose and nothing to gain from this bout.
Another Filipino in action on this card is Roberto Lerio (16-21-1, 6) who looks to upset the unbeaten Ibrahim Balla (7-0, 5) in a bout for the Australian Super Bantamweight title. Lerio, who is based in Australia, is the clear under-dog but will know that a win here will open up some really good opportunities for him in Mexico.
(Image courtesy of www.onesongchai.com)
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)
As we all know not all the big fights involving Asian fighters are in Asia and this weekend sees various Asian fighters fighting around the globe in some of the most significant fights of the weekend.
Monte Carlo, Monaco
The only world title fight involving an Asian fighter this weekend sees Thai veteran Pigmy Kokietgym (52-6-2, 22) taking on South Africa's Hekkie Budler (25-1, 8) in a battle for the WBA Minimumweight title. This is a huge ask for Pigmy and although the Thai has lost just once in the last decade he's really stepping up big time. Budler is widely regarded as one of the top 2 fighters in the division and will likely be too talented, too fast and too busy for the Thai who is being given next to no chance to score the upset.
Pigmy isn't the only Asian with a big task on his hands this weekend and in the US Japan's hard hitting Yoshihiro Kamegai (24-1-1, 21) will be facing multi-weight world champion Robert Guerrero (31-2-1-2, 18). This is a major bout for Kamegai who lost last time he was in the States to Johan Perez. We do love watching Kamegai who hits hard, takes a shot well and is exciting to watch but we know he's been brought in to lose to Guerrero who will be wanting to score an impressive victory after spending more than a year on the sidelines.
A bit closer to home is an ALA show in Cebu City.
This show is headlined by the Pagara brothers but features 4 very interesting bouts. The oldest of the Pagara brothers, Jason Pagara (33-2, 20) will be defending his WBO International Light Welterweight title against Mexican puncher Mario Meraz (20-3, 16). We've got to favour Pagara here as Meraz has yet to score a win of note.
Jason's younger brother Albert Pagara (20-0, 14) will be hoping to extend his winning run and claim the vacant IBF Inter-Continental Super Bantamweight title in his bout on the show. "Prince" Albert will, like his brother, be battling against a Mexican Hugo Partida (21-4-2, 16). Partida is best known for his 9th round TKO loss to Akifumi Shimoda and we'd not be surprised if Pagara managed to stop him as well, probably quicker than Shimoda did back in 2012.
Although the Pagara brothers are the head-liners we're incredibly excited about both of the support bouts. One of these will see hard hitting Filipino AJ Banal (30-2-1, 21) taking on the highly touted Indonesian banger Defry Palulu (10-0, 9) in what will be Palulu's first major test. We've been told that Palulu is the best thing in Indonesian boxing since Chris John and we're hoping that he is as the country really needs another emerging fighter. For Banal however this is a must win bout. With both men having a lot to earn from a win and a lot to lose from a loss we're expecting this to be a great contest.
The other support bout will see the experienced Jimrex Jaca (39-7-3, 22) taking on recent Japanese title contender Masayoshi Kotake (9-8-1, 5) in a very promising Light Welterweight contest. The records of the two men are huge different but Kotake's record really is misleading. Interestingly one of Kotake's losses was a close decision to Shinya Iwabuchi who, earlier this year, stopped Jaca in 7. We've got to favour Jaca but this has the potential to be a genuinely thrilling contest between two men who each need a win.
In Austria we see two female bouts involving Thai fighters who will be hoping to pick up some lesser titles. The most interesting of the two bouts will see the once beaten Nonggift Onesongchaigym (6-1-1, 1) battle against Eva Voraberger (17-3, 9) for the vacant WIBF and WBF female Super Flyweight titles. The 18 year old Nonggift enters this bout on a 7 fight unbeaten run though she is taking a huge step up to fight Austria's very own Voraberger who has been very highly praised by various sources. This is a tough ask for the Thai teen but as we know anything can happen in boxing.
The other bout, which is for the WIBF, WBF and GBU Minimumweight titles will see Nonggift's stable-mate Buangern Onesongchaigym (10-6-1, 1) taking on the unbeaten Oezlem Sahin (17-0-1, 5) in what appears to be a bit of a mismatch. Although she's 37 Sahin is a young and fresh 37 having avoided many hard bouts. Sadly for the 21 year old Thai fighter she's not managed to avoid punishment and she's been stopped in 3 of her last 5 bouts, including a stoppage loss at the hands of the light punching Ayaka Miyao earlier this year.
Staying on the theme female fights we also get female action in Switzerland as the Japanese born Swiss based Aniya Seki (24-2-2, 2) takes on tough Mexican Judith Rodriguez (6-7, 4) in a battle for the WBC Silver female Super Flyweight title. Seki, who has fought her career entirely in Switzerland, will probably be aware that Rodriguez gave Shindo Go a tough fight last December and that she will have to be at the top of her game to beat the very under-rated Mexican fighter.
In the UK fans will get to see the Pakistan born British based Faheem Khan (5-4-2) take on the debuting Jamie Ingleby (0-0). Although Khan has the clear edge in experience he has been stopped in each of his 4 losses and we'd not be that shocked to see him stopped again here.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)