The biggest card this coming Friday is in Qingdao as we get two world title fights and several other minor title contests.
One of the world title bouts will see WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura (16-1-2, 9) return to China, where he won the title last year against Zou Shiming, to defend the belt against Froilan Saludar (28-2-1, 19). Kimura has made just a single defense of the title, but looks like a solid champion who is strong, hungry and hard hitting, much more so than his record suggests. As for Saludar he was once tipped as a major star but has failed to reach the heights expected of him. Saying that however Saludar has seen his brother, Vic Saludar, score a massive win recently over Ryuya Yamanaka and will feel full of confidence following his brothers win. We're expecting heavy leather to be thrown here and we suspect both have the power to hurt the other.
The other world title fight will see unbeaten WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart (17-0, 7) defending his title against China's very own Xiong Zhao Zhong (27-7-1, 14). This will be Knockout's first bout outside of Thailand and will see him hunting a 5th defense of the WBA regular title. Although talented Knockout does have flaws and with the Chinese crowd against him he may need to up the pace in the later rounds, something he's rarely done when he's been fighting at home. For Zhong the bout is one final chance to become a 2-time world champion, though at the age of 35 it's hard to know what he really left in the tank.
In another title bout we'll see China's Baishanbo Nasiyiwula (13-2-1, 6) take on Filipino fighter Sonny Katiandagho (12-2, 7) for a couple of regional titles. Coming in to this Nasiyiwula will be trying to bounce back from his April loss against Fredrick Lawson in the US, and will be dropping back down from Welterweight to Light Welterweight for this bout. As for Katiandagho he was stopped 2 fights ago, and has been down a few times during his career, though will feel confident here having gone 2-0 in fights in China.
Other bouts on this card include Can Xu (13-2, 1) against Jelbirt Gomera (13-4, 7) and an interim regional Flyweight title bout between Wulan Tuolehazi (7-3-1, 3) and Yokthong Kokietgym (18-4, 11).
Fight fans in Tokyo will get something a bit special as reason put on a stacked card at the Korakuen Hall.
The major attraction here is an amazing match up for the Japanese Super Bantamweight title, as defending champion Yusaku Kuga (16-2-1, 11) takes on former world title challenger Shingo Wake (24-5-2, 16) in what is essentially a world title eliminator between two world class fighters. The hard hitting Kuga has made two defenses of the title that he won in February 2017, though certainly got pushed hard in the first of those against the aggressive and hard hitting Ryoichi Tamura. Wake on the other hand is a former OPBF champion who's only loss in the last 6 years came to the hard hitting Jonathan Guzman in 2016. This is a puncher against a boxer, and we're expecting a compelling stylistic match up here.
Whilst the main event is brilliant it may end up being outshone by a supporting bout between unbeaten Minimumweight prospects, who trade blows for the Japanese Youth Minimumweight title. The bout in question will see 2016 Minimumweight Rookie of the Year Daiki Tomita (12-0, 4) take on the heavy handed Kai Ishizawa (4-0, 4) in what is really a fantastic match up. The 20 year old Tomita had a break out 2016 with his Rookie of the Year triumph and since then has gone 4-0 (2) with a notable domestic win over Desierto Nagaike. On the other hand Ishizawa, who debuted in June 2017, has just been destructive with his April win over Tatsuro Nakashima being a huge statement. This really has the potential to be a very special bout.
Former Japanese and OPBF champion Takuya Kogawa (29-5, 13) will be returning to the ring for his first bout of the year, as he takes on former Japanese title challenger Yusuke Sakashita (16-8-2, 11). At his best Kogawa was world class, and has long been a fan favourite due to his high octane style and willingness to have a tear up against anyone. Sadly though at the age of 33 we suspect his career is catching up with him and he may not have too long left at the top. Saying that however we still suspect Kogawa will have more than enough to over-come the somewhat limited Sakashita who has gone 4-4 in his last 8, losing to the 4 notable fighters that he's shared the ring with in that time.
Another really interesting match up will see former Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Masaaki Serie (27-9, 10) return to the ring after more than 2 years away from the ring. Unfortunately for the 35 year old Serie he will be up against the fast rising Daisuke Sugita (2-0, 1), who is tipped for big things. At his best Serie was a really solid fighter, who scored notable wins against the likes of Mikihito Seto, Shoji Kimura and Yasutaka Ishimoto. Sadly for Serie he was showing signs of his age before his break from the ring, and had gone 3-4 in his previous 7 bouts. Sugita is a former amateur stand out who debuted in April and is taking a big step up here, but one that we expect him to make with ease given just how good he was as an amateur, and how good he's been since turning professional.
A second Japanese card will be held in Osaka where we see several rising prospects and a former Japanese champion in action. Sadly however this card really lacks in terms of quality match ups.
The main event on this card will see second generation fighter Juiki Tatsuyoshi (8-0, 5), the son of the legendary Joichiro Tatsuyoshi, take on Indonesian veteran Noldi Manakane (32-24-2, 18). The Japanese fighter will be fighting in his first 10 rounder and taking a notable step up in class as he battles his first former world title challenger. Sadly though Manakane is a long, long way from the fighter who challenged Koki Kameda or the WBA Bantamweight title back in 2012 and the 34 year old has won just 8 of his last 21 fights.
The former champion on this card is former Japanese Featherweight champion Kosuke Saka (17-4, 14), who continues to rebuild his career following his shock loss to Takenori Ohashi last December. The heavy handed Saka shouldn't struggle at all with the light hitting Gusti Elnino (4-12-1, 1), who fights outside of Indonesia for the first time. Saka might not be the best fighter, or the smartest, but he should be far too strong and powerful for Elnino.
The once beaten, and heavy handed, Kyosuke Tsutsumimoto (7-1, 6) will be looking to score his 4th straight stoppage as he takes on Arega Yunian (6-10, 1). The Japanese fighter has rebuilt well since a loss in a 4 rounder to Bunta Okamoto back in 2016, and looks to be rising through the ranks, helped in part to a big win in April against Engelbert Moralde. The Indonesian fighter also fought in April, but unlike Tsutsumimoto he was himself stopped, being taken out in 3 rounds by super prospect Hintata Maruta. Given how their performances went in April it's hard to see anything but a stoppage win for Tsutsumimoto.
Also on this show will be the highly promising Ginjiro Tsutsumimoto (1-0, 1), who impressed us back in his amateur days. The talented Japanese hopeful will be up against his own Indonesian foe in the form of Iwan Sanca, who has been stopped in both of his defeats. We've got big hopes for Tsutsumimoto and really can't imagine him struggling, at all, in this bout as he moves towards bigger and better fights.
Eastern Cape, South Africa
Outside of Asia the most interesting match up will see once beaten South African fighter Yanga Sigqibo (10-1-1, 3) face off against Filipino foe Rene Dacquel (20-7-1, 6) in a bout for the WBC international Super Flyweight title. The South African fighter won the national title last year and made one defense, but this is a big step up for him as he takes on a former OPBF champion. Dacquel was dominated last time out, by Andrew Moloney, but is a very capable fighter and has got a real chance of picking up a solid win on the road here.
The more notable of two Australian cards comes from Victoria where Brian Amatruda gives us a pretty interesting match up with a Thai involved, and also a bout with a notable Filipino.
The interesting bout, for us, will see the once touted Kaewfah Tor Buamas (27-4, 17) take on rising Australian hopeful Liam Paro (14-0, 10). The Thai would win his first 23 bouts but has since gone 4-4 as his career has began to go backwards and he has suffered recent defeats to Czar Amonsot, Masayoshi Nakatani, George Kambosos and Atchariya Wirojanasunobol all in the last 24 months. As for Paro this is a slight step up in class, but the 22 year old looks a class act and should have the edge in size, power, youth and skills as we go into this bout. A win from Paro is expected, but the real question will be about how he wins.
The Filipino on the other hand is Czar Amonsot (34-4-3, 22). He hasn't had his opponent for the contest announced as of yet, but isn't expected to face much of a test as he competes in a 6 rounder and looks to bounce back from an October 2017 loss to Carlos Manuel Portillo.
Western Australia, Australia
Staying in Australia there will also be a couple of mismatched featuring Indonesian fighters.
One bout will see the under-rated Brandon Ogilvie (19-2-1, 10) take on Indonesian journeyman Rusmin Kie Raha (15-15-3, 3). Although no world beater Ogilvie is certainly not a bad fighter, and his 2016 draw in Tokyo against Yoshitaka Kato was impressive, as was his stoppage win against Pharanpetch Tor Buamas. As for the Indonesian he has suffered 9 stoppage losses in his 15 defeats and has gone 3-13-1 in his last 17 bouts.
The other match up with an Indonesian visitor will see the once beaten Jackson Jon England (4-1, 3) battle against the very limited Arief Blader (23-28-2, 8). Although England was beaten last time out, losing to the then debuting Richard Lockett, he should easily pick up a win here against a very out of form Blader, who has lost his last 6 and has started to collect losses on a very regular basis.
There's quite a lot of title action this coming Friday with title fights in both Japan and the Philippines. Of those two shoes it's the Japanese card that looks the much better show.
The most significant bout on the card sees Japanese Light Middleweight champion Takeshi Inoue (11-0-1, 6) challenge OPBF champion Ratchasi Sithsaithong (9-3, 7), in a bout which will see the winner also claim the WBO Asia Pacific title. On paper it looks like a bout where Inoue should be favoured, and in all honesty if he wins he could be regarded as the Japanese break out fighter of the year, but Ratchasi is no mug. Coming into this Ratchasi has scored 3 wins in a row against Japanese fighters, including a 12th round TKO of Yutaka Oishi and an 11th round TKO of Jumbo Oda Nobunaga Shoten Petagine, who subsequently retired. Whilst Inoue has had a great year a win for Ratchasi would see him going 3-0 in Japan and have a very legitimate claim to being the best 154lb fighter in Asia.
Although the bout above is the biggest bout of the card it's technically not the main event. Instead that will be a Japanese Flyweight title bout between defending champion Masayuki Kuroda (27-7-3, 15) and the limited but entertaining Mako Matsuyama (8-12-2, 3). The bout will be Kuroda's first defense of the title he won earlier this year, when he beat Takuya Kogawa, to become a 2-weight Japanese champion. Matsuyama is best known for his 2014 FOTY contender against Rex Tso, though has some how gotten this title shot having won just once in his last 7 bouts. Kuroda should easily retain his title here if we're being honest, but this should be a fun fight all the same.
A third title bout will see former world champions collide, with Naoko Shibata (17-4-1, 6) and Etsuko Tada (16-3-2, 5) facing off for the WBO Asia Pacific female Minimumweight title. These two fought back in September 2012, with Tada defeating Shibata to retain the WBA female Minimumweight title. Since then both women have held IBF titles, with Tada holding one at 105lbs and Shibata at 108lbs. Since there first bout Tada has gone 5-3 whilst Shibata has gone 8-3-1 but both have been fighting at the top level and know that a win here will help them remain relevant, whilst a loss could end their career as a world class fighter.
The only bout of note from the under-card sees the big punching Kazuto Nakane (8-2, 8) take on former Kuroda opponent Yuta Matsuo (12-3-1, 6), in what could be an entertaining lower tier scrap. Nakane has fought at a lower level, but has show natural power and is the bigger man, whilst Maysuo is more tested man, having shared the ring with Kuroda, Ardin Diale and Ryuto Oho. This is arguably the most well matched bout on the card, despite no title being on the line.
There is also a show in the Philippines full of title bouts, though if we're being honest it's not the most attractive of shows, despite 4 “title bouts”.
The most interesting looking title bout will see the once beaten Carlo Caesar Penalosa (9-1, 3) take on Salatiel Amit (10-3-2, 7) for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Silver Super Flyweight title. Neither man is very well known, even in Filipino boxing circles, but Penalosa is notable not just for his famous surname but also the fact he's one of the few to stop tough journeyman Vincent Bautista. As for Amit he's best known for losing to notable opponents, suffering losses to Jade Bornea, Jonathan Taconing and Froilan Saludar, though should prove to be a very solid opponent for Penalosa here.
In an interim OPBF Featherweight title fight we'll see Venezuelan Omrri Bolivar (5-0, 3) take on Filipino Jelbirt Gomera (12-4, 6), in a bout that makes very little sense. The OPBF champion, Satoshi Shimizu, won the full title in October and he's not injured, Bolivar isn't from the OPBF region and Gomera has lost his last 3. For the OPBF to sanction this bout is a mystery and really beggars belief. The one positive is that Bolivar will find himself involved in more notable bouts going forward, after he beats Gomera, and we'd quite like a Bolivar Vs Shimizu bout in 2018.
One actual "full" OPBF title bout will see Yuko Henzan (5-6-3, 2) take on Kongsang Palum (2-3, 1) in a bout for the OPBF female Bantamweight title. It's fair to say that this isn't a very attractive bout given the limited records of both fighters, but given that both fighters are limited the bout at least be relatively competitive. Coming in Henzan has won her last 3, and is unbeaten in her last 4, but has faced limited foes in that run. As for Palum she has never scored a win over a fighter with a positive record.
In another female title bout we'll see former world title challenger Erika Hanawa (7-1, 2) take on Thai foe Sornsawan Sarakarngym (2-4, 1) for the OPBF interim Female Minimumweight title. Last time out we saw Hanawa lose to Japanese veteran Kayoko Ebata, in a bout that showed up Hanawa's limitations at that point, but it's hard to see anything but a win for her here. The Thai has been stopped in 3of her losses, including the aforementioned Ebata, and we wouldn't be shocked to see her being stopped again here.
In Australia we'll see a notable Filipino and a novice Indonesian.
The Filipino in action is the world class Randy Petalcorin (27-2-1, 20), who returns to Australia for his first bout in the country since his controversial loss to Omari Kimweri in 2016. The talented Filipino will be up against faltering Indonesian Oscar Raknafa (13-15, 5), who was once world ranked but has gone 2-12 in his last 14 bouts and is now essentially a record padder on the Asian scene.
In the other bout on the card we'll see Daniel Huculak (1-0, 1) take on Indonesian novice Mujiyono (0-1). It's hard to say much about these two, but Huculak won his debut with an opening round stoppage and it's clear that he will be favoured here.
This coming Friday is an action packed day with a lot of Asian fighters in action.
The most notable action of the day for Asian fight fans comes from Japan where we get an OPBF title fight and two match ups pitting JBC ranked fighters against each other.
The OPBF title fight will see former world title challenger Hidenori Otake (27-2-3, 12) take on once beaten Filipino Jelbirt Gomera (12-1, 6) in a bout for the vacant OPBF Super Bantamweight title, which was recently vacated by Shun Kubo. For Otake the bout will be his first for an OPBF title, though he did have a 2 year reign as the Japanese champion before his most notable bout to date, a loss to Scott Quigg in 2014. Since that loss he has won 5 in a row, though looked poor last time out against Alexander Espinoza. Gomera is a real unknown, with his sole loss coming to the talented Mark Anthony Geraldo and his best win being over tough journeyman Eduardo Mancito. Gomera might be getting this bout at the right time, but Otake will certainly be regarded as the favourite.
In a supporting bout we'll see Shusaku Fujinaka (15-6-2, 10) take on Moon Hyun Yun (17-4-3, 4) in a really mouth watering domestic encounter. Of the two men Fujinaka is the more well known, though that's down to his 7th round KO loss to Randall Bailey from back in 2015 than any wins that he has scored. Yun is a former Japanese title challenger and although he lacks power he has an exciting and will be looking to earn another title fight. This could end up being the fight of the show.
Another bout between Japanese ranked fighters comes at Middleweight where the heavy handed Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (6-2, 5) takes on former Japanese title challenger Yasuyuki Akiyama (10-7-1, 8). Coming in to this Hosokawa has won his last 4 bouts by stoppage and looks like a man who can carry his power up to at least domestic level. Akiyama has lost his last 3, but has mixed with good company and knows that this is step back down in class from what he has been up against. This could be a very solid fight even if neither man has an out standing record.
Metro Manila, Philippines
Staying in Asia there will also be a low profile card in Metro Manila. The card is a mostly forgettable one, though the main event will see the once beaten Jheritz Chavez (6-1-2, 4) battle against Jonel Gadapan (12-8-2, 8) for the GAB Light Welterweight title. Chavez will be the favourite and he has impressed in recent times, beating both Tatsuya Yanagi and Al Sabaupan in his last 3 bouts. Although the under-dog Gadapan is an upset minded fighter and he holds a recent win of his own over Nelson Tinampay, suggesting he won't be there to roll over, though he has been stopped in 6 of his 8 career losses.
In Moscow fans are in for a genuine treat as OPBF Light Welterweight champion Al Rivera (17-2, 15) takes on Russian Aik Shakhnazaryan (19-2, 10) in a bout for the WBC International title. The heavy handed Rivera impressed last year when he dominated Shinya Iwabuchi for the title, and would go 3-0 (3) for the year scoring not only the win over Iwabuchi but also a solid win over Adones Cabalquinto. Coming in to this the Filipino is on an impressive 7-0 (7) run. The once touted Shakhnazaryan won his first 15 bouts but suffered back-to-back losses in 2015 and has been rebuilding with 4 stoppage wins, but this pormises to be a much tougher bout for the Russian than his last 4.
In Australia we'll see talented Filipino Czar Amonsot (33-3-3, 21) continue to carve out a career down under as he battles 21 year old Hungarian Zsigmond Vass (12-4, 2) in a bout for Amonsot's Interim WBA Oceania title at 140lbs. Coming in to this Vass has beaten nobody of note and been stopped in the opening round in his last 2 losses. Although not widely regarded as a top contender Amonsot is world ranked and has gone 15-0-2 (11) since his memorable war with Michael Katsidis.
Also on this card will be Indonesian Jason Butar Butar (24-21-1, 15), who will be expected to pick up another loss here as he takes on the exciting but limited Joel Brunker (30-2, 17). Whilst Brunker is limited Butar Butar is little more than a record padder on the international stage, and that is likely to be seen again here.
Staying in Australia we'll also see Thai novice Chaiyan Sakkoed (0-3) go for his first win as he takes on the debuting Timacoy Williams (0-0). With 3 straight losses we know Chaiyan is limited, and he's already been stopped in two of those defeats, with a third stoppage loss likely to come here.