Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
This coming Sunday we get one of the biggest shows of the year, possibly in fact the show of the year, as Pacquiao fever takes over Malaysia for a stacked card with 4 world title fights, and a number of notable under-card fights.
The main event will see Manny Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38) challenge WBA Welterweight champion Lucas Martin Matthysse (39-4-0-1, 36) in what is really a must win for both men. The Filipino icon, 39, hasn't fought in over a year with his last outing being a controversial decision loss to Jeff Horn in Australia. In fact we now need to go back to November 2016 to find Pacquiao's last win, which came against Jessie Vargas. At his best Pacquiao was a destructive dervish in the ring, but he is several years beyond his best. Matthysse also looks to be on the slide, and looked like a shadow of himself last time out against Teerachai Kratingdaenggym. Although a dynamite puncher, with under-rated skills, Matthysse can be out boxed, and can be made to look slow and predictable. We're not sure what to expect here, but with both men being past their prime neither can really afford a loss.
In another of the world title bouts we'll see former IBF Flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane (35-2, 24) look to reclaim that title as he faces South Korean based Pakistani Muhammad Waseem (8-0, 6). The IBF Flyweight title became when Donnie Nietes vacated it, to move up to Super Flyweight, and as a result we have a brilliant match up here. At his best Mthalane was a leading Flyweight, an aggressive but technically sound fighter with wins against the likes of Hussein Hussein, Julio Cesar Miranda, Zolani Tete, Johnriel Casime and Ricardo Nunez. Sadly though the former champion is now 35, ancient for a Flyweight. Waseem on the other hand was on the fast track to the top to begin his career, but financial issues have slowed his rise and he's spent the last year treading water to keep off ring rust. At his best Waseem is an excellent boxer, but this is easily his toughest test to date. This could be a really high class contest.
Another of the title fights could, potentially, be an historic one. The bout in question sees WBA Light Flyweight champion Carlos Canizales (20-0-1, 16) defending his belt against Chinese novice Lu Bin (1-0, 1). The Chinese 23 year old is looking to become the new record holder for the fewest fights to win a world title, doing so in 2 fights, and the confidence of Bin suggests he believes he can do it. He was a former amateur stand out and, like Vasyl Lomachenko, wanted to be fast tracked in the professional ranks. A win for Bin really would raise the bar for what is expected of true “super prospects”. Canizales on the other hand is looking for his first defense, after winning the title against Reiya Konishi earlier this year. The Venezuelan puncher is a fearsome fighter who's only set back was a split decision draw with Ryoichi Taguchi, and coming into this bout he may well be the best fighter at 108lbs, though obviously has stiff competition from the likes of Ken Shiro. We suspect Canizales will be the favourite but Bin is not there to roll over and lose.
The 4th world title bout will see Filipino Jhack Tepora (21-0, 16) battle against Mexican Edivaldo Ortega (26-1-1, 12) for the WBA “interim” Featherweight title. The talented Tepora has long been tipped as one of the most promising young Filipino fighters and has picked up a number of minor titles in recent years but this is a big step up from the likes of Lusanda Komanisi, who Tepora stopped in eye opening fashion last September. The Filipino is flawed but has lights out power and will be a very dangerous fighter to go toe-to-toe with. Ortega is an all-action fighter with a come forward pressure style. He has scored notable wins over the likes of Juan Carlos Carlos Sanchez Jr, Tomas Rojas and Drian Francisco, but has never been in with someone who has power like Tepora. We're expecting to see Ortega bring the action and Tepora look for counters in what could be an absolute barn burner.
The under-card here is littered with great match ups, including a bout between unbeaten Chinese fighter Yongqiang Yang (10-0, 7) and once beaten Filipino Harmonito Dela Torre (19-1, 12), in what really could be a very special bout. Another good looking contest will see the hard hitting Filipino Jayar Inson (16-1, 11) taking on Aussie foe Terry Tzouramanis (20-3-3, 3) in what could be a very exciting contest.
As well as the big Malaysian show there will also be a smaller, though somewhat notable, card in Aichi.
The main event of this Aichi card will see 2017 Super Featherweight Rookie of the Year Musashi Mori (6-0, 5) battling against Filipino foe Allan Vallespin (12-2, 9). The 18 year old Mori is one to watch, blessed with natural power, speed and skills he appears to be a fighter who could find himself in the title mix in 2 or 3 years, if he can continue to rack up wins. On paper this is a notable step up in class for the Japanese teenager, given that Vallespin's only losses have come to very decent fights in the form of Masaru Sueyoshi and Denys Berinchyk. This is a a really interesting bout and a very tough test for Mori.
Also on this card is the hard hitting Arashi Iimi (5-1, 5), who takes on Suntorn Panhom (2-2, 1) on Thailand. The Japanese fighter came runner up in the 2017 Rookie of the Year at Super Bantamweight and has since bounced back with a stoppage over Shuto Takase in April. This will be his first bout against a non-Japanese fighter. Panhom comes into this on the back of back-to-back losses and we're not expecting him to to handle the power of Iimi, at all.
There is also a small card in Korea courtesy of the KBA.
The headline bout here will see WBA female Super Featherweight champion Hyun Mi Choi (15-0-1, 4) defending her title against Argentinian challenger Mayra Alejandra Gomez (18-7, 4). Choi, the only current Korean world champion, will be looking to extend her reign and increase her profile with this win as she attempts to make her 6th defense of the title. The champion, a tall and rangy fighter, should be strongly favoured, but Gomez has fought at world level before and has proven to be no push over against the likes of Jackie Nava.
Also on this card will be Ji Hyun Park (22-3, 6), who will be up against a Thai foe. The Korean is a IFBA, WIBA and WIBF world champion who will be looking to add a WBF International Minimumweight title to her collection. Although she's a multi-time title winner Park was beaten last time out in a WBO world title fight by Kayoko Ebata, in what was her first defeat in over a decade. We suspect she'll be back to winning ways here.
In the last few year's we've seen female boxing grow in the west, thanks to former amateur fighters like Katie Taylor, Nicola Adams and Claressa Shields. It's worth noting however that over the last few years Japan have had some all-female cards. The next one of those takes place this coming Thursday, and is the most stacked all-female card in Japanese history, with an incredible 6 title bouts, ranging from Japanese to world title bouts.
The main event is one of the two world title bouts, and will see WBO female Minimumweight champion Kayoko Ebata (11-7, 6) make her first defense, as she takes on Korean veteran Ji Hyun Park (22-2, 6). The Japanese fighter won the belt last May, in her 6th world title fight, and will be fully aware that a loss here will likely end her career, given that she's 42 years old. The Korean challenger is 32 and was once a very highly regarded fighter, but she comes into this bout after having not fought in over 2 years. At her best Park was a real talent, but with ring rust she may well not be the fighter she once was, or look like a fighter who has an active 16 fight unbeaten run.
The other world title fight promises to be something a bit special as the highly aggressive Chaoz Minowa (5-0, 4) battles Tenkai Tsunami (24-12, 13) for the vacant WBO female Light Flyweight title. The unbeaten Minowa has spoke about winning world titles in a number of weight classes nut this will be her first world title fight and it's a genuinely tough one for the 30 year old former amateur standout. To date Minowa has mowed mowed through her first 5 foes in a combined 18 rounds and looked a truly spiteful force, but she is taking a huge step up in class here. Tsunami is a former WBA female Super Flyweight champion, holding that title for more than 3 years, and has fought a who's who of female boxing, often giving top fighters very tough fights. This could be something very exciting.
In an OPBF female Minimumweight title bout fans will see former world title challengers clash, with Saemi Hanagata (13-7-4, 7) battling Erika Hanawa (8-1, 3). It was Hanawa that was beaten by the aforementioned Ebata last year for the WBO title at this weight, and since then she has claimed the interim OPBF title. It's worth noting however that Hanagata is a 2-time OPBF champion who has come up just short in 4 world title bouts, and is hungry to get a 5th shot at at world honours.
In a Japanese female Bantamweight title bout fans will see Miyo Yoshida (8-1) make her first defense as she takes on Kai Johnson (5-11-3, 2). The champion won the title last October when she narrowly out pointed Tomomi Takano and will be favoured to retain her title, but Johnson is better than her record suggests, and is much better than a typical fighter on a 6 fight losing run.
A Japanese Flyweight title bout will see the inaugural champion being crowned, as Yuki Koseki (5-4, 1) takes on Yumemi Ikemoto (4-1). On paper Koseki looks the lesser of the two but she has mixed with good opponents, and has gone 1-1 with the aforementioned Yoshida. Ikemoto on the other hand hasn't faced anyone of any real note and is clearly stepping up a level here.
Another inaugural title will be the JBC female Atomweight class, which will be competed for between Sana Hazuki (6-2-1, 2) and Nanae Suzuki (5-2-1, 1), who fought to a draw in a bout for this very same title back in December. On paper these two are very evenly matched, and the fact the judges failed to separate them last time out suggests this could be a very competitive contest again.
August 1st-Yu Kimura moves towards world title shot, Park defends title, Hashimoto looks for huge upset
August begins this weekend and there is a wealth of action scheduled for the coming weeks.
The first Japanese show of the month is a Teiken promoted card from the Korakeun Hall.
The most notable bout on the show sees former Japanese Light Flyweight champion Yu Kimura (16-2-1, 3) battle against Mexican visitor Jesus Faro (14-9, 9) ahead of a possible world title bout. Kimura, who vacated his national title earlier this year, has said he is focused on fighting for a major title sooner rather than later and this could, potentially, be a prelude to a bout with Ryoichi Taguchi or Donnie Nietes, both of which could be made towards the end of 2016.
A notable under-card bout sees Yosuke Kirima (21-4-2, 14), a former Japanese title challenger at 154lbs, battling against Yuto Shimizu (9-2-2, 3) in what should be a much better bout that it appears on paper. Coming in Shimizu is on a 6 fight winning streak including wins against Hikaru Nishida, Toru Chiba and Takehiro Shimokawara.
Another notable under-card contest will see the very promising Shuya Masaki (1-0, 1) battle against the more experienced Shintaro Nakamura (5-4-1, 2). This is a solid step up for Masaki who only needed 134 seconds to despatch of Phanthong Por Panya back in April. Nakamura has lost his last 2 bouts but will give Masaki experience against the southpaw stance.
As well as the 3 bouts mentioned there is set to be 4 others on this card.
In South Ji Hyun Park (21-2, 6) will be defending her IFBA and WIBA titles at 102lbs against Filipino visitor Gretchen Abaniel (15-7, 6). This bout will see Park going for a 16th straight win though she's certainly not faced the stiffest of competition with some frankly terrible title fights in recent times. This is actually step up in class for the Korean though one she should pass against a fighter who has lost 3 of her last 5.
Michoacán de Ocampo, Mexico
In possibly the biggest mismatch of the weekend fans will see Japanese fighter Kazuki Hashimoto (11-4, 7) battle former 3-weight world champion Jhonny Gonzalez (57-9, 48). The idea of this bout is for Gonzalez to introduce himself to the Super Featherweight division before a possible bout with Takashi Miura towards either the end of this year or early in 2016.
In Australia we see former world title challenger Nouldy Manakane (29-17-2, 18) battle against the unbeaten Luke Jackson (8-0, 3). Whilst we are only 3 years removed from Manakane's world title shot at the then WBA Bantamweight champion Koki Kameda he hasn't had the best of time going 5-6-1 and we expect to see him lose again here.
In the US Filipino Rey Perez (20-6, 5) will be battling against former world title challenger Chris Avalos (25-3, 19) in what looks to be a very tough ask for the Filipino. Avalos, fighting for the first time since being stopped by Carl Frampton in an IBF Super Bantamweight title fight, will be looking to make a statement against Perez, is 0-4 outside of his homeland including a 2011 loss to Nobuo Nashiro.
(Image courtesy of www.boxmob.jp)
The lull in action comes to a notable end this Saturday with major fights across Asia.
The most significant bout for us comes form Thailand where we get a mouth watering IBF Flyweight title bout between one of the most explosive lighter weight fighters and one of the trickiest. The bout will see unbeaten champion Amnat Ruenroeng (15-0, 5) defending his title for the 4th time as he takes on exciting Filipino Johnriel Casimero (21-2, 13). This is one of the best match ups this year though the big question is whether or not Casimero can solve the puzzle set by the tricky Thai. If Casimero is to win he will likely need a KO, though he does have the power to score one. If Amnat can control the pace of the bout and the range he'll like continue his run of notching impressive victory, despite not managing to really set the world alight with his style.
Whilst the main event is great there are other interesting bouts of note on the under-card. One of which is debut of 2004 Olympic gold medal winner Manus Boonjumnong (0-0) who debuts in a Middleweight bout against Indonesian journeyman Jamed Jalarante (23-18-1, 11). Aged 34 we don't expect Manus to become the star that her perhaps could have been, but this should still prove to be an interesting match up.
A big name on this under-card is exciting Filipino Denver Cuello (35-5-6, 23), who battles Boy Tanto (9-16, 1). This is a stay busy fight for Cuello who is expected to to get a world title eliminator in the fall and a possible world title bout in December, against Thailand's very own Wanheng Menayothin.
Also on the card are two Kiatkreerin prospects, Atchariya Virotesunobon (3-0, 1) and Denchana Chanadejgym (1-0). Atchariya will be up against will be up against Stevi Ongen Ferdinandus (16-8-1, 8) in what is a good step up for the young unbeaten fighter
Jeollanam-do, South Korea
On a KBC sanctioned show, fans will see some international action.
In the main event fans will see Eun Hye Lee (7-0, 2) battling against Thai visitor Ploynapa Sakrungrueng (12-5-1, 1) in a contest for the WBO female Light Flyweight title. The bout is as low key of a “world” title bout that we've seen this year yet a win for Lee will further strengthen the standing of female boxing in South Korea. Interestingly this will be Ploynapa's 4th bout in Korea, where she currently has a 0-3 record with all 3 losses coming in title bouts.
This show was originally scheduled for a date back in May though Lee suffered an injury which forced it to be pushed back a month.
Also on this show will be a Korean Middleweight title bout and some form of regional title bout, though unfortunately we're unsure which title.
A second south Korean show will also be headlined by a female title bout as Ji Hyun Park (21-2, 6) defends her IFBA and WIBA titles at 102lbs against Filipino fighter Gretchen Abaniel (15-7, 6). This show, sanctioned by the KBA, is listed on boxrec as being unsanctioned and is likely to be the only bout that the records website will list though we have been assured other contests will take place on the card.
Metro Manila, Philippines
In Manila fans will see Japanese puncher Tosho Makoto Aoki (19-12-2, 16) defending his WBC Asian Boxing Council Lightweight title against Indonesian fighter Eddy Comaro (32-12-5, 13). It's hard to see Aoki losing here, though at 36 another loss will be the end for him.
In Australia Asian fighters “make up the numbers” in a number of bouts.
One of those bouts will see Australian based Filipino Jack Asis (33-18-5, 18) in action against Indonesian journeyman Hero Tito (9-6-1, 3). Tito, best known for his loss to Ik Yang in Macau, really shouldn't have anything to trouble Asis who has been in inspired form over the last 4 years with a 12-0-1 run. A run that we expect will continue here.
Another of the bouts will see China's Xu Chan (5-2) take on the unbeaten Kris George (7-0, 5) in a bout for the WBA Oceania Light Welterweight title. Unfortunate for Chan we really cannot give him much of a chance here.
Another Chinese fighter here is southpaw Wang Xinghua (11-11-1) who battles against Will Young (4-4, 2) in an interestingly matched 8 round affair. Young will be the favourite but neither guy is great and as a result we could get a very competitive match up here.
(Image courtesy of Thairec.com)