This coming Saturday isn't a massive day for fight fans from Asia, but yet does have some really big bouts, including a WBSS semi-final and a female going for a world title in just her 4th professional bout.
The WBSS semi-final is a Bantamweight world title unification bout that really does look amazing. The bout will see Filipino veteran Nonito Donaire (39-5, 25) look to build on his surprising, albeit anti-climatic, win over Ryan Burnett as he takes on South African Zolani Tete (28-3, 21). The bout will see the WBA "Super" and WBO Bantamweight titles being unified and will pit boxer-puncher against slipper boxer and we're expecting something very tense and very compelling. A full preview of this bout is available here Donaire and Tete to battle for WBSS final place!
As well as the WBSS bout we also get a card in Osaka thanks to Shinsei, who put on a bit of a female boxing showcase. The card isn't the deepest but the two main bouts, both scheduled for 10 rounds, are worthy of note.
The co-feature sees 3-time world champion Etsuko Tada (18-3-2, 5) set her eyes on the WBC title, the one belt that has eluded her, as she takes on Thai youngster Kanyarat Yoohanngoh (5-2, 3) in a WBC female Minimumweight title eliminator. At 37 Tada is no spring chicken, but with recent wins over Naoko Shibata and Kayoko Ebata in her last 2 there's still plenty of life left in her. Aged 20 Kanyarat is a baby faced fighter, who has amazing been a professional for over 4 years, and whilst she is 0-2 outside of Thailand she did manage a big win last time out over Umi Ishikawa, which has helped her secure this contest. An in depth preview of this bout can be read here Tada and Kanyarat battle in eliminator!
The other main bout on this card will see unbeaten youngster Kasumi Saeki (3-0, 2) battle for a world title in just her 4th professional bout, as she takes on Elisabeth Lopez (6-1-4, 1) in a bout for the WBO female Minimumweight world title fight, a belt that Tada recently vacated. Saeki looks like a sensation, she's sharp, quick, agile, accurate and looks the real deal. A genuinely fantastic young fighter with the world at her fists.Lopez will be fighting outside of Latin America for the first time, and could be in for a rude awakening here against someone we tip to be one of the faces of female boxing in the years to come. We've also previewed this bout, with that preview available here Saeki goes for world title in fight #4!
The biggest bout for us this Saturday is from the US as Filipino maestro Mark Anthony Barriga (9-0, 1) takes on fellow unbeaten Carlos Licona (13-0, 2) in a bout for the vacant IBF Minimumweight. The bout, on the same as Deontay Wilder's contest against Tyson Fury, will be for the title Hiroto Kyoguchi gave up, as he moved up to Light Flyweight, and promises to Barriga a notable platform to showcase his skills, which have been compared to those of Floyd Mayweather Jr, Licona is a bit of a mystery to some, but should prove a good opponent for Barriga. Sadly with neither being much of a puncher this has the potential to be a less than thrilling fight to watch, but in terms of skills on show, both are very talented, and this really could be a special one for purists. A preview of this world title fight can be read here Barriga looks to announce himself on world stage, faces Licona for IBF title
As well as the bout in the US there is also a lot of action in Japan, with 7 title bouts spread across 3 different shows.
The main event of this card will see Japanese Light Welterweight champion Valentine Hosokawa (23-6-3, 10) make his second defense, as he goes up against fellow veteran Takashi Inagaki (20-17-2, 9). The all action Hosokawa won the title late last year and made his first defense in the Champion Carnival earlier this year, stopping Vladimir Baez in May. At the age of 37 Hosokawa is likely fighting father time, but has looked very impressive recently, and a win here will set up a defense against Koki Inoue. Inagaki, fighting in his 40th professional bout, will be getting a third title shot, but will be the clear under-dog against Hosokawa. We expect this will be fun, but it's hard to see Inagaki over-coming the high octane champion. A preview of this Japanese title fight can be read here Hosokawa takes on Inagaki on December 1st!
A potentially exciting supporting bout will see ranked Light Welterweights facing off. In one corner will be Hosokawa's stablemate Yusuke Konno (13-4, 7), the #2 ranked Japanese contender, whilst the other cone will play host to recent Japanese title challenger Vladimir Baez (24-4-2, 22), the same man who was stopped by Hosokawa. Konno will know that he could get a title fight next year, but needs to over-come Baez. Baez on the other hand is ranked by the OPBF and the WBO Asia Pacific as well as the JBC. The winner here will go into the new year with their eyes on title glory, but the loser will have some serious rebuilding to do.
Another supporting nout will see former IBF Super Bantamweight champion Yukinori Oguni (19-2-1, 7) return to the ring for the first since losing the world title to Ryosuke Iwasa In September 2017. The talented Oguni will be easing himself back into action here as he takes on Indonesian journeyman Arega Yunian (6-11, 1) in what should be little more than a tune up for bigger and better things in 2019.
As well as the action in Tokyo there is a busy day in Osaka, with a couple of shows there, featuring a combined 6 title bouts! One of those shows is a female card with 4 title bouts on it.
The most significant of the title contests on the female show will see Kayoko Ebata (12-7, 6) defending her WBO female Minimumweight title against former WBA and IBF champion Etsuko Tada (17-3-2, 5), in what looks like a brilliant must win bout between two veterans. This will be Ebata's second defense of the title she won in May 2017, when she finally won a world title in her fifth shot. Sadly for Ebata she is now 42 and her desire to have a long reign, after all the time she spent chasing a belt, does seem unlikely. At 37 Tada is no spring chicken, but the former 2-time champion does have the edge in youth, experience and winning mentality. We're expecting both to show their age, but that will likely lead to more exchanges and more intense action, which we won't complain about. This world title bout was previewed here Ebata looks to defend WBO crown against Tada
In the chief support bout fans will see former amateur standout Kasumi Saeki (2-0, 1) fight in her first title bout, as she takes on Thai visitor Wassana Kamdee (3-4, 2) in a bout for the WBO Asia Pacific female Minimumweight title. Saeki is seen as one of the top Japanese female prospects and will be expected to do a number the Thai, who has been stopped in all 4 defeats, though her performance may decide whether her team fasts tracks her to a world title fight in early 2019 or not.
In an OPBF female Featherweight title bout we'll see Wakako Fujiwara (6-2-2, 2) take on the woman she took the title from, Kimika Miyoshi (13-11-1, 5). Fujiwara's win over Miyoshi for the belt, back in July, saw her extend her unbeaten run to 6 fights, and add the Oriental title to her reign as the Japanese national champion. Sadly for Miyoshi the loss to Fujiwara is her third in a row, and she's now without a win since June 2016. Fujiwara's first win over Miyoshi was an upset, but we suspect this will be a repeat, given the form of both fighters coming into the fight.
The remaining title bout is another OPBF title bout, which will see novice professional Eri Matsuda (1-0) look to set a Japanese record by claiming an OPBF title in just her 2nd professional bout. The talented Matsuda will be up against Minayo Kei (6-3, 1) in a bout for the vacant OPBF female Atomweight title, and if Matsuda wins there's a chance she could set a Japanese record for fewest fights taken to win a world title. Matsuda was a good amateur and it's clear that she believes she can be a very good professional, but this is a genuine test.
The second show in Osaka will also be a Shinsei promoted card from the EDION Arena Osaka, this time however the fous will be men, with two WBO Asia Pacific male title bouts on the show.
One of those bouts will see WBO Asia Pacific Light Flyweight champion Reiya Konishi (16-1, 6) defending his title against Filipino challenger Richard Rosales (13-7-2, 7). For Konishi this will be his first defense, following a victory over Orlie Silvestre for the belt earlier in the year, and he's said to be expecting a world title fight next year, if he wins here. Rosales will play the part of a game challenger, be we suspect he will be ground down by Konishi, and his high intensity work rate and body shots. Despite strongly favouring the champion to retain we do expect this to be a very fan friendly bout. We've previewed this bout here Konishi looks to end year with defense against Rosales
The other title bout will see Masao Nakamura (24-3, 23) and Carlo Magali (23-10-3, 12) battle for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight. Both of these men have held the OPBF version of this title, and both are talented fighters in their own right. Of the two Nakamura is the more pure fighter, and he's a damned good boxer-puncher, but also the more vulnerable. The much shorter Magali is the more defensively sound and has regularly found ways to get inside bigger fighters and breaking them down. This has the potential to be a genuine thriller, with both men capable of hurting the other. A full preview of this bout can be read here Nakamura and Magali to battle for regional crown!
Originally the card was also announced as having former WBA Super Bantamweight champion Shun Kubo (13-1, 9) facing off with Indonesian veteran Noldi Manakane (33-25-2, 18), but this bout was cancelled back in November due to an injury suffered by Kubo. As a result Manakane will face off with 19 year old prospect Ryo Suwa (9-1, 1), who will be looking to score his third win of the year.
Distrito Federal, Mexico
Arguably the biggest bout in Asia this weekend will come from Mexico as WBC female Bantamweight champion Mariana Juarez (49-9-4, 18) rematches Japanese challenger Terumi Nuki (10-3, 7). These two fought in 2017, with Juarez taking a clear win, and since then Nuki has gone 1-1, losing a wide decision to Debora Anahi Dionicius. This is likely to be Nuki's final shot at a world title for a while if she comes up short, so we're expecting a very fiery effort here from the challenger. At the age of 38 Juarrez is an old fighter, especially given she's had 62 bouts and fought in 455 rounds. Despite her age she is on a 6 fight unbeaten run and will not be handing over her title over without someone ripping it from her hands.
The biggest Asian show comes from the City Sogo Gym in Osaka, as we get a Japanese title fight, a hotly tipped female fighter and a mouth watering domestic clash.
The main event will see Japanese Welterweight champion Ryota Yada (16-4, 3) make his first defense as he takes on Kazuyasu Okamoto (14-5, 4). The hard hitting Yada claimed the title back in April, when he stopped fellow puncher Toshio Arikawa in 8 rounds, in what was a brutal and hard hitting bout. The win over Arikawa was the 4th straight victory for Yada who has bounced back very well from his 2016 loss to Jayar Inson. The challenger will be in his first title fight, though unfortunate for Okumoto he was stopped last time out by Vladimir Baez and hasn't notched up a win since April 2017. The challenger really would need a career defining performance here to even test Yada.
The chief support bout actually looks likely to be the bout of the show as the once beaten former amateur stand out Kazuki Tanaka (9-1, 6) takes on the inform and very hard hitting Keita Kurihara (11-5, 10). Coming in to this bout Tanaka has a #3 ranking with the JBC and is looking to build on good wins over Hikaru Marguame and Seizo Kono. On the other hand Kurihara, who is ranked by the OPBF, JBC and WBO Asia Pacific, is looking to build on devastating wins over Ryan Lumacad and Tetsuya Watanabe. We're expecting this to a brutal clash and could go either way.
Once beaten Japanese ranked Super Bantamweight Toshiki Shimomachi (8-1-1, 5) will be in action against Filipino fighter Renan Portes (10-6, 6). Shimomachi has rebuilt well following a 2-1-1 start to his career and claimed the Super Bantamweight Rookie of the Year crown last year. Despite his ranking this is a slight step up in class the Japanese fighter. As for Portes he has been picking up loses on the road for the last 2 years, including a stoppage loss to Hayate Kaji last year and Mike Tawatchai earlier this year.
Also on this card will be former female stand out Kasumi Saeki (1-0) who steps up to 8 round bouts as she takes on a Thai visitor in what is likely to be her final bout before a title shot.
A second show in Osaka will be held at the Sumyoshi Ward Center and will be a relatively low key card with only 4 bouts worthy of any mention.
The main event will see WBO Asia Pacific Flyweight champion Masahiro Sakamoto (12-1, 8) fighting in a non-title bout against South Korean Super Flyweight champion Ki Chang Go (6-2, 2). On paper this doesn't look the best of match ups, but with Sakamoto moving up in weight for this contest he could be pushed hard by the Korean visitor, who has won his last 6 after a 0-2 start to his professional career.
In the chief support bout fans will see OPBF ranked Super Bantamweight Shachihoko Dragons Keita (8-5-4, 1) face off with Yosuke Taniguchi (6-5-1, 1), in what should be a very safe bout for Keita, who has gone 3-0-3 in his last 6 bouts. Although we wouldn't fancy Keita to claim an OPBF title he should manage to pick up a win here.
Another ranked fighter on this card is Kota Fujimoto (8-2-1, 2), who risks his JBC and OPBF rankings against Tatsuya Terada (6-3-1, 1). Coming in to this Fujimoto is riding a 3 fight unbeaten run, including a draw with the touted Masayoshi Hashizume from last December. As for Terada he was beaten last time out and his wins have, for the most part, come against very limited opponents.
Also on this card is the debuting Riku Kunimoto (0-0), who makes his debut against a Korean opponent. Kunimoto is tipped to have a big future but it will be interesting to see how he kicks off his career, and how he looks as a professional fighter.
As well as the action in Osaka there is also an interesting card set to take place in Laguna, featuring an OPBF champion defending his title, and a couple of unbeaten prospects.
The OPBF champion is the inform Light Flyweight contender Edward Heno (12-0-5, 5), who defends his title against the fringe world class Jesse Espinas (19-2, 11) in what looks like an amazing match up. This will be Heno's second defense, following a excellent win over Merlito Sabillo this past February, and another win here will push him well up the world rankings towards a world title fight. Espinas comes into this bout riding an 8 fight winning run, with notable wins over Joey Canoy, Paipharob Kokietgym and Elias Joaquino. This is set to be a very special bout and should see the winner announce themselves as a leading contender in one of the deepest divisions in the sport.
On the under-card fans will see Enrique Magsalin (4-0-2, 1) risk his unbeaten record against the once beaten Adrian Lerasan (6-1, 1) whilst Prince Andrew Laurio (9-0-1, 6) will take on Jopher Marayan (7-11-2, 3). We expect to see the unbeaten men continue to keep their “0” in tact, but Magasalin looks like he has a genuine test on his hands.