This coming Saturday we get a world title in the West and we'll also see two very interesting and notable Japanese cards, both taking place in the Kanto region of Japan.
New York, USA
The world title bout is one of a trio of bouts at Madison Square Garden to feature Asian fighters, in what should be a great chance for a number of fighters to shine.
The world title bout will see Kyrgyzstan born Russian based Light Heavyweight Dmitry Bivol (12-0, 10) defending his title against once beaten Cuban Sullivan Barrera (21-1, 14). For both men the bout is a major step forward for their career with Bivol facing his most notable opponent to date and Barrera really fighting in a must win, against his second most significant opponent to date,only behind Andre Ward who beat him 2 years ago. The bout pits two top Light Heavyweights against each other, and could well be a very special bout.
This card will also feature a pair of Kazakh hopefuls. One of those is Meiirim Nursultanov (5-0, 4), who risks his unbeaten record against Alejandro Torres (9-3-2, 4). Nulrsultanov has looked really good since his debut in late 2016 and will be looking to launch himself up towards the world rankings by the end of 2018, with Torres being his first bout of the year. As for Torres the Mexican 24 year old has proven to be tough and should serve a good test for the Kazakh, who will be hunting his 5th straight stoppage.
The other Kazakh on this show will be Madiyar Ashkeyev (8-0, 4), who faces live under-dog Jose Antonio Abreu (13-3, 8). The Kazakh isn't as touted as his aforementioned countryman but is a skilled operator who will be looking to make up for lost time after having fought just once in 2017. Abreu, from the Dominican Republic, has lost 3 of his last 4, all in the US, and will likely come up short again here, though has been matched hard in those losses and is certainly no push over.
New York, USA
On a separate US card in New York, fans will see Kazakh hopeful Shyngyskhan Tazhibay (5-0, 2) risk his unbeaten record. At the time of writing his opponent hasn't been announced, but it's unlikely to be too much of a step up in class for the unbeaten man.
On paper the Japanese card with the best single bouts take place in Kanagawa on a Kawasaki Nitta promoted card where fans will get two Japanese title fights and another solid support bout.
The main event of the card is a Japanese Flyweight title bout between defending champion Masayuki Kuroda (28-7-3, 16) and mandatory challenger Katsunori Nagamine (14-1-1, 10), who meet in a Champion Carnival bout. The champion will be seeking his second defense of the title, and will be expecting a much tougher bout than his last defense, which saw him dominate the limited but entertaining Mako Matsuyama. Nagamine on the other hand will be getting his first title bout, and, on paper, his toughest bout since his sole loss to Ken Shiro.
The other title bout is likely to be even better and will see teak tough Japanese Middleweight champion Hikaru Nishida (17-8-1, 8) take on the explosive Kazuto Takesako (7-0, 7) in another of the 2018 Champion Carnival bouts. Nishida has held the title for almost 2 years, but has only managed a single defense, due to an out of the ring accident which forced him out of the ring for a while. Despite the lack of defenses he's a tough, aggressive and exciting champion with a solid mentality and style. Takesako is a talented slugger, and should take the fight to Nishida in a potential war. We are expecting this bout to be a potential Japanese fight of the year and something very special.
Also on this card will be the always fun to watch Gakuya Furuhashi (20-8-1, 9), who faces Masashi Kamon (7-2-1, 4) in an 8 rounder. Furuhashi has long been one of the fringe contenders on the domestic scene, and is far better than his record suggests, despite 3 losses in his last 6. Kamon on the other hand began his career 1-2 but has gone on a good run, going 6-0-1 in his last 7. Despite being on a good run Kamon is taking a notable step up in class here.
The other Japanese card will be televised on G+ and despite being higher profile in it's coverage it's arguably a lesser card, despite having a number of notable fighters on it.
The main event here will see WBO #1 ranked Super Featherweight contender Masayuki Ito (22-1-1, 11) take on under-rated Filipino Vergil Puton (17-9, 8), in a bout which appears to be a world title prelude for Ito. The talented Japanese fighter, a former OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific champion, will be expected to easily over-come Puton but the visitor is no push over, and has asked genuine questions to the likes of Paul Fleming, Ibraham Balla, Shuya Masaki and Ye Joon Kim. Ito should win, but this will be much tough than a public spar for the Japanese fighter.
In a really good chief support bout fans will see former Japanese Super Flyweight champion Yohei Tobe (12-2-1, 8) take on Hajime Nagai (15-9-2, 5), with both men risking JBC rankings. Coming into this Tobe is ranked #7 by the JBC and Nagai is ranked #10. Tobe is riding a 4 fight winning run since losing the Japanese title to Sho Ishida, in a very competitive bout back in 2014, and despite issues with activity he is still a top domestic talent. Nagai on the other hand has lost 2 of his last 3, bith technical decisions,but does have under-rated skills, as he's shown against the likes of Yuji Shimizu back in 2016. This should be Tobe's to lose, but is a very good test on paper for the Misako gym fighter.
Another support bout will see the often fun to watch Koki Eto (21-4-1, 16) take on Filipino journeyman Marzon Cabilla (16-15-1, 5). Eto is currently riding a 4 fight winning run, albeit against limited competition, since his 2015 loss to Carlos Cuadras. Despite his low level of competition the Japanese fighter is a fringe world class talent, and is well known for his thrilling bouts against the likes of Kompayak Porpramook, Yodmongol Vor Saengthep and Ardin Diale. Cabilla enters this bout in the form of his career, riding a 7 fight winning run, but is stepping back up in class here and is likely to see that run of success come to an end.
One other bout of note will see Japanese ranked Light Flyweight Kenji Ono (11-2-1, 6) take on former Japanese Minimumweight contender Masashi Tada (11-5-2, 7). Ono is best known for his up-and-down war with Jun Takigawa from 2016, and has gone 1-1-1 since that bout, suffering an opening round loss to Seigo Yuri Akui in late 2016. He needs a win if he's to move into a title bout. As for Tada he has gone 0-2-1 in his last 3, and over 4 years removed from his last win, however at the age of 28 he does still have time to rebuild his career and a win here would see him move into the JBC rankings.
On Tuesday Japanese fight fans at the Korakuen Hall get an interesting show, with a number of notable domestic fighters in action, a trio of which will be facing Filipino foes.
The main event of the card will see Japanese and OPBF ranked Super Featherweight Masaru Sueyoshi (14-1, 9), who takes on Filipino visitor Nelson Tinampay (12-4-1, 5). Ranked #2 by the JBC and #5 by the OPBF Sueyoshi is on the verge of a title fight, one way or another, he clearly can't afford a loss, especially not given he's now on an 11 fight winning run. Tinampay started his career with some success, but having lost 3 of his last 5 bouts it's fair to say his limitations have been shown, especially with a loss to Korean veteran Yong Soo Choi earlier this year.
In the chief support bout we'll see former Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Yasutaka Ishimoto (29-9, 8) taking on Filipino Arnel Baconaje (8-2, 6). For the local favourite, a real exciting action fighter, the bout sees him return to the ring after a shockingly 1-sided loss to Yasuka Kuga earlier this year, in a bout that saw Kuga stop Ishimoto in 2 rounds to claim the Japanese national title. Early in his career Baconaje looked promising, starting 6-0 (6) but since then he has faltered, and not shown the power that he has early in his career. It's clear this bout has been made to help boost Ishimoto's confidence following the loss to Kuga, but there is still a little risk here, given how hard and damaging his career has been.
A third Japan Vs Philippines bout on this card will see the really exciting Hayate Kaji (7-0, 6) risk his unbeaten record as he faces off with Renan Portes (9-4, 5). Although an unknown in the west Kaji has quickly become one of our favourite prospects, with serious power, incredible skills and a really exciting, yet controlled, style that looks likely to take him incredibly far. As for Portes,this wil be his first bout since October last year, and only his second in Japan, following a loss to Yuta Horrike. If Kaji is as good as he has looked so far, he should stop Cortes, but this could be a genuine test for the 19 year old Teiken prospect.
A fourth bout of note is a good looking all-Japan bout, and will see Kenji Ono (11-2, 6), best known for his 2016 war with Jun Takigawa, battle against Naoyuki Tsukada (8-3-3, 3). Last time out Ono was blasted inside a round by Seigo Yuri Akui and he had a really tough 2016, so will be hoping to have an easier return here, however this is no gimme for the Teiken man. Tsukada was 3-3-1 (2) after his first 7 bouts, but has now gone unbeaten in 7 in a nice run which has got his career rolling and a win over Ono would be huge for Tsukada at this point. Although it's the least notable bout we're mentioning here it's clearly the best match up and promises more than any other the other contests on the show.
The coming month is packed for Japanese fans with title bouts taking place regularly through the month. The first of those takes place on December 3rd at the Korakuen Hall, the home of Japanese boxing.
That title fight is a really highly anticipated rematched between Japanese Super Featherweight champion Kenichi Ogawa (19-1, 16) and former champion Rikki Naito (15-1, 5). The two men fought a year ago, with Ogawa dropping Naito on route to a technical decision win to claim the title and give Naito his sole defeat. Since then however neither guy has looked great. Ogawa has defended the title twice, stopping both Satoru Sugita and Kento Matsushita, but looked very poor and was outboxed for stretches of both fights. Naito on the other hand easily beat Chaiyong Sithsaithong this past May but was very fortunate last time out to take a technical decision over Argie Toquero, in a bout that Toquero seemed to deserve. The winner of this may have the title but it's fair to say that both will have to put in better efforts than they have in recent bouts.
A real humdinger of a support bout will see the exciting Kenji Ono (11-1, 6) take on the unbeaten Seigo Yuri Akui (8-0-1, 4) in a really attractive bout. Ono, who won the 2014 Light Flyweight Rookie of the Year, may be best remembered for his February war with Jun Takigawa, a bout that could potentially be the Japanese FOTY, and that proved that he really was a fun to watch fighter. Akui is a 2015 Rookie of the Year winner, also at Light Flyweight, and has the unbeaten record, but is stepping up big time here. This is a wonderful match up and the type of bout that Japanese youngsters seem to take part in more than similar fighters in any other country.
Another prospect in action here is the unbeaten and exciting Hayate Kaji (5-0, 4), who will be looking to extend his perfect professional start as he takes on Thai visitor Sitthiphong Saithong (0-1), who's only recorded bout was a 4th round TKO loss in Japan from last year. Kaji impressed last year, when he won the All Japan Rookie of the Year at Super Flyweight, but has lacked activity since and this will be only his second fight since the start of the year
The month of June has started relatively slowly though this Saturday sees things heating up with a lot of action featuring Asian fighters, including notable bouts outside of Asia.
One of those notable bouts is set to take place in the UK where Thai veteran Petchbarngborn Kokietgym (38-7-1, 18) faces former IBF Bantamweight champion Paul Butler (21-1, 12) in a bout for the WBO International Super Flyweight title, and a bout that could well set the winner on the way to facing world champion Naoya Inoue. For Petchbarngborn the bout sees him risking a 16 fight winning streak though he will be the clear under-dog and will be facing one of his best opponents to date. For Butler the bout is a step up in class, but one he will be strongly favoured to win.
Staying “on the road” Indonesian fighter Daud Yordan (35-3-0-1, 24) will be in Uruguay where he will face Argentinian fighter Cristian Rafael Coria (24-4-2, 9) in a bout for the “Interim” WBA International Lightweight title. Yordan should be the favourite here, but will be looking to do more than “just win” in what could potentially be a huge stepping stone towards a world title fight, later in the year.
Continuing with title action action outside of Asian fight fans in the US will see Filipino Jhon Gemino (13-6-1, 5) battle against the unbeaten, and heavy handed, Christian Gonzalez (13-0, 12) for the WBC Youth Lightweight title. This looks like a huge ask for Gemino but he will go in to the ring knowing that a win would open up some doors, and be a genuinely good win.
Quintana Roo, Mexico
One final bout of note outside of Asia will see former OPBF title challenger Jovylito Aligarbes (12-3, 6) face off against Edgar Jimenez (21-11-2, 15) in what looks like a well matched bout in Jimenez's homeland of Mexico.
As well as the bouts outside of Asia there is some interesting match ups in Asia.
One of those interesting match ups sees former world title challenger Daiki Kaneko (22-5-3, 15) battle against Ribo Takahata (12-6-1, 4), in what could see the winner move towards a title fight. On paper Kaneko should be strongly favoured however he has lost 3 of his last 6 and doesn't look like the fighter that many tipped to become a world champion, following his competitive bout with Takashi Uchiyama at the end of 2013.
Another really good bout will see Shingo Eto (17-4-1, 9) face the once beaten Masaru Sueyoshi (11-1, 7). Eto is the better known man here but he has lost twice in his last 5 bouts and knows that another loss here could be the end of his title dreams. For Sueyoshi the bout will see him going for a 9th straight win and build on victories over the likes of Yuta Nagai and Kazuma Sanpei. This could be the bout of the day and is really well matched.
Talking about the possible “bout of the day” it's hard not to get a little bit excited about seeing Kenji Ono (10-1, 5) face Takumi Suda (12-11-2, 3). The records may not suggest that this one will be anything special but Ono has been in a FOTY once already this year, his 8th round win over Jun Takigawa, and could be forced into a war here against the under-rated Suda.
Davao del Sur, Philippines
There's also action in the Philippines, though the matches here are mostly looking like mismatches.
The biggest of the mismatches sees former Filipino Light Welterweight champion Adones Cabalquinto (22-1, 15) battle against journeyman Rodel Wenceslao (11-11-1, 4). Cabalquinto was once tipped for big things but has seen his career flat line recently, despite that he should be far too good for Wenceslao here.
Thankfully there are some prospects on this card, despite them being in mismatches. One of those prospects is Genesis Libranza (9-0, 6) who looks to extend his perfect start as he battles veteran Jetly Purisima (21-18-4, 6). Although likely to be a mismatch this is a step up for Libranza and is the right way to move the promising 22 year “Cobra”.
Another prospect of note on this show is Lightweight hopeful Jayar Inson (10-0, 7), who faces Richard Betos (20-14-1, 7). This another “logical step” for a prospect, but one that doesn't look too exciting on paper. Inson has impressed in recent times and some are tipping him to fight for regional honours in the near future, he will however have to see off fighters like Betos if he's to progress to fighting for an OPBF title
Finally Japanese action for the month kicks off with an interesting card at the Korakuen Hall, a card that will be televised on NTV G+.
In the main event of this card fans will see former world title challenger Ryosuke Iwasa (20-2, 12) take on Dennis Tubieron (19-6-2, 8) in an all Southpaw bout at Featherweight. Notably this sees both men looking to begin 2016 with a win after both suffered losses in the UK in 2015, with Iwasa being stopped by Lee Haskins and Tubiueron losing to be Josh Warrington and Mitchell Smith. It's hard to back Tubieron here but he'll come to win and it should make for an interesting match up.
Another former world title challenger in action here Motoki Sasaki (39-10-1, 24) who fights for the first time in almost 3 years. Sasaki, who lost world title challengers to Humberto Soto and Vyacheslav Senchenko, will be up against the limited but heavy handed Tatsuya Miyazaki (8-7-1, 8) in what could be a fun to watch bout, though we suspect Sasaki isn't the fighter he once was.
The best matched bout on the card will see Kenji Ono (9-1, 4) battle against Jun Takigawa (7-1-1, 4) in a bout that could lift the winner towards a Japanese title fight later in the year. This is really well matched and could go either way, a fantastic bit of match making.
The main event isn't the only Japan vs Philippines bout on the card with another being a match up between once beaten local Masaru Sueyoshi (10-1, 6) and visitor Marbon Bodiongan (12-3-2, 10) in what could be a really exciting match up. Both men will be looking to take home the win and neither will back down from a fight here in what could be the most exciting bout on the card.
Camarines Sur, Philippines
In Camarines Sur Filipino fans get a show that seems rather fill of mismatches.
In the main event fans will see the once touted Al Sabaupan (24-2-1, 19) take on Thailand's Kosol Sor Vorapin (17-19-1, 11) in what should be little more than a blow than a stay busy but for Sabaupan, who is hunting a 5th straight stoppage win. The Thai has lost his last 7 by stoppage and it seems almost certain that he will be stopped again here
As well as the mismatch of a main event the supporting bouts also look like mismatches, though we are interested to see how 17 year old hopeful Michael Mendoza (3-0) copes with Manny Mamacquiao (1-7-1) in a 6 rounder. A similar match up will see Jerry Mae Villagracia (3-0, 2), also 17, take on Alberto Pentecostes (1-8-1).
Another Filiupino show looks to be more well matched, though lacks the star power that Sabaupan has.
One of the two bouts of note here will see Lester Abutan (8-4-3, 4) take on Powell Balaba (8-16-1, 5) in a bout in the Minimumweight division. This looks likely to be a win for Abutan, though the 24 year old will know that he needs to do more than just “win” here.
The other main bout is much more interestingly matched and will see Marlon Arcilla (8-3, 1) face off against Eric Panza (8-6-1, 2) in what should be a good test for the 21 year old Arcilla.
In Baku fans get the chance to see local star Fariz Mammadov (18-2-1, 12) attempt to claim a “world title” as he battles Badru Lusambya (24-2-2, 22) for the WBF crown at 154lbs. Given that Lusambya, a Ugandan puncher, has been inactive for 2 years it's easy to favour Mammadov, however Lusambya has got genuine power and could upset the local fans if he connects cleanly on the Baku man.
In the US fans will see the unbeaten Dimash Niyazov (8-0-3, 4), originally from Kazakhstan, face off against a yet to be named opponent.
On the same card fans will also get the debut of Serdar Hudayberdiyev (0-0), who is also facing a yet to be named foe.
Yorkshire, United Kingdom
In the UK fans will be able to see British-Yemeni fighter Muheeb Fazeldin (7-0-1, 3) battle Klaas Mboyane (18-10-2, 9) for the Commonwealth Bantamweight title. Fazeldin has won his last 5 bouts but this is a notable step up and could be too much too soon for the 23 year old Southpaw.
This Saturday is an incredibly busy day in the world of boxing with bouts coming thick and fast on a day thats sees notable fighters in action and some wonderful match ups.
In Tokyo we get the first Japanese title fight of the month alongside a couple of other noteworthy bouts.
The title bout in question will see Japanese Light Flyweight champion, and current world ranked fighter, Yu Kimura (15-2-1, 2) defending his national crown against Hayato Yamaguchi (12-5-1, 2), who is making his second Japanese title challenger. For Kimura this is a must win bout if he hopes to get a world title fight later in the year however he won't have been able to prepare for Yamaguchi as he would have liked as the challenger only signed for the fight a few weeks ago after Shin Ono suffered an injury that forced him out of the bout. Of course saying that Yamaguchi will not have had a full training camp himself for this bout.
On the same card we will see the return to the ring of Yasutaka Ishimoto (24-8, 7) who will be fighting for the first time since his narrow loss to Yukinori Oguni last December in a Japanese Super Bantamweight title fight. The popular Ishimoto should be able to end a 2-fight skid as he takes on the limited Yoshihiro Utsumi (12-5-3, 7) in what looks to be a confidence building bout for the 33 year old Ishimoto.
In another bout of note fans will get the chance to see the once beaten Masanobu Nakazawa (16-1-1, 6) battle against the hard hitting Kazuya Soma (7-6-2, 6). Coming into this bout Nakazawa is on a 13 fight winning streak and we suspect that'll continue here, though Soma can hit hard enough to trouble fighters at this level.
A third noteworthy bout on this show will feature 2014 All Japan Flyweight Rookie of the Year Kenji Ono (7-1, 3) who battles against Taichi Yokote (6-2, 3), who has been inactive since a close decision loss in November 2013. This looks like a really good match up on paper and the sort of 50-50 fight that we love seeing, even if Yokote has been out of the ring for more than a year.
In Osaka there are two shows in the same venue, the “L Osaka”.
The first of those shows will be the Taiho promoted card which features only a single notable fighter, in a mismatch no less. Though it does have two relatively interesting looking support bouts.
The main event will see the Japanese and OPBF ranked Ryota Kajiki (24-9, 15) battle the horribly over-matched Tokiya Nishioka (9-4-2, 5). Whilst Kajiki has gone 4-3 in his last 7 they did include a loss to Daiki Kaneko in a Japanese title bout and he is much better than fighters like Nishioka who was stopped in 2 rounds last time out. A horrible mismatch.
A much better looking bout sees Ippo Nishiwaki (7-3-1, 4) fight against Hirokazu Okajima (8-4-2, 4) in an even looking an match up between two flawed but capable fighters who will each be hoping that a win will move them towards bigger and better things. It's not a headline style bout but it's a very solid match up in it's own right.
A second notable support bout will see Akiyoshi Kanazawa (11-3-4, 5) attempt to score his first in 3 fights as he fights Junya Nishikawa (7-5-2, 2), Kanazawa isn't as good as his record suggests, despite a notable win over Atsushi Aburada, though he should be good enough to see off Nishikawa.
The other Osaka show is promoted by Osaka Teiken and unfortunately looks just as bad in regards to it's main event, though the two support bouts are both solid and meaningful domestic bouts.
The main event will see OPBF and Japanese ranked Flyweight Myung Ho Lee (17-4-1, 5) battle against Thai visitor Dawut Manopkanchang (0-2), who has been stopped in two previous visits to Japan. Aged 20 Dawut is still a young fighter but there is no need to have him in the ring with someone like Lee, even though he may see out there bell here given Lee's relative lack of power.
A solid looking support bout will see Japanese ranked Featherweight Ryuto Kyoguchi (13-0-1, 9) battle against Kosuke Saka (9-3, 6). We expect Kyoguchi to come out on top however this no walk in the park and Saka has been in with good competition losing to the likes of Masayuki Ito and Hiroshige Osawa. For Kyoguchi it's a tough assignment but one he'll need to pass if he's to be taken seriously as a Japanese contender, for Saka it's a chance to move himself towards a possible title fight.
The other notable support bout will see former All-Japanese Rookie of the Year Bunta Mitaka (6-2-2) take on Shingo Kawamura (9-2, 4) in a real must win for both. Mitaka has lost his last 2 bouts, including a 3rd round TKO loss to the excellent Shohei Omori, and has seen his 2013 Rookie of the Year crown becoming little more than history. On the other hand Kawamura was stopped last time out by the excellent Kongthara KKP and will know that he needs a win to remain relevant. A brilliant match up.
We see Korean outfit AK Promotions continuing their activity in Thailand as they take Jaesung Lee (18-4-2, 9) over to Chonburi to battle against Joaquim Mahe (10-2, 6) in a contest for the vacant WBC Asian Boxing Council silver Featherweight title. Lee was run close last time by Angelito Merin, who fought under the name Rivera AK Gym, and may well find himself being run close again here by his French opponent, who gave Tepparith Kokietgym a very competitive contest earlier this year.
In Mexico fans are going to be treat to a potentially explosive clash between hard hitting Filipino Jonathan Taconing (20-2-1, 17) and Mexico's very own Raul Garcia (36-3-1, 22). Taconing, the OPBF Light Flyweight champion, is a thunderous puncher who has stopped his last 7 opponents since being controversially beaten by the then WBC Light Flyweight champion Kompayak Porpramook back in 2012. As for Garcia he's a former IBF champion who has a number of notable wins on his record, including his world title win over Florante Condes. This is potentially the fight of the weekend and has the potential to be a FOTY contender.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)