This coming Saturday is an incredibly busy day for Asian fight fans.
We get the show of the day in Tokyo, with the Korakuen Hall hosting a title double header and a really good under-card.
The main event sees a trilogy come to a close as Yuko Kuroki (18-5-1, 8) and Saemi Hanagata (14-7-4, 7) fight for the IBF female Atomweight title. So far Hanagata is winning the series, 1-0 due to a draw in their second bout. Since their bouts together both fighters have proven to be world class, with Kuroki holding the the WBC female Minimumweight title for over 3.5 years, whilst Hanagata would hold her own in 3 world title fights but never manage to get the win. Given how competitive their first two bouts were and how both have developed since 2013 we're expecting a very exciting contest with a lot of leather being thrown between two fighters who know each other very well. - A full preview of this bout can be read here Kuroki looks to settle the score with third bout against Hanagata!
The second title bout on this card promises fire works as heavy handed OPBF Minimumweight champion Tsubasa Koura (13-0, 9) takes on talented youngster Daiki Tomita (12-0, 4). The champion will be looking to record his third defenses of the title, following very good wins over Masataka Taniguchi and Norihito Tanaka, and this promises to be another very tough test. Tomita, the 2016 All Japan Rookie of the Year has had a frustrating time since his Rookie win, being matched against some very poor opponents and having one fight cancelled, but he is a talent and should give Tomita a lot of questions to answer. A full preview of this bout can be read here Unbeaten men Koura and Tomita collide for OPBF honours!
The leading support bout will see hard hitting Japanese Flyweight prospect Masamichi Yabuki (7-2, 7) take on Panamanian based Cuban Daniel Matellon (7-0-2, 4). The Japanese puncher has only gone beyond 2 rounds once in his career, a 4 round decision loss to Junto Nakatani, and he is naturally very heavy handed. On the other hand Matellon is a world ranked fighter with real skills, but he will be the smaller man here. This will put power against speed, and should be a very compelling contest.
Former OPBF Featherweight champion Ryo Takenaka (16-3-1, 9) will be returning to the ring following his title loss, in June 2017, as he takes on the always testing Vergil Puton (17-10-1, 8). The talented Takenaka was going through a solid run run when he was the OPBF champion, making 3 defenses of the title, before losing via KO to Sa Myung Noh last year. On his return he will be moving up in weight to face Puton. The Filipino visitor doesn't have a great looking record, and has failed to win in his last 3 bouts, but he's tough and has proven to be a very good opponent at this type of regional level. Takenaka should be able to win, but this is a tough return for the man from the Misako gym.
Another really notable under-card bout on this card will see the all action Kenya Yamashita (12-4, 9) take a huge step up in class to face off with former world title challenger John Mark Apolinario (20-11-3, 5) in a Bantamweight bout. The exciting, but flawed, Yamashita has often been in some thrilling contests, but has shown issues with his chin and has lost 3 of his last 7 inside the distance. On the other hand Apolinario has won just twice in the last 30 months, with 5 losses in that same time period.
As well as the big show in Japan there is also a very notable card in Singapore, with two title bouts and several other bouts of note.
The main event of the card will see unbeaten local Muhamad Ridhwan (11-0, 8) take on former world champion Paulus Ambunda (26-2, 11) in a contest for the IBO Super Bantamweight title. The unbeaten Ridhwan, regarded as Singapore's biggest hope, has already noted two wins this year and his team will be seeing this as a logical step up in class. As for Ambunda this is probably his last chance saloon, and at the age of 38 it's hard to see where he would go if he lost here. Saying that however Ambunda has only lost to world class fighters, Tomoki Kameda and Moises Flores, and he could well have one final performance left in him.
Another major bout on this card will see Filipino Bantamweight contender Michael Dasmarinas (28-2, 19) face off against Ghanaian puncher Manyo Plange (17-0, 15). Coming in to this Dasmarinas has won his last 10, with 8 stoppages, including a big victory over Karim Guerfi last time out. Not much is known about Plange, however this will be his first bout outside of Ghana, and will be a massive step up in class for him.
In another title bout Malaysian fighter Muhammad Meeraj (8-2-1, 4) will take on teenager Natthawut Masamin (7-3, 5). The 28 year old Meeraj has won his last 2 bouts, including a win that saw him become the WBC Asian Boxing Council Light Heavyweight champion. He will be defeating that title here against his Thai foe. Masamin, the Thai Middleweight champion, has a very misleading record and gave Yuki Nonaka real issues earlier this year. We think Meeraj should have the size to win, but this is no gimme and could be a very tough contest to call.
In a potentially fan friendly contest fans will see Keng Fai Hui (4-0-1, 4) take on Abdelelah Karroum (3-0, 3). Both men have a reputation for being heavy handed and it seems likely that both will come out swinging here. Hui, a 23 year old from Malaysia, was held to a draw last time out, against Alexander David. Karroum on the other hand is a Singaporean based French born fighter who has stopped his first 3 opponents in a combined 4 rounds. Expected explosive action here!
History is set to be made in Taiwan as the country hosts it's most notable show in history, with a couple of title fights in Taipei.
The main event of the card will see teak tough Japanese Super Feather Takuya Watanabe (34-8-1, 19) take on Thai foe Paiboon Lorkham (19-10, 8), aka Maxsaisai Sithsaithong, fight for the OPBF Silver Super Featherweight. Although his record doesn't show it Watanabe is a very talented fighter who has mixed at a very good level, losing to the likes of Masayuki Ito, Satoshi Hosono, Jae Sung Lee and Hisashi Amagasa. Although a talented boxer Watanabe is best known for his insane toughness, which saw him fight through a crimson mask against Lee for almost the entire fight. The Thai is much less well established, despite being 39 years old. His most notable bout to date have been losses to the likes of Hisashi Amagasa, AJ Banal and Joel Brunker, and they were all several years ago. Lorkham at his best might have been an interesting test for Watanabe, but this version or Lorkham is little more than body for Watanabe to beat in the main event of the show.
The other title fight will see Chinese fighter Wensi Huang (9-3-1, 3) take on Thai foe Jutamas Jitpong (4-2, 2) in a bout for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental female Super Flyweight title. The 29 year old Huang lost 3 of her first 6 bouts, including a contest against Ji Hye Woo, though has since gone unbeaten, albeit against dreadful opposition. Aged 20 the Thai is the younger fighter by far, but she has also come up short, losing to Yuko Henzan and Olga Gurova. This is a very limited match up, but does give the fans in Taipei a chance to see a female title bout, as well as the male one.
Over in the US we get the chance to see once beaten Filipino prospect Romero Duno (17-1, 14) look to build on his growing reputation. The 22 year old Filipino fighter will be up against Mexican foe Ezequiel Aviles (16-2-3, 6), who will be fighting outside of Mexico for the first time. It's worth noting that Aviles has only been stopped once in 21 bouts, but that loss was last time out, when Oliver Quintana stopped him in 10 rounds. It's also worth noting that Aviles has also been out of the ring for over a year following that loss
The card will also set to feature the debut of Uzbek prospect Elnur Abduraimov (0-0), though his opponent hasn't yet been announced.
New York, USA
Staying in the US fans in Brooklyn, New York, will be able to see Uzbek Heavyweight hopeful Bakhodir Jalolov (1-0, 1) continue his career. The highly touted Jalolov, a former amateur standout, will be up against Thomas Hawkins (4-3-0-1, 1) who has lost his last 3 and is without a win in over 4 years. Given how we have seen Uzbek fighters handled we're hoping this will be Jalolov's last bout at this level before he goes up against someone who can test him. He's too good to spend time against fighters like Hawkins.
This coming Monday fight fans in Japan get the chance to see a really intriguing domestic level card combining competitive match ups, youth and and fighters looking to prove themselves.
The main event of the show should be something very special as the always fun to watch Kenya Yamashita (12-3, 9) takes on the experienced Hayato Kimura (26-10, 17). It's hard to think of a dull fight featuring Yamashita, who is an ultra-aggressive fighter always looking for the KO and in Kimura he should find someone able to take his power early on and have a war. Coming into this Yamashita is ranked #5 by the JBC at 115lbs whilst Kimura is ranked #6 and both men will know that a win here will move them close to a shot at the national title.
Talking about titles there will be a JBC Youth Lightweight title fight on the card, as Izuki Tomioka (5-0, 1) takes on Kaiki Yuba (3-0, 2). The talented Tomioka will be seeking his 2nd defense of the title, and although a genuine talent there is a feeling that he lacks the power needed, at the moment, to move on to the next level. If, or when, Tomioka adds that power then there is a huge ceiling for him to aim for. As for Yuba he looks like a man with that power already there and will be looking to prove that he really is the future in this bout. Aged 19 Yuba has the potential to go much further than his father, a 5-weight Japanese national champion, but this is certainly a step up for him.
A really interesting match up will see recent Japanese Bantamweight title challenger Yuta Saito (10-8-3, 7) take on Naoya Okamoto (12-6-1, 6). Saito came up short last time out, suffering a 9th round TKO loss to Ryo Akaho, but was competitive prior to the stoppage, and is certainly better than his record suggests. Okamoto is also better than his record suggests, and comes in to this bout on the back of wins against Gaku Aikawa and Daisuke Watanabe, two of his very best. This should be a very intriguing and exciting match, despite their records suggesting otherwise.
Another interesting bout on this show will see Kenichi Watanabe (7-3-1, 4) end an almost 2 year break from action as he takes on the light punching Joe Tanooka (14-4-4, 1). Watanabe was stopped in 2 of his last 3, with Akinori Hoshino and Hiroaki Teshigawara both stopping him, but with some time out of the ring there is a chance we will see him revitalised here. Tanooka was stopped inside a round last time out, by Yamashita, and will be looking to get his career back on track here in what should be a very competitive contest.
This coming Monday sees the next Dangan card taking place, and although not a huge show it does have a number of notable fighters involved, in what should be an entertaining card, and a chance to not only see a chance to see a new champion being crowned but also a lot of fun action.
The main event of the card will see the always fun to watch Kenya Yamashita (11-3, 8) take on Filipino foe Eranio Semillano (15-7-3, 5) in what should be a genuinely thrilling contest. The all action Yamashita has won his last two bouts, following a stoppage to Akinori Hoshino last November, comes into this bout on the back of a big win over Joe Tanooka in August. Semillano suffered back-to-back defeated in 2014 in Thailand, but has since gone 5-0-3 in his last 8, and has shown real self belief in those bouts. This could be something very exciting.
The only title bout on the card is a female title bout, as Jun Yabuki (8-0, 4) and Fuka Komura (5-0, 2) face off for the JBC female Minimumweight title. The bout will crown the title's first champion and will be a really interesting match up between two unbeaten fighters looking to extend their perfect records. On paper Yabuki will be favoured, given she has more experience and heavier hands, but Komura has impressed since her original test bout and will be coming in to this as a promising 20 year old with a point to prove.
Another unbeaten fighter on this card will see Yoshimitsu Kimura (8-0, 3) risking his record against Filipino Glenn Medura (8-3-1, 5). The 21 year old Japanese fighter fighter has shown some promise, and won the 2016 Rookie of the Year crown at Featherweight, but this is very much a step up for the unbeaten youngster. As for Medura he has lost his last two, being stopped in both bouts in Japan, but he can bang and should prove to be a dangerous foe, at least early on against Kimura.
One other bout of interest here will see the heavy handed Daiki Ichikawa (9-3, 7) make his ring return, following July's opening round loss in Russia to Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov. Ichikawa will be up against Kazumasa Kobayashi (8-7-1, 5), who is now more than 6 years removed from his last win and won't be expected to change that here.
The most interesting show of the day, at least for us, is in the Korakuen Hall where we see the first set of Japanese Youth Tournament finals, with 4 finals, all of which are really interesting match ups, and bouts that should be really hotly contested.
The stand out bout is a rematch between Joe Tanooka (14-3-4, 1) and Kenya Yamashita (10-3, 7), who meet at Super Flyweight. Tanooka came runner up at the 2013 Rookie of the year whilst Yamashita won the Rookie of the Year the following year. In 2015 Tanooka scored a decision win over Yamashita, to give the heavy handed Yamashita his first loss, and since then both men have faltered yet remained popular. Tanooka has gone 5-1-1 since beating Yamashita, but shown a real lack of power with only a single stoppage. Yamashita is like an all action warrior and has gone 3-2 (3) since losing to Tanooka, with both losses being by stoppage. This will be a boxer vs bralwer, with history and the potential to be something really thrilling.
Another potential thriller comes at Featherweight as the talented, but out of form, Tsuyoshi Tameda (13-3-2, 11) takes on Retsu Kosaka (8-2, 3). We've seen Tameda losing his last two, suffering a decision loss to Simpiwe Vetyeka and suffering a stoppage to Reiya Abe, but has been given time to rest, heal and reignite his fire, with this being his final bout for the Yonekura gym, before joining the Ohashi Gym. As for Kosaka he has lost 2 of his last 3, but shone last time out beating the touted Ryo Sagawa in 2 rounds. This looks like a win on paper for Tameda, but it's not going to be easy against the hungry Kosaka.
Potentially the hidden gem on this show will be the Lightweight bout, as the really exciting and promising Izuki Tomioka (3-0, 1) takes on the Japanese Yuichiro Kasuya (9-1-1, 1). We were really impressed by Tomioka last time out, as he stopped Shun Shimazaki in 5 rounds, and the 20 year old from Saitama looks like a real one to watch. Kasuya, who won the Rookie of the Year at Super Featherweight in 2014, has faltered in his last two, drawing with Masaki Saito and losing to Spicy Matsushita. With those recent set backs against Kasuya we suspect he'll try to up his game, but Tomioka will be too good for him.
At Super Featherweight we'll see the struggling Kazuma Sanpei (12-4, 4) battle the inconsistent Ryusei Ishii (7-3, 4) in what looks like the black sheep of the match ups. Sanpei has gone 1-4 in his last 5, with 3 stoppage losses during that run, and his 11-0 (4) start to professional boxing is a distance memory, with only a single win in the last 3 years. Ishii has gone 2-2 in his last 4, though did earn his place in this bout with a dominant win over Sho Nagata in May. Ishii has some momentum here, Sanpei has none, leading us to favour Ishii for the win.
Fight fans in Las Vegas will see American based Uzbek hopeful Sanjarbek Rakhmanov (7-0-1, 3) fight in an 8 rounder, as he looks for a 4th straight victory. At the time of writing his opponent hasn't been announced, so we suspect it will be a less than taxing foe foe the unbeaten prospect.
In Pakistan we'll see a bizarre all-debutant 10 rounder, as Ali Dad (0-0) takes on Asmatullah (0-0). It's really odd to see a debutant in a 10 rounder, to see two of them in a 10 rounder is even weirder and it's hard to see what the plan behind this bout was, though hopefully it helps in the development of Pakistani boxing going forward, and is interesting to see how they are growing the sport there.
One of the biggest changes to the Japanese domestic scene in 2017 is the development of the new Youth Tournament, aimed at those who have progressed beyond Rookie status but aren't yet ready for Japanese title fights. The tournament has it's semi finals this coming Tuesday in a second successive day of Dangan cards.
The lowest weight being competed at is Flyweight, and we get two really good semi-finals. One of those will see the unbeaten Seigo Yuri Akui (10-0-1, 6) battle against the light punching Ryuto Oho (9-3-1, 2). The bout looks like one where Akui will be favoured but this is a really creditable test and Oho won't be turning up to pick up a loss, especially after having lost last time out to Yuta Matsuo.
The other Semi final at Flyweight will see 2016 Rookie of the Year Junto Nakatani (11-0, 9) take on the light hitting Yuma Kudo (6-2-2, 1). On paper this looks like a mismatch in favour of the unbeaten puncher but Kudo has never been stopped and will likely be looking to break Nakatani mentality by simply not going away. This could be a very interesting test for both men.
At Super Flyweight we'll see the exciting Kenya Yamashita (9-3, 6) take on the once beaten Naoto Iwai (3-1, 1). The bout will be Yamashita's first since changing gyms earlier this year and will be Iwai's first since losing his unbeaten record, also earlier this year. This bout really has the look of being something a bit special with Yamashita being a brawler with an exciting style and Iwai being a more pure boxer type, giving a good stylistic combination, and both will be very hungry for a win.
The next division with a semi-final bout will be Featherweight, where Retsu Kosaka (7-2, 2) will take on novice Ryo Sagawa (1-0, 1). Looking at the records alone suggests that this will be a mismatch in favour of Kosaka, but he has lost his last 2 bouts and last scored a win a year ago, against a poor Thai import. Segawa on the other hand looked great on debut last December and is tipped as a real diamond in the rough, which he'll be looking to prove here.
The Super Featherweight semi final will see Sho Nagata (7-2, 2) face off with the heavy handed Ryusei Ishii (6-3, 4). Although Nagata has the better looking record he has had a few very close wins, including his last 2 bouts, and could consider himself lucky to have the record he currently has. Ishii is the bigger puncher but we have seen him being stopped. With both men having limitations it's fair to say that this may actually be the most interesting bout, despite the less than great records of the two men involved.
The final Japanese of the month sees attention return to the Korakuen Hall for a small but interesting card with 3 bouts of some intrigue.
The main event of the card will see the all action Kenya Yamashita (9-2, 6) look to claim a win over the limited but hard hitting Akinori Hoshino (11-7-1, 8). The 20 year old Yamashita is one of the most fun to watch youngsters in the sport, and although not a world champion in the making he is insanely fun to watch and we suspect that'll be the case again here. Hoshino is a “win some- lose some” type of fighter who has run both Ryuichi Funai and Tatsuya Takahashi very close, but has been frustratingly inactive recently with just 3 fights in the last 36 months.
In a supporting bout we'll see Ganbare Shota (12-6-2, 2) battle against Japanese ranked Flyweight Kenta Sugimoto (11-9-1, 1). Shota began his career showing promise, and going 7-0-1 (2) though has since struggled going 5-6-1 as he's stepped up his competition and been found out a bit. However he has mixed with good company and shared the ring with Suguru Muranaka back in 2012. Sugimoto is the opposite and after being 6-7-1 he has turned his career around, helped by notable wins over Tetsuya Hisada and Shunji Nagata in 2015. This is a good match up but not one set to get any attention outside of the hardcore Japanese fans.
Another very even looking match up will see Shogo Yonenaga (8-3, 4) battle against Yuji Okinori (8-2-1, 1) in a very good looking Super Flyweight bout. Neither of these two are likely to make a mark on the world stage but they should make for a competitive match up against each other. On paper Yonenaga is the bigger puncher however Okinori has impressed following 3 set backs in a row in 2013-2015.
In the main event of the card fight fans will see WBC female Minimumweight champion Yuko Kuroki (15-4-1, 7) battle against Filipino challenger Norj Guro (7-5-1, 4). For Guro this is a second world title fight, however much like her first it is a very undeserved shot at a title and one that would take a monstrous upset for her to make the most of. For Kuroki, who is one of the sports most improved fighters in recent years, this is a backwards steps following some of her recent wins, however we are expecting her to have a big fight later in the year.
The main event isn't the only bout with females as Tomomi Takano (8-2, 5) shares the ring with former world champion Tenkai Tsunami (22-11, 11) in an exhibition bout.,
In one of the supporting bouts fans will see the exciting Kenya Yamashita (8-2, 5) battle against Yutthana Narkprasert (0-5). This will be Yamashita's first bout since his thrilling stoppage loss to Katsunori Nagamine earlier this year, and although it's a massive step backwards we can't complain about the youngster taking an easy one, especially given the way he was stopped by Nagamine
One other fighter of note on this card is the promising Ryoichi Tamura (6-2-1, 3) who takes on an unknown Thai opponent in one of the under-card bouts. Although his record might now be great we have been impressed by Tamura and suspect he could well compete at title level in Japan, if not Asia.
Japanese fans get a real treat this week with a solid looking card at the Korakuen Hall.
In the main event fight fans will see IBF #1 ranked Super Bantamweight contender Shingo Wake (19-4-2, 11) battle against Indonesian visitor Waldo Sabu (7-2, 2) in what is regarded as a tune up bout for Wake, ahead of a world title fight later in the year. The IBF have ordered the winner of the upcoming Scott Quigg Vs Carl Frampton fight to face Wake in a mandatory title fight and this bout is just to keep the juices flowing for Wake ahead of such a bout later in the year. Sabu does have a huge opportunity to make a name for himself but the reality is that he'll be lucky to see out the distance against the under-rated Wake.
Whilst the main event is a mismatch the under-card does have some interesting supporting bouts. One of those will see Wake's stablemate Kenya Yamashita (8-1, 5) battle the returning Katsunori Nagamine (10-1, 6), who is fighting for the first time since a loss last year to Ken Shiro. On paper this is a great bout, and one where an argument could be made for either man, but the reality is that Yamashita should be the favourite given that Nagamine has recently under-gone serious eye surgery following a detached retina, suffered in the Ken Shiro bout.
Another brilliant supporting bout will see former Japanese Super Flyweight title challengers collide as Toyoto Shiraishi (25-8-3, 12) takes on Hayato Kimura (24-8, 16). This is a really well matched contest and the two men will be fighting with the hope of securing another title fight down the line, however both will know that current champion Sho Ishida is out of their league and they will likely have to wait until he vacates before going for the belt
In the US fan will see Kazakh hopeful Dauren Yeleussinov (4-0, 3) continue his development in a 6 rounder. Sadly at the time of writing his opponent hasn't been named.
The best Asian card of the day comes from Japanese promotional giant Teiken who show case some of their notable fighters and also put on an interesting under-card of well matched bouts.
In the main event former world champion Akifumi Shimoda (29-4-2, 12) takes on an interesting in the form of Filipino foe Jerry Nardo (21-7, 11). On paper it's clear that Shimoda should be favoured however Nardo is much better than his record suggests and it wouldn't be a huge surprise to see the supposedly chinny Shimoda in some worrying moments
In the co-feature Welterweight puncher Yoshihiro Kamegai (25-3-1, 22) takes on Filipino fighter Nelson Gulpe (8-5, 3). We can't see this being anything more than an easy win for Kamegai, who should be too strong, too powerful and too tough for the limited Gulpe. The Filipino, who has been in poor form here, may feel he's getting a diminished Kamegai but the Japanese fighter is unbeaten in Japan and is likely to swat aside almost everyone at Oriental level, never mind Gulpe who is some way away from Oriental class.
Arguably the best of 3 well matched under-card bouts will see Japanese ranked Musashi Suzuki (11-3, 4) battle against 2014 Rookie of the Year Kenya Yamashita (7-1, 4). This is Yamanashita's first bout since he was beaten by Jo Tanooka and we expect to see him try and make a statement against Suzuki, however the more experienced man cannot be written off here.
Another of the under-card bouts that caught our eye will see once beaten Teiken fighter Masaru Sueyoshi (9-1, 6) take on the “better than his record suggests” Roman Canto (10-7-2, 5). On paper it's easy to write off Canto though this should genuinely be a very good measure of how good Masaru is and we may well see him kick on if he can look impressive here.
The remaining under-card bout that caught our eye will see Junki Sasaki (13-3, 5) battle against Yuki Ozawa (10-4, 2). This is an excellently matched bout and although Ozawa has lost his last 4 he should ask very god questions of Sasaki. Notably Sasaki did run Ryo Takenaka very close last time out and seems like he has got a lot of promise, though hasn't yet
In Thailand fans will get the chance to see highly regarded Paipharob Kokietgym (30-0, 23) defending his WBO Oriental Light Flyweight title against Filipino journeyman Jopher Marayan (7-7-2, 3). This is one of the worst bouts we've seen headline a Thai card, especially given that Marayan has lost 5 of his last 6 bouts coming in to this one.
New South Wales, Australia
In Australia fans will get the chance to see a number of Thais in action.
Many of the bouts here are low profile but three actually did, genuinely, catch our eye. In one of them former world champion Denkaosan Kaovichit (63-5-1, 26) battles the unbeaten TJ Doheny (12-0, 8) in a bout for the PABA Super Bantamweight “super” title. This will be Denkaosan's first bout since he was stopped last year by Ryo Matsumoto. The Thai will be the under-dog here but has got the experienced to perhaps make life difficult for the champion, then again at 39 Denkaosan might be too shot to put up any kind of a fight at all.
Another bout of note sees Mongkolchai Lookmuangkanch (12-4, 7) take on former world champion Vic Darchinyan (40-8-1, 29). This should be a horrible mismatch against the Thai but, at 39, Darchinyan is a bit long in the tooth and could find himself being a bout that turns out to be much more competitive than expected.
The third bout of note will see the experienced, but limited Denkamon Pakdee Gym (22-6, 13) take on the unbeaten, and much touted, Cameron Hammond (13-0, 7). This is a very tough ask for the Thai who has lost his last 2 and is unlikely to pose any threat at all to Hammond, who some are tipping as a potential Australian world champion.
In the US fans get a mouth watering b-tier match up as popular Filipino Mercito Gesta (28-1-2, 16) takes on former world title challenger Martin Honorio (32-9-1, 16). On paper Gesta will be the clear favourite but Mexican veteran Honorio is certainly no push over, despite losing his last 3. At his best Honorio was a real handful, giving Juan Carlos Salgado a close loss back in 2014, pushing Argenis Mendez razor close in 2010 and scoring upsets over the likes of John Molina and Steve Luevano. Despite Honorio's ability to play the upsetter it's difficult to see him winning this one.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
As we've gone through the month of February we've slowly seen action pick up. As we come to the end of the month we're seeing action pick up again with an OPBF title fight in Japan, a collision of prospects and the third professional bout in the career of a Chinese Heavyweight hopeful.
One of the shows is in Japan where we get a genuinely important card with a couple of really notable bouts at different levels.
The most significant of the bouts is in the Super Bantamweight division as the world class Shingo Wake (17-4-2, 10) defends his OPBF title for the 5th time in a little under 2 years. Wake, who is chasing a world title fight later this year, will find himself up against Filipino challenger Jimmy Paypa (16-2-1, 6). This fight was apparently close to being made for December last year and it could well be that we end up with both fighters coming in “over-boiled” for this, or we could see a destruction by a man looking to make a statement. If Wake does come out and scores an impressive win the talk is that he will be getting a shot at WBA "Super" and WBO Super Bantamweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux.
Wake isn't the only fighter from the Koguchi gym to be on this card as rising teenager Kenya Yamashita (7-0, 4) puts his unbeaten record on the line against Jo Tanooka (9-2-3). The unbeaten Yamashita was the Flyweight Rookie of the Year in 2014 and he is being tipped to go a very long way in his career however Tanooka is a great test and will be looking for a win himself after coming up short last time out against Hiroki Saito.
Another notable bout on this card will see former OPBF and Japanese Super Flyweight title challenger Toyoto Shiraishi (24-8-2, 11) battle against Yoshiyuki Yamaguchi (8-7-1, 4). For Shiraishi this is a must win bout following a run of just 1 win in 4 bouts however Yamaguchi shouldn't provide much in terms of competition
Talking about fighters who need a win Kota Sato (9-6-2, 4) has to be desperate to get a “W” after going 0-2-1 in his last 3 bouts. Sato will be up against Toshikuni Wake (8-14-3, 2). Wake is nothing other than a journeyman and shouldn't be able to beat Kota though we suspect a loss for Kota will be the end here.
One other bout on this card, a really interesting one in fact, will see Kazuma Sanpei (11-1, 4) battle against Masaru Sueyoshi (8-1, 5). Sanpei comes in to this bout on the back of his first career defeat, an 88 second blow out loss to Japanese based Filipino Johnreil Maligro, whilst Sueyoshi brings a 5 fight winning streak into this bout including a very notable decision over Yuta Nagai. Brilliant and brave match up for both guys.
In Russia fans will get the chance to see unbeaten Kazakh prospect Roman Zhailauov (13-0, 8) battle against the tough but limited Vyacheslav Yakovenko (7-19-1, 3). This will be Zhailauov's first bout of the year though we'll be honest it does seem like his team have slowed his progress over the past few bouts.
In the US American fans will get the chance to see Chinese giant Taishan Dong (2-0, 2) who hopes to extend his winning run as he battles against Roy McCrary (3-2, 3). The imposing Dong has to be a big favourite here against the 41 year old McCrary though we're more interested in the performance of Dong here rather than just getting the win. So far Dong has shown some ability but there are a lot of questions regarding his potential and so far none of his opponents have really been able to ask any questions of him with Tommy Washington Jr being a laughably bad opponent last time out.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)