Our attention turns to Florida this Saturday where two Asian fighters will be involved in a notable Top Rank card.
The main bout will see Japan's Masayuki Ito (25-1-1, 13) make his second defense of the WBO Super Featherweight title, as he takes on American challenger Jamel Herring (19-2, 10). Originally the WBO stated this bout wouldn't take place for their title, though it appears the organisation quickly back tracked, and in fairness it is a really interesting match up. The champion, who won the title last year when he beat Christopher Diaz in his US debut, looked solid in December, when he made a mandatory defense, but this looks likely to be a much tougher bout. Herring, a 2012 Olympian, has lost 2 of his last 6 but those losses were at Lightweight and he looks much better suited to Super Featherweight. This is an interesting match up, but one where the champion should be regarded as the favourite. A full preview of this bout is available here Ito returns to the US to take on Herring!
The other bout with an Asian fighter will see former WBA "interim" Flyweight champion Koki Eto (24-4-1, 19) take on 2-time Olympian Jeyvier Cintron (10-0, 5) in a WBO Super Flyweight world title eliminator. Those who have seen Eto will know what to expect from him. He's a wild, fighter who could probably be knockdown shadow boxing, but he's fun to watch, aggressive and has been involved in some incredible bouts during his career, which began in 2008. Cintron, on the other hand, is a talented former amateur standout who turned pro in 2014 and looks like he is on the fast track to success. Cintron looks like he has all the tools to deal with Eto, but the Japanese fighter does have incredible will to win and will not go down without a fight. We've previewed this bout here Eto makes US debut, takes on unbeaten Cintron
Staying in the US fans will also be able to see 2016 Olympic gold medal winner Daniyar Yeleussinov (6-0, 3) battle against limited veteran Miguel Zamudio (43-12-1, 27), who has previously lost to Shakhram Giyasov, the man Yeleussinov beat in the Olympic final. It's hard to see anything but a win for the unbeaten Kazakh here.
As well as the action in the US there is also a fight of some minor note in Australia. The bout here sees unbeaten prospect Conor Wallace (5-0, 4) take on limited Indonesian visitor Marco Tuhumury (13-23-2, 5). The Indonesian has lost his last 6, and will likely pick up another loss here. Wallace is a decent prospect, but a win over Tuhumury will prove little, and it seems his team are aware of this with another bout for the prospect looking like it's already been arranged for July.
Pyeongtaek, South Korea
There will also be a small 7 rookie card in Korea. This isn't part of Battle Royale tournament but is being sold as a Boxing M 4 round Parade show with 7 bouts, all between novices, set to compete on the card.
The month of February kicks off this coming Saturday, and we start to see action return to normal with the second Dynamic Glove card of the year, and a Kazakh prospect in action in the US.
Toyko, Korakuen Hall
The Dynamic Glove card is an interesting one, with a ring return of a fighter who has served a year long suspension, a Japanese title fight and the second bout of a very highly regarded prospect.
The returning fighter is Kenichi Ogawa (22-1-0-1, 17), who will be fighting for the first time since December 2017 when he faced Tevin Farmer. The former Japanese Super Featherweight champion has served a 12 month ban for testing positive for illegal substance and will be looking to put that year behind him as he takes on Filipino foe Roldan Aldea (12-6-1, 6). The Filipino has lost his last 2, but did become the first fighter to take the exciting Shawn Oda the distance, doing that last April, and will be looking to have another solid performance here, even if he does end up coming up short again.
The Japanese title fight will see the unbeaten Junto Nakatani (17-0, 12) look to enhance his growing reputation as he takes on Naoki Mochizuki (15-3, 8) for the vacant Japanese Flyweight title. The title was vacated in late 2018, as Masayuki Kuroda put his focus on preparing for a world title fight, allowing Mochizuki to face Nakatani in the Champion Carnival. The unbeaten Nakatani is a former Rookie of the Year and Japanese Youth Champion who has already broken into the world rankings and is expected to go a very, very, long way. Mochizuki on the other hand is underrated due to his losses, with 2 of those being very competitive and one of those being suffered early in his career. Mochizuki has proven to be tough, have a good work rate and could well spring the upset over the much fancied and very highly regarded 21 year old Nakatani, but many will be tipping the youngster. We've previewed this bout here Nakatani and Mochizuki battle for Japanese title!
Another notable name on this card will be former WBA "interim" Flyweight and OPBF Super Flyweight champion Koki Eto (23-4-1, 18), who will be up against Filipino visitor Rommel Oliveros (9-4-1, 4). This looks like it will be little more than a tune up bout for Eto who is wanting to fight for a world title this year, though is likely to continue just ticking over, as he has done since facing Carlos Cuadras way back in 2015.
Also on this card is the second professional bout of former amateur standout Mikito Nakano (1-0, 1) and the professional debut of Gonte Lee (0-0), also an amateur standout. These two Teiken prospects will be up against Thai visitors in what we expect will be little more than show case bouts for the novices, who are expected to achieve great things in the near future, as the Teiken gym rebuild after a few disappointing years.
As well as the Japanese action fight fans will also get the chance to see touted Kazakh fighter Janibek Alimkhanuly (4-0, 1) take on Steven Martinez (18-4, 13), in a dangerous looking bout. We were excited to see Alimkhanuly goo full on professional last year, and sign with Top Rank, though his performances in 2018 left us wondering whether he really is suited to the professional ranks. He is very talented, sharp and accurate, but there is a feeling that something hasn't yet clicked, though in fairness he has been matched hard and there is incredibly high expectations on his shoulders. Martinez is a 28 year old who is tough, having never been stopped, but has been beaten by his most notable opponents, such as Terrell Gausha, Denis Douglin and Christopher Pearson. This should be a very good test for the Kazakh.
This coming Thursday world title action returns to the Korakuen Hall as the Hall hosts an IBF Super Bantamweight title fight and also potential showcases for two notable Japanese fighters.
The IBF Super Bantamweight title fight will see defending champion Ryosuke Iwasa (25-2, 16) battling against unbeaten mandatory challenger TJ Doheny (19-0, 14), an Australian based Irish born fighter. For Iwasa this will be his second defense, following a lacklustre defense against Ernesto Saulong back in March. Coming in to this Iwasa is unbeaten since losing in an IBF Bantamweight title bout to Lee Haskins back in June 2015, and has reeled off 6 straight wins since that loss. The unbeaten Doheny has been on an impressive run of results and has earned this shot thanks to a victory over Mike Tawatchai in an eliminator last year. Given the power of Doheny this could be a very tough second defense for “Eagle Eye”.
One of two notable under-card fights will see former WBA “interim” Flyweight champion Koki Eto (22-4-1, 17) fight in a stay busy contest against Delfin de Asis (9-5, 6). The talk from Japan is that Eto is trying to secure a big bout, but is ticking over until that big bout can be made, which could potentially be a world title fight at 115lbs. Interestingly this is a 10 round bout, though we would be surprised to see it go the scheduled distance.
The other bout of note on this card sees heavy handed youngster Shawn Oda (8-0, 7) take on Masashi Wakita (8-7-2, 3). The 19 year old Oda was taken the distance for the first time last time out, when Roldan Aldea lasted 6 rounds with the teen. We suspect he'll be looking to get back to hid destructive best here. Wakita is no push over, and is a very tall fighter at Lightweight, but has been stopped in his last 2 bouts and has won just 2 of his last 6 contests.
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.
This coming Wednesday Japanese fans get a treat as there's a world title double header in Osaka and small but notable show in Tokyo.
The Osakan card, which will be televised in part on TBS, is a really interesting show with 3 worth taking note of.
The most significant is an all Japanese bout for the IBF Super Bantamweight title as defending champion Yukinori Oguni (19-1-1, 7) takes on mandatory challenger Ryosuke Iwasa (23-2, 15). For Oguni this will be his first defense and see him fighting for the first time since his career defeingin victory over Jonathan Guzman at the end of 2016. Well school and building in confidence the champion has really shone recently and looks to be a fighter who still has areas that he's developing. The challenger will be having his second world title fight and seems hungry ti impress after failing in a previous challenge of the IBF Bantamweight title. Blessed with heavy hands Iwasa will believe he has the power to over-come the smooth skills of Oguni in what is set to be a corker.
In the other title bout we'll see WBO Light Flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka (9-0, 5) seek his second defense of the title as he takes on Thai challenger Palangpol CP Freshmart (14-1, 8), in his first world title bout. The Japanese champion came through a tough mandatory earlier this year, against Angel Acosta, and is looking to end the year in a unification bout with Ryoichi Taguchi, though needs to get through this assignment first. The Thai under-dog is a former Muay Thai champion but as a boxer has looked rough around the edges and this is a huge step up for him going his opponents in Western boxing so far.
In the leading support bout we'll see former world title challengers collide as Shingo Wake (21-5-2, 13) takes on Thai veteran Panomroonglek Kaiyanghadaogym (50-2, 31) in a world title eliminator. Wake is best known internationally for losing to the previously mentioned Jonathan Guzman in a gutsy performance and this will be his second bout since that loss. Tghe Thai veteran on the other hand is best known for losing to the then WBA Bantamweight champion Koki Kameda by razor thin decision. This could be, potentially, the best fight on the card and is one that will likely go over-looked given the two headline contests.
Further down the card will be bouts featuring talented prospect Masayoshi Hashizume (13-0, 10) and former OPBF Bantamweight champion Takahiro Yamamoto (19-5, 16).
In the Tokyo show, from the Korakuen Hall we're guaranteed some excitement, but the show is a much lesser one than the Osakan one.
The main event here will see former world title challenger Koki Eto (20-4-1, 15) taking on a Thai foe as the all-action Eto looks to rebuild following his 2015 loss to Carlos Cuadras. Given the growing popularity of the Super Flyweight division Eto has the chance to be in some firecrackers over the coming years against Rex Tso, Jamie Conlan and Kohei Kono and hopefully we'll get the chance to see him in those types of bouts, rather than more contests against limited visitors.
Sadly other than Eto's bout there is little to get excited about here and a lot of the attention should be on the card from Osaka.
We get more Korakuen Hall action on Tuesday with an SGS/Dangan card.
In the main event we'll see the exciting Koki Eto (19-4-1, 14) take on a Thai foe. At the moment the Thai is an unknown quantity, but it's fair to say that Eto will be favoured here. Although favoured Eto hasn't looked great in his last two bouts, struggling past both Michael Escobia and Jun Blazo, who actually dropped Eto, and it's fair to say that he's not the fighter he once was. Eto's style never seemed to be made for a long career and it could be that he's only got a few more fights left in him.
In the chief support bout we'll see Japanese ranked Takahiro Araki (9-6, 4) will take on the once beaten Ryota Ishida (7-1, 5) in what should be a competitive and exciting Super Featherweight bout. Neither of these will likely move beyond domestic level, but bouts at this level, against well matched opponents could be really fun, as we expect this one will be.
Anbother Japanese ranked fighter in action on this card will be Japanese ranked Middleweight Riku Nagahama (6-0-1, 2), who takes on the experienced Hideo Mikan (7-11-1, 2). Coming in to this bout Nagahama is only a few wins from a potential Japanese Middleweight title bout, and although not a puncher he has stopped his last two foes, and looks to be improving with every fight, as he develops his confidence. Mikan, a good servant for Japanese boxing, has lost his last 4, but has mixed with good company and his better than his record suggests, having run both Hikaru Nishida and Yosuke Kirima close in recent losses.
Arguably the best bout on paper will see the heavy handed Hokuto Kawana (6-2, 5) face off with the very hard matched Burning Ishii (7-4-1, 2). Kawana is a glass cannon, who has been stopped in both of his losses. Although he has won his last two bouts there is always a chance he'll unravel as he did twice in 2015. With Ishii we have a solid fighter who is seemingly always in with good opponents, and was stopped twice last year, by Kosuke Saka and Teiru Atsumi. This is a bout which will go over-looked but will be very competitive as long as it lasts.
The biggest card of the weekend comes from Nevada where fight fans will get 4 world title bouts, all involving Asian fighters, in fact from the 4 bouts there are 5 Asian's in action.
The highest profile of the bouts sees multi-weight world champion Manny Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38) battle against WBO Welterweight champion Jessie Vargas (27-1, 10) in what will be Pacquiao's ring return after a short lived retirement. The Filipino sensation is the clear betting favourite but is close to 38 years old and will be the much smaller man in the ring. For Vargas the bout sees him facing his first legend and a win for the once beaten American will open huge doors, and legitimise his world title reign.
At Featherweight we see little known Japanese fighter Hiroshige Osawa (30-3-4, 19) take on WBO champion Oscar Valdez (20-0, 18), in what is Valdez's first defense. The Japanese fighter is a former OPBF champion but this is a massive step up in class for him and he hasn't really fought anyone of much renown in a while, with perhaps his best recent win being over prospect Kosuke Saka. Valdez is earmarked as a potential Mexican super star and with his style, power and skills he has the potential be one of the biggest things in boxing, and we think that will be shown here.
At Super Bantamweight we'll see Filipino champion Nonito Donaire (37-3, 24) defending his WBO title against the unbeaten Jessie Magdaleno (23-0, 17), in what is likely to be the best bout on the card. Donaire will be making the second defense of his title and although there are question marks over what he has left in the tank this is a massive step up for the challenger. The bout should tell us how good Magdaleno is and just how much Donaire has left.
In an all Asian bout we'll see Chinese star Zou Shiming (8-1, 2) battle Thailand's Kwanpichit OnesongChaigym (39-1-2, 24) in a second bout between the two men, with them now fighting for the WBO Flyweight title. These two have fought before, fighting in Macau where Shiming dominated Kwanpichit on route to a very wide decision, and we suspect we'll see the same again here, though he has has been relatively inactive whilst Kwanpichit has been stringing together low level stoppage wins in his homeland.
In Japan we get another live televised card courtesy of G+, who are showing a Gushiken card featuring several notable names.
In the main event of the show we'll see OPBF Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (10-0, 10) defending his title for the first time as he takes on Filipino challenger Felipe Cagubcob Jr (6-2-5, 2). The exciting Higa is one of the fastest rising prospects in world boxing today and is looking to build on quick victories over Romel Oliveros and Ardin Diale earlier this year. Cagubcob is looking to build on a career best win over Donny Mabao back in July and avenge Higa's wins over several Filipino fighters in recent years.
Originally one of the key support bout was supposed to see former OPBF and JBC title challenger Shingo Eto (17-5-1, 9) take on the fast rising Shuya Masaki (5-0, 2). Sadly Eto has been injured in the build up to the show and has been replaced by Thailand's Tienchai Yoongkaogym (2-6, 1), in what is a much less interesting bout. We are looking forward to seeing Masaki back in action but it's hard to deny that what we've been left with is a long way from what was originally announced.
There is still one Eto brother fighting on this card with former WBA “interim” Flyweight champion Koki Eto (18-4-1, 13) taking on Jun Blazo (5-1-3, 5) in the chief support bout. The bout will be Eto's second since his 2015 loss to Carlos Cuadras in a WBC Super Flyweight world title bout, and he'll be hoping for a much more fluent performance than he had in May against Michael Escobia, in a bout that was surprisingly competitive. Blazo is limited but has won his last 3 by stoppage and is the type of fighter we've see Eto over-look before.
Mox Power Promotions put on their next Chinese card with a low profile card in Zhengzhou. The show is low profile but features 5 bouts, all scheduled for 6 rounds, and all featuring at least one debutant.
On another lower profile show, this time in Australia, we'll see the win-less Maks Chylewski (0-2) take on tough Thai loser Pramool Boonpok (1-26-1),in what could potentially be an interesting bout, despite the obvious limitations of both fighters.
After a few days break action returns to Tokyo, where we see several notable fighters in action on the latest “Dangan” card.
In the main event of the card fight fans will see former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Rikki Naito (13-1, 5) battle against Thai veteran Chaiyong Sithsaithong (40-15-4, 29) in a genuinely pivotal bout for the young Naito. The bout is key to the Japanese fighter as it will be his first bout following last year's loss to Kenichi Ogawa, the only loss of Naito's career so far. For Chaiyong the bout will see him return to Japan for the first time since his February loss to touted novice Shuichuiro Yoshino, who took a near shut out over the Thai. Interestingly the winner of this may find themselves thrust into an OPBF title fight before the end of 2016.
Also looking to bounce back from a loss on this card is the popular Koki Eto (17-4-1, 13), who was last seen losing to Carlos Cuadras in a WBC world title bout. The exciting Eto will be looking to claim a win over Filipino Michael Escobia (11-11-1, 3), in what looks like a mismatch in favour of the local fighter. Whilst this shouldn't be a test for Eto we are expecting to see him show more boxing nous here than usual with the fighter stating that he has been working on making more of his jab in the build up to this fight.
In an under-card bout the promising Sho Kimura (10-1-2, 4) looks to continue a 12 fight unbeaten run as he takes on the limited but heavy handed Yamato Uchinono (6-5-5, 4). Whilst Uchinono has lost 3 of his last 4 he is still dangerous and Kimura will have to avoid Uchinono's power if he's to come out on top here.
Another under-card bout will see former Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Masaaki Serie (27-8, 10) battle against Keigo Soma (7-11-2, 4). Soma is perhaps best known for “retiring”Kohei Oba, who beat Soma but retired almost immediately afterwards, and although he's nothing special he has proven to be a good test. For the 33 year old Serie this should be a good test to see what he has left, but he's certainly a fighter who is a long, long way from his prime. Given how far Serie has slid this could be a very entertaining and well fought bout to prepare fans for the more significant contests higher up the card.
The biggest card of the day is a special card courtesy of WOWOW who will be showing the card as part of a free day for the channel. The card featured a couple of big main events in what could potentially feature one of the most exciting bouts of the year.
In one of the main events fans will see WBC Super Flyweight champion Carlos Cuadras (3-0-1, 26) battle against all-action warrior Koki Eto (17-3-1, 13) in a bout that could potentially be a FOTY contender. Eto, who is as fun to watch as any other fighter out there, is going to be the under-dog against the unbeaten champion but he's naturally the taller man and has shown his ability to make a fight of any bout. Cuadras will go into this one as the favourite but will have to expect the unexpected from the challenger in what could be an all-out war.
The other co-main bout will see Yu Kimura (17-2-1, 3) attempt to claim an unlikely world title as he faces WBC Light Flyweight champion Pedro Guevara (26-1-1, 17) in a very tough bout for the challenger. Kimura is a former Japanese champion looking to climb the proverbial global summit but it's hard to see how he beats the talented Guevara, who actually returns to Japan for the first time since winning his title there, last December.
Sadly apart from the two main bouts, this show is relatively slim on the under-card.
A second Japanese card comes from Kagoshima where fans will get the chance to see Naoya Haruguchi (7-6, 2) face off against Takayuki Teraji (6-8-1, 3) in a Light Flyweight bout. The fight, scheduled for 8 rounds, is the highlight of another wise forgettable card featuring 7 undercard bouts, all set for 4 rounds.
The most exciting of several Filipino shows is a card from ALA which will feature several very notable names, including some world class fighters and one of the most promising prospects that the country has seen in recent years.
Sadly we've not had the full bout sheet for this card, though it seems like AJ Banal (33-2-1, 22) will be facing Emilio Norfat (25-6, 19) in one of the main bouts. This should be an easy win for “Bazooka” but the Tanzanian visitor will be looking to score an upset and won't travel with the intention of just making up the numbers.
Others scheduled for this card include Kevin Jake “KJ” Cataraja (1-0, 1) who is expected to be in a 6 rounder as well as former world title challengers Rocky Fuentes (35-8-2, 20), Arthur Villanueva (27-1, 14) and Milan Melindo (32-2, 12). Sadly we've not been given the opponents for any of those 4 men.
Cotabato del Sur, Philippines
Another Filipino show will see former OPBF title contender Mark Anthony Geraldo (31-6-3, 14) attempt to end a 2 fight losing streak as he takes on the unbeaten Jelbirt Gomera (10-0, 6) in an interesting 10 round bout. For Geraldo this is the first bout since he lost a clear decision to Takuma Inoue, for the OPBF Super Flyweight title, whilst the relatively unproven Gomera will be stepping up massively. It's a good match in many ways but one that seems designed to get Geraldo back on the winning track.
Metro Manila, Philippines
Another notable Filipino fighter in action is the talented, and under-rated Randy Braga (16-1-1, 3) who will be up against yet another “yet to be named” opponent.
Another show in the Philippines will be headlined by the promising Arnel Baconaje (3-0, 3) who will face another of the un-named opponents that seem to be scheduled for action this coming weekend.
In South Africa fans will be able to see under-rated Filipino Renz Rosia (12-3, 6) battle against former IBF world champion Moruti Mthalane (31-2, 20) in a bout for the IBO Flyweight title. The bout is a very tough ask for Rosia though he did show his ability earlier this year when he pushed Makazole Tete all the way in a controversial loss, and with a recent win over Renan Trongco there is a great chance that Rosia could score a career defining upset against the talented but inactive Mthalane.
One of the best Japanese shows of the month comes on June 8th in a card that has so many good bouts it's difficult to really know which contest is the most exciting.
The main event is a Lightweight clash between current Japanese Super Featherweight champion Rikki Naito (12-0, 5) and former “world” title contender Nihito Arakawa (25-5-1, 16). This is a huge step up in class for Naito and is also a move up in weight for a man that many have tipped as a potential world champion. For Arakawa, who has shown signs of being on the slide, this is a must win after 3 losses in his last 4. On paper it's a brawler against a mover and we expect this could be something very special with both men being forced to answer a lot of questions if they are to come out on top. Brave match making from both and the sort of match up that we love.
The co-main event will see the always fun to watch Koki Eto (16-3-1, 12) defending his OPBF Flyweight title against unheralded challenger Yuki Fukumoto (17-9, 5). On paper it looks like a mismatch though having followed Eto's career in the way we have we know he never makes life easy for himself and he'll almost certainly find a way to get himself in to some sort of trouble before scoring the all important win. We suspect that a win for Eto will be followed by him vacating the title and turning his focus on to winning a world title, though he is unfortunately stuck in one of the sports most stacked divisions.
In a supporting bout we see the promising Koki Koshikawa (4-0, 2) take a huge step up in class as he takes on former Japanese and OPBF title challenger Koshinmaru Saito (20-7-1, 11). Koshikawa, a fighter from the Celes gym, is tipped to go a long way following a solid amateur career on the domestic scene however Saito is very experienced and came very close to winning the Japanese Welterweight title last year. This is a great match up and should answer questions regarding the future of both fighters.
Another supporting bout will see Yusaku Kuga (10-1-1, 6) put his OPBF and Japanese rankings on the like against the more experienced Kojiro Takada (13-8-3, 9). We suspect that the talented Kuga will over-come Takada but this will be a good test for the once beaten fighter who will likely be looking at getting a Japanese title fight in the next 12-18 months, if he wins again here.
One other bout of note will see the heavy handed and really exciting Daigo Higa (5-0, 5) in action against Filipino southpaw Cris Alfante (11-4, 4). Higa has looked like a destructive ball of anger so far but this is a big step up against a man who has mixed with very good fighters. Alfante has experience to make things very tricky for Higa however the home fighter has looked like a sensational prospect and will be hoping to shine again here.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)