Attention turns to Kazakhstan this coming Friday for a Qazaq Promotions card from Almaty. The card isn't a massive one, but it is a notable one, with the ring return of a popular unbeaten Kazakh contender, who has had his career ruined by injury, a Kazakh Heavyweight hopeful against a former world title challenger and several rising hopefuls.
The main event of the show will see the unbeaten Kanat Islam (25-0, 20) return to the ring, for the first time since September 2017, to take on Dominican puncher Julio De Jesus (27-1, 24).Islam was on the verge of a world title fight when he beat Brandon Cook in his last bout, but repeated injuries have kept him out of the ring since then really destroying his chances of a world title fight. De Jesus, on paper, looks like a good test though is the naturally smaller man and we do wonder how his power holds up here against a solid fighter like Islam.
In one of the main supporting bouts we'll see unbeaten Kazakh Heavyweight hopeful Ruslan Myrsatayev (5-0, 5) take on English Heavyweight veteran Danny Williams (53-26-0-1, 40). The unbeaten Kazakh is talented and heavy handed, but at 34 years old time is running out if he's really after a big fight he needs to make his move this year. Williams, best known for beating Mike Tyson and being dominated by Vitali Klitschko in a WBC world title bout, is now 45 and needs to really consider walking away from the sport before getting seriously injured.
Another bout will see Madiyar Ashkeyev (12-0, 6), fresh off throwing water over a journalist, take on Estonian journeyman Pavel Semjonov (24-11-2, 9). This should be a straight forward win for Ashkeyev, but Semjonov tends to be a tough foe so we're expecting a decision win for the unbeaten Kazakh here.
Also on this card will be unbeaten teenager Dastan Saduuly (3-0, 3) and Ablaikhan Khussainov (9-0, 6), though it's unclear who these two will be up against at the time of writing.
Unbeaten Kazakh hopeful Madiyar Ashkeyev (11-0, 6) will be looking to extend his unbeaten record this coming Thursday when he takes on 34 year old American Cecil McCalla (21-3, 8). The talented Ashkeyev is really in need of a step up and at 30 years old can't waste much more time if he's wanting to move on to a bigger and better fight in the near future. On paper this is a solid step up for the Kazakh, though McCall has scores just a single win in the last 4 years, and that came against the limited Jairo Jesus Siris. What is notable about McCalla is that he's tough, he's never been stopped and has gone the distance in loses against Chris Van Heerden, Ishe Smith and Tony Harrison. Ashkeyev will likely be forced to go 10 rounds, but should pick up a straight forward victory.
We'll see a couple of Kazakh hopefuls in action this coming Friday as they compete on a small card in California.
One of those Kazakh hopefuls is 30 year old Light Middleweight Madiyar Ashkeyev (10-0, 6), who takes on Luis Hernandez (16-6, 9) in an 8 round bout. The unbeaten Kazakh fighter has faced most limited opponents since his December 2015 debut, and it's a shame to have seen him treading water so much, given that he has got a fair bit of talent. Hernandez, from Puerto Rico, has lost 4 of his last 5, and 5 of his last 8, but is durable and should force Ashkeyev to work for a win here.
The other Kazakh on this card is 25 year old Middleweight prospect Meiirim Nursultanov (9-0, 7), who will be up against Ramon Aginaga (13-1, 9), who is the third opponent Nursulatanov has had to prepare for following his opponent changing twice. On paper this is another step forward for Nursultanov, who claimed the NABF Junior Middleweight title last time out. We're interested in seeing how the Kazakh develops and would expect him to be given a real test by the end of 2019, given that he has been impressing time and time again. Aginaga hasn't had great notice but is dangerous and has picked up wins on the road before, including a win over Shakeel Phinn in Canada, though was stopped in 5 rounds by exciting French prospect Christian Mbilli.
New Jersey, USA
Our attention will mostly be on New Jersey this coming Saturday as one Central Asian fighter defends a world title, and two others look to progress there careers.
The champion in question is the extremely talented and really exciting WBA Light Heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol (13-0, 11), who defends his title against Malawi born challenger Isaac Chilemba (25-5-2, 10). The heavy handed and exciting Bivol comes into this bout on the back of his excellent victory over Sullivan Barrera this past March, in what was Bivol's 5th straight stoppage win. The Kyrgyzstan born fighter is making a name for himself and a win over Chilemba will help him there. Sadly for Chilemba it does feel like his career is coming to an en and he has lost 3 of his last 4, including a stoppage loss in November 2016 to Oleksandr Gvozdyk. At his best Chilemba was a handful for anyone but he's now a very old 31 who has been in a lot of wars during his career.
One of the guys looking to move forward with their career is unbeaten Kazakh Madiyar Ashkeyev (9-0, 5), who is set for a notable step up in class to take on Cleotis Pendarvis (21-4-2, 9). The Kazakh has looked close to flawless in recent bouts and has been impressing on US soil through his career. American southpaw Pendarvis has had a stop-start career, and his last 4 bouts really haven't been great to know what he has left, but at his best he was a solid fighter who managed to stop Michael Clark, though that was almost 6 years ago now. A prime Pendarvis would have made for an interesting test, but we now expect Ashkeyev to step up and put on a showcase performance against his more experienced foe.
Another Kazakh on this card is Middleweight prospect Meiirim Nursultanov (7-0, 6), who will be looking for this third win of 2018. His opponent for this bout hasn't been announced but we're not expecting anyone too testing for the 24 year old, who we think will be stepping up in class at this end of this year, or early next year. Heavy handed, talented and exciting Nursultanov has a lot going for him, but we wouldn't be surprised if he team just waited a year or two before throwing him in with notable names.
In Japan fans only get a single show from Okinawa, and even that show isn't massively great with two low key title fights and some small fights on the under-card.
One of those title fights is a WBO Asia Pacific female Bantamweight title fight, which will see Yuko Henzan (6-6-4, 2) take on unbeaten Chinese fighter Fan Yin (3-0, 1). The Japanese fighter started her career 0-3-1 but has managed to turn things and had gone 4-0-2 in her last 6 bouts, and claimed the OPBF female Bantamweight title, so a win here for Henzan would see her become a unified champion. The Chinese fighter made her professional debut last December, and scored 2 wins in the space of 2 weeks, but her activity has slowed significantly and she has only fought once since the turn of the year.
The other title fight will see Japanese Youth Light Flyweight champion Ryuto Oho (11-4-1, 3) defending his belt against the promising Hiroki Inamine (2-1, 2). The 23 year old champion won the 2013 Rookie of the Year at Flyweight but has since struggled, going 5-4-1 (1). To help rectify things Oho has dropped to Light Flyweight which appears to be a more suitable weight class for him, given his relative lack of power. Inamine's record suggest he's a heavy handed fighter but he's only stopped two Thai's since making his debut, though he was a well regarded domestic amateur. Inamine was beaten last time out, by the ultra promising Rikito Shiba, but will feel he has the power to take care of Ono, in what could be the fight of the day.
In a supporting bout fans will see once touted youngster Seita Ogido (11-3-3, 3) look to get his career back on track after going 0-1-2 in his last 3. Ogido hasn't been softly matched but he has failed to win any of his last 3 bouts, which were all title contest, and is clearly being matched softly here to get some confidence back. He'll be up against Takayuki Teraji (9-15-1, 4) who has won just 3 of his last 10 and should manage to give Ogido rounds with out really coming close to winning them.
One other fighter on this card worthy of note is American born Japanese fighter Marcus Smith (5-0-1, 5), who looks to secure his second win of 2018 as he takes on Koji Igarashi (4-2, 3). It's hard to see Igarashi coming out on top here, given both of his losses have been by stoppage, but he does have power of his own and could well chin check Smith here.