The big focus this Saturday is in the Kazakh Capital of Nur-Sultan, where the country will be celebrating Capital City day. To celebrate the day MTK will be putting on a stacked card in the city with a world title fight main event, several interesting support bouts and a host of prospects.
The main event will see WBC Bantamweight champion Nordine Oubaali (15-0, 11) defending his title, for the first time, as he takes on Filipino challenger Arthur Villanueva (32-3-1, 18). The talented French-Moroccan is a real talent, and he was one of the many top Bantamweights frozen out of the WBSS, but is getting on in age and won't remain the skilled boxer-puncher that he's looked for much longer. Despite being the older fighter Oubaali will be strongly favoured here against a challenger who has lost his 3 biggest bouts, and would need a career best performance to even come close against the Frenchman. Villanueva isn't a bad fighter, but his ability is more that of a gatekeeper than a true contender. A full preview of this bout is available here Villanueva takes on Oubaali for WBC Bantamweight crown
In the main supporting bout we'll see unbeaten Kazakh Zhankosh Turarov (23-0, 16) take on Mauro Maximiliano Godoy (31-4-1, 16) in a bout for the WBO Inter-Continental Light Welterweight title. The unbeaten Turarov returned to the ring in June after almost 21 months out of the ring, and took a really disappointing win over Richmond Djarbeng, who sat in his corner complaining of stomach cramps after the second round. Godoy should prove to be a good test for Turarov, but the Argentinian has lost 3 of his last 7 and may be on the slide from the fighter he once was. Still this is easily Turarov's best test on paper, so far.
Another notable supporting bout will see the unbeaten Viktor Kotochigov (9-0, 4) taking on Jairo Lopez (24-10, 16), who was once regarded as a fringe contender. On paper this is a step up for the unbeaten Kazakh but Lopez is 3-4 in his last 7 and has been stopped in 3 of those 4 losses. This should be easier than it looks on paper for Kotochigov.
This card will b stacked with other Kazakh prospects, as MTK go all out to put on a show for local fans with Kazakh talent. Among the prospects are Ali Baloyev (8-0, 7), Sultan Zaurbek (7-0, 5), Nurtas Azhbenov (5-0, 1), Abay Tolesh (2-0, 2) and Abilkhaiyr Shegaliyev (5-0, 4), who are in relatively easily here and won't face too much of a test as they continue to build their careers and move towards bigger bouts.
As well as the Kazakh show there is also a notable card in Tokyo thanks to Teiken. This card is a really interesting one, with a notable name in the main event, a really good chief support bout, and a host of notable prospects
The main event will see Kenichi Ogawa (23-1-0-1, 17) take on limited Filipino visitor Glenn Medura (10-5-1, 6) in what will be little more than a stay busy bout for Ogawa. Originally the Japanese puncher was scheduled to have an IBF world title eliminator eliminator with South African Azinga Fuzile (14-0, 8), but Fuzile failed to secure a visa in time for the bout leading to Medura, who is 0-4 in Japan, getting the bout. We don't see this going very long at all.
A much better Japan Vs Philippines bout will see Shuya Masaki (12-1, 5) take on Al Toyogon (10-3-1, 6) in an excellent match up. The once beaten Masaki, who's only loss came to Hironori Mishiro, hasn't really shined as Teiken would have wished and this is a long way from a gimme. Masaki is talented, but really needs to get prove he can put on good performances, something we don't really see from him with any consistency. Toyogon on the other hand is looking to bounce back from a recent loss to Ryo Sagawa, and will be coming into this out with a point to prove. A very interesting bout contest.
One of the other main supporting bouts will be a Welterweight bout between Masaya Tamayama (12-1, 6) and Riku Nagahama (9-2-1, 4), with both men wanting to tak a big step towards a potential Japanese title fight in the near future. Nagahama is looking to secure a second win since his TKO loss last year to Yuki Nagano, who has since gone on to win the Japanese title, whilst Tamayama is looking for a 9th straight win, and a chance to take a huge step towards a big bout.
Among the other supporting bouts we will see Japanese Super Flyweight prospect Hayate Kaji (12-0, 9) take on Japanese based Filipino veteran Rey Orais (20-18-2, 5), in what looks to be a chance for Kaji to take a huge step towards a Japanese title fight. It feels like Kaji has been on the verge of a break out fight for a while and whilst this isn't going to be it, it seems like a win and his next one will be his long awaited break out bout. For Orais questions should be asked why he's continuing to fight, rather than focus more on the training role he has at the Flare Yamagami gym.
Lower down on this card we'll see two more touted Japanese prospects both take big steps up in class against Filipino foes. One of those is the fantastic Mikito Nakano (2-0, 2), who takes on Arvin Yurong (12-2, 3) in a genuinely good test. Nakano looks like he has the ability to move through the rankings quickly, and could fight for a title as early as late 2020, and Yurong is a very under-rated young fighter who should force answers from Nakano.
The other is Kuntae Lee (1-0, 1), who's debut saw him look fantastic against an opponent who didn't want to be there. Here Lee takes on unbeaten Filipino Marlon Paniamogan (9-0-1, 5) in what should be a much, much better match up. Sadly not much is known about the visitor, so it's unclear what type of a test he will actually pose for the very talented Lee.
A smaller show takes place in the Phillipines where we see a few interesting Filipino fighters in action with a really good main event.
The main event will see the unbeaten Mark Vicelles (10-0-1, 5) take on the once touted Jesse Espinas (19-3, 11). The 23 year old Vicelles isn't well known but comes into this on the back of an excellent win over Robert Onggocan, and this is a logical step up in class. As for Espinas this is a slight step backwards, but is one that makes sense given he was beaten last time out in an OPBF title bout against Edward Heno. A very interesting match up, and rightfully the main event of the card.
In a good supporting bout Ponciano Remandiman (10-4-1, 5) and Prince Andrew Laurio (10-2-1, 7) will face off for the Philippines Visayas Professional Boxing Association Super Flyweight title. The 22 year old Remandiman has turned around a 2-4-1 start with 8 straight wins and has great momentum coming into this bout, as well as a good win last time out against Renz Rosia. Interestingly Lauio's career is going in the opposite direction, and he is 2-2-1 in his last 5, with stoppage losses in his last 2 bouts. His early potential appears to have been massively over-hyped and he is now really faltering.
One other bout of note here will see the one beaten Tomjune Mangubat (10-1-1, 9) take on Joffrey Garcia (6-10-4, 5), in what should be another straight forward win for Mangubat.
This coming Friday fight fans in Japan will get two different shows in major areas, on in Osaka and one in Tokyo, there's also two shows in the Philippines and one in Dubai!
Of the two cards it's the Osaka one which will get most of the attention, featuring a major name in Japanese boxing along with a couple of bouts featuring interesting hopefuls.
The major name is that of Juiki Tatsuyoshi (10-0, 7), the son of former world champion Joichiro Tatsuyoshi, who despite not being anywhere near to the fighter his father was, is still a noteworthy prospect. Tatsuyoshi will be up against Daichi Matsuura (6-3-2, 2), who doesn't look likely to be much of a test for Tatsuyoshi, even if Tatsuyoshi is a long way from being a world beater himself.
The chief support bout on this card will see the heavy handed Kyosuke Tsutsumimoto (9-1, 8) take on Japanese based Korean fighter Tae Il Atusmi (15-2, 7) in a very interesting contest that could prove to be the highlight of the show. The 23 year old Tsutsumimoto enters this bout on the back of 5 stoppage wins, but this is a step up for him. Atsumi on the other hand will be looking to score his third straight win following a 2017 loss to Shingo Kawamura. This should be a very exciting and competitive contest between two guys who can hit hard.
Also on this show is former Rookie of the Year finalist Hibiki Jogo (8-2, 4), who looks to rebuild from a 2018 loss to Yoshihiro Utsumi. From what we under-stand the talented Jogo will be up against experienced Filipino foe Marzon Cabilla (17-17-1, 6), in what should be a straight forward win for the local hopeful.
In Tokyo we'll see the next Golden Child card. This is a smaller card, but should be a pretty entertaining one, with several good looking bouts.
The main event of the card will the always fun to watch Shusaku Fujinaka (16-10-2, 11) take on Toshiro Tarumi (11-3-3, 6) in a Welterweight bout between Japanese ranked fighters. Coming in to this Fujinaka has lost 4 of his last 5, but they have included defeats in a WBO Asia Pacific title bout, to Keita Obara, and a Japanese title bout, to Ryota Yada. Tarumi on the other hand is ranked #2 by the JBC, and has won his last 6 to be on the verge of his first title bout.
The chief support bout is a fantastic match up, which will see young Japanese Middleweight prospect Riku Kunimoto (3-0, 1) take on the heavy handed, but flawed, Shoma Fukumoto (12-3, 10) in a really intriguing contest. Kunimoto is taking a massive step up in class, but a win here will help him race towards a Japanese national title fight. On the other hand a loss for Fukumoto, who has been stopped in 2 of his last 3, could be the end of his dreams. A must win for Fukumoto, but one that comes against a former national amateur standout. A full preview of this bout can be read here Kunimoto steps up to take on Fukumoto
Also on this card is a rare Japanese Heavyweight clash, as Yamato Fujinaka (7-5, 3) and Ryu Ueda (7-1-1, 4) face off for the second time. These two fought in November 2015, with Ueda taking the win by decision, and since then neither has really done too much of note.
As well as the Japanese cards, there is also a show in Cebu, featuring some pretty interesting local hopefuls.
One of the main bouts on this show will be a WBC Asian Boxing Council Silver Featherweight title bout, as the unbeaten Tomjune Mangubat (10-0-1, 9) takes on Arnel Baconaje (10-3, 8). This genuinely looks like it could be something really, really fun. We're not a fan of just how many regional minor titles there are out there, but if they are responsible for bouts like this, we can't complain too much!
A second title fight will see the unbeaten Mark Vicelles (9-0-1, 5) take on the under-rated Robert Onggocan (11-4, 7) , for a low key title on the domestic, or rather local, scene. The reality is that they could have used this bout as a major regional title eliminator, it's a fantastic match up, and should be some really special for the fans in attendance. It's a bout that clearly doesn't need a very low level title to be on the line, and the fight clearly overshadows the belt that they will be fighting for.
A second Filipino show will take place in Bukidnon.
The main event of this show will see Jerry Tomogdan (26-10-4, 14) battle against Dexter Alimento (13-5, 9) in what should be a pretty interesting match up between two under-rated Filipino's. Both have suffered recent losses and both need a win to remain relevant, but this not an easy one for either guy.
Also on this card is Robert Paradero (17-0, 11), who will be fighting for the first time in a year following visa issues with arranged bouts outside of his homeland. He will be expecting to pick up an easy win as he takes on 19 year old Jonathan Almacen (5-2-2, 1).
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
As well as the bouts in the power houses of Asian boxing there will also be Asian action in Dubai, as MTK Global take their show on the road and show case a number of prospects.
One of those Asian fighters is Abilkhaiyr Shegaliyev (2-0, 1), who will be battling against Teimuraz- Abuladze (9-6, 7) of Georgia. Another in action is Sultan Zaurbek (5-0, 3), who takes on Chinese foe Chenghong Tao (7-5-1, 5).
The biggest hopeful on the card however is 2016 Olympic gold medal winner Shakhobidin Zoirov (0-0), who will be making his professional debut against Indonesian foe Anthony Holt (5-4-1, 3), who was stopped inside a round last June by the then debuting Jin Minamide. This should be little more than a cameo for Zoirov.
Another central Asian fighter in action this Friday is Sanjarbek Rakhmanov (11-1-1, 5), who looks to score his second win following a 2018 loss to Marquis Taylor. The Uzbek will be up against unbeaten puncher Keith Hunter (9-0, 7) in what looks like a fantastic bout, at least on paper.
Metro Manila, Philippines
Ateention turns to the Philippines this coming Saturday as ESPN5 televised their first show of the new year. It's not a bumper card, but does feature some notable names as the channel looks to increase the profile of a number of Filipino fighters.
One of the notable bouts on this card will see the unbeaten pairing of Dave Apolinario (9-0, 6) and Mark Vicelles (9-0-1, 5) battle for the WBO Asia Pacific Youth Flyweight title. We've been impressed by Apolinario since he made his debut back in 2017 and the 20 year old looks like a dynamite prospect with speed, skills, power and a lot of potential. This however is a step up in class and Vicelles will be coming to do more than just make up the numbers. The 23 year old Vicelles has already ruined 22 unbeaten records, and will be looking to expose another touted domestic rival here. We're expecting real fireworks and excitement here in what should be the show stealing bout.
In a good supporting bout Reymart Gaballo (20-0, 17) will be taking on Japanese foe Yuya Nakamura (9-2-1, 7) in what should be an interesting assignment. Gaballo will be favoured, he really impressed last year with wins against Stephon Young and Julias Kisarawe, but Nakamura is no push over, and he impressed in December when he should have had a win over Yougu Yu, though the judges found a way to score that a draw. Gaballo should win, but Nakamura won't be there to just make up the numbers.
In another supporting bout the hard hitting Romero Duno (18-1, 14) will face off with Indian Kuldeep Dhanda (7-1, 1) in what is expected to be little more than a stay busy bout for Duno. The Filipino puncher is on a 9 fight winning run, including his break out win over Christian Gonzalez from March 2017, and looks like a potential world title contender. Dhanda on the other hand has never previously fought outside of India and lacks a win of any note, suggesting he will be completely unable to cope with Duno's power and skills.
Jeonju, South Korea
In Korea fans will be getting a double title show, with domestic Cruiserweight and Welterweight titles up for grabs. The theme of the show is Korea Vs Japan Vs China, but sadly the international bouts are over shadowed by the title bouts.
The Welterweight title will see either Yong Hwan Jun (4-4-1, 2) or Dong Young Kang (4-5-2) being crowned as the new champion. Neither of these two are great, but the Korean Welterweight scene isn't very good right now and hopefully getting the title scene up and running will kick start that, with fighters vying for a shot.
The Crusierweight title fight on the other hand will see Hyun Tae Bae (5-1-1, 3) battle against Kyung Hak Lee (3-5-1, 1). The 29 year old Bae returned in December, after more than 2 years out of the ring, and stopped Tae San Kil to earn his shot at the title. Lee on the other hand is without a win since March 2011, and it seems like this is little more than a coronation event for Bae.
One other bout of note here will see the unbeaten Dong Myung Shin (1-0), who impressed on debut in September, battle against Chinese fighter Yiping Gao (3-5, 1). Shin looked really good, defeating Hiroyuki Sagehashi on debut, and we're expecting him to shine again here. At the age of 30 Shin will need to be active to make any mark on the sport, but could be one of the few Korean with the skillset to impress internationally.
Another Asian fighter in action in the US is Filipino Genisis Libranza (17-1, 10), who will be looking to make his US debut following an aborted bout in January against Carlos Buitrago, who failed to make weight for a bout with Libranza. He will be up against Gilberto Mendoza (11-6-2, 4), who is a 29 year old who has yet to score a win of note. This should be seen as a showcase to Libranza if we're being honest.