The most interesting card, by far, for the weekend comes from California, where we see several brilliant match ups, including a unification bout in the Super Bantamweight division where several Asian fighters lie in wake, including Ryosuke Iwasa and Murodjon Akhmadaliev.
Despite the Super Bantamweight bout the focus for us is a Super Flyweight rematch, as WBC and Ring Magazine, champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (47-4-1, 41) takes on Mexican Juan Francisco Estrada (38-3, 26) in a mandatory rematch. These two fought in an excellent contest last year, with Srisaket taking a narrow decision over Estrada, and fans have clamoured for a rematch ever since. Both men have stayed busy since their first bout, but this is the first really meaningful bout either had since their clash. Sriskaet, regarded by many as a top pound for pound fighter, will be kicking off a new DAZN deal, whilst Estrada will be seeking a second divisional throne. A full a preview of this bout can be read here Srisaket and Estrada go again in rematch of 2018 war!
On the supporting card we'll see rising unbeaten Uzbek contender Shakhram Giyasov (7-0, 6) take a step up in class to face off with Emmanuel Taylor (20-5, 14). Giyasov impressed last year picking up 6 wins, and this will be his second bout of 2019, following a win over former world title challenger Edgar Puerta in February. Taylor, known as Tranzformer is a step up in theory, but hasn't fought in almost 2 years, and has just 3 wins in the last 6 years, against 4 losses. Taylor was a capable fighter, as wins over Karim Mayfield and Victor Manuel Cayo show, but we really don't know what he has left to offer at this point in time.
Also on this card is the aforementioned Murodjon Akhmadaliev (5-0, 4) who will be up against former WBC Bantamweight challenger Carlos Carlson (23-5, 14). In theory this is a tune up for the WBA #1 ranked Super Bantamweight title challenger, but in reality this should be a straight forward win for the unbeaten hopeful.
Staying in the US we'll also see Chinese Light Heavyweight hopeful Fanlong Meng (14-0, 9) take on Daniel Najera (8-3-1, 4). This will be Meng's first bout since stopping Frank Buglioni in in November, when he scored a career best win, and it feels like a lot of the momentum he had from that bout has now been lost. Mexican fighter Najera has gone 1-3-1 in his last 5, and isn't expected to put up much of a test for Meng, who really should be taking on better opposition than this at this stage of his career.
London, United Kingdom
In the UK we'll see a MTK Global card featuring a pair of Kazakh prospects.
The more notable of the two is Viktor Kotochigov (8-0, 4), who fights for the first time as an MTK fighter. The unbeaten Kotochigov, who shone in Poland earlier this year when he stopped Piotr Gudel, will be up against Latvian journeyman Andrejs Podusovs (16-10-1, 5). The Latvian is riding an 8 fight winning run into this bout, but has had mixed results outside of Latvia, going 8-10-1 in the UK.
The other Kazakh on this card is Nurtas Azhbenov (4-0, 1), who has shown some touches of class but appears to be a bit on the feather fisted side. He will be up against an opponent who hadn't been named at the time of writing.
This Saturday is a huge one for Asian fight fans with notable bouts taking place on 3 different continents.
New Jersey, USA
The biggest card for us is North America where we see a headlining bout between two established fighters and get a supporting card featuring major Central Asian prospects.
The card is headlined by Dmitry Bivol (14-0, 11)defending his WBA Light Heavyweight title against veteran Jean Pascal (33-5-1-1, 20). The talented Bivol has been busy this year with wins against Sullivan Barrera and Isaac Chilemba and a win over Pascal would see him ending a good year with a big name on his record, albeit a faded force in Pascal. The 36 year old Pascal is well beyond his best, but was competitive with Eleider Alvarez last year and the hope will be for Bivol and Alvarez to face off in 2019. A prime Pascal would have given Bivol a real test, but he's now little more than a name. An in depth preview of this bout can be read here - Can Bivol over-come Pascal in one of the final HBO shows?
One of the prospects on this card is Uzbek sensation Murodjon Akhmadaliev (4-0, 3), who will be looking to make his first defense of the WBA Inter-Continental Super Bantamweight title. The unbeaten Akhmadaliev was a former amateur stand out will be up against American foe Isaac Zarate (16-3-3, 2) , who comes into this bout on the back of a 5 fight unbeaten run including wins over Carlos Carlson and Horacio Garcia. This is a good step up for the Uzbek, who's is set to have his fight televised on HBO, and hopefully bigger and better opportunities will come his way in 2019.
One of the other major prospects on this card is the debuting Israil Madrimov (0-0), who looks to instantly announce himself as one to watch, as he takes on Vladimir Hernandez (10-2, 6) in a 10 rounder, on debut. The highly regarded Madrimov is tipped to be a major success, and it seems clear that his team have big expectations for him, putting him in such a tough bout to begin his career. Hernandez might not be a major name but he's a very solid opponent for a debut, and has only lost a couple of close decisions, to Humberto Velazco Torres and Adrian Luna Flores. Not only has Hernandez been competitive with good opponents, but he has scored decent wins over Elco Garcia and Danny Valdivia. This is a serious debut.
Another prospect on this card is 2016 Olympic silver medal winner Shakhram Giyasov (5-0, 4), who will be up against the very experienced Miguel Zamudio (41-11-1, 25). The unbeaten Giyasov has been very impressive this year, beating good opponents like Gabor Gorbics, Albert Mensah and Julio Laguna, defeating Laguna at Wembley on a massive international card. Zamudio is a 27 year old Mexican veteran, who debuted back in 2009 and has been ultra-active. Despite being active Zamudio has lost to the notable opponents he's faced, such as Jose Zepeda, Sharif Bogere and Will Tomlinson.
Kazakh Heavyweight Ivan Dychko (7-0, 7) was also scheduled to be on this card, though was pulled in the weeks leading up to the show, without a reason being given.
Monte Carlo, Monaco
Another international card with notable action comes from Monaco, where we get a couple bouts involving Asian fighters.
A second unbeaten Chinese fighter on this card is Meng Fanlong (13-0, 8) who goes up against popular Englishman Frank Buglioni (22-3-1, 16). The bout will be Fanlong's first defense of the IBF Inter-Continental Light Heavyweight title, a title he won in October 2017 when he defeated Ammanuel Danso. The Chinese fighter has looked good at times, but has been shown to have a less than amazing chin and although Buglioni is not a world beater, he does have respectable power. If Buglioni lands clean this could be a night to forget for Fanlong, who will be making his Euroipean debut.
Another Olympic medal winner on this card will be 2016 gold medal winner Daniyar Yeleussinov (4-0, 2) of Kazakhstan. The 2016 Olympic champion will be battling against Nicaraguan Marcos Mojica (16-2-2, 12) and this is another good platform for Yeleussinov to shine on, as he did last time out, when he stopped Matt Doherty. If Yeleussinov can continue to develop his style he could become a star, but there is still a long way for him to go. Mojica is the under-dog, but is a live under-dog here.
We were also hoping to see unbeaten Chinese hopeful Zhang Zhilei (20-0, 16) take on veteran Alexander Ustinov (34-2, 25), but that bout was cancelled at late notice due to Zhilei having visa issues in the weeks running up to the fight.
Despite the notable action in the US and Monaco there is actually a stacked card in the Philippines, courtesy of ALA Promotions who are putting on a show with several WBO affiliated titles.
One of those title bouts will feature the hard hitting Jeo Santisima (16-2, 14) making his first defense of the WBO Oriental Super Bantamweight title, as he takes on Mexican visitor Victor Uriel Lopez (13-6-1, 6). The champion won the title earlier this year, when he stopped Yodsingdaeng Jor Chaijinda and this should be a good defense against a fighter who has proven he can fight on the road. Lopez first came to our attention in 2016, when he upset Ryo Matsumoto, and despite a loss to Matsumoto in a rematch he has remained relevant, with a big win this past August against Antonio Tostado. We're expecting an interesting bout here.
Another title bout on this card will see the once beaten Albert Pagara (30-1, 21) make his first defense of the WBO Inter-Continental Super Bantamweight title, as he takes on Ghanaian puncher George Krampah (14-3, 12). On paper this looks dangerous for Pagara, but the visitor has been stopped in 2 of his last 3 bouts, and he lacks any win of note. This is a great chance for Pagara to make his first defense, and we suspect his aim will be on stopping Krampah in under 4 rounds, to try and beat the result Isaac Dogboe had against him.
In one of the major supporting bouts we'll see former world title challengers face off with Jonas Sultan (14-4, 9) taking on Ardin Diale (34-12-4, 16). Sultan failed to shine in his recent world title fight with Jerwin Ancajas, but he is a talented fighter and will be wanting to bounce back from that setback. A win over would certainly help him go into 2019 with some momentum. As for Diale his record has been patchy recently, though he has mixed with top quality fighters such as Daigo Higa, Moruti Mthlane and Andrew Selby. We suspect Sultan's youth will get him over the line here, but this could be more competitive than the records suggest.
Sultan isn't the only former world title challenger on this show as the once touted Arthur Villanueva (32-3, 18) looks to rebuild his career after his loss earlier this year to Luis Nery. Villanueva will be up against countryman Carlo Demecillo (11-5, 5) who is less than 2 years removed from a brutal KO loss to Satoshi Shimizu. He is 5-1 (4) since that loss, but this is a big step back up in class and is certainly his toughest bout since the Shimizu bout. Hard to see anything but a win for Villanueva, but he will have to work for it.
Unbeaten prospect KJ Cataraja (8-0, 7) takes a step up as he faces Victor Hugo Reyes (9-1-1, 7) for the WBO Youth Super Flyweight title. Cataraja is widely regarded as one of the top Filipino prospects but hasn't yet had the opponents to really show what he's capable of. This is a good chance to Cataraja to prove what he can do and potentially convince his team to give him better match ups in the new year. Reyes is a live fighter, but his record doesn't have much quality on it, with his most notable bout being his loss to Ricardo Rafael Sandoval back in March. Reyes will travel to win, and should give Cataraja a good teat, but one that we expect Cataraja to pass.
Japanese prospect Go Hosaka (1-0, 1), who is signed with ALA Promotions, will be having his second professional bout. The talented former amateur stand out will be up against the hard hitting but limited Jason Tinampay (8-11-1, 7). Hosaka is a real talent and ALA may well have a future world champion on their hands here, if they manage his career properly. At this stage putting him in with Tinampay seems a good choice. Tinampay was once a dangerous fighter, but has gone 1-10-1 since a 7-1 start to his career.
We see yet more prospects in Canada, where two Kazakh hopefuls will be looking to extend their unbeaten records.
One of those prospects is the very talented Sadriddin Akhmedov (4-0, 4), who goes up against the experienced Jose Francisco Zuniga (14-11-2, 5). On paper this is a slight step up in class for Akhmedov, who has stopped his first 4 opponents in a combined 8 rounds, but one he should manage without any issues. It's worth noting Zuniga has only been stopped once in his 11 losses, but we feel he will have to put in a real survival effort to hear the final bell here.
The other is prospects is 24 year old Nurzat Sabirov (7-0, 6), who a huge step up in class to battle Rocky Montoya (32-2, 22). Sabirov is tipped to be a star, like many of the Kazakh's currently based in Canada , and has looked very promising since his debut in June 2017. This is however a step up and Montoya has only been stopped once, by the under-rated David Lopez. Whilst Montoya is a test on paper it's hard to know how good he is given that, for the most part, his competition has been dreadful. We suspect Montoya's record will be exposed here by the talented Kazakh.
In less notable action we'll see Filipino Adam Diu Abdulhamid (13-6, 5) look to build on a recent big win in China, over Youli Dong. The under-rated Filipino will be facing off with Australian Joel Camilleri (15-5-1, 7) in a bout for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Welterweight title, which is currently vacant. Although relatively unknown Abdulhamid is a very good fighter and seems happy fighting on the road, despite bein 1-3 outside of the Philippines. Camilleri has won just 1 of his last 3 fights, and really lacks a good wins, but was competitive with Dwight Richie last time out, and is better than his record suggests. This looks like it could be a very interesting match up.
The most notable action for us this coming Friday is from Iowa, where fans will be able to see a couple of notable Chinese hopefuls in action.
One of those Chinese fighters is Heavyweight hopeful Zhilei Zhang (18-0, 14), who takes on Kazakh Born German Eugen Buchmueller (11-2, 8). The Chinese fighter has long been tipped as a real hopeful, but at the age of 35 it's time that he really starts to step up in class and chase a world ranking, rather than fight in stay busy fights like this. Zhilei has been a professional for close to 4 years but really is lacking in terms of notable results, which hasn't been helped by the fact he's been out of the ring for 10 months. The 37 year old Buchmueller has never been stopped but is 0-2 outside of Germany and it's hard to imagine him giving Zhilei any sort of a real test here.
The other Chinese fighter is 30 year old Light Heavyweight hopeful Fanlong Meng (12-0, 7) who takes on the limited but hard hitting Chris Eppley (11-4, 10). The Chinese fighter has shown some promising, and can box or fight, but has shown suspect punch resistance, especially notable when he was twice dropped against Zura Mekereshvili. Given Eppley's power he could give Meng real problems if he connects. Saying that however Eppley has has been out of the ring for over a year and has been stopped in 3 of his 4 defeats.
New South Wales, Australia
As well as the two Chinese fighters in the US it's also worth nothing that Indonesian veteran Aswin Cabuy (19-69-4, 7) will be in action in his adopted homeland of Australia. The 92 bout veteran will be going up against the debuting Dylan Vadnjal (0-0). At the age of 43 Cabuy is really just continuing to be a servant to Australian boxing, but doesn't have much left to offer, with 11 straight losses coming into this one. For Vadnjal this should be a pretty straight forward win.
The big action of the day comes from Wenzhou in China where fight fans will get a genuinely notable card of international note. Not only does it feature 3 of China's most notable fighters but also a world title fight between a Thai and a Panamanian based Venezuelan.
That world title bout will see WBA Super Bantamweight champion Nehomar Cermeno (24-5-1, 14) take on unbeaten Thai challenger Nop Kratingdaenggym (17-0, 5), aka Anurak Thisa, in an intriguing match up between ambitious youngster and veteran champion. The champion will be looking to record his first defense of the title he won in June, when he stopped Qiu Xiao Jun in the 12th round though at 36 he is ancient for a top level fighter. On the other hand the 25 year old Thai will be fighting outside of Thailand for the first time and will be taking a huge step up in class.
In a supporting title bout Can Xu (9-2) will be facing the unbeaten Ramiro Blanco (14-0-3, 7) in what looks like an intriguing match up. Blanco is an unbeaten Nicaraguan, fighting outside of home for the first time. Xu on the other hand is one of China's most promising young talents and despite lacking power he does look to be a diamond in the rough for Chinese boxing.
Another Chinese diamond in the rough is Qiu Xiao Jun (20-3, 9), who fights for the first time since being stopped by Cermeno. Although very rudimentary Jun has scored a number of notable wins and will be looking to add another as he faces Filipino Robert Udtohan (23-1-3, 15) here. The Filipino has a pretty good looking record but this is actually a big step up for him and he'll be the clear under-dog against the solid hitting Jun.
In a Heavyweight bout fans will see Zhang Zhilei (11-0, 7) take on the highly experienced Gogita Gorgiladze (32-13, 27) from Georgia. On paper this looks like a good step forward for Zhilei but the reality is that the visitor has a very padded record and shouldn't last long with “Big Bang”
In another China Vs Georgia bout we'll see the touted Fanlong Meng (8-0, 6) battle against Zura Mekereshvili (18-5, 14). The 28 year old Meng is tipped as a real hopeful and a win here should be his final one before moving into 10 rounders. Sadly Mekereshvili should prove to be too small to really test Meng.
Bacoor, Cavite, Philippines
As well as the big show in China there is also a notable card in the Philippines where titles will be on the line.
The two main bouts on this card are both OPBF Silver title fights and both feature a former world title challenger against an unbeaten foe. One of those fights comes at 115lbs and sees former OPBF Flyweight champion Ardin Diale (31-10-3, 15) battle Ryan Lumacad (11-0-1, 6). Coming in to this one the 44 fight Diale will be looking to show that his recent beating to Daigo Higa wasn't the start of the end. For Luamcad the bout is a potential break out opportunity and he'll be coming into this one with the belief of an unbeaten man looking for a career best win.
The other OPBF Silver title fight comes at Flyweight and sees former WBC Light Flyweight world title challenger Richard Claveras (15-2-2, 13) battle against Jeronil Borres (7-0-1, 5). Claveras is best known for losing to Pedro Guevara last year and since then has gone 3-1 (1). The 20 year old Borres is leaping up in class but will hope to have struck at the right time with Claveras showing flaws recently.
The key bout from Thailand will see Eaktwan BTU Ruaviking (21-3, 14) defending his IBF regional title against Filipino puncher Jeny Boy Boca (12-3, 10) in what looks like a really intriguing match up and one not expected to see the final bell. Both of these guys can punch and both will be hoping to make the most of their power here.
Also in Thailand fight fans will see the unbeaten Downua Ruaviking (2-0, 1) battle against Thai based Cameroonian Afanwi Kingsly Shu (1-1). The Thai is tipped as a real hope and although this is a very low quality bout some are hyping him as a bright prospect already. This bout likely won't tell us much but hopefully a step up in 2017 will tell us something about the youngster.
Mid week action isn't that rare in the East but this week we do get a relatively special treat with a brilliant looking show in China.
The main event of the card is the much anticipated rematch between IBF Flyweight champion Amnat Ruenroeng (17-0, 5) and former Light Flyweight champion John Riel Casimero (21-3, 13). The two meet for a second time after their first bout became a farcical contest full of wrestling, holding and rule bending from Ruenroeng, who seemed to be allowed to do what he wanted from inept referee Larry Doggett. This could be a defining fight for both men, a win for either does open up some very interesting bouts for later in the year.
In the chief support bout fans will see former world champion Xiong Zhao Zhong (26-6-1, 14) face off against Jose Antonio Jimenez (16-5-1, 7) in an IBF world title eliminator at 105lbs. The winner will take a huge step towards getting a world title fight with Jose Argumedo later in the year however it is really a must win for Zhong who has looked like a man coming to the the end in recent bouts.
The main event isn't the only title bout on the card as China's Cai Zong Ju (7-1, 1) faces former world champion Samson Tor Buamas (37-3, 19) in a bout for the IBF Inter-Continental female Minimumweight title. This is a big step up for Ju but she has impressed and will know that a win here will put her in the mix for a world title fight in the near future.
Another bout of note on this card sees the unbeaten Fanlong Meng (6-0, 4) battle Australian Rob Powdrill (6-2, 1) in what is a notable step up for the former Chinese amateur star.
In the Philippines fans get a small, and relatively forgettable, show, in Tarlac.
The main event of the card will see veterans colliding as Cristian Abila (14-19-4, 5) faces off against Prell Tupaz (8-30-5, 1) in a bout for the LuzProBA Featherweight title. We won't try and build this up to be anything special, however it should be noted that the bout has seemingly been re-arranged a number of times in recent weeks.
New South Wales, Australia
As well as the action in Asia there are also a couple of Indonesian fighters travelling to Australia.
One of those will be the experienced, but limited, Roy Tua Manihuruk (18-15-2, 14) who will be up against novice professional Ben Savva (2-1), with Savva looking for a third straight win. The other will be Marco Tuhumury (10-12-2, 3), who is expected to be little more than fodder for the unbeaten Ahmed Dib (18-0, 9).
In the US two promising Chinese fighters will be in action with both expected to achieve some form of notable success before their careers are over.
One of those fighters is the much touted Wang Zhimin (2-0) who fights in his second 6 round contest as he takes on the more experienced American Jose L Guzman (6-10-1). Guzman has been matched hard, and has shared the ring with Chris Algieri among others, so is a decent test for Zhimin given he's still a novice, but is should be a test the Chinese fighter passes with out too many problems.
The other is Meng Fanlong (1-0) who battles the win-less Albert Avina (0-3) in a 4 round bout. The 27 year old Chinese fighter has been described as promising through opposition like this will do very little to help develop his skills and ability.
Staying in the US we're also expecting to see the debut of Uzbek fighter Sanjarbek Rakhmanov (0-0) who competed in the 2013 World Amateur Championships, where he lost to eventual bronze medal winner Uranchimegiin Mönkh-Erdene. At the moment his opponent hasn't yet been named but we're not expecting him to be in with any kind of a test.
There will be more Chinese action in China where Zovi are putting on a show involving a lot of novices in bouts scheduled for either 4 or 6 rounds.
None of the bouts here have much in terms of nail value but there are a few bouts we're going to make a quick mention of.
One of those bouts is a rounder between unbeaten fighters as Zhang Yong Ming (3-0) takes on Bai Shan Bo (1-0-1) in a bout at 140lbs. Coming into the card Ming has the longest unbeaten record of anyone on the card but hasn't fought this year whilst Bo has fought both of his bouts this year, including a draw with Lin Li Quan back on May 8th.
Another unbeaten fighter who may be worth making a note of is Zhu Yuan Cai (2-0) who battles the once beaten Zhang Hong Peng (2-1, 1) in another 6 rounder.
This year has been slow however we do see life and this Saturday sees a lot of interesting action. We have a brilliant bout in Japan, we have a notable prospect in the Philippines and two brilliant Chinese debutants in the US. What more could we want?
The first major bout in Japan this year comes this Saturday on a card that we have been excited about since it was first announced, and we won't pretend that the main event didn't make our hearts race when when we first learned of it.
We might as well start with that aforementioned main event which will see the unbeaten Jomthong Chuwatana (8-0, 4) defending his OPBF Super Featherweight title against former world title challenger Daiki Kaneko (21-3-3, 14). The bout is between two of the division's most talented, strong and naturally powerful fighters and is almost certainly going to be a highly skilled battle of power. Going into the bout it's a hard one to call. Kaneko is the home fighter and has been more active as a boxer recently however Jomgthong hasn't allowed rust to build up despite 1 boxing contest in the last 21 months due to the fact he has been active in Muay Thai, where he has an exceptional record. The winner of this deserves a world title fight and we'd not be massively shocked if the winner here got a shot at any of the current world champions, including Takashi Uchiyama and Takashi Miura. This really is as good a bout as you can get in the Super Featherweight division, barring unification bouts.
As well as the brilliant main event there is also a pair of notable All-Japanese Middleweight bouts on the card. For us the most interesting of those is the bout between the heavy handed Shoma Fukumoto (5-1, 5) and Kazuyuki Fukuyama (9-5, 2). Fukumoto is regarded as a potential national champion though there are questions about his chin. Those questions are unlikely to be asked by Fukuyama however we may see Fukumoto's stamina being given a test here.
The other Middleweight bout will see former Japanese champion Tomohiro Ebisu (12-4, 12) put his “stop or be stopped” reputation on the line as he battles the chinny Tatsuro Kawabata (6-5, 2). It's hard to see Ebisu losing here though he has lost 2 of his last 3 and there are serious worries about his chin and defences.
Another fighter on this card worth making a note of is Naoki Mochizuki (5-1, 4) who will be fighting against the more experienced Takuma Okada (5-9, 2). Mochizuki's sole loss came to the very good Sonin Nihei and it's fair to say the 20 year old puncher is worth keeping tabs on even if he's not going to be on the fast track to the top.
Cotabato del Sur, Philippines
It's not just Japanese fans who get a show on their doorstep as Filipino fans also get the chance to go and see live fights as SANMAN Promotions put on a small but interesting card.
The main event here will see the much touted Harmonito Dela Torre (14-0, 9) battle against JR Mendoza (10-17, 4) in what looks to be stay busy fight for the talented 20 year old prospect. We'll admit we do like Dela Torre, a lot, but this bout is a big step backwards compared to some of his other recent bouts and it's a bit of a shame he's not being moved forward with his career.
In the co-feature fans will see Ronie Tanallon (4-1-1, 1) up against the highly experienced Jonathan Ricablanca (7-45-2, 1) in what appears to be another mismatch, however this should be a more competitive bout that the main event.
Chinese fans will also have something to look forward to as two former Chinese amateur stand outs will be making their professional boxing debuts.
One of those men will be Wang Zhimin (0-0), who has yet to have his opponent named, whilst the other is Meng Fanlong (0-0) who will be fighting against the win-less Marcellus Yates (0-1) in what appears to be an easy start to his career.
District of Columbia, USA
Also in the US fans will get the chance to see Uzbekistan's limited Middleweight Rahman Mustafa Yusubov (11-19, 9) battle against Demond Nicholson (10-1, 10). Yusubov has lost his last 4 bouts however Nicholson was upset last time out in a contest he was expected to win and it may be that his confidence is now shot. Yusubov will be the clear under-dog though hopefully he will go for the win rather than turn up just to lose.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)