This coming Saturday is a really busy day in Asia, but the standout card is a Japanese one with 4 notable bouts on it. Notably this card isn't just a good one on paper, but will also be available live, thanks to Boxing Raise.
The main event will see Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Yusaku Kuga (18-3-1, 12) make his first defense, of his second reign, as he battles against the limited but typically fun to watch Yosuke Fujihara (18-6, 5). The hard hitting Kuga won the belt back earlier this year, winning a Japanese Fight of the Year Contender against Ryoichi Tamura, and will be looking to impress here as he attempts to put his 2018 loss to Shingo Wake behind him. The power, pressure and aggression of Kuga is likely to be too much for the challenger but Fujihara does make for fun fights and this should be a fan friendly 1-sided bout. A full preview of this bout can be read here Kuga takes on Fujihara in first title defense!
A second title bout will see fast rising Japanese hopeful Tsubasa Murachi (4-0, 3) take on former world title challenger Froilan Saludar (30-3-1, 21) in a bout for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title. Although not one of the big name hopefuls in Japan Murachi is very well regarded by those who have followed his career, and the plan had always been to fast track him, though we didn't expect such a big step up so early in his career. A win for Murachi at this stage will likely secure him a WBO world ranking but it's not an easy task. Saludar, who was once touted as a future world champion himself, has faltered in his biggest bouts, including bouts against Takuma Inoue and Sho Kimura, but is very capable. For Saludar another loss here would likely end his hopes of getting another world title fight, but he'll feel confident that his experience will be too much for the Japanese youngster. A very interesting match up. A full preview of this bout can be read here Murachi goes for gold in 5th fight, takes on Saludar for WBO regional title!
The third bout which is getting a lot of interest is a Japanese Minimumweight title eliminator. This bout, the second of the eliminators for the 2020 Champion Carnival, will see former world title challenger Masataka Taniguchi (11-3, 7) going up against hard hitting youngster Kai Ishizawa (6-0, 6). For Taniguchi this is a must win bout, but also a huge step backwards following a bout with Vic Saludar earlier this year. As for Ishizawa this is a massive step up in class, and a win will put him on the map and secure a title fight next year. Our view is that it maybe too much too soon for Ishizawa, but we understand why he has taken the fight. This is genuine high risk, high reward for both men. Our preview of this bout is available here Taniguchi and Ishizawa meet in Japanese title eliminator
The final of the notable bouts will see rising Afghan born Japanese based Welterweight hopeful Kudura Kaneko (10-0, 7) continue to step up as he takes on rugged veteran Moon Hyon Yun (18-7-3, 4) in what could turn out to be the best bout of the show. Kaneko is a very exciting, hard hitting boxer-puncher whilst Yun is a genuine tough guy who has scored more than his share of upset wins. This should be a real test for Kaneko, and could well be a genuine banana skin given the style that Yun brings to the ring. This bout has been featured as our One to watch-Kudura Kaneko vs Moon Hyon Yun this week.
In China we get an interesting card with an international feel to it.
In one of the main bouts we'll see Chinese puncher Jun Zhao (11-2-1, 8) take on Japanese foe Sonin Nihei (9-4-2, 1) in a contest for the WBA Asia Bantamweight title. Coming in to this the 26 year old Zhao has been in good form, winning his last 6, but hasn't looked sensational during that run and he certainly improvements to make. On the other hand Nihei has struggled for results, winning just 1 of his last 3, but will be travelling with the knowledge that he has the skills to spring in the upset.
In a supporting bout we'll see Mongolian hopeful Erkhembayar Batbayar (5-0, 3) take on Korean foe Jun Yong Lee (6-5-4, 3). This is a 10 rounder and on paper a big step up for the Mongolian, who has never been beyond 6 rounds so far. The Korean is a former national champion, but has won just 1 of his last 4, and is 2-4-1 in his last 7. Batbayar will be the favourite, and rightfully so, but this is certainly his biggest test to date.
Bang Phun, Thailand
We return to the Work Point Studio for a Thai card which will be available on Work Point in Thailand and DAZN in the US.
One of the main bouts on this card will see former Naoya Inoue opponent Petchbarngborn Kokietgym (43-9, 20) take on Filipino visitor Renz Rosia (15-8-1, 8). Petchbarngborn, also known as Karoon Jarupianlerd, has gone 8-1 since losing to Inoue in 2016 but has fought at a most limited level, with a loss earlier this year to Amnat Ruenroeng being the most notable of those bouts. Rosia on the other hand is 1-3-1 in his last 5 and despite once being a solid fighter at regional level looks like a man who is is often fighting above his best weight. Rosia always comes to fight, but there is a feeling that he probably won't have enough to over-come the Thai in Thailand, where an away win is never easy.
Another bout on this card pitting a Thai against a Filipino will see Nawaphon Kaikanha (46-1-1, 36) take the under-rated and tough Ryan Rey Ponteras (22-14-3, 11). The once beaten Nawaphon is a former world title challenger who is also the brother of former world champion Suriyan Sor Rungvisai. Since his loss, in a WBC Flyweight title bout to Juan Hernandez, Nawaphon has moved up to Bantamweight and reeled off 10 straight wins. On paper Ponteras doesn't look like much of a threat, but in reality he's a really good journeyman who should take Nawaphon some rounds, and be competitive at times. Saying that however there are question marks about what Ponteras still has left following his first stoppage defeat back in March, when he was stopped in the opening round by Seiya Tsutsumi. At his best he was very much an upset minded fighter, who scored more than his share of wins against the odds, but he's now without a win in 4 bouts and could well be past his best.
Another bout on this card will be part of the WP Boxing Super Flyweight tournament and will see novices Danai Ngiabphukhiaw (2-1, 1) and Yodtanong Chaepet (2-0, 1) face off. These two were supposed to fight in August but their bout was pushed back to here. On paper this 6 rounder promises a lot and should be competitive, and of course we're big fans of tournaments, so fingers crossed the winner of the overall competition will be given a career boost as Thailand looks to unearth it's next generation of talent.
A second show in Thailand is a much lower profile card. The bouts here are much less interesting and the main event will see Murodjon Yokubov (4-0, 3) battle against teenager Tanawat Ketsiri (2-5, 2). The 25 year old Yokubov is a Thai based Uzbek who turned pro last year and really needs a step up in the near future. Ketsiri on the other hand has lost 4 times this year, and looks almost certain to pick up another loss here.
Sadly not other bout on this card is really worth talking about.
Metro Manila, Philippines
Yet another show of some note is a Filipino card from the Elorde Sports Center in Paranaque City.
Among the bouts on this card is a clash of once beaten youngsters, as Arvin Magramo (10-1-1, 6) and Francis Jay Diaz (8-1-1, 1) face off in an 8 round Light Flyweight contest. Magramo is very much in the rebuilding stages of his career, following a defeat at the hands of Garen Diagan a year ago, but this is a tough match up on paper and his team are taking a risk here. The 21 year old Diaz, dubbed "The Amazing Boy" began his career 1-1-1 before reeling off 7 straight wins, but this is a bi step up for him. Although a low key bout, in the grand scheme of things, this is a very interesting match up
A second contest between fighters with a single loss to their name will feature Marlon Paniamogan (9-1-1, 5) and Jino Rodrigo (5-1-2, 4), who will also be involved in a 10 round fight. On paper this should be more explosive than the other bout however it's worth noting that Paniamogan was beaten last time out, losing a decision in Japan to Kuntae Lee. Rodrigo, on the other hand, is 3-1-2 in his last 6, suggesting neither has much moment coming into this bout.
A third bout of interest here sees unbeaten men battle, with Delmar Pellio (7-0, 3) and Marjon Piencenaves (6-0-1, 4) fighting in an 8 rounder. The 19 year old Pellio has only previously faced 1 opponent with a winning record and will be looking for his third win of the year. Piencenaves on the other hand is a 24 year old who is facing his first opponent with a winning record, so for both men this is a step up and their real, serious test.
New Delhi, India
There's also a small show in India.
The main bout on this card will see the unbeaten Rajesh Kumar (10-0-1-2) take on Filipino foe Ivor Lastrilla (11-7-1, 6) in an 8 round contest. The 25 year old Kumar has won his last 5, following a draw in October 2016, and is looking to build on those wins here. On paper Lastrilla is a step down from Kumar's last 2 foes, but could still make for an interesting test. The 27 year old Lastrilla has lost his last 3, but when on form he can be a good test. Lastrilla is unlikely to have the size, power or strength to be a physical threat to Kumar, but may have the skills to ask questions of him.
In a supporting bout female hopeful Ramandeep Kaur (5-0) will take on Thai journey-woman Saranyaphong Theinthong (2-13, 2), in what really should be an easy win for Kaur over 6 rounds.
The big headline bout this coming weekend sees us focus on Glasgow, Scotland, as the WBSS moves towards the final bouts. The bout of interest for us is the highly anticipated WBSS Bantamweight semi-final bout between WBA "regular" champion Naoya Inoue (17-0, 15) and IBF champion Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-0, 12). The bout is a clash between unbeaten world class fighters, who are both looking to move one step closer to proving they are the best Bantamweight on the planet. For Inoue this will be his first bout in Europe, and he will be looking to become the first Japanese fighter to win a world title bout in the continent, whilst Rodriguez returns to the country that he won the IBF title in, when he beat Paul Butler. Coming in both are in great form, though it should be noted that Rodriguez went 24 rounds last year, Inoue has only gone 20 rounds combined in his last 6 fights. If Rodriguez can survive the early going Inoue's lack of activity could be a problem here, as could history. A full review of this bout can be read here Inoue and Rodriguez go one on one in semi final!
Before the action in the UK there will be some action in Asia, including a notable show at Korakuen Hall in Toyko.
The main event of this show will see Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Ryoichi Tamura (12-3-1, 6) make his first defense, as he takes on former champion Yusaku Kuga (17-3-1, 11), in what will be a second bout between these two. Thee two men fought in 2017, with Kuga taking a narrow decision win over Tamura to retain the title, since then however Kuga has been stopped by Shingo Wake and Tamura has bounced back from losing to Kuga to win the title. Given their first bout was a brilliant and violent fight we're expecting something really special here. A full preview of this bout is available here Tamura and Kuga to meet again, potential war set?
In a major supporting bout we'll see Tatsuya Yanagi (15-5-2, 6) and Koichi Aso (23-8-1, 15) clash at Lightweight, in a bout that should be very fan friendly. Coming in to this Yanagi is unbeaten in 5 bouts, including a draw in a Japanese title eliminator last year with Accel Sumiyoshi, but this is likely to be a really tough bout for him. Aso, a veteran and former Japanese Light Welterweight champion, will be dropping down in weight but always brings intense pressure and will be looking to break down Yanagi. This could be an all out war if Yanagi can't keep Aso at range.
At Super Bantamweight we'll see ranked fighters clash, as Naoya Okamoto (13-7-1, 6) and Yosuke Fujihara (17-6, 4) face off in a bout that could well set up a future title fight with the winner of the main event. Okamoto narrowly missed out on a title fight, when he lost a technical decision in October in a Japanese title eliminator, and will be hungry here to shine. Fujihara on the other hand is someone who has challenged for a title before but has lost 3 of his last 4 and really needs a good performance here.
Another bout featuring domestic ranked fighters will see Kenta Nakagawa (16-3-1, 11) take on Ryosuke Nasu (10-4-3, 2). Nakagawa is a former Japanese Super Flyweight champion, holding the title in 2016-2017, and has won 3 in a row since losing the belt to Ryuichi Funai. Nasu on the other hand is a former Japanese Youth Super Flyweight champion who will know that a win here will prove to be a huge step towards a potential senior title fight later in the year.
Another name worthy of noting on this card is Kazuki Saito (6-1, 5), though our understanding is a planned bout has been cancelled and he will instead compete in a spar rather than an actual fight.
Bang Phun, Thailand
At the Workpoint Studio we'll former world title challenger Nawaphon Por Chokchai (44-1-1, 34) take on former champion Sonny Boy Jaro (45-14-5, 32), in what looks almost certain to be a fun fight. Nawaphon, at 27, is the much younger man and needs a big win, and a win over Jaro would be among his very best. Jaro, who is known in Thailand due to his shock win over Pongsaklek Wonjongkam back in 2012. At the age of 37 it's hard to know what Jaro really has left, though he was stopped in 2017 by Jonas Sultan, a none puncher, and surely has to be coming very close to the end of his career.
In Russia we'll see a couple of hard hitting Uzbek fighters in action.
One of those fighters is Ravshanbek Umurzakov (7-0, 7), who takes on Anthony Moloisane (11-3-1, 7) in a bout scheduled for 10 rounds. The talented Umurzakov has shown a lot of promise but isn't being moved up through the levels yet, sadly, and that shows again here, with South African fighter Moloisane, who isn't bad, but also isn't a clear step up for the Uzbek who should be taking on much better opponents now.
A second Uzbek on this show will see Elnur Abduraimov (4-0, 4) in action, as he hunts his 5th straight stoppage. He's stepped up in his last two bouts, but it's clear he needs a real test in the near future, so fingers crossed that happens sooner rather than later. He's too good to be wasting his time against limited opposition and would be served much better by take on someone to extend him some rounds and help prepare him for bigger and better bouts. At the time of writing the opponent for this bout hasn't been named, suggesting a limited and late notice opponent for the Uzbek.
Also on this card is unbeaten Kazakh youngster Stanislav Kalitskiy (7-0, 3), who will be stepping into his first 8 round bout. Sadly there is not currently an opponent confirmed for Kalitskiy, and as with Abduraimov it seems like he will be matched softly with a late notice foe.
Another Asian card will take place in Taiwan, though this is a very low level card, headlined by an 8 round bout between Chia Ching Hung (4-1-1, 4) and Anurak Madua (6-3, 4). Hung is a local to Taiwan, but hasn't fought in over a year, and is 1-1-1 in his last 3. Madua on the other hand was stopped in 77 seconds last time out, when he fought in Osaka against Kyosuke Tsutsumimoto.
The rest of this card is mostly novices bouts with debutants.
The biggest bout featuring an Asian this coming Saturday comes from Mexico where WBC female Flyweight champion Ibeth Zamora Silva (29-6, 12) takes on Japanese challenger Chaoz Minowa (6-1, 5). For Silva this will be her first defense, though she had a long and successful reign at Light Flyweight before moving up in weight and winning this title. The Mexican is a veteran who has competed at world level for several years and is a proper veteran with numerous top fighters on her record. For Minowa however this will be her second world title fight, and is a big step up in class. Minowa lost her first world title fight, losing to Tenkai Tsunami, and this is is expected to be a big test to see how much she has developed since that loss. This could be a very entertaining contest, but Minowa will be travelling as the under-dog and will need a career best performance to even be competitive. A full preview of this bout can be read here Minowa looks to end WBC Zamora's run in Chaoz!
Hadong, South Korea
As well as the world title fight in Mexico there will also be a notable card in Korea, as the KPBF put on a pretty notable card.
The main event of the card will see WIBA Light Flyweight champion Eun Hye Lee (11-1, 4) make her third defense, as she takes on Chinese fighter Xiuli Liang (2-3). Lee is a real talent, and we hope to see her in with better competition in the near future. Sadly however Liang isn't a suitable opponent for Lee and we can't see her putting up any sort of a real challenger to the talented local, who really should be 12-0 with her sole loss being a very controversial one in Japan to Nana Yoshikawa.
In a major supporting bout we'll see the once touted Ye Joon Kim (15-1-2, 7) return to the ring after more than 2 years out of the ring. Kim, who is now 26, still has a long way to go and a lot of potential so we'll be looking forward to seeing his ring return. The one unfortunate thing here is that we aren't sure who Kim isn't fighting, though we have been told that they are targeting a Japanese fighter.
Also on this card is WBF Asia Pacific Light Middleweight champion, Do Hyuk Kim (4-0-2, 1). Kim will be making his first defense of the title as he takes on Chinese visitor Zhen Zhou (0-1). The Korean won the title in December but hasn't fought since. It's worth noting that Kim's competition so far has been dire, and it's the same here. The visitor here hasn't fought in over 2 years, and was stopped in 3 rounds back on his debut in 2016.
Bang Phun, Thailand
Staying in Asia we'll see 21 year old puncher Chainoi Worawut (3-0, 3) take a big step up in class as he takes on domestic rival Rakniran Muadransarakam (13-2, 8) in a very good looking match up. The unbeaten man has looked genuinely destructive since making his debut earlier this year, but this does look likely to be his first real test. Rakniran has never been stopped, but has fallen short in his two most notable bouts, against Shota Kawaguchi and Petchbarngborn Kokietgym. A win for Chainoi is likely expected but this is a very solid test at such an early stage in his career.
Also on this card will be a WBC Asia Bantamweight title bout, a Nawaphon Por Chokchai (42-1-1, 33) takes on Filipino puncher Richard Claveras (18-5-2, 15). This should be an exciting bout between two hard hitting, but flawed fighters. Sadly for the Filipino we suspect size will be a major issue, and he is likely to look tiny compared to Nawaphon, who has always looked huge compared to opponents.
New South Wales, Australia
In New South Wales fans will see local hopeful Nae Kisona (0-0) battle Filipino “loser” Jayson Mac Gura (1-21-3, 1). The Filipino scored a win on his debut, back in 2009, but has failed to win any of his last 24 bouts. He has also been stopped 15 times during his career and we wouldn't be surprised to see him fail to last the 4 round distance again here.
Staying in Australia we'll also see Dylan Conway (0-0) make his debut, as he takes on experienced Thai Plaisakda Boonmalert (33-28, 29), in what will be expected to be another win for the local debutant. The 46 year old Thai debuted way back in 1989 and has been stopped regularly in recent years, in fact with 23 stoppage losses and at the age of 46 we really do wonder why he continues to get in the ring. Conway will likely begin his career with a stoppage win here.
Bang Phun, Thailand
The main card this coming Saturday is in Thailand, with Workpoint showing casing a hugely popular world champion, albeit in a non-title fight, and two former world title challenger.
The world champion in action is Thai superstar Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (45-4-1, 40), who won't be defending the WBC Super Flyweight title, as he takes on Korean foe Young Gil Bae (28-6-2, 22), but will be fighting in front of a Thai crowd for the first time since December 2016. Sriskaet is expected to see off Bae with ease, especially given that Bae came up very short in a WBC Minimumweight title bout against Wanheng Menayothin. This really should be little more than a showcase for Srisaket who has another bout set for October 6th in Pak Kret as part of a ONE Championship card.
A second bout of note on this card will see former WBC Flyweight title challenger Nawaphon Kaikanha (41-1, 33) take on Japanese visitor Shota Kawaguchi (21-10-1, 9) in a bout for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Bantamweight title. Nawaphoin is best known for his 2017 loss to Juan Hernandez for the WBC Flyweight title, but he has since bounced back with 5 straight wins, all by stoppage, including a thrilling win over Amnat Ruenroeng back in April. As for Kawaguchi he has struggled in recent bouts, going 3-5 in his last 8, and suffered losses to the likes of Sonny Boy Jaro, Rene Dacquel and Ryuichi Funai. Given the form of the Japanese fighter it's hard to see him coming out on top here, even if Nawaphon hasn't always impressed.
A card in Hyogo is also worth noting due to the main event, which will see WBC Youth Super Bantamweight champion Tenta Kiyose (14-2-1, 6) facing off with former WBC Minimumweight champion Oleydong Sithsamerchai (68-1-1, 28). The Thai is currently riding a 33 fight winning run since losing the WBC world title to Kazuto Ioka back in February 2011, but has mostly fought limited opponents, with his best wins during that run coming over the likes of Mark Anthony Geraldo, Jason Canoy and Hiroyuki Kudaka, all of which were years ago. The 21 year old Kiyose is stepping up in a huge way, but a win here could help put him on the boxing map and move him into the world rankings.
Sadly the main event aside this card is really not worthy of a mention.
There's also a card in the Philippines. Sadly this is a card that features two talented Filipino's facing very limited Indonesian visitors.
One of the local men is Ernesto Saulong (21-3-1, 8), who will be returning to the ring for the first time his loss to IBF Super Bantamweight champion Ryosuke Iwasa back in March. The talented, and tough, Filipino will be going up again journey Waldo Sabu (12-12, 2), who has lost his last 2 by stoppage and was taken out inside a round by Takuma Inoue in May. Given recent outings it's hard to see anything but a Saulong win, likely inside the distance.
The other bout will see former OPBF champion Al Rivera (19-3, 17) take on Heri Andriyanto (23-26-2, 11). Rivera has been out of the ring since last October, when he stopped Rodel Wenceslao, but we don't expect the ring rust to be a problem here s he takes on a man was was banned from fighting in Japan back in 2016, when he give a poor effort against Koki Inoue. Since the loss to Inoue Andriyanto has gone 1-3 and it's hard to see what he has to test the very hard hitting Rivera.
In the US fans will be able to see promising Uzbek hopeful Hurshidbek Normatov (6-0, 2) risk his unbeaten record against fellow unbeaten Alexis Gaytan (4-0, 2). The Uzbek fighter hasn't set the world on fire yet, but has looked competent against decent opponents, beating the much more experienced Ronald Montes last time out. Interestingly Gaytan will be up against his 3rd successive unbeaten opponent here, and will have the confidence of an upset win over Kendrick Ball Jr as he comes into this fight. We suspect Normatov will be too good, but we do hope to see him answering some new questions here.
This coming Saturday is a strange day for Asian fight fans, with not a lot happening, but what is happening is really important. If you prefer quality over quantity than this is a stand out day, if you prefer quantity then you may just need to wait until Sunday, which will be very busy day for fans of Asian fighters.
Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
The most notable bout to feature and Asian fighter comes from Belfast as Filipino icon Nonito Donaire (38-4, 24) takes on former 2-weight champion Carl Frampton (24-1, 14) in a real must win for both men. The bout, for the WBO “interim” Featherweight title will see the winner remain firmly in the mix at world level, but it will be very hard to see where the loser goes next.
Aged 35 Donaire is on the slide, but is almost certainly a future Hall of Famer having won world titles from Flyweight to Featherweight and beaten the likes of Vic Darchinyan, Moruti Mthalane, Hernan Marquez, Fernando Montiel, Omar Andres Narvaez, Toshiaki Nishioka, Jorge Arce and Simpiwe Vetyeka. A win over Frampton would be yet another big win for Donaire, but a big ask at this point in his career. Frampton is the younger fighter at 31 and although his only loss was a razor thin one to Leo Santa Cruz last year he has gone through some wars, and is a fighter who has, at times, looked to be feeling the toll of tough bouts with the likes of Alejandro Gonzalez Jr, Scott Quigg, two bouts with Leo Santa Cruz and Horacia Garcia. On paper Frampton has a lot more left than Donaire, but he really was given a scare by the tough but relatively limited Garcia last time out and it could well be that the hard fights have caught up with him.
Unfortunately for the winner of this they will be in line to face the fearsome Oscar Valdez, which is seemingly more of a punishment than a reward right now.
We get a rare high quality all-Thai bout in Bangkok as well, as former world title challenger Nawaphon Por Chokchai (40-1, 32) takes on former world champion Amnat Ruenroeng (18-2, 6) in a very interesting match up. Fight fans may remember Nawaphon looking terrible in March 2017, when he was stopped in 2 rounds by Juan Hernandez Navarrete, and whilst that wasn't a great performance it does seem like some of that was down to the weight of the Thai who has now moved up to Super Flyweight. Between January 2014 and June 2015 Amnat was the IBF Flyweight champion, and had gone on a great run with wins against Rocky Fuentes, Kazuto Ioka, McWilliams Arroyo, Zou Shiming and John Riel Casimero. That however was almost 3 years ago, and he has looked a faded fighter since then.
Amnat will have the trickery to really test Nawaphon, whilst Nawaphon will have the youth. The loser really will have no where to go, whilst the winner may find themselves thrown back into the fringes of the WBC world rankings, which would be a reward for winning the for claiming the WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental Super Flyweight title.
The one bout that stands out as a sore thumb will come from Australia as local fighter Sara George (2-4, 1) battles Australian based Thai Monthida Rattanachai (0-2) for the vacant Australia - Queensland State Female Flyweight title. There may be a title on the line here, but it's very hard to care about the bout given that Monthida has never scored a win and George hasn't fought in over 6 years!
The most notable bout featuring an Asian fighter this coming Friday comes from Thailand as former world title contender Nawaphon Por Chokchai (36-1, 28) returns to the ring for the first time since tasting defeat to Juan Hernandez. The Thai youngster, who we stopped by Hernandez in a bout for the WBC Flyweight title, will be dropping down several levels as he takes on journeyman Frans Damur Palue (14-15-2, 9) in a bout for the vacant WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental Super Flyweight title, finally abandoning the Flyweight division. This bout should be an easy confidence builder for Nawaphon, but if we're being honest he really was shown to be a long way from world class and it's hard to see where he really goes in the long term.
Christchurch, New Zealand
In New Zealand we'll see Thai journeyman Paitoon Jaikom (7-29, 2) battle against the once beaten Bowyn Morgan (11-1, 5), in what should be a mismatch
Action in the ring has been great recently and this coming weekend it's set to stay great with a host of notable bouts taking place all over the globe. As usual we'll focus on the Asian fighters, but we know there are a lot of other notable bouts taking on the same day.
The most notable bout of the day comes from Thailand where we see a WBC Flyweight title fight. The bout, for the title vacated by Roman Gonzalez last year, will see unbeaten Thai Nawaphon Por Chokchai (36-0, 28) take on in form Mexican Juan Hernandez Navarrete (33-2, 24) in a mouth watering bout. Nawaphon holds one of the longest unbeaten runs in the sport today, but his record lacks names of any real quality with his best wins coming against fighters like Mateo Handig, Donny Mabao and Rey Megrino. Despite the lack of competition the Thai has passed the eye test and matured into a vicious fighter at the regional level. This is however a huge step up for the unbeaten man. Although he has tasted defeat twice Hernandez has fought at the top and holds wins over the likes of Moises Fuentes, Denver Cuello – albeit controversially, Saul Juarez, Ramon Garcia Hirales, Jesus Silvestre and Omar Nino Romero, with his only loss in he last decade coming to Kazuto Ioka. This is a big test for both men, with Nawaphon facing his toughest foe and Hernandez facing the horrific conditions of Thailand, though his team has managed to get the bout in doors which could make a huge difference here.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
We'll also get a Japanese card this Saturday with G+ airing the card live in Japan.
In the main event of this show we'll see Japanese Lightweight champion Shuhei Tsuchiya (22-4, 18) make the first defense of his title as he takes on mandatory challenger Kazuhiro Nishitani (16-4-1, 8). Tsuchiya won the title last year, when he stopped Masashi Noguchi in 3 rounds, and will be hoping to have a distinguished reign as champion. The heavy handed champion has shown flaws in the past but is an exciting and heavy handed fighter who has proven his toughness and hunger in the past. Nishitani has never been stopped, and has proven his toughness, but has suffered notable losses to fighters less accomplished than Tsuchiya. This will be the challenger's second shot, following a December 2015 loss to Kota Tokunaga, but sadly he's been inactive with only one bout in the entire of 2016. Given Nishitani's toughness and Tsuchiya's power this could be a lot of fun!
The chief support bout will see former Japanese Light Welterweight champion Hiroki Okada (14-0, 10) take on Filipino journeyman Rodel Wenceslao (11-13-1, 4). During a 2 year reign Okada defended the Japanese title 6 times, though looked rather poor in the final 2 defenses and it seems that he and his team and looking for more serious challenges this year. Despite looking for bigger bouts he begins his year against the limited Wenceslao, who has lost 11 of his last 15. Wenceslao has been matched hard, with losses to the likes of Keita Obara, Adones Cabalquinto and Adones Aguelo, ad we expect to see him come up short against Okada here too.
A little lower down the card we'll see Japanese ranked Takenori Ohashi (13-4-2, 8) up against Yutaka Motoyoshi (7-9, 5). Ohashi, a ranked Featherweight, will be hoping to get a title fight in the near future and can't afford a slip up here against Motoyoshi. Although he is a potential banana skin Motoyoshi has been stopped 5 times and will be expected to struggle with the power of Ohashi here.
In another under-card bout we'll see Shingo Koike (9-2, 5) take on Jin Miura (9-1, 1) in a very well matched and competitive looking contest. The 26 year old Koike has won his last 4 and seemed to have found some recent belief in his power. Miura on the other hand has won 3 in a row, following an opening round defeat to Reni Ichimura in the 2015 East Japan Rookie of the Year final. Both men will know they need to win here.
Also on this card will be the very promising Kazuki Saito (2-0, 2), who moves up in class to face Jimmy Borbon (5-4-3, 3) over 8 rounds. Saito has been very impressive so far, against limited Thai foes, but this will be a good test for the youngster who was a former amateur standout. Borbon has fought in Japan just once, where he suffered his only stoppage loss though that was against Takashi Miura, and will see this as a chance to prove himself in front of a Japanese audience.
Back on the road, in Mexico, we'll see IBF Light Flyweight champion Naoko Shibata (16-3-1, 5) defending her title, for the 6th time, against the woman she originally beat for the belt, Alondra Garcia (16-3-1, 1). Although both fighters have very similar records Shibata has gone 7-0-1 (2) in her last 8 whilst Garcia has gone 5-2-1, including a draw with a debutant in late 2014.
New South Wales, Australia
In Australia we'll see even more title action as Australian Valentine Borg (13-2, 8) takes on Filipino puncher Junjesie Ibgos (11-1, 9) in a bout for the OPBF Silver Light Welterweight title. The once beaten Ibgosa will be making his international debut and although a clear under-dog he does look like he has the power to be a nightmare for Borg, who has been stopped twice. Borg is the more proven fighter but this is an interesting contest and the winner could open the door for bigger and better fights in the near future.
Pathum Thani, Thailand
We return to Thailand on Friday to see a potential world title challenger in action on a relative low quality card.
The main event looks like a clear stay busy bout for Nawaphon Por Chokchai (34-0, 27), who will be facing Roque Lauro (13-18-5, 3) in a bout that keeps Nawaphon busy as his team works on securing a world title fight. The unbeaten Thai is expected to be facing Juan Hernandez later in the year for the WBC Flyweight title, of the interim belt, and will be looking to just keep the ring rust off with this bout against the experienced but light punching Filipino journeyman.
On the undercard fans will see Namphol Sithsaithong (11-10, 8) battle Boy Tanto (9-20, 1) in what looks to be a competitive bout between limited fighters
We also get action back in Osaka, where Wednesday's bit show was held.
In the main event the Japanese Tetsuya Hisada (25-9-2, 15) will be fighting in a stay busy bout against Kenta Matsui (7-5, 1). Hisada is currently the #1 ranked Japanese Flyweight contender and will be looking to get a title fight either towards the end of this year or early next year. The problem for Hisada here will be over-looking the limited and light punching Matsui who is clearly there to be a tune up opponent, and nothing more.
In an excellent matched bout fans will see ounce touted Ioka fighter Takeru Kamikubo (10-2, 7) take on Shogo Hayashi (7-3-1, 4). Kamikubo had reeled off 8 straight wins to begin his career and was building some genuine momentum before suffering back-to-back stoppage defeats last year. He has scored a couple of wins since but knows he cannot afford another loss at the moment. As for Hayashi he has shown limitations of his own and is 2-3 in his last 5, though has yet to be stopped and is likely to know that Kamimubo has got serious question marks about his durability.
Eastern Cape, South Africa
Outside of Asia fans will see Filipino Raymond Tabugon (18-4-1, 8) take on the tough task of Makazole Tete (15-1-1, 10) in a bout for the IBF Continental Africa title. On paper Tete has to be favoured however he was beaten last November and should really have a couple of losses on his record, with the fighter lucky to get a win over Renz Rosia in April 2015. Tabugon has fought in South Africa before, beating Luzuko Siyo, however he was beaten last time he was on the road with Juan Hernandez stopping him in 5 rounds last November.
New South Wales, Australia
Also outside of Asia, though back in the Pacific region, fans will be able to see Korean Hyun Tae Bae (4-1-1, 2) take on the inexperienced Philip Robertson (1-1, 1) in what looks on paper like a relatively even bout.
After a few quiet days in Japanese boxing the action returns to the Korakuen Hall for a Yokohama Hikari show featuring a former world title challenger and several interesting match ups.
The main event sees that former world title challenger, Ryo Akaho (26-2-2, 18) facing former foe Toyoto Shiraishi (25-9-3, 12) in a long awaited rematch. These two originally fought in 2009, with Akaho scoring a 9th round TKO win, and were supposed to fight last year but Akaho failed to make weight for that bout. Coming in to this one both men will know it's a must win, with both men having lost last time out, and neither can afford another slip up.
In a very good looking supporting bout the once beaten Hironobu Matsunaga (9-1, 4) will be up against former Japanese Middleweight champion Sanosuke Sasaki (11-4, 5) in what is a really attractive looking bout. Sasaki has lost his last 3 but has the experience to give Matsunaga a real test in what looks like a very even bout.
A potentially explosive bout at Super Flyweight will see Masashi Odaira (6-5-2, 2) face off against the limited but gutsy Mako Matsuyama (7-10-2, 3). This might not get a lot of attention going in but it will surely be a real war.
Arguably the best bout on the card is a 6 rounder between Takahiko Suzuki (6-1, 4) and Ryota Ishida (5-1, 3). Both of these men are 20 years old and both and both will know that a win here has the potential to be a launch pad towards a major bout with a well known domestic foe. A brilliant match up and one where the two youngsters both deserve a lot of credit.
As well as the action in Japan there is also a regional title fight in Thailand, as Nawaphon Por Chokchai (33-0, 26) defends his WBC Asian Boxing Council Flyweight title against Filipino Macrea Gandionco (11-2-2, 7). This should be a straight forward win for Nawaphon, who is looking to secure a world title fight later in the year.
There will be two cards in Thailand, one of which is a show from Nakornluang Promotions who will be show casing two of their best fighters.
The most notable of those fighters is Super Flyweight destroyer Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (37-4-1, 34) [ศรีสะเกษ นครหลวงโปรโมชั่น] who is going to take part in a stay busy bout ahead of rematch with current WBC Super Flyweight champion Carlos Cuadras. Although we're not sure who Srisaket will be fighting we have been informed that it will be an Indonesian opponent and the bout will only be a stay busy.
The other fighter is unbeaten Flyweight contender Nawaphon Por Chokchai (31-0, 24) [นวพล นครหลวงโปรโมชั่น] who is the mandatory challenger to Roman Gonzalez. The unbeaten Nawaphon will not be facing a test here with Nakornluang not risking his big bout later in the year, they may however petition the WBC to strip Gonzalez if the Nicaraguan does make the move up to Super Flyweight later in the year.
We believe this card will be aired on Channel 7 in Thailand.
The other Thai show will be put on by Kiatkreerin and features several notable fighters again.
The main event of the card sees the experienced Mike Tawatchai (37-8-1, 21) defending his IBF Pan Pacific title against Japanese visitor Shingo Kawamura (11-2-1, 6). For Tawatchai this is his most notable fight since last June when he was widely beaten by IBF #1 ranked contender Shingo Wake whilst for Kawamura this is a big step up and sees him fighting in his first title bout.
Also in action here will be former Olympic star Manus Boonjumnong (3-0, 1) [มนัส บุญจำนงค์]. Sadly we're unsure who Manus will be up against but we do need to confess we have been impressed by him so far.
For fans interested in this one, it will be aired on Thairath
In Arizona there will be two Asian fighters in action.
In the most notable of the two bouts fans will see touted Filipino Harmonito Dela Torre (17-0, 12) risk his record against Rafael Guzman (16-1-1-1, 10). On paper this looks like a genuinely tasty match up though we do wonder how good Guzman is given his competition so far has been relatively poor. If Guzman is as good as the numbers suggest however, then we may be in for a genuine treat here with the Filipino being given a real test.
The other Asian in action is Kazak puncher Bakhtiyar Eyubov (9-0, 9), who takes a huge step up as he faces Jared Robinson (16-2-1, 7). The bout should pose real questions of both men and be a genuinely interesting fight. Eyubov, as mentioned, is stepping up massively whilst Robinson has faced some quality fighters like Amir Imam, who stopped him in 4, Michael Perez, who took a decision win against him, and Haskell Rhodes, who he fought to a draw. This really is a fantastic match up and credit to both men for taking it.