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.
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.
Highly touted Kazakh prospect Sadriddin Akhmedov (5-0, 5) squeezes his 6th bout into just over 8 months as he goes up against Mexican journeyman Eliud Melendez Rocha (14-10-2, 7). The talented Akhmedov, one of the best young prospects in the sport, has needed just 10 rounds to stop his first 5 opponents and it's a shame that he's yet to really be tested. On paper this looks like another easy win for Akhmedov, with Rocha being a smaller man fighting outside of Mexico for the third time, but he doesn't generally get blown out early and might manage to last a bit longer than Akhmedov's last 2 opponents.
London, United Kingdom
In London we get the chance to see two talented Kazakh prospects continue their early development.
One of those prospects is Sultan Zaurbek (2-0, 1), who fights for the third time in less than 2 months. The Featherweight/Super Featherweight prospect will be up against Croatian journeyman Antonio Horvatic (10-52, 5), who has picked up losses on a regular basis against novices in the UK. Horvatic hasn't scored a win since 2016, and has gone 0-28 coming in to this bout, which shows how little of a threat he is to the 22 year old Kazakh.
The other Kazakh on this card is 24 year old Lightweight Nurtas Azhbenov (1-0), who looks to build on his debut win, in October, with a bout against Spanish based Nicaraguan Reynaldo Cajina (14-54-5-1, 10). Azhbenov impressed on his debut, though was forced to go the distance with the very negative Eligio Palacios, and he'll be hoping to be the latest man to stop Cajina, who has been stopped 13 times in his 74 fight career. Cajina is usually a survivor in the ring, but we're hoping Azhbenov's debut have given him some tricks to cope with negative opponents.
Western Australia, Australia
In Western Australia we see a Filipino against it, as Pinoy fighter Cris Paulino (19-3, 8) takes on the unbeaten, and very talented, Andrew Moloney (18-0, 11). The 25 year old Paulino has won his last 5, but has been facing relatively poor competition since losing back to back fights to Koki Eto and Vic Dachinyan, in 2014 and 2015 respectively. This is a big step up to that type of level for Paulino and it's hard to imagine him getting a positive result here. Moloney, the twin brother of WBSS participant Jason, is regarded as one of the top Australian prospects and recently stopped former world champion Luis Concepcion. Moloney has scored a string of wins against Filipino foes and we're expecting him to add another win over a Filipino here.
Fire works will be expected in Russia as hard hitting Uzbek Shohjahon Ergashev (14-0, 13) takes on heavy handed Ugandan Badru Lusambya (26-4-2, 24). This bout will be Ergashev's 5th of the year, and he'll be expecting to score his latest win and move on to bigger and better challenges in 2019. Lusambya has failed to shine when he's fought outside of Uganda, and we expect him to be taken out inside the distance here.