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.