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 biggest show in Asia takes place in Hyogo and will feature two notable bouts.
The main event will see Japan's Shohei Kawashima (16-2-2, 3) take on Filipino Ronnie Campos (8-3-3, 5). The Japanese fighter has impressed over-all, and pushed Cristian Mijares surprisingly close in 2016. Sadly for Kawashima he did suffer a KO loss last year to Gaku Aikawa and this is his first step up in class since that loss. The 21 year old visitor will bee fighting in Japan for the second time, having lost in 2017 to Junki Sasaki, and will feel like he could pick up a win against Kawashima, who may be low on confidence here.
Also on this card is unbeaten prospect Yuki Yamauchi (1-0, 1), who was originally announced to have a 10 round bout, but has since had the bout rescheduled to a 6 rounders, take on Alvin Medura (8-2, 7). The Japanese novice is tipped to be a massive star in the future and this is a really good test for him against a limited, but dangerous, Filipino puncher. Medura is no world beater, but at this level he is very dangerous if he lands, and he's a hungry fighter, but was out boxed a year ago by Ryuto Owan, who showed that he can be out boxed.
This show will also feature the retirement ceremony of Japan's Ryuya Yamanaka, who has had to hang up the gloves on medical grounds. It's a shame to see Yamanaka hang up his gloves at just 23 years old. Despite his early retirement we do expect the fans to send him into a retirement with a serious send out.
Cebu also plays host to a small card, which really hasn't got much attention or much worth talking about, if we're being honest.
The main event will see local loser Wilbert Rota (0-4) take on unbeaten Taiwanese fighter Ming Hung Lee (6-0, 4), in what should be a mismatch in favour of the 29 year old Lee.
A slightly more interesting bout on the same card will see Cris Ganoza (15-2, 8) take on Ernesto Alera (5-5-1). The 24 year old Ganoza is a talented fighter who has only suffered losses to Edward Heno and John Michael Zulueta, two very talented unbeaten youngsters. The light punching Alera has won just 1 of his last 5 bouts and isn't expected to be much of a test for Ganoza, despite the fact Ganoza was beaten last time out.
Busan, South Korea
There is also set to be a small novice show in Korea, headlined by Suk Joon Hwang (3-1-2) and Urmat Amankulov (2-0, 1). The 23 year old Hwang lost after 103 seconds on his debut but has since gone on a 5 fight unbeaten run. The unbeaten Amankulov is a Korean based Kyrgyzstan born fighter who debuted in July and has already racked up a couple of wins. Although not a mouth watering match up on paper this could be very fun for the fans in Busan.
Other notable prospects will be in action in Canada, with a duo of Central Asian prospects taking on interesting tests in Quebec.
One of those prospects is Kazakh Lightweight Ablaikhan Khussainov (8-0, 5), who takes a notable step up up in class, as he takes on the experienced Jesus Laguna (22-12-3, 19) in an 8 round bout. The 27 year old Kazakh is a talent but has been moved very slowly since making his debut in December 2015 and this step up is well over-due. The 30 year old Laguna has been around the block but has failed to win any of his more notable bouts. On paper this is a step up, but a manageable one for the Kazakh.
Originally the talented Sadriddin Akhmedov (3-0, 3) was pencilled in to face off against Norberto Gonzalez (23-11, 13) on this card. Gonzalez has however been removed from the card, and Akhmedov will instead face off with Jesus Javier Mendoza (7-5-1, 6), in what looks like a big downgrade. The unbeaten Akhmedov, from Kazakhstan, has looked excellent since making his debut in April and will be looking to leave an impression here as well.
Sadly it seems like the previously reported match up between Nurzat Sabirov (7-0, 6) and Adrian Luna Flores (20-5-1, 13) has been cancelled in the days leading up to the fight. On paper this was an excellent match up for Sabirov and a great test against a fighter who has been a long term sparring partner for Ryota Murata, so it's a shame to see the bout falling through.
In Belgium fans will see Kyrgyzstan born Super Featherweight hopeful Faroukh Kourbanov (15-1, 3) take on Frenchman Sylvain Chapelle (17-25-2). The talented Kourbanov, who is bow based in Belgium, is a former EBU European Union champion who suffered his first loss this past May against Italian veteran Devis Boschiero, in a close bout on the road, and he'll be looking to bounce back. The 32 year old Chapelle is very limited but typically fights at Lightweight or Light Welterweight and is very tough and well travelled. Chapelle has never been stopped and has fought the likes of Scott Cardle, Yvan Mendy, Romain Jacob and Emiliano Marsili. This should be a clear win for Kourbanov, but he will be expecting to be taken the distance.
In Cebu we'll see the next ALA show, and it'll feature a number of Filipino prospects who are tipped for big things.
One of those prospects is the hard hitting, and once beaten, Virgel Vitor (12-1, 7). The 20 year old Vitor has won his last 8 bouts and will be looking to continue that winning run as he takes on the domestic journeyman Gerpaul Valero (22-20-4, 16). Vitor is coming into this bout on the back of defeat domestic wins against the likes of Michael Escobia and John Ray Logatiman but on paper this should be a better test. Valero was once 1-13-3 and has since gone 21-7-1 (16) and although no world beater is far better than his record suggests. This is a potential banana skin for Vitor, but one he should be able to over-come.
Another of the prospects in action is the excellent KJ Cataraja (7-0, 6), who faces off with Indonesian foe Frengky Rohi (5-5-1, 1) in a 10 rounder. Given that Cataraja turned professional with quite a bit of fanfare and hype it's frustrating to still see him fighting at this level almost 3 years after his debut. Cataraja is a sensational talent and really should be stepped up sooner rather than later. More annoyingly is that this bout is actually a step backwards for the unbeaten 23 year old, following an excellent win against Wiljan Ugbaniel last September. Rohi has lost his last 5 bouts, and is 0-4 outside of Indonesia. Amazingly Rohi has already lost 4 times in 2018 and it's hard to see him ending this run against someone as talented as Cataraja.
The third prospect in action will be Christian Bacolod (8-0, 6), the heavy handed 23 year old will be facing off against fellow Filipino Mervin Lulu (5-2-2, 2) in what looks likely to be the most interesting match up featuring a prospect. Bacolod has been really dangerous early in bouts, scoring all 6 of his stoppages in the first 3 rounds, but has shown the ability to fight over 6 rounds, having taken a couple of 6 round decisions. Lulu has been stopped twice, with one of those losses coming to recent world title challenger Vince Paras. Given his stoppage losses we don't see Lulu surviving with Bacolod here.
In Quebec fans will see exciting Kazakh hopeful Nurzat Sabirov (6-0, 5) fight for the third time this year. The promising Super Middleweight / Light Heavyweight will be taking on Guillermo Romero (12-6, 9) in an 8 rounder. On paper this looks a decent test for the touted Kazakh but should be a straight forward win given that Romero has been stopped in 5 of his 6 defeated, including a 5th roind stoppage last time out.
The biggest card, at least for us, this coming Thursday is a doubler header at the Korakuen Hall, with a WBO Asia Pacific title fight and a Japanese domestic title fight, along with a supporting bout involving a former Japanese champion.
The main event will see former world title challenger Keita Obara (18-2-1, 16) defending his WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title against the exciting Shusaku Fujinaka (16-7-2, 11). The bout will be Obara's first defense of the title, which he won earlier this year when he stopped Saddam Kietyongyuth, and should be a relatively straight forward one, against a limited but aggressive Fujinaka. The challenger is best known for a his 2015 loss to Randall Bailey and has shown a questionable chin, with 3 stoppage losses. Saying that however he's an exciting warrior and his recent bout with Moon Hyun Yun is one of the best Japanese fights of 2017. We expect action and excitement, but a clear win for Obara here.
The other title fight will see Japanese Light Welterweight champion Koichi Aso (22-7-1, 15) taking on exciting challenger Valentine Hosokawa (21-6-3, 9). The bout is set to be one between two men who simply like to fight. They have styles that should gel, they have mentalities that should be made for each other, and it's hard to see how this bout will fail to be anything but thrilling. Aso, defending the title for the second time, is a high octane pressure fighter whilst Hosokawa is a bit more of a swarmer and the bout should be a balls to the wall war.
One other bout on this card worthy of note will see former Japanese Light Flyweight champion Kenichi Horikawa (33-15-1, 7) fight for the 50th time! The 37 year old veteran will be up against a limited Thai foe, and will be expected to pick up a win to mark his half century of bouts.
In Canada we'll see a couple of talented fighters from Central Asia.
One of those will be heavy handed Canadian based Kazakh Ablaikhan Khussainov (6-0, 5), who faces off with Mexican Jesus Silveira (8-4-2, 3). The talented Kazakh has quietly gone about business and looks like a real talent but does still need some seasoning and it looks like that's the purpose of this bout. Silveira's record might suggest that he's a very limited fighter but but he's mixed with quality fighters, like Jose Zepeda, and no one has managed to stop him yet, suggesting he'll be a durable foe for Khussainov.
A second Canadian based Kazakh on this card will be Nurzat Sabirov (3-0, 3), who will be looking to record his 4th win in just over 6 months. The talented 23 year old has just needed 6 rounds to dispose of his first 3 opponents and if he keeps ripping through low tier foes it won't be long until they push him into bigger and better bouts against stiffer competition.
New York, USA
There will also be some central Asian interest in the US, courtesy of American based Uzbek fighter Hurshidbek Normatov (4-0, 2), who risks his unbeaten record against fellow unbeaten Nicklaus Flaz (5-0, 4). So far through his short career Normatov has impressed, not losing any of his 13 professional rounds, and looks like a potential one to watch. However the 25 year old born in Andijan hasn't really faced a notable test and this bout with Flaz should serve as a test of sorts. Puerto Rican puncher Flaz is a 22 year old with genuine bang, having stopped his first 4 opponents in a combined 5rounds, but was taken the distance last time out by Elie Augustama and may be biting off more than he can chew here.
Although there is no shows set to take place in Asia this coming Saturday there are a number of fights through North America featuring an Asian fighter. Arguably the best of that action is in Canada.
The bout that really stands out will see Filipino road warrior Ricky Sismundo (31-9-3, 13) taking on unbeaten Canadian prospect Yves Ulysse Jr (13-0, 9) in a really good match up. Although Sismundo has the record of a journeyman he is a genuine fringe contender who has gone 9-2-3 in his last 14 fights, including wins over the likes of Shuhei Tsuchiya, Akihiro Kondo, Yoshitaka Kato and Ghislain Maduma, and he was very unlucky against Jose Felix Jr and Dierry Jean. Ulysse is a real talent, and is tipped for big things, but this is a very interesting match up and sees the Canadian up against a talented and proven road warrior. A really good match up, which should tell us a lot about both men.
On the same card we'll see Kazakh Nurzat Sabirov (1-0, 1) fight for the second time in just a few weeks. The Kazakh's opponent hasn't been announced yet, but it's hard to imagine him being tested here.
In Nevada we'll see ultra-talented Dmitry Bivol (10-0, 8) look to extend his winning record, and build further towards a world title fight, as he takes on former world title challenger Cedric Agnew (29-2, 15). The talented Kyrgyzstan born contender will be fighting in his 4th US bout and it's likely that his next will be a world title contest, potentially against the two men featured in the main event of the same card, Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev.
In Maryland we get a rescheduled bout as Kazakh prospect Aidos Yerbossynuly (5-0, 5) takes on the once beaten Devin Butcher (6-1, 3). This bout was supposed to take place a few weeks ago, but it has been delayed and now comes this Saturday in what is still set to be a real test for the unbeaten Kazakh prospect.
Unbeaten Canadian-Filipino Marc Pagcaliwangan (10-0-1, 8) will be making his US debut. Touted as one to watch Pagcaliwangan is rarely in a dull fight, but he's faced mostly limited competition so fa, and that doesn't look set to change here.