This coming Wednesday is a notable day in Asian boxing, with a big fight in Thailand, and a small yet noteworthy card in Japan.
The Thai show will be headlined by the rematch between WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart (18-0, 7) and Nicaraguan foe Byron Rojas (25-3-3, 11), who he actually beat for the title in 2016. Knockout had been the interim champion prior to taking the full title from Rojas, and since winning the full title he has made 5 defenses including wins over Shin Ono, Rey Loreto and Xiong Zhao Zhong. In recent fights the champion has looked solid and dependable, rather than sensational and exciting, with an going joke that his name should be Unanimous Decision CP Freshmart. As for Rojas he comes into the bout on an 8 fight winning streak, though those wins have come at a much lower level than Knockout's and it's unclear how he will cope with the step back up in class. Given their first bout we're not anticipating a thrilling clash here. A preview of this bout is available here Knockout and Rojas meet in rematch for WBA crown!
In Tokyo we'll get another in the Japan Vs China series of shows that Dangan have been putting on.
Among the fighters included on this card is former amateur stand out Shu Utsuki (2-0, 1), who we believe is taking on fellow unbeaten Da Xu (3-0-1, 1) in an 8 round Super Featherweight bout. Utsuki is tipped to be a star and we have to strongly favour him to defeat the Chinese teenager.
Another unbeaten Japanese prospect on this card is Tsubasa Murachi (2-0, 2), who faces off with limited visitor Sheng Peng (3-5, 2), in another that should go Japan's way however we are interested to see what Murachi can show here.
One other Japanese prospect on this card is Kaiki Yuba (3-0-1, 2), though sadly we don't have the name of his opponent.
Arguably the best of the Japan Vs China bouts is a match up between the limited pairing of Shun Wakabayashi (8-3, 1) and Xian Qian Wei (13-6-1, 1). Both of these fighters are very flawed, lack power, but do make for entertaining contests and we wouldn't be surprised to see this being the potential bout of the day, with a high intensity and the belief that either man can win.
This card will also include an OPBF female title bout as Erika Hanawa (9-3, 3) battles Jujeath Nagaowa (13-18-1, 8) for the Minimumweight title. Both of these fighters have come up short at the top level, but they should make for a competitive bout against each other, with both being flawed and limited fighters. Despite their limitations they aren't actually bad fighters and this could be a very entertaining distraction from the Japan Vs China competition.
A third card for the day will come from Shenzhen in China, with a trio of title bouts on the card.
In a WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental Crruiserweight title fight Chinese local hopeful Peng Qu (13-2-1, 9) will take on the hard hitting Abraham Tabul (14-1-1, 12). This will be Qu's second bout since abandoning the Light Heavyweight division at the turn of the year, following a loss to Gasan Gasanov, and we suspect his frame will suit Cruiserweight much better than it did at 175lbs. Saying that however Cruiserweights do hit significantly harder than the Light Heavyweights he had previously been fighting and we expect to see him being chin checked here. Tabul, from Accra in Ghana, is 0-1 outside of his homeland, and his competition so far lacks any real quality and it's very hard to know what he brings to the ring.
A second title fight on this show will see Cheng Su (12-2-1, 6) battle against Thai foe Panturak Namtong (10-4-1, 7) for the WBO Oriental Super Welterweight title. It's hard to know what either man has done to get a shot at this belt, given that neither has notched a win of note and both have suffered a recent stoppage loss to a poor opponent. All things considered we suspect the local will pick up the win, but he's not going to go much further as a professional.
Sadly the biggest name on the card, OPBF Silver Super Featherweight champion Takuya Watanabe (35-8-1, 20) is actually a man involved in the biggest mismatch on the card, as he defends his title against Wisitsak Saiwaew (6-7, 5), who is best known for being stopped by Watanabe's stablemate Sho Kimura, at Flyweight. We are huge admirers of Watanabe, and his career has been a thoroughly entertaining one as well as one which has seen him fighting in Thailand, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taipei and China, but this is his third limited foe in a row. This really is little more than a show case for the talented. tough and exciting Watanabe.
This coming Friday is a pretty big day in Asian boxing, with a female world title bout in Japan and the US debut of a notable Japanese hopeful.
The female world title fight will take place at the Korakuen Hall on a small but interesting card.
That title fight will see Japanese female star Naoko Fujioka (17-2, 7) defending her WBA Female Flyweight title against interim champion Irma Sanchez (30-7-1, 8) of Mexico. The talented Fujioka, the first ever 5 weight world champion from Japan, is a veteran at 43 years old but is the golden girl of Japanese boxing and is widely regarded as one of the top pound for pound female fighters. Aged 30 the Mexican challenger won the interim title last time out, narrowly defeating Brenda Ramos, and is an accomplished world class fighter who has faced a number of top foes, including Jessica Chavez, Carina Moreno and Mariana Juarez in her 12 year career. We suspect Fujioka will come out on top, but this is a genuinely tough match up and should be a really good test of what Fujioka has left.
The best of the supporting bouts on this card is a mouth watering domestic clash, as veteran Takafumi Nakajima (29-10-1, 13) takes on under-rated youngster Yuki Iriguchi (9-2-1, 4). Last time out Nakajima pushed Mark John Yap all the way in an OPBF Bantamweight title fight and us a proven quantity around title level, with notable contests against the likes of Shingo Wakes, Kinshiro Usui, Kosuke Saka, Hidenori Otake and Jonathan Baat. Although a proven fighter Nakajima is now 34 and it's unclear much longer he can go on.
Another under-card bout of some inter-rest will bee between Yutaka Motoyoshi (7-12, 5) and Ryuto Araya (11-7-1, 3). The 30 year old Motoyoshi has lost 4 of his last 5, including his last 3, and will know that he cannot afford another loss if he's to move his career to the next level. Also aged 30 Araya was once regarded as a promising fighter, but has himself struggled recently, losing in an OPBF title fight last year and suffering back to back loss to Tatsuya Otsubo. Whilst neither of these men will be competing at world level before they retire, both will come into this fight with belief they can win and that should give us a good contest.
In California we see two Asian fighters in action.
The more notable of the two is Japanese Light Welterweight hopeful Hiroki Okada (18-0, 13), who is a former Japanese and WBO Asia Pacific champion and is currently the owner of several world rankings. The Japanese fighter, who recently signed a promotional deal with Top Rank, will be making his US debut as he takes on Argentinian fighter Cristian Rafael Coria (27-6-2, 11). Amazingly this bout will Okada's first outside of the Korakuen Hall but it does appear that he's been matched safely so he can get a win on the road and then begin going through the final stages before a world title fight. The 35 year old Coria is a 12 year veteran who has never been stopped, but has lost to a number of recognisable names, such as Paulus Moses, Daud Yordan and Custio Clayton. Okada should win, but it's less about the result and more about whether he can impress Top Rank enough to push him straight into a world title bout, or whether he will have wait to get his shot at a world title.
On the same card fans will be able to see touted American Jamel Herring (17-2, 10) take on Filipino prospect John Vincent Moralde (20-1, 10). Herring was a 2012 US Olympian who had been touted as a potential professional star, but he has lost 2 of his last 4, suffering a 10th round TKO to Denis Shafikov and a 10 round unanimous decision Ladarius Miller. Moralde has promised a lot, and he finally lived up to that promise last time out, when he defeated Ismail Muwendo over 8 rounds. If Moralde can put it together again here he'll give his career a huge boost, and claim the USBA Super Featherweight title.
A second card with some interest comes from Pennsylvania as unbeaten Kazakh Shyngyskhan Tazhibay (6-0, 2) battles against Yasmani Pedroso (2-4, 1), in what looks like a straight forward win for the unbeaten 26 year old. Tazhibay has had some fanfare, but inactivity in 2017 and 2018 has really hampered his development, much like mismatches like this. We hope to see him face better competition shortly, but at this rate it looks like it could take a long time before he faces someone of any note.
It's not just Japanese and Filipino fight with something to get excited about as Chinese fans in Zhengzhou also get a notable card with a couple of title fights and a couple of interesting looking support bouts.
The main event will see the unbeaten Yelieqiati Nihemaituola (13-0-1, 5) take on Filipino visitor Eranio Semillano (16-8-3, 5) in a bout for the WBA Asian Boxing Council Bantamweight title. The unbeaten local will be looking to make his first defense of the title, which he won in April by stopping Conrado Tanamor, but is facing one of the most notable opponents of his career. The 26 year old Semillano is no world beater but is a solid opponent on his day, as shown with wins over the likes of Wilbert Berondo. Sadly for Semillano he doesn't seem to have the consistency needed to score good wins on a regular basis, and it's hard to imagine him putting it together against Nihemaituola.
Another title bout will see Youli Dong (12-0-1, 8) battle Adam Diu Abdulhamid (12-6, 5), in what will be Dong's first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Youth Welterweight title. The unbeaten Chinese drew in his debut but has built fantastically afterwards claiming a couple of WBO regional titles along the way. Although Dong failed to score a stoppage in his first 4 bouts he has stopped 8 of his last 9 and looks to be building the tools he needs for a bright future. On the other hand Abdulhamid was touted as an amateur but has failed to come good, losing 3 of his last 4, and it's unlikely a bout on the road against a hard hitting Welterweight prospect will be good for his career.
Talking about fighters who were once touted it's good to see that Chinese Light Heavyweight Peng Qu (12-2-1, 8) will be returning to the ring 10 months after a surprise loss in China to Gasan Gasanov. The Chinese local has been inactive since losing to Gasanov last November but will be looking to bounce back with a win here, as he takes on Tanzanian visitor Benson Mwakyembe (11-4-1, 6), who should be an easy comeback opponent. Mwakyembe has been stopped in 3 of his last 5 and is naturally smaller than the Chinese fighter, who will likely be looking for a quick blowout.
An interesting support bout here will see Mongolian debutant Tsendbaatar Tsendbaatar (0-0) face off with Joseph Omana (12-5-1, 6) in a 6 round bout. We're unsure about Tsendbaatar's background, though we always love to see Mongolian fighters in action so we hope his bout against his Chinese based Filipino foe will be available online. Coming in to this one Omana has lost his last 4, and is without a win in a little over a decade! Despite that he is still only 28.
There will also be Japanese action in Germany, as former WBC Light Flyweight title challenger Atsushi Kakutani (19-6-1, 12) takes on promising German prospect Mirco Martin (12-0, 6) in a Flyweight bout. Kakutani was once a promising fighter but losses in his 3 most significant bouts doesn't bode well for him here, especially given he's now 33 and has been inactive for over a year. Martin comes into this bout on a good run of results, including a bit win last time out against former world title contender Jose Antonio Jimenez.
Chong Qing, China
The most notable action for us this coming Thursday takes place in Chong Qing, where fans will get 4 regional title fights and the ring return of a former world title challenger.
One of those bouts will see once beaten Chinese hopeful Peng Qu (12-1-1, 8) face off with Gasan Gasanov (14-5-1, 12) in a bout for the WBO Asia Pacific Light Heavyweight title. The lanky Peng comes into this bout on the back of two opening round blow outs and will be looking to continue that run in his first 10 rounder. The 26 year old Gasanov also comes into the bout on the back of two blow out wins, but has been stopped in all 5 of his losses, including one in China earlier this year to Fanlong Meng.
In an IBF Pan Pacific Light Middleweight title fight fans will see Indonesian visitor Larry Siwu (26-9, 22) take on China's Tong Hui Li (9-1, 5). Of the two men it's Siwu who is much better known, and has shared the ring with the likes of Teerachai Kratingdaenggym, Keita Obara, Sirimongkol Singwancha and Qudratillo Abduqaxorov. Although not a world class fighter Siwu is certainly well tested and has shown he can fight at a decent level. Although relatively unknown Li has shown some promise and has won his last 4, include his US debut. This is a big step up for the local, but a win will push him towards the rankings. This is an interesting bout, despite not being a big one.
In a battle of unbeaten fighters Kaisheng Fu (6-0, 1) will take on the heavy handed Yongqiang Yang (7-0, 6) for the WBO China Zone Light Welterweight title. The 30 year old Fu has won his last 2 bouts by very close decision and is rather lucky to still have a 100% winning record. The same cannot be said of Yang, who has only faced limited foes, but has typically blasted them out, including Indonesian journeyman Geisler AP who was stopped inside a round back in April.
Another WBO China Zone title bout takes place at Welterweight and will see Abulimiti Tuersunniyazi (4-1-1, 3) take on the unbeaten Youli Dong (9-0-1, 6). The 26 year old Tuersunniyazi has had mixed success recently, going 1-1-1 in his last 3 bouts and has yet to really shine. Dong on the other hand is unbeaten in 10, and has won his last 9, with 6 straight stoppages. It's worth noting that whilst Dong's record ticks the right boxes on paper, his competition is paper thin and he has only really fought novices.
Another notable bout will see 22 year old Filipino prospect Adam Diu Abdulhamid (11-4, 4) take on former world title challenger Ik Yang (19-2-0-1, 14). For the Filipino the bout is a huge step up, and he comes into the bout having lost 2 of his last 4, including an opening round blow out in Russia and a decision defeat in Thailand. Yang has lost his last 2, losing to Cesar Rene Cuenca and Leonardo Zappavigna, and his career looks like it's falling apart, though he will know this is a chance to get a much needed win, and another loss will likely be the end for the “Wild man”. This is a must win for both fighters, and could be a very entertaining contest, despite no title being on the line.
In the US fight fans will be able to see unbeaten Kazakh novice Yedil Kozhamberdiyev (1-0, 1) fight in his first 6 rounder. The Kazakh fighter will be up against 22 year old American Blake LaCaze (3-4-1, 1), who has had mixed results, and shouldn't prove to be any sort of a threat for Kozhamberdiyev.
Metro Manila, Philippines
In the Philippines this coming Saturday fight fans will see a number of title bouts on an interesting looking show.
The main event of the card will see the touted Randy Braga (19-2-1, 5) take on journeyman Landy Cris Leon (10-14-4, 4). Braga will be looking to defend his GAB Featherweight title for the second time and will be hoping to bounce back from a 2016 loss to OPBF champion Ryo Takenaka, who beat Braga by 12 round decision in October. For Leon the bout sees him returning to the ring following a loss of his own, an 8 round decision loss to Sho Nakazawa. It's hard to imagine Braga losing here, but will want to rebuild his confidence given the wide loss to Takenaka.
In other title bouts we'll see Juan Miguel Elorde (22-1, 11) defending the WBO Asia Pacific Super Bantamweight title,for the second time, and his brother and Juan Martin Elorde (21-1-1, 8) defending his WBO Oriental Lightweight title. Sadly at the time of writing neither of the Elorde's have had their opponents announced, and it's likely that both will be facing soft touches.
One bout that has been fully announced will see Wilbert Berondo (10-2, 4) take on veteran Albert Alcoy (14-23-7, 4). Although a mismatch on paper Berondo has lost his last two bouts, including a 6th round KO loss to the sensational Hinata Maruta in a bout for a WBC Youth title. Alcoy comes into this bout on an 11 fight win-less streak but has upset the likes of Roli Gasca and Renan Trongco in the past, suggesting he can be a banana skin with enough notice.
As well as the show in the Philippines there will also be a card in China. This show is pretty easy to over-look but the main event is worth noting as it will see Peng Qu (11-1-1, 7) battle against Sajjad Mehrabi (14-1-2, 1). Peng has shown some genuine promise in the past and will be looking to build on his growing reputation here whist Iranian Mehrabi will be looking to bounce back from his sole defeat, a 2016 loss to Thomas Mashali in a bout for a UBO title.
Whilst there is action through out Asia this coming Saturday the most interesting names in action are in the US.
The most notable name in action is fast rising Filipino hopeful Albert Pagara (26-0, 18) who faces the tough and brave Cesar Juarez (17-5, 13), who gave Nonito Donaire hell last year in a WBO Super Bantamweight world title bout. In many ways this is a gut check for Pagara and if he wins the odds are he will get a world title fight either at the end of this year or very early in 2017. For Juarez it's a chance to beat a big name Filipino fight following the Donaire bout.
The other Filipino in a starring role on this card is Albert's older brother Jason Pagara (38-2, 23) who faces off against the limited Abraham Alvarez (21-9-1, 10), who has been stopped in all 9 of his loses. On paper this doesn't look an awful match up but Alvarez is 4-8 in his last 12 and shouldn't be any sort of a challenge for Pagara.
Another “big” name is in action in Japan with that being “Tatsuyoshi”, unfortunately it's not the great Joichiro Tatsuyoshi but his less talented, and less charismatic, son Juiki Tatsuyoshi (4-0, 2) who will be up against Rio Nainggolan (2-2, 2) in what will be Juiki's first 6 rounder. Despite it being a step up in rounds for Tatsuyoshi it's hard to really view this bout as a step up in class.
Another notable fighter on this card is touted prospect Kazuaki Miyamoto (0-0), who will be making his debut against a Thai opponent. Miyamoto is starting his career in a 6 round bout and it expected to make a mark at either 135lbs or 130lbs. At 22 years old he has time on his side, but we suspect he may be fast tracked through the domestic scene.
In the Philippines we get title action as the unbeaten Jenel Lausa (6-0, 4) takes on Jon Jon Estrada (8-2-1, 7) for the interim PBF Super Bantamweight title. This looks like a mismatch on paper but it will be Lausa's first fight against an opponent with a winning record. We won't say Estrada is a proven fighter but he is a step up from what Lausa has been facing far.
On the under-card we have two intriguing bouts between unbeaten fighters. One of those will see Edward Heno (7-0-4, 2) battle against Jayr Raquinel (5-0, 3) whilst the other will see Carlo Caesar Penalosa (4-0, 1) face off against Ryan Pinola (2-0). These are two excellent match ups on paper and although a win won't prove a lot for any of the fighters it should see them tested.
We also get two shows in China with one of those taking place in Beijing.
This card will feature the promising Qu Peng (10-1-1, 6) in a stay busy assignment against Evy Johannes Akoundou (0-1) in what should little more than a straight forward win for the Chinese Light Heavyweight hopeful.
At Super Featherweight the unbeaten Jin Xiang Pan (6-0, 4) will be up against Yong Cai Liu (5-3-2, 4) in an 8 rounder. The 18 year old Pan beat Liu last year, by split decision, and has rolled off 4 straight stoppages since whilst Liu will be coming into this one looking looking for revenge.
The card also features some interesting debuts with Kazakh Makhsat Shman (0-0) kicking off his career with a 6 round bout against China's Tong Hui Li (5-1, 3) whilst Chinese Heavyweight hopeful Leilang Wang (0-0) begins his career with a bout against Manolov Aleksandrov (0-0), a fellow debut. We have been told that Wang is one that potentially could set the Chinese Heavyweight scene on fire so we'll be very interested to see how he goes here.
The other Chinese card will be in Chengdu with the major bout of note being between Filipino Sonny Katiandagho (9-1, 5) and unbeaten Armenian Rafik Harutjunjan (9-0, 5), who will be facing off for the WBC Eurasia Pacific Boxing Council Welterweight title. Although relatively unknown outside of his homeland Katiandagho has scored back to back wins of note over Allan Tanada and Hyun Woo Yuh and will be confident here against the very promising Dutch based Armenian.
Another bout of note here will see Melissa St Vil (7-2-3) face Katy Wilson Castillo (18-1, 11) in a female bout. St Vil will be up against it here against a former world champion, however Castillo hasn't fought in 3 years and could well be very rusty coming in to this one.
Nuevo León, Mexico
In Mexico local veteran Miguel Roman (55-11, 42) will be facing off again Filipino Jerope Mercado (27-7-3, 9). On paper this looks well matched but Roman has fought at the highest level and is on a 17 fight winning streak, including an upset win over Juli Giner in Spain last time out. Mercado on the other hand is 2-4 in his last 6 and is unlikely to upset the Mexican veteran.
New York, USA
In the US fight fans will be able to see Myanmar born fighter Neyeine Muang (2-2-2) take on the unbeaten Will Madera (8-0, 3) in what looks like a really tough ask for the Utica based Asian fighter.