Attention turns to Kazakhstan this coming Friday for a Qazaq Promotions card from Almaty. The card isn't a massive one, but it is a notable one, with the ring return of a popular unbeaten Kazakh contender, who has had his career ruined by injury, a Kazakh Heavyweight hopeful against a former world title challenger and several rising hopefuls.
The main event of the show will see the unbeaten Kanat Islam (25-0, 20) return to the ring, for the first time since September 2017, to take on Dominican puncher Julio De Jesus (27-1, 24).Islam was on the verge of a world title fight when he beat Brandon Cook in his last bout, but repeated injuries have kept him out of the ring since then really destroying his chances of a world title fight. De Jesus, on paper, looks like a good test though is the naturally smaller man and we do wonder how his power holds up here against a solid fighter like Islam.
In one of the main supporting bouts we'll see unbeaten Kazakh Heavyweight hopeful Ruslan Myrsatayev (5-0, 5) take on English Heavyweight veteran Danny Williams (53-26-0-1, 40). The unbeaten Kazakh is talented and heavy handed, but at 34 years old time is running out if he's really after a big fight he needs to make his move this year. Williams, best known for beating Mike Tyson and being dominated by Vitali Klitschko in a WBC world title bout, is now 45 and needs to really consider walking away from the sport before getting seriously injured.
Another bout will see Madiyar Ashkeyev (12-0, 6), fresh off throwing water over a journalist, take on Estonian journeyman Pavel Semjonov (24-11-2, 9). This should be a straight forward win for Ashkeyev, but Semjonov tends to be a tough foe so we're expecting a decision win for the unbeaten Kazakh here.
Also on this card will be unbeaten teenager Dastan Saduuly (3-0, 3) and Ablaikhan Khussainov (9-0, 6), though it's unclear who these two will be up against at the time of writing.
Gimhae, South Korea
The most notable show of the day comes from Korea, where the we get top Korean female fighter making a defense of one of her titles.
The aforementioned female fighter is Hee Jung Yuh (20-3, 10), who will be defending her WBF Intercontinental Female Super Flyweight title against Thai foe Saowaluk Nareepangsri (7-14, 1). Yuh is an interesting and skilled fighter, though she is well below elite level, and her only loss in the last 10 years has come to Naoko Fujioka. Despite only losing once in 10 years her competition, Fujioka aside, has been appalling. Saowaluk has lost her last 5, including 3 by stoppage. She's very much a fight who will travel to pick up a loss, and that seems to be the case again here as she returns to Korea for the fourth time in her career, still seeking her first win in the country.
There will also be a bout featuring Seung Ho Lee (4-0, 4). Lee will battle for the WBF Asia Pacific Welterweight title as he takes on Thai visitor Girapan Boonpeng (4-1, 4), who was last seen losing inside a round to Rivo Kundimang in Indonesia in November. We'll get a chance to compare Lee to Kundimang, but that's about the only thing this bout will actually do.
As well as the title action in Korea there will also be a small, yet noteworthy, card in Osaka featuring two bouts of interest.
In a bout that genuinely excites us we'll see the inform Dynamic Kenji (10-3, 7) take on the once touted Naoto Iwai (5-2, 3). Coming in to this Kenji has won his last 5 by stoppage, including big wins over Futa Akizuki and Shota Kawaguchi. That winning run has taken him from 5-3 to 10-3 and he's quickly climbing up the rankings towards a potential title fight. Iwai was tipped highly as a prospect from Hyogo but the youngster suffered back to back defeats in 2017 and he's yet to really recover from those set backs. He's notched a couple of wins over Thai's since suffering his defeats but this is a clear step up, and it feels like Morioka will be looking to see if he sinks or swims against someone as good as Kenji.
The other bout of note will see 2016 Rookie of the Year runner up Hibiki Jogo (7-2, 4) take on Tricky Kumagai (9-8, 6). The 25 year old Jogo was stopped in 4 rounds in the Rookie of the Year final and was also stopped last time out, by Yoshihiro Utsumi, suggesting that perhaps he's lacking in durability. Kumagai has also been stopped, in fact 4 of his 8 losses have been inside the distance, and he is 2-6 in his last 8, meaning he can ill afford another loss here. This isn't a massive fight for the Japanese domestic scene, but is massive for both fighters, who will have a long road to climb if they come up short here.
Metro Manila, Philippines
In the Philippines fans get a small card, expected to be headlined by the unbeaten Marlon Paniamogan (8-0-1, 5) taking on Jimmy Borbon (7-6-4, 4). This is a less than great match up, but the card looks like it will feature a bunch of more recognisable names.
Listed for the show are Wilbert Berondo (12-3-2, 5), Juan Miguel Elorde (26-1, 14), Arvin Magramo (8-1-1, 5) and Delmar Pellio (5-0, 3). Sadly none of those fighters have had their opponents named at the time of writing.
Kazakh fans get the chance to end the year on a high with a number of their fighters in action on a special card promoted by the Astana Arlans and Qazaq Promotions. The show will be free to attend, but sadly the level of bouts is a bit of a mystery.
Whilst full details on this card haven't been announced we do know that is it will feature Aidar Sharibayev (7-1, 6), Yelieqiati Nihemaituola (14-0-1, 5), Askhat Ualikhanov (4-1, 2), Ablaikhan Khussainov (9-0, 6) and Ruslan Myrsataev (5-0, 5), all of whom likely to be up against limited opponents in what we suspect will be little more than show case bouts.